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An Easy Way to Decrease Your Unsubscribe Rate

This guest post is by Michael Alexis of WriterViews.

Frustrated with unsubscribes on your newsletter?

You aren’t alone. Most of the metrics associated with our newsletters are fun to watch.

  • Subscribe rate going up? Cool.
  • Open rate rising? Awesome.
  • Clickthrough rate skyrocketing? Yahoo!

Decrease your unsubscribes

Image by Bruce Berrien, licensed under Creative Commons

So, what is it about unsubscribe rates that is so darn frustrating? Maybe it’s the feeling of rejection that the reader no longer finds enough value in our work. Perhaps it’s the wondering whether they only ever signed up to get our download-bait. Or it could even just be the dissatisfaction of not knowing why all these people are unsubscribing.

Whatever the reason, wouldn’t it be nice if we could just put a stop to unsubscribes for good?

Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Cafe is pretty transparent about her blogging strategies. So, when earlier this year, I interviewed Ana, I wanted to find out how she builds and maintains her email list. This post is about the specific tactic Ana uses to drastically cut unsubscribe rates to her newsletter.

The problem isn’t what you are doing

Since you’re active in the world of blogging about blogging, you already know:

So you know all about how to get subscribers and engage your readers. And it’s a lot of work, right? But you are doing it. That’s why we have to look elsewhere for the underlying cause of email unsubscribes.

The problem isn’t what you are doing.

Read that again.

No. The problem is what you aren’t doing.

The problem is what you aren’t doing

The underlying cause of newsletter unsubscribes is that you aren’t building relationships with your readers. Sure, you’re writing content that is useful for them. Sure, you write with the voice you speak in. Sure, you share your strong opinions. Sure, you drop little snippets about your personal life. All of those things can help build relationships, but in the end they suffer from one fatal flaw: you’re broadcasting a message from one to many.

So, how often do you reach out to your subscribers, one by one?

Cut your unsubscribe rate

Hey, wow! Nobody ever did that, you are actually real and respond to your emails.
—Ana Hoffman

You will cut your newsletter unsubscribe rate by building relationships with your subscribers. You do that be reaching out to them one by one. By engaging subscribers in personal dialog, you show them you are a real person sitting behind a computer writing live emails. You show them that you aren’t just looking to flood their inbox with a series of canned autoresponses. And you show them that you actually care and appreciate having them around.

The key here is to change the perception of a one-to-many broadcast into a one-to-one conversation.

Sounds like the right approach doesn’t it?

How Ana does it

Ana uses a simple strategy to engage one-on-one with every subscriber to her newsletter.

She writes them an email.

Here’s her process. First, she sets aside 15 minutes at the end of the day to email her new subscribers.

Second, she opens up each of the “new subscriber notification” emails she gets from Aweber.

Third, she responds to that email (which goes to the subscriber) and changes the subject line to something like “good morning!” or “good afternoon!” Ana says this step gets her a lot of feedback like “Wow, either your responder is so good it knows the time, or you are actually there!”

Fourth, she writes the content of the email. Something like “Hello. Thanks for joining my list. Welcome. I’m here if you need help.”

Fifth, she customizes the email. If she notices someone’s email ends with “.au”, she’ll say “It’s evening my time, but afternoon in Australia, so good afternoon!” There is a free add-on to Gmail called Rapportive that shows you details of the person you are emailing, including their location.

Sixth, she presses send. And bam! With just a little bit of daily effort like this, you’ve built a relationship with every subscriber on your list!

How do you build relationships with your email subscribers?

Photo Credit: Bruce Berrien

Michael Alexis posts video interviews with the world’s top bloggers at WriterViews. The interviews cover strategy, tips and tactics for becoming a ProBlogger.

If I Were the Blogging Police…

This guest post is by Karol K of ThemeFuse.

Is it just me, or do you ever find yourself in a situation when you just want to lock someone up for the things they’re doing either on their own blog or while commenting on other people’s blogs?

You know, moments when you wish you were the blogging police … anyone?

I do. Quite often actually. And I am by no means perfect myself. But you don’t have to be perfect to have an opinion, just like you don’t have to be a musician to be able to tell that you don’t like a song.

So even though I am not perfect, I’ll tell you what I’d do if I were the blogging police. The list isn’t long, thankfully, just a handful of points. When I’m done, though, I want to hear what you’d do if you were on my blogging police taskforce.

1. Lock people up for publishing lame list posts

A lame list post in one that makes you immediately think “how obvious can you get?!” This doesn’t happen that often nowadays, but when it does it strikes hard, with no warning.

A lame list post is one where every single thing on the list—every piece of advice—is just so utterly obvious that the only possible reason for writing such a post is not to forget about all that stuff. You know, it’s the personal-reference-file kind of a post.

I’m sorry, but if you’re writing a list post on blogging and it includes “care about your readers”, you need to think your post trough one more time, for everyone’s sake. Which brings me to…

2. Lock people up for saying “you need to publish quality content”

Somewhere in the world a unicorn dies every time someone uses this phrase in a blog post. This one piece of advice has been around forever. Everyone knows this by now. You really don’t need to say it.

But I’m sure you did. I know I’m guilty of this too. Thankfully, there’s no blogging police. (Nor do any unicorns actually die.)

3. The rule of “3 strikes and you’re out” for spammers

“You’re out”?! Does that mean “no more internet for you”? Well, some people should really get a lifetime Internet-access ban for spamming in comments. You know—comments like this:

Great post!” … submitted along with an anchored name of “web design san diego” or something.

Or:

I find your opinion quite interesting but the other day I stumbled upon a completely different advice from another blogger, I need to think that one through, thanks for posting.” … with a similarly search-optimized name. This is actually a clever piece of spam because it seems legitimate, but you can actually submit it below every blog post in the world, and it would sound equally relevant.

Imagine how much better the world would be if every spammer had only three chances, after which they’re gone forever.

4. Lock people up for saying that “doing what you love is the only way”

No, it’s not, and it shouldn’t be. I love sleeping, for example. Is anyone gonna pay me for that?

Okay, I don’t want to be that harsh, but just bear with me, and try to think of all the possible professions in the world—everything that needs to be done to make the world go round, including things like moving out the trash, cattle breeding, and being a politician.

The reality is that “doing what you love” is only one of many possible scenarios. You can create equally successful career out of “doing what you should do,” “doing what you’ve been taught to do,” and “doing what needs to be done.”

5. Lock people up for publishing “sorry I’ve been away” posts

This is what happens: someone hasn’t been blogging for a while, say a month or two. And then they come back and publish a “sorry I’ve been away” post.

The usual construction of such a post is a short explanation of why the person was away, and then there’s a promise that now everything will change and the person will be posting like there’s no tomorrow.

First of all, this never happens. Chances are that the person will forget about the blog again very soon.

Secondly, no one cares.

6. Lock up everybody who’s just too much of a nice guy

Does everyone has to act like such a nice guy? The blogging world goes deep here. For some reason, many people believe that you have to be nice to everybody all the time. Well, you don’t.

If you’re nice to everybody, how are you going to distinguish someone who you really feel you should be nice to—someone who’s really special? If you’re nice to everybody, then your being nice simply means nothing. Besides, people who are nice to everybody are boring! Lock ‘em up!

7. Give tickets for using clichés or words that are just too big

I love blogging. SkyrocketEngage your readers. You need to be an authority in your niche…

The list of clichés and needlessly big words used by bloggers every day has no end.

Clichés are just annoying. And using big words to emphasize your point is just stupid.

Do you really love blogging? Would you sit in your room and cry if you couldn’t blog anymore? Would you be depressed for a month if blogging had been taken away from you? Do you wake up every day imagining how happy you are with your blog, and then go to sleep in the evening dreaming all the nice things you’re going to do with your blog the next day?

If there’s at least one “no” in your answers to those questions, then you don’t love blogging, so don’t say you do. If you have all “yeses” … touché.

This concludes my blogging police wishes and dreams. What are yours? I’m sure there are some, if you take a minute to think about it. Of course, don’t treat this whole thing too seriously … but I would love to hear what you’d do if you were part of my blogging police taskforce. Share your pet hates in the comments!

Karol K. is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland and a writer at ThemeFuse.com, where he shares various WordPress advice. Don’t forget to visit ThemeFuse to get your hands on some original WordPress themes (warning: no boring stuff like everyone else offers).

From Small-time Blogger to Professional Paid Speaker: My Journey

This guest post is by Marcus Sheridan of The Sale Lion.

We’re all communicators. That’s what we do. Some of us love the feel of pen in hand. Others find joy as the fingers hit the key pad. But for me, the magic is in the communion that occurs in front of a live audience, a place where I feel more at home than any other.

Like you, I’m a blogger. I’m also a business owner. In fact, I own a swimming pool company. Ten years ago, I started the business with my two partners. The challenges of entrepreneurship were satisfying for the first seven years, but three years ago I knew my time of being a “pool guy” was coming to an end and the next phase of my life would soon begin.

Although I wasn’t exactly clear where I was headed, I knew I wanted to be a professional speaker, and I also knew I wanted to help as many people and businesses as possible to reach their potential.

But to be a professional speaker, it has to start somewhere. You can’t just say, “I’m a speaker” and then boom!—all of the sudden you’re booked up for months and months.

So that’s what I want to talk about today. I want to share my journey and it is my hope that you’ll find some lessons here that you might also apply to your life, and ultimately reach the goals you currently envision.

Phase 1: Kicking down the first door

Often times, the hardest step in professional speaking is getting the initial opportunity. In my case, being in the swimming pool industry, there was one main event held each year at the National Pool/Spa Convention in Las Vegas. But to speak there, I had a few cards stacked against me. The first of which was the fact that I was only 30 years old (meaning I’d be far and away the youngest speaker). The second was the fact that I had very few connections in the industry.

Notwithstanding my low chances of entry, I decided to find out who the head of the event was, and soon learned it was a lady named Tracy. Therefore, when the show came around a little over three years ago and I attended, I found out where Tracy’s office was and, tossing all fear aside, I decided to approach her. Walking straight into her office at the show, I had the following conversation with her:

Me: Hello, you must be Tracy.
Tracy: Yes, that’d be me. And who are you?
Me: My name is Marcus Sheridan, and I’m the best speaker you’ve never had. (With a big, big smile.)
Tracy: (laughing) Really now? And tell me Marcus, what can you speak about?
Me: I’ll speak on anything you want—Sales, Marketing, I’m ready.
Tracy: How about a hot tub sales class?
Me: I’ll give the best Hot tub sales class you’ve ever had. (Again, with a big smile.)
Tracy: Hmmm, and how can I be sure you’re good?
Me: I’ve got a DVD of some videos I’ve made for my company in the past. (I hand it to her.) I think if you watch them, you’ll see I’ll be a good fit.
Tracy: What’s your price?
Me: I’m just asking for a chance. That’s all. If I’m good, then we’ll talk price for next year when you bring me back. (Again, with a big smile.)
Tracy: Okay, I’ll let you know, Marcus.

About a week later, Tracy emailed me and let me know that she was inviting me to speak at the convention. Needless to say, I was thrilled. Since that time, I’ve spoken at all the events for the National Pool/Spa Conference, and I get paid well to do so.

Lesson one: Getting in your first door sometime takes guts. I approached Tracy the way I did because I knew the cards were stacked against me. So dare to be different. Be original. By so doing, you may be very surprised to hear that magic phrase: “You’re in!”

Phase 2: Pushing harder, building momentum

Just a little over two years ago, I started blogging about content and inbound marketing for business, as well as personal development principles on my blog, The Sales Lion. Knowing that I wanted to again break into the speaking realm of my new industry, I did two key things:

  1. I produced helpful and powerful content at least two times a week, without fail, for over a year.
  2. I took the video recordings of the events I’d done in the swimming pool industry and placed them on my site so others could see me in action.

Upon doing this, slowly folks in the blogging and marketing realm started seeing me as a fresh voice and also noticed from the videos that speaking was my passion.

Wanting badly to speak at an industry event, in January of last year, I submitted a speaking application to Blog World to speak at their New York event. As many of you might know, they get hundreds upon hundreds of applications, and have to turn away a very high majority of these applicants.

In my case, it was no different: Blog World turned me down. Instead of speaking, I hopped in the plane and went to listen instead.

Like everything in life, though, things happen for a reason, and I didn’t allow the rejection of my proposal to deter the enjoyment I had for the event, and my continued vision of what was still possible.

In March of last year, I finally got my first break. Within the course of two weeks, I was asked to speak at two industry events.

The first was the MarketingSherpa SEO conference in Atlanta, Georgia. They had heard my success story of using content marketing with my pool company and asked if I’d be willing to share my message. Just as had happened two years before, they could not pay me for the event, nor could they pay my plane ticket, but it was an opportunity, and I took it.

The other invitation was from another person who had noticed my blog and read about my success as a “pool guy.” His name was Joe Pulizzi, the founder of Junta42, and he was gathering speakers for his inaugural event—Content Marketing World.

Never having seen me speak, Joe told me he could give me 25 minutes to share my message. I knew it wasn’t much time, but it was better than nothing. Once again, I had to pay my way and all of my expenses.

Lesson two: Sometimes you’ve just got to get your foot in the door, even if it costs you money. If you’re good at speaking, it will be more than worth the time and investment, as you’ll now see.

Phase 3: The moment of truth

To make a long story short, the event at MarketingSherpa was a hit. My unique story and presentation style made quite an impression, and a few weeks later the event coordinator asked me to speak at their 2012 Email Marketing Summit in Las Vegas. This time, though, I would be paid, and would also be one of the keynotes, along with Brian Solis.

Although the Sherpa conference was great, Content Marketing World was even better. The event was this past September and I knew going in that many folks I highly, highly respect in the industry would be in attendance.

Just as with the MarketingSherpa presentation, my session went very, very well. In fact, as soon as I was done with speaking, I was immediately approached by Deb Ng, who coordinates all the speakers for Blog World. On the spot, she asked me if I’d be willing to present at their Los Angeles event this past November. As you might imagine, I happily accepted, and was speaking in LA a couple of months later.

But Deb wasn’t the only one who was in the audience listening. That same day, the founder of Social Media Examiner, Michael Stelzner, asked me to speak at his online small business summit in February of 2012. This also led to guest posts on his incredible site and loads of exposure I otherwise never would have received.

Furthermore, another gentleman in the audience who was listening asked me to speak at the MeshMarketing conference in Toronto a few months later, which wound up being the first time I’d ever done an event outside of the United States.

Literally, with these two events alone, my entire career started to snowball. Now, as I look ahead to all the events planned for 2012, I can only smile.

Lesson three: Carpe diem! When the moment arrives, seize it.

Endless possibilities

This year I’ll be speaking at both Blog Worlds, and Content Marketing World as a keynote, as well as multiple other summits and conventions.

That’s the thing about speaking—once the snowball gets rolling, it will roll very, very fast, as one event will open up the door to three or four others. Unfortunately, most folks simply don’t hang around long enough to watch this snowball grow and pick up speed.

I’m not here to say that becoming a professional speaker from your blog is easy. Without question, it’s going to require guts, persistence, and an iron will. But it is possible.

So if this is a dream you have, my suggestion is you go out there and get it. Don’t wait for it to pass on by. Will your future. Walk into the office of your target event and tell the person you’re awesome.

And then, when the moment of truth comes, give the best dang presentation you’ve ever given.

If you liked this article, you’ll love Marcus Sheridan’s site, The Sale Lion. And while there, don’t miss the opportunity to download his FREE, 230-page eBook: Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy.

How to Create and Host a Blog Carnival

This guest post is by Greg McFarlane of Control Your Cash.

Everyone has them, except possibly R.L. Stine. I’m referring to those days when you’re lacking either the inspiration or the energy to write something fresh and/or inventive.

If you can somehow get those days to occur on a regular schedule, say weekly, there’s a solution. Outsourcing.

I’m not talking about running guest posts, nor contributions from freelance or staff writers. I mean leveraging the work of dozens of other bloggers in your genre, for your mutual benefit.

Host a blog carnival: a roundup of timely posts from other bloggers, concentrating on a particular area of interest. Your colleagues write the posts, then you assemble, fold, collate, and link to them for presentation to your regular audience.

My blog, Control Your Cash, hosts the weekly Carnival of Wealth. As you can probably deduce, the carnival is germane to my blog’s focus on personal finance. The Carnival of Wealth goes live at around 2pm GMT every Monday and features bloggers from, at last count, four continents.

Every week I receive dozens of submissions, which means that my biggest challenge is getting each week’s edition of the carnival down to a workable size. The carnival posts frequently receive the most comments and trackbacks of any posts on my site. In other words, hosting a carnival means something for everyone. In descending order of importance, that’s:

  • interesting content for my readers and my contributors’ readers
  • an increase in legitimate visitors for my site
  • an increase in legitimate visitors for the contributors’ sites
  • a respite from research for me
  • inbound and outgoing links aplenty for everyone.

Where it all began

I’d love to take credit for creating my carnival from scratch, but the truth is that I picked it up secondhand. It’s the brainchild of Shailesh Kumar at Value Stock Guide, who started the carnival a year and a half after he began blogging about personal finance. During that period, while he got to know similar bloggers, his own blog found its voice—a fusion of personal finance and lifestyle, vaguely similar to what I do at Control Your Cash.

As a submitter to other carnivals, Shailesh had trouble finding ones whose area of interest overlapped his own. His posts were too personal finance for the lifestyle carnivals, too lifestyle for the personal finance carnivals. So he created his own, an amalgam of the two. As Shailesh puts it, “There was no one carnival that addressed this super-genre.”

Leveraging the goodwill and/or notoriety that come with commenting on other sites, the Carnival of Wealth’s founder received 20-odd submissions for each of the first few editions. Most of those were via invitation, rather than from bloggers who read the announcement of the carnival and then decided to submit.

As a carnival builds, a combination of momentum and prodding helps it grow. It requires haranguing your submitters to tweet about the carnival, and to share it on social networks, which they’ll probably be happy to do anyway. Simple courtesy dictates that anyone who submits to a carnival should offer a reciprocal link, but even the promise of a unilateral link is enough to attract other bloggers and help a carnival grow.

(If you’re wondering, I had originally offered to host the Carnival of Wealth once a month. And did so. Then, after a few months, I got the opportunity to take it over permanently and jumped at the chance.)

How it works

The mechanics of hosting a carnival are straightforward. To keep the submitters happy, I’ve made it easy for them to submit their posts. My carnival has a dedicated page at BlogCarnival.com, with rules for submitting and a firm deadline. Each submitter includes a summary of her post, and if it fits (many of them don’t come close), I run it.

BlogCarnival.com sends me the submissions as they’re received, which I then hold onto and leave unopened until I’m ready to begin assembling. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s inefficient to deal with each submission as it arrives, and then add it to the carnival if it passes muster. Better to let the submissions collect until the deadline, then address them en masse in one concentrated writing session.

Hosting other people’s work in a carnival doesn’t have to mean surrendering the tone that distinguishes your blog. Far from it. I make it a point to showcase every edition of the Carnival of Wealth in the same style that my site is infamous for.

The best part of hosting a carnival is that it guarantees me a slew of readers who wouldn’t normally visit my site. Fans of the submitters who make the cut will leave comments on Control Your Cash, and hopefully bookmark it.

The Carnival of Wealth is anomalous in that the same blog hosts it every week. Most carnivals rotate among a series of bloggers, each of whom gets penciled into the schedule months in advance, whereas I seldom incorporate guest hosts. (In fact, I only do so when the Carnival of Wealth conflicts with my spot in the rotation for someone else’s carnival.)

I’d rather have people visit my site. And I’d rather have my readers know they can find the Carnival of Wealth as a regularly scheduled feature on Control Your Cash, as opposed to anywhere else. Plus the carnival roundups are just plain fun to write, and doing so gives me the opportunity to read some brilliant posts that I’d never have discovered otherwise.

Hosting a carnival can be a lot of work in the initial stages. But it’s work with a huge capacity for leverage. When you host a carnival, it fosters relationships with like-minded bloggers and readers. Done correctly, it can’t help but make your blog grow.

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. You can buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at [email protected].

Why Kissing a Digital Baby is Better than Back-scratching a Super-famous Blogger

 This guest post is by  Shamelle Perera of Better Blogging Ways.

By now, it’s been engraved into every bloggers mind that relationships are the foundation of building a successful blog.

Then, there is this “hush hush” unwritten law, “You should build strong relationships with established pro bloggers or blogosphere influences! Their links are like gold; a tweet or Facebook like will bring you a tsunami of visitors to your blog.”

(Don’t get me wrong. This post is not a rebel rant against pro bloggers. I respect them dearly, and the work they’ve done to rise up to that level.)

Yes, it’s true that one tweet or Facebook Like from these super famous bloggers can flood your blog with visitors. However,  there are so many newbie bloggers trying to get the attention of such bloggers. It can be a difficult, if not an impossible endeavor to get on their radars. Even if you get an ounce of their attention, it might still be short-lived.

So, forget the pros (for a moment!)

Kiss plenty of digital babies

I first heard about the term, “kissing digital babies” from Stanford over at PushingSocial. For the benefit of those of you who go astray when you see the word “kissing,” Digital Babies = newbie bloggers.

Srini from BlogCastFM, goes on to say, “Emerging talent is the most undervalued asset in the blogosphere”. I couldn’t agree more.  There are really good undiscovered digital babies out there.

Whenever I see a newbie blogger who offers a different perspective (unlike the same rehashed content we see everywhere!), I don’t hesitate to promote that blog/blogger. I don’t expect anything in return. It’s just my way of saying, “Thank you”.

“Why?” you ask.

Even digital babies can teach you a thing or two

In my post, How Blogging Daddies Got Blogging Advice From Their Adorable Toddlers it was quite evident that even pro bloggers still learn from their kids.

Did you ever think that a pro blogger such as Darren Rowse could learn about blogging from his adorable toddler?

The same principal applies here. A newbie blogger may offer some new inspiration, or maybe you’ll learn a small thing which you had no idea about before. So don’t dismiss a newbie blogger easily.

“Build baby build!”

Seth Godin said, “Build baby build!” In his book Tribes, Seth encourages you to create your own tribe and look for people to join your tribe, rather than trying to join other established tribes.

Be on the lookout for digital babies who are searching for new tribes to join. With every digital baby kissed, there is potential of finding a new reader—a new member for your tribe.

Digital babies can form your new loyal audience

Digital babies will have more time on their hands to engage with you than will a super-busy famous blogger. This will mean that a digital baby will read more of your blog posts and see the value you offer. Who knows—they might even buy one of your products!

On helping…

Having said all this, I need to mention that you shouldn’t help someone with the intention of getting something in return. Help because you think it’s the right thing to do; help because you want to genuinely see the newbie blogger progress further; help because you can use your influence and pay it forward. Surely someone helped you be where you are today?

Hopefully this post inspired you to you to do something nice for a newbie blogger. Before you walk away just take five minutes to find a digital baby you can kiss. Look through your blog comments, RSS reader, guest posts, and backlinks.

See what you can do to help, and how much time you can spend. For example, perhaps you can allocate five minutes each week for a comment, retweet, etc. over the next month. Or perhaps there’s a post that resonated with you, and which deserves a backlink from your blog?

Are you convinced? Is kissing a digital baby better than back scratching a super famous blogger? When developing relationships with other bloggers, what has been your strategy?

Shamelle Perera is a full-time search engine mechanic and a part time blogger. If you are looking for thoughtful, actionable blogging tips with a fresh perspective checkout her blog, Better Blogging Ways Follow her on Twitter @BetterBloggingW, you won’t be bored!

Develop Irresistible Content with this 4-Point Formula

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

If you want to create blog posts, white papers, and even ebooks that clearly communicate your idea and compel your readers to do whatever you ask,  you need to use this little formula.

It deals with the four different learning abilities people have, but it’s also based in a rock-solid copywriting technique I’ll tell you about in a minute.

Let’s take a look.

Learning styles and decision-making

There are basically four learning styles:

  • Analytic: These learners like facts and will evaluate how your information compares to other facts and competing claims. About 20% of people are analytic.
  • Commonsense: These learners are practical and want to know how things work. About 20% of people are commonsense learners.
  • Dynamic: These learners look for interesting information, but are more gut learners and teachers. They want this information for themselves and for others. Approximately 25% of people are dynamic learners.
  • Innovative: These learners demand reasons why they should learn something. They look for the personal benefit in content. Innovative learners make up the most of people at 35%.

This analysis may seem a little too scientific for writing blog content, but it’s not. It’s really relevant to another common formula known as AIDA, which says that each of us moves through four stages in the decision-making process: attention, interest, desire, and action.

As I’ll show here, you’ll gain attention when you approach the beginning of a post with the innovative learner in mind. You’ll stoke interest as you make the analytic learner happy. When you give the commonsense learner what she wants, you’ll build desire. And finally, as you create your call to action, you’ll get the dynamic learner involved, too.

Let’s see what this approach to writing looks like.

Grabbing the attention of the innovative learner

Every good writer knows that it’s the headline that attracts attention, and explains why you should read the article. It gives a compelling reason, something the innovative learner demands.

Great headlines have four qualities. They are:

  • Unique: A unique headline is one that nobody else can use because of its unique selling proposition. If 40 other blog posts could use it, then it is too general.
  • Useful: The reason why “how-to” guides are popular is because you get answers to your problems, which, as you can imagine, the innovative learner loves.
  • Ultra-specific: My post, 10 SEO Trends You Can’t Ignore If You Want High Rankings is a good example of ultra-specific since I used both a number and isolated this post to SEOs.
  • Urgent: By putting a deadline into your headline you create urgency. For example, “30 Days until the Price Doubles” or “Last Chance: Registration Closes at Midnight” are urgent headlines.

After you’ve grabbed the attention of readers with your headline, hook them by writing a great opening paragraph, which starts with a great first sentence. Here are some examples from Huffington Post:

  • “It was a pleasure to burn.” Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  • “We were just outside of Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Asking questions and using statistics and quotes are also great ways to attract the attention of the innovate learner in the first sentence. So does making a crazy statement that simply can’t be true, but then promising to show your reader that it is.

Building interest for the analytic learner

Your next step in writing irresistible content is to build interest through the presentation of cold, hard facts—something the analytic learner needs. In other words, you provide proof of your claims.

Here’s an example of proof gone wrong from the copywriter Robert Bly:

A motivational speaker just sent me a free review copy of his new book, published earlier this month.

A banner on the front cover proclaims the book is an “international best-seller.”

Yet when I check it online, the book is ranked #292,514 on Amazon.

Surely, if this just-published book were in fact an international bestseller, it would be at least in the top 100,000 on Amazon right now, no?

Does the author realize how silly, or at least unbelievable, his claim to bestsellerdom looks to the intelligent reader who bothers to check?

Or is his assumption that people today are so naive they will believe anything correct?

My experience, by the way, is the opposite: people are more skeptical than ever today, and their B.S. detectors have never been more accurate.

The moral of the story is if you’re going to make a claim, back it up. Link to your sources, provide graphs and statistics. Most people are not going to believe what you say unless you have proof. So give it to them.

By the way, don’t make a claim and then search for data to back it up. The analytic will see right through that. Instead, you should start with the data and then your insight or idea will develop from it.

For example, you can tell the author behind this Social Media Examiner article started with the data first, writing a very insightful article from his findings.

Show the analytic that you’re an authority

Further proof for the analytic learner is authority. You need to prove any claims you make and then you need to show why they should believe you.

One way I show that I have the authority to speak on the subject of writing popular blog posts is by mentioning my blog that was named among the Technorati Top 100. It shows that someone else with lots of credibility recognized me as an expert.

You’ll see blogs with “As Seen In” sections with the logos of important companies and media sources, like the Wall Street Journal, underneath. This is an endorsement and it’s another way of showing you have authority.

Here’s what WordStream’s footer looks like:

If sources like Entrepreneur and CNN back you, then people feel they can trust you.

Testimonials from readers and clients are also a form of authority, so don’t forget to include one or two when appropriate.

Teasing the commonsense learner with desire

The next step in writing irresistible content is to develop desire for your claims. You’ve attracted readers’ attention, built their interest … now you please the commonsense learner who wants to know how something works.

How do you do this?

Simple. Explain what it is that your offer will do for them. Maybe you’ll show them how to pick stocks, lose weight, or grow an organic garden.

But don’t give away the farm. What do I mean by that? Here are some examples I’ve seen where writers give away the farm:

  • a blog post that explains explicitly what a guy needs to do to pick up hot women
  • a sales letter that unpacks the secret to save money for your child’s college education right in the letter
  • a video sleeve copy that demonstrates the best ways to run a marathon
  • a movie trailer that spills all the funniest jokes and the most exciting plot twists.

Don’t get me wrong: I appreciated the information. The problem is I didn’t buy any of the products or act on any of the advice. Why should I? Everything I needed to know is right in there. No wonder their conversion rate stinks.

Don’t over-educate. Tease the commonsense reader into action like this:

  • Does your audience want to overcome depression? Then tell them you have a five-step program that will transform them into a happy and productive person … but don’t give away the steps free.
  • Does your audience want to retire at 21? Then tell them how you’ve helped hundreds of people build wealth using an ebook marketing strategy … a strategy they can get their hands on once they go through a rigorous application process.
  • Does your audience want to lose weight? Then tell them you’ve figured out how exactly to do just that with the right combination of exercise, food, and vitamins. But don’t tell them what that combination is. Just tell them how these will make them live healthier and longer.

See how that works?

It tells the commonsense learner what something can do for them, but not how. It doesn’t give away the specifics.

Sometimes you can let them peek behind the curtains, like giving them just one of the steps in a six-part process, but not so much that the commonsense learner has everything she needs. Leave something juicy off, dangle it in front of their faces, and promise you will give it to them when they act.

Pushing the dynamic learner to act

Now that you’ve attracted attention, built interest and developed desire, your audience, namely your dynamic learners, should be primed to pounce on your offer. So, tell them what to do.

There are five characteristics to a good call to action:

  • Specific: Tell your reader exactly what you want them to do. “Please enter your name and email address to download a free copy of the ebook,” for example.
  • Meaningful: Readers are more likely to act if you tell them the reason why you want them to act. “Register for the event now. We only have ten seats left.”
  • Repetitive: A good call to action is repeated at least three times in your copy. Each time should be slightly different, but it should always be clear what you want the reader to do. And it should be the same thing each time.
  • Smooth: A good call to action is natural to what you are writing. It feels like it ties all your copy together neatly. And it should never scream or be full of hype.
  • Polite: It always works bests to ask your reader to do something rather than command them. For example, “Why not subscribe right now before the offer ends at midnight?” works much better than “Subscribe right now before the offer ends at midnight.”

Conclusion

Once you’ve worked your way through the AIDA formula in your copy, you’ve naturally given each learning style what they want, and in the meantime, written some pretty compelling content a large audience can’t resist.

Furthermore, the great thing about this approach is that you could break a topic up into four different posts for each learning style. Or you could do a longer post, including the above approach for all of them. Either way, you’ll create content that people find irresistible.

What other formulas do you use to create irresistible content?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

Build Keyword Density the Right Way

This guest post is by Bill Achola of SeoArticleWriteService.com.

It would be great if the only purpose of your copywriting was to sell your products. Unfortunately your copy often has to serve two purposes: attracting visitors to your site, and then selling to them.

Attracting traffic using copy requires using search engine optimizing techniques, and adding keywords. Using the topic of baby food, in this post we will look at a few ways to include keywords in your copy.

Keep it natural

The key to successful keyword optimizing in your copy is to keep it natural. As Greg McFarlane points out in his post Why Bieber SEO Copywriting Sex Doesn’t iPad Work Minecraft, people often make the mistake of overloading the text with keywords, and replacing every generic key term with the keyword or phrase. This will not give you high-quality persuasive copy, as you can see in the following example.

Keyword = baby foods

As new mothers we all want our babies to have the best baby foods; we spend a lot of time researching good baby foods recipes and making sure we buy high-quality baby foods. Giving your child a good start in life with healthy baby foods ad not giving them baby foods that they are not ready for, is one of the major concerns of new parents.

The above example is not only annoying to read, parts of it have been made grammatically incorrect in an attempt to use the keyword as often as possible. While you might get a lot of traffic to your website from parents searching for the keyword “baby foods,” they will quickly move onto another site when they start reading.

Make sure you select your keywords carefully so that they fit in easily with the subject of your copywriting. This will improve the flow of your copy, increasing your sales conversions.

Here are three ways to include keywords naturally.

1. Break up keywords phrases

It can be hard to fit a long keyword phrase into your copywriting. I was once asked to use the key phrase “baby food recipes 6 months.” This is an awkward phrase to use altogether, but it works well when split up by punctuation. Search engines read straight punctuation marks such as full stops, commas and colons so think how you can use these to split your keyword phrase.

Keyword phrase = baby food recipes 6 months

Look no further for tasty and healthy baby food recipes. 6 months is the perfect time to start introducing your bay to new tastes and textures.

The above example keeps the keyword phrase intact so it will be recognized by the search engines, but does not seem out of place or awkward.

2. Lengthen the keyword phrase

Some phrases are difficult to include because they are singular when you would usually use a plural or vice versa. Adding words to the end of the phrase can help you overcome this problem as well as giving you inspiration for your writing.

Keyword = food for baby

  • Food for bay weaning
  • Food for baby meals
  • Food for baby taste buds

Adding a word or two to the end of this phrase makes it less grammatically awkward and helps you to fit it into your copy writing sounding repetitive.

3. Use a keyword phrase that describes what your product is not

Take the example of the keyword “cheap baby food.” When a parent enters this search term they are looking for good value, high-quality baby food that they do not have to pay very much for.

However, if you describe your product as cheap baby food, it will give the impression that it is poor quality, and therefore not great for their precious child. Avoid this by using the keyword to describe what your product is not.

Keyword = cheap baby food

Try out one of our healthy, easy-to-make recipes as an alternative cheap baby food. Once you’ve tasted one of these nutritious homemade meals, you’ll never want to feed your little one cheap baby food again.

Using the above techniques will ensure your copywriting remains natural and that you don’t have to sacrifice quality to keyword density.

A final tip: write your copy first and then go back with your keywords in mind and place them where appropriate. This will make your copy flow more naturally, and will appeal both to your readers and the search engines.

Visit the blog at SeoArticleWriteService.com to learn how Bill Achola can write high conventional marketing content for bloggers and affiliate marketers.

The Gong Fu of Blogging

This guest post is by Michael de Waal-Montgomery of The Monty Mike Times.

The word Kung Fu comes from the Chinese word “Gong Fu,” which means “hard work.” Anyone who’s studied Kung Fu knows this name is well deserved. It’s tough going, no matter how good you get.

Blogging is also “gong fu” sometimes. On a good day, the writing can seem to flow effortlessly, perhaps feeling something more akin to Tai Chi, or “Tai Ji Quan” in the original Chinese.

On a bad day, blogging is exhausting. The thought alone of sitting down and staring at a blank page, a blinking cursor in a field of white snow, can be utterly depressing.

If you’re writing for pleasure, this is the last place you want to be. Why spend your own free time doing something you’re not enjoying? It’s a question worth asking.

Inspiration

The other question worth asking is why does blogging feel like such hard work today? The answer is usually because you’re uninspired. You feel you have nothing worth blogging about. You feel like you have nothing interesting to say.

What you deem uninteresting and what the world deems uninteresting are often not the same thing. For starters, you spend every day with yourself, locked up in your own head.

Because we are too close to our own situations, to our own lives and the events that unfold within them each day, it’s easy to make a judgement call that we are just boring people.

That’s not true.

No one else is living your life. No one else is seeing the world in quite the same way you are. No one else is thinking the same thoughts and no one else is taking away the same lessons from each experience.

If you are feeling that writing that blog post is a bit Gong Fu today, look for inspiration. If you think you have to climb a mountain to find it, you’re wrong. Inspiration can be found everywhere, in everything.

Look in your thoughts, and at your experiences. Consider the things that make you who you are, the places you’ve been, and the people you’ve met. The lessons you’ve learned living this life.

It is said that a man is what he thinks about all day. If you think about cars, blog about cars; if you spent the whole day feeling uninspired, blog about something that will inspire others instead.

Often looking for a topic to blog about is as easy as facing up to the very one you’re running away from. The one that you think will bore readers to death.

Limitation

There is very little new and original content in the world today. What’s new and original is the way you look at something old and tired. The angle you take, the spin you put on it. The piece of your character that you bring into it.

The possibilities are endless.

There are only 26 letters in the alphabet. There are only four limbs in the body. Yet bloggers go on blogging and Kung Fu teachers go on teaching Kung Fu. So what’s the secret?

They know how to stay inspired, how to stay hungry. They know how to look at the ordinary and find the extraordinary. If you can’t learn to do this too, your blogging will always remain Gong Fu.

Time to buy some new spectacles, perhaps. Or take off your old ones. The whole world is right in front of you, like an oyster.

So start writing that latest blog post already!

Michael de Waal-Montgomery is a full-time journalism student and aspiring writer who enjoys blogging in his free time. You can read his rants over at The Monty Mike Times.

How Successful Blogging is Just Like Surviving Highschool

This guest post is by Josh Sarz of Sagoyism.

Do you ever feel like it’s high school all over again?

I’m talking about blogging. The whole “turn over a new leaf, do something great, do epic stuff, get famous” sense of it all feels like high school.

You know that feeling. It’s similar to when you’re just starting out, wanting to make a name for yourself, and hoping that some day you’ll become famous and get buckets of cash.

But just like high school, it’s a jungle out there. It’s not completely safe, nor is it any bit as easy as it seems. There are bullies, psycho teachers, cool kids, not-so-cool kids, and geeks.

You need to learn some rules on how to survive, just like in high school. This time around, you don’t just want to get out alive. You want to come out on top of your game.

1. Work hard

In high school, working hard was just about studying for the exams. Nothing more, nothing less. That would be decent effort, and you’d get decent grades.

When you’re blogging, studying is a prerequisite. There are loads of things you need to do to survive.

You need to learn how to multitask. You need to know your trade by heart. You need to sacrifice a lot of your time, and use it for brainstorming, writing, editing, designing your website, marketing yourself and your blog, pitching for guest posts … the list goes on.

2. Get involved

Getting involved in high school meant joining clubs. Lots of clubs, if you had the time and energy. It also included joining school plays, or getting into sports.

In blogging, it’s pretty much the same.

There are loads of clubs/groups/courses/forums where bloggers, writers, business owners and the like can hang out and socialize in their own little space. There’s the Third Tribe, The A-List Blogger Club, The Warrior Forum, and a whole bunch more.

Now when you want to get involved without having to join clubs (and pay for them), there are a lot of other ways to do so.

We’ve all heard of social media, blog commenting, and building relationships. That’s all good, but everyone’s doing it. What else can you do?

Subscribe to newsletters: But not just so you can get on their list. In a way, you’re getting them on your personal list. Not your “making money” email list, but your “talk to this guy about stuff” list.

Usually, the big boys and girls of blogging use their email list to communicate with their readers, right?

Bam! You have their email. Maybe not their personal email, but a contact point nonetheless. Another similar tactic is to use their contact forms, but some don’t really reply to that.

Name-drop: What’s this? It’s when you just talk about the cool kids; you could also opt to step it up by linking to them. If it’s good enough content, and if they notice that you mentioned or linked to them, they’ll think you’re cool and hang out with you.

Does this really work? I don’t know. Ask this guy.

Personal army: This is sort of risky. I’ve gotten permission from Martyn Chamberlin of twohourblogger to talk about it. Martyn had his friends pinged Brian Clark to ask him to retweet a post. Long story short, Brian Clark got annoyed but now they’re buddies.

There are a lot of ways to get someone’s attention; this is one of them. It worked.

3. Be on-time/present

You might be thinking “Not this again.”

You see, in high school, if you were always tardy or even absent during class, you’d get demerits. But those demerits aren’t that deadly.

With your blog, if you’re never showing up when you’re supposed to, it’s deadly for your image.

This does not mean having to post every day. You don’t want to force out below-par blog posts. No. You want high-quality content, with a story to tell.

So what else is being present and on-time about?

A hundred tweets a day isn’t presence. It’s annoying. Like a mosquito flying around near your ears.

Presence is when you reply to readers’ comments on your blog posts. It’s when people send you emails through your contact form, and you actually reply. Not your virtual assistant. Not an automated robot. But you.

4. Do your homework

High school. Homework. Important, although not life-threatening. But you still had to do it if you want to survive all the way through.

When you’re writing great content, you don’t get it by  just churning them out like a machine. Do your homework.

There are plenty ways to research for information to put in your content.

Surveys: A common website/tool to use for making surveys is surveymonkey.com. You can sign up for a free account, and it’s a decent tool for getting information from people.

Direct email: You can email anyone: bloggers, writers, journalists, friends, strangers … anyone. Don’t have their email? There’s social media to help you out.

Call interviews: This doesn’t have to be through phone. You can use Skype, Google Voice chat or Google Hangouts.

Split testing: This ranges from writing styles, tone, formatting, blog design/structure and more.

Blogging is hard work. Still with me? Good. Let’s continue.

5. Make a diverse circle of friends

In high school, you could get away with sticking to a single circle of friends. If you wanted to stand out and get recognized, you’d have to reach out to a lot more people.

The same goes for blogging.

Remember the age-old advice that the “veterans” talk about, like making friends with people in your niche? That’s great, but you could make it even better by making friends with people from other niches. Why should you bother doing that?

Think of it this way. If you have ten pals who blog about blogging talk about you, that’s great. If you have 30 people from all sorts of niches and industries willing to vouch for you, that’s massive. Think of them as your personal army.

How do you do this?

  • By getting involved with other people’s blogs and activities.
  • By replying to people who comment on your posts, reaching out to their blogs. Circling them on Google Plus.
  • Talking with people who comment on the A-list blogs, since they’re talking, might as well jump in the conversation. Some might find you intrusive, but if you do this with 100 people you’re bound to make at least ten friends.
  • Keeping in mind that one day, they can be your personal army who will vouch for you when you mess up.

6. Keep your locker stacked

We all had lockers back in high school, right? It’s where we put our things just in case we’ll be needing them soon.

In blogging, your locker can be your CMS, whether you use WordPress, Blogger, Hubpages, etc. How do you keep it stacked?

Always have backup posts written, proofread, formatted, and ready for publishing. If you need places to look for ideas, here are some examples that the cool kids don’t preach:

The Bible: A lot of people don’t talk about this as a source of inspiration for their writing because they’re afraid to sound all religious-like.

You’re missing out on a lot.

And if you’re not into the Christian faith, think of this book as the biggest piece of fiction that has inspired countless generations. More than all the Stephen King, John Grisham or Chuck Palahniuk books combined.

Kids’ entertainment: Again, a lot of people don’t talk about getting inspiration from kids’ shows because they don’t want to sound immature.

They’re just scared.

If you want to talk courage, here’s a post from a guy who wrote an amazing, inspiring blog post about courage using a character from the storybooks.

Again, these are stories that had inspired generations. They may be childish, but these stories have enchanted more people than any “mature” show like Mad Men.

7. Be excessively happy

Highschool gives you a lot of stress. Not from classes, but from people.

It’s the same in blogging.

You write your blog post, and expect to get massive traffic, but nothing happens. Why? People will be people. They flock to where the good stuff is. And to top it off, they don’t know you even exist.

Don’t go whining and quit. Hang in there, and smile. Be excessively happy. Crazy happy. Nobody likes to hear people whine all day. Or take out their frustrations on other people.

When someone comments on your posts, be happy. Reply to them in an awesome way. Stop being so uptight. Be more like Ayo Olaniyan. When he replies to comments, it’s like he’s always smiling just like his picture. Crazy happy.

8. Stay focused

Make lots of friends. Get involved. But remember to stay focused on what you’re blogging for.

Write down your goals on a piece of paper, and stick them somewhere in your desk. Someplace where you can see it whenever you’re working. Make your goals specific and tangible. Also, add the element of time restriction.

Here are some goals you can write down:

  • guest posts on X
  • ebook on X
  • interview with X
  • email X about X’s post about X

Writing specific goals lets you know what you need to do, and the deadline helps you avoid procrastinating.

9. Go out on dates

Yes, plural.

If you went out on a lot of dates back in high school (or at least tried to), you’ll know what’s coming when you’re pitching other bloggers for guest post opportunities.

Guest posting is just like dating.

As Sean Platt would say it, you’re going to be wooing other bloggers with your bouquet of words. And unless you already have a solid reputation, it’s going to be hard.

Those who’ve made a name for themselves through guest posting know the feeling of getting dumped. It happens. But you have to be persistent and get better. Get a better bouquet and try again.

People like Leo Babauta, Brian Clark, and Danny Iny all went crazy guest blogging. Jon Morrow teaches a course all about guest blogging. It’s that crucial to success.

10. Get in the yearbook

Getting featured in the yearbook back in highschool meant that you did something great. Something that made other students look up to you.

In blogging, there’s no physical yearbook. But there are blogging roundups, like the ones on ProBlogger, Copyblogger, Write to Done, and a bunch of other sites that give recognition to other bloggers at the end of the year.

It’s not biggest achievement that you could get with blogging, nor does it mean you’re the best out of all the other blogs not featured in them. But if you’re in one, you must have done something fascinating and remarkable, right?

Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion talked about this on his blog:

I’ve written my share of these types of posts in the past simply because I enjoy shedding light on great people who are blessing others through their work. This, in my opinion, is a very good thing and will never grow old.

But it’s also time we all understood and defined our true individual metrics of success, as it’s this vision that will carry us through the good and bad times that come with all the hard work, effort, and deep passion that is blogging.

When asked about what he thinks other bloggers could do to “get noticed” and grow their blog, he says:

I read the a-listers, and if they something I feel strongly about, for or against, I write about it. I’m not a blind follower. And I don’t want others to blindly follow me. I think A-listers respect you more if you disagree with them, but do it tactful. I’m not a jerk. I don’t demean. I think people demean A-listers too much, and that really bothers me. We’re all imperfect.

Keep in mind, I’ve been at this 2 years now. I’ve never written less than 9 articles in a month. I’m extrememly consistent, and show up to work everyday. A-listers notice up and comers, but they don’t necessarily embrace them right away (nor should they) because so many folks come and go in this business. Once they see someone who is talented and consistent, then they’re much more likely to notice.

I also did a quick interview with James Chartrand of Men with Pens, as she was also featured in a roundup at Copyblogger. Here’s what she had to say:

What’s really important to me (beyond having my hard work and efforts recognized) is that by having my name on the list, people can discover my blog and find helpful advice they need.

That’s always been my personal mission. I’ve been writing advice for writers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners for years because I want to help these people earn more money and more clients.

So it’s fulfilling to hear from people who’ve applied my advice and seen positive results. They’re changing their lives for the better and reaching their success goals. I feel good about being part of that!

But she also said this:

I think people should actually stop blogging until they have something to prove that their knowledge helps other people accomplish goals or that they’re achieving important milestones and can share proven techniques with others. Many bloggers don’t actually know what they’re doing—they’re faking it until they make it.

I feel that recognition comes from the ability to show results—and results come from working hard, putting in the effort, being willing to take risks and having a strong drive to succeed.

Getting included in these roundups is great. Your name and your brand gets more exposure to people who haven’t heard of you yet. That being said, getting featured in these roundups at  the end of every year shouldn’t be your ultimate goal.

It’s great and all, but achieving your personal goals as a blogger, like getting clients, selling your books, and so on, is way better.

Survival isn’t the end-game

Surviving highschool wasn’t the end-game. Nor is it the same for blogging.

After you’ve established yourself and your blog, there’s a whole new ball game.

It’s going to be about continuously delivering content that inspires people, and helps them in some aspect in their lives.

Are you up to challenge of surviving the blogosphere? What other tips can you add to the list above? Share them in the comments section below.

Josh Sarz is a Freelance Writer, Blogger and the founder of Sagoyism, a blog which talks about Epic Content Marketing and Storytelling . He also likes punk rock and metal, among other things.