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The Simple Power of Asking

This guest post is by Sanjeev Mohindra of Makewebworld.

What is asking? It is a simple act of putting together a query in order to obtain the answer. Whether you get an answer or not depends on how a question has been framed and asked.

Ask

Image used with permission

Asking has an awesome power, yet it is one of the most unused methods of advancement.

When you enter the blogging world, there are lots of things which you might want to know. You can get them by just asking. Still, most people avoid doing that: they try to get all the answers by themselves.

Asking in practice

When I started my new blog, I started to look for guest post opportunities and my first guest post What you can take from your Blog’s Worst Day got published on ProBlogger.

I created a draft and send it for consideration. I waited for the next 15 days to get a response to my email, but one came.

I could have assumed this was a rejection but rather than leaving it, I decided to ask about it. I sent a note to ask if the post was still under consideration … and I was amazed to see the response.

“So sorry for my late reply, and thanks very much for following up with me, because I thought I’d responded to your email already! I enjoyed this piece and will be happy to include it on the site.”

Now I want you to take a moment and think: what you would have done in this situation? If you’d have asked in the same manner as I did, you know the power of asking.

If you think logically, you’ll know that posts can be overlooked at ProBlogger, where they might be receiving hundreds of emails daily. It might not be the same on a fledgling blog where there are hardly any emails.

The power of asking

Asking is a sign of courage and a sign that you are ready to learn. Every question demands a response, so it generates active communication.

All you have to do is ask. And ask is what people in best-practices cultures do—all the time.—Winning – The Answers, by Jack and Suzy Welch

Winning – The Answers, is really a great book. It focuses on global business practices, but who doesn’t consider blogging as a business? Jack and Suzy Welch have mentioned one more important point in the book: if you are asking your direct competitors, you are most probably not going to get the answer.

This is true in blogging world, too. If you are looking for the best practices, look at the blogs other than those in your niche, check what is working for them and ask if it can work for your blog.

If you think that it can work for your blog, then go ahead and ask how they are using the technique. Arund 99% time you will get an answer—they will be happy to show you how they have created their blogs.

You can do the same within your niche, but be prepared for lower response rates. Still, you will find some nice people who are ready to welcome a new blogger into the niche.

Ask for topics

What do your readers want? It’s always a mystery! What could be a better way than asking them directly?

Bloggers do run many polls on our blogs as a means to engage the readers. How about running a poll for your next topic? Ask what they want to read. You may end up writing on each topic mentioned in the poll, but a poll can help you give priority to certain topics.

It also does one more thing: it engages your readers for the future posts so they will be tempted to come back and check what you wrote about the topic they suggested.

Ask for friends

Darren mentioned in 31DBBB that you need to find a blogging buddy, but what if you don’t have anybody close to you who can be your buddy?

Asking can help you find a friend or buddy. You can try asking some bloggers in your niche if they want to connect with you: just ask them. You might be surprised to see the responses. No, you might not get many responses, but you do not need many buddies.

You need to make sure that your question is clear enough to convey the message properly. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you ask for a blog buddy:

  • Use open-ended questions to encourage conversations.
  • It should not be about me—it should be about them and what they will get.
  • Try to avoid trivial questions.
  • Try to avoid Yes/No type question, as they don’t generate an opportunity for conversation.
  • Give the person enough time to get an answer.

Ask

Asking is really easy and handy tool. The only thing to remember is that you need to ask with the intent of learning and improvement, not just for sake of it. People can feel your intent in your questions. So keep asking, and keep learning.

What was the last thing you asked for to help develop your blog? What happened when you asked? Share your experiences in the comments.

Sanjeev currently writes at Make Web World and offers his latest eBook “5 steps to WordPress Blog” for free, you can get the eBook by subscribing here or can connect with him at Google Plus.

The Complete Bloggers Guide to Facebook Marketing

This guide to Facebook Marketing is written by guest writer Amy Porterfield. Amy will be presenting with Darren Rowse and Lewis Howes in a free webinar for ProBlogger readers this Wednesday. Register to get access to this Webinar here now.

One Billion. That’s the number of users Facebook will hit in a matter of months – if not sooner. The powerhouse network continues to climb.

Did you know that two billion posts are Liked and commented on each day and, on average, Facebook users spend over 700 BILLION minutes a month on Facebook? There’s no doubt your ideal audience is on Facebook right now.

The key is to figure out how Facebook’s mega population can help you position your blog as the leading source in your industry while helping you increase your overall traffic and leads.

When it comes to Facebook marketing, you’ve got to have a plan. If you go at it without a strategy, your Facebook efforts could quickly become a huge waste of time.

To help you get clear on your Facebook plan, consider these four steps as a roadmap to Facebook success.

Step #1: Set Up Your Foundation For Facebook Success
Step #2: Quickly Grow a Lucrative Fan Base of Quality Leads
Step #3: Create Ongoing, Massive Engagement
Step #4: Turn Your Fans Into Profitable Super Fans

A closer look at each step will help you understand how these steps can grow your online presence, attract your ideal readers and build your blog.

Step #1: Set Up Your Foundation For Facebook Success

Before you can attract high quality leads to your blog, you must establish a solid Facebook foundation. The first step is to make sure your Facebook Page is optimized and reflects your brand impeccably. With almost a billion people on Facebook, you need to make sure your Page stands out from all the noise.

Facebook is the ultimate platform to brand yourself and your brand. You can do this by creating a customized wall image as well as a custom welcome tab.

A welcome tab is the page all non-fans land before they see the activity on your wall. This customized page will allow you to create a strong call to action that will get non-fans to click the Like button and become an instant fan of your Page.  A custom welcome tab can get you up to 50% more Likes than if you sent non-fans directly to your wall on their first visit. To get instant momentum on Facebook, begin my creating a solid foundation right from the start.

To better understand how to build your Facebook foundation, check out these useful articles:

Step #2: Quickly Grow a Lucrative Fan Base of Quality Leads

When it comes to Facebook success, numbers matter. Hubspot [http://hubspot.com] completed a study of over 4,000 Facebook business Pages and found that Pages with at least 501 fans drove 3 times more traffic than Pages with less than 501 fans. But even more promising, Pages with 1,001 fans or more generated 21 times more traffic than pages with less than 1,000 fans. That’s a huge jump!

Your fan count matters, however, numbers are an empty metric without quality. You must attract high-quality fans that will become avid readers of your blog and are invested in your business.  A Page full of fans who will never become paying customers is a huge waste of your time.

To attract your ideal audience on Facebook, you first want to make sure you understand who you want to attract. Get clear on your ideal blog reader so you can craft Facebook posts that will grab their attention and keep them coming back for more.

To explore new ways to attract your ideal audience on Facebook, take a look at the following articles. They are all packed with valuable fan attraction takeaways you can test out on your own Page.

Step #3: Create Ongoing, Massive Engagement

Engagement equals massive value. The key is in knowing what triggers drive your fans to discussion. Once your fans are engaged with you on your Facebook Page, you can easily move them to take action.

If you want to use Facebook to attract new blog readers and drive leads, it’s essential you provide a high level of content and quality information that delivers massive value and entices your fans to share it with their friends.

If you want your fans to take action, you must make an effort to educate, empower and entertain your fans.  Don’t worry; you don’t have to do all three at once! But the next time you post, make sure you pack your post with a punch and deliver content your audience will want to devour and share.

Facebook recently added a new public metric to Facebook Pages. In the left column, right below the number of fans, you’ll see a number that reflects the number of people who are talking about you on Facebook at that moment (sharing your posts, liking your content, commenting on your updates, etc.). The metric is labeled “Talking About This” and when it reflects a lot of conversation, it’s great social proof. The challenge is that most people struggle to get their fans talking and in turn, increase this metric.

If your “Talking About This” number is low, it’s likely that your content is falling flat with your audience. If that’s the case, do this quick test. Look at your last 10 posts and answer these four questions:

  1. Do my posts reflect what my core audience wants?
  2. Do my posts give valuable info my audience needs?
  3. Are my posts enticing enough to keep their attention?
  4. Am I creating content my audience will want to share with their friends?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, reevaluate your content and get clear on the type of posts your audience will want to devour and share. If you don’t know, ask them! Facebook is a great place to get great feedback from your ideal audience (and it’s free market research!).

To learn a few new strategies to get your fans talking even more, check out the following articles:

Step #4: Turn Your Fans Into Profitable Super Fans

When Facebook first started to gain massive popularity, there was a lot of talk about how it was a great place to network with potential customers and build relationships. And while that’s still true, ……

If you only focus on building relationships with Facebook, you’re missing out on an extremely important fact – Facebook is a thriving marketplace where you can turn lukewarm fans into Super Fans.  

What’s a Super Fan?  

Super Fans are Facebook users who have opened their Facebook profile, giving you access to their name, email address, likes, interests, connections and so much more. In addition, they’ve purchased from you, spread the word about you and your business to their friends and connections and have encouraged others to purchase from you as well.

Super Fans do what any marketing department would kill for, all for free. You want as many Super Fans as you can get.

The key to moving your fans up the ranks to Super Fan status is by setting the foundation for your Facebook Page, attracting quality fans and providing value via your posts and conversations on Facebook. Each of these steps will ensure that your audience sees you as the go-to source in your niche. When you know your fans challenges or needs, and can offer them solutions, you are positioned perfectly to move your fans to action.

Here are some useful articles that will help you move your fans up the ranks to Super Fan status:

When it comes to Facebook marketing, there’s a widening gap between those who get it and those who don’t. When you get clear on your own Facebook marketing strategy, you can more easily use this powerhouse network to drive more exposure and traffic to your blog.

Want to learn more about using Facebook as a Marketing tool? Register for a free webinar with Amy Porterfield, Lewis Howes and Darren Rowse to be held his Wednesday here.

Amy is the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies and a social media strategist for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Check out her latest Facebook marketing course, FBInfluence, by watching this video here.

Why Fresh Blog Content is Now 35% More Important

This guest post is by Oz of OzSoapbox.

I like to think of SEO in general as one giant cauldron of murky soup that’s never quite just right.

The cauldron has been simmering on the fire for so long that we’ve kind of lost track of exactly what we’ve put in there. All we can do now is tweak the broth by adding different ingredients in a continual effort that will hopefully improve its taste.

Taste, of course, being the positive effects good SEO brings to our blogs.

One of the gazillion factors that makes up SEO, and one we’re going to explore today, is content freshness. Gone are the days of static websites and even the seemingly most mundane of web pages usually had some sort of dynamic element to them.

Whether it’s a Twitter feed, Facebook integration, reader comments, or just a good old-fashioned constant stream of new articles, these days there’s a good chance even a website dedicated to your grandma’s cats is dynamically updated with some form of fresh content.

And as far as SEO goes, that’s now indisputably a good thing.

Measuring the impact of content freshness on our blogs

Previously, content freshness was something we knew was a good thing to do because SEO spiders loved new and updated content. Much like adding salt to a cauldron of soup, quantifying the exact impact content freshness had on our blogs has always been somewhat problematic.

Whilst we still don’t have a definitive answer on this (coughcough trade secrets coughcough), Google recently announced a major change to their search algorithm “that would impact roughly 35% of searches”.

That change? The quantification of the effect that freshness has on search results.

Google handle roughly three billion search queries a day, and 35% of that is one billion and fifty million searches a day affected in some way by content freshness.

That’s 1,050,000,000 daily search results … do I have your attention yet?

Google’s freshness algorithm change and your blog

Now obviously content freshness doesn’t mean that if you go berserk updating your content all of a sudden you’re going to be outranking Wikipedia. Yet this is a change to Google’s search results worth taking stock of.

That said, note that even at 35% of searches, this change simply might not really apply to your blog. Let’s face it, some blog niches are timeless.

For others, such as Digital Photography School, with digital camera models and new gear coming out all the time, Google’s algorithm change likely has huge potential.

If you don’t do anything about it though, that potential could easily swing from positive to negative.

Keeping your blog fresh

Even if you think your blog’s niche isn’t really impacted by time, it’s still worth keeping your blog fresh. In the vastness that is the Internet, the last thing you want is readers tuning out because they think you’re no longer relevant.

If you’re serious about keeping your blog stocked with fresh content, these would be the first three things I’d focus on.

Publish, publish, publish!

You don’t have to publish every day, but a strongly maintained publishing schedule is easily your best bet for fresh fresh content. What better way to show the search engines you’re full of fresh content than providing them with new pages to crawl every time they visit?

Comments

Why do all the work yourself? Although some bloggers prefer to turn comments off, as far as SEO goes, comments on your articles most definitely count towards freshness.

I’ve got some articles on my blog that I wrote a few years back, and to this day, they still receive the odd comment. This not only keeps the discussion going but keeps a page relevant, which is what Google’s latest algorithm change is all about.

Update your old articles

Even if you think nothing’s changed since you last wrote about a particular area of interest, it can’t hurt to go back and visit the topic.

I write a fair bit about current events in Taiwan. Often, a news snippet comes out that’s relevant to a story I’ve previously written about, but not significant enough to craft a new article around.

In these cases I simply go back to the article I originally wrote and provide an update. You can see this principle in action in my post on the DEHP scandal in Taiwan earlier this year.

I originally wrote the story in June. Since then I’ve updated the page no less than 19 times, with the last update on the 28th October.

The end result is a page that combines both age authority and content freshness. In the eyes of search engine crawlers this translates to relevance, because the page has been constantly updated with fresh content that is strongly on-topic.

Darren has previously written in more depth on keeping fresh content flowing on your blog, and it’s a great reference for some further fresh content ideas.

35% of over a billion searches a day are now quantifiably impacted by content freshness, and even a tiny percentage of this traffic is worth optimizing for. Fire up your favorite blogging platform and let’s get those blogs updated!

Updated daily, OzSoapbox is an English language blog about Taiwan cataloguing life in Taiwan, the good times and the bad. Interrupted only by social commentary on current events facing Taiwan, feel free to drop on by and join Oz on his journey through this beautiful island.

How to Create Another Day a Week Just for Blogging

This guest post is by Udi Tirosh of DIYPhotography.

When you start blogging it seems that there is never enough time—especially if you aren’t blogging full time, and you’re doing it from home. You get phone calls that need to be picked up; the service guy for the dishwasher shows up; you must read that important mail. It is not uncommon for an entire day to go by only to find out you didn’t complete any of the tasks you set for yourself.

The magic flask…

What if I told you there was a magic flask you can drink from which will freeze time for you? Every surrounding noise will stop: no calls, no incoming urgent mails, no dishes to wash or laundry to do. It will be just you and the computer. Everyone else will be frozen in time, allowing you to do your work. If you need something from someone, you just call their name and they will wake up for the exact amount of time you need them for an answer. I will grant you one flask a week.

Imagine: a whole day just for you and your work each wee. How would you use it? Would you outline your next blog series? Finally finish that long post that’s waiting in the queue? Brainstorm a subject for your next month of posts? How would you make this time useful?

Finding the extra day

Of course there is no such thing as a magic flask, but getting a day a week for your important work is actually not that hard.

All you have to do is spot the time of day when you are most prolific and productive. For some it is the afternoon, for some it is early morning. For me, it is the period after lunch.

Now decide that you are going to dedicate this time to blogging—think of it as a one-hour meeting with yourself. Actually, don’t just decide it, put it into your calendar. With a reminder. For every day of the week.

This will gain you six hours of uninterrupted work. During that time, don’t answer phones (disconnect or turn them off, if you need to), don’t surf the web (use blocking software if your willpower isn’t strong enough), and dedicate yourself to the blog.

Since this is your best time of day and since you will be uninterrupted, your potential for using this hour for something productive is high.

But it takes commitment. It means that you must use the time for work. And it means that you cannot set this appointment aside. You must stick with it every day. After a while, you’re likely to find that you need to expand that meeting. Go ahead and do that. And after a longer while, you may find that you don’t need this meeting at all.

Now, this is up to you. I’m offering the flask only for the next ten minutes. Use those ten minutes to schedule your daily appointment.

Udi Tirosh runs DIYPhotography, a place for photography lovers, and makes awesome photography products.

4 Post Headlines that are Guaranteed to Get Readers Excited

This is a guest post by Gregory Ciotti.

So, your content marketing and blogging efforts are falling flat on their face, are they? Your posts must be terrible. They aren’t getting shared or read by anyone, so they must be garbage…

Or maybe you just don’t know how to catch people’s attention.

When it comes to creating highly popular, viral posts for marketing and blog promotion purposes, we all know that the cornerstone is amazing content and excellent information. We also all know the importance of getting traffic to our blogs in order to convert people over to subscribers and potential customers. That’s nothing new.

Excited reader

Image copyright Andres Rodriguez - Fotolia.com

But did you know that there are four ways to change your posts on-site to further fuel the viral fire?

Most likely, you are already writing awesome posts, and the only reason that they aren’t getting read is because nobody is enticed enough to click through.

Without a single additional guest post or traffic generating method, you can increase the virility of your blogs posts and content marketing efforts with the simplest of changes: what you name them.

Creating headlines that nobody can resist

The biggest change you can make on-site to get your posts to go viral is to make sure people are actually clicking on them.

That sounds basic, but so few bloggers and content marketers pay close attention to post titles when, in reality, it can be the most important part of the post … at least when it comes to getting people to read it.

Your headline is your first impression, and if you don’t get it right, people are going to pass over even the most excellent of content—all because you lost them at the start. As a blogger or an entrepreneur, it is time for you to stop letting that happen.

So what are the four best ways to structure your titles to ensure your posts go viral?

1. The “intrigue” style headline

This is the headline that makes people do a double take when they read it. That makes them wonder, “What is this guy/gal talking about? How can that even be possible?”

Intrigue is one of the most effective ways of creating a viral post.

Imagine this…

A person reads a post of yours that contains an intriguing title, and it gets them to click through.

Hopefully, you’ve backed up the post title with some really rewarding content (more on this later), and they read all the way to the bottom. Nice!

Now they share your post on Twitter. That same post title which you used to lure them in is now being spread across social networks, making followers everywhere wonder what the heck this post is about. They click through, and they read to the end.

Do you see where I’m going with this? The point is, intriguing titles generate clicks, and once they are shared, they create even more buzz and interest as people head over to your blog to see what the heck it is you’re on about.

ProBlogger Examples:

2. The “finality” style headline

There are a few more great styles of headlines that generate similar levels of interest, beyond the “intrigue” style headline.

One of my favorites is the “finality” style headline. These are the headlines that consist of phrases like, “The Ultimate Guide,” or “The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need.”

Again, if you can deliver once a person has clicked, you’re almost guaranteed a share or a subscriber, because you’ve already conquered a huge part of the battle: getting the reader’s attention.

Using terms like “complete”, “ultimate”, and “essential” will inform a reader that hey, it’s okay that you passed on those other posts on this subject, because here is what you need to know.

The idea that they might be able to get everything they need from only your post is one of the most powerful forms of enticement in getting readers to click on your post. Again, when they read through and share it, your post title is already so dominant that people who see it will be hard-pressed to pass it up, and you’ll be primed for your post to go viral.

ProBlogger Examples:

3. The “topic + hype” style headline

This is one of the easiest styles to follow, and it is probably the best one for SEO and getting ranked in search engines for tough terms.

This style is literally as it is described: put the topic first, preferably optimized for popular search terms, and then hype the post with a description.

I did this exact thing on my guide for Facebook marketing, which targets that specific term, but gets people to click by giving a detailed example (that is, how I got 6,683+ Facebook fans).

Typically speaking, you are going to catch people’s attention with the topic, then guarantee the click with an exciting, descriptive line that is magnetic for clicks.

For instance, if I wrote an article about guest blogging, I could name it, “Guest Blogging: How I Got 1,000+ Subscribers From Nothing But Guest Posts.”

This aims to rank for the term guest blogging, shows readers what it’s about, and after the colon, builds excitement: people are going to wonder how I got 1,000 subscribers from nothing other than guest blogging, and will click through to find out.

Just make sure you deliver on the hype, or you’ll leave readers disappointed!

ProBlogger Examples:

4. The “list post” style headline

Ah, the infamous “list post.” A huge majority of the most viral posts are list posts, and it’s no wonder why: lists posts are easily browsed, enticing to read (because they guarantee order and a cohesive list), and the most shareable type of post in the blogosphere.

List posts subconsciously promise readers that they will be able to get through the post easily, and if not, they can bookmark and come back later, because hey, it’s an easy-to-follow list!

Lists posts are powerful both as posts on your own blog and for when you pursue guest blogging, because of this accessibility.

As an example, you are obviously reading a list post this very instant! I knew that readers of the ProBlogger blog would appreciate being able to browse my post just in case they didn’t want to make the full investment to read all the way through. I wrote it in the list style to make it more accessible to readers who haven’t heard of me before.

Rounding off your numbers seems to work well with list posts, especially when you get into bigger numbers: if you can, try to hit 10, 25, or 50, and if applicable, include the +, such as “25+ Ways To Guarantee People Will Love Your Next Guest Post.”

ProBlogger Examples:

Over to you

What is your favorite style of post to draw attention? What types of posts do you feel have the most “viral” potential? What is your favorite type to write on your own blog? How about for guest posts?

See you in the comments!

Gregory Ciotti owns Sparring Mind. Are you using WordPress in your content marketing efforts for your blog or business? You definitely need to check out Sparring Mind, the content marketing blog that shows you it doesn’t take a tech geek to build an amazing WordPress blog with outstanding content.

Infographic: Is it Time to Consider SEO Automation?

This guest post is by William Tyree of SEO for Salesforce.

Is it safe for bloggers to stop caring about SEO yet? Can we all just install an SEO plugin for WordPress and focus on creating quality content?

If you read some of the problogger.net articles this year about how Google’s Panda updates sent some bloggers looking for a life boat, the answer is unfortunately no.

In terms of risk mitigation, we all need to be savvier about the way search engines perceive and rank our sites.

We also need better strategies to maintain a competitive edge. For better or worse, online advertisers and PR firms are getting smarter about distinguishing between sites that reach vast, highly engaged audiences and those that connect with smaller communities. When companies send out invitations to lucrative industry blogger events, they have to choose between you and other bloggers.

Relationships play a factor, but so do the sizes of your web traffic and social media reach. Increasingly, advertisers are using independent measurement sites like Compete.com and Klout to verify the size of your impact.

We all know our audiences intimately. But what few of us have is the luxury of time, or the budget, to hire an SEO agency. That’s why experimenting with good SEO automation tools may be a wise bet. SEO automation can’t create great sharable content for you, or define business objectives. But it can help with a lot of other things that you would need to clone yourself or pay someone to do.

For example, a good automation tool can identify problems with your site in a few minutes that an SEO firm might charge thousands to find for you. They can also auto-generate solutions and monitor the impact of your efforts. If you use a CRM to track your sales or contact lists, a few automation tools can even automatically correlate specific keywords to leads coming in from your blog contact form and eventual revenue.

That kind of information makes it possible for you to make smart choices about what niche topics to blog about. For example, if you’re a tech blogger, and you find that every time you blog about 3D TVs you get above average numbers of page views, and many more leads from advertisers, then that might have a strong impact on your content strategy.

This infographic illustrates how using automation tools to handle time-intensive SEO chores helps free up time for web publishers to focus on strategy and content.

William Tyree is VP of Marketing for DemandResults, an evidence-based marketing company and creator of cloud marketing products SEO for Salesforce and RingDNA. He has contributed his stories and thought leadership to Harvard Review, The Atlantic, Japan Inc, YouMoz and elsewhere. He blogs regularly for EvidenceBasedMarketing.net.

The Right-brain Thinker’s Guide to Beating Blogger’s Block

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

In his 2009 book A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink explained that the new world of business is a great place to be a right-brain thinker. Right-brain thinkers are the creators and the empathizers. If you’re a blogger, you are probably a right-brained thinker … and you probably deal with blogger’s block on occasion.

What is blogger’s block? It’s what happens to all bloggers as they try to crank out new, original posts day after day: they eventually run out of ideas. Ever struggle with that?

However, have you ever thought about using your very own creative quirks to generate blog post ideas? Following is a list of qualities that right-brain thinkers have and tips on how you can use these qualities to break those moments of blogger’s block and kick out some great blog posts.

Right-brain thinkers are impulsive

Some of the really great bloggers are those who are quick and impulsive when it comes to blogging. Think of Robert Scoble’s comment that if you aren’t at least apologizing once a month, then you are probably not doing anything interesting. He did it in a big way with Twitter. It’s good to catch hell on your blog every once in a while.

To overcome blogger’s block, just throw caution to the wind and see what happens. I know I probably ruffled some feathers when I wrote Why You Should Get Drunk – The ROI of Partying or You don’t have to be smart to be an entrepreneur.

But I stand by what I wrote and I think I provided a lot of people with some good ideas. All the comments I got and tweets suggest I did something right.

Right-brain thinkers question authority and rules

Another great idea for blog posts involves just challenging current rules or asking why certain rules exist.

For example, SEOs are always wondering and challenging why Google is doing certain things. Aaron Wall wrote a great post called Google Aggressively Enters Make Money Online Niche where he made a list of all the listings in the SERPs for a certain term and pointed out how Google products dominated the results. He’s challenging authority, and so should you.

Right-brain thinkers are unlikely to read instruction manual before trying

Ever just get tired of the same old thing? Ever feel like you don’t want to do things the traditional way? If so, that’s great!

Sometimes breaking blogger’s block involves just ignoring the best practices and creating something that breaks the mold. That’s exactly what Smashing Magazine did with The Death of the Boring Blog Post.

Listen, I give you permission to break all the rules. Just forget about the rules and just write! Keep in mind not all of your ideas may work. Be patient and don’t give up, because failure is a great way to improve your blogging skills.

Right-brain thinkers process multiple ideas simultaneously

Good right-brain thinkers can hold more than one idea in their head, even if the ideas are totally different and contradict one another. So, one of the best ways to get creative and break blogger’s block is to bring together two very different ideas.

Austin Kleon takes the idea of creativity and criminality to come up with a very original blog post called Steal Like an Artist. He combines images, drawings, and photos with commentary that leads you down his list of ten things he wishes he’d known about creativity when he started out.

Right-brain thinkers write things down or illustrate

Sometimes it just helps to get your ideas down on the screen. That’s usually what I do once I’ve gathered enough information about the topic I want to write about. And don’t forget: just write as quickly and carelessly as you can! Tell that editor in your head to “shut up,” and just write.

Another way to break writer’s block is to draw. Hugh MacLeod is the superstar in this area, but there are other great drawer/bloggers out there. Just take Organizational Chart of Major Corporations at Bonker’s World or Fake Grimlock’s Minimum Viable Personality drawing. These are two great examples of distilling an idea to its essence.

Right-brain thinkers are visual, focusing on images and patterns

When you’re looking for blog topics to write about, it helps to look for patterns in information. Perhaps you have an idea for a topic and you start to look at articles. Keep reading until some kind of pattern emerges. You might key into something that a handful of people keep saying. That could be your topic you explore.

Or you might spend some time looking at dozens of photos on Instagram, Flickr or deviantART. Any one of those places could trigger an idea for a post.

Right-brain thinkers intuitive, led by feelings

When blogging, do you tend to hide your feelings? In other words, do you try to remain objective and distant? If so, stop it! Bring out your feelings when you write. If something makes you angry, write about it. If something makes you laugh hysterically, write about it.  Besides, ranting is How to Get People to Remember Your Posts.

Right-brain thinkers see the whole first, then the details

If you tend to see how a particular blog post is going to look, like you know the headline and you probably how you are going to open it and close it, but you’re not sure what is going to go in the middle, that’s fine.

If you see the whole post first, it might help you to write an outline. A lot of the time I’ll have the headline and then I’ll work on all the subheadings. Then I’ll go through and start filling out the different sections.

What are the advantages of an outline? Here are three:

  • You won’t get lost: With an outline, you’ll have a road map for your blog post to help you stay on track.
  • You evaluate your idea early: With an outline, you can also see if you may have trouble putting your post together. An outline is like an early, simple version of your post.
  • You write with a sense of flow: Outlines help me get into my writing so I pick up momentum.

Sometimes I’ll run into a dead end as I’m writing a post. Instead of getting frustrated and banging my head, I’ll just start working on a different, easier section of the post.

Right-brain thinkers use free association

Using free association to come up with blog posts can be fun. All you do is just sit down and start thinking about something. Follow where each idea leads. Don’t stop writing until you are out of ideas or just tired.

Also, make sure you save all your ideas. Don’t throw anyway away because you’ll have a lot of ideas for future blogs posts in that one rambling, rough-draft session. Plus, look for the interesting insights or patterns you see in your writing. As Scott Myers says in Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work:

“What happens? In my experience, oftentimes I’ll hit on a nugget. Perhaps something related to the scene, perhaps not, maybe something later in the story, or an idea for something else entirely. Generally when that happens, I end my free association session. Other times, nothing seems to emerge, so I just stop.”

By the way, free association is a great way to break writer’s block.

Right-brain thinkers have no sense of time

When I say “no sense of time” I don’t mean you don’t know what time it is. What I mean is you enjoy what you do so much that you lose track of time. But you probably have to fight off the tendency to be distracted by phones, Facebook, and co-workers. Distractions can cause writer’s block.

Some bloggers I know will work on a 33-minute schedule. They’ll write focused for 33 minutes, get up, drink some coffee, check all their social media sites for about five minutes and then get back to work. It kills writer’s block and tends to be a very productive way to write.

Creative breaks for blogger’s block

Blogger’s block affects us all, whether we tend to be right- or left-brain thinkers. Hopefully the qualities of creative thinkers I described above will give you that spark you need to inspire you next time you are struggling to come up with a new blog post idea.

What things do you do to inspire you to write and break blogger’s block?

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

On the First Page of Google? Now What?

This guest post is by Keith Bishop of Online Digital Junkie.

If your goal is to publish a lot of meaningless content that doesn’t get read, then you’re in the wrong place. On the other hand, if you desire your pages to engage and help the reader take some type of action based upon what they were searching for when they found your site, read on.

With time and proper SEO practices, visitors will likely show up on your site through search by using keywords that relate in some way to your page. With that said, it only makes sense that you should optimize your off-page content in a way that promises to alleviate whatever issue led the searcher to your door.

All you have to do is consider the impact of your keywords before you use them. This is very important because the keyword you choose is actually your first promise to your potential visitor. If I were going to rank something like “why is the sky blue,” I would want to make sure my page does a couple things right away so that they click my link.

Proper meta data

A good way to digest meta data is to view it as a miniature representation of your real page, sort of like a business card. It includes a title, description, and tags. Tags are not as important to search anymore so I will focus this article on just the title and description.

Meta title

The first thing that has to be done is to come up with your title. Meta titles are the text you see at the very top of the page, on the tabs, and beside the little logos known as favicons.

They are also the linkable text that you see in the search engine results page (SERP). This means that it is the first thing your potential visitor sees in regards to organic search traffic.

You might use something like; “have you ever wondered why the sky is blue?” Did you notice that the keyword is in the page title? This is important for search engines and visitors alike. Search engines and visitors use it to help determine what your page is about. It can push you rank higher and get more clicks because it is directly relevant to your chosen keyword.

Meta description

Another must-do is to clearly let the reader know that your page will solve their problem by explicitly stating that it will do so in the description.

This is the text portion that shows up in the search results. For those of you that are not familiar with this, it is the snippet or short paragraph you see directly under each link after you search for something in Google (or other engine).

If you do not manually set a meta description for your page, Google will just use some of the text from the first paragraph of your article and go with that. This is not advisable, because it technically qualifies as duplicate content.

It also does not convert as well, since your description is the second promise you are making to your potential visitor, and there is no need to have them read the first couple of sentences twice. Instead, you might use something like the following:

“This article is in response to people like you and Bob who want to know why the sky is blue. After much research and contemplation, you can now find the answer in this article by visiting my page.”

A description like this says, “hey you … yes, you in the green shirt. You have been wondering why the sky is blue, right? Awesome! You’re not alone. And I have spent a good deal of time finding the answer for you. Come on inside and instantly solve your problem right here on my site.”

Now you have clearly set the stage with some direct promises that show confidence in your ability to deliver a solution. It can help make a difference when your content is sitting in the fifth to eighth spot on page one of Google Search, which is where many of your articles will hover at.

Don’t just rank: close the deal

There is a definite difference between ranking a keyword and closing the deal on one.

Just make sure you don’t ask for anything until you have provided the reader with something valuable first. And what you are providing is always the answer to whatever problems the reader is facing, which led them to search with your keywords in the first place.

Keith Bishop is the founder/designer at Online Digital Junkie. He also co-manages an up and coming travel nurse blog with his wife Melissa.

Why You Should Write 20 Posts Before You Launch Your Blog

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

If you have not yet started a blog, stop. Write 20 to 30 posts before you launch.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but this strategy may just be the thing to help you succeed as a blogger.
Why?

It stops you from quitting

Here is the number one reason most bloggers fail: they lose the will to continue.

Anyone who has ever started a blog will tell you that it is downright demoralizing to start a blog. When no one visits your blog, no one accepts your guest posts, and advertising proves too expensive to make a viable traffic generation strategy, you feel lost and destroyed.

Unfortunately for most people, that is the end of their blogging journey. Within months, if not weeks the blog is abandoned and another number is added to the failed blogs hall of fame.

But the very mind that loses hope can be made to maintain it if you invest a lot of effort into your blog upfront. It is human tendency to try harder at and stick longer to something that you have already devoted effort to.

It helps you build and maintain momentum on your blog

Guest posting is one of the most powerful ways to build your blog. It allows you to get your name on established blogs, and gives you a taste of what it would be like to have a popular blog—not to mention attracting high-converting traffic to your own blog.

The thing with guest blogging is that you need to do it often to make it a viable brand building and traffic generation strategy. You cannot do that when you barely have enough posts to keep your own blog going. Having 20 posts in reserve can help keep your blog going while you are concentrating on pitching and writing guest posts.

Plus, once you get a few guest posts on big blogs you will get requests to write guest posts on even more blogs. And you need to be able to maintain the momentum. So the post reserves will come in handy.

It helps you get paying gigs

Finally, posting on your blog and writing guest posts for other blogs may even bring you paying gigs.

When someone is paying you good money to write posts, you need to able to deliver high quality content under tight deadlines. This means you need a lot of practise before you start. Writing 20 or 30 posts helps you build your writing ability.

This means that when you get a request for guest post or get a paying gig you can deliver high quality content quickly.

This is what happened to me. Impressed with the quality and originality of my guest posts and the posts on my blog, a company contacted me to write for them. The only catch was they needed content quickly. Luckily, I had a few posts in reserve, some of which they liked. That weekend I earned my first ever pay-check from blogging, netting around $2,000 for several posts. It was such a thrill.

So if you have not yet started blogging, wait till you have 20 to 30 posts before you launch.

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