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9 Facebook Marketing Tactics that’ll Triple Your Fans

This guest post is by Neil Patel of Quick Sprout.

Would you like to double, or even triple the number of fans you have on your Facebook business page? Are you looking to turn those fans into loyal and active fans?

Your Facebook business page can die on the vine without a loyal and active following.

But success will never come overnight. Instead it will require that you apply the marketing strategies you are about to read … plus a little bit of hustle.

Tactic #1: Crank out a lot of content

People like Facebook business pages for many reasons. They want to learn more about the brand, discover new products, and get educated.

So the very first Facebook marketing strategy you need to use is providing a lot of content in different media like photos, posts, videos, and surveys and you have to do it consistently.

The passionate community around eCycler was developed because the brand posted great content on recycling in the Notes sections on a consistent basis.

Ecycler

In addition, they posted fun videos and used Facebook to show its 10,000 plus fans how the inside of the company works. This transparency from the co-founders of this Illinois-based company has made it a great communication channel between the brand and the fans.

Meanwhile, the community over at the SmartPak Facebook page is very active, leaving hundreds of comments on the dozens of videos and 1,000 plus photos that SmartPak has posted.

Smartpak

The company uses Facebook to market new products on nutritional supplements and medications for horses, but it’s developed into something so much more over time. Over 110,000 fans talk, share ideas and like the consistent content that SmartPak shares. In turn Facebook has become the seventh highest source of traffic to their website.

SmartPak’s director of new media, however, says that it’s really become a place where they deliver great customer service, responding to complaints and trying to help users of their products to solve problems.

Tactic 2: Run weekly giveaways and discounts

One way to drive a loyal following to your Facebook page is to have weekly giveaways. The candle company Candles Off Main’s Facebook page not only provides weekly discounts on its products, but also shares great instructional videos and very detailed photos that help educate and entice potential buyers.

Candles off Main

The company has been around for five years but joined Facebook only in 2009. In that time they’ve grown their fans to over 3,500 with a blend of giveaways. But this is not just about tripling their following: it’s about a community they created where members are active on discussion boards and constantly giving responses to posts.

Their Facebook fan page isn’t a big driver of sales—it produces less than ten percent of sales, but it provides something way more valuable. The community they built with giveaways and then cultivated into a thriving community gives the company insight and suggestions on how to make better products that followers will buy.

Tactic #3: Train your staff

Stella & Dot is a direct-selling company that gives women who work from home an entrepreneurial business platform. And their Facebook fan page, with over 166,000 fans, is a hive of activity. There, fans rave about products, people share ideas on how to be stylish, and direct-sellers share testimonials about happy customers.

Stella and Dot

But the unique thing about Stella & Dot is that they use Facebook to train a staff team that’s spread across the country. For each product that the company creates, they also create a video demonstrating how the jewelry should be worn and what it should be worn with. Then they post it on Faceboook so their direct sellers can watch it.

The neat thing about this is everyone gets to see the content—each instructional video serves to entice potential customers as well as training the staff.

Tactic #4: Create a culture

Clothing company Threadless has turned the tables on the conventional business model by putting all the power in the customers’ hands. It’s more of a culture than it is a business, and its using its Facebook fan page to drive that culture.

Threadless

There, the business invite fans to share t-shirt designs and then vote on their favorites. Threadless will then make that product. You can also buy products straight from the Facebook site. Of course, the company shares interesting videos and photos on the stream, but it encourages face-to-face meetings through the page.

Thousands of people share their ideas via the company’s website, but it is on Facebook that the actual voting occurs. That voting, and the interaction between the designers and the fans, creates a powerful culture that continues to grow as Threadless advocates talk about the company across the social web.

Tactic #5: Make word-of-mouth advocacy easy

There is no denying it: you trust people you know more than you trust strangers. So when you see a product shared by a friend, you are more likely to consider using that product. It’s that word of mouth that really works on Facebook, which Brendan’s Irish Pub in Camarillo, CA used to grow its fan base before the business opened its doors.

Brendan's Irish Pub

It created a business fan page to generate buzz about parties, sell products, and get commitments from first-time customers about coming to the grand opening.

The Facebook page existed months before the pub did, and owner Tyler Rex used that time to create hype around the Camarillo area. In just those few months he gained over 3,500 fans in a city of 65,000 people.

Tactic #6: Encourage fan-to-fan conversations

Your Facebook business community will get much better if you have fans talking to each other, and the best way to do this is by putting the spotlight on those very fans.

One way you can do this is by creating a “Fan of the Week” post to recognize top contributors to the community. But if you have a Facebook fan base like Bare Escentuals you can take a hands-off marketing approach, and still get fans to talk to each other.

Bare Escentuals

Fans totally dominate the conversation here. Bare Escentuals has adopted a strategy in which they do not ask for testimonials, yet the 550,000+ fans leave hundreds of them, which in turn leads to traffic being driven to their resellers and shops.

But this fan-to-fan conversation has also given the company recommendations on how to improve the product. The chief marketing officer said that their new “Click, Lock, Go” container was created as a result of suggestions from fans.

Tactic #7: Focus on your brand

When it comes to how your Facebook page should look, you can go about it in two ways. One way you can brand it to look just like your website. The other way is to create a completely different experience so that fans have a feeling of exclusivity when they like your page.

Community Coffee chose to keep the brand consistent, using the same colors, style, and even images from their website to their Facebook page. But they deliver that feeling of exclusivity through the use of recipe posts, and inviting fans to post their own recipes, contests and trivia.

Community Coffee

Facebook has proven to be a great new media marketing tool for this company, which is over 90 years old. The active fan base is exposed to the brand, which in turn builds awareness of the business, generates more leads, and engages customers.

Tactic #8: Donate a dollar to quickly build a fan base

You can build a terrific following by pledging to donate $1 to a charity every time someone Likes your Facebook page. That’s exactly what Clarisonic did last year. They increased their fan base by over 80 percent and raised $30,000 to help women with cancer.

Clarisonic

But once you are a fan of Clarisonic, you’re treated to lots of activities that get you involved, such as contests that invite users to share pictures of themselves using the brand’s products. That’s the key to running this type of pledge: once you have fans, you need to keep them engaged using some of the tactics that I’ve shared above.

When you follow up with good user-interaction content like Calrisonic did (they’re doing pretty well, with over 118,000 fans) you can build on that momentum from the quick injection of fans as they spread the word about your company across the social web.

Tactic #9: Reward your social media users

If you have a brick-and-motor store like Fresh Brothers, a southern CA pizza chain, then you can use your Facebook business page as a place to reward your fans with discount codes for products.

Fresh Brothers

The company actually shares a weekly special to thank fans, and if you Like their page, you’ll get access to these weekly deals. This is applying the exclusivity trick to entice people to follow Fresh Brothers.

But Fresh Brothers also rewards fans with great stories about their family, as the company is run by three brothers, employee tales, and snippets of company history. This is a really great way to deliver that human touch that shows customers that this isn’t just another business who wants to get its hands on their money—it’s a company with personality that truly cares about customers.

What’s your favorite tactic?

One of the keys to running a successful business Facebook fan page is to create a very human feel to it. That can be done through great content like photos and videos, all the way to providing awesome deals to fans as a thank you for their following you.

You will be rewarded with an active community of fans sharing their own stories, creating conversations about your brand across the social web, and even driving traffic to your website.

What other Facebook marketing strategies have you found effective for building a fan base? Share them with us below.

Neil Patel is an online marketing consultant and the co-founder of KISSmetrics. He also blogs at Quick Sprout.

Top Twitter Blog Marketing Tips

This guest post is by Lior Levin.

Twitter is one of the top three or four social media marketing tools today, with roughly 12% of online adults using Twitter according to this Pew Internet report.

It’s easy to quickly share promotions and ideas on Twitter, and if they catch on, they can spread quickly, even crossing over to platforms such as Facebook or Pinterest in the process. Since the cost of using Twitter is so low and the process of sharing tweets is so simple, it is an ideal tool for blog marketing.

Twitter’s blog benefits

There are three main reasons why bloggers need to use Twitter regularly:

1. Twitter increases blog traffic

Twitter is a top source of referral traffic, but it is likely far more effective than tools such as Google Analytics lets on.

Many referrals derive from Twitter originally, but Google Analytics isn’t able to track all of their origin points. Entrepreneur Mark Suster explains this at Tech Crunch, saying, “Twitter is an amazing generator of social hooks to websites. Some of that comes from Twitter.com or other Twitter clients. But since many other websites pull in Twitter data, including links, you don’t always know who is referring the traffic to you.”

In order to understand the true reach of your Twitter campaigns, Suster recommends a tool called Awe.sm.

2. Twitter improves your Google Page Rank

A thorough study of the impact of Twitter and Facebook on Google page ranking by the website SEO Moz yielded a strong correlation between high shares on Twitter and Facebook.

Rand Fishkin writes in the conclusions, “Pages that earn tweets + Facebook shares also correlate well with earning links, and send direct traffic on their own—ignoring these services at this point seems foolish.” If you want to improve your website’s page rank on Google, then the data suggests that more tweets and Facebook shares will help get you there.

3. Twitter helps establish your brand

Twitter is one way to reveal who you are as a brand, showing customers what you care about and whether you have anything important to share with them—whether that’s information or a promotion. The key is to connect in ways that prove your brand is consistent and reliable.

Top Twitter blog marketing tips

With these benefits in mind, here are some tips on how to use Twitter for online marketing.

Find influencers

As you look to expand your influence on Twitter, you’ll need followers who are influential and engaged. However, this doesn’t just mean networking with people who follow, or are followed by, a lot of people.

You can start by using Twellow to find Twitter users in your niche and then use Twitter Grader to evaluate the quality of their interactions on Twitter.

Beware of using tools such as Klout, as users with significant social media influence have been routinely undervalued by the Klout algorithm.

You can also search Twitter through hashtags (eg. “#marketing”) in order to find users in your niche. The key is to review what they tweet about by looking at their feeds. Are they active? Do they interact with their followers on Twitter? Are they willing to retweet content frequently?

A quick scan of Twitter profiles will tell you quite a bit about who to follow, and whether those users will follow you back and provide valuable interactions.

Promote your posts

Use engaging titles when tweeting about your website’s content, and link to promotions and information that will meet the specific needs of your followers. This all ties back to whether your company has a consistent focus and a clear brand image that can connect with customers. If it does, Twitter may be an excellent marketing tool for you.

Chris Brogan suggests that beyond tweeting your killer titles, you should also mention if content on your site has sparked a lively conversation, or if users are giving meaningful feedback.

Your followers may want to chip in to the conversation. In addition, you can ask for links on StumbleUpon or a retweet of your content if it’s particularly valuable to your readers.

Be socially proactive

Don’t just wait for people to find you. You need to find followers, retweet their content, and anticipate what they want. It’s your job to spark conversations and to stir up interest, even asking for a little help in spreading the word when appropriate.

Share unique and useful information

Twitter users will only find you worth following if you can point them to valuable content, whether it’s your own or someone else’s. Since it’s generally frowned upon to only post your own information, check out a site like All Top to find the best websites and news in your field. Between retweets of leaders in your field and links from All Top, you’ll provide the kind of content that will make people want to follow you.

As you read information online that’s related to your niche throughout the day, use a service such as Hootsuite or Buffer to set up auto-tweets throughout the day, so you can space out the information you share.

By installing the Buffer button to your browser toolbar, you can easily set up a regular stream of tweets throughout your day and increase your brand’s value to your customers.

Share tweets frequently

The best way to tell your Twitter followers that you’re personally invested in helping them is to retweet their tweets frequently. There’s a good chance that the customers you follow are sharing information that the rest of your followers need anyway, so you can both share relevant information and build your connection with your Twitter followers at the same time through consistent retweets.

Avoid inconsistent profile pictures across platforms

In order to create a consistent brand image, choose one profile picture, whether a logo or picture of a CEO, for all of your social media platforms. PR expert Sarah Evans writes at Mashable, “The first rule for avatars and bios is to stay consistent across social platforms. If you’re sharing information from your business account, decide whether you want your avatar to be your company logo or the face of the president.”

In addition, a profile picture should convey an image that is consistent with your brand.

Don’t spam followers with auto-direct messages

If your goal is to create authentic engagement with customers through social media, then the other golden rule is to never send auto-direct messages to new followers. Auto-direct messages are consistently viewed as spam by the majority of Twitter users and your brand will suffer if you send them.

An authentic Twitter presence

Twitter is easy to start using, but it’s also quite easy to mess up. The golden rule is to be authentic and genuinely helpful.

If you’re not helping your followers, then you’re just trying to use them to make money. The more money you try to make, the less you’ll help followers on Twitter—resulting in a lower return on your social media investment.

The more you try to help followers on Twitter, the more brand engagement you’ll build.

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for company that specializes in a to do list app, and who also consults for an inspection company that provides various services in  pre shipment inspections.

Weekend Project: Correct Content Mistakes that are Damaging Your SEO

This guest post is by Sophie Lee of IBS Tales.

In February 2011 my website lost 50% of its traffic overnight, and a further 20% disappeared two months later. I was a victim of Google’s infamous Panda update, and like many other webmasters, my first reaction was to assume that Google had messed up—my site contains nothing but high quality, deathless prose, and I’m sure yours does too.

As time went on, though, I began to realize that my site had been penalized because it deserved to be. I hadn’t deliberately set out to produce thin content, or put duplicate URLs in the index, or make other amateur SEO mistakes, but that’s what I had been doing, regardless of my good intentions.

I set about fixing aspects of my site that should never have been broken in the first place, and one year on, I believe that my site has markedly improved. I need to be honest and say that I haven’t recovered from Panda, and so I can’t promise that this article will help you recover your rankings if you’re a fellow Panda victim.

However, I can tell you that Panda has been a massive wake-up call for me, and opened my eyes to some horrible mistakes that I was making as a webmaster. Are you making the same mistakes? Are you sure?

Mistake 1: Thin or shallow content

Panda quickly became known as the update that targeted thin or shallow content. I checked my site and found that around 10% of my pages had less than 100 words on them. Now, word count alone may not mean a huge amount, but what, exactly, can you say in less than 100 words? I had intended to develop these pages as I went along, but I’d never got round to it. They had to go, so I removed them completely and left them to 404.

I also looked at pages that might be useful to my visitors or to me, but could easily be flagged as thin content by an algorithm. For example, I had a page named blank.htm that I used as a template page. It was, of course, blank, and it shouldn’t have been on the server. I had an entire page that showed my search box and nothing else. Another page showed my mailing list sign-up box and nothing else. If I worked at Google, I’d have penalized these pages too.

Mistake 2: Duplicate URLs and pesky parameters

One issue that I had neglected almost completely was the way in which Google was indexing my content. Panda woke me up. A search for my site on Google came up with over 800 URLs. I had roughly 400 pages of content on my site, so what was going on?

Firstly, for reasons lost in the mists of time, I had used dropdown lists in some of my navigation links. These links were being indexed by Google with [?menu] parameters in the urls, resulting in duplicate urls for a whole bunch of pages. I replaced the dropdowns with simple [a href] links and put canonical tags on all of my pages to indicate that I wanted the plain URLs with no [menu] parameter to be the “correct” URLs.

I also realized that I had the syntax [Disallow: /*?] in my robots.txt file, put there because it’s part of the robots.txt file that WordPress recommend in its codex. This command meant that Google couldn’t see the content on any page with a question mark in the URL, and that meant that it couldn’t see the new canonical settings in any of the duplicate URLs. I removed that line from my robots.txt file, and a couple of months later, the duplicate URLs had disappeared from the index.

Secondly, my WordPress blog was producing duplicate content on category, tag, and monthly archive pages. Previously, I had believed the Google guidelines that said you shouldn’t worry about duplicate content that is legitimate: “If your site suffers from duplicate content issues … we do a good job of choosing a version of the content to show in our search results.”

However, the prevailing view of the SEO blogs I read was that noindexing these duplicate pages was the best way forward, because that would leave no room for doubt as to which URLs should be returned in searches.

I found that the Meta Robots plugin from Yoast enabled me to easily noindex all of the dupes, and they were gone from the index in a month or so. I did find that some URLs tended to get stuck in the index, presumably because they were simply crawled less often, and in those cases I used Webmaster Tools to get the URLs crawled more quickly.

If I found a URL that just wasn’t shifting, I used “fetch as googlebot” to fetch the URL, and then, once it was found, clicked on “submit to index.” This tells Google that the page has changed and needs crawling again, and this got the URLs crawled and then noindexed within a few days, on average.

Mistake 3: Not using breadcrumb navigation

Almost every site I visit these days uses breadcrumbs—those links at the top of the page that say “Home > Cameras > Nikon cameras” or similar, to let you know at a glance where you are on the site.

They stop your site visitors from getting lost, they help pagerank to flow, and they look good. I should have added them years ago.

Mistake 4: Not displaying social buttons

I know, I know—you can’t believe I didn’t have social buttons coming out of my ears already. I just don’t like the fact that I have to register with Twitter and Facebook and Google+ to run my own website. But I do. So I have.

Mistake 5: Ignoring blog speed and server location

I got a shock when a search at whois.domaintools.com told me that my server was in Canada. I checked with my host and they said that all their servers were in Canada, which I had been completely unaware of—I had blindly assumed that they were all in the USA.

I won’t make that mistake again. It may not make a huge different to rankings, but Matt Cutts has confirmed that server location is used as a signal by Google so it seems crazy to host your site anywhere other than the main country you’re targeting.

I switched from the dirt cheap host I had been with to a Hostgator business package. I stuck with a shared server, although I did ask for a dedicated IP address to isolate my site from any potentially spammy neighbors.

I also took a look at the speed of my site using tools like webpagetest.org. The tests showed that although my site was fairly quick, I was missing some easy gains, the most obvious being that some of my images were 40kb or 50kb when they could easily be compressed to 10kb. I also turned on mod_deflate/mod_gzip in Apache, which sounds impressively technical but involved checking one box under the Optimize Website section in the Hostgator cpanel. That setting meant that all my content would be compressed before it was sent to a browser.

Finally, I made sure I was using asynchronous code for those dastardly social media buttons, making them load in the background rather than holding up the display of my main content.

Mistake 6: Misusing h1 headings

I found that, for some inexplicable reason, I had set up many of my pages with two h1 tags—one in the main content, and one in the left-hand navigation bar. I got rid of the left-side h1s so that the main heading for each page reflected the main subject for that page.

Conversely, I realized that my blog theme put the overall title of my blog into h1 tags rather than the titles of the individual blog posts themselves, so every single page on my blog had the same h1 title. I switched to a different blog theme (Coraline) and the problem was solved.

Mistake 7: Ignoring Google authorship

I had been seeing little headshots in my Google results for months, often clicking on them because they stood out without asking myself why they were there and whether I could get them for my content too.

What I know now is that they’re called rich snippets, they’re part of Google’s authorship program, and you need to link your site to a Google+ profile with special markup code to get one. I found the Google instructions for this process confusing, but this post from Yoast was much clearer.

I then used the Google rich snippets tool to check that I had set things up correctly, and filled in this form to let Google know that I was interested in using rich snippets for my site.

Once I had submitted the form, it took around a week for my photo to start showing up in the SERPs.

Mistake 8: Running sister sites

I was actually running two websites on the same topic when Panda hit, and the update crushed them both. The main reason that I had chosen to run two websites was to protect myself against a drop in search rankings. That obviously worked out great.

I began to wonder whether Google frowned upon two domains on the same topic. Obviously, ten domains on the same topic, all targeting the same keywords, would be spam … so could two domains be spam too, or at the very least ill-advised?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that splitting my website into two had been a mistake. Surely one brandable, strong website was better than two weaker sites? One site with 1000 backlinks was going to be more powerful than two sites with 500 each. The consensus within the SEO world was that multiple domains on the same topic was simply a bad idea, Panda or no Panda.

I decided to merge the two sites together, and so I had to choose which domain to keep. One domain was much newer than the other, contained a couple of dashes separating exact match keywords, and had a really, really, really silly extension. The other domain was at least two years older, had more backlinks, was a dotcom, had no dashes, and was brandable. It didn’t take a genius to figure out which domain I should be using.

I 301-redirected the newer domain to the old one on a page-by-page basis, so www.newsite.com/thispage.htm redirected to www.oldsite.com/thispage.htm. This is the code I used for this, placed in the .htaccess file of the new site:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule (.*) <a href=”http://www.newsite.com/$1″ target=”_blank”>http://www.newsite.com/$1</a> [R=301,L]

I checked that the redirects were working using the Webmaster Tools “fetch as googlebot” feature. It took around a month for all of the main pages of the old site to be removed from Google’s index, and about another month for the entire site to go. I then went on a hunt for anyone who’d linked to my newer domain, finding backlinks through the link: <a href="http://mysite.com" target="_blank">mysite.com</a> operator at Blekko and opensiteexplorer.org, and asked them to link to the older domain instead.

Now what?

If these changes haven’t returned my blog to its old position in the SERPs after a year, what’s the point? Why don’t I just give up?

The point is that I’m proud of my website. It’s suffering right now, but I believe in it. And that’s the greatest advantage that a webmaster can ever have. If you believe in your website, you should fight for it. Sooner or later, it will get what it deserves.

Sophie Lee runs the irritable bowel syndrome support site IBS Tales and is the author of Sophie’s Story: My 20-Year Battle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Weekend Project: Set Safe, Secure User Roles on Your WordPress Blog

This guest post is by Karol K of ThemeFuse.

One of the final steps of the famous five-minute WordPress installation is to set up an Admin account. This account, by default, is assigned to the role of Administrator, which is the most powerful user role in WordPress.

But Administrator isn’t the only role available. You can, and as a matter of fact should, use other roles when working with your blog on a daily basis.

WordPress user roles sounds like a boring topic. It sounds like something a web developer has to deal with, or an administrator, or someone with a similar job description. And that pushes user roles to the bottom of our to-do lists when we’re setting up our blogs. Even though we get exposed to the whole idea quite early, during installation, we usually ignore it completely.

If you’re new to WordPress, and the whole concept of running a site is something you’ve never done before, you might think you only need the main Admin account. This seems reasonable, especially if your blog is a single author’s work, and that author is you.

But that’s not the best approach, unfortunately. For one thing, if you only have one user account, your Dashboard will get cluttered, which lowers the usability of WordPress as a publishing tool.

Even more importantly, if you just use the Admin account, you are more prone to all kinds of attacks and hacks than if you took a more systematic approach to user roles.

Why having just one user account is a security issue

Relying on a single user account is a security issue for a number of reasons.

First of all, your username is publically visible to anyone who goes to your author archives (usually at domain.com/author/your-username). This means that if someone wants to hack into your blog, they only need to break your password.

Secondly, if your admin account gets hacked, you can lose everything—your whole blog. You can even have it permanently deleted.

This is why it’s worth knowing a thing or two about user roles, and to use the Administrator role for admin purposes only. (Also, always hide it behind a truly complex and secure password, but that’s a another story.)

What are WordPress user roles for?

Essentially, user roles define what users can and cannot do with a given blog. For instance, depending on the role, one user might have the ability to edit everyone else’s posts, while another user might not even have the ability to hit the Publish button on their own posts.

What’s all this for? If you have a multi-author blog, the answer is obvious. You don’t want to let anyone do whatever they please with your blog. (A good practice is to allow different contributors to do just the bare minimum they must do in order to get their particular jobs done.)

For a single-author blog, creating an additional account can be a solid safety measure. You can use this new account to publish content, and edit posts and pages. And whenever you have to do any administrative work, you can switch to the Admin account.

User roles in WordPress

There are five basic user roles in WordPress, and one “super-role.” They are:

  • Subscriber
  • Contributor
  • Author
  • Editor
  • Administrator
  • Super Admin—the super-role.

Let’s take it from the top.

Subscriber

This is the most basic role for user accounts in WordPress. Most blogs that enable user registration assign every new user account to this role.

Basically, this role doesn’t have any privileges at all. The only thing a subscriber can do is manage their profile—it provides them with access to the WordPress Admin panel, section Users > Your Profile.

Usually, this role is used as a placeholder. If someone is no longer contributing to the blog, but you don’t want to delete their account, you can simply change their role to Subscriber.

Contributor

This is the most popular user role you can give to guest posters and other regular contributors.

Every Contributor can create a new post, edit it, and then submit it for review. They also have access to the comments section and can manage comments. However, once a post is published, a contributor can no longer modify that post.

Contributors don’t have access to anyone else’s content, which makes this role perfect for working with guest authors, as mentioned before. If you’re operating a single-author blog, however, then it’s not a role that will be useful to you.

Author

This is a great role for multi-author blogs. Each author can manage their own posts, edit them, delete them, and publish them to the site. They can also access to the content once the post is published. Essentially, an Author is a Contributor with a possibility to publish posts.

Even though there are three roles above Author, it still should be assigned only to trusted members of your team—people who you consider coauthors of your blog. Giving this role to someone who you’re not in any kind of professional relationship with is not the best idea.

Editor

This role enjoys the privileges of all the previous ones. In addition, it can manage all posts (written by any author), create and edit pages, and has access to every other piece of content published on the blog, including categories and tag management.

All this makes it perfect for single-author blogs. It’s a good idea to set an Editor account for yourself, which you’ll then use to publish and manage content.

For multi-author blogs, this role should be used by the person in charge. That one editor (or a small group of editors if the blog is a bigger one) will get the deciding vote regarding every post or page.

Administrator

In a sentence: this is a role that gets access to all the Admin features. It’s the most powerful role (except for the Super Admin, which we’ll get to in a moment)—there’s no one above the Administrator.

As I mentioned before, you get one Administrator account during installation. You can create more Admin accounts later on, but I don’t advise you to do so if you don’t have a good reason.

Also, make sure that your Admin password is secure and impossible to break. Try to use as many special characters, numbers, and big and small letters in your password as possible. The more complex your password is, the better.

Super Admin

WordPress allows you to create something called a multisite setup. Multisite setup is when you launch more than one WordPress site from a single installation of WordPress. You can have as many sites as you want, but they all have to sit in different directories or sub-domains.

I’m explaining this as an introduction to what the Super Admin role is: basically, it’s someone who has administration access to all the websites in a multisite network. Hence the name “Super Admin.” Apart from that, the role doesn’t have any additional responsibilities over an above those in the Administrator role.

How to set user roles

WordPress has always been quite an easy environment to use, so setting roles is as easy as anything else. You start by going to the section of Users > Add New:

Setting user roles

The form that gets displayed features a dropdown list, where you get to select the role you want to assign to the new user (you can do the same for existing users):

Selecting the role you want

Once you hit Add New User or Update User (depending if you’re creating a new account or editing an existing one), the role will be set. In other words, your work is done. This must be the shortest how-to guide ever!

Just to wrap up, let me give you some quick tips on the role setup I advise you to use for depending on whether you have a single-author blog or a multi-author blog.

Assigning user roles for single-author blogs

This is the simplest setup possible, and it only features two user accounts:

  • Administrator account for all admin tasks, as described in detail earlier in this post.
  • Editor account for all content publishing tasks. This is the account you should use to add new posts, edit pages, moderate comments, and all sorts of other content-related things.

Assigning user roles for multi-author blogs

This is a more complex setup. Consider using it only if you have a bigger team of people managing your blog:

  • One Administrator account for all admin tasks.
  • One, or a small number of Editor accounts. These roles will take care of managing the blog’s content as a whole, doing some final editing, and making sure that all posts share the same quality.
  • Author accounts for every member of your team. These people will have the possibility to publish their posts whenever they please, so you still need to be careful with these accounts.
  • Contributor accounts for all guest authors, contractors, and other regular contributors. After a Contributor submits their post for review, an Editor can check it and hit the Publish button if the post meets the standards of the blog.
  • Subscriber accounts as placeholders for contributors or authors who are no longer active, but might come back someday, so it’s best not to delete them permanently.

This closes the topic of user roles in WordPress. I hope that you can see their value even for single-author blogs. I, personally, have an Editor account on all my blogs, and I rarely log in to my Administrator accounts. Only when I need to perform an update or change something about my plugins or themes will I use the Admin role.

What’s your current approach to WordPress roles? Are you using user roles or are you simply doing every task from your Administrator account?

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. Contrary to what you might think, he doesn’t want to be the worst blogger on the planet. Don’t forget to visit ThemeFuse to get your hands on some premium WordPress themes (warning: no boring stuff like everyone else offers).

A Legendary Copywriter’s Secret to an Unending Stream of Ideas

This guest post is by Josh Sarz of Sagoyism.com.

I’m in love with blogging.

If you’re like me, you marvel that you have your own website. It may not be huge for a lot of people who’ve been in the blogging biz for years, but it’s huge for me.

My first few months of blogging flew by so fast, it seemed like only yesterday when I started writing online.

My first blog was about everything under the sun. Tech, Social Media, Health, Entertainment and turtles were just a few of the topics my first blog covered. I was prolific. Writing two or three blog posts per day was normal for me. I had so much to talk about.

Then came the scourge that a lot of people call writer’s block. I started fearing the blank page. I couldn’t think of anything else to write about. Social Media? I’ve written about it a lot. Entertainment? It was getting really boring really fast. I ran out of ideas.

Sound familiar? I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who has experienced this before. Coming up to your blog, facing a blank page and wondering for hours on what to write about. I’m also sure that a lot of people will be experiencing this in the future.

That’s why I’ll be telling you about the secret I learned to getting an unending stream of knowledge and ideas. With this in your creative arsenal, you won’t even have to worry about what to write today, tomorrow and the day after that.

The secret is incubation

This isn’t my idea, by the way. I read about it in a book by legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman. If you don’t know him, then you should. I’ve learned a massive amount of knowledge from his book. I know you will as well.

Joe talked about how he gets creative ideas for his copy. Want to know one of his secrets? He got off his butt and did something else.

“What’s this ‘incubation’ that you speak of?”, you might ask.

It’s the process of getting your mind out of your work, and giving it time to rest. To make it even more simple, it means you get out of you chair and do something else. Don’t even think about what to write for your blog.

“How am I supposed to know what to write if I don’t think about it?”

I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. It really does. The logic behind it is that your mind is always at work. No matter what you do, whether you’re brewing your favorite coffee, or watching Disney’s Up, or even when you’re out partying, you’re brain is constantly absorbing everything that you see, hear, feel, taste and smell.

So don’t worry if you’re not burying your face in your computer. You’re still working. Trust me.

I’ll tell you the reason as to how this will work for you later. But first, let’s talk about the two kinds of knowledge.

  1. General knowledge: This is simply the basic kind of knowledge that you get from experiencing everything in your life. When you’re watching the Discovery Channel, or seeing how your mom cooked dinner back when you were a kid, or the time when you were learning how to draw your favorite superhero … all this would account to growing your general knowledge.
  2. Specific knowledge: This type of knowledge is what is also called ‘niche’ knowledge. This is the knowledge that you get from studying how to write great copy, or how to perform open-heart surgery, or the specific temperature that cooks the perfect fried chicken.

The difference between the two is: general knowledge comes as you experience the world and what it has to offer, while specific knowledge, on the other hand, is something you learn when you have to study or do a certain amount of research.

Have you guessed what kind of knowledge the incubation process can give you?

The power of general knowledge

This is the backbone of your creativity. While specific knowledge will give you the info you need to be an expert on a topic, general knowledge gives you the ability to be flexible with just about anything.

This is also the driving force behind an unending stream of knowledge and ideas. Growing your experience with a variety of things outside your blog will add up to your creative arsenal.

Never again will you have to worry about what to write. Never again will you worry about how you want to portray your next big idea. Never again will you have to fear the blank page.

Now I’ll tell you how you can use your general knowledge to your advantage.

Putting it all together

We know how important taking time off from your blog is. We also talked about general knowledge, and what it can do for your creativity.

Now let’s put it all together and get those creative juices overflowing. This is another tactic that I’ve learned from Joseph Sugarman’s book. It’s not his idea this time, but it’s brilliant nonetheless.

We’re now going to apply what we’ve learned through our everyday experiences to think of unique ways to write your next post. If you think that you don’t have enough general knowledge to work with, think again.

You know more than you think you do. A lot more. So don’t worry.

The technique that I’m talking about is called Lateral Thinking. It’s a process of solving problems using indirect and creative means, usually with ideas that seem totally unrelated to the main topic.

Joe talked about how Edward de Bono’s device, the “Think Tank”, can help you with your creativity. You pick three random words out of a huge pile, and relate them to your topic.

Now let’s apply this to your blog post. This is where it gets interesting.

You have to write you next post while incorporating those three random words. What a challenge! And a fun one at that. This will force your brain to search your vault of general knowledge. You don’t have to be an expert at these random words, you just need to know how to tie them all in to your topic.

Why is it fun? What does it do to help with my blogging?

  • Your blog post won’t sound dry, so your readers will have a better experience reading your posts.
  • It’s going to attract another type of reader aside from the usual ones, growing your audience in the process.
  • The exercise trains your brain to be more creative, so you’ll get better and better every day, and won’t have to even worry about what to write about.
  • The entire post will generally sound better with a story. People love reading a story. It captures their attention, and if done right, would compel your readers to read your entire post. Not bad.

But wait, isn’t using three unrelated words a bit too had?

I admit, it’s a little shocking to do at first, but it gets easier in time. Don’t worry, because you don’t have to go “by the book” and use three words. You can choose to go use the Easy mode, and just pick out one unrelated word. As you get used to applying this technique when you’re brainstorming, you can move on to Normal mode (two or three words) and then finally to Hard mode.

I used the same technique to brainstorm a topic to write this guest post on Problogger. I only picked two random words (I chickened out of using three), which were “love” and “sleep.”

You don’t need to have your own Think Tank device to do this. Being the lazy guy that I am, I just searched on Google and found a site where I could generate up to eight random words.

Get those ideas flowing like crazy

It’s going to be so easy, I promise. And fun, too. You now know that in order to get an unlimited amount of ideas, all you have to do is stop working and do something else. Go watch some TV, read a book, train your dog how to sniff out firecrackers, go swimming, hang out with your family—do just about anything.

You’ve also learned how to apply lateral thinking when brainstorming ideas for your next blog post. I’ve given you a link to a page where you can get up to eight random words. You now know how to get creative and search the vault in your brain for ideas.

The best thing about this is: it’s totally free, and you can start doing it right this instant. So get out there and do something else. Forget about your blog for a while. When you come back, so fresh and revived, you’ll be ready to take on that blank page.

This is what I’ve learned to do, and it has helped me tons.  I hope it will help you tremendously, as well. But this is just one idea, and there are lots more out there. What do you do to battle the  blank page? Has it worked for you? What else can you add to this topic?

Josh Sarz is a freelance copywriter and the founder of Sagoyism.com where he talks about Copywriting and Content Marketing for the Digital Entrepreneur. Click through to grab the ‘Lowdown on Content Marketing‘ free report right now.

Build Blog Products That Sell 3: Develop Your Product

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

Welcome to the third weekly instalment in our series on how to sell products of your own creation, via your blog, in a world in which everyone’s reluctant to spend money. If you’ve been following the series so far, then you’ve learned how to conceive of a product and conduct market research into its viability, at least in theory.

In the process, you’ve learned how to identify your clientele, and create a product that:

  • has unmistakable value
  • people will want
  • is a natural extension of your blog itself, and
  • no one can duplicate.

Today, we’ll look at actually developing the product you’ve spent so long conceiving.

Making time for product development

Identifying what your product should be is one thing; actually creating them is something more. It’s a laborious process that requires you to devote hours that you’d otherwise have spent on your blog’s day-to-day upkeep, your sleep, or your work schedule.

Do yourself a favor and choose the first of the three. A weary blogger is an inefficient blogger, and a blogger who leaves the office early to work on his blog every afternoon will soon see his mornings free up, too.

That doesn’t mean you should let your blog go dormant while creating your ebooks, online courses or series of webinars. Far from it. Instead you need to leverage your time, which is a skill that every successful person on the planet has mastered. That applies to bloggers as much as it does to anyone.

With a little planning, you can maintain your blog’s relevance and timeliness. A few minutes of prevention are worth hours of cure.

Accept guest posts

If you’ve ever been approached by people wanting to write guest posts for your blog—and I think almost all of us have—there’s no better time to take them up on it than when you need to commit resources to creating your suite of products. Let someone else do the work, at least temporarily. Besides, guest bloggers don’t exactly drive hard bargains. A backlink or two should be enough to keep them happy.

Toil away on the task at hand while you delegate what can be delegated, and your readers will marvel at how you managed to create sellable products while your blog never missed a perceptible beat.

Publish timeless content

But what if you’re the kind of blogger who considers every post a uniquely crafted representation of your ability to persuade or engage, and who would no sooner have someone else write for your blog than have someone else raise your children?

You can still leverage your time, by breaking out timeless content.

To give you an example, I update my blog with long-form posts three times a week. Occasionally the content is topical and temporal, but most of it is evergreen.

Write in advance

When you know you’re going to be immersed in creating your product for the next few weeks, write as many blog posts as you can, as far in advance as you can. I always have at least a month’s worth of posts ready to go in my content management system, even if I’m not working on a product.

Not only does it give me peace of mind, it gives my blogging partner plenty of time to shop around for a replacement should I get hit by a train.

Write hot; edit cold

Creating a sellable product from scratch takes more time than does creating a blog post, so you want to be able to set aside sufficient hours to work on said product without thinking, “Alright, that’s enough. I have to stop so I can get to tomorrow’s blog post.”

The author’s directive to write hot and edit cold applies here. When you’re sufficiently motivated and your muse is feeling prolific, that’s the time to knock out as many days’ worth of blog content in advance as you can.

Get committed … and disciplined

If any of this sounds daunting, rather than inspiring, save yourself the energy and don’t even waste your time getting started. There are countless bloggers who sell (or more accurately, can’t sell) redundant, uninspired products. Don’t be one of them. Be at least as passionate about any products as you are about your blog itself. You need to have a more compelling reason for selling products than “I probably should” or “everyone else is doing it.”

Creating my own products forced extra discipline on me, which is never a bad thing. Instead of writing until I’d lose interest, I had no choice but to devote certain hours every day to building and formatting my ebooks. For me, that meant 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. for writing, editing and researching products. If I needed to, I’d work on my blog itself later in the day, a few hours removed from the pressing problem of completing each ebook by my self-imposed deadline.

Maintaining the other parts of my life (physical activity, earning money, feeding the pets) prompted me to get as much production as I could out of the finite time I’d allotted for ebook creation. If I hadn’t, I’d have fallen behind schedule and possibly never recovered.

Test marketing

So, you’ve done everything according to plan, and you’ve finally managed to create a product that you think has real value. As far as you know, your brainchild is ready for its formal debut. The readers you’ve spent years building a relationship with should be ready to overcome their inherent frugality and spend a few dollars patronizing you.

But how do you know they will? Or at least, how can you increase the likelihood of them doing so?

You test market your product, just like a major conglomerate’s sugar-free soda or exotically flavored toothpaste. At this point, your product is a hit only in theory, and you need to determine via a sample of people whether you’re ready for the marketplace at large.

This is the hardest part of the process for many. Most people feel uncomfortable having their work criticized. And among the few who think that they’re beyond that, most of those handicap themselves by selecting test marketers who’ll give them the answers they want to hear.

Here’s how you test how feasible the first draft of your product is.

1. Choose your testers

First, determine whom your 12 most critical friends and acquaintances are. You want the ones whom are unvarnished, even caustic in their opinions. Candor counts even more than objectivity does, because the former is a harder quality to find. The fawners and sycophants have no place in this experiment, and your mother will be of little value. They’re not going to help you, and they’re not going to help the only people who matter here—your readers.

Assess your potential test marketers honestly. The absolute last thing you want is respondents who are going to tell you how awesome you are and wow, you created a blog and every post you write is magical and it’s only a matter of time before the International Herald Tribune comes calling and asks you to share your opinions on budget scrapbooking with a worldwide audience.

Why do you want 12 test marketers? Because six of them are going to agree to critically assess your products, yet never get around to doing so. Bribe them if you have to. Offer to buy each one lunch or something.

2. Send them your product

Now, give them your product, with explicit instructions for them to be as critical as possible. Tell them to try to find something wrong even in the parts they like. A third party (or the fourth through 14th parties) will notice mistakes and omissions that you’re too close to the action to see for yourself.

Never send anything to market too early. If you’re a blogger looking to extend your brand (and line your pockets), that might mean nothing more than adding or rewriting a few lines of code. It is far, far better for everyone concerned to improve a product before it goes live, rather than after.

As far as can be determined, no prototype in the history of commerce has been better than the finished product slated for release.

Key points

  • Don’t sacrifice your income to develop a product: plan development up front.
  • Accept guest posts, publish timeless content, write in advance, write hot and edit cold, and develop discipline and commitment to what you’re doing.
  • Test market your product with actual readers of your blog.
  • Take their feedback and use it to improve your product. Run the tweaked product past your most reliable testers again if you wish.

Alright, enough about “what?” and “why?” Next week we address the most critical question of all: “How much?” But stick around, because later today, ProBlogger will be taking a closer look at a technique to help you generate an unending stream of post ideas. It might just help you save some time to put toward developing your product.

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].

The Most Important Skill for Long-term Blogging Success

This guest post is by Amy Parmenter of ParmFarm.com.

In the early stages of blogging, content is definitely king, but if you hope to be in it long-term, creativity must rule the day.

It’s easy to think of new ideas when you’ve only been blogging a few months, but what will you write about next year? How will you offer new ideas—or the same ideas from a fresh perspective?

In order to be a ProBlogger you must be a good writer and a creative thinker.

Do you have what it takes?

Here’s a test. If you were to win Darren’s free trip to Australia, how many blog posts could you generate?

That’s an easy one for travel or photography bloggers, but what about everyone else? Did you decide not to enter the contest because you didn’t think the trip would apply to your niche?

I challenge you now to think again. Only this time, think more creatively.

I’ll go first. Here are ten example posts to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Pet bloggers: Will your dog get along with your new kangaroo?

You just know you want one! Visiting Australia would be the perfect opportunity to remind your pet-loving readers of all the things they must consider when adopting new animals and introducing new pets to the household. Maybe the kangaroo isn’t such a good idea…

2. Art bloggers: The value of an artist’s community

I love this one because it took a little legwork. Queensland Tourism is offering a free trip, and a bit of research in advance should not be out of the question. I Googled “Queensland artists” and found a great community that has gathered online because its members have “limited opportunity to exhibit their works” in the state. Why not connect with them, enhance your own experience, and deliver a fabulous post to your readers?

3. Aging or senior bloggers: How old is too old to travel?

How old is the oldest person on the plane? 60s? 70s? Maybe you could interview him or her. That person would probably be flattered by the attention, it’d be an easy way to pass the time, and you’d get a terrific post and probably plenty of comments!

4. Religion bloggers: I had faith in Australia

For those who believe, there is no place on Earth where God is not present. No doubt the beauty of Queensland will deliver a spiritual experience to anyone who is open to it. Write about it. Then ask your readers to share their stories, too.

5. Finance bloggers: How to expense a “free” vacation

An important aspect of blogging is problem solving. If you’ve got a problem, chances are your readers have experienced it as well. Help them. Use the trip to detail the problem of expensing a free trip—and the solution.

6. Design bloggers: The outback out back

There’s nothing like traveling half way around the world to gather new ideas for your own back yard! This would be an easy post featuring patio or garden designs influenced by people, places, and things you discovered in Australia—complete with photos, of course.

7. Self-help bloggers: King for a day in Queensland

I’m sure the Australian getaway will include lots of sun, fun and pampering for those who so desire. As such, it is the perfect opportunity for self-help bloggers to remind readers about the value of a vacation, a change of scenery, and the importance of treating yourself when the time is right.

8. Fitness bloggers: 7 Exercises you can do on a plane

Without a doubt, the greatest obstacle for some in traveling to Australia is the extremely long flight. Blood clot issues are well documented and, frankly, exercise is a must. Running in the aisles would probably get you tackled by an air marshal, but a good fitness blogger should be able to offer at least seven exercises that can be done while seated or with very little room to move. More importantly, this is a post that would have broad appeal to anyone flying for more than a few hours.

9. Food bloggers: Raise your hand if you’ve had a Vegemite sandwich

I can’t imagine there will be any shortage of ideas for this niche but I included this example to make the point that, as a blogger, you want to write about something special, new, or different whenever possible. While Vegemite sandwiches may be nothing new in Australia, few people who live in the States have ever had one. Have one. Write about it. As a blogger correspondent, you need to take me where I cannot go.

10. Blogging bloggers: How to speak Australian

This is a topic I decided to add half way through this post when I was challenged with spelling “traveling” correctly. That’s because it has two l’s in Australia, but only one in the U.S.! In the course of your travels, take note of other differences and use them to illustrate the point that knowing your audience—and “speaking” their language—is critical to blogging success.

I think you get my point.

If you are struggling to come up with creative posts, you either need to change the way you think or change your niche.

As a longtime journalist, it is my daily challenge to cover the same stories others cover, but from a unique perspective. The same holds true for anyone who wants to be a ProBlogger.

Obviously, Queensland Tourism would like us all to write, “Australia is the most amazing place on Earth. Go there. Now.”
I think we can do better.

So, your turn. If you were selected as one of the ten Queensland blogging correspondents, what would you write about?

Amy Parmenter is a journalist, public speaker and blogger who writes (creatively!) about personal growth at the ParmFarm.com. Get her free ebook here.

The Secret Stats Your Follower Numbers Hide

This guest post is by Courtney Mroch of Haunt Jaunts.

Statistics and their interpretation is often a popular topic on ProBlogger. One of my favorites about the subject was a guest post by Mark Seall called Who Cares How Many Subscribers You’ve Got?

I loved the way he pointed out that some, if not most, of us will never reach 20,000 subscribers, based purely on the nature of our niches. He created a color-coded diagram of measures we should analyze our success by instead. They included both things we bloggers can directly impact, as well as those we can’t. His point was to focus on what you can influence and not get hung up on, or weighed down by, the rest. Good advice.

On the other hand, Deb of Science@home wrote a guest post called Do You Spend Enough Time Looking at Your Stats? in which she defended the importance of paying attention to them. Namely, she suggested using stats to see who’s visiting from where, and what topics tend to pique their interest most. Then you can cater your posts more to their liking to retain your audience.

I’ve adopted a bit of advice from both Mark and Deb into my stats analysis and blog post development. However, what I’m most concerned with these days is how wisely I’m spending my precious social networking time.

Which social networks are really driving readers to my blog?

When I first started tracking my blog’s stats and paying attention to referral sources, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, respectively, were always the top three referral sources. They drove in a significantly larger amount of traffic than any of the other top ten referrers.

However, at some point I decided I wanted more followers. That’s when I discovered StumbleUpon. Shortly after, my stats revealed something startling, something Marcello Arrambide of Wandering Trader touched on in his ProBlogger guest post A Blog Traffic Strategy: Quality vs Quantity: follower numbers can be deceptive.

Large follower numbers don’t necessarily translate into big visits

In no time flat, StumbleUpon blew Google, which had been Haunt Jaunts’ top referral source, out of the water traffic-wise. Not only that, it brought in more traffic than Google, Facebook, and Twitter combined. Where Google, FB, and Twitter brought in 1,200-1,500 views a month together, StumbleUpon was bringing in 7,000-8,000 all by itself.

But what was even more shocking was I had maybe 20 followers on StumbleUpon at that time. Haunt Jaunts’s Twitter followers were nearing 3,000, and its Facebook page had several hundred. You’d have thought that, together, they’d be bringing in the most traffic. Not even close.

Noticing trends, tracking down followers

These days StumbleUpon is still Haunt Jaunts’ top referral source. However, it’s dropped considerably. I noticed it after SU made some changes. People got mad and stopped using it as much.

Instead, I saw more people flocking to Tumblr, as well as Pinterest. The former seemed to appeal to many ex-Stumblers because it let them do a lot of what they used to be able to do on StumbleUpon, yet have a little more individuality. The latter seemed to appeal to those who especially liked Stumbling photos.

Facebook traffic also dropped. Coincidently, that happened around the same time Google+ became available.

And then there was Twitter. It dropped off my Top 10 Referrers list entirely. In fact, it wasn’t even in the top 50 anymore. It’s since dropped off as a referral source altogether.

Adapt or die

After analyzing my stats, it was time to re-evaluate my social networking strategy. I thought of Dona Colins’s guest post Is Twitter a Waste of Time?, since I found myself having to contemplate that question, not just for Twitter, but for all my social networks.

Where was I going to spend my time? How much effort should I continue putting into the old sources? Which new platforms should I take a gamble on?

I decided to stick with Twitter. It doesn’t bring in any hits, but I do continue to make valuable connections that lead to other projects. Facebook continues to hold strong in the Top 5, so I’ve also kept it.

I decided to expand into new-to-me social networks, including Google+, TBEX (a travel writer community), Pinterest, and Tumblr.

I’ve found a group of fellow TBEXers who also use StumbleUpon. We’ve sort of banded together. I’ve seen a slight increase in SU’s referrals thanks to this. Not like the results I was once getting, but it’s still my number one referral source.

I don’t know how much traffic Google+ is responsible for yet, but it didn’t even take Tumblr two weeks to climb into my Top 10 referrers once I started using it regularly. I’m curious to see if it will continue to climb.

And then there’s Pinterest. So far it’s generated zilch traffic. I have, however, found it’s a delightful way to spend time that could be better utilized researching, writing, or social networking elsewhere. It’s a dangerous one for me to linger on very long.

What about you? Does your biggest referral traffic come from your social network with the most followers or not?

Courtney Mroch is a writer who wears many blogging hats, among her favorite is being the Director of Paranormal Tourism for Haunt Jaunts, a travel blog for restless spirits.

Attract 100,000 Pageviews in 1 Month Using Slideshare

This guest post is by Joel Runyon of Impossible HQ.

How do you stand out and differentiate yourself online when more and more people are starting blogs every day?

Sure, you need to write stuff that’s gong to stand out, but a lot of blogging advice focuses just on writing. Sometimes to really stand out, you need to go beyond writing and create something different. You need to create content (not just writing) that helps you find new audiences to speak to by using new mediums to spread your message.

One of those new media is Slideshare, an online slide sharing community.

The spark

In 2011, my friend David Crandall released a project titled Inspiration Squared on Slideshare. He sent it to me before he posted it and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was going to be big. David is one heck of a designer and his work combined with the inspirational content behind the piece convinced me right there that it was going to blow up and that I needed to do something about it. I didn’t know anything about Slideshare at the time, but he told me he was going to release it there. Sure enough, as soon as he put it up, he got on to the front page of Slideshare and got about 20,000 views in just a few days.

Over the next few months, he released a few more projects, got them all front-paged on Slideshare and consistently grabbed around 20,000-30,000 views in just a few days after each launch.

David was killing it and I wanted in.

The plan

As soon as I saw David’s first presentation, a light bulb went off and I realized that this Slideshare thing could be big—really big. I sent him an email and told him I wanted to do one. I didn’t know what it would be yet, but I knew it would have two main characteristics: inspirational and beautiful.

Inspirational

I talk about doing impossible things, but I can’t control anyone’s actions other than myself. In other words, I can’t make people act, but I can create the impetus for them to do so. Inspirational pieces not only allow you to do that but also tend to be wildly popular. I knew that in order for this presentation to spread, it would have to be incredibly inspirational.

Beautiful

I wanted the piece to be beautiful as well—this is where David came in. I know exactly what I like, but I know absolutely nothing about making design work. I could have attempted to do this on my own in Microsoft paint, but I knew the only person who would actually pass that along would be my mom.

I knew I couldn’t do it myself, so I called David up and asked him if he would consider doing those presentations for other people. After his track record on his presentations, it was a no-brainer and I commissioned him to do a piece based on one of my most popular posts ever—25 Impossible Quotes—a year-and-a-half-old post that gets crazy amounts of Stumble Upon and social media traffic.

Manufacturing viral

I realized if I could make it both inspirational and beautiful, we could get some serious traction in the Slideshare community as well as the other social media channels, and it would have the potential to go viral. I’ll be the first one to say that it sounds really dumb to say you can manufacture something going viral and for the most part you can’t if you’re trying to create massive viral wins of 1,000,000+ views. But, if you just want to do 50,000-100,000 views, it’s much more doable and I knew with David’s track record, we could easily get 20,000-30,000 views and build it from there.

Since the piece was going to be a presentation and downloadable booklet, we decided to beef it up and double the amount of quotes in it, pulling some more impossible quotes from another article until we ended up with a total 50 impossible quotes. With those set, David went to work and did his thing.

(I mentioned before that you could probably do this yourself if you’ve got serious design chops. If not, and you’re serious about this, find someone like David who’s work you’ve seen before and like. It’s worth it to invest in this to make it truly epic.)

The marketing

There were a few different methods we planned on getting traffic from.

My site

I figured my decent sized readership would give the presentation the initial boost we needed to get traction in the Slideshare community and I was right. After a few thousand views from my site, we hit the front page of Slideshare.

Slideshare front page

Getting on Slideshare’s front page is usually good for 10,000-20,000 views depending on how long you’re up there and how compelling your presentation actually is. Ours went up and got us 25,000 views within the first couple days. That was enough to put at the top of the charts for most popular category, which gave the project even more longevity.

I was pumped, but I knew we could do more. I reached out to a few more people and we started to inch up towards the 30-40k mark. Still good, but I felt there was more potential.

The inflection point

Michael Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, the seventh largest publishing house in the US, and runs a blog with close to 200,000 visitors. We simply wanted him to take a look at it and through a series of twitter messages we got it in front of him and he loved it. The next thing I know I got a message from Michael, “Cool, I’ll post it on my blog.”

A couple of days later—BOOM.

He posted it and it took off: 60k, 75k, 80k views. Within a couple weeks we doubled the amount of views on the presentation and within a month of the launch, we cleared 100,000 views on the presentation (not to mention several thousand direct downloads both from Slideshare and Impossible HQ). Not too bad for a little outside-the-box thinking.

Make your own Slideshare presentation

Fortunately, Slideshare is a new enough platform that you can get some serious traction without being a superstar. After all, if I did it, so can you. Here are a few tips on making your own Slideshare presentation go viral.

Make it simple, stupid

The highlight of Slideshare pieces that go viral is simplicity. You don’t need to make it complicated. You should have one main thought per slide. Don’t over think this.

Choose the right type of presentation

The types of posts that will do really well on Stumble Upon will also do really well on Slideshare. If you have any posts on your blog that have done particularly well on Stumble Upon, you should probably be able to convert it into a popular Slideshare presentation. Other post types that do well:

  • inspirational posts
  • lists posts
  • compilations of quotes (people really love quotes)
  • simple explanations of complicated things.

Anything that is simple, easy to understand and apply do really well in the Slideshare format.

Note: Please do not do a PowerPoint presentation. It will not go over well and no one ever wants to read 5-7 bullets on a slide. Remember: keep it simple!

Find a Slideshare Insider

I compiled the quotes and knew it would have certain traction with the backing of my branding, but the secret sauce of working with David is that he’s already been established in the Slideshare community. He’s done a lot of the heavy lifting of making connections and getting known because he’s good at what he does. He’s built up a reputation so people pay attention when he creates something.

Don’t underestimate the value of working with someone great. Scan the top creators of Slideshare and find someone whose work you like and see if you can commission them for your project. Not only will their knowledge help you make a better looking presentation, but once it’s made, you’ll have more traction within the community.

Market the heck out of it

Share it with your audience. Share it with people you know. Talk to people who know people and share it with them. If you’ve done your work and made your Slideshare presentation awesome, share it with them and ask their opinion and you’ll make it easy for them to pass it along.

The hidden benefits of Slideshare

The best part of creating content Slideshare is that it’s a whole new audience. Guest posting and interviews can always bring in different amounts of traffic, but it’s often hard to avoid incestuous blogging—blogging to the same audiences that read the same blogs over and over and over.

Slideshare is a whole different medium than blog readers. Similar to podcast listeners, Pinterest users and YouTube users, they’re an entirely different market that may or may not read blogs. By using your content in a different way, you can reach these audiences where they’re at and draw them in.

The flip-side of this is that most of your blog readers have never heard of Slideshare either. So, when you create a killer presentation, it looks incredibly impressive—even if you’re simply repurposing your content into a new arena. It’s a whole new medium with a lot of wide open opportunity, so don’t wait.

Have you used Slideshare yet? Tell us how it went in the comments.

Joel Runyon is the creator of Impossible HQ and the Blog of Impossible Things where he pushes his limits by doing the impossible.  You can follow him on twitter.