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7 Powerful Ways to End Your Next Blog Post

This guest post is by Ali Luke of Aliventures.

You know your title has to hook readers.

You know your first line needs to keep them reading.

The start of your blog post matters. But so does the end.

In fact, without a powerful end to your post, all the work that you put into the title and paragraph one is wasted. Because the end of your post is what keeps your readers coming back for more.

Here are seven powerful ways to end your post.

1. Sum up your key message

Sometimes, you need to hammer a point home. The final few lines of your post are a great opportunity to make sure that your key message gets across.

If you can, bring out a new point—or sum up in an engaging way. If you just rehash what you’ve already said, readers will wander off, bored.

Example:

To write 100 books (75,000 words per book) over the next 30 years, you need to be writing 1,000 words per day (writing five days a week, 50 weeks per year). At a brisk but comfortable pace, that’s an hour a day.

If you want to write 100 books in the next ten years, that’s 3,000 words a day.

Being prolific is closer to possible than you might have believed.
—David Masters, Writing Secrets of Prolific Authors, Write to Done

2. Encourage the reader to take action

Many blog posts are full of excellent advice, but how often does that advice actually get put into practice?

Readers love posts that are practical, and if you can persuade them to do something (and see the benefits) then they’ll be much more likely to return to your blog.

Example:

But in the meantime, here’s a tip you can use right away. You’ll have vastly better copy on your website in 20 minutes by following these two simple steps:

Go look at your web copy right now.

Take out every word that doesn’t contribute something new.

Come back here and tell us about the before-and-after. I bet you’ll have something to say!
—James Chartrand, Do You Have Useless Website Content?, Men with Pens

3. Ask the reader to share your post

If you want more tweets or Facebook shares, ask for them. Readers won’t always think of sharing your post, and they may not notice that you’ve got a “retweet” button waiting—unless you tell them.

You might also want to encourage readers to forward a post to friends: unless you’re writing for a predominantly techy audience, there’s a good chance that a lot of your subscribers are getting your feed by email.

Example:

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!
—Ali Luke, How to Have Confidence in Your Writing – and Yourself, Aliventures

4. Link to another useful resource

When readers finish one post, they’ll often be ready to read another on a similar topic. If you’ve written an inspirational piece, for instance, it’s a great idea to link to a practical guide that helps readers turn that inspiration into action.

You don’t need to link to blog posts, either. Pointing readers towards newspaper articles or books in your field isn’t just useful—it also helps demonstrate that you’re on top of what’s happening in your niche.

Example:

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy these posts inspired by art:

  • Writing as an emerging sculpture: Inspiration from Michelangelo’s slaves
  • 15 ways modern art galleries can inspire writers

—Joanna Penn, 7 Lessons For Writers From Leonardo Da Vinci, The Creative Penn

5. Ask a question to encourage comments

Questions work well in titles and first lines—and they’re also a good way to end a post. Asking a question for readers to respond to (e.g. “do you any tips to add?”) is likely to increase the number of comments you get.

Don’t go over the top with questions, though: one or two are usually enough. You don’t want your readers to feel bombarded with a whole string of questions.

Example:

Did you find some great strategies of your own in the videos? What are the exciting ideas informing your own marketing—and how are you implementing them?

Let us know in the comments.

—Sonia Simone, 3 Content Marketing Ideas You Should Steal from Coca Cola, Copyblogger

6. Tell readers what’s coming next

If you want people to subscribe to your blog, or to keep visiting the site for updates, you need to let them know that you’ve got good stuff coming up.

At the end of your post, let readers know what’s coming tomorrow (or next week). You might simply drop a hint like “I’ve got something big to announce next week…” or you might tell them to stay tuned for a more advanced post on a similar topic to the one they’ve just read.

Example:

Next week I’ll post about moving larger WordPress sites. Those might not work with this method because your export XML file will be too large, and you might not be able to upload it via the WordPress import feature.
—Daniel Scocco, How to Move A Small WordPress Site Via the Import/Export Tool, DailyBlogTips

7. Promote your product or service

Even though you might have information about your book/ebook/ecourse/etc. in your sidebar, some readers won’t see that—they’ll either be reading in an RSS reader or they simply won’t notice.

The final line of your post is a great place to let readers know about your product (or to remind them that it exists). This works especially well if your post has been on a similar topic—for instance, if you’ve written about procrastination and you’ve got an ecourse on getting things done, there’s an obvious link between the two!

Example:

Also, check out our Blogging for Beginners Series for more blog tips and ProBlogger the Book for a comprehensive guide to improving your blog and deriving an income from it.
—Darren Rowse, 10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog, ProBlogger

Which of these tips would work well on your next post? Leave a comment below to tell us what you’ll be trying out…

Ali Luke is a writer and writing coach, and blogs for a number of large sites. If you’re struggling to keep up the motivation to write for your blog, check out her post on Six Common Writing Excuses (And How to Overcome Them).

How Gordon Ramsay Can Increase Your “Expert” Value by 23,900%

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of Harrisonamy.com.

To the public, not all experts are created equal.

What’s more, this division exists in all industries, and in every blogging niche.

And it’s not just about working harder, or longer than other people. It’s about knowing how to rise through the ranks of the expert “hierarchy.”

To illustrate, consider for a moment the difference between a chef in a restaurant, a head chef in a five-star restaurant, and then Gordon Ramsay.

In reality, they could have the exact same cooking abilities, but in terms of perceived value, you’re looking at an annual wage of: $30,000, $100,000 and … $24million.

Between the head chef and Gordon Ramsay, that’s an increase of 23,900%

This might seem like quite a leap, but when you understand the following five rungs on the expert ladder,  you’ll see how your own value can change dramatically in the eyes of your audience.

1: Generalist (the fry cook)

Most start out as generalists in their careers. In chef terms, this is like a fry cook. You can cook a number of different meals, but could be replaced by someone with little training and experience.

Your blog is on this level if:

You’ve just started and are still finding your blogging voice. You might cover a variety of topics, or taking a general view of a wide subject such as health and beauty or finance.

You’ll notice other bloggers writing about your subject and may be struggling to get your content shared and traffic to your site.

This is your starting step, and the launch pad of your expert journey. If you want to start standing out though, you need to move to the next level which is…

2: Specialist (the vegan chef)

Here you have a more focused area of expertise, for example a chef who only creates vegan meals. This specialist view means that when it comes to vegan cuisine, we value this level of expert more than the fry cook.

Your blog is on this level if:

You’ve drilled down your blogging topic to a more specific niche, such as skin care routines to help with acne, or how to get the best deal from credit cards.

By covering a smaller topic, your blog content has a more consistent theme, and you’re able to make points which are more in-depth and of greater value to your audience. You’re less overwhelmed by what other generalist bloggers are writing about and more aware of what topics fit into your niche, and what don’t.

This is where some bloggers stay, yet it’s only the second rung on the expert ladder.

You can continue to increase your expert value by moving to the third stage which is…

3: The certified specialist (the five-star restaurant chef)

People love credentials.

A certified Executive Chef has a competitive edge over someone with only “hands-on” experience.  They might both know how to cook a great steak, but when a Michelin starred restaurant is hiring, who do you think they pick for the position (and handsome compensation)?

Your blog is on this level if:

You have relevant qualifications within your topic AND you are displaying them on your blog, letting readers know your certified level of expertise.

If your goal is to prove your expertise to your audience, don’t underestimate the value of a sign that says “Approved by the Board Of…” and “Certified Specialist in…”

After that, you’re ready for the fourth stage of expertise.

4: Expert authority (the food critic)

Expert authorities invest time creating more in-depth studies and publishing the results. They may also have a firm stance on issues within their niche (which may or may not be controversial).

This is like a chef who has spent a year travelling to produce a guide to the top seafood restaurants, or written a paper on the effect of global warming on seasonal food production. Others can then access this information as a “shortcut” to answers without having to do the research themselves.

Your blog is on this level if:

You have published an in-depth white paper, ebook or series of articles. You may choose to focus on a recent trend in your industry, or some controversial news, or to simply create a “shortcut” to a more complex matter.

For example:

  • a white paper on why native plants should be encouraged into any garden
  • an ebook about how changes in financial legislation will affect home owners
  • a series of articles explaining a complicated news topic such as the SOPA bill.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, if you do the research others don’t want to (e.g. the top 100 free resources for web designers) you will gain an authoritative status.

From there, we move to the final rung of the expert ladder which is:

5: All of the above, plus celebrity status (Gordon Ramsay)

The highest level of being an expert comes with celebrity status. This is about being the go-to person within that niche.

Millionaire Chef Gordon Ramsay has 13 Michelin Stars, has published 21 books, has a controversial, outspoken style, and is featured in his own TV shows.

An extreme example? Perhaps, but if you’re passionate about your subject, why not strive for the highest level of expertise? Reaching this level takes hard work, but it might be the hard work people in your industry aren’t doing.

Warning: You cannot build celebrity status without having anything to say, or being properly qualified on your subject. You might see many bloggers shoot to fame seemingly overnight, but the ones that stay at the top are the ones who have mastered their art and skills for years.

Your blog is at this level if:

You are consistently producing and promoting content based on your expertise.

Some of the tools bloggers have used to achieve a celebrity status include:

  • “out of the box”  ways of getting online attention
  • offline speaking at conferences
  • guest posting regularly on other blogs
  • writing for trade publications or magazines
  • pitching for interviews on other websites
  • pitching your side of a current news story to media outlets
  • writing regular books or ebooks
  • holding regular events for example webinars, seminars and teleseminars
  • hosting your own online TV show
  • having a regular radio podcast.

Achieving this level as a blogger means you expand your audience and attract people who are willing to pay more to work with you, not just because of what you are trained to do, but because they get access to you.

What do you think? Who do you see as other experts in your industry, and can you see how they’ve used different tools to increase their value to their audience?

Next have a look at where you are and see what you can do get to the next level of blogging expertise!

Amy Harrison is a copywriter and content marketer for Personality Entrepreneurs wanting to connect and sell authentically to their audience. You can now download her free report on how to write sales copy when personality is part of your business at Harrisonamy.com.

Cash In by Paying for Guest Posts

This guest post is by Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing.

If you’re looking for a way to grab attention for your blog and grow your income, I’ve had great success with this one: I pay writers.

Since May 2011, I’ve been paying $50 for guest posts on my blog. I started paying because my mission is to help writers earn more, and I needed to walk my talk. I usually buy two or three posts a month.

I thought it would just be a cost I’d have to cover every month. But paying for guest posts has turned out to be one of the most powerful strategies I’ve found for building my blog into a money-earner. My number of subscribers has doubled in the months since I started to pay.

I know—you’re here to learn how to make money with your blog, not spend it!

Fair enough. But I’ve discovered investing a little money in your content can be an affordable way to draw that big audience you’ve been trying to coax over to your neck of the virtual woods.

Here’s how paying for guest posts helps my blog succeed:

  1. It changes your attitude. When you start shelling out $100 or more a month for content on your site, it constantly reminds you why you have this blog: it’s a business. You’re investing in your business so it can ultimately earn you money. When your business has overhead, you get focused very quickly on how to earn enough to cover your costs.
  2. Quality goes way up. You get a lot of submissions when you wave a few bucks in writers’ faces. This means instead of begging and scraping to find guest posts when you need a writing break, you can pick and choose the posts you accept. You end up with better posts, and that attracts more readers.
  3. You are news. Offering pay in the blogosphere right now can get you some free press and valuable backlinks on popular sites, too. My blog has turned up in several widely read list posts about paying markets, such as this one. These are great traffic drivers whose effects can last for months.
  4. Word spreads like wildfire. In a world jammed with starving, out-of-work writers, the news that you are willing to shell out even $50 for a blog post gets you a lot of attention. Set up your writer’s guidelines to recommend writers subscribe to learn about what your readers like, and it can drive signups and grow your list.
  5. You learn and improve. Instead of just slapping up whatever half-baked ramblings would-be guest posters send you, you start editing and polishing. You ask for rewrites, because you want your money’s worth from the post. It’s an opportunity to help other writers improve their craft and do some giving to your community, as well as a chance to hone your editing skills. Who knows? You could find a gig editing another blog off that experience. You also gain exposure to new ideas and approaches to writing on your niche topic that can help improve your own posts.
  6. It builds your reputation. We all know trustworthiness is a critical factor in whether visitors decide to subscribe. When you pay for content, readers sense you are the real deal. After all, you’re putting money down to bring them valuable content.
  7. It’s a good marketing value. My experience is that paying for posts is more cost-effective than other forms of paid online advertising you might use to promote your blog. You could easily blow $100 on Facebook ad click-throughs and not get as good-quality new subscribers as you do when those paid guest posters tell all their friends to check you out.
  8. You make raving fans. When I look at who retweets everything I post—the people on Twitter and Facebook saying things like “@TiceWrites is a genius! Read her awesome post right now”—they are often writers who have previously guest posted on my blog. Pay a writer, and you earn their undying gratitude. Months after their guester, I see many writers out there, continuing to mention my blog.

Paying writers helps you grow a network of enthusiasts around your work. Then, when you have a paid product to launch, you’ve got a ready-made group of devotees ready to buy it, review it, affiliate-sell it—or just plain spread the word.

What tactics have helped grow sales on your blog? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.

Carol Tice writes the Make a Living Writing blog, and serves as Den Mother of the Freelance Writers Den, the learning and support community for freelance writers looking to grow their income.

How to Systematically Build a Mountain of Links

This guest post is by Neil Patel of Quick Sprout.

We’ve all been taught to create high-quality content to attract links. This argument is usually stated in the context of a blog that basically becomes an authority where you start to build a following around consistent, fresh content—think big sites like Problogger or Boing Boing.

This is not the technique I’m talking about.

Today, I’m talking about a link-building technique that’s bigger, better and quite possibly able to put you on the map faster than you would ever imagine. I’m talking about building a linkable asset—something you do by following the steps I’m about to describe.

First, let’s define “linkable asset.”

What is a linkable asset?

A linkable asset is a piece of content that is responsible for driving lots of links to your site. It could be an infographic that you update every year, but it’s usually much bigger and complex.

The Feltron Report is an annual report that’s like an infographic on steroids. It’s more than likely you’ve heard of the Felton Report. Its personal data from the life of Nicholas Felton, a designer and data guy, who’s been cranking out these reports since 2005.

SEOmoz’s Annual Ranking Report is another annual report that is a linkable asset.

Distilled’s SEO Guide to Creating Viral Linkbait and Infographics and Smashing Magazine’s The Death of the Boring Blog Postare also linkable assets.

Sometimes these assets are a simple widget like Bankrate’s millionaire calculator or egobait like the Ad Age Power150.

What’s in a linkable asset?

These assets create a mountain of links back to the site, which means more traffic and jolt of exposure to your brand or blog that never dies. But they aren’t easy to create. They take planning, time and at least four or five of the following elements.

It targets a broad market

The first step in creating a linkable asset is to identify your audience. It must be massive because small, niche markets will cause your asset to fail.

You don’t have to think about your general customers. When I’ve worked on these projects, here’s how I’ve thought through the massive audience I need:

  1. Human beings.
  2. Men and woman.
  3. Men in the United States.
  4. Men in the United States who like movies.

You don’t need to get any narrower than that. In fact, “men in the U.S. who like movies” is probably a little narrow. So I might try a small test on an audience made up of “men and women in the U.S. who like movies.”

Here are other ideas you could target:

  • Special interest groups: Republicans, Australians, gun owners or commuters all share a common pain point that you could address in a linkable asset.
  • One-time events: Think 9/11 or the historic significance of Obama’s election.
  • Holidays: Linkable assets tied into holidays like Easter or Hanukah seem to work pretty well.
  • Basic survival stuff: Anything that impacts water, safety, food, or gas consumption.
  • Predictions: Using data that points to a credible conclusion about a possibly good or bad outcome is good linkable content.

It addresses a pain point in a vacuum

What I mean by “addresses a pain point in a vacuum” is that your linkable asset will truly take off if you hit upon a topic that nobody else is addressing.

Beginner guides in new and emerging fields are good examples of this, as are “ultimate guides” that fill a space that is empty. The Authority Rules guide put up by Copyblogger is a free resource that filled an empty pain point, especially in a way that people weren’t entirely clear they even had.

You can hunt down some great data for linkable asset idea if you monitor these three sites:

Keep in mind that addressing a pain point is not an easy task to pull off because there tends to be a lot of competition in a given field to meet a pain point. That’s why you’ll see rushes to create the ultimate guide when the latest social media tools are released.

Mashable created an infographic called Global Internet Traffic Is Expected to Quadruple by the Year 2015:

This piece addresses an obvious need of companies looking to expand and grow—the infographic gives them they have some ammunition to justify their decisions.

We could learn a lesson from this infographic, since it is prediction-based. Even though that prediction is a few years out, the data is truly what is really important, but that is likely to change over time. The market may actually grow even larger, or shrink for some unexpected reason. You just don’t know with predictions, but in general they make for good social sharing.

It delivers evergreen content

In order to ensure that your linkable asset delivers content day in and day out, every year, make sure you choose a topic that will not go out of fashion in a couple of months.

For example, a prediction-style linkable asset usually doesn’t make the best example, because that content will go out of date eventually. Or they may even backfire if your prediction doesn’t come true. It will work well, however, if your prediction comes true, or if you can continue to update it every year.

Here are some examples for evergreen content:

  • Annual report: The reason the Feltron report works even though it is not evergreen content is that it is updated every year and placed upon the same link as the other reports. The same is true about SEOmoz’s annual ranking reports.
  • Guides: The guides that I mention above by Distilled and Smashing Magazine provide evergreen content in the form of “how-to” guides. Everybody needs this information and will for a long time.
  • Widgets: Pretty much as long as there are human beings there will be a desire to be rich…or at least to know how long it would take you to become a millionaire. That’s why the Bankrate calculator has been around for a while and will continue to generate traffic.
  • Tools: The classic example for a broad tool that is evergreen is Google’s keyword research tool.

It must be branded

At the end of the day, your linkable content must be about your brand. But more than just announcing your brand, it must be done in such a way that promotes adoption after someone reads, watches or uses it.

For example, my company announces that our survey tool is “Powered by KISSinsights.”

That’s the exchange we make for allowing someone to use the tool for free. You’ll also see copy that reads “Get this widget,” which helps promote the adoption and spread of the tool by encouraging people to embed it in their site.

This is what standard infographic branding element looks like:

But as you probably know, branding doesn’t end with a simple tag line that lets the consumer know the linkable asset is from you. You also have to make the design stunning.

Good graphics matter! Here are some simple tips to help your linkable asset great-looking:

  • Create a seductive headline combined with a graphic above the fold that stops the reader cold.
  • Put custom-made graphics throughout the linkable asset that are special to it. This will carry the eye of the reader down the page and further brand it.
  • Use graphics-based headers.
  • Break out of the typical blog template and use a format that is shocking or unexpected. Boston Globe shares pictures that are at 900 pixels wide.

It’s promotable to webmasters

When you create that linkable asset, you have to market it. It’s not true that if you build it they will come. Successful assets are given a big push by their creators, namely through emails asking if you will share the content.

That means that content must have zero commercial value, and a positive upside for you.

I’ve gotten requests from asset creators letting me know that they are about to let a piece of content “go live” and I and a select few have a privilege of leaking it early.

This strategy works because I like the idea of getting in front of the flood, because if you are viewed as one of the original promoters, you are likely to get a lot of the early links to your site via “hat tips.”

By the way, when you are pitching to webmasters, create a headline that is newsworthy. Webmasters love content that carries a feeling of cutting-edge news.

It’s easy to share

Nowadays most everything is pretty easy to share because you can build sharing into the assets—like buttons, for example, that share the content immediately.

What truly creates a linkable asset that’s easy to share is allowing the content to be embedded so people can share it on their own site, rather than just linking to it.

Creating a badge for accomplishing some sort of task is another great example of linkable asset that is spread by embedding the code. For instance, once you “finish” Distilled’s link bait guide, you can grab a badge that shows off your new knowledge:

Monitoring your linkable asset

The wonderful thing with these assets is that you can leverage their appeal throughout the year, or even over years. But you can’t know how they’re doing if you don’t monitor them.

Follow the progress of your asset by using these tools:

With these tools, you can keep tabs on where your asset is traveling across the web, and then make sure it’s linked correctly. If the link is broken, follow up with the webmaster to ask to have it fixed.

At some point you can re-purpose and re-introduce the content to get a fresh boost of eyeballs. But if you are not keeping track of all the mentions and links, then you won’t be able to find fresh places to promote it.

Start today

Can you see now how the linkable asset is a pretty big task? It takes time to create, and you may not succeed on your first try. In fact, the odds are that you will probably fail. But that’s why it’s important to share a prototype to a small audience to help you work out the kinks and see if it will have a wider adoption.

Have you created a linkable asset? Share your tips and advice with us in the comments.

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

How to Set Up an Email Account that Uses Your Domain Name

This guest post is written by Kashish Jain of gkbasic..

Most of the people who are new to web design and blogging don’t understand the capabilities that come free with their domain, so they don’t take advantage of them.

How many times have you visited a site for www.something.com and on the Contact Us page, you find that the sales or customer service personnel have email addresses like [email protected]? It certainly is not the main measure of business quality, but the average person usually thinks, “Geez, what is that, their personal email address?”

I, too, began using my personal email address for my website, but very soon I started to realize the importance and need of something more professional.

Why not use the domain email which is free with your hosting account? Using email addresses like [email protected] will look much more professional than the personal email—and the best part is, it’s free!

The bottom line is that if you have paid money to own a domain then you should, at the least, buy from a domain registrar that offers email forwarding for their accounts (we prefer Godaddy). You can also create a domain email address from the cpanel given to you by your hosting providers—they’ll also provide at least one free email address for your account.

By following the steps I’ll explain here, I created an email address that uses my domain name, and I now use it everywhere. It’s made an impact on my website and boosted my interaction with the readers. Before we get into the process, though, let me introduce you to the term “email forwarding.”

What is email forwarding?

Email forwarding is a feature that allows incoming mail to a domain email account, such as [email protected], to be redirected or forwarded to another email address, such as [email protected] Email forwarding is the easiest way to set up a new email address without having to change your email program.

Forwarded email addresses are sometimes called “aliases”. An alias, as you know, is another name that refers to a given person. In our example, John has an email address with gmail—[email protected] He has just purchased the domain name widgets.com and sets up a forwarding rule which “reads”: Whenever an email comes in to [email protected], forward that email to [email protected] In this case, the address [email protected] is an “alias” for [email protected], as all email goes to the same Gmail address.

Many services allow hundreds for forwarding rules or aliases to be created. Suppose John runs a small business but wants to give website visitors the confidence that they’re dealing with a solid company. He could create forwarding rules for [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and so on, and have them all forwarded to [email protected] As John adds employees he can change the forwarding rules to go to other email addresses—you can have as many aliases as you want pointing to the same destination email.

Set up an email account that uses your domain name

Here, I’m going to show you how to create a new email address, like adm[email protected], and integrate it with your Gmail account. This way, you can easily send and receive emails through the Gmail interface, but your customer will see the emails as coming from your domain email address.

The steps have been broken in two parts. First we’ll see how to create the domain email address. Second, we’ll integrate that domain email with your Gmail account.

1. Create the domain name email address

  1. Log into your blog hosting control panel, or cpanel.
  2. Click on Email Accounts in the Email section.
  3. Enter the details for your new account, and click Create Account, as shown here.
  4. You will see a notification that reads something like this: “Success! Account Created.” The account will be shown on the same page.
  5. Now go back to your cpanel and click on Forwarders in the Mail section. Then click Add Forwarder.
  6. Fill all the details as shown below. Then, click Add Forwarder and you’re done.

Now all the emails sent to [email protected] will be sent to your personal email address.

2. Integrate your new domain email with Gmail

  1. Sign in to your Gmail account.
  2. Go to Options, then to Mail Settings, then click Accounts and Imports.
  3. Check Send Mail As, and click on Add Another Email Address You Own.
  4. In the popup that appears, fill in your details, add the new domain email address you just created, then click Next.
  5. Click on Send Verification, and a verification email will be delivered to your inbox. Simply click on the link to verify it, and you are done.
  6. Now, click on Compose Email, and see the changes you’ve made in action.

I hope these steps are clear enough for you to set up your own domain email address. However, if you feel I’ve missed something, or you’re not able to follow up, then let me know in the comments.

Kashish Jain is professional blogger from Delhi,INDIA who writes on various topics like blogging, technology updates, public administration. If you like this post, you can follow him on Google and his blog about public administration.

How I Expanded the Demographic of My Niche Blog to Include Every Person Online

This guest post is by Sonal Pandey of Tap Easy.

Some things don’t get better with time. This was going to be one such case. Here I was, sharing an awesome technique capable of changing lives, but not many were paying attention.

My niche had the perfect demographic—open-minded, receptive, and suitably educated, with interests ranging from psychology to health and fitness. And yet…

I had over 35 solid posts on the blog. I had a video up on the sidebar demonstrating exactly how to use the revolutionary technique. I also had a newsletter opt-in with a desirable giveaway.

Three months had gone by since I had started my niche blog catering to Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) enthusiasts. And yet, nothing much was happening. The email opt-in rate was miserably low, even for a new blog. Sometimes there were no sign-ups for days together.

Well-meaning people told me to just hang on and things would improve with time. Somewhere inside, I knew they wouldn’t. Where was I going wrong?

I was doing everything that successful bloggers were suggesting. But all that was falling on deaf ears. The bounce rate was a staggering 83%. I knew I needed to take stats data with a pinch of salt, but there must have been some truth to them after all.

It got worse

Also around that time, my Google search impressions dropped drastically. Within a span of three days, the search impressions came down by 92%. Such drastic reduction in search impressions also meant a drastic decrease in the clicks to my blog through search results.

I submitted a reconsideration request through Google Webmaster. But they came back reporting no evidence of manual actions by their webspam team. As far as Google was concerned, I was in the clear. So the problem was inside the blog.

From a good enough daily traffic figure (even if with a high bounce rate), it came to days when traffic to the blog was zero. It was scary, and depressing.

My impulsive reaction was to think of myself as a reject. No one wanted what I was offering. But my research had shown considerable demand for such material. People are quite exploratory when it comes to self-help and healing modalities. So why weren’t there more takers?

Stats sleuthing

On a close analysis of the blog stats, it turned out that a good number of people were coming through search engines. But they were not arriving here because of EFT related keywords.

For the longest time, the #1 most popular keyword sending people to my blog was “disappointed.” The Universe was trying to rub it in! For whatever reasons I wanted my blog to shine, “disappointed” was not one of them. Yet the material on the blog frequently referenced similar words since they were an integral part of the self-help process.

These visitors were people who had no clue what EFT meant or what they were doing on my blog. So they would come and quickly bounce back.

EFT is a powerful tool to help people recover from all kinds of negative emotions, including disappointment. So Google was probably sending them to the right place. But the visitors didn’t know why they were there. That lead to a very high bounce rate.

I wondered if this very high bounce rate had brought about the downfall in my search results placement.

That was when I had an epiphany.

Aha!

I created a minute-long video trailer especially for those completely oblivious to EFT. And placed this video on the sidebar with an opt-in form below it. The video didn’t get into any EFT mumbo jumbo. It didn’t even talk about how to use EFT. It talked about why.

It simply informed the visitors that they could get relief from a host of emotional and physical problems if they used EFT. And that they could bring positive changes in their lives through this technique.

I started offering my earlier video about EFT process demonstration as a giveaway to those signing up. To encourage visitors already familiar with EFT to sign up, I added an e-book that listed my best tips on using the technique. So that giveaway package became attractive to both people new and not new to EFT.

Why it worked

Earlier the blog only catered to the initiated, people who were already using EFT. They could find their way around the blog easily. Even before things improved, such visitors would stick around for ten, 20, or 30 minutes.

The video trailer made sure that even if somebody landed on my blog by mistake, they would at least come to know how they could use it to their advantage. Now anyone who had stress or problems (that includes everyone, right?) was a prospective visitor and subscriber.

Sell them what they want, so you can give them what they need.

Apart from laying down the real-life benefits of EFT in plain English, the video was reminding people to sign up. That in turn gave them the exact tools needed to get started with EFT, and use it in the best way possible.

From using these tools, all the material on my blog became comprehensible to them. So they stayed around.

Just rewards came

Suddenly everything improved: time on site, page views, bounce rate, search impressions. Email subscriptions shot through the roof. When I say “through the roof” I mean it in the frame of my new blog and relatively small traffic. But I’m a firm believer in the theory that a good conversion rate can beat high traffic stats any day.

These results were achieved without writing a single new post during that interval. So what was needed was certainly not more content.

The moral of the story

The takeaway from this experience is to keep in mind the visitors who may be unaware of your area of expertise. It is not so much about showing a video. It is about helping a first time visitor feel at home.

I used to think of my blog as a niche blog, but now it is open to anyone who has an Internet connection and a set of problems.

And to a great extent this learning will influence what content I write next. Because it will be based on a policy of inclusion, not exclusion.

Sonal Pandey is a software engineer turned self-help blogger. Her philosophy on self-help advice is that it should be targeted, effective, and easy to incorporate quickly. Through her blog, Tap Easy, she offers Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping scripts to help people overcome stress, fear, and other negativity and bring positive changes naturally.

A Tale of Two Ebooks

This guest post is by Alexis Grant of The Traveling Writer.

During the last six months, I’ve published two ebooks: one that’s selling wonderfully, and another that flopped.

Why did one succeed, while the other—at least in sales terms—didn’t? What was the difference?

It wasn’t a beautiful cover, nor a pre-launch sale, nor an impressive newsletter list. The differentiator was a factor you have to consider before you even begin writing your ebook.

But we’ll get to that in a minute. First, some background on the products, so you can avoid making the mistake I made:

EBook No. 1: How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business

I released this guide to the world without much of a strategy. It was my first time writing and launching an ebook, so it had a DYI cover, no affiliate program and no guests posts at launch. At the time, I didn’t realize promotion—or getting eyes on my product—was just as essential as writing an awesome guide, so I simply created a product I was proud of and put it out there.

I cobbled together a sales page on my website, used ejunkie to sell it and spread the word through my networks, sharing the link to the sales page on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Immediately, the guide began to sell. Not at a ridiculous pace, but steadily, enough copies to make this first-time-product-creator happy. After three weeks, I reported selling 32 copies at $24 a pop.

Then Mashable ran a post I wrote about how to use your social media skills to make money, and copies flew off the digital shelves. Word began to spread among the social media community, and within two months of launch, I’d sold my first 100 copies.

I’d been bitten by the ebook bug! I began studying how to launch a product—homework I should’ve done weeks before—reading resources and guides on the topic and asking launch experts for advice. Soon I’d slapped a more professional-looking cover on the social media consulting guide and created an affiliate program.

Each morning, I woke up to see a guide or two had sold while I was sleeping. So this was what passive income was all about! I loved the instant gratification, and I smiled every time I got an email from someone who had used my guide to land their first client.

Then an idea hit me. I’d been scheming to write a traditional book about how to take a career break to travel, having left my job as a newspaper reporter several years ago to backpack through Africa. What if I turned that into an ebook instead? That would allow me to bypass the traditional publishing process, sell the product on my own site and keep all the profits. Genius, right?

So I toiled away on the guide. This time, I wrote nearly twice as long as I had for the first ebook, packing the guide with practical tips for anyone who was thinking about long-term travel, plus interviews with travelers who’d actually taken their own trips.

The result? Ebook No. 2: How to Take a Career Break to Travel

Now that I knew what it took to sell an ebook, I hired a designer to create a flashy cover and arranged the details for an affiliate program. I pitched guest posts to more than a dozen popular blogs and spend hours writing the pieces. I offered a pre-launch discount to my (lean but growing) newsletter list, plus a bonus for anyone who bought the guide.

In terms of launch strategy, I did everything right.

Except I’d overlooked a crucial detail: people didn’t think they needed my career break guide.

As guest posts for the guide went live around the Web, something funny happened: sales for the social media consulting guide spiked. What?! A few sales for the career break guide came through, but the first ebook sold far faster. I was getting eyes to my site, but they were buying the first guide instead.

For the record, both guides were priced around the same: the social media consulting guide went for $24, the career break guide for $29. And yet people felt compelled to learn about how to make money off their social media skills, not how to take a career break to travel.

The Lesson

In retrospect, I’d made the biggest of mistakes, creating a resource people didn’t think they needed.

To be honest, I knew when I began writing the career break guide that it was a risk; I wasn’t sure how big of a market was out there for that type of book. But I wrote it anyway because finding time in your life to travel is a topic that’s important to me personally. I wrote it because it was a guide I couldn’t not write.

Yet at the other end of the spectrum, the market for the social media consulting guide is even bigger than I realized. Which is great not only for me, but also for the reader. Because there’s a huge need for those skills, there’s also huge opportunity for each of my readers to make money, often on the side of their day job.

And that’s the other differentiator: the first ebook helps readers make money. I think people are more willing to shell out a few bucks if it means they’re going to make money in return. Often, we’re willing to invest if it means financial gain on the other end.

So do I regret writing the second ebook? No, and not just because I care about the topic. A big part of my transition into entrepreneurship is allowing myself to experiment. Sometimes I’ll make mistakes, but sometimes—like with ebook No. 1—I’ll strike a chord, one that helps fund my next project. In many ways, experimenting—and as a result, learning—is what this is all about.

Alexis Grant is a journalist, social media strategist and entrepreneur. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her Solopreneur Secrets newsletter.

6 Powerful Guest Post Tactics that No One’s Talking About

This guest post is by Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind.

Guest posting is a hot topic amongst startup bloggers. It is one of the most widely-adopted blog promotion strategies in existence, and has been made perhaps even more popular by the success of “serial” guest posters such as Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

His “blitzkrieg” strategy may come across to some as a triumph of quantity over strategy, but nothing could be further from the truth. He understands the key concepts that we will be exploring in this post, and executes them in a highly effective manner. Whilst I am by no means as prolific as Danny, I have done my fair share of guest posting (those ten posts only being selection).

guest posting secrets

Image courtesy guigo.eu, licensed under Creative Commons

If you care to read any of the numerous guest posting guides available across the blogosphere, you will typically read about advice relating to the same two topics:

  • how to find guest posting opportunities
  • how to get your post approved.

That is what beginner bloggers want to know, as they assume that a successfully published blog post is a job well done. However, attracting a visitor to your site only represents a job half done. The ultimate success of guest posting is determined by a key fundamental cherished by marketers worldwide: the conversion.

What is a conversion?

Contrary to what some people seem to think, attracting a visitor to your site via a guest post does not represent a successful conversion. When I talk of conversions, I am talking along the lines of email subscribers, social media followers, and/or  sales. A conversion (1) increases your income, (2) results in the acquisition of an asset, or (3) achieves both. Whilst a sale offers you immediate income, an email address has intrinsic value too (it is an asset to your blog).

Don’t believe me? You only have to read the news. A lawsuit was recently filed by a company seeking damages against a previous employee relating to a Twitter account. The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article:

[The company is] seeking damages of $2.50 a month per follower for eight months, for a total of $340,000.

Now it will be interesting to see what precedent (if any) is set by this case, but the key thing to bear in mind is the concept that a social media account has an intrinsic value. Even more specifically, a value has been placed upon each and every follower. A social media account is an asset in the right hands, as is an email list. And the investment you place in guest posting can offer you a direct return in terms of asset growth.

I don’t want to get too deep into marketing fundamentals here, but this post is written with the understanding that you know what you want from your guest posting strategy. And that is to get more conversions. So with that said, let’s take a look at the six steps that lead to conversion-heavy guest posts.

1. Relevance

People get hung up on the size of blogs that they plan to guest post on. It is not unusual to hear “I’ll only write for a blog if it has more than 3,000 subscribers,” along with similar statements, based upon arbitrary numbers. But the size of the blog is not nearly as important as its relevance.

When targeting blogs for which you can write a guest post that converts, you need to find common ground. There needs to be a point at which the majority of the combined readership intersects. This is far more of an art than a science, but there is a sliding scale when it comes to selecting the right blog to guest post on.

You could argue that it is better to write on a huge blog with less relevance than a small blog with high relevance, but I don’t think that debate can be resolved one way or the other. You may as well ask how long a piece of string is. Having said that, I am personally far more comfortable writing for a blog where the subject matter aligns closely.

There is in fact a whole other side to relevance that I have not yet covered. More on that later.

2. Quality

You may never have considered this, but the quality of the blog upon which you guest post can make all the difference. I once wrote a guest post for a particular blog that was highly relevant to my niche. I felt very confident about its ability to offer me a solid number of conversions.

Unfortunately, the blog was somewhat unloved (I’m being kind here), with a completely inconsistent posting schedule. Not in a Social Triggers, “the post will come when it will come, and it will be awesome” kind of way, but in a “I have no idea when the next post is coming, and I don’t really care” kind of way. The blog author was clearly too preoccupied to put any effort into the post, and threw it up at completely the wrong time of day with little to no active promotion whatsoever.

That guest post offered little traffic, and by extension, few conversions. Just to give you a bit of context, the blog in question has an Alexa traffic rank of around 50,000, and its Twitter account has over 10,000 followers.

The lesson is clear: only post on blogs that are well-loved. If a blogger doesn’t love their blog, its subscribers certainly won’t. And by extension, you will receive little to no traffic.

3. Engagement

This point takes me back to the typical argument that states you should only post on high-traffic blogs, and reminds me that as an absolute statement, it offers no value. A big, defining factor in how successful your guest post will be is how active the blog’s community is. Blogs with a relatively high comment count usually indicate a high level of engagement. If a blog’s community is highly engaged with the owners’ posts, they are far more likely to take interest in a guest post.

On a blog with a readership that respects its author, your post will carry a level of preordained value. The reader likes what the author does, the author likes what you do, therefore the reader should also like what you do.

I was taught this lesson in a big way with one of my more recent guest posts. I wrote a post that was highly relevant to both audiences, submitted it and waited to see the results of my labor. The results were a six-fold increase in visits over my average guest post and an elevated conversion rate. This blog was in fact of a similar size in terms of readership to the one mentioned above. The difference was in the quality, and in the engagement. Each of the author’s posts attracts numerous comments, and you can see that his readers hung off every morsel of advice handed out. That passion transferred nicely to my post.

But that post wasn’t successful solely because of high engagement levels. As I already mentioned, the quality of the blog was high, but there was another beneficial factor at play. Which was…

4. Volume

Generally speaking, a high volume of posts is beneficial to a blog. The more posts, the higher the exposure. However, that does not prove to be the case when it comes to guest posting.

If your guest post gets lost below the fold within a few hours or just a day, its exposure will be highly limited. And even a high-quality post can’t fight against a lack of exposure. Content may be king, but marketing is its overbearing queen.

There are of course clear exceptions, but the relative lack of exposure must be married with a high readership (which is of course the case with ProBlogger).

You can suffer from a lack of exposure even when volume is relatively low. If you come across a poor-quality blog, you may well find that a blogger has no problem with publishing your guest post literally hours before publishing a post of his own, almost as an afterthought (yes, this happened to me).

Part of a guest post’s success relies upon its exposure, so make sure that the post you have put a great deal of work into actually appears above the fold for a reasonable amount of time.

5. Type

Now we get into the tactics regarding the actual makeup of your post. I am not talking about the importance of spelling and grammar (although they are of course key considerations). I am talking about writing posts that stand out from the crowd.

Let’s be honest: most posts you see are a dime a dozen. But that actually works to your advantage—you just need to work that little bit longer to set yourself apart. Let’s take a look at the factor you need to consider.

Surprise with size

There is this strange misconception floating around the web that you must write short blog posts. As you might have gathered from the length of this post, I do not subscribe to that belief. If you are writing interesting and engaging content, people will find the time to read it.

Make it pretty

Since your post is going to be long, you don’t want to intimidate readers with long blocks of text. Regardless of how fascinating your insights are, you’re writing a blog post—not a book. Don’t try to fight the system!

So take some time to make your post pretty. Break your writing down into short paragraphs, and allow the reader to scan your text by highlighting important words and sentences with bold and italics (if permitted by the blog owner). Include plenty of sub-headers, and insert colorful and interesting images.

Write for engagement

There are two post styles that consistently perform well, regardless of how fed up you are with them as a writer. If you are going to guest post, you will get the most traction from stories and list posts.

We all know why list posts are so successful—they are highly scannable, great for sharing, and appeal to our natural desire for actionable elements. The exact same content presented in paragraph format would tank when compared to a list post format. People want to know what they are getting from reading your article—a list post appeals to that desire.

Stories are good for two reasons when it comes to guest posting. First of all, everyone loves a good story. When Darren Rowse spoke at Blog World Expo 2011, he remarked that story-driven posts are the ones that people seem to remember the most.

The introduction of a story to a post achieves two key things:

  1. It creates a connection. With a story, you are no longer simply words on a screen—you are a human being.
  2. They arouse our natural desire for closure. If you leave someone hanging, they are going to be far more likely to head over to your blog to find out more.

6. Byline

Now we are getting down to the nuts and bolts of what will attract visitors to your blog. The purpose of your post is to prime the reader; the purpose of the byline is to sell them on their time investment in visiting your blog. If you write a generic byline, expect a generic amount of traffic to hit your blog.

You need to appeal to what the reader wants in your byline. They don’t care that you are the writer of so-and-so blog and that you have a Facebook page. They want to know what clicking on your link is worth to them. What do you have to offer them?

This ties in closely with relevance. If the two blogs share a common topic, the byline should write itself to a extent.

Take what you’re reading right now as an example. ProBlogger “helps bloggers to add income streams to their blogs” (I’ve taken that from the About page). My blog is all about how to quit your job and work for yourself—and one of the main focuses is on professional blogging. This post is about guest posting, which ties in closely with the topic of professional blogging.

When everything aligns in such a way, the byline serves to simply make that alignment clear and leave the rest up to the reader.

7. Entry

Despite it being the last entry on the list, this is easily one of most important factors to bear in mind. You can do a great job on all the other points, but if you’re not ready for your visitor when they arrive, it could all be for naught.

When a visitors chooses to click on your link, they want more of what they have just seen. If the link leads them to your blog’s front page, where you recently posted about unrelated topics, they will quickly lose interest. You absolutely must direct the visitor to exactly what they are looking for.

So with that in mind, I am a big fan of landing pages. If you have a related product and/or mailing list, let it be the first thing they see when they arrive on your site. Remove all distractions and have them focus on the relevant piece of information, which is arguably precisely what they are looking for.

In terms of targeted visitors, you can’t do much better than guest post traffic. By virtue of the fact that they have clicked through to your site, they want to read more of the same—all you need to do is facilitate that for them.

You have two choices, depending on how hard you want to work. The first option is to direct them to the relevant part of your site. For instance, say your blog was divided up into five categories, and you wrote a guest post relating to one of those categories. Instead of sending your guest post readers to the homepage, you would direct them straight to the category page (which would of course be customized with some introductory text and a breakdown of the most popular posts).

Whilst that is an effective tactic for “hooking” the visitor, its conversion rate will not be too impressive. Such a reader may choose to bookmark you and come back at later date, or they may sign up to your RSS feed. They may even sign up to your email list. But it is all incidental—not designed.

The really high conversion rates can be found in producing a targeted landing page that incentivizes the reader to sign up to your list. Such an incentive would typically be in the form of a product—like a free guide or resource. For instance, say you wrote an article on blue widgets. Your byline would link back to a landing page offering a free guide on blue widgets in return for an email address.

Obviously, it will not be practical for you to write a new product for every guest post you write. But you can usually produce something that aligns well with multiple guest posts, and it can also be used elsewhere (say as a incentive for your standard mailing list forms).

If you follow this tactic along with the other six I have covered in this post, I am highly confident that you will see dramatically improved conversion rates from your guest posting efforts.

The key is in the testing

I have covered a lot of ground here, and have hopefully given you a lot to take away and experiment with. But remember this: there is no proven formula when it comes to guest posting. Your success will be determined by how well you implement the above advice, how often you guest post, and how quickly you learn from your experiences.

Tom Ewer is an avid blogger and internet marketer who quit his job at the end of last year to pursue his passions full-time. He recently released a free eBook: The Complete Guide To Guest Posting, which, if this post is anything to judge by, is pretty darned comprehensive. Download it now!

How to Succinctly Report a Blog Issue to Tech Support

This guest post is by Matthew Setter of Malt Blue.

How often do you find it happening to you? You discover an issue with your site, or one of your community members emails you to tell you about it, and soon you start to see tweets about it too.

Maybe it’s as simple as an error message that detracts from the professional appearance of your site. Perhaps the contact form doesn’t send messages to your contact email address. Or is it that the whole site just displays as a blank page, otherwise known as the white page of death?

You’re not a programmer, a software engineer or a seasoned professional systems administrator who’s responsible for the U.S. Google Data centers. You’re an accountant, an au pair, or a globe trotter who loves surfing and seeing fantastic sites around the world. Now this isn’t to diminish any of these honorable professions and ways we bloggers spend our lives; it’s just that your strong suit likely isn’t website architecture and code debugging.

What’s more, every break in your site affects your professional image and ultimately, your bottom line. So it’s important that you get the issues rectified as soon as possible, and get the show back on the road. But what do you do? What’s the best approach to take?

It’s important to report technical problems to your tech support (whether that’s one person or a dedicated support company) clearly and unambiguously, and to provide them with as much information as they need to get you up and running again, quickly.

Technical people have a bit of a reputation for being dry, blunt, impersonal, and brusque. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Like everyone else, they have their priorities and ways of approaching the work that they do, as do plumbers, dentists, lawyers, and politicians.

And, as with all people, to get the most out of them—especially when you need them—you need to talk in a way that they’re responsive to and understand. It’s a lot like writing: when you’re reporting technical issues, you need to write for your audience.

Unless your technical support person’s completely lacking in all forms of social and inter-personal skills, which is highly unlikely, here’s a set of tips to get a quick and effective solution to your problem.

Can you replicate the issue?

To be sure that the issue exists, you need to be sure that the issue is replicable, quickly and simply. Then, you need to write down the steps that you took to replicate the issue, clearly and unambiguously, so that your tech can repeat the issue themselves.

Let’s say that a page on your blog that displays a series of images about one of your products crashes when people try to view it.

Here’s how I’d report it.

  1. Open up the browser to <insert your domain name here>
  2. From the main navigation, click Products, then Books, then New York Times best-seller, then click Gallery.
  3. On that page, you will see a product image gallery with buttons to navigate through the images at the bottom-center of the page.
  4. Click through the pages, starting at one using the numbers, not the forward arrow at the end (think: Google search results navigation).
  5. When you get to page 6, the page shows nothing except what appears to be an error message, which is as follows: “Error 5000. PHP could not connect to MySQL with username <username> and password <password>.”
  6. The url of the page is: http://www.superbooks.com/products/books/nyt-best-seller/gallery/6

From this description, it’s simple for your tech support person to start at the home page of the site and, step by step, move from there to the point at which the error occurs. In addition to this, you’ve provided the URL so they can go straight to the error, as well as a copy of the error message. This provides comprehensive information to get the issue resolved.

Browser(s) and operating systems

Now whilst this information is pretty good, it’s not all that’s available. As is so common for TV salesmen to say, “but wait, there’s more!” In addition to this information, you should also provide details of the browser, browser version and the operating system that you’re using.

Whether you’re using Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera, or another of the multitude of browsers out there, put that information, along with details about your operating system, into a table similar to the one below. Include it with the information you send to tech support.

I’ve quickly prepared this one based on the technology I’m using right now.

Name

Version

Browser

Google Chrome 16.0.912.77

Operating System

Mac OS X 10.7.2, Build 11C74

Finding this information

This is all well and good you say, but how can you find this information?

Windows

To find out which windows operating system you’re using, right click on your desktop and select Properties from the menu that appears.

A dialog will display, showing your operating system under the default tab, named General.

Apple Mac

To find out the version of Mac OS X you’re running, click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen, then click About This Mac.


In the window that pops up, under Mac OS X, you’ll see text that reads something like, “Version 10.7.2”. As it says, that’s the version number of the operating system. If you click on that text, it will give you a “build” number.


Browser: Google Chrome

If you’re using Google Chrome, click About (on Windows) or Chrome (on Mac) and then click About Google Chrome. In the window that appears you’ll see the full version number under Google Chrome.

Browser: Mozilla Firefox

If you’re using Firefox, click About (on Windows) or Firefox (on Mac) and then click About Firefox. In the window that appears you’ll see the full version number under Firefox.

Browser: Apple Safari

If you’re using Safari, click About (on Windows) or Safari (on Mac) and then click About Safari. In the window that appears you’ll see the full version number under Safari, similar to: Version 5.1.2 (7534.52.7).

Why is this important?

This information is important is because, despite appearances, not all of the modern web browsers are created equal. Though Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari all render web pages pretty closely, and more recent versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer are rapidly getting better, they each have quirks and differences between such things as their Javascript engines, and the support they provide for different aspects of web standards, such as HTML and CSS.

If you can provide this information along with the process the tech support can use to repeat the error, it really helps isolate the issue. One further thing to remember is that some specific versions of software have particular quirks or bugs that don’t exist in any others. So the operating system or browser version can be crucial in some cases.

When did it happen?

Now while all of this information is great, it’s not always enough to isolate the issue. Please don’t be despondent, though. Sometimes it’s not a browser issue as such—maybe it’s an issue relating to the web server. Maybe your site’s particularly popular and has traffic spikes which cause problems, for example.

So as well as the information you’ve already provided, let the tech know:

  • the time of day and
  • the day of the week and
  • the month when you or your readers first noticed this issue.

If the tech support is on their game and also has access to your site’s analytics, they may be able to make a correlation between the times that you report the issue occurs with the traffic loads on your site.

Maybe the error is not an error, but an indicator that you blog’s gaining in popularity, and that your audience is really starting to grow. This “error” may be an indication that you need to upgrade your hosting plan and infrastructure to cope with it.

Anything else?

What about a screenshot? Images of the issue can be very helpful for tech support.

Don’t get carried away: just capture the moments at which the error occurred and what you saw. In either Mac or Windows (and on Linux too of course) you can capture what the screen looks like in a screenshot and, using such tools as Microsoft Paint, Gimp, Paint.net, Paintshop Pro, or Adobe Photoshop, crop the image so that it’s not enormous, and to highlight the

Better support

This list isn’t everything, but it’s a good start. By providing this information as quickly as possible, you’re going to give your tech support a lot to work with, and a good head-start to help you out and resolve your issues. These details aren’t a guarantee of success, but they are much better than nothing.

So the next time you hit a problem on your site, go grab that information, put it together, and send it over to your tech support. I’m sure that they’ll appreciate you putting in such a lot of effort on their behalf. If not, I can hook you up with someone who will be!

Matthew Setter is a passionate writer, educator and software developer. He’s also the founder of Malt Blue, dedicated to helping people become better at web development.You can connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn or Google+ anytime.