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The 3 Essential Components to My Online Publishing Business: Blogging, Social, and Email

As bloggers, we’re always under time pressure to do more. Whether it’s releasing a product or engaging with users on a new social network, the blogger’s task list can seem overwhelming sometimes.

I think some of that overwhelm comes from the granularity with which we tend to look at our work. While breaking big challenges down into littler ones is a good way to tackle things, focusing on the little bits and pieces of our work can stop us seeing the bigger picture, and the natural connections between the individual things we’re doing.

Recently on #blogchat we had a discussion about where social media fits into blogging. If you look at that question on a really granular basis—”What will my next status update be about?”—then it can be difficult to see where social media might or might not work well. But if you look at the bigger picture, you’ll probably be more likely to ask, “Where doesn’t social media fit into blogging?”

Of course we need a bit more direction than that to work out how best to spend our time as bloggers, so today I thought I’d explain a bit about my approach to linking blogging, social media, and email.

Freeway cloverleaf

Image by Phillip C, licensed under Creative Commons

1. Blogging

Blogging is at the heart of what I do. My blog is my home base and is where I put most of my efforts. My blog is a place that another company like Twitter, or Facebook or G+ can’t take away from me if I break their terms of service or if they change their approach. It’s in my control and it’s where I ultimately build my brand and community.

My blog is a place where conversation and conversion certainly happens, but if I had to name my primary focus for my blog it would be that it is a place which I use to produce content that’s useful to my readers.

My hope is that every single day on my blogs, I help solve problems big and small for my readers through the content I produce there.

My blog is a place that is often the first point of contact with people. It’s a place where I hope I’m able to create an impression upon them that will drive them to connect more meaningfully in some way.

2. Social media

Social media is a place which I primarily use for conversation and community. While these things also happen on the blog in comments, I find increasingly that people want to connect and converse off my blog.

I tend to focus on Twitter primarily, but Facebook has increasingly become a place where my photography blog readers go and G+ is also growing for me in this way.

I do use social media for other purposes—I use it to drive traffic to my blog for example, I occasionally produce content on it (particularly on G+ where I often think out loud), and I even promote my ebooks on it from time to time too (although I find it doesn’t convert anywhere near as well as email—more on that in a moment).

All these things can be done on social media, but for me it is more a place for conversation and interaction.

3. Email

I’ve written about the importance of email many times on ProBlogger—it is the single most important element I’ve added to my blogging since I started out ten years ago.

Email does many things for me—it’s a great way to drive traffic, it can help with building community and driving people to points of engagement, it can even be used to deliver content. But for me its stand-out benefit has been around driving sales: conversion.

Check out this graphic which shows where sales of our ebooks come from.

Email conversions on dPS

You can see here that:

  • 87% of our sales come from email
  • 7% come from our blog posts
  • 3% come from social media
  • 3% come from our affiliates.

Since we started to publish ebooks, I’ve tried many ways to promote them, but the top-converting method every time I’ve tested has been email.

3 Kinds of media working together

Blogging, social media and email have all  become really important aspects of my business. I can’t imagine leaving one of these elements out.

Each of them is useful in a variety of ways—in fact, I often use each of the elements to promote the others, as I find they really work well to reinforce one another.

For example, when someone signs up to our newsletter on dPS they get an email shortly after that tells them about our social media accounts. From time to time on our social accounts we promote the email newsletter, and we regularly promote the blog posts we publish there, too.

In sending people back and forth to the different elements of what we do, I find they become more integrated into the community. The brand’s popularity grows among a broader audiences this way, but individuals’ connections with the brand deepen, too.

In taking this discussion a step or two further, tomorrow’s post looks at some great case examples of the ways email and blogging can be integrated to support a successful product launch, so I’ll be interested to hear what you think of those approaches.

And next week, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at how bloggers are using social media—specifically Pinterest—to support their blogging goals.

The integration of social media and email with blogging is a pretty topical dilemma for a lot of people, so let’s hear your views in the comments.

Increasing Traffic and Engagement … with Fun and Games

This guest post is by Danny Iny of firepolemarketing.com.

When you blog all the time about a certain topic…

…even if you’re still completely passionate about it…

…it can sometimes get a little boring.

You feel it as a blogger, and your readers may feel it, too.

Now, of course, your readers can go elsewhere on the internet for new stimulation, but wouldn’t it be better if they stuck with you?

Or better yet, what if they had such interesting and engaging experiences on your site and with you that they wanted to tell their family and friends about it?

And what if they shared your content with their networks because doing so made them look really good?

This scenario is absolutely possible.

If you can keep enough novelty, challenge, and inspiration coming, your readers will want to spend more of their online time with you, giving you more opportunities to strengthen your relationships and make sales.

But before we talk about all of that, let’s explore why this usually doesn’t happen—even when we’re working our hardest and doing our genuine best to make our blogs worthwhile for our readers and subscribers.

Why the same old stuff gets stale

Do you have a certain route that you follow a lot?

It could be your drive to work, or to your Mom’s house. It’s a path that you travel frequently, and know intimately.

There’s nothing surprising or unusual that happens along this route; it’s the same every day, and if it weren’t hideously dangerous because of other drivers and pedestrians, you could do it with your eyes closed. It’s so boring that you don’t even think about it.

The same thing can happen with any task that you do again and again. Brushing your teeth. Putting on your shoes. And even reading your favorite blogs.

It’s so common—such a habit—that you do it automatically, and don’t really consider what it is you’re doing, or pay attention to the details.

As a consumer of blogs, this is kind of a shame.

As a producer of blog content, it’s absolutely catastrophic. You need your readers to be riveted! And as a reader of Problogger.NET, you’ve made sure you’re not making any of the common mistakes that bloggers make.

So how do you fix the problem?

What you need to do is shake things up a little bit—change the process of engaging with you on your blog from one of providing content that gets read and maybe commented on, to an experience that happens that gets your readers thinking and motivated to act.

One of the best, most fun and most effective ways to do this is through a contest, challenge, or game.

Do it through contests, games, and challenges

What makes a contest, game, or challenge fun?

Well, it lights up areas of your brain that you don’t usually get to use every day—and that’s interesting. Moreover, it’s exciting—your mind has to sit up and take note because, “hey, you’re making me work!”

There are some principles that are common to all successful games, and I’d like to go over them quickly here. The four principles are:

  1. motivation and loss aversion
  2. status and competition
  3. surprise and hope
  4. feedback and reward

Get them to start and keep them going with motivation and loss aversion

When you think about running a contest or challenge, I bet that the first thing you consider is the prize—it’s got to be amazing if it’s going to get people to play, right?

Not necessarily. People are more likely to act because they’re afraid of losing something they already have, then to gain something new.

You can apply this technique when you’re introducing your challenge. Paint a vivid picture of how wonderful winning and participating is. Outline all the benefits participants stand to gain. They could gain the prize, or knowledge, or networking, or glory—just make sure to make them feel like they already have it when you’re writing your description. If you do a good job at this, they’ll play to keep that feeling.

Status and reputation will help them take it further

Once people are playing a game or challenge, they’ll be dying to know how everyone else is doing, and how they stack up against the rest of the competitors. (Even if they’re too cool to admit it, or are just “playing for fun.” They want to know—trust me.)

Take advantage of this by providing frequent updates to contestants, and emphasizing again how wonderful it will be to win—and how possible that is for anyone. Someone who starts out with a strong lead will be desperate to keep it, and those who are only a few points behind another player will want nothing more than to inch up in the rankings.

Keep everyone involved with discovery and surprise

Obviously, not everyone is going to be occupying a top spot—that’s unavoidable. But the people who aren’t can be kept equally passionate and engaged with a little sense of discovery, surprise, and the possibility that this kind of excitement will happen again.

Think in terms of bonus challenges, opportunities to do a little extra, a funny note, a contestants-only joke. These kind of unexpected treats get people excited to be doing what they’re doing, and happy to keep going, even if they don’t expect they’ll win.

Make it worth their while with feedback and rewards

We all like to know that we’ve done a good job—and most of us are mature enough to at least grudgingly accept constructive feedback when we could have done better.

It’s no different in a contest than in life. If you can immediately, or very quickly, give someone feedback on how participants are performing, both on a personal level and as a part of the group, they’ll either want to continue to do well, or prove that they can do better.

Leaderboards and other tracking systems are good for this, as are personal emails, and contestants-only updates. Think of how valuable feedback is in your day-to-day life, and double that amount for your contestants.

Now you are the games master

Yes, the games master. Congratulations—you’re calling all the shots.

…But what shots are you calling, exactly?

Well that depends on what you want.

If you need more comments on your blog post, then run a comment competition. Let your readers know that for the next week or so you’re going to be looking at all of their valuable comments, picking a few favourites, and letting everyone vote on a winner. More comments will come.

If your social media presence isn’t that great, then run a guest post contest with the winner being the post that garnered the most Tweets or Facebook Likes. We did this recently on Firepole Marketing, and generated thousands of social media shares. (Not to mention a record traffic month!)

If your traffic is slow, create a wonderful new piece of giveaway content (for an opt-in!), and let your readers know that whoever directs the most people to it will win a fabulous prize—possibly in the form of your products or services.  For this option you’ll need to set up individual links for readers, but plugins like PrettyLink make that a snap!

A never-ending source of competition

You can use this idea in almost every aspect of your content calendar. You can promote a new product or series, you can use it to make your training and content more interesting and relevant, and you can use it to deliver content and training.

You can do it to teach, to engage, and to just have fun.

That’s what we’re trying to do right now with our Great Online Marketing Scavenger Hunt for bloggers and business owners; we’re using all of the gamification elements I’ve talked about here to teach contestants new marketing skills, to get them to experiment different technologies and techniques, and to help them extend their reach online.

So what are you going to do? What games will you play to boost your traffic, engage your readers, and keep them coming back for more?

Danny Iny (@DannyIny), a.k.a the “Freddy Kreuger of Blogging”, teaches marketing that works over at Firepole Marketing. Right now, there’s a hugely exciting Online Marketing Scavenger Hunt going on over there, and it’s not too late to get in on the action, expand your reach online, and engage with an amazing community of marketers.

The New Writer’s Guide to Evaluating Websites for Guest Posting Opportunities

This guest post is by Traian of Pitstop Media Inc.

Almost every article written after the infamous Panda and Penguin updates has suggested guest posting as a viable and effective technique to increase authority with search engines, improve organic search visibility, generate leads, and build authorship.

As you can see, there are quite a few benefits to guest posting, but you have to do it right—start small and then grow big.

What most people don’t realize is that it’s almost as easy to go wrong with guest posting as it is with any other content marketing technique. There is no guarantee that just because a website is accepting guest posts, it is reputable or credible.

It’s also now evident that Google has no love for low-quality sites and inbound links from them.

So, when it comes to guest posting, you have to ensure that you associate your name and brand with authority, or at least quality, sites only.

If you want to guest post the right way, you need to know from the beginning that it’s a time- and resource-consuming process. But it’s also one of the best investments you can make to build your reputation online.

Evaluating guest posting opportunities

Finding the most valuable guest blogging opportunities on high-authority sites takes time. You have to nurture a relationship with the blog owner, and that means human interaction, not automated emails.

But if you’ve just started building your reputation, you can’t approach authoritative bloggers yet, because you’ll have no evidence of what you can write about, or how well. If you approach them at this stage, you will probably get a low response rate.

Instead, focus on blogs with small and medium levels of influence (Twitter followers, blog subscribers, likes, +’s and so on).

Contrary to what many believe, finding such guest posting opportunities does not have to involve hours of research. When approaching small blogs, you don’t have to put yourself through the cumbersome process of pitching your guest posts to famous bloggers in niche-related blogs. You will get refused, but it won’t hurt as much as being refused by an online influencer.

Once you build a bit of a reputation and learn from your mistakes and feedback, you can gradually approach the bigger players.

For the lowest hanging fruit, register on popular sites like MyBlogGuest and BloggerLinkup that offer members a platform to announce niche-specific guest posting opportunities and to solicit proposals. Keep in mind that these are also populated by offers that are not worth considering.

Once you have shortlisted a few guest posting opportunities with influence, the next step is to make sure that the site you agree to write for is credible.

The following checklist will help you determine their standing.

Check the site’s integrity

While you cannot guarantee that a website will always stay online, or that a link from it will never be de-valued, there are precautions that you can take to minimize the chances of those things happening.

Integrity checklist

  • Check the website’s PageRank. Don’t automatically dismiss lower PR sites. Sites with low PageRank (below 3) should be checked for other metrics. Dismiss anything that’s not ranked, has a PR of 0, or gray PR on the toolbar.
  • Ensure the website is backed or owned by an organization/individual with a physical address.
  • Ensure the website has clearly stated editorial or business objectives.
  • Ensure the website has a clear design and a sitemap.
  • Ensure that the About page clearly states who the owner is.
  • Check site:sitename.com in Google to see if the site is banned from the SERPs (no results means a Google ban).
  • Check for the site/business name. If it’s not showing, there’s a problem.
  • Ensure that the website is not a blog network. Blog networks don’t usually have contact details and viable About pages.

Look for social signals

Check for the website’s presence on social media sites. For instance, it should have an active Facebook page with a decent number of Likes, and the owner should have a respectable number of Followers on Twitter and/or G+, and/or have an active LinkedIn profile.

Of course, these are no guarantees of credibility, but they can certainly be considered points in the website’s favor.

Find the number of RSS subscribers

To accomplish this, either refrence the data displayed on the blog, or identify the number of subscribers using Google Reader (this is not as accurate a method, though).

To use Google Reader: login, go to Browse for Stuff, and then Search:

rss

For an in-depth article on how to find this number you can read the article Using Blog Subscriber Metrics for Better Outreach Decision Making.

Check content quality

A look at the top two to three posts hosted on the website will give you an idea of the blog’s quality. If most of the posts look spammy, are badly structured, or are just generally low quality, you should be wary.

Also, if you see more ads than content on the website, it’s a good idea to give the site a miss.

Check competitive data sources

Try Compete, Quantcast and Alexa, but be aware that none offer completely accurate data. Look for absolute numbers, but also for trends.

This alone will give you a lot of information and help you decide whether or not the website is worth guest posting on.

Checking Alexa rank

Trending shows that this site is growing (wonderful, that’s our site J)

Alexa.com reveals metrics like:

  • Social Reputation: the number of inbound links a site has
  • Time spent: how long visitors stay on the website, and how many pages they view
  • Demographics: the profile of visitors that frequent the website
  • Keywords: the list of keywords that people have used to search for the website.

The demographic and keyword information will help you decide if a particular site’s visitor base matches your blog’s target market profile.

Visitor time investment and social reputation will give you further clues about the quality of the website.

It’s worth the time

Putting every potential guest posting opportunity through the full checklist might sound like a lot of work. But, in practical terms, all you’ll have to do is this:

  1. Enter the website name +Facebook/Twitter/G+/LinkedIn to check social signals.
  2. Check if the website has a working About page and a contact address.
  3. Spend five minutes reading through the website’s content.
  4. Enter the website URL into Alexa.

The whole process won’t take too long. In any case, it’s better to spend ten minutes on the checklist, than to waste hours writing for a website that is penalized or banned, or doesn’t have an audience.

Keep records

This comes last on the list, but it’s actually critical. Every interaction with a site owner has to be recorded for future reference. Nowadays I use Buzzstream to keep track of my guest blogging initiatives. I used to use Excel but things get very complicated very quickly.

This article is just the tip of the iceberg for guest blogging, but it should at least provide a quick checklist for selecting the right guest blogging partners.

Writing the content to win them is the other part of the story and one that’s been covered here at ProBlogger many times.

Traian is Director of SEO and co-founder of Pitstop Media Inc, a Canadian company that provides top rated SEO services to businesses across North America.

7 Little-Known Strategies To Get Your Deadbeat Blog Working For You

This guest post is by Jarom Adair of Solopreneur Marketing.

“You lazy, ungrateful, good-for-nothing blog!”

You stare at the 0 comments accompanying each of your most recent posts.

“All you do is sit around all day. I’m the one doing all the work around here!”

Blogs are supposed to bring you traffic, collect comments, and spread your name across the Internet as everyone happily shares the content you so painstakingly created.

But instead, your blog acts more like an apathetic teenager.

It lounges around all day not lifting a finger to help your business. It takes up space and sucks up resources you could be using elsewhere. If you don’t continually feed it new content, it looks like an under-nourished street urchin, embarrassing you in front of visitors.

If you’ve ever handed out a business card and then said to yourself, “Great—now I’ve got to go update my blog before anybody sees it,” you know what I’m talking about.

But your blog was meant to be so much more than that.

Your blog is your baby. Like any good parent, you yearn for your blog to reach its full potential. You brought your blog into the world to see it increase its reach and influence and land new readers every day who will come and fully appreciate the value it holds. Like any good parent, you want your child to become more than you.

And yet there is sits, languishing away with a soda in one hand and the TV remote in the other, letting each new article you feed it slip into the chasm of archived posts without ever seeing the light of day. Despite your best efforts, your blog seems content to become just another forgotten collection of words on the Internet. Infinite potential … gone to waste.

But don’t despair! All the work you’ve put into your blog is not lost and your blog can, with a few simple strategies, bring you traffic, convert that traffic from visitors into leads, and build relationships with your audience till they can’t help but want to work with you—all with minimal prodding and nagging from you.

Grandma would be so proud.

So before you give it an ultimatum and kick it to the curb, use the following little-known strategies to transform your lazy bum of a blog into a productive member of society.

Get a job! And a haircut!

Before you put your blog to work with the upcoming strategies, you need to get clear on what your blog’s job is.

Its job may be to get visitors to call you or purchase something from you. It may be there to support your current clients or build a user community. You might be focused on making money through advertisements and endorsements. Often, a blog’s main job is to collect email addresses.

The question to ask yourself is, “What action do I want people to take when they get to my blog?”

Whatever your main call to action is, that’s your blog’s job.

Now, keeping in mind your blog’s main job, it’s time for the haircut. It’s time to trim all the extra distractions.

If you want visitors to contact you, why are you distracting them with advertisements or a list of your most popular posts? If you’re building an email list, why does each post end with a comments section instead of an email signup form?

Why do you have social sharing links on your site if your audience isn’t big enough to give you decent numbers? Even category and archive links are on the chopping block if visitors are more prone to surf your site than take the action you want them to.

If your blog isn’t performing, take a critical eye to any part of it that doesn’t support your blog’s job and snip away.

You’ve got such potential—if only you’d apply yourself…

With your blog cleaned up and focused, take all that potential you’ve seen in your blog since its inception and use these seven strategies to get the results you crave:

1. Advanced social sharing for advanced results

We all know that if you share a link to your latest blog post on a social site, some people will click on it and visit your blog. This is a fine way of getting your latest post in front of an audience and driving traffic to your site.

You see this kind of discussion posted on LinkedIn and Facebook a lot, and it’s an easy way to get some traffic:

basic sharing

But with a slight change in format, I get on average 586% more comments on my discussions, a lot more traffic to my site, and my old posts that were just sitting around on my blog before are now traffic magnets.

Take a look:

advanced sharing

Do you see the difference?

Include your full blog post in your discussion and add some “related articles” at the end, and viola! You get more comments, more readers, and more people clicking through to your other articles.

You’re using the same strategy ProBlogger uses to keep you surfing their website—you notice how you finish reading an awesome article and suddenly ProBlogger presents you with all sorts of interesting related posts? …Two hours later you’ve forgotten to pick your kids up from school. Right?

Big blogs, news outlets, and social sites have trained all of us to surf from one interesting item to the next by presenting us with related posts. So when you add interesting links at the end of your social post, you’re simply taking advantage of people’s tendency to want to click on more interesting links.

This is a great way to instantly bring traffic to your blog. If you’d like to see step-by-step directions on how this works, you can view this video on using your blog with social sites.

Providing several interesting blog posts for your audience to click on is advantageous to use in social groups as described above. You can also use it, as it turns out, in many other situations as well.

2. Unleash untapped traffic from everyday activities

Any place you’re given enough room to share several of the most popular posts on your blog, you have a much higher chance of pulling someone to your site than if you just say, “Visit my blog here.”

You can offer multiple blog posts on your Facebook Business Page description, on your LinkedIn profile summary, and in your forum signatures.

Don’t forget about email signatures, descriptions in business directories, or online advertising.

What about video? Turning your best blog posts into videos to attract a new audience is a great idea, but when you post them on a site like YouTube, use the video description area to offer links to related blog posts first and then the video description afterwards.

Video links

One of my own affiliates, using videos I created and provided to him, gets more clicks and signups through YouTube than I do using this strategy.

3. Instantly set yourself apart with new connections

We meet new people all the time online. Every new follower, friend, connection, or contact is a potential reader for your blog and lead for your business. But how can you discover if they’re interested in what you offer without coming across as an annoying salesperson?

You’ve been thrown up on by one of your new social contacts, haven’t you? “Thank you for connecting with me,” their first message to you says, and then they immediately launch into a pitch. “My company offers quality products blah blah and we’re having a sale right now blah blah blah …” That’s just annoying. And really ineffective. You don’t want to be that person.

Instead, put your blog posts to use and say:

“It’s good to connect with you. I notice you’re a small business owner, and other people in your position have really enjoyed these articles: (include titles and links to 3–5 of your best blog posts) I hope you enjoy them too!”

And what’s nice is people will write back and thank you for the information you offered them.

This works well on business sites such as LinkedIn. On Facebook you might switch it up a bit and say:

“Thanks for being my friend! Check out my photo collection of redneck inventions and de-motivational posters, and if you’re ever in need of a copywriter, check out some of my best work here.”

It’s nice to start by giving social contacts something fun to look at in addition to business-related info if you meet them in a less formal setting like Facebook.

The right followers on Twitter would respond to a message, in 140 characters or less, such as:

“Thanks for following me! Here are 5 cool tutorials on getting more out of Twitter! MySite.com/top5twitter”

These are great ways to easily draw the right people to your website while simultaneously positioning yourself as a resource for your new contact (as opposed to a salesperson). They visit your site and, if your blog is doing its job, the right people will take action.

And if someone doesn’t click through and view the information you present to them, they’re probably not a good prospect at this time and you can part with no hard feelings.

4. A simple twist on turning old blog posts into money

You’re probably familiar with the concept of combining several of your blog posts together into a special report to give away on your site. If this report is good enough, you might even sell it for money.

One real estate investor did just that, and made a couple hundred dollars his first year selling an ebook created from older blog posts. But when he and I explored how he might make more money from his ebook, we discovered that people who read the book were much more likely to purchase his real estate course. He makes $2,000 per course he sold.

Keeping that in mind, we decided to leave the ebook for sale on his site, but whenever he talked with a prospective real estate student, he should come up with a reason to give them the ebook for free. His prospects loved getting a $39 ebook for free. The next year the investor made a couple hundred dollars selling his ebook on his site, but he made tens of thousands of dollars giving the book away and then selling his courses to people who read his book.

The moral of the story is this: if you have quite a few posts on your blog, especially older ones that don’t get much attention anymore, is it possible you could repurpose them into a special report, ebook, video, webinar, etc. and sell that information? Or use it as part of your marketing funnel to sell a larger item?

5. An easy method for reaching a larger audience through guest posting

You can only reach so many people through your own website. A time will come when you should tap into larger audiences.

If you feel you have the expertise to write for a larger blog, the first thing to do is dig through your past posts and find your top five most popular entries. With those posts in mind, search out the most popular blogs and sites in your industry.

See if those blogs accept guest posts, read through their most popular posts to get a feel for what their audience likes, and submit to the blog owners three of your post headlines you feel would do well on their site.

If they choose one of your headlines then you already know what you’re going to be writing about (using your existing article as an overview), you know readers will love it because it already worked well on your own site, and you are likely to attract more of the kind of people who are already frequenting your own site.

This approach is much faster than going to a popular blog first and then trying to come up with several topics you could write on.

Some high-end sites established protocol for submitting guest posts, while others may require you get to know the blog owners first and then propose a post to them.

No matter who your ideal audience is, a high-traffic blog is out there that caters to them. Look through your best blog posts for information and insights you could write a fresh article on, find those blogs, and propose your ideas to them.

6. Obliterate the competition from your customers’ minds

Another interesting way to make more money using your blog is to use it to educate your prospects about the difference between your services and your competition.

Writing blog posts that compel leads to consider working with you is nothing new, but here is a method to organize your posts in such a way that when your prospects have to choose between you or your competition, they’ll choose you:

A hardwood floor contractor was having a hard time educating his potential clients on why they should choose to work with him. His work was high quality, but he didn’t have enough time to explain to each individual he met the difference between his work and the inferior craftsmanship of his competitors who were undercutting him on price.

We decided to have him record each aspect of properly installing a hardwood floor in a series of blog posts, but to make it easy for people to find this information, we then organized the links to each post in a pdf that he could send his prospects.

As he’d meet new people and quote them on an installation, instead of trying to warn them about how another company might try to rip them off, he’d offer to send them a special document “12 Lies of Hardwood Installation” so they could educate themselves on how to choose the right floor and the person who would install it.

He included horror stories of floors that fell apart due to the use of inferior materials, and when his competition was found to use those materials, the customer became even more likely to call him back.

That is a very effective way to obliterate the competition from your customer’s mind.> My hardwood floor guy did less talking, people could educate themselves on their own timetable, and everyone assumed he was doing the best work because he was the one who wrote the book on it.

Could you do something similar? Could you take a collection of blog posts and organize links to those posts in a simple document to leave with your prospects?

This document will bring people to your site repeatedly, and if you need to make a correction or change, you can simply update your blog post. Writing an entire ebook is not necessary if you can simply point people in the right direction with a simple collection of links.

7. Get online results through offline strategies

As a blogger, you might only be looking for your audience online, but some great ways exist to use your blog to find subscribers and leads offline.

My first couple hundred email subscribers came from networking groups. For many business owners, or new bloggers looking to build an audience quickly, these are great places to meet your audience.

A print broker I coach went to a networking meeting and got more signups to his email list in 90 minutes than he did the previous nine months online using two simple sentences. Whenever somebody handed him a business card, he would look at it for a moment and then say:

“I’ve got some information on my blog I think you’d really like. Can I put you on my email list?”

Everybody he talked to said “Sure!” In this instance his blog was just an excuse to get permission to add people to his email list, and it worked perfectly. It has worked perfectly for many people I coach.

If your target audience meets regularly, this is a great way to build your email list and get some personal report with the people you wish to impress.

Your blog can play a role in other offline marketing strategies, too.

Do you have a business you market with flyers, yellow page ads, postcards, or business cards? If you can print the words “To learn the top 5 ways to drastically improve your health, visit MySite.com/top5” somewhere that people will see it, this kind of intriguing information will often pull a better response than special offers, coupons, or discounts.

I’ve advised a door-to-door pest control sales rep to write up several blog posts on how to detect and protect your house from termites. Instead of just turning away when somebody rejects her, she can offer them a handout with links to this useful information.

I don’t have any results to share on that yet, but can you see how good information on your blog can get in the door even when you can’t? This is a great way to use your blog posts to rekindle a relationship with somebody who had previously rejected you.

Good information is an easy giveaway item that can result in leads and sales you couldn’t have gotten otherwise.

You’re not lazy, so don’t let your blog be

We put our hearts and souls into our blogs. We spend hours writing each week. We lovingly craft each new blog post, yet once it becomes old and leaves the first page, we tend to allow it to die a slow death as an archived post and we rarely dig it up again.

This means that the majority of your blog’s potential—a majority of what you’ve written—is left untapped and unappreciated by your audience.

You and your blog deserve better than that.

Squeeze extreme value out of everything you write. The ideas above are just the beginning of how to do that.

Because you deserve full credit for what you’ve written, and the world deserves to discover the insights you have to offer.

So kick your blog out of its cozy crib and put it to work until everybody else sees your blog for the valuable contribution to their lives that it is.

Jarom Adair is a marketing expert for solo entrepreneurs and small businesses. Sign up for his email list on Solopreneur Marketing to get all of his advice sent to your inbox, including the video “5 Foolproof Strategies Small Businesses Use to Double Their Income” 

How to Get Your Headshot to Appear in Google Results—Wherever Your Content is Published

This guest post is by of WebBizIdeas.

Many people who blog want their image to appear next to their listing in Google’s search engine results (SERP) when either they publish a post, their guest contributors publish a post, or when they guest post on other sites.

What is the correct way to code your blog to ensure your content looks like this in Google.com?

SERP

First, does having this picture in the SERP results increase Click Thru Rate (CTR)? Yes.

Cyrus Shepard had a great blog post on SEOMOZ about how just changing his picture increased CTR by 35%!

Imagine the increase in your blog’s traffic if every blog post you write has your picture next to it.

Where is your content located?

So what are the steps that you need to take in order to get an author picture next to all your blog content, wherever it’s published? The steps you take depend on these three questions:

  • Is your content on a single author site?
  • Is your content on a multiple author site?
  • Is your content on a site you don’t own?

Content on a single author site

If you own a blog and only you post on it, here are the steps to follow to get your image to appear in Google’s search results:

  1. Log into your Google+ account.
  2. Click Edit Profile.
  3. Click Contributor To. You’ll see this page:
    contributor to box
  4. Add a custom link (Blog homepage) with a label (Blog Name).
  5. Click Save and then Done Editing.

Next, option 1, drop this code into the <head></head> of your website:

<link rel=”author” href=”YOURGOOGLE+URL” />

Note: You need to change the “YOURGOOGLE+URL” to the URL of your Google+ profile, like this, for example:

<link rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/117792845748456348623/” />

Or, option 2, add an author bio plugin to your blog so that an author bio section appears at the bottom of each post. It should look something like this:

Bio

Next, link to your Google+ profile with the text “Google+” in this way:

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/(number)?rel=”author”>Google+</a>

Note that you need to change the link in the example above to your Google+ account information. If you just link to your profile and don’t add this, Google will not trust that it’s really you. Why do they trust it if you add this code? Because only people who have access to their own website should be able to add that code.

So change the (number) to the number that appears in your Goolge+ URL, like this:

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/104880783618418200291?rel=”author”>Google+</a>

Where does that 21-digit code come from?

If you go to your Google+ profile, and look in the URL, you will see your unique, 21-digit number:

the code

Content on a multiple author site

If your content is published on your blog, along with posts by other writers, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Google+ account.
  2. Click Edit Profile.
  3. Click Contributor To.

    multi-contributor blog

  4. Add a custom link (Author Bio Page) with a label (Blog Name).
  5. Click Save and then Done Editing.
  6. Create an author bio page (like this example author bio page).

Now, link to your Google+ profile from that author bio page using the text “Google+” in this way:

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/(number)” rel=”me”>Google+</a>

Note: You need to change the link in my example to your Google+ account information. If you only link to your profile, and don’t add this, Google will not trust that it is really you. Why do they trust it is you if you add this code? Only people who have access to their own website should be able to add that code.

Here’s an example:

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/104880783618418200291” rel=”me”>Google+</a>

Then, link your name on each content page to the author bio page in the following way:

<a href=”AUTHORBIOPAGE” rel=”author”>Jeff Foster</a>

Note that here, you need to change “AUTHORBIOPAGE” to your author bio page URL. Plus, you need to change “Jeff Foster” to your name in the example above.

So here’s the example code:

<a href=”http://www.webbizideas.com/author/jefffoster” rel=”author”>Jeff Foster</a>

Where do you link your name?

Everywhere. If you have the author’s name on top of the post, in the author bio, or even in a “More articles by” box, you should link using rel=author to tell Google that the linked page is the author’s bio page.

Linked name

linked name in bio

Content on another site

  1. Direct the blog owner to step #2 above. Remind them that if they do not start publishing content from real, Google-verified people, Google may consider the content to be of lower value than that on other sites—or even penalize them.
  2. Add <a href=”https://plus.google.com/(number)?rel=”author”>Google+</a> to the author bio section of the page or somewhere in the body content.
  3. Log back into Google+.
  4. Click Edit Profile.
  5. Click Contributor To.
  6. Add the website you have posted your guest post on. To verify your code is correct, use the Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool.

Is your picture appearing alongside your search results?

It’s not hard to make sure your image appears in the search results, and as we’ve seen, this can increase clicks to your articles—whether on your blog or someone else’s.

Have you made these changes to your blog yet? Let us know in the comments. Also, if you’re a visual learner take a look at the a video and infographic tutorial I made to reflect the information in this post.

is the owner of WebBizIdeas, an SEO, social media marketing and website design firm. Visit his seo resource center for more helpful tutorials on how to promote your business online.

The Valuable Content Marketing Strategies Of George Carlin And Sheldon Cooper – How It Has Helped Me

This guest post is by Frank Angelone of Social Tech Zone.

The same rehashed garbage! 

They were my feelings in 2012 about to bloggers implementing content marketing strategies.

They seem to believe that just because they’re in a potentially crowded niche that revisiting topics which have already been covered is going to be successful for them.

These types of bloggers are usually deluded by this misconception:

“The 300,000-subscriber blog wrote about this topic, so if I do it too, I’m sure to get people interested in my content.”

Let me tell you something: it’s not going to work.

When does content actually resonate with someone?

To be brutally honest, in most cases, it doesn’t.  We’re all looking for some type of answer, yet the majority of people online are either talking about the same thing or they really don’t teach anything.

They’re more interested in using their content to get you to buy something.  This is a failed marketing strategy waiting to happen.

In this post, I’m going to share with you how you can connect with your readers and not have to resort to rehashing what everyone else is doing!

Solving problems with selfish content

Aren’t you tired of hearing “good content” or “quality content is the key” every single day?  Yeah, me too.

Your job in content marketing is to be able to tell me why you’re experience is worth listening to.  You need to do something that will smack your readers in the face.

What one, two-punch combo can you deliver? and how do you execute it to perfection?

Simple.  Anything that fills the readers potentially selfish desires.  I mean, we all are online for answers and solutions, aren’t we?

We always say we’re here to help people and it’s true.  Well, you are here to do just that, but the person on the other end wants you to cater to them (and they’re not wrong to feel that way). 

That’s not going to happen unless you trigger a “selfish” emotion that you know they can relate to.

Sheldon Cooper: the A-list marketer?!

If you watch the Big Bang Theory, you’re familiar with Sheldon Cooper and his amusing yet obnoxious sense of humor.

While it is just a t.v. show, everyone loves the character.  Why?  He’s funny, but he’s selfish. 

You have to keep this in mind when writing for your audience.

Viewers of the show (you) are Sheldon’s audience.  We may not always agree with his methods of getting our attention, but we listen because, as viewers, we’re able to identify with a variety of his “selfish” scenarios.

Sheldon wants it his way—and the same holds true for whoever you’re marketing to. If you do something different and in a non-traditional manner, kind of like this post, people tend to pay attention.

Sometimes being a little over-the-top or over-zealous with your content marketing is the real secret sauce that people can relate to. You should definitely considering trying this out.

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers has the over-the-top personality when he markets to you, but you listen because you can relate to him.

So ask yourself this question: “How can I put my experience, plus a story, plus an edge into what I’m teaching?”

Point out the unexpected like George Carlin

Probably the greatest comedian of all time, George Carlin was probably also one of the greatest potential content marketers.

He smacked you in the face. He got you to think and maybe even gave you some insight on what we as a society can do to improve ourselves. (See? It’s all about you!)

His words live on to this day.  Why?  He didn’t rehash what the other big-name writers were pushing out there.  He took a different approach. His 7 Deadly Words You Can’t Say On TV was so off-color, and strayed so far from the norm that he found himself in major trouble with the FCC.  He revolutionized the industry and his content sold!

Now, I’m not saying you need to revolutionize your industry with what you’re creating, but stop getting sucked into the playing-it-close-to-your-chest mentality that so many people have become engulfed by. Do it your way and show people how things really are in your niche.

To put things in perspective, I recently wrote a post entitled How To Land A Job With One Of The Largest Social Media Agencies: What I Did.

Granted, a lot of people write about this topic, but if you notice, I included information about what I did in the title.  This assures my readers that I have a proven tip that works.

“But, Frank,” everyone always says. “Don’t make it about you! Make it about your reader.”  That’s wrong.  If you don’t make it about you and your experience, your content will not be relatable to your reader.  It all goes back to selfish Sheldon Cooper.

I shared a personal experience and here’s how one of my readers reacted to it…

“This blog post should be shared with every college age student looking to grab their dream job! So neat that you left such a prestigious place to perform in a position that supports your passion!”—Jim Traister

I created value by doing something that I’m teaching.

Being selfish isn’t always bad

I want to clear up any ambiguity and let you know that I’m not saying readers of your content are selfish, bad people.  They want answers backed up by experience, not just a rehashed answer that they’ve heard somewhere else.

When I go somewhere for content, I want an answer.  I’m being selfish in that respect because I need the answer to improve my life.  To stay in this mindset as a content marketer can be a very solid approach to grow your business.

I value anyone who reads my content and I talk with all of them.  If they’re enjoying what I provide,  I continue to find ways to do more of what they need.

When I interview well known entrepreneurs like Brian Clark, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Leo Babauta on my podcast, I do so knowing they can help my audience. 

We’re all trying to help the next person in line.  If you’re aware of that concept, it’s all you need to know moving forward.

Do you take this approach when you write your content?  Are you understanding the needs of who’s on the other side?  Do you have an actual experience that I can relate to?  Tell me in the comments.

Frank Angelone is the Founder of Social Tech Zone provide unique views on social media strategies and new technologies instead of the same rehashed grabage.  He couples his blog with the STZ Podcast talking with successful entrepreneurs like Brian Clark, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Leo Babauta. Subscribe to his newsletter and you can be sure he’ll develop an actual friendship with you.

X-Ray Vision for Guest Bloggers: Author Stats

This guest post is by Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media.

Analytics are great for seeing your site’s performance, but we can’t usually peek into other people’s web stats.

However, there is a tool that gives you a view you may not have seen before. It’s called Google Author Stats.

Embrace your new blogging super power

I think of guest blogging as modern-day PR. It has social media and search marketing benefits, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a key part of blogger collaboration.

The X-ray vision we’re talking about is useful for guest bloggers, but it works for any blogger.

To make it work, you need to do two things:

  1. Use Google Authorship to add a “digital signature” to your posts.
  2. Apply some SEO basics to your writing: a bit of keyphrase research and usage.

If you’ve been doing this all along, get ready to see through walls! Here’s how: log into Google Webmaster Tools using your Google+ login info.

This might seem strange because this account isn’t necessarily tied to a website. But keep going.

Now, click “Labs > Author Stats”. Here’s what you’ll see…

The stats

You’re looking at the SEO performance of every post you’ve written and tagged for Authorship. Let’s step through the information that’s included here.

  • Page: the address
  • Impressions: the number of times it has appeared in search results
  • Clicks: the number of visits to the page
  • CTR/Clickthrough Rate: the percentage of searchers who clicked on it
  • Avg. Position: how high the page ranks on average for all its keyphrases

It’s a thrill the first time you put on your Author Stats X-ray specs. You’re seeing the SEO performance (an important part of Analytics) for your site, but also other people’s websites. It’s enough to make a man blush!

Use your powers for good, not evil

Now that you can see through walls, what are you going to do with your new powers? Here’s a tip: use them for good. Use them as a reason to reach out and collaborate. Here are a few ways a guest author can continue to work with a host blog based on Authors Stats.

Your guest post has…

  • Avg. Position of 11-15: You’re ranking on page two, but not far from page one. The host blog should look for a few opportunities to link to the post from older posts, improving the link popularity. Or you can write another post on a similar topic with new link to the original post.
  • Avg. Position of 1-5, but CTR below 5%: You’re on page one, but not many people are clicking. There may be a mismatch between the title and meta description and the meaning of the keyphrase. Tweak the title to make sure the keyphrase and the topic are aligned semantically.
  • Clicks of 500 or more per month: You’re driving some traffic! The combination of your content and the host’s domain authority are powering significant visits from search. You should work together more often!

Now take of the X-ray glasses, email the blog editor, and continue to collaborate. Help the blog, help yourself, and help future readers find your content.

Peek at a few final tips

There are loads of competitive analysis tools that can give you a peek into the stats of other sites, but there’s still a lot we can’t see.

Ever used X-ray vision? Need help troubleshooting it? Got a favorite super power of your own? Leave a comment or question below…

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing You can find Andy on and Twitter.

5 Ways to Harness Your Online Reputation For Blogging Success

This guest post is by Valerie Wilson.

Quick: Picture that bad choice for a prom or bridesmaid’s dress years ago. Or the haircut that your mom made you get—the one that looked like a Tupperware bowl had been placed on your head. The one that didn’t go over very well at school.

Some memories do last forever, don’t they? This is true. But, hey, they are just memories. All good. No real damage, right?

Quicker: Remember one rumor that floated around your high school years ago. Who was doing what with whom>?! Remember how it spread like wild fire? And how old are you now? How long has that rumor stuck with you? Those were rumors. No proof!

But your Facebook political blurt-out a few years ago—or last week? A scathing reaction you made or to which you responded? Or—the biggie—a “little comment” about a previous account or client or employer with whom you worked?

Brace yourself. That “just having a bad day” comment can have a long-lasting effect. That’s the stuff that can be cut and pasted and repeated and posted—everywhere. Don’t let that happen to you.

The good news is that there are some strong strategies you may employ to improve your online reputation:

  1. Always tell the truth. Remember those rules you learned as a kid? This was one of the most important ones. To increase your readership, don’t embellish. Your blog will succeed if you establish this intention. For example, Intentional Growth does a great job of establishing credibility.
  2. Build positive relationships. When you blog, you’re building relationships with people and organizations. Be aware of building as many of these positive relationships as possible. Follow other blogs; they’ll reply in kind. Appreciate them by directly commenting to them and about them, and keep the language fun and enjoyable. Upbeat blogs such as RapidBuyr’s exemplify this technique really well!
  3. Keep calm and carry on. If you do get that occasional negative poster, be sure to keep calm and carry on, just like the t-shirt says. The goal is to make it right. Do it quickly, or the number of your blog followers could dramatically decrease. Your reaction can and will be around for a long time. Act accordingly. One particular blog, Socialnomics, shares even more insight about how to handle negative feedback on your blog. Damage control can be painless if you pay attention to just a few key strategies.
  4. Go viral, go viral, and then … go viral. The more viral your blog goes, the stronger your reputation and following will be. Bigger is better. Get that blog up on every social media site you’re connected to, and consider providing incentives for folks who “share” your blog through their own social media. An angel investor, Haig Kayserian, shares the story of how his blog went viral, and it’s filled with great insights about how to get yours to do the same. “Word of mouth,” move over. There’s a new kid in town!
  5. Spread good karma! We all know that it just takes 30 seconds with the news, a newspaper, or a headline on your phone or tablet to remind you that life can present some pretty ugly stuff. Let people take a break from that by logging on and spending some time with your fun, upbeat, charismatic, and charming blog. When they like you, they’ll follow you. Just ask Oprah. Or Jimmy Fallon. They got the goods!  A personal favorite for spreading good vibes is the Etsy blog.

These five strategies can help you to attain and maintain a favorable reputation, and the great news is that there are now easy and efficient websites that you can use that will keep an eye on that reputation.

Sites like Reputation.com are fantastic for addressing the challenge of tracking your online reputation. They can monitor and guide you through reputation management for your businesses and your blog, and they have figured out how to make it easy for you! That’s a good day at the office right there!

Valerie Wilson is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics including creating strong workplace communications and spreading some good karma.

Why You’re Terrified to Write a Guest Post, and How to Beat the Fear

This guest post is by Ryan Biddulph of Cashwithatrueconscience.com.

I know. You are beyond terrified to publish a guest post on an authority blog. It took me years to get the gumption to submit a post to problogger.net. Yep, it took me years. To even think about submitting a post. Then, after thinking about it, I finally decided to turn out the guest post and submit it. Success!

But it took a while because I was terrified to write a guest post for one specific reason.

I feared receiving hyper-critical comments from strangers. Really, I was terrified about seeing different opinions or snide comments, or having someone take apart my post like a roast chicken at a family dinner.

This fear was very real, so real in fact, that I refused to even think about submitting a guest post for many years. Of course this held my online businesses back big time, because hey, look at the size of the ProBlogger audience.

Fear is funny. You can either be held captive by fear, or you can use the fear for your benefit, by growing from it. It’s your choice. Every time.

Getting over the fear

Getting over the fear of criticism from the comments field is not easy. It is quite uncomfortable, really, but one thing you will learn quickly is this: if you want to grow you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

If you want to submit the guest post, get it approved, attract more readers and make money with your blog, well, all of these benefits reside on the other side of your fears.

You must accept this idea to become successful.

Practical tip

Here is a neat little mantra which can help you get past the fear of criticism. Use it frequently.

“All about them, nothing to do with me.”

That is it. Repeat the mantra a few times. Embrace the idea that a commenter’s opinion is their viewpoint, which has to do entirely with them. Their viewpoint has nothing to do with you, because it is their viewpoint, not your viewpoint.

It can seem like a Herculean task, attempting to get past the fear of criticism. I know, you likely hate receiving negative comments. I do. But you need to move away from taking things personally if you plan to grow your blog readership at a quick clip.

The tendency to enter your cocoon

After reading a few negative comments from strangers who read your guest post, and disagree with it, you’ll want to run back to your lil’ comfy blog. You never want to deal with these rude, boorish commenters, who “know nothing about blogging”, so you stop submitting guest posts.

This is a mistake, entering your safety cocoon, your blog, because you will attract new readers, share your talents with the world and make money online by leveraging your presence.

Leveraging your presence means submitting guest posts to blogs with massive readerships. So, resist the urge to sprint to your comfort cocoon when you are angry at receiving criticism.

Where the big money is made

Is the criticism you receive in the comments field true? Is your ego blinding you? Are you simply angry at someone who makes a point which is true, which would put more readers in your RSS, and money in your pocket? You can dismiss people without tact but you can never dismiss the truth—at least, you can’t if you want to grow as a blogger.

The big blogging bucks are made if you can embrace all criticism, sift through the garbage, and take out the gold. Remember, a negative comment is a person’s opinion, a viewpoint. It is a suggestion. So, accept or reject the suggestion, and simply embrace the sting that might arise as you go through the sifting process.

Practice

Practice makes perfect in the fielding criticism department. Submit guest posts to authority blogs. Read the comments. Respond when you can but make sure to observe all manner of comments, and the responses or reactions which arise from within. Your blog’s RSS count will thank you for it.

Are you terrified to receive negative comments on your guest posts? Let’s talk about it in the coments.

Ryan Biddulph helps entrepreneurs create value and build connections to grow their home based opportunity. Please subscribe to his blog Click Here.