How to Create Your Guest Blogging Strategy [with a 5 step template]

This is a guest contribution from Toby JenkinsScreen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.08.01 amMy business partner Adam Franklin attended the ProBlogger Event on the Gold Coast in 2014, and returned fired up and with a whole heap of take-homes.  At the ProBlogger Event, Darren spoke of success being a matter of doing the ordinary things. Specifically, to start, put readers first, be useful, find your rhythm, create meaning, and persist!

This has inspired me to share this recent guest blogging story.

We’re not talking about guest blogging that Google frowns upon, but high-value blogging via influencer outreach. Guest blogging is a hot topic we’ve been asked a ton of questions about lately and with good reason.

If creating great content is the first step, then promoting your content is the crucial second step. Guest blogging is a powerful way to do just that as you get to write for a whole new audience!

As well as helping you dodge some of the key mistakes, planning your guest blogging strategy will help you find, evaluate and target the best blogging opportunities.

When I blogged for fellow Aussie blogger Jeff Bullas

Jeff Bullas was ranked #11 on Forbes list of “Social Media Power Influencers” and he accepted my post called 6 Critical Types of Social Media You Must Plan For. Here are some of the exciting results:

> Record Month

This post helped us hit a record month in website traffic.

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> Landing page visits skyrocketed

I had a call to action in the article and linked to our Negative Comments Response Template (for Social Media) landing page. Visits to this page skyrocketed and so too did email opt-ins.

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> 4000+ Social Shares

Jeff’s huge social media community, and particularly his Twitter following, meant that the post received a ton of social shares too:

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> 50 National Media Mentions

It caught the attention of Fairfax Media.  Finally, when we sent this post to our Bluewire News subscribers, a journalist replied and asked if I was interested in writing an op-ed piece for Fairfax Media (one of the largest media companies in Australia). Of course I agreed! 

So I wrote a more concise op-ed piece called “He’s been questioned by police” and it was published on the Sydney Morning Herald homepage two days later, and syndicated across all 50 online Fairfax publications and three blogs:

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For the SEO geeks, these 50 backlinks were from news websites with domain authorities ranging from DA38 to DA92 and I was fortunate to have a follow backlink in my bio.

Building backlinks, watching traffic spike and getting qualified subscribers are all exciting outcomes. I was genuinely surprised (and stoked of course!) that this article had struck a chord. 

You can see why guest blogging can be a powerful tool.

Why did we approach Jeff Bullas? 

Aside from being a Forbes Social Media Power Influencer, there were a number of strategic reasons why we asked Jeff.

In short, he has a hugely popular social media marketing blog, followers in excess of 250,000 and we had built a strong relationship with him over the years. We also knew he accepted high quality guest posts. 

I’d aspired to write for Jeff’s blog for a long time so I’ll use it as an example as we go.

How to create your Guest Blogging Strategy 

For the rest of this post I’m going to take you step by step through the Guest Blogging Strategy Template.

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(If you’re really keen you might like to download our free Guest Blogging Strategy Template and fill it out as you work your way through this post – if not, then just read on!). 

1. Brainstorm Your Targets

This doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out process. Take 15 minutes to brainstorm and list some of the blogs you’d like to write for. An easy way is to simply google blogs in your niche; for example “social media blogs” or “gardening blogs”.

Large or small, seemingly impossible or really easy, just get them down. Sometimes this can feel like you have waaay too many options. That’s ok – the next steps will help you prioritise your target blogs.

2. Research Your Numbers

> Domain Authority:

One of the fastest free ways to check domain authority is to use Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool:Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.11.58 am has a Domain Authority of 71/100 which is really strong. To put this in context, is 100/100, is 97/100, and is currently 46/100. From an SEO standpoint alone, a backlink from Jeff’s website would be really valuable to us.

The Mozbar plugin makes this step really easy by showing the Open Site Explorer info on any blog you visit:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.12.43 am> Traffic Rank:

For this use Alexa’s free traffic rank analytics tool:

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Jeff’s website gets a ton of traffic which means that the article would be seen by lots of relevant people.

> Number of email subscribers in their list:

Jeff doesn’t actually publish his email subscriber numbers, but many others do:

Problogger: [or just look to right hand side of your screen :-) ]

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Convince and Convert:

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Email lists are a great indicator that the time you spend writing your content will be rewarded when it is seen by a large relevant audience.

> Blog subscribers:

Searching through Feedly will allow you to get blog subscriber numbers:

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> Twitter Followers:

Twitter followers are easy to find for Jeff. He has 246,000!

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> Facebook fans:

Facebook fan numbers are easy to find too:

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As you can see getting these numbers isn’t a long process. In fact it could be a piece of research that you ask an assistant to help you with.

3. People and outreach

As a part of your research, find out the contact person for each blog and their email address.

> Strength of relationship

Jeff has built an incredible audience, following and reputation. We’ve deliberately got to know him over the last few years by interviewing him in person and on our podcast, following his work on social media and inviting him to speak at our Social Media Down Under conference.

Because we’ve known him for a long time and nurtured a relationship, Jeff was much more likely to trust our content and therefore to post it and share it with his audience.

> Outreach

Then it’s outreach time.  I wrote him a short email:

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He accepted it, tweaked the title and posted it the next day.
The point worth emphasising here is that Jeff is a high-value, power blogger so without our long ‘getting to know you’ process our chances of acceptance would’ve been much slimmer. You’ll see it took years of proactively getting to know Jeff and this email was the final stage of following a deliberate process.  I’ve outlined all the steps in our Blogger Outreach Email Template. 

If you do get knocked back, don’t let it get you down, just read How to Handle Guest Post Rejection and get back on the horse. You can tweak the post and try again or submit it to a new blog.

4. Content and SEO

> How interesting is your content going to be to their audience?

Once you’ve determined that it’s definitely an audience you’d like to reach, then it’s crucial that you tailor your content for them. 

I thought my article on handling social media comments had a very good chance of being interesting to Jeff’s audience.

Please note: Ultimately making your content interesting to their audience is the single biggest factor in the success of your guest blogging. Understanding the different angles of your story that will enable you to tell it to different audiences is a deal maker and breaker. 

There are lots of ways you can craft your experiences and stories to fit different audiences.

For example, I wrote for a cloud accounting software business called Saasu and aligned our marketing content with financial reviews to make it more relevant:

How To Use Your Financial Reviews To Improve Your Marketing.

And another one I wrote for outsourcing giant oDesk discussed managing remote marketing projects: 10 Minutes Can Transform Your Remote Projects.

In order to make sure the post would be interesting to Jeff’s audience, I also reviewed what other articles had been written on comment handling on his blog to make sure it would add to their points and not just rehash them. I found an earlier post and linked to it in my article to demonstrate that I had done my homework. 

I also reviewed other guest blog posts to make sure my article would match the style.


From an SEO standpoint, I made sure I had my bio linking back to our website, specifically where people can download our 33 free marketing templates and I had a call to action to download the Negative Comments Response Template.  I’d decided to target the keyword phrase ‘negative comments handling’ using the free Keyword Tool.

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5. Activity

Then it’s a matter of getting in, writing the article, hitting your deadlines and making sure you give yourself the best chance of success.

Hopefully this Guest Blogging Strategy Template can help you focus on the opportunities that will get you the best results, fastest. The little bit of research upfront will really prepare and help you to make the most of the effort you put into the guest blog post itself.


What else do you look for when assessing guest blog opportunities? I’ll see you in the comments and the most informative commenter wins a copy of my book!

Toby Jenkins is an Olympic Water Polo player and co-author of Web Marketing That Works. You can download his 33 free marketing templates.

5 Ways to Make Your Blogging Life Easier

Blogging is serious business - and can take up much of your time! We share five ways you can make your blogging life easier.Blogging. It goes a little something like this:

  • Think of idea
  • Write a post
  • Take/source/edit a photo for the post
  • Format the post
  • Schedule or publish the post
  • Push the post to social media
  • Respond to comments

But that is just the beginning, right? That doesn’t include planning, goal-setting, editorial calendars, blog design, design tweaks, multimedia, multiple updates on social media, a social media workflow plan, guest blogging, networking, sponsorships, affliliate sales, creating products, launching products, email marketing, creating newsletters, being part of the blogging community, going to events, keeping up with trends…

There’s so much to do.

In the five years I’ve been blogging I feel like I’ve made all the mistakes. One of my biggest ones was wasting time. When you’re blogging on top of work and life and other responsibilities, that time you have to spare is is finite. After crashing and burning with my poor habits, I learned very quickly what would work to cut down wasted time, and I then created strategies to be more efficient.

Blogging is serious business - and can take up much of your time! We share five ways you can make your blogging life easier.

5 Ways to Make your Blogging Life Easier


Batching is when you complete the same or similar tasks in one period of time. Instead of writing a post with a headline, image, post body, etc, you might like to write all posts for the week in one go, edit and upload all images in one go, etc. It means you’re in the right headspace for each task, rather than switching between what you need to do, then the next task, then back again.

Batching is also super-useful for returning emails, scheduling social media, general writing, researching, image sourcing, and the menial task you hate but must be done (accounts, anyone?!).

I’ve even gone so far as to choose which days I batch process. Mondays was content creation, Tuesdays was email and images… I’ve had to make some adjustments this year, but picking days when I was most useful was actually the most successful strategy I tried.


This applies to both time and content. I schedule my time when I have it, and I schedule content.

For example, if I have a few hours spare, I’ll spend a couple of minutes before I get started prioritising my tasks and adding them to blocks of time. I usually try and “eat the frog first”, i.e. doing the thing that’s the hardest to do, so the rest is easier (and also can be added to tomorrow’s to-do list if I get interrupted, as they’re not as time-sensitive as the frog).

My frog is usually content creation. I need to do that when I’m motivated and have space to think. Image processing I can do later, and with less brain bandwidth. So I schedule creation first, then other tasks.

Darren's low-tech editorial schedule

Darren’s low-tech editorial schedule

Scheduling content is super useful for when you don’t have time to blog every day, or you’re taking a break. Scheduling content on your blog and scheduling your social media means less hands-on work, and more time to work on other things. Like binge-watching Netflix and eating popcorn.

If you’re scheduling your social media, do make sure you pop onto the platforms at certain times to respond to people. It’s best if you can post and respond in real time, but if that’s not always possible (I know for me it certainly isn’t), then schedule the updates, and respond when you have time. Or when you’ve scheduled time in your day to respond!

Figure out when you’re most efficient

I’ll never forget one morning I woke up before the birds and wondered if I should just study for my upcoming test seeing as though I wasn’t going back to sleep anytime soon. I was soon surprised to realise how clear my thinking was and how well I understood what I was reading. My attention was focused and things made perfect sense. I felt like I had mastered some pretty difficult concepts (it was a third-year psychology exam, after all) and was well on my way to acing a test – all before breakfast! I knew right away I was a morning person.

While working in the early hours hasn’t been achievable for me in the last few years (two kids who don’t sleep, heaven help me), I do know I’m more efficient for brain tasks in the morning, and can satisfactorily respond to emails and requests, upload recipes, and do admin later in the afternoon. I’m pretty fried by night and can barely string a sentence together, so I don’t even bother.

A friend of mine is the opposite – she doesn’t really get her writing groove on until late afternoon, and will write up until bedtime. It’s all about knowing when you’re the most efficient so you aren’t trying to write a 2000 word post on Facebook algorithm changes when you’re dog tired and fuzzy. When you’re efficient, you don’t waste time –  and as a bonus, you complete tasks faster.


Bless you, internet automation tools, where would we be without you? They are fiercely discussed, loyalties are strong – it’s hard not to love something that makes your life so much easier.

There’s been plenty of discussion here on ProBlogger about what kinds of tools everyone loves to use for automation – everything from social media scheduling apps to creating reports in Google Analytics so they’re sent to you regularly and it saves you going looking for them.

You can automate plenty of things for your blog: If This Then That (IFTTT) is huge for automated behaviours. It can do anything from posting your Instagram pictures to your twitter account (thereby bypassing that pesky issue of Instagram images not showing up in newsfeeds), you can be emailed when someone mentions you online, you can “like” a track on Soundcloud and have it directly downloaded to your Dropbox – plenty of things you can set up to automatically happen after a trigger of your choosing.

I had to giggle when I saw this automation for parents:

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Email canned responses are a wonderful thing if you find yourself answering people with the same information over and over. Gmail in particular is useful for this – it will send a pre-written response as a reply to inquiring emails. You can automate the responses to be sent based on the criteria you choose – often sender, subject, keyword, etc. Very handy for freeing up your time.

Automation doesn’t get much better than apps that manage your social media. No longer do you have to wait for posts to go live before you manually update them to your Facebook! Or set reminders for when you wanted to tweet out your link based on when your audience is online. There are plenty of places to go where you schedule a bunch of posts to go out at a time of your choosing. Darren uses Sprout Social (see his social media scheduling workflow here), I use a combination of CoSchedule and Buffer, and there are plenty that will help you out when it comes to Instagram and Pinterest, too – namely Schedugram, Latergramme, Viraltag and Ahalogy.



I cannot recommend this enough! I haven’t always done it, but it made a huge difference to how I spent my time, and how efficient I was when I finally had the time.

After I nailed the planning of time, I moved onto the planning of content. It was important for me to take a step back and see the bigger picture of what I needed to do and what I wanted to achieve when it came to blogging. It was no longer enough to just show up every day and do what needed to be done, I had to plan first so I could be in control, rather than always running to catch up. I hate running.

The first thing I did was figure out when I was most efficient now that I couldn’t do the early mornings any more. Then I figured out which parts of the day would be used for which tasks. Then I made the holiest of holies: the editorial calendar. Even if I didn’t know exactly what day I’d be blogging that pot pie recipe, knowing I had a post to write about pot pies (or creating achievable blogging goals) meant I wasn’t faffing around wondering what to do or what to write. When I finish one post, I look at my list and move onto the next. I move the calendar around when I write spontaneous posts, but having an overarching framework with which to reference has been the breakthrough for me.

You can listen to the webinar Darren and I did with Darlene of Digital Photography School where we discuss how we approach editorial calendars on each site, and how to plan one for yourself.

I use good old pen and paper plus CoSchedule for Veggie Mama, and I use a Google Doc and Google Calendar for content here on ProBlogger.

Bonus tip: Outsource

Sometimes it’s just necessary. Here’s 44 Things Chris Ducker Thinks Bloggers Should Delegate to Virtual Staff.

And there you have it! Five (well, six) ways you can streamline your workflow to get more done.

So what about you? Have you found some shortcuts that help you blog effectively? I’d love to hear them!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie MamaChat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

10 Quick Tips for Going Viral

This is a guest post from Jerry Low.

If you’re on the web, your site and blog are likely unique – but one thing all blogs have in common is the drive for new subscribers and increased traffic. In the past few years, we’ve learned about the power of going viral – every blogger’s dream. But going viral is not always something that you can plan… or is it?

Here are 10 ways to increase your chances of going viral and hitting blogger gold:

Square one: Know that it can be done

Going viral isn’t like catching the fabled leprechaun – it does exist. At square one, you’ll need two things to make it happen: (1) Great, unique content, and (2) Crazy awesome outreach and promotional skills.

Here’s the thing – 99 percent of us don’t have that fat wad of cash sitting around that huge marketing campaigns require. Additionally, with respect to #2, 99 percent of us don’t have access to insider information – which is why it’s very hard for the “little guy” to go viral.

Note: very hard does not mean impossible; it can be done if you are smart and hard working.

Take, for example, Richard’s post on Link building tools – the post, published early on in Clambr’s days, received 2,000 FB likes, 100+ Google+ +1s, and 300+ tweets… no chump change. Early on – with little expendable budget – done thanks to great content and great social media and outreach skills.

Tip 1 – Getting the basics done right

If your post isn’t easily sharable, the odds of it going viral are slim at best. The most basic element of going viral is ensuring that your content has easy pass through via clearly visible social sharing icons. Use a Click-to-Share plugin (as Garrett Moon suggested earlier) if it helps.

Beyond share-ability, you need to have your other basics aligned.

slow site speed

Image credit: Mashable.

For starters, make sure that you blog loads fast enough – slow loads lose visitors. Additionally, within your actual post, make sure that you have a clear call to action – if you’re wanting to go viral, make sure that you ask your followers and readers to share your content – clearly and visibly.

And finally, make sure that you have the SEO fundamentals down – your site and post need to be easy to find through search engines.

Tip 2 – Be trend leading

You can’t go viral if you’re saying the same thing as everyone else – you have a better chance of getting your content read when a topic is trending (and you’re on the forefront of it or offering a unique perspective).

It’s common sense why trending content gets higher click-through rates on social media; that’s the content people are interested in. But beyond the “Trending on Twitter” feed, you can also use Google trends to find search trends – from there, it’s about creating relevant, quality content on that topic.

Tip 3 – Write list posts

List posts are notorious for increasing SEO ranking – but they’re also notorious for attracting readers (why else do you think sites like BuzzFeed and Tumblr have exploded). This list format is appealing because of the unique topics, original insight, and easy readability. In fact, after analyzing 100 million articles, Noah Kagan from OkDork concluded that list posts receive more average shares than other types of blogposts. ‘Nuff said.

shares by content

Tip 4 – LOL, Win, OMG, Cute, Trasy, Rail, and WTF

No, I didn’t just walk off a high school campus. BuzzFeed has identified several specific content categories that most of its successful content fits into – the seven categories include:

  • LOL – humorous content
  • Win – useful content
  • OMG – shocking content
  • Cute – cute content (think fuzzy baby animals)
  • Trashy – ridiculous fails… typically of others
  • Fail – something that everyone’s frustrated with
  • WTF – strange, bizarre content

Beyond that advice, though, are the studies that suggest that positive content is more likely to go viral than negative content. For example, this study from U Penn that considers how emotions affect virality.

Tip 5 – Write long post

Bloggers often stick to the magic 500 words for posts – but did you know that, statistically speaking, longer posts with higher word counts are more contagious? Of course, correlation isn’t causation. In my opinion, longer posts tend to get more social media shares simply because the more verbose posts have an opportunity to offer more value to the readers.

The takeaway? Don’t cut yourself off for fear of exceeding 500.


Tip 6 – Not all social media shares are created equal

This one seems like common sense, but all too often, we count the number of shares, rather than the quality of them (talk to anyone measuring social media clip counts and you’ll get an earful on the topic). From the same study in tip three, Noah Kagan found that the average shares are generally higher if you manage to get more influencers to share your content.

In fact, having just one influential person share your content can result in 31.8% more social shares. Expound upon that by having five influencers share your content – this can nearly quadruple the total number of shares. Quality, not quantity.

Make a point to connect with – and build relationships with – influencers in your industry.

Tip 7 – Use visual content

People’s attention spans for web content are shockingly limited – and continuing to shrink. Again, we direct your attention to the success of sites like Pinterest or Tumblr that rely on minimal content with lots of images.

A bold, relevant photo speaks volumes to your viewer – so consider using a photo or GIF instead of a big old block of text. Need more reasons to rely on imagery? Here are 19.

Tip 8 – Don’t just focus on the big three

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are undeniable social media giants – but there are plenty of other worthwhile social media sites out there. Take SlideShare, for one – this site gets about 120 million views each month. Or Pinterest which, as of July 2013, had more than 70 million users. That’s huge!

Tip 9 – Create videos

Video has been a huge asset in the marketing world since the TV era first bloomed. And, it has continued to grow. More than 100 million people watch videos online these days and, thanks to modern technology, it’s crazy easy and cheap to create unique videos yourself.

From instructional how-to’s to product overviews, vlogs, etc., the opportunities are endless – and if you aren’t taking advantage, you’re simply missing out. Need some incentive? Check out these 100 video stats and facts.

Tip 10 – Understand and segment your followers

You must understand who are your targeted audience and how they are using each social media channel. Yes, as a blogger you are likely working from the comfort of your home or office or local Starbucks. You do not have to sit down face to face with your audience.

But that does not mean you don’t need to know them.

Quick tips –

  • Think about your ideal reader – Who are they? Where do they live? What makes them smile? What makes them feel like they can’t resist clicking on that Facebook share button?
  • Study your competitors – Spy on their blogs, follow their hashtags and see what events or online hangouts they are attending.
  • Research your targeted audience via different media – Literature, interviews, movies, school programs, or even TV and radio shows. Is there anything you may turn into a great post or article?
  • Segment your followers and if possible, treat them differently – For example, readers on might be interested with blogging topic but not into WordPress tutorials (they could be using Typepad, Blogger, Tumblr, or even Square Space). To get maximum engagement rate, think of a way to feed personalized content to your followers.

segments (1)

Conclusion –

While you can’t force your content to go viral (by definition, viral means other people are sharing your content with growing momentum), you can give it a boost so that it’s more likely to get picked up. Do these 10 things and you’ll be well positioned to take the internet by storm.

Have something I missed? Share it below in the comments.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can get more of his blogging tips here

How to Build an Efficient Social Media Workflow to Increase your Traffic

Recently I shared a video on my Facebook page about how I structure social media updates each week.

I have been asked frequently about how much content to share, what times to share, and what I do personally for each of my sites. I take a pretty proactive approach on the Digital Photography School Facebook and Twitter feeds, ensuring there’s a broad range of new and old content across timeslots that work for our audience.

It’s solid advice I think would be useful in any niche – especially because there is the tendency to be overwhelmed with having to keep up with different social media sites, all the while trying to be relevant and interesting. I always tell people to choose the sites that work for your blog and your audience, and to focus on doing them well.

In this video, I share my (very simple Google Doc) editorial calendar, and how I find content to fill it. I also go through the process I use to share each article with our audience, from choosing the image, to describing it in a way that will interest people. I also go through how I look through the archives for relevant articles that haven’t been shared in a while.

Do you have a social media workflow? Do you find using a third-party scheduling app useful? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Setting Goals: Why You Need Them, and How to Write Them



“How can you get where you’re going if you don’t know where that is?”

Surprisingly to me, the topic of goals seems to divide bloggers into two camps: the ones who think goal setting in any situation is of vital importance, and the ones who think that blogging should be more spontaneous and fluid.

I think they’re both right.

The great thing about blogging that perhaps other business ventures don’t have is the personal aspect. The sharing of stories, the authentic representation of real life people in the real world. Sometimes it’s hard to put structure on that, to say your blog must do X and Y if you are ever going to get to Z. Many people buck the idea of pointing their blog in a direction rather than let it evolve naturally. Plus some of us just really hate being told what to do.

The difference can usually be boiled down to the main reason you write your blog, and where you want your blog to go. Is it a creative outlet? A thing of passion? A bit of fun that isn’t meant to be stressful? Or are you hoping it will earn you some money, maybe some freelance writing work, some speaking engagements, or even a book deal? Maybe even a bit of both: a creative outlet that makes an income?

In order to reach a destination, you have to know where you’re going. And if you’re happy for some structure, a bit of guidance, and practical steps you can take to build your blog into a vehicle to get you where you’re going, then you need some goals.

I know – I tried to resist it for a long time, even though I planned to either monetise my blog or find online work from my blog since the day I realised you could (which, incidentally, was about five minutes after I started it). I liked seeing how my blog evolved slowly as I learned things. I eventually got my head around SEO, about building traffic, and about the importance of good design (that one took me a while).

But the day came when everyone was talking practical goals. That in order to take your blog to the next level, then you better have some stepping stones to get you there. Wandering around doing whatever takes your fancy can only last you so long. Although the scenery is nice.

The Value of Goals

There are plenty of positive outcomes of goals even if you don’t reach them.

Goals give you structure

This is particularly useful if, like most of us, you’re juggling blogging with your life, your other job, your family, and your other responsibilities. There’s often not a lot of time left in the day to blog and you hate wasting it. If you have goals you’d like to reach (post twice a week, get five new Facebook fans this month), then you’re more likely to work on something that will help you reach your goal rather than fall down an Instagram rabbit hole and an hour later you’re on your cousin’s brother’s best friend’s Queensland holiday photos from two years ago. You haven’t written a thing and now it’s time to go to bed. Having even small goals can help you to use your time more wisely.

Goals keep you looking ahead

While reviewing things of the past to figure out what worked and what hasn’t is an excellent tool to keep your blog on track, it’s best to spend most of your time in the present, looking toward the future. Goals can keep you on track by giving you something to aim for. You might feel like perhaps you’ve hit a plateau and are looking around to lift yourself out. You might have made a mistake (like all those years I didn’t think email lists were important) and want actionable steps to rectify it. Having a point you’d like to reach keeps you focused, and also provides a chance to feel successful when you make it.

Goals keep you accountable

I have been meaning to write an ebook for three years. Two years ago, I started it. I haven’t touched it since.

I had some vague plan of maybe working on it for 15 minutes a day, like Darren’s famous story, and I even added it to my daily “to-do” list. At one stage, trying to make it even easier on myself, I made it only five minutes a day to work on it.

Without a specific goal, though, broken down into manageable pieces (design a cover one week, write 500 pages on Tuesday the 15th, perhaps), my vague plan got me nowhere. That book is far from finished two years later because I haven’t been accountable to myself for getting it done. That’s two years of lost revenue.

I’ll say that again: two years of lost revenue.

I could have set a goal, broken it down into manageable chunks (exactly what I talk about in How to Blog Effectively When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed because hey I had a job and two toddlers and a blog and overwhelmed was exactly how I felt) and done it in steps, then I could have had that book ready ages ago.

Goals are motivating

Success is the best motivator. There’s nothing like that adrenalin rush you get when you pull something off. You put in hard work and you were rewarded. More of that please! You’ll move heaven and earth to make some time to get that stuff done because you know it works. It feels good to win.

Goals keep you in forward motion

If there’s anything I hear the most about bloggers a few years into their journey is that they can’t break through middle ground. They’re not quite beginner, they’re not quite pro – but what they’ve always done (which saw results in the past) just isn’t cutting it any more. Some people even like to rest here a while – but at some point, most bloggers want to keep growing, keep building their readership, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Setting practical, achievable goals can help bust you out of that rut, while reinspiring you to ignite that passion you had when you first started. Then when you reach that goal (and you find it was easier than you think), then you’ve moving forward. You’re growing.

Setting Practical, Achievable Goals

So we’ve established why goals are important (and if not vitally important to you personally, then at least useful). The next thing to do is chat about how you can make great ones – and actually reach them.

Write them down

Don’t fall victim to the vague plan, I like I did. Set aside a few minutes for brainstorming, then organise your ideas into goals you’d like to achieve. Stick them on your mirror, write them on a whiteboard, email them to yourself, save them into Evernote, write them in your diary – it doesn’t matter where, just write them down. People who write their goals down are significantly more likely to achieve those goals, and it can help you remember your main purpose. It’s fine if you change them later, but get them down somewhere first.

Don’t have many

The best way to overwhelm yourself and ensure you never get anywhere is to write yourself a long list of concrete goals that are impossible to uphold. The fewer in number you keep your goals, the easier they will be to reach and the more likely you’ll be to keep on the path. They need to be adjustable and malleable as your expectations and knowledge changes. You might like to have maybe one a month, or a set of 10 that are dependent upon the goal before it being met. Whatever will be the strategy you are most likely to stick to.

Make them S.M.A.R.T

You’ve probably heard it before – keep your goals specific (“grow my newsletter list by 50 this month” rather than “grow my newsletter list”), measurable (quantities are good here), actionable (something you do rather than something you are), realistic (by all means challenge yourself, but don’t aim for the impossible), and timely (deadlines are exceptional at getting you moving and stopping the “I’ll get to it one day” lie). Do each of your goals fit this criteria?

Break them down

It’s all very well and good to say you’d like to grow your newsletter list by 50 readers this month, but as specific as that is, it’s still quite general. How are you going to reach that goal? What’s the very first step you can take to reach that goal? You might like to break it down by weekly tasks:

  1. Create or upgrade your subscriber incentive by week 1.
  2. Add an extra sign-up box at the end of your posts by week 2.
  3. Write a post describing the value of signing up to the newsletter and pointing people to the new or updated subscriber incentive (and of course, where to sign up) by week 3.
  4. Offer a short-time only extra bonus for newsletter subscribers by week 4.

Set both short and long-term goals

I think most of us have a sort of goal or destination for our blog lurking in our grey matter somewhere, but sitting down and putting pen to paper can really help you figure out what you want and why you’re putting all this effort in. You might even surprise yourself with what comes out when you give it space to grow. So even if you think you’ve got an idea of where you’re headed, write it down anyway. Then run it through the SMART criteria – see if you can put it on a timeline, or make it more practical and actionable than it is. That’s your long-term goal.

Your short-term goals can be a mix of the broken-down steps you’re taking to get to the long term goal, and other small fun goals you set yourself to be just that little bit better than you were before. One of your goals might be to take a writing course, or to have a guest post published on your favourite site. It can be pitching an article to an authority site that you’re absolutely terrified to do – it can even be as small as simply finding out who to pitch to by Friday next week.

Have a buddy

It works for weight loss, so it can work for your blog goals too! You can have an accountability partner and chat together about your goals for the week or month and check in regularly to see how each other has gone. You can have the same goals as a friend and motivate each other to reach them (or even make it a little competition!). You can just email a friend a list of things you’re going to do, or you can even write them in a blog post and be accountable to your readers, like Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom does in her goal review posts. Just make sure you tell someone (other than the cat) so you’re more likely to reach the goal rather than face the embarrassment of telling them you failed.

Keep track of them

I like the idea of saving a file or having a notebook for your goals and jotting down your progress. You can write down what you’ve done to try and reach them, whether it was useful or not – or you can just tick them off as you go. But check in regularly to make sure you’re on track and that they’re still the kinds of goals you’re interested in.

Review them

Plans (and blogs) can change, and what you might have thought was important at the start of last year now has no significance whatsoever. Set regular reminders in your calendar to review your goals and make sure they’re still relevant to you. You can change them, increase them, or throw them out entirely and start fresh. You might also meet some of your goals much faster than you anticipated, so you might want to set yourself some more.

Why You Can’t Set Goals

You’re too busy

I know, it’s hard enough to get through what needs to be done every day let alone step back, take a deep breath, and figure out the big picture. If you treat brainstorming and goal-setting like a non-negotiable task, and block out time on your calendar to do it, then you’re more likely to treat it with the importance it deserves. Make your first goal setting a time to create your goals.

You don’t know what you want

You will when you sit down and brainstorm, I promise. If you give yourself time to reflect and think about your blog and what it means to you and where, ultimately, you’d like to take it, then you’ll begin to realise there are milestones you’d like to achieve. Start with a few and when the time comes to review those goals, you’ll have come up with a few more to add to the list.

You don’t know how to write a game plan

Well now you do!

  1. You brainstorm
  2. You prioritise your ideas into short-term and long-term goals
  3. You run those goals through the SMART filter
  4. You break them down into manageable chunks, and you give those chunks deadlines
  5. You put a list of your goals somewhere where you will see them
  6. You email your goals to a friend for accountability
  7. You set your first step to see you on your way

See? No excuses now!

So were you like me and thought you’d be fine without goals? Have you had goals since day one? You might even have a buisness plan! I’d love to hear how you structure your steps to reach your dreams.

Stacey is the Managing Editor of a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama (with the added bonus of good food!). Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.


Looking to Guest Post on Authority Sites? Here’s How to Find the Best Blogs

guestpostThis is a guest contribution from

It’s no secret that getting your content published on the most popular and highly trafficked blogs in your niche can do a lot to grow your business. However, if you’ve ever tried to land these guest blogging spots, then you also know it’s not the easiest thing to do.

You need to first figure out which blogs are worth publishing on, and then you need to convince the blog owner that your content is worth publishing.

You see, there is a lot of competition to get published on popular blogs. If you want to grab one of these coveted spots for yourself, then you need to know the secrets of finding and getting published on the best blogs.

That’s what you’re about to discover how to do inside this report. Here’s an overview of how to find the best B.L.O.G.S. for guest posting:

  • Build a Presence: This is the little-known key to getting published that many people overlook.
  • Look for Suitable Blogs: In this section you’ll learn how to find plenty of guest blogging opportunities.
  • Optimize Your List: Not all blogs are created equal, which is why in this step you’ll cull your list to retain only the best guest blogging opportunities.
  • Get Published: Here you’ll find out tricks for getting published more often.
  • Send Inquiries: At this step you’ll find out how to get published on blogs that don’t actively solicit guest content.

Let’s get to it…

Step 1: Build a Presence

Here’s a little secret many would-be guest authors overlook: blog owners don’t want content from a “no-name nobody.”

Truth is, there are plenty of places for them to get this sort of content all over the web, such as from article directories. What’s more, plenty of “no-name nobodies” submit their content all day long to these blog owners.

You see, blog owners can afford to be selective. And when they publish content, they’re thinking about how it benefits them. Often they’re looking for two things:

  • Guest bloggers with big platforms, such as a big social media following. Guest authors often tell their followers about their publications, so this means a link back and some fresh traffic for the blog owner.
  • Guest bloggers who’re established experts. This goes back to not wanting to publish content by no-name authors. Blog owners would much rather publish articles from known experts in the niche.

So here’s the point: If you don’t yet have a social media following or you’re not yet an established expert, you need to get on that before you start submitting guest articles to the big blogs. Here are tips and guidelines to follow:

  • Get established on all the major social media channels. This includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Be sure to present a professional image, including your full (real) name, a photo and mature posts. Many blog owners will research you, so you want to show you’re a real person on these social media sites.
  • Build a following. Merely getting established helps, because it shows you’re a real person (not a spammer). However, building a following is better because it shows the blog owner that you can offer something of benefit to them – fresh traffic.
  • Showcase your expertise. Next, you need to publish content widely online. This helps establish you as an expert, while also serving as a bit of social proof that yes, you would make a good guest author.

To that end, publish content on your own blog, publish on your friends’ blogs, write and publish a book (using Kindle and/or CreateSpace), release “special reports” in your niche and so on. Basically, you want to see a lot of good content come up when someone searches for your name.

  • Befriend the big players in your niche. Tag them on thoughtful posts via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Write about them on your blog and leave a trackback. Engage in discussions with them on their blogs, on forums and on social media. Develop relationships with them, as not only will others see you as a solid part of the niche, but these relationships make it easier to get published on the blogs belonging to the big players.

You get the point – become a solid part of the niche, showcase your expertise, and demonstrate that you have something of value (followers, expertise, etc) to offer blog owners.

Once you’ve built up this presence in your niche, then you can move onto the next step…

Step 2: Look for Suitable Blogs

Now it’s time to find blogs which may offer guest blogging opportunities. For now, you’re merely making a list. Just a bit later you’ll find out how to cull this list in order to create a shorter list of only the best and non-spammy blogs.

So what you want to do is first think about the big players in your niche. If you’ve been working in your niche for any amount of time, then you should be able to produce a list of some of the most respected authors, bloggers, marketers and other influencers in your niche.

To help you brainstorm, add the following to your list:

  • People who get talked a lot about in the niche.
  • People with big platforms, like popular blogs, forums, newsletters or social media followings.
  • People who’re noted authors, including published books as well as newspaper or magazine columns.
  • Marketers with the top-selling products in your niche.

And so on – basically, list everyone who is a “someone” in your niche.

Once you’ve listed all the big players you can think of, then your next step is go to Google to uncover more of the big sites as well as the big players (AKA influencers) in your niche.

What you want to do is plug in several searches that are all closely related to your niche. Be specific with longtail keywords, as this will help you uncover the blogs and influencers which are most closely related to what you’re doing.

Example: Let’s suppose you’re interested in weight loss for women. Your searches might look like this:

  • Weight loss for women
  • Lose weight for women
  • Dieting for women
  • How women can lose weight
  • Tips for women weight loss
  • Get a bikini body
  • Safe ways for women to lose weight
  • Get rid of belly fat females
  • Female fat loss
  • Exercise tips for women
  • Dieting advice for women

Take note that the above examples tackle the topics from multiple angles by searching for synonyms both women (alternative females, but may also try ladies and girls) as well as dieting (alternatives include lose weight, weight loss, fat loss, etc). Google will display results that include synonyms (unless you put your search in quotes), but you should see slightly different results when searching for your own synonyms.

At this point there are two things you’re looking for:

  1. The top sites on the first two pages of Google for each search. Don’t look at the sponsored results, as right now you’re looking for top blogs that have earned their way in through good content (versus bought their way in with an advertisement).

When you encounter a site, click on it and quickly see if they publish a blog or content in any form, something which you could contribute to. If so, add it to your list.

Finally, take note of who owns these sites – these folks are some of the influencers in your niche. Which brings us to the second thing you’re looking for…

  1. The influencers listed on the first two pages of Google for each search. When you search Google, you’ll see photos of authors alongside their names at times. Add these people to your list as well.

Tip: You’ll want to begin building relationships with the influencers in your niche, as it will make it easier for you to get published on their blogs. You’ll learn more about how to do this just a bit later in the report.

Next, go back to Google and this time search the names of the influencers on your list. You want to see where these folks are publishing content online, because you may want to publish your content on these same sites, so add them to your list.

Be sure to check out their social media pages, as most influencers tweet or otherwise post about the places where they are publishing content. Obviously, you should also visit their websites, as they likely list their publications there as well.

The final part of this step is re-run your niche keyword search as mentioned above, except this time you’re going to specifically search for sites which accept guest articles. To that end, search for your main niche keywords (such as “women lose weight”) alongside the following types of keywords:

  • Guest article
  • Guest author
  • Guest article submission
  • Guest author submission
  • Submit articles
  • Submit guest articles
  • Submit blog articles
  • Submission guidelines
  • Guest author guidelines
  • Guest posting guidelines
  • Guest article guidelines
  • Guest blogging guidelines
  • Contributor submission
  • Contributor guidelines
  • Become a contributor
  • Submit article contributions
  • Submit your article
  • How to submit your article
  • Become a guest blogger
  • Become a guest author
  • Guest post
  • Guest posting
  • Guest blogging
  • Write for us

You’re likely to find some overlap as you go through these different searches, and that’s okay. Just keeping adding new sites to your list as you find them.

Once you have your list of possible sites on which you can publish, move onto the next step…

Step 3: Optimize Your List

You should have a pretty good list of possibilities at this point, but not all these sites are worth publishing on. Some of them are rather spammy. Some of them don’t have good content, so it’s not the sort of place with which you want your name to be associated.

So here’s how to cull your list:

  • Make sure the blog is in your niche. Sometimes a keyword search will uncover a blog, but the blog may not even be in your niche. It may be an article directory or content farm. You can cross these off your list.
  • Read the content to be sure it’s high quality. Would you be proud to have your name listed on this blog? Is the existing content high-quality, entertaining and useful? If so, keep this site on your list.
  • Look for popular blogs. Is there any indication that the blog is popular, such as several people commenting on each blog? Be sure that if there are blog comments, they’re relevant and not spammy. You might also compare sites using a tool like, which will give you an idea of how much traffic a site gets.

Note: Alexa is not a perfect tool, as it only counts visits from those who’ve installed their toolbar. As such, be sure that you’re only comparing similar sites – “apples to apples.” Comparing apples to oranges on Alexa won’t give you good results, because there may be some bias in that Alexa users may visit one type of site, but not another type of site… which would skew the estimated traffic numbers.

  • Cull the spammy sites. Some sites may possess the above characteristics, and yet they just look spammy. If it’s hard to read an article without being interrupted by ads everywhere (pop ups, ads in the content, ads in the side bar, etc), then it may not be the best place for you to post your content. Stick to the sites that present a balance of ads and content.
  • Check if links are “nofollow.” If you are interested in publishing on a site primarily for SEO linking purposes, then you’ll want to be sure anywhere you post allows the search engines to follow links. You’ll need to check the page source to be sure. If you’re using a browser like IE, then go to “View” and “Page Source” (other browsers have similar methods). Then search for a “nofollow” tag.

Note: If you’re not publishing for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes, then don’t worry about this step.

  • Find out if people are talking about the site. First, check Google to see how many people are linking to and talking about the site positively. Use “” as a search operator in Google, being sure to replace “” with the actual domain of the site you’re researching.bull1

Secondly, check social media. Are people retweeting and reposting articles from the site? That’s a good sign. Keep those sorts of sites on your list.

Once you’ve optimized your list by crossing off the spammy and other undesirable sites, then move onto the next step…

Step 4: Get Published

Now it’s time to get published. You’re going to start by picking the low-hanging fruit – this means submitting your content to sites which actively solicit guest articles. These are the sites you searched for when you sought out your keywords alongside search terms such as “contribute guest articles.”

Obviously, this also includes any other sites on your list that seek out guest contributions.

Here are the keys for getting published on these sites…

  • Read and Follow the Guidelines. The popular blogs in your niche get a lot of contributions and can’t publish them all. In many cases, the blog owners will initially sift through the contributions and immediately trash any of them which don’t adhere to the published guidelines. As such, be sure that you read and then follow the contributor’s guidelines closely.
  • Study existing content for inspiration. The second thing you want to do is study the articles that are already posted on the blog, and pay attention to the topics as well as the overall style of these articles. That’s because one good way to predict what type of article will get published in the future is to look at what types of articles are already getting published.

Example: Does the blog owner prefer conversational-style articles, opinion articles, academic research-type articles, tips articles or something else? Figure out what they like, and then model your article in the same style.

  • Offer something original. In other words, don’t put up the same rehashed content as everyone else. Instead, offer a fresh approach. For example, if you’re talking about a fairly common method for doing something, then offer your own “twists” and tips for making the method even more effective.

Another way to craft something original is to coin a new phrase of formula around a solid method. This report is an example, with its B.L.O.G.S. system corresponding to each step of finding suitable blogs and getting published. As you’ll discover in just a few moments, this report also offers a fresh approach because it includes an email template that you can put to work for you immediately to land guest publishing spots.

  • Create high-quality content. Your article should be both entertaining and very useful, so that readers can take action on it and see good results. You can also include graphics (such as infographics, illustrations, mind maps, etc) to add value to your article and make it more useful and attractive to both the blog owner as well as his or her readers. You can also pass the article by a good proofreader or editor to make sure it’s easy to read and in good condition technically speaking.
  • Give it a good title. Finally, be sure to add a good title to your article, perhaps one that promises a benefit or even arouses curiosity. A good title is essential because if your title doesn’t catch the reader’s eye (beginning with the blog owner), then you’re doomed before you even get out of the gate.

Example: A: Let me give you examples of “before” and “after” titles, where the after titles are spiced up and present a benefit in a more exciting way:

Before: 7 Weight Loss Tips for Women

After: The 7 Secrets for Quick and Easy Fat Loss Every Woman Ought to Know

Before: Improve Your Golf Swing

After: How to Improve Your Golf Swing Using One Weird Trick

Before: How to Negotiate a Used Car Deal

After: 5 Surefire Steps for Getting a Great Deal on a Used Car

Once your article is polished, primped and ready to go, then submit it according to the submission guidelines. And what if you’d like to post on a site that doesn’t actively solicit guest content? That’s where the final step comes in…

Step 5: Send an Inquiry

Just because a site doesn’t actively solicit content doesn’t mean they won’t accept it. You will likely need to be prepared for a high rejection rate, but don’t let that deter you – it’s well worth the effort if you do get published on a busy and popular site.

There are three things you need to do to increase your chances of getting published on these sites:

  1. Be prepared to submit extremely high quality content. See the tips in the previous section.
  1. Develop relationships with site owners. Simply put, it’s easier to get published on these sites if the site owner knows who you are. More about this below.
  1. Craft a compelling inquiry. Rather than directly submitting content to a blog owner, you’ll be submitting an inquiry. You’ll find an example below.

Let’s look at these last two separately…

Develop Relationships

At the very least you should seek to get on the radar of the big players in your niche, but it’s even better if you can develop friendships with them.

Here are five tips for making yourself known:

  • Join important niche discussions. In particular, join the discussions of which they’re a part of, such as discussions on their blog, their Facebook Group, their Facebook page and elsewhere.
  • Start up a personal dialogue. You might begin by tagging them when you talk about something related to their business on Twitter or Facebook. Once you have your foot in the door, then start up a private conversation.
  • Attend live events. This includes both offline industry events (such as trade shows or seminars) as well as online events such as Google Hangouts. Introduce yourself, ask thoughtful questions and get to know the big players on a personal level.
  • Blog about the big players (using trackbacks). This is actually another way to join a discussion – blog a response to it, and use trackbacks to point back to the blog post to which you’re replying. You may also blog about the big player’s products, ideas or anything else.
  • Become an affiliate. Finally, another good way to become known by the big players is to make money for them. Be sure to use the same name on your affiliate account as you use everywhere else so that the vendor recognizes you.

Again – the more known you are, the easier it is to get published on sites which don’t actively solicit content. Which brings us to the next point…

Craft an Inquiry

If a site doesn’t actively solicit content, then any articles you submit directly will likely go straight to the trash (as that looks presumptuous of you). For these sorts of sites, you need to send an inquiry instead. In some cases, even sites that actively solicit content will ask that you send an inquiry (or query) first.

What you need to is craft an inquiry that gets the blog owner excited about publishing your content. This means you should let the blog owner know why it’s beneficial to publish your content, perhaps based on your unique article, your established expertise in the field, and/or your ability to drive traffic to their site.

Let me give you an example inquiry. Please note that you should research each blog thoroughly so that you can craft an inquiry that’s personalized for each blog owner.


Subject: [Write a Personalized, Attention-Grabbing Subject]

Dear [First Name],

My name is [your name], and I run the [name/URL] website. The reason I’m writing today is to offer you the opportunity to get both free content for your blog as well as free, highly targeted traffic.

Let me explain…

What I’m proposing is to offer you an original, exclusive and high-quality article for your readers on the topic of [topic]. I’ve seen your readers [explain what you’ve seen them do – ask for this topic, show interest in the topic via the comments, etc], which is why I think they’ll be really pleased to see an in-depth treatment of the subject. You can see the article here [post link to article – should be a private URL, not accessible to the public. In other words, this article shouldn’t already be published elsewhere.].

The second benefit you’ll enjoy is free traffic coming into your website. If you publish this article on your site, then I’ll send out a link to my [number] of social media followers, [number] blog visitors and [number] newsletter subscribers. That’s free exposure for you.

To discuss this proposition further, or if you’d like content on a different topic, please contact me at [contact info]. I look forward to hearing from you.

[Sign off]

P.S. I enjoyed your discussion on [some recent topic] because [specific reason why you enjoyed it – prove you’ve done your research]. I think my article on [topic] will tie-in nicely with yours, and give your readers [some benefit]. Let me know what you think…


As you can see, the idea is to show the blog that you’re not sending out a cookie cutter form letter, while also letting him or her know the benefits of publishing your content.

Remember, getting a “yes” to an unsolicited request like this is easier if you’ve built relationships with site owners.

Now let’s wrap things up…


So there you have it: The five steps to finding high-quality sites on which to publish content, as well as plenty of tips for maximizing your chances of getting published.

Let’s quickly recap these steps:

  • Build a Presence in social media and elsewhere so that you become known in your niche.
  • Look for Suitable Blogs using special Google search terms.
  • Optimize Your List: Here you found out how to cull your list of blogs.
  • Get Published: This is where you discovered the tricks for getting published more often.
  • Send Inquiries: At this step you found out how to get published on blogs that don’t actively solicit guest content.

Now you have the plan – all you need is the content. And if you’re offering original content to dozens of blogs (which is well worth the effort), then you’re going to need a lot of content.

Now, I’d like to hear about your guest blogging success in the comments below. How do you find blogs for guest posts? I’m waiting at the comments section below!


Danny Adetunji is a freelance copywriter with over 5 years experience. He writes all things about copywriting and marketing at If you want to boost your revenue, turn leads into sales, retain more repeat customers, and generate more revenue from your online business, you should hire him!




4 Steps to Successful Product Creation Every Blogger Should Know (But Most Don’t!)

2015_01_30_probloggerThis is a guest contribution from Danny Iny.

You’ve heard it all before.

Yet another internet marketer has “taken the stage”, extolling the virtues of the newest “revolutionary” product or tactic that is guaranteed to blow the wheels off your competition and have you rolling around in hundred-dollar bills before your next electric bill comes due.

But you can only hear the proclamations so many times before you start to get skeptical.

Like, really skeptical.

So you tune out the noise and do your best to keep your head down, grinding away at the same old thing you’ve been working on for months.

Six months later, after spending countless hours and a lot of money that you really hope you make back in sales…

You end up with the same old outcome.

But what if there was a way to create the kind of success all those “Get Rich Quick” gurus are spouting on about?

What if it turned out to be a process that’s not only profitable, but also scalable and repeatable?

And… what if someone was finally able to crack the code?

Turns out, all it takes is a little bit of telepathy.

Step One: Tune In (Listen to What Your Audience is Broadcasting)

Now, before we get started and you get all excited (or disappointed) that this is (just) another get-rich-quick scheme… ;-)

…let’s get one thing straight: this process takes hard work – a lot of it.

If you don’t put in the work, that fat pile of cash isn’t going to just materialize all by itself.

The first step is to listen to your audience.

I can hear you already: “but, Danny! I do listen to my audience. I give them what they say they want, and they *still* aren’t buying anything that I offer!”

But, chances are that the way that you’re listening isn’t quite what it could be.

First, the good news – chances are that you are an expert in your field, and because you do listen to your audience, you have a good sense of your industry.

But, there’s also bad news – the likelihood is high that you have preconceived notions about both the industry and your customers, and these preconceptions are keeping you from breaking through.

Gather Data About Your Audience

There are a few different ways to collect information from your audience:

  1. Eavesdropping on Conversations

Even if you don’t have an audience, you can start listening to conversations around the web.

Eavesdropping is the same online as it is in person, and by finding out where your target audience hangs out, you can start to listen to and track the things that they say.

Are they active on Facebook groups or Twitter? Do they leave lots of comments on the big blogs in your industry? Are they involved in forums around your topic?

Pay attention to the exact words that they use to describe the problems.

  1. Taking note of email conversations

If you already have an established audience, you can use this to your advantage. It’s not a requirement, just an added bonus. FYI, this is the only step that requires an audience!

Take note of the things that your audience emails you about. Do they have specific issues or topics that they bring up regularly? Do many of your readers talk or complain about the same things?

And, if you’re feeling a little bit shaky about your connection to your audience, here’s a great ProBlogger post about building up your blog.

  1. Simple surveys

Whether you have an audience or not, you can create a simple survey to gather even more data.

And when I say simple, I mean simple: just two questions long!

The first question will be, “if you had 15 minutes to ask me anything, what would it be” – this question can be broadened (and clarified) by including a topic area, if you don’t have an established audience or are bringing people to your survey via advertising.

The second question will then be, “if I promise not to sell you anything, can I follow up with a phone call?”

(Hat tip to Ryan Levesque and his Deep Dive Survey process for the survey information in this section!)

  1. Informational interviews

Anyone who agreed to the phone call in the survey will then go on to do an informational interview with you.

The most important things to cover in these informational interviews are what challenges they are dealing with at the moment, and what they’re currently doing to solve the problem.

This is where you can really dive deep into the issue that your audience is having and ask clarifying questions, to get to the heart of what’s going on.

These interviews will last somewhere around thirty minutes or so, just long enough for you to gather the data you need, without being overwhelming to your interviewee.

Analyze the Data You Gathered

The next step after you finish gathering your data is to analyze it!

You’ll want to search through the information that you’ve been collecting, and look for patterns:

  • Is there a topic area that comes up often?
  • Are lots of people having the same (or a similar) problem?

Then, figure out how you can solve the problem. Is there a product or service that you can provide for them that would make a huge impact on their lives? What can you easily and dependably provide for them?

Step Two: Talk Back (How to Ask What Your Audience Wants)

Once you have figured out how to solve your audience’s problem, you might think that it’s time to retreat to your office and create the solution.

But, wait!

There’s still more to do, to make sure that your audience wants (and will pay for) the solution that you are ready to offer them.

Even if you started out the process without an audience, by now you have a list of people who have answered your survey and participated in your informational interviews.

You will present the offer framed as a response to their demand: “here’s this thing that you asked me for – guess what – I’m going to do it for you!”

You’re not actually selling anything at this point, but rather just gathering more feedback and validation about whether you will proceed with your offer or not.

If the responses that you get range anywhere in the “vaguely interested” to “crickets” range, it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board, to look through your data and see if there is a different direction that you can go.

But, if your audience responds enthusiastically, reaching out with grabby hands and shouting, “yes, yes, yes!! Gimme!” then you know that you are on the right track!

Only after hearing this enthusiastic response should you move on to the next step.

Step Three: Set off the Fireworks (Invite Your Audience to the Show)

If you’re not feeling completely comfortable with releasing something for sale on your blog just yet, check out this article about what to do before you launch a product.

The key to planning a pilot is to offer minimum viable richness: only as much as needed, and no more. There won’t be extra bells and whistles, no fancy software is necessary, and the first students will be early adopters – kind of like beta testers for a new software product.

Your early adopters will have access to the material for a fraction of what the eventual course will cost; this discount is in exchange for the feedback that they will give you throughout the course.

You will open up a brief registration window to sell your pilot course, in this order:

  1. Open the cart – Send out an email to your audience letting them know that you are offering the pilot.
  2. Send follow up emails – If you have trouble with the actual selling, head over here to grab a set of sales templates that you can swipe and use word for word in your sales process, on the house. But move quickly – they are only going to be free for the next couple of days!
  3. Close the cart – Once the registration window is done, close the cart!
  4. Decide whether to move forward – If your pilot only sold a few spots, it’s time to decide whether to move forward – did enough people sign up to make the experience worth it for both you and them?

(If only your mom and your Aunt Betty signed up, it may be time to refund their money and head back to the drawing board! Sorry, Aunt Betty.)

But, if you sold most of the spots, or even sold out, congratulations! You have validated that your offer is a good one, and that people will pay for the solution to their problem.

Now it’s finally time to make good on your promise, and solve their problem!

Step Four: Blow Their Minds! (Launch to Massive Success)

Even though this is only a pilot of your eventual product or course, you still want to provide an amazing experience for your students.

You want to create an educational experience that is efficient, effective and appealing.

You want to make sure that you teach only what your students need to know, and to be crystal clear and thorough in teaching the content.

One way to do this is to ask, “based on my students’ desired outcome, what do they need to know?”

You will want to build in small wins for your students, structuring the course content in such a way that your students are able to create a habit of succeeding!

You will plan your course material so that one idea builds on the ones taught previously, and you will run the program from a basic outline of the course.

The pilot course won’t be perfect, but it will teach you a lot about what can be improved for the eventual full course.

And, as long as you are delivering what you promised to your pilot students, the likelihood is that both you and they will learn a lot from the process!

Tying the Process Together

So now you have the full step-by-step process of how to launch a product from scratch, with almost guaranteed results.

You’ve learned how to:

  • Tune in telepathically to your audience;
  • Figure out how to solve their biggest problems;
  • Use their feedback to validate that they will actually pull out their wallets;
  • And, work with them to pilot the solution to success!

If you’re still feeling like you’re not quite ready, I’ll be hosting a webinar on Saturday, February 7 that will walk through the process in more depth.

By now you can see that it’s definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. But, when used properly, this process can absolutely bring some cash in the door.

You now wield the power that those “Get Rich Quick” gurus only dream about.

That means it’s time to get out there and start collaborating with your audience.

They have a problem, and they need YOU to solve it!

Danny Iny is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing, and creator of the Course Builder’s Laboratory. If you want to learn more about this, you’re invited to attend a one-time only free training webinar that he’s hosting, teaching “How to Build and Launch a Blockbuster Product… Every Time!”


Why You Should NOT Start a Travel Blog

travelThis is a guest contribution from travel blogger Chris Appleford.

From the moment we made the decision to sell everything we own and travel the world indefinitely, we wanted to have our own travel blog. Went spent hours looking for the best templates, making lists of what blogs needed to be written when we ‘go live’, signing up to affiliate programs, reading other blogs to get travel and blog advice, coming up with the all important name, blah, blah, blah. We had high hopes that within no time we’d be seeing big numbers visiting our site every month and we’d have made our first dollar.

Well guess what? It turns out it’s not that easy. And guess what else? I’m questioning whether we should have started a blog at all. Everyone who starts a travel blog will tell you they’re “doing it to keep their friends and family back home up to speed with what adventures they’ve been getting up to”. But we all know that’s a load of garbage, right? Deep down they did it because they want to be ‘internet famous’ like Nomadic Matt, and fund their travels with sponsored posts, banner advertising, affiliate sales, eBooks, the list goes on. They want to be ‘location independent’, the great buzz phrase of blogging superstars!

But the reality is, just because you’ve decided to travel, doesn’t necessarily mean you should start a travel blog. And if I’m going to be honest, most of you shouldn’t. Here’s why…

Market saturation

Do you know how many travel blogs there are? No? Neither did I, but when I typed ‘travel blog’ into Google, there were 1.2 million hits. Are you as old as I am and remember watching the World Wrestling Federation when it was allowed to be called the WWF, with Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik, Andre The Giant and the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage? There’d be 25 wrestlers in the ring at the same time and it was a Battle Royale until there was only one man left standing. That’s what travel blogging is going to like for you, except there are 1.2 million in the ring instead, and it’s not fake! If the aim of your blog is to make money and help fund your travels (be honest), then you’ve got some major competition. There are only 10 spots on the first page of any Google search, and if you think you’re going to be sitting anywhere near the top of the pile of a search query any time soon, you’re dreaming. Unless of course your blog is soooooo niche that you’re basically the only one in it! If you want to be duking it out with Nomadic Samuel, The Planet D, The Professional Hobo, or any of the other big hitters, then you’d better be prepared because it’s going to take a long time.


How long are you travelling for? Six months? A year? If you’re going to be gone for anything less than two years, and you want to make decent money from your blog (and when I say decent, I mean enough to pay for food and accommodation), then don’t bother. I know, I know, there are a few success stories where people have started making decent money within 12 months of starting their blog, like Chris Guillebeau and his originally titled site But they are few and far between. Have you read articles online that made you think, “yeah, I could do that?” Be honest, I did too, like ‘How I make $40,000 a month from my blog’ and ‘$72,000 in eBooks in a week – 8 lessons I learned’. Here’s the harsh reality: unless you’re willing to spend years building your audience, this is never going to happen for you.


To build an audience quickly, one of the thousands of tasks you need to do on almost a daily basis is write good articles. If you’re a good writer, you might be able to pump out a well-written, articulate piece of prose in about an hour or so. If you’re an average writer, it’s going to take longer. And if you suck, it’s probably not going to take you that long at all, which is why your article is going to suck and no one apart from your mum and dad are going to read it! Your article has to optimised up the wazoo…SEO, key words, outbound links, internal links, attention grabbing headlines, the right URL, meta data…I think my head is going to explode! And that’s before you even start promoting your posts. Triberr seems to be the ‘in’ thing, but does anyone actually click on those automatically scheduled tweets? You need to build your audience on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube (if you make videos), Vimeo (if you make really good videos), Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon…have I missed any? Probably, and of course you don’t need to be on all of them (I’m honestly not so sure Facebook is worth it any more), but whatever platforms you are on, developing those takes time.

Then there’s commenting on everyone else’s blog posts to generate inbound links, the holy grail of SEO! Not that these kind of backlinks are worth much, but they’re better than nothing. And of course, guest blogging, like I’m doing here on ProBlogger (thank you Mister Rowse for all eternity). The better the site you guest blog on, a) the better quality the backlink is, and b) the better chances of enjoying a little surge in popularity with the faint hope that some of them will stick (until they realise your blog sucks and go back to what they were doing before).

And I’ve just scratched the surface of what you need to do. I haven’t even mentioned things like research to keep up with the ever-changing world of blogging, networking, creating products to sell, pitching for paid media junkets, etc., etc.


Do you know what SEO stands for, or any one of the thousands of other digital TLA’s there are (that’s Three Letter Acronym for those who don’t know)? I bet you’ve read about big bloggers who said they didn’t have a clue about blogging when they started but “with hard work and dedication I taught myself and made it to the top, and you can too”! Guess what, that was in 2006 when they said that, and hardly anyone knew about blogging back then. Now EVERYONE knows what SEO is, everyone is working their butt of to make sure every article they write, and every post and page they create, is optimised like crazy.

But as I’ve already mentioned, there are only 10 places on the first page of any Google search, and if you’re not on it, chances are you’re not going to be found by very many people. So I suggest you bite the bullet and pay for some education, do an online course and see what you think of blogging once you’re done. I did a course called Travel Blogging Success and really enjoyed it. My blogging improved out of sight. Doing a course may give you a buzz, or it may make you see the light and you explore other ways to make an income. Either way it will be money well spent.


It costs money to blog. There are small startup costs like purchasing your domain name and buying a decent premium template. There are ongoing costs like hosting and cloud storage. There are educational costs if you want to get better, faster. I paid a few hundred dollars to do the Travel Blog Success course, and it accelerated my learning about 1000%. I may still have learnt how to blog had I not joined by just doing my own research, but this helped me improve my blog immediately. Then there’s the cost of time. You see, when you’re spending hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks, working on your blog, that is time you’re not spending on making actual money by doing something else. I have to make money while I travel, otherwise the bank will take my house back in Australia, so I get work on Odesk. But if I’m going to set aside time to work on my blog, then that is time I’m not working for a client and getting paid real money. It’s an important consideration that we sometimes forget.

What you miss when you blog

When you’re blogging, you’re not doing something else. Sounds obvious right, after all, we’re not Neo from The Matrix who seems to everywhere at the same time. So when I’m at my laptop bashing out another article that next to no one is going to read, and my two-year-old son is tugging at my arm begging me to chase him around the room, I’m missing out on that play time. Or I’m not wandering down the Champs Elysees at night in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Or I’m not watching the latest Quentin Tarantino movie I’ve been dying to see, or Skyping friends and family back home. The truth is when you’re working on your blog, you’re not doing something else you would probably rather be doing. You need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”

Some people just can’t write!

Ok, this is going to cause some people a little pain, maybe even dent the pride of a few people, but some of us were not born to put pen to paper (sorry, but I couldn’t think of a digital analogy about laptop keys and Microsoft Word)!

If you can’t spell, and don’t know how to use the built-in spell checker, your blog site is going to suck. If you can’t string a few words together in a coherent, engaging way, then guess what? Everybody together now…”your blog is going to suck”. Why would a company inject funds into you and your blog if you can’t write something that somebody else is going to want to read? They’re not, because any brand that a company sponsors is a reflection on them.

Be honest with yourself, if you want to make money from your blog but you can’t write to save yourself, then do yourself a favour and find other ways to make money while travelling. You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway, but you can’t be Lloyd Christmas either (Google him).

Is there any hope?


Just kidding, of course there’s hope! Where there’s an Internet connection, WordPress, and a will there’s a way. There are many, many success stories out there of people who make a living from their blog and the associated income streams they generate from it like guest speaking, digital products, and membership programs. But be honest and ask yourself the right questions before you plough time and money into your travel blog. How long am I going to be travelling for? What’s more important to me, keeping a travel blog or spending that time doing something else? Is there an easier way for me to make money while travelling? Do I suck at writing?

If you’re still keen to start that travel blog then I commend you. You’ve obviously thought long and hard about it, and are willing to put the time and effort into making it a success. From my research, it seems like any blog that is making serious money started around 2007, give or take a year or two. That gives you some idea of how long it’s probably going to take to start raking in those six and seven figure salaries.

In hindsight, we were on a hiding to nothing starting a blog about nomadic family travel, after all there are plenty of those like yTravel blog and Travel With Bender who are already firmly established in that niche. We would have been better off trying to get even more specific and targeting a smaller, but far more receptive and loyal audience. If there’s one thing that I’ll always be grateful for having started our travel blog, is that I now know what I must do to make my NEXT blog a success. Unless of course the brilliant readers of ProBlogger become loyal followers of Travelling Apples and send my monthly unique visitors numbers into the stratosphere!

You can follow our journey on our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Happy travels!


Going from a Blog to a Vlog: What the Big Companies Can Teach Us

This is a guest contribution from social media analyst Matthew Yeoman.

The move online from only having a blog for your online marketing is, of course, one which has long since been abandoned. Brands now have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on and on to promote their website and the blogs themselves.

A trend towards video, with YouTube leading the way, has lead to the rise of the vlog as the next big thing in content marketing. Many of the biggest brands in the world are on YouTube. They are killing it with views, subscribers (there’s a familiar term for bloggers), and brand exposure.

I’m going to be using data supplied by SocialBakers to look at two channels: Apple and Red Bull. These two brands have contrasting styles of content presentation. You can see both extremes of how you can vlog successfully, and how this relates to blogging.

The Apple vlog strategy: Quality over quantity

We all know Apple to be one of the highest quality electronics manufacturers in the world. Their products are sleek, sexy, and right to the point. It’s no surprise that their vlogging strategy follows this exact style guide.

Apple’s vlog works on having high quality content at only the most high need moments. You can expect a new video on their page for a product launch, and their bi-annual events are also posted.

To look at the numbers, here are Apple’s top ten most viewed videos as of Oct. 30 2014:

Apple – Holiday – TV Ad – Misunderstood 6723096 46077 3891 92.21
Apple – Introducing iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus 5478799 34912 5081 87.3
Apple – iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus – TV Ad – Duo 5408369 21099 8642 70.94
Apple – iPhone 5s – TV Ad – Powerful 2855270 22496 2295 90.74
Apple – iPad Air – TV Ad – Your Verse 2526843 20616 1779 92.06
Apple – iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus – Seamless 2522625 15249 1823 89.32
Apple – iPhone 5s – Dreams 2042473 20378 1331 93.87
Apple – Mac 30 – Thirty years of innovation 1891868 26777 2114 92.68

Click on any of those 10 videos and you’ll see a high quality video with incredible production values. This is part of Apple’s overall brand strategy of being a bit elitist. Your brand strategy on both your vlog and your blog has to match the overall feeling of your brand as well.

An interesting approach that Apple has taken is that they have disabled comments on all their videos. Take a look at the Likes and Dislikes for each video, the ratio shows a percentage of how ‘Liked’ Apple is on YouTube.

Their Like/Dislike ratio is, at best, 92.68. At lowest, 70.94. They average out in the high 80s. This is highly unusual for a brand as they typically score much higher. Nike Football has nearly a 97% Like/Dislike ratio for their 10 most popular videos.

Apple is a bit of a controversial brand. In order to escape the nightmare of YouTube comments, they have chosen to disable comments. If your brand blog has problems with controversy following you, you may want to disable them on YouTube as well. Apple’s low ratio shows that their YouTube page would likely be filled with negativity, avoiding it may prove to be a wise move on their part.

Everything I have just talked about parallels Apple’s blog exactly. They write about the same stuff they’re vlogging about, and they update just as often. The posts themselves are very well produced, and there’s no comment section. Are you starting to see the similarities in blogging and vlogging now?

Red Bull fosters community and rapid video releases

Red Bull is a company so vastly different from Apple that it is no surprise that they have gone a completely different route with their vlogging. With a target marketer of nearly always active millennials, with short YouTube attention spans, and a product that is best with constant promotion, Red Bull have turned to the power of LOTS for their vlogging. Here’s a typical video:

Short, punchy, full of action. And infrequent actions isn’t their style. Here is what the Red Bull video page looked like at the time of this writing:


Seven new videos in the last 24 hours! You’d think that this extreme audience, with some videos catching virality and getting 1 million+ views, would have an equally unpredictable subscriber growth. You’d be wrong about that:


That growth is so consistent that it’s boring! This approach, however, is far from boring. They have taken the concept from their daily blog, and applied it to a vlog. If you’re seeing growth in your brand’s blog with daily updates, this may well be the approach you take with your vlog to increase your channel subscriber growth.

The other thing that they are doing, which Apple isn’t, is fostering a community by opening up their comment section. Now it is, I’d say around 50% of the time, full of pointless trolling. The rest of the time you’ll see their fans voicing their amazement, asking if it’s fake or not, or bragging about crazy stuff they say they’ve done.

Their channel engagement rate shows this consistent brand interest paying off as people come back again and again to comment:


Just like Apple above, everything that Red Bull does on their blog they also do on their vlog. Both have a clear vision of who they are as a brand, and link their content strategy across vastly different content delivery platforms.

What you can learn from Red Bull and Apple’s vlogging

There are two key takeaways from this:

  • You need to match your company voice to the content style you deliver. A high profile brand needs a high end vlog – just like their blog. A high-energy brand needs high energy content with a frequent delivery schedule – just like their blog.
  • Your community engagement will depend on the type of feedback you typically receive. Brands with controversial images may benefit from having no comments associated with their vlog. Those with a youth market need to help foster a community, and the comments section is where that happens.

How all of this ties back into your blog is that you will likely have already learned a great deal of how you will vlog thanks to your blog. If your comment section is notoriously filthy, clean it up by disabling it. If you have seen a community growing around your brand in the comment section that goes beyond trolling, open up your comments and allow the community to grow. Above all, make sure that the tone and presentation of your blog and vlog match one another for a consistent brand voice.

Matthew is the social media analyst over on the Devumi blog. You can find him there every Wednesday and Friday writing about the latest developments in social media. Stop by the blog, follow the @Devumi Gorilla on Twitter, or check out this article, to learn more about Devumi