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How Compassion International Uses Blogging to Save Lives

This is a guest contribution from Caitlin Gustafson.problogger - caitlin gustafsonI imagine a dirt road with boys playing with a lonely old soccer ball in the warm sunshine. A little boy with dark brown curls chases the ball, his worn sneakers kicking up dust from the street.

I don’t know if that’s what life is really like for Janair, my sponsor child from Honduras. But every time I get a hand-written letter in crayon, or I see a new picture of him, it’s what I imagine.

Compassion International is a non-profit organization that works in 26 countries around the world and is one of the few organizations that holds a 4-star rating from CharityNavigator.

Compassion was doing content marketing before it was in vogue and they consistently outperform other similar non-profits in their efforts. Though Compassion International uses many methods of content marketing, including video, Pinterest, direct mail, and email, a huge part of their success is tied to blogging.

According to Content Marketing Institute, 61% of Non-Profit marketers use content marketing, but only 35% say their efforts are effective. I’d venture a guess that the marketing team at Compassion International is within that 35%.

Company Blog

Every few days, Compassion International posts new stories to their blog. Some are communicated from field specialists, those who work directly with sponsored children and world relief projects. These are stories of heartbreak and hope for a brighter future. Some are inspirational pieces written to encourage sponsors to have more involved relationships with their sponsored children. Other stories are written by sponsored children who have overcome poverty through Compassion programs. Occasionally you will hear from a sponsor who tells how their involvement in Compassion has changed their life.

What makes the blog so engaging is how they manage to tell a story in each update. All of these are all personalized stories from people directly involved in their relief programs. They aren’t lists of ways to alleviate poverty, and individual blog posts aren’t likely to rank for any keywords in a Google search.

Somehow I doubt ranking for specific keywords is the intent with this blog. Instead, it’s a compelling collection of stories that keeps readers coming back, engaged, and committed to Compassion’s relief efforts.

 

A Network of Bloggers

Not only does Compassion keep an active blog that gets great engagement on social media and more, they have a network of over 350 affiliate bloggers to amplify their message to new audiences. Some of these bloggers are big names with lots of followers, such as author Ann Voskamp, or popular musical artist Shaun Groves. Compassion offers monthly assignments or writing prompts that bloggers can incorporate into their content calendars if they so choose.

Through this program each blogger is given a sponsor affiliate code and they can track how many children are sponsored through the links they use on their website. It’s a different rewards program than many affiliate networks, which reward bloggers with commissions or free product based on sales. Instead, this rewards program directly benefits the blogger’s sponsor child through family gifts that help impoverished families buy extra food, clothes, chickens, etc.

 

International Blogger Trips

Every so often, Compassion takes groups of sponsors overseas to meet the children they support. Bloggers often come on these trips and write about their experiences and encourage others to sign up and sponsor their own children using affiliate links. Myquillyn Smith from Nesting Place and Christy Jordan from Southern Plate are two popular bloggers that have taken part in such trips. Their stories have inspired many readers to sponsor their own children through Compassion International.

 

What Does This Mean For Me?

As a blogger, your website might not be dedicated to AIDS relief or ending poverty. So if you’re wondering how you can translate Compassion’s blogging success to your financial planning site, here’s my suggestion: readers want stories. It’s never been clearer that the most successful brands, advertisements, and blogs are the ones that tell a story. Ikea Spain’s Holiday commercial last year wasn’t about their furniture. It was about families and togetherness over the Holidays, and told as a story.

Lifestyle bloggers like Joy Cho, Joanna Goddard, and Kendi Skeen are popular because they connect with their readers through stories. KendiEveryday is a style blog – but readers love when she talks about her business ventures into opening her own clothing boutique. OhJoy is a mommy blogger that connects with readers by incorporating her recent pregnancy story into her regular blog content, like her “how to dress the bump” in each month of her pregnancy.

A blog about financial planning can be exciting if you can use it to tell readers how you got into the business of stocks and IRAs. Could you tell a client’s success story? Incorporating these stories into your regular blog content can only benefit your blog in the long run as it builds that personal relationship with your readers.

Caitlin Gustafson is an Online PR Specialist for Web Talent Marketing with a focus on content marketing and social media. You can find her blogging and tweeting about her two favorite things: digital marketing and travel.

Are You a Full Time Blogger with Small to Medium Traffic? Let’s Chat

One of the biggest misconceptions that many bloggers have is that you need MASSIVE traffic to become a full time blogger.

We often hear how many hundreds of thousands or even millions of visitors this or that blog has but the reality is that I’ve met many bloggers over the years who don’t have massive traffic – yet who are still making a healthy income from their blogging.

The problem is that these bloggers don’t always have the platform to tell their stories and so the myth that you need massive traffic goes on without being busted.

This year I want to smash that myth and want to tell the stories of smaller to medium sized bloggers who are making a living from their blogs.

Are you a Full Time Blogger-
If you’re a full time (or close to full time) blogger and would consider yourself to be in the small to medium category – I’ve love to hear a little about you and your blog and have set up a form to help gather your stories.

I can’t guarantee to tell everyone’s story (I’ve already had 80 responses) but I would love to hear it.

I’m looking for as many models of making money blogging as I can find. So whether you’re doing it through some kind of advertising or sponsorship or by selling an eProduct or membership or even if you’re using a blog to sell your services or to promote a brick and mortar business – I’d love to hear from you.

Note: I’m particularly looking for blogs that are NOT about making money online. While that’s a legit niche I got a load of those in previous submissions. I’d much prefer to hear from blogs who blog about fashion, travel, food, business, health, fitness, parenting, life… not making money. Sorry if that excludes you but looking for other niches right now.

Here’s the form for you to submit your details

PS: a few people have asked what I would classify ‘small to medium traffic’ as. While I’m open to your interpretation on that the examples that I’ve got so far that interest me the most are from people who have traffic from as little as 600 visitors a month (really, there are a couple of great examples) up to 20,000 to 30,000 per month (or 1000 or so per day).

Having said that – I’m open to hearing all kinds of stories!

Top 15 FREE Internet Marketing Tools To Boost Your Online Business

This is a guest contribution from Kulwant Nagi.

Today, Internet marketing is evolving at a greater pace than ever.

Companies are pulling out all the stops to get more online exposure and, eventually, more customers. Using premium services for all the tools necessary for Internet marketing is not feasible for every business – that’s when free options come into play.

When I started my career two years ago, I was not aware of these tools, so I kept looking for the best and easiest ways to boost my business. I continued to add all the tools to my browser’s bookmarks for quick & easy access.

If you are one of the Internet marketers who is still banging their head against a brick wall to find free tools that can help you save your time, boost your productivity and ultimately bring some favorable results, then stay tuned for another 5–10 minutes. 

Here I am going to reveal 15 Internet marketing tools which I am personally using and getting huge benefits from.

15 Free Tools to Help Your Online Business

1. Content Idea Generator 

Being an Internet marketer, I can understand how difficult it is to come up with a great idea. Having writer’s block is one of the biggest enemies for all the Internet marketers.

When that’s the case, you can use this idea generator tool, which offers tons of creative ideas.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.13.35 am2. Pocket

I am deeply in love with this tool :)

Such a killer innovation that makes it possible to enjoy articles anywhere in the world.

Pocket can be added as an extension on any browser or downloaded as an app for all smart phones. You can install this app in your browser and save articles for future reading. All the saved articles can be accessed at a later time.

The app not only enables you to read articles, but also makes a great repository for all the best articles in the world. The articles you save using the Pocket app will be logged in your account and you can access them anytime you want.

Here is a screenshot of my pocket app:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.14.16 am3. BufferApp

This is great service for sharing your content on various social media websites. You can easily schedule your content on various social media and site and populate your content very simply, all from one dashboard.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.15.08 am4. HootSuite

If we talk about social media management, HootSuite grabs the top position on the list. This little tool helps you manage all your social media activities from one dashboard. 

You can schedule your tweets, Facebook status updates, Google+ shares and various other awesome things which are only limited by your imagination!

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.16.19 am5. Backlinks Checker

Moz and SEMRush are the best tools to use to check backlinks for any website. Although they offer only a few searches for free members, you can still find your competitors’ backlinks very easily.

6. Keyword Niche Finder 

Keyword Niche Finder is an awesome and easy-to-use software. It will let you come up with most profitable keyword(s) in your niche.

The tool will categorise your keywords according to different niches and will provide you with keyword suggestions for different niches of your keyword.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.17.30 am7. After the Deadline

This is a Chrome extension which will let you check spelling, style and grammar. It will check your spelling in real time, so you’ll never make the same mistakes again.

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Note: If you are a WordPress user, you can download this plugin here. 

8. Loading Speed Testing Tools

I love Google page speed and GTMetrix.

Both tools analyse websites to determine the loading time on your blog. Google gives priority to fast-loading blogs, so these tools will show opportunity areas on your blog to improve the loading time. After following suggestions given by these tools, you can improve your blog’s loading time dramatically.

See my blog’s speed here:

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Small SEO Tools

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Small SEO Tools is the best site I’ve come across in my blogging career.

They have included some of the best tools, free of cost. I personally use this site daily for different tasks.

They have tools like: 

  1. Plagiarism checker
  2. Article rewriter
  3. Keyword position
  4. Google PageRank checker
  5. Backlink checker
  6. Online ping tool
  7. Alexa rank checker
  8. Domain IP lookup
  9. Keyword suggestion tool
  10. Page speed checker tool

and at least 30 more tools to make your life easier.

10. Google Drive and Dropbox

I cannot imagine blogging without the help of Google Drive and Dropbox (As a matter of fact, I wrote this article on Google docs). Both are easy-to-use online tools where you can save your most important files and access them in any part of the world.

Google Drive continuously saves your data while you are still preparing a document so there is no need to worry if there is any interruption, like computer hangs or shutdown.

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Dropbox gives you 2GB space when you join. By referring your online buddies, you can get an additional 20GB of space at no cost.

11. Audacity

If you love to create podcasts on your blog or are thinking about starting to create them, then this is one of the must-have tools for you. 

Audacity comes with a fantastic interface which helps you to mix your audio files, cut down little portions, adjust volume and many other little tweaks to make your audio file more professional.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.21.26 am12. Email marketing software

MailChimp, MadMimi and Ininbox are three free tools which you can use to build subscribers on your blog.

They allow you to add a good number of subscribers, free of cost. They each have different tools that you can customise to your needs.

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13. PhotoPin

More than 60 percent of images on my blog have been downloaded from PhotoPin.

Photopin fetches free images from Flickr, which makes a great collection. In the search results, the first 10-15 images will be sponsored images, so you can skip those images and choose the appropriate images from the rest of the collection for your blog post.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.23.17 am

14. StatCounter

A killer alternative to Google Analytics, StatCounter will track each and every activity on your blog, like the source of recent visits, recent keywords, visitor’s location, visitor’s country, exit links, visit length, returning visits and many more awesome features that allow you to keep close tabs on your visitors.

You will get few lines of code which you can add to your blog and start tracking your visitors right away.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.23.51 am15. Asana

Asana is a teamwork management software which was primarily designed for internal email circulation at Facebook headquarters. But soon after that, they launched it to the open market and made it free to use.

Asana lets you assign tasks to your team members and keeps you informed about their activities. As soon as they finish the task assigned to them, you will get an email notification. This will not only help you to track your progress, but you will also be able to manage your team’s tasks very efficiently. 

Kulwant Nagi is an Internet marketing expert. He writes at BloggingCage.com where he shares blogging and SEO tips to help you make your blogging career awesome.

 

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.08.34 am

> 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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.09.10 am

> 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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.09.37 am

> 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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.10.20 am Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.10.37 am

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.11.26 am

(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

Jeffbullas.com has a Domain Authority of 71/100 which is really strong. To put this in context, Google.com is 100/100, Forbes.com is 97/100, and Bluewiremedia.com.au 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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.13.06 am

Result:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.13.45 am

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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BufferApp:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.14.53 am

Convince and Convert:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.15.28 am

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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.15.17 pm

> Twitter Followers:

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

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.16.46 pm

> Facebook fans:

Facebook fan numbers are easy to find too:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.17.32 pm

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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.18.22 pm

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.

> SEO

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.19.09 pm

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.

Comments?

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

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.

Scheduling

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.

Automate

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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.02.30 pm

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.

Veggie-Mama-Planning

Planning

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 ProBlogger.net: 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 ProBlogger.net 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 ProBlogger.net: 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 Alexa.com, 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 “link:domain.com” as a search operator in Google, being sure to replace “domain.com” 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…

Conclusion

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 Thewolfofcopy.com. 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!