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The 3 Building Blocks of a Blockbuster Blog

This is a guest contribution from digital marketer Pratik Dholakiya.

Whether it is to pour out your musings in black and white, or to promote your business among your target audience, or even to create a record of important events that future generations can look back at years later, the reasons for blogging are as numerous as there are blogs on the internet.

The-3-Building-Blocks-of-a-Blockbuster-Blog

Of the millions of blogs currently online, a very tiny handful can claim to have any real level of success. Success can be measured in readership, virality, monetization, and many other different interpretations based on the primary purpose of the blog itself.

What Your Blog Needs to Be Successful

Here we’ll take a look at what it takes for a blog to be successful from the perspective of building a strong reader base and earning revenue from one’s blog.

1. Pick a Blogging Platform That Gives Your Blog Wings

A blog that you intend to build and nurture for years to come ought to be strong enough to bear the vagaries of time and tide on the internet.

By this, I mean your blogging platform needs to be easy to use, a pleasure to browse through, while simultaneously offering the right level of security to prevent any mischievous hackers from breaking in.

Trouble is – once you start looking the mind-boggling variety of options available – WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, TypePad, and more – will soon confound any beginner.

So before you dive headlong into creating a bunch of blog posts on the first platform that you stumble upon, here are a few basic metrics you must compare these platforms on:

  • Ease of use – Does it take you forever to even figure out how to open the blog editor? Is the reading experience painless? Is it mobile-friendly?
  • Customization – Doe the platform allow you to personalize your blog? Can you install plugins, change the themes or layouts, or even write your own CSS and HTML code if you so please?
  • Security – How secure will your data be? Will the subscriber email IDs that you’ll collect from your blog readers be safe and sound? How easy is it to back up your blog?
  • Cost – Is it completely free? Does it need you to buy hosting separately? Can you afford to pay for hosting?
  • Storage Space – How much free data storage is offered by your platform? Would you need to keep upgrading your storage every now and then? Would you need to move to a completely new platform when you run out of space?

Matt Banner of On Blast Blog has put together a very handy comparison of the best blogging platforms currently available. Weigh your options very carefully before you arrive at a decision.

2. Craft Each Post Like Picasso Giving Birth to Cubism

The best way to build a blog that really resonates with readers is to write about a topic that you are an expert about.

You don’t have to write about some complicated technical field, just because it’s in vogue. Are you a good cook? Start a recipe blog. Love to tinker with your car? Share your automobile expertise with the mechanically challenged people in the world through a blog.

Take Neil Patel’s QuickSprout blog, for example. Patel is a SEO and content marketing wizard, and he writes primarily about his core competence in his blog. His complete ease with the stuff he writes about and deep knowledge of his domain are reflected in every single post that he puts up. This particular post answers the question “How long should an ideal blog post be?”

Patel turns this rather mundane question into a detailed, well-researched and scientific analysis of different post lengths and their impacts on readership, conversions and shareability. By quoting live data points like the one below, Patel makes his post educational, interesting and highly readable.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.02.35 pm

Source

And that is exactly what a blog needs to be successful – valuable content that is important to its readers, presented in a sharp, yet easy-to-digest manner.

Why, the best bloggers have readers forking out good money to read content that a lot of others give out for absolutely free – that’s the power of strong writing combined with solid research!

3. Make Your Blog Findable – By People and Search Engines Alike

Creating fabulous content and leaving it to fend for itself is doing a gross disservice to your blog and to potential readers out there.

To begin with, make sure you stick to one central topic in each blog post. This topic would typically be something your users really care about.

How do you find out what users want to read? By using tools like the Google Keyword Planner, KeyWordTool.io or the Moz Keyword Analysis Tool, you will discover the most popular keywords that users are looking for in your specific domain. Write dedicated posts about one or at the most two keywords – thus automatically making your content keyword rich.

Optimizing your on-page SEO is another critical part of having your blog discovered. Invest in free (or paid, if you can afford them) SEO plugins like Yoast or All-in-One SEO, which optimize various aspects of your page without too much manual effort from your end. If you want to take your on-page SEO a notch higher, make your meta data work for you.

Spend time on creating great meta descriptions for each post that will inform your reader what your post is about straight from the search results page.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.02.51 pm

Make it a habit to cross reference posts on your blog in new posts that you write, and link to them – this increases visibility for old content and makes it more authentic from the point of view of a search engine.

A key platform that you MUST harness to promote your blog is social media. Put up links to your latest blog post on social networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn depending on what type of audience you’re targeting. Organic posts on social media can only take you so far. If your budget permits, create a serious advertising plan on social media platforms to market your blog.

Related:
Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising
The Lowdown on Facebook Advertising, and What We’ve Found Works Really Well

One of the first steps you need to take once your blog is live is to work towards collecting a strong subscriber list. A prominent subscription widget on every page accompanied by maybe a lightbox message as the reader moves to exit your blog are good options to start quick. All it takes is one email to your entire subscriber base to jumpstart your readership.

Take up speaking opportunities at local events in your field to widen your audience and raise your reputation in your niche. Attending workshops related to your field exposes you to experts who can help you through both information and contacts from their industry networks.

In Closing

Data shows that 77% of all internet users read blogs.

With half the world’s population now online, that makes it 2.3 billion people who form your potential audience.

Equal portions of hard work and digital marketing savvy tempered with a dash of patience result in a smash-hit blog. Give it a shot. Your blog will thank you for it.

Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder and VP of Marketing of E2M, a digital marketing agency and MoveoApps, a mobile apps development company. Pratik has contributed on sites like Moz, Fast Company, Social Media Examiner, KISSmetrics, and Content Marketing Institute to name a few. He’s a ‘must follow’ SEO expert according to Search Engine Watch and has been named one of the top content marketing influencers by Onalytica. He’s passionate about fitness, entrepreneurship, startups and all things digital marketing.

How to Create Awesome Content From Your Next Event Experience

Image via Flickr user richard.scott1952

Image via Flickr user richard.scott1952

This is a guest contribution from trade show expert Peter Symonds. 

Over the last few years, content marketing has grown from a marketing tactic used to generate publicity and inform customers, into an essential strategy for promoting any startup, SME or large company online.

The basics of content marketing are fairly simple: publish great content that solves your audience’s most common problems, informs them of the latest developments in your industry or teaches them something new and helpful.

Coming up with the strategy is often straightforward. Coming up with the content, on the other hand, can be tougher. From startups to small businesses, many companies’ content marketing campaigns burn out due to a lack of ideas.

If your business exhibits at trade shows or appears at other events, you have a great opportunity to get new content ideas – as well as detailed interviews – from the attendees and influencers you interact with during the event.

In this guide, we’ll share four techniques that you can use to create amazing content for your company blog, YouTube channel, guest blogging campaign, or other content marketing strategy from your next event.

Learn your target audience’s biggest pain points

The most effective company blogs discuss their audience’s pain points. Pain points are issues that your target audience is struggling with – inefficiencies in production or marketing, for example, or problems collecting payments from their customers.

Understanding your audience’s pain points is the key to closing sales and, online, an essential element of creating engaging content that your readers don’t just scan and close, but truly connect with and share.

Use your next event as an opportunity to learn more about your audience’s top pain points by interviewing people who visit you, or the people you meet. Ask them what issues they currently face, what they’re struggling with and what they want to improve.

Prospects are usually eager to answer questions and engage in conversation, unlike online. A quick and simple interview performed on 50+ prospects at a trade show, conference, or networking event will give you greater insight into your audience’s pain points than a month-long online customer survey.

Once you understand your target audience’s pain points, you’ll have a deeper level of understanding about what they want to read, listen to and watch. Dedicate each new blog post to a different pain point and you’ll command attention online.

Take note of the 10 biggest pain points mentioned by your target audience. Break each point down into smaller, highly-focused topics to fill your editorial calendar for the next few months with engaging content.

Build a network of influencers and content promoters

Events can be great places to meet prospective clients and customers. They’re also great places to meet people in a similar situation to you – startup founders and marketers eager to grow their businesses, often through content marketing.

12 months ago, online helpdesk startup Groove had a company blog full of engaging, interesting content. They also had virtually no readers – a situation that many online businesses and startups can certainly relate to.

Groove now has one of the technology startup world’s most popular blogs, with over 1,000 shares on their average blog post and hundreds of thousands of readers. Their promotional strategy was simple: build a network of influencers and promoters.

Building an influencer list over email takes a lot of time. At a trade show, however, it takes only a few minutes of conversation to get to know someone within your niche or industry and discuss how you can work together to promote each other’s content.

Reach out to other marketers and entrepreneurs at your next event and build a list of influencers. Afterwards, invite everyone to a private Skype group, email list, or online community to promote each other’s content via social media.

It only takes a few retweets and status updates to give your next blog post the traction it needs to reach thousands of readers. Focus on building your network at your next trade show and you’ll never worry about content promotion again.

Ask your customers about their favourite blogs and websites

Knowing what your customers struggle with will help you discover new topics and trends to write about. Knowing what your customers already like to read will show you exactly where you should be promoting your content in the future.

From industry forums that attract your target audience to popular blogs that could be major marketing platforms for you, chat to your customers about what they like to read online and you’ll discover hundreds of content ideas and opportunities.

Over the last year, many technology companies have discovered that the “biggest” blogs and aggregators – places like TechCrunch and Hacker News – aren’t quite as valuable as they thought. They send lots of traffic, but rarely is it qualified.

Smaller blogs and communities, on the other hand, are often highly responsive to good content. While they don’t send as much traffic as the big names, the traffic is highly qualified, focused and genuinely interested in learning more.

Don’t just use your next trade show or conference as an opportunity to discover new content ideas for your business – use it to discover where your customers hang out online and the topics they like to read about.

Interview influencers and thought leaders in your industry

Connecting with influencers – entrepreneurs, scientists, columnists, authors and the other well-known people within your industry – is tough. They’re often too busy for the phone, unresponsive via email and surrounded by assistants and other people.

At a conference or networking event, however, many of your industry’s most recognisable names will be far less defensive. They’ll be interested in learning more about your brand and may even provide a short interview about themselves or trends in your industry.

Many marketers are scared to ask for an interview with an established person. The most common fear is that asking for an interview is too selfish and self-promotional – after all, it’s incredibly helpful for your brand’s reputation and credibility.

Most influencers benefit just as much from a video interview for your company blog or YouTube channel as you do. It gives them a new audience, new exposure and the publicity they need for their careers. It benefits both of you in the same way.

Before your next event, reach out to your industry’s influencers via Twitter or email (here’s a helpful guide to getting them to notice your emails) and try to set up an interview. You may be surprised by how many positive responses you receive.

More content ideas

  • Invest in photography – you’ll be surprised how much you can use high-quality images from the event in company literature, on your website, on social media and even for link building
  • Conduct a quick industry-relevant survey of visitors to your booth – use a prize draw as incentive to enter and use the findings to create a press release to promote awareness of your business.
  • Create a time-lapse video of the traffic to your booth throughout the day to document your trade show experience
  • Live blog or Tweet the events of the day as it unfolds using the official event hashtag, offering key tips to those who couldn’t make it
  • Publish a round-up post of 10/25/100 key takeaways from the event and ask the organisers to promote it via social media
  • Make your blog posts more visual and interactive by embedding Tweets, Instagram images and Facebook posts from the event

Are you getting the most from your event attendance?

Events are great opportunities to generate leads and close deals. However, if you think of them purely as sales-focused events, you could be missing out on blog and video content that could strengthen your brand and help your company grow.

Are you really getting the most from your attendance? Treat your next conference or trade show as a sales and content opportunity, and you’ll walk away with both a stack of names and business cards and enough great content ideas to last for the next 12 months.

Peter Symonds is a trade show marketing expert from Display Wizard. For more practical tips on how to increase the ROI of your trade show marketing, download the Display Wizard Guide to Exhibiting at a Trade Show.

 

 

5 Psychological Blocks that Stop Bloggers Going from Good to Great

This is a guest contribution from Dr Alice Boyes.

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Image via Flickr user Alessandra

 

Blogging is a world of infinite opportunity, but sometimes what’s holding you back is you. Check out these common problems and some suggested solutions to help you kick it up to the next level.

1. Imposter syndrome. 

Imposter syndrome is when, despite your accomplishments, you still feel like a fraud.

As a consequence, you might: avoid networking with people who objectively are at or slightly above your level, avoid reaching for certain opportunities, and avoid pitching yourself. You might imagine other people thinking “Who does s/he think she is?” if you were to approach them.

When you don’t see yourself as a successful, professional blogger you’re less likely to act that way. For example, you may find you’re not regularly stepping up to larger and larger opportunities as your blogging career progresses. Therefore, imposter syndrome can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Solutions:

  • Evaluate the objective evidence of your accomplishments.
  • Remind yourself that even if you feel like an imposter, it’s just a thought and having a thought doesn’t make it true. Even if the thought doesn’t go away, if you recognize it as just a thought, you can remove any negative impact.
  • Give yourself self-compassion for how you feel.
  • Ask yourself what you’d be doing differently with your blogging if you didn’t have a sense of imposter syndrome, and do that.

 2. Avoidance coping

Avoidance coping is when you avoid doing the things that objectively should be your highest priority. For example, you avoid writing a pitch to speak at an important industry conference, even though you see it as your best, current opportunity to make a big break through.

Avoidance is usually driven by anxiety, and/or feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of doing something for the first time. You might notice yourself keeping busy doing lower priority tasks but avoiding the tasks you feel intimidated by that could really help you level up with your blogging career.

Solutions:

  • Be mindful of when you’re doing less important tasks too often (e.g., checking stats) and put some limits in place for how often you do these tasks. You can use apps like Stayfocusd to help you.
  • Keep your to-do list simple. Make a point to clearly identify what your number #1 task is so that you have no excuses for not getting it done.
  • Keep a balance between working on everyday tasks like pumping out new articles, and the the types of tasks that could dramatically advance your blogging career.

 3. All-or-nothing thinking

An example of all or nothing thinking might be that you think you need to create witty, Pinterest quote-pics for every single one of your 500 past blog posts. A more achievable option might be that you do this for 10 of your most popular posts.

Sometimes we fail to see decent, middle ground options and get overwhelmed by the “perfect” but unacheivable option.

Solutions:

  • If you feel overwhelmed by something you know you “should” be doing, then scale the task back to the point it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Choose only the part of the task that you think will give you the highest ROI.

4. Running your willpower tank to empty

With blogging, there are a virtually unlimited amount of things you *could* be doing to enhance your success. In reality, it’s impossible to do all of these things. If you find yourself trying to do too much, you’re likely to get caught in the trap of not seeing the big picture and therefore focussing on the wrong things. For example, you’ve committed to blogging everyday and it’s so time consuming that you don’t step back to analyze whether that frequency is actually the most effective.

Solutions:

  • Take micro-breaks throughout the day. Part of the allure of being a blogger is being able to take 5 minutes to sit outside in the sun, anytime you want. Use that opportunity!
  • Take some longer breaks away from the computer e.g., an overnight trip away. Physically getting out of your home environment will help you interrupt your pattern of being constantly attached to your computer, and help you step back and refresh your perspective.

 5. Unwillingness to tolerate knock backs

No matter how well prepared you are, or what great pitch emails you write, there will be times when people say “No” to you, give you critical feedback, or flat out don’t respond.

You don’t need to turn yourself into a robot who is insensitive to these things, but you do need to be willing to tolerate the resulting uncomfortable feelings. You might find yourself ruminating (overthinking) about criticism you receive or mentally rehashing what you could have done differently. If you are prone to rumination, then learn some strategies for dealing with it (my book has a whole chapter full of them).

Solutions:

  • Expect a 50% success rate rather than a 100% success rate. If your success rate when you try new things is much higher than 50%, you’re probably aiming too low.
  • Accept your sensitivity rather than fighting against it. Allowing yourself to experience your natural reactions and using simple strategies like quick mindfulness meditations, helps negative feelings pass quickly.

For many more practical tips like these, check out my book (and the endorsement from Chris Guillebeau).

What are your best tips for dealing with those times when you are holding yourself back from doing things you know you should?

Dr Alice Boyes is author of The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for fine-tuning your mind and moving past your stuck points (Perigee), emotions expert for Women’s Health magazine (AU), and a popular blogger for PsychologyToday.com. You can get the first chapter of her book for free by subscribing to her blog updates here.

 

 

How to Get Top Bloggers to Share Your Content and Boost Your Traffic.

This is a guest contribution from copywriter Robin Geuens.

Can I ask you a question?

When you published your first post, did you think youíd get lots of traffic? Did you think that everybody couldn’t wait to comment on a job well done? Did you?

I know I sure did.

But then reality kicked in.

In reality, you publish your first article and nobody reads it. Instead of receiving floods of traffic, you look around and realize your blog is located in a desert with not a single drop of traffic in sight.

The thing is, you’re not alone.

That desert is littered with abandoned blogging dreams. You’re surrounded by people who started out excited, but gave up because there was no one to appreciate their hard work.

Now Imagine this

Imagine what would happen to your motivation if you saw people sharing your articles and discussing what you said right off the bat.

Do you think you’d keep going?

I’m pretty sure you would. It would make things a lot more fun.

Most blogs die because people don’t know how to get that initial piece of feedback. They’re so busy writing, that they forget to do the one thing that matters most as a beginner:

Putting your content in front of people that can make a difference.

You see, when you create good content and you put it in front of the right people, it could get the initial burst of publicity it needs to become popular.

But reaching out to big bloggers can be pretty scary when you start out. You’re opening yourself up to being rejected by the people you admire.

Not fun.

So how do we overcome this?

Simple: you include them in the process.

When you include them, you both get something out of it. You help them position themselves as an authority, and they help you promote your post.

You help them, they help you. Networking 101.

Now, one thing I want to make clear before we get into the tactics is that you have to make sure it’s a win for both of you. Don’t just reach out to influencers because you need someone to promote your content. Make them look good, promote them, and they’ll gladly help you.

Also, don’t try to apply all these techniques all at once. Pick one and apply it. I’ll provide a cheatsheet at the end so you can look at the other techniques whenever you want to.

5 techniques you can apply right now

There are a couple of ways you can get influencers to share your content. The first and easiest one is:

1)Include them in a roundup

Roundups are great because they’re fairly easy to make and they’re really popular. You can make a roundup of the best bloggers, the best articles, or even the best quotes.

They’re great for a promotional point of view as well because they give you a ton of opportunities to reach out.

Here’s a good example: In his post, Robbie Richards made a list of 80 online marketing experts you should keep an eye on in 2015.

He put a lot of time and effort into making sure the reader and the expert got a lot out of it.

Roundup Example

A couple of things to note

  1. He added a link to their site.
  2. He picked three articles you should read.
  3. He added a link to their twitter accounts

All these things make it easier for readers to get to know these bloggers.

The next thing you do is contact every single expert on your list and let them know you included them in your roundup. You’ve got a really high chance of getting your content shared if you do.

Shared by influencers

2) Ask for a quote

Another way you can include influencers in your post is by asking them for a quote.

I love this technique because:

  • You’re building relationships with people you admire
  • You learn something
  • The credibility of your article goes through the roof
  • The experts get to position themselves as an authority and share their knowledge with a new audience

The key to making this technique work is to be very clear with what you want to ask. Asking a marketing expert “how do you become good at marketing?” isn’t going to cut it. It’s a vague question that will get you a vague (or no) answer.

A while ago I was writing a post about why people don’t trust landing pages. To make the article better, I asked experts what their best tip was. Here’s the email I sent them.

“Hi (blogger)

I know youíre busy so I’ll keep it brief.

I’m writing an article about 10 reasons why people don’t trust landing pages ( too much hype, pop-ups, cringe worthy stock images,…) and wanted to show my readers how the pros do it.

If you could give someone one tip to improve the trustworthiness of their landing pages, what would it be?

Of course, I’ll include a link to (blog).

Thanks in advance and have a nice day!
Robin”

One of the people I emailed was marketing legend Neil Patel. He got back to me within a day with some great advice.

Neil Patel Advice

Once the article was done I emailed him to check if I there was anything about his quote that he wanted to see changed (after all, it’s his advice).

Later that day he tweeted the article to his 110k+ followers on twitter, which resulted in a nice spike of traffic to my new blog.

Traffic results from one tweet

One important thing to note is that you need to have systems in place to convert that traffic into subscribers. I dropped the ball on that one and lost out on a couple of them. Lesson learned.

3) Apply an influencer’s advice and show them the results

The best way you can make an influencer look good is to take their advice, apply it, and show them the results (preferably good ones).

It’s a great feeling when someone takes your advice and has success with it.

To do this, go to your favorite blog and look for any “how-to” content you can apply. Here are some examples from Problogger:

You could read that last article, apply it, and show Darren how applying his advice got you more comments. You could even turn it into a guest post.

Let me give you a real example. A couple of months ago I read a post by Brian Dean from backlinko. His article was about how to create content that gets a lot of traffic. I thought it was great so I tried it out.

When my article was done and I did everything Brian had explained, I sent him a quick email showing him the result. Hereís the email and his reply.

Email Brian Dean

4) Interview them

Interviews can be a good way to get your name out, but there can be a bit of a barrier to start doing it. Not everyone is comfortable interviewing people, let alone the people they look up to.

If you’re a little uncertain about it, I’d suggest starting out with just asking for advice like I talked about earlier. It’s a smaller, less intimidating form of interviewing.

A good example of someone who used interviews to build up his following is Andrew Warner from mixergy. He interviewed a ton of people, from marketing legend Seth Godin, to Tim Ferriss, to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

He’s become one of the most connected people on the internet. He learned a ton from talking to all these people and we get to learn with him.

A great way to get big names on your interview is to ask them right before they launch a new product or course. This gives them the chance to promote their new project and you get to ask them questions.

5) Reach out to people who liked similar content

Sometimes the simple and straightforward ways are the best. Just reaching out to people is one of those things. It might not be an exiting technique (it’s a bit boring to be honest), but it works.

Here’s how

Go to Buzzsumo and look for highly-shared articles around your topic. Make sure the articles are closely related to yours. Once you’ve found an article, look at who shared it.

For example, let’s say you created an article about landing page tips.

Finding sharers on Buzzsumo

Next thing you do is email or tweet the people who shared it and let them know that you’ve written an article they might like. You can send them something like this:

“Hey (name)

I noticed you tweeted about (name of the article).

I really like that article (thank you for sharing!). I actually created a more in-depth article about the same topic. I’d love to hear what you think of it. Here it is (link)

Again, thank you for sharing cool stuff

All the best

Robin”

I used this technique with my very first article. I sent about 30 emails and nine people shared it, which is not too shabby. Keep in mind that you’re emailing people out of the blue. Not everybody is going to respond or share your post.

What you should do next

The time where you could build a blog all by yourself is gone. You either have to find a way to work together with people bigger than you, or you’re going to have to spend a lot of time promoting your content.

I know all these techniques can be pretty overwhelming, so here’s what I want you to do

  1. Pick one technique you like and try it out.
  2. Let me know in the comments how it went.
  3. Keep this cheatsheet close so you can quickly check out the other techniques.

Good luck!

Robin Geuens is a copywriter who likes to help you write better emails, create better copy, and make awesome landing pages. You can find him at his blog, Conversionbase.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.22.22 am

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 :-) ]

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.14.26 am

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.