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Theme Week: Publish Your Blog Post Without SEO, and 1000s of Visits Will Be Forever Lost

We welcome Rand Fishkin to the ProBlogger Theme Week today to talk us through all things SEO. While this week we’re exploring all the things you can do with a post after you hit “publish”, Rand is reminding is to take a second before we do and have a look at the things you can do to optimize your post before it even gets into the hands of your readers.

For days, you’ve been agonizing over this post. The hours of guilt for not starting it sooner, the toil of finding the right topic, the relentless editing and re-editing, and now, at long last, the publish button is there, tempting you to end the struggle and at last declare this tiny battle over.

publish-button
(above: the blogger’s tantalizer, teaser, needler, and tormenter)

If you give in to that sweet release, it will feel good, at least for a little while. But in the months and years to come, you’ll look back at that post and, perhaps in revery, read it again, and think to yourself:

“That was a really excellent post I published. Why has it had so little success?”

It started so well. The post had some retweets on Twitter. It got shared and liked a few times on Facebook. Maybe it even got a bit of traffic from Google+ or Pinterest. But, then, the traffic stopped. Your post wasn’t “new” anymore, and the web world, it seemed, no longer cared for something more than 24 hours ago. In fact, the data backs this up – social sharing half-lives across networks are <7 hours.


spike-of-hope

There is another way.

The vast majority of content consumed on the web isn’t actually found through social media. In fact, the largest driver of traffic to web content (outside of direct navigation) is still the same source it was 3, 5, and 10 years ago, and remarkably, in spite (or perhaps in part because) of the rise of social & mobile, this source is still growing.

You’ll probably recognize it:

google-search-box

Search, and Google in particular (with 90% of worldwide share), still drive vastly greater quantities of traffic than all the social networks combined (some good research from DefineMG here). Given Google’s 3.5+ Billion searches performed each day, that shouldn’t be a surprise, but to many bloggers, thinking about search, Google, and all that “SEO stuff” has been put aside in favor of Facebook shares, likes, tweets, +1s, and the more visible feedback and applause that come from social sources.

That bias is understandable – a visit from a Google search doesn’t have a fancy embeddable counter you can show off. 30,000 visits a month from search engines doesn’t carry nearly the same social proof that 30,000 Twitter followers does.

But, it should.

The vast majority of visitors who come via social have a browsing-focused intent. They’re looking for something interesting, distracting, temporal, and, only rarely, directly or immediately applicable to an activity that will lead to them accomplishing the goals you’re hoping for on your website (a subscription to your posts, a following of your social accounts, purchasing your products, etc).

On the other hand, searchers know exactly what they want and when they want it – right now. Almost no searches are entirely serendipitous, but most every social visit is entirely so. A searcher is seeking to find information, accomplish a task, or transact in some way right this minute. That’s why they performed a query. If your blog post (and your website, more broadly) helps them achieve this goal, the value of that visit to both parties can be fantastic.

Here’s the tragedy:

When you look over those past posts, you might realize that yes, dammit! It’s time to do some SEO! No more ignoring Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the rest. But, sadly, that ship has probably sailed. One of the harsh truths of blog-focused SEO is that a few hours after a post is published, 90%+ of the ranking ability is spent. Sure, you could go back and tweak some titles, language use, or even URLs (depending on your CMS), but those don’t have a good chance of helping the post perform moving forward.

It’s that first burst of activity – of social sharing and people emailing it around and links coming in – that set the stage for ranking success in the search engines. The words, particularly the title, of the post are how others will describe it when they share, link, tweet, and pin. Those words are strong signals to search engines of how and whether to include your page in the search results. Likeiwse, the first few hours are when you’re most likely to earn that attention and awareness of potential linkers. Links are still a huge part of how search engine algorithms rank pages, and without them, you’ll usually struggle to perform. Both of these are short-lived opportunities on which you need to execute if you’re going to have SEO success with your blog.

Thankfully, you can resolve to make this a priority in the future. It may sound like a bad infomercial, but you can substantially upgrade your blog’s SEO potential with less than 5 minutes per post. Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Keyword Research
  • Step 2: Post Title & Body Content Inclusion
  • Step 3: A Teensy Bit of Proactive Outreach

Step 1: Keyword Research

Earning additional search visits from the content your blog produces over a long streth means ranking for a keyword term or phrase that gets at least a few queries each month. You probably don’t want to tackle competitive phrases where you’ve got little chance to rank on page 1, but you also don’t want to to be ranking brilliantly for a search term no one ever types. In general, phrases with fewer searches are going to be less competitive (if you want to get more data-driven about analyzing the relative difficulty of ranking for a keyword, there’s a tool for that).

Google’s Keyword Planner Tool is still the best one out there to show relative volume levels. Here’s what it looks like:

adwords-kw-planner1

I plugged in a few possible searches related to the post you’re reading now (which is, in a very meta way, about doing SEO for blog posts). The suggestions you see above are what Google’s keyword tool returned. They expanded on a few of my ideas and showed me some terms I wouldn’t have otherwise thought to put in. But, before we go further, there’s four important points to be wary of when you’re looking at the Keyword Planner:

adwords-kw-planner2

A) These aren’t ALL the terms and phrases Google knows are related to your keyword(s). For whatever reason, they’re not comprehensive and, on any given search, may omit numerous good options. This is why it pays to refine and rerun once or twice, and to expand your brainstorm list of terms. It’s also why I’ll suggest using another methodology in combination with Keyword Planner below.

B) The numbers you see are not accurate. We’ve seen them show numbers that are 1/4 of the actual searches for a term and we’ve seen them show 4X the real figure. What is useful are the relative quantities. If Keyword Planner says term XYZ gets twice the searches that term ABC gets, you can be fairly sure that XYZ > ABC. Don’t panic about choosing a term with only 10 or 20 searches/month. These low numbers are actually where we see the least competition and the least accuracy from Google in under-reporting real volume.

C) This “competition” does not refer to how hard it might be to rank in the organic results for a given keyword. Keyword Planner is showing a competition level that’s related to AdWords bids and how many campaigns are targeting these terms. Don’t be too discouraged if it says “medium” or “high” as the organic results won’t always reflect what the paid ads do.

D) Likewise, the cost column can be mostly ignored when thinking about SEO. The one area it can be helpful is to provide a sense of how transactional in nature the search query is, and the value of that traffic to others. If you’re thinking about offering ads on your blog, for example, you might want to note how much advertisers are paying to be in front of searchers for a keyword related to your topic(s).

The other keyword research source I’d encourage you to pursue is Google’s autosuggest. It often illuminates keyword ideas that you may not have seen through AdWords Planner. In fact, some of the best terms and phrases to target are those Keyword Planner hasn’t listed, but autosuggest does (this is because many other SEO-focused content creators have likely missed them).

blog-seo-autosuggest
Start typing, but don’t hit enter!

Step 2: Post Title & Body Content Inclusion

Once you’ve found a few keywords that might work, modify your blog post’s title to include it if you can. For example, when I started drafting this post, I titled it “Publish Now And 1000s of Visits Will Be Forever Lost.” It had a catch and it matched the tone I was aiming for with the piece, but it didn’t target any of those lovely keywords that can help it potentially earn visits for years to come. So I thought up three more:

  1. Publish Your Blog Post Without SEO, and 1000s of Visits Will Be Forever Lost
  2. Your Amazing Blog Post – SEO = 1000s of Lost Visits
  3. These Simple SEO Blogging Tips Will Save You 1000s of Lost Visits

Even though I don’t like #3, it’s probably the best optimized title (note that Google is pretty smart these days about interpreting modifications of words like “blog” and “blogging” that have the same meaning/intent). But, that doesn’t mean I’ll choose it. As I noted above, a lot of a post’s potential success is based on its ability to get in front of the right eyeballs. A title that’s optimized for keyword placement but doesn’t resonate with social sharers and potential linkers isn’t worth compromising for. Instead, I’d go with #1 or #2 and I happened to like #1 just a bit better.

The only other part of this step is to make sure the post itself has at least a mention or two of the target keyword phrase and is actually about that topic (nothing infuriates searchers more than discovering a page ranking in Google that’s not actually about what they wanted – and those user/usage metrics will, eventually, hurt your rankings).

Step 3: A Teensy Bit of Proactive Outreach

Chances are that when writing your post, you mentioned someone, used a graphic or image from somewhere else, linked to some reference-worthy content on another site, or called out a service or organization in some way. If you believe there’s any chance that they (the referenced party) would be interested in reading what you’ve written about them, don’t be shy – let them know.

Twitter makes this incredibly easy (and Google+, too, for those of you using that service). In this post, for example, I referenced a study from Bit.ly, some search stats from Statcounter, and a great post from Define Media Group. Immediately upon hitting publish, I should tweet, G+, and/or email all three of them and say thanks, making sure to point them in the direction of this post. Maybe they’ll share it, maybe they won’t, but they’ll know I appreciate their work, and that goodwill might be valuable in the future, too.

Likewise, if I know there’s a few people in my network or among those that I follow/interact with on social media or the offline world who might benefit from or enjoy this post, I should drop them a line, too.

This might be 30 seconds of thinking about who to contact and another 2 minutes sending the messages, but the reward for that effort could mean the difference between a post that spreads, earns links, and ranks, and one that falls into the tragic “Flatline of Nope.”

———–

A few last pieces of advice:

  • Don’t worry too much about targeting a keyword phrase in more than one post. If at first you don’t succeed, try again! Google has no penalty for a blog that publishes 3-4 posts all chasing the same keyword. The only time I might not do this is if you’re already ranking very well for a term/phrase, in which case, I’d consider updating the old post vs. writing a completely new one.
  • Updating & re-publishing can be a super power! If you’ve got a post that did well, but didn’t quite make it to the first page of results, consider revising it, adding in the most modern information, and publishing a new post to replace the old one. You can use a 301 redirect or rel=canonical tag to point search engines from the old version to the new one.
  • If you need inspiration for titles or content in niches where you think there’s just nothing exciting to write about, I can’t recommend Buzzsumo enough. Give the tool a spin with a few searches related to your potential topics and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Not every post needs to be or should be SEO-targeted. Writing for your audience, for yourself, or simply to court serendipity is a wonderful thing. But every few posts (or at least every few dozen), think about all those poor souls who are searching and finding none of your amazing work – do it for them :-)

p.s. A couple years ago, I created a presentation centered around my love for bloggers and blogging entitled: How to Earn Traffic Without Selling Your Soul. If you’re worried that SEO means sacrificing the beauty of your work, check it out – it may just restore your faith that the two can live in harmony.

Get Your Tickets to the ProBlogger Academy in Portland Oregon: Thursday 10 July

I’m really excited today to announce that alongside Chris Garrett (who co-authored the ProBlogger hard cover book and who now works as the Chief Digital Officer at CopyBlogger) I’ll be running a ProBlogger day of training in Portland Oregon on Thursday 10 July.

Darren rowse chris garrett

The day will be called the ProBlogger Academy and it’s being run as part of Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit.

This will be the only US based teaching that I’ll be doing in 2014 and a rare chance to get Chris and I in the same room at the same time!

Tickets are limited and given their price they could go quickly. If you’re a WDS attendee they are just $29 USD and if you’re not a WDS ticket holder they’re still a bargain at $49 USD!

I know I’ll get asked about the low pricing on this. No it’s not so that we can get you in the door to sell you something – the price is low for two reasons:

  1. we wanted to make this as accessible for as many people as possible
  2. we’re doing this as a part of the larger WDS event and they’re a not for profit organisation

Chris and I are involved simply because we love what WDS does and we want to give a little something back. PLUS we also get asked to do events in the US a lot so this seemed like a pretty good time/place to do it as we know a lot of ProBlogger readers will be at WDS.

Grab your tickets here

The day runs from 9am-4pm (although we’ll stop for breaks along the way) and we hope to have a couple of special guests along to be involved in the teaching.

We’ll cover our main 4 ‘pillars’ of blogging:

  • Creating Killer Content
  • Finding Readers
  • Building Community
  • Monetization

We’ll cover the above with lots of practical teaching and if previous times Chris and I have gotten together are anything to go by you’ll come home with a head full of ideas. There will be plenty of time to explore other topics as we always include opportunity for Q&A.

Tickets are limited so please don’t delay if you’re thinking of coming and head to this Eventbrite page to grab yours.

Looking to Outsource Your Design Needs? You Need to Read This

This is a guest contribution from our very own Shayne Tilley.

Late last year Darren looked at some of the DIY image and graphics tools we use here on ProBlogger — many of which I frequent daily. However with design, whilst I can resize and format an image and cover some the basics, the idea of approaching more complex design tasks very quickly exceeds my skills – and bad design can be worse than no visuals at all!

So today I wanted to share with you how a marketing guy with no design skills and no time to waste gets through a pile of design jobs every month without spending a fortune.

The quick stuff:

I’m finding more and more there’s a ‘real-time’ element to design.  Posts need more supporting (and complex) visuals to improve the quality and iterations are needed for more shareability. On top of that, when doing A/B testing you need to be creating visual variations in batches as much as copy.

Personally I appreciate, and am often amazed by, high-end visual work (just spend an hour with this guy and you’ll know what I mean), I just can’t bring myself to pay $100 an hour to create five versions of a button, or create a collage to share on Facebook.

So for this work I use:

swiftly

I was first introduced to Swiftly through my history with 99designs. After running a few trials in the initial days I was impressed by not only the quality but the speed of delivery. So excited was I about by what they were doing, I’ve offered my help to the team with their plans for world domination.

Price: $19 flat rate

fiverr

To be honest, I’ve used fiverr more for fun than serious work.  For example, if I need to play a gag on a mate for his birthday. But there has been the odd occasion where work and fun meet with my graphical requirements and that’s where I’ve headed.

Cost: $5 + upgrades

microlancer

Microlancer is a bit of copy/paste of fiverr, but brought to you by the Envato network that I use a lot for stock WordPress themes and plugins. It’s perhaps a little more serious/businesslike than fiverr, and I’ve used them for slightly bigger design jobs.  It’s newish and time will tell but I’m impressed with my experiences to date.

Cost: $5-$500

Why I like swiftly over the others…  (with a disclosure)

Being totally upfront here, I’m helping the swiftly team at the time of writing this post. But I’m very selective about who I work with and I’m helping because I believe in what they are doing…

I believe they are destined to be the Google of quick design services.  What I mean by that is I can spend 30 minutes browsing for the right freelancer on fiverr or microlancer for my task. In the same time I can have my designs already done with Swiftly.

They have built some behind-the-scenes magic to play matchmaker. I just tell them what I want, they find me the best person for the job, and it’s done.

There’s a reason we use search engines not directories to find stuff these days, and they’re doing the same for great design talent.

The big stuff:

When it comes to major overhauls like full site re-designs, full landing pages there’s likely to be much more at stake. So more thought goes into deciding who I’ll use. My decision marketing process goes a little like this …

My network:

I’ve worked directly in the past with some great designers across the globe so often my first port of call is to tap into the design network I’ve built over time. The requirements and style of the design jobs I need can be very diverse, so I’ll never limit myself to just one resource.

With an idea of time, a feel for the budget and the style required, out will go the expressions of interest to a bunch of people I’ve got a history with.

I realise that not everyone with have these connections to begin with, so it’s important to start building your own.

A big part of finding great talent is to go to where they are.

Freelancer.com & 99designs.com

Both these sites have great designers in their thousands. You might run a 99designs contest or a freelancer project initially and then work 1:1 with designers who you click with in the future.  You need to commit some time up front to find the talent in the crowd, but if you are thinking in the long term it’s worth it.

But also don’t forget to look locally.

Whilst sites like the above tap you into the global market of designers, chances are good there’s a great designer just around the corner. Do some searching, send some emails, make some phone calls and you might be surprised. If you can find a great design partner locally and develop a relationship over time, you’re in good shape.  You can talk about your requirements face to face. The challenge of time-zones don’t matter. It’s a great place to be in.

The visual web is an every growing thing and getting stuff designed well is more important than ever.  There’s no one size fits all solution to all your design needs, but if you make some smart choices and grow your network you can take the hassle and expense our of making your blog and the web more beautiful place to be.

Even if you can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, like me!

Shayne Tilley is the marketing guy for ProBlogger.net and Digital Photography School.  The author of the PB Guide to Online Marketing and a long time contributor to the blog.  When he’s not thinking of new and interesting ways to grow the ProBlogger sites, he’s either bashing up developers or hanging out with the swiftly.com team.

Top Tips from the SEO for Bloggers Webinar on ProBlogger.com

Recently over at ProBlogger.com, we held a webinar with Kristen Holden of MarketingPartners.com, and Jim Stewart from StewartMedia.biz. They covered:

  • The top three tips every blogger should know about SEO
  • How to rank well in searches
  • How to tag images to boost SEO
  • Keyword optimisation
  • What to expect when you are a new blogger
  • Strategies for getting more traffic
  • The most important things to consider when setting up a blog on WordPress
  • Google Authorship Plugin
  • The best SEO plugin for your blog
  • The role of social media and where to spend your time
  • Whether Google + is useful
  • Guest posting

And much more. You can see a snippet in this five-minute clip, and ProBlogger.com members can see the entire webinar as part of their membership. You can join the club here – and meet with like-minded bloggers, exclusive access to Darren’s tips and tricks, and a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips to make you the best blogger you can be.

How To Double Your Revenue By Giving Your Work Away For Free

Image via Flickr user FutUndBeidl

Image via Flickr user FutUndBeidl

This is a guest contribution from author Tom Morkes.

I know what you’re thinking: what’s the catch?

If you’re like me, you’ve read dozens (okay, thousands) of blog headlines that pique your interest, only to find out the headline comes with an asterisk:

Quandruple Your Opt-in Rate!*

*you just need to be featured on a massive blog, first.

Make 6 Figures in 6 Months*

*you just need 5 figures and a subscriber list of thousands to start.

I could go on, but you get the point.

So let me assuage your concerns: there’s no asterisk here.

No need to hustle affiliates, join an MLM, or pepper your site with Google Ads.

When I say you can double your blog revenue by not charging, I mean it.  I’ve done it.  And I’ve seen dozens of others do it too.

But before I get to the details, I want to tell you the story of a guy who stopped charging clients altogether (and his surprising results)…

The Generous Designer

Meet Adrian Hoppel.

Adrian is a Philidelphia-based web designer.  He’s been doing professional web design for years.  And while Adrian is incredibly talented and creates amazing websites, what’s truly remarkable about him has less to do with what he does rather than how he does it.

You see, Adrian doesn’t charge for his web design services.  He never has and he probably never will.

Instead, he offers everything as a gift to his clients.

If you want to work with Adrian and you both agree it’s a good fit, Adrian will design your website and give it to you.  No deposits.  No contracts.  No strings.

Just a simple gift – here you go.

Remarkable, no?

How Adrian Makes More Money Giving Away his Gifts than He Did by Charging a Fixed-Rate:

Okay, so you might be wondering: how in the world does that work?

How can he make a living if he just gives his work away for free?!

The answer is simple (although certainly not conventional):

While Adrian gives his work away freely as a gift, it doesn’t mean he works for free, nor does it mean his work is valueless.

Adrian built his business on a foundation of trust.  You trust him to build you a great website.  He trusts you that you will support his gifts and his giving.

In Adrian’s words:

“Working in the gift does not mean that I work for free, or that I give my work away without care. It means that people trust me to build them a website, and I trust them to support my work as they believe fair.”

A beautiful premise, but does it work?

Again, from Adrian himself:

“I ended up doing 22 websites in 2012, all by myself, all in the gift…every single client has supported me in whole.  

Every. Single. One.

Most clients gifted me with payment, and the payment is more than I ever received in the traditional model…” (source)

In other words, by removing a fixed-rate price from the equation, and giving away his talents, skills, and work as a gift, Adrian has made more per client than he ever did before.

I Want More Examples!

Adrian isn’t the only person letting people choose their price and finding incredible success.

Here are just a few examples (of hundreds that I’ve researched) of people using the gift-economy and Pay What You Want pricing to make a killing:

The Vennare brothers of TheHybridAthlete.com have been running a PWYW store for over a year now, and in an interview I did with them last year, they explained that they make hundreds per DAY using this strategy (do the math: we’re talking 6 figures from no set price).

Disconnect.me is a new tech startup that just raised over $3 million in funding and they run their entire operation using Pay What You Want pricing (and have no intentions to change)

Humblebundle.com makes millions for video game producers and charity by releasing limited-time PWYW videogame bundles every few weeks

Joost Van Dongen, a videogame developer I had the opportunity to interview several months ago, released a hobby project (Proun) and let his customers choose their price – and made over $20,000 from it

Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Amanda Palmer all have made millions from their PWYW album offers (in the case of Radiohead, they made more on their PWYW album than all their previous online album releases combined)

Weinerei Perlin is a Berlin-based winery that sells all their wine using PWYW pricing (and has for over 10 years)

Matt Homan is a consultant that offers blank invoices – and has doubled his income in the process

And this is just a small sample.

There are literally hundreds of other people and companies using this pricing technique and finding great success with it…

But there are also a few people I’ve interviewed who tried and failed.

The question is: what is it that separates successful PWYW offers from those that don’t work out?

Let’s get to it:

How to Remove Fixed-Prices from Your Blog and Increase Your Income

Before you go removing prices from everything on your site, you still need to understand a couple things:

#1. This ‘pricing model’ (or lack thereof) doesn’t work for everything.

Adrian is selling a premium service with a credible range of prices.  He’s not selling gasoline or In-N-Out Double-Doubles.

Commodities* don’t work in the gift-economy.

*if you find a gas station that lets me choose my price, please let me know.

#2. Letting people choose their price only works if you pitch it the right way.

Just because you slap a ‘Pay What You Want’ sticker onto your recycled beer coasters or set the price for your ‘Rapid Pet Grooming’ eCourse at $0+ doesn’t mean people will be generous.

You need to give them a REASON to contribute.

That’s why I created a simple-to-follow framework for anyone looking to apply the gift-economy (and in particular: Pay What You Want pricing) to their products or services (a framework I’ve used to make thousands in book sales and consulting in the past few months).

So consider this your personal crash course in Pay What You Want pricing:

How to get People to Contribute Generously to Your Work: The 6 Step Perfect Pitch Framework

Okay, I know the name is corny, but, as you’ll see, it works.

Here goes:

Step #1. Clarify the Offer

Common sense, but not common practice.  How can people be generous if they don’t know what you’re offering?

In reality – this same rule is just as important when selling a fixed-price product or service.

For more information on how to present a clear offer, listen to Brian Clark.

Step #2. Show the Customer You’re Human

People don’t give to machines (or corporations).

We give to people.

If you want the gift-economy to work for you, you need to connect with your readers, customers, clients, and guests.  You need to show them there’s a person behind the product or service whose blood, sweat and tears have gone into creating it.

Online – that means including pictures and videos of yourself, and writing in an authentic, passionate, and sincere voice.  For more practical tools, The Copywriting Scorecard for Bloggers will help get your writing on track so you come across like you (and not a robot).

Step #3. Appeal to Idealism

When it comes to Pay What You Want and the gift-economy, we still need to give people a good reason to contribute.

Appealing to idealism creates the spark people need to reflect on why they’re contributing.  When we make references to generosity, karma, good-will, etc. we are more able to activate the generosity of others (and yes, people are generous – we just need to give them the opportunity).

Step #4. Anchor the Price

Price anchoring is important for anything you’re selling, but it’s especially important for Pay What You Want offers.

When we price-anchor, we get people in the proper frame of mind for contributing larger than usual sums (or at least, larger than they would have had the price anchor not been present).

Two powerful ways to price anchor a PWYW product is by showing:

  • the itemized costs of materials or resources, or what equivalent amounts would look like on the high-end (e.g. “similar custom designed websites go for $7,000”)
  • the top-tier price points of competing products or services (e.g. “company X charges $20,000 for a new website)

Step #5. Steer the Customer to the Right Choice

Alright, so people have a reason to give (you’ve clarified the offer), they are comfortable with giving something (thanks to price-anchoring), and they want to give (because you appealed to their idealism)…now what?

PWYW and gift-economy is confusing stuff for the majority of the population since they’ve never experienced it.  A lot of people are immediately turned off by it because it confuses them.

You need to remove these fears by being very clear and helping people to the right choice.  You can do this by showing any or all of the above:

1. Total number of contributors (this a form of social proof)

2. Top-tier contributor prices (what did the top 10 people pay for this product?  This can be another form of price-anchoring)

3. Average contribution price (although this may lead to more ‘average price’ purchases of your PWYW offer)

Any (or all) of these will help people recognize what’s a fair offer and give them ample opportunity to be generous (if the average is ‘x’ then I will give ‘x+1’)

Step #6. (Bonus Step) Add Charity to the Mix

This is a game changer.

Want to skyrocket your PWYW income?  Add charity to the mix.

People don’t pay money for a product or service, they pay money for the story.  When we integrate a congruent charity into the mix (something that makes sense in the context of what we’re selling, like teaming up with Kiva.org for The Creative Entrepreneur journal) we multiply the effect of appealing to idealism.

A quick warning: assigning a random charity to support won’t work.  You’ve got to make sure it’s consistent with your message and the intent of your product or service.

The beauty of including charity?  It’s win-win. You make more income, a worthwhile charity gets a cut, and the customer is happy to contribute.

Call me biased, but this is a strategy I’d like to see every business adopt.

Putting the Gift Economy to Work

This is a basic framework for incorporating the gift-economy (specifically Pay What You Want pricing) into your work.

By no means does it mean you must offer EVERYTHING as a gift, nor as Pay What You Want.  I’m also not saying that fixed-pricing doesn’t work better in some cases (it does).

But, as you can tell from the examples above, this stuff works incredibly well when implemented the right way.

I hope you enjoyed the article and if you have any questions – leave them in the comments below!  I’d be happy to answer any and all questions.  This is an important topic and deserves a good conversation going forward.

Thanks for your time, and I’ll see you in the gift-economy…

Tom Morkes is an author, publisher, and pricing consultant, and you can get inside his brain at www.tommorkes.com/problogger where he applies what he learned leading troops in combat to entrepreneurship, art and writing.

Top Three Takeaways from Finding Readers Week: What Can You Do Today to Create Community?

FINDING READERS

 

In the first week of May, you heard from several bloggers with unique perspectives on how they grew their readership into a force to be reckoned with. It was the fourth Theme Week we’ve held here on ProBlogger this year, and it was an interesting one. We had discussions about introducing forums, how to get people to read your personal blog, how to drive traffic to a startup blog, and how to create a beautiful blog that people can’t help but share with their friends. And while everyone had different advice, they all agreed on these three tips:

Top Three Takeaways from Finding Readers Week

1. Relationships

The universal sentiment was honour your reader. Give them great content and be approachable. DJ from SteamFeed says to “nurture them”. Talk to real people in real ways.

Mrs Woog agrees, saying she writes like she speaks, and that resonates with her readers. She likes to interact with her readers both on the blog and on her Facebook page. She says that she’ll start the conversations, and watch them develop – even seeing readers chat with each other. She advises being available to respond to your readers, and carve out time especially to do so.

Corinne took interacting with her readers to a whole new level when she shared her number-one tip for finding readers – to comment on other people’s blogs. She dedicated hours to doing this, and in turn, was rewarded with a highly-engaged readership who have a real sense of community. She then took it one step further and added forums for her readers to interact.

In addition to having great content delivered on a great platform that inspires sharing, Dustin recommends “writing for real people”, and said having a voice that people can relate to is crucial in growing your readership. He also advises having a reader profile so you know to whom you are talking.

2. Consistency

Whether it’s honing your voice and practising your writing often like Mrs Woog, or posting consistently so your readers know what to expect, like DJ, keeping a rhythm was important across the board. Be reliable. Be dependable. Make blogging and writing a priority. Keep at it. Sound the same in every post. Be recognizable everywhere. Corinne was consistent in commenting on others’ blogs, and that was a successful strategy. Dustin was consistent with the visual experience his readers would receive every time they clicked over to his site. When readers know what to expect (and they know they’ll get an honest, authentic voice), they’ll come back for more.

3. Be Where Your Readers Are

It can be an uphill battle throwing your blog to the internet and hoping it gets seen. A strategy that works better is to hang out online in the places your readers hang out. Or where your potential readers hang out. For some of you, that might be Instagram. For a majority, it will be Facebook. Your cohort might be the people who keep G+ rolling. Wherever they are, that’s where you can be. Mrs Woog is active on Facebook, using it as a tool to converse with her readership as well as a place to promote her new posts. DJ recommends syndicating your blog to other sites, and marketing it well. Corinne thinks Twitter is pretty useless for her blog, so went elsewhere for readers. And Dustin believes the right social media channels make all the difference. He advises to ignore the people saying you should be on all of them, and instead focus on cultivating a couple that really drive results. Above all, though, it has to be a platform you enjoy using.

I know I learned a few new things from such different perspectives – did something resonate with you, too?

10 Quick Tips for Entrepreneurial Bloggers

Earlier in the week I was looking through my Sprout Social reports to do some analysis on what tweets I’ve done in the past that have had the most impact in terms of reach, retweets, and replies.

What I found is that among the most retweeted tweets were things I’d said in twitter chats or statements that I made in keynote presentations at conferences – that I’d tested before speaking on Twitter.

As I looked them over, I thought it might be fun to compile them together into a deck of slides to share.

Here is the result: 10 tips that I think are pretty relevant for those wanting to build blogs or a social media presence.

Which do you agree or disagree most?

PS: I’ve been experimenting a bit lately with Slideshare as a way of repurposing content and think there’s a lot of potential. Have you? What have you found that works best for you?

Creating a Virtual Community to Build a Better Blog

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Image via Flickr user Steve.Garner32

This is a guest contribution from Sarah Loomes of licoriceandolives.com

There are many online communities available for your readers to reach out to, on all manner of topics – so how can you fill a need that isn’t already being taken care of out there?

I was stuck in a bit of plateau in my blogging and found myself re-reading the “31 Days to a  Build a Better Blog” and brainstorming about a problem that my readers might have that I could solve. It was January, and New Year’s resolutions were aplenty, so having a health and fitness blog I needed a way to help my readers achieve their goals. I am notorious for losing motivation around March (if I am lucky enough to even make it as far as March), so I figured many of my readers would be in the same boat. I had been wanting to host a fitness challenge for some time but there were hundreds of different variations already out there that were all much the same – short term.

That was where my Virtual Race Series came in. I created a series where 12 virtual races occur across the world throughout the year. A Virtual Race can be done anywhere around the globe within a fixed timeframe, and the GPS data from a sports watch or smart phone is submitted for your time.  

I found it built a wonderful community on my blog, and provided a place where readers could come together to cheer each other on and support each other. It had the added benefit of creating a sense of collaboration and real engagement – something every blogger wants. This is how I made sure I made the most of that momentum:

Interact with the Reader

Due to the engagement of everyone involved with the race series, once there is a great community environment then the interaction starts to become self-perpetuating.  Before launching the race series, I found myself spending a lot of time on sharing my content, trying to find readers and I really wasn’t seeing any significant increase in my readership. Now I can concentrate my time on those elements of the blog that will actually lead to engagement. 

Finding the Time

I am not a full-time blogger, so finding the time to develop new ideas for the blog and stick to a consistent posting schedule can be tricky. I generally post two to three times a week and schedule my posts ahead of time including automatically posting to social media. Finding the time to consistently post on the same days at the same time has definitely seen an increase in the engagement of my readers and the visitors to my site.

Dealing with Challenging Readers

This is the internet and, let’s be honest, there will always be people who don’t like what you are doing or saying and want to be vocal about it. There have been a few people not happy with the rules and requirements that I have placed on the participants of my race series. I am the first to admit that I am no expert when it comes to hosting Virtual races, in particular an entire series. So honesty is my policy, I ask for feedback from the readers and implement what seems fair and equitable.

Social Media Platforms

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have been the primary gathering place for the community of runners – platforms that are easy to use and allow easy conversation.  For the particular group that I am appealing to, I found Facebook to be the best way to create that sense of involvement. I have set up a group for all the race participants where everyone can post their run pictures and running events. There is a lot of communication and encouragement between the runners including information sharing on all running related questions.  Instagram has quickly become a gathering spot for all things health and fitness. So naturally I have a hashtag that the runners can use to share their photos of their run.

Key Points:

Know your reader – why would they come to your site and gather around it? How can you cater to that?

Take your reader into account when targeting social media – use what they already use.

Remember you are human – everything you do won’t be perfect.

Sarah Loomes blogs at Licorice and Olives about her newfound love for running, biking, and OzTag. You can join her Virtual 5k race here.

Pushing Through Barriers to Strike Gold

Image via Flickr user Tony Oliver

Image via Flickr user Tony Oliver

The year was 1851, and two brothers stood by a bend in a creek that had wishfully been named ‘Golden Point’ by gold prospectors in days gone by.

Cavanagh was the surname of the two brothers, and they’d been digging – along with around 600 others – in their ‘claim’ at Golden Point for days.Some gold had definitely been found on this particular bend in the creek. In fact, numerous miners had made good – although not spectacular – money from their finds in previous weeks.

Most of the gold had been found in the sandy ground to a depth of around 1m (3.2 feet), but at that point, everyone who dug hit a hard layer of clay and received no reward for their effort.

The result was that the area was littered with abandoned claims – holes in the ground were everywhere, all dug to a depth of around 1m.

Miners around the Cavanagh brothers that day were beginning to talk of rumors coming from further up creek of richer pickings and in the 24 hours that followed, most of the men had moved on.

But the brothers Cavanagh had a hunch.

They wanted to see what would happen if they dug deeper, and so began the arduous task of digging into the hard clay that everyone else had stopped digging at.

They chose an abandoned claim from another miner and began to dig.

The work was hard and unrewarding.

They dug and found nothing but more clay.

Inch by inch they chipped away at the clay only to find more clay.

All day they dug.

The next morning they continued to dig as the last miners around them abandoned their claims and moved on to chase their dreams up creek.

I can just imagine those miners abandoning their claims shaking their heads at the brothers and laughing at their foolhardy efforts.

But the brothers had a belief and kept their focus.

As sunset approached and after hours of back-breaking work, the brothers finally broke through the last of the clay at around the depth of 2m.

Under the clay they found what centuries ago had been the old bed of the creek, and in it were pockets of gold that had been washed down the creek from the mountains over hundreds of years.

The brothers worked into the night feverishly until the light from their lamps gave up. Imagine how they must have felt as they attempted to sleep that night!

The next day they arose early and assessed their work. In the light of day the full reality of what they’d uncovered started to sink in. There was gold down below that clay… and lots of it!

In a single day, the Cavanagh brothers found 27 kilograms (60 pounds) of gold.

That day’s takings alone earned the men over  £3500, which was more than enough to set the two brothers up for life.

One month later 10,000 miners worked in the area around Golden Point – and the wider Ballarat area, and it became known as the richest known gold field in the world for that time.

You can bet that those who followed the brothers dug deeper than they had previously!

Reflections on the Cavanagh Brothers’ Experience

I first came across the story of the Cavanagh brothers while researching a project I was doing in high school, and have since found myself reflecting upon it many times.

I love the determination, the focus, and the persistence of these two men.

I love how that despite the distractions of rumours from up creek that they continued to dig… where others had already dug and given up at the first sign of clay.

I love that they persisted while others followed the exciting rumours of fortune and in doing so found a fortune that others could only dream of finding.

I love that through their persistence that they not only found their own fortune, but opened the eyes to others – others who probably had looked at them thinking that they were crazy for digging into that clay – to a new way.

Sometimes Success Comes Through Digging in Hard Places

There have been times over the last few years where I’ve at times felt a little like the brothers Cavanagh.

While my hands do not toil with a pick or shovel digging into hardened clay, there are days where I do second-guess my actions and wonder if I should head upstream to start something new.

I’ve seen many bloggers come and go over the years. People who, like me, saw the opportunity in blogging to build something significant – but who at the first sign of clay abandoned their blogs.

Then there were others who abandoned their work because of the exciting ‘rumors’ from up creek… bloggers who stopped blogging to MySpace… to tweet…  to Tumblr… to Facebook… to G+…

The blogosphere is littered with abandoned blogs and I sometimes wonder what might have happened if some of those bloggers had kept digging through the clay.

While I know not all would have succeeded, I do think that persistence is a big part of successful blogging (and success in almost all fields).

My experience of blogging is that while there have been days where I’ve dug into rich veins of gold and great fortune, they’ve always come after focused effort of digging in hard ground.