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How I Got 180,000 Page Views in the First Month of Being Online

This is a guest post from M. Farouk Radwan of optimistnet.com.

In April 2014, I launched my social network www.optimistnet.com, and by the beginning of May we already had 180,000 page views and a few thousands registered users.

Our Alexa Rank jumped from 4 million in the beginning of May to 680K in a very short period of time, and we had more than 5,000 posts made on the network in the first month by our visitors.

It seems like a successful launch right?

Well in this article, I will tell you exactly what we did in order to reach those numbers in that extremely short period of time.

It was the third attempt

People always see successful projects then believe they were an overnight success, but in fact behind each success story are some failures you never knew about.

Even though our launch was successful in the first month, the reason we made it is that we failed twice before with two different social networks.

I launched my first social network in 2012, and only got 60 members in two months. I launched the second in early 2013, only to stop working on it due to serious troubles with the developing company. 

So the success that happened with optimistnet.com was due to the incremental learning process that we went through.

People want to feel special 

A few days before the launch, I said that a few people would be selected to be among the beta testers of optimistnet, and the response was impressive. 200 volunteers gave me their names and within 24 hours we had 250 registered users.

Remember when Google plus was an invitation-only site? Everyone was dying to join it because people want to feel special. 

People are extremely curious  

When you don’t make your marketing message clear (during the first few days of course), people become extremely curious to know more about your business. What is that yellow logo with a smiling face? What does your social network do? What can we find inside it?

In the first few days, the marketing team and me changed our profile pictures on Facebook to optimistnet’s logo (a yellow smiling face) and shortly everyone we knew was asking “what is that?”

Target an already existing need

No matter how great your marketing is, you will never get recurring visitors unless people really need your product. The reason we launched optimistnet is that we noticed that Facebook newsfeed had become extremely negative in a way that ruins the mood of so many people.

In other words, we discovered that people need to spend sometime on a positive social network in order to counter the negativity they come across in their lives.  As a result we had recurring visitors from day one. Almost 57% of the people who visited the site returned back again.

Always search for unmet needs people have, and you will be able to create amazing products.  

 Make the process of signing up extremely simple

With each text field you add to the registration process, you lose more potential visitors. Make the signup process as simple as possible so that you convert the largest number of users. What’s even better is to add the option to sign up through Facebook.

Earlier, people used to be scared to use that option, but these days more and more people are getting comfortable with it. More than half of those who registered at my network did it using Facebook sign up.

Design the site for the impatient person 

There are some patient people out there but most internet users are not patient and are not as computer savvy as you are. The extreme simplicity of the design we used made it so easy for people to write posts. 

Most of the people who signed up at optimistnet found it very easy to understand what the site does and to make their first post. In one of my previous social networks that didn’t make it, and assuming that users were extremely computer-literate was the main reason we failed. 

Don’t expect quick success

While we had a great launch, you should understand that each case might be different. Some sites start slow then take off fast, others take years before they become popular. So becoming popular fast is not the rule, but it’s the exception.

In short know that its possible to rise fast but don’t get disappointed if it doensn’t happen to you.

M.Farouk Radwan Is the founder of www.optimistnet.com, The Social Network For Positivity and Motivation.  

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Marketing Yourself

 

marketing-yourself-theme-week.jpgAre you a blogger who has thought of maybe doing some sponsored work on your blog, but are wondering where all the opportunities are? Do you see other bloggers collaborating with brands and think there must be some magic list you need to be on to have these opportunities land in your inbox?

Well there might be lists you can get on. But one of the best ways of getting yourself on a brand’s radar is to make the first move and to speak to them yourself. Be the person who starts that conversation about collaboration, and you’re well on your way to creating and cultivating long-standing blog-brand relationships.

But where to begin? Ah, let me help.

First Things First:

What do you represent?

Who are you? What is your blog about? In order to sell yourself to potential sponsors and advertisers, you need to know what you have to offer. What is your niche? What are your blog’s topics? Who are your readers? What is your essence? If you were to describe your blog to someone, what would you say? What kinds of things do you like to write about, and what kinds of things do you like to feature? Narrow down who and what you are.

What do you want?

Think about the types of brands you would like to partner with. Think about the ways in which you’d like to do that (We covered options in the earlier Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog post). Think about the products and services you use and love every day, and would have no trouble recommending. Think about what your audience would benefit from.

Get all your ducks in a row:

Ensure you look consistent (and reasonably professional) across all the social media outlets you use. Maybe think about repeating your branding across all sites for continuity. Update them regularly, and ensure the information about you is current. Check your LinkedIn and make sure it’s up-to-date and informative.

Make A Move

The next step once you’ve done a little housekeeping, is to start the conversations. Reach out to brand representatives on Twitter. Find out if they have hired a PR agency, and who to speak to there. Find a contact in the brand’s marketing department, and target them. It’s best to find an actual person in charge of marketing decisions (and budgets!) rather than just throwing all your info at their social media and hoping something will stick. Pick up the phone and say you’ve got a great idea about collaborating with them, state your case simply, and offer to back it up with your media kit.

Things to keep in mind to make the best impact:

  • Make it all about the brand. Too often I see posts that centre on what the blogger needs rather than what they can offer a potential sponsor. If that makes me tune out, imagine how it looks to someone who is considering finding legitimate and professional-looking bloggers to partner with. Detail what’s in it for them – they want a return on investment, as anyone would, and are looking for an attractive package that helps them get the word out about their product.
  • Make it easy for them. Nobody wants to fish around for extra information you should have included in the initial stages. It’s likely they’ll pass on you in favour of someone who has provided everything they need to know in order to make their decisions. They might like you and intend to follow up, but get caught up elsewhere and forget… make it easy for them to choose you by giving them a well-thought-out plan, several options for campaigns, the obvious benefits to them, and perhaps an example where you’ve done something similar before and how well it went. Pretty much the only thing you want them to have to do after reading your pitch is say “yes”.
  • Be positive. Your language and how you frame your pitch is incredibly important. Negative language is never going to be as convincing as a positively-worded pitch. Never run down competitors – theirs or yours.
  • Be personal. Let the person know you’ve been interested in their brand for some time. Maybe mention in your opening email that you’ve held a membership at that gym for years, or you took that soap with you to the hospital when you had your baby.
  • Be observant. If you follow your contact on Twitter or elsewhere, mention in your email their photos of their recent trip to Croatia were beautiful. Or you hear they’re coming to Melbourne next week and you recommend that little place on Lygon street for excellent coffee. A little friendly conversation about something you’ve noticed will be a welcome change to the standard pitches they receive a hundred times a day.
  • Be organic. If you have blog buddies who have done work with the company, don’t be shy to ask for a contact, or an introduction. Do the same for other bloggers who might like to work with companies you have affiliated with. There’s much to be said for good blog karma – it gets you much further than being competitive, secretive, and sneaky.
  • Be human. Remember there’s an actual person on the end of these conversations. Especially when they say no. Don’t get snarky, or petulant. Say thanks and maybe another time. Don’t burn your bridges!

Get Your Pitch in Their Hands:

Get together a brief media kit, type up a succinct, positive pitch, and email it to your brand. If you have a mega-huge campaign in mind, maybe take it one step further and send them a press release. There are plenty of examples online you can look at (I wouldn’t fill in the blanks of a template here), and customise to suit yourself. Find the person you to whom you need to send your pitch directly  (by calling the brand’s information line, or asking whoever is manning their Twitter or Facebook accounts), and send it off. Or call them, explain your idea, and follow up with emailed information.

If you don’t hear from them, send them a follow-up email about a week later and ask if they received your initial email. Do not be a pain here, and keep your language friendly. Don’t ask them to make a decision on the spot, rather just serve as a discreet reminder you have contacted them. Maybe make an effort to chat on Twitter if they’ve been posting there.

Be Social

One of the easiest ways to get on brand radars is to interact with them on social media (with the added bonus of a higher chance of them having heard of you when it’s time to pitch!). If you’ve written about them on your blog, tag them in your tweets or Facebook status about the post. Tag them in your Instagram pictures showing you using the product, or how much you enjoy it. Comment on their status updates about the things they’re posting. What marketers are looking for is conversations around their product or service – facilitate that conversation. Be part of it.

Be Natural

It’s good to be keen, but don’t be desperate. Your readers only want your legitimate recommendations, and brands want people who recommend their product to be believable. Weave product mentions into your regular writing and build your readers’ trust. Don’t be one long advertorial – when you’re trying to market yourself as an expert in your area, or as a major influence in the brand’s target audience, it has to be infused with your personality and your humanity. That’s what gives blogging the edge over traditional forms of advertising. Do it well.

If you have any questions, I’m all ears – what would you like to know about approaching brands and marketing yourself to them?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

 

Partnering with Brands Theme Week: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

 

Untitled design (3)

You will have noticed this week we have learned how to reach out to brands for advertising and sponsorship on our blogs – and the best way to sell yourself is to have all your details in a handy, professional media kit. It shows that you’re serious about partnering up to create an both an income for you and awareness of brands, and gives potential sponsors all the information they need to decide that you’re the blogger they’d like to work with.

media kit

A media kit is a snapshot of your blog’s vital details, packaged up in a reader-friendly download. It provides potential sponsors a one-stop shop of information they use to inform their decisions about with whom they will partner. It not only has an overview of you, your blog, your reach, and your prices, but it is an essential selling tool for when PR representatives plead your case to the decision-makers in charge of their budgets. A media kit is like an extended business card you may send to anyone who needs to know more about you and what you do.

media kit 2

This can differ from blogger to blogger, so pick and choose how much information you feel you need to supply (less is more, ya know what I’m sayin’?). Often a one-page overview is useful, but there are times when advertisers or book publishers or other interested parties need to know more detail about your blog and what you provide.

The most common items are:

About you:

  • Your name
  • A profile shot
  • Your blog URL
  • Your tagline (if you have one)
  • A brief introduction/overview of you and the blog. Keep it short and punchy. The likelihood is that the person you are sending it to has already looked at your blog and your About Me page. Keep this one down to a few lines.
  • Regular post topics or features that would appeal to brands

About your readers:

  • Statistics snapshot – unique browsers, monthly pageviews,
  • Your demographics – who is reading your blog? Gender and age range is good to include here.
  • Newsletter and email subscriber numbers
  • Followers across social media sites – namely Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest (Google +, LinkedIn, and YouTube if that’s where your audience is at)
  • Optional – Alexa ranking, Klout score, Google Page Rank, if you feel they will help your case

About your services:

  • Advertising spaces available, and prices for each (including discounts available for longer-term packages, etc), not forgetting RSS feeds and newsletters
  • Sponsored post rates
  • Inclusions (extra incentives!) around social media for advertisers and sponsors. Do you offer shout-outs and freebies for advertisers? Let them know!
  • Sponsored social media update prices
  • Conference sponsorship packages and prices
  • Ambassadorship packages and prices
  • Affiliate details
  • Giveaway or review admin fees
  • Your policies on review products
  • Advertising spots/options to sponsor podcasts
  • Mention (if appropriate) that you are open to any ideas the brands or advertisers have for collaborations
  • Payment specifics and terms

Your previous brand partnerships:

  • Write a brief overview of the kinds of products and services you like to feature on the blog
  • Link to a few of the larger campaigns you have completed that did well and you enjoyed
  • Write a list of the other brand names that have been featured

Testimonials:

  • Include a few carefully-curated positive reviews of your work, or a couple of lines from people and brands with whom you have worked
  • Add your press features, or where you’ve been featured on other blogs

Contact details:

  • Your name
  • PO Box or address for people to send items
  • Email
  • Phone number (if appropriate)
  • Social media links
  • Skype details

media kit 4

By all means hire a designer to create you one, if you like – but it’s quite simple to gather your information, a few images, and make them look great on paper. You can make a very simple one using Word (and then converting to PDF), or use any one of the image-creation sites out there. PicMonkey is easy to use (here is a great PicMonkey media kit tutorial), as is Canva, and Ribbet. PowerPoint is quite user-friendly, and can turn out professional-looking media kits in no time, you can use Pages, Photoshop, or even google downloadable templates. You could also search Etsy or similar places for either a downloadable template you can buy, or have a custom one made.

media kit 3

Each person’s media kit needs are so different – you might find useful info at the following posts:

Tips for Creating a Media Kit for Your Blog // Amy Lynn Andrews

Blogger Media Kits: When You Don’t Have Much Traffic // Katy Widrick

How to Create a Media Kit that Rocks // The Blog Maven

Creating a Media Kit for Your Blog // The Well

5 Big Problems With Your Media Kit // Brand Meets Blog

And you can get inspired with these media kit examples:

ClickinMoms Click Magazine

The Art of Simple

Bloggers Bazaar Pinterest board of media kit samples

The Blog Maven – 20 Media Kit Examples

Best Blogger Media Kits – Katy Widrick

Before you go:

  • Update your kit often. Every three months is average
  • Make it customisable – especially if you get someone else to create it for you. Make sure it’s easy for you to update it on your own
  • Make it easily accessible. Consider having it as a download on your “work with me” or “contact” page. It saves email back-and-forth, and makes it so much easier (and faster!) for potential brands
  • Think of printing – ensure your kit is of a high enough resolution to look good when printed
  • Think of collaborating – don’t be afraid to make a list of dream collaborators, and be proactive in approaching them. Offer your media kit as a simple start.
  • Be positive. And remember, if your numbers aren’t anything to write home about yet, you might like to mention your growth instead. Something like “doubled twitter followers in a month” sounds positive and encouraging. And is true!
  • Be consistent with statistics. There are many ways of capturing this information, but Google Analytics appears to be the standard, and is quite accurate.
  • Watch your language. While it’s great you write your blog with your own unique voice, this is the time to be professional (and a little quirky, as needed!). Keep it slick.
  • We are visual creatures – break up big chunks of text and eye-swimming numbers with bright images, easy-to-read but interesting fonts, and lots of white space.

Have you seen a great example of a media kit lately? What do you have in yours?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Advertising 101

We kick off this week’s theme with Juanita Nessinger of Vertical Online Media – a total guru when it comes to all things advertising!

You’ve started your blog, put in many long hours into nurturing it, growing it and building a following.  Congratulations!  Now you’re thinking, “Is it possible to actually generate revenue from this?”  

The answer is a resounding YES!

Let’s talk.

Choosing your ad unit sizes

I like to share with friends that are new to advertising to familiarize themselves with IAB.net. This is the Interactive Advertising Bureau website and the standard for all web advertising.  Once there, your new best friend on this site is going to be the “Guidelines and Best Practices” dropdown menu.  This area shows you all of the standard ad units and their creative guidelines.

I highly recommend utilizing the following ad sizes on your blog, as they are the most standard, and will benefit you in you the long run when starting to monetize your site:

  • 728×90 (Leaderboard)
  • 300×250 (Medium Rectangle)
  • 160×600 (Wide Skyscraper)
  • 300×100 (3:1 Rectangle) This unit is no longer as common, but is a very good size if you want to have multiple smaller partners on your site that you will sell yourself or put on a sales site such as BuySellAds.

728×90 Example:

728x90

300×250 Example:

300x250

160×600 Example:

160x600

300×100 Example:

300x100

Deciding where to place your ads

Now that you’ve decided what ad sizes you will utilize on your site, now you need to decide where you want place them on the page.

As shown in the example above, the 728×90 performs best, and is most aesthetically pleasing, when situated at the top of the page, either centered over the content or flush left.   You can also utilize this Leaderboard unit in the middle or bottom of your blog posts. Do remember though, you don’t want to overload your pages with ads, so I don’t recommend having any more than two of any size ad on a page at a time…three if the ads are a smaller unit, such as the 300×100 unit.

The 300×250 unit is a versatile unit and can be used on the right hand side of your page, or within your content, with the edit wrapped around the ad.  

When making the decision on placement for the 300×250 unit, you should note that on average, this unit will perform best placed within the content.  This is a definite plus if you are monetizing on a Cost Per Click model (CPC).  Your readers will tend to click more often on ads when placed within the content.  Conversely, if your priority is the reader experience and not necessarily the revenue, it is recommended that you place these units on the right hand side of your page.

Your 160×600 and 300×100 units always work very nicely on the right hand side of your page.

Start Monetizing Your Ad Units

Now that you’ve decided where your ad units will be placed on your page/s, it’s time to decide HOW you’re going to monetize the traffic to your blog.

The most popular, and realistically, most simple way for you to start monetizing your Blog is to utilize Google AdSense.  AdSense is a very quick and simple way to get started making money from your blog.  It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3.  All you need is a Google login of some sort, you paste their code into your dedicated ad spaces, and provide them with a valid postal address so that you can get paid! It’s really that simple!  

Once you have this set-up, Google will place the highest-paying ads in your category on your site.  Depending on your blog’s content matter, you can expect to receive anywhere from $.50 per click to upwards of $3.00 per click.

Please know that there are also a multitude of advertising networks of whom would be very happy to work with you, but if you are just getting started, AdSense is truly going to be the easiest, and most reliable, for your needs.

Additional Monetization Options

If you have a highly-trafficked blog, or a highly-targeted niche blog, you may want to sell your ads directly, with the aid of an Advertising Marketplace such as BuySellAds or iSocket.

If you don’t want to be at the mercy of Google and want to sell your ads directly on a CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) and/or a Flat Fee basis, then an Ad Marketplace may be just the thing for you.  

Utilizing a marketplace allows you to set the cost for your ad inventory as opposed to simply accepting what Google or an Ad Network is going to pay you for your inventory.  Please do note that Advertising Marketplaces do take a percentage of each sale made through their service. Regardless, in selling directly, you will want a backup for inventory that is not sold, so again, signing up for an AdSense account will only benefit you to back-fill any and all remaining inventory.

Selling Directly

Selling your ad inventory yourself isn’t always as easy at it may seem. You will need to be very adept at articulating your audience, all of your site statistics, traffic, unique users, pageviews, etc., as well as any and all demographic information that you have on your audience.  Please look for the post coming later this week on The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit.

Establishing relationships with larger brands, and their Ad Agencies, can be a very time-consuming venture and there is never a guarantee of being selected to be on their ad plan. Also, do note that you will usually be required to fill out a full RFP (Request for Proposal) from the ad agency.  These can be a little more than daunting if you are new to advertising, so you should take that into consideration before opting to sell your inventory yourself.

Advertise Link on your Blog

Regardless of how you decide to monetize your blog, once you start the process of monetizing your blog, you should have a link on your site that shares with potential partners their options for advertising on your site, how they can get a media kit, if you have one, and highlight your monthly traffic, unique users, and your best Top Line demographic information you have for your readers.

If you do not have demographic information on your readers, putting together a basic Reader Survey through SurveyMonkey is free and easy!

In Closing

Congratulations on being ready to make the leap into making money from your blog!  If you have a decent-sized audience, and/or a highly targeted audience, there is no reason you can’t start monetizing your traffic.

Again, if you are just getting started, and the advertising arena is new to you, I highly recommend utilizing AdSense.  Start with just a few ad units on each page, you can always add units as your traffic grows and your audience becomes more accustomed to seeing ads on your Blog. 

Don’t be afraid…getting started is easier than you think! 

I hope you’ve found this helpful and please know that I’m here to assist.  Please feel free to ask any additional questions within the comments section, or you can reach out directly by emailing me at [email protected]

 

How to Plan an Editorial Calendar: Webinar

Wondering what is the best way of setting up an editorial calendar? Itching to know what kind of posts work well, and what you should have more of?

In this webinar (available in full on ProBlogger.com), you’ll see how Darren and the managing editors for both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger.net (that’s me!) prioritise content, work out what topics are the most useful and the most popular, plan ahead, and keep their sites fresh and interesting.

There are case studies, stats, and breakdowns of content types, as well as Darlene’s (DPS) and my top three tips for creating engaging content. You don’t want to miss it!

Blogging Like a Shark: 10 Secrets to Bootstrapping Your Blog into a Business

This is a guest contribution from Matthew Capala of SearchDecoder.com.

Shark bloggers are experts in their field of choice. However, they rarely call themselves experts or gurus. Skilled blogging pros, such as James Altucher, establish their authority on social networks and search engines by creating immensely authentic and valuable content, establishing strong connections with their readers.

1 - James Altucher 2

James hardly resembles a shark, but make no mistake. Think more in terms of a “pool shark” versus a voracious eating machine. Shark marketers are at the top of the promotional food chain but not because they use force or deception.

2 - shark definition

In today’s competitive times, bloggers need to bootstrap intelligently to stand out from the scores of new blogs and brands with million dollars content-marketing budgets. Your objective as a bootstrap blogger should not be praying all day for one kill. Your aim should be the top of the food chain.

3 - predotorty shark

Predatory Marketing Tactics Dont Work Anymore

Shark marketers rarely if ever address themselves as “experts.” This crowd is too busy helping and connecting to pat themselves on the back. Think of yourself as a center of distribution. As you disseminate more helpful content to a growing number of people an inflow of leads, opportunities and money flows in to you.

Contrary to popular belief, the idea of bootstrapping is not based on using free marketing to spread the word about your brilliant idea. According to dictionary.com, bootstrapping means “relying entirely on one’s own effort and resources”.

Play to your strengths by leveraging your time and talent. Growing your blog usually requires a minimum injection of capital to build momentum, combined with persistent, intelligent labor. For example, hiring a designer may be a good idea – online readers tend to judge the book by its over before they commit any attention to what you are saying.

5 - time money talent ven

Unlike the monstrous, ferocious predators which roam the infinite online seas, whale sharks don’t need to use predatory tactics to promote their businesses. They use great content marketing to attract the visitors to their blogs like a magnet.

Today’s intelligent buyer will be repulsed by hard-charging, competitive marketing tactics.  Operate on a creative plane of thought to attract people like a magnet. Shift from a competitive to a creative mindset and you will win big on the Internet.

Stop stalking. Start connecting. Turn your marketing into a conversation.

6 - magnet

Market with a Magnet

Web users are tuning out marketing noise. Click-through rates are dropping like a brick. Visualize marketing with a magnet instead of the old, worn out sledgehammer advertising approach. 

7 - sledgehammer vs magnet

Use pull marketing to employ the principle of attraction versus the old school push marketing tactics that turn off today’s sophisticated consumer. Create value to become valuable.

8 - Own your ZMOt

Own Your Zero Moment of Truth

80% of consumers search for a product or service before purchasing it. Ranking your blog on Google for quality keywords can turn your blogger status to a rockstar overnight. 

Place a heavy emphasis on nailing down one of the top positions on Google for your desired keywords or key phrases. Keep in mind that only 15% of search results are the old-school ’blue links.’ Estimated 85% of Google search results are social media, videos, images, maps, and the knowledge graph. Fish where the fish are.

Increase your click-through rates by designing attention-grabbing page titles and headlines. Include thought-provoking or funny images in your blog posts to stand out and boost engagement. 

Owning your zero moment of truth inspires you to increase organic search engine click throughs by improving your ad creative writing skills. It’s a win-win.

9 - personal branding

Personal Branding Is Branding

Beginner bloggers often ask me: How do you draw a line between your business name and your personal brand?

You don’t. It’s one and the same.

Steve Jobs built Apple, not the other way around. You have built your own company, You Inc. However, being a blogger is much different from being a CEO. The first is a hobby, the latter is a job.

Consider using SlideShare to tell your brand’s story, including the problems you are solving and why people should care about your brand. Readers like eye candy. Creating a visually appealing tale forms an emotional bond with your target audience.

 

10-media company

Every Business is a Media Company

Blogs serve as one-stop shopping for any website visitors. Post articles, reviews, podcasts and videos on your blog to brand your business. Companies that blog get 55% more website visitors and B2C companies that blog get 88% more leads per month, according to Hubspot. 

Yet many businesses fail to achieve desired results blogging. They fail and give up on content marketing because they don’t operate like a media company.

11 - optimize blog content

Frequency is key to success. Blogging regularly encourages your audience to know, like and trust you. Build your blog on WordPress for increased functionality. Use plugins to capture subscribers and improve your presentation. Position sharing button beside each blog post to leverage your presence. Sharing buttons like the Floating ShareBar can increase sharing by up to 30%. Details matter.

Open your blog to guest posting and build strong business relationships. Join blogging communities, such as Triberr, to build solid relationships with fellow niche bloggers.

12 - startegy

Win Your Battles Before the First Shots Are Fired

Understand the difference between content marketing and content strategy. Content marketing is the creation and promoting of content to attract a targeted audience. Content strategy is the creation of scalable and repeatable content for a built-in audience. Content marketing is like baking a cake while content strategy is similar to owning a bakery. 

13 - cake bakery

Developing a content strategy requires intensive planning. Create content based on researched user needs, deliver this content through various mediums such as video and podcasts and promote along channels which resonate with your target audience.

14 - healthy heartbeat

You Need a Healthy Heartbeat

A healthy, vibrant blog looks similar to a healthy heartbeat. Imagine the steady, predictable ticks on an EKG meter measuring your heartbeat. Engaging through social media channels like twitter and Facebook creates tiny ticks. Sharing Infographics, videos and blog posts creates a larger spike which creates a big impact with a small hit. PR and branded content creates massive spikes. The large hits which make big impacts target news outlets and other large audiences through macro content campaigns.

15 - Heartbeat

Build your inbound marketing campaign on being disciplined. Work your system on a daily basis. Set up a content calendar. Starting at a calendar can inspire you to create content even if you don’t feel like working. Use this motivational strategy to hold yourself accountable.

16 - lead genertion

Invest in Lead Generation at the Outset

Create in-depth, thorough content you could sell for a handsome profit and give it away for free. This approach might seem counterintuitive to bloggers looking to monetize every click, but karma ensures that the value you offer will return to you in some way, shape or form. Use your free giveaway as link bait. 

Build your email list through this exchange of value. In return for your helpful, free giveaway subscribers will gladly offer their name and email address. Use tools like “Pay with a Tweet” to increase social sharing. Users can access your free giveaway by tweeting your giveaway link. This expands your presence and gives visitors a quick and easy way to access your free product.

17 - be interesting

To Be Interesting, Be Interested

Successful shark bloggers follow the teachings of famous behaviorists, such as Dale Carnegie. They generate interest by expressing interest. 

Expressing genuine, heartfelt interest in other bloggers will result in similar reaction towards you. Focus on helping others who need help. Engage in genuine conversations, add value wherever you show up and answer questions to gain the trust of your target audience.

Use social media tools like Topsy to find your audience. Run searches to connect with interested parties through twitter, blog commenting, and everything in between.

18 - marathon

It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint

Take a big picture approach to blogging. Each seemingly tiny step taken leads to solid if not spectacular results in the long term. If only you don’t give up to see it.

Work your way through temporary frustrations by visualizing yourself achieving great things. Professional athletes employ this technique. Clearing your inner world can motivate you to succeed. 

Shark bloggers are a driven, dynamic, and focused bunch. However, they combine high-octane enthusiasm with a significant dose of planning, tools and preparation to stay focused and play a long-term game. 

It might not be easy to be positive every day when you grow a blog from its infancy but doing so can provide you with immense returns in the long run.

Good luck!

Matthew Capala is an inbound marketing strategist, personal branding coach, Internet entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and author. He is an Adj. Professor at NYU and Head of Search at Lowe Profero. His free personal branding e-book, Away with the Average, has been widely praised. A leading voice in the start-up community, Matthew founded SearchDecoder.com, a venue for SEO ideas for entrepreneurs. You can find him on Tiwtter at @SearchDecoder.

Why Bloggers Need to Do More Than Just Trademark Their Blog Name

TrademarkBlogs

This is a guest contribution from trademark attorney Xavier Morales.

Should you trademark your blog name? While the answer will vary from blogger to blogger, in general, modern bloggers will benefit from trademark registration. At the start, blogs were something of a personal communication medium. But today, they’ve evolved into businesses and brands. In other words, they have become entities worth trademarking.

Trademarking extends beyond merely filing an application. It starts with the brand itself. Only strong, unique brands will receive trademark registrations. Therefore, a company must search high and low for any existing mark that can be considered confusingly similar.

Even after receiving a federal trademark registration, owners must actively protect their rights. Only they can stop other entities who infringe on their rights. That is, no one else will tell an entity to stop using your trademark. You must go through the steps to protect your trademark rights, which can sometimes include litigation, (though no one wants matters to reach that level).

What Can Happen?

The following recent cases illustrate many pain points in the trademark process. These bloggers applied for, or own, federal trademark rights. But they’ve each encountered obstacles along the way. Bloggers thinking about registering their own trademarks will do well to learn from those who have come before them.

Against All Grain

Danielle Walker had every reason to file a trademark application. Her blog, Against All Grain, barely 18 months old, had acquired an intensely loyal readership. She had just released her first cookbook, of the same name. Anyone in her position should seek federal trademark protection.

In August 2013 she filed her federal trademark application. About two weeks later she received a cease-and-desist letter from Against The Grain, a gluten-free food company from Vermont. A lawsuit followed a month after that. Against The Grain owns several federal trademark registrations for the sale of gluten-free products. But those registrations are not necessarily what spurred this lawsuit.

In January 2013, Against The Grain filed a federal trademark application, “to identify cookbooks, kitchen utensils, chocolate, candy and other confections.” The key is the first in that series. Against The Grain had filed for a federal trademark involving cookbooks before Ms. Walker published hers. That would appear to give Against The Grain superior rights. While they currently have no published cookbooks, Against The Grain founder Nancy Cain plans to publish one in October of this year.

Indeed, the case settled recently, with Against The Grain getting the one thing it wanted: a name change for Against All Grain. Ms. Walker must now identify her blog and products as “Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain.” Additionally, Ms. Walker must abandon her trademark application. She still does, however, own the domain name againstallgrain.com.

Finding a lesson in such a case can be difficult. Is Against All Grain distinct enough from Against The Grain? Could Ms. Walker have done anything differently to better protect her brand? Or was she doomed from the moment she started using the Against All Grain mark?

The biggest takeaway for bloggers: conduct extensive research before you pursue trademark rights. Better yet, research trademarks early in the process. It’s easier to pivot as a young blogger than it is as an established one.

The Honest Toddler

Sometimes two entities can happily coexist – until trademarks come into play. Such is the case with The Honest Company, which sells family and home products, and Honest Toddler, a satirical blog from a child’s point-of-view. The two enjoyed a friendly relationship; The Honest Company blog once featured an interview with Honest Toddler.

But then Bunmi Laditan, the creator of Honest Toddler, filed a federal trademark application.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published Laditan’s trademark in April 2013. At this stage existing trademark holders can file an opposition to the application. The Honest Company filed an opposition, which sparked a long and well-documented debate among bloggers and commenters.

This case is quite different from Against All Grain, in that no one issued a cease-and-desist or filed a lawsuit. The Honest Company merely objected to Ms. Laditan’s trademark application for Honest Toddler. The next step in that process is arguing your case in front of the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Before that could happen, The Honest Company tried to negotiate with Ms. Laditan, offering her a free license to use Honest Toddler (reportedly for only one year).

Christopher Gavigan, co-founder of The Honest Company, repeatedly claimed that his company has “superior rights in a class that she is filing in.” Ms. Laditan repeatedly claimed that The Honest Company had no such superior rights. The argument appeared at a standstill after a deluge of commentary in late July 2013. Indeed, there is little, if any, mention of the case after early August.

The case, it appears, has been quietly settled. According to the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), Ms. Laditan received her federal trademark registration on October 29, 2013. So what happened? It’s difficult to determine, given the lack of publicity. The USPTO’s Trademark Status and Document Retrieval system does make it a bit clearer. On September 3, 2013 The Honest Company withdrew its opposition. That cleared the way for Laditan’s final approval for federal trademark rights.

In this case, we see a blogger who stood up for her rights. She filed an application for a mark she was using in commerce, one which The Honest Company did not own. (Their opposition cited their trademark registration for “HONESTBABY”.) Instead of acquiescing to the demands of a larger company, Ms. Laditan stood her ground and won her case. There might be entities that can outspend you in court, but that should not diminish your rights if you have followed the proper trademarking procedure.

Food for Thought

Receiving federal trademark rights is only the beginning. To continue enjoying the rights and benefits of trademark ownership, you must take steps to protect your trademark. In some cases this might necessitate filing a lawsuit. While unappealing to some, failing to take protective measures can diminish your rights as a trademark owner.

So far, Timothy Young has declined to file litigation against The Huffington Post and Chipotle Mexican Grill, though he feels they have infringed on his trademark rights. Since 1998 he has held federal trademark rights to the name “FOOD FOR THOUGHT” on a range of food products. He maintains a website, including a blog, in addition to a wide presence on social media.

In 2013 he objected, frequently and vehemently, though not officially, to a collaboration between The Huffington Post and Chipotle Mexican Grill, also titled “Food for Thought”. It might seem odd that someone who holds the trademark for food classes would object to someone else using the phrase in an editorial sense. But Mr. Young claims he does have rights in this case.

Specifically, he claims common law trademark rights to use the phrase “Food For Thought” in an editorial manner. He started the blog on his site in 2007, long before Huffington Post launched its project. Since they both cover similar topics, just and sustainable food, Mr. Young might indeed have superior rights in this case.

Unfortunately, he’s doing nothing to protect them.

Instead of filing a lawsuit for trademark infringement, he launched a brief, but intense, blogging campaign to raise awareness. He has also gone on what he has termed the “Chipotle Accountability Tour,” where he pickets outside Chipotle restaurants. This might be effective for raising awareness, although mentions of the case have not increased since late 2013.

Mr. Young did file a new trademark application with the USPTO in January that covers a host of products, including: “On-line journals, namely, blogs featuring sustainable agriculture, green living, fair trade, activism and policy and politics related thereto.” Again, he believes that this is merely a formality, given that he started the blog in 2007.

If Mr. Young truly does believe that he has superior rights, he needs to protect them. Merely filing a new application does nothing. The Huffington Post and Chipotle will not abandon their project – or at least its name – unless forced to do so. Young can file more trademark applications and protest more restaurants. It won’t make a bit of difference if other entities continue using the trademark on which he claims to hold superior rights.

Trademark is a Process, Not an End

From these three cases we can learn about the different stages of the trademarking process.

Danielle Walker’s case illustrates the need to find a strong trademark before filing an application. In many ways “AGAINST ALL GRAIN” might appear distinct from “AGAINST THE GRAIN”. But given the similarities in the goods and services being offered under both names, it’s no wonder that Against The Grain decided to take action. The only way to avoid such litigation, and to receive a federal trademark registration, is to ensure that your mark is strong and unique.

Bunmi Laditan’s case illustrates the need to stand up for your trademark even when larger brands object. Given the outcome, it is clear that The Honest Company didn’t have firmly superior rights to Honest Toddler. Ms. Laditan stood her ground and won her case. Bloggers can take advantage of their large readerships in these cases, rallying support through social media and other channels.

Timothy Young’s case illustrates the need to protect your trademark rights. The Huffington Post and Chipotle will not change the name of their joint project unless forced to do so. Mr. Young has chosen to take the non-litigation route, which might prove detrimental to his case. If he does own superior rights, he needs to enforce and protect them. We will learn in time if his refusal to do so does indeed diminish his trademark rights.

The trademarking process does not end when you receive a federal trademark registration. It doesn’t end until you abandon your rights. From the start you must choose a strong mark. Then you must follow the USPTO’s process. Then, once registered, you must take all steps to prevent others from infringing on your mark and capitalizing on your hard work. For bloggers, many of whom have turned their blogs into businesses, this is more important than ever.

Xavier Morales is a trademark attorney who specializes in trademark search, registration, and protection. A 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School, he owns his own firm, The Law Offices of Xavier Morales, which can be found at SecureYourTrademark.com.

9 World-class Bloggers Share Their #1 Email List Building Tip

This is a guest post from Nate Desmond of SumoMe, plus half a dozen contributors you’ll encounter throughout the article.

Too many blogs are plagued by hit-and-run visitors.  These are people who come, read your article, and then melt back into the ether of the internet.

As much as we love to see spikes in our website visitor analytics, post views are actually useless.  Unless those visitors do something – buy your course, follow you on Twitter, join your email list – even a large traffic spike will leave you back in the same place a few days later.

So how can you transform one-time visitors into lifelong readers?

Simple: convince them to join your email list.

Next time you publish a new post, you won’t start over from zero – your new email subscribers will be glad to read your latest writing. Think of it as a great vicious cycle. More emails = more traffic = more sharing = more emails.

But how do you build your email list?

1sean_dsouzaI wondered the same thing, so I asked major bloggers for their advice.  Here’s what they said:

#1. Partner with other bloggers

“Strategic alliances help grow the email list. The clients already know and trust the partner and hence the trust is transferred to us as well.”

- Sean Dsouza writes at Psychotactics

Partnerships with other bloggers can help both blogs reach new audiences and build their reach.  When selecting potential alliances, look for two factors:

1. Size: While bigger blogs offer bigger rewards, they also are less likely to be interested.

2. Audience: The more similar your audiences are, the more benefit both blogs will see.

Keeping these criteria in mind, build a list of 10-20 blogs you’d potentially like to partner with.

1problogger

Here’s an example guest post on ProBlogger

Once you’ve selected a these potentials, decide what type of content you’d like to use:

  • Webinar
  • Guest post
  • Ebook
  • Podcast
  • Email
  • Physical events

Armed with these ideas, you’re ready to reach out to the bloggers you brainstormed earlier.  Particularly when you’re new and don’t know people, this step will often be discouraging as probably only one in 10 bloggers will express any interest.

Instead of becoming frustrated, expect initial failure, and use the results to steadily improve your emails.  As you start gaining momentum after your first partnership, landing the second and third will be easier.

#2. Prominently ask people to subscribe – then provide amazing value2neville_medhora

“A big-ass banner across the top of my blog helped a lot.  I also used CrazyEgg.com to make sure people were clicking on it.  I went through a couple of revisions based on the CrazyEgg stats.

At first I was afraid of asking for people’s emails because I thought it would annoy them.  Then I realized getting my posts via email were people’s favorite way of hearing from me!

Once someone joins my email list, I use Aweber to automatically send a series of epically valuable emails over the next couple of weeks.  This helps transform a new subscriber into a hardcore, engaged fan.”

- Neville Medhora writes at Neville’s Financial Blog

Rather than just sticking a form randomly on your site and hoping for the best, take the time to test the best placement, wording, and coloring like Neville did.

You should test many elements of your form:

  • Headline
  • Button text
  • Forms required (name and email or just email?)
  • Color
  • Incentive

The signup incentive is a particularly potent piece of your form.  Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ebooks
  • Recordings
  • Cheatsheets
  • Videos
  • Email series

2nevilles_email_list

One of the incentives Neville uses to build his email list

Optimizing form locations and incentives will help you get many times more email subscribers than you do right now.  Just remember, getting email signups is only the very beginning of a strong reader relationship.

This reader trusts you enough to share their email address – now it’s your turn to prove you’re worthy of it.  Work to consistently overdeliver on expectations, and you’ll soon have a thriving email following!

#3. Use a non-annoying popover

“When I first started my latest blog, I just slapped a basic subscription form somewhere on my sidebar.  Barely anyone noticed it, and even fewer subscribed.3nate_desmond

Then I tried SumoMe’s List Builder plugin.  Literally overnight, I saw a 10x increase in subscriber conversion, and my list has continued growing steadily ever since.

I actually liked it so much that I now work for the company!”

- Nate Desmond writes at NateDesmond.com and SumoMe

Building an email list is one of the fastest ways to compound your blog’s growth, so you’ll want to start optimizing your email forms as soon as you get the first trickle of traffic.

3sumome_popover

This is the email popover I use on my blog

For me, SumoMe popovers have been the most successful effort thus far.  They’re pretty simple to setup (took me less than 5 minutes), but you should watch for a couple things:

  1. Timing – Mine loads after about 1 second, but you should experiment to see what works best for your website.
  2. Color – Make sure your form is colored similarly to your website – context matters.
  3. Wording – This is critical.  Brainstorm 25 ideas for headlines and test the three best.

Forms in your sidebar, footer, or even header can be out of your reader’s line-of-sight, so non-annoying popovers can be a highly effective way to get your reader’s attention.

4sean_work#4. Produce exceptional content

“Producing exceptional content that our readers can use to improve their craft.”

- Sean Work writes at KISSmetrics

Ultimately, the success of your blog relies on the quality of your writing.  A strong email list can help speed your growth, but everything ultimately relies on your posts and emails providing stunning content that solves real problems for your readers.

Quality content attracts potential readers to your website and inspires current subscribers to stick around and engage.

4infographic

This is part of an infographic KISSmetrics uses to engage

Here are a few things you can do to make your writing amazing:

Write articles that you would want to read and share with your friends, and you’ll probably be off to a strong start.

#5. Use Post-Specific Bonus Content

“Giveaway a bonus within your content that requires the readers email address.

Think of it like Facebook advertising.

My click-through-rate (ctr) on the newsfeed ads is 2.5% while my sidebar Facebook ads on a great day do .5% ctr.

That’s a 500% increase in clicks.

5noah_kaganPeople are engaged in the middle of the site, NOT on the fringes.

Think of this with email collection within your blog.

Make a benefit and give the reader a link / button to get a cheat-sheet or bonus document related to the content the person is reading.

Then ask them for an email to get that content.

If you are really lazy just do it for the top 3 posts you get traffic on.

I have seen this nearly increase my daily email growth by 30%!”

- Noah Kagan runs SumoMe and writes at Okdork

Advertising platforms like Facebook are working tirelessly to try to better understand visitor intent.  The more they can tailor advertisements to what a person actually wants; the more customers they will see.

You have a major advantage over advertisers though – since your visitor is reading a specific post, you already know that they have at least some interest in the post’s topic.

Based on this knowledge, you can create a targeted call-to-action offering exclusive content that builds on your post.

5email_incentive

This email bonus is from one of Noah’s recent posts

So what exactly can you offer?

  • Google spreadsheets with exact formulas
  • PDF “cheatsheets” with a quick review of your post
  • Video materials adding on to your post
  • Exact emails and scripts you’ve used in your case studies
  • Ebooks closely related to the post topic
  • “Inside tips” like the list of top giveaway sites in the above example

Whatever you choose, giveaway incredible value and you’ll not only get email subscribers – you’ll get lifelong readers!

#6. Use multiple signup forms

“The number one strategy that helped me grow my list was placing multiple sign up forms on high traffic pages on my site and offering a high value giveaway in return.

Today I have forms in my popup, in my sidebar, at the bottom of every post and on a slide in.”6steve_chou

- Steve Chou writes at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com

Different readers will be ready to subscribe at different times.  If you have a subscription form ready when they want to subscribe, your email list will grow quickly.

You should test email signup forms in all these locations:

6sidebar_form

Steve’s got a great sidebar form on his site

Over time, you’ll probably find two or three forms are dramatically more effective than the others.  At that point, you can remove the low performers and focus on optimizing the forms that do work to make them even better.

This is a principle that actually applies in all areas of blog growth – cut the strategies that don’t work and double-down on the areas that are showing results.

#7. Provide deep research that solves problems

“There has to be a steady stream of high quality content that actually solves the visitor’s problem.

There’s a lot of research that goes into the articles we publish, because too many of the marketing articles out there skate by passing opinion off as fact without any kind of qualification. The problem with that is that it creates a culture of “marketers” who blindly follow opinion without being willing to test that on their own.

By including the deep research, and really digging to find those “aha” moment, we try to create a “can’t miss” experience.7tommy_walker

The feeling is that if you don’t sign up for email, you might miss something valuable that increases your revenue. Nobody wants to miss out on revenue, especially if learning how to get more of it will be sent to your inbox for free.”

- Tommy Walker is the editor of ConversionXL

Most blogs today fall into one of two main categories: “churn and burn” websites that just publish frequent, basic posts and long-form websites that publish detailed, researched posts.  Both types of content can build popular blogs, but in today’s competitive blogosphere you’ll generally go farther and faster with long-form content.

How can you do this?

It’s actually not nearly as complicated as you might think.

First, litter your posts with fun, memorable stories.  Some authors actually go so far as keeping a “commonplace book” filled with stories waiting to be used.  Others simply write from memory.  Either way, adding examples and stories to your posts will make them easier to read and more helpful.

Second, use lots of statistics in your posts (and also in your headlines!).  Lots of posts can tell you that colorful images are more popular on Pinterest, but that’s not nearly as useful as knowing that colorful images get 300% more shares.

7case_studies

One of many specific case studies shared on ConversionXL

As you write your blog posts and emails, look for opportunities to share unique, actionable information that will make your readers think “ah ha!”… and hopefully subscribe to your email list.

#8. Place a giant lead magnet on your blog homepage

“For the last six months or so we’ve been displaying a “lead magnet” on our blog homepage that offers four ecommerce case studies that 8mark_macdonalddrip out via autoresponder. After subscribers get the content they’re added to our main blog list.

Note: we aren’t currently using this on the blog as we plan to deploy it somewhere else soon.”

- Mark Macdonald writes at Shopify

What’s the most visited page on your website?

You guessed it… your homepage!

Unfortunately, your default homepage is also probably the least engaging page on your entire website.  You’ve probably got a random array of your most recent posts, maybe a few images, and some sort of a sidebar.

Adding a major email form with a high-value incentive can help you transform confused visitors into engaged readers.

8homepage_subscription

Shopify’s homepage subscription box

By filling most of the above-the-fold space on the blog homepage, this email box is almost as effective as a popover at drawing attention.  The images and growth graph both make the form visually engaging, and who wouldn’t want to get 4 free case studies?

Unless you have a coding background, this could seem difficult to build.  Never fear! You can simply use this plugin to make something very similar on your own website.

#9. Persistently continue writing – growth compounds9penelope_trunk

“The number one thing that helped me grow my email list was persistence. I have been writing a blog for ten years, and working really hard and teaching myself to write posts that people love. When you write good content, the email list is easy.”

- Penelope Trunk writes at PenelopeTrunk.com and Quistic

Here’s the fun thing about growing your blog: moving from 3,000 to 4,000 subscribers will be just about as hard as getting your first 100 subscribers.  Growth compounds.

One of the most important keys to blogging is actually quite simple: keep writing and keep improving.

I always love Babe Ruth’s quote: “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

Generally, growth will be very slow for the first month or two; then it will start to accelerate for the next few months, and you’ll start to feel like you’re on fire after about seven months.

9publish_button

Practice clicking this button frequently

Unfortunately, the vast majority of writers quit before they reach the tipping point.  If you just keep steadily writing, your email list will grow faster and faster.

What single thing has been most effective in building your email list?

Nate Desmond works at SumoMe helping fellow bloggers build their email lists, increase social shares, and build thriving blog communities though a suite of growth tools.

 

3 Mistakes that Are Keeping Your Readers from Becoming Cash Customers

Image via taxcredit.net

Image via taxcredit.net

This is a guest contribution from Sonja Jobson.

You’ve been told that blogging is a great way to grow your business online, snag leads, and ultimately make sales.  And so far, your blog is helping to boost your traffic, spread the word around on social media, and build up an audience.

But leads? Customers? Money? Not so much.

There is a difference between blogging and blogging for business and, if haven’t been seeing much return on your blogging investment, you’re probably participating in the former.

But don’t sweat it – you can easily turn things around and start transforming your blog readers into cash customers and clients by avoiding three common mistakes and counter-acting them with simple changes to your blogging strategy.

Mistake #3 – Never mentioning your products or services

We’ve all been warned that, when it comes to marketing our businesses via social media platforms, we should avoid “pitching” our audience at all costs. That being promotional and sales-y will just turn people off and leave you shouting into an empty void.

Look, over-promoting your business is never attractive. If you’re constantly trying to make a sale – at the cost of being helpful and human – then you’re going to alienate your audience. Content and social marketing is all about being of service, providing value, and giving before getting. But there is a limit to this rule.

We can get so caught up in avoiding the “pitch” that we become media producers instead of business owners. 

You have to find a balance between producing really helpful content that your audience will get value from (which is very important) and educating your audience on your business and what you sell.

If you leave the last piece out, you may attract an amazing, engaged audience – but you won’t make any money.

Mentioning your products and/or services in appropriate places, at an appropriate frequency is not an offense, it’s a smart business move.

#2 – Creating content that appeals to peers, not prospects

A blog isn’t going to help find valuable business leads unless you are attracting the right readers. It may sound obvious, but a lot of people miss the mark on this one.

It’s all about the subtle differentiation between creating content that would attract your peers (or other industry leaders) and your prospects (people who are ideal for your product or service).

Let’s say you’re in the career coaching business. Your prospects probably don’t care about the latest development in career coaching techniques – that would be your peers. Your prospects would much rather read about how career coaching can help them get the raise they’ve been working so hard for or the five simple steps for figuring out what type of job they should pursue.

When writing blog posts that would appeal to prospects, it can sometimes feel like we’re writing about “dumb” stuff. Topics that surely everyone knows about. But it only seems that way because you spend all your time immersed in those topics. You’re the expert. Your prospects aren’t.

#1 – Not focusing on the opt-in

The number one reason most business blogs aren’t converting readers into customers: a lack of strategy for moving blog readers through the sales funnel.

A blog in and of itself isn’t a direct selling tool. It’s powerful way to grow awareness of your brand, build the “know-like-trust” factor with your prospects, and educate people about your business, but on its own it doesn’t generate sales.

A blog can get people ready to become a customer, but you need to have a strategy that goes beyond the blog to convert readers into buyers.

And that strategy is all about your email list. Once you get an interested blog reader to opt-in to your email list, you can begin the sales conversation.

Directing people to your email list should be one of your top blogging priorities. Include opt-in forms on your blog (the side bar and below each blog post are good locations) and prompt readers to subscribe often.

Once you get people on your list, you can deliver more great content to their inbox (like your latest blog posts) as well as sales messages.

Wrapping Up:

Remember that it’s OK (and smart) to mention your products and services on your blog when appropriate. Don’t get super self-promotional, but don’t hold back from including a link to your newest product or mentioning your helpful service if it fits naturally into the context of your post.

Your content should always be written for your ideal prospects, not your peers. Even if something seems obvious to you, it might be just what your prospects were searching for.

A blog all by itself won’t convert readers into customers. You need a follow up system: aka your email list. Make growing your list a top priority when blogging for business.

Sonja Jobson helps small business owners and entrepreneurs become incredible on the internet with content marketing. Grab her free, weekly biz training series and profitable marketing guides for even more business-growth goodness.