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ProBlogger in Perth: 10 Things Darren Wishes He Knew About Blogging

Jenish Pandya and Darren Rowse ProBloggerThis is a guest contribution from blogger Jenish Pandya.

What happens when ProBlogger legend Darren Rowse comes to your city for the first time ever?

You and everyone around you go crazy and act like teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert and start taking heaps of photos every time he makes a move.

Then what do you do with all the photos you have taken? Well, you write a blog post.

Darren came down to Perth for the first ever mini PBevent and in his presentation gave us a taste of what happens at the main event happening this year on Gold Coast from 29-30 August.

Darren Rowse’s 10 Blogging Lessons

Darren’s presentation was titled “10 things I wish I’d know about Blogging (+7 Quick tips)” in which he shared about the blogging lessons he would have wanted to know when he started out 12 years ago.

The lessons he shared were really simple and easy to implement, they were meant to take your blogging to the next level.

Darren Rowse's 10 Blogging Lessons

Darren The ProBlogger

Overnight Success only happens after years and years of work, it couldn’t be much right than in Darren’s case.

Darren started of the presentation with his introduction (as if he needed one :) ) and followed on with his story about how ProBlogger (PB) and Digital Photography School (DPS) started out. If it hadn’t been for his wife Vanessa, all this would probably not have happened as it did.

Darren’s journey started out with four simple words “Check out this blog” and without much credentials behind him he started out blogging and after 12 years of hard/smart work, ProBlogger and Digital School Photography have become what they are now. If you want to know about Darren’s awesome story check out the About ProBlogger page.

My Takeaway:

You have to be dedicated to your blog and business. There is nothing such as overnight or quick and easy Success. You have to work hard and smart to achieve your goals and sometimes you will achieve something more greater than what you ever imagined.

Darren's Credentials

Blogging Lesson #1: If you want your Blog to be a Business, Treat it as one

Glass half full, or glass half empty, the way we perceive and look at things changes how they appear to us.

The first lesson that Darren shared was something he had seen a number of bloggers go wrong with, including himself. Most of the bloggers started blogging as a creative outlet to share about their passion or as a hobby and monetizing the blog came as an afterthought.

The way you act when you think of your blog as a hobby will be completely different to when you think of it as a real business. When it becomes a business, you will pay more attention to it, be more professional about it and also dedicate as much time as possible.

So if you are really serious about monetizing your blog and trying to generate income from it, then your first step is to treat it like a business.

My Takeaway:

I started a couple of blogs before my current one and was treating them as hobbies and I can totally see the difference in how I go about treating my current blog by me being consistent, showing respect and putting time and effort in providing value.

Blogging Lesson #2: Identify WHO you want to read your blog

You need to know your audience before you start doing anything.

Darren shared four key reasons on how knowing WHO you want to read your blogs informs you the blogger on;

  • Content Strategy
  • Promotional Strategy
  • Community Strategy
  • Monetization Strategy

The first step in identifying your reader is to create two-three reader profiles or avatars which describes the reader’s;

  • Demographics
  • Need/Challenges
  • How they Use the Web
  • Motivations for Reading
  • Experience Level
  • Dreams
  • Financial Situation

Darren introduced Grace, who describes herself as a Mom-a-raz-zo photographer because 90% of her photos are of her young children. Grace is one of the few fictitious reader of Digital Photography School that Darren invented. Here are the other reader profiles.

The second step to getting to know WHO your readers are is asking your current readers to fill out surveys and polls, so you get hard facts and numbers about them.

My Takeaway:

This was something I knew I had to do but never got around doing it. It is something I have struggled with as I have always tried to write for everyone and never picked out specifically my exact niche. After hearing Darren I have started working on it and I am close to writing up a couple of reader profiles for my blog.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #3: Email is Powerful!

With all the hype around the use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other cool social media sites, sometimes the good old email doesn’t get paid the attention it really deserves.

Darren emphasized on the use of email as a powerful blog marketing tool as;

  • It Drives Traffic
  • It Drives Profit
  • It Builds Community
  • It Builds the Brand

He told us about how it was his father who got him started on to setting up email subscriptions because his father wasn’t sure of how to set up in reading an RSS feed and still wanted to read Darren’s blog.

My Takeaway:

I love email marketing especially because it is personal and gives you that feeling of one 2 one communication with your reader and the coolest thing is that it can be automated.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #3A: Don’t Write Off PopUps

PopUps are still a bit controversial, some people hate it and some don’t mind it.

Darren used to hate popups and he never used them till he got challenged to try it out for one day and see what happened to his optin rates on DPS. So being adventurous, he gave it a shot.

The result of that one day was quite the opposite of what he had expected, his subscriber rates increased by almost five times than normal. The crazy thing was that there was little to no impact in traffic, meaning that people didn’t mind the pop-up.

He also mentioned that the readers on DPS didn’t mind the popup whereas those on PB did. This was due to the fact that they were both complete different types of readers. So Darren runs popups on DPS which only appear once for a visitor to the site and he doesn’t run any on PB. Read the full story how he drastically increased his subscribers.

My Takeaway:

I am still on the fence about whether to use popups or not but I guess the best way is to actually test it and let the results speak for themselves.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #4: There are MANY ways to Make Money Blogging

But it’s not quick or easy

There is always more than one way to skin a cat.

The one thing to learn from this is to diversify your income sources and not be dependent on any single one of them as Darren once was. He primarily used to make money from Google Adsense and one day when the search engine algorithms got changed, his income stopped for a while and then it lead him to diversify PB’s income sources.

Some of the ways to make money blogging are;

  • Services
  • Advertising
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Selling/Flipping Blogs
  • Continuity Programs
  • Products

Have a read of the 12 Blogging Income Streams and Darren’s 10 year overnight success to get a further insight into monetizing your blog.

My Takeaway:

This hit me home, I am a big fan of diversification and building different funnels to grow your income so that you are never dependent on any one particular source.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #5: Create something to SELL

People love to buy but they hate to be sold.

Following on from diversifying your blogging income source Darren moved to talking about creating something of your own to sell as it will keep your readers on your website and also increase your authority amongst the readers. Not forgetting the obvious reason, it increases your income.

Darren showed some stats of how almost 40% of his current earnings were from ebook sales. The wonderful thing was that he could sell the ebooks as singles or by bundles in different categories, topics, authors. He could also add other ebooks as bonuses to provide more value to the buyer.

So one of the biggest focus in creating an income from your blog should actually be creating something to sell.

My Takeaway:

I love Information products and how they can be easily leveraged to not only create an income but also to provide massive value. I have been putting off writing one for a while now but after hearing Darren’s advice, that project is about to take a new life.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #6: Successful Blogs – Inform, Inspire, Interact

If you were looking for the silver bullet for successful blogs, this is it!

This is the formula that Darren has used over and over again to make PB and DPS as successful as they are at this moment.

The first part of the formula is to create blog posts that Inform your readers. For example the how to posts, the review posts, the new thing and more in the similar criteria.

The second one is to Inspire with posts of different examples or case studies

The third being blog post that help you Interact with your readers, some of them could be challenge posts.

My Takeaway:

I never thought successful blogging could ever be put in such a simple formula. I have normally focused on the information posts but little on the inspirational and interaction creating, looks like they will be added to my blogging arsenal.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #7: Look for SPARKS

This is the reason that explains how Darren does all the things in his business and life.

“You should be doing what gives you Energy” – Darren Rowse. He mentioned about how the 31 days to a build a better blog came about. There was an idea he had in his mind and was keeping him awake at night so he decided to ask the readers whether they would like him to post a 31 day blog post series and it was the post that had got the most comments and people were giving him back the energy and asking him what was the first day.

So whatever you are doing, either be blogging or other activities you should identify what gives you energy (sparks) and follow that spark to accomplish it to the best of your abilities. Also try to figure out what gives your readers’ energy and what creates sparks for them, as that is where you should be focusing on.

Become a prolific problem solver by becoming hyper aware of problems around you, as it will not only give you heaps and heaps of ideas on what to blog about but also will give you different ideas on creating products as well.

My Takeaway:

I always used to wonder how do all the awesome people like Darren manage to achieve all that they have and still have time and energy left to do more, I thought they were following their passion but there was still some doubt left till I heard Darren.

Sometimes you don’t know what your passion is but if you follow the sparks then you are sure to find what gives you energy and leading to a better blog.

 

Blogging Lesson #8: Be ACTIVE

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” – Will Rogers

Darren told us about one question that we should be asking ourselves everyday and that is “What Action Will I take Today that Will Grow My Blog?” It’s about lots and lots of small, consistent actions over a long time that have the Big Impact. When trying to answer the question you could be thinking about

  • Content Creation
  • Community Management
  • Promotional Activities

And to monetize your blog take the 15 Minutes a Day Challenge – Spend 15 minutes per day doing something to take you a step towards your blogging goals. This is how Darren was able to create the first ever ebook for DPS, he spent 15 minutes everyday for three months.

My Takeaway:

I loved the tip of the 15 minute a day challenge and have started working on a project that I long avoided and that is of creating a membership site. I invite you to take the 15 Minutes a Day Challenge and see what difference it makes.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #9: Do Good

At the end of the day it is about helping out others and doing Good.

Darren went to Tanzania in 2011 part of a Blog Project for a non for profit CBM Australia – part of the world’s largest organisation working with people with disabilities – with a particular focus upon the poor. He spent around a week in a disability hospital.

I hardly can put the stories he shared in words, so have a look at the video of Darren talking about his final reflections of the trip.

My Takeaway:

I believe that every single one of us was born to help each other out and Do Good. I was moved and inspired by Darren’s story about his Tanzania trip to do as much Good as I can.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #10: Aim to have a BIG impact upon the readers you already have

It takes the same time and effort to think small when compared to Think BIG.

The last lesson Darren talked about was to provide more value and have a BIG impact upon your current readers as it is by doing such you will be able to grow and build you blog faster and create a healthy income. There is no point in chasing your future readers when your current ones are not even being taken care of.

Simply put, Love your current readers and you will able to achieve your blogging goals.

My Takeaway:

For me this was the magic silver bullet everyone keeps chasing, the more I take care and love my current readers the more my blog is going to grow.

Blogging Lesson

After going through the 10 Blogging Lessons, he quickly went about sharing 7 Quick Blogging Tips. After going through the tips you will realize that he doesn’t know how to count, hehe.

Jenish Pandya is a blogger who likes to help people earn a recurring income online, with business strategies and techniques.

Three Ways to Outperform Your Online Competition

Untitled design

This is a guest contribution from Emma Henry of True Target Marketing.

There’s no denying that plenty of us are trying to make a living on the internet. The good news is that it’s still early days when it comes to building a successful online business. In reality, very few businesses know how to effectively execute strategic online marketing campaigns. Now is the perfect time for you to take advantage of this gap in the market and outperform your online competition. With some sound advice, a strategic approach, and a solid implementation plan, your online business performance can go from strength to strength. 

First Things First

The first thing is to prepare a custom strategy for your online business. To do this, you need to conduct a detailed review of your current online situation. What is currently working well? What are the main issues and the biggest frustrations with your website? What is the goal for your online business 12 months and beyond? Who are your current customers and are they your ideal, highest-value customers?  How can you encourage repeat purchases to increase the life time value of your ideal customers? 

There are a number of useful analytics tools such as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and Keyword Research software that can help you to review your current online business and devise the best strategy for your business going forward. Consider engaging in the services of a website marketing expert to assist you with the process of analysing your online business. A professional will have the skills and knowledge to prepare a bespoke, tailored strategy that can reap you huge results. 

Then What?

The second step is to implement the necessary changes to your website to help you achieve your online business goals. The aim is to attract more high value customer prospects to your website, encourage them to stay on your site (rather than go to a competitor site), and to persuade them to take some form of action on your site (i.e. make a purchase, call for an appointment, request a quote etc.).

Some specific changes you might need to make to improve the performance of your website include: 

  • Simplify the site navigation for a seamless, end-user experience.
  • Remove unnecessary clutter.
  • Include a concise summary of your offerings on your home page linking back to the more detailed products/services pages.
  • Include a “Testimonials” and “FAQ” page.
  • Align the content of every page with the most relevant, industry specific keyword.
  • Develop and improve existing content.
  • Optimise your website for the search engines.
  • Incorporate multiple, relevant and clear calls to action on your site (for a free quote call xxx, click to buy here, enter your email to receive xxx)

And Finally…

The third and final step to outperform your online competition is to secure your place as the absolute authority in your industry niche. To do this, you need to ensure the content on your website is high quality, unique, and relevant to your specific market, and is better than the content of your online competitors. Create regular, fresh new content around common queries in your industry. Go beyond an FAQ sheet and include a dedicated page with detailed information on typical customer queries. Doing this will ensure that when prospective customers search for those queries in Google, your website page will show up in the search results over and above your competitor pages because your site will be the one with the most informative and relevant information. In time, you will become the “go to” website authority for your industry niche as your customer prospects begin to know, like and trust your brand and your information. Not only will you be perceived as the expert in your field by providing your audience with valuable information, but you will be rewarded by Google as they boost your search engine rankings ahead of your competitors. 

In summary, take the time to review your current online operations, implement a strategy to attract more of your ideal customer prospects by improving and optimising your website structure and building up relevant content on your site. Consider engaging the services of a professional, online marketing expert to help you execute this proven and effective three-step strategy.  The investment will be well worthwhile when you consider the value you will get from securing highly-targeted new business. Now is the time to start securing a greater share of customers in your marketplace by outperforming your competitors online.

Emma Henry is an Online Marketing Specialist and the owner of True Target Marketing. Emma tailors bespoke online marketing strategies for her clients. She specialises in lead generation, customer conversions, increased website traffic and improved website responsiveness. 

Create the Best Pay-Per-Click Landing Page in 7 Easy Steps

Image via Flickr user Andrew Pescod

Image via Flickr user Andrew Pescod

This is a guest contribution from Poulami Ghosh of PPC Ads Management.

If conversion rates really matter to you, you should be aware that every marketing campaign has to have a dedicated landing page. This is particularly true with regard to PPC where you have to pay for every single click. Ask any PPC company and it will tell you the same thing. However, it is not enough to know that you should use a landing page. You also have to know how to craft one, so that your marketing efforts rise above the average and become exceptional.

There are seven steps to creating an effective landing page. In order to explain them better, let me create a fictitious organization first. Let’s name it SaaSProject. It is an online solution for project management, specifically created for SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses. The message they want to convey is that their platform has been specifically designed for the online software industry and comprises features closely associated with how SaaS businesses function. 

Setting Your Campaign Goal or Objective

The main aim of this campaign will be to accumulate leads, by offering informative content about handling SaaS projects. 

Majority of the marketing done by SaaSProject is content marketing. Thus, a PDF guide on the subject will be written so that it can be given away in exchange of data gathered from people. 

Another objective is to get the maximum number of leads possible for opting in to watch a demo of the product. This goal can be achieved in two ways, both of which will be explained by me when I come to the page design. 

Explain the Pain of the Customer As Well As Its Relief

Penning down a pain statement enables you to concentrate on the needs of your customer, and also express better how that pain is addressed by your solution. Let us try to understand it better with our example.

The Pain

Software for project management is either very complex so that no team member wants to use it, or too simplistic so that it is not configurable enough to do what it is required to. 

The Pain Relief

SaaSProject was particularly designed, keeping in mind a SaaS business model. Its functionality is role-specific so that it directly speaks to designers, developers and advertisers. There are comprehensive to-do lists for developers with complete Github integration. A PSD can be uploaded by designers, which changes into a sequence of layer previews intended for stakeholders. Again, writers have versioning, copy commenting as well as approval modes. What is more, there is a 10,000 feet-view mode for the project manager for easily managing the project with one view.

You are really enthusiastic about starting this organization with me now, right?

A balanced approach is given by these two accounts for narrating your story. Your prospects have to be addressed in a way that is understood by them, based on consideration of their most important concerns. 

Write an Engaging Campaign Story

Next, you have to create a compelling campaign story that weaves the pain as well as the pain relief descriptions together into a narrative which you can use as a parameter first for the ebook and then for your landing page. 

How to Write an Effective Campaign Story?

Make use of a story skeleton to simplify the writing process. The Freytag Pyramid defines a common plot structure, which involves breaking a narrative down into five stages, namely: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and conclusion. This structure can be used to craft your base story, after which it has to be translated into the functional parts of a landing page. 

Create Your Form

A form is not just a collection of data requests. An entire landing page can be created only with a form. Any PPC company will vouch for that.

Since we have the story with us now, we have to begin the process of its translation to a landing page. In this case, it is always advisable to use the inside-out approach instead of the more traditional top-down one.

Your form comprises the following components:

  • A headline for introducing the purpose of the form.
  • A description involving bullets for highlighting the advantage and contents of what is being given away by you upon completion.
  • A call-to-action.
  • The form with vivid form fields (attention can be captured by original questions and label names).
  • Trust links or statements.
  • A context-enhancement or closing urgency statement.

I mentioned in Step one that there were two ways in which people could be asked to register for the demo. They are:

Reward

Offer the demo in return for something. For instance, a check-box could be added to the form, where people are asked if they would like to see a demo, before the submission of the form.

Reciprocity

It works on the philosophy that people will be keener to do something for you only after you do something for them. For instance, in our case, you have just given a guide free of cost to the visitor, and so you can politely ask whether they would like to engage in something else. 

Make The Page Design Around Your Form

The campaign story has to be broken down into the structural elements of your landing page. The main components that will feature on your landing page are as follows:

  • Headline
  • Subheading
  • Intro – pain
  • Pain relief or benefits offered by the solution
  • A hero shot showing your offer
  • Social proof
  • Your form as crafted from the previous part
  • A concluding statement that rounds off the story and takes them back to the form for conversion

Perform The Test of Congruence

Congruence refers to the principle of bringing every component on your page into line, with the intention of conveying one combined message. The presence of something incongruent means it is fighting against the goal or objective of your page. 

Go Through The CCD (Conversion Centered Design) Checklist Thoroughly

Once your landing page is ready, assess it once from the point of view of a Conversion Centered Designer. The main idea here is to be realistic and understand that some work is still left to be done. A set of design guidelines and principles has to be applied to your page to ensure it appears the best when your PPC traffic is unleashed on it. 

In this era of branding, storytelling is a crucial part of effective and successful marketing. Any PPC company will second that. So, apply the steps outlined by me and success could be yours. 

Poulami Ghosh loves to share knowledge about effective PPC practices and online marketing.

How I Earned $15000 from The Problogger Job Board

This is a guest contribution from Andy Nathan, of Smart at the Start.

I have a secret formula for using the Problogger job board that will enthrall many, and bring others to tears with their boredom. That is OK! I do not want everyone to use what I am about to explain below, because that just means more business for me. 

In fact, I struggled with whether I should even share this information to anyone, because…well… human greed being what it is. Over the past year, I have automated the process on the Problogger job board to the point where I spend roughly 5-10 minutes prospecting for every new client off the board.

Pardon my laziness, but I don’t want to work to get clients business. I want to work to keep their business by focusing on awesome content. This is why the Problogger Job Board is simply the best, as we will discuss below in my step-by-step tutorial. 

My Ideal Client

Before we get into what I did to earn $15,000 from the job board here on Problogger, I want to step back and explain what I believe my ideal client should look like. This is important, because if I did not have a picture of what my ideal client would look like, then I would never know how to use the job board correctly.

First, I do not want to spend time talking to clients if possible. It is not that I don’t like people. I sometimes go to networking events as much for the socialization now as I do for the business referrals. The fact is, speaking with a client is time that I am not writing for other clients or playing Video Catnip and watching my cats go a bit crazy.

20130813_065310Time management is huge as a freelancer. This was something I did not understand when I started. I used to be a “good” salesperson who met every client face to face. Somehow seeing my beautiful mug (see selfie) would magically turn prospects into sales. 

What I realized was that for a 10-20% drop in my close rate, I could do a few less coffees and accomplish a whole lot more for my clients.

As of today, 50% of my clients are people I have never spoken to once in the entire relationship. All communication is through email and social media. What a difference it makes.

Another 25% are people that I connect with over the phone as well as email. 

The remainder are my networking clients. Clients I met through various networking events over the years. Generally, those ones want to meet me face to face and make sure that I am a “real” writer. 

Second, if I have to explain the benefits of blogging this is probably not going to work. I have spent too much time in the past explaining to general contractors, attorneys, and other professionals why blogging is important. 

If you don’t get it, I am sorry. I am not your blogging messiah. I write ridiculously awesome content for you (sometimes in your own voice) optimized for search traffic. However, you go ahead and keep cutting and pasting articles from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, (old time newspaper fill in the blank), etc. See how well that works! 

Third, I have written close to 3000 blog posts over the past five years. Not saying that to impress you. I am telling you this, because I want compensation for my experience. I personally like having money in my account. The wife is much happier (aka happy life), my bills are paid, and that creeping sense of dread fades away. 

Now for the ProBlogger Job Board info you crave…

Now that we got this little rant about ideal clients out of the way, what did I do to earn money from the Problogger job board? Automation.

First:

I would recommend opening a new tab, so you can follow along while I discuss how I use the board. It is not that you have never seen a job board, but this is my unique twist. You might just want to set this up as you read this post.

Problogger Job Board

Second:

Take in the board for a second. Notice that there are only about 3-5 listings per day. It is not an overwhelming horde of listings, but a constant stream of leads. This is important. When I used this process on Craigslist, the nonsense chatter on the site, even after using the filters, made it an extreme waste of time. Plus, no one likes worthless emails coming into your email box all day.

Third:

Notice in the bottom right corner, there is a subscribe button. This is crucial to my laziness. A RSS feed of all the job posts in one spot. 

Copy the RSS feed below: 

http://feeds.feedburner.com/ProBloggerJobs 

Problogger Job Board RSS Feed

Fourth:

Open a new tab, and type in IFTTT.com. This is an automation site. You can use this for a variety of purposes online. If you don’t have an account on IFTTT, you will need to set one up in about two minutes. Fear not, accounts on the site are free. In fact, for freelance writers this entire process is free. 

When you login, you will go to your dashboard. Below is what my dashboard looks like currently:

IFTTT Recipes

Fifth:

To automate processes you need to create a recipe. Recipes are easy to create. The site’s real name is “If This, Then That.” The entire automation system runs on one equation that you can use for a multitude of purposes.  

IFTTT-IF This Then That

You create recipes that trigger one online platform to perform a task on another online platform. 

While this might sound confusing, the truth is this is simple to use. For our purposes, all you need is the Problogger Job Board URL that you copied and an email address. If you do not have an email address then you can use Gmail. 

Step 1: Select the Feed symbol. 

IFTTT Step 1

Step 2: Decide what type of feed you want to use. Personally, I use the new feed item, because I find the keyword too limiting for my needs. However, if you are looking for targeted terms, then use the “new feed item matches” as a trigger.

IFTTT Step 2 

Step 3: paste the Problogger Job Board feed.

IFTTT Step 3

Steps 4 and 5: choose email icon for your action. You will need to have your email address connected to IFTTT for this to work, so do not give them a spam account. They do not email people a lot, so do not worry about spam.

IFTTT Step 4

Step 5: Click the “Send me an email” link.

IFTTT Step 5

Step 6: make sure you are receiving the best information for the post. Generally, they will include the information you need already. Just double check that the “EntryUrl” is in the email body. 

IFTTT Step 6

Step 7: The finished recipe will look like the one I created last September for Problogger. Confirm that you want to set up the recipe.

IFTTT Step 7

Since last September, I have received 532 emails. While most of the listings are never answered, over the course of the past nine months I probably responded to somewhere between 50 to 100 posts. Out of these posts, I received about 5-10 new jobs that brought in around $15,000 in revenue. 

Now you have the recipe for an automated lead generation process; however, we still have to convert the leads into clients. For that, let me take you behind my conversion process. 

Conversion Time

Now that we have these leads coming in, let’s look at how to convert them into clients. 

Below is the template I use for all leads. I save this as a draft with an attached resume (available on Google Drive for your convenience.) 

While each article is usually a little different, most follow a similar pattern.

I am following up on your request for a (name type of writer needed here). Based on your description I believe I should (put in relevant information you requested in your job board listing about the position here at the top, showing that I do listen to what you requested)

Here are a few articles I wrote recently to give you a feel for my writing style:

http://technorati.com/business/advertising/article/weird-email-marketing-subject-lines-can/

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/20/53-ways-to-market-your-google-plus-hangout-on-air/

http://www.steamfeed.com/using-wordpress-to-turn-website-social-network/

http://basicblogtips.com/better-social-media-results.html

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-hangouts-air-affect-search-traffic/68138/

Additionally, check out my LinkedIn profile with 13 recommendations. www.linkedin.com/in/andrewmarcnathan

Finally, attached is my resume. 

Please feel free to call me at 847-710-7093 or respond via email with any questions you have for me. 

Thanks!

Andy Nathan

Right now, this email has about a 1 out of 15-success rate. Therefore, I spend two minutes on each email then I will spend 30 minutes total for a new client. Considering some of the clients I brought in have produced thousands of dollars in revenue that is worth it in my opinion. 

Final note: I do not write free sample articles that will determine if I am paid in the future. If someone asks you to write a free article for him or her, run like the dickens

What are the downsides of the ProBlogger job board?

Now, I hate when people give this story about too-good-to-be true stories about a tool, without letting you know about any pitfalls. 

Here are the three downsides that I have found using the Problogger job board:

First, with only five or so leads coming in every day, you will have a number of days where you get no leads. In fact, sometimes I have seen up to a month stretch where I did not feel it was worthwhile to follow up on any of the leads. 

Second, this means do not quit your job and expect this to bring you a full time income right away. I still do other work for clients. The job board just made it easier for me to make money. 

Third, this is a tool to help you find prospects. It is up to you to make sure that they are the right fit for you, as well as a source of potential income. When I started in this industry, my first assignment was for $5 articles. I will never look at laser hair removal the same way again! More importantly, I will never write an article for $5 ever again. My time is more valuable than that. Determine what you believe a fair rate is ahead of time. This is where understanding your ideal client comes in.

Additionally, if you do not have the experience, go out and get it.

Do guest posts to build traffic, and use them in your portfolio. Start networking online and offline to find new clients. Be aggressive when you need to be, and then you can take the easy way out later when you have a healthy portfolio.

This process works for me, because I put in the time and effort to master my craft. Do the same, and do not expect this to be a quick fix. 

Now go forth and be a lazy freelance writer!

That is the process. You are now an expert, so get started with this process right away, so you can discover how easy it is to make money with the Problogger job board. Or if you want to make sure that I have more money in my pocket, you can just go back to your daily activities like nothing has happened. 

Either way, let me know in the comment section below what you found to be the most useful part of this tutorial? 

Andy Nathan is the founder of Smart at the Start, an internet marketing agency. He is also the author of the upcoming book, Start Up Gap. However, since he keeps getting distracted by writing guest posts, responding to Problogger job board inquiries, playing with cats, and other shiny objects, the book is not available until August. In the meantime, you can get a free copy of his eBook, 101 Online Tools: Tools you need to succeed.

10 Ways to Exponentially Grow Your Traffic in 30 Days

This is a guest contribution from Marcus Taylor of Venture Harbour.

In Western cultures, there is a prevailing belief that you ‘work your way to the top’, ‘climb the ladder’, and make slow and steady efforts to achieve success.

This way of thinking is undoubtedly a smart approach, particularly for bloggers. However, there is an equally smart, yet opposing, belief that’s more common in certain Eastern cultures: leapfrogging straight to the top.

1-exponential-trafficAt the beginning of 2014, I decided to get smart about my blogging. By concentrating on the things that made the biggest difference, I managed to exponentially grow my traffic, quadrupling it within 90 days.

How to grow your blog exponentially

Exponential growth happens when you’re effective, which is very different to being busy. We know from Pareto’s Law that 80% of results are often driven by 20% of our actions. To grow your blog exponentially, you’ll need to Identify the 20% of the 20% of the 20%, so that you’re always focusing on the one thing that will have the biggest impact.

Below are 10 examples from personal experience that can lead to exponential increases in traffic. While not all of them will be relevant to your situation, my hope is that they’ll help to get your creative juices flowing and enable you to come up with some ideas that will enable your blog to grow at a faster rate.

1. The aggregation of marginal gains

In 2010, David Brailsford had the tough job of coaching Great Britain’s cycling team for the Tour de France.

He believed in a concept called the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’, which states that if you make a 1% improvement in everything you do, they will compound into incredible results.

He started by improving the obvious things, such as the rider’s nutrition, training program, seat ergonomics, and tire weight. But he didn’t stop there.

2-aggregation-marginal-gains

David went on to discover which pillow offered the riders the best sleep, and taught them the most effective way to wash their hands to avoid infection. He searched for 1% improvements everywhere.

To cut this fascinating story short, the British team went on to win the Tour de France after just three years of using David Brailsford’s strategy.

If you made a 1% improvement in every aspect of your blogging, from your headline writing skills, to your email signup rate, and page loading speed, you’ll soon notice a compounding effect on your desired outcomes.

2. Only 30% of the World population speak English

It’s estimated that 30% of the World’s population speak English. This implies that more than two-thirds of the planet speak (and search) in non-English languages.

There is, unsurprisingly, a disproportionate amount of blogs competing over English-language traffic. This represents a huge opportunity for bloggers wanting to target traffic in non-English speaking countries.

One of my favourite case studies on exponential blog growth is of a blog that reached 1.4m visitors in under six months by targeting Japanese search terms. The strategy was simple: there are relatively few website targeting Japanese, which makes it easier to rank for competitive keywords.

A client of mine runs the site BinaryOptions.com. After noticing that his market was growing in the Middle East and Asia, he decided to translate his website in Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, and a handful of other languages using the WPML (WordPress Multi-Lingual) plugin.

Within a matter of weeks, his traffic from non-English speaking countries had almost doubled. That’s not bad for 30 minutes work installing a translation plugin.

Ideally, your content shouldn’t just be translated, it should be localised by someone with a cultural understanding of the countries and languages you’re targeting. However, in the interest of effort and reward, translation plugins can be an effective short-term solution for exponentially increasing the size of your audience.

3. Systems are the secret to scalable results

If you want to see exponential growth, you need to become ruthless with your time and build systems that run themselves. This is the only way to shift your focus away from low-value tasks towards the high-value work that you’re great at.

For virtually all of the projects that I run, I have a degree of social media automation using a combination of tools like IFTTT and Buffer, with a virtual assistant.

I’m also a huge fan of using email autoresponders and marketing automation tools to keep the communities active even when i’m not. One of my sites has had very little attention for over two years, but they still continues to grow due to ‘evergreen’ autoresponder chains that keep the community engaged.

3-email-auto-responders

 

4. Look Forward to Google’s Algorithm Updates

The majority of webmasters fear the unpredictability of algorithm updates. If your strategy is aligned with Google’s mission to deliver the best and most relevant result to users as quickly as possible (and increase their shareholder value), then they can be an event to look forward to.

One of my sites that I haven’t touched in over 18 months doubled in traffic during last month’s soft panda updates. Why? Because four of my main competitors all got wiped off of the search results for being overly short-sighted with their strategy.

4-double-traffic

While SEO is a complex area with hundreds of constantly-changing ranking factors, it can generally boiled down to a few simple principles:

  • Create the best content you can – and proactively promote it.
  • Offer the best user experience you can. Make your site beautiful, fast, and easy to use.
  • Think long term – build a brand and become the authority on your topic.

The next time Google prunes its search results, will you benefit from the short-sighted websites dropping in the ranks, or will you be one of them?

5. Could you increase your content output tenfold?

One of the most obvious ways to exponentially increase your blog’s traffic is to exponentially increase the amount of content you produce.

When growing KISSmetrics, Neil Patel found that each additional blog post he added to their blog increased weekly traffic by 18.6%. What if instead of publishing one blog post per week, you published 10, or 20?

Or, what if instead of increasing your posting frequency, you increased the length of your content?

This point ties in nicely with point three about building systems. One of the big leaps that many bloggers make is moving from it being ‘their blog’ to building a system of writers and contributors that fuel the content engine. Is it time for you to boost your content output with a team of writers?

6. Could you improve your content quality tenfold?

One counterpoint to the suggestion above is that instead of increasing your content output, you could just improve the quality of your content, multiplying its effectiveness.

While content quality is somewhat subjective, it’s fair to say that the more time we invest into a piece of content, the better it will be. Let’s say you currently spend three hours, on average, writing a blog post. What if your next piece of content took you 30 hours?

By definition, we remark upon things that are remarkable. Any blog post that takes 30+ hours to create is likely to be quite remarkable.

Ask yourself whether the last 10 posts you wrote represent your very best, and if not – would it rock the boat to write a few extremely well crafted blog posts?

7. Could one person transform your blog’s success?

“Relationships help us to define who we are and what we can become. Most of us can trace our successes to pivotal relationships” – Donald O. Clifton, and Paula Nelson.

When I first read the quote above, it hit me like a tonne of bricks. In my case, virtually all of the significant events in my career to date are owed to five or six people. I imagine this trend is true for a lot of us.

Choosing the right professional allies is incredibly important. As a blogger, you’ll unlikely achieve great success without some good allies. I recommend spending some time to identify the relationships and alliances that could skyrocket your blog’s success. Invest in those relationships.

8. Could one blog post transform your blog?

I recently discovered that Mashable wrote one article in February that generated more links and shares than 87 of their articles written in 2013 combined. Imagine if, instead of writing those 87 articles, they had written just ten of those mega-successful articles?

One of the common responses of successful bloggers when asked what they’d do differently if they started again is that they’d work smarter instead of harder.

If there was one blog post that could completely transform your blog’s success, what might it be?

9. Should you zoom-in or zoom-out?

A few years ago I met Gary Arndt during one of his trips to Melbourne. Gary is the man behind Everything Everywhere, which is generally considered to be one of the earliest travel blogs.

He told me that most travel bloggers fail because they’re too late. According to him, it’s near impossible to be a successful travel blogger starting out nowadays, as there’s just too much competition.

I agree. I think it’d be extremely difficult to be a successful ‘zoomed out’ travel blogger i.e. a travel blogger who covers every type of travel, every country, or every aspect of travelling. However, there’s probably a lot of opportunity to be a ‘zoomed-in’ niche travel blogger e.g. one who specialises in glamping, Fiji travel, or travel for yogis.

A good question for many bloggers to ask themselves is are they too zoomed-in or too zoomed-out? When your blog becomes a big fish in a little pond, it’s often healthy to expand the size of the pond – and enter additional niches.

When you’re a small fish in a big pond, it’s usually more sensible to swim in a smaller pond – and completely own that pond for a while.

10. Ten minutes planning saves one hour in execution

Brian Tracy wisely said that “every minute spent planning saves 10 minutes of execution”.

When I analysed how successful blogs such as this one, Mashable, KISSmetrics, and ConversionXL reached millions of readers, I noticed a common theme among several of them: planning.

Nick Eubank’s case study perhaps highlighted this the best: in six months he reached 1.4 million visitors by using analytical models to identify tens of thousands of keywords that were uncompetitive yet high in search volume. Through extreme planning he was able to reach an enormous audience in an incredibly short space of time.

In Summary

It’s said that there are no shortcuts to success, only direct paths. I think that, more accurately,  some direct paths are shorter than others.

Despite some of the outliers, growing a blog takes time. It will be an ongoing sequence of plateaus followed by growth spurts, followed by plateaus.

I hope that some of these ideas will translate into the next growth spurt for your blog’s traffic. If you have any thoughts on any of the ideas mentioned, or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter.

Marcus Taylor is the founder of Venture Harbour, a digital marketing agency that specialises in working with companies in the music, film, and game industries. 

 

How to Beat Your Competition Online by Trying this One Thing

This is a guest contribution from Pooja.

You look around you, and there’s competition everywhere. Companies are mushrooming day and night. You wonder how many of these are there really.

145,000 businesses each year – that’s your number. 

Competition online is fierce. Only a few years ago, marketing gurus would have suggested you try social media to beat your competitors. Now, the whole world is on social media, along with your competition, so you don’t know what else you can do.

Being on every social media platform out there is no longer enough (or necessary). It’s smarter to evaluate what you do with those accounts. 

My point? Content is no longer king. Epic content is. 

So, although it’s good that you’re utilizing social media to share more content, I’d look at how you’re sharing – is it truly epic content?

Smart marketers and entrepreneurs have shifted focus from content strategy to visual content strategy. They are sharing engaging and exciting stuff online that’s far better plain text.

Why? Because visual content rocks. It simply works better than normal text. 

A whopping 40% of people will respond better to your visual content. 

Facebook, one of the biggest online-based companies, was smart enough to understand and utilize this stat by launching Timeline a few years ago. 

Timeline saw a 65% increase in engagement for Facebook.

What does it mean for you? 

If you want to beat your competition, create great and “snackable” content with visual marketing online. 

Don’t get me wrong – you still do need text. 

But when combined the right way with visual elements, your content’s shareability and engagement can go through the roof.

How to Use Visual Content Marketing on Your Social Media

On social media, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are the four big players. But did you know there are some new cool kids on the block that you can use?

Vine is a video-sharing app launched by Twitter. Use Vine to create 6-second looping videos and promote your message. 

Lowe’s uses Vine to share quick home-improvement how-to tips – here’s one that teaches you how to keep squirrels away from your plants.

Lowes Vine Channel

Lowes on Vine

If you’re in the business of complex data and statistics, you can create cool infographics that deliver the point across in a much more entertaining and quicker manner. 

Visme is a great tool to create beautiful infographics (and a lot more like presentations, CTAs, banners) for free. Canva is another favourite design tool to create customized images for your blog or website.

There are tons of other tools that won’t cost you a fortune to create easy-to-digest or snackable visual data. 

The Shift from Social to Visual-Social in 3 Ways

#1 Create Your Own

Remarkably, 80% of the pins on Pinterest are repins. 

That means if you become one of those 20% original creators of good content, your followers will do the heavy-lifting for you happily. 

So focus on creating awesome, mind-blowing visual content. Like I shared earlier, there are a lot of tools at your disposal and they won’t cost you a thing.

It’s very easy to create original and traffic-driving content with a smartphone. 

Get creative and think outside the box by capturing pictures and running them through a few filters by using apps like Instagram or Phonto among others.

Or you can also invest a small fee in a professional photo-editing program like PicMonkey. 

#2 Mix Up Text and Images

Images with text descriptions and overlays are even more effective. Sometimes, an image alone may not convey a point you want to share. 

Text works like a charm in this case.

You can also add purposeful copy like a call-to-action to your image. And you don’t even have to use a lot of words. Like this one by Dropbox:

dropbox-cta

Or this one. BirchBox uses contrasting colors and rich imagery with call-to-action text that tells a viewer what to do next.

Discover your next everything   Birchbox

#3 Optimize Your Images for SEO

We don’t really know what goes inside the head of Google. The Google ranking recipe has about 200 different ingredients that make it so smart. 

Some of these are having strong blog titles, keyword density and optimizing image filename, captions and alt tags for keywords.

It’s not enough to have amazing visual content – you must be found by people before they share your content at all.

Google loves images and is happy to send you a ton of image-based traffic.

Make sure all your visual content is optimized for keywords you’re aiming. Otherwise, it’s a lot of effort gone down the drain!

All you have to do is change your code like this if your keyword is “Soccer Player”.

<img src=”soccer-player.jpg” alt=”Soccer Player”/>

Another cool tip is to optimize the size of your image for faster load times (without compromising on the quality of course). The faster your site loads, the more points Google gives you.

Don’t forget the good ol’ caption for your images. They are pretty widely read (due to the real-estate they acquire), only next to your blog titles.

In conclusion, don’t just have visual content but create a visual content strategy to humanize interactions.

Are you creating visual content to beat your competition? If not, what’s stopping you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Pooja has been featured on Problogger, Firepole, JeffBullas, MarketingProfs, Hongkiat and more. She teaches aspiring writers how to become self-employed, create wealth and live better lives by launching their online writing biz. Steal her free mini-course to make your first $1000 (and more) writing at home

Top Tips to Help You Nail That Blogging Job Application

Image via flazingo.com

Image via flazingo.com

This is a guest contribution from Steff Green, of WorkflowMax.

Recently I wrote a post about my experiences as a company looking to hire another blogger for our team. Today I’m putting on my blogger hat and I’m looking at what the experience taught me about how a blogger can improve his/her chances of landing a blogging job at a company.

Who am I? I’m Steff. I used to be a freelance blogger, but one of my clients, WorkflowMax – a cloud-based project management software for service businesses – offered me a full-time position as a blogger, I jumped at the chance.

The advantages of a permanent blogging job

Quite often “make money blogging” gurus focus on the advantages of being a freelance blogger – working for a variety of clients, being in control, multiple income streams, creating passive income through products, etc – while playing down the 9-5 lifestyle. I’ve done them both, and can say that the 9-5 lifestyle definitely has its advantages.

I love blogging, but I didn’t love the 100 emails a day, the client stress, the 80+ hour weeks and the managing of the business itself that came with being a freelancer. By blogging for a company, I get to do what I love – write – all day, about topics that help small businesses succeed, and come home in the evening and work on my own projects.

Part 1: Finding a Blogging Job

“And that’s all very well, Steff” I hear you say, “but where ARE these mysterious blogging jobs? I hang out on the Problogger job boards all day, and all I see are freelance positions.”

That’s probably because you’re not looking in the right place.

A recruiter is not going to advertise a salaried position on a job board for freelancers. That would be silly. She is going to advertise in the same places she usually advertises – on local and national job boards, on internal listings, on the company’s website. A salaried blogging job ad will look just like any other job ad.

One thing to do is to look at companies you would love to work for. Look at tech companies, larger retail shops, tourist attractions like museums and galleries, B2B service companies – these are the types of firms that might employ a blogger. Check out their website – do they have a blog? Is it awesome? Could it use a little TLC?

The type of marketing software a company uses can also provide a clue as to their content needs. For example, a company using Hubspot is probably going to have a huge focus on inbound marketing and content creation, which means there’ll might be an opportunity for you there.

The key thing to remember when trawling the job ads is that your dream blogging job might not actually include the word “blog” in the title. Companies aren’t looking for “just” a blogger – they are looking for a writer who can own a wide variety of communications, of which a blog may play a large role. As an employee, a blogger might be dealing with general copywriting for web and print, creating ebooks or whitepapers, managing a team of content creators, or updating social media. When looking at job titles and keywords, you’ll find roles like: content creator, copywriter, in-bound marketer, SEO-outreach writer, digital communications, digital marketer, etc.

For example, I am a “marketing copywriter”, but because our blog is a huge part of our inbound marketing strategy, blogging and creating ebooks is a significant portion of my job.

Keep a close eye on the career pages for a content creator position. You can set up alerts to email you whenever jobs are posted that meet your criteria – that way, you will always see the latest job posts as soon as they go live without having to check back every day. Contact the marketing department and ask about guest-blogging or freelancing opportunities. If they are underutilizing their blog, offer to take over its management on a contract basis. Make yourself an indispensable resource. If you’re already on the radar when an opportunity for a job comes up, they’re gonna look to you first.

 

Part 2: The resume

So you’ve found an awesome-looking blogging job at a cool company. Now you’ve got to prepare your resume and send that in.

Here are some of my resume tips, based on what worked for me, and what I noticed in the resumes I vetted in order to find the right writer for our job:

  • If you’re applying for a writing job, your spelling and grammar better be PERFECT. So check your resume a hundred times, and then have a friend or relative who’s nit-picky about grammar have a look over it. A fresh pair of eyes will catch a few things you’ve missed.
  • Create a structure for your resume. The standard structure is to begin with your education, working backwards in time, and following this with your work history. I don’t want to see it all jumbled up (and yes, we did receive resumes with literally NO structure – just a list of random qualifications and descriptions).
  • You need to demonstrate that you are versatile and able to take on a variety of jobs. Companies aren’t just looking for a blogger – the role you’re applying for may cover both print and web/social media, and may include elements of SEO, web copy, PR, internal communications, and many other elements.
  • If you’ve been freelancing, simply list it like another job: The time period, the types of the projects you’ve worked on, results you achieved, and some of your clients. On my resume, I have a section where I highlight three clients – I explain the work I did for them and the results I achieved, as well as a short testimonial. It’s powerful stuff.
  • I want to see links to samples! Please don’t make me ask for them.
  • If you list your personal blog, I am going to check it out. Don’t list it if you don’t want us to read it and then talk about it in the interview. (Erotica writers and political columnists, I’m talking to you!)
  • I really liked the resumes that include a three-sentence “mission statement” at the beginning of the document.
  • Blogging is very results-driven, so we want to see some of your results. One of the mistakes many candidates make is focusing on their responsibilities. We’re more interested in learning what you achieved. For example, saying, “I managed the blog at WorkflowMax” is weak, but “I increased the visitor to lead conversion rate from 3% to 5.5%” is very powerful and specific. Have you landed a guest post on an A-list blog? Doubled a client’s traffic? Wrote something that went viral? Increased social media likes or improved the bounce rate? We want to hear about it.
  • When choosing samples, choose around three of your best pieces demonstrating your skills. It helps if they are aimed at a similar audience or from a similar industry as my company, but it isn’t essential. Choose different types of writing, such as a blog post, a chapter from an ebook, and a website page or EDM. When I look at samples, I want to know – can this writer grab my attention? Are they technically competent? Does this piece offer something different, or is it just the same-old rehashed info? Is the writer versatile? Can he/she get results?

 

Part 3: The Cover Letter

Alongside your resume, I’ll be reading through your cover letter. While your resume proves your writing experience, your cover letter showcases your voice and your personality. So what makes a cover letter stand out?

  • Again, if I see spelling and grammar mistakes in your cover letter, I’m not going to be very forgiving, as you are applying for a role as a writer.
  • Don’t just rehash what I’m going to read in your resume. The cover letter is a classic example of a piece of writing that benefits from “show, don’t tell”. Don’t tell me you’re awesome, SHOW me. Impress me with your writing skills, your results, and your personality.
  • Tailor the cover letter to each job you apply for. Often, candidates are applying for several jobs at once, which is fine, but I only want to give this job to someone who really wants it. Highlight specifics that demonstrate you’re the right candidate for THIS job. And spell my name correctly. This really helps.
  • Depending on the company, don’t be afraid to showcase your creativity. You are being hired for a creative role, after all. One of the candidates for our job wrote her cover letter in the style of a typical blog post. There was a catchy, SEO headline, sub-headings, lists, and a call-to-action at the end. It was really clever and definitely made her stand out. She went on to the interview stage.

 

Part 4: The Interview

You’ve impressed the recruiter with your resume and cover letter – and you’ve been invited for an in-person interview.

Some companies, like ours, might preface the in-person interview with a quick phone interview with the recruiter. The recruiter will assess whether the candidate demonstrate passion for the role and the company, and whether the candidate will be an asset to the company based on the brand values. Think of this as another opportunity to show how excited you are about the job, and you’ll be invited in for the interview.

How do you make the best impression as a blogger? Here are some tips and things to remember for the interview:

  • We know you can write. We know you’ve got the right experience. The interview is all about seeing if you’re a good fit for our team.
  • Take the time to get to know the company before the interview. We are going to assume you know something about the product or industry you’re going to be writing about. If you don’t, we’re going to think you don’t want the job. Come prepared to answer the question, “So, what do we do?”
  • It should go without saying, but it helps to show up on time and be nicely dressed.
  • Remember that the interview is your opportunity to interview us, as well. If we offer you the job, you are going to need to decide if you want to work with us. So don’t forget to ask questions – come prepared with a few. We were asked about our company culture, what the team was like, what kind of work a candidate would do in a given week, what opportunities were there for professional development.
  • Bring a copy of your resume and some writing samples to show us.

 

Part 5: The Writing Sample

We asked our candidates to complete a short writing test (it’s common in our company to have developers, etc, complete a test, so it made sense to get our candidates to do the same thing). Here are some tips on writing a company-specific sample:

  • It should go without saying, but read some of the company’s content. If you’ve been asked to write a blog post, then read some of their posts. Look carefully at the style, the tone, the layout.
  • Read the instructions carefully; make sure you understand what you need to do.
  • The sample doesn’t have to be ready-to-publish perfect, but it should be close.
  • Go the extra mile on a blog writing sample by including links to other resources or other articles on our blog, an image suggestion.
  • Have a grammar-hungry friend or family member read over your sample before you send it in, to catch any mistakes. Spelling and grammar mistakes count heavily against you when applying for a writing job.

 

Part 7: References

You’ve impressed at the interview and I’m thinking you’re the perfect candidate for our job. Now there’s only one thing standing between you and an awesome full-time writing gig – your references.

  • You’ll need to supply at least two solid references. If you were previously in paid employment, these need to be your direct managers. Human Resources want to talk to people who you’ve worked closely with and who can speak to your performance.
  • If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you’ll need to approach two clients about operating as references. It helps if you can choose two clients with more of a corporate structure – many freelancers work with small business owners, who aren’t as appealing to HR. Look for clients where you had more of a direct reporting role – perhaps working closely with a brand manager, marketing exec, etc. These make great references as they speak the lingo the HR department is looking for.
  • We want to talk to references from recent positions. Don’t include details for employers / clients that are several years old. Their data on you is no longer relevant.
  • Talk to your references before including them. It’s awkward when the HR rep gets your reference on the phone and they have no idea why they’re being asked for a reference.

With more companies using blogging as a way to generate buzz and target customers, bloggers now have the option of seeking permanent employment doing what they love. With a bit of preparation and some common sense, you could ace that interview and be on your way to becoming a company blogger!

Steff Green is the content manager for WorkflowMax, cloud-based job andproject management software that tackles everything from leads, quotes, time sheeting, invoicing, reporting, and more. You can find her writing business advice for creative agencies, architects, IT companies and other business that bill by time on theWorkflowMax blog.

5 Key Elements for a Successful Women’s Blog

Image via Flickr user Liquine

Image via Flickr user Liquine

This is a guest contribution by Renee from Beautifille.com

This year marks 10 years of my blogging career, and after starting several women’s blogs (some successful, some not), and being an avid reader of them myself, I’ve learn the key elements in what makes a blog “make it” or not. Here they are.

Key #1: Make Sure Your Blog is Visually Great

I usually try not to generalize, but let’s face it: women like pretty things. We notice, pay attention and are attracted by how something looks. Having a good blog design is vital because at the end of the day, your blog design and layout is the first impression for a reader (who is very happy to click that X button right away). 

So what makes a good-looking women’s blog? In my opinion, it’s simplicity with a feminine touch. A minimalist layout with pinch of feminine color palettes work very well (lilac, reds, pinks and pastels), as shown in these top blogs for women:

cupcakes-and-cashmere-blog

Cupcakes and Cashmere has a very clean white, gray and pale pink color scheme.

 refinery29-blog

Refinery29 has a bold yet feminine look with a color scheme of black, white, mint green and salmon pink. 

brit-co-blog

Brit.co also has a clean site with subtle primary colors, keeping her site light and airy. 

The second thing that makes a blog look great are the photos. Great photos will go a long way on blogs, but even more if your audience is women. Always start your blog post with a nice, attractive photo, and make sure your photos are big; small photos do not capture attention enough in my opinion. Your photo don’t have to look super-professional or “glossy” like in fashion magazines (mine never are) but make sure they are visually attractive; i.e. no blurriness, basic composition and bright, good colors (this can be edited on your computer). Picmonkey.com is a great free service that many of the top women bloggers use to make your pictures visually better. It allows for cropping, color correction, and sleek layouts.

Key #2: Find your “niche women demographic”

Sure, “women aged 16-24” is a demographic, but rather than age, I found it best to have a “niche women demographic” – find your group of women (or your “tribe”, as they say these days) within that fashion community. For example, you could be a denim fashion blogger. Or a punk-rock fashion blogger that writes about edgier stuff, or an “indie” fashion blogger. Likewise, instead of just another beauty blog, make it a cruelty-free beauty blog or an “over 40 women’s beauty blog.” Finding an even tighter niche than just “all women”; will allow you to properly find an even tighter community and thrive in that area. Not to mention, this is also great for branding your blog. 

free-people-blog

Free People’s blog does this well: their blog covers a range of topics, but for a certain type of girl: one who lives a “care-free”, natural, Earthy lifestyle. 

Key #3: Offer value to your readers

This is a continuation from the point above, but in your niche demographic, you should still strive to not be like everyone else. It’s important in this day and age in the blogging world – because there is literally millions of competition – to offer value to your readers. Personal style posts are great, but they’re a dime a dozen these days, and after awhile, people get bored. Same with beauty blogs that just review a product in every post. Make sure to not only show your outfit posts or beauty posts but also offer something of value. Share your personal style tips with your posts, offer honest thoughts on the product, or give personal shopping recommendations on where to get the best bargain. You need to stand out, offer value and make your site different than the others. 

Key #4: Present information clearly

Shopping posts make up a fair bit amount of blogs for women no matter what the niche (what women doesn’t love to shop?), so make sure your “shoppable” posts are done right. Keep them clean and easy to see. Personally, for my shoppable posts, I number the items in the collage clearly (make sure there are no fancy artist work, fonts, or cluttered images pasted together) and number the links immediately underneath. Also, I link to shops that offer international shipping so it’s even easier for my readers. 

 js-everyday-fashion

A blogger who does shopping posts well is J’s Everyday Fashion. As shown above, there is nothing else to distract from clearly showing the reader what she is clicking through, and from where. 

Key #5: Stay away from the drama

It happens with every niche, but I have witnessed some not-so-favorable behavior behind some women bloggers. After all these years I’ve managed to keep myself out of it, which would be my tip on taking your blog to the next level: just stay out of it. There is nothing that will make your blog (and “brand”) look unprofessional and gain a bad reputation than getting involved in drama, gossip or cliques. Stay out of it, and watch your words too: no “bitching” or complaining (even passive aggressively) on blog posts or social media. This is especially vital with negative comments you may receive – do not lash back or be rude. Always be graceful with all your dealings on your blog, whether it’s on the front page or behind the scenes. 

Renee is the creator of Beautifille.com, a beauty & self-improvement lifestyle site for women. Subscribe for free emails to learn how to improve your confidence, build your true, inner beauty and get the best “naturally you” beauty and style tips.

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.