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10 Ways To Stay Productive as a Work-at-Home Blogger

10 ways to stay productive as a work-at-home blogger - don't tell me you don't need these tips! On ProBlogger.net.This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

Working from home sounds like a pretty cushy job. You can wear whatever you like, eat as often as you want, text your friends, run errands, and be at home with your family, all while being employed. However, that list of things can often make it difficult to accomplish your work.

If you’re struggling to find a productive schedule as a freelance blogger, consider these tips.

Find Your Groove

Everyone has a groove that spurs productivity. Maybe you need to sit in your office chair with the lights off, blinds shut, and a fuzzy blanket on your lap. Or maybe you need to have a clear view of the sunshine and wear your lucky socks. Maybe your groove requires waking up and going straight to work without eating or showering. Everyone has a different groove, and if you find yours, you’ll find your most productive hours.

Dress Up

It’s pretty cool that you can go to work in your pajamas and fuzzy slippers, wrapped up in your Snuggie. However, that comfort zone may be your downfall. Wearing clothes that are too comfortable can often lead to a stronger desire to relax rather than work. Dressing up in your business professional clothing can help working at home feel more like working in an office, and you might find your productivity spike.

Manage Projects

Stay organized by managing your projects. Whether you write just one blog or you ghost write for 20, there are several tools you can use to stay organized both on the computer and off.

For example, there are software tools and apps that make invoicing, scheduling, and emailing extremely easy. Or if your projects aren’t very complex, you can use a simple white board to keep track of your daily tasks and mark them off as you go. Either way, stay organized to help you stay on track.

Remove Distractions

Email, cell phones, kids, roommates, pets, food, television—all of these are some of the most tempting distractions for freelance writers, and if you want to find productivity, you’ll get them out of the way. Go somewhere to work where you won’t be distracted by your surroundings, and set aside separate time to check your phone and email so that you’re not doing it during your most productive time.

Set Specific Work Hours

Scheduling your time is extremely important for having a constructive day if you make a schedule that works specifically for you. Choosing your own schedule is one of the better perks of working at home, after all.

When are your most productive hours? When do you work most slowly? Some bloggers have their most productive hours between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Others have it from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Whatever time works best for you, make sure you build your schedule around that.

Make Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals

Both short and long-term goals do wonders for inspiring creativity and helping you stay productive. If you’re a work at home blogger, you’re probably goal oriented and deadline driven. Each day, write out your goals for your desired progress and tack it to your office wall. Similarly, define weekly and monthly goals that you’re constantly striving to achieve.

Log Out of Social Media

Social media is incredibly useful for promoting your writing and networking with others. However, when you’re supposed to be writing, it’s basically the antithesis of productivity. During your scheduled work hours, log out of social media. Better yet, block your favorite networks on your computer until a certain time or ask a trusted friend to change the password for you until you’ve finished your work for the day.

Make Time for Exercise

Sitting at your desk chair all day long not only contributes to lost muscle mass and definition, but it also makes you feel less alert and can contribute to lost productivity. When you stay stationary all day long, it can make you feel sleepier and fog your thoughts. Setting aside time for exercise on a daily basis can boost your efficiency by making you more alert and motivated, all while leading to a healthier lifestyle.

Eat Healthy Meals

Another thing that contributes to fatigue and lack of motivation is sugary, unhealthy food. These make it so that you don’t feel 100 percent, which makes it difficult to work efficiently. Healthy meals and reduced snacking on sugary treats can make you feel more alert and healthy, which enhances your abilities to perform your daily tasks.

Prepare the Day Before

As a work at home blogger, your schedule can fluctuate from day to day, but you can still benefit from preparing for your workload a day in advance. Write out all of the tasks you need to complete the next day and even a tentative schedule for completing them.

Furthermore, prepare yourself and your office space. You might set out your clothes or prepare your lunch. You might also clean up your office and pull out any resources you might need for the next day’s tasks. A cleaner, more prepared office makes it easy to go straight to work without worrying about a mess.

Further Reading: 5 Ways to Make Your Blogging Life Easier.

Productive blogging takes practice and a series of trial and error, but once you figure it out, the freer lifestyle is worthwhile.

How do you stay productive when goofing off is a more appealing option?

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

3 Places Your Best Ideas Are Hiding In Your First Drafts

Many bloggers write drafts and then ‘edit’ their writing – but ‘revising’ is a little different and is definitely a good exercise.

Today I came across a great short video by Beth Dunn from Hubspot that was recorded earlier in the year at the Inbound conference.

In the video Beth talks about ‘fixing your writing’ by learning to ‘revise’ your work.

There’s lots of take home points in this video but what resonated with me most were the three points Beth makes about the places in your first drafts that your best ideas often hide (at around the 9.30 mark).

These best ideas (or the ‘screws’ or the ‘points’ as Beth calls them) are often the things that you need to pay particular attention to and that you should make the centre pieces of your revised drafts.

These points regularly can be found:

The Change

The place in our writing where we hit a fork in the road and it changes course in some way. Some writers call this the pivot.

For me in my writing I find myself regularly feeling tempted to take a tangent in my writing halfway through a post and have trained myself to take note while I writing of these moments because they are often golden moments that can trigger me to completely change what I’m writing or that lead to followup posts.

The Laugh

The moment while you’re writing when while you’re writing something just ‘lurches out onto the page’ and you laugh out loud and wonder where it came from.

This reminds me of a post I wrote back in 2011 about ‘Listening to Your Inner Crazy Voice‘ where I identified that I’ve noticed that many times my best ideas have made me either laugh or gasp when I’ve had them.

As I wrote back then:

In each case, the reaction I had straight after having the idea was to either laugh or gasp. In most cases, the reaction was the same when I told those around me. I’m learning that the laugh and gasp reactions are good. They tell you that you’ve thought of something a little out of the box—something that will, at the very least, get noticed.

The End

The vast majority of your great ideas will be found at the end of your first draft.

This resonated with me very strongly. I regularly find that after banging out a post that the crux of what I say is in my conclusion.

This is logical in many ways – we spend a lot of time exploring an idea in our writing and after all that grappling with the topic we refine our idea to the point where they’re a lot better when we’ve finished than when we started.

In some ways the first draft becomes the opportunity for us to think out loud to help us get to ‘the point’ or the idea.

The mistake at this point is simply to publish what we’ve written. Rather – treat your first draft as the raw material for what comes next. Take that idea that you’ve refined and make it the centrepiece of your writing.

ProBlogger FAQ: How Often Should I Post?

ProBlogger FAQ - How often should I post Darren gives his answer : problogger.net

Post frequency is a topic that comes up often among bloggers. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started or you’ve been posting for years – people change, algorithms change, and even your motivations for blogging change. No-one is immune from wondering if their schedule is working, or if tweaks can be made for more successful audience interaction.

As I said in my previous FAQ post on how long posts should be – it depends on several factors. The length of posts, the frequency of posting, and definitely post content all require trial and error, and for the blogger to know what their readers respond to best.

There’s been a shift I’ve seen lately – two shifts, actually – in posting schedules that work for certain bloggers posting certain content.

There’s the shift toward following the Upworthy/BuzzFeed model of 10-20 posts a day, and others doing slow, longer, deeper posts.

The choice can even depend on your monetizing model. If you are dependent upon banner ads, your’e going to need more posts. More eyeballs mean more clicks, which mean more money can be made that way.

If you’re selling a product or service, then you’ll do better with slower paced, deeper content. You’ll notice that’s what we’ve been experimenting with here on ProBlogger recently.

Finding a posting schedule requires some homework on the part of the blogger – checking their Analytics to see what posts work best, what times work best, and at what speed. You can canvass your audience for their opinion outright by asking them on Facebook, email newsletters or including the question in your regular surveys and make your decision based on their answer. You also need to canvass yourself – how many posts can you reasonably fit into your schedule before quantity overcomes quality?

In this post on How Many Posts Should a Blogger Post I go into detail about the pros and cons of daily blogging, which might help you make your decision. Of course there are benefits of both, and sometimes it can take a while of testing before you find which works best for you.

You might also find this post useful where our guest writer Ali Luke discusses the surprising answer she found to the universal question.

Have you struggled with this? Or have you found the perfect posting schedule? I’d love to hear in the comments.

How to Create Awesome Content From Your Next Event Experience

Image via Flickr user richard.scott1952

Image via Flickr user richard.scott1952

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn your target audience’s biggest pain points

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

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

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

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

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

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

Build a network of influencers and content promoters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask your customers about their favourite blogs and websites

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

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

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

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

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

Interview influencers and thought leaders in your industry

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

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

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

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

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

More content ideas

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

Are you getting the most from your event attendance?

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

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

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

 

 

Blog Post Idea: Answer a Beginner Question

Stuck for content ideas for your blog? Here is a type of blog post that might spark an idea or two for you – it could even spark ideas for a whole series.

It is something that should be relevant to most niches and topics of blog so pick one, write it up, and when you’re done I’d love to see it in comments below.

A question I had when I started out

NewImage

Sometimes the best received posts are the ones for beginners on topics that help them really get started out in whatever pursuit you are writing about.

This is one of my favourite techniques for coming up with ideas to write about is to simply think back a year, two or ten and think about the questions and challenges that I had at that time.

Then I write the answer that I’ve since discovered to that question.

It might seem a bit silly writing about something so beginner or basic but you’ll if you were asking it you can bet others are still asking it today.

Beginners are often an ignored reader in many niches so paying them attention can be a powerful technique.

It’s also great for creating content that will potentially rank well in search engines as Google is a place many people go to ask the questions they’re too embarrassed to ask their friends.

Examples

Beginner photography question

On dPS some of our most popular posts of all time are answering really simple beginner questions. For example my How to Hold a Camera post was inspired by my own mistakes as a kid taking blurry photos.

As I’ve previously written on ProBlogger – that How to hold a camera post was something so basic I nearly didn’t publish it. But to this day it’s had over 600,000 visitors to it (with more arriving every day).

Beginner blogging question

A similar example here on ProBlogger is my ‘what is a blog?’ post. I wrote the post in 2005 and to this day it still gets traffic!

Exercise

So think back – what questions did you used to ask about the topic or topics you write about? Come up with a list and start working through them.

You might even come up with enough to start a weekly or monthly series of posts for those just starting out.

Once you’ve brainstormed get to work and write your post. Once it is published feel free to share a link below so we can see what you wrote!

How to Create Your Guest Blogging Strategy [with a 5 step template]

This is a guest contribution from Toby JenkinsScreen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.08.01 amMy business partner Adam Franklin attended the ProBlogger Event on the Gold Coast in 2014, and returned fired up and with a whole heap of take-homes.  At the ProBlogger Event, Darren spoke of success being a matter of doing the ordinary things. Specifically, to start, put readers first, be useful, find your rhythm, create meaning, and persist!

This has inspired me to share this recent guest blogging story.

We’re not talking about guest blogging that Google frowns upon, but high-value blogging via influencer outreach. Guest blogging is a hot topic we’ve been asked a ton of questions about lately and with good reason.

If creating great content is the first step, then promoting your content is the crucial second step. Guest blogging is a powerful way to do just that as you get to write for a whole new audience!

As well as helping you dodge some of the key mistakes, planning your guest blogging strategy will help you find, evaluate and target the best blogging opportunities.

When I blogged for fellow Aussie blogger Jeff Bullas

Jeff Bullas was ranked #11 on Forbes list of “Social Media Power Influencers” and he accepted my post called 6 Critical Types of Social Media You Must Plan For. Here are some of the exciting results:

> Record Month

This post helped us hit a record month in website traffic.

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> Landing page visits skyrocketed

I had a call to action in the article and linked to our Negative Comments Response Template (for Social Media) landing page. Visits to this page skyrocketed and so too did email opt-ins.

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> 4000+ Social Shares

Jeff’s huge social media community, and particularly his Twitter following, meant that the post received a ton of social shares too:

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> 50 National Media Mentions

It caught the attention of Fairfax Media.  Finally, when we sent this post to our Bluewire News subscribers, a journalist replied and asked if I was interested in writing an op-ed piece for Fairfax Media (one of the largest media companies in Australia). Of course I agreed! 

So I wrote a more concise op-ed piece called “He’s been questioned by police” and it was published on the Sydney Morning Herald homepage two days later, and syndicated across all 50 online Fairfax publications and three blogs:

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

For the SEO geeks, these 50 backlinks were from news websites with domain authorities ranging from DA38 to DA92 and I was fortunate to have a follow backlink in my bio.

Building backlinks, watching traffic spike and getting qualified subscribers are all exciting outcomes. I was genuinely surprised (and stoked of course!) that this article had struck a chord. 

You can see why guest blogging can be a powerful tool.

Why did we approach Jeff Bullas? 

Aside from being a Forbes Social Media Power Influencer, there were a number of strategic reasons why we asked Jeff.

In short, he has a hugely popular social media marketing blog, followers in excess of 250,000 and we had built a strong relationship with him over the years. We also knew he accepted high quality guest posts. 

I’d aspired to write for Jeff’s blog for a long time so I’ll use it as an example as we go.

How to create your Guest Blogging Strategy 

For the rest of this post I’m going to take you step by step through the Guest Blogging Strategy Template.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.11.26 am

(If you’re really keen you might like to download our free Guest Blogging Strategy Template and fill it out as you work your way through this post – if not, then just read on!). 

1. Brainstorm Your Targets

This doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out process. Take 15 minutes to brainstorm and list some of the blogs you’d like to write for. An easy way is to simply google blogs in your niche; for example “social media blogs” or “gardening blogs”.

Large or small, seemingly impossible or really easy, just get them down. Sometimes this can feel like you have waaay too many options. That’s ok – the next steps will help you prioritise your target blogs.

2. Research Your Numbers

> Domain Authority:

One of the fastest free ways to check domain authority is to use Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool:Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.11.58 am

Jeffbullas.com has a Domain Authority of 71/100 which is really strong. To put this in context, Google.com is 100/100, Forbes.com is 97/100, and Bluewiremedia.com.au is currently 46/100. From an SEO standpoint alone, a backlink from Jeff’s website would be really valuable to us.

The Mozbar plugin makes this step really easy by showing the Open Site Explorer info on any blog you visit:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.12.43 am> Traffic Rank:

For this use Alexa’s free traffic rank analytics tool:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.13.06 am

Result:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.13.45 am

Jeff’s website gets a ton of traffic which means that the article would be seen by lots of relevant people.

> Number of email subscribers in their list:

Jeff doesn’t actually publish his email subscriber numbers, but many others do:

Problogger: [or just look to right hand side of your screen :-) ]

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BufferApp:

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Convince and Convert:

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Email lists are a great indicator that the time you spend writing your content will be rewarded when it is seen by a large relevant audience.

> Blog subscribers:

Searching through Feedly will allow you to get blog subscriber numbers:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.15.17 pm

> Twitter Followers:

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

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> Facebook fans:

Facebook fan numbers are easy to find too:

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As you can see getting these numbers isn’t a long process. In fact it could be a piece of research that you ask an assistant to help you with.

3. People and outreach

As a part of your research, find out the contact person for each blog and their email address.

> Strength of relationship

Jeff has built an incredible audience, following and reputation. We’ve deliberately got to know him over the last few years by interviewing him in person and on our podcast, following his work on social media and inviting him to speak at our Social Media Down Under conference.

Because we’ve known him for a long time and nurtured a relationship, Jeff was much more likely to trust our content and therefore to post it and share it with his audience.

> Outreach

Then it’s outreach time.  I wrote him a short email:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.18.22 pm

He accepted it, tweaked the title and posted it the next day.
The point worth emphasising here is that Jeff is a high-value, power blogger so without our long ‘getting to know you’ process our chances of acceptance would’ve been much slimmer. You’ll see it took years of proactively getting to know Jeff and this email was the final stage of following a deliberate process.  I’ve outlined all the steps in our Blogger Outreach Email Template. 

If you do get knocked back, don’t let it get you down, just read How to Handle Guest Post Rejection and get back on the horse. You can tweak the post and try again or submit it to a new blog.

4. Content and SEO

> How interesting is your content going to be to their audience?

Once you’ve determined that it’s definitely an audience you’d like to reach, then it’s crucial that you tailor your content for them. 

I thought my article on handling social media comments had a very good chance of being interesting to Jeff’s audience.

Please note: Ultimately making your content interesting to their audience is the single biggest factor in the success of your guest blogging. Understanding the different angles of your story that will enable you to tell it to different audiences is a deal maker and breaker. 

There are lots of ways you can craft your experiences and stories to fit different audiences.

For example, I wrote for a cloud accounting software business called Saasu and aligned our marketing content with financial reviews to make it more relevant:

How To Use Your Financial Reviews To Improve Your Marketing.

And another one I wrote for outsourcing giant oDesk discussed managing remote marketing projects: 10 Minutes Can Transform Your Remote Projects.

In order to make sure the post would be interesting to Jeff’s audience, I also reviewed what other articles had been written on comment handling on his blog to make sure it would add to their points and not just rehash them. I found an earlier post and linked to it in my article to demonstrate that I had done my homework. 

I also reviewed other guest blog posts to make sure my article would match the style.

> SEO

From an SEO standpoint, I made sure I had my bio linking back to our website, specifically where people can download our 33 free marketing templates and I had a call to action to download the Negative Comments Response Template.  I’d decided to target the keyword phrase ‘negative comments handling’ using the free Keyword Tool.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.19.09 pm

5. Activity

Then it’s a matter of getting in, writing the article, hitting your deadlines and making sure you give yourself the best chance of success.

Hopefully this Guest Blogging Strategy Template can help you focus on the opportunities that will get you the best results, fastest. The little bit of research upfront will really prepare and help you to make the most of the effort you put into the guest blog post itself.

Comments?

What else do you look for when assessing guest blog opportunities? I’ll see you in the comments and the most informative commenter wins a copy of my book!

Toby Jenkins is an Olympic Water Polo player and co-author of Web Marketing That Works. You can download his 33 free marketing templates.

10 Quick Tips for Going Viral

This is a guest post from Jerry Low.

If you’re on the web, your site and blog are likely unique – but one thing all blogs have in common is the drive for new subscribers and increased traffic. In the past few years, we’ve learned about the power of going viral – every blogger’s dream. But going viral is not always something that you can plan… or is it?

Here are 10 ways to increase your chances of going viral and hitting blogger gold:

Square one: Know that it can be done

Going viral isn’t like catching the fabled leprechaun – it does exist. At square one, you’ll need two things to make it happen: (1) Great, unique content, and (2) Crazy awesome outreach and promotional skills.

Here’s the thing – 99 percent of us don’t have that fat wad of cash sitting around that huge marketing campaigns require. Additionally, with respect to #2, 99 percent of us don’t have access to insider information – which is why it’s very hard for the “little guy” to go viral.

Note: very hard does not mean impossible; it can be done if you are smart and hard working.

Take, for example, Richard’s post on Link building tools – the post, published early on in Clambr’s days, received 2,000 FB likes, 100+ Google+ +1s, and 300+ tweets… no chump change. Early on – with little expendable budget – done thanks to great content and great social media and outreach skills.

Tip 1 – Getting the basics done right

If your post isn’t easily sharable, the odds of it going viral are slim at best. The most basic element of going viral is ensuring that your content has easy pass through via clearly visible social sharing icons. Use a Click-to-Share plugin (as Garrett Moon suggested earlier) if it helps.

Beyond share-ability, you need to have your other basics aligned.

slow site speed

Image credit: Mashable.

For starters, make sure that you blog loads fast enough – slow loads lose visitors. Additionally, within your actual post, make sure that you have a clear call to action – if you’re wanting to go viral, make sure that you ask your followers and readers to share your content – clearly and visibly.

And finally, make sure that you have the SEO fundamentals down – your site and post need to be easy to find through search engines.

Tip 2 – Be trend leading

You can’t go viral if you’re saying the same thing as everyone else – you have a better chance of getting your content read when a topic is trending (and you’re on the forefront of it or offering a unique perspective).

It’s common sense why trending content gets higher click-through rates on social media; that’s the content people are interested in. But beyond the “Trending on Twitter” feed, you can also use Google trends to find search trends – from there, it’s about creating relevant, quality content on that topic.

Tip 3 – Write list posts

List posts are notorious for increasing SEO ranking – but they’re also notorious for attracting readers (why else do you think sites like BuzzFeed and Tumblr have exploded). This list format is appealing because of the unique topics, original insight, and easy readability. In fact, after analyzing 100 million articles, Noah Kagan from OkDork concluded that list posts receive more average shares than other types of blogposts. ‘Nuff said.

shares by content

Tip 4 – LOL, Win, OMG, Cute, Trasy, Rail, and WTF

No, I didn’t just walk off a high school campus. BuzzFeed has identified several specific content categories that most of its successful content fits into – the seven categories include:

  • LOL – humorous content
  • Win – useful content
  • OMG – shocking content
  • Cute – cute content (think fuzzy baby animals)
  • Trashy – ridiculous fails… typically of others
  • Fail – something that everyone’s frustrated with
  • WTF – strange, bizarre content

Beyond that advice, though, are the studies that suggest that positive content is more likely to go viral than negative content. For example, this study from U Penn that considers how emotions affect virality.

Tip 5 – Write long post

Bloggers often stick to the magic 500 words for posts – but did you know that, statistically speaking, longer posts with higher word counts are more contagious? Of course, correlation isn’t causation. In my opinion, longer posts tend to get more social media shares simply because the more verbose posts have an opportunity to offer more value to the readers.

The takeaway? Don’t cut yourself off for fear of exceeding 500.

 

Tip 6 – Not all social media shares are created equal

This one seems like common sense, but all too often, we count the number of shares, rather than the quality of them (talk to anyone measuring social media clip counts and you’ll get an earful on the topic). From the same study in tip three, Noah Kagan found that the average shares are generally higher if you manage to get more influencers to share your content.

In fact, having just one influential person share your content can result in 31.8% more social shares. Expound upon that by having five influencers share your content – this can nearly quadruple the total number of shares. Quality, not quantity.

Make a point to connect with – and build relationships with – influencers in your industry.

Tip 7 – Use visual content

People’s attention spans for web content are shockingly limited – and continuing to shrink. Again, we direct your attention to the success of sites like Pinterest or Tumblr that rely on minimal content with lots of images.

A bold, relevant photo speaks volumes to your viewer – so consider using a photo or GIF instead of a big old block of text. Need more reasons to rely on imagery? Here are 19.

Tip 8 – Don’t just focus on the big three

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are undeniable social media giants – but there are plenty of other worthwhile social media sites out there. Take SlideShare, for one – this site gets about 120 million views each month. Or Pinterest which, as of July 2013, had more than 70 million users. That’s huge!

Tip 9 – Create videos

Video has been a huge asset in the marketing world since the TV era first bloomed. And, it has continued to grow. More than 100 million people watch videos online these days and, thanks to modern technology, it’s crazy easy and cheap to create unique videos yourself.

From instructional how-to’s to product overviews, vlogs, etc., the opportunities are endless – and if you aren’t taking advantage, you’re simply missing out. Need some incentive? Check out these 100 video stats and facts.

Tip 10 – Understand and segment your followers

You must understand who are your targeted audience and how they are using each social media channel. Yes, as a blogger you are likely working from the comfort of your home or office or local Starbucks. You do not have to sit down face to face with your audience.

But that does not mean you don’t need to know them.

Quick tips –

  • Think about your ideal reader – Who are they? Where do they live? What makes them smile? What makes them feel like they can’t resist clicking on that Facebook share button?
  • Study your competitors – Spy on their blogs, follow their hashtags and see what events or online hangouts they are attending.
  • Research your targeted audience via different media – Literature, interviews, movies, school programs, or even TV and radio shows. Is there anything you may turn into a great post or article?
  • Segment your followers and if possible, treat them differently – For example, readers on ProBlogger.net might be interested with blogging topic but not into WordPress tutorials (they could be using Typepad, Blogger, Tumblr, or even Square Space). To get maximum engagement rate, think of a way to feed personalized content to your followers.

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Conclusion –

While you can’t force your content to go viral (by definition, viral means other people are sharing your content with growing momentum), you can give it a boost so that it’s more likely to get picked up. Do these 10 things and you’ll be well positioned to take the internet by storm.

Have something I missed? Share it below in the comments.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can get more of his blogging tips here

9 Copywriting Rules To Create Hypnotic Posts Your Readers Will Love

Image via Flickr user Daniel Lee

Image via Flickr user Daniel Lee

This is a guest contribution from Hassan Ud-deen.

Your blog posts have a purpose, right?

You want your readers to take a specific action after reading your post. It could be to: like, share, subscribe, comment or just think about something. Either way, you’re aiming to elicit a response.

And It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a sale letter, a blog post, or an email.

If you aim to evoke any kind of response or action… you’re writing copy.

Funnily enough, most of the content marketing style writing you read now, is heavily influenced by copywriting principles that marketers (who violently squeezed the power out of every word to make their copy super effective or go to bed hungry,) used to sell to complete strangers.

So let’s revisit the raw “old school” copywriting roots of blogging/content marketing and discover the powerful principles used to make millions from the written word, and how they apply to writing popular posts today.

 

1 Put On Your “Blog Detective” Hat

In the marketing world, a hook is the one story, idea or feature that races out the screen and locks the reader’s attention in its jaws.

Copywriters would dig through sales literature, interview previous customers, and brush up on the history of a product. All in search for the one undiscovered piece of information that made a reader’s eyes jump out of their sockets.

Legendary copywriter John Carlton calls this putting on your “sales detective” hat and getting into a “Bogart-like” gumshoe frame of mind.

The same principle can be used to craft irresistible posts that spread like wildfire.

Jon Morrow is a perfect example of this. The only difference being that he wore a “blog detective” hat instead of a sales one.

Before his posts went viral on Copyblogger, he noted the number of comments on almost every post, analyzed the type of comments being made, and studied the social media statistics for years.

Jon’s thorough detective work allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the heart-warming dreams, worrying problems and crippling fears of the Copyblogger audience, resulting in posts that exploded with comments and shares.

If you want to write posts that go viral, put on your blog detective hat and study popular posts, dig through comments, analyze them, and look out for patterns.

You’ll find exactly what your audience wants to know, and be able to deliver hot content that they will love.

 

2 One Thing Successful Copy and Winning Posts Have in common

Highly converting copy and popular posts have one crucial element in common…

A magnetic, benefit-driven headline.

According to David Ogilvy: “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

That means if you’re headline isn’t up to scratch, your product isn’t going to sell, and you’re going to be bleeding money.

If you’re a blogger, your audience won’t be sold on why they should click on your links and your your post aren’t going to be read.

Take a look at the popular post section to the right here on ProBlogger.

My favourites are:

The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program

7 Strategies for Growing Community on Your Blog

Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging]

Notice Something here?

They all promise an irresistible benefit to the reader.

We could spend hours discussing the anatomy of popular headlines, but there are two must- haves for injecting a hefty amount of stopping power into any headline.

  • Promising a mouth-watering benefit to the reader
  • Arousing the readers burning curiosity

If your headline does the two things above, that’s a good sign.

Looking for more ways to power up your headlines? Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks report is an indispensable guide

 

3 Strong Copy and Seductive Blog Posts Adhere To The Same Formula

Ever heard of the AIDA formula? It’s a known formula for writing sales pages, but it can also be used to quickly create high-power blog posts.

A- Attention. This is your headline and your opening sentence, where you’re looking to snag your prospects attention and quickly show that what you’re selling is beneficial to them.

If you’re a blogger, the only difference is that your readers aren’t paying you with cash.  They’re paying you with their time and attention, and you’re selling them on how reading your content will benefit them.

I-Interest. This is where you’ll pique the interest of your prospects. Nudging them further down your copy by weaving a relatable story or describing a painful problem that your product solves.

In your posts, this is where you’d seduce readers further down the page by sharing a story or arousing their curiosity and emotions.

D-Desire. Here’s where blogging and copywriting have a slight split.

In a sales page, this would be where you describe the benefits of your product and get your reader warm and runny over what you’re selling.

In your posts, this is where you deliver your content.

A-Action. After being swept off their feet by all the amazing benefits of your product, this is where you invite your prospect to take some kind of action. Usually to make an order, cut out a coupon or fill in a form.

As a blogger, after your readers are charged up and inspired by the content you’ve delivered. This is where you invite them to take action by commenting, subscribing or clicking on a link.

Blog posts and sales pages both have the same goal: To get the reader to take action, and that’s what the AIDA formula is designed to do.

So the next time you find yourself gazing at the ceiling with a blank page on your screen. Give the AIDA formula a try.

 

4 Long Post vs. Short Posts?

What’s more effective, long posts or short posts, long copy or short copy?

Joseph Sugarman answers the question perfectly: “Copy is never too long if the readers takes the action that you request. Therefore, it can’t be dull, it must be compelling, it must relate to the readers and, finally, it’s got to be about something the reader is interested in.”

This means that as long as you’re providing value to your readers, keeping them engaged, and relating to them… the length of your post is almost irrelevant.

 

5 Adopt the Gun to The Head Writing Philosophy

When John Carlton started his copywriting career, he had no source of income, savings for only one more month’s rent, and last a tank of gas in his battered car. (Not a nice place to be right?)

But instead of feeling panicked by his situation, he describes feeling eerily calm.

Why?

Because he had to create successful ads, or starve.

To do this, he treated each ad as if it was a life or death matter. Like their was a cold nozzle of a loaded gun pressed into to his head while he wrote.

So, how does one write when they have no choice but to create something that moves people to act?

  • You don’t take risks.

You rely on proven methods that you know will work. In the world of copywriting this means using proven structures, headlines and devices. Relate this to blogging, and it means using proven headlines, blog post types and topics to create hard hitting posts.

 

  • You be as clear as possible.

If your reader loses interest, you lose the sale. Similarly, if your post is boring; you’ve just lost a reader. Use simple language and aim to be as clear as possible.

 

  • You always provide a juicy benefit to the reader

In a sales letter, you communicate the benefit your readers will gain from your product.  In a blog post you communicate how your content will enrich their lives.

What can they expect to gain from your continuing to read your content?  Be sure to let your reader know or risk losing him.

Give yourself no option but to write stellar content, and you will.

 

6 The Most Powerful Word in Your Writing Arsenal

Is the word “You.”

Your readers doesn’t care about what you want. What your interests are, or what you like. However they care, very deeply, about what they want, like and find interesting.

Constantly relate everything back to your readers by use the word “you” generously in your writing. It’s about your reader, not about you.

 

7 Shock Your Readers Into Paying Attention

Another lesser-known copywriting trick used to craft hypnotic sales letters is to anticipate and answer objections before your reader can voice them.

Read any good sales letter, and you’ll notice every time the reader can ask a question, it’s answered immediately. This helps the copy flow and extinguishes any stress the reader may have.

You can do something equally powerful when writing your blog posts too.

In their book “Made to stick”, Chip and Dan Heath discovered that we all have a little guessing machine running inside our heads. It’s constantly trying to guess what’s going to happen next.

And as long as everything goes according to plan, people stay a little bored and disinterested.

A powerful way to snap people out their guessing trance, is to break their guessing machine by knowing what they expect you to say, and deliberately going against it.

So instead of anticipating objections for a product, anticipate what your readers expect to hear and say the opposite (or something they’re not used to hearing).

Take for example this post here by Carol Tice.

Carol predicts what the reader is thinking, and says the complete opposite. She simultaneously educates and shocks the reader. Instantly jolting their guessing machine and forcing them to pay attention.

If you want your posts to snap your readers into attention, attack their guessing machines with something unexpected. It could be unique advice, a controversial view or something that no-one else talks about.

 

8 Use Stories To Bond With Readers

Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic. They are ideally set up to understand stories- Roger C. Shank.

Stories stir feelings and charge you with emotion. Sometimes making you burst with excitement or flooding your world with sadness. Thanks to their extreme power,  they are a popular tool amongst copywriters.

A recent experiment by journalist Rob Walker set out to test the power of stories and how they can add value to almost anything.

Rob hired a group of writers to create emotionally provocative stories about unwanted, cheap thrift store items.

He then placed the items on ebay with the story in the description.

The results?

They sold $128.74 worth of abandoned thrift items for over $3000 dollars. An overall value increase of over 2,700%.

By using stories in your blog posts, you arouse your readers emotions and create sympathy and make yourself more relatable. You’ll also be able to cement ideas and information into readers brains with much more strength and clarity.

 

9 Electrocute Your Readers With Emotion

There’s a reason why sales letters describe painful problems, amazing dreams, and heart breaking stories to readers before mentioning their products.

Emotion.

Copywriters rub salt into readers wounds and paint pleasing pictures to charge people with emotion. They know the only way to get anyone to act and to pay attention, is to get their hearts to beat a little faster. To raise their body temperature up a notch. To make them salivate with desire. To make them feel.

In a special report by Jonah Berger and Katy L. Milkman called “what makes online content go viral” one of the biggest revelations was that content that evokes powerful emotions is more viral than content that doesn’t.

This makes sense. For people to take act, they have to feel.

So for people to actively share and promote your content, they have to be exploding with so much inspiration, ambition or hope that they can’t help but spread your message.

While there are a ton of ways to inject more raw emotional power into your writing, the best way is to charge yourself up with the emotions you want readers to absorb.

Get flush with anger. Get extremely hyper. Get insanely happy. Then, discharge your energy into your writing.

 

One Final Thing

All the tips in this post can do wonders when it comes to creating popular posts.

But, if there’s one thing that could render all the above tips combined utterly useless.

It’s value.

If what you’re write doesn’t bring value to your audiences lives in any way, no tip will ever help you create posts that readers bookmark and share.

How do you come up with killer content for your readers? Please tell me in the comments below!

Hassan Ud-deen is a freelance blogger and email copywriter who helps businesses use content to grow. You can find out more about him on his blog www.f-bombmarketing.com or if you need help with your blog posts or copy, shoot him an email or connect with him on Facebook.

500 Top-Tier Publishers Tell You What They Want from Content Marketers

This is a guest contribution from Kelsey Libert from Fractl.

The good news: Content is here to stay as a digital marketing powerhouse, giving marketers more opportunities than ever to tune their SEO goals for every stage of the buying cycle.

The bad news: The boom in content marketing has resulted in a veritable avalanche of email for publishers. In fact, some top-tier publishers receive over 300 pitches a day – more than 3x the email volume of the average worker.

What does this mean? Without placements that will reach the right audiences, the quality of your content is a moot point. Competition is tougher than ever in the inboxes of those who are calling the shots on publishing your work; only the best pitches will receive the attention of the most coveted sites. That’s why BuzzStream and Fractl collaborated to survey more than 500 publishers to find out how to break through the noise and improve your content promotion.

Pitch Perfect Subject Lines

The subject line is your first and most important opportunity to capture a publisher’s attention. Honing this one area of your pitching practice can mean the difference between a top-tier placement on HuffingtonPost.com, Mashable.com, or BusinessInsider.com – or weeks of fruitless pitching with your fingers crossed for some low-authority pickups.

Why is the subject line so crucial? 81% of publishers want email pitches, which means the inbox is your best avenue for earning their interest. 85% open emails based on the subject line alone, which means that knowing what they’re looking for will improve your odds of earning their attention. Our survey results tell us that the following six influencers have the most impact on your open rates.

1. Speak to Their Beat

The single most important takeaway from our survey might just be this: more than 60% of publishers told us that the best subject lines should be tailored to their beat. This means that you need to use that limited space to let them know that you both understand what they cover and have something relevant to share with them.

More than 50% agreed that you should do this by being both specific and descriptive. In a sea of hundreds of emails, publishers want you to get to the point. Tell them exactly what you have and why it matters to them.

2. Keep it Short

Once you’ve nailed down the content of your subject line, the next important step is to keep it under 10 words. Nearly 40% agreed that subject lines should be brief, making brevity the fourth most important quality on our list. 75% prefered subject lines between 0 – 10 words, and this range has an added benefit: keeping your subject line concise helps ensure that it won’t be cut off in inboxes.

3. Offer your Assets

Letting publishers know in the subject line what kinds of assets you’re offering will help them make a quick decision about whether they’re interested. If you’ve done your research on the kinds of assets the publisher typically embeds, this will work to your advantage; if you haven’t, you may lose their attention before they open your email. In our survey we learned some of the assets publishers request most:

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  • 85% want raw data. While they won’t publish the raw data, having quick access to your research information will help them verify your findings and explore their own interests more.
  • 65% want data visualizations. This includes infographics, mixed-media pieces, images, video, and interactive maps.
  • 19% want articles. If this is an asset you offer, be sure to take a look at the average length of the articles your target publishes to ensure your piece is in line with their preferred word count.

4. Entice with Exclusives

Publishers love to be the first to report on a hot story. Nearly half reported that they prefered offers for exclusive pickups over syndications, which means a subject line that includes the opportunity for an exclusive will earn extra attention from eager writers and editors.

Even though exclusives are a great incentive for publishers, that doesn’t mean that your content promotion strategy should end once the first placement has been secured. A good syndication strategy can protect you against a lackluster first print, or unpredictable variables like competition from breaking news or unfortunate headline flubs.

5. Establish and Maintain Relationships

65% of publishers feel that establishing a personal relationship before pitching is at least somewhat important. Once you do the legwork of getting to know a publisher’s work, making contact, and landing your first placement, don’t let that relationship flag. 66% said they’d also be more likely to open a future pitch if you reference your past relationship in the subject line.

Sending a publisher a quick comment every so often via email or social media is a good practice to keep your name and work familiar to them. But beware sounding overly friendly; publishers were quick to point out that they don’t appreciate phony tones in pitches or messages.

6. Avoid These Pitfalls

While you incorporate these best practices into your pitching tactics, be sure to avoid the pitfalls that will get your email deleted – or worse, earn you (and your company’s domain) a place on a publisher’s blacklist.

  • Double check your spelling, including the publisher’s name. 85% said they’d delete a pitch with bad grammar or spelling regardless of the quality of the content.
  • Don’t sensationalize your subject line. 99% agreed that subjects shouldn’t look like clickbait. Less than 20% said subject lines should be provocative or catchy.
  • Limit your follow-up. 87% told us that you can send one or two follow-up emails at most, but any more than that and you risk being seen as a spammer.

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Start perfecting your pitch by writing subject lines publishers want to open. Be specific, descriptive, relevant, and brief, and you’ll earn the attention of editors who want to amplify your content rather than delete it.

Want to see which verticals are pitched most – and least – along with more insights from this study? Download the free white paper on Subject Line Open Rates.

Kelsey Libert is a Marketing VP and partner at Fractl, a creative digital agency specializing in high-quality content creation and placement. Kelsey’s industry research can be seen on the Harvard Business Review, Inc, The Next Web, Fast Company, Contently, HubSpot, Marketing Land and Buffer.