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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!

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.16.46 pm

> 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.

segments (1)

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.

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Writing Tips

So useful content is king, and we need to provide it consistently. But how? And what if writing isn’t our strong suit? I always find that writing tips, guides, and productivity hacks score high in the interest scale of ProBlogger readers. These were the five most-read posts this year.

Problogger best of 2104: Writing Tips

Abraham Lincoln Axe Quote 1

1. 6 Lessons in Writing Irresistibly Magnetic Blog Post Headlines

We all know headlines are what can make or break your post: if your headline sucks, people just won’t read. This post has six ways to nail it, every time.

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

2. 9 Crucial Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Posts (That Everybody Can Use)

Tend to waffle? you won’t after reading these super-easy tips.

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3. How to Repurpose Your Content (and Why You Should do it)

Darren gives us a hefty post filled with great ideas on ways to take what you’ve already written and package it anew. A very effective use of resources.

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4. 15 Quick and Easy Productivity Hacks for Busy Bloggers

We all waste time – Pooja shows us how to cut out the crap so we can make the most use of the time we have.

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

5. In a Blog Slump? Here’s what to do

When you’ve lost your writing mojo, everyone is succeeding but you, and you feel like throwing your laptop out the window – these are my top tips to get back in the game and feel the love again.

 

So what about you? I’m willing to bet you’ve slumped at least one time in 2014. What was the best writing tip you picked up this year?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Creating Content

Content is King, as they say (or is it?!) so it’s no wonder that this topic was one of the most popular this year. Write great, useful content and promote it well – it’s the baseline for a successful blog.

Which of these top five posts resonates with you?

MONETIZING (3)

1. How to Consistently Come up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog

Part of our Creating Content Theme Week, a behemoth post of advice that will mean you will never be stuck for a post idea again.

Create Content To Promote Your Blog

2. How to Promote Your Blog with Content that Will Grow Your Traffic, Links, and Shares

It’s everything you want in one package: how to get traffic, links, and shares. Tips on how to get your content to shine.

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3. Three Ways to Define What Your Blog is About

Do you need a niche? What would you say yours was? Darren gives us the ins and outs of making a stand on your genre.

HOW TO CREATE MASSIVE VALUE CONTENT

4. Create Massive Value Content and Blow Your Readers’ Minds

If you followed the very first link on this page, you’ll find what is actually King – and this post will help you provide it for your readers.

carly for pb theme week

5. Content Week Case Study: Carly Heitlinger of the College Prepster on Where She Gets Her Ideas

Carly has barely missed a day blogging in six years. Here’s how she keeps content fresh, current, and more importantly – consistent.

 

What do you think? Anything to add on how to create great content? Where do YOU get your ideas?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

How to Get Read: 8 Ways to Take your Blog From Existence to Greatness

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

 

Here’s one thing I bet you don’t know about Isaac Newton – do you know Newton has the most valuable tooth in human history?

One of his teeth was sold in 1816 at auction for approximately $3,600. In today’s terms, that is about $35,000 – which cost more than a Ford Fusion Titanium car in the United States.

But how is this related to writing a great blogpost? Well, we will talk about it later (if you can’t wait, skip to point #2). But before we dig deeper, here are two more facts for you:

Blogging is practically a given these days, regardless of your title or industry — and for good reason.

Though there are plenty of ingredients required to make it… rather than just write to an abyss, quality blog posts are one that you just can’t overlook.

But what exactly makes a great blog post? Here are eight tips to take your blog from good to great.

1. Make your titles count

Before anyone actually reads your post, they’re going to see your headline — and that headline often is the only consideration you get as to whether they read the post or move on, so make it count.

Coming up with decent headlines isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but by creating a good set of headline templates that you can use later for brainstorming and writing reference, you’ll save yourself time on the back end — not to mention beat out writers’ block when it strikes.

A little more on headlines

Keep in mind the following when it comes to developing headlines for your blog posts:

Don’t under-estimate the value of a good “how to”

Every article seems at least a little bit interesting when you add “how to” into the title. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “How to pour plain water into a glass in 49 ways” go viral one day. And you know what? I’d probably read it. “How to” just inspire curiosity.

Incorporate “How to” in different ways and in different places in your headline. For example, you might do “49 ways to pour water” or “How to pour water: 49 unique ways” or even “49 unique ways to pour water into a glass: the how-to you need to see to believe.”

By placing the “how to” statement at different points in your headline and adding in adjectives or other lead ins, you’re able to adjust your levels of directness or drama.
If it bleeds, it leads

Not all words are created equal, so use them appropriately and carefully. Some words are soft and picturesque, some are impactful, heavy, threatening, and powerful… you get the idea.

Words like “kill,” “bleed,” “scary,” “dark,” “war,” and “secret,” for example, are quite powerful and quickly draw intrigue. They can also drive directly to a point –or, conversely, simply create an interesting play on words. Consider your purpose.

For example, “The war on words” creates a very different headline than “Why are there so many bad blogs?” Frankly, it just sounds more interesting and impactful. Or, take the following — which of these two headlines would you rather read: “Bleeding Blue… Democrats Take All” or “Democrats Win Seats Tuesday”?

3. Ride on the famous

Famous people have pull and persuasion — use that. This isn’t to say that you can start making up quotes or statements supposedly from Sandra Bullock… but you can use what (and who) you know and have access to.

Every industry has its power players — allude to them or incorporate them smartly and relevantly.

For example, “8 Ways to Think Like Warren Buffet — Create a Powerful Rapport With Your Readers,” mentions a well-known industry authority in a non-attributive way that still establishes know-how and intrigue. “Develop a Steve Jobs-quality Vision for your Company” is another example — it includes a well-known, respected persona in a neutral way to gain interest and establish legitimacy. It works for all industries — fashion and beauty? Try something like “5 Fall Outfits Even Anna Wintour Would Approve of.”

2. Open with a bang

When someone reads your blog, you have just a few seconds to hook that reader, so make every word count and make every word interesting. If you can hook visitors to read even just your first two or three sentences, they’ll be more likely to read your whole post.

There are many different types of hooks you can use in your blogpost. To name a few:

  • Shock the readers with interesting facts.
  • Use a quote that meshes up with your topic.
  • Ask a question to spark readers’ curiosity.

Make use of fact sites (example – this, this, and this) to find interesting facts and data. The story about Isaac Newton’s tooth earlier, for example, is a hook I use to attract more reads.

3. Write how you speak

speak

People read when what they’re reading is fun… corporate or formal tones are not fun to read, so loosen it up a bit.

Write your blog in fun, easy-to-understand language that takes a more personal tone. This is what distinguishes your blog from a whitepaper or other corporate communication — and, it’s why people will read your blog. They want to know what you’re up to and they want to know you (assuming you have something to say, that is) — so let them get to know you. Share your thoughts in your writing and let them get to know you by not only what you say, but how you say it.

Nenad Senic says it beautifully:

“Write like you talk. I love English for that. No matter what industry you’re coming from, write the way you talk. Writing blog posts is like giving advice or/and making a point…Your goal is to be understood. You want to get your message across. You can’t do so with cold, bureaucratic-like language.”

4. Use images to your advantage

It’s common sense, but also statistically proven again and again: articles that incorporate images attract more back links and views. Choose images that are not only relevant, but that are actually interesting. Avoid generic clip art, people can smell cheesy a mile away.

Personally, Pixabay and Compfight are my favorite sources for high quality, beautiful, and free photos. I love Pixabay due to its flexibility (no attribution is needed for images found on Pixabay!) and Compfight due to its flawless user-experience (very easy to search images). And, in case you want more, here’s a list of 20+ free image sources for bloggers.

5. Give your post flow and structure

Good blog posts are easy and fun to read not only because of how they say and the tone or language — they’re also easy to read because they’re well structured. Things like sub headlines, bullet points, images, tables, and other visual elements help to guide the reader’s eye and makes it easy for people to follow and read.

Easy reading gets more reading — it’s true.

6. Be social, be friendly

Want to get your blog posts read more frequently? Make it easy for people to share on social media.

When people see something they like, they like to share it with people they know — so making it easy for them to do so will direct more traffic to your blog. Simple share buttons for the major social networks are free and easy to install on your blogs — in fact, 54 percent of the 10,000 largest websites now display social sharing links and, according to a recent study, websites with a Twitter share button get 700% more sharing than their social media unfriendly counterparts.

Not into the buttons or want to draw even more attention? Don’t be shy — use call to actions to better interact with your readers and encourage them to share the post.

7. Have your own voice

You remember in #4 when we talked about writing more in the way you speak? This is your voice — use it.

Your voice is your personality — and it’s what sells your blog and makes it unique. Don’t try to be someone you’re not and never be too shy to show your personality. Your blog is your own — you’re allowed (and supposed to) share your opinions and even stand up to criticism. It’s your opinion… that’s the beauty of it!

In truth, controversial posts often get more links and attention on social media… that isn’t to say that you should write with the intention of picking fights — just don’t be afraid to be yourself, opinions, personality, and all.

8. Ask for what you want

Ever read something and end up thinking something to the extent of, “and….?” Don’t write an “and…?” piece.

Make sure that every blog post has a specific point and a specific objective. That objective might be to gain social media shares, email sign-ups, or traffic to another page — the objective can change, so long as each post has one. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want — directness is good and clearly communicates to your readers. A solid call to action will accomplish this beautifully — let your readers know exactly what you want them to do.

Not sure what will work?

Do some A/B testing to determine which approach works best with your readers.

Now over to you!

These are my tips above to keep your blog post on the “great” list.

There are lots of things that separate a great blog and great posts from the rest. Do you agree with the points I mentioned in this article? What’s in your must have factors for a great blogpost? I look forward to your input in the comment section.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can get his best blogging and growth hacking advice here.