Close
Close

My First AdWords: How to Trial AdWords Promotion for Your Blog

This guest post is by Kole McRae of Chilled Soda.

Many of you probably have AdSense on your blog. It’s a great system for monetization, especially for those with smaller blogs but how many of you have been on the other side?

AdWords is the system Google uses for advertising. It’s how you place ads on it’s search engine and on the huge network of sites that use AdSense.

Right now Google is offering $75 free to anyone that wants to try out AdWords. That’s a good chunk of change but it can easily disappear in a day on AdWords and give you nothing to show for it.

So I’ve written this little guide to help you out a bit. I wrote this with a few assumptions in mind: that you know how AdWords works in terms of buying clicks and that you have full control over your site. If you have never heard of AdWords you should probably start here.

I have also assumed you have made an AdWords account. If not, use the link above and make one.

Step 1: Keyword research

The first step to a successful AdWords campaign is research. I know what I’m about to recommend sounds really boring, but not only will it help your AdWords campaign but will also help you understand your niche better.

I want you to take ten minutes and write down every combination of keywords you can think of for your blog. What words do you want people to type in to find your blog. For example:

  • cool tech blog
  • tech news
  • technology news
  • Canadian technology news.

Write them all down and keep going until you just can’t go anymore. You should be able to put together a pretty sizeable list. Next sign into your AdWords account and click on Keyword tool, which is under the Tools and analysis tab. Paste your list into that tool and hit Search. Next, click the Keyword ideas tab.

This will give you a much larger list of keywords (usually in the hundreds or thousands). It also tells you about how many people a month search for those terms and how much competition there is. This can be invaluable data.

Take this new list and download an Excel copy of it. Then take the time to divide the keywords into different groups, or “themes,” and choose which ones to focus on. I’d go over just how to do that but it would take far too long. So I’ll simply suggest using common sense and your own judgement.

Try to find keywords that have low competition, low CPC cost, but high monthly searches. These are called low-hanging fruit. They tend to be the juiciest! Remove any words that are too generic. Single-word keywords that have millions of searches will not be helpful to you.

Another quick tip is to look up your competitors and go to their pages. Then right-click and select View source. Though Google has said they no longer use the Keywords meta tag, some people still fill it up, which might give you even more keyword ideas.

There are many other ways to get even more keyword ideas, so get creative and see what you can find.

You should also look for keywords in your lists that are not relevant at all. These you will want to add to your negative terms list so that people who search those terms don’t see your ad or cost you any money.

The most important thing I can teach you about AdWords is that it is not about getting as many people as possible to your site. It is about getting the right kind of people to your site. So make sure you remove any and all keywords that are not relevant. People searching for Python programming tutorials do not want to learn more about snakes and will only cost you money with no added benefit.

Step 2: Ad copy

Once you have put together your keyword lists and organized them into categories (or “adgroups,” as Google calls them) you need to write ads for each one. I say ads, not ad, because the most important thing you can do with AdWords is rotate and test ads.

I suggest writing two ads for each category or adgroup. Google will automatically rotate these ads and give you stats for both so that you can choose the one that works best for you and test it against an even better one. This means your ads will get steadily better as you test them against each other.

Your ad copy needs to be simple and to the point. Tell people exactly what to expect when they land on your site. Some best practices: Start Each Word With a Capital Letter. It looks weird in an article but in an AdWords ad, it stands out and looks professional. End each line with a period. Don’t cut sentences off halfway through because of character limits.

I’m going to reiterate a point from above. AdWords is about getting quality traffic to your blog, not just getting as many people there as possible. You want people that will become part of your community. This means your ad should be written in a way that will build a community and invite people to join it.

Step 3: Landing page

The final thing I want to talk about is your landing page—the page people land on after they click your ad. The first instinct for a lot of people is to land folks on your home page. This can be a bad idea for two main reasons.

The first is that it can be confusing, especially if your home page is just a bunch of blog posts. People may not know where to begin or what to do.

Secondly, it’s very possible that Google’s AdWords quality algorithm may not understand that your site is relevant based on the page it lands on. It may be searching for instances of “Canadian Tech News” but only find it once on the main blog page, so it will lower your quality score and may not show your ad as many times.

The best practice is to send people to relevant posts and guiding pages for each adgroup. If you have an adgroup for Microsoft technology news, send people to a page specifically about Microsoft that has a bunch of news for it. Or maybe to an About page or a category page. The more specific, the better.

This is only the beginning

I’ve written over 1000 words here and it hardly scratches the surface of AdWords advertising. It fails to mention local searches, conversion tracking, match types and a million other things that go into a proper campaign. The best part? This is all for Google search, I didn’t even bring up the content network.

Which reminds me: I suggest going to your Campaign settings and setting it to Google search only, as this will give you a bit more control over where your site shows up. The content network requires an article all on its own and has a habit of eating up all your advertising money without giving you nearly the quality of traffic the search network gives you. That is, of course, unless you do a lot of research and use it correctly.

Hopefully, I’ve helped you get more out of that $75—and maybe even inspired you to start learning more about advertising on Google in general so you can fully leverage any money you spend on it.

Kole McRae is an Internet Marketer for web design Toronto. He also runs a blog called Chilled Soda, which is about tea, music and all the chill things in life.

How I Fast-tracked My Blog to 10k Subscribers and $15k Revenue in a Month

This guest post is by Alex Becker of Source Wave Marketing.

Tracks

Image courtesy stock.xchng user Thoursie

When I first got into blogging, gaining any sizable amount of engaged subscribers seemed like a slow, tedious task. As bloggers, I am sure you know the popular ways to get people to your site:

  • guest posting
  • participating on forums
  • SEO.

But when your blog is brand new, getting featured on a site with a ton of traffic is next to impossible. Creating a solid reputation on a forum takes time. SEO is a popular tactic but also takes a long time. To put it bluntly, if you are new to blogging, the deck is not stacked in your favor.

This is why I decided to use another method to grow my blog: product creation.

“Wait, what?!” you might be thinking. “Making products as a way to grow your blog/brand? Does that even work?”

Well, my blog is just over seven months old. It has an email list of just over 10,000 people and brings in a total of $15k+ in revenue monthly. So yes, product creation is a super-effective and underutilized method to grow your blog. But before you can put this method to use on your blog, you need to understand why it works so well.

Why blogging and making products is like pouring gasoline on a fire

Ironically, the easiest place to get traffic you can capture is not on other websites. It isn’t on Facebook or Twitter. It is the massive email lists people have in certain niches.

But I am not just talking about any big email list. Getting a monster blogger or magazine to feature you in their email list is pretty tough, and oddly enough, they do not even have the best traffic.

Blogger and news lists: the hard way

A huge blogger might have 10-30k emails. The funny thing is that many of these are worthless because these are what we call “freebie chasers.” These are people that joined an email list for free and are only interested in one thing—more free stuff. They are also commonly not committed to a niche.

Now this blogger is going to make you jump through hoop after hoop to get featured in his or her list. While you can traffic from the list, it’s going to be very hard unless you also have a big reputation (which 95% of bloggers do not).

We want to focus on one and only one type of list: the massive email lists that other product creators have. And here’s why.

Product creators’ lists: the easy way

Think about the owner of a successful Clickbank product or information products. Even small-time product creators routinely have email lists of 5-20k. Bigger names can easily have 20k-100k. That’s a lot of people, folks.

Here’s why their lists are so valuable: every single person on their lists has loaded up their PayPal accounts and paid for information in the niche they’re selling in. As they say, money talks. And when these people have put money down, they’re telling you a couple things:

  • They are very interested in the niche.
  • They participate in the niche.
  • They are comfortable spending money in the niche.

This is exactly the type of person you want coming to your site and joining your list.

The ironic thing is that product creators are far less stingy with their lists than many others. This is because they usually have their list for a much less honorable reason than most straight-up bloggers. Most product creators (not all of them) use their list to promote other products and make an affiliate income.

This means one thing to you: if you have a product that will make them money, they will throw a tidal wave of traffic your way.

This is why they are such a great resource. They have one simple button you need to press to get access to “buyer” traffic. In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to push that button.

My product creation blueprint for blogging

I understand your thoughts right now: “What if I’ve never made a product before?”

Don’t panic. You don’t need to create a mega-product, nor I am not telling you to put crummy material out on the market. However, my father always told me “Keep it simple, stupid.” Sometimes something small and simple works insanely well. In fact, for this method, we want small and simple.

For example, one of the first products I made with my partner was a list of the most reliable Fiverr sellers, which we sold for five bucks. This simple product has sold over 6,000 copies, earning us over 6,000 subscribers.

So just keep in mind that you are totally capable of doing this. With that being said, let me walk you through the steps I used to create a product and blow up my blog, and then how I used my blog to create sales.

Step 1. Find an idea for a short product and make it happen

The first thing you want to do is find places online where your targeted visitor hangs out. These will usually be forums or Yahoo Answers-type sites.

The sites are so valuable because there you will see your visitor tell you exactly what they want. Look at the questions and problems that are getting the most focus. Then, make a product to solve these problems. Simple, huh?

Step 2. Make a juicy offer for product list owners and their customers

One of the best ways to get product creators interested is to offer 100% commission on your product. Remember, we’re not trying to make money: we’re trying to get them to hand over their traffic. You have to remember your motives, first and foremost.

We also want to make a product that’s cheap enough to convert very highly with their list. If you make, say, a $50 product, not very many people will buy it. However, if you produce a $5 product, the interest will, naturally, skyrocket.

Step 3. Find big list owners

This is fairly simple. Look around your niche and find information products. I guarantee you the owners of those products had a way to collect the emails of their customers. Email these product creators and pitch them on your product. (Hint: Be sure to mention the 100% affiliate commission!)

Step 4. Collect the emails

Now that you have a product creator blasting your product with traffic, it is time to collect the traffic that converts. (Remember, keep your product cheap for maximum conversions. More conversions means more emails.)

You can easily collect and manage these emails through a server such as Mail Chimp. After a person purchases your product, redirect them to an opt-in form that they must fill out to get access to the file.

Step 5. Treat your new subscribers like gold

Now that you have the emails of these people, it is time to deliver value, and really wow them with your brand.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that most of these people are used to being abused with affiliate offers whenever they get forced onto a product email list. This your chance to step up and do something different. Differentiating yourself will be what makes you so successful. Treat them with respect and earn their trust.

Constantly link them to cool things that are happening on your blog. Bombard them with value.

I did this by providing free weekly webinars, sharing my most potent internet marketing secrets for free and taking every chance I get to make personal connections with my readers. I also never asked for anything in return. Remember these words: what can I do for you?

This is the secret to turning a list of people that randomly bought your product into a community of friends and colleagues that trust you and like you enough to invest in your business.

Step 6. Use that trust in you and your brand to grow a profitable business

The funny thing about this is that most people would assume the next step is, “spam them with affiliate offers!” No way! That’s very, very bad.

The simple truth is that you will now have a community of buyers who trust and respect you. If you maintain that trust, they will invest in offers your promote and be eager to be a part of any business you create. So why push them away with spam?

A great example of someone who’s used the trust he’s developed with an audience is Pat Flynn of the blog, Smart Passive Income. By always having his readers’ best interests in mind, Pat has become not only a very rich man, but an internet marketing icon. Do not ever underestimate the power of a trusting audience.

The results

My partner and I have used this traffic generation method on our blog, and, in under seven months, we’ve created a thriving community in an extremely competitive niche. On top of this, any business we launch is an instant success due to the trust we have built with the subscribers we gained from product launches.

In fact, the last premium service we launched from our blog sold completely in under one hour. That is the power of combining buyer traffic from product launches with the amount of trust quality blogging can generate.

You were meant to make products

As a blogger, you are undertaking a role as an authority on information in your niche.

To me, creating products and being an authority go hand and hand. When you create a good product (remember, simple can be good), the people that buy it will naturally be interested in your blog. This is because authority figures make products and authority figures blog. Period.

By making products, not only do you get access to hoards of traffic, but you also become an authority.

This is why I encourage every ambitious blogger to break out of the “strictly blogging” mindset and spread your message through as many formats as possible. Remember, it’s important to differentiate.

Of course, creating a product is not going to be an easy 6-step process, but niether is growing a massive brand. I do promise one thing, though: If you take the ideas presented in this article and run with them, your blog will become a red-hot source of awesome faster than you ever thought possible.

Alex Becker is the co-founder of the Source Wave Marketing and owner of multiple online SEO services.

Measuring and Monitoring Online Reputation: What, Why, and How

This guest post is by Rich Gorman of Reputationchanger.com.

In this day and age, there’s really nobody who is exempt from the supreme importance of online reputation. Business owners need a sterling online reputation to ensure that they keep attracting new clients. Job seekers need a good reputation to put their best face forward, in the likely event that a potential employer checks them out on Google.

Bloggers need a good online reputation for any number of reasons; whether you’re seeking to build an audience or sell products, having people know that you’re reputable and authoritative is key.

The problem is, the chances for an online reputation to be utterly derailed are abundant. Things aren’t the way they used to be in the days when protecting your image was basically just a matter of keeping DUI arrests and mug shots out of the local paper! Now, a business rival can post something defamatory about you to the Web, or an old, embarrassing photo from your college days can surface, and the damage can be immense.

What’s your reputation like?

There are ways to monitor and protect your online reputation, which is good news, but there is also much misinformation about the ways in which online reputation is accurately monitored.

There is an increasingly large population of people, particularly bloggers, who are using tools like Klout and FollowerWonk to help them evaluate where they stand, reputation-wise. While these tools are useful in many ways, it’s not quite accurate to say that they offer an assessment of your online reputation.

Take Klout, for example. Klout will tell you many things about your online persona and your “Google footprint.” It will tell you how many people you directly influence, what kind of sway you hold over others within your industry, and more. What it does is effectively measure online influence through the prism of social network import and reach.

This is hardly without value, but it’s not quite the same thing as reputation monitoring. What these tools tell you is how influential you are, but they don’t tell you whether your overall online image is good or bad, or whether there are potentially embarrassing listings out there that could cost you, personally or professionally.

Let’s say, for instance, that the old DUI report or frat party photo surfaces on the Web. A good way to stay alert about these negative listings is to simply search for yourself, on Google and Yahoo and Bing, as often as you can.

A couple of professional reputation monitoring tips are in order here: First, log out of Google before you search for yourself, lest you get “personalized” results that fail to show you the big picture. Second, search for spelling variations on your name, particularly if your name has alternate spellings; if you go by Cammie, for example, there’s a decent chance someone might post about you under the name “Cammy.”

Setting up Google and Yahoo alerts is another important step. This might all seem a little less sophisticated than using something like Klout or FollowerWonk, but for bloggers and professionals seeking up-to-the-minute knowledge about their online listings, this is really the most effective way to go.

Proactively managing your reputation

Of course, merely monitoring your reputation is not always going to be enough. You may wish to proactively shape it, ensuring that when someone searches for you on the Web, the first listings to appear on the page are positive ones. Crafting a positive online reputation is essentially a matter of populating the search engines with flattering content about yourself—but how?

The first thing to think about is your online real estate portfolio. Make sure you are the owner of all the domain names associated with your name; if you go by Jon Lener, try to secure access to jonlener.com, jon-lener.org, jonlener.net, and all the exact-match variations you can get. Do the same with social media accounts: a Twitter account is not going to provide you with Google rankings if it isn’t directly attached to your name.

Remember that your goal in reputation defense is to fill the first page or two of Google with positive listings—that is, listings that you control. Make sure to get a LinkedIn page, then, because LinkedIn ranks better on Google than any other social network! Other social networking suggestions include a WordPress blog, which ranks better than Blogger or Tumblr; a Vimeo account, which, surprisingly, ranks better than a YouTube account; and limited time spent on photo-sharing services, like Flickr, which simply aren’t as useful for obtaining search engine rankings.

Measuring your online influence is ultimately useful, but when it comes to ensuring that your online image is a positive one, there is no substitute for basic reputation monitoring. There is also no replacement for the tried-and-true methods of using exact-match domains and social media accounts to foster an online reputation you can be proud of.

Do you monitor your online reputation? Tell us how in the comments.

Rich Gorman is a recognized thought leader when it comes to online reputation management techniques and a designer of direct response marketing programs for companies large and small. He leads the team at www.reputationchanger.com.

Stand Out in the Popular Pet Blogging Niche

This guest post is by Kimberly Gauthier of Keep the Tail Wagging.

When I was planning the launch of Keep the Tail Wagging, I heard the question “Do you know how many pet blogs are out there?” As John pointed out yesterday, this is a big niche, with a lot of competition.

But when I was asked this question, I would simply smile politely, while thinking, “Who cares?!” I’m not one to run away from a challenge; I’d been blogging since 2009 and planned to put everything I’d learned into practice on my new site.

Keep the Tail Wagging launched January 1, 2012.  In less than six months, I had a page rank of 2 (I’m convinced I deserve a 3 or 4), over 5,000 likes on Facebook and over 5,000 followers on Twitter.

Succeeding as a small fish in a big pond

To anyone looking to start a blog in a popular niche, don’t let the crowds discourage you.  It is possible to carve out your own section of the pond.  I get emails daily asking how I’ve managed to build Keep the Tail Wagging’s following and it was actually pretty easy. I’ve boiled my success down to five things that I do consistently.

1. Keyword research

Before Keep the Tail Wagging was launched, I downloaded a free version of Market Samurai to help me find an opening within the niche that could be monetized. I didn’t find the opening I was looking for.

But, using the free Google Keyword tool, I did find keywords with the right combination of competition and searches, and I apply these to each blog post I wrtie.

Keyword research

It’s a thrill to know, for example, that a dog owner researching her dog food options found my site through a Google search; this let me know that I was choosing the correct keywords for my audience.

2. Simple SEO

I remember the “Of course” moment that struck when I realized that I could put keywords in the captions and meta-tags of my images.  I’m not an expert in search engine optimization, but I do comprehend the basics and use the plugin WordPress SEO, and I invested in an SEO-friendly, premium WordPress theme.

SEO doesn’t have to stop on our sites; I send those keywords to every site that uses my content—Flickr (as in the image below), Pinterest, and Stumble Upon to name a few.  Any content or site that’s going to be indexed by the search engines is another opportunity for someone to find my site.

Not only is this great for Keep the Tail Wagging; properly tagging on social networks also benefits the pet companies that send me products to review.

Flickr Walk in Sync Image for ProBlogger

3. Promote like hell

I spent the first two months after launch on a PR campaign to make my site stand out.  To start, I told friends and family, handing out business cards, hung flyers, wrote press releases, and added links to my email and forum signatures.

I paid for a Facebook advertising campaign during the first month my site was live. It asked people to click Like if they’re tired of long commercials showing abused animals.  My first few hundred likes came from that campaign—and those clicks led to more referrals.

Facebook Ad

Then I discovered Help a Reporter Out (HARO), which I used along with Reporter Connection as unexpected PR sources. People became curious about Keep the Tail Wagging after seeing my regular inquiries and began to check the blog out.  During my second month, a PR professional was promoting my site to friends for free.

I landed several interviews and, most recently, a monthly feature on a local podcast about pets through these sources.

4. Interact with fans

I focus most of my time on the fans that liked my Facebook page, encouraging interaction, and getting feedback and article ideas.  Word of mouth is big on social networking sites and each week, friends of fans stop by to like my page.

Creating that back-and-forth made people feel comfortable to email me with questions about their dogs, which inspired articles I wrote for Keep the Tail Wagging.  We’re told to become authorities in our niche. Well, what better way to do that than to answer questions asked by our fans?

Leave Dog At Home

Over time, I got over my shyness and started asking people to tell their friends about my blog, share a post, and comment on an article or status update.

What makes a blog stand out is the blogger

I chose to be more personable with Keep the Tail Wagging followers by sharing my daily life with them (pictures, stories, frustrations).  My followers came with me when we fostered our first dog, when we lost our puppy to Canine Parvovirus, and when Blue joined our family.

Sometimes it’s the person, their writing style, or their short and sweet posts that makes a blog sing. There’s a reason why we choose to read some social media or photography blogs instead of others.

I’m not the most popular pet blogger.  I need to work on my bounce rate and I’m on the lookout for regular guest contributors.  But as to my success in the first six months of blogging in this niche, I’d have to say “Not bad.”

That said, we’re all learning every day. Do you spend any time on pet blogs? Do you operate in a similar niche? Share your tips for success with us in the comments.

Kimberly Gauthier is the Editor in Chief of Keep the Tail Wagging, an online magazine for dog lovers.  She’s also featured on Girl Power Hour as The Fur Mom and the podcast Your Pets, My Dogs.

How to Make Sure Your Content Marketing Does the Job

Earlier today Darren talked about content marketing as a traffic generation strategy, and he mentioned the content marketing we did for the launch of Blog Wise.

The table he showed in that post, which breaks down the different sites we guest posted at, and the key messages we presented, points to an important fact about content marketing: planning really counts.

Where you’re used to writing for your own blog and readership, when it comes to writing for someone else’s (as in guest posting), planning is critical if you’re to make the most of that opportunity.

But even if you’re simply trying to use an email series or whitepaper to convert more of your site’s current, lurking readers into subscribers, you’ll want to plan the content to meet your needs, and those of the audience you’re targeting with it.

So I wanted to follow up Darren’s post with an explanation of how you can create a content outline that does both those things.

What is an outline?

An outline is not a headline. It’s not a rough explanation of what your post will cover (although this is what I’m usually sent as pitches for guest posts at ProBlogger).

An outline is a clear roadmap for the content that shows how that content will meet the needs of your blog business, and those of the target readers or users of that content.

Why write an outline? Because once you have that, you won’t have to worry about these strategic issues when it comes to creating the content. Instead of writing, freeform, until you’re done and then hoping that the content does what you want it to, this process lets you sit down and think strategically about what you’re doing, then sit down again, separately and in a different headspace, to write productively to meet that strategy.

Also, if you’re offering the content through some offsite location—say, as a guest post on someone else’s blog—once you have a good outline, it’ll be easy to chip off the relevant bits to send to the host blogger so that they can see that your content will meet the needs of their readers.

Creating your outline

Ready? Let’s get to it. First, we’re thinking strategically. So stop thinking like a writer, and start thinking like a marketer.

For the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to look at the guest post I wrote for Goinswriter to promote Blog Wise, and show you how that developed.

Look at your needs

What do you need the content you’re using as a marketing tool to do?

With Blog Wise, we wanted our guest posts to:

  • promote the ebook
  • encourage clickthroughs to the sales page.

Pretty basic, right? Right.

Look at your audience’s needs

What does your audience need the content to do?

To answer this, you need to get to know your audience. In our case, that was pretty easy—we could look at Jeff’s blog and comments, and his social media interactions on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and get a feel for what his readers felt, needed, and wanted.

If you’re creating content—say a whitepaper—that you’ll distribute through someone else’s site, you’ll need to do similar research. Don’t hesitate to ask the site owner for information on their audience, though, as this can be a great help to you.

What did I feel Jeff’s audience needed the content to do? Here were my thoughts:

  • inspire their passion
  • help them write, whether they were bloggers, fiction writers, copywriters, or whatever
  • provide them with something candid and new.

Meet those needs with a concept

By “concept” I mean an idea that you want to communicate. I wanted to talk about Blog Wise in a way that:

  • inspired Jeff’s readers’ passion: so I decided to use Jeff himself (and the interview he did with us for Blog Wise) as the hook
  • helped them write: so I thought about a technique that helped me as a writer, regardless of what I’m writing
  • provided them with something new: the technique I thought about—having a “writer’s mindset”—wasn’t something I’d heard talked about before. I gave it a catchy name, “constant writing,” to give the article more obvious value, a title hook, and some serious punch.

Using this information, I decided I’d write a guest post that showed readers how to become constant writers. This met my needs and those of my readers—easily checked against the bullet points I made above.

Aspects of “concept” you might want to consider here include:

  • catchwords or phrases
  • content format
  • hooks and angles
  • titles.

Extend that concept into a content plan

Obviously your content plan will depend entirely on your concept and the format you’re using. A guest post outline is not an ebook outline, nor is it an email series outline, a video plan, or an infographic storyboard.

But whatever your format, your outline needs to be based around the key messages that communicates your concept to your audience. So you need to develop it with your target readers in mind.

By now, the needs you’re trying to meet should be ingrained and inherent in your thinking, so you can focus entirely on the readers and creating content that meets their needs.

Write down the key points you want to communicate to them, as sentences, subheadings, questions—whatever feels right. For my guest post, those key points were:

  • Jeff’s philosophy: just get started
  • Problem: how do you “just get started”?
  • Identify technique: pro writers are constant writers
  • What is constant writing? (explain the concept)
  • How does it work? (explain how it works in practice)
  • Conclusion.

That’s a good start, but it’s not really detailed enough for me to write the article yet, particularly in those latter sections. So I built it out.

  1. Intro
    • Explain Jeff’s philosophy: just get started.
    • Mention interview, and expand on what Jeff said.
    • Detail the problem: how do you “just get started”?.
    • Identify technique: pro writers are constant writers.
  2. What is constant writing? (explain the concept)
    • Mention writing “addiction” and the importance of loving expression.
    • Explain what constant writing isn’t: writing, completion, skills, becoming a “serious” writer or taking writing “seriously”.
    • Explain the point of constant writing: playing with words.
  3. How does it work? (explain how it works in practice)
    • Pay attention to your expression (with examples: email, text, etc.).
    • Read (examples: signs, t-shirts, books and magazines).
    • Listen (conversations, announcements, songs).
  4. Conclusion: Show readers how they’ll change if they put this philosophy into practice, to become constant, addicted, writers.

Houston, we have an outline

Yes! We have an outline! As you can see, some of those bullet points from my concept have become section subheads. Where I’ve needed to clarify my own thinking, I’ve expanded on those points.

Now I can objectively sit back, read this outline, and make sure that I honestly feel it will meet Jeff’s readers’ needs, as I listed them at the outset.

Next? The pitch.

Pitching your content

I could have sent Jeff this outline, but I expected he probably didn’t need to see the inner machinations of my mind. Instead, I summed it up in an email…

“I wanted to ask if we’d be able to write a guest post for your blog to help promote your inclusion in the ebook. The post I had in mind would take your “just get started” philosophy of productivity and present one idea for making that happen. The idea is creative practice, rather than creative production. So, rather than sitting down to write an article, this post argues, sit down to play with words and ideas.

“Write without a goal; write to experiment; write to get practice working with words—this would be the thrust of this article, which provides practical tips for getting started, and argues that an experimental approach takes the pressure off, allowing the writer the freedom to sit down and write a five-line lyric if they want, or 500 words of prose. The post would advocate this as a good way not just to build the creative muscle, but also, to give yourself the potential to discover new aspects of your writing which could be useful, or easily translate, into better, more resonant professional writing/blogging.

“I expect this piece would come in at around 1000 words, and it would of course include a link back to the productivity ebook on ProBlogger. Let me know if you’d be interested in this post for your blog, because I’m really keen to write it and see how your audience feels about the idea :) Of course, if you don’t feel it’s appropriate, that’s no problem at all.”

As you can see, this summation is a digestible, sensitive version of the nuts-and-bolts outline. I’m trying to tell Jeff what I’ll communicate and why it’s of benefit to his readers, rather than give him a laundry list of subheadings. That said, sometimes, a laundy list of subheadings is a great thing to send through, especially with posts that seem nebulous or unusual. I guess the most important thing to note here is that I didn’t write to Jeff and say something like this:

“I have an idea for a guest post on your site about writing productivity. The article is “Constant Writing: the productivity secret of pro writers”. Do you think it would be of interest?”

This is no way to either build rapport with the person who’s hosting your marketing effort, or inform them of the value of your piece. The outline I sent Jeff explains specifically:

  • what his readers will get out of the content,
  • through what discussions, and
  • how the content will benefit the host blogger himself.

If your content marketing pitch does this, you’re on a winner. From here, it’s likely you’ll be able to navigate any hurdles the host blogger throws up and, when it comes to write your piece, you’ll basically know on a subconscious level what you’re doing and why—which will show clearly in your writing.

Do you plan your content marketing efforts?

if you think having an outline like this would be handy in giving your guest posts the greatest impact, imagine what it can do for your email subscription series, your free ebook, or your whitepaper.

Outlines make content marketing easier. Do you use them? Will you try? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

Social Media Advertising: Should Bloggers Bother?

This guest post is written by Lior Levin.

Social media has proven its worth as a networking tool and a means of raising brand awareness, but the future of sites like Facebook and Twitter depend on convincing brands that that it’s worthwhile to invest in advertising on their sites in addition to interacting with customers.

Ads on Facebook usually appear in the right column, though Facebook has been experimenting with more socially-based ads that show up in the streams of users. With its simpler interface, Twitter relies on promoting tweets that show up in the tops of users’ update streams.

No one has any doubts about the value of social media marketing through engaging customers, running promotions, and creating company pages. The majority of doubts surround the ROI and overall value of paying to advertise on social networks.

Many brands are still engaged in social media advertising, and the data available changes from year to year. However, for bloggers, it can be difficult to decide whether social media advertising is worth it.

Here are a few of the current advantages and disadvantages of using social media sites for your advertising campaigns.

Advantages of social media advertising

Social helps campaigns go viral

According to Kelsey Jones of the Social Robot, “Companies and organizations can experience a large swell of website visitors, new customers, or Facebook fans all within a single day, depending on the effectiveness of their ads. This type of viral activity can be great for events and product launches.”

Brands are satisfied with the level of engagement

There’s no doubt that the right campaign can make a huge difference in driving visitors to a website. This spike in traffic for some major brands makes social media advertising worth considering.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Companies that have bought Twitter ads generally say they are happy with the percentage of people who click on their ads or circulate them to other Twitter users. But marketers also say these ads haven’t proven they can convert people into paying customers.”

Disadvantages of social media advertising

The cost for national advertising campaigns is prohibitive

Kelsey Jones writes at Performancing, “For some targeted campaigns, competition can be very high, leading to high rates for clicks on social media ads or sponsored tweet impressions (views). For certain industries, the cost to run a viral campaign of this magnitude can be significant, up to thousands of dollars per day.”

While the cost of social media advertising can be quite steep for national campaigns, running an effective social media campaign through a free account on social media can produce similar results if managed properly. The opportunity to engage users through a free account may make it hard to justify the cost of Facebook or Twitter ads.

Social advertising can be perceived negatively

Unlike ads in magazines or on television, ads on social networks may prove to be ineffective or even a liability for brands, as customers may view them as an unwelcome intrusion.

One Forrester analyst mentioned to Bloomberg that injecting ads into a social platform is like interrupting a conversation among friends in order to attempt a sales pitch.

In fact, ads on a social network may be perceived as completely counter to what users are trying to accomplish. Some suggest that the success of social advertising hinges on whether brands can identify the purchasing intent of users and find the perfect point to introduce an ad into their social experience.

The ROI is difficult to measure on social media

Sean Jackson, the CFO of CopyBlogger, suggests that for all of the talk about being unable to measure the ROI of social media marketing in general, businesses should not be dismayed. Jackson says, “An investment is an asset that you purchase and place on your Balance Sheet. Like an office building or a computer system. It’s something you could sell later if you didn’t need it any more. Marketing is an expense, and goes on the Profit and Loss statement.”

Whether or not you agree with Jackson’s statement, the constant challenge of all marketing efforts over the years has been determining their ROI.

Is it worth it?

Social media advertising will undoubtedly produce greater brand awareness and user engagement with your brand, but the real risk is that brands may need to designate significant funds to their marketing efforts without necessarily receiving a guarantee that they’ll work.

That is a significant risk to take, but as brands seek to reach customers, we’ll see ongoing innovation among advertisers on social media platforms.

What do you think of social advertising? Have you tried it—or seen it? Let us know your take on these new ad media in the comments.

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for pre shipment inspection companies located in China and Latin America, and who also consults for a psd to html conversion company.

5 Fantastic Reasons You Should Attend a Blogging Conference

This guest post is by Ceri Usmar of Enduracom.

I know what you’re thinking… Who has time for a conference? You do!

You can and should carve out the time for some professional development, and conferences are a great opportunity to combine work and play.

I headed off to the SheCon Expo new media conference in Disneyworld, Orlando, with my business partner, Susan, this past Memorial Day weekend. We went fully prepared to combine business and a break, and from our mindsets to our wardrobes, we were ready for anything!

In its second year, SheCon is still a relatively small conference (compared with, say, the fall BlogHer conference in New York), but regardless of the size of a conference, the reasons for going don’t change.

Here are my five favorite reasons you should put a conference on your blogging calendar.

1. Fun

I start with fun because my credo is, “If it’s not fun I’m not doing it.” Susan is the embodiment of fun. She had some cute, cool, crazy ideas for SheCon that really upped the ante for an enjoyable time.

We matched our nail color to the corporate blue of our “transparent” business cards, which added panache to passing them out (even guys noticed) and worked as a conversation catalyst. We had shirts made that got people talking to us about who-we-are-what-we-do, and we made movies of literally everything. It’s always fun meeting people and even funner making movies with them, and posting them to boost their brands (and ours!)

Aside from our own endeavors, conference sponsors and attendees almost always build fun events into their schedules. We made the most of sponsored events like the party meet up thrown by Wine Sisterhood (who wouldn’t go to something sponsored by a wine company?) and gifting suites with massages and makeovers (what’s not to love about that?).

Exhibitors at conferences also show up with gadgets and gimmicks to go viral: they film you, photograph you, and record you interacting with their brand, and you can post all that online. They create buzz around their booths, and run contests and sweepstakes with cool prizes in exchange for your tweets and blogs—flat-out fun in my book!

2. Free stuff

I have to put in a disclaimer here: not all conferences give great freebies, and not all conferences give any at all. Blogging conferences tend to because brands want to tap into your influence—but it should go without saying that you are not obligated to blog about everything you get (and neither should you.)

Select the items that fit your audience and brand, and keep the rest as gifts or treats. At SheCon, mom bloggers were enamored of the kid stuff: Elmo toys, Cuddleuppets (my daughter’s fave), Justin Bieber Guitar Hero. Swag bags with tech toys and toiletries caught my fancy.

Expo exhibitors threw in their promos too: “green” shopping bags, high end hair care products, food and beverages—yummo! The cool thing about free stuff is that if it’s a fit for your blog or following, it’s also fuel for fresh and effortless content.

3. Finding friends and followers

If you’re looking for a targeted affiliate, a consultant, a strategic partner, or a few like-minded bloggers, you can find them at a conference. Introverted? You might have to dig deep or even fake it till you get comfortable networking (or you could always go to the wine-sponsored event, and courteously taste their wares until you’re loosened up enough to get it done!).

Aside from connecting at the water cooler or conversing over lunch, Twitter parties and other virtual meet-ups are all the rage at conferences now, and you can fortify your following right on the spot.

4. Footsteps to follow

There’s nowhere better than a conference to learn live from the pros. Any session—even those that don’t look useful to you—has merit, so don’t judge a session by its title: nine times out of ten I can take away a tidbit that tweaks what I’m doing for the better even from an apparently dud session.

Following in the footsteps of the experts in your field gives you a leg-up so you can stand on the shoulders of the giants, short-circuit your learning curve, and streamline your path to (greater) success.

5. Financial gain

Let’s be honest, attending a blogging conference is ultimately about making money, and I have never attended a one that does not have at least one session devoted to monetizing your blog.

Be sure to make up your mind beforehand to focus on free stuff, fun, and friends that will bolster your bottom line: keeping this in mind will keep the quality and balance in your conference activities and ensure that you can build your business through the contacts you make and the information you take from the event.

Of course, there are more than five reasons to carve out a few days for a conference. I double-dare you to go on and Google blogging conferences that might be up your alley. And then go to one.

If you’ve been to a conference, share what you got out of it in the comments.

Ceri Usmar is from Enduracom and Maximizeyourvisibility.com. Enduracom maximizes your visibility by maintaining, updating, and optimizing your online presence. Our social media and writing pros generate content, articles, and blogs to take your social engagement to the next level.

The Must-have Blog Post Topic Generation Tool

This is a guest post by Eric Siu of Evergreen Search.

Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes—Napoleon Hill

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s very hard figuring out how to come up with blog post ideas. And based on that quote, if you can’t come up with ideas, then it doesn’t look like you have a starting point from which to create a fortune.

Over the years, many different aggregators and tools have become standard ways to generate post topics. Some people might use Quora or Yahoo Answers to look for problem-solving topics. Others might use Twitter or news aggregators to check for trends. All these tactics are effective, but it can be difficult to track everything at once.

What if there was an all-in-one tool that could combine these tactics into one, so you didn’t have to painfully click around anymore?

Enter: the Content Strategy Generator Tool (CSGT) by Daniel Butler of SEOgadget.

csgt

What is the Content Strategy Generator Tool?

The CSGT is a Google Docs spreadsheet that utilizes importXML functions to pull various data around the web for content brainstorming. That content doesn’t have to be restricted to blogging—the tool can be used to research videos, infographics, or audio.

With this tool, you can spot trends, get great headline ideas, come up with your own spin on topics, view new keyword opportunities, and more—and all in one spot. Talk about saving time!

Setting it up is a matter of completing a few steps:

  1. Get the tool here.
  2. Make a copy in Google Docs (File -> Make a Copy)
  3. Enter your keyword in cell B3 (for multiple keywords, using the ‘+’ operator e.g. pet+stores).
  4. Sit back and watch the magic happen.

What’s inside

The spreadsheet itself can display quite a bit of information. This section will break down the different types of data that is pulled into the sheet so you can begin to formulate a strategy on how you’d like to use it.

News

CSGT pulls news from Google News and Bing News. For Google News, three columns in the spreadsheet give you the title, author and time posted, and a description of the article. For Bing News, you’ll find two columns: one for “best match,” and one for “most recent” articles. This gives you the flexibility to dig through all the latest topic-related news on Bing.

Digg and Reddit are also included in the sheet. Similar to the information it provides on Bing, the sheet will display “most dugg” and “most recent” data from Digg. It will show you the top posts only from Reddit.

Social Media

If you’re looking for video content ideas, you’re in luck: CSGT also displays the top videos from YouTube related to your search.

Topsy, which is a great tool for displaying trending tweets, shows you the latest tweets in the last day as well as the top trending tweets. You’ll also see the usernames, author names, tweets, times of tweets, and number of retweets for each trend. Twittorati Search will pull in more tweets from the highest authority bloggers, and display the user and Twitterati Authority as well.

Facebook isn’t left out, either. AllThingsNow pulls the hottest Facebook shares for the day into the spreadsheet.

Aggregators

CSGT also pulls in topics from various aggregators like Blog Catalog, Fark, Redux, Helium and Cracked.

These sites are all different in their own ways and, at the end of the day, add more diversity to the scope of topics being presented to you. Perhaps you might look at Cracked and come up with a funny spin on a niche topic—anything could happen!

Q+A Sites

The benefit of having Yahoo Answers in the spreadsheet is that this data shows you popular problems that people are actually having right now.

Yahoo Answers will pull the most-answered questions related to your query, and display them for you. You can then go to Google and search on those specific questions. If the answers on the first page aren’t that good (and you think you can do better), you may just have picked up something to write about.

Miscellaneous

Uber Suggest is an excellent keyword suggestion tool and CSGT brings it right to the sheet so you don’t need to go to the website to find suggestions for other relevant keywords that you can target.

Google Insights will show you what the top and rising searches are in your niche.

And finally, How Stuff Works results will give you ideas for potential how-to content that you can generate.

Source and Place

That’s not all, though—the Source and Place tab will tell you how to find the top Twitter experts, bloggers, and editors in your niche. Use this to figure out who you can follow—and start new relationships with.

How to use the tool

Whenever you are stuck or want to spot trends on a subject, just pop open this tool and enter a topical keyword into cell B3. You can use modifiers to do some more digging, but the bottom line is that this is a great starting point for any content campaign.

At the end of the day, the main benefit of the Content Strategy Generator Tool is to save you time while giving you more ideas. The simplicity and the fact that it’s free makes this tool a must-have for any content creator.

Have you used the CSGT yet? Did you find it useful? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments.

Eric Siu is the Vice President of SEO at Evergreen Search, a digital marketing agency in los angeles. He’s also written about Minimum Viable SEO: 8 Ways To Get Startup SEO Right and 10 Immutable Laws of SEO. In his free time, he likes watching football, playing poker, hiking, reading, or eating ice cream. Feel free to follow him on Twitter( @ericosiu) or on Google+:+Eric Siu

8 Ways to Get More Out of Your Facebook Fan Page Today

This is a guest post by Raag Vamdatt of The WordPress How To Blog.

If you have been paying even the slightest attention to the blogosphere lately, you would have noticed that it’s abuzz with talk about the new Facebook fan pages. And there is a reason behind it—the Facebook fan page’s new timeline view is a drastic change from the old fan pages we are used to seeing. These changes came into effect from March 30th.

The changes are far-reaching, and are pushing people out of their comfort zones. Since most bloggers have active fan pages that they use for attracting new readers and for making sales, they have started panicking. However, like any change, you can view this as an opportunity instead of seeing it as a problem.

The new fan pages don’t allow you to use many of the tactics that you might be used to. However, these changes do open up many new possibilities as well. Here are a few things you can do to effectively use the new timeline-based Facebook fan pages to your advantage.

1. Pin announcements or sales pitches

Previously, there was no way you could highlight a post on Facebook. Even if it was an important post, say about an upcoming launch, it would get buried under newer posts. How can a post have the desired impact if it is not even seen by your visitors?

This is a problem from the past, friends! Now, you can “pin” a post, and when you do this, it stays as the first post on you fan page. In blogging terms, you can say it’s a “sticky” post!

This is huge. Finally, you have the freedom to make people see your most important messages, without making them land on custom tabs (which is not possible any more, by the way).

2. Star important posts

There is one more way to highlight posts that need special attention: you can “star” any of the posts on your fan pages.

Doing this makes the post span both the columns of the timeline view, making it quite distinguishable from other posts. Whenever a visitor is scrolling through your fan page, he or she is bound to stop and pay attention to a starred post because of its double width.

This feature can be used to highlight content that doesn’t need immediate attention, but is important nonetheless. For example, if you have a post about contest winners, or about you being mentioned in mainstream media, you can “star” such posts to give them prominence.

3. Use the cover image effectively

Now, you get a huge amount of space—851px by 315px to be precise—to play with for the cover image. The new timeline view has introduced a cover image which appears as the first thing on your fan page. And due to its massive size, it will draw your visitors’ attention as soon as they land on your Facebook fan page.

Before you start getting ideas, let me tell you that this space cannot be used for any marketing messages—you can’t ask people to buy something or to like your fan page, you can’t use it to offer any pricing or discount details, you can’t have your contact details displayed there, etc.

In spite of these restrictions, you can use this space quite effectively. It can be used to brand yourself and your blog—the image you use here can convey a positive message about your blog to your visitors. In fact, you can even use a text-based image here as long as it is not promotional text. You can also include pictures of your products in this space.


4. Using custom tabs to channel visitors

Just below the cover image are small, square images called custom tabs. These are links to your applications. The first one is always a link to your photos, but the others can be customized.

This feature can be used quite effectively. For example, you can have a custom tab pointing to one of your products, and the image for the tab can contain a quick, attention-grabbing call to action.

You can have up to 12 of these custom tabs. Excluding the one for the photos, you have 11 opportunities to channel your visitors to important applications or sub-pages of your fan page.

5. Utilizing the profile photo

The profile photo, which used to be up to 180px by 540px in size, is now reduced to a mere 125px by 125px. However, this photo doesn’t come with any restrictions like that for the cover photo, so it can be utilized in creative ways.

Of course, you can have your picture or your logo as the profile photo of your fan page. In fact, most people would have this type of a setup. But now,you can play with the profile picture and the cover image to create some cool effects.

An aggressive tactic: If you want, you could create a profile image with the text “Like Us”, and an arrow pointing to the Like button. This is not something you can do with the cover photo, but it might help to boost your Likes.

6. Effectively using the new messaging system

The new fan pages now come with a messaging system—anyone who has liked your page can now send messages directly to you! (Please note that the message has to be initiated by the user—you cannot send a message to a fan unless he or she has messaged you first).

Again, this is a massive change, and one you can use to your advantage. You can use this feature for problem resolution—your fans can write to you privately (maybe with sensitive details like their order number), and you can provide personalized query resolution and support.

Of course, if you have a ton of fans, this won’t be feasible for you. But if you are just starting out and have only a few fans, this can be a big image booster and might earn you a lot of praise!

7. Using milestones to your advantage

Facebook now lets you create milestones on your fan pages. Milestones are the events or dates that are important for your page. The best part about milestones is that you can post milestones from the past, with dates from any time since the year 1000!

You can use this to let people know more about your blog or business—when it started, when it achieved some critical milestones, etc. Knowing these things may inspire more trust in your visitors, and could result in a few additional fans.

8. Checking out your competition

This is a neat trick that not many people know about. In fact, I myself discovered it by accident!

When you visit a fan page and you see a box with the number of Likes in it, click on it. What do you see? You see the analytics data (or “insights” in Facebook terms) about that fan page. Some of the things that you can see are:

  • how many people are taking about the fan page
  • the trends regarding new likes and number of people talking about the page
  • most popular week, city and age group for that fan page.

This is really cool! Till now, you could see the analytics for your own fan page. But now, you can also see the highlights of the analytics of other fan pages. This is a great opportunity—you can take a look at the data of your competitors, and use it to your advantage.

How are you using your new Facebook fan page?

How are you using the new features of the Facebook fan page to build your blog’s following both on Facebook and on your blog itself? Share your tips with us in the comments.

Raag Vamdatt runs multiple blogs, and writes from his experiences at The WordPress How To Blog. He also offers a free step-by-step course titled “Make Money Blogging” that guides about starting a blog and making money from it.