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Brand Yourself in Four Simple Steps

This guest post is by Crissie Fuller of Independent Fashion Bloggers.

Think about your resume. You stress over making it perfect, sweat every little detail—from the wording, to the layout, all the way down to your “Special Skills.” It’s your ticket to your dream job and you know it needs to be good. But hold on! Your resume might not be the be-all-end all of potential employer wooing anymore. We heard it over and over again: The Blog is the New Resume.

It makes sense when you think about it. When you’re applying for a job in the digital world, your new boss is going to want to know what your digital life looks like. How do you stand out from the crowed of others scrambling for an open position?

Brand yourself.

It’s not as scary as it sounds. You don’t need billboards or even crazy design skills! Let’s start small.

  1. Choose a color scheme you love and few fonts you can’t get enough of, and use them across the board: on your blog posts, your Twitter profile, business cards, letterhead—even your traditional resume (the list goes on and on!). That wasn’t hard, right?
  2. Streamline your profile pictures. You want your Google + page, Linkedin profile, Twitter profile, and Pinterest account to all have the same image, so that people who don’t really know you still know they are looking at the same person across all digital channels. When your future employer see this, they’ll spot your attention to detail, dedication to your craft, and above all, your understanding of the digital space. It’s a simple technique, and yet very, very effective. For example, when I applied for my current job, I sent in my resume and cover letter, both of which linked to my web page. The font on my web page matches the font on my resume, and I use the same background image across all my spaces (my blog, Tumblr, Twitter, even my Facebook page, which might be a little over the top, I admit…).
  3. Standardize your user names. This is an area in which I am seriously lacking. In some places I’m Crissie Fuller, in others Fuller.Cris and sometimes just the name of my blog, Chicasaurus-Rex. Ideally you want to use the same name across all platforms, but whether you choose your name or the name of your blog is really up to you. However, Erica Domesek of PS – I Made This suggested using your blog name during IFB’s semi-annual blogging conference (and really, if you want to see great branding, check out her blog, Twitter account, book, etc.!) But whichever you choose, keep it consistent. And don’t forget: you want to have exactly the same handle on Twitter and Instagram (if you can)!
  4. Besides the look of your brand, you want your voice to be consistent as well. You should always sound like you. It’s fine (good even!) if you are slightly more formal on LinkedIn and in cover letters, but you should never use big words and fancy phrases just to sound smart; your employer (and especially one hiring in the digital space) wants to hear your voice, not some regurgitated version of “the ideal cover letter” you found on Google.

To summarize, there are four easy steps to creating your personal brand:

  1. Use uniform fonts and colors for all your online and offline collateral (blog, Twitter, business cards, etc.)
  2. Streamline your profile pictures. Use the same one for all your online accounts.
  3. Make sure your user names all match!
  4. Find your voice and always write in it. Alter the tone to fit the audience that you are speaking to, but be sure you always sound like you!

What other tips can you add?

A University of California Santa Cruz and Fashion Institute of Technology graduate, Crissie Fuller is the Digital Strategist at Independent Fashion Blogger (IFB), a collective mentorship dedicated to enabling bloggers reach their social media goals. When she isn’t busy writing and developing digital content for IFB, Crissie spends her time exploring New York and documenting her personal style adventures on her blog, Chicasaurus-Rex.

The Rise of Visual Storytelling In Marketing

This guest post is by Magdalena Georgieva of Hubspot.

The September 2011 introduction of Facebook’s Timeline proved prophetic. “It’s a lot more visual,” wrote Sam Lessin, a product manager at Facebook, about the new look of the social network.

Visual, as it turns out, is also the direction in which the world of online marketing has headed.

The rise of visual storytelling as a means of spreading a marketing message couldn’t possibly have evaded you. A number of image-based platforms out there, including Pinterest, Instagram, and SlideShare, have already made a strong statement about how visual content can impact business results.

Images, presentations, and infographics are getting shared with ease, attracting thousands of views and sending tons of traffic to their original sources. Then, marketers assume the responsibility of qualifying the new visits and converting them into leads.

What’s so irresistible about images?

Images on the web can take control of your time in an instant and lead you down a path that you didn’t intend on taking.

You must have experienced the irresistible urge of flipping through photos during your lunch break and letting them distract you for a minute or two. One moment, you find yourself laughing over the images and the next moment, you are sharing them with friends.

Not surprisingly, six out of the ten most popular pieces of content that HubSpot has shared on our Facebook page in the last 30 days are images. Their cumulative reach was in the range of 7,000-12,000 views.

Let’s take a look at the platforms that brought about this rise of visual storytelling in marketing.

Pinterest

Since December 2012, news of Pinterest, the popular image-based sharing platform, has dominated the technology and marketing blogs. The website has now exceeded 11 million unique visitors and is quickly becoming a big referral source for many organizations.

In our new ebook, How to Use Pinterest for Business we reveal that the network has been sending more traffic to HubSpot’s blog than Google+ has. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how much of that traffic is actually qualified and converts into new leads.

Editor’s note: Later today, ProBlogger will show beginners how to get a head-started Pinterest. So if you’re not already hooked, look out for that post!

Instagram

The photo sharing application Instagram has accumulated 15 million users and is quickly outgrowing Foursquare. The iPhone app is a great way to successfully tap into the mobile and social marketing trend and enable users to experience your brand in a different way.

“Think about the artsy ways you could showcase your work, your staff or your customers with this tool,” writes John Jantsch.

Starbucks, Red Bull, General Electric, and Marc Jacobs are among some of the brands that are using Instagram for great marketing.

Slideshare

Slideshare is a platform that enables businesses and individuals to upload their presentations online and share them for free. It’s a great tool for B2B companies, for which presentations have remained a powerful form of social media.

In 2011, HubSpot’s presentations hosted on SlideShare accumulated more than three million views and thousands of downloads and social media shares.

Just like with Pinterest and Instagram, SlideShare can yield positive results for your organization if the presentations you are sharing convey clear value in a well-designed form. “Take an extra hour or hire a designer to make sure that important presentations are visually powerful,” advises HubSpot’s Kipp Bodnar.

Naturally, there are many other image-based platforms out there that can be used in combination with your other marketing activities. For instance, you can upload pictures to Flickr and share them on Facebook or Twitter. ISSUU is another website that hosts visual content, such as magazines, ebooks, and other documents.

What should you do about the rise of visual content in marketing?

    1. Get on board: Join a visual storytelling platform and start posting some of your existing image-heavy content. Make sure the pictures you upload convey value and are consistent with your brand identity. Don’t forget to optimize the description of your posts and include links back to your website.
    2. Include calls to action: Make sure that your visual content includes calls to action that take viewers to a landing page on your website related to the specific visual content. This will be your way of qualifying prospects and getting them to convert into leads. For instance, you can include calls-to-action at the bottom of infographics, in the descriptions of images, or on the last slide of presentations as a natural next step for readers who want to further engage with your brand.
    3. Measure impact: At the end of the day, what’s going to matter most is the levels of traffic, leads, and customers you generate via a specific platform. Use marketing software that tracks how your traffic is changing, and has the capability to compare different sources and provide you with reliable reporting. With access to such insights, you can revisit your strategy and prioritize the efforts that deliver the best results.

Have you started using visual content to market your business? What is your number one tip for newbies?

This is a guest post by Magdalena Georgieva, an inbound marketing manager at HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA that makes inbound marketing and lead management software.

Have You Set up Timeline on Your Facebook ‘Page’ Yet?

In the last day Facebook have rolled out Timeline for Facebook Brand pages. There’s been a lot of talk about whether people like them or not, but the reality is that they are here, and in a month they’ll be rolled out on your Brand page whether you like it or not.

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I’ve just pushed out version 1 of my own ProBlogger Facebook page here (I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it in the coming days but it is live), and I’d love to see what others are doing.

Have you activated Timeline on your Brand Page yet? If so, share a link with us in comments below so we can get a little inspiration for what you’ve done.

How to Establish Influence from Scratch

This guest post is by Jonathan Goodman of the Personal Trainer Development Center.

I’m a nobody. Scratch that; I was a nobody.  I work as a personal trainer in Toronto; I had no connections, knew nothing about blogging, and hadn’t written anything since University. 

What I did have was an idea and, with the right know-how, an idea is powerful enough to break through all barriers.

I’m not the first person on the Internet to talk about fitness.  On the contrary, I’m about the 1 000 000th.  My idea, though, was to be different and I decided to cover topics that nobody else was covering. 

You see, every fitness guru on the planet gives suggestions pertaining to exercise prescription, while nobody was effectively teaching trainers how to actually train.  After all, isn’t learning how to effective teach more important than a fancy new version of the squat?

That was my idea: “I’m going to be the one to bring non-exercise prescription advice to personal trainers.”

I launched the Personal Trainer Development Center (PTDC) in April of 2011 and it has become a main resource for personal trainers passionate about getting better.  It already brings in a nice monthly passive income and will provide a great forum for me to sell my book in April of 2012.

The question I get asked constantly is how I made friends with some of the best fitness pros in the World and consistently get them to take part in my site without being able to pay them.  These are folks who charge $200-500 to write elsewhere and give me their article for free.  To take it one step further, I know bloggers who put out brilliant information weekly.  Too bad their mothers are the only ones reading their blogs.

The answer doesn’t lie in SEO and doesn’t lie in buying links.  Those things matter but come later on.  The first step in building a house is a strong foundation.  That foundation hinges on both the relationships you’re able to build and your creative problem solving ability.

This article is the first time I’ve ever written about why I carefully hand-picked the people to be involved in my site and how the power of my idea has grown to both a money-making enterprise and a beacon of change in a badly controlled industry.  Apply these principles to your own industry and watch your influence grow.

Do your research

If you write it, they won’t come.  Content is only king if people read your content and care who you are. 

The first step is getting a thorough understanding of who the movers and shakers are in the informational sector of your industry.  I took a full year to study the fitness internet informational world.  Before launching my site I had research done into who the influencers were and who were the people behind the scenes acting as puppeteers. 

I opened a new email account and subscribed to everybody’s newsletter in addition to adding as many blogs as possible in my reader.  From there, I made notes not only on content but on who was linking to whom.  I was then able to ascertain which bloggers had relationships with whom and who seemed to be competing.

What I quickly realized is that in the fitness world there were a number of distinct “camps.”  Each of these camps had their head guru behind the scenes and top infopreneurs putting out resources.  Peel away the layers and I found all of the soldiers spreading information.

There is good news and bad news here.  The bad news is that you’re too late.  I can promise that these camps and levels already exist in your industry.  The good news is that there aren’t many bloggers who have figured this out yet and you have a great opportunity to become acquainted with these camps. 

Look at it this way: the systems of spreading information are already set up for you.  That’s the hard part.  So how do you break into these camps?

Create a committee of coaches

Anybody can contribute to the PTDC but I have a special section for “coaches” where I highlight their profiles and link back to them.  These coaches are my advisory committee.  I don’t ask for much from them but keep them on an email list.  Camaraderie has evolved where the coaches are now proud to be part of the team and many have built relationships with each other.

If you want to build a community, I recommend having an advisory committee and introducing them.  One of the biggest benefits you can give to new potential contributors is the ability to network with your existing following.

Start strategically small

At this point, your site should be built.  Don’t blast it off to the heads of the aforementioned camps.  You will be ignored.  During your research, though, you took careful notes of the foot soldiers right? Here’s where they come in handy. 

These foot soldiers are trusted within their chosen camp and will act as your person on the inside.  Here’s how I did it.

I noticed that many of the gurus offer internships.  One by one these interns become household fitness names.  It was obvious to me that the gurus weren’t only teaching them fitness, they were also teaching them the internet marketing game. 

In identifying the foot soldiers, I made special note of the folks who had done top tier internships and had small websites popping up or were starting to be quoted on the major blogs.  These were my targets.  I made sure to Like their Facebook updates and comment where warranted.  I also commented on their blogs.  After some back and forth among the comments I sent them a private message asking if they would like to be involved in my site as coaches.

I had a warm opening, as we had had some contact previously, and getting them on as coaches allowed me access to their networks (which, conveniently, consisted of the camps I was desperately trying to break into).

Identifying the foot soldiers in your industry is a great way of gaining entry into the trusted gurus camps.  These people are just as hungry as you are and will jump at the opportunity to network and be part of something bigger than them.

Republish your coaches’ old content

Now that I had a small but well-connected gang of coaches, it was time to approach the influencers.  Armed with my vision and some early success because of good content, I wrote them a message.  Out of the ten I contacted, I had a 90% response rate, and out of those 90%, every one agreed to come on board. 

It was right then that I knew the PTDC was going to make it big.  So how did I get their participation without being able to pay them?

I realized that all of these top fitness pros had been writing for years.  As a result both of their longevity in combination with poorly built sites, I realized that their old material was getting little to no traffic. 

I went through their archives before speaking to them and mentioned a couple of key articles that I had figured they forgot about.  I discussed how these articles would be a great addition to the site and were needed to help the industry.  They supported my powerful idea.

Each of the gurus agreed to come on the team.  I then sent them a list of the articles I wanted to republish and got the okay for each one.  Not only did I get a bank of articles to use for the coming months, so content wouldn’t run dry, I also had given these folks a great forum to attract more readers without any work.

Once two or three top pros were on board, they started referring me other “friends” who might be interested.  Now I also had the advantage of offering new coaches a powerful new network.

While doing your research, make sure to go through the archives of the gurus you found.  Keep a file on your computer of their old articles that support your idea.  It is a great way to stimulate initial traffic to your site.

Creatively solve problems

This process was not always rosey, and there were a lot of problems in building up the PTDC that had to be dealt with.  One I want to cover here is how I approached the top coaches. 

As a new blogger, your only currency is links, and sending out cold calls or messages to top writers won’t get you any response.  After a failed attempt I went a different route and started a weekly blog entitled Online Personal Trainer Blog Posts of the Week. 

It wasn’t much extra work since I was already reading these blogs anyway.  All I changed was to make a file and when I liked a post I kept the link and included it in the article.

Here’s the catch.  I knew which influential bloggers I wanted to approach next and the Posts of the Week blog was my way of making sure they noticed me before I sent them a message.  I linked to their blog and tagged them on Facebook in addition to mentioning them on Twitter.  They would almost always interact back. 

Adding their post to the list was my way of saying, “Hey! I noticed you do good work. Come look at my site and the great info we provide.”  Nobody is every surprised when I send them a message an more as they have all already seen the site.

You will also have problems building up and here is my recommendation to you: figure out who on the internet can help you solve your problem.  Don’t approach them immediately.  Instead, creatively find a way to make them notice you.

Summing it up

Follow Metcalfe’s Law.  Whether you are a new blogger or an existing blogger trying to increase your influence, remember that you are only as valuable as the number of nodes on your network.  Figure out who is already effectively doing what you want to do and find a way into their good books. 

Armed with your powerful idea and with the help of your advisory board your reach will explode.  Remember: content is only king if there are people to read it.

Jonathan Goodman is a personal trainer and blogger.  His powerful idea led him to create the Personal Trainer Development Center and maintain a personal site

 

How I Got 18 Times More ‘Likes’ on a Facebook Update

Yesterday I hosted a free webinar for ProBlogger readers on the topic of using Facebook to help you grow your blog. In the webinar (attended by 1000 people) Amy Porterfield packed in over an hour’s worth of rich content.

I learned a lot from it myself (I’ll share one thing that instantly had results for me below) and we had literally hundreds of comments from those attending saying how worthwhile it was. Here’s just a few of over 250 comments:

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Based upon the amazing feedback and the fact that over 2000 people registered for the webinar but we could only fit in 1000 – we’ve decided to release the recording to those who missed out.

We’ll leave this recording up for a week or so so don’t miss out on listening in by doing it today.

You can listen to the hour of teaching and 20 minutes of Q&A (which was great too) here.

You will need a notepad and pen or a word doc to make some notes with because there is a heap of rich information to take in.

One Tip I learned that Instantly Increased My Facebook Results

As I said at the end of the call – there’s so much to learn when it comes to using Facebook to market your blog. I myself am taking a course that Amy is running to learn more. As I listened to her yesterday I jotted down a number of action items.

One was around the use of images. Amy mentioned in the webinar that images are the number 1 thing that people are sharing on Facebook. While I knew this I hadn’t really acted on the information. So this morning here’s a little experiment that I did:

Normally when a new post goes up on my photography blog I post an update like this:

facebook-for-bloggers-webinar-case-study-1

What you see there is the status update on our page as it happens if you simply add a link to the status update box. It automatically pulls in an image from the post, the title of the post and the first line or two. I do these updates manually each day and they drive some pretty nice traffic. You can see in this case that after 25 minutes of being live that update was ‘liked’ 3 times and shared once. I’d estimate that around 100 people came and looked at the post in that 25 minute period.

Taking Amy’s teaching on board today I decided to do a followup status update with the same post a little while later – this time I decided to upload the same photo that you see above and to write something about the photo (including the link).

Here’s how it looked:

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The photo is bigger and more eye catching and you can immediately see what happened as a result. 18 times as many people ‘liked it’. 7 people commented. While there were no shares I’ll bet that this type of update will typically get shared more than the other type. Interestingly since adding this update I saw a spike in traffic coming to that post that I’d estimate was around 400 people.

Update: the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ are continuing to come in one this one.

Key take home lesson? If you have an visually interesting image in your post consider uploading it and adding the link in the description of your image rather than just sharing the link and letting Facebook pull in the image. I’m certainly going to experiment some more with this technique.

Listen to the Full Webinar for Free Here

This is just one action item I picked up from Amy in the above webinar. I’ve got another 10 action items that I’m going to implement in the coming week.

Enjoy the full webinar for yourself here and learn how to tap into the billion plus people on Facebook.

How to Use Facebook to Promote Your Blog

In this guest post, Steve Schwartz, a professional LSAT tutor, discusses how he has used Facebook to promote his Ace the LSAT blog and create a community of readers.

Your blog’s readers probably have Facebook profiles already, and making your own Facebook profile is easy enough. Aside from allowing you to create a profile and connect with your friends from elementary school, Facebook has several features that can connect your blog readers and help you find new ones.

Create a Facebook Group

Your readers have a common interest – your blog’s subject. My readers are preparing for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Maybe yours are interested in knitting, running, or making money online. Just as they have subscribed to your blog, they will join your Facebook group.

At the beginning of December 2008, I created the 2009 LSAT Study / Discussion Facebook Group. Someone else had created a 2008 LSAT Group, and I wanted to be the person to create the 2009 group, so I started early. When someone is searching Facebook for an LSAT group to join this year, they’ll see my group has over 100 members, but someone else’s group on the same topic only has 3, guess which group they’ll join.

Note: I didn’t make the group about my blog directly – I made it broader. Why? So people searching on Facebook for LSAT-related groups would feel welcome to join. If they thought it was limited to my blog’s readers, the prospective member might not even visit the group page, which means he/she would never see the link to my blog.

So I created a group and placed a prominent link to my blog on the top, but it only had one member – me. Not very impressive, right? I didn’t want my readers to think my group and blog were unpopular, so I immediately invited all of my Facebook friends to join the group. Some of my Facebook friends were already planning to take the LSAT, so inviting them to join my new Facebook group had two additional benefits:

1. It informed them of my blog if they didn’t know about it already.

2. Facebook’s news feed told all their friends, making the group a viral marketing mechanism for the blog..

How Readers Use the Facebook Group

Of course, the Facebook group is more than a viral marketing mechanism too. It helps your readers to connect with each other in a way comments don’t. While comments are generally responses to your postings, Facebook’s discussion boards allow direct interaction between readers. My readers have used the Facebook group to find LSAT study partners and form study groups by posting messages on the discussion board and the Wall. How did I tell my readers about the Facebook Group? I posted a link to it on the side of my blog, and I made a brief blog post about it for those who hadn’t noticed the link.

Marketing Your Facebook Group, and Your Blog, in Other Facebook Groups

Search Facebook for groups on your topic and related ones. In each of these groups, you can post a message on the group Wall or discussion board, or you can use the Post a Link feature to notify the group’s members of your group and your blog. Warning: don’t do all three in the same group at the same time – it’s overkill and may get you banned from the group. By promoting your Facebook group at first, instead of promoting your blog, you decrease the likelihood that the group administrator will remove your message.

After doing all of this, Facebook became one of my biggest sources of traffic, and I don’t even have to do much to keep the Facebook traffic coming. In order to get more readers, you need to have a presence where they are. For me and for many bloggers these days, our present and future readers spend their time in social networking sites.

What about you? Have you used Facebook or other social networking sites to promote your blog? Have you found it to be effective?

Bio: Steve Schwartz is a professional LSAT tutor living in New York City. He updates his Ace the LSAT blog every week with free LSAT tips and tricks.

Search, Social and Direct Traffic – [TRAFFIC ANALYSIS]

This morning I spent a little time doing some analysis (using Google Analytics) of the traffic coming into my main blog – Digital Photography School.

My analysis was stimulated by a question from a reader who in response to last week’s two posts examining the place of Digg and Social Bookmarkingin a bloggers priorities asked me:

What role does Social Bookmarking traffic play in your blog?

I decided to dig into the metrics on DPS and find out the answer… or at least that is what I started out doing…..

As I began to analyze the stats I realized that DPS has four main referrers of traffic – each are quite different from the others and yet each are very important. What follows in this post is me thinking out loud on each source of traffic and what it means to my blog.

Looking at the big picture

Lets start by looking at the big picture of the traffic coming into DPS. For the purpose of this post I’ll go back to the start of 2007 with my analysis (the time I started using Google Analytics) and I will only be looking at traffic coming into the DPS blog (ie this doesn’t include data on the forums).

Here’s a snapshot of all traffic coming into the DPS blog since 1 January 2007 (click to enlarge all images in this post).

DPS-Traffic-Social-bookmarking-spikes.png

You can see over the last 22 months that the DPS blog has had steady growth. There have been 11.5 million visitors, around 25 million page views and they stay on the site around two and a half minutes per visit.

At 1 January the average daily visitor numbers were around 4,000-5,000 visitors. At present they average around 23,000-25,000.

Looking specifically at the main sources of traffic to the blog – there are four that are responsible for a little under 70% of all of the above traffic:

  1. Google (26%)
  2. Direct Traffic (RSS, Newsletters, Browser Bookmarks etc) (21%)
  3. StumbleUpon (11%)
  4. Digg (9%)

The next highest referrers are significantly lower in how much traffic they bring in and include Yahoo, many other blogs (big and small) and Delicious.

As you can see – Google is a fairly important factor in my blog. Add other search traffic from Yahoo, MSN, AOL and search traffic is responsible for around 30% of the overall traffic.

If I was to categorize all of the social bookmarking traffic (Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Reddit, Popurls etc it accounts for around 24% of overall traffic (a little higher than ‘direct’).

OK – so this information is mildly interesting (to me at least) but when I dig down a little further and do some analysis of each type of traffic I find it more illuminating.

Digg Traffic

Since last week we were talking about Digg, lets start with that.

Here’s how Digg traffic to the DPS blog has looked over the last 22 months.

digg-traffic.png

Straight away we can see the nature of Digg traffic. It is either there or it isn’t. The spikes can be fairly significant (in most cases they range from 10,000 to 30,000 visitors) but between them the traffic from Digg rarely gets over 100 visitors a day.

Lets look at a few other stats on Digg visitors over this period:

  • They viewed 1.39 pages per visit (site average was 2.17)
  • They spent an average of 54 seconds on the site (site average was 2 minutes and 35 seconds)

So in comparison to overall averages Digg users are fairly fleeting (although note as fleeting as I hear some people saying).

One other thing worth saying about Digg visitors. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t ‘convert’ to regular readers. So lets have a look at my newsletter signups for the latest ‘Digg Event’ on DPS (that last spike on the chart).

DPS-Subscribers.png

As you’ll see there was a definite increase in subscriber numbers on the day of my last Digg event (Nov 13th). Of course that day had 14,000 visitors from Digg to the site and subscriber numbers were only up around 150 subscribers – so Digg users don’t become loyal readers in huge numbers – but some of them do convert. I’d suspect that RSS subscribers would increase by a similar sort of rate after a Digg event.

I’ve noticed similar sorts of increases in subscriber numbers on other ‘Digg events’. They don’t convert massively but I always do pick up extra readers each time – the stats on the site tend to look like this chart taken from my post – How to Build a ‘Digg Culture’ on your Blog:

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This is actually one of the biggest benefits of social bookmarking traffic for me. While the actual spike in traffic is nice – the real benefit comes from those readers you’re able to convert to regular readers. 100 extra readers adds up to thousands of page views over a year.

One more stat on ‘conversion to loyalty’:

Over the last few months I’ve had a test running on Google Analtyics that analyzes how many visitors ‘convert’ to subscribers. I’ve set up a ‘Goal’ on Google Analytics that is triggered as achieved when people reach the thank you page for my newsletter subscription (meaning when they convert to verified subscribers).

Digg Users get to this page 0.48% of the time. This is in comparison to an average of 2.24% for the overall site.

Do Digg Users Click Ads?

One of the great things about Google Analytics now is that you can track AdSense earnings if you link your AdSense and Analytics accounts (they’re still rolling this feature for some).

While AdSense TOS prohibits sharing of too much information on earnings I’ll share some vague stats with you on how different readers ‘convert’ with ads.

  • The CPM (earnings per 1000 page views) has converted with Digg readers at about half the site average.
  • The CTR (click through rate) of Digg users is about a third of the site average.

So the common perception that Digg users don’t click ads is backed up – to a point. Some of them do click and when you consider that you can get 30,000 of them visiting your site in a day this can add up.

Keep in mind that Digg traffic can be useful for monetizing a site in other ways – particularly when you’re making money on a CPM basis where you’re paid per page view.

StumbleUpon Traffic

StumbleUpon actually sends me more traffic than Digg does over time. Here’s how the traffic from SU looks over the last 22 months.

stumbleupon.png

Here we see that the nature of Stumble Upon traffic is actually quite different from Digg. While both are ‘bookmarking’ sites they are really quite different. When a post gets popular on StumbleUpon the traffic it generates is spread out over days (and even weeks and months). There’s often no single day when you get masses of traffic but rather it’s more of a slow burner (I’ve written more about this in a post titled Why StumbleUpon Sends More Traffic than Digg).

You’ll see that StumbleUpon traffic has actually grown significantly over time. What I put this down to is that as I’ve written more and more posts on my blog there have been more entry points for SU traffic. While traffic grows and then falls off to particular posts on SU if you have multiple posts generating traffic you can actually see it build to significant numbers (like they were in the period of June/July this year where I had about 6-7 posts doing very well in SU simultaneously).

Lets look at a couple of other metrics on the SU traffic:

  • They viewed 1.62 pages per visit (site average was 2.17)
  • They spent an average of 1 minute and 7 seconds on the site (site average was 2 minutes and 35 seconds)

So StumbleUpon traffic is a little more sticky than Digg traffic. They view more pages and stick around longer.

Do StumbleUpon users signup for the newsletter and become loyal? My stats show that 0.51% of them have reached the thank you page on my newsletter subscription process. Slightly higher than Digg users but a lot lower than overall site averages.

Do StumbleUpon users click ads?

Interestingly StumbleUpon users seem to click on ads less than Digg users with the limited amount of stats that I have on this. The CPM that I’m seeing with SU users is very similar to that for Digg users but the CTR was about a third of Digg users (and about a tenth of overall site averages).

Search Engine Traffic

My number one traffic source on DPS is that from search engines. Google takes the lions share of this but I’ve added in the others into this analysis (interestingly Yahoo has been on the increase of late). Here’s how the search engine traffic has grown over the last 22 months.

search-traffic.png

Again – a very different shaped chart to the others. The two spikes in traffic are both to do with search traffic increasing for terms around ‘fireworks photography’ at around 4th July – but other than that it’s very steady growth with little weekly spikes and troughs in traffic but not much else to note.

This traffic has gone up over time for a couple of main reasons:

1. I’ve been adding content – the more pages you have the more entry points that search engines can send people to

2. The sites authority has grown over time – the longer you’re around the more links you have pointing at your blog and the more authoritative search engines begin to give you.

Lets look at a couple of other stats from Search Engine Traffic:

  • They viewed 2.55 pages per visit (site average was 2.17)
  • They spent an average of 3 minutes and 20 seconds on the site (site average was 2 minutes and 35 seconds)

Interestingly Google readers view 2.51 pages and spend 3 minutes and 16 seconds while Yahoo readers view over 3 pages and spend over 4 minutes on the site.

In terms of ‘conversion’ via the newsletter – 2.72% of search engine visitors have made it to the thank you page (again it’s better for Yahoo than Google). This is better than the site average making search traffic more sticky than social media traffic.

Do Search Engine Readers Click Ads?

The common perception is that search engine referrals are more profitable when it comes to CPC advertising programs like AdSense. My stats back this up.

I’m seeing the CPM of my search traffic as about 10% higher than the site average and CTR up by about 10% also. Interestingly I’m seeing Yahoo traffic as about 30% higher than Google.

Direct Traffic

The last category of traffic that I want to analyze is what Google Analytics classifies as ‘direct’ traffic. This traffic includes those coming in from desktop RSS subscribers, newsletters, browser bookmarks, type in traffic etc. Here’s how this traffic has looked over the last 22 months.

direct-traffic.png

Again we see a fairly steady growth in this area. The weekly spikes coincide with when I’ve sent out newsletters. The bigger spikes mainly coincide with when we’ve run competitions in our newsletters.

The reason for the growth in this traffic is largely that I’ve worked very hard on building a newsletter list for this blog (particularly over the last year).

Lets look at some more stats on this direct traffic:

  • They viewed 2.28 pages per visit (site average was 2.17)
  • They spent an average of 2 minutes and 55 seconds on the site (site average was 2 minutes and 35 seconds)

Both of these stats are higher than the site average but lower than search engine traffic. However considering that many of these visitors come to the site on a weekly basis and view hundreds of pages a year these averages are pretty good.

In terms of ‘goal conversion’ (or getting these people to my thank you page of the newsletter signup – they convert at 2.08%. This is slightly under the site average but considering many of them have already signed up – it’s pretty good.

Do Direct Referrals Click Ads?

This one interested me because I suspected that these highly loyal readers would become pretty blind to AdSense ads over time. However they are bang on average for the site with both CTR and CPM performance almost exactly on the site average.

Concluding Thoughts

I know this post has been rather long and so I will keep my concluding thoughts brief (I considered posting this as a series of posts but hope it’s more helpful seeing everything side by side).

All traffic has its place and serves different purposes.

One of the main things that strikes me about this exercise is that while some people write off different types of traffic – that together they come together in fairly significant ways.

For example – Digg traffic may not be that sticky or profitable – however as I think back to the early days of DPS it was the early series of Digg spikes that helped to get the blog going.

Even going back before January 2007 (before the charts above) DPS was on the front page of Digg quite a few times. Each time this happened the site step ups in loyal readers to the blog. This helped it grow even though at the time the site wasn’t generating much search traffic.

Overtime search has been increasingly important to the site in finding new visitors. The Digg spikes are handy and still draw people in that have not seen us before but in many ways they’ve served their purpose for the site and now our Google and Yahoo authority has kicked in we’re starting to see more benefits from there.

As I look forward I see both ‘search’ and ‘direct’ traffic as taking over even more from social bookmarking traffic. If things continue to grow as they are search and direct traffic will out number even the biggest spikes that the site might get from Digg.

This doesn’t mean I’ll not value the bookmarking traffic – but it’ll play less of a roll.

Social Bookmarking as an SEO tool

One last unproven idea that has been lingering in my mind lately is the importance of social bookmarking as an SEO strategy. I’m not sure how much of an impact it has had on the growth of search traffic on DPS but surely all of the links to DPS from Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Reddit and other social bookmarking sites have had an impact upon the site’s search authority.

Even posts that don’t get to the front page of Digg that are bookmarked there must at least be getting some search engine juice from the bookmark.

More than that – getting on the front page of Digg or going popular on Delicious often has the flow on effect of being linked to by a lot of other blogs and websites that watch these pages. For example my last appearance on the popular page on Delicious stimulated at least 30 or so links from other blogs. Again – each link is adding to the search engine authority of the blog.

10 Ways to Find Readers for Your Blog By Leveraging Other Online Presence

One of the simplest ways to grow your blog’s readership is to leverage other places that you have an online presence.

Leveraging places that you have presence online could include:

1. Twitter Background Image:

I’ve been using a background image on Twitter that has URLs of other places that I’m online and it’s gotten a lot of interest. While the links are not clickable they do highlight other places that you hangout online – including your blog.

Twitter-Background

It is impossible to track how many people are impacted by background images but I do know of a number of people who have found my blogs through mine.

2. Profile Pages on Social Media

The other obvious place on Twitter to promote your blog (apart from your tweets themselves) is your profile section which enables you to say a few things about yourself (160 characters) as well as leaving a link.

Twitter-Profile

Almost every social media site going around has an opportunity like this to add a link to other places of online presence in a profile page. The sky is really the limit – do it on Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, MySpace, StubmleUpon, Digg, Flickr, YouTube…. the list could go on and on.

3. Social Media Sites (eg – Facebook)

There are numerous ways to leverage social networking sites and to drive traffic back to your blog. I’ve already mentioned how you can do this using the ‘profile’ area above but there are often other ways also.

Sites like Facebook also allow you to pull in RSS feeds so that you can have your wall updated every time you post something new on your blog. Look out for opportunities to import RSS feeds – these are increasingly popular and can be really effective.

There are also lots of applications that allow you to promote your content – one that many bloggers us is BlogNetworks.

Blog-Networks

4. Email Signature

One of the most common ways that website and blog owners have used to promote their blog is to use the ‘signature’ area at the bottom of emails.

Email-Signature

It makes sense to use this – if you’re anything like me you are emailing hundreds of people a week (or day) and could potentially be reaching a lot of new readers or reinforcing your brand with older ones.

Note: Feedburner even offer a service that allows you to show your latest posts from your blog in your email signature.

5. Forum Signatures

This is another fairly common one but one that I’ve seen can be quite powerful at times (if used well with a good forum strategy).

The signature alone won’t always drive traffic but as we covered here recently on ProBlogger if you use it in conjunction with being a useful contributer it can be highly effective at driving traffic.

Many forums also allow you to add links to profile pages.

6. Blog Comments

Many bloggers spend a lot of time reading and commenting upon other blogs in their niche.

Every time you comment on another blog you can be potentially adding to or taking away from your blog’s brand. Every comment is an opportunity to connect with both the blogger behind the blog and their readers.

The best way to drive traffic from blog comments is to leave helpful, useful, stimulating, insightful, controversial comments. Do this over time and people will want to know more of who you are and what else you do.

7. LinkedIn ‘Questions and Answers’

One great social networking site that many bloggers have profiles on is LinkedIn (my profile is here). Just being a part of LinkedIn can help promote your blog but their Question and Answer tool is another opportunity that many bloggers fail to use.

Linked-In-Questions-Answers

You don’t want to make your use of the feature too self promotional but good questions can be effective at reinforcing your brand and even stimulating people to visit your blog (if well written). Also answering other people’s questions can get you on their radar – there are lots of ‘open’ questions which give you opportunity to do this.

8. YouTube (and other Video and Photosharing sites)

Many bloggers create videos and upload them to sites like YouTube. There are numerous opportunities to leverage this. For starters you can add links in your profile page, you can add links to the video description of every video you upload (they work best if they are at the start of the description) and you can add your URL into your video (as a pre roll or post-roll ‘credit’).

Similarly sites like Flickr allow some linking within your profile pages and the pages where you show photos.

9. Your Other Blogs

Many bloggers have more than one blog. While they could be on diverse topics and not really suitable to regularly cross promote within your content there are still opportunities for interlinking them.

One such place is in the ‘about page’ of your blogs. People often go to these pages to find out more about the author – as a result it’s appropriate to include links to other projects/blogs that you’re working on here.

If your blogs are related in topic and it is relevant to mention them in your post then you should be doing so.

10. Guest Posting

I’ve written a lot about the power of guest posts so won’t go on about it again here – however it’s another great opportunity to develop an online presence that can be powerfully leveraged to draw readers back to your blog (and to build your brand).

Read more about guest posting at:

Final Thoughts

The above techniques can potentially drive traffic to your blog but as I’ve written this post I’m reminded of a post I wrote some time back on building your personal brand – one straw at a time. All of the above activities don’t just drive traffic – they collectively build your brand.

The other thing I’ll finish by saying is that ‘relevancy’ is the key to all of the above driving traffic to your blog.

For example – if your YouTube account just has personal videos it’s less likely to drive traffic to your blog if it’s on a topic similar to your actual blog. The same is true for each of the 10 points above.

What other ways do you drive traffic to your blog from other places that you have an online presence? What works best for you?

Feeling Overwhelmed by Social Media and Web 2.0? – Here Are 5 Tips For You

Last week I spoke with a blogger who had thrown the towel in on his blog. One day he simply stopped posting with no explanation.

I emailed to ask him why he stopped and his response was:

“I can’t keep up with the advances in technology. Every day there is a new tool, widget or social networking site to test out. I can’t keep up. I’m feeling overwhelmed by it. So I gave up.”

This is a sentiment I’m hearing a lot lately. Bloggers are increasingly feeling the pressure to have their fingers in lots of pies at once and are feeling overwhelmed by the choice and effort needed to ‘keep up’.

We look at people like Robert Scoble who manage to keep blogs afloat, produce videos, engage with thousands of people on Twitter, FriendFeed and who knows how many other social accounts – all while having a family and traveling the world speaking at conferences! Our efforts in comparison to people like Robert pale by comparison….

If you’re feeling this pressure I’d like to talk to you today and give you a few words of encouragement.

overwhelmed-social-media.jpg
Image by danielgebhart

5 Tips for Overwhelmed Bloggers

1. You’re Not Alone

There are days when I look at the things that I do and feel like I’m going backwards. I’m lucky enough to be able to dedicate full time hours (in fact I’m probably doing this 60-70 hours a week) to what I do – and I there are times when I can’t keep up!

You’re not alone. I hear stories of people who can’t ‘keep up’ every day.

2. Focus Upon Your Core Tasks

My Mum isn’t on Facebook, she’s never heard of Twitter, she thinks YouTube is a deodorant stick and things RSS is something most people keep in their boxer shorts.

Sometimes it feels like we’re falling behind in adopting technology but it is good remind ourselves that what we do do online is actually ahead of the curve of the majority of ‘real people’.

What I remind myself on those days when I feel overwhelmed by it all is that 95% of the people who read my main blog don’t really care that much about social media or web 2.0 – they’re coming to my blog to read information on how to use their cameras.

As a result my core task is to develop that content and to distribute it using mediums that they are familiar with. My core task is NOT to have my finger on the pulse of every new technology. While it can be helpful to know about the latest widgets and tools to become distracted by them could actually be taking me further away from my audience.

3. Be Smart, Establish Boundaries and Focus Your Energies

I am not suggesting that we all ignore social media, emerging web technologies or forget about Web 2.0.

There is a lot to like about Web 2.0 and it can bring a lot of life to your blogging. However unless you’re blogging about Technology or have a very Web Savvy audience you’d do well to pick and choose what you do and don’t focus your attention on and to put boundaries around these activities.

I wish I could list the 3 tools and technologies that you should focus upon – but it will differ for each blog and every topic – but rather than focusing upon everything, narrow your focus and pick a few achievable technologies to ‘play’ with at a time. My approach with social media has always be to pick up new technologies one at a time rather than to start with multiple ones at once.

Picking new tools to play with one at a time allows you to fully understand it, work out how it might work for you and to add it to your natural work flow. Do too many new things at once and you’re not likely to be able to integrate them into your life to it’s potential.

Remember my post from last week on Home bases and Outposts and how it relates to Social Media – while spending time on outposts can be useful you also need to spend time on your home base – that needs to be your priority.

On Boundaries – One of the techniques that I use to help me to put boundaries around the things that I do is to use Batch Processing. Put most simply it is about setting aside blocks of time to work on tasks in a focused way instead of flitting from one thing to another all day.

4. They are Tools – Refocus Upon Your Goals

Sometimes the tools and technologies become bigger than they need to be. I am constantly reminding myself to spend less time focusing upon the tools and more time focusing upon my goals.

If you know what you want to achieve you can then decide how to move towards that desired goal. In doing so you can select the best tools for the job. If you start with the medium or the tools and try to fit it to your ‘goals’ and objectives you’ll just get muddled.

Web 2.0 technologies can help you achieve your goals – but they are much more effective if you know what you want to achieve.

5. Have Fun

Sometimes I take things too seriously. Sure – blogging has become a business and a way of sustaining my family so there needs to be some element of taking it seriously – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Social media is a space that is at it’s best when it is fun and playful. Let it bog you down and you’re kind of defeating the purpose of it all.

What would you add as a tip for people feeling overwhelmed by social media and Web 2.0 technologies?