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5 Tips to Help You Collect Your First 10,000 Email Subscribers

5 Tips to Help You Get Your First Email SubscribersThis is a guest contribution from Tewfik Cassis.

For a startup or brand new blog, every milestone poses its challenges, but perhaps none more so than the first one – that daunting task of breaking outside of your friends and family into your first set of real readers or customers. It can be overwhelming for many. Where do you even start? How do you break in to an already oversaturated market?

We launched the Daily Pnut, a daily email that gives you an informed and funny take on the world in bite-size pieces (we like to say it will make you sound marginally more intelligent – you can subscribe here), in July of 2015. Within a few short weeks we had already exhausted our friends and family and were stumped about how to grow. By working hard and reaching out, trying new things, we soon hit our first big milestone – 10,000 subscribers.

Below is a list of things we did, and while this isn’t totally applicable to all, it should help you think about how to grow your own brand online.

Further Reading: Email Lists: Make them a Priority with These Tips

5 Tips to Help You Collect Your First 10,000 Email Subscribers

1. Ask for help

Assuming you’ve built a blog or business (or both!) that’s useful/enjoyable (work on that before anything else), then your first set of customers should be willing to talk about it and get others to read your blog, sign up to your mailing list, and buy your product or service. While ideally we’d like that kind of behavior to happen spontaneously, most of the time some prodding is needed.

Be explicit about what it is you want them to do. There are many points when you can do that – either in your sidebar or a bar across the top of your site, at sale/sign up or by emailing them again after they’ve had a chance to read your blog or eBook or use the product for a bit (ideally both times). Be clear about your ask, say that every little bit helps and if they like the product (or like you), they will go and do it.

Finally, a bit of an incentive won’t hurt – think of some ways you can give back to them for doing you this favour. Offer a prize to the best sharer, run a competition, give them something in exchange for their time and effort.

Further Reading: How to Write a Post that Has a Clear Call to Action

2. If you can’t get them to write about you, write about yourself:

PR and mentions in traditional media can be a godsend for young companies, and it can work well for blogs too, if you find the right angle. But it is becoming increasingly hard to get. Big news outlets like Tech Crunch will only cover you if something substantial is happening in your product, and even the smaller publications are less interested in covering launches than before (they will wait to cover a funding round instead). Find a way to be super-useful to a bigger blogger in your niche and they may just be inclined to share you with their audience if it’s a good fit.

So what can you do now? Get your own story out there. Write your own press releases, and craft some great guest blog posts. This should get people energized about the your blog, your brand, if you do it right and share it with the right site. Link back to yourself respectfully. Also, don’t just do it once – write every time you release a new product, have a brand new thing to share with your community, or have something coming up that you want to get traction on.

We tried to read the market using Medium and it worked out great for us. It even helped us land our first actual media coverage.

Further Reading: How to Promote Yourself without Coming Across as a Jerk

Publishers are desperate for content, provide it for them:

This isn’t true for all publishers, particularly bloggers, but try approaching big sites that turn over a lot of content and offer to provide it for them. Similar to what we did with Medium, we also wrote more about our story on other news publications. This helped us quickly reach audiences that we otherwise would never have gotten to.

Tailor your voice and message to each platform, while linking back to your company and getting your message across. We did it for The Muse, The Week and Daily Secret. Be useful and keep your choices to niches relevant to your own. It’s all very well and good to be featured on a huge site, but if their audience isn’t interested in your topic, you won’t retain any readers – and they aren’t likely to sign up to your mailing list.

Further Reading: Why You Have a Better Chance of Landing a Guest Post Than You Think (and How to Do It)

4. Try cross-promotion

Another way to get your name out there is to find other blogs or brands of similar size that complement your own, and cross-promote. This can be on their blog, their instagram or their Facebook. This allows you to reach their audience and in return gives you something to tell your audience that isn’t just “buy my product.” Remember to keep the basic tips in mind – be useful and be relevant. What can you provide their audience that they’re not already getting? What will the new blog or brand provide yours? Collaborate on a win-win situation for all.

Because we are newsletter-based we were able to add links for other newsletters in return for asking them to link back to us. We also did it with some of the brands that advertised on our platform by asking them to email their customers about us in exchange for discounted ad space. Your customers will love you for giving them a new “tip” or product to check out, and you get more people buying your product.

Further Reading: 7 Commonsense Tips to Improve Your Next Expert Roundup

5. Figure out who your dream reader or customer is and go out and get them:

As Darren says, find where your ideal reader is hanging out, and hang out there too! People want to be reading/wearing/buying things that the people they admire and respect are using. What you need to do is figure out who you would love to have reading your blog (personas are good for this) and then think about where they might be online – what other blogs are they reading? What social media platform are they on? What online stores do they shop at? Who are the people they look up to and what are they reading/wearing/buying? Once you’ve created a “wish-list” of potential readers and customers then go find them! Write for those sites, buy advertising on their pages, be present on those platforms where your ideal reader loves to be. Reach out to them!

Don’t forget also that a great lead magnet or incentive to sign up to your email list can be the final push people need. What can you create or offer in exhange for people giving you their email address? Printables, eBooks, eCourses, something you are good at providing and that is worthwhile to the reader can be invaluable. In fact, most blogs will have some kind of freebie to give their audience on mail list signup.

We emailed famed academic Steven Pinker and convinced him to subscribe. A few weeks later we emailed him again asking for a testimonial. Now he tweets about us all the time, and it has driven hundreds of sign ups as well as nabbing a few other famous clients.

Further Reading: Finding Readers: Strategies for Building Your Audience

There are a few other pieces of advice that precede the five listed above. One is that you should launch, launch and launch – even if you are scared or you think it’s not good enough. A product in the market or a blog created is infinitely better than an idea in your head. You effectively have zero readers or customers before you launch. The best way to get readers and customers for your content (and improve your product) is by launching. Just get it out there, and refine as time goes on.

The other is to always be uncomfortable. If you are comfortable where you are then you are missing out on something and aren’t stretching yourself, and by extension, your product’s reach enough.

Finally, you should always plug your product, or mention your blog where you can, without being spammy. For example, now that you’ve read this much of my article I ask that you subscribe to our daily email and get a funny take on world news every morning ;-)

Tewfik Cassis is a co-founder of Daily Pnut and an alum of MIT and Harvard Business School. You can follow him on twitter @tewfik10 or sign up to the newsletter here

Hacking the 80/20 Rule to Turbocharge Your Blogging Results

Hacking the 80/20 Rule to Turbocharge Your Blogging ResultsThis is a guest contribution from Garik Himebaugh.

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably heard of the 80/20 Principle. It’s been mentioned by productivity experts as well as the likes of entrepreneurs Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi.

If you do in fact live in a cave, I suggest you move somewhere with plumbing… and people.

While widely mentioned and talked about, the principle is sadly misunderstood and given much less attention than it deserves. From skeptics to those that glaze over the idea too quickly, there is much to be learned from careful consideration of this idea.

Hacking the 80/20 Rule to Turbocharge Your Blogging Results

In this article we will dive deep into what the 80/20 Principle is not, what it is, and how you can use it to turbocharge your results on your blog – from the time you put in to the output you get.

What is the 80/20 Rule?

Basically, it is the rule that 80% of your results come from 20% of effort. It’s working smarter, not harder.

What 80/20 is Not

First, 80/20 is not an all-encompassing philosophy. It does not have to be applied to every aspect of your life for it to be effective in your life.

Too often people get stuck trying to apply this principle to everything and creating a lot of noise about how it didn’t apply to a very particular situation and how they’re so brilliant for uncovering the fallacy. The fact is you don’t have to apply it to every aspect of your life and that is perfectly fine – it can still work for say, diet, or housework, or blogging. If you’ve tried it before somewhere, and it didn’t work, it doesn’t mean it’s not a successful principle.

There’s no limit to what you could do with it, but don’t fail to see the forest for the trees. Get your head out of the weeds and realize the incredible value being presented for those ambitious enough to take it.

Secondly, the numbers aren’t literal and don’t need to equal 100. 80/20 is the example ratio but the actual numbers will vary and need not add up to 100.

For example, 10% of your productive time could reap 77% of your achievement. These numbers aren’t literally 80/20, they don’t equal 100, and that is perfectly fine. Take the idea of segmenting your time and apply it to your own circumstances. Hack it to suit your needs.

What 80/20 Reveals

The 80/20 principle tells us that life isn’t fair. Results are not 50/50.

You can put in lots of effort and get no reward. You could spend all of your time on something you’re bad at and get marginal results, while your peer spends 20% of their time on something they rock at and are getting massive results.

The perfect example of this is wealth distribution where 20% of the people owned 80% of the land. Transform to current times, and the top 1% of Americans own 40% of the nation’s wealth.

The moral is to work smarter, not harder. Or better yet, work smarter and harder, applying your work ethic in a focused way to the area where you perform at your highest.

The Good News

The good news about the uneven relationship between inputs and outputs is that if you understand this principle, you can tip the uneven scales in your favor.

By making use of this you can cut back on the 80% of your time which yields only 20% of your results and multiply the 20% that yields 80% of your results. You can focus your energy where you are best and receive disproportionate results.

To take a closer look at the benefits let’s dive into some examples of the principle in action.

Example 1

Alesei spends 85% of her time at work in meetings, checking email, doing administrative tasks, getting distracted by her coworkers (especially managers), and doing “busy work”. She only spends 15% of her time making sales, which is the most productive thing she does, yielding 90% or her results.

That’s a 15/90 relationship, so just imagine how much her performance will increase if she doubles her time making sales. Now you might be thinking that the things she does in the other 85% of her time need to be done, but does it really? And specifically by her?

When Alesei analyzed her time she found lots of waste in there, lots of meetings that she could get out of, and busy work that she could delegate to others. When Alesei doubled and tripled her sales, her managers certainly didn’t complain.

Example 2 

Joe spends 80% of his time doing things that only give him 20% achievement or happiness. This could include activities like chores, watching TV, obsessively checking email, surfing the web, stalking people on social media and the list goes on.

Joe also spends 20% of his time working on his small business and playing music, both of which bring him 70% of the happiness and achievement in his life. What Joe realizes is that cutting back on the wasteful activities and increasing time working on his business and playing music increases his sense of accomplishment and happiness.

Let’s say with the time Joe carved out of the wasteful 80%, he now spends 40% of his time on his business and music, effectively doubling his results. If you were Joe, what would you do?

Example 3

Sarah, a freelance writer, finds that just 10% of her clients eat up 70% of her time because they are difficult to work with. This only leaves her with 30% of her time to spend on the other 90% of her clients who bring her the most revenue.

How would you proceed in this scenario where you have a 10/70 relationship? There are several options but Sarah wants to stop working with the 10% of her clients that cause her all this stress. This extra time will allow her to reach out to her best clients for more work and even to get more clients like them, thus resulting in more profit.

Lessons Learned

As the examples demonstrate, our efforts are not usually maximized for efficiency. Our best efforts are only accounting for a smaller fraction of our total time.

Increasing the effective variables while decreasing the wasteful ones can multiply results by factors of 2x, 5x, 10x, and the possibilities are endless.

As bloggers you can apply these examples in three ways:

  1. The first is to analyze what you do when you’re working and cut back on wasteful activities whether it’s checking email too frequently, researching without a purpose, spending excessive time consuming social media, etc. Instead spend more time on what gets you the most results whether it’s writing, reaching out to current clients or brands for more work, researching your niche, creating useful, shareable content, or working on your products or services.
  2. The second lesson is to look at how much time you spend on your writing versus other areas of your life. If you need to spend more time on work and less in areas where you’re wasting time, you can adjust accordingly. If you have a good life/work balance this may be unnecessary.
  3. The third lesson is to look at your work that directly earns money, spend more time on the things that increase that income, and perhaps spend less time on the avenues that aren’t as successful.

Now that you see the value of using the 80/20 principle, how do you apply this generally to turbocharge your results in blogging? Read on…

How to Utilize 80/20 in Your Life

  • Think about the times when you achieve at your highest level. What are you doing and what are you accomplishing in those moments? Take 15 minutes and really think about this question, writing down your answers.
  • Now that you’ve got the answers, how can you make more time to do what you’re best at, whether it’s play more music, write more, do more problem solving work, or whatever you are best at. Take 10 minutes and make a plan for increasing those activities and make it actionable.
  • By increasing the time on your 20% activities, you will naturally cut into the 80% of less effective, less happiness bearing activities. However, if you’re ambitious, go ahead and analyze what you spend most of your time doing and identify waste, cutting back on those uses of your time.

How to Use 80/20 in your Blogging

  • Spend less time creating and more time promoting
  • Spend less time writing a post just to get something up, and spend more time on your money-making projects like eBooks or courses
  • Spend less time promoting on social media and more time engaging with others
  • Spend less time on busy work – emailing, admin, images, and more time on creating. Get yourself a schedule that makes rote tasks easy and within a certain timeframe of your day, and stick to it. This will help you free up your time for bigger-picture ideas and creative endeavours.

Now you can see the power of the 80/20 Principle and how to leverage it to improve your life – and your blog. Whether you turbocharge your productivity, increase your performance, or boost your freelancing and client work in order to perform at your highest level the majority of your time, there is a lot of benefit to be found.

How do you see yourself applying the 80/20 Principle to boost your blogging? Please share in the comments.

Garik Himebaugh helps people turbocharge their results at Turbo Results. In the last couple years, he went from someone who wasted most of his free time, had $20k in debt, and social anxiety, to becoming organized, debt free, and super-productive.

How to Complete Your Blog Posts to Make Them the Best They Can Be

How to Complete Your Blog Posts to Make Them the Best They Can Be

For some bloggers, it isn’t the lack of ideas holding them back, it’s finding the motivation to get them finished.

People leave blogs in draft mode for all kinds of reasons – they run out of things to say, they’re not sure how to end the post, they know it needs something added but don’t know what, the post needs more research, it needs an image, or maybe it’s just that attention just goes elsewhere.

I’m always amazed at how many bloggers have a stash of half-written posts, even though my own record is 93 unfinished posts sitting in my drafts folder!

Today’s episode of the ProBlogger podcast is the next in our series on blogger’s block, and tackles the issues we face when we just can’t finish our blog posts properly (you can find earlier posts here, here, and here).

One of the main reasons I couldn’t make it to the finish line on a blog post seemed to revolve around having too many ideas and getting distracted – I would sit down to write one post and have ideas for five more instead!

I also know that the quest for perfection holds many of us back. We don’t want to send our work out into the blogosphere if it isn’t the best work we can do right now.

Sometimes it’s that we’ve lost interest in the topic, we’re bored with what we’ve written, and we just want to move onto something else even though we’ve spent so much time trying to make this post work.

And on the flip side, some of us might be too casual with our approach – I’ve definitely seen posts published that need a little extra attention paid to proofreading, depth of information, providing value, and writing a suitable headline. If that is your problem, that you push posts out before they’re quite ready, then that really will limit the impact of your content and your ability to reach your blogging goals. There are a few things I think are non-negotiable in a post, and without them, your post just won’t really be complete.

If you’ve seen yourself in any of these familiar blogger’s block issues, then this episode is for you!

How to Complete Your Blog Posts to Make Them the Best They Can Be

I have a few solutions to provide that have helped me finally get those posts out of draft mode, and also for stopping me from collecting such a huge amount of half-done work to start with! Sometimes it does just mean knuckling down with willpower and determination to see it through, but I’ve got a few more tips up my sleeve to get you to the finish line.

I’d love to hear what you struggle with the most when it comes to getting your posts finished. Is it time? Is it overwhelm? Feel free to leave a comment, or reach out to me on Twitter.

You can find the show notes for today’s podcast here.

Further Reading:

The Truth About Writing Killer Content for Mobiles

The Truth About Creating Killer Content for Mobile UsersThis is a guest contribution from Lesley Vos.

We’re being told constantly that mobile content is like a snack, long texts are dead.

People don’t read much now, and they just watch videos or scroll pictures. They’re time poor, they consume small bits frequently and move on. And as it goes on, things get more complicated: users don’t fix eyes on anything for more than seven seconds.

Well done! You’ve just read TOP myths about mobile users. And the worst thing is, many content marketers still believe these myths.

Yes, mobile users choose different content; yes, they use it in the different time and, what is more important, the different way. We all know that.

But.

What exactly does this “different way” mean? There are dozens of opinions around that, most of which are delusions.

Writing Mobile-Friendly Content

Let’s check what statistics say:The Truth about Writer Killer Mobile Content

  • The number of mobile users exceeds desktop users (comScrore)
  • Users choose smartphones for online operations, such as purchases, subscriptions, or downloads (KPCB)
  • Users spend more time on mobiles than desktops (KPCB)
  • Two billion consumers will have smartphones by 2016 (eMarketer)

The truth about writing killer content for mobile

So what does that mean for you?

  1. All users are mobile regardless their age.
  2. Most users opt for mobiles, giving up their desktop computers.
  3. If a website demonstrates a high percentage of mobile users, it’s worth looking up to them in everything. Including text posts.

That is to say, if you want more users to check your content, you should make your marketing strategy match mobile users.

Your content should be mobile, too.

What makes mobile users different [according to old-school marketers]:

  • Mobile users have smaller screens to read texts, so they don’t want to read long-form content.
  • Mobile users have dispersed attention. All they need is an answer to their questions, and they do not want to spend hours on looking for it.
  • Mobile users read content only when a phone’s in hand, and calls or messages can distract them.

So, it appears that the best content for mobiles is pictures, infographics, or video – snack size content.

What makes mobile users different [in sober fact]:

  • Users have those smaller screens at hand, which means they check mobile content 10 times more often than if they did it at computers. If you create compelling content, your readers will continue reading it even if something disturbed them.
  • A smartphone is like an anchor. We all have a reflex of checking our phones from time to time to make sure we haven’t missed any message or news.
  • As for dispersed attention, mobile users are rather focused on reading: text content takes 100% of their screens, so no ads or other blocks disturb them.
  • Big time segments exist when users are concentrated on content: their way to work and home, lunch time, queues, waiting for transport, etc. All situations of waiting are perfect for reading from mobile devices; so, if you give them compelling content to check during this time, users will read your blog again and again.
  • Plus, many users check social networks or read something from their mobiles before going to bed.

What does it mean?

If you provide people with good text, considering some specific features of mobile content, they will read more than those using computers or laptops.

They Read Long Text Posts!

To prove mobile users love for long-form content, two examples come to mind.

The first one is BuzzFeed’s article titled Why I Bought A House In Detroit For $500. It’s a very long story: it has 6006 words and 35,000 symbols. It has garnered 1,684,299 views, 47% of which were from mobile devices. Moreover, desktop computers users needed 12 minutes to read it, while mobile users spent about 25 minutes on it.

The second example is the popularity of lists such as 101 Things You Should Do Before You Turn 30, or 5 Ideas of Viral Content for Your Blog among mobile users.

I bet that a 5-things text will never get more views than a 101-things text!

What I’m trying to say is a reader considers the long-form content of higher value.

Mobile users who can spend more time at smartphones and come back to their small screens over and over again will be happy to choose long reads. Moreover, your content is more likely to win if you specify the size of your text at its very beginning.

5 Formulas of Writing Content for Mobiles

1. Look-at-the-Screen Scheme

Once upon a time, someone created a so-called map of clicks (a heat map), and the world found out that users check a web page starting from its upper left corner.

And then content marketing came, making the warmest place of a web page look like an F, which meant users scanned content by an F-scheme.

The Truth About Writing Killer Content for Mobile

And now…

A user takes a smartphone, and the warmest place of a page is… the whole page. Well, okay, a center of that page is a bit warmer. It’s a center, not an upper left corner now.

Such changes are crucial for your content. Opening your post, a user will see its very center; so, plan and organize your content accordingly.

2. Length

Mobile users want to read long but neat content.

In 2013, James Bennet, The Atlantic Editor-in-Chief and author of Against ‘Long-Form Journalism’, was right saying:

“Long-form, on the Web, is in danger of meaning ‘a lot of words’.”

Looking for more words and pages, journalists stopped editing their texts for making them compelling. Length became a virtue, saving writers from a need to choose right words and making the rule of “the more, the better” work.

As a result, long-form content turned into senseless babbling.

Too many words, too little sense.

Mobile content welcomes long-form but demands rigorous editing and head to toe sense work. If a user doesn’t get any sense from each and every line (as we know, lines are very short in smartphones), he will not continue reading your content.

3. Meaning

Mobile users have inflated requirements to meaning. No one will rack their brains and scroll down the screen for something uninteresting, not useful, and of no value.

It’s like natural selection: only those with super ideas, super novelty, and major advantage will survive.

4. Format

  • Short paragraphs. Use 3-5 line paragraphs expressing clear thoughts users will understand. If they don’t get your point, they skip paragraphs one by one, deciding to close a page as a result. Don’t let them close a page!
  • Short headlines and 2-3 words are ideal for subheadings. The more words you use, the more lines they “eat”, preventing readers from seeing the text of the post itself. One more thing: don’t use large fonts for subheadings.
  • Short introductions. There is a difference between introductions for mobile and web content: while the latter needs a hook to catch readers attention, the first should answer the question “Is it what I want to read now?” 3-4 lines revealing the main idea is the best introduction for mobile content.

5. Visual elements

If you want to influence readers with your blog, avoid unnecessary visual elements because they will simply “eat” your content: a user will spend time on pictures, which could mean they skim or not read at all your post’s text.

We all know of visual elements to increase a content value, but this principle doesn’t work for long-form mobile content you want people to read. Don’t also make your images so big they take forever to load – because oftentimes your text won’t load either and your reader won’t stick around.

Infographics is a different story. If the info is hard to read from a small screen, it’s not an infographic but just a graphic. If you are lucky to make it readable at mobiles, it probably has very few elements. Ensure it’s readable from all devices.

The chances are, mobile content will have won ALL hearts by 2020. If so, we should align content marketing strategies with mobile users.

By Lesley Vos, a content strategist and blogger, contributor to publications on Internet marketing, writing, and social media.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week / ProBlogger.net

Coming to you live from the pit of Facebook reach hell! Are you in the same boat? Ugh.

Here’s a tip that might help!:

Facebook Audience Optimization: Better Engagement and Insights for Bloggers // Jon Loomer

Did you know if your page has fewer than 5000 likes, you can switch audience targeting to get better reach on your organic posts? (that is, if you have an English language page). If your page has more than 5000 likes, it’s automatically switched on – just click the crosshair icon when composing a post and target your audience.

Hat tip to Zoey from Operation Move for that one!

Free Stock Photos: 73 Best Sites to Find Awesome Free Images // Canva Design School

Because we’re always looking. I love how much info they give, and their ranking system. I’ve bookmarked!

What’s it Take to “Go Viral”? 11 Traits to Give Your Idea Wings // Moz

There are a few things you need to ensure you’ve included if you want your post to be shared and shared again. Also has a case study that’s super-useful.

Why Being Afraid of Failure is a Huge Waste of Time // Smaggle

Fear holds us back from a lot (did you hear Pat Flynn talk about it with Darren on this recent podcast episode?). Carly thinks there’s only one way through that fear – what do you think?

How to Write Conversationally: 7 Tips to Engage and Delight Your Audience // Copyblogger

How to make your writing not sound like writing (you’ve deleted too-salesy marketing emails in your time, haven’t you?!). Being human will get you everywhere.

Facebook Changes up Your Newsfeed, Again // CBS News

This week one of my Facebook posts reached three people. Three. If you’re struggling again with reach, this is probably why.

7 Tips to Become an Influencer in Your Industry // Jeff Bullas

I’d never heard of MyBlogU! I signed up. At the end of the day, though – it still comes down to people. Your audience. They are the ones who share you with their friends! Are you treating them right?

How to Promote Your Blog with 105 Content Promotion Tactics // CoSchedule

Click straight to the section on the platform you need the most help with – super user-friendly!

8 Steps to Becoming a Successful Guest Blogger // SEM Rush

Having been the editor of ProBlogger for more than two years now, and seeing ALL sorts of guest blog pitches, I have to say these are some pretty solid tips to getting it right.

The Bumper Guide to Small Business Blogging // Mark it Write

If you use a blog as a promotional tool for your business, you need to read this.

What news did you come across this week?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagram, listen to her podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.

How to Get into the Flow of Creating Great Content for Your Blog

Image credit: Jonno Witts

Image credit: Jonno Witts

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been blogging some time, you can almost always find yourself falling out of flow. One minute you have tons of ideas and are cranking out posts, the next something’s off and you’ve lost your mojo.

This episode of the ProBlogger podcast is continuing our series on Blogger’s Block (you can catch up on episode 83 Types of Blogger’s Block and episode 84 How to Come up With Fresh Ideas to Write About on Your Blog here), with my tips on how to finally get back on the content producing wagon, flexing your creative muscles once again.

I find that once you figure out what kind of blogger’s block you have – whether it be too many ideas and not enough time, or getting back into the swing of things after a brief break – you’re one step closer to figuring out how to beat it. The advice I’m sharing in this episode is from my own perspective, and include:

  • how to change your environment
  • tools to help you focus and minimise distractions
  • background noise
  • morning pages
  • answering questions to help formulate post ideas
  • using personas
  • getting personal – putting yourself in the shoes of your readers
  • deadlines, schedules and editorial calendars – what works, what doesn’t
  • rhythm and flow
  • inspiration
  • the types of post structures that engage my creativity and help keep me on track

And other practical ideas you can try at home to boost you out from the black hole of uninspiration and getting you back in the saddle again.

Tune in at the end of the week for the next Blogger’s Block installment, where I discuss what you should do before you publish every post to make it fully complete.

What do you do when your brain has taken a bit of a vacation? How do you bring it back to writing mode?

Further Reading:

How to Create and Use Infographics to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Luke Guy.

Let me start this post by telling you a quick story: I once created this niche site that I thought would do really well. I wanted to flex my SEO skills, and see if I could a new site ranked rather quickly (I talk about how I perform outreach with sites like this at Lukeguy.com).

The new site would solve a problem like no other in its field – I had created this site for insect identification purposes, and it would help people with identifying bugs within hours. You would upload an image and there you got your bug identified rather quickly. So now you could find out if that bug was potentially harmful within a short amount of time.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 3.02.03 pm

I thought this helpful tool would promote itself, and would climb quickly. But was I wrong! I thought by me building it, people would come. I was wrong again. Wasn’t long before I realized my cool little tool needed promotion just like anything else. That’s when the journey began.

I turned to the greatest promotional tool on the planet, the blog, to launch my tool that I had created. I have been collecting steady links ever since, and was even  featured on Lifehacker within just a few months.

How did I do this? It all started with one thing: the infographic.

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As bloggers, our goal is to increase readers and traffic. The best way to increase traffic is to put out great content, and the number two way is by increasing the promotion of that great content.

You can have the greatest content in the world, but without amazing outreach, it’s not going to be discovered. With my niche site, however, I understood that fairly early on and now find my blog climbing the ranks with Google as well. All because of this one infographic creation plan I’m about to tell you about.

Infographics and Traffic

How does an infographic drive traffic when all the info is included in the picture? Good question!

As you know, SEO traffic is the largest source of traffic that major sites get. By getting links from large sites, this will help your Domain Authority and increase your position in the search engines. The reason an infographic is great at getting this is because you can create one and have it posted on hundreds of sites. You create one graphic and get it posted everywhere without anything bad happening! You can’t do that with guest posting, and copy the same content everywhere, without Google penalties. This is a great reason to do infographic in my eyes and many others.

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My infographic was about bugs that bite people and what they looked like. That was it. However it was important to know and people were looking for something like this, and they wasn’t getting it. The infographic is landing major sites and collecting many links from sites all over. By this happening, my past post is now increasing in ranking with Google also and are being seen by more people also. Which is pretty sweet when you think it about it. The infographic has been seen by over 19,000 people and many more to come.

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The infographic is amazing stuff, but remember you may not be able to do this all the time, simply because infographics take a lot of energy and time. But they will definitely pay off if you do it with strategy. I don’t recommend one every week, or even every month. Just have a good one and promote it for months. Blogs are so much easier to write and they’re not as costly. However, the infographic gives you that extra nudge which every young blog needs in the beginning. They help the most with backlinks which is very important with SEO according to Cyrus Shepard from Moz.

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Before you build your infographic

Let’s talk about how to create your infographic. First of all, study what you want your infographic to be about. The best infographics solve a problem by focusing on a solution. It makes someone’s life easier in less time. It’s entertaining and as well as being helpful, so by you creating an infographic that solves a problem you’re more likely to receive a timely response with traffic. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

So think of a major problem you can solve for your readers, and brainstorm how you can make it an infographic. Make it enjoyable to look at, and as eye-catching as possible.

Factors your infographic should include for best results:

  • a solution to a problem
  • great design
  • educational and entertaining
  • statistics
  • sources

How to ensure your choice of infographic topic is a successful one

A suggestion I have is to build an infographic around content that’s already successful on the web. I’m not saying plagiarise, but build upon or put your own spin on the topic. That successful content may offer a solution to a problem your readers are needing to solve, but you see some holes you can fill, room for improvement. You want to turn this up notch with more data, more images, creating your very own masterpiece. With their shares, likes and comments as an indicator that people liked what they saw, you can be assured that it will do well when turned into an infographic. So by confirming validation from another source, you can be assured through the process that this graphic has potential.

This is the method movie producers take. They watch a book and see how people react to it. If it becomes a bestseller, that book usually (almost always) turns into a film. They’re about to invest millions, and they’re not about to do it on an unread book.

Outsourcing your infographic

If you don’t have graphic design experience or software, you may wish to hire someone to complete your infographic, which can cost anywhere from $100 to $600 and even beyond, depending on the content and how much time you have. However if you invest money in your infographic, it can be a driving factor when pushing this into the atmosphere. It can make you push harder when you realize you’ve invested actual cash in making your infographic successful.

Creating your infographic

If you have opted to create the infographic yourself, you might find you struggle with where to find great fonts and images. I myself use daFont and they have over 28,000 fonts there (for free) to choose from. Once you find a font you like, simply download it, and install into your font file on your computer. Here are some articles that show you how to install fonts step-by-step:

  1. How do I install fonts on my Windows PC?
  2. How to install a font under Windows?
  3. How do I install fonts on my Mac?
  4. How To Install Fonts on a Mac

There are also plenty of image creation tools like Canva or Piktochart which allows you to use the icons already available. These sites have templates you can just populate with your ideas, rather than starting from scratch.

Researching your infographic

By you reading other articles, and by getting a feel of how other people view your topic, you will have an idea of the conversations around it. Reading all the articles on the subject gives you an idea of what’s missing out there. I’d consider plugging your keywords into Buzzsumo and see how many popular on social media your subject is.

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Finishing your Infographic

Once you’re done, how do you know your work is complete – it’s not like you can go and change a line here and there like you can on a blog post?

To be honest, I don’t think anyone ever feels like their graphic is “complete”, but there is a point where you must release and watch what happens. You’ll know when that time has arrived. The most important thing is that you have gone the extra mile in bringing reliable data together. If that data is incorrect, everything else falls apart.  Header design won’t help you, great fonts won’t help you, cool illustrations won’t help you. Make sure to stress data accuracy.

To see what successful infographics look like, I have compiled a list for you of featured infographics by major blogs (such as Hubspot). They either featured these from other blogs or made it themselves.

Inspiration: Successful Infographics

You might like to have a look at this list I’ve put together of infographics that have done really well to help you get an idea of what works and maybe what you can include in your offering.

  1. Nutrition 101 Recap: Top 5 Tips to Eat More Nutritiously
  2. THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO NOTE TAKING IN CLASS
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Creating Visually Appealing Content
  4. Imaginary Factory
  5. Games controllers
  6. What happens in an internet minute?

Promoting Your Infographic

As for the promoting of the infographic, you really need to write an amazing blog post to go with it. It will help give your infographic context, and provide background and more information. If readers and other influencers link to your blog post when they share, all these words that you have in that blog post could trigger some search engine traffic, which increases your exposure. By you adding the infographic to your blog post, the chances of someone linking to you has now increased tremendously. People can’t copy/paste your content onto their blog and be successful with SEO, however they can use your infographic and do quite well. That means more shares and backlinks for you, and that’s a good thing.

From there, start looking for major blogs in the same niche as your infographic, and reach out to them. Email them and see if they would be willing to possibly publish your infographic once you have it up, and explain what is in it for them. It might not be the path that everyone would choose, but what I would do is aim at sending it to 100 or 200 journalists. Figure out who they are, what their contact details are, and see if they would be interested in sharing this infographic with a tailored email pitch. If only five major blogs out of 200 use your infographic, it could mean 50,000 views and many other quality backlinks to your site 

Once the ball gets rolling your infographic could land in search engines and give you steady traffic every month. – thus completing the mission for your blog.

If you’re looking for an email template in how you should present this, I’ve compiled a list of articles that explain that very well. Even though there’s only four here, they are slammed with content that can help you land your infographic on “mega-sites”.

Email Outreach Templates:

  1. The Link Builder’s Guide to Email Outreach (template at bottom)
  2. How to Get Influencers to Promote Your Content for Free (template midways)
  3. Outreach Letters for Link Building (template at beginning)
  4. How to Email Busy People (template midways)

Where to find influencers to share your infographic

This maybe the hardest part of the process for you, I know it was for me.

The best thing I can advise is know your niche. Understand what is the focus of your niche and who is the top influencer in that category. Once you have this down, you must scout possible sites that you can reach out to. If you’ve never seen an infographic on a site, good chance they won’t publish yours. I’d also look to see if they’ve published infographics from other sites, if they have, that’s a very good sign.

With larger sites, they seem to cover every subject, and they have many authors on those sites. If you watch the subject and the tone of the journalist and you see a match with them within your niche, I’d consider reaching out. There’s a good chance they write for other major blogs also.

To find these rather quickly, I’d suggest using the Google method.

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Simply replace “keyword” with the word that matches your niche best and put “infographic” in quotations like this: keyword “infographic”.

Your search could look like more like:

  • marketing “infographic”
  • seo “infographic”
  • logo design “infographic”
  • pest control “infographic”
  • marriage counseling “infographic”
  • dating tips “infographic”

Conclusion

Understand outreach isn’t easy and can even be depressing at times, but by keeping a steady pace, you could really get some traction, resulting in traffic to your site. You will get tired, and things maybe tough during this process. You may have to take a break and come back. However, if you make outreach a daily habit, there’s no reason why you can’t completely crush your niche. It all takes time.

My ranking is doing well by the way and I’m on the verge of cracking a major keyword. That keyword come to a monthly of around 10,000 people. I’m three positions away from hitting frontpage and to think the site is only just a few months old. I’m ecstatic!

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I hope this post helps you, and that this post helps fulfill your blogging dream.

Luke Guy is THE SEO guy who isn’t your average robot who talks just about backlinks. He focuses on connections and uses this ability to rank well among search engines while using his strategies. Get his free eBook “How To Guest Post On Any Blog While Crushing SEO” to learn more.

8 Ways to Find Trending Topics and Key Words

8 Ways to find trending topics and keywords for your blog and social media.

One of the key success factors in marketing is the ability of a marketer to seize a certain moment – jumping on a trending item that will resonate with their audience, and repackaging it so it’s relevant to the reader.

We’re all individuals, and what we like could be totally different to our friends. But if people are interested in your blog, they are interested in you, and what you’re interested in. If something is trending that you know they will love, it’s easy to capitalise on that for the benefit of your followers.  Here are a few places you can keep tabs on the pulse of what’s new and interesting on the internet, so you can bring your audience the latest.

Where to find trending topics and keywords for your blog

While a decade ago it would have been difficult to find such trends in real time, internet has now made it very easy to locate the live trends and come up with smart content to cash in on the same. So, let us have a look at a few tools and methods for locating the accurate trends for you.

1. Twitter

It hardly needs introduction! While the idea has existed for a long time, Twitter brought it to public attention by directly listing current trends on their homepage and profile pages. It is still the best way to find out the present political and cultural trends as well as the mood of a nation. You can check global trends or look for country specific trends as per your needs as you search the hashtags.

If you have the budget, you can also consider using “promoted trends” in Twitter. These hashtags will show up at the top of the list in the homepage of your target region. Include your brand name in the hashtag for the right impact.

2. Google Trends

Google has many services to provide analytics. Google Trends is the best option out of them to find trending topics. You can search any topic here and check out the volume it is receiving. You can also make country-specific as well as sector-specific searches to make the results more targeted.

You can explore in depth by clicking on the country name and then the state names to get completely localized details which will help you to find extremely targeted keywords for your focus market.

3. Social Mention

It is a smart tool that analyses content in a huge number of websites. It does not only limit itself to major networks like Twitter and Facebook but also goes through more than a 100 sites including the likes of Digg, YouTube, FriendFeed and basically anything that hosts user generated content to find out trending topics.

For any query, Social Mention also gives you a list of influencers, i.e. people who regularly post on one of the social networks on that topic and are popular with high number of followers and engagements. You can find potential collaborators and endorsers from this list.

8 Ways to find trending topics and keywords for your blog and social media.

4. Keyhole

Keyhole is an interesting tool that allows you to track hashtags across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It just works like Google alerts, but for social media. So, you can set an alert for a certain topic and observe it on real time.

Use it as a defence mechanism for your brand, if necessary – If you have the resources, put one dedicated person to monitor all mentions of your brand in real time using this app and immediately respond to any issues or criticism.

5. Agorapulse

Agorapulse is mainly a tool for creating contests and other marketing campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But it also lets you create customized queries for specific keywords on Twitter and identify the buzz around the same.

Its analytics clearly tells you which your best performing Tweets and FB posts are. Go through the posts in the recent weeks to get an idea about more popular topics and fine-tune your keyword list.

6. Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed grew simply by posting content on trending topics. So, you can rest assured that the people at Buzzfeed know how to find the right trends. The good thing is that they also display Buzzfeed trends for everyone to see on the right hand side of the homepage and so you can easily find out how to your trends through this site.

Buzzfeed’s trending topics are mostly in the shape of listicles. What you can draw from here is not only keyword ideas and topics but the most effective way of framing the titles. This site works simply because it can make people click on the links. You learn it too.

7. Reddit

Reddit is a hugely popular site where everyday people are having heated debates on every topic under the sun. The topics can be voted up or down on the site and so the ones with most “upvotes” only are seen on the homepage. So, in a way, one look at the Reddit homepage can give you a very good idea about what is trending right now.

The best way to exploit Reddit is to discover subreddits i.e. instead of just exploring the homepage, find subpages that are dedicated to specific topics and offer more specific insights. You can directly search for subreddits based on your topic of interest here.

8. Topsy

Topsy is another tool for smart marketers. It allows you to search for topics in a targeted manner. For instance you can even search for trends on a certain date, time or place. You can set alerts, monitor and analyse all the trends to figure out existing social sentiment towards them.

For instance, suppose you have a plan for a campaign focused on the next Christmas. So, you can just go to Topsy and look for the trends from the last few years’ Christmas to find out useful keywords. Such date specific search would have been a nightmare with most other tools.

Conclusion

All these tools discussed above have their own USPs. In order to make the most of them, you should stick to a few that give regular results relevant to you.

Born in Los Angeles, Blair Strasser is a business and marketing enthusiast that enjoys sharing his knowledge through his writing. He is also Founder and CEO of eMerchantBroker and passionate about technology. @BlairStrasser

How to Get Entrepreneurial Ideas out of Your Head and Into Reality

If you’re a blogger or online entrepreneur, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Pat Flynn.

Pat is a writer, blogger, and podcaster, and helps readers all across the internet create smart passive income from their blogs. He went from being laid off in 2008 to creating a website to help people pass an architectural exam – earning $7000 in his first month. I love how although he teaches about passive income, he is anything but! Pat has evolved his approach over the years, constantly experimenting with new mediums, fresh ideas, and shipping numerous projects and products. He spends considerable time creating and initiating, and I really wanted to chat with him on the ProBlogger podcast about the challenge of creating products around a blog.

In episode 67, I talked about why creating your own product to sell on your blog can be a powerful thing – I even outlined 9 ways you’re losing opportunities if you don’t have one. I ask Pat what he thinks is stopping bloggers from taking that step, if he thinks every blogger should do it (or if it only works for certain niches), how he decides what to create, and where to start.

One of the topics we dive into is fear. Fear is one of those things that hold back a lot of bloggers – including Pat, at times. I ask him how he moves forward despite the fear, and how he deals with those feelings when they arise.

We also discuss some listener questions and talk about how to choose a product to create, what kind of research you should do, the tools for creation, and marketing and pricing. Pat tells me about his new book Will it Fly? and the road that led to its creation.

You can find today’s show notes at ProBlogger.com, and you can leave feedback on Twitter (Pat is at @patflynn).

Further Reading:

 

3 Foolproof Ways to Ruin Your Conversion Rate

3 Ways to Ruin Your Conversion Rate

This is a guest contribution from Efrat Ravid.

How well is your website converting? Do you even keep track? Do you know what’s working on your site and what really isn’t?

Perhaps you have experienced a decrease in conversions, or maybe your conversion rate is not as high as you would like it to be. But why? You have done everything right, so far as you know, You’ve followed the formulas, you’ve created opt-ins, you’ve created your sales funne.. So, what could be the problem?

In an effort to resolve this issue, surely you and your designer have removed some pages, added others, implemented changes, and added new variables into the mix, and tested the lot. You have ended up spending loads of resources researching and optimizing colors, sizes, calls to action, content, and anything else to make that sale.

How much time have you wasted?

How to Ruin Your Conversion Rate

I can help you stop wasting time right now – the following three mistakes are foolproof ways to ruin your conversion rates and should be avoided:

Mistake #1: Forgetting About Mobile

The number of users accessing websites and doing in app retail browsing from smart devices is constantly growing.

Before purchasing, 90% of mobile users research and compare prices. With such an overwhelming statistic, it is shocking to see such a small number of businesses that have answered the mobile call. There are still many e-commerce sites these days that do not offer responsive sites for mobile users (even with Google’s “mobile-friendly” algorithm update from earlier last year), hampering the customer experience and effectively killing conversions dead in their tracks.

Since the majority of online users today surf the web and shop via mobile devices, it is crucial to cater to this gold mine of lead prospects.

Takeaway: Either give your current site a responsive facelift, or start over from scratch and create a responsive site for your business.

You could even create a separate app that works on various devices, from Android and iOS mobile phones, to iPads and other tablets. Ensure that mobile users have a seamless and comfortable experience, even more than they would from the desktop version.

You can do this by keeping in mind mobile UX design best practices, such as having an easily navigable menu, clear visual hierarchy, and an uncluttered interface with easy-to-read text.

Mistake #2: Thinking Personal, Not Personalized

A major trend followed by today’s marketers is personalized messaging, and rightly so. Personalized content drives six times greater transaction rates than generic campaigns. Yet, despite these encouraging numbers, a laughable small number of businesses are using this first-class ticket to successful marketing:

Only 39% of retailers will personalize product recommendations via email.

An overwhelming 70% of brands are not using personalized marketing whatsoever.

This is a major oversight on the part of upper management, and it is one that will cost businesses and blogs dearly in terms of conversion, loyalty, and ultimately, ROI. By using personalized content, such as shopping cart reminders,or special discounts on items that have been placed in the shopping cart, marketers help move the customer forward in the conversion funnel.

Many times marketers personalize content based on their preferences rather than the customer’s.

Remember, marketing campaigns and website content are all about appealing to the customer. Design elements based on their behavior, motivations, and preferences.

Takeaway: Make sure to personalise your customer’s experience.

What looks good to a designer may not speak to the customer, and, as the saying goes ‘the customer is always right.’

It is also important to personalize your content according to different user behavioral patterns that can be categorized into six online shopping personas. The “Brand-Oriented” visitor, for example, will be attracted to the latest trends, so avant-garde cues should be used to speak to this type of shopper. To address the needs and concerns of the “Maximizer”, on the other hand, you’ll need to supply plenty of information in a useful and comprehensive manner.

Online store Zappos  provides a prime example of personalized messaging to fit the customer’s behavior. When a customer searches for an item or spends any significant amount of time browsing a certain selection on the site, Zappos will make relevant product suggestions for other items that customers who enjoyed the desired product could benefit from as well. In fact, 75% of consumers prefer receiving personalized messages and recommendations.

Mistake #3: Testing, Testing, is This Thing Even On?

Businesses are well aware of the tremendous value of conversion rate optimization.

CEOs, CMOs, and business owners alike have embraced the reality that optimizing customer interactions and experiences is the key to unlocking better conversion rates, and, in turn, better revenue – you too can have these kinds of experiences with your blog. Even with 68% of B2B companies using landing pages to increase lead generation and conversions, it is still very unclear which elements will succeed in bringing more conversions and which will fail. This is where testing can be an invaluable tool, and forgetting about it can be detrimental.

Testing is the number-one method for categorically determining the value of a specific element on a website. By performing A/B testing and tracking the efficacy of that element vis-a-vis how customers are interacting with it (determined by using heatmaps, for example), marketers glean insights to understand, respond, and improve conversions.

Takeaway: Always perform proper testing when making changes on a site or landing page. Track how actual visitors interact with the optimizations, because this is the only way to know with certainty if those changes are effective. Track, test and analyze everything, no matter how much the changes seem like an improvement without doing so, and how much it seems like extra work. It will save you time and headaches in the long run.

Before hastily optimizing landing pages or websites, remember these three fundamentals – forgetting about them is a sure-fire way to ruin conversion rates.

Efrat Ravid is the Chief Marketing Officer at Clicktale. She is responsible for leading worldwide marketing initiatives targeting global fortune 500 companies, as well as creating and publishing Digital Customer Experience thought leadership content for the industry