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It’s been 2 Years Since I’ve Seen A Blog Training Program This Good

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It has been almost two years since I’ve found training for bloggers that I’ve considered good enough to promote as an affiliate.

I’m very fussy with who and what I promote (because there is so much hype and dubious practice in this space) but today have a recommendation for an authentic and valuable program that I know will help many ProBlogger readers.

The Short Story

The Elite Blog Academy is one of the most comprehensive blogging courses I’ve ever come across – and it’s available to enrol in with an early bird offer for just over 48 hours with the coupon code EBASAVE50 (which saves you $50).

Check it out here

The Longer Story

Ruth-Profile-2013-Rounded-735x1024Earlier this year after running a ProBlogger Training day in Portland I had opportunity to grab a coffee with Ruth Soukup. 

Ruth shared with me the story of starting her blog Living Well Spending Less in 2010. Like us all she made her share of mistakes but persisted with it and struggled on and four years later has built a blog with over a million visitors a month that generates her a full time income.

I was really impressed with both Ruth’s success but also the clear and strategic she applied to her blogging.

Numerous times as she spoke I wanted to take notes as she’d been experimenting with techniques I’d not come across before – particularly around Pinterest and social media.

At the end of her story I remember thinking ‘I wish we could bottle what you’ve done and share it with ProBlogger readers’.

No sooner than I’d thought this Ruth slid across the table a white folder with an outline for her Elite Blog Academy course. Yep – she’d bottled it!

The Elite Blog Academy: Enrolments Close in 48 Hours

Ruth’s Elite Blog Academy is literally her stepping you through her process for building a profitable blog in 12 wonderfully crafted lessons. You can learn more about it here (but use the coupon code EBASAVE50 to save $50).

The course is delivered through 12 fantastic videos, 12 very detailed workbooks, 16 helpful handouts, 30 assignments, a series of 4 live webinars with Ruth an a private Facebook Group where you can interact with Ruth and other attendees.

This course is practical and actionable. Really meaty stuff.

Update: if you’d like to hear what others are saying about it, check out this post I did on Facebook where a couple of ProBlogger readers have already chimed in with their experiences of previously signing up to Ruth’s Academy.

This course is not designed for the faint of heart – it requires work (as does successful blogging) and a willingness to really buckle down. That said, for those who are willing to do the work, it also comes with a 200% money-back guarantee.

Anyone who completes the course and has not seen measurable results in both traffic and income growth will get double your money back, no questions asked. That’s a pretty incredible promise, but it means that you’ve literally got nothing to lose. 

If you are ready to finally take your blog to the next level, sign up now to secure your spot here

Don’t forget to use the coupon code EBASAVE50 – it’ll save you $50 at check out. The code expires and enrolments close at midnight US Eastern time on 30 September in just over 48 hours.

PS: as stated above – I am an affiliate for this product but do so having checked it out and genuinely recommending Ruth it’s creator and the program itself.

Update: What to Expect

A few people have been asking for more information on what’s in the units. Here’s what I just shared over on Facebook to give you some insight into what to expect:

1. Start with Awesome – Learn the secret to successful blogging and master the 3 steps to starting with awesome. Understand what makes YOUR blog unique (and therefore marketable), and create the framework for a powerful platform that gets results.

2. Content is King – Discover why the key to a successful, popular, and profitable blog starts with amazing content, master the four essential strategies for creating content that rocks, and learn exactly how to FOCUS™—the secret to creating a killer blog post every single time.

3. Presentation is Everything – Uncover the three visual areas every blogger must focus on in order to be successful and learn not only why Pinterest is the most powerful marketing tool ever created,
and how to harness that power through creating the Perfect Pin™.

4. Grow Your Platform – Learn how to increase, diversify, and stabilize your platform through eight proven strategic growth strategies. Develop the confidence to promote your core message with an authority that draws people in, master field-tested techniques for networking and collaboration, find out exactly how to grow your subscriber list, and discover why good SEO really isn’t as complicated as everyone makes it out to be.

5. Social Media & Viral Growth – Uncover the mysteries of capturing and retaining viral blog traffic through social media and learn to determine which social media platforms are most valuable for your own audience. Find out the ten crucial steps to take if your blog post goes viral, then create comprehensive marketing plans for both Facebook and Pinterest in order to develop a cohesive social media strategy that gets results.

After that it gets more into monetising through ad networks, affiliate sales, private advertising and creating products.

Lastly it gets into working smart/efficiently and being strategic to grow your business.

7 Powerful Tips for a Winning Twitter Sales Strategy

This is a guest contribution from freelance writer Jawad Khan.

More than 73% US companies use Twitter to connect with their target audience, get direct feedback from their customers and keep an eye on their competitors.

You might be one of them.

But are you getting any real value from the time you spend on Twitter? Have you been able to engage your potential or existing customers? Have you ever created enough momentum with your Tweets to impact your sales numbers?

A large number of businesses on Twitter fail to do any of those things.

Why?

Because they don’t see Twitter as a sales channel. They don’t have a sales strategy for Twitter and never design their Tweets to impact sales.

But you can change that with a few smart modifications to the way you approach Twitter.

Twitter can be a powerful sales channel. It might not always give you direct sales, but it can always impact purchase decisions.

Here’s how.

1. Understand the Objective

Before you get started, understand that Twitter, like all other social networks, is primarily designed to encourage social connections, conversations and engagement. Their primary purpose is not sales. You can’t keep posting links to your product pages or sales landing pages and expect people to buy from you.

That’s not how things work on Twitter.

Your objective should be sales, but it can only be triggered through engagement. More than 65% of Twitter users are likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter.

Why?

Because they trust them and engage with them regularly. So in effect, the only way you can convert Twitter users into customers is by building trust and engagement.

2. Attract Relevant Followers

As I said in the first point, your followers are much more likely to buy from you as compared to normal Twitter users.

But not just any followers. You need to have relevant and active Twitter followers. 100 relevant followers who engage with you regularly are better than 1000 followers who never speak up.

So how do you find such followers on Twitter?

By mass following your competitor’s followers? No!

Never use mass follow in the hope of getting followers. That will destroy your brand image and credibility.

Instead, list down your closest competitors and have a good look at their Twitter timeline.

Do you see any responses to their Tweets? Any unanswered questions from their followers? Any unacknowledged suggestions? Any complaints that went unheard?

There’s your opportunity. Jump in and join the conversation. Offer help and respond to their queries.

This natural engagement will increase your brand awareness and goodwill, and will also earn you natural followers.

3. Structure Your Tweets Carefully

I’m sure you must have seen countless Twitter accounts with thousands of tweets but no engagement. Incorrect Tweet structure is one of the main reasons for that.

Yes, even these 140 characters need proper structuring. Here’s how

  • Tweet Length – You’re allowed 140 characters per Tweet, but Tweets that attract the highest engagement are between 110 and 115 characters according to social media scientist Dan Zarella

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  • Link Placement – Link placement also impacts click through rates and Retweets. Instead of placing links at the end of a Tweet, put them in the middle and near the start.

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  • Images – Tweets that contain images attract 200% more engagement. So make sure most of your Tweets, especially the ones that contain links, have images.
  • Vines and GIFs – After Google Plus, Twitter has also allowed animated GIFs. GIFs and Vine videos attract a lot more engagement as compared to simple text or static image based Tweets. Using these multimedia Tweets in combination with image and text Tweets can give you great results.

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  • Hashtags – Hashtags expand the reach of your Tweets and give you exposure on the trending topics. Tweets with appropriate hashtags have a 55% higher probability of getting Retweets. Most experts recommend using up to three hashtags per Tweet.

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  • Tagging – When responding to a Tweet or tagging someone, make sure your Tweet doesn’t start with a Twitter handle. If it does, it will only appear to the tagged person.

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The Wrong Way to Tweet

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  • Tweet Timing – Tweet at the wrong time and even your best content will go to waste. Timing is crucial on Twitter. Tweets between 9AM to 6PM everyday attract the highest engagement while Saturday and Sunday are the most engaging days of the week. I personally recommend using the BufferApp for scheduling Tweets

4. Become a Knowledge Source

Twitter allows only 140 characters per Tweet but, even here, content is the king. If you want to convert your Twitter account into a sales lead generator and a major source of referral traffic for your blog or website, you need to establish it as the knowledge hub for everything associated with your niche.

Users should be able to rely on your account alone to learn about the hottest news in your niche, solutions to the most common problems of your target market, innovations and industry hacks, and top quality content.

You can do that by dividing your Tweets into categories like news updates, blog posts, occasional product updates, quotes, tips etc. Schedule your daily Tweets in all these categories. You don’t always have to produce original content. You can curate the best content in your niche and still attract a lot of followers and engagement

5. Use Twitter for SMS Marketing

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Twitter SMS is a highly underutilized feature. If you own a retail store or a small business that involves personally meeting customers, then this feature is for you.

Many people in the real world do not use Twitter. But you can still approach them with this feature. Whenever you meet a new customer, ask them to follow you through SMS to get updates on the latest products, discounts, competitions etc.

Your customers can subscribe to free SMS updates by sending ‘Follow @YourUsername’ in SMS to 40404 (this code is different for every country, here’s the list).

Whenever you Tweet, your subscribers will get it as an SMS. Make sure you create a separate Twitter account for SMS subscribers so that they don’t get all of your Tweets. Send occasional SMS Tweets for maximum impact.

6. Get Unfair Advantage With Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are a powerful way to monitor your target audience, divide them into segments and create targeted content for your followers. If you use Twitter lists intelligently, you can get an unfair advantage over your competitors because this is a largely underutilized feature.

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You can create your own lists and add users of a particular type to monitor them separately. You can also join public lists of other users that are already populated. Tools like Twitonomy can help you find the lists that are following your competitors.

7. Simplify the Buying Process

Things move at a much faster speed on Twitter as compared to Facebook and Google Plus. In order to give yourself any chance of attracting customers on Twitter, you need to simplify the buying process of your products.

Instead of Tweeting links of your product landing page, use Twitter’s built in feature of Twitter cards. Twitter cards display additional information within the Tweet content and increase the functionality of your Tweets. Twitter is also planning to add “Buy Now” buttons to its Twitter cards feature.

You can also use social selling tools like Selz. When you create a product on Selz and Tweet it to your followers, they’ll be able to see your product image, stock details and price along with a direct link to the checkout page. Selz also allows users to accept product payments from Master Card, Visa and PayPal so you won’t need to integrate any additional payment gateway.

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This approach makes your products much more sellable on Twitter and makes the buying process much more convenient. I personally recommend using Twitter cards in combination with Selz since it massively increases your Tweet CTR.

Conclusion

Selling products or services on Twitter requires a careful strategy that revolves around user engagement and a simplified buying process. You also need a balance between sales oriented Tweets and general Tweets aimed at user engagement. If you follow this strategy consistently, you can convert Twitter into a high value sales channel and your paid customers into loyal word of mouth marketers.

Jawad Khan is a Content Marketing Specialist at Quality Trade, a leading marketing and trading platform for B2B companies. Follow Jawad on Twitter and Google+

 

Why Web Push is the Next Big Thing for Bloggers

This is a guest contribution from Tim Varner of GoRoost.com.

Raise your hand if you’re a blogger who’d like to turn your one-time visitors into repeat visitors — and eventually, engaged community members.

If you’re not raising your hand, I’m sorry — but we can’t help you. Go watch a cat video or something.

If you are raising your hand, get stoked.

Because coming soon to a browser near you is a new technology called web push.And it’s quickly becoming every blogger’s go-to traffic driver.

Intrigued? We thought so. Read on to learn what exactly web push is, and why it’s the next big thing for bloggers.

So Wait… What’s Web Push?

If you use Facebook or YouTube (or any number of other apps) on your phone, you’re likely already familiar with push notifications — you just might not know it. They’re the messages that pop up on your phone — regardless of whether you’re using the app at that moment — to tell you there’s an update on a stream or channel you’re subscribed to.

Though mobile notifications have been around for a while, web push is brand new. It’s different because it sends notifications through web browsers — not apps.

This innovative technology is already available in Apple’s Safari browser, but this fall it will become an option in browsers Chrome and Firefox, which are used by far more of the population — in other words, more of your readers.

And, yes, this is a solution that will support desktop and mobile web browsers.

Translation: web push is about to become HUGE.

Here’s how it works:

  • While surfing on her laptop, Lucy lands on your blog…. and a window pops up asking if she’d like to subscribe to push notifications.
  • To accept, all she has to do is click “Allow.” (She doesn’t even have to give her name or email address.)
  • The next time you publish a new post, a small notification will appear in Lucy’s web browser. If she likes the headline, she can click on it. If she’s not interested, it will disappear after a few seconds.

This is what the process looks like in Safari:

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And here’s how notifications show up (Gigwise box in top right corner).

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Now that you understand how it works, it’s time to learn what sets this traffic-driver apart from social media and email.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Web Push

We know you have lots of options for driving traffic to your blog. So why should you shift your strategy to include web push?

One very important reason: Web push is an incredibly effective way to turn one-time visitors into loyal readers.

Here’s how:

It encourages opt-ins

Web push notifications have a 15 percent opt-in rate, which is about 10 times higher than email newsletters. People have grown wary (not to mention tired) of giving out their email address all the time, and web push solves this with just one click of the mouse.

That’s awesome news for anyone trying to build an online community — because once a reader opts in, it’s easy to bring them back to your site again and again. One-time visitors will then turn into loyal, repeat readers, which is exactly what you want as a blogger, right?

It has a broad reach

One of the problems with sharing your message on social media? Your reader has to be a member of that specific network and using that network when you send an update.

With web push, your reader only has to use a browser — which applies to pretty much everyone who uses the internet. Rather than hope your reader will be on a specific social network at the exact time you’re posting, you can catch your readers where they’re already hanging out: on the web.

We all know nobody has a long attention span anymore. That’s why web push notifications were designed to be brief.

When you publish a new blog post, your subscribers receives a headline, rather than the full article — similar to a 140-character tweet. Yetunlike Twitter, the message isn’t lost in an overwhelming clutter of other posts. Instead, it shows up where the subscriber is already working or playing: right in the browser.

It makes audience segmentation easy

You may have always wanted to segment your email list — but didn’t have either the know-how or the time.

Web push makes segmentation easy. It allows you to send specific content to specific subscribers, which means you won’t waste time sending content to people who aren’t interested, and your subscribers won’t feel spammed by constant updates.

Here’s an example: If you write blog posts on pizza, pasta and hamburgers, but your subscriber is only interested in pizza-related content, they can choose to only be notified when you’ve written an article on pizzas. This ensures that both you and your reader get the most out of the experience. (Not to mention it gives you an inside peek at your audience’s true preferences).

Bottom line: Web push works.

It opens a world of opportunities for content creators, helping bloggers and publishers see incredible results for opt-ins and engagement. So when are YOU going to turn your visitors into a loyal community?

Tim Varner is co-founder of Roost, which makes it easy for content producers to use web push notifications to grow their audience. Sign up for free at GoRoost.com.

7 Ways for Bloggers to Be More Productive

This is a guest contribution from Charles Crawford.

If your business is blogging, productivity is essential. The only way for you to get the results you want is to put out consistent high quality content. While this is often easy in the beginning when the blog is new and exciting, as time goes on this can become more difficult. There are some ways that you can improve your productivity to keep your blog current.

1. Work at the Right Times

A common misconception is that people work better first thing in the morning. The problem with this is people are all different. You may not be a morning person at all.  This is why you need to find the time of day that you are most productive and work then, even if it is 3 AM.

2. Use Technology to Your Advantage

If you are like many writers, then inspiration will come at the most unexpected times. You may be sitting at a red light or even in the doctor’s office when a great idea for a blog will come to you. Rather than trying to remember it, which often is unsuccessful, use your smartphone to your advantage. Apps such as Evernote syncs with your computer and other devices. It will allow you to type note, snap pictures for inspiration or even record audio notes. This is a great way to organize yourself and ensure you never forget an idea again.

3. Create a Schedule

A common mistake many bloggers who work from home is not creating a schedule for themselves. When you know what you plan to work on within a time frame, you are more likely to get this done. Otherwise you may find yourself wanting to scroll through your social media feeds or even doing household tasks. Make sure you schedule everything you need to get done for the day, both for work and personal tasks to ensure you get everything done.

4. Change Things Up

For those who are not productive because they feel like the blog has gotten stale, find a way to change things up. Write a new style of blog. For instance if you have been reviewing products every week, try making a list style blog with great images that matches the theme of the site. Don’t be afraid to try something new as this is a great way to grow your writing skills and have more fun.

5. Have Fun

If you aren’t having fun with the blog, then it simply won’t work. Find ways to make the blog fun. This can be with giveaways, Q and A sessions or many other activities. Make a list of different things you would like to do with the blog and if you can’t think of any new ideas, visit other blogs to get inspiration and ideas.

6. Work on it Every Day

Even if you just spend five minutes writing or tweaking, you will find that this will make you more productive. In fact, you may also find that the five minutes turns into half an hour and you have the first draft of your next blog done or have taken care of the back end SEO work you have been putting off since you created the site.

7. Utilize Social Media

Social media is a great way to connect with your audience and find out what they are looking for. You will also find this helpful in keeping you motivated to put out the next blog, as you know there are people waiting. Your fans can be a great source of support and help when you are not feeling productive.

Charles Crawford is the co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien. Aside from doing dental SEO and helping dentists get new patients, Charles plays jazz piano in restaurants in Scottsdale, AZ on weekends.

 

Why Your Blog Isn’t Growing and How to Make It A Success

How To Build A Successful BlogThis is a guest contribution from Gary Dek from StartABlog123.com.

If your blog is dependent on Google search engine rankings like most websites, you should know that one record month of traffic can easily be followed by a record low. Growing your blog’s traffic and revenue requires leveraging traffic and design strategies to build and retain visitors, eventually converting them into loyal readers and followers. Otherwise, you risk the chance of starting from zero after an algorithm update.

Here are some possible reasons your blog is failing to capitalize on its current readership, and what you can do about it.

The Cornerstones of Building A Following

You are not actively seeking growth. If you update your blog regularly with comprehensive, high-quality content and are not seeing growth in terms of traffic from returning visitors, then you are doing something wrong. Chances are, your traffic is comprised of one-time visitors who forget all about you after they’ve exited your blog.

What can you do to maintain a connection?

  1. Collect emails. If you don’t collect email addresses from your readers, you can’t get those readers to come back to your blog on a regular basis. You can use these emails to send a message each time you publish a new post. Alternatively, you can send a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter highlighting your best posts within that period. A mailing list can even offer a targeted audience who may be interested in a new product or service you’ve developed, leading to a higher conversion rate than a general blog post. Whatever your reason for collecting emails, doing it will keep your readership updated and constantly interacting with your brand. Word of caution: make sure you ask for permission before you add an email to a newsletter or mailing list. Like you, I absolutely hate it when blogs add me as a subscriber when I input my email for another purpose. The last thing you want is to be labeled or even reported as a spammer.
  2. Build a community. Blogging has always been all about people interacting on a more personal level compared to traditional news outlets. If your blog is not growing, then you may have issues with engagement. Are you getting comments? Are you responding to comments? Do you have a group of people who talk to each other through your blog? Do you ask for user input at the end of each blog post? Is your comment system intuitive and easy to use? Is your content original, personal, and addressing the needs and wants of your readers? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when building a community around your blog.
  3. Get on social media. People spend more time on social networking platforms than other sites. In 2014, Facebook reported that the average user spends 17 minutes on the site every day. If you want to get a reader’s attention, then you need to have a social media presence. Start with one or two platforms – Facebook and Twitter – and build your presence there. Share your posts. Ask your readers for their opinions or experiences. Pose a question. Share other experts’ guides. You don’t even need to stay on your own Facebook page – interact with other blogging authorities in the niche and build relationships. If your contributions are insightful, you may even be invited to guest blog. The traffic you build through your social sharing can never be taken away from you by Google’s algorithm.

Are You Insecure About Your Knowledge or Blogging Skills?

You lack conviction. Some of the most common indications that you don’t believe in yourself or your ability to offer value through your blog content include:

  • You don’t think you’re a writer because you didn’t major in journalism or creative writing.
  • You question your authority to write about a certain topic.
  • You think, “Who am I to express my opinion strongly to the public?”
  • You’re afraid to let your personality shine in your writing.
  • You’re a perfectionist and afraid to post anything but a 10,000 word “masterpiece” that covers every angle, argument, or consideration.

If you consistently feel self-doubt, then you need to take a step back and remember why you started blogging in the first place. The barriers to entry when starting a blog are so low that you could have written about anything, but you chose this niche for a reason.

Either you had first-hand experience and knowledge in the industry and you believed you could make a difference or you were passionate about learning something new and wanted to document your research and journey.

The former is common in the SEO industry, where online marketers who worked for agencies or themselves building and selling sites decide they want to finally share all their SEO knowledge with the masses. The latter is common in the personal finance niche, where individuals document their own troubles managing money and share their journey to financial independence.

If you do not have that confidence and passion anymore, you can do all the research you want and spew thousand-word posts, but your writing will not resonate with your audience.

Blogging Isn’t Just About Writing. Remember, you don’t have to be a poet to create a useful article. As the respected author E.B. White said, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” You need to find that confidence and believe that you have something to offer your readers. Don’t let your lack of training as a writer bring you down. All things can be learned, but passion can’t be faked.

This lack of self-belief can also lead to the next problem.

Your blog is bland. Tepid. Has no personality. There are millions of blogs out there and the number of online visitors is finite. You need to have something unique to attract readers and grow your audience. Since more than one person is ever writing about the same topic, you must add your own unique touch or contribution.

Some ways to do this:

  1. Inject your real-life personality in your writing. If you’re outspoken and unabashed, then write that way. If you aren’t, force yourself to be and share all the things you’ve always wanted to say but didn’t.
  2. Don’t shy away from controversy. Even though you may not have a confrontational personality, discussing controversial issues can help your blog get attention. People like controversy, and they like discussing it. Whether they agree with you or not, it doesn’t matter. What counts is that you get them reading, sharing, and commenting. However, always think before you “speak” and don’t make a fool of yourself.
  3. Talk to your readers as if they were right in front of you. Much like letting your personality shine through your writing, you also need to remember that your readers are real people and not just numbers in your analytics report. Write as if you were having a conversation with one of them. Create something that you yourself will want to read and share.
  4. It’s okay to be weird. Let’s be honest – we’re all weird. I’m OCD about cleanliness and organization. Everything on my desk is parallel or perpendicular to each other. Everything on my laptop is titled a certain way and saved for optimal convenience and efficiency, including my music and movies. When setting my thermostat or the volume on the TV, I prefer even numbers or ones ending in 5. Those of you who share my “weirdness” may feel an instant connection with me because we share the same “problems” ;). Weird is definitely more eye-catching than bland.

Treat Your Blog Like A Business

Everything you offer is free. There is nothing wrong with giving away free content, products, or services. But if you want to grow a blog and make money online, you need to train your readers not to expect everything for free. Sometimes the most valuable information or tools require an investment of your time and money to develop, and you will need to take that into consideration.

Nevertheless, you should understand that “paying” doesn’t always involve money. Many readers have an aversion to shelling out money for content, especially if you are not a big name yet or have given everything for free up till now. Fortunately, you can achieve growth in other ways.

One way is to show only a snippet of a long-form resource. Make sure that the preview is interesting enough to make readers want to read the entire resource. Here comes the caveat – in order for the reader to see the whole article, you ask them to tweet or share the URL on Facebook. Not only do you provide something of value, but you also get something in return: more exposure. Similarly, you can require an email address for your mailing list.

This strategy isn’t innovative and new for 2014, but it does work and can provide a way to constantly keep in touch with your readership, as discussed earlier in this post.

You’re not taking things seriously. You most probably started blogging as a hobby. Then one day, you installed AdSense on your blog and started making a couple dollars a day. Several months went by and that part-time income started growing to an amount that made you realize the potential of your blog.

The problem is that some bloggers who want to succeed still don’t take blogging all that seriously. They think that it’s just writing and publishing whenever they want. And when they analyze their websites, they are subjective and passive instead of being honest and critical with themselves.

Here are some things you can do to take your blog to the next level by taking it more seriously.

Be consistent. Consistency is vital to your blog’s success. You should maintain an editorial calendar or simply choose to post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Consistency means being in it for the long haul. Don’t rest on your accomplishments for the past month – set new goals and keep working.

Manage your time well. If you want blogging to be a source of income, then you need to run your blog like a business. That means you need to learn to manage your time and have a good work-life balance. Set work hours, and set aside time to spend with your friends and family. When you know you have all day to accomplish a task, you will likely procrastinate. Alternatively, when I’m feeling burned out, I like to go on vacation or visit a nice part of town. Having fun or observing other successful people motivates me to get there too.

Always Hold Yourself Accountable

I feel this is where a lot of people fail, whether they are bloggers, entrepreneurs, or employees. Do you want to appear to be or feel successful, or do you want your dreams to be a reality? You can blame your blog’s stalled growth on Google, Facebook, competing bloggers, or your hosting company, but ultimately, you are the boss.

You are the master of your own fate, and that is one of the best feelings in the world. Except for extenuating circumstances, your blog’s success begins and ends with you. This can either empower and motivate you or cripple you.

As a final thought, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twight:

“Modern man is conditioned to expect instant gratification, but any success or triumph realized quickly, with only marginal effort, is necessarily shallow. Meaningful achievement takes time, hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent and self-awareness. The path to success is punctuated by failure, consolidation, and renewed effort.”

Author Bio: Gary Dek is the founder of StartABlog123.com, which provides a free step-by-step tutorial on starting and growing a blog. He is passionate about helping new and professional bloggers build sustainable online businesses via content and social marketing.

ProBlogger Event 2014 – Wrap Up

It is hard to believe but the 2014 ProBlogger Training event is already last month and if I’m honest with you – I’m still reeling from it a little.

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What an amazing two days!

This was our second year of holding the event on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia but it was the first time we’d had over 500 attendees all in the one room.

When I came up with the idea for the first PBEVENT back in 2010 I envisaged a small group of bloggers gathering around a board table in a meeting room somewhere but had no idea of what would happen to the event – or the Aussie blogosphere in the following five years.

Both have exploded – in a good way!

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This year’s event took a good 11 months to plan for – with the help of an amazing team. We had 550 attendees, over 30 speakers (four internationals and the rest from around Australia), three new niche networking events, three new ‘accelerator’ workshops, a special partner event with Aweber, and one crazy networking party (with a nautical theme).

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Our international speakers this year were amazing. Pat Flynn, Rand Fishkin, Geraldine DeRuiter and Chris Ducker all made the big trip down under and all completely brought it to their sessions – delivering high quality presentations and really practical advice.

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Our Aussie speakers also blew our socks off with their storytelling, advice and generosity.

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The Australian blogosphere has continue to grow and mature in the last 12 months and the spirit in the room over our two days of training was incredible. This year almost two thirds of attendees were with us for their first time, most of whom were in their first year of blogging. Something is happening in Australia!

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Surprise and Delights

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This year we did a few of surprise and delight moments through the conference. Virgin Australia gave three attendees a total of 800,000 velocity points, Olympus Australia gave away their amazing OMD camera, and Tourism and Events Queensland gave one attendee the cost of getting to and attending our conference back to them. Oh – and then there was the free massages and coffee from Bupa and the networking events from L’Oreal (where I got made up with smokey eyes – see below), Annie Sloan and Pure Harvest.

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We also surprised those attendees who have been to all five PBEVENTS with free tickets to next year’s event, a couple of attendees with a trip to Melbourne to spend the day with the ProBlogger team to help take their blog to the next level, and another with a date night for her and her husband at a hotel in Perth along with free tickets to next years PBEVENT in Perth and next year’s main event.

We also had opportunity spend time with The Reach Foundation and hear from one of their wonderful young crew members to tell us about the work they do with thousands of Aussie young people.

I also had a few moments of surprise – one being on the last night when my team all appeared at drinks with Darren Rowse Tattoos!

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Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

PBEVENT is fast becoming the highlight of my year each year – I love seeing the progression in our attendees from one year to another. Numerous bloggers who I met back in 2010-11 as brand new bloggers are now full time bloggers and launching amazing projects.

The theme of my opening keynote this year is that blogging is something that enables normal, ordinary people to do extraordinary things. In the Aussie blogosphere (as it is around the world) this is something I’ve seen hundreds of times.

In the last 12 months alone we’ve seen bloggers launching books and eBooks:

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Launching businesses and training courses:

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Experimenting with Kickstarter and Pozible campaigns:

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Developing Apps and running events:

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And that’s just scratching the surface.

Bigger than One Direction and Football

Our attendees certainly like to use social media!

PBEVENT this year knocked AFL football, Rugby and the birthday of one of the OneDirection group off the number-one trending perch on Twitter for two and a half days nationally in Australia.

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Over the two days of the event the #PBEVENT hashtag had around 15,000 tweets with over 47,000,000 impressions (over the month around the event this is closer to 80,000,000 impressions), over 3000 instagrams and since the event we’ve seen more blog posts written about the event than we can keep up with.

Following are just some of the blog posts we’ve found that give you a speaker/attendee perspective on what it’s like to attend a PBEVENT.

But before I get to those posts – I want to say another huge thank you to the team who helped run this year’s event. To Jasmin, Nicole and Laney who returned this year to form our core team. To those around them who put in many hours including Caroline, Liz, Shayne, Stacey, Yvonne, Cheryl, Jade, Brooke, Grove, Nathalie, Martine, Louisa Claire and to the many others who pitched in and lent a hand throughout the event.

Here’s just some of the team behind this year’s event pictured int he Olympus booth at our nautical networking party (yes, that’s me as Jack Sparrow). See more shots from this Photo Booth here.

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All our speakers and panelists – thanks so much for your time and generosity.

Also a huge thanks to our sponsors (all mentioned above) who helped to keep our event as what I hear over and over again is one of the most affordable and value-packed events in Australia.

Lastly to our attendees this year and to the wider Australian Blogosphere – your support and encouragement drive us on to keep improving PBEVENT. As I said in closing this year’s event we’re already planning the 2015 events (yes there will be more than one).

We’re hoping to run a full day event early in 2015 in Perth and another multi day event at a similar time next year (location to be announced) as well as some smaller meet up events in other capital cities early in the year.

What Our Attendees Thought About this Year’s Event

As promised above – here are just some of the blog posts we’ve found about this year’s event from attendees and speakers. Thanks to Jade Craven for helping me get this list together! Enjoy!

 

From Presenters:

5 Unique Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic

5 unique ways to increase your blog

This is a guest contribution from SEO expert Zach Radford.

Today, you don’t gain blog traffic by paying for backlinks or by swapping them like the old days. Instead, you need to focus on creating quality content that is beneficial to your visitors.

We know that. But how do you do it? And do it consistently?

The content should solve main problems faced by your reader. It should be actionable, specific and relevant to the audience. If you do this, your audience will come to trust your site, and visit it regularly looking for new content. They will also engage with you, which helps you to improve your blog.

To that end, here are five new ways of looking at increasing your blog traffic.

Create quality content and mention other bloggers

Your blog is the main avenue for communication with your audience. While your main purpose for the blog may be to promote your business, yourself, or some other product or service, you need to focus on providing quality content to the reader. Just focus on providing information that readers will find interesting to read, without trying to be overly strategic about it. Look for trending topics in different areas and create amazing content on those topics. Your audience will not only keep coming back for more if they find your posts interesting, they will also share your posts with their friends. You also need to mention other bloggers that you follow in your posts. You can quote them if you feel the information is interesting to the reader or just mention their names in the post. This will create good relationships with the bloggers and they might return the favour. Lifting each other up has the added benefit of leading to increased traffic.

Share your blogs on social networks

This is a no-brainer, but cannot be ignored. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin are where your readers are. Give them your posts. After creating your post, you can share a link of the post through Facebook or Twitter and then ask your friends or followers to comment. This will expose your blogs to thousands of social media users and eventually lead to increase in blog traffic.

Syndicate your posts

Syndicating your blog posts will expose them to more readers. You can use RSS feed or syndicate the blog to applicable high-traffic sites. RSS feeds allow your audience to keep track of your blogs without having to bookmark it. The readers only need to open their RSS reader and all your posts will be displayed there. Syndicating your blog to high traffic sites will also popularize it. This will also give your post more credibility, which could lead to high traffic.

Involve your readers

After posting to your blog, you need to ask your readers to leave a comment after reading the blog. Research shows that people will do (mostly) what you ask of them, and will comment where they might not have before. Read the comments that are left and try to reply all of them. Readers feel more valued if they are treated well and respected by the bloggers they engage with. They will keep on visiting your site to look for more content and to engage you as well. This will also build trust with your readers.

Use Pinterest Individual or Group Board

Pinterest allows bloggers to post on individual board and collaborate by posting on contributor boards. The main benefit of pinning your blog on contributor boards is that your blog is exposed to other contributors. Those contributors also have followers who will also see your post, leading to increased traffic.

The bottom line

Your blog will attract more readers if it is of good quality. Above all, this has to be the main aim. Therefore, it is important that you focus on quality more than selling your products or promoting your business through the blog. You also need to network with other bloggers and create good relationships with them. This will help you gain new ideas of increasing traffic to your blog.

Zach Radford is an SEO content expert, working as an SEO consultant and Sales manager for the past 10 years. He strives for success in everything he sets out to do. He believes that high-quality keyword-rich content is the key to running a successful online business. Currently starting his own venture: an SEO Content Company, aiming to provide quality SEO content to the masses.

Q&A: Your Social Media Strategy

There’s not much Darren hasn’t tried in the way of social media, and using it as a complement to his blog.

In this webinar (available in full to ProBlogger.com members), he outlines his method for success, as well as answering your questions about how to make the best use of this media.

Darren covers:

  • Where social media fits in your blogging journey
  • What hierarchy of importance social media should go in (because you can’t be across everything!)
  • How to find readers
  • How to build a presence
  • How often you should update your social media channels
  • Hints for scheduling your content
  • How much time you should invest in it
  • What your status updates should say
  • Case studies of status updates that really worked

And questions sourced from the ProBlogger.com forums as well as your inquiries on Facebook and Twitter. One not to be missed!

Case Study: My Experiment with Starting a 2nd Facebook Page for My Blog

Regular readers of ProBlogger would know that over the last 18 months, I’ve put a lot of effort into Facebook – particularly by building up the Digital Photography School Facebook page.

I’ve worked hard in that time to grow both the reach and influence of the page and while there have been ups and downs along the way, it has paid off in a fairly major way – with Facebook becoming the second-biggest referrer of traffic to Digital Photography School on any given day.

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In the last year and a half I’ve developed a publishing rhythm on the dPS Facebook page that works really well. I publish five posts every day – two posts link to new tutorials on the dPS blog, while the other three link to posts from the archives (all from at least a year ago). Occasionally I throw in a discussion-related post but almost every post links back to quality tutorials on dPS.

Facebook seems to like what we do, as they seem to reward links to useful content. But more importantly to me, our readers seem to like what we’ve built with the page (which in turn helps Facebook like it too) and I’m hesitant to change up the rhythm too much.

I have experimented with more posts in a day from time to time, but five seems to be about right. When I’ve gone with more I get reader complaints that we’re posting too much.

Two Other Strategies Bloggers Are Using to Good Effect

At the recent ProBlogger Conference here in Australia, I had conversations with a number of Aussie bloggers who were also doing very well with Facebook and was interested to hear that my approach is not the only way to grow an effective Facebook strategy.

In fact I heard 4-5 bloggers say that they’d noticed that their page did best when they did a couple of things different to what we do:

  1. they post more frequently – while we post five times a day, some of the other bloggers I’ve been talking to publish up to 10 times a day (spread evenly through a 24-hour period) with little pushback from readers.
  2. they link out to other sites regularly – while at dPS we only really publish links to our own site, these other bloggers see increased reach and engagement with mixing up where they link to other people’s sites.

While I’m wanting to mess with the approach I currently have on the dPS Facebook page, I’ve been wondering since our conference how I could experiment with these approaches.

Why Not Start a Second Facebook Page?

Just over a week ago I was pondering the issue and wishing I had another site to experiment with Facebook on when it struck me – why don’t I just start a second Facebook page that relates to my site?

Most bloggers have a Facebook page dedicated to their blog – but what is to stop us from having more than one? Facebook don’t seem to have a problem with a user owning more than one page – so I began to wonder if there might be a benefit from having a second one to experiment with and potentially support my blog in a different way.

On the spur of the moment I decided to start one and quickly did so. I didn’t put a heap of thought into what to call it and impulsively decided to call it Do You Like Photography?

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The idea was to brand it as different to ‘Digital Photography School’ but to be up front about the connection to the site.

I quickly set it up and began to post to it. This is what I’ve focused upon doing:

  • posing 6 posts per day – while only up by one on my regular page and not really much higher a frequency, I decided not to go with too many yet as we’ve been recovering from our conference and on a family holiday. I do plan to increase it gradually but will probably cap it at nine a day and watch how the frequency impacts the page’s effectiveness.
  • to this point all posts are ‘link’ posts that link five times per day to other people’s photography tips/tutorials. The 6th post a day links to an old dPS post. I want this page to be tied to dPS but to be more of a place to curate content from other sites. This has the benefit of being useful to followers but also build relationships with other sites.

Note: in many ways this second page is similar to what we’ve been doing on our dPS Pinterest page for a year now (it’s largely just us highlighting great content that we find on the web with a few pins to our own stuff too).

I linked twice to the new page from our main dPS page just to let our regular readers know it existed. I shared it with them saying that the page is for those who want more photography tips and tutorials in their feed that come from beyond just dPS. The response from these two shares was fantastic – I had many readers thank me for creating the page.

The new page has grown faster than I anticipated. It took just six days to hit 50,000 followers! Things have slowed down a little since then but we’re well on the way to 60,000. Obviously many of the initial likes came from our main dPS page but since those initial shares I’ve started to see other pages sharing our finds and there’s been some nice organic growth too.

I don’t have any real firm goals for the page at this point but really see it as a great place to:

  • experiment with a different strategies on Facebook
  • growing relationships with other bloggers in our niche by sending them traffic
  • expanding our own social reach/influence which will in turn send us some more traffic too
  • sharing different types of posts to see what I can learn that might inform our own content strategy down the track

The only cost of the experiment is the time it takes to update the page. At this point it’s taking about 15 minutes each night to schedule the next day’s posts. I’ve also seen some nice engagement and sentiment coming from followers and it has already sent some nice little spikes in traffic to my blog so for now – it’s an experiment worth continuing with.

Do You Have a Second Facebook Page?

I’d love to hear whether others have experimented with different Facebook pages? I’d expect that it won’t suit everyone but do wonder if there might be some benefits for some to do it – particularly for those with bigger followings who might have lost traction with Facebook in the last year? Maybe having a second page with a very different strategy might unlock some learnings for you!

Four Ways to Crush Your Email Challenge and Build the List

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This is a guest contribution from Luke Guy.

I support building your email list more than any other thing. It’s the building block to any platform-building. You should be collecting emails before you even build the blog or write the book. I Wish I did it this way to begin with.

Why?

Collecting emails has got to be the fastest, easiest, cheapest way to build a community. You can approach someone and more likely get their email than a “like” on Facebook. Email is about discovery. Facebook is about liking what we already like.

You know this though. You know that email is the way to build your online presence. You know the benefits and have heard it plenty of times. But like anything though, everything has it challenges.

Challenges With Email

1. Collecting the Emails

2. Providing Content For Those Emails

3. Keeping Your Email Open Rates High

4. Keeping Unsubscribe Rates Low

You’ve probably read the “8 Reasons Why Your Email Open Rate is Nosediving” that I wrote for Problogger a while back. These points listed within that post will give you insight on how to format those emails. It was mostly about format, and how Google sees your email campaign.

Either as spammy or as friend, you’re one or the other with Google.

Today isn’t about the technical side of things though, it’s about your performance in content. You can do all the things mentioned in the previous post, as formatting goes, and still miss potential readers and customers because the content was horrible.

How To Crush Email Challenges

Okay, so you have these challenges looking at you like a ban of ugly monsters and not sure how to tackle them. You’ve tried everything and no one wants to join your email list, your open rates are low, and the few that have joined are unsubscribing just weeks after joining.

I want to solve this for you. If you focus on this one thing, it will make your email list explode, Connecting with Quality Information.

Here’s four ways to Make This Happen:

1. Making your list a secret club

Let’s think about this for a second. What’s in it for them when they join your list? If you think they’re joining so you can punch them every week with a pitch, you’re wrong.

You’ve got to offer benefits. Make them feel part of a secret club. People love feeling like they’re “in”, you know? To feel connected with someone they look up to is one reason why they join.

Here are some other things you could be offering to your list:

  • Offer instant contact when they join your list
  • Give your list exclusive opportunities like when your product launches
  • Let your list be the “beta testers” with any new software, program, app. Get their feedback and make them feel like they created the product with you.
  • Skype with them individually. Pick out five a month and just email with them back and forth. Do it as a surprise though. This makes things exciting.
  • Offer free courses on the email list, get their feedback, improve the course based on that feedback, and then sell it on your site. They feel special because they got it free, and they just made it huge because of the amazing feedback. Then on top of that, you’re making money on a product that was formed by a community. Isn’t that cool?

2. Only send emails that are useful

Make sure every time you send out an email it gives them a feeling. A good feeling. A feeling of hope, inspiration, and success. An email, that when they’re done, makes them feel like they’ve walked away with something valuable. Don’t just send an email that reminds them you’re still alive. It should never be like that. Send an email that is worth a lot and makes that reader a raving fan. If that means one email instead of two a week, then let it be. How To Find CONTENT For You To Write About is a great post if you’re stuck on how to create more valuable content.

3. Offer something of value to push them over (like a contest).

You remember all those benefits I mentioned in the first section? List it on the signup page. Make it feel like a free membership with benefits, because if there is no benefits, you’re not getting many subscribers. Advertise the benefits on that page creatively.

But on top of that offer something that is enticing to new people who haven’t experienced those other things yet. Offer a product, service, ebook etc, that you know is something they would crave. Something that would make them sign up today! Make sure it’s relative to what you do. Offering an iPad is not a good idea by the way.

Then start a contest and offer this prize. Your list will grow quickly, but understand it takes a lot of energy and can’t be done too often. You’ll lose the buzz.

I’m offering the Kingsumo contest plugin ($594) here free in my contest. You have to be in it to win it!

4. Don’t be like other bloggers. Be available

Make your email list about connectivity. Offer your list more availability than anywhere else. I don’t care if you have 100k readers on your list, answer every email in a timely manner. This is a major problem in the blogging world. You can email most bloggers, and you’re lucky to get a reply. The ones making the money though, many of those will.

Is there a connection? Yes.

I’m not saying all millionaire bloggers respond to email, because they don’t, but more of them will. It’s why they’re making money, they respond to every question or at least most.

Why? You never know where this conversation could be going.

Besides, you should want to reply. It’s exciting! To think, someone is reaching out to you and wanting to hear from you. It should thrill you. When you get to the point that you feel like your readers are a nuisance though… You won’t be in business for long. So make it #1 priority and answer every email.

Apply these and your list will grow within time. Hope you have walked away with some fresh ideas and spark some more creativity within your tribe.

Did I forget something? Comment below with your ideas on how to build your list and beat the email challenges. 

Don’t forget to join my contest and win Kingsumo ($594). This plugin is essential in growing your list. 

Luke Guy blogs at Lukeguy.com. He researches email marketing and how to grow businesses doing it. He talks about other things but usually it involves emailing. If you need further help with your email challenges, you can join him here!