@ProBlogger http://www.problogger.net Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging - ProBlogger Wed, 30 Jul 2014 04:56:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Copyright © ProBlogger Blog Tips 2010 darrenrowse@gmail.com (@ProBlogger) darrenrowse@gmail.com (@ProBlogger) 1440 http://www.problogger.net/wp-content/plugins/podpress/images/powered_by_podpress.jpg @ProBlogger http://www.problogger.net 144 144 Make Money Online @ProBlogger @ProBlogger darrenrowse@gmail.com no no ProBlogger in Perth: 10 Things Darren Wishes He Knew About Blogging http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/30/problogger-in-perth-10-things-darren-wishes-he-knew-about-blogging/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/30/problogger-in-perth-10-things-darren-wishes-he-knew-about-blogging/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:44:19 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=29542 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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ProBlogger in Perth: 10 Things Darren Wishes He Knew About Blogging

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Jenish Pandya and Darren Rowse ProBloggerThis is a guest contribution from blogger Jenish Pandya.

What happens when ProBlogger legend Darren Rowse comes to your city for the first time ever?

You and everyone around you go crazy and act like teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert and start taking heaps of photos every time he makes a move.

Then what do you do with all the photos you have taken? Well, you write a blog post.

Darren came down to Perth for the first ever mini PBevent and in his presentation gave us a taste of what happens at the main event happening this year on Gold Coast from 29-30 August.

Darren Rowse’s 10 Blogging Lessons

Darren’s presentation was titled “10 things I wish I’d know about Blogging (+7 Quick tips)” in which he shared about the blogging lessons he would have wanted to know when he started out 12 years ago.

The lessons he shared were really simple and easy to implement, they were meant to take your blogging to the next level.

Darren Rowse's 10 Blogging Lessons

Darren The ProBlogger

Overnight Success only happens after years and years of work, it couldn’t be much right than in Darren’s case.

Darren started of the presentation with his introduction (as if he needed one :) ) and followed on with his story about how ProBlogger (PB) and Digital Photography School (DPS) started out. If it hadn’t been for his wife Vanessa, all this would probably not have happened as it did.

Darren’s journey started out with four simple words “Check out this blog” and without much credentials behind him he started out blogging and after 12 years of hard/smart work, ProBlogger and Digital School Photography have become what they are now. If you want to know about Darren’s awesome story check out the About ProBlogger page.

My Takeaway:

You have to be dedicated to your blog and business. There is nothing such as overnight or quick and easy Success. You have to work hard and smart to achieve your goals and sometimes you will achieve something more greater than what you ever imagined.

Darren's Credentials

Blogging Lesson #1: If you want your Blog to be a Business, Treat it as one

Glass half full, or glass half empty, the way we perceive and look at things changes how they appear to us.

The first lesson that Darren shared was something he had seen a number of bloggers go wrong with, including himself. Most of the bloggers started blogging as a creative outlet to share about their passion or as a hobby and monetizing the blog came as an afterthought.

The way you act when you think of your blog as a hobby will be completely different to when you think of it as a real business. When it becomes a business, you will pay more attention to it, be more professional about it and also dedicate as much time as possible.

So if you are really serious about monetizing your blog and trying to generate income from it, then your first step is to treat it like a business.

My Takeaway:

I started a couple of blogs before my current one and was treating them as hobbies and I can totally see the difference in how I go about treating my current blog by me being consistent, showing respect and putting time and effort in providing value.

Blogging Lesson #2: Identify WHO you want to read your blog

There is no point in selling a TV to a blind person as they won’t be able to use it and morally it is just wrong. You need to know your audience before you start doing anything.

Darren shared four key reasons on how knowing WHO you want to read your blogs informs you the blogger on;

  • Content Strategy
  • Promotional Strategy
  • Community Strategy
  • Monetization Strategy

The first step in identifying your reader is to create two-three reader profiles or avatars which describes the reader’s;

  • Demographics
  • Need/Challenges
  • How they Use the Web
  • Motivations for Reading
  • Experience Level
  • Dreams
  • Financial Situation

Darren introduced Grace, who describes herself as a Mom-a-raz-zo photographer because 90% of her photos are of her young children. Grace is one of the few fictitious reader of Digital Photography School that Darren invented. Here are the other reader profiles.

The second step to getting to know WHO your readers are is asking your current readers to fill out surveys and polls, so you get hard facts and numbers about them.

My Takeaway:

This was something I knew I had to do but never got around doing it. It is something I have struggled with as I have always tried to write for everyone and never picked out specifically my exact niche. After hearing Darren I have started working on it and I am close to writing up a couple of reader profiles for my blog.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #3: Email is Powerful!

With all the hype around the use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other cool social media sites, sometimes the good old email doesn’t get paid the attention it really deserves.

Darren emphasized on the use of email as a powerful blog marketing tool as;

  • It Drives Traffic
  • It Drives Profit
  • It Builds Community
  • It Builds the Brand

He told us about how it was his father who got him started on to setting up email subscriptions because his father wasn’t sure of how to set up in reading an RSS feed and still wanted to read Darren’s blog.

My Takeaway:

I love email marketing especially because it is personal and gives you that feeling of one 2 one communication with your reader and the coolest thing is that it can be automated.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #3A: Don’t Write Off PopUps

PopUps are still a bit controversial, some people hate it and some don’t mind it.

Darren used to hate popups and he never used them till he got challenged to try it out for one day and see what happened to his optin rates on DPS. So being adventurous, he gave it a shot.

The result of that one day was quite the opposite of what he had expected, his subscriber rates increased by almost five times than normal. The crazy thing was that there was little to no impact in traffic, meaning that people didn’t mind the pop-up.

He also mentioned that the readers on DPS didn’t mind the popup whereas those on PB did. This was due to the fact that they were both complete different types of readers. So Darren runs popups on DPS which only appear once for a visitor to the site and he doesn’t run any on PB. Read the full story how he drastically increased his subscribers.

My Takeaway:

I am still on the fence about whether to use popups or not but I guess the best way is to actually test it and let the results speak for themselves.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #4: There are MANY ways to Make Money Blogging

But it’s not quick or easy

There is always more than one way to skin a cat.

The one thing to learn from this is to diversify your income sources and not be dependent on any single one of them as Darren once was. He primarily used to make money from Google Adsense and one day when the search engine algorithms got changed, his income stopped for a while and then it lead him to diversify PB’s income sources.

Some of the ways to make money blogging are;

  • Services
  • Advertising
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Selling/Flipping Blogs
  • Continuity Programs
  • Products

Have a read of the 12 Blogging Income Streams and Darren’s 10 year overnight success to get a further insight into monetizing your blog.

My Takeaway:

This hit me home, I am a big fan of diversification and building different funnels to grow your income so that you are never dependent on any one particular source.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #5: Create something to SELL

People love to buy but they hate to be sold.

Following on from diversifying your blogging income source Darren moved to talking about creating something of your own to sell as it will keep your readers on your website and also increase your authority amongst the readers. Not forgetting the obvious reason, it increases your income.

Darren showed some stats of how almost 40% of his current earnings were from ebook sales. The wonderful thing was that he could sell the ebooks as singles or by bundles in different categories, topics, authors. He could also add other ebooks as bonuses to provide more value to the buyer.

So one of the biggest focus in creating an income from your blog should actually be creating something to sell.

My Takeaway:

I love Information products and how they can be easily leveraged to not only create an income but also to provide massive value. I have been putting off writing one for a while now but after hearing Darren’s advice, that project is about to take a new life.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #6: Successful Blogs – Inform, Inspire, Interact

If you were looking for the silver bullet for successful blogs, this is it!

This is the formula that Darren has used over and over again to make PB and DPS as successful as they are at this moment.

The first part of the formula is to create blog posts that Inform your readers. For example the how to posts, the review posts, the new thing and more in the similar criteria.

The second one is to Inspire with posts of different examples or case studies

The third being blog post that help you Interact with your readers, some of them could be challenge posts.

My Takeaway:

I never thought successful blogging could ever be put in such a simple formula. I have normally focused on the information posts but little on the inspirational and interaction creating, looks like they will be added to my blogging arsenal.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #7: Look for SPARKS

This is the reason that explains how Darren does all the things in his business and life.

“You should be doing what gives you Energy” – Darren Rowse. He mentioned about how the 31 days to a build a better blog came about. There was an idea he had in his mind and was keeping him awake at night so he decided to ask the readers whether they would like him to post a 31 day blog post series and it was the post that had got the most comments and people were giving him back the energy and asking him what was the first day.

So whatever you are doing, either be blogging or other activities you should identify what gives you energy (sparks) and follow that spark to accomplish it to the best of your abilities. Also try to figure out what gives your readers’ energy and what creates sparks for them, as that is where you should be focusing on.

Become a prolific problem solver by becoming hyper aware of problems around you, as it will not only give you heaps and heaps of ideas on what to blog about but also will give you different ideas on creating products as well.

My Takeaway:

I always used to wonder how do all the awesome people like Darren manage to achieve all that they have and still have time and energy left to do more, I thought they were following their passion but there was still some doubt left till I heard Darren.

Sometimes you don’t know what your passion is but if you follow the sparks then you are sure to find what gives you energy and leading to a better blog.

 

Blogging Lesson #8: Be ACTIVE

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” – Will Rogers

Darren told us about one question that we should be asking ourselves everyday and that is “What Action Will I take Today that Will Grow My Blog?” It’s about lots and lots of small, consistent actions over a long time that have the Big Impact. When trying to answer the question you could be thinking about

  • Content Creation
  • Community Management
  • Promotional Activities

And to monetize your blog take the 15 Minutes a Day Challenge – Spend 15 minutes per day doing something to take you a step towards your blogging goals. This is how Darren was able to create the first ever ebook for DPS, he spent 15 minutes everyday for three months.

My Takeaway:

I loved the tip of the 15 minute a day challenge and have started working on a project that I long avoided and that is of creating a membership site. I invite you to take the 15 Minutes a Day Challenge and see what difference it makes.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #9: Do Good

At the end of the day it is about helping out others and doing Good.

Darren went to Tanzania in 2011 part of a Blog Project for a non for profit CBM Australia – part of the world’s largest organisation working with people with disabilities – with a particular focus upon the poor. He spent around a week in a disability hospital.

I hardly can put the stories he shared in words, so have a look at the video of Darren talking about his final reflections of the trip.

My Takeaway:

I believe that every single one of us was born to help each other out and Do Good. I was moved and inspired by Darren’s story about his Tanzania trip to do as much Good as I can.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #10: Aim to have a BIG impact upon the readers you already have

It takes the same time and effort to think small when compared to Think BIG.

The last lesson Darren talked about was to provide more value and have a BIG impact upon your current readers as it is by doing such you will be able to grow and build you blog faster and create a healthy income. There is no point in chasing your future readers when your current ones are not even being taken care of.

Simply put, Love your current readers and you will able to achieve your blogging goals.

My Takeaway:

For me this was the magic silver bullet everyone keeps chasing, the more I take care and love my current readers the more my blog is going to grow.

Blogging Lesson

After going through the 10 Blogging Lessons, he quickly went about sharing 7 Quick Blogging Tips. After going through the tips you will realize that he doesn’t know how to count, hehe.

Jenish Pandya is a blogger who likes to help people earn a recurring income online, with business strategies and techniques.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

ProBlogger in Perth: 10 Things Darren Wishes He Knew About Blogging

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Three Ways to Outperform Your Online Competition http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/29/three-ways-to-outperform-your-online-competition/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/29/three-ways-to-outperform-your-online-competition/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:33:17 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30287 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Three Ways to Outperform Your Online Competition

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Untitled design

This is a guest contribution from Emma Henry of True Target Marketing.

There’s no denying that plenty of us are trying to make a living on the internet. The good news is that it’s still early days when it comes to building a successful online business. In reality, very few businesses know how to effectively execute strategic online marketing campaigns. Now is the perfect time for you to take advantage of this gap in the market and outperform your online competition. With some sound advice, a strategic approach, and a solid implementation plan, your online business performance can go from strength to strength. 

First Things First

The first thing is to prepare a custom strategy for your online business. To do this, you need to conduct a detailed review of your current online situation. What is currently working well? What are the main issues and the biggest frustrations with your website? What is the goal for your online business 12 months and beyond? Who are your current customers and are they your ideal, highest-value customers?  How can you encourage repeat purchases to increase the life time value of your ideal customers? 

There are a number of useful analytics tools such as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and Keyword Research software that can help you to review your current online business and devise the best strategy for your business going forward. Consider engaging in the services of a website marketing expert to assist you with the process of analysing your online business. A professional will have the skills and knowledge to prepare a bespoke, tailored strategy that can reap you huge results. 

Then What?

The second step is to implement the necessary changes to your website to help you achieve your online business goals. The aim is to attract more high value customer prospects to your website, encourage them to stay on your site (rather than go to a competitor site), and to persuade them to take some form of action on your site (i.e. make a purchase, call for an appointment, request a quote etc.).

Some specific changes you might need to make to improve the performance of your website include: 

  • Simplify the site navigation for a seamless, end-user experience.
  • Remove unnecessary clutter.
  • Include a concise summary of your offerings on your home page linking back to the more detailed products/services pages.
  • Include a “Testimonials” and “FAQ” page.
  • Align the content of every page with the most relevant, industry specific keyword.
  • Develop and improve existing content.
  • Optimise your website for the search engines.
  • Incorporate multiple, relevant and clear calls to action on your site (for a free quote call xxx, click to buy here, enter your email to receive xxx)

And Finally…

The third and final step to outperform your online competition is to secure your place as the absolute authority in your industry niche. To do this, you need to ensure the content on your website is high quality, unique, and relevant to your specific market, and is better than the content of your online competitors. Create regular, fresh new content around common queries in your industry. Go beyond an FAQ sheet and include a dedicated page with detailed information on typical customer queries. Doing this will ensure that when prospective customers search for those queries in Google, your website page will show up in the search results over and above your competitor pages because your site will be the one with the most informative and relevant information. In time, you will become the “go to” website authority for your industry niche as your customer prospects begin to know, like and trust your brand and your information. Not only will you be perceived as the expert in your field by providing your audience with valuable information, but you will be rewarded by Google as they boost your search engine rankings ahead of your competitors. 

In summary, take the time to review your current online operations, implement a strategy to attract more of your ideal customer prospects by improving and optimising your website structure and building up relevant content on your site. Consider engaging the services of a professional, online marketing expert to help you execute this proven and effective three-step strategy.  The investment will be well worthwhile when you consider the value you will get from securing highly-targeted new business. Now is the time to start securing a greater share of customers in your marketplace by outperforming your competitors online.

Emma Henry is an Online Marketing Specialist and the owner of True Target Marketing. Emma tailors bespoke online marketing strategies for her clients. She specialises in lead generation, customer conversions, increased website traffic and improved website responsiveness. 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Three Ways to Outperform Your Online Competition

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Create the Best Pay-Per-Click Landing Page in 7 Easy Steps http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/25/create-the-best-pay-per-click-landing-page-in-7-easy-steps/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/25/create-the-best-pay-per-click-landing-page-in-7-easy-steps/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:53:28 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30403 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Create the Best Pay-Per-Click Landing Page in 7 Easy Steps

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Image via Flickr user Andrew Pescod

Image via Flickr user Andrew Pescod

This is a guest contribution from Poulami Ghosh of PPC Ads Management.

If conversion rates really matter to you, you should be aware that every marketing campaign has to have a dedicated landing page. This is particularly true with regard to PPC where you have to pay for every single click. Ask any PPC company and it will tell you the same thing. However, it is not enough to know that you should use a landing page. You also have to know how to craft one, so that your marketing efforts rise above the average and become exceptional.

There are seven steps to creating an effective landing page. In order to explain them better, let me create a fictitious organization first. Let’s name it SaaSProject. It is an online solution for project management, specifically created for SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses. The message they want to convey is that their platform has been specifically designed for the online software industry and comprises features closely associated with how SaaS businesses function. 

Setting Your Campaign Goal or Objective

The main aim of this campaign will be to accumulate leads, by offering informative content about handling SaaS projects. 

Majority of the marketing done by SaaSProject is content marketing. Thus, a PDF guide on the subject will be written so that it can be given away in exchange of data gathered from people. 

Another objective is to get the maximum number of leads possible for opting in to watch a demo of the product. This goal can be achieved in two ways, both of which will be explained by me when I come to the page design. 

Explain the Pain of the Customer As Well As Its Relief

Penning down a pain statement enables you to concentrate on the needs of your customer, and also express better how that pain is addressed by your solution. Let us try to understand it better with our example.

The Pain

Software for project management is either very complex so that no team member wants to use it, or too simplistic so that it is not configurable enough to do what it is required to. 

The Pain Relief

SaaSProject was particularly designed, keeping in mind a SaaS business model. Its functionality is role-specific so that it directly speaks to designers, developers and advertisers. There are comprehensive to-do lists for developers with complete Github integration. A PSD can be uploaded by designers, which changes into a sequence of layer previews intended for stakeholders. Again, writers have versioning, copy commenting as well as approval modes. What is more, there is a 10,000 feet-view mode for the project manager for easily managing the project with one view.

You are really enthusiastic about starting this organization with me now, right?

A balanced approach is given by these two accounts for narrating your story. Your prospects have to be addressed in a way that is understood by them, based on consideration of their most important concerns. 

Write an Engaging Campaign Story

Next, you have to create a compelling campaign story that weaves the pain as well as the pain relief descriptions together into a narrative which you can use as a parameter first for the ebook and then for your landing page. 

How to Write an Effective Campaign Story?

Make use of a story skeleton to simplify the writing process. The Freytag Pyramid defines a common plot structure, which involves breaking a narrative down into five stages, namely: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and conclusion. This structure can be used to craft your base story, after which it has to be translated into the functional parts of a landing page. 

Create Your Form

A form is not just a collection of data requests. An entire landing page can be created only with a form. Any PPC company will vouch for that.

Since we have the story with us now, we have to begin the process of its translation to a landing page. In this case, it is always advisable to use the inside-out approach instead of the more traditional top-down one.

Your form comprises the following components:

  • A headline for introducing the purpose of the form.
  • A description involving bullets for highlighting the advantage and contents of what is being given away by you upon completion.
  • A call-to-action.
  • The form with vivid form fields (attention can be captured by original questions and label names).
  • Trust links or statements.
  • A context-enhancement or closing urgency statement.

I mentioned in Step one that there were two ways in which people could be asked to register for the demo. They are:

Reward

Offer the demo in return for something. For instance, a check-box could be added to the form, where people are asked if they would like to see a demo, before the submission of the form.

Reciprocity

It works on the philosophy that people will be keener to do something for you only after you do something for them. For instance, in our case, you have just given a guide free of cost to the visitor, and so you can politely ask whether they would like to engage in something else. 

Make The Page Design Around Your Form

The campaign story has to be broken down into the structural elements of your landing page. The main components that will feature on your landing page are as follows:

  • Headline
  • Subheading
  • Intro – pain
  • Pain relief or benefits offered by the solution
  • A hero shot showing your offer
  • Social proof
  • Your form as crafted from the previous part
  • A concluding statement that rounds off the story and takes them back to the form for conversion

Perform The Test of Congruence

Congruence refers to the principle of bringing every component on your page into line, with the intention of conveying one combined message. The presence of something incongruent means it is fighting against the goal or objective of your page. 

Go Through The CCD (Conversion Centered Design) Checklist Thoroughly

Once your landing page is ready, assess it once from the point of view of a Conversion Centered Designer. The main idea here is to be realistic and understand that some work is still left to be done. A set of design guidelines and principles has to be applied to your page to ensure it appears the best when your PPC traffic is unleashed on it. 

In this era of branding, storytelling is a crucial part of effective and successful marketing. Any PPC company will second that. So, apply the steps outlined by me and success could be yours. 

Poulami Ghosh loves to share knowledge about effective PPC practices and online marketing.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Create the Best Pay-Per-Click Landing Page in 7 Easy Steps

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How Social Media Can Affect Your Search Engine Rankings http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/23/how-social-media-can-affect-your-search-engine-rankings/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/23/how-social-media-can-affect-your-search-engine-rankings/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:13:21 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30051 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How Social Media Can Affect Your Search Engine Rankings

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How-Social-Signals-Affect-Your-Search-Engine-RankingsThis is a guest contribution from digital media project manager Sandeep Sharma.

Now more than ever, marketing experts are improving their marketing strategy with fewer resources, and they are shifting marketing budgets from traditional to digital tactics like search engine optimization and social media. Companies, too often, omit their social media marketing strategy from their SEO strategy, which is a grave mistake. A study  conducted by Ascend2 indicates that companies with the strongest SEO via social media strategies now produce the best results, and vice-versa. Companies that consider themselves “very successful” at search engine optimization are integrating social media into their strategy, whereas, companies that are “not successful” at search engine optimization are not integrating social media into their strategy.

See the graph below:

SEOSocialIntegration

In the above graph, companies with successful SEO are in blue while those companies with an inferior SEO strategy are in amber. You can see 38% of those doing very well with search engine optimization were also extensively integrating social media. A full 50% of those doing poorly at search engine optimization were not integrating social media at all in their strategy. This graph signifies that companies that are succeeding in search engine optimization today are including social in their strategy.

SEO is much more than just high ranking in Google. It is a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive approach to website optimization that ensures potential customers, who come to your website, will have an excellent experience, easily find what they are looking for, and have an easy time sharing your optimum-quality content. The combination of SEO and social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can be overwhelming for big as well as small business marketers. Until recently, search engine optimization and social media marketing were thought of as two very different things, but actually these are two sides of the same coin. Consider the below mentioned social network growth statistics:

  • YouTube hosts nearly 14 billion videos. Source: comScore
  • Google sites handle about 100 billion searches each month. Source: SEL
  • Facebook is now over 1 billion users. Source: Mark Zuckerberg
  • Twitter has over 550 million accounts. Source: Statistics Brain
  • Google+ has over 500 million users. Source: Google
  • LinkedIn is at 225 million users. Source: LinkedIn
  • Pinterest grew 4,377% in 2012 and continues to expand with 25 million users. Source: TechCrunch
  • Following statistics shows how social media is quite helpful in effective search engine optimization:
  • 94% increase in CTR (Click-Thru-Rate) when search and social media are used together. Source: eMarketer
  • 50% of consumers use a combination of search and social media to make purchase decisions. Source: Inc
  • Consumers who use social media (vs. people who don’t) are 50% more likely to use search. Source: srcibd
  • Websites with a Google+ business page yield a 15% rise in search rank. Source: Open Forum

With these statistics, we can say that social media can be a primary engine for promoting new content and can take your website from zero visibility to a strong performing position almost overnight. For enhancing SEO through social media platform two factors plays a vital role, which are social signals and natural link building. I have explained these two factors in an elaborative manner:

What’s Your Social Signal?

Social Signals are signals to various search engines that your content or information is valuable. Every time someone likes, shares, tweets or +1′s content about your brand, especially a link, they are sending a social signal and the more social signals means you have better chances to rank high on search engine result pages. Many researchers have found that social shares are quite valuable when it comes to building your website authority. Here is the latest research from Searchmetrics, highlighting which social signals correlate to rankings on Google:

socialsignals2

Note that 7 out of the top 9 factors are social signals. Now, it’s clear that social signals can have a huge impact on your search rankings, especially social signals from Google+. If you do not have time to leverage all of the social networking sites, then make sure that Google+ is one of the few you do use because it will play the biggest part in increasing your rankings on search engines. Top social signals that Google is tracking on your website are mentioned below:

Google+

Google+ is a fledgling community when it is compared to social networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, but its social signals have the most impact on search ranking results. Some factors that you should look at are:

Amount of +1s- You need to start distinguishing +1 to your website in general and +1 to each pieces of your content. You should increase +1s to your brand/your authorship profile. This also applies to +1s on Local+ pages.

Authority of +1s- If your profile or brand gets more +1, then you will get to rank higher and easier for the future content you produce.

Growth rate of +1s- You should strategize a plan that will increase your +1 steadily over an extended period of time.

Amount of Adds and Shares- How many people are following and sharing your content tells about how authoritative you are.

Authority of Adds and Shares- Who is following you is also important. A network with people with great profiles helps you to establish a voice.

Facebook

The king of social networking sites, Facebook has an active community of over 900 million. Millions of active users make it a perfect platform for generating social signals. Various researches have shown that Facebook influences more search rankings as compare to Google+ or Twitter. Some factors that you should look at are:

Amount of Shares and Likes- You should remember that “shares” carry more weight than “likes”.

Amount of Comments- The collective amount of likes, shares and comments correlate the closest with search ranking.

Twitter

Twitter is second only to Facebook and boasts 500 million users that are constantly “tweeting”, status updates and events in real time. Twitter users, known as “tweeps”, puts more premium on a tweet’s authority rather than sheer amount; though the overall social signals generated by it lags just a little behind Facebook. On twitter you should look at some factors like:

  • Authority of followers, mentions and retweets
  • Number of followers, mentions and retweets
  • Speed and intensity of tweets and RT over time

Other social websites like Pinterest, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, and FourSquare

The big three, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, play quite important role when it comes to social ranking factors, but you should not ignore the potential of other user-driven social websites like Pinterest, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, and FourSquare. On these social networking sites you should look at following factors:

  • Amount of Pins and re-pins on Pinterest
  • Comments on Pinterest
  • Growth rate of Pins and Re-pins
  • Check-ins on Foursquare
  • Spread rate of check-ins at FourSquare
  • Upvotes on Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon
  • Comments on Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon

Link Development through Social Media

The traditional way of link building like en-masse link directories, spammy comments, forum-posts for the sake of links, and anchor text sculpting are over now. In the modern era, the powerful way to build link is effective content marketing strategy. People love informative and quality content, and they love sharing content. Social media sites are one of the best platforms for content marketing, in this way these are quite important for natural link development.

How to build natural and quality links through Social Media Platforms

There are two tactics that will help you immensely in earning quality and natural links through Social Medial Platforms are:

Link-building through interaction and community engagement

If you’re link-building but never building relationships or never interacting with people, you’re not really link building: you are spamming. If you interact with people who might care about your brand, you can gain a cutting edge over other competitors. Meaningful interactions with audience in your niche prove your credibility and will lead to more authority links. 

You can also get links through interaction from a popular site or a popular brand, when they post to their Facebook page, make a Google+ post, launch a new blog post, or put up a new video on YouTube. In this case, I also recommend you to interact early and often. Early because a lot of times, being in the first five or ten comments, interactions, or engagements really helps you to be seen by the editors who are almost always watching. When you do such interaction, make sure you are adding value, by doing this you make yourself stand out in the comments. You can add value by doing a little bit of detailed research and by making the conversation more interesting. By posting great comments, you will create interest in target customers and they often click your profile that will latently earn you some links. In addition to this, you can also offer help to other people and you can help people without being asked. This is a great way to drive links back to your own site and you can do this, not just on blog posts, but on Google+ posts, Facebook pages, and YouTube comments.

Link building through quality content

In addition to gaining links from popular sites, you can also earn links by posting qualitative and linkable content on social media platforms. If you create content that people find valuable and informative, they are more likely to want to share it. What people find valuable can vary, but optimum quality blog posts and infographics that provide well-researched information, statistics, and new angles on a subject are all good starting points. A good and informative video that attracts viewers’ attention is eminently shareable, which is one reason nearly 87% of agency and brand marketers now creating video for content marketing. When someone reads your quality and informative content on social media sites and finds it of valuable, it is more likely that they will want to link to it.

Article-Effective-Content

In order to give your informative content the best chance of reaching a wide audience, you should identify the key influencers or target audience in your field. In this way, you will be able to target your efforts effectively. Facebook and Twitter are the two go-to social media platforms for most people but you should also seek out targets on other platforms such as Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr. In addition to this, if you are marketing within specific regions, you might want to channel your efforts to the most popular websites in each market. For example, VK is the preferred social media website in Russia, while Orkut can help extend your reach within Brazil and India.

You can also use various tools and services that can help you find the best targets. For example Followerwonk offers a Twitter analytics service and it can help you to compare and sort followers by looking at data such as social authority scores and the percentage with URLs. Furthermore, you can also gauge reactions to your own tweets by monitoring your activity alongside current follower numbers. Apart from this, Fresh Web Explorer is a handy tool, as it searches for mentions of your brand, company or other keyword and automatically matches this with ‘feed authority’. In this way, you can sort key influencers from those with less perceived authority that will allow you to target your efforts more effectively.

Now, it is clear that social media is an essential part of search engine optimization. Following diagram explains you a blueprint of how social media supports SEO: 

seo-social-media

Quality Content gets published- One of the best ways to increase quality traffic to your website is to publish sharable, useful and relevant content on social media sites.

Content gets Shares, Links, & Likes- As you start publishing your company’s blog posts or research work on a regular basis and spreading it across the social networking sites, your content will start generating shares, links, and “likes”.

Sites Gain Subscriptions while Social Profiles get Fans & Followers- As a result, your site’s blog will gain more subscribers and your social media channels will gain more followers, fans, and connections.

Thriving Community Supporting the Website & Social Networks Grows- A thriving community of people who are interested in your user-focused content develops and starts to thrive.

Reputation Reinforced through Social Media & SEO as Authoritative Brand for the Niche- Signals are sent to various search engines about your activity on social media platforms and your keyword-rich and informative content. Your website starts being viewed as reputable, relevant, and authoritative.

Sites Gain Authority in Search Engines- As a result, your website and its informative and quality content starts appearing higher and more frequently in the top rankings and listings of search engines for your keyword phrases and targeted keywords.

Sustainable Stream of Users Discover the Site organically- A consistently growing stream of users will begin discovering the website via the social media sites, search engines, and your email marketing efforts.

I have explained how aligning SEO and social media efforts can really enhance your SEO performance. In order to execute this task effectively, you might even like to hire experienced SEO experts. You should make sure that your social media and SEO teams are working together in order to create a unified digital marketing strategy.

Sandeep Sharma is a Project Manager with a prominent digital media marketing company TIS India and has been for the last 10 years. He loves to create aesthetically appealing websites & eye-popping user interfaces for international clients. You can follow him on Twitter and Google Plus.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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How Social Media Can Affect Your Search Engine Rankings

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How I Earned $15000 from The Problogger Job Board http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/22/how-i-earned-15000-from-the-problogger-job-board/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/22/how-i-earned-15000-from-the-problogger-job-board/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:01:03 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30804 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How I Earned $15000 from The Problogger Job Board

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This is a guest contribution from Andy Nathan, of Smart at the Start.

I have a secret formula for using the Problogger job board that will enthrall many, and bring others to tears with their boredom. That is OK! I do not want everyone to use what I am about to explain below, because that just means more business for me. 

In fact, I struggled with whether I should even share this information to anyone, because…well… human greed being what it is. Over the past year, I have automated the process on the Problogger job board to the point where I spend roughly 5-10 minutes prospecting for every new client off the board.

Pardon my laziness, but I don’t want to work to get clients business. I want to work to keep their business by focusing on awesome content. This is why the Problogger Job Board is simply the best, as we will discuss below in my step-by-step tutorial. 

My Ideal Client

Before we get into what I did to earn $15,000 from the job board here on Problogger, I want to step back and explain what I believe my ideal client should look like. This is important, because if I did not have a picture of what my ideal client would look like, then I would never know how to use the job board correctly.

First, I do not want to spend time talking to clients if possible. It is not that I don’t like people. I sometimes go to networking events as much for the socialization now as I do for the business referrals. The fact is, speaking with a client is time that I am not writing for other clients or playing Video Catnip and watching my cats go a bit crazy.

20130813_065310Time management is huge as a freelancer. This was something I did not understand when I started. I used to be a “good” salesperson who met every client face to face. Somehow seeing my beautiful mug (see selfie) would magically turn prospects into sales. 

What I realized was that for a 10-20% drop in my close rate, I could do a few less coffees and accomplish a whole lot more for my clients.

As of today, 50% of my clients are people I have never spoken to once in the entire relationship. All communication is through email and social media. What a difference it makes.

Another 25% are people that I connect with over the phone as well as email. 

The remainder are my networking clients. Clients I met through various networking events over the years. Generally, those ones want to meet me face to face and make sure that I am a “real” writer. 

Second, if I have to explain the benefits of blogging this is probably not going to work. I have spent too much time in the past explaining to general contractors, attorneys, and other professionals why blogging is important. 

If you don’t get it, I am sorry. I am not your blogging messiah. I write ridiculously awesome content for you (sometimes in your own voice) optimized for search traffic. However, you go ahead and keep cutting and pasting articles from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, (old time newspaper fill in the blank), etc. See how well that works! 

Third, I have written close to 3000 blog posts over the past five years. Not saying that to impress you. I am telling you this, because I want compensation for my experience. I personally like having money in my account. The wife is much happier (aka happy life), my bills are paid, and that creeping sense of dread fades away. 

Now for the ProBlogger Job Board info you crave…

Now that we got this little rant about ideal clients out of the way, what did I do to earn money from the Problogger job board? Automation.

First:

I would recommend opening a new tab, so you can follow along while I discuss how I use the board. It is not that you have never seen a job board, but this is my unique twist. You might just want to set this up as you read this post.

Problogger Job Board

Second:

Take in the board for a second. Notice that there are only about 3-5 listings per day. It is not an overwhelming horde of listings, but a constant stream of leads. This is important. When I used this process on Craigslist, the nonsense chatter on the site, even after using the filters, made it an extreme waste of time. Plus, no one likes worthless emails coming into your email box all day.

Third:

Notice in the bottom right corner, there is a subscribe button. This is crucial to my laziness. A RSS feed of all the job posts in one spot. 

Copy the RSS feed below: 

http://feeds.feedburner.com/ProBloggerJobs 

Problogger Job Board RSS Feed

Fourth:

Open a new tab, and type in IFTTT.com. This is an automation site. You can use this for a variety of purposes online. If you don’t have an account on IFTTT, you will need to set one up in about two minutes. Fear not, accounts on the site are free. In fact, for freelance writers this entire process is free. 

When you login, you will go to your dashboard. Below is what my dashboard looks like currently:

IFTTT Recipes

Fifth:

To automate processes you need to create a recipe. Recipes are easy to create. The site’s real name is “If This, Then That.” The entire automation system runs on one equation that you can use for a multitude of purposes.  

IFTTT-IF This Then That

You create recipes that trigger one online platform to perform a task on another online platform. 

While this might sound confusing, the truth is this is simple to use. For our purposes, all you need is the Problogger Job Board URL that you copied and an email address. If you do not have an email address then you can use Gmail. 

Step 1: Select the Feed symbol. 

IFTTT Step 1

Step 2: Decide what type of feed you want to use. Personally, I use the new feed item, because I find the keyword too limiting for my needs. However, if you are looking for targeted terms, then use the “new feed item matches” as a trigger.

IFTTT Step 2 

Step 3: paste the Problogger Job Board feed.

IFTTT Step 3

Steps 4 and 5: choose email icon for your action. You will need to have your email address connected to IFTTT for this to work, so do not give them a spam account. They do not email people a lot, so do not worry about spam.

IFTTT Step 4

Step 5: Click the “Send me an email” link.

IFTTT Step 5

Step 6: make sure you are receiving the best information for the post. Generally, they will include the information you need already. Just double check that the “EntryUrl” is in the email body. 

IFTTT Step 6

Step 7: The finished recipe will look like the one I created last September for Problogger. Confirm that you want to set up the recipe.

IFTTT Step 7

Since last September, I have received 532 emails. While most of the listings are never answered, over the course of the past nine months I probably responded to somewhere between 50 to 100 posts. Out of these posts, I received about 5-10 new jobs that brought in around $15,000 in revenue. 

Now you have the recipe for an automated lead generation process; however, we still have to convert the leads into clients. For that, let me take you behind my conversion process. 

Conversion Time

Now that we have these leads coming in, let’s look at how to convert them into clients. 

Below is the template I use for all leads. I save this as a draft with an attached resume (available on Google Drive for your convenience.) 

While each article is usually a little different, most follow a similar pattern.

I am following up on your request for a (name type of writer needed here). Based on your description I believe I should (put in relevant information you requested in your job board listing about the position here at the top, showing that I do listen to what you requested)

Here are a few articles I wrote recently to give you a feel for my writing style:

http://technorati.com/business/advertising/article/weird-email-marketing-subject-lines-can/

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/20/53-ways-to-market-your-google-plus-hangout-on-air/

http://www.steamfeed.com/using-wordpress-to-turn-website-social-network/

http://basicblogtips.com/better-social-media-results.html

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-hangouts-air-affect-search-traffic/68138/

Additionally, check out my LinkedIn profile with 13 recommendations. www.linkedin.com/in/andrewmarcnathan

Finally, attached is my resume. 

Please feel free to call me at 847-710-7093 or respond via email with any questions you have for me. 

Thanks!

Andy Nathan

Right now, this email has about a 1 out of 15-success rate. Therefore, I spend two minutes on each email then I will spend 30 minutes total for a new client. Considering some of the clients I brought in have produced thousands of dollars in revenue that is worth it in my opinion. 

Final note: I do not write free sample articles that will determine if I am paid in the future. If someone asks you to write a free article for him or her, run like the dickens

What are the downsides of the ProBlogger job board?

Now, I hate when people give this story about too-good-to-be true stories about a tool, without letting you know about any pitfalls. 

Here are the three downsides that I have found using the Problogger job board:

First, with only five or so leads coming in every day, you will have a number of days where you get no leads. In fact, sometimes I have seen up to a month stretch where I did not feel it was worthwhile to follow up on any of the leads. 

Second, this means do not quit your job and expect this to bring you a full time income right away. I still do other work for clients. The job board just made it easier for me to make money. 

Third, this is a tool to help you find prospects. It is up to you to make sure that they are the right fit for you, as well as a source of potential income. When I started in this industry, my first assignment was for $5 articles. I will never look at laser hair removal the same way again! More importantly, I will never write an article for $5 ever again. My time is more valuable than that. Determine what you believe a fair rate is ahead of time. This is where understanding your ideal client comes in.

Additionally, if you do not have the experience, go out and get it.

Do guest posts to build traffic, and use them in your portfolio. Start networking online and offline to find new clients. Be aggressive when you need to be, and then you can take the easy way out later when you have a healthy portfolio.

This process works for me, because I put in the time and effort to master my craft. Do the same, and do not expect this to be a quick fix. 

Now go forth and be a lazy freelance writer!

That is the process. You are now an expert, so get started with this process right away, so you can discover how easy it is to make money with the Problogger job board. Or if you want to make sure that I have more money in my pocket, you can just go back to your daily activities like nothing has happened. 

Either way, let me know in the comment section below what you found to be the most useful part of this tutorial? 

Andy Nathan is the founder of Smart at the Start, an internet marketing agency. He is also the author of the upcoming book, Start Up Gap. However, since he keeps getting distracted by writing guest posts, responding to Problogger job board inquiries, playing with cats, and other shiny objects, the book is not available until August. In the meantime, you can get a free copy of his eBook, 101 Online Tools: Tools you need to succeed.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How I Earned $15000 from The Problogger Job Board

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Content Isn’t King… Here’s What Is! http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/21/content-isnt-king-heres-what-is/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/21/content-isnt-king-heres-what-is/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 16:49:32 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30456 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Content Isn’t King… Here’s What Is!

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Over the years I’ve heard many debates in the blogosphere about what is ‘king’.

‘Blogging is King’ was something many argued almost 10 years ago as it began to rise in popularity.

‘Content is King’ was the catch cry for many years… then it became ‘Community is King’ for a while as community management became the big thing.

‘Twitter is King’ was something I heard a number of bloggers crying (as they gave up their blogs to get onto Twitter), ‘Facebook is King’ was the cry a few years later when setting up pages there was the cool thing to do. YouTube was king for a while, and more recently some have argued for Instagram, Pinterest and other social networks being King.

Lately there’s a new ‘king’ every day. Infographics, podcasting, hangouts, webinars, apps… you name it!

The arguments for all of these things being ‘king’ are good… but they all kind of miss the point in my opinion. You see I think something else is king…

Usefulness
Yep – in my books ‘Usefulness is King’.

Creating content is just one way of being useful.

Building community is another.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and G+ are just ways of delivering usefulness.

Infographics, videos, podcasts and even blogging… all just different mediums for being useful.

Over the last decade that I’ve been doing business online a multitude of trends have come and many have gone but those who remain and have build valuable enterprises are those who understand that they’re in the business of being useful.

I’m often asked if I’ll be blogging in 10 years time… if the medium will still exist?

I don’t know the answer to that – blogging may well fall by the wayside at some point (although I don’t see it disappearing any time soon).

What I do know is that usefulness will never die as a strategy for building a business (online or offline).

How to be useful?

So how should we be useful as bloggers and online entrepreneurs?

Ultimately for me it comes down to understanding people’s needs and creating content, community and experiences based upon meeting those needs and solving their problems.

There are many ways to do this.

Here’s a slide from a recent talk I gave to business bloggers which begins to unpack a few ways blogs can be useful (and it scrapes the surface).

How to be useful
My blogs tend to focus most upon ‘education’ and ‘advice’ (with a sprinkle of inspiration and community) but other blogs are equally as useful by taking different approaches.

How Is Your Blog Useful?

So my question today is – ‘is your blog being useful’?

This is something I ask myself semi-regularly as I review what I do. If the answer is no – it’s time to refocus!

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Content Isn’t King… Here’s What Is!

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10 Ways to Exponentially Grow Your Traffic in 30 Days http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/18/10-ways-to-exponentially-grow-your-traffic-in-30-days-2/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/18/10-ways-to-exponentially-grow-your-traffic-in-30-days-2/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 16:33:44 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30066 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

10 Ways to Exponentially Grow Your Traffic in 30 Days

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This is a guest contribution from Marcus Taylor of Venture Harbour.

In Western cultures, there is a prevailing belief that you ‘work your way to the top’, ‘climb the ladder’, and make slow and steady efforts to achieve success.

This way of thinking is undoubtedly a smart approach, particularly for bloggers. However, there is an equally smart, yet opposing, belief that’s more common in certain Eastern cultures: leapfrogging straight to the top.

1-exponential-trafficAt the beginning of 2014, I decided to get smart about my blogging. By concentrating on the things that made the biggest difference, I managed to exponentially grow my traffic, quadrupling it within 90 days.

How to grow your blog exponentially

Exponential growth happens when you’re effective, which is very different to being busy. We know from Pareto’s Law that 80% of results are often driven by 20% of our actions. To grow your blog exponentially, you’ll need to Identify the 20% of the 20% of the 20%, so that you’re always focusing on the one thing that will have the biggest impact.

Below are 10 examples from personal experience that can lead to exponential increases in traffic. While not all of them will be relevant to your situation, my hope is that they’ll help to get your creative juices flowing and enable you to come up with some ideas that will enable your blog to grow at a faster rate.

1. The aggregation of marginal gains

In 2010, David Brailsford had the tough job of coaching Great Britain’s cycling team for the Tour de France.

He believed in a concept called the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’, which states that if you make a 1% improvement in everything you do, they will compound into incredible results.

He started by improving the obvious things, such as the rider’s nutrition, training program, seat ergonomics, and tire weight. But he didn’t stop there.

2-aggregation-marginal-gains

David went on to discover which pillow offered the riders the best sleep, and taught them the most effective way to wash their hands to avoid infection. He searched for 1% improvements everywhere.

To cut this fascinating story short, the British team went on to win the Tour de France after just three years of using David Brailsford’s strategy.

If you made a 1% improvement in every aspect of your blogging, from your headline writing skills, to your email signup rate, and page loading speed, you’ll soon notice a compounding effect on your desired outcomes.

2. Only 30% of the World population speak English

It’s estimated that 30% of the World’s population speak English. This implies that more than two-thirds of the planet speak (and search) in non-English languages.

There is, unsurprisingly, a disproportionate amount of blogs competing over English-language traffic. This represents a huge opportunity for bloggers wanting to target traffic in non-English speaking countries.

One of my favourite case studies on exponential blog growth is of a blog that reached 1.4m visitors in under six months by targeting Japanese search terms. The strategy was simple: there are relatively few website targeting Japanese, which makes it easier to rank for competitive keywords.

A client of mine runs the site BinaryOptions.com. After noticing that his market was growing in the Middle East and Asia, he decided to translate his website in Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, and a handful of other languages using the WPML (WordPress Multi-Lingual) plugin.

Within a matter of weeks, his traffic from non-English speaking countries had almost doubled. That’s not bad for 30 minutes work installing a translation plugin.

Ideally, your content shouldn’t just be translated, it should be localised by someone with a cultural understanding of the countries and languages you’re targeting. However, in the interest of effort and reward, translation plugins can be an effective short-term solution for exponentially increasing the size of your audience.

3. Systems are the secret to scalable results

If you want to see exponential growth, you need to become ruthless with your time and build systems that run themselves. This is the only way to shift your focus away from low-value tasks towards the high-value work that you’re great at.

For virtually all of the projects that I run, I have a degree of social media automation using a combination of tools like IFTTT and Buffer, with a virtual assistant.

I’m also a huge fan of using email autoresponders and marketing automation tools to keep the communities active even when i’m not. One of my sites has had very little attention for over two years, but they still continues to grow due to ‘evergreen’ autoresponder chains that keep the community engaged.

3-email-auto-responders

 

4. Look Forward to Google’s Algorithm Updates

The majority of webmasters fear the unpredictability of algorithm updates. If your strategy is aligned with Google’s mission to deliver the best and most relevant result to users as quickly as possible (and increase their shareholder value), then they can be an event to look forward to.

One of my sites that I haven’t touched in over 18 months doubled in traffic during last month’s soft panda updates. Why? Because four of my main competitors all got wiped off of the search results for being overly short-sighted with their strategy.

4-double-traffic

While SEO is a complex area with hundreds of constantly-changing ranking factors, it can generally boiled down to a few simple principles:

  • Create the best content you can – and proactively promote it.
  • Offer the best user experience you can. Make your site beautiful, fast, and easy to use.
  • Think long term – build a brand and become the authority on your topic.

The next time Google prunes its search results, will you benefit from the short-sighted websites dropping in the ranks, or will you be one of them?

5. Could you increase your content output tenfold?

One of the most obvious ways to exponentially increase your blog’s traffic is to exponentially increase the amount of content you produce.

When growing KISSmetrics, Neil Patel found that each additional blog post he added to their blog increased weekly traffic by 18.6%. What if instead of publishing one blog post per week, you published 10, or 20?

Or, what if instead of increasing your posting frequency, you increased the length of your content?

This point ties in nicely with point three about building systems. One of the big leaps that many bloggers make is moving from it being ‘their blog’ to building a system of writers and contributors that fuel the content engine. Is it time for you to boost your content output with a team of writers?

6. Could you improve your content quality tenfold?

One counterpoint to the suggestion above is that instead of increasing your content output, you could just improve the quality of your content, multiplying its effectiveness.

While content quality is somewhat subjective, it’s fair to say that the more time we invest into a piece of content, the better it will be. Let’s say you currently spend three hours, on average, writing a blog post. What if your next piece of content took you 30 hours?

By definition, we remark upon things that are remarkable. Any blog post that takes 30+ hours to create is likely to be quite remarkable.

Ask yourself whether the last 10 posts you wrote represent your very best, and if not – would it rock the boat to write a few extremely well crafted blog posts?

7. Could one person transform your blog’s success?

“Relationships help us to define who we are and what we can become. Most of us can trace our successes to pivotal relationships” – Donald O. Clifton, and Paula Nelson.

When I first read the quote above, it hit me like a tonne of bricks. In my case, virtually all of the significant events in my career to date are owed to five or six people. I imagine this trend is true for a lot of us.

Choosing the right professional allies is incredibly important. As a blogger, you’ll unlikely achieve great success without some good allies. I recommend spending some time to identify the relationships and alliances that could skyrocket your blog’s success. Invest in those relationships.

8. Could one blog post transform your blog?

I recently discovered that Mashable wrote one article in February that generated more links and shares than 87 of their articles written in 2013 combined. Imagine if, instead of writing those 87 articles, they had written just ten of those mega-successful articles?

One of the common responses of successful bloggers when asked what they’d do differently if they started again is that they’d work smarter instead of harder.

If there was one blog post that could completely transform your blog’s success, what might it be?

9. Should you zoom-in or zoom-out?

A few years ago I met Gary Arndt during one of his trips to Melbourne. Gary is the man behind Everything Everywhere, which is generally considered to be one of the earliest travel blogs.

He told me that most travel bloggers fail because they’re too late. According to him, it’s near impossible to be a successful travel blogger starting out nowadays, as there’s just too much competition.

I agree. I think it’d be extremely difficult to be a successful ‘zoomed out’ travel blogger i.e. a travel blogger who covers every type of travel, every country, or every aspect of travelling. However, there’s probably a lot of opportunity to be a ‘zoomed-in’ niche travel blogger e.g. one who specialises in glamping, Fiji travel, or travel for yogis.

A good question for many bloggers to ask themselves is are they too zoomed-in or too zoomed-out? When your blog becomes a big fish in a little pond, it’s often healthy to expand the size of the pond – and enter additional niches.

When you’re a small fish in a big pond, it’s usually more sensible to swim in a smaller pond – and completely own that pond for a while.

10. Ten minutes planning saves one hour in execution

Brian Tracy wisely said that “every minute spent planning saves 10 minutes of execution”.

When I analysed how successful blogs such as this one, Mashable, KISSmetrics, and ConversionXL reached millions of readers, I noticed a common theme among several of them: planning.

Nick Eubank’s case study perhaps highlighted this the best: in six months he reached 1.4 million visitors by using analytical models to identify tens of thousands of keywords that were uncompetitive yet high in search volume. Through extreme planning he was able to reach an enormous audience in an incredibly short space of time.

In Summary

It’s said that there are no shortcuts to success, only direct paths. I think that, more accurately,  some direct paths are shorter than others.

Despite some of the outliers, growing a blog takes time. It will be an ongoing sequence of plateaus followed by growth spurts, followed by plateaus.

I hope that some of these ideas will translate into the next growth spurt for your blog’s traffic. If you have any thoughts on any of the ideas mentioned, or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter.

Marcus Taylor is the founder of Venture Harbour, a digital marketing agency that specialises in working with companies in the music, film, and game industries. 

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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How to Beat Your Competition Online by Trying this One Thing http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/17/how-to-beat-your-competition-online-by-trying-this-one-thing/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/17/how-to-beat-your-competition-online-by-trying-this-one-thing/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 07:00:48 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30838 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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How to Beat Your Competition Online by Trying this One Thing

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This is a guest contribution.

You look around you, and there’s competition everywhere. Companies are mushrooming day and night. You wonder how many of these are there really.

145,000 businesses each year – that’s your number. 

Competition online is fierce. Only a few years ago, marketing gurus would have suggested you try social media to beat your competitors. Now, the whole world is on social media, along with your competition, so you don’t know what else you can do.

Being on every social media platform out there is no longer enough (or necessary). It’s smarter to evaluate what you do with those accounts. 

My point? Content is no longer king. Epic content is. 

So, although it’s good that you’re utilizing social media to share more content, I’d look at how you’re sharing – is it truly epic content?

Smart marketers and entrepreneurs have shifted focus from content strategy to visual content strategy. They are sharing engaging and exciting stuff online that’s far better plain text.

Why? Because visual content rocks. It simply works better than normal text. 

A whopping 40% of people will respond better to your visual content. 

Facebook, one of the biggest online-based companies, was smart enough to understand and utilize this stat by launching Timeline a few years ago. 

Timeline saw a 65% increase in engagement for Facebook.

What does it mean for you? 

If you want to beat your competition, create great and “snackable” content with visual marketing online. 

Don’t get me wrong – you still do need text. 

But when combined the right way with visual elements, your content’s shareability and engagement can go through the roof.

How to Use Visual Content Marketing on Your Social Media

On social media, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are the four big players. But did you know there are some new cool kids on the block that you can use?

Vine is a video-sharing app launched by Twitter. Use Vine to create 6-second looping videos and promote your message. 

Lowe’s uses Vine to share quick home-improvement how-to tips – here’s one that teaches you how to keep squirrels away from your plants.

Lowes Vine Channel

Lowes on Vine

If you’re in the business of complex data and statistics, you can create cool infographics that deliver the point across in a much more entertaining and quicker manner. 

Visme is a great tool to create beautiful infographics (and a lot more like presentations, CTAs, banners) for free. Canva is another favourite design tool to create customized images for your blog or website.

There are tons of other tools that won’t cost you a fortune to create easy-to-digest or snackable visual data. 

The Shift from Social to Visual-Social in 3 Ways

#1 Create Your Own

Remarkably, 80% of the pins on Pinterest are repins. 

That means if you become one of those 20% original creators of good content, your followers will do the heavy-lifting for you happily. 

So focus on creating awesome, mind-blowing visual content. Like I shared earlier, there are a lot of tools at your disposal and they won’t cost you a thing.

It’s very easy to create original and traffic-driving content with a smartphone. 

Get creative and think outside the box by capturing pictures and running them through a few filters by using apps like Instagram or Phonto among others.

Or you can also invest a small fee in a professional photo-editing program like PicMonkey. 

#2 Mix Up Text and Images

Images with text descriptions and overlays are even more effective. Sometimes, an image alone may not convey a point you want to share. 

Text works like a charm in this case.

You can also add purposeful copy like a call-to-action to your image. And you don’t even have to use a lot of words. Like this one by Dropbox:

dropbox-cta

Or this one. BirchBox uses contrasting colors and rich imagery with call-to-action text that tells a viewer what to do next.

Discover your next everything   Birchbox

#3 Optimize Your Images for SEO

We don’t really know what goes inside the head of Google. The Google ranking recipe has about 200 different ingredients that make it so smart. 

Some of these are having strong blog titles, keyword density and optimizing image filename, captions and alt tags for keywords.

It’s not enough to have amazing visual content – you must be found by people before they share your content at all.

Google loves images and is happy to send you a ton of image-based traffic.

Make sure all your visual content is optimized for keywords you’re aiming. Otherwise, it’s a lot of effort gone down the drain!

All you have to do is change your code like this if your keyword is “Soccer Player”.

<img src=”soccer-player.jpg” alt=”Soccer Player”/>

Another cool tip is to optimize the size of your image for faster load times (without compromising on the quality of course). The faster your site loads, the more points Google gives you.

Don’t forget the good ol’ caption for your images. They are pretty widely read (due to the real-estate they acquire), only next to your blog titles.

In conclusion, don’t just have visual content but create a visual content strategy to humanize interactions.

Are you creating visual content to beat your competition? If not, what’s stopping you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Pooja has been featured on Problogger, Firepole, JeffBullas, MarketingProfs, Hongkiat and more. She teaches aspiring writers how to become self-employed, create wealth and live better lives by launching their online writing biz. Steal her free mini-course to make your first $1000 (and more) writing at home

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Top Tips to Help You Nail That Blogging Job Application http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/17/top-tips-to-help-you-nail-that-blogging-job-application/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/17/top-tips-to-help-you-nail-that-blogging-job-application/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 05:59:03 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30798 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Top Tips to Help You Nail That Blogging Job Application

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Image via flazingo.com

Image via flazingo.com

This is a guest contribution from Steff Green, of WorkflowMax.

Recently I wrote a post about my experiences as a company looking to hire another blogger for our team. Today I’m putting on my blogger hat and I’m looking at what the experience taught me about how a blogger can improve his/her chances of landing a blogging job at a company.

Who am I? I’m Steff. I used to be a freelance blogger, but one of my clients, WorkflowMax – a cloud-based project management software for service businesses – offered me a full-time position as a blogger, I jumped at the chance.

The advantages of a permanent blogging job

Quite often “make money blogging” gurus focus on the advantages of being a freelance blogger – working for a variety of clients, being in control, multiple income streams, creating passive income through products, etc – while playing down the 9-5 lifestyle. I’ve done them both, and can say that the 9-5 lifestyle definitely has its advantages.

I love blogging, but I didn’t love the 100 emails a day, the client stress, the 80+ hour weeks and the managing of the business itself that came with being a freelancer. By blogging for a company, I get to do what I love – write – all day, about topics that help small businesses succeed, and come home in the evening and work on my own projects.

Part 1: Finding a Blogging Job

“And that’s all very well, Steff” I hear you say, “but where ARE these mysterious blogging jobs? I hang out on the Problogger job boards all day, and all I see are freelance positions.”

That’s probably because you’re not looking in the right place.

A recruiter is not going to advertise a salaried position on a job board for freelancers. That would be silly. She is going to advertise in the same places she usually advertises – on local and national job boards, on internal listings, on the company’s website. A salaried blogging job ad will look just like any other job ad.

One thing to do is to look at companies you would love to work for. Look at tech companies, larger retail shops, tourist attractions like museums and galleries, B2B service companies – these are the types of firms that might employ a blogger. Check out their website – do they have a blog? Is it awesome? Could it use a little TLC?

The type of marketing software a company uses can also provide a clue as to their content needs. For example, a company using Hubspot is probably going to have a huge focus on inbound marketing and content creation, which means there’ll might be an opportunity for you there.

The key thing to remember when trawling the job ads is that your dream blogging job might not actually include the word “blog” in the title. Companies aren’t looking for “just” a blogger – they are looking for a writer who can own a wide variety of communications, of which a blog may play a large role. As an employee, a blogger might be dealing with general copywriting for web and print, creating ebooks or whitepapers, managing a team of content creators, or updating social media. When looking at job titles and keywords, you’ll find roles like: content creator, copywriter, in-bound marketer, SEO-outreach writer, digital communications, digital marketer, etc.

For example, I am a “marketing copywriter”, but because our blog is a huge part of our inbound marketing strategy, blogging and creating ebooks is a significant portion of my job.

Keep a close eye on the career pages for a content creator position. You can set up alerts to email you whenever jobs are posted that meet your criteria – that way, you will always see the latest job posts as soon as they go live without having to check back every day. Contact the marketing department and ask about guest-blogging or freelancing opportunities. If they are underutilizing their blog, offer to take over its management on a contract basis. Make yourself an indispensable resource. If you’re already on the radar when an opportunity for a job comes up, they’re gonna look to you first.

 

Part 2: The resume

So you’ve found an awesome-looking blogging job at a cool company. Now you’ve got to prepare your resume and send that in.

Here are some of my resume tips, based on what worked for me, and what I noticed in the resumes I vetted in order to find the right writer for our job:

  • If you’re applying for a writing job, your spelling and grammar better be PERFECT. So check your resume a hundred times, and then have a friend or relative who’s nit-picky about grammar have a look over it. A fresh pair of eyes will catch a few things you’ve missed.
  • Create a structure for your resume. The standard structure is to begin with your education, working backwards in time, and following this with your work history. I don’t want to see it all jumbled up (and yes, we did receive resumes with literally NO structure – just a list of random qualifications and descriptions).
  • You need to demonstrate that you are versatile and able to take on a variety of jobs. Companies aren’t just looking for a blogger – the role you’re applying for may cover both print and web/social media, and may include elements of SEO, web copy, PR, internal communications, and many other elements.
  • If you’ve been freelancing, simply list it like another job: The time period, the types of the projects you’ve worked on, results you achieved, and some of your clients. On my resume, I have a section where I highlight three clients – I explain the work I did for them and the results I achieved, as well as a short testimonial. It’s powerful stuff.
  • I want to see links to samples! Please don’t make me ask for them.
  • If you list your personal blog, I am going to check it out. Don’t list it if you don’t want us to read it and then talk about it in the interview. (Erotica writers and political columnists, I’m talking to you!)
  • I really liked the resumes that include a three-sentence “mission statement” at the beginning of the document.
  • Blogging is very results-driven, so we want to see some of your results. One of the mistakes many candidates make is focusing on their responsibilities. We’re more interested in learning what you achieved. For example, saying, “I managed the blog at WorkflowMax” is weak, but “I increased the visitor to lead conversion rate from 3% to 5.5%” is very powerful and specific. Have you landed a guest post on an A-list blog? Doubled a client’s traffic? Wrote something that went viral? Increased social media likes or improved the bounce rate? We want to hear about it.
  • When choosing samples, choose around three of your best pieces demonstrating your skills. It helps if they are aimed at a similar audience or from a similar industry as my company, but it isn’t essential. Choose different types of writing, such as a blog post, a chapter from an ebook, and a website page or EDM. When I look at samples, I want to know – can this writer grab my attention? Are they technically competent? Does this piece offer something different, or is it just the same-old rehashed info? Is the writer versatile? Can he/she get results?

 

Part 3: The Cover Letter

Alongside your resume, I’ll be reading through your cover letter. While your resume proves your writing experience, your cover letter showcases your voice and your personality. So what makes a cover letter stand out?

  • Again, if I see spelling and grammar mistakes in your cover letter, I’m not going to be very forgiving, as you are applying for a role as a writer.
  • Don’t just rehash what I’m going to read in your resume. The cover letter is a classic example of a piece of writing that benefits from “show, don’t tell”. Don’t tell me you’re awesome, SHOW me. Impress me with your writing skills, your results, and your personality.
  • Tailor the cover letter to each job you apply for. Often, candidates are applying for several jobs at once, which is fine, but I only want to give this job to someone who really wants it. Highlight specifics that demonstrate you’re the right candidate for THIS job. And spell my name correctly. This really helps.
  • Depending on the company, don’t be afraid to showcase your creativity. You are being hired for a creative role, after all. One of the candidates for our job wrote her cover letter in the style of a typical blog post. There was a catchy, SEO headline, sub-headings, lists, and a call-to-action at the end. It was really clever and definitely made her stand out. She went on to the interview stage.

 

Part 4: The Interview

You’ve impressed the recruiter with your resume and cover letter – and you’ve been invited for an in-person interview.

Some companies, like ours, might preface the in-person interview with a quick phone interview with the recruiter. The recruiter will assess whether the candidate demonstrate passion for the role and the company, and whether the candidate will be an asset to the company based on the brand values. Think of this as another opportunity to show how excited you are about the job, and you’ll be invited in for the interview.

How do you make the best impression as a blogger? Here are some tips and things to remember for the interview:

  • We know you can write. We know you’ve got the right experience. The interview is all about seeing if you’re a good fit for our team.
  • Take the time to get to know the company before the interview. We are going to assume you know something about the product or industry you’re going to be writing about. If you don’t, we’re going to think you don’t want the job. Come prepared to answer the question, “So, what do we do?”
  • It should go without saying, but it helps to show up on time and be nicely dressed.
  • Remember that the interview is your opportunity to interview us, as well. If we offer you the job, you are going to need to decide if you want to work with us. So don’t forget to ask questions – come prepared with a few. We were asked about our company culture, what the team was like, what kind of work a candidate would do in a given week, what opportunities were there for professional development.
  • Bring a copy of your resume and some writing samples to show us.

 

Part 5: The Writing Sample

We asked our candidates to complete a short writing test (it’s common in our company to have developers, etc, complete a test, so it made sense to get our candidates to do the same thing). Here are some tips on writing a company-specific sample:

  • It should go without saying, but read some of the company’s content. If you’ve been asked to write a blog post, then read some of their posts. Look carefully at the style, the tone, the layout.
  • Read the instructions carefully; make sure you understand what you need to do.
  • The sample doesn’t have to be ready-to-publish perfect, but it should be close.
  • Go the extra mile on a blog writing sample by including links to other resources or other articles on our blog, an image suggestion.
  • Have a grammar-hungry friend or family member read over your sample before you send it in, to catch any mistakes. Spelling and grammar mistakes count heavily against you when applying for a writing job.

 

Part 7: References

You’ve impressed at the interview and I’m thinking you’re the perfect candidate for our job. Now there’s only one thing standing between you and an awesome full-time writing gig – your references.

  • You’ll need to supply at least two solid references. If you were previously in paid employment, these need to be your direct managers. Human Resources want to talk to people who you’ve worked closely with and who can speak to your performance.
  • If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you’ll need to approach two clients about operating as references. It helps if you can choose two clients with more of a corporate structure – many freelancers work with small business owners, who aren’t as appealing to HR. Look for clients where you had more of a direct reporting role – perhaps working closely with a brand manager, marketing exec, etc. These make great references as they speak the lingo the HR department is looking for.
  • We want to talk to references from recent positions. Don’t include details for employers / clients that are several years old. Their data on you is no longer relevant.
  • Talk to your references before including them. It’s awkward when the HR rep gets your reference on the phone and they have no idea why they’re being asked for a reference.

With more companies using blogging as a way to generate buzz and target customers, bloggers now have the option of seeking permanent employment doing what they love. With a bit of preparation and some common sense, you could ace that interview and be on your way to becoming a company blogger!

Steff Green is the content manager for WorkflowMax, cloud-based job andproject management software that tackles everything from leads, quotes, time sheeting, invoicing, reporting, and more. You can find her writing business advice for creative agencies, architects, IT companies and other business that bill by time on theWorkflowMax blog.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Top Tips to Help You Nail That Blogging Job Application

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Script Video Marketing Success with the Right Content http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/14/script-video-marketing-success-with-the-right-content/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/14/script-video-marketing-success-with-the-right-content/#comments Sun, 13 Jul 2014 15:08:23 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30420 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Script Video Marketing Success with the Right Content

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Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 2.39.53 pmThis is a guest contribution from Amy Brown of Wordprax.com.

Videos don’t have a magic wand, as believed by certain marketeers (both amateurs and seasoned ones). 

Threading video marketing success is hard work, and requires a fair bit of creativity. While it’s true that video content can enhance engagement at a much greater rate than its more static counterparts, if quality  is being compromised, your video marketing endeavor isn’t going to get as far as it could. And the reason is simple enough – as opposed to the other forms of advertising, video marketing is expensive, and thus, not hitting the goals is a much nastier burn.

The right video should be a mix of things – all of which have to be in the right amount. Now, we don’t want to make it sound like an overwhelming undertaking, but if you want your video marketing campaign to bring in huge numbers for you, the are quite a few must-follow practices to be kept into account:

Get the First Impressions Bang on

You know what they say about judging a book by its cover, right? Likewise, the featured image that is displayed until the play button isn’t hit is what entices users to hit the button in the first place. Intrigue them with the featured poster and you are assured a greater number of clicks.

Make Originality Your Strong Suit

Like any content marketing strategy, there are a truckload of done-to-death things attempted for video promotion. You need to inject a degree of uniqueness to your concept, make it entirely original, for people to find it novel.

Animations Draw People

Instead of live motion or overtly-flashy 3d renditions, if you are using hand-drawn characters, your video hs a better chance of being liked more. 

Avoid the auto-play

We understand you want to make sure the lazy users do indeed watch the video, but nobody likes it when they are surfing the Internet and all of a sudden a song plays from some tab on your browser and you have no idea which one it is. You either turn your desktop sound off, or you simply hit the close button the tabs playing the sound. That’s what’s gonna happen with the auto-play button on your video. So, instead of this, go back to the first point.

Get the idea across in 30-60 seconds

If there is one strong suit of our Internet audience, it is their lack of patience. Now even if they find a piece of video interesting, you can trust them to fast forward the seek bar and make it skip a few seconds if the video extends beyond a few minutes. Engaging the viewer so as to boost your conversion rate can be done even in 30 seconds. So make it short and sweet.

Keep it Pixel Rich

HD videos are the order of the day. When your audience doesn’t find ’720p’ option on the resolution button, they are most likely going to switch to a video that has it – and that won’t be yours.

Have you taken into account the costs you will have to incur while developing the video content? If that’s a worry for you, you can get quality videos developed at pretty cost efficient rates. But if you wish to take along all the licensing costs, then be ready to invest big. 

Storytelling is what will glide you past the fluff on the Internet. If your video is a combination of a dozen things banged up together, without any sense of story, you are doing a great deal of disservice to your efforts and aspirations. The script should tell a story that symbolizes your brand in one way or other. 

Don’t be too mainstream. Everyone has seen those thronging crowds surrounding the product that rises from the ground up or for that matter, the glowing logo that dwarfs everything else. Be more creative, even if that means being grounded. Today, subtlety works in mysterious ways. Stay true to the underlying message the brand is trying to across and keep everything fuss free so that the video makes an instant personal connection with the audience.

The image files used in the video should be bale to make a connect as well, and it should look authentic. Don’t put a vintage picture for a video promoting an iPhone (unless the ‘story’ asks for it). 

Self-Hosting Instead of YouTube? 

When all is said and done, have you given a thought to self hosting the video instead of posting it on YouTube? I mean, when the video is indexed on the search engines, why should you send your audience to YouTube, instead of to your your site. And there are much better conversion rates on videos hosted on business sites, since unlike YouTube, users won’t be tempted to click on the other recommended videos on some totally new channel. 

In either case, the keyword used along with the video will play a huge role in determining how well it is indexed on search engines and the volume of organic visits you are receiving. Promote video across different channels and implement the alternative ways of content marketing like promoting through Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus in order to get eyeballs for the video. The more ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ you get on the video, the more chances you stand of getting greater number of eyeballs for the same. If you are uploading a video on YouTube, a transcript would work excellently. In the transcript, you can give a detailed description of what the video is all about, and you can make this description optimized for SEO. Get all the keywords right there in their right measure. And apart from self-hosting and YouTube, you can also try other popular networks like Vimeo, Dailymotion, Metacafe, and Break.

Scripting success through video marketing, as iterated before, has to be a mix of certain to-be-followed rules and set of methods that are somewhat of a rarity in this genre. Get things in order before you get them to work. 

Amy Brown is a web developer by profession and a writer by hobby. She works for WordPrax a WP development company and as a blogger, she loves sharing information regarding WordPress customization tips & tricks.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Script Video Marketing Success with the Right Content

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5 Key Elements for a Successful Women’s Blog http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/09/5-key-elements-for-a-successful-womens-blog/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/09/5-key-elements-for-a-successful-womens-blog/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 15:52:04 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30631 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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5 Key Elements for a Successful Women’s Blog

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Image via Flickr user Liquine

Image via Flickr user Liquine

This is a guest contribution by Renee from Beautifille.com

This year marks 10 years of my blogging career, and after starting several women’s blogs (some successful, some not), and being an avid reader of them myself, I’ve learn the key elements in what makes a blog “make it” or not. Here they are.

Key #1: Make Sure Your Blog is Visually Great

I usually try not to generalize, but let’s face it: women like pretty things. We notice, pay attention and are attracted by how something looks. Having a good blog design is vital because at the end of the day, your blog design and layout is the first impression for a reader (who is very happy to click that X button right away). 

So what makes a good-looking women’s blog? In my opinion, it’s simplicity with a feminine touch. A minimalist layout with pinch of feminine color palettes work very well (lilac, reds, pinks and pastels), as shown in these top blogs for women:

cupcakes-and-cashmere-blog

Cupcakes and Cashmere has a very clean white, gray and pale pink color scheme.

 refinery29-blog

Refinery29 has a bold yet feminine look with a color scheme of black, white, mint green and salmon pink. 

brit-co-blog

Brit.co also has a clean site with subtle primary colors, keeping her site light and airy. 

The second thing that makes a blog look great are the photos. Great photos will go a long way on blogs, but even more if your audience is women. Always start your blog post with a nice, attractive photo, and make sure your photos are big; small photos do not capture attention enough in my opinion. Your photo don’t have to look super-professional or “glossy” like in fashion magazines (mine never are) but make sure they are visually attractive; i.e. no blurriness, basic composition and bright, good colors (this can be edited on your computer). Picmonkey.com is a great free service that many of the top women bloggers use to make your pictures visually better. It allows for cropping, color correction, and sleek layouts.

Key #2: Find your “niche women demographic”

Sure, “women aged 16-24” is a demographic, but rather than age, I found it best to have a “niche women demographic” – find your group of women (or your “tribe”, as they say these days) within that fashion community. For example, you could be a denim fashion blogger. Or a punk-rock fashion blogger that writes about edgier stuff, or an “indie” fashion blogger. Likewise, instead of just another beauty blog, make it a cruelty-free beauty blog or an “over 40 women’s beauty blog.” Finding an even tighter niche than just “all women”; will allow you to properly find an even tighter community and thrive in that area. Not to mention, this is also great for branding your blog. 

free-people-blog

Free People’s blog does this well: their blog covers a range of topics, but for a certain type of girl: one who lives a “care-free”, natural, Earthy lifestyle. 

Key #3: Offer value to your readers

This is a continuation from the point above, but in your niche demographic, you should still strive to not be like everyone else. It’s important in this day and age in the blogging world – because there is literally millions of competition – to offer value to your readers. Personal style posts are great, but they’re a dime a dozen these days, and after awhile, people get bored. Same with beauty blogs that just review a product in every post. Make sure to not only show your outfit posts or beauty posts but also offer something of value. Share your personal style tips with your posts, offer honest thoughts on the product, or give personal shopping recommendations on where to get the best bargain. You need to stand out, offer value and make your site different than the others. 

Key #4: Present information clearly

Shopping posts make up a fair bit amount of blogs for women no matter what the niche (what women doesn’t love to shop?), so make sure your “shoppable” posts are done right. Keep them clean and easy to see. Personally, for my shoppable posts, I number the items in the collage clearly (make sure there are no fancy artist work, fonts, or cluttered images pasted together) and number the links immediately underneath. Also, I link to shops that offer international shipping so it’s even easier for my readers. 

 js-everyday-fashion

A blogger who does shopping posts well is J’s Everyday Fashion. As shown above, there is nothing else to distract from clearly showing the reader what she is clicking through, and from where. 

Key #5: Stay away from the drama

It happens with every niche, but I have witnessed some not-so-favorable behavior behind some women bloggers. After all these years I’ve managed to keep myself out of it, which would be my tip on taking your blog to the next level: just stay out of it. There is nothing that will make your blog (and “brand”) look unprofessional and gain a bad reputation than getting involved in drama, gossip or cliques. Stay out of it, and watch your words too: no “bitching” or complaining (even passive aggressively) on blog posts or social media. This is especially vital with negative comments you may receive – do not lash back or be rude. Always be graceful with all your dealings on your blog, whether it’s on the front page or behind the scenes. 

Renee is the creator of Beautifille.com, a beauty & self-improvement lifestyle site for women. Subscribe for free emails to learn how to improve your confidence, build your true, inner beauty and get the best “naturally you” beauty and style tips.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

5 Key Elements for a Successful Women’s Blog

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2 Simple Ways to Customise Your Facebook Updates http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/08/2-simple-ways-to-customise-your-facebook-updates/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/08/2-simple-ways-to-customise-your-facebook-updates/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:27:22 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30432 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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2 Simple Ways to Customise Your Facebook Updates

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Today I want to share a Facebook tip that I’m sure many ProBlogger readers will already know, but which I am sure some have not heard about. Every single time I share it, I get “wow, I never knew that!” comments.

It’s all to do with how Facebook lets you customise your status updates when sharing links on your Facebook page.

OK – so here’s what happens when you add a link into the status update on your Facebook page before you hit ‘post’.

Digital Photography School

You can see Facebook has found an image that it thinks that you should use, has pulled in the page title and put it as the title under the picture and has taken the first couple of lines to put under that as a description of the post.

Of course you can change the image by hitting the little arrows in the top left of the image to show other options Facebook pulls in or use the ‘upload image’ to add a completely new image.

Digital Photography School

Most people know how to change images but some don’t know you can also change the title and description of the post. It’s simply a matter of clicking the title or description area.

Here’s what happens when you click the title just under the image:

Digital Photography School

Click the title and you now have an editable field that lets you change the title. In the case of links from dPS, I usually delete the name of the site so that only the post title remains.

Sometimes however I will try a different title that I think might be more shareable on Facebook or shorten longer titles so they don’t go over two lines.

The same thing can be done with the description area under the title. Click anywhere on that paragraph of words and an editable field opens up like this:

Digital Photography School

Again – you can put anything you like in here. This is particularly helpful when your first line is useful for the post but isn’t really descriptive of what the post is or if you want to use the description to boost curiosity of your Facebook followers.

I know many of you already use these features but like I said – many seem to have missed the ability to use them so I thought it might be a good tip to share.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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2 Simple Ways to Customise Your Facebook Updates

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How I Got 180,000 Page Views in the First Month of Being Online http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/07/how-i-got-180000-page-views-in-the-first-month-of-being-online/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/07/how-i-got-180000-page-views-in-the-first-month-of-being-online/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 06:21:46 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30629 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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How I Got 180,000 Page Views in the First Month of Being Online

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This is a guest post from M. Farouk Radwan of optimistnet.com.

In April 2014, I launched my social network www.optimistnet.com, and by the beginning of May we already had 180,000 page views and a few thousands registered users.

Our Alexa Rank jumped from 4 million in the beginning of May to 680K in a very short period of time, and we had more than 5,000 posts made on the network in the first month by our visitors.

It seems like a successful launch right?

Well in this article, I will tell you exactly what we did in order to reach those numbers in that extremely short period of time.

It was the third attempt

People always see successful projects then believe they were an overnight success, but in fact behind each success story are some failures you never knew about.

Even though our launch was successful in the first month, the reason we made it is that we failed twice before with two different social networks.

I launched my first social network in 2012, and only got 60 members in two months. I launched the second in early 2013, only to stop working on it due to serious troubles with the developing company. 

So the success that happened with optimistnet.com was due to the incremental learning process that we went through.

People want to feel special 

A few days before the launch, I said that a few people would be selected to be among the beta testers of optimistnet, and the response was impressive. 200 volunteers gave me their names and within 24 hours we had 250 registered users.

Remember when Google plus was an invitation-only site? Everyone was dying to join it because people want to feel special. 

People are extremely curious  

When you don’t make your marketing message clear (during the first few days of course), people become extremely curious to know more about your business. What is that yellow logo with a smiling face? What does your social network do? What can we find inside it?

In the first few days, the marketing team and me changed our profile pictures on Facebook to optimistnet’s logo (a yellow smiling face) and shortly everyone we knew was asking “what is that?”

Target an already existing need

No matter how great your marketing is, you will never get recurring visitors unless people really need your product. The reason we launched optimistnet is that we noticed that Facebook newsfeed had become extremely negative in a way that ruins the mood of so many people.

In other words, we discovered that people need to spend sometime on a positive social network in order to counter the negativity they come across in their lives.  As a result we had recurring visitors from day one. Almost 57% of the people who visited the site returned back again.

Always search for unmet needs people have, and you will be able to create amazing products.  

 Make the process of signing up extremely simple

With each text field you add to the registration process, you lose more potential visitors. Make the signup process as simple as possible so that you convert the largest number of users. What’s even better is to add the option to sign up through Facebook.

Earlier, people used to be scared to use that option, but these days more and more people are getting comfortable with it. More than half of those who registered at my network did it using Facebook sign up.

Design the site for the impatient person 

There are some patient people out there but most internet users are not patient and are not as computer savvy as you are. The extreme simplicity of the design we used made it so easy for people to write posts. 

Most of the people who signed up at optimistnet found it very easy to understand what the site does and to make their first post. In one of my previous social networks that didn’t make it, and assuming that users were extremely computer-literate was the main reason we failed. 

Don’t expect quick success

While we had a great launch, you should understand that each case might be different. Some sites start slow then take off fast, others take years before they become popular. So becoming popular fast is not the rule, but it’s the exception.

In short know that its possible to rise fast but don’t get disappointed if it doensn’t happen to you.

M.Farouk Radwan Is the founder of www.optimistnet.com, The Social Network For Positivity and Motivation.  

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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How I Got 180,000 Page Views in the First Month of Being Online

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What You Need to Know About Your Stats if You Want to Work With Brands on Your Blog http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/07/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-stats-if-you-want-to-work-with-brands-on-your-blog/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/07/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-stats-if-you-want-to-work-with-brands-on-your-blog/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 02:25:39 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30619 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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What You Need to Know About Your Stats if You Want to Work With Brands on Your Blog

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This is a guest contribution from Louisa Claire of Brand Meets Blog, a blogger outreach agency marrying brands with the bloggers who want to work with them. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by last week’s Partnering with Brands theme week, this might give you just the inspiration you need…

When bloggers start working with brands they tend to be full of excitement about the opportunities that come with it. 

One of the biggest challenges for businesses is how to determine the ROI (return on investment) with bloggers. For every dollar they spend on marketing their business, they are looking for a corresponding return. Sometimes this comes in awareness and they will measure it based on reach only, other times they are tying it to sales. To work out the ROI they look at how many people they reached through blogging and compare that number and the cost involved with how many people they would have reached through traditional advertising or PR activity. We are also increasingly seeing agencies also compare potential blogger reach with how many people they could reach via targeted Facebook advertising. 

The whole way it works is complicated and, to be honest, a bit nonsensical because unlike with traditional media where you can know how many people bought the publication but not how many people actually read the bit about your business, you can measure exactly how many people clicked on a link about your post, how long they spent reading that post and what they did after they read it (comments, clicked away, clicked on a link to the business etc…). And of course, with bloggers brands are not just getting eyeballs on them, but a personal introduction through a trusted voice.

Unfortunately many bloggers have bought into this idea that what matters most is the number of hits your blog gets. The holy grail of blogging is more people looking at your site today, than yesterday and seeing that number going up and up and up.

What I would like to suggest is that bloggers who want to experience success working with brands and earn a solid income from it, need to focus not on having the most people visiting their site, but the most relevant and interested people reading. If you can begin to understand where your readers and visitors come from, what they do when they come to their site and what that means about their interests then you can ensure you work with brands that fit not only with your own interests, but with those of your readers. Of course, having this information isn’t just useful when working with brands, it actually gives you great insight into what is and isn’t resonating with your readership generally – golden!

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The impact of search

The amount of search traffic your blog gets from places like Google and Pinterest has the potential to significantly impact how you understand the nature of your blog readership and the influence your blog has. I think this is a big one given the recent rise of highly searchable industries like health and wellness, and of course, Pinterest. 

If you blog regularly about things such as a meal planning, recipes, birthday party ideas,  fitness, beauty etc… then you are most likely going to generate a solid amount of search traffic. Some bloggers might even find that a large percentage of their traffic is going to one specific post every day. 

Let’s look at some numbers to understand this: Let’s say your blog has 50,000 users per month but 25% of your traffic goes to the amazing recipe you wrote about pumpkin and lentil soup. A further 25% of your traffic is coming to other posts you’ve previously written meaning that though you have 50,000 users a month only 25,000 are truly likely to see the latest post that you have written – that post you wrote for a brand, for example.

Now let’s consider where those users are coming from – are they local to you or global? If you’re trying to appeal to brands and advertisers in your country then the geographic location of those users will be really important. 

Can you see how if you told a brand that you had 50,000 users that you might create a situation where the brand was disappointed by the results that came from working with you? If you had told them that you had 50,000 users overall but 20,000 that were relevant to them as a brand then they would have been able to go into the working relationship with you with appropriate expectations and likely have been delighted by the results.

There are a couple of other things you can take notice of that will give you the edge when working with brands.

Take the time to understand your Uniques vs Pageviews (or Users and Pageviews as they are now called in Google Analytics)

I think that bloggers are sometimes afraid of their stats – that they aren’t “good enough” or need to be presented in the best possible light in order to be appealing. It’s true that stats matter to brands, but it’s equally true that many brands understand that a bloggers true value is in the personal connection they have with their readers and they are open, even eager, to understand how working with bloggers can help them.

The key point to understand when looking at your stats is that if you look at your pageviews in isolation you will get a skewed (but probably attractive) picture of your blog traffic and if you look at the uniques you will get an equally skewed (and what might feel like a less exciting) picture. The truth is that these two numbers hold a lot of information in them when you look at them together.

I’ve previously written a more comprehensive overview on the issue of Unique Visitors vs Total Pageviews which will help anyone struggling to understand the significance of these two numbers being view together.

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Bounce Rates and Pages per Session

Bounces rates relate to how many people leave your site from the same page they landed on (ie they only look at the one post) and Pages per Session shows you the average number of pages that your readers look at when they visit your blog.

My experience tells me that bloggers with strong communities and influence have a high ratio of pageviews to users and sessions. That is people who visit their blog tend to look at a lot of posts while they are there – giving them a lower bounce rate and a higher page per sessions figure. If you’re not getting at least 2-3 pages per session on your blog right now then my suggestion would be to stop focussing on increasing your pageviews and start putting some energy into increasing this number – not just because you want to work with brands but because you want to form deeper relationships with your readers.

If you’ve spent the time getting a good understanding of how your uniques and total views per month work and what your bounce rate is then you’ll be able to give helpful information to brands that demonstrates your influence and value to them and I can tell you this, it will give you a great advantage when you start talking to potential brand partners. 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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What You Need to Know About Your Stats if You Want to Work With Brands on Your Blog

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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Putting it All Together and Getting Started http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/05/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-putting-it-all-together/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/05/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-putting-it-all-together/#comments Sat, 05 Jul 2014 02:48:16 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30613 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Putting it All Together and Getting Started

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You have decided to work with brands on your blog to create a little income. Congratulations! You’re joining hundreds of thousands of others doing that very thing, and more than likely having a great time doing so. You’ve read all the advice, and you’re keen to get started. Let’s put it all together and get the wheels in motion.

Step One:

Just like we discussed in the post about media kits, get your ducks in a row. So that means knowing what you and your blog stand for, what you’re comfortable monetising, and you’re in the right headspace to do so. It wouldn’t hurt to have a pretty slick About Me page, a page for potential sponsors and advertisers to find information (a “Work With Me” or “Advertise” or “Sponsor” page) and consistent branding across your social media channels. You can get a logo cheap as chips these days, and makes you look just that little bit more professional and ready for action.

Step Two:

Make a list of the brands you love and/or would wholeheartedly recommend to your readers. There will be times when you will be contacted by brands, but until that day comes, be proactive. Reach out to your favourites (remembering to make contact with people in charge of marketing, rather than generic email addresses or social media accounts, if you can) with your pitch and your media kit. You can specify what kinds of collaboration you’re interested in (Nikki discussed those here), or see what they have in mind. It’s always a good idea to go in with a few ideas of your own.

Step Three:

Reach out to brands, small businesses, or other bloggers and let them know you have advertising spaces available. Sweeten the deal with a 10% off if they sign up that month. Offer discounts for advertising packages (say, 15% off if they buy in three-month blocks), and let your newsletter subscribers (if you have them) and your social media followers know that you’re open for business. Maybe think about doing a swap deal with other bloggers so you both have some advertising spaces filled, which is always a good look. Re-read this post about what size ads work well, and where to put them. Have a look too and see if any of those ad networks would be useful to you (I know plenty of Australian bloggers who also use and recommend Passionfruit Ads), or go about installing Google AdSense to get your advertising off the ground.

Step Four:

Keep doing your thing. Write great posts from the heart. Participate in the blogger community. Be kind. Share your posts on your social media outlets. Share others’ posts. Chat to brands, and let them know when you’ve featured them. Get yourself on lists that are open to brands and PR reps looking for bloggers to work with. Enter competitions. Buy ads on other blogs. Stay true to yourself. Be passionate. Learn your craft. Value your reader. Blog like you don’t care about the money. Try not to get too caught up in the monetisation rat race. Remember why you started.

Step Five:

Once you have made the first forays into monetisation, by all means branch out. You might like to have a look at this post Darren wrote recently about how he makes his income (spoiler: it’s many different streams that roll into one river). The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Go! Do!

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Putting it All Together and Getting Started

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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Marketing Yourself http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/04/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-marketing-yourself/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/04/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-marketing-yourself/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:51:32 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30556 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Marketing Yourself

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marketing-yourself-theme-week.jpgAre you a blogger who has thought of maybe doing some sponsored work on your blog, but are wondering where all the opportunities are? Do you see other bloggers collaborating with brands and think there must be some magic list you need to be on to have these opportunities land in your inbox?

Well there might be lists you can get on. But one of the best ways of getting yourself on a brand’s radar is to make the first move and to speak to them yourself. Be the person who starts that conversation about collaboration, and you’re well on your way to creating and cultivating long-standing blog-brand relationships.

But where to begin? Ah, let me help.

First Things First:

What do you represent?

Who are you? What is your blog about? In order to sell yourself to potential sponsors and advertisers, you need to know what you have to offer. What is your niche? What are your blog’s topics? Who are your readers? What is your essence? If you were to describe your blog to someone, what would you say? What kinds of things do you like to write about, and what kinds of things do you like to feature? Narrow down who and what you are.

What do you want?

Think about the types of brands you would like to partner with. Think about the ways in which you’d like to do that (We covered options in the earlier Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog post). Think about the products and services you use and love every day, and would have no trouble recommending. Think about what your audience would benefit from.

Get all your ducks in a row:

Ensure you look consistent (and reasonably professional) across all the social media outlets you use. Maybe think about repeating your branding across all sites for continuity. Update them regularly, and ensure the information about you is current. Check your LinkedIn and make sure it’s up-to-date and informative.

Make A Move

The next step once you’ve done a little housekeeping, is to start the conversations. Reach out to brand representatives on Twitter. Find out if they have hired a PR agency, and who to speak to there. Find a contact in the brand’s marketing department, and target them. It’s best to find an actual person in charge of marketing decisions (and budgets!) rather than just throwing all your info at their social media and hoping something will stick. Pick up the phone and say you’ve got a great idea about collaborating with them, state your case simply, and offer to back it up with your media kit.

Things to keep in mind to make the best impact:

  • Make it all about the brand. Too often I see posts that centre on what the blogger needs rather than what they can offer a potential sponsor. If that makes me tune out, imagine how it looks to someone who is considering finding legitimate and professional-looking bloggers to partner with. Detail what’s in it for them – they want a return on investment, as anyone would, and are looking for an attractive package that helps them get the word out about their product.
  • Make it easy for them. Nobody wants to fish around for extra information you should have included in the initial stages. It’s likely they’ll pass on you in favour of someone who has provided everything they need to know in order to make their decisions. They might like you and intend to follow up, but get caught up elsewhere and forget… make it easy for them to choose you by giving them a well-thought-out plan, several options for campaigns, the obvious benefits to them, and perhaps an example where you’ve done something similar before and how well it went. Pretty much the only thing you want them to have to do after reading your pitch is say “yes”.
  • Be positive. Your language and how you frame your pitch is incredibly important. Negative language is never going to be as convincing as a positively-worded pitch. Never run down competitors – theirs or yours.
  • Be personal. Let the person know you’ve been interested in their brand for some time. Maybe mention in your opening email that you’ve held a membership at that gym for years, or you took that soap with you to the hospital when you had your baby.
  • Be observant. If you follow your contact on Twitter or elsewhere, mention in your email their photos of their recent trip to Croatia were beautiful. Or you hear they’re coming to Melbourne next week and you recommend that little place on Lygon street for excellent coffee. A little friendly conversation about something you’ve noticed will be a welcome change to the standard pitches they receive a hundred times a day.
  • Be organic. If you have blog buddies who have done work with the company, don’t be shy to ask for a contact, or an introduction. Do the same for other bloggers who might like to work with companies you have affiliated with. There’s much to be said for good blog karma – it gets you much further than being competitive, secretive, and sneaky.
  • Be human. Remember there’s an actual person on the end of these conversations. Especially when they say no. Don’t get snarky, or petulant. Say thanks and maybe another time. Don’t burn your bridges!

Get Your Pitch in Their Hands:

Get together a brief media kit, type up a succinct, positive pitch, and email it to your brand. If you have a mega-huge campaign in mind, maybe take it one step further and send them a press release. There are plenty of examples online you can look at (I wouldn’t fill in the blanks of a template here), and customise to suit yourself. Find the person you to whom you need to send your pitch directly  (by calling the brand’s information line, or asking whoever is manning their Twitter or Facebook accounts), and send it off. Or call them, explain your idea, and follow up with emailed information.

If you don’t hear from them, send them a follow-up email about a week later and ask if they received your initial email. Do not be a pain here, and keep your language friendly. Don’t ask them to make a decision on the spot, rather just serve as a discreet reminder you have contacted them. Maybe make an effort to chat on Twitter if they’ve been posting there.

Be Social

One of the easiest ways to get on brand radars is to interact with them on social media (with the added bonus of a higher chance of them having heard of you when it’s time to pitch!). If you’ve written about them on your blog, tag them in your tweets or Facebook status about the post. Tag them in your Instagram pictures showing you using the product, or how much you enjoy it. Comment on their status updates about the things they’re posting. What marketers are looking for is conversations around their product or service – facilitate that conversation. Be part of it.

Be Natural

It’s good to be keen, but don’t be desperate. Your readers only want your legitimate recommendations, and brands want people who recommend their product to be believable. Weave product mentions into your regular writing and build your readers’ trust. Don’t be one long advertorial – when you’re trying to market yourself as an expert in your area, or as a major influence in the brand’s target audience, it has to be infused with your personality and your humanity. That’s what gives blogging the edge over traditional forms of advertising. Do it well.

If you have any questions, I’m all ears – what would you like to know about approaching brands and marketing yourself to them?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Marketing Yourself

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Partnering with Brands Theme Week: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/03/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-the-ultimate-guide-to-creating-a-media-kit/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/03/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-the-ultimate-guide-to-creating-a-media-kit/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:30:32 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30519 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Partnering with Brands Theme Week: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

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You will have noticed this week we have learned how to reach out to brands for advertising and sponsorship on our blogs – and the best way to sell yourself is to have all your details in a handy, professional media kit. It shows that you’re serious about partnering up to create an both an income for you and awareness of brands, and gives potential sponsors all the information they need to decide that you’re the blogger they’d like to work with.

media kit

A media kit is a snapshot of your blog’s vital details, packaged up in a reader-friendly download. It provides potential sponsors a one-stop shop of information they use to inform their decisions about with whom they will partner. It not only has an overview of you, your blog, your reach, and your prices, but it is an essential selling tool for when PR representatives plead your case to the decision-makers in charge of their budgets. A media kit is like an extended business card you may send to anyone who needs to know more about you and what you do.

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This can differ from blogger to blogger, so pick and choose how much information you feel you need to supply (less is more, ya know what I’m sayin’?). Often a one-page overview is useful, but there are times when advertisers or book publishers or other interested parties need to know more detail about your blog and what you provide.

The most common items are:

About you:

  • Your name
  • A profile shot
  • Your blog URL
  • Your tagline (if you have one)
  • A brief introduction/overview of you and the blog. Keep it short and punchy. The likelihood is that the person you are sending it to has already looked at your blog and your About Me page. Keep this one down to a few lines.
  • Regular post topics or features that would appeal to brands

About your readers:

  • Statistics snapshot – unique browsers, monthly pageviews,
  • Your demographics – who is reading your blog? Gender and age range is good to include here.
  • Newsletter and email subscriber numbers
  • Followers across social media sites – namely Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest (Google +, LinkedIn, and YouTube if that’s where your audience is at)
  • Optional – Alexa ranking, Klout score, Google Page Rank, if you feel they will help your case

About your services:

  • Advertising spaces available, and prices for each (including discounts available for longer-term packages, etc), not forgetting RSS feeds and newsletters
  • Sponsored post rates
  • Inclusions (extra incentives!) around social media for advertisers and sponsors. Do you offer shout-outs and freebies for advertisers? Let them know!
  • Sponsored social media update prices
  • Conference sponsorship packages and prices
  • Ambassadorship packages and prices
  • Affiliate details
  • Giveaway or review admin fees
  • Your policies on review products
  • Advertising spots/options to sponsor podcasts
  • Mention (if appropriate) that you are open to any ideas the brands or advertisers have for collaborations
  • Payment specifics and terms

Your previous brand partnerships:

  • Write a brief overview of the kinds of products and services you like to feature on the blog
  • Link to a few of the larger campaigns you have completed that did well and you enjoyed
  • Write a list of the other brand names that have been featured

Testimonials:

  • Include a few carefully-curated positive reviews of your work, or a couple of lines from people and brands with whom you have worked
  • Add your press features, or where you’ve been featured on other blogs

Contact details:

  • Your name
  • PO Box or address for people to send items
  • Email
  • Phone number (if appropriate)
  • Social media links
  • Skype details

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By all means hire a designer to create you one, if you like – but it’s quite simple to gather your information, a few images, and make them look great on paper. You can make a very simple one using Word (and then converting to PDF), or use any one of the image-creation sites out there. PicMonkey is easy to use (here is a great PicMonkey media kit tutorial), as is Canva, and Ribbet. PowerPoint is quite user-friendly, and can turn out professional-looking media kits in no time, you can use Pages, Photoshop, or even google downloadable templates. You could also search Etsy or similar places for either a downloadable template you can buy, or have a custom one made.

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Each person’s media kit needs are so different – you might find useful info at the following posts:

Tips for Creating a Media Kit for Your Blog // Amy Lynn Andrews

Blogger Media Kits: When You Don’t Have Much Traffic // Katy Widrick

How to Create a Media Kit that Rocks // The Blog Maven

Creating a Media Kit for Your Blog // The Well

5 Big Problems With Your Media Kit // Brand Meets Blog

And you can get inspired with these media kit examples:

ClickinMoms Click Magazine

The Art of Simple

Bloggers Bazaar Pinterest board of media kit samples

The Blog Maven – 20 Media Kit Examples

Best Blogger Media Kits – Katy Widrick

Before you go:

  • Update your kit often. Every three months is average
  • Make it customisable – especially if you get someone else to create it for you. Make sure it’s easy for you to update it on your own
  • Make it easily accessible. Consider having it as a download on your “work with me” or “contact” page. It saves email back-and-forth, and makes it so much easier (and faster!) for potential brands
  • Think of printing – ensure your kit is of a high enough resolution to look good when printed
  • Think of collaborating – don’t be afraid to make a list of dream collaborators, and be proactive in approaching them. Offer your media kit as a simple start.
  • Be positive. And remember, if your numbers aren’t anything to write home about yet, you might like to mention your growth instead. Something like “doubled twitter followers in a month” sounds positive and encouraging. And is true!
  • Be consistent with statistics. There are many ways of capturing this information, but Google Analytics appears to be the standard, and is quite accurate.
  • Watch your language. While it’s great you write your blog with your own unique voice, this is the time to be professional (and a little quirky, as needed!). Keep it slick.
  • We are visual creatures – break up big chunks of text and eye-swimming numbers with bright images, easy-to-read but interesting fonts, and lots of white space.

Have you seen a great example of a media kit lately? What do you have in yours?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Partnering with Brands Theme Week: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/02/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-ways-to-collaborate-and-earn-an-income-on-your-blog/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/02/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-ways-to-collaborate-and-earn-an-income-on-your-blog/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:23:12 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30546 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog

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Today we welcome Nikki Parkinson, from Styling You, to chat about brand work on blogs. Nikki switched a 20-year journalism career for forging a path online with her fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog. One of Australia’s best, she’s won numerous awards, travelled the world, and created a business she loves, right from her kitchen table. She’s actively worked with brands right from the start, and has enormous knowledge to share.

So you’ve been blogging for a while and have built up a solid readership and community because you consistently deliver useful/inspirational/entertaining content?

There is a fair chance if you have included a contact email address on your blog that before long an email from a brand, a PR or digital marketing agency, will land in your inbox.

You will either be surprised and delighted, or offended, that your little blog has been noticed by said brand.

It’s the surprised and delighted among you that I’m keen to talk to, because that first email could be the start of a potential commercial relationship.

That first email signifies that as a blogger you need to get very clear on your publishing guidelines.

Maybe you already mention brands as a matter of fact in your content. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, that all changes when someone is potentially asking you to mention their brand.

Only you can decide how you respond, but having a brand-publishing checklist in place will help you to make the decision that is right for you.

Brand publishing checklist

1. Is this a brand you already know, love, and use?

2. Is this a brand that you are confident that your readers either already know, love, and use or would like to know, love, and use?

3. Is this a brand that you could work in to your regular blog content in a way that is seamless? Not in a non-disclosed kind of way, more in a way that would not be out of place to what your readers expect from your style of content.

4. Does aligning yourself with this brand conflict with brands you’ve previously aligned yourself with?

5. Do you feel excited at the prospect of potentially working with this brand or does it give you an icky feeling? I know icky is not a technical term and can’t really be defined, but intuition or gut feeling is a great thing to draw on in this situation.

Working with brands

The PR pitch

Most – but not all – approaches from a brand or its agency will be for “earned” mentions on your blog. This is the traditional way that brands and their PR agencies have worked with mainstream media.

The idea here is that the PR is pitching you an idea that has some kind of newsworthy content or relevance to your blog’s audience. They are simply pitching and you do not at all have to publish anything just because they have emailed you. You may, however, find that what they are pitching could work as a part of particular blog post you’re working on, or have planned for now or in the future.

This is not something the brand would pay you to do. It is your choice when and if you choose to include the pitch on your blog. The same applies if the brand has sent you a product – unsolicited – to consider using or mentioning on your blog or social media networks. You are in no way obligated to feature the product.

Relationships

Many of my now paid commercial brand alignments have come from building relationships with brands directly or through their PR agencies. I’ve incorporated their products into my posts and have built up a relationship with that brand. The brand trusts what I do on the blog and they can already see how my readers respond to their brand.

I didn’t go into those early earned PR relationships thinking that one day I would be able to get a sponsorship from that brand, but I did start my alignment with those brands based on the five things I listed above on the brand publishing checklist. This ensured that the relationship was one I felt comfortable with from the beginning.

More and more PR companies are also including budgets for paid blogger campaigns as part of their contract with the brands they represent, so how you respond from those early approaches is becoming more and more important.

Also know that a PR pitch cannot specify to you when and how you publish content about the brand. They can’t tell you to use a certain hashtag, they can’t tell you that you need to publish a certain number of social media posts, and they can’t tell you what day you need to publish. They would NEVER ask a journalist to do the same because the only content in mainstream media that can be guaranteed is paid for – and it’s called advertising.

I see this approach happening more and more. And as a former journalist it really disappoints me. It gives the good PRs a bad name and assumes that the blogger will happily do as they are instructed without any remuneration for exposure to that blogger’s audience.

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Events

One of the trends for ways in which brands engage with bloggers is through events. These events are either hosted by the brand and the brand’s PR invites selected bloggers to attend or the events are hosted by third party brand-blogger consultants who are contracted by brands to get bloggers along to the event in the hope of potential exposure.

Either way, a blogger’s decision to even accept an invite to an event can be seen as a brand alignment. Even if that blogger doesn’t publish any social media or blog posts, the blogger could be photographed by the brands or event organiser and therefore associated with the event and seen to be endorsing it.

Once again it comes back to the brand publishing checklist above. Consider if you are happy to be associated with the host brands or brands in any way before saying yes to attend.

And, like a PR pitch, a blogger should not be coerced or expected to post anything in return for attendance at the event. The should be free to do so if they want to, not because they’ve been invited. Just as a journalist would do.

Paid brand alignments

At some point in your blog’s growth you need to take stock and put a value on the time you put into your blog and the readership you have built. Once you’ve established a set value for your blog, I suggest you review this every six months or every quarter depending on the scale in growth of your readership.

Your readership is your currency when it comes to being appealing to brands. Brands mostly want to see the numbers. The number of unique visitors to your blog is the main number they’re looking at. Why? Because it’s the number that most equates to the numbers game of mainstream media. It’s the equivalent to circulation figures in print media and ratings numbers on TV and radio.

Clever brands and agencies will also look beyond the numbers to engagement and influence. They will also look at the demographics behind your numbers – particularly if they’re wanting to connect with readers in certain locations or of a particular age or sex.

When I talk to bloggers about valuing their time and their blog’s audience, it seems quite an arbitrary thing to suggest – and in many ways it is – but increasingly, bloggers are sharing what they are getting paid for brand alignments and this helps us all to establish that value.

I suggest that $150 should be the minimum payment for a sponsored post – and then bloggers should scale up according to their readership and influence.

Why $150? If you are working as a consultant then the minimum hourly rate is usually about $100 an hour. Most sponsored posts take longer than an hour and a half this to create and compile. For 5000-10,000 unique visits to your blog a month, you could charge $1550. For a blogger with 30,000-50,000 unique visits a month, $3000.

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Ways to earn money from brand alignments

Sponsored posts: This is the most common form of commercial alignment between bloggers and brands. It works most successfully when the blogger is given creative control to write the post in the same way they would write a non-paid post to their readers. Keeping the authenticity of your voice is key – as is being upfront to your readers and labelling it as a sponsored post at the top. This is not a legal requirement, but it is practice that is very much worth embracing. You want to keep your readers, not dupe them. Being upfront has seen me grow my blog readership since I started writing sponsored posts – not have it disappear.

Social media posts: Being paid by a brand to promote their product or message via social media can be part of a sponsored post campaign or separate to it. One blogger talent agency has been reported as charging out up to $750 per brand mention on an Instagram image. With the growth of Instagram, particularly for fashion bloggers, this has become an attractive alignment for brands looking to harness its power.

Ambassadorships: Ambassadorships are the strongest way in which a blogger can align with a brand. They usually represent a long-term commitment between the blogger and the brand – six, 12 months or longer. This is a win for the blogger in regards to steady income, but it’s an alignment that needs to be fully considered before making because of the longevity of the association. A word of warning: many brands will try and “buy” bloggers as ambassadors with product only. Be careful with this because once you’ve received the ambassador title, you’ve more than cemented your alliance with that brand and don’t leave the door open for a commercial arrangement.

Television commercials: Bloggers are being included as the “talent” in television commercials and infomercials, usually as part of a wider sponsored post and social media campaign. This has come because audiences are proving more responsive to “real” people as opposed to celebrities or actors.

Blogging for a brand on their site: All bloggers know that good, solid content builds a blog’s readership. Brands have also realised that they too need good solid, relatable content on their sites to increase readership, brand awareness and sales through their sites. Who do they turn to? Bloggers who can not only create that content but bring an audience with them to the brand’s site.

Reader events: a win-win for bloggers and brands is when a blogger can offer something of value to their reader either through valuable/useful content or a giveaway. When that giveaway includes a chance to meet the blogger and attend an event that will add value or entertainment to the winning blog readers, then it’s proving to be a successful way for a blogger to align with a brand.

Event appearances: As I mentioned above, a blogger’s attendance at an event is a sign that the blogger is endorsing the brand. So it’s little wonder that bloggers can now obtain an appearance fee to attend an event. Often a certain number of social posts using a specific hashtag may be attached to this commercial arrangement.

The bottom line

Your blog hasn’t just appeared from out of thin air with a solid, influenced, and engaged audience. It’s taken long hours at the keyboard, dedication to your blog’s topic, and an extreme passion to communicate and connect with your readership.

You need to remember that whenever there is an opportunity presented to you to work or align yourself with a brand. Make good choices, disclose those good choices, and create brand content that still represents who you are and what your blog is about.

Do all this and your blog will continue to grow, as will your blog-business income.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog

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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Advertising 101 http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/01/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-advertising-101/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/01/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-advertising-101/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 02:05:56 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30554 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Advertising 101

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We kick off this week’s theme with Juanita Nessinger of Vertical Online Media – a total guru when it comes to all things advertising!

You’ve started your blog, put in many long hours into nurturing it, growing it and building a following.  Congratulations!  Now you’re thinking, “Is it possible to actually generate revenue from this?”  

The answer is a resounding YES!

Let’s talk.

Choosing your ad unit sizes

I like to share with friends that are new to advertising to familiarize themselves with IAB.net. This is the Interactive Advertising Bureau website and the standard for all web advertising.  Once there, your new best friend on this site is going to be the “Guidelines and Best Practices” dropdown menu.  This area shows you all of the standard ad units and their creative guidelines.

I highly recommend utilizing the following ad sizes on your blog, as they are the most standard, and will benefit you in you the long run when starting to monetize your site:

  • 728×90 (Leaderboard)
  • 300×250 (Medium Rectangle)
  • 160×600 (Wide Skyscraper)
  • 300×100 (3:1 Rectangle) This unit is no longer as common, but is a very good size if you want to have multiple smaller partners on your site that you will sell yourself or put on a sales site such as BuySellAds.

728×90 Example:

728x90

300×250 Example:

300x250

160×600 Example:

160x600

300×100 Example:

300x100

Deciding where to place your ads

Now that you’ve decided what ad sizes you will utilize on your site, now you need to decide where you want place them on the page.

As shown in the example above, the 728×90 performs best, and is most aesthetically pleasing, when situated at the top of the page, either centered over the content or flush left.   You can also utilize this Leaderboard unit in the middle or bottom of your blog posts. Do remember though, you don’t want to overload your pages with ads, so I don’t recommend having any more than two of any size ad on a page at a time…three if the ads are a smaller unit, such as the 300×100 unit.

The 300×250 unit is a versatile unit and can be used on the right hand side of your page, or within your content, with the edit wrapped around the ad.  

When making the decision on placement for the 300×250 unit, you should note that on average, this unit will perform best placed within the content.  This is a definite plus if you are monetizing on a Cost Per Click model (CPC).  Your readers will tend to click more often on ads when placed within the content.  Conversely, if your priority is the reader experience and not necessarily the revenue, it is recommended that you place these units on the right hand side of your page.

Your 160×600 and 300×100 units always work very nicely on the right hand side of your page.

Start Monetizing Your Ad Units

Now that you’ve decided where your ad units will be placed on your page/s, it’s time to decide HOW you’re going to monetize the traffic to your blog.

The most popular, and realistically, most simple way for you to start monetizing your Blog is to utilize Google AdSense.  AdSense is a very quick and simple way to get started making money from your blog.  It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3.  All you need is a Google login of some sort, you paste their code into your dedicated ad spaces, and provide them with a valid postal address so that you can get paid! It’s really that simple!  

Once you have this set-up, Google will place the highest-paying ads in your category on your site.  Depending on your blog’s content matter, you can expect to receive anywhere from $.50 per click to upwards of $3.00 per click.

Please know that there are also a multitude of advertising networks of whom would be very happy to work with you, but if you are just getting started, AdSense is truly going to be the easiest, and most reliable, for your needs.

Additional Monetization Options

If you have a highly-trafficked blog, or a highly-targeted niche blog, you may want to sell your ads directly, with the aid of an Advertising Marketplace such as BuySellAds or iSocket.

If you don’t want to be at the mercy of Google and want to sell your ads directly on a CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) and/or a Flat Fee basis, then an Ad Marketplace may be just the thing for you.  

Utilizing a marketplace allows you to set the cost for your ad inventory as opposed to simply accepting what Google or an Ad Network is going to pay you for your inventory.  Please do note that Advertising Marketplaces do take a percentage of each sale made through their service. Regardless, in selling directly, you will want a backup for inventory that is not sold, so again, signing up for an AdSense account will only benefit you to back-fill any and all remaining inventory.

Selling Directly

Selling your ad inventory yourself isn’t always as easy at it may seem. You will need to be very adept at articulating your audience, all of your site statistics, traffic, unique users, pageviews, etc., as well as any and all demographic information that you have on your audience.  Please look for the post coming later this week on The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit.

Establishing relationships with larger brands, and their Ad Agencies, can be a very time-consuming venture and there is never a guarantee of being selected to be on their ad plan. Also, do note that you will usually be required to fill out a full RFP (Request for Proposal) from the ad agency.  These can be a little more than daunting if you are new to advertising, so you should take that into consideration before opting to sell your inventory yourself.

Advertise Link on your Blog

Regardless of how you decide to monetize your blog, once you start the process of monetizing your blog, you should have a link on your site that shares with potential partners their options for advertising on your site, how they can get a media kit, if you have one, and highlight your monthly traffic, unique users, and your best Top Line demographic information you have for your readers.

If you do not have demographic information on your readers, putting together a basic Reader Survey through SurveyMonkey is free and easy!

In Closing

Congratulations on being ready to make the leap into making money from your blog!  If you have a decent-sized audience, and/or a highly targeted audience, there is no reason you can’t start monetizing your traffic.

Again, if you are just getting started, and the advertising arena is new to you, I highly recommend utilizing AdSense.  Start with just a few ad units on each page, you can always add units as your traffic grows and your audience becomes more accustomed to seeing ads on your Blog. 

Don’t be afraid…getting started is easier than you think! 

I hope you’ve found this helpful and please know that I’m here to assist.  Please feel free to ask any additional questions within the comments section, or you can reach out directly by emailing me at Juanita@VerticalOnlineMedia.com.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Advertising 101

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Theme Week: Make Money on Your Blog by Partnering with Brands http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/06/29/theme-week-make-money-on-your-blog-by-partnering-with-brands/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/06/29/theme-week-make-money-on-your-blog-by-partnering-with-brands/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 17:17:45 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=30513 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Theme Week: Make Money on Your Blog by Partnering with Brands

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For all of you who have considered (or are already) partnering with brands on your blog, this week is for you. We give you the lowdown on:

  • advertising on your blog – whom to approach, what kind of advertising works best, where to put ads for best visibility, etc
  • working with brands – staying professional, your unique voice, sponsorship, ambassadorships, affiliates, etc
  • creating a media kit – what you need to include, how to create it, samples of excellent media kits
  • marketing yourself – creating pitches that get noticed, using the right language, whom to approach
  • where to find advertisers and creating an online profile

As always, we hope you find it useful. We’ll also get together at the end of the week and chat about what we’ve learned and what we will try going forward.

Each day will have a new post, so keep checking back. We’ll also add the links here, so you can bookmark this page and refer to it whenever you need.

Partnering with Brands Theme Week:

Advertising 101

Ways to Collaborate With Brands and Earn an Income on Your Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

Marketing Yourself

Putting it all Together and Getting Started

See previous theme weeks here:

Content Week: How to Consistently Come Up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog

Beginner Blogger Week: Everything You Need to Know When You’re a Newbie

Finding Readers, Building Community, Creating Engagement

Creating Products: How To Create and Sell Products on Your Blog

Five Things to do with Your Blog Posts After You’ve Hit “Publish”

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Theme Week: Make Money on Your Blog by Partnering with Brands

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