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Weekend Project: Research Your Existing Audience

This guest post is by Logan Marshall of the Free Life Project.

You now know a few ways to research the audience you want, but don’t have. If you already have a list, I still recommend you employ those strategies, but there’s more you can do. Much more.

In fact, the following strategies will allow you to determine exactly who your best customers are so that you can optimize your marketing to speak directly to their fears and fantasies, and push their “hot buttons,” allowing you to attract more of the same (high-value) customers.

This is incredibly important. With strategic engagement, you can virtually guarantee that your marketing will resonate with your ideal target audience.

Here are five ways to understand your customers better then they understand themselves.

1. Strategically designed surveys

Despite my systematic bashing of surveys, they can be a great way to uncover the unmet needs of your audience. But you have to do them right. Surveys can come across as annoying. And, unless you ask the right questions, your results will probably be pretty meaningless.

Here are a few guidelines to help you craft a killer survey (that people will actually complete):

  1. Don’t survey too often. Survey at critical times (especially during product creation) and use other, less direct methods to gain more customer insight. When you do survey, I recommend you use Survey Monkey.
  2. Be simple and direct. You have to remember that when people take a survey, they want to finish it as quickly as possible. Don’t you? With this in mind, it’s important that you get straight to the point. Don’t make people read. Eliminate extraneous decisions. Ask no more than five questions per survey.
  3. Ask only super-high-leverage questions. Most people fill their surveys with unnecessary questions that don’t give them real, valuable data. Whenever you design a survey question, ask yourself the following: will the answer to this question be immediately useful at this stage of my business? If not, get rid of it.
  4. Gather qualitative data. Instead of filling your survey with endless check boxes, ask people to give you short responses in their own words. By employing these “open answers,” you’ll gain valuable insight you could have never thought up yourself. This will allow you to communicate with your audience using exactly the same language they’ve used to speak to you.

If you want to master the art of survey writing, I advise you check out Ramit Sethi’s How to Write a $100,000 Survey. It’s free and will change the way you interact with your audience.

2. Automated email investigation

I’m all about automation, especially when it comes to my email list. With this in mind, I like to weave strategic questions into my autoresponder sequence.

For example, say I just finished an email all about traffic generation. Instead of just ending the content, I’ll say something like, “What can I help you with? Please hit “reply” right now and send me your two biggest problems related to traffic generation.”

If people enjoyed the content, they’ll often take the time to respond. And the answers you’ll get will rock your world. And, if you get a particularly intriguing response, you can follow up with that person and keep the conversation going. Over time, you’ll start to see trends popping up, and you’ll be able to refine and optimize your funnel to match these common problems. Pretty cool stuff.

In addition to automated questions, I also have another (unconventional) email strategy. Here’s how it works: Every time someone joins my list, I take the time to send them an email. From my personal Gmail account. In this email I thank the person for signing up, build anticipation for the value to come, and then ask one question:

“What is your biggest [your niche] problem right now?”

This one “insight gaining” question, combined with the relationship-building power of a personal email is extremely powerful. (I must give credit where credit is due. Thanks to Derek Halpern for sparking this idea)

3. Consulting

While email and surveys can be effective, nothing compares to speaking one-on-one with your readers. This can be via email or on social media. Or, ideally, you can offer free or paid consulting services and talk with dozens of people over the phone.

However you do it, the most important thing you can do for your business is to spend time every day interacting with your customers and asking what their needs, problems, and dreams are. Even a few consulting sessions will revolutionize your understanding of what makes your audience tick.

4. Webinars

While I don’t claim to be a webinar expert, I know that they can be extremely effective both for understanding your audience and selling your products. Webinars allow you to monitor people’s questions in real time and really put a finger on how they are responding to your content.

Here’s the webinar workflow:

  1. Deliver extraordinary value upfront.
  2. Open up to questions at the end.
  3. Follow up with people after the webinar (email them) and ask for their feedback.

Try it out. You’ll learn a ton.

5. Facebook

As you know, Facebook is a great place to interact with your audience. It rocks. It’s one of the best engagement platforms on the web. I’ve found that people let down their guard on Facebook and really spill the good, juicy, valuable beans. The stuff you’re searching for. The insights that will skyrocket your success.

Plus, it’s fun to meet them!

How do you use Facebook to better understand your audience? I have two main ways:

1. Regularly ask engaging (but valuable) questions on your Facebook fan page

People love to talk about themselves and their problems. Especially on Facebook. I know I do. With this in mind, using your fan page to ask fun, strategic questions can be extremely effective. Questions like:

  • “Describe your ideal life one year from now in one sentence.”
  • “I can’t figure out X! What is the biggest thing you’re struggling with in your business right now?”
  • If you could take a pill and instantly become a master at any online skill, what would it be?”

…you get the point. Keep your questions engaging and fun. Ask for short answers (people will be much more likely to respond). Respond to peoples comments and keep the conversation going.

2. Do weekly Facebook chats

This is a strategy I noticed Blog Tyrant using with his “Sunday Night Facebook Jams.” Here’s how it works.

Once a week, hang out on your Facebook page for a few hours and let people ask you any question they have regarding a certain topic. For example, a while back Blog Tyrant held a “Jam” about Blogging SEO. Here’s what his email said:

Hey guys.
Hope you are all well.

Well, its time for another Sunday Night Facebook Jam! Tonight’s topic is any question you have about getting ranked on Google. It’s all about Blogging SEO!

Just head on over to the Facebook page and leave a comment. I’ll hang around for two hours. Oh, and if you share the page with your friends you’ll go into the draw to win a FREE SEO Audit by me.

See you over there. It starts now!
Tyrant

See how that works?

This strategy is extremely powerful and will also help you improve yourEdgeRank Score so that you show up in the news feeds of your fans more often.

Key reader research tactics

In all of this there are few key takeaways I want you to understand:

  1. Whatever strategy you decide to focus on, the key is to engage with your audience daily and keep your finger on their pulse so that you can fill their needs better than anyone else.
  2. Instead of randomly talking to everyone and anyone, focus on talking to the “critical few” in your business: subscribers and customers. Especially customers. These are the people you want to “target” and attract more of.
  3. Focus on employing high-leverage strategies to get the biggest results for the least effort.
  4. Pay attention and be interested in what your audience has to say. Not only will this increase your insights and understanding, but your authenticity will shine through, winning you more loyal fans and customers.

Oh and one more thing: if you employ even a few of these strategies on a regular basis, you’ll likely have a ton of data about your audience. My advice is that you compile it all into a common folder that you can refer to when creating content and marketing.

Putting it all together: creating your customer avatar

Okay, now is the time to create what Eben Pagan calls a “Customer Avatar.” If you’re unfamiliar with this idea, a “Customer Avatar” or “Customer Persona” is basically an imaginary person who represents the composite of your ideal customer. It’s a figure who you’ve determined to be your “average” customer based on the data you’ve gathered.

Yaro Starak explains it like this:

“The best example of an avatar that I can refer you to is that of characters you create in video games. In games you can often define appearance (include fine detail attributes like eye and hair color), strengths, weaknesses, associations, and all manner of conditions that make up your character in the game. You play the avatar in the game world and its characteristics influence what you experience in the game.”

This is exactly what we’re doing. Just for the kind of person who reads your blog or purchases the product or service you sell.

Knowing this information allows you cut through the clutter and talk directly to the right audience with messaging and a language that resonates with them with emotional impact. Watch this video for a better understanding.

As Andre Chaperon puts it:

“Creating a customer avatar allows you to “get specific” and use triggers and hot-buttons to help pull your audience towards you (towards your offer).”

Incredibly powerful stuff. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get out a black sheet of paper.
  2. Using the knowledge you’ve gathered about the hopes, fears, and dreams of your audience, “project” yourself into their shoes and answer the following questions:
    • What’s your gender?
    • What’s your name?
    • What’s your age?
    • Marital status? Kids?
    • What do you do for a living?
    • What do you look like?
    • What do you believe in?
    • What communities do you belong to?
    • What really ticks you off?
    • Who do you want to be like?

    Try to really “fill out” this persona so that you have a crystal-clear understanding of the person you’re talking to. Get specific. Give them a name. Really “feel” what it is like to be them.

Don’t worry about getting this perfect right away. It will be an evolving process. It won’t happen overnight. As your business grows and you learn more about your audience, your “Avatar” will change, and that’s fine. The key is to get started.

Use what you know to create a rough avatar right now, or create a plan to better understand your audience. Schedule a survey. Analyze Quantcast. Plan a Facebook chat. Offer free consulting. Whatever you decide to do, don’t wait. I see so many “Wantrepreneurs” just messing around online instead of actually doing what it takes to achieve success. Yes, it takes work, but it’s worth it. And, once you get started you’ll realize that it’s actually a ton of fun.

The bottom line

I’ve know there’s a lot of information in this and yesterday’s post. And I hope I’ve given you at least a few “Aha!” moments.

But you’re probably wondering a common question: What does all this add up to? What’s the end result of a crystal clear understanding of who my audience is and what they are looking for?

Well, simply this: by understanding your audience at a deep level you’re able to create marketing that speaks directly to them. Marketing the makes them stop dead in their tracks and give your site their full attention. Marketing that skyrockets conversions.

You’ll know exactly what you need to say to get people to subscribe to your list, feel an immediate connection to your message, open and read your emails, comment on your posts, and when the time is right, buy what you have to offer.

As Eben Pagan puts it, “You must know what you’re offering, who it’s for and what the benefit is to them, then present it to the irrational human mind. If you don’t, you might as well not even start.”

Stop writing about what you think your audience wants. Stop guessing. Stop assuming. Discover what needs are going unmet, what your audience really wants, what is “emotionally motivating” them to seek out a solution, and crush it.

Logan Marshall is on a mission to help aspiring entrepreneurs change the world with their message. If you’re one of them, check out the cinematic trailer to his upcoming blog.

Google+ Tactics of the Blogging Pros

Over the next couple of days on ProBlogger, we’ll be taking a look at key marketing tactics bloggers are using on Twitter and Facebook.

Since we covered Pinterest recently, I thought I’d explore Google+ today, and check out the approaches some of the A-list bloggers are using on this network.

Tactic 1: Cross-promote a particular offering

Gary Vaynerchuck might have become famous for his books, but he’s been vlogging since 2005, so its no surprise that his Google+ page is dominated by video posts. In fact, he appears to use Google+ primarily as an outlet to cross-promote his YouTube channel and associated videos.

This is interesting, because Gary has a lot of different projects on the go (notably, his agency VaynerMedia, as well as writing and speaking), but he’s focusing his Google+ engagement on his videos.

A similarly focused strategy might be suitable for you if you feel that some aspect of your blog offering is particularly appropriate for the Google+ audience, and you want to see how much traction you can get from the network for that particular offering.

Tactic 2: Day-in-the-life reportage

Deb Ng, Blog World Expo’s community director, and Sonia Simone, the self-proclaimed “Pink-haired tyrant of Copyblogger Media,” both use Google+ to engage with followers on a combination personal-and-professional level.

Have a look at their Google+ profiles and you get a feel for them as people, but you also gain insight into what they’re doing for the brands they work with. Both use Google+ to mix personal interests with family, home, and work-related content. They regularly provide glimpses behind the scenes of their work on brands that are extremely important to many of us in the blogosphere.

While Deb has her own blog, Sonia doesn’t, so this approach can either complement your other online offerings, or be used independently. But in both cases, these Google+ pages give us an insight into what makes these guys tick—something that I expect is pretty valuable for people wanting to engage with Deb about Blog World, or with Sonia about Copyblogger. I imagine more than a few bloggers have tried to get inside the heads of these A-listers by putting them into circles on Google+.

This tactic might be a good one for you to use if your followers and readers would appreciate an insight into how you operate on a professional level, behind the glossy front of your blog’s brand.

Tactic 3: Personal brand miniblogging

Anyone who follows me on Google+ knows that my own approach has been to adopt the forum as a sort of all-encompassing miniblog.

I have branded Facebook pages for ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, and separate Twitter streams for each, but on Google+ I combine those brands under a kind of personal brand.

I see it as a location for rich exchange with followers who want to engage with me as a person, rather than simply with ProBlogger or DPS. In this way, Google+ has become a personal branding outlet for me, and has helped me strengthen engagement with readers and followers significantly since it launched last year.

I think that Google+ allows for a broad reach and a richer kind of interaction with those who have me in their circles, which is why I’ve made it a key part of my online strategy.

Tactic 4: Close curation

Serial entrepreneur and ideas woman Gina Trapani is always re-sharing other people’s Google+ posts. She also spends a lot of her Google+ time sharing content she’s found herself, that she feels others will appreciate. This approach turns her stream almost into a curated newsfeed: it’s cultivated, professional, and targeted.

After decades in the industry, Gina knows her audience well, and knows what they like—and as the host of This Week in Google, she can be sure that a large portion of her tech-savvy audience is using Google+ heavily.

If you’re in the same boat, you might take a few ideas from Gina’s approach. Of course, in any case, re-sharing is a good way to provide valuable information to those in your circles and to support and encourage those peers you admire. How far you take that curated approach will likely depend on your niche and audience, but the sky really is the limit.

How do you use Google+?

This list represents just a handful of approaches used by bloggers, but I’m very interested to hear how you use Google+ in your social media strategy. If you don’t use it, why not? If you do, what tactics and techniques are you using to build and engage with your following there? Let us in on your secrets in the comments.

Is Perfectionism Stalling Your Productivity?

We’ve all been there … You sit down to write a post. You get the opening line down, but half-way through the second sentence, you go back to tweak the first. A bit further on, you decide to chop up the paragraphs you’ve done so far and rearrange them … but on second thought, is that really the better option?

In two minds, you “finish” the post, then spend a half-hour writing and rewriting the “ideal” headline.

Finally, happy(ish!) your cursor hovers over the Publish button … but you just can’t press it. You decide to give it some time, and come back tomorrow, when you know you’ll end up rewriting the whole thing from scratch using the same “process.”

Meanwhile, your blog’s getting more dated by the minute. Your regular publishing schedule has gone out the window, and you’re miles behind on your blogging goals.

Perfectionism: the ultimate time drain?

Back in the days of print, things had to be perfect before they were published. There are certainly plenty of great reasons for making sure your content is as good as it can be before you publish it. Yet die-hard perfectionism holds many a blogger back from achieving their full potential.

I’ve seen it many times online—and discussed it with plenty of bloggers, from all walks of life and areas of the blogosphere, over the years.

In How to Stop Procrastinating and Start Your Blog, Jennifer Blanchard lists perfectionism as one of the main reasons why people procrastinate.

As someone who’s started more than 20 blogs in my time—and wound up quite a few too!—it’s safe to say I’ve got a pretty good handle on perfectionism now. Here’s how I managed to overcome it.

  • Realize that the web is flexible: The web isn’t print. You can very easily add to, update, and tweak a published post later, either based on feedback from readers or on additional information that’s come your way since you wrote the post.
  • Understand that your readers know you’re human: Your readers don’t know just know it—they respect it. Bloggers like Jon Morrow and Leo Babauta work closely with their readers, and are happy to show their human sides. And their readers are all the more loyal for it.
  • Recognize the value you can get from using reader feedback to improve your posts: Reader feedback can add depth and perspective to your posts, and boost their usability for other readers. But the process of working with readers on your posts—crowdsourcing the icing for your blog post “cake”—can also boost the sense of community, collaboration, and engagement around your blog.
  • Respect the importance of your publishing schedule: Your posting schedule isn’t just about content—it’s about meeting reader needs. Showing up—publishing great content—is square one for bloggers. That’s where blogging starts. No content, no blog. So by using your publishing schedule as a guide—and sticking to it—you respect your readers and you’re ticking the first box on the checklist for achieving your blogging goals.
  • Realize that an incomplete post will probably attract more comments: By “incomplete,” I’m not suggesting that you stop writing before you get to the end of the post and publish it as-is! But the Blog Tyrant makes the very good point that a post that exhausts its topic “leaves readers with nowhere to go.” You don’t need to cover off every aspect of the post’s topic in order for that post to be “good.” A post that doesn’t exhaust the topic may receive more comments—and shares if the conversation becomes particularly interesting or illuminating.

Of course, we all want our posts to be factually accurate and typo-free—that’s a given. But there are also considerable advantages to letting go and seeing where a less polished post might lead…

Do you struggle with perfectionism? How is it holding your blog back? And how have you overcome it (if you’ve managed to do that!)?

How Successful Blogging is Just Like Surviving Highschool

This guest post is by Josh Sarz of Sagoyism.

Do you ever feel like it’s high school all over again?

I’m talking about blogging. The whole “turn over a new leaf, do something great, do epic stuff, get famous” sense of it all feels like high school.

You know that feeling. It’s similar to when you’re just starting out, wanting to make a name for yourself, and hoping that some day you’ll become famous and get buckets of cash.

But just like high school, it’s a jungle out there. It’s not completely safe, nor is it any bit as easy as it seems. There are bullies, psycho teachers, cool kids, not-so-cool kids, and geeks.

You need to learn some rules on how to survive, just like in high school. This time around, you don’t just want to get out alive. You want to come out on top of your game.

1. Work hard

In high school, working hard was just about studying for the exams. Nothing more, nothing less. That would be decent effort, and you’d get decent grades.

When you’re blogging, studying is a prerequisite. There are loads of things you need to do to survive.

You need to learn how to multitask. You need to know your trade by heart. You need to sacrifice a lot of your time, and use it for brainstorming, writing, editing, designing your website, marketing yourself and your blog, pitching for guest posts … the list goes on.

2. Get involved

Getting involved in high school meant joining clubs. Lots of clubs, if you had the time and energy. It also included joining school plays, or getting into sports.

In blogging, it’s pretty much the same.

There are loads of clubs/groups/courses/forums where bloggers, writers, business owners and the like can hang out and socialize in their own little space. There’s the Third Tribe, The A-List Blogger Club, The Warrior Forum, and a whole bunch more.

Now when you want to get involved without having to join clubs (and pay for them), there are a lot of other ways to do so.

We’ve all heard of social media, blog commenting, and building relationships. That’s all good, but everyone’s doing it. What else can you do?

Subscribe to newsletters: But not just so you can get on their list. In a way, you’re getting them on your personal list. Not your “making money” email list, but your “talk to this guy about stuff” list.

Usually, the big boys and girls of blogging use their email list to communicate with their readers, right?

Bam! You have their email. Maybe not their personal email, but a contact point nonetheless. Another similar tactic is to use their contact forms, but some don’t really reply to that.

Name-drop: What’s this? It’s when you just talk about the cool kids; you could also opt to step it up by linking to them. If it’s good enough content, and if they notice that you mentioned or linked to them, they’ll think you’re cool and hang out with you.

Does this really work? I don’t know. Ask this guy.

Personal army: This is sort of risky. I’ve gotten permission from Martyn Chamberlin of twohourblogger to talk about it. Martyn had his friends pinged Brian Clark to ask him to retweet a post. Long story short, Brian Clark got annoyed but now they’re buddies.

There are a lot of ways to get someone’s attention; this is one of them. It worked.

3. Be on-time/present

You might be thinking “Not this again.”

You see, in high school, if you were always tardy or even absent during class, you’d get demerits. But those demerits aren’t that deadly.

With your blog, if you’re never showing up when you’re supposed to, it’s deadly for your image.

This does not mean having to post every day. You don’t want to force out below-par blog posts. No. You want high-quality content, with a story to tell.

So what else is being present and on-time about?

A hundred tweets a day isn’t presence. It’s annoying. Like a mosquito flying around near your ears.

Presence is when you reply to readers’ comments on your blog posts. It’s when people send you emails through your contact form, and you actually reply. Not your virtual assistant. Not an automated robot. But you.

4. Do your homework

High school. Homework. Important, although not life-threatening. But you still had to do it if you want to survive all the way through.

When you’re writing great content, you don’t get it by  just churning them out like a machine. Do your homework.

There are plenty ways to research for information to put in your content.

Surveys: A common website/tool to use for making surveys is surveymonkey.com. You can sign up for a free account, and it’s a decent tool for getting information from people.

Direct email: You can email anyone: bloggers, writers, journalists, friends, strangers … anyone. Don’t have their email? There’s social media to help you out.

Call interviews: This doesn’t have to be through phone. You can use Skype, Google Voice chat or Google Hangouts.

Split testing: This ranges from writing styles, tone, formatting, blog design/structure and more.

Blogging is hard work. Still with me? Good. Let’s continue.

5. Make a diverse circle of friends

In high school, you could get away with sticking to a single circle of friends. If you wanted to stand out and get recognized, you’d have to reach out to a lot more people.

The same goes for blogging.

Remember the age-old advice that the “veterans” talk about, like making friends with people in your niche? That’s great, but you could make it even better by making friends with people from other niches. Why should you bother doing that?

Think of it this way. If you have ten pals who blog about blogging talk about you, that’s great. If you have 30 people from all sorts of niches and industries willing to vouch for you, that’s massive. Think of them as your personal army.

How do you do this?

  • By getting involved with other people’s blogs and activities.
  • By replying to people who comment on your posts, reaching out to their blogs. Circling them on Google Plus.
  • Talking with people who comment on the A-list blogs, since they’re talking, might as well jump in the conversation. Some might find you intrusive, but if you do this with 100 people you’re bound to make at least ten friends.
  • Keeping in mind that one day, they can be your personal army who will vouch for you when you mess up.

6. Keep your locker stacked

We all had lockers back in high school, right? It’s where we put our things just in case we’ll be needing them soon.

In blogging, your locker can be your CMS, whether you use WordPress, Blogger, Hubpages, etc. How do you keep it stacked?

Always have backup posts written, proofread, formatted, and ready for publishing. If you need places to look for ideas, here are some examples that the cool kids don’t preach:

The Bible: A lot of people don’t talk about this as a source of inspiration for their writing because they’re afraid to sound all religious-like.

You’re missing out on a lot.

And if you’re not into the Christian faith, think of this book as the biggest piece of fiction that has inspired countless generations. More than all the Stephen King, John Grisham or Chuck Palahniuk books combined.

Kids’ entertainment: Again, a lot of people don’t talk about getting inspiration from kids’ shows because they don’t want to sound immature.

They’re just scared.

If you want to talk courage, here’s a post from a guy who wrote an amazing, inspiring blog post about courage using a character from the storybooks.

Again, these are stories that had inspired generations. They may be childish, but these stories have enchanted more people than any “mature” show like Mad Men.

7. Be excessively happy

Highschool gives you a lot of stress. Not from classes, but from people.

It’s the same in blogging.

You write your blog post, and expect to get massive traffic, but nothing happens. Why? People will be people. They flock to where the good stuff is. And to top it off, they don’t know you even exist.

Don’t go whining and quit. Hang in there, and smile. Be excessively happy. Crazy happy. Nobody likes to hear people whine all day. Or take out their frustrations on other people.

When someone comments on your posts, be happy. Reply to them in an awesome way. Stop being so uptight. Be more like Ayo Olaniyan. When he replies to comments, it’s like he’s always smiling just like his picture. Crazy happy.

8. Stay focused

Make lots of friends. Get involved. But remember to stay focused on what you’re blogging for.

Write down your goals on a piece of paper, and stick them somewhere in your desk. Someplace where you can see it whenever you’re working. Make your goals specific and tangible. Also, add the element of time restriction.

Here are some goals you can write down:

  • guest posts on X
  • ebook on X
  • interview with X
  • email X about X’s post about X

Writing specific goals lets you know what you need to do, and the deadline helps you avoid procrastinating.

9. Go out on dates

Yes, plural.

If you went out on a lot of dates back in high school (or at least tried to), you’ll know what’s coming when you’re pitching other bloggers for guest post opportunities.

Guest posting is just like dating.

As Sean Platt would say it, you’re going to be wooing other bloggers with your bouquet of words. And unless you already have a solid reputation, it’s going to be hard.

Those who’ve made a name for themselves through guest posting know the feeling of getting dumped. It happens. But you have to be persistent and get better. Get a better bouquet and try again.

People like Leo Babauta, Brian Clark, and Danny Iny all went crazy guest blogging. Jon Morrow teaches a course all about guest blogging. It’s that crucial to success.

10. Get in the yearbook

Getting featured in the yearbook back in highschool meant that you did something great. Something that made other students look up to you.

In blogging, there’s no physical yearbook. But there are blogging roundups, like the ones on ProBlogger, Copyblogger, Write to Done, and a bunch of other sites that give recognition to other bloggers at the end of the year.

It’s not biggest achievement that you could get with blogging, nor does it mean you’re the best out of all the other blogs not featured in them. But if you’re in one, you must have done something fascinating and remarkable, right?

Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion talked about this on his blog:

I’ve written my share of these types of posts in the past simply because I enjoy shedding light on great people who are blessing others through their work. This, in my opinion, is a very good thing and will never grow old.

But it’s also time we all understood and defined our true individual metrics of success, as it’s this vision that will carry us through the good and bad times that come with all the hard work, effort, and deep passion that is blogging.

When asked about what he thinks other bloggers could do to “get noticed” and grow their blog, he says:

I read the a-listers, and if they something I feel strongly about, for or against, I write about it. I’m not a blind follower. And I don’t want others to blindly follow me. I think A-listers respect you more if you disagree with them, but do it tactful. I’m not a jerk. I don’t demean. I think people demean A-listers too much, and that really bothers me. We’re all imperfect.

Keep in mind, I’ve been at this 2 years now. I’ve never written less than 9 articles in a month. I’m extrememly consistent, and show up to work everyday. A-listers notice up and comers, but they don’t necessarily embrace them right away (nor should they) because so many folks come and go in this business. Once they see someone who is talented and consistent, then they’re much more likely to notice.

I also did a quick interview with James Chartrand of Men with Pens, as she was also featured in a roundup at Copyblogger. Here’s what she had to say:

What’s really important to me (beyond having my hard work and efforts recognized) is that by having my name on the list, people can discover my blog and find helpful advice they need.

That’s always been my personal mission. I’ve been writing advice for writers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners for years because I want to help these people earn more money and more clients.

So it’s fulfilling to hear from people who’ve applied my advice and seen positive results. They’re changing their lives for the better and reaching their success goals. I feel good about being part of that!

But she also said this:

I think people should actually stop blogging until they have something to prove that their knowledge helps other people accomplish goals or that they’re achieving important milestones and can share proven techniques with others. Many bloggers don’t actually know what they’re doing—they’re faking it until they make it.

I feel that recognition comes from the ability to show results—and results come from working hard, putting in the effort, being willing to take risks and having a strong drive to succeed.

Getting included in these roundups is great. Your name and your brand gets more exposure to people who haven’t heard of you yet. That being said, getting featured in these roundups at  the end of every year shouldn’t be your ultimate goal.

It’s great and all, but achieving your personal goals as a blogger, like getting clients, selling your books, and so on, is way better.

Survival isn’t the end-game

Surviving highschool wasn’t the end-game. Nor is it the same for blogging.

After you’ve established yourself and your blog, there’s a whole new ball game.

It’s going to be about continuously delivering content that inspires people, and helps them in some aspect in their lives.

Are you up to challenge of surviving the blogosphere? What other tips can you add to the list above? Share them in the comments section below.

Josh Sarz is a Freelance Writer, Blogger and the founder of Sagoyism, a blog which talks about Epic Content Marketing and Storytelling . He also likes punk rock and metal, among other things.

10 Of The Web’s Best Sidebars

This guest post is by the Blog Tyrant.

The sidebar is the second most important place on your site. It is where, after engaging with your content, people head over to subscribe to your list, follow you on Twitter, or buy your product.

It is vital that you get it right.

In this post I am going to show you some of the web’s best sidebars, and then talk about how you can improve yours with a goal to get more subscribers and conversions, and make more money.

NOTE: You might also like the best About Us pages and the best Contact Us pages.

Criteria for a great sidebar

So what makes a sidebar great? Well, I have come up with a few criteria over the years but, of course, I would love to hear if you can think of any others.

  • Above the fold: Do you know what I mean by above the fold? It’s everything you see before you scroll. Good sidebars have good stuff above the fold.
  • Eye-catching, but not distracting: The sidebar needs to be eye-catching in that it gets people to interact, but not so much that people forget about your content.
  • Takes readers deeper: The sidebar should take people deeper into your blog or site. It should get them to subscribe or convert them in some other way. That is the purpose of true navigation.

Of course there are more but these are the ones that really do it for me. After all, the whole purpose of the blog’s sidebar is to increase conversions.

The 10 best sidebars on the Web

Okay so let’s get into those sidebars. Here are the ones that I thought ticked the most boxes and really helped their users navigate their way towards a sale or a conversion, while still providing a fantastic user experience.

1. Tumblr Staff Blog

The Tumblr Staff blog is really cool because they show you the faces and personalities of everyone who works there.

Tumblr staff sidebar

Tumblr staff sidebar

Their sidebar is particularly useful because it advertises their product: Tumblr Blogs themselves. They give you a little form to start your own blog right there in the sidebar and then underneath have a very eye catching graphic on 30 reasons you will love their site.

This is a great combination—a sign up form and a list of reasons for why you should act. Might be a good idea for all blogs to explain to readers what they will get from signing up.

2. Copyblogger

Brian Clark of Copyblogger has totally redesigned his blog to appear more like a landing page that sends you off to his other products. The result? No sidebar. And that is something really brave and something that I had to include in this list

Copyblogger sidebar

Copyblogger sidebar

Sometimes the best thing you can do with a sidebar is get rid of it. If you are building a landing page that serves to get people to a sign up or purchase area, then a sidebar might just be distracting. Have a look at the way Copyblogger does things. It’s making money.

3. ViperChill

Pretty much everything that Glen does is amazing. He is a very talented guy. And his sidebars are simple but extremely effective.

Viperchill sidebar

Viperchill sidebar

The thing he does that I haven’t seen anyone else do is add testimonials from big players like newspapers and Fortune 500 companies talking about how good he is at what he does. This type of social proof really serves to solidify his brand and make him appear more authoritative.

4. Huffington Post

Huffington Post is the world’s most successful blog—it’s even listed on the Stock Exchange now. So following their lead is a very good idea.

HuffPo sidebar

Huffington Post sidebar

In my previous post on the best comment areas we saw that they used badges and rewards to “level up” their readers and make them feel invested in the site.

The sidebar takes that idea further by showing readers what’s hot on Twitter, Facebook, and in other sections of the site itself. The net result would be that they get more social shares and a lot deeper user interaction with their content.

5. Mashable

Mashable is the biggest social media news site online. And they get that part of it really right.

Mashable sidebar

Mashable sidebar

One of the best things you can do with your sidebar is get your readers to engage with your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and Mashable does this by getting people to log in with their accounts. Then, they show those users which topics are trending. It is a very clever way to mix both the social outlets as well as the site’s content. The result? They get a lot of viral content.

6. Smart Passive Income

Pat is a super-nice guy, and his sidebar lets you know right away. The first thing you see is a picture of him with his young son.

Smart Passive Income sidebar

Smart Passive Income sidebar

This instantly builds trust with the new readers and, aside from building his personal brand equity, it makes you feel at home and in a very personal space. Pat then follows up by offering his free ebook below, as a natural progression from his little introduction.

7. Digital Photography School

Digital Photography School, Darren Rowse’s other blog, is a gold mine of “how to do it right” information. It is one of the best blogs for user engagement and has a wonderfully successful and active community.

dPS sidebar

dPS sidebar

The sidebar is perfectly done for encouraging users to get involved—how to make money, how to write guest posts, how to start a weekly assignment, etc. Useing your sidebar as an advertisement for different areas and functions of your site is very important.

8. Youtube

YouTube, after Facebook, has the highest page views of any site in the world. Last estimates I heard were around 30 pageviews per person. That means that, on average, every time someone visits YouTube they end up watching 30 videos! The reason? It’s the sidebar.

YouTube sidebar

YouTube sidebar

By showing people related content with enticing screen shots from the videos, YouTube gets users to dig deeper and stick around longer than they normally would. All this browsing makes it more likely users will see an advert and interact with it.

9. Facebook

For some reason people always overlook Facebook when it comes to discussing excellent website and blog ideas. I think it is because it just seems to big and impossible to mimic. But the way they have designed sidebars is extremely indicative of what we as bloggers should be doing on our blogs.

YouTube sidebar

YouTube sidebar

It shows insights into the page, what your friends are doing, and any important notifications. All of these things, when applied to a blog, can serve to really make your readers more addicted to your site. And aren’t we all addicted to Facebook?

10. Men with Pens

Like some of the others, Men With Pens uses its sidebar to promote the variety of services on offer.

Men With Pens sidebar

Men With Pens sidebar


One thing I really like about this sidebar is that it is totally consistent with the rest of the design. It goes a long way towards keeping the site true to its brand. But, as always, the best thing about James’s work here is the copy. The way the calls to action are written in this sidebar are second to none.

Which is your favorite?

Leave a comment and let me know which sidebar is your favorite. It doesn’t have to be one on this list, either; if you know a good sidebar that I’ve missed, please drop the URL below. Lastly, will you be changing anything in your sidebar as a result of this post? Let us know.

The Blog Tyrant is a 26 year old Australian guy who plays video games at lunch time and sells blogs for $20,000 a pop.

Wealth Creation Through Blogging

This guest post is by Shaun of MoneyCactus.

There’s a blog for just about everything these days. Some are a lot better than others, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that any blog has the potential to become great.

It is completely possible to find a niche and an interested audience if you are serious enough about it yourself.

Wealthy

Image copyright Maria Goncalves - Fotolia.com

Some Internet entrepreneurs are better at doing this than others and make the process look easy. While many of these great bloggers definitely have a talent for what they do, the fundamentals of how they go about it really don’t change too much at all.

I guess now is probably a good time to tell you that this is not an article about making money from your blog. Before you even get to this stage you need to develop a strategy, understand your market, and allocate your resources. Good bloggers understand this. They are the same principles that you would use when making any investment.

If you want to create a blog that is successful, then these basic wealth creation fundamentals should go a long way to getting you there.

Hobbies are not an investment

People often make bad investment decisions, most of which are based on their emotions or—even worse—a “gut feeling.” Bloggers can make this mistake when selecting a niche as well.

A hobby is not an investment, it is just another way to spend your money. You do not need to be good at a hobby. Really, it’s just something you do to waste time.

The best investments are made in things that you are very knowledgeable about. Don’t confuse something you like the sound of with something you know a lot about. In order to create an authority site and demonstrate social proof, you need to know enough about your area of interest to attract readers. You do not need to be an expert, but you do need to have a knack for delivering information that makes readers want to keep coming back.

Do your research before anything else. You wouldn’t waste time and money on a dud investment; don’t do the same with a blog.

Risk makes it real

If you told me I had an imaginary sum of $1,000 and then asked me to pick some stocks to watch over a year as a way to practice my investing skills, I probably wouldn’t have any trouble making a choice and playing the game. If you told me I had to actually put my own money on the line, the chances are I would be studying those stocks very closely and sweating every decision I made.

If you are really serious about blogging, then you need to have a stake in the game. It doesn’t need to be big money, but spending some money on your blog will help keep you motivated as losing it is never fun.

Forget Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr, or any of those other free platforms (believe me, I learned the hard way). Yes they can be useful and they are simple to set up, but if you plan to use your blog as a means to generate income, then invest in yourself, and pay the small amount of money it costs to get a unique domain name and a self-hosted account.

Give before you receive

Tithing is practiced by many of the world’s richest people, but you don’t need mega bucks to start giving. You can give in lots of ways that help others, and the nice thing is that giving has a habit of coming back to you in lots of other ways.

Bloggers are quite possibly the nicest people I know. It is amazing how approachable they are, and what they will do to help or provide advice if you ask them. If you spend some time hanging out in the blogosphere, then you will quickly realize that the whole network runs on love. Bloggers write about things they love, people follow the things they love, and the better you are at showing people how to do what they want, the more love you will get in return.

If you can find ways to be ridiculously useful to others within your niche and over-deliver on your promises, you will attract people organically. Unsurprisingly, bloggers follow other bloggers in their niche, so reach out and give to a fellow blogger or combine your powers to offer even more.

Diversify your traffic sources

In order to spread risk, investors often use different vehicles to grow their wealth. The same principles apply to blogging: a nice spread of traffic will ensure you are not reliant on any one stream.

There are many ways to do this, and you might have your own methods, but here are a few things that I have been doing to grow my audience.

Search engine traffic

There are ways to help make your blog posts as targeted as possible by focusing on keywords and employing other SEO tactics. But, to be perfectly honest, the most visited pages on my site are poorly optimized (I really should do something about that).

Instead, I write about what is affecting me, and I try to solve the problem. Funnily enough there are lots of other people that have similar problems, so my posts end up getting found anyway. I’ve found the best thing to do is just focus on a single topic per post. That way, basic things like keyword density seem to happen on their own.

Blogging carnivals

This is one of the best ways I have found to share my blog posts as widely as possible and get referrals from other blogs. It is also a really great way to network with other people in your niche. Different carnivals have different rules, but they usually let you submit a recent article that you have written on your site. A link to this is then listed on the carnival host site, which means potential traffic from other bloggers and people that are regulars on the host site.

Blogging carnivals are often hosted on a different site each time, so submitting your articles regularly means you are more likely to be seen by a broader audience. If you want to look for a blogging carnival for your niche, you could try starting here.

Commenting on blogs

This has got to be the next best thing to guest posting. You get to have your say on a topic, actively participate in an online community, and you can often leave a link to your site for people to see what you are all about.

I think that this traffic generation strategy is completely underrated. I can’t tell you how many times I have checked out a site because I liked a comment I read somewhere else, and Google Analytics tells me others do the same with my site too. If you want to develop your comment strategy, you might like this guide to writing killer comments.

Blue-chip blogs

The best blogs have “shareholders” in the form of subscribers. These people have decided that the site is an asset to them, and that it’s worth investing their time in. Like any good stock, a blog needs to continue to perform over the long term in order to hold or increase its value, and that requires ongoing effort.

I’ll be the first to tell you that there is more I could do more to improve the stock of my blog, but every time I have invested in it, I have seen a gain. My final wealth creation tip is to continue investing in your blog: set short-, medium-, and long-term goals, but view it as an appreciating asset that will grow in value over time.

Try these simple wealth creation strategies on your blog and see what happens for yourself.

Shaun is not an accountant, financial planner or life coach, but he writes about wealth creation anyway! Shaun’s motto is “Make wealth, not money,” which fits quite nicely with where he wants to be in life. You can find out more by visiting his blog where he shows you how to do nothing and grow wealthy.

How to Increase Conversions With Google Website Optimizer

This guest post is by Joe Burnett of Who’s Your Blogger?

“I have a pretty (un)healthy obsession with email lists. I’m constantly telling my readers to focus on growing a list of active, engaged, and interested email subscribers.”—Blog Tyrant

You can capture emails with only one ethical plan: the visitor will have to give you his or her email by typing it in.

How do you get your readers to type in their email addresses? Will you use a pop-up lightbox, a sidebar subscribe form, or a subscribe form below your posts? Maybe you’ll give your readers a small, ethical
“bribe.”

What do I use? All of them! Each and every one of my past and present blogs went through a quick elimination process to find which tactic captured the most emails.

Never ask someone which email capturing tactic works best for them. The answer depends on the style of your readers, and the niche your blog is in. Is the readers’ attention span short, do they get annoyed, and do they take time to look at their surroundings?

But on your own blog, there is a reliable way to find out which tactic works best.

Testing your email capturing tactics

Google Website Optimizer is a great tool you can use to increase email opt in conversions. It’s surprisingly easy to use and produces great feedback, graphs, charts, and results.

How do you get started? First, you obviously need to login, or create a Google account. Click the Get Started button, agree to their terms and get ready to capture so many emails other bloggers think you’re stealing them.

Getting started

Currently you should be at your dashboard looking something like this…

Google Website Optimizer dashboard

Google Website Optimizer dashboard

Once you’re at the dashboard, click Create a new experiment.

You have two option here, and one is a lot easier to use than the other. The first option is called the A/B Experiment. You shouldn’t choose that, because it will involve completely changing the page you test, and for this exercise, we only want to change the opt-in form on our page.

The Multivariate Experiment gives you the ability to change specific section(s) on the page in isolation. In this case, we want to change our subscribe form.

Google Website Optimizer multivariate experiment

Google Website Optimizer multivariate experiment

Next, you need to enter in the URL of page that you’re trying to test. This could be your blog’s home page or a specific post or page you’ve created. If you’re really daring go straight into your themes files to edit them, allowing the testing to be done on your entire WordPress blog!

The Conversion page is the location where new subscribers land after the subscribe to your blog. Both Mail Chimp and Aweber give you the option to redirect visitors back to your website after subscribing.

Setting up the experiment

Setting up the experiment

Now Google Website Optimizer knows the pages that are used in the conversion process. We need to give the service access to those pages by using a little bit of JavaScript. Google will give you some code snippets, and all you need to do is paste it inside the pages you specified above.

Google Website Optimizer provides the code

Google Website Optimizer provides the code

Once, you’ve added all of your JavaScript tags, click, Continue to verify the tags. A small lightbox should pop up to let you know that Google found the tags on your blog.

Click Continue to verify the tags

Click Continue to verify the tags

Making changes to test

Now it’s time to make changes to the areas of the page that you specified. You can change your opt-in form to produce a higher conversion in many ways.

  • Change the headline.
  • Add a picture.
  • Reduce the amount of textboxes. (Instead of Name and Email fields, try just an Email textbox.)
  • Change the background color.
  • Edit the text.
  • Change the Submit button to something less standard.

Once you’ve made the changes you want to test, you can sit back and wait to see which opt-in form converts the most visitors into subscribers.

The results

Below are the results for testing the opt-in form on my website. When I ran the test, I decided that whichever combination of visuals achieved the best results would be the combination I’d use on my blog.

Google Website Optimizer test results

Google Website Optimizer test results

As you can see, I created five different versions of my opt-in form. During this test, the original actually performed better than all of my other combinations, with an almost unreal 41.7% conversion rate. That’s almost one out of every two visitors signing up.

The combinations were different because of the headlines and descriptions I used. I used three different headlines along with two different descriptions:

  • Headline #1: How Does It Work?
  • Headline #2: Guest Blogging Rocks!
  • Headline #3: Guest Blogging Never Fails.
  • Description #1: Who’s Your Blogger is an online guest post exchanging platform. We make it easy to accept guest posts, and find blogs to guest post on. Best of all, it’s fast, easy, and free!
  • Description #2: Who’s Your Blogger has helped me land my guest posts on ProBlogger, Copy Blogger, and even John Chow. Trust me, Who’s Your Blogger has tripled my guest post production rate!

The results were:

  • Original: Headline #1 & Description #1 – Conversion Rate: 41.7%
  • Combination #1: Headline #2 & Description #1 – Conversion Rate: 20%
  • Combination #2: Headline #3 & Description #1 – Conversion Rate: 30.4%
  • Combination #3: Headline #1 & Description #2 – Conversion Rate: 25%
  • Combination #4: Headline #2 & Description #2 – Conversion Rate: 31%
  • Combination #5: Headline #3 & Description #2 – Conversion Rate: 21.4%

As the results show, my original message outperformed all of my other combinations, so it would make no sense to change the headline and description.

What can I do now? Of course there are many different tests I can run on my site. I might want to do the same test over again, but spend some more time coming up with headlines and descriptions that really rock!

Have you used Google Website Optimizer before? How do you like it? Leave your opinion below…

Joe Burnett is an amazing guest blogger. He created Who’s Your Blogger? to help increase your chances of landing guest posts on popular blogs by over 534%, and to find free unique content to publish on your blog. He teaches you exactly how to guest post and build a popular blog at the Who’s Your Blogger? Guest Blogging Blog!

The Mottos that Landed Me a Post on Problogger.net

This guest post is by Magz Parmenter of Tangerine Turtle.

Close your eyes for a minute and think about the biggest goal you have right now. Is it becoming a full-time blogger? Would you like to speak at a conference? Maybe you want to sell advertising on your blog. Whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve, you need to take the advice in this post. It’s how I succeeded with one of my biggest goals this year: to write for problogger.net…

I was going about my business, writing a post for my blog when I got a little pop-up message in the corner of my screen. It was Darren Rowse, you know, the Darren Rowse, from Problogger. Here’s how the conversation went:

Darren: “Hi Magz, I read your blog and liked what I saw. How about doing a guest post on problogger.net?”
Magz: “Wow! I’m flattered, Darren! Of course, I’d love to!”
Darren: “Okay, that’s great. Send me something and I’ll make sure to send it through to Georgina (the Content Manager at problogger.net).”

Okay, I’ll confess. None of the above actually happened. But wouldn’t it be awesome if it did?

The truth is, if you want to guest post for anyone, particularly an A-list blogger, you have to submit your ideas to them. Let’s be honest, they get thousands of emails asking them to please, please, please consider their amazing post. Particularly if you’re a new blogger, or even if you’re not (I’ve been blogging since 2005), getting to grips with pitching the big guns with your ideas can be daunting.

I’ll be the first to admit, it took me a good six months of reading and researching, interacting with Darren on Twitter and learning as much as I possibly could from heavy-hitters like Brian Clark, Jon Morrow, Pat Flynn, and the Blog Tyrant before I got the courage to pitch my ideas to the guys at problogger.net.

I. Was. Terrified.

To make matters worse, I sent my pitch on a Friday, and because of various factors like the time difference from the UK to Australia and Georgina’s work schedule, I didn’t get an answer until 1.30am on Sunday (Monday). I was sweating it that weekend!

So, How Did I Get that Elusive ‘Yes’ to Guest Post on Problogger?

In my former life, I used to be a counsellor. I’ve always been interested in psychology and what makes people do the things they do. I’m now a Personal Coach and I love helping people find ways to be more productive and successful in their lives, whether that means organizing their homes and offices, or organizing their thoughts.

I’m also addicted to Google. (They should give me shares, really. No … really.) Finally, I love inspirational and catchy quotes. Put these things together, and it should come as no surprise that I used the marketing slogans of four major companies to help me reach my big goal of guest posting here.

1.  Impossible is nothing (Adidas)

If you’re struggling, this motto might seem as believable as a pink elephant flying. But here are a few thoughts that will help you:

  • Your thoughts are influenced by words.
  • The words you tell yourself become your reality.
  • “Impossible” is a word.
  • So is “possible.”

If you tell yourself (or someone else) something over and over, eventually they will believe it. That is why parents are warned about the things they say to their children. If you tell a child continually that they are no good or can’t do something, they will start to believe it whether it’s a fact or not.

This is just as true for adults. In January of this year I did a productivity course and it changed my life. To see what I accomplished in just six weeks after the course, click here. One thing the speaker said really stuck with me:

There is nothing you can’t do that someone has already done before you.

Read it again, and then read it again a few times. When I saw the Adidas slogan “Impossible is Nothing” it immediately reminded me of that same thought. I realized these two statements were both extremely powerful tools to help me achieve my goals and be successful. I started repeating both of them to myself whenever I could. Every time I started feeling fearful or doubtful of my abilities, I would say one or both of them over and over until the feeling passed.

Do you know what? Over time, I found that I was doing it less and less. In other words, it had become my reality. It was no longer a strange sentence that I was just repeating, I actually believed it.

Impossible really is nothing: it’s just a word. It has no hold over you.

2.  What’s the worst that can happen? (Dr. Pepper)

It’s no secret that one of the main thing that holds us back from achieving our goals and dreams is fear. It may or may not come as a surprise to you to learn that many of the biggest experts out there also struggle with fear. We’re all human. We all hate the thought of failure or rejection.

The difference between successful people and the rest of the world is that successful people don’t let the fear win. They go for it anyway.

When you’re gripped by fear, ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?” The Dr Pepper people took that thought and made a joke out of it, showing outrageous scenarios of things going wrong in their ads. If it helps you to remember those ads, do it. Sometimes it’s good to visualize the “worst” and then make a joke of it in your mind. (That won’t be appropriate for every situation, of course!)

When I was preparing my pitch to Problogger, as I said before, I was terrified.

But to conquer it, I asked myself, “what’s the worst that can happen?” The worst that could happen was that they would say “no.” Okay, the worst that could happen was that they would say no and then tell me how I had no talent whatsoever and that I should find a different job and never write again. But I was banking on them being more professional than that, and from what I knew about Darren, I thought it would be unlikely that he or any of his staff would be so soul-destroying.

As it happened, I got a “yes.” But if I had let the fear win and not even tried, I would not have achieved one of my big goals for this year, and you would not be reading this right now.

So, the next time you’re afraid to make a move that will push you towards success with your blog, or in your life, ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?” The chances are, it’s not as bad as you think and even if it is, do it anyway—that’s what the big guns do!

3.  Because you’re worth it (L’Oreal)

After fear, the second biggest reason that people don’t achieve their goals and dreams is lack of self-confidence and self-worth.

They don’t believe they can do it, and more importantly they don’t believe they deserve it!

When I was younger and the L’Oreal ads would come on TV touting “because I’m worth it,” I used to smirk just a little bit. It was a catchy little slogan; I could see how women justified lots of purchases using this mantra. But really … how many of them really believed it?

Sadly, not many I would say. Research has shown over and over how low women’s opinions of themselves are. The issue isn’t confined to just women either; many men suffer from the same lack of self-belief.

As I’ve said before, what we tell ourselves becomes our reality, and unfortunately, too many of us tell ourselves that other people are better and more talented, smarter, more beautiful, and frankly, more deserving than us. To make matters worse, we tell ourselves this over and over and over, until eventually, it’s all we believe.

The fact is, none of us is more deserving than another. (I’m talking about hard-working people here; I’m not saying you can just do nothing and expect to get everything just because “you’re worth it.”) I am no less deserving of success in my life than Darren Rowse or Brian Clark or any other expert out there. I remind myself of this every day.

So the next time you think you deserve less than someone else in your niche, or in the blogosphere, tell yourself “I’m worth it.” Tell yourself over and over until you actually believe it.

4.  Just do it (Nike)

The last motto is one that really speaks for itself.

Just do it.

This is the last piece of the puzzle that will get you where you want to go.

After all the thinking and talking and preparing, you have to just go for it. You have to take the leap and take a chance. Doing nothing will get you exactly that: nothing.

When I was preparing my pitch, and indeed, this post, I went through all of the things I’ve talked about above. The hardest thing was just clicking the Send button. But that’s what you have to do.

When you’ve done everything else you can, all you have to do is:

Just Do It.

So, there you have it. Take the advice in this post and you’ll be guaranteed to achieve just about any goal you set for yourself and your blog. When you do, stop by and leave me a message, I love hearing about people’s successes!

Magz Parmenter is a Freelance Writer, Blogger, Personal Coach, Organizing Addict, and Author-in-Training. She specializes in writing about personal development, organizing for success, home and family management. She’d love to hear from you on her blog Tangerine Turtle, on Twitter: @magzparmenter or Facebook.

Develop Your Link Bait Repertoire

This guest post is by Jacob of BlogRevolter.com.

One of the most basic things that we can do to understand how Google functions is to understand how they determine which pages are considered strong and which are not. At the very core of its algorithm is the reliance on linksóthe connection from one website to the other.

In Google’s eyes, if website A is linking to website B, that must mean that website A trusts website B. That trusts passes what is known as authority. The more authority that a website and a page have, the more power that it is going to have in the SERPs. And, the stronger the link is from website A to website B, the more authority you’re going to get.

It’s because of this that those “Get 5,000 links in directory submission” offers that are seen on webmaster forums are pretty useless. Google looks at these links and determines that, in reality, very few of them have authority. However, getting a link from a blog that is updated often and has grown its authority will, without a doubt, help you greatly in developing your own authority.

The only problem with getting links is that it is dry. You could always email people for the links, but the success rate for that is low. I used to have to do that at a job. We’d email websites and nearly beg for links… It didn’t work.

All SEOs that are worth their salt will tell you that the best links are those that come naturally. This makes sense because Google is looking to see if you’re willingly passing that authority to someone else. So, if you get a link naturally, that must be great.

The best way to get a natural link is through what is known as link bait. In other words, you’re baiting people into giving you links. Most people will automatically go to ìList postsî as the best type of link bait, but I want to present you with a series of other methods of link bait that are equal to, if not better, than list posts.

Types of link bait

As I mentioned above, there are numerous different types of link bait that are really quite effective at giving your site the links it needs to rise in the search rankings. And as I said above, the common one is the list post, so, I felt it might be prudent to get that one out of the way so we could focus on the good stuff.

List articles

People love numbers. A list article is something like “Top 10 Ways in Which Lindsey Lohan Snorts…” and just leave it blank. People will link to that article like it’s the last thing they can do. Why? Because it’s funny. It’s got numbers. People want to see the top ten ways someone can do something like that.

Darren writes these often. 5 Ways I’m Using LinkedIn and 3 Reasons Why I Don’t Worry About the Competition are two examples of list posts that naturally get linked to. They provide value in list form rather than just long, bulky paragraphs. So, it’s easy to understand and therefore, easy to link to.

Okay. Now that weíre done with this one, let’s move on to some lesser known methods.

Infographics

An infographic is a graphic that contains a slew of information. For example, SearchEngineLand.com released a Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors. This infographic is a period table of elements, except instead of having C, O and H, it has Cq, Ht, and V—content quality, title tags, and keyword stuffing, which is a violation.

What the infographic does is take all of this information that you might write and put it into a nice, simple graphic that looks really nice. And it’s because it looks so nice that people begin to write about it and mention it on their sites. Naturally, when someone mentions something, they usually link back to you.

Another great thing about infographics is people print them out. I’ve got the above-mentioned infographic on my wall. Every time I look at it, I see that it was “Written by SearchEngineLand.com” and that makes me want to go back and check the site out. It’s a great way to start getting people to come back even after you’ve gotten that link.

Controversy

What’s better than hearing controversy such as “Kim Kardashian Might Have Butt Implants?” You hear something controversial like that and you just want to read it. Why not? It’s Kim K. She’s like so cool.

But, all of that aside, controversy gets linked to. The reason is because so many people disagree with it that they have to write a blog post about how wrong that person is and, naturally, they link back to it so their readers can see how wrong that person is.

My favorite example of all of these is the link bait that says “SEO is garbage.” The funniest part is that it’s link bait. That person is baiting you so much, trying to convince you to link to them by saying something outlandish. And it works. People write about how wrong that person is, and they link to them.

It’s so wrong, actually, that they are using SEO to back up their claim that SEO is garbage!

Spin the news

When something is trending in the news, people tend to link to it more because itís very fashionable. Unfortunately, unless you’re in the political or entertainment niche, most news is specific to niches and it’s hard to get any sort of movement. There’s a way around that.

Let’s talk about American debt for a second. You’ve got a situation where the American government almost defaulted—whether that’s true or not can be saved for another article—and that would’ve meant borrowing money would have been more difficult.

How could a blogger like Darren or myself ever cover something like that and get some of the juicy “debt news” traffic?

Well, the best way to do it might be like this: because it will be more expensive to borrow money, short-term funds that would normally be allocated to advertising are now going to have to go to paying employees because companies can’t afford to get short term loans.

Because of a drop in advertising, bloggers are now finding that they are making less money on their websites, which demonstrates the spread of the economic woes to the Internet. In other words, we can’t default because if we default, bloggers will hurt too. There—you’ve put a spin on the news.

Expert post

This is probably the sleaziest way of getting links, but it still works. Create what is known as an “expert post.” This is a post where you suck up to every big blog in the niche.

If I was making this type of post, I’d probably link to Darren and Glen from Viper Chill and the nameless dude from Blog Tyrant, because they’re experts. The hope then would be for them to link back to me because I touched their egos.

The only problem with this is that you’re sucking up and almost begging. It’s not really all that creative. However, if you can find the right people, you might get mentioned for it.

Great content

The best link bait content really is just well-written content. If you are helping people with your content and providing a service, people are going to link to it.

I know this is sort of avoiding the overall purpose of this post, but it’s true. So many bloggers focus entirely on creating a ton of content rather than creating great content. All of that content won’t get linked to if it isn’t great, so it makes more sense to create great content.

Give people something they want to link to and they will.

Conclusion

Link bait is one of the best ways to get links. People naturally decide to link to you, which, in the eyes of Google, is great. And, more importantly, you’re not wasting time trying to build links in any way considered “black hat.” Google loves natural links and link bait is content that gets natural links.

Have you ever used link bait? What methods have you used to encourage people to link to you? I’d love to hear your opinions below.

Jacob is the owner of BlogRevolter.com where he talks about topics such as building your social empire and WordPress SEO. Be sure to check him out on Twitter and Facebook.