A proven 3 step method to finally overcome procrastination and get it all done.

procrastination

You had the best of intentions.

Heck, you even coloured it with a highlighter, put a star beside it and blocked time on your calendar.

Then you procrastinated.

Or, at least you thought you did…

The reality is you didn’t procrastinate and – better still – with a 2 minute secret action you can overcome pretty well any resistance you have to any action.

Let me show you how.

You are NOT a Procrastinator

“Everybody procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator” – Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D

This might surprise you, but you are not a procrastinator. Nobody is (even though 20% of people think they are.)

Let me explain.

You respond differently to different situations. You don’t procrastinate about buying groceries or thanking a friend for listening to you or flossing your teeth (more on flossing below.) You’ve got those actions nailed.

If you were a “procrastinator” you would be completely unreliable – that’s not you.

You are a responsible person…you just put somethings off until later.

Get it?

This is an important point. If you think you are a procrastinator then please stop reading right now, because I can’t help you (of course I can help you, it just will take longer 🙂

STEP 1: Before you move to the reason behind your resistance, catch yourself thinking you’re a procrastinator and to stop and to remind yourself you are NOT a procrastinator – you are simply resisting this action.

Now, let’s look at what’s really happening.

Why you DON’T take Action

It’s all about value.

You do something because the value of that action is better than the alternative. You thank your friend for listening because you know that 5 minutes from now you’ll regret it if you didn’t.

You floss you teeth because the alternative is an expensive trip the dentist.

And everything you procrastinate about happens because, in the moment, it gives you more value than the alternative. This applies to refilling the chip bowl instead of stopping at one serving, allowing Netflix to load the next episode of Game of Thrones, instead of turning the TV off or checking email instead of calling the client you’ve been avoiding.

So, it comes down to what you value. Yes, you can build habits, but habits are built on values, so you have to start there.

STEP 2: Stop and think about the value you attach to the alternatives. That sounds more complicated than it is.

In other words, before you take action decide what will give you the biggest reward, long-term.

>> I know that if I go for my 15 minute morning walk I have more energy later in the morning (the walk gives me more reward than not walking.)

>> I know that if I work in blocks of no email, no social media I can plough through my work uninterrupted (focussed work gives me more reward than distractions.)

>> I know that if I take a few minutes before I finish my work day and plan my next day I am far more focussed and productive in the morning (making a list gives me more reward than just ending my work day with no list.)

Now, that you understand what action will give you the biggest long-term reward, let’s take action.

The 2 minute rule will help.

The 2 Minute RULE and how it Works

“Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think. Our research shows us that getting started changes our perception of a task. It can also change our perception of ourselves in important ways.” – Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D

One of the simplest ways to overcome procrastination is also one of the fastest. It’s the 2 minute rule (Stanford Professor B.J. Fogg popularized this idea by demonstrating how to start the habit of daily flossing by starting with just one tooth.)

One of the simplest remedies to procrastination is also one of the fastest. It’s the 2 minute rule. @bjfogg Click To Tweet

Here’s how it works.

When you realize you are about to put something off, take a 2 minute action.

For example, you are trying to get traction on a big project, like redesigning you web site, or cold calling prospects, or doing your taxes.

Start with just 2 minutes of action.

But, that’s not all…

Yes, you will start up the mountain with 2 minutes of walking, but you must also finish by planning your next step – what will you do and when will you do it.

It works like this.

Let’s say you want to redesign your web site (we can show you how to save thousands$’s from bad advice) – that’s a humungous job! Of course, you’re going to put it off—you have all sorts of other priorities that can be finished faster.

But, it has to get done. You know this is overdue and, if you get it done, it will help your business long-term (more value than putting it off.)

Step 3: Enter the 2 minute rule: what can you get done in just 2 minutes that will be a step in the right direction up the mountain?

>> You could bookmark competitor’s web sites in your browser for future reference.

>> You could make a list of changes you want to make to the existing site.

>> You could email 3 designers you know and ask about their availability (no point getting quotes if they can’t start for 2 months).

You get the idea.

You can make progress, break the ice and get a tiny dopamine reward by working uninterrupted for just 2 minutes. And then plan your next step.

We can all make progress, break the ice and get a tiny dopamine reward by working uninterrupted for just 2 minutes. Click To Tweet

Block time in your calendar for the next step (read this article about blocking time), to list what you like about your competitor’s sites, or prioritize the changes you want to make, or reply to the designers and ask to see their latest work.

Time investment: 2 minutes.

Reward to you: feeling great about making progress!

What You Must DO the Next Time

“So let’s get started. I’m ready to be heard. Before the dear departed. Can have the final word.” Get Started, Paul McCartney

It’s normal to put things off until later. We all do it. We’ll always do it.

Sometimes it’s a smart strategic move, like waiting until the morning to make a tough phone call, or ignoring your email in order to finish a proposal uninterrupted.

And then there are the non-strategic, wimpy moments when you caved. We all do that as well.

Here’s the thing. Those moments of uncertainty or hesitation don’t define you—those were just human moments.

Let it go and go back to your 3 steps:

Step 1. Don’t define yourself as a procrastinator. You aren’t.

Step 2. Consider the long-term rewards: what is most important for you right now?

Step 3. Take 2 minutes, take some forward action and then plan your next step.

It may not look heroic working on a project for only 2 minutes. But, it could be the most heroic thing you did all day. And you might just impress yourself with the ice-breaking momentum you just started.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more all about procrastination and getting more of what you want:

A simple lesson in Time Management (that will make you money)
How to Blog More Consistently (And Stop Missing Deadlines)
9 expert bloggers reveal their best strategies

3 Amazing WordPress Plugins to Power up your Blog

more blog traffic

This might be the most important article you read this year.

Okay, a bit of hyperbole, but if you’re trying to get bigger results from your blog, this will be damn good.

In this article we are looking at the 3 plugins we use the most often on this site.

Think of a plugin like an app on your phone. They can be a waste of time and actually slow down your site…or they can be amazing and make life oh-so-much-better. Add to that, most plugins are free, or at the very least have a free version.

Here they are:

1. Better Click to Tweet
2. Insert Post Ads
3. Editorial Calendar

I’m going to spell out the steps for each plug in below. You can also grab some popcorn and watch this 12 minute video.

Video roll:

01:00 Better Click to Tweet
4:38 Insert Post Ads
10:26 Editorial Calendar

1. Better Click to Tweet

This might be the simplest improvement you make to your blogs results—make it easy for readers to Tweet about your blog. In our goldfish-like attention world, nothing is better than saving your customers’ time.

[In our goldfish-like attention world, nothing is better than saving your customers’ time.]

Better Click to Tweet is a simple, free plugin that makes it super easy to let your readers, with just 2 clicks, share your post to all of their followers on Twitter. And that one tweet can put you in front of thousands of followers loyal to that reader.

There are similar tools, like Click to Tweet and plugins like sumome and social warfare offer a click to tweet option.

This video explains how to install the plugin.

Once you have the plugin installed adding a click to tweet is easy:

Copy a quote from your blog you want readers to share. Click on the location in your post you want to insert the click to tweet. Click on the blue bird in your menu bar, paste the quote and you’re done!

more blog traffic

2. Insert Post Ads

This plugin is amazing! I first came across it on Mike Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner’s blog (which has become like a Wiki for how-to social media). I noticed there were ads for his conference on every blog post. And I knew he had thousands of posts – clearly it wasn’t possible to have inserted the ad manually. That’s when I had a peak at his source code and viola!..Insert Post Ads (Thank You Mike.)

On any WordPress site, you can insert a banner for a webinar, live event (like Stelzner did for his conference), book sales, optin, content upgrade, a sale event or your daughter’s lemonade stand.

Within a few minutes your advertisement/offer/announcement is on every blog post on your site. And just as quickly you can remove it.

more blog traffic

Here’s how this clever little plugin works…

Once you have the plugin installed (did I mention it’s free?).

1. Drop the banner image you want displayed into a draft page on your WordPress site. You won’t be publishing this page – it’s just there so you can quickly get the html code from the image.

2. Click on the image, go to edit, and select “Link to Custom URL” and paste the link to the event or sales page you want to promote. Click “Update” to save the banner. Now that you have a linked banner, you need to load that into the Insert Post Ads plugin.

3. Click on “Text” to display the HTML code for that page (if you’re getting confused, watch the video on this page.) Copy the code for that banner into your clipboard. Click “Save Draft” to save your page in WordPress.

4. Go to your Insert Post Ads plugin “Post Adverts > Add New Posts.” Enter the name of the new insert where it says “Advert Title.” Paste the HTML code into “Advert code:” Choose “Display the advert After Paragraph Number” and choose a number. Click “Publish”

That’s it. It’s going to seem like Greek (no offense to all the Greeks who read my blog), but once you’ve done it, oh let’s say 114 times, it gets easier!

I encourage you to write out the steps so next month when you go to replace the banner it’s much quicker.

3. Editorial Calendar

I think I saved my favourite for last.

Imagine having all your blog posts – past and future – nicely organized and displayed on a calendar. Automatically! That’s what the Editorial Calendar plugin (yup, free as well) will do.

[Imagine having all your blog posts – past and future – nicely organized and displayed on a calendar. Automatically!]

All you have to do is install the plugin and presto! it populates with all your posted blogs and – this is my favourite part – it lists all your draft posts in a tidy list in a right-hand side bar.

But, wait, there’s more! (thank you Steve Jobs for that one.)

more blog traffic

You can do a quick edit of a draft right from the calendar. You can also move your draft posts on the calendar and it will automagically update the posting date on the draft.

If you aren’t using a more robust tool, like coschedule or post planner, Editorial Calendar is a slick, nibble alternative. And if you collaborate with an editor or assistant, this tool will save you tons of emails back and forth about dates.

You’re welcome.

Ready to learn more? Here are 3 of our most popular articles on this topic:

7 Types of Call To Action to Move your Blog Readers to Action
Your end of year blog tune up
51 ways to get more business from your blog in the New Year

7 Types of Call To Action to Move your Blog Readers to Action

get more blog traffic

It’s hard to imagine a sales person not asking for the sale or a Amazon not having an “Add to cart” button. So why do so many blogs not have a call-to-action?

Does yours?

Before I get to my 7 favourite call-to-action (CTA) options, let’s take a step back and talk about what your blog is for.

Your blog is there to help people. Even blogs that share travel stories or pontificate about the pro’s and con’s of nose piercing are there to help.

And if you want to help people, you need to offer more than your written advice. It could be coaching, an online course, live events, consulting, or your book. That’s where you CTA comes in – helping people.

Alrighty, with that out of the way, let’s look at my favourite CTA’s.

1. Internal link

By far the simplest and most essential CTA is to link to another blog on your site. The reader can go deeper with related content and you get them on your site longer. Longer on site means more time to visit your products and services pages.

Of course, you can also link directly from your blog to pages that lead your reader closer to a sale. When I’m writing my draft blog post I will underline a word if it relates to another post I’ve already published. That way I don’t interrupt my writing (like that) to go search for the actual link. I’ll go back and add the actual link before I publish.

One last point…a quick fix strategy is to go back to your top half-dozen posts and add internal links to other posts and to your products and services pages. Don’t over do it, but 4-6 links in a 400-1,000 word post is not going to seem overkill.

blog traffic

2. Bottom of post

Did you know that 30% of people buying a book on Amazon will buy a second book from the list “Customers who bought this item also bought”. Why not use the same strategy in your blog?

At the bottom of each post simply list 3 more posts they might enjoy. After all, if your reader gets to the bottom of the post they probably want more on that topic.

We started offering a list of 3 additional posts at the bottom of every new post on our blog. It such a simple task, you’d be crazy to not do it. Again, just like the suggestion above for retrofitting older popular posts with internal links, you can easily add suggested posts at the end of those same posts,

blog traffic

3. Social shares

One of the easiest ways to increase traffic to your blog is to have readers share it on social media. The math is impressive:

One of the easiest ways to increase traffic to your blog is to have readers share it on social media. Click To Tweet`

Imagine if only 20 people share your post. But those shares go to some 20,000 of their followers. It doesn’t take a big percent of responses to see how your traffic will increase.

There are a few tools, like sumome, addthis, sharethis and social warfare that make it super easy to share your blog on social media. All of these tools should work perfectly on mobile (your mobile traffic could be as high as 35-45% of all traffic) with share buttons that stay at the bottom of the phone’s screen as the reader scrolls.

blog traffic

4. Content upgrade

This CTA is a little more complicated to set up, but the results can be impressive. The idea of of ‘content upgrade’ is to deliver a report, or guide or check list that supplements the blog post the reader is on.

For example, if your post is about 5 ways to give feedback to employees, your content upgrade could be a check list that helps you choose the right feedback to use in your next coaching session.

Ideally, the gift can be consumed in one sitting and has high value for the prospect. After all, this is their first impression of you and your business.

To receive the download the reader has to optin to your mailing list.

The trick is to take the reader to what’s called a “landing page” where the offer is presented and there’s an invitation to join your list if they want to receive the gift but also receive future updates from you. The simplest way to do this is to create a hidden page on your site (like www.yoursite.com/offer) with the offer. You can also create custom landing pages in most CRM’s, like Convertkit, Ontraport, Active Campaign, etc.

blog traffic

5. Click to tweet

One of the easiest ways to encourage readers to share your post is to set up a click-to-tweet option. Your reader sees an interesting quote, identified with the Twitter bird icon, they click on that quote and your blog is shared onto their Twitter channel with a link back to your blog. This makes it super easy or your reader to share and you get exposed to their followers.

The set up for a click to tweet option is simple. At BlogWorks we use the plugin Better Click to Tweet. This video explains how to install the plugin. And there are others, like Click to Tweet and plugins like sumome and social warfare offer a click to tweet feature as an option.

Once you have the plugin installed add a click to tweet is easy. Copy a quote from your blog that you want readers to share. Click on the location in your post you want to insert the click to tweet. Click on the blue bird in your menu bar, paste the quote and you’re done!

blog traffic

6. Sidebar CTA

Most blogs have a menu of sidebar displayed options. It might be your most popular blog posts, advertising a product, like your book and it can be an invitation to join your mailing list.

Building your mailing list is an important strategy for marketing your business. Even with the explosive growth of Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and other social channels, you will always get stronger sales by directly emailing a list of loyal followers.

The sidebar CTA is an invitation to grow your list, usually in return for receiving a gift, or “lead magnet”.

Many of the mailing list tools, like Mail Chimp (called a signup form) or Convertkit (create form) make it super easy to design and load the “widget” box, complete with image of your gift, into your website. The full sequence of events, like Thank You page, optin confirmation email, etc are easy to set up.

More robust CRM (Customer Relations Management) software, like Active Campaign (create form to capture contacts) and Infusionsoft (create WordPress optin form) also allow you to create the form.

The beauty of these sequences is that once you jump through all the hoops (there are loads of videos on YouTube explaining how to do this), it will run 24/7 for years. Your job is to check the numbers and change to a new gift if you aren’t getting the results you want.

7. The Pop-up CTA

Finally, we come to the much maligned pop-up CTA. But, before you run away screaming “I hate pop-up’s!” You need to know something.

Pop-up’s work. The trick with pop-up’s is to not annoy your reader! All of these tools are designed to select who sees your popup and how they see it. For example, you can delay the popup until the reader has been on your post for 2 minutes or they are about to leave you page. You can also set the popup to not show to returning readers. 

Some of the most popular popup plugins are Optin Monster, ConvertPlus, or WP Subscribe Pro.

One more thing I’ve got to do!!

At this point you might be freaking out and thinking “One more thing I’ve got to do!!” Here’s the deal:

Just like investing in professional pictures of your products (or your profile picture), adding CTA’s to your blog are an investment. Every day you can be helping your readers with your blog or you can be helping them and you by getting them to respond to a call to action.

A small investment now (like 5 minutes to add internal links to a post) could pay big dividends day after day for years to come. So, stop screaming, pick one and get to work.

You’re welcome.

If you enjoyed this article (You new this was coming, right?), you’re going to want to check out these as well:

Why You Should be Re-Loving Your Old Blog Posts
How to Ensure Your Posts Look AMAZING On Social Media
Why You Need A Standard Operating Procedure For Your Blog

90 seconds to becoming a better writer

writing a blog

“Finding success is all about taking action. You can read all you want, but nothing will happen until you execute.” – Pat Flynn

Your blog is a reflection of you.

Sloppy writing that might have got a passing grade in high school won’t help.

Fear not loyal reader!

In just 90 seconds you can transform your writing from a C- to an A+.

Better yet, your readers will stay on your site longer and that means more business. Lucky you.

Here goes: 7 ways to sharpen your writing and cut to the point in 90 seconds (or less):

1. Make me want to read this

“A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.” – Lee Odden

Compelling writing starts with targeting your avatar, or ideal customer. If you can help them reach their goals faster, cheap or better they will become loyal readers.

Rambling thoughts about unrelated topics that caught your fancy is great if you flew in space, wrote a best-seller or your last name is Branson. If not, stick to solving problems for your target market.

This article walks you through the 5 step process – including how to pick killer topics – we use for every blog post. Start with that.

Compelling writing is first about targeting your avatar, or ideal customer. If you can help them reach their goals faster, cheap or better they will become loyal readers. Period. Click To Tweet

2. Start with a template

“The first thing you need to decide when you build your blog is what you want to accomplish with it, and what it can do if successful.” – Ron Dawson

I’ve written about using a writing template before, like this article and this article. A writing template is not cheating! You will save time and your writing will improve.

I start with a rough outline of what I want to write about and then move content to slot into my template. It might sound rote or mechanical, but my writing always improves this way. The template hauls me back from side trips and reminds me to include important parts like a summary and call-to-action.


3. Put your reader in the story

“The key is, no matter what story you tell, make your buyer the hero.” – Chris Brogan

Great salespeople use ‘you’ more than ‘I’. So should you.

This is a quick edit. Simply scan you post before publishing and look for all the “I”, “my”, “our”, “me” and starts swapping them for “you”, “your”, “your’s” and “you’re.”

When you put your read in the message they begin to envision how they could be applying your solutions.

Before: “When I block time I make an appointment with myself.”

After: “When you block time you make an appointment with yourself.”

4. Clean up sloppy writing

“Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs.” – Seth Godin

More words do not make your blog better. Instead you force your reader to slow down and stumble through run-on sentences, bloated paragraphs and awkward grammar.

Not good.

More words do not make your blog better. Click To Tweet

The simple test is if you remove the word and the sentence still works, leave it out.

Before: “If you have staff members who are well-organized, their productivity levels can go through the roof with remote working.”

After: “Staff who are well-organized can benefit from remote working.”

5. Remove dead words

“Qualifying words, such as very, little, and rather, add nothing to your meaning and suck the life out of your sentences.” – Copyblogger

Improving your writing can start with removing unnecessary words and helping your reader get to the bottom of your post. Readers that finish reading a post are more likely to share your article and more likely to spend time on your site looking at your products and services.

Get ready to start deleting!

That

In many cases, removing that improves the sentence: “This is the most amazing blog post that I’ve ever read.”

Book marketing expert and author Diana Urban suggests, “If a sentence still makes sense after removing ‘that’, delete it.”

Then

For example: “I stepped on stage and then the audience went quiet.” can be “I stepped on stage and the audience was quiet.”

All, every, totally, always, completely, absolutely, literally

For example: “If your employee doesn’t respond to your feedback you can always try coaching.

Better: “If your employee doesn’t respond to your feedback, try coaching.

6. Use words correctly

99.9% of great bloggers are not awesome on day 1. Their awesomeness is the accumulation of the value they create over time.” – Darren Rowse

Bad grammar is a bad reflection on you. Here’s a quick check list of what to avoid:

  • Everyday means common or normal. Every day means today, tomorrow, the next day and so on.
  • If you adapt something you change it. To adopt is to take it as your own.
  • Already is talking about the past; all ready is about the future.
  • Regardless is a word, irregardless is not.
  • Especially means particularly, whereas specially usually means “in a special or careful manner” or “specifically.”
  • Then is about time. Use than to compare something.
  • You write on stationery that is (hopefully) stationary. Get it?

7. Break up looooong paragraphs

“The shorter your paragraphs are, the less dense and threatening the post looks.” – Jon Morrow

Your blog is not a technical thesis written for tenured professors paid to read your writing. Your goal is to keep readers on your site.

A simple fix for most blogs is to break up paragraphs and add what I call ‘cliff hangers’ (just like I’ve been doing in this post.)

Cliff hangers are like teasers that compels the reader to keep scrolling. For example: (that’s one)

But, before I get to that solution, let me ask you a question…

Here are three quick ways to start a conversation.

Has that happened to you?

Ready to turn your blog magnet on?

The theme of this post is less is usually not only best, but stronger—stronger results for your traffic and your business.

Invest 90 seconds to chop, cut, cull and shape your blog and you will keep readers on your site longer. More time on site means more readers into prospects and more prospects into business.

Nice.

Ready to write your killer post? Here are 3 more articles to get you started:

Excuse me, but your blog is BORING!
Write killer blog posts with this template
How to Build a Better Blog: 5 Industry Experts Share Their Top Tips

How to never run out of blog ideas ever again

Never run out of blog ideas ever again

This post was originally published in July, 2016 and has been updated and re-loved for you. Enjoy.

The biggest mistake bloggers make is, well, they don’t blog.

Those gaping holes between posts make everything on your site look a little suspect – like going into a grocery store and seeing food past its due date. How long before you question everything in the store?

The bottom line is you can’t attract new prospects and build loyalty if you don’t consistently work to attract them. That’s why content marketing (sharing valuable, problem-solving resources) is still the best way to grow your business. And this is true whether you’re a food blogger or a baker, a keynote speaker or you teach online – it’s all about sharing your best content AND proving you are the best choice.

To avoid running out of ideas for your blog you have to have lots of ideas for your blog.

In this post, I’ll walk you through 5 ways to keep great blog ideas rolling in. Let’s jump in with reading…

1. Read blogs

Nothing beats reading other people’s blogs to stimulate ideas for your own future posts. I use feedly to pull my favourite blogs into one location where I can read them while I’m eating lunch. I also make it a habit to write comments on blogs I’ve read (hint, hint) to show my appreciation.

But, reading blogs is only the start—you need to think about your market. What problems need solving? What questions are they asking you? What has worked in the past?

Feedly is a super easy tool to quickly organize all your favourite blogs into one place.

For example, I got the idea to write posts about Google Analytics because I was searching for answers for my clients. I found a lot of articles answering my questions, but they were either too long or too technical. So I wrote this one and this one.

Now that you’re reading great content, you need to organize the best blog ideas…

2. Build an Inventory

In the old days (like 10 years ago) you might have saved magazines or used sticky notes to mark ideas in a book you’re reading. Those systems can’t keep up with our online world where a great idea might be in a blog post you read, an online magazine, a Tweet – even an Instagram post.

You need one place to collect, organize and retrieve your best blog ideas.

Evernote is a brilliant (free) online tool that allows you to easily grab articles off the web, store images, record audio or even accept pictures of hand-scribbled notes from your phone. It syncs in seconds on all your devices and, with the paid account, you can even search off-line as you head to the grocery store to collect ingredients for your favourite Thai salad with peanut sauce recipe.

To fully unleash the power of Evernote, install the Webclipper (I remember it as the Elephant head) extension on your favourite browser. That will allow you to quickly grab the article you found, strip it of advertising, tag it and store it for future reference.

find blog ideas

And here’s my favourite trick with Evernote (h/t to Michael Hyatt):

Instead of creating lots of Notebooks in Evernote, which can get messy and confusing, I have all my notes in one Notebook and use tags to search for what I want. And I tag all future blog ideas (including articles I saved using the Evernote extension) with the tag “unused blog post”. The tag allows me to easily pull up all my unused ideas and choose the one I want to work on. As soon as I use that note I delete it.

evernote
I use the tag “unused blog topics” to easily organize all my future blog ideas into one search.

Okay, you’ve collected lots of blog ideas, now it’s time to organize them on a calendar…

3. Build your Editorial Calendar

A simple way to organized future blog ideas is using a spreadsheet, like Excel or Google Sheets. Or you could use planning tools like Asana or Trello. That’s great, but I’m a visual person and prefer seeing future projects in a calendar format.

If you have a WordPress site, you can organize all your blog ideas with a clever (and free) plugin called Editorial Calendar (watch our quick video to learn how this works).

Editorial calendar
The Editorial calendar plugin makes it easy to schedule posts and to see your draft posts in one place.

When you start putting dates to topics, think about seasons and buyer behaviour. What seasons do your customers respond to (like winter, summer, Christmas, etc.)? When are your customers more likely to buy? When does your customer have certain problems (like Spring cleaning, budgeting, staff hiring, etc.)?

Your Editorial Calendar doesn’t have to be perfect. The idea is to promote the writing and publishing by planning ahead and avoiding writer’s block.

Now you have lots of blog ideas collected in Evernote and you’ve started to plan future posts in your Editorial Calendar. Great! This next strategy is a way to boost traffic without writing a new post…

4. Repurpose old content

This strategy will save you time and could get you a big traffic boost. Here’s how it works…

Start by making a list of posts that are pulling in strong traffic but are over a year old. These are gems that could be working harder if they were “re-loved” and republished.

To get to your analytics, first, log in, then navigate to Behaviour > Overview.

best blog ideas
To get to your analytics, first, log in, then navigate to Behaviour > Overview

This part is a little technical, but hang in there – you only need to do this research a few times a year to get the full benefit.

There are at least 3 metrics you can use to choose the blog article to republish:

  1. old posts – if your post is older than one year there’s a good chance you need to update the images, and facts in the article and maybe add more detail to the content.
  2. low Bounce rate – “Bounce rate” is the per cent of people who left your site after one page (they didn’t explore the rest of your site). A lower bounce rate (like 60-70%) can be a good sign. Think of it this way: out of all your published blog posts, there are some that keep readers on your site longer. Those posts could be worth updating and republishing.
  3. high time on page – “Time on site” is the minutes a reader spent on that page. The higher the time, the more likely the reader is to share the article and spend more time on your site.

You can combine the metrics. In other words, look for blog posts older than a year, with low bounce rate and high time on site. Find 3-5 of those posts and start with them.

Here’s another example:

We republished our post “Facebook Page vs Profile: Everything You Need To Know” and within 10 days our traffic increased by 229%!

blog ideas
In just 10 days traffic to this post increased by over 200%!

The blog post you’re reading is another good example. It was originally published in July 2016 and I added more content and images and republished it in February 2019. It only took about an hour’s worth of chopping, adding, and changes to turn it into the post you’re reading – much easier than starting from scratch!

Whew! You’ve collected amazing ideas into Evernote, organized them with Editorial Calendar, planned a post you will refresh and republish. Now it’s time for a bit of psychology…

5. Give ‘em more of what they love

It might be tempting to pour a cup of coffee and just start writing your next blog post. But what about what your market wants?

Every day your readers are leaving bread crumbs – clues – about what they want. It could be a comment on a post, social shares or an email that asks a question about a recent post. You need to watch for these clues.

A simple first step is to check what posts are most popular (see #4 above). You can also think about the psychology of your reader. What keeps a person on your blog for more than a quick glance?

It’s about solving a problem.

Readers, don’t announce this – but they are looking for a solution to something. It could be a great travel destination or how to save for their retirement.

If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. But, there’s more…

If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. Click To Tweet

The trick is to always give’em more of what they love. Blogs that wander off down rabbit holes about unrelated topics might work if you are already a celebrity off-line, but don’t work if you are trying to build a business online.

Stick to what your readers want and you will build valuable traffic that will come back for more.

 

Why you should be republishing your old blog posts

Maybe you work too hard?

It’s the end of the day, you’re exhausted – all you want to do is veg out and watch Marie Kondo spark joy in someone else’s cluttered bedroom.

Instead, you’re writing a new blog.

You know your blog is important, but maybe there’s an easier way? A way that could even get you better results.

We call republishing old blog posts “re-loving”.

Before I get to that, I want to explain a very powerful discovery we’ve made at BlogWorks.

Every week we’re working with business owners who have blogs. They have come to us either because they want us to promote their blog or help write their blog, or both.

But what we discovered is that the good old Pareto 80/20 principle is hard at work. And about 20% of their posts (these are the “hot” topics) attract about 80% of the traffic.

Most blog owners need to look at the 80/20 rule. About 20% of your posts attract about 80% of the traffic. Click To Tweet

Your blog and the 80/20 principle

Pareto 80/20 rule
Data tells us that the good old Pareto 80/20 principle is hard at work

Think about it: if you knew that 20% of the products in your store or services were hot sellers, you’d promote them more, right? Of course you would.

But, of course, nobody bothers to check the data (not you, of course) because the data is hidden in the techie world of Google Analytics.

So, there you are: sweating over another blog post and not knowing what topics are hot topics.

Let’s fix that…

How to re-love your old posts

The strategy with republishing old blog posts is to give each article a quick make-over to update the content, refresh the look and then to republish with a new date. And the goal is more traffic and you get a blog posted without a lot of effort.

Before, I get into the steps that we use, I want to emphasize “without a lot of effort” – this can either be a four hour project or a 30 minute one. Your goal is the latter. That means one cup of tea, coffee or glass of wine, but not longer than 30 minutes.

Boundaries created, let’s dive in.

Instead of always writing new posts, why not republish old ones? Click To Tweet

Step 1: Make a list of old blog posts to re-love

Remember the principle here is to find blog posts that are performing well, but need an upgrade. Start with your Google Analytics list of top 50 blog posts. Open up Analytics, change the date range to the last 6 months. Next, go to Behaviour > Overview. Once you see the chart (bottom right-hand corner), click “see full report” to get the expanded version and click the drop-down “show rows” to “50.”

Google Analytics list

Now you have the top 50 pages, by traffic, on your site. This is chart if full of bread crumbs: you are looking at how your readers have voted on your blog—essentially they are telling you what they want more of.

A good place to start your republishing old blog posts exercise is with the most popular blog posts that are more than one year old. To get that list, print the chart and write the published date beside the top 20 blog posts.

The oldest posts in the top 20 are the ones you’ll be re-loving.

top blogs and dates

Step 2: Create a publishing schedule

If you find yourself trying to remember what blog topics you’ve already published and keeping track of future topics, you are going to love this solution:

A great (free) plug-in we’ve started using is called Editorial Calendar. Once installed, Editorial Calendar will self-populate with all your published blog posts. Cool right?

editorial calendar

A neat trick is to click “Show unscheduled drafts” to see a list of all your draft posts and then click and drag them to the date you want. You can “hold” a publishing date by starting a draft blog post with the date you want (watch this video to learn how).

A simple plan is to mix one new post with one re-loved post per month. Or double it up if you publish weekly.

Step 3: Give the post a quick make-over

Now for the fun part!

The goal here is to update facts, clean up your writing, maybe refresh images and then be DONE. Google is looking for a “substantial update” for it to do the magical reindexing we want to move up to first page. But you don’t need to make this another writing project!

Here’s a quick shopping list of what to look for:

  • Break up those looooong paragraphs and keep your readers moving down the page.
  • Insert “cliffhangers”, like: “But, before I get to that…”, “And there’s one more thing…”, or “Has this ever happened to you…?”
  • Include keywords into your post. Don’t overdo it, but if your post is about “change management” make sure it’s in some of your subheading (h1, h2 tags.)
  • Insert a Click To Tweet to make it easy for readers to share.
  • Update your Featured Image.
  • Insert links to “anchor posts” – these are posts on your site you want readers to go to, or to your products and services pages. While you’re at it, remove unnecessary links that take readers off your site.
  • Update your CTA (Call To Action) – do you want social shares, the reader to take action, or just comments? Make it clear what action you want them to take. As a friend once said, “If you don’t A-S-K you won’t G-E-T.”

Your final touch before changing to the new publish date and hitting publish is to add a short announcement at the top of the post to let readers know this is information is current, like:

“This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been completely updated.”

or: “This post was originally published in 2017 and was completely updated Jan. 2019 for accuracy and your reading pleasure.”

Step 4: Make some noise

Once you’ve launched your newly republished post it’s time to make some noise. Send some posts to your social channels (of course if you are using BlogWorks, we’re all over that), fire off an email, maybe shoot a quick video.

Remember, you’re newly republished post is going to be new to your audience. So, don’t be shy about announcing it’s arrival.

Note: if your permalink setting includes the date your blog was published (like: www.myblog.com/blog/2012/12/leadership) republishing old blog posts will change the date in the URL and you will lose any existing SEO links. This article explains how to avoid that.

Well done! You’ve been strategic and re-loved your hard work from the past. You’ve also saved time AND published exactly what your readers told you they want more of.

Plus, now you have more time to watch Marie Kondo spark joy.

51 ways to get more business from your blog in the New Year

get more business from your blog

It’s a New Year. The holidays are over, your relatives have returned home.

And it’s time to get serious about your business and your blog.

You want more traffic—the right traffic.

And you probably want to spend less time doing it. Oh, and one more thing…

You also probably want to be more consistent publishing your blog.

Right?

Well, we are here to help.

First, if you are struggling to get your blog published, let us know. We are more than a social media company and can also help get your blog published.

Next, we got all of our elves to compile this ultimate list for you:

Here you’ll find everything you need to spark new ideas, improve your results, save time and, YES, also get more business.

Okay, let’s dig in with: 51 ways to get more business from your blog in the New Year.

Planning 

  1. Plan your next 3 months of topics with a Content Calendar.
  2. Block writing time on your calendar.
  3. Visit 10 blogs in your niche and get ideas for future topics.
  4. Create an avatar for your ideal audience(s) – all of your writing should attract your avatars.
  5. Research your competitors: what hot topics are they writing about? 
  6. Mix up your Content Calendar with video, infographic, illustrations, lists, book reviews, or interviews.
  7. Plan for seasonal campaigns, like New Year, summer, spring cleaning, Black Friday, etc.
  8. Install the free plugin Editorial Calendar to organize your future blog posts in a single dashboard.
  9. Plan for at least one extra-long (1,500-2,000 words), epic post that readers will love to share.

Writing

  1. Once a week read blogs about your topic using Feedly.
  2. Read Stephen King’s “On Writing: a memoir of the craft
  3. Experiment with short posts (see Seth Godin and Derek Sivers).
  4. Include “cliffhangers” (like: “Before I get to those solutions, let me ask you a question:”) to tease readers to continue reading your post.
  5. Choose one time of day to do your writing and build a habit around it.
  6. Use a writing template to get your posts started faster and end better.
  7. Use Evernote to collect articles and ideas for future blog posts.
  8. Let people in: share a personal experience and lessons learned.
  9. Answer common questions. One or two great solutions to one problem are better than 10 so-so solutions.
  10. Start every post with a personal story, questions, interesting fact or bold claim—get your readers’ attention!
  11. Spell check every post(!)
  12. Position yourself as an expert in your industry by sharing your original ideas, models, and solutions. 
  13. Make readers feel smart by sharing clever, unique solutions to important questions (and they’ll be more likely to share your posts!).
  14. Take a speed typing course and have a goal to complete each post faster.

Publishing

  1. Create an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) of all the steps to publishing your blog.
  2. Revise old posts with updated information, new images and better CTA’s and republish.
  3. Save time by writing all of the social media updates for your blog at one time.
  4. Save time with every new blog post by outsourcing some or all of your publishing SOP.
  5. Post date your new blog post to come out on the same day of the week and at the same time.

Getting results

  1. Use your top 3 blog posts to find clues for what readers are attracted to.
  2. Make it a goal to grow your email list this year and review all the CTA’s that point to your email opt-in.
  3. Declutter your website sidebar and make it easier for readers to make one choice.
  4. Link your posts to “anchor” posts – these are posts you most want visitors to read.
  5. Include a CTA (Call To Action) in every blog post (ask for comments, ask for shares, link to survey, etc).
  6. Install the plugin Insert Post Ads to quickly insert banner ads in your blog posts.
  7. Keep readers on your site longer: end every blog post by recommending 3 related blog posts.
  8. When you email your list, only include the first 200-300 words of your new blog post with a link to “read more…” 
  9. Limit the links leaving your site and link to more related articles on your site.
  10. Ask for action: comment, share, read a related post or get a free opt-in offer.

Better numbers

  1. Benchmark your main traffic numbers (users, bounce rate, time on site) in Google Analytics.
  2. Create a goal for traffic and list size for this year.
  3. Update the Lead Magnet gift that goes with your email opt-in.
  4. Find all broken links on your website with tools like Broken link checker, or Dead link check.
  5. After publishing on your site, publish your blog post as an article on LinkedIn.
  6. A site that loads fast loses fewer readers. Test the loading speed of your site.
  7. Optimize every post with keywords, especially in your headline and first paragraph.

Attracting more readers

  1. Subscribe to BlogWorks(!) and let us promote you every day on social media.
  2. Write every post for your ideal client. Speak to them and answer the questions they ask you.
  3. Install the plug-in Better Click to Tweet (it’s free) and include at least 1 tweet in every post.
  4. Install the sumo or social warfare floating social share bars to encourage more readers to share your articles.
  5. Share your best stuff. You readers will be attracted (and will share) your best ideas, solutions, strategies, and resources.
  6. Finally, keep the faith—all successful bloggers started small and slow, persistence and consistency are more important than perfection. Keep writing, publishing and promoting!

Whoa! I know this was a long list.

And so we have two more thoughts for you…

First, you don’t need to do all of this. In fact, you don’t need to do half of it! 
Instead, choose one change you will make this month. Believe it or not, in our research we have found the most blogs never change! Year after year there is virtually zero attention given to plug ins, format, easy ways to share the post…nothing.
So, go easy on yourself and choose one thing for this month (my favourite would be to add the cool, free Editorial Calendar).

Lastly, you might have noticed that there are only 51 tips in our list, and not 52. That’s because you deserve a break! For at least one week, slack off. A great way to do that is to schedule your posts in advance (see #14 and #15 to save time.)

There you have it – great tips you can use one at a time. Have fun with it—your blog is a license to be creative and experiment. Do that and your readers will reward you with more readers. 

Looking for more articles on related topics?

Thinking of quitting blogging? Read this first …
Expert Tips: How to build a better blog
How to get 142% more blog traffic this year

Your end of year blog tune up

Nothing I like better than an investment that keeps on paying.

Like my blog.

Every day readers are clicking in, sharing articles, joining my list, and prospects are becoming clients — a nice return on my investment!

But at least once a year my blog needs a tune up.

How about you?

CHECK YOUR BLOG DASHBOARD

I’m often asked, “What should I be measuring on my blog?” Like a dashboard, it’s helpful to have some numbers to pay attention to – even better if you can quickly access those numbers.

If you’ve logged into GoogleAnalytics lately you know it can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are just a few numbers you can safely start with:

Users

Users tells you how much traffic your blog is getting. Raw traffic is a good measurement of effectiveness because it tells you whether or not your blog is growing.

Bounce rate

This measures how many users left after visiting just one page on your website. The lower this number, the better, because it means people are engaging with your website content and clicking through pages.

Average session duration

This is how long the average reader stays on your site. Over one minute is a good starting goal. You can learn even more by looking at the time spent on each of your top blog posts (see finding theGolden Goose, below.)

It’s easy to have your basic dashboard sent to you on a regular basic. This is not only convenient (I get mine once a month), it’s a good reminder to check your performance (watch the video in this post to learn how to setthis up).

FINDING YOUR GOLDEN GOOSE

Imagine you have a retail store.

In your store, there are a few items that fly off the shelf. For whatever reason people love those scarves, or toys or books or whatever it is you sell. They are your golden goose (geese?)

That’s fantastic news! Now you can highlight that section of the store, add more items shoppers might want – even advertise those products to get more people into your store.

What about your blog?

Every blog has winners and losers—for whatever reason some posts simply out perform others. On my blog, I have one blog post that every month pulls in almost one half of my site traffic. And it was written 3 years ago!

Every blog has winners and losers

How to discover your golden goose.

Start with your Google Analytics. Scroll down on the left menu to “Behaviour”, click “Overview” and look at your top three blog posts. 

Everyone has a ‘golden goose’ blog post that attracts the most traffic

Now that you have some basic numbers and know what your Golden Goose blog posts are, it’s time to get to work with your annual blog tune up!

TIME TO TUNE UP YOUR POSTS

Before you start writing more blogs, tune up the ones you have. The best posts to invest in are the ones that are closely aligned to what you sell (the topic is valuable to your core market), but are underperforming. You can simply start with posts that are ranked lower than 5 on your list of top blog posts (explained above).

Before you start writing more blogs, tune up the ones you have. Click To Tweet

Here are 5 easy ways to spruce up your posts:

1. Chop up paragraphs – short paragraphs (and sentences) keep your reader moving. The goal is to get readers to move through enough of the post so they will take some action. This is a 5-minute fix – start with a quick edit.

2. Cliffhangers – now I’ll show you one sure-fire way to keep readers on your blog…

…that’s a cliffhanger – it could be a question, 3 dots, an em-dash (—) or a colon. The idea is to make the reader want to get to the punch line.

3. Ask questions – similar to the cliff hanger, you can turn many of your sentences into questions. Don’t you agree? Readers naturally want to know the answer to their questions.

4. Curious subheadings – subheadings break up the reading and can create curiosity. Play around with headings until you find ones that spark some curiosity with your readers.

5. Insert media – this is a fun way to dress up any post: add media. You can insert YouTube videos, a Gif (like the one I created for this post), images, or illustrations. I call this “eye candy” – it attracts the reader and breaks up the reading experience.

TURN READERS INTO PROSPECTS

The ultimate goal of any blog is to turn readers into prospects. They can join your mailing list, buy your book, visit your store, or contact you—but they need to take action.

Are you turning readers into prospects?

Here’s 5 easy ways to make your posts more profitable:

1. Internal links – the fastest and simplest way to get more reaction from readers is to point them to other blog posts or to your products and services. Just like in this blog posts, my links take you to more valuable content on our site (not pointing you away to other sites). This is a 5-minute fix – start with your top blog post.

2. Insert Post Ads – we love this free plug-in! Scroll up in this blog post and you can probably see an example of our banner inserted into every blog post on our site. You can invite readers to join your list, buy your ebook, visit your store, register for your event, download a guide … the are unlimited options and it’s easy to quickly change the banner that shows on every blog post.

We love the #plugin Insert PostAds - our banners show up on every post. Click To Tweet

3. Ask for comments – how simple is this? Ask your readers for comments (like in this post).

4. Ask for social shareshopefully you have installed a floating social share bar on your blog. But now you need to remind readers to use it occasionally. Hey reader!! Can you take a second and click onour share bar on the left (at the bottom of your phone). Thanks!

5. Better Click to Tweet – got a great quote you want to be shared? Install the free plug-in BetterClick to Tweet. It lets your readers do the work for you. Here’s how it looks in action:

  Click To Tweet

OUTSOURCE $12/HOUR JOBS

Finally, there is one last piece of advice you need to hear. Don’t be an idiot!

Sorry, was that too blunt?

Look, here’s the reality—you are a skilled, talented, bright (good looking) business owner doing $12/hour jobs. I know because I fall into that trap all too often.

The creative part of your blog is all about you. The rest is, well, routine. Editting (I did that on purpose), publishing, SEO, images, etc. should be outsourced to people who excel at that work.

And here’s the secret…

Start outsourcing by creating Standard Operating Procedure for publishing
 and promoting your blog

When you unload the $12/hour jobs you will free yourself up to publish more often and to do more of the $100/hour jobs you are great at. The risk is minimal and the benefits are unlimited.

Read this post all about creating Standard Operating Procedures for your blog publishing process.

There you have it – your annual blog tune up…but wait there’s more!!

The truth is that you should be doing a tune up like this at least once a month. Ideally, you have outsourced some of this work so that you are doing the strategy work and someone else is implementing your idea. Either way, a small investment to mean you attract more readers and readers take the right action on your site!

Tell me in the comments – what tune-up are you doing to your blog??

Looking for more great articles to read on this topic?

Standard Operating Procedures
How to Measure Your Blog’s Success
Google Analytics for non-analytical people

A simple lesson in Time Management (that will make you money)

overcome procrastination

Let’s get one thing straight.

I waste time, you waste time…everyone wastes time.

Distractions like email, searching for documents (or PDF’s, images, emails, files), making lists, wasteful meetings, deciding what to work on next, or getting lost in YouTube videos can burn through hours faster than you can say “Where did the day go?”

That’s what this post is about—one simple technique to help you overcome procrastination and put you firmly back in charge of your time.

And, if you do what I am going to suggest, you will make money with this technique.

But, before I get to that…

Why we waste time:

Admit it, you sometimes leave important work to the last minute while low-value distractions mysteriously gobble up precious minutes.

Admit it, you sometimes leave important work to the last minute while low-value distractions mysteriously gobble up precious minutes. Click To Tweet

One problem is lists—lists are a horrible way to prioritize.

By their very nature, a To-Do list of random tasks gives similar priorities to everything on your list:

  • confirming your flight booking looks to have the same priority as following up with a prospect.
  • picking up supplies at the stationery store competes with updating your website, and
  • ordering a book a friend recommended is competing with meeting with your marketing consultant.

To-Do lists have a habit of growing and growing. And it’s all too tempting to tick off the easy tasks … which may not be the important tasks that will grow your business! Or it’s all too easy to put off your list or be distracted by emails, phone calls and interruptions.

Sound familiar?

Maybe you’ve taken a time management course or read some books by the gurus. You might have even had some success.

For a while…

But, like any training, it only works if you first admit you have a problem.

And the problem is you’re an idiot.

Why we’re all idiots

I’m including myself in this statement. And I’m speaking from experience. For example, I’m an idiot when I:

  • think I need 8 hours to get my work done.
  • tell myself I’ll finish a project over the weekend (and then leave it until Sunday night when I’d really rather be relaxing).
  • think making lists makes me more organized.

And I’m really an idiot when I keep wasting time – repeating the same patterns over and over and thinking things will get better. That’s the definition of insanity right?

For far too long I was convinced more time would get me better results. Sound familiar?

Longer hours, working faster – even multi-tasking – were signs of success.

For far too long I was convinced more time would get me better results. Sound familiar? Longer hours, working faster - even multi-tasking - were signs of success. Click To Tweet

Call it dumb-male thinking or a sign of our go-go, high achievement work ethos – either way, it’s a recipe for burnout and failure.

The good news is there’s one simple technique that changes all of that:

  • less procrastination.
  • more focus on high priority work.
  • better results every week.

And (this might be the best part) you feel in control of your time.

It’s called Blocking.

How to block your time

Reader warning: even though this technique might sound ridiculously simple, done correctly, the results can be profound. I know, because it changed everything for me and my work. Trust me: this works.

STEP 1: Flight Plan

Step one is to start your week having identified high-value, make-you-money, no-debating work you need to complete by Friday. That’s your Flight Plan.

Your Flight Plan is a short list of high-priority, high ROI work (and definitely not a long list of miscellaneous tasks competing for your time.)

  • That one phone call that landed you the new contract was time well spent.
  • Training your staff to ask for the up-sell was time well spent.
  • Doing a quick ROI assessment of your marketing spends and dropping the dead wood was a great use of time.

I could go on with more examples (all from my business) but you get the point.

STEP 2: Block Time

Next, turn that work into appointments on your calendar. Just like booking a meeting – book time for yourself to get those high-ROI tasks from your flight plan done.

That’s blocked time.

The concept is simple: when you have an appointment on your calendar you prepare for it and you’re very unlikely to miss that appointment. Therefore, the task gets done.

That’s why blocking works.

It’s booked. You’ve set the time aside. You might move the appointment, but you can’t delete it and as a result, the work gets done.

overcome procrastination by blocking time

Blocking time makes you more productive

I’m more productive when I block time. I work fewer hours, experience less stress and yet I don’t feel rushed.

It’s like an invisible assistance is quietly directing me to the next most important work. And keeping me away from low-value work and distractions.

At the end of the day I feel like I’ve been firmly parked in Quadrant II work (important, but not urgent) and rarely distracted.

It might feel strange at first to make an appointment with yourself. But ask yourself: what would you rather have: the stress that comes from leaving something to the last minute or the feeling that comes from marching ahead through tough work with a day-before-vacation attitude?

How to get started

Like any new technique, you need to build habits from simple routines.

Firstly, my routine is to build my Flight Plan on Sunday night or Monday morning. This is a 10-minute exercise that solidifies all the random tasks and deadlines into a short list of high-priority objectives for the week.

Next, I block time to get the work done: simple tasks might take 30 minutes, completing a proposal might take 90 minutes.

I try to put my hardest work in the morning or right after a lunch break. Based on research into circadian rhythms, those are the most productive times of day.

Finally, I work through my blocked time.

I treat each block like an appointment: I start on time, then I focus on only that work and do my best to stay focused on that task until the work is complete or the time is complete. It’s an appointment to get work done.

What about you? Tell me in the comments if you can use blocking to be more productive?

To learn more about Flight Plans and Blocking time, read these short posts:

How I overcame procrastination by blocking time.

How to finally get your To Do list out of your head

How to get organized with Evernote

How to Build a Better Blog: 5 Industry Experts Share Their Top Tips

build a better blog

Sometimes a simple lesson can change everything.

Like how to use questions to turn a hesitant prospect into a new client.

Or how to start with benefits instead of features when writing sales copy.

The same is true with blogging … often the simplest lessons will out-perform the most complicated.

That’s what this post is all about. I wanted to ask the experts what really worked when it came to building a successful blog.

Specifically, I asked them:

“What should busy business owners do to get better results from their blog?”

I wanted simple strategies that could be implemented to build a better blog even with the busiest schedule. And I wanted long-game strategies. After all, blogging is not about quick-fix, sudden windfall marketing tricks. Right?

You have a blog because you understand the power of attracting followers and building loyalty. And we all know that getting good things in life often takes time.

Reader warning:

If you are 20-something and spend most of your time watching YouTube videos about SEO tricks and long-tail keyword research this post is not for you.

 

Here’s a list of the solutions the experts provided:

  1. Keep the faith
  2. Answer your audience
  3. Reach out to others
  4. Rework what’s already working
  5. Write to be shared

1. Keep the faith

Most bloggers want to quit. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

You are going to want to quit…most bloggers do.

After all, unless you have a team or have outsourced the whole process, writing, editing, publishing and promoting your blog is … a lot of work!

But the results can be better than any other form of advertising or marketing you invest in. Your blog can be found and read years later (even one year after being published, this post on my personal blog still attracts over 7,500 readers per month), generating leads for your business without you having to do anything.

The trick is to keep the faith.

Harsh Agrawal

“Start doing what you want to do.” wrote author and blogger, Harsh Agrawal, “You will only get better with time.”

 

At BlogWorks, every month we are faced with advertising/promotion decisions. While the “older” strategies, like Facebook advertising, Google retargeting and email blasts are still there, newer ones, like Instagram stories and video posts on LinkedIn are waiting there to be discovered and explored.

It all takes time – often time and money.

The good news is you have one of the most powerful strategies working for you already. It’s called a blog.

Now, maybe you’re only getting 100 people reading your blog per day. But, that’s not how to think about it! Anyone who has promoted public seminars knows the power of having an audience. With your blog, you have that every day!

It might be that your average reader only stays for 2 or 3 minutes. That’s great! Now get them to read a related post. Or direct them to your contact page, or send them to a survey.

Instead of quitting on your blog and chasing the next advertising BSO (bright shiny object), keep the faith.

Speaking of related articles, this post will show you exactly how to get more readers to your blog.

2. Answer your audience

answer your audience. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The most important lesson in marketing is (I’m putting it in caps so you can’t miss it):

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.

Yet it’s surprising how many bloggers seem to have picked their topics using an Ouija board.

If you can’t prove you know your customer, it’s like ignoring your customer. And nothing drives business away faster than ignoring your customer.

Nothing drives business away faster than ignoring your customer. Click To Tweet

Imagine you want to buy a new phone. You’ve got lots of questions. You want to buy the perfect phone. But, instead of getting someone interested in listening, answering your questions and helping to narrow down your choices, you got a commission-driven, fast-talking sales person who wastes your time telling you all the ways he uses his phone.

Ugh.

“Whatever anyone’s objections, concerns, unknowns, etc. might be,” wrote blogger, podcaster and author, Pat Flynn “your posts should be published to address them.”

In our nano-second, attention deprived lifestyle, the more targeted your blog topics, the more you will attract your ideal customer.

Consider the headlines of blog posts that ended up on page 1 of Google:

Leadership Qualities that will make you a better Entrepreneur – Neil Patel

and one written on a similar topic that fell to page 10.

10 Essential Business Leadership Skills

Notice how the first title is more descriptive and targeted? When you read the first headline, your initial impression is that this post is going to help make you a better entrepreneur and leader.

“This will help with SEO, yes,” says Flynn, “but more than that it’ll help your audience know that you know exactly what they’re going through, and they’re likely to know you have the solutions.”

Whatever time of year you are reading this is a good time to do basic retargeting. Start with questions your clients have been asking you.

When I started BlogWorks I used to think my customers wanted what I wanted: SEO ranking, higher site traffic numbers, and sales conversions.

And while all of that is true (and this is an important point) – those were not the core benefits I needed to pay attention to.

When I really listened to what my customers were telling me on every phone call and email, an overwhelming number of inquiries were saying they just wanted to get social media off their list.

Sure, they might like updating friends on Facebook, but what they didn’t want was the time-consuming, often repetitive, updating of their social media channels for their business.

They wanted social media done for them.

What is the single most important benefit your customers asking for?

3. Reach out to others

The most successful businesses in history – and any successful startup owner knows this – started with a group of people working together.

Your blog is no different – the sooner you build relationships, the faster your audience will grow.

“Spend more time on building the right relationships.” wrote writer and part-time entrepreneur, Ryan Robinson “If you have hopes of growing your blog’s traffic, sure you need to keep it well-stocked with high-quality content—that’s a given in today’s world. However, the biggest way you can truly stand out from the crowd (and see your content rise to the top of organic search rankings) is by building meaningful relationships with other brands, bloggers, and business owners in your industry.”

 

Ryan is a great example of reaching out to other bloggers. In only a few years he built his blog and social presence (including his podcast The Side Hustle Project) to an audience of over 250,000.

And it all starts with giving back.

“Work hard to deliver value to others that already have an existing audience of established readers you’d like to reach.” wrote Robinson.

In addition to commenting on a blog you admire, reach out with a direct message (DM) on Twitter or comment in LinkedIn to the author.

You might be surprised how reaching out with a personal note of appreciation will get the notice of even the most popular online personality.

In fact, that’s how I got input from the authors you are reading about in this post!

You might be surprised how reaching out with a personal note of appreciation will get the notice of even the most popular online personality. Click To Tweet

“After building up some goodwill,” continues Robinson, “pitch them on writing a guest post that’ll give you the opportunity to get in front of their audience, bring some new readers back to your blog, and all the while continue growing the number of high authority links that point back to your site. This naturally takes time, but the payoff, in the long run, is unbeatable.”

4. Rework what’s already working

In 2013, entrepreneur and co-founder of Flickr, Stewart Butterfield was ready to abandon his failing online game platform and let all his staff go. The money he’d raised was running out and the game wasn’t going to be ready on time.

But there was a simple communication tool his team had invented for their own use that Butterfield could see had some market potential.

“And it was only once we had decided to shut down the game that we realized, like, hey, this system is actually pretty good. We would never work without a system like this again. Like, this – it’s so much better than anything else we had used before. Maybe other people would like it.” Stewart Butterfield, NPR, How I Built This

That simple tool, now known as Slack now boasts 8 million daily users and a market value in the billions. Not bad for a company that 5 years before was close to folding.

Every blogger has a hidden gem in their archives that should be reworked and brought to light.

“Before you write another new blog post,” wrote Rich Brooks, CEO of Flyte New Media, “’rehab’ some previous posts that may need some updating.”

 

Another way to build a better blog is to start by identifying blog posts that are still driving lots of traffic, but are not ranking on the top search engine pages.

“Add new images, more data, additional expert quotes, and so on” continues Brooks “to really make an old post shine, and then republish that post at the same URL. You’ll save time and get better search results.”

5. WRITE TO BE SHAREDwrite to be shared blog post

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

In fact, this secret changed the way I think about blogging. Completely.

Here it is: people share what makes them look smart.

Think about it: after you listen to a podcast you enjoyed, notice what part of it you shared with a friend? Or why did you retweet that update about your industry, or share a blog post?

Sure, you want to be helpful, but a part of you is also saying “Hey, look at what I discovered!”

After all, we don’t share stuff that’s boring, commonplace or that we think a friend, or our followers on social media, already know about. We share to be helpful, but also because it makes us look smart.

On social media people share content that makes them look smart. Tell a friend

Now, flip that around and look at your latest blog post.

  • Is it something readers will share?
  • Have you shared clever insights or frameworks?
  • Did you unravel a nagging problem lots of people struggle with?

If not, you have work to do to build a better blog.

“No one cares about your blog,” wrote author, blogger and entrepreneur Johnathan Milligan, “unless you are adding value to their lives in some way.”

 

No one cares about your blog unless you are adding value to their lives in some way. @JonMilligan Click To Tweet

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE TO BUILD A BETTER BLOG

There you have it, 5 strategies from 5 experts that don’t involve crazy advertising schemes, big budgets or even hours of work. Simple, long-game ways to attract more followers, build loyalty and grow your business.

And I’ll add one more: don’t get distracted.

The Internet is a busy place and everyone has the next great idea. We have no idea how great their idea is in reality, or what they went through to make it happen, or how much time they had on their hands. It’s just one more Bright Shiny Object about to pull us away from the fundamentals.

Blogging is a long game and it requires patience – just like building any relationship. And don’t forget to look at what BlogWorks can do for you. It’s like having a dedicated assistant doing your social media but without the recruitment, hiring, training, management or high cost. BlogWorks is the smart way to get your social media done.