5 questions to ask before building your first mailing list

Notebook with notes about building a mailing list

“Focus on growing your list all of the time as newer subscribers are more engaged adding to healthier open rates and ROI.”  Karl Murray, Founder of Send.ie

There’s one marketing strategy that will never get old.  Grow your mailing list.

Of course, today we would rarely call it a ‘mailing list’ – it’s your list of followers, enquiries and clients.

Sure, you want Instagram followers, more retweets, YouTube subscribers and more site traffic. But none of those can compare to…

an email from you being opened and read by a loyal follower.

More on that in just a minute…

In this post we will share why a list is so important and how to build a list with your blog.

Why a mailing list is so important

Something magical happens when someone joins your list (read this post to learn the 5 ways to make money with your blog).

When a reader of your blog accepts an invitation to join your list, the relationship with you and your company changes.

They are now one step further down your sales funnel. You can email them directly to their InBox. They recognize your emails and are more likely to read them.

They see your sales offerings and consider them (not sure how to make this happen? Book a call for a free consultation).

To use the old marketing line – they know, like and trust you. And you now have a follower.

And here’s the most important benefit…

when it comes time to buy your product or service, you are now a preferred supplier.

A real life example

In 2013 James Clear, a part-time photographer, weight lifter and neophyte writer started publishing two blog posts a week. To nobody.

Cover of James Clear book Atomic Habits

No list, no reputation, no marketing…nothing…just a desire to learn how to blog and to see if there was a possible business opportunity.

Fast forward to early 2019 and Clear is a New York Times best seller (his book Atomic Habits takes a fresh look at the now-classic 3-part habit building model popularized by Charled Duhigg in The Power of Habit.)

How did he do it?

He built a list. From the very start, Clear invited readers to join his list. At the time, the offer was simple: join my list and I will email my blog directly to your In-Box as soon as I publish the next article. That’s it!

To give you a more concrete idea of the bizarrely viral growth of his following, in 2018 alone he added over a quarter million readers to his list!

To put this in perspective, it is extremely unlikely any of this would have happened without a list.

What about you? Are you growing your list?

How to grow your mailing list

To get serious about growing your list, there are 5 considerations:

1. Where to keep my list?

This question deserves an entire post, but the basic questions you need to ask are:

  • What is a simple, inexpensive way to get started? Mail Chimp is the gorilla (sorry) of inexpensive mailing list tools. Constant Contact and ConvertKit are great alternatives to get started.
  • What tool offers room to grow, but is also simple to use? Resist the temptation to dive into the deep end with a subscription to a full-blown CRM (Keap, ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, etc.) until you are ready. You can lose hundreds of hours learning how to use a system you aren’t ready for.
  • How can I quickly get started? Ask anyone who has subscribed to a mailing list tool and they’ll admit that all their learning came from just getting started. If you are new to the game, simply sign up for Mail Chimp, get started and consider moving your list to a more robust system once you have experience growing the list.

2. What’s the offer?

Surprisingly, you don’t need a fancy, complicated offer to attract followers. To get started, you can simply offer to send your articles to their InBox.

mailing list opt in form

Once you have some experience, you can add a “Lead Magnet”, like a free self-assessment tool, or self-help How-To article (see our Lead Magnet on our site).

3. What opt-in to use?

The two ways to position an opt-in on your site are a static “box” or responsive pop-up. If you know how to log-in to your site, you should be able to add (or update) a static box opt-in in a few minutes.

There are lots of excellent tools (plug-ins) to add a pop-up on your site, like Optin Monster, Thrive Leads and Convert Pro.

example of a site pop-up

At BlogWorks we use both a static opt-in (at the bottom of our site pages) as well as a pop-up. Despite the possible annoyance for some readers, when used well, a pop-up will consistently get you better results.

4. How to promote the offer?

Having a static invitation to grow your list is a good first start. Even better is promoting the offer.

Remember, getting an additional 1,000 interested followers on your list could turn into more subscribers to your membership program, sales of your online course, or sales of your product line. Every year.

Some of the easiest ways to promote your optin offer are:

  • Invitation in your blog post.
  • Experiment with settings on your pop-up optin.
  • Change the invitation message on your optin.
  • Signature on your emails.
  • Monitor and adjust your current campaign with new Lead Magnets.

5. How to use my mailing list?

The most obvious way to your list is to announce every new blog post. Even with a 15-3-% open/click through rate, this will give you a nice boost in blog traffic.

More sophisticated campaigns use lists to promote book launches, product sales and new products, surveys, conferences and anything that your followers might want.

The bottom line

Here’s the bottom line…

You can spin your wheels chasing YouTube subscribers or fixing your hair for the next Facebook Live, or you can build followers on your land.

You own your list (you don’t own followers on any other platform) and you can use it any way you want. Over time, that list will turn into loyal followers who will read what you write and buy what you offer.

It’s time to get started.

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about putting your blog to work:

How to (finally) make money with your blog
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

 

How to increase blog traffic by almost 30% in only 90 days – a case study

Busy street symbolizing an increase in blog traffic

At BlogWorks we love to see results.

Especially when the results are fast.

And we really, really love seeing client results when we’re using one of our favourite techniques.

What we call re-loving old posts.

The idea is simple…

If you have been blogging for a while, your inventory of posts will have been indexed by the search engines. In other words, Google will have decided how to “rank” your blog posts against all the other posts about similar topics.

This is why some of your posts show up on the first page of search results and some on the 13th page.

Updating old content can fix that.

Let’s start with why updating old posts works.

Why you need to update your old content to increase blog traffic

The strategy of updating old content to increase blog traffic works best if you’ve already published at least two dozen blog posts. This post explains in detail how to use this strategy.

Here are the most important reasons why we love this strategy. Book a call today to learn if this can work for your business.

1. Better click-through. When you update that old content you improve your click-through rate – the volume of people who choose to click on your article – simply because the date is more current.

2. Google likes fresh content. One of the many factors Google looks for in posts is how fresh is your content. When you update your old posts you also will update the publish date. More recent equals more results.

current dates in search engine results page
In this example, 6 of 7 search results were posted in the last 12 months

3. Improve your title. Your post title tells readers what the article is about but also should attract and intrigue the reader enough to want to jump in. Now is the time to turn that boring headline into a killer question, or use any of the 5 techniques described in this article.

According to Convince and Convert, a great title is clear (what will I get if I read this?) but intrigues the reader to dive in. Remember, you are competing with everything else on their phone or laptop – you need to get and keep their attention!

blog post title matters
The best headlines are about 8 words and 70 characters

4. Fix grammar and spelling. Updating your old posts gives you a chance to catch those spelling mistakes or tighten up the grammar. A quick improvement is to remove the word “that” – it will make your sentence read better and improve the flow of your post.

5. Link to “revenue” pages. Here’s a quick test: in the first third of your article does you post link to at least one “revenue” page, like a product or service page? When you update the old post, also update internal links to your site.

image of internal links in a blog post

6. One less article to post. Updating an old post takes a fraction of the time it takes to write a new one. Many of our clients combine one new article (we do that as well!) with one updated article each month.

Now that we’ve looked at the reasons, let’s look at an example of how one BlogWorks client used this strategy.

The Speaker Exchange

Like many small business owners, Brittanny and Julie at The Speaker Exchange were aware of the value of content marketing, but needed an outsourced solution. They had been using newsletters to stay in touch with their audience.

They reached out to BlogWorks for a solution.

Home page of The Speaker Exchange

The goal was to create consistent inbound traffic using original blog posts targeted to the event planner audience. At BlogWorks we have a team of local writers, each with specialties.

We write blog posts for a wide variety of wonderful clients ranging from leadership authors and public speakers to cyber security experts. And in this case, we have writers who know the speaking industry.

The BlogWorks solution

The BlogWorks solution was to write one original post and to update one older post every month, plus promote the blog through social media. In the first 90 days, site traffic was up almost 30%! Even better, Sessions and Pageviews were both up over 20%.

Image of analytics showing increased blog traffic

A part of the solution was more consistent blog publishing, but the biggest results was from updating old content with better keywords, headlines, and content.

The client example we shared in this post could be yours(!) Contact us today to learn how to increase your blog traffic by updating old posts.

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about writing blogs:

How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

 

Tips on writing a blog post faster and better

Write blog posts faster and better

It can be a grind to write a blog.

You have to come up with clever ideas.

Find the time…write a draft…edit…add images…

Here’s what helps (and helps with any business):

You need a system.

When I started blogging I assumed ideas would pour from the heavens and my fingers would fly effortlessly across the keyboard pouring out publish-ready prose flocks of salivating followers would fall on.

Nah, didn’t happen.

As the reality of researching, writing, editing, image selection and publishing became clear my motivation started to slide.

…and slide…

…and slide…

Pretty soon, I was missing publishing deadlines.

Then there weren’t any deadline.

Then my blog routine became a random game of chance.

Enter the system

It took some time to realize that without a system blog writing was going to be painful. Later I learned the value of a system for that day when you want to outsource parts of the publishing process.

It took some time to realize that without a system, blog writing was going to be painful. Click To Tweet

The system I’m going to share is simple – it has to be – it’s designed to be repeated for every blog.

And it starts with finding the ideas. With a steady supply of fresh ideas you are halfway there.

1. Finding the ideas

In my post “How to never run out of ideas ever again” I shared sources for blog ideas. I also explained our process for republishing older blog posts (like this one). This is a strategy we’re now using with most of our clients and having crazy-good results. Read that post here.)

I’ll add you should be looking for micro ideas – not big, scary, all encompassing ones.

For example, this post is just about a writing system.

I could have also talked about researching, choosing the perfect topic, or how to use the WordPress editor. But, that’s too much width for a quick-to-read blog post.

When you tackle a micro topic it’s easier to complete the post and, I think, easier for the reader to quickly get value they can turn into action (without getting overwhelmed with advice).

Now that you have the ideas, it’s time to…find time.

2. Finding the time

The best way to find time for writing a blog is to not have to “find it” in the first place.

I recommend having one block of time for writing. For me, it’s the first thing I do every morning. For you, it might be 8:30-10:00, 3 days a week – whatever it is, make it a routine.

The best way to find time for writing is to not have to “find it” in the first place. Click To Tweet

At first, you might want to post this time for a month on your calendar to help develop the routine. You might also need a reward for your efforts, like crossing the task off a list, or marking your calendar with minutes spent writing every day.

The less you have to work at finding the time, the more likely the work will get done.

Now that you’ve found the time, you need to get started. Check out these tips on writing a blog post faster.

3. Sitting down and writing a blog

writing a blog post without distractions

I need to have a clear desk, a full cup of tea and a quiet room to write. I can edit on a moving train full of goats (still haven’t tried that), but writing requires complete concentration and no distractions (or goats).

Commit to a block of time. If you are writing at 8:30 in the morning, you might want to work for 90 minutes with quick breaks every 30 minutes – but commit to the time. That means Facebook and email are closed, papers are cleared away and your phone is put away or on airplane mode.

Whatever works best for you, create that situation every time.

Next, you need a template

4. Use a template

I can hear it now “But, I’m an artist and artists never use paint-by-number formulas.”

Bullhooky. Even artists use a template of sorts to organize their thoughts – certainly authors do.

Every blog posts (with exceptions to recipe blogs or vacation journal blogs) needs to take the reader on a journey. Usually that journey is from problem to solution.

My template for writing a blog (hundreds of public speakers use this template) is very simple. I follow it for every post (like this one) and the reader never complains.

Here it is:

  • The Problem – what problem does your reader have?
  • Personal – what is your experience with this problem?
  • The Promise – what are you giving the reader?
  • The Solutions – your solutions to the problem
  • A Call to Action – what do they need to do first?
  • Final thoughts – motivation

Like most books that follow a template for every chapter, we’re too busy enjoying the content to care much about the structure.

Template ready? Time to get the first draft done.

5. First draft

Your first draft will not be great – expect it. Anne Lamott famously calls it your “Shitty first draft” and for good reason.

When I’m writing an 800-1,000 word blog post, I like to crank out a first draft in about one hour. After that I let it simmer while I go for a run, do some other work, or read – but I don’t think about it.

When I sit down to finish the post, it’s amazing how obvious all the problems are. The run on sentence or weak arguments jump off the page and are much easier to fix.

Plan on two sittings and it takes the pressure off and allows you to write more freely for that essential first draft.

6. Ship it

At some point you need to admit this is only a blog – not a novel – or, as Seth Godin says, ship it.

“Shipping is fraught with risk and danger. Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you’re exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself. It’s no wonder we’re afraid to ship.”

More time fussing over semi-colons won’t get you more readers or more social shares, it just burns up more time.

Your goals should be to help the reader reach their goal faster and better than they could on their own.

Once you’ve done that, your job is done.

Now, get writing.

This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for your entertainment, education and just because.

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about writing blogs:

How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

 

21 incorrectly used words that can make you look dumb

A typewriter with a page that reads "Words Have Power";

Many of the words you use in your blog could be, well…

wrong.

Should you use advice or advise?

How about affect or effect?

Then there’s everyday and every day.

Aaaaaagh!?!?

Dear reader, instead of running off to Google every time you’re unsure we have scoured the lexicon library to help clarify, demystify, enlighten and sort through 21 words that often get misused and abused.

Here we go with our list of incorrectly used words…

1. Advise and advice

First, advise is a verb – the act of giving, while advice is a noun – what you give. A quickest test is to say your sentence out loud, like: “I went to the coach to get advise.”

2. Affect and effect

Not only do these two sound similar they are very often confused (fortunately most people don’t know the difference.) A simple distinction is to use effect if you are making the change happen and affect if you are helping make the change happen. For example: “The CEO’s decision effected a major change in direction.” And “What she said affected my decision to go ahead.”

3. Everyday and every day

This is an easy one to mix up. Doing something every day means you do it every single day, like drinking coffee in the morning.

Meanwhile, everyday means commonplace or normal, like hearing sirens is an everyday event.

4. Along and long

This is an easy one to clarify. Along means moving in a constant direction, like “I was moving along the highway.” While long means a great distance or duration, like “The highway was long and boring.”

5. A while and awhile

This is a tricky one. First, the difference between while and awhile is easy to spot. While refers to a period of time “We talked for a while.”

The word awhile means for a period of time “He waited awhile for his appointment.” Whereas a while can only be used to replace while – a longer period of time.

6. Any way and anyway

Anyway means “nonetheless” or “regardless” as in: “I knew I had to get work done, but checked Facebook anyway.” You can also use anyway to connect a story that’s continuing: “Anyway, I was describing how to write a better blog post…”

Any way means a variety of ways of doing something, or in any manner. “I had so much to get done I tackled my list any way possible.”  

Anyway, let’s get onto #7.

7. Fewer and less

Here’s a trick for this one: use fewer when referring to items you can count, like “fewer homes” or “fewer car sales.”

Use less when referring to items you can’t count, like “time”, or “income.” There are some conventions with fewer and less: we tend to use less with time, money and weight.

8. Insure and ensure

This is an easy one to remember: insure refers only to insurance. Ensure means to make sure. So you might want to ensure you are insured.

9. Irregardless and regardless

This is an easy fix: don’t use irregardless. You might find irregardless in text (and certainly hear some well-meaning folks use the word), but it’s not commonly accepted and just sounds wrong.

10. Principle and principal

My trick to remembering the difference between these is that my Principal at school should be my “pal” or friend, as in principal. Whereas principle is a guideline or rule: “…basic scientific principles.”

Principal can also refer to the amount borrowed on a load, the most important item in a particular set “The principal account makes up 65 percent of our revenues.”

11. Stationary and stationery

This is an easy one: you write on stationery. When something doesn’t move it is stationary.

12. It’s and its

It’s is a contraction of it is or it has. Use it’s to move a sentence along and to give a more casual feeling to your writing.

Its is about possession “The store increased its prices.” An easy test is to try removing the apostrophe and see how it sounds: “It’s raining” becomes “It is raining.” (which sounds better).

By the way, there is no use for its’.

13. They’re and their

This is similar to #12 and many other incorrectly used words, they’re is a contraction of they are, whereas their is all about ownership.

14. Who’s and whose

Who’s is a contraction that means either who is or who has. “Do you know someone who’s living in California?” 

Whose is possessive. “You and whose army?”

15. You’re and your

Here’s another contraction and one you probably get right: you’re and your.

You’re means you are and your is about ownership “Your car.” “Your home.” So, “If you’re going to your home to get your car you’re doing the right thing!”

16. Accept and except

Here’s an easy one…

These two words sound the same but are quite different: accept is to receive, except signifies and exclusion. So “I accept the offer, except I won’t want it for another month.”

17. In regard to

The only distinction to note here is that the expression In regard to is singular. To write “In regards to” is incorrect.

18. Ironic vs. Coincidental

Here’s an interesting distinction: if something happens at the same time “I was about to go see her when she showed up at my house.” that’s a coincidence. But, when there’s a reversal involved, like “When we returned from our trip to Mexico we learned the weather was actually better at home.” That’s ironic.

Comedian Ed Byrne writing about Alanis Morisette’s song, Ironic: “The only ironic thing about that song is it’s called ‘Ironic’ and it’s written by a woman who doesn’t know what irony is. That’s quite ironic.”

19. Imply vs. Infer

“The implier is the pitcher; the inferrer is the catcher.” Theodore Bernstein, The Careful Writer

To imply is to say something indirectly, like: “The host implied it was time to leave by saying she was tired.” To infer is to gather, deduce, or figure out. “We inferred it was time to leave by the host’s actions.”

The way to remember this one is: a speaker/writer implies, while the listener/reader infers.

20. Adverse and Averse

To be adverse is rarely used to describe people, but more commonly to describe events, effects, trends in the economy, changes in weather, etc: “The new medication has no adverse impacts on health.”

Averse describes people and means to feel opposed or disinclined. “We are not averse to holding another meeting.”

21. Irrespective and respective

Irrespective is not just the opposite of respective. Their meanings are completely different.

Irrespective of means regardless of as in “he continued to blog irrespective of how many readers he had.”

Whereas, respective means relating to two more more things individually”, as in “We all met for lunch and then returned to our respective offices.”

Enjoyed this article about incorrectly used words? Here’s three more of our most popular posts:

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43 random blogging terms you really don’t need to know

43 random blogging terms you really don’t need to know

Personally, I despise people who obfuscate and inveigle with obscure language and acronyms.

You too?

In this article I will attempt to decode and demystify the crazy language surrounding blogging (somebody has to.)

After all, isn’t blogging just about writing great, helpful content that readers love to share?

I think so.

Let’s get into the list of blogging terms (feel free to skip the boring ones)…

A is for Apple

1. Absent – yup, that’s the business owner who’s ambitions exceed their abilities and haven’t learned to outsource. If that’s you, please read this article.

2. Alt tag – Ever wondered why an image shows up in a search? Good chance that’s because some smart cookie added Alt Tags to the image. In WordPress this is super easy (open Media, select the image and add).

I despise people who obfuscate and inveigle with obscure language and acronyms. Click To Tweet

3. Anchor post – this the dandy you wrote one late night, half way through a mellow bottle of Merlot, that – for some miraculous reason – attracted loads of attention (from other Merlot lovers maybe?). Tip: make sure you link to your anchor posts in future articles.

4. Anchor text – these are the neat blue links inside one blog post that link to another page. According to SEO gurus at ahrefs “Google uses external anchor text to help understand what your page is about and also, for which keywords it should rank.” So they are 1) important to create 2) super important to get your post found.

5. Article – Easy one – this is task you wrote on your To-Do list last Thursday. And again Friday. Oh, yeah, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Oh, damn it! Get writing!

6. Author – Duh.

7. Avatar – This is the person you should have created a perfect description of because you went to that very expensive conference, got SO inspired by the speaker and on the flight home thought “I really need an Avatar!” It’s not complicated: Who is your ideal customer? That’s your avatar.

B is for Boy (okay, okay, it’s also for Blog…and Blogging Terms)

8. Backlink – a link that points to one page, from another page. For example, you can link from your “About” page to a “revenue” page.

9. Blog – A Blog is a gift for the world and for you. Your blog gives you license to write massively irreverent (and occasionally super, super looooong posts) like Tim Urban about whatever got your interest the last time you headed to your local coffee shop. Or to go deep into research, like Maria Popova (7 million readers, thank you very much), or launch an empire like Tim Ferriss (who never returns emails, just saying.)

10. Blogger or Blogging – a person who thinks blogging is a business, when really blogging is a way to make business!

Your blog gives you license to write massively irreverent (and occasionally super, super looooong posts) like Tim Urban about whatever got your interest the last time you headed to your local coffee shop. Click To Tweet

11. Blogosphere – This is the place all good bloggers go to die. Nope, that’s not right. It’s a place where…actually I have no idea, because nobody actually talks that way.

12. Blogroll – This is the list of all your published blog posts. This actually super important, especially if you track traffic, like we do. The good news is you can download this list by simply adding /sitemap_index.xml to the end of your URL (now you have to see ‘U’) and then clicking on (usually) the first link. Cool, huh?

13. Bummer – that’s what happens when you publish your amazing article and…nothing happens. That’s a bummer.

C is for Cataclysmic (and Cat)

14. Calendar – this is what you should be using to plan your next blog post – capiche? Tip: one of our favourite (free) plugins is Editorial Calendar.

15. Category – According to WPBeginner “Categories are meant for broad grouping of your posts. And Tags are meant to describe specific details of your posts.” You must categorize your post, tagging is optional.

16. CMS or Platform – CMS stands for content management system. WordPress is a CMS, so are all the alternatives. Bottom line – you will never use CMS in a sentence.

17. Comments – oh, for goodness sake…I’m not going to insult you with this one. We all know comments are the rare gems we all hope to get!

18. CSS or Stylesheet – has something to do with style sheets and if you have to ask you need to go to ‘O’ and think about outsourcing.

D is for derogatory, aspersing, calumnious, defamatory, insulting, libelous, maligning, slandering, slanderous, vilifying (and, of course, dog)

19. Directory – These are strange and mysterious sites that list your blog as authority site worth a visit. According to theblogpressccom, “These are websites which categorize blogs under many different categories.” Good luck with that!

F – it’s too tempting, so we’ll skip this one

H is for being Human with a touch of Humour (while being honest)

image describing how to view source code

20. Header – this is the top image for each post. Your header image should “pulled” with your link and show up in your social media posts.

21. Hyperlink – is the clickable content within a web page (typically colored blue) that takes the user to another page, website, or within part of the same page.

22. HTML – this is short for Hypertext Markup Language – the language used to write web pages. In WordPress, if you select “Text” you can view the html code and make simple changes, like highlighting text with a background color. This is what that would look like (Here are the colour choices)

<div style=”padding: 12px; background-color: #ff9999; line-height: 1.4;”>TEXT HERE</div>

TEXT HERE

I is for turning “I” into “you” (or “your”)

23. Index(ed) – indexing is the mysterious process of search engines organizing and prioritizing your blog and the pages on your website. SEO is the art of getting your blog and site pages to “rank” higher (show up on pages 1,2,3, etc).

K is for a Killer post that goes viral (Yes!)

24. Keyword(s) or Keyphrase(s) – is what someone types into a search engine – a single word or phrase. By including those keywords in your blog post you make it easier for search engines to rank your post for that topic.

M is for making money (the thing we don’t talk about, but secretly all want)

image showing meta description in search results

25. Meta Description – this is the short block of text readers see when they get their search results. Tip: keep your phrase to 150 characters and include the keywords readers will be searching for.

26. Meta Tags – refers to all the Tags hidden in your html code that tell the search engines what you page is all about and how to categorize that page.

27. Meta Title or Page Title – is the name of the page and is the bold text that shows up on a search results page when you rank in a search engine.

N – sorry Nothing here worth Noting

O – is for Outsourcing – the one thing that will mostly quickly earn you more money(!)

P – is for Procrastination and Perfection—two things that will keep you from Publishing!

28. Permalink – this is the funky URL that shows up in search engines, like this https://yourblogworks.com/start-a-blog-post/ Tip: if you are updating, or republishing a blog post, don’t change the permalink—you will lose any ranking you might have in search engines.

P - is for Procrastination and Perfection—two things that will keep you from Publishing! Click To Tweet

29. Plugin – Just like an app on your phone, a plugin is a piece of software that adds a operation to your website. For example, you can add Yoast to change the SEO settings, Pretty Link to create unique, memorable URL’s, or Editorial Calendar to get a calendar view of all your blog posts.

30. Post – this is just another name for your blog article. You can also call it “great”, “amazing”, “outstanding”, and “awesome” (knock yourself out.)

R – is for Really, Really, Really helpful blog posts (and getting and ROI)

31. Redirect – this is when one link takes you to another link (huh?) For example, if you click on www.yourblogworks.com/call you will be taken to https://go.oncehub.com/hughculver to book a call with us. That redirect uses a nifty WordPress plugin called Pretty Link.

32. Robots – we all know about WALL-E and R2D2, but there are online robots as well, like the ones that categorize web pages (like your blog post) for search engines.

33. RSS – stands for Really Simple Syndication (now you’ll sound smart at any party) and is the way updated information is fed to sites like Feedly, so your favourite blogs are waitinf for you.

S is for getting social shares of your post (yummy)

34. Sitemap – this is a page on your site that organizes all the pages on your site into a simple list. Search engines use your sitemap in their indexing process. Tip: you can see you sitemap by adding “sitemap_index.xml” to the end of your URL, like this https://yourblogworks.com/sitemap_index.xml (If you don’t have a sitemap consider using Yoast…see #43 below)

35. Social Media Sharing – this is what our team at BlogWorks can do for you! Get the word out and let your social followers enjoy your latest blog post.

36. Subscribe – when a reader joins your mailing list they are subscribing to receive your emails.

T is for Terrific content that Turns heads and Translates into new Transactions!

37. Tag or Tagging – is a bit of information, hidden in your html code, that tells search engines what your page is about. Tags include: Title Tag (for the whole site), Alt Tag (for images), Robots Meta Tag (tells search engine robots if it should index this page), and Header Tags.

38. Tip – if you want to get more business from your blog include 3-4 links in every post to your “revenue” pages.

39. Title or Subject – The title, or headline, of your blog is one of the most important ways to attract more attention and readers.

U – is for those Unicorn posts that get Unbelievable results

40. URL -Smarty pants know that URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator, but we all know the URL is the unique address for every page of your web site. Tip: want to create an easy to remember shortened URL? Check out the free WordPress plug-in called Pretty Link in this article.

W – is for putting your Blog to Work

41. Widget or Module – the little boxes of content (like an offer for a free book) are called widgets (now you know.)

42. WooHoo! – the sound you will make when you see your blog post getting shared across the social channels. You have made it happen!

Y is for…. yellow?

43. Yoast – sounds like toast but is not something you eat. Yoast is a popular SEO plugin that allows you to edit and optimize the SEO of the post and the way the post appears (Meta tag) in search engines.

Not bored yet? Well, we’ve got loads more of great articles for you…

How to (finally) make money with your blog
90 seconds to becoming a better writer
How to quicly write a great blog post

 

 

 

How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!

How to start a blog post - 5 examples

“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” ~Stephen King

There’s not much point having a blog if nobody reads it.

Right?

The trick is how you start a blog—it comes down to the opening.

Yes, you must have a dynamite headline that pulls readers in. And, sure, you might have 5, 7 or 51(!)  brilliant suggestions with dazzling arguments, but if nobody reads past the first sentence, well…

Before we jump into how to write the perfect opening, let’s revisit why more readers is so important.

Why you blog is so damn important

Every web site we look at has the same off-balance characteristic: people spend 5-10 times more time on your blog than on any other page on your site.

People spend 5-10 times more time on your blog than on any other page on your site. Click To Tweet

In other words, your blog is where you get people’s attention and get them interested in buying. Your blog is where the conversation starts.

It’s no different than striking up a conversation with a vendor at a farmer’s market or salesperson at a conference. The more time you spend with them the more likely you are to buy.

But, first we have to get them reading. And that’s gotten harder.

If your prospect searches for your solutions but don’t see a match right away…they’re gone. If they get your email, open the blog, but aren’t curious to read more, they’re gone.

And once people click away…they aren’t coming back.

So, we have to start our blog by snagging the reader by their synapses. And that starts with the first sentence.

At BlogWorks we do the heavy lifting for you. We write your blog with SEO-rich keywords, perfectly matched to your target audience so you can attract more prospects AND save hours and hours of time every week.

Before we get to that, let’s look at what kills the start of your blog…

How to kill the start of your blog

It’s easy to kill the opening and send readers away screaming. Here’s how.

  • Run-on sentences that go nowhere: “If you want to be a great leader you need to understand the needs of your team while simultaneously keeping an eye on the future and coaching for performance”…WHAT?!?!?!
  • Starting with a negative: “Bad leaders bring their team down.”…bummer.
  • Stating the obvious: “Every team needs a leader”, or “Technology has changed how we work.”….Duh!
  • Boring your readers: “This article will help you understand excellence in customer service”…Zzzzzzzz.

A good opening sentence is sticky – like Spiderman. And a great opening sentence is both sticky and does one more thing:

It makes you want to read the second sentence.

As William Zinsser wrote in the classic, On Writing Well “The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the second sentence, your article is dead.”

Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced your blog is essential for attracting and starting meaningful sales conversations, let’s jump into how to start a blog.

5 ways to start a blog post and hook your reader

  1. Ask a question

In his now famous blog post How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World, uber blogger, Jon Morrow doesn’t waste any time. With a 71 character headline that he assumes you will read, he goes straight to this opening question:

“After all, that’s the dream, right?”

Mike Stelzner’s massively successful Social Media Examiner blog has adopted a two-question opener that seems to be working. Like in this post:

“Are you trying to get more local customers? Have you tried Facebook video ads targeted to your local market?”

The technique is simple: work backwards from your topic to the question your prospects would be asking and start with that.

  1. Make a bold claim

What’s the most common (and useful) advice for creating viral videos on YouTube? Make a big claim in the first 7 seconds.

One way to do that with your blog is to start with a blog claim.

I like this style for two reasons: I think it grabs the reader by their curiosity and it challenges me to write a post that has some punch!

Here are some examples from our site at BlogWorks:

  • About making money: “You want your blog to make money. Right?”
  • About adding videos to your blog: Video is a great way to attract more readers to your blog and having them stay longer. If you know how to do it.
  • About measuring the performance of your blog: Let me ask you a question: Would you drive a car without a dashboard or put your money in a bank if you couldn’t see your balance?
  1. Be a contrarian

Another way to get your readers’ attention is to start a blog with an uncommon thought. Chances are you have some beliefs and theories that would work perfectly for this style of opening.

Best-selling author, Ryan Holiday used this approach in his post: “Dear Entrepreneurs: Please Don’t Write a Book—We’re Begging You” to attack first time authors who take writing short-cuts (like hiring book-in-a-box companies).

“There has been no worse piece of advice out there recently than: If you’re an entrepreneur, write a book.”

I like the surprising opening to the post: “A Public-Private Partnership Could Be Key to Your Startup’s Survival” from Entrepreneur.com:

“Despite what many of us might think, there are a lot fewer startups than there used to be.”

  1. Use a statistic (or two)

There is something about including a statistic that adds instant credibility to your post. If fact, 98% of bloggers (ha ha) agree with me on this.

Futurist, entrepreneur and author Peter Diamandis is a big fan of this style of writing. Here’s how he opens his post about the future of cities:

“By 2050, two-thirds of the population, more than 6 billion people, are expected to live in urbanized areas. Exponential technologies will radically change the way we build and organize our cities in the future.”

Or this article about cell phones and homicide rates from the NY Times.

“The increased use of cellphones reduced US homicide rates in the 1990s, according to new research distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research.”

  1. Create a hook

We all love a mystery. It’s like a friend leaning in and saying “You know there’s something I’ve always wanted to tell you…”—you have to know what comes next.

When you start with intrigue you open a scene, but just enough for a movie to start playing in your reader’s mind. Now they want to know what comes next.

Here’s how uber-blogger Tim Urban of the massively successful Wait but Why blog opened his post about what would otherwise be a highly technical subject called Neuralink.

“Last month, I got a phone call.

Okay maybe that’s not exactly how it happened, and maybe those weren’t his exact words. But after learning about the new company Elon Musk was starting, I’ve come to realize that that’s exactly what he’s trying to do.”

And this is how artist, blogger Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing breaks the ice in her post about mindfulness:

“At 3 AM, I was tossing and turning.”

And from one of my favourite authors, Ann Handley:

“Here’s the best writing I read all week. It’s 170 words tucked into a belly of a 7,000-word article.

And yes… it’s about stink bugs.”

Ready to start your next blog?

At the end of the day, your blog has to deliver value if you want it to be read, shared and bring you more followers. Kicking it off with a well thought-out opening sentence is a great place to start.

 

Enjoyed this post? Still not ready to go back to work? Here’s more great stuff:

5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog post ideas your audience will love
90 seconds to becoming a better writer