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 finding unique blog ideas, 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 unique 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 unique blog ideas…

2. Build an Inventory of Blog Ideas

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 great blog ideas, now it’s time to organize them on a calendar…

3. Build your Blog Editorial Calendar

A simple way to organize your unique 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 blog 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, unique blog 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.

 

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.

A Social Media Survival Guide for Small Business

A social media guide for small business

“I can only conclude that people who don’t use social media are, at best, considered to be mavericks or, at worst, some kind of psychopath.” Steve Blakeman

“I’m not a very social media person” my new client admitted to me. “I mean, I know I should be…I’m just not.”

I get it.

If you were born before 1980 you are less likely to be a ‘social media person’.

So, there you are: a business person who needs social media to reach your tribe – even attract a bigger tribe. The problem is the thought of checking Instagram every morning or uploading a video to Facebook gives you a cold sweat.

You could go cold turkey, buy a yurt and live in the desert (been done), or…
you could find a happy compromise and use social media on your terms.

There is a solution and it starts by understanding that you don’t need to reach the world.

 

If you were born before 1980 you are less likely to be a ‘social media person’.

 

Social Media Guide for Small Business: You don’t need to reach the world.

“There is also the joy of learning new ways of marketing, with that there is often the accompanying pain of mistakes that comes along for the ride.” Jeff Bullas

Has this happened to you?

You see a tweet that had 425 retweets or your competitor has 10,000 followers on Facebook. “Damn,” you think “I really need to spend more time tweeting. Or posting. Or pasting. Or someting!”

Well, whoop-di-doo (tech speak for ‘who cares?’) they got a bunch of monkeys to jump!

Maybe that’s not your goal?

Unless you’re promoting your new punk band or selling a new gaming app, volume is not your goal. Click To Tweet

Your goal should be to build loyal followers

The kind of loyal followers who follow you all the way back to your website. The kind of followers who share your content and buy your stuff.

You don’t need to reach the world … you need to reach your tribe.

Start by getting a clear notion of who you are speaking to – who is your ideal audience, or avatar:

— what age are they?
— gender?
— type of work or career?
— what problems do they seek solutions for?
— what style of writing do they enjoy: high-brow philosophy or Gary Larson cartoons?
— how do they like to engage: sharing, quizzes, comments?

Evernote (read my post about how I use this fantastic, free tool) does a great job of writing to people who love lists and getting organized.

Good is better than more.

“I am 100% convinced that you can live without using or be on social media.” Israel Garcia

There’s lots of “expert” advice online on how to schedule loads and loads of updates (I wrote about the problem with scheduling software). As if volume is the ultimate goal.

There’s lots of “expert” advice online on how to schedule loads and loads of updates. As if volume is the ultimate goal. Click To Tweet

Let me ask you a question…

If you went to a restaurant, would you rather have a huge bowl of mediocre food or a small portion of delicious food prepared by a talented chef? I’d choose good over more every time.

Good can simply mean a few extra minutes editing, choosing an original image, or making a reference to a trending topic.

A good rule with social media is people share what makes them look smart. Putting a clever twist on what they think they already know will have more legs than one more post about 5 ways to be a better leader.

Comparing two posts on similar topics, my post “5 steps to writing an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes”  got a much better reaction than the earlier post “5 blog posts that will keep your reader coming back.” Taking a stand – even a bold claim – is an invitation for readers to share to their followers. They feel smart sharing the post they just enjoyed and you get the benefit of new readers.

A good rule with social media is people share what makes them look smart. Click To Tweet

Oreo does a great job of creating smart, often sarcastic, comedy in their Tweets.

Work in batches

“The best way to engage honestly with the marketplace via Twitter is to never use the words ‘engage,’ ‘honestly,’ or ‘marketplace.’”Jeffrey Zeldman, Founder, A List Apart magazine

One of the best ways to be more effective is to work in batches. That could be 15 minutes of solid email work, followed by no email for an hour, instead of constantly checking your email all morning.

You can also batch your social media.

Instead of interrupting your day with updates and responding to followers, you can do it once a day. You might not go viral, but you will have time for other work without distraction.

Fortunately, there are scheduling tools like Buffer and CoSchedule that let you load up a calendar full of updates. The problem with any schedule tools (this will intentionally sound self-serving) is that most people – especially super busy business owners – don’t have time to learn how to use the scheduling tool, let alone constantly fill it.

I know, because before I created BlogWorks, that’s what I tried to do.

I’ll give you two weeks before you quit.

Good news! At BlogWorks we can do it all for you. No scheduling tools, searching for articles, fussing with pictures, or shortening links. One account, one solution, social media is done. Learn how to get started with BlogWorks.

Good news! At BlogWorks we can do it all for you.

Outsource $10/hour jobs

“If you love life, don’t waste time for time is what life is made up of.” Bruce Lee

One of the most powerful lessons I received as an entrepreneur was about the value of my time.

Here’s a simple exercise that was a big eye opener for me and might be for you as well.

Start by making three columns on a piece of paper (a flip chart is even better) and title them: $10, $50, $[what you charge clients per hour]. These are the values of the time for each task, starting with up to $10/hour, and then up to $50/hour and finally, up to your current value when working for clients.

Now, fill in all the tasks, jobs, routines, roles you fill in a typical week, putting each one in the column that matches the value of the job in dollars.

A common mistake entrepreneurs make is doing $10/hour jobs instead of delegating them to others.

Do you see a problem?

Most business owners discover there’s lots of $10 jobs they are still doing, even though they charge 10X that, or more, to their customers. This is what Michael Gerber meant when he said we are “…spending too much time working in our business instead of working on our business.”

The solution begins by first documenting the process routine for all your $10/hour jobs. Simply make a list of each step using a Google Doc (we use Google Doc’s because they’re easy to share within our team).

These are called SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) and they can change your life.

Next, go on UpWork and hire a freelancer to do that job. Don’t worry about creating full-time employment or giving them five jobs to make it worth their time — just start with one reoccurring job that needs to get done.

A good job to start with is publishing your blog.

You might be surprised to learn how many steps go into publishing a blog. There are at least a dozen steps, starting with logging into WordPress, entering the headline, choosing tags, that have to be done the same way every time to get your blog looking good.

The solution is to start documenting the routines for all your $10/hour jobs.
Pro tip: once you post your job in Upwork, use the filters to choose the criteria for the freelancer you are looking for.

Even if you’re not into social media, you don’t have to abandon it altogether.

The strategies in this social media guide for small business can keep you in the game with minimal effort and time.

Speaking of which, now you have more time for what you are into, like watching reruns of All in the family with a nice mug of Ovaltine.

The ultimate list: 7 reasons why you (yes, you) need a blog today

Do you need a blog? 7 reasons the answser is yes

Does your business need a blog?

Sometimes we do things just because everyone else does. Like wearing socks to work or washing our car on Saturdays. Sometimes we need to rethink those decisions. Especially when it comes to marketing.

In this post I will explore the question … does your business need a blog?

A bit ironic to write about this in a blog, but here goes…

Blogging has been around for over 20 years and is no longer the domain of only political pundits and geeks. According to some estimates, there are 300 million active blogs(!) and approximately 40% of businesses use a blog to connect with their customers and attract new ones.

And there’s loads of glowing statistics promoting the benefits of blogs:

Bu,t the question remains: do YOU need a blog for your business? After all, maintaining an active blog takes time, effort and attention – three things usually in short supply.

Maintaining an active blog takes time, effort and attention- three things usually in short supply. Click To Tweet

First, you have to research, write, edit and publish the blog with images and keywords. Then you have to promote the blog and worry about generating traffic and converting that traffic to sales. It’s a lot of work – especially if you don’t have a team helping you.

That’s why in this post we are looking at the WHY of blogging. You’ll want to also explore our other articles about how to write a blog, find a ghost writer, get more traffic, measure success and even overcome procrastination.

Here are the top 7 reasons that experts believe you DO need a blog.

Top 7 reasons you need a blog

1. Build loyalty

In the crazy-busy world of marketing, blogs are unique. Instead of pushing your products and services on consumers, with your blog you attract them with valuable information they want to consume. Just like a magazine or TV show; we are attracted to the content—selling is secondary.

Instead of pushing your products and services on consumers, you are attracting them to you with valuable information they want to consume. Click To Tweet

Blogs also build loyalty. Small at first, your blog will find loyal readers who value your advice, want your recipes or enjoy your unique insights on life. Those loyal readers can then join your list, attend your webinar, visit your restaurant or buy your online course.

A great example of building loyalty with the blog is Angela Liddon of the Oh She Glows recipe books. Since 2008, Liddon has built up a fan club of over 1 million readers and written New York Times best-selling cookbooks (we have 2 of them). The heart of her success started with posting to her blog 3 times a day!

Blogs can build loyalty - Oh She Glows
The care and attention to every blog post took Angela Liddon from baking and selling snack bars from her home to a New York Times best-selling author.

2. Build your platform

Of all the reasons you need a blog, the most powerful could be to build an online platform.

In the old days of marketing, we would define a market position with the 5 P’s (promotion, product, price, place, people). Now we use “platform” to refer to all the pieces you have on the Internet related to your business that create an image in the consumer’s mind and a competitive advantage in your market.

As author Michael Hyatt would say, your platform is about leading a tribe of engaged followers”.

Now we use “platform” to refer to all the pieces you have on the Internet related to your business that creates an image in the consumer’s mind and a competitive advantage in your market. Click To Tweet

Uber entrepreneur Neil Patel used his blog to build a platform as a consultant and speaker and for his associated companies, Neil Patel Digital, Crazy Egg, SproutSocial and Hello Bar.

Build your blog with a platform
When Neil Patel started to build his online empire, it all started with a blog.

3. Attract new followers

Here’s something you probably don’t know about your blog. Most visitors are new to your site. A sampling of 20 BlogWorks clients found that over 85% of visitors were new to the site. First time. Brand spanking new to your world—that’s a huge opportunity, and another reason you need a blog.

It’s like renting a hotel room and 85% of the people who walk into your evening seminar are meeting you for the first time.

What an opportunity!

Those first-time readers can join your list, request more information, watch a demonstration video, buy product or bookmark your site for future reading.

But, arriving at a blog for the first time can be confusing. As author, podcaster and blogger, Pat Flynn writes, “it’s like trying to read a book that was written on loose-leaf paper, un-numbered and thrown into the air and having the pages randomly land on the ground.”

The trick is to guide those new visitors to where you want them to go. Start with an index of the blog posts you most want new visitors to read. From each blog post direct your readers to read related blog posts or to your contact page or product page.

Attract new followers with your blog
A simple way to welcome new readers to your blog is to hand-pick the list of blogs you want them to read first.

4. Convert to sales

Of course, converting readers to sales is the most popular blogging objective. You want readers to buy your recipe book, order that exercise bike or contact you about executive coaching. That would be great.

While some readers will go straight to your sales page or fill in your contact form, it’s less likely on the first visit. What’s more likely is a reader will commit to a small first step – like joining your list.

Following that, your job is to move them to a sale.

Design Pickle founder Russ Perry does a great job of getting new visitors to watch a video before making a buying decision. After all, not everyone is going to sign up for a monthly fee over $300 on their first visit. But they will be closer to making that decision after committing to a 3-minute video (we use the same strategy).

Convert blog readers to sales
You might not be ready to commit to a $300+ monthly fee, but how about a 3-minute video?

5. Build your list

The long game with blogging is to build a valuable list of followers who eventually need what you sell. Getting to your prospect’s inbox will always generate better results compared to social media or advertising.

The good news is that list building from your blog with tools like Mail Chimp, Zoho and Constant Contact is easier than ever.

Start with a simple offer of delivering your latest post directly to your follower’s inbox, then go the next step with an “ethical bribe” for signing up, like a free ebook, or 30 minutes of coaching. Next, build a simple email sequence that starts to be delivered once a new prospect joins your list.

Referral expert, Steve Gordon makes his blog promise on the home page of his site The Unstoppable CEO “We help service businesses get great clients.” From there it’s an easy one click to schedule a call to learn more or to download his ebook “The Exponential Network Strategy” and 8-video training series.

Build your list with your blog
A clear promise with an easy call-to-action is the best formula for a high performing site.

6. Nurture your followers

Let’s imagine someone interested in your consulting company or gluten-free recipe for chocolate torte finds your blog. Great – that’s the first step. But if they aren’t ready to buy or even join your list, what will you do to stay top of mind? That’s another reason you need a blog.

As a professional speaker, I need my clients, event planners, HR managers and speaker bureaus to remember I’m still active and looking for speaking opportunities. Rather than calling them every two weeks, I send them my latest blog post by email.

Sure, I might only have an email open rate of 25-30%, but that’s still thousands of people who are being reminded of the work I do.

Nuture your followers with your blog
Instead of calling my clients every two weeks, I send them my latest blog post by email

7. Pure fun and sharing

There is nothing wrong with having fun with your blog. Blogger Tim Urban makes it clear from his homepage at Wait But Why you should expect the unexpected, starting with his promise of “We publish every sometime.”

Urban’s blog posts range from simple cartoons to tackling complicated global social issues with 20,000+ word treatise that dive deep into topics like the birth of the electric car.

These are big, hairy topics and Urban is fearless. He also has some fun with his readers, like this recent post about table-hogging at a coffee shop.

Pure fun and sharing
Sometimes the best approach to a touchy topic is with humor

 

Here’s the bottom line (funny, I’m at the bottom of the blog) – get clear about the purpose(s) of your blog and then put it to work. Nothing beats a loyal customer and your blog is one of the best ways to get more of them.

Still considering whether you need a blog and want to read more?

You’ll want to also explore our other articles about how to write a blog, find a ghostwriter, get more traffic, measure success and even overcome procrastination.

 

Want more info on How to Get The Social Media Monkey Off Your Back?

How To get the Social Media Monkey off your Back E-book

 

 

Click here for our white paper.

 

 

 

 

Or contact us at yourblogworks.com/contact/

Five Simple Steps to Double Your Business with LinkedIn

double your business with linkedin

LinkedIn may not be up there with the “cool” kids like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but if you know how to take advantage of it, LinkedIn can provide you with a lot more leads and new clients that all other social networks combined.

Despite what some people still think, LinkedIn is not simply a place to find a job or for recruiters to find talent. Over 80% of all B2B leads generated by social media come from LinkedIn.

By following some simple steps, you can put your lead generation in the fast lane, expand your reach, elevate your authority and most importantly, grow your sales. LinkedIn provides fantastic targeting abilities, where you can hone in on precisely the type of customer you want.

But you need to understand what is required to attract today’s buyer.

It requires a shift in the sales dialogue from “What can I sell you?” to “How can I help you?”

Today, your personal brand is more important than it’s ever been as people are looking to find out more about an individual before they do business with them.

Seven seconds is all you have to wow a potential client. Your social selling success is dependent on how your LinkedIn profile represents your personal brand.

With all of these challenges, there is still tremendous opportunity. You now have tools available to you to connect directly with your ideal prospects, with the click of a button.

And while everyone has been talking about social media for years, few talk about the power of LinkedIn. I believe many businesses ignore LinkedIn for two primary reasons:

  1. It isn’t sexy.
  2. It isn’t fun or exciting.

While LinkedIn may not be exciting, getting new clients and having a successful business certainly is!

The LINK Method™ – Double your business with LinkedIn

There are five crucial steps that will turn LinkedIn into a highly predictable lead generator for you. I call this The LINK Method™.

In the infographic below I will share with you the five-step process, what you need to have in your profile to attract your ideal clients, trigger events that allow you to build relationships with your prospects on LinkedIn, how to leverage existing relationships, and much more.

Are you interested in discovering how to turn LinkedIn into a lead generation machine? Take a look at the infographic below:

The LINK Method™

 

I believe that when you stop collecting connections and start building relationships, you increase trust, credibility and attract more clients. This is vital because effective social selling is all about building relationships and trust.

The beauty of LinkedIn is that it is a platform that was designed to help you find, connect and then build a relationship and trust with the exact group of people that comprise your target audience.

Yet people continue to make two very serious mistakes with LinkedIn and social selling.

Mistake #1:
They rush to a sale right after connecting with a potential prospect.

Mistake #2:
They never move the conversation offline, or don’t know how to, as it’s offline that you convert a prospect to a client.

 

LinkedIn is the premier business platform for social selling and the tips shared in this infographic represent just a small portion of the blueprint laid out in my brand-new book LinkedIn Unlocked: Unlock the Mystery of LinkedIn To Drive More Sales Through Social Selling.

 In LinkedIn Unlocked you will learn a step-by-step system that will help you generate a steady stream of new leads, clients, and sales on LinkedIn in under 30 minutes a day.

To celebrate the launch of LinkedIn Unlocked, there is also $221 in free bonuses, including a companion workbook with all of the exercises, worksheets, and templates provided in the book. Click here now to learn more about LinkedIn Unlocked and the exclusive bonuses.

double your business with linkedin

 

Melonie Dodaro, is the founder of Top Dog Social Media and a leading expert on LinkedIn and social selling. She’s the author of two books, including the #1 Amazon bestseller The LinkedIn Code and her brand-new book LinkedIn Unlocked. Melonie has trained over 27,000 businesses and individuals and appears on countless lists as a top sales and marketing influencer.

9 expert bloggers reveal their best strategies

pro blogger

There is no end of advice online about becoming a successful blogger – some of it brilliant, some not so much. Some tips for blogging success even conflict with other advice.

You should write short posts. You should write long posts.

Try using more pictures. Add infographics.

Short, punchy writing is the peach. Long-form writing attracts a more committed audience.

…you get the idea.

We know you don’t have the time to wade through a sea of conflicting advice to find the gems, so we went mining for you.

We reached out to people we respect as being expert bloggers and who we know have used their blog to help built large followings and a sustainable business.

This is hand-picked advice – just for you – of what pro bloggers want you to do with your blog in 2018.

Newsjacking

If you’ve ever wondered about how to connect your readers with breaking news – David Meerman Scott (best selling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR) is the expert. In fact, he coined the term ‘Newsjacking’ – the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story to generate tons of media coverage, get sales leads, and grow business.

Newsjacking blogging success

Here’s how David explains it:

“As the story develops in real-time, buyers become interested in products and services based on what’s happening now. Newsjacking generates sales leads and adds new customers. For free! Newsjacking is a great way to grow your business. Faster than ever!”

Buyers are interested in products and services based on what’s happening now. @dmscott Click To Tweet

Further Reading

Are you making it easy for your readers to stay on your site longer?

Just like a store that displays other products you might want, we want to make it easy for readers to find posts that are related to the one they are currently reading, and hopefully stay on your site longer.

That’s what psychologist and author Liane Davey does with a simple list of “Further reading” at the bottom of every post.

“One of the things I’ve started doing is adding three older posts as ‘further reading’ at the bottom of each post.” Davey told us, “It’s exposing new readers to older content, giving them more to sink their teeth into and getting my number of clicks per visit up.”

blogging success: include further reading

Old is new again

This is an idea we have started using on this blog. It saves us time and is getting great results.

“Rather than constantly be creating something new,” founder of The Agents of Change conference and owner of Flyte New Media, Rich Brooks told us “find some older blog posts that can be easily updated.”

Rather than constantly be creating something new, find some older blog posts that can be easily updated. @therichbrooks Click To Tweet

The process is pretty simple and starts with just a bit of research:

“If you use Google Analytics you can find some blog posts that were page one success stories that may have fallen off the first page recently. Some additional images, an expert quote, an extra graph or two and you’ll be back on the first page with a lot less work than creating something from scratch.”

improve existing content: blogging success

Be authentic

After trying all the tips and tricks in an attempt to achieve blogging success; it’s good to know the basics haven’t changed. Like being real:

“Focus on offering valuable content that truly reaches your audience in an authentic way,” marketing strategist and best-selling author Susan Gilbert told us.

Focus on offering valuable content that truly reaches your audience in an authentic way. @susangilbert Click To Tweet

And more than just being honest and showing your personality, Gilbert encouraged us to stand out with unique solutions:

“Find a way to provide the answers they are looking for and not finding anywhere else.”

successful blogging strategies: be real

At BlogWorks we’re doing that with our blog topics.

Heading into the New Year, our editorial team is working on bringing you articles that we think reflect what our readers and customers are facing every day. Sure, tips on successful blogging are always valuable, but we believe our readers (like you) also want help with procrastination, getting organized, dealing with imposter syndrome and all the barriers that come up when you’re sharing your ideas and solutions publicly.

Keep ‘em clicking

A strategy we use on every blog post is to link to other, related posts. We start by identifying what we think are ‘anchor posts’ – these are posts that have attracted lots of readers AND are posts that help explain the value of working with us.

One way to think about anchor posts is this: if you were explaining your services/products to someone for the first time, these are the posts you’d recommend they start with.

Once you’ve identified your anchor posts, it’s time to find opportunities to link to them. For example, if I was writing about keywords I would link to one of our popular articles on keywords.

Don’t overdo it – we usually link to 3-4 posts within one post. And you can do this retroactively—edit your top five highest traffic posts by adding links to anchor posts.

Let your reader in

Ultimately, your readers want to learn from you and connect. They have lots of choices, but they have chosen you to guide them – whether it is business advice or life strategies.

Click To Tweet

“I have slowly come to understand the power of letting my audience in.” says BlogWorks founder Hugh Culver “As much as I write primarily to a business audience, my readers seem to be interested in me and what I am doing with my business – even what I’m doing in my life.”

“Four years ago, on a whim, I wrote a post about my goal of retiring in 1460 days. It would be the date I turn 60 and it really just wrote the post for myself. Since that post went live – 4 years ago – I have been asked hundreds of times about my retirement!

And here’s my point – very few people ask me about my other posts. Sure them might write a comment on the post or share it, but when I’m on the phone with my readers or meeting them at conferences they ask about my retirement.

I’m not sure what’s the right balance for you—between your professional blog and your personal life, but I suspect your readers would enjoy learning more about the person behind the blog.”

Repurpose your content

successful blogging strategies

A much talked about online promotion strategy is to repurpose your content. Some experts like Chalene Johnson start with a Facebook Live broadcast and turn that recording into a YouTube post, blog and podcast post – even a list of tweets to go out through the week.

Speaker, sales trainer and author, Frank Furness has a version of repurposing just for bloggers he calls COPE – Create Once Publish Everywhere.

“My first publishing of any article is with www.blogger.com” explains Furness “then I take the link and promote it with www.plus.google.com. Both these products belong to Google and this results in me getting onto the first page of Google for certain keywords for a day. I repeat this every week.”

Longer is better!

longer is better

“There is so much confusing information out there about blogging.” LinkedIn expert and author Melanie Dodaro told us.

“Perhaps you’ve heard people say…

  • People don’t want to read long articles, keep them short to under 500 words.
  • No one wants to read anymore, they’re only interested in videos.

Neither of those is true! People will read long blog posts as long as they are filled with quality, actionable tips and how to’s. And the bonus, Google loves longer articles. That’s why most of my blog posts range from 1500 – 2500+ words.  In fact, longer blog posts generate nine times as many leads as shorter posts.”

Click To Tweet

Deliver what your market cares about

“Learn what your market cares about,” coach and author Michael Zipursky told us. “Get detailed and provide content, ideas, and observations that add value.”

“Focus on answering questions that aren’t answered by (many) others—at least not others with more credibility than you” adds marketing expert Peter Sandeen. “When your target customers search for the answer, your answer will be at the top of search results. That gets you in front of new people through Google. But it also keeps you focused on creating content people see as useful and easy to consume, so your existing readers get a lot of value from you.”

Be consistent

Finally, we get to one of the secrets to successful blogging that many bloggers struggle with: consistency.

“Consistency is key,” says Zipursky.

“Create content on a regular basis and don’t stop just because you don’t see a result overnight. Blogging and content creation is a long-term strategy that pays dividends if you keep it up.”

Click To Tweet

And (self-promotion), this is where BlogWorks helps. We take all the promotion of your blog off your hands so you can focus on researching new topics, writing and welcoming new traffic to your business.

Pro tip: a simple solution to staying consistent with your publishing is to have one blog post ready to go. When you have a lighter week, find some time to write a timeless post that you can save for a ‘rainy day’ – it could mean you are more consistent with your publishing (a good thing) and reduce your stress.

In Praise of Hard Work

making money

This post was originally published on www.hughculver.com

It wasn’t long ago that factory work, coal mines, lumber and fishing employed more than half our workers.

That was Hard Work.

Nobody was sneaking a peek at Instagram updates, checking their Inbox, or trying to increase their Luminosity score. They came to work to do work.

It was honourable.

And you also got to see the results of your labour.

I like that.

Hard work on the swing shift

But, we aren’t in the 1950’s—we don’t put on overalls and punch in on the factory floor. Our day is full of clicking keyboards, moving paper, making lists, and busy-work.

Heck, a whole week can fly by and you don’t feel like you made progress!

Been there.

Sure, you’re busy. I could snap a camera on your desk, record you for a day and I’d see lots of busy-ness. Click, click, click…busy.

Yeah, but what about Hard Work?

I define Hard Work (in our modern, no-lunch box, society) as actions you might otherwise avoid that make the most progress towards your goals. That’s the work that pays off.

I’ve written posts about habits, willpower and goals – those are all critical components of Hard Work and getting results. Goals point me in the right direction, willpower gets me out of bed and habits grease the productivity wheel.

They’re the trifecta of productivity.

And then there’s Hard Work. That’s making a decision to get behind the wheel of resistance and push through.

This is Hard Work for me:

  • interrupting someone’s day and asking for something
  • writing an email to say ‘no’ to someone’s offer
  • giving feedback when I know better is possible
  • sticking to my practice of hardest 50 in the first 90
  • limiting my list for the day to fewer than 12 items
  • leaving my office earlier than planned
  • resisting all temptations to stay up late

That’s all Hard Work. And it pays off. That’s what moves the needle—if I want more money, more freedom, more time to choose what I want to do I need to do the Hard Work.

factory workers

“I learned the value of hard work by working hard.” Margaret Mead. Click To Tweet

And here’s the funny thing:

My anticipation that work will be hard is roughly 115,367 times (not based on scientific research) more than reality. “As powerful as is our soul’s call,” writes author Steven Pressfield “…We’re not alone if we’ve been mowed down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us.”

Here’s that list of Hard Work again with my Reality tacked alongside. See if this rings true for you:

What hard work looks like

I don’t know what Hard Work is for you, but I do know you have some you’re avoiding. So do I—we all do.

Let’s get some Hard Work done today.

Please do 2 things right now:

  1. tell me in the comments what Hard Work you need to get to.
  2. share this post by clicking on the social share button on the left (bottom on mobile). When you share the love you motivate me to keep writing. Thank you.

 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

How the experts create world-class PowerPoint Slides (and you can too)

powerpoint

 This post was originally published on www.hughculver.com

We’ve all been there.

We were looking forward to the presentation – it could have been a webinar, keynote speech or office meeting. And then there were the slides…

…tiny fonts, long lists of indecipherable bullets, fuzzy clipart from the 1990’s and blocks of text repeating word-for-word the presenter’s speech. The content could be pure gold, but you’ll never know.

Bad visuals and sloppy design drag your attention away even more than the guy next to you tapping away on his phone.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

With a bit of forethought, a touch more effort and by using these uncommon approaches your slides can make you look like a pro and drive home all the right points without stealing the show.

Just like in the movies – good visuals make the story stronger and bring out the best in the actors.

Whether it’s a sales pitch, team update, webinar, main stage keynote, all-day workshop, screen-capture video or upload to SlideShare, your slides can be your best friend and make you look like a hero.

Here’s why this is important.

Visuals work (more than ever)

All day, we’re confronted with more content than we could ever hope to consume.

Emails, websites, magazines, reports, newsletters, and video compete for our attention. That’s where visuals come in. Not only do we process images faster than words, and 65% of us are visual learners, but presentations using visual aids were found to be 43% more persuasive.

A well-placed picture, infographic, video or animation can drive a lesson home (more on that below), segue to a new lesson or add a perfectly-timed humorous distraction.

It’s the reason why over 80% of TED presenters use PowerPoint slides (or Keynote for a MAC) – they need to make the maximum impact in only about 18 minutes.

Powerpoint
Over 80% of TED presenters use slides.

The trouble happens when slides are slapped together and tacked onto a presentation last minute, rather than being designed as a part of the message.

In a typical 60 minute keynote you can present 30-60 slides. And each one has a job. Just like the screenplay for a movie, you’re unfolding a story that leads your audience on an emotional journey.

Your job is to choose images that follow that journey.

Here are 5 uncommon ways to put more juice in your visuals and add more punch to your message.

We’ll start with planning.

1. Plan before you Paste

It’s easy enough to add images to your PowerPoint presentation, copy, paste and move on.

But wait!

Before you head off to search for a picture of a cute baby or office workers “team building”, ask yourself what emotional message are you communicating?

Your hard content is made up of your words, text, bullet points, facts, and statistics. But emotional content is all about stories, visuals, and tone – even the speed you deliver your content.

Powerpoint
Al Gore used lots and lots of data and graphs to provide overwhelming proof that the threat of global warming is real.

In the Academy Award-winning presentation, turned documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore used lots and lots of data and graphs to provide overwhelming proof that the threat of global warming is real. The point was not to have you remember the graphs or statistics—the point was to convince you to listen to science and facts and not opinion-based naysayers.

When Apple CEO, Tim Cook unveils the latest Apple watch or iPhone model he uses photographs that show off the sleek designs and ease of operation – not the complex, high-tech wiring that makes it all work. Apple wants you to fall in love with the product – details can come later.

“I love using verbal stories but sometimes, an image can tell a more powerful, surprising, or efficient story.” Ron Tite

Tesla promotes the driving experience.

Similarly, when uber-entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled the “every man’s” Testa Model 3, it was all about driving experience (driving range, safety, carrying capacity and speed) and nothing to do with the complexity, research or science that makes the car work.

Before you search for visuals, ask yourself what do you want your audience to feel. Is your message about hope and optimism, teaching, and information, or is your goal to provide clarity and direction? Getting clear about one or two emotional goals should provide a filter for every visual selection decision.

“Each change on the screen should relate to one simple new thought,” wrote Garr Reynolds in his popular book Presentation Zen Design, “that should be expanded and explained by the presenter.” (hat tip to Dave Delaney)

One more example:

Powerpoint
Amy Cuddy’s goal was not to impress us with research data but motivate us to use power poses.

In her popular TED talk about “power poses,” Harvard Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy showed images of the actual poses she was describing. Similar to Apple and Tesla, Cuddy’s goal was not to impress us with research data, but to motivate us to use power poses to feel better and to be more successful in meetings, relationships and negotiations.

Now that you’ve thought through the emotional reaction you want, let’s look at making your visuals memorable.

2. Make it memorable

Nothing puts a wet towel on your presentation faster than cheesy pictures that scream ‘stock photo!’ Sure, your picture shows office workers happily smiling to the camera, but if it looks staged or fake your audience can’t relate to it. In fact, bad stock photography can be more of a distraction than an aid.

The good news is, with a little effort you can find brilliant, free images to support your message and draw your audience in.

Nothing puts a wet towel on your presentation faster than cheesy pictures that scream ‘stock photo!

Sites like unsplash, pixabay and pexels are great for finding unique, original images that are rated as creative commons zero (you’re allowed to use without permission or giving attribution to the artist). If you don’t mind a few extra clicks, you can save time by using librestock.com which sources free images from some 47 plus sites.

You can also use your own photographs.

For example, I have pictures (like picking up garbage on my runs) that support the story I’m telling. I also have an inventory of images that set the mood for my message, like a wandering footpath (goals and next steps), sunrise (hope and new beginnings) and walking my dog (habits and routines).

“Opt for clear before clever. Your audience should never be distracted from what you’re saying because they’re trying to figure out what your slide means.” Rob Cottingham

Read more about your choice of colors, shapes, and fonts in this Venngage post.

Now that you’ve selected your images it’s time to bring out the best in them.

3. Bring out the Best

With a little creativity, you can transform a ho-hum image into a show stopper that grabs your audience. Let’s start with the rule of thirds.

Rule of thirds
Use the Rule of Thirds to make your image more interesting.

This classic photography technique can be used with any visual. The basic idea is to make your image more interesting by putting what you want us to focus on off-centre. Start by dividing your image into two evenly spaced vertical lines and two evenly spaced horizontal lines. If you’re working with an existing image, try to crop so your focal point is on a horizontal line or at a point where the lines cross.

Cropping

A simple improvement to most images is to crop out any unnecessary background to emphasize a central area of focus. Cropping can sometimes make it easier to have a clear area to add text to, for example as a featured image on your blog post.

Original art

If you’re feeling brave, you can always use original art to get your message across.

Wait but why
If you’re feeling extra brave, use your own photos or stick man, like Tim Urban, in your slides.

Tim Urban, in his popular blog, waitbutwhy.com uses his comical stickman drawings to dress up his often sardonic points of view (see how he turns his blog post images into a slide deck in his 2016 Vancouver TED talk about procrastination).

Other examples are Jessica Hagy’s index card messages, James Clear’s graphs and Hugh MacLeod’s art on the back of business cards.

A quick way to get started to bring out the best in your images is to use canva.com, picmonkey or if you’re more of a fan of starting with a template, adobe spark. All are free tools that allow you to very quickly crop, add text and graphics, overlay screens and export a sharp image ready to go into your PowerPoint presentation.

And with a little research, you can turn a small collection of facts and statistics into an eye-catching infographic using Venngage.

After hunting down and improving your images, it’s time to shoot some holes in your bullets.

4. Build Better Bullets

If you have to use bullets to get your message across, proceed with caution.

Any time your audience sees text (like this blog post) they’ll start to read. But they’ll quit just as quickly if bullets seem redundant, too long, or too hard to read.

This is such a common problem it’s worth looking at why it happens in the first place.

When we create a presentation (webinar, slide deck, SlideShare, screen capture video or infographic), we’re sharing information. And a common assumption is more is better.

In fact, less is almost always best (see below).

The purpose of your visuals is to pull your audience in to pay attention and because we remember visuals more than text, your visual is there to anchor your message and make it memorable.

Anything more than that is too much.

Powerpoint
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield used 35 slides and only 5 words in his 2014 TED Talk.

In his 2014 TED talk, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield used only 35 slides with a total of five words (and he received a rare standing ovation.)

If you are flipping through your latest slide deck, here’s a quick rule:

  • limit bullets to four on a slide,
  • each bullet no longer than eight words and
  • use at least 32 point font.
Powerpoint
Start by limiting your bullets to 4 on a slide.

“Please use a font WAY larger than you think you’ll need, for the people in the back of the room and for those looking at your webinar or course on their phone.” Phil Gerbyshak

Two more tips: if you are presenting slides, always:

  • animate your bullets (so the audience can process each bullet as you present it) and,
  • use a remote clicker (so you don’t distract the audience by leaning over and searching for the right key every time you want to advance a slide.)

5. Less is Best

The most common mistake with any presentation is to have too much content. In almost all cases, less is best.

“The best advice I got was don’t use slides.” Brian Massey

Your visuals are there to add to your message, reinforce key points and create memory anchors that make you and your message more memorable. Cramming in more content won’t get you there.

Powerpoint
Del Harvey, VP of Trust and Safety at Twitter.

When Del Harvey, VP of Trust and Safety at Twitter, spoke at TED 2014, she dramatically emphasized the exponential growth of traffic on Twitter with one slide. “Back in January 2009,” she said, “we saw more than two million new tweets each day on the platform. January 2014, more than 500 million. We were seeing two million tweets in less than six minutes. That’s a 24,900-percent increase.”

Her slide simply read: “That’s a 24,900% increase.”

“People are only capable of absorbing a very small amount of material at a time.” writes Garr Reynolds, “Therefore, it is counterproductive to throw up a slide with lots of text or complicated diagrams.”

Every time I delete slides from my keynote presentation the talk improves. I’m less concerned about clicking the right slide at the right time and I can focus more on connecting with the audience.

And there’s always a bit of hesitation before I hit the ‘delete’ button. I catch myself thinking: ‘But this is great information’ or ‘What if someone wants to write this stuff down.’

I never regret the decision to delete.

“Leave most stats on the cutting room floor, and focus on masterfully detailing the implications of a few statistics.” Tom Webster,

Pro tip:

If you’re in a habit of designing your slides to also be handouts, you could be making a mistake. Your visual presentation is there to augment your message, not be the complete message.

If you do need handouts, don’t cheat and use the print handouts option in PowerPoint (or Keynote)—lots of your slides are there as visual anchors and won’t make any sense in handouts. Instead, handouts should be created separately as a stand-alone document.

When in doubt, delete—no one will miss what isn’t there.

“Slides should reinforce your words, not repeat them.” Seth Godin

Get started

When I’m designing a new deck (or doing triage on a deck that’s gone stale) I have three objectives:

  1. choose images that support the emotional content (cautionary, upbeat, motivational, trustworthy, etc.)
  2. create visuals that anchor the lesson (if you use the image again will it remind them of the lesson?)
  3. use the minimum amount of text to support the message (don’t duplicate what you are going to say)

Your message and delivery are what your audience came for. With a little effort, your visuals will help bring your message to life and keep people talking about you long after the standing ovation.

How to Write an Amazing Roundup Post

How to write an amazing roundup post

Have you ever seen a roundup post?

If you haven’t, they are essentially “roundups” of great content in a particular industry. For example, “10 Brilliant Blogging ‘How-To’ Posts You MUST Read” would be a roundup of, well, 10 blogging how-to posts that other people have written.

Why would you want to write a roundup post?

  • Build a relationship with other bloggers.
  • Get those bloggers to share your content, meaning increased traffic.
  • Become an authority in your niche by providing amazing content.
  • Leverage other people’s content – less work for you!

Without further ado, let’s learn how to write a roundup!

Steps to Write an Amazing Content Roundup Post

Alright, let’s go over some of the basics first. Here we go…

Step #1: Find some great posts

You can’t write a roundup without great content to share. You probably already read other blogs in your niche – start with your favorite posts you’ve recently come across. Add them to a spreadsheet.

From there, you can branch out a bit. Search well-known blogs in your industry for their best stuff. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find articles with a high share count. You can also use a tool like Klout to find popular articles.

Roundup Content Using Klout

Remember: Quality > Quantity. We only want a handful of truly great articles.

If you’re really struggling, search StumbleUpon to find some golden nuggets.

To help find posts in the future, set up a Feedly account and follow all the best blogs. You’re sure to find great content that way.

Step #2: Write the post and cite the authors

When curating content like this, you want to make sure you cite the authors. After all, the whole purpose is to get them to (hopefully) share it with their followers and bring you traffic.

Don’t just say “this post” or “a post I found”. Instead, say “This post by XYZ author talks about how to do XYZ.” Say the authors name or the blog’s name, and link to their homepage if available.

Remember: The better you make the author look, the greater the chance they’ll share the post.

For example, look how Chris Garrett gives loads of credit to Digg – even so far as using their name as a header.

Content Roundup Example

Step #3: Be consistent

While you don’t have to publish more than one roundup post, an ongoing blog post every week or every month will bring in more traffic. If you do a weekly roundup, publish it the same time every week. Your followers will begin to expect it and come back.

Step #4: Reach out to the authors

After writing your post, don’t forget to tell the authors about it. You can send them an email or tag them on social media.

When writing an email, try something like this (customizing the brackets):

Subject: I loved your blog post

Body:

“Hey, [Name]!

I’m writing you to let you know I really enjoyed reading your post, [Post Title]. I particularly enjoyed the part about [something you liked about their article].

In fact, I liked it so much that I added it to my [weekly] roundup on [roundup topic]. You can check it out here:

[Link to roundup post]

I’d love to get your opinion on it!

Cheers,

[Your Name]

P.S. Here’s a handy pre-populated tweet if you’d like to share it.”

Note: You can create the pre-populated tweet using Click to Tweet.

Content Roundup Post Examples

Finally, here are a few examples of big blogs using content roundups to help give you some inspiration:

Conclusion

While content roundups are sometimes seen as a cheap way to get views, doing them right will get you authority and traffic, hands down. As long as you only deliver quality content and actually handpick the content you show, you’ll do just fine.

Will you start writing content roundups now? Share them in the comments to help inspire other readers!

Five quick and dirty steps to writing a top headline

Write a top headline: 5 quick and dirty steps

I am going to do something not possible: write a blog about writing the perfect headline in less than 1,000 words.

You see, like writing a book, painting a picture and redecorating your bathroom – there is no one way of doing it. And hundreds of blog posts have already covered this topic – all in much greater details.

So, this will be the quick and dirty version (maybe I’ll revisit it later with a looooonger post).

In the meantime, let’s jump in.

1. Keywords

A “keyword” in your headline needs to be a match to what someone types in their search bar. When you get a match (3 lemons) – that’s “organic search”. Less frequently searched, but still valuable, keywords are known as “long-tail” keywords.

The best keyword research is using Mrs. Google keyword planner. In 5 minutes you can find keywords that have the highest click-rate and lowest competition. You’ll also get some great suggestions you might not have thought about.

For this post I searched with “great headlines” and came up with “top headlines” and “how to write blogs”. Both had reasonable average monthly searches and low competition. After seeing this, I changed from “killer headlines” to “top headlines” as a long-tail keyword option.

Keyword planner tool

2. Killer words

Certain words will stop a reader – clicking-finger in the air – and then there are boring words.

Certain words will stop a reader - clicking-finger in the air - and then there are boring words. Click To Tweet

I still refer to this great post on Noah Kagen’s OkDork site with the results of a study of nearly 1M (that’s million!) headlines looking for posts with at least 100 social shares (in other words, someone clicked on that little Twitter or Facebook icon and shared the blog).

From that huge data bank, these are the top words to include in your headline.

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3. Try many

The more headlines you write the better the final result – so experiment with many.

The more headlines you write the better the final result - so experiment with many. Click To Tweet

Once you have your keywords, build 5-10 versions around it. So, for this post I came up with:

  • How to write a top headline fast.
  • How to write a killer headline explained in less than 500 words.
  • The quick and dirty on how to write a killer headline.
  • Why you need to write a killer headline.
  • 5 ways to write a top headline fast.
  • How to write a killer headline in 5 easy steps.
  • How to write a top headline the quick and dirty way.
  • Five quick and dirty steps to writing a top headline.

I often use www.buzzsumo.com to get ideas for headlines. You simply type in the keywords (in this case, I only entered “writing a killer headline”) and you’ll get the most shared (on social media) headlines.

BuzzSumo

According to research compiled by Buffer’s Kevan Lee, the optimal length for a blog headline is 6 words. He goes further by suggesting that our eyes tend to pick up the first 3 words of a headline and the last 3 words.

2016-09-10_06-19-07

4. Quick check

Once you have a good handful of headlines it’s time to check them out. The easiest check is Mr. Google. Slap your headline in your favourite search engine and see what search phrases are suggested (the phrases that pop up when you type/paste in your headline). Tip: To narrow your search to only other bloggers, include “blog:” before your search phrase.

This isn’t definitive, but will give you an idea of who is using that same headline or maybe better versions you can use. When I did it with “The quick and dirty 5 steps to writing a killer headline” I don’t see an exact match with other bloggers.

Search engine results

5. Clever tricks

Okay smarty – you’ve checked keywords, written multiple versions, even made sure to insert “you” and a number. Now it’s time for big boy tricks.

The objective is to get the scanner to become a reader – that means we have to get them to click on our headline. The following hacks are guaranteed to work…some of the time 🙂

bracketsYou ARE an expert (now act like one)

ask a questionShould you share your best stuff on the Internet?

prove authorityHow I got rich (and 6 ways you can as well)

be a contrarianDo nothing – five fast ways to turn work off so you can have a life

be boldStop! You’ve Been Primed – why doing dumb stuff might not actually be your fault.

Writing great headlines is an imperfect science. It seems every week I read more advice, often contradicting other advice I’ve read.

Regardless, here’s one think that’s always been true: without a great headline your readers will pass you by.

As the great ad man, David Ogilvy once explained, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”