It’s hard to imagine a sales person not asking for the sale or Amazon not having an “Add to cart” button. So why do so many blogs not have a call-to-action?
Before I get to my 7 favourite options for your blog call to action (CTA) let’s take a step back and talk about what your blog is for.
Your blog is there to help people. Even blogs that share travel stories or pontificate about the pro’s and con’s of nose piercing are there to help.
And if you want to help people, you need to offer more than your written advice. It could be coaching, an online course, live events, consulting, or your book. That’s where you CTA comes in – helping people.
Alrighty, with that out of the way, let’s look at my favourite CTA’s.
1. Internal link call to action
By far the simplest and most essential blog call to action is to link to another page on your site. The reader can go deeper with related content and you get them on your site longer. Longer on site means more time to visit your products and services pages.
Of course, you can also link directly from your blog to pages that lead your reader closer to a sale. When I’m writing my draft blog post I will underline a word if it relates to another post I’ve already published. That way I don’t interrupt my writing (like that) to go search for the actual link. I’ll go back and add the actual link before I publish.
One last point…a quick fix strategy is to go back to your top half-dozen posts and add internal links to other posts and to your products and services pages. Don’t over do it, but 4-6 links in a 400-1,000 word post is not going to seem overkill.
2. Bottom of blog call to action
Did you know that 30% of people buying a book on Amazon will buy a second book from the list “Customers who bought this item also bought”. Why not use the same strategy in your blog?
At the bottom of each post simply list 3 more posts they might enjoy. After all, if your reader gets to the bottom of the post they probably want more on that topic. It’s a great blog call to action that can keep your readers on your site.
We started offering a list of 3 additional posts at the bottom of every new post on our blog. It such a simple task, you’d be crazy to not do it. Again, just like the suggestion above for retrofitting older popular posts with internal links, you can easily add suggested posts at the end of those same posts,
3. Social shares
One of the easiest ways to increase traffic to your blog is to have readers share it on social media. The math is impressive:
Imagine if only 20 people share your post. But those shares go to some 20,000 of their followers. It doesn’t take a big percent of responses to see how your traffic will increase.
There are a few tools, like sumome, addthis, sharethis and social warfare that make it super easy to share your blog on social media. All of these tools should work perfectly on mobile (your mobile traffic could be as high as 35-45% of all traffic) with share buttons that stay at the bottom of the phone’s screen as the reader scrolls.
4. Content upgrade
This blog call to actio is a little more complicated to set up, but the results can be impressive. The idea of of ‘content upgrade’ is to deliver a report, or guide or check list that supplements the blog post the reader is on.
For example, if your post is about 5 ways to give feedback to employees, your content upgrade could be a check list that helps you choose the right feedback to use in your next coaching session.
Ideally, the gift can be consumed in one sitting and has high value for the prospect. After all, this is their first impression of you and your business.
To receive the download the reader has to optin to your mailing list.
The trick is to take the reader to what’s called a “landing page” where the offer is presented and there’s an invitation to join your list if they want to receive the gift but also receive future updates from you. The simplest way to do this is to create a hidden page on your site (like www.yoursite.com/offer) with the offer. You can also create custom landing pages in most CRM’s, like Convertkit, Ontraport, Active Campaign, etc.
5. Click to tweet
One of the easiest ways to encourage readers to share your post is to set up a click-to-tweet option. Your reader sees an interesting quote, identified with the Twitter bird icon, they click on that quote and your blog is shared onto their Twitter channel with a link back to your blog. This makes it super easy or your reader to share and you get exposed to their followers.
Once you have the plugin installed add a click to tweet is easy. Copy a quote from your blog that you want readers to share. Click on the location in your post you want to insert the click to tweet. Click on the blue bird in your menu bar, paste the quote and you’re done!
6. Sidebar CTA
Most blogs have a menu of sidebar displayed options. It might be your most popular blog posts, advertising a product, like your book and it can be an invitation to join your mailing list.
Building your mailing list is an important strategy for marketing your business. Even with the explosive growth of Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and other social channels, you will always get stronger sales by directly emailing a list of loyal followers.
The sidebar CTA is an invitation to grow your list, usually in return for receiving a gift, or “lead magnet”.
Many of the mailing list tools, like Mail Chimp (called a signup form) or Convertkit (create form) make it super easy to design and load the “widget” box, complete with image of your gift, into your website. The full sequence of events, like Thank You page, optin confirmation email, etc are easy to set up.
More robust CRM (Customer Relations Management) software, like Active Campaign (create form to capture contacts) and Infusionsoft (create WordPress optin form) also allow you to create the form.
The beauty of these sequences is that once you jump through all the hoops (there are loads of videos on YouTube explaining how to do this), it will run 24/7 for years. Your job is to check the numbers and change to a new gift if you aren’t getting the results you want.
7. The Pop-up Call to Action
Finally, we come to the much maligned pop-up CTA. But, before you run away screaming “I hate pop-up’s!” You need to know something.
Pop-up’s work. The trick with pop-up’s is to not annoy your reader! All of these tools are designed to select who sees your popup and how they see it. For example, you can delay the popup until the reader has been on your post for 2 minutes or they are about to leave you page. You can also set the popup to not show to returning readers.
At this point you might be freaking out and thinking “One more thing I’ve got to do!!” Here’s the deal:
Just like investing in professional pictures of your products (or your profile picture), adding CTA’s to your blog are an investment. Every day you can be helping your readers with your blog or you can be helping them and you by getting them to respond to a call to action.
A small investment now (like 5 minutes to add internal links to a post) could pay big dividends day after day for years to come. So, stop screaming, pick one and get to work.
If you enjoyed this article (You new this was coming, right?), you’re going to want to check out these as well:
having a Facebook presence is a must. To get the most out of this important social channel you need to first understand the difference between a Facebook Page vs Profile.
Most business owners understand the potential of having a Facebook Page, but understanding the specifics can still be hard figure out. Confused about how your blog can bring you more business? Book a free, confidential call today to learn how BlogWorks can help.
Specifically, many business owners aren’t sure whether to create a Facebook Page or a Facebook Profile.
If you’ve been confused between the two, don’t worry. This post will break down the differences and help you pick the best choice for your business.
A Facebook Profile is a personal account assigned to you when you sign up with Facebook.
You’re only able to create one profile, which includes only your personal information – no business information.
Your Facebook Profile is where you connect with family, friends, and colleagues. You’re able to see personal posts and updates from your friends in your newsfeed as well as share your own photos and posts.
Your Facebook Profile is for personal use only and shouldn’t be used for business in any manner.
Note: It’s technically against Facebook Terms to use a Facebook Profile for business.
A Facebook Page is a page created on Facebook that’s separate from your Personal Profile.
A Facebook Page is set up simply by selecting the “Create a Page” link from the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of your Facebook Profile. Once your Facebook Page is set up, you can begin to promote your page to gain more likes.
In order for Facebook users to see your business’s updates in their feed, they must like your page.
If you can help it, start with a business account from the beginning.
Social media Examiner states, “When you go to www.Facebook.com without logging in, there’s a link to “Create a Page” underneath the signup form. This will create a “business-only” account.” This makes your personal profile and your business account easy to keep separate.
Differences between “Like” and “Follow”
You guessed it- Facebook has made things more confusing (again). When you “like” a page, you automatically sign up to “follow” that page, too. This means any updates posted by a Facebook Page will be seen in a person’s newsfeed.
The good news is that individuals can opt to “unfollow” a page, while still “liking” it. While this is still good news for a business, as the more “likes” the better, it’s still important that you have as many people “following” your page as possible.
If people don’t follow your page, they don’t get your updates. And without news updates and blog links, it is far too easy for people to forget about your company.
The reason for someone to “unfollow” your Facebook Page is pretty simple: they don’t like the content of what’s being posted. Either it’s too much and seems like spam, or it’s simply uninteresting.
Bottom line, it’s important that posts from your Facebook Page are interesting and meaningful – you want to keep your customers interested in both your product and your company.
Benefits of a Facebook Page vs Profile
A Facebook Page should be included in every business owner’s marketing plan.
One of the key benefits of Facebook is having access to the social site’s 2.27 billion active users. A well-focused Facebook Page can yield your business more results than a website while costing you less.
Let’s get into more of the Facebook Page vs Profile benefits.
Defining and targeting your ideal audience members is easy to do with Facebook. Facebook makes setting up advertising campaigns an easy process and you’re able to measure and track your results with Facebook analytics.
As a business owner, it’s important to build trust and loyalty among your customers. Facebook makes this easy by allowing you to constantly post updates and photos about your business.
The beauty of using a Facebook Page is that you’re able to automate your posts so that you can share great content anytime.
Want to grow your fan base quickly? Facebook lets you throw contests, conduct surveys, and promote coupons as a way to motivate new and current users to connect with your business.
Facebook also allows you to promote posts. If your business is launching a new product or doing a flash sale, a promoted post is a great way to get your fan’s attention.
Creating contests and surveys are also a great way to learn what your audience wants so that you can give them more of what they are craving.
By running surveys and contests, you can see which campaigns spike the most engagement. The information you receive back will be invaluable. You can turn it into engaging shareable posts, blog posts, and even products.
Search Engine Optimization
By having a Facebook Page vs Profile, Google will index it for you. That means your business page will show up in Google’s search results.
This makes it easier for customers to easily view your information while also giving it a layer of authority.
Growing Your Facebook Fans
You’re going to want to grow your fan base if you plan to be successful on Facebook.
Your focus should always be on attracting quality fans over quantity. Those who are clicking the like button and don’t feel the need to interact with your page, are not who you want as fans.
Be sure to pay attention to both the number of “likes” and the number of “followers.” If there is a large gap between the two, then you need to increase the quality of your posts.
Good fans will take the time to share your content and buy your products. Just listen to the experts:
Jon Loomer shares a simple, yet straightforward strategy in this article to obtain authentic fans.
He believes, “Even if you only reach a fan with paid ads, you know they are interested in you and are willing to hear from you — as opposed to blindly targeting people, selling your crap.”
Make it Personal
One of the best ways to build a highly-engaged audience is to add personal touches.
This can be done by sharing photos of your team or of your office space. This adds an element of relatability, which builds a bond with your fans. As blogger Neil Patel says, “Not every update you send out on your Facebook Page should sell.”
Share a Mixture of Content
Instead of sharing nothing but photos or blog posts, switch up your content by doing a mixture of both.
Your fans want variety and posting all of one type of content can get boring very fast.
If you’re looking for ways to double the amount of content you have, look for shareable tweets from your blog posts that you can add to some of your photos. This is an easy way to create more content without creating entirely new posts to share.
Apply Your Knowledge
Now that you know the difference between a Facebook Page vs Profile, you’re ready to get started with your Facebook business promotion. Our BlogWorks social plan makes it easy to stay top-of-mind with your fans and save the frustration and time updating your social media channels.
If you’ve been using a personal Facebook Profile to promote your business, it’s time to switch over to a Facebook Page. The value of a Facebook Page is definitely worth it.
“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.” Barry Schwartz
It was morning at the local grocery store in Southern California. Just like every other Saturday morning.
With one exception.
Before the store opened, researchers had set up a table with an attractive display of local jams for sale. On this Saturday, 24 jams were on display. Consumers would stop, taste one more more of the local products and then either pick up a jar to take to the check out counter or continue on their way.
Then, on following Saturday the same table was prepared, but this time with only 6 varieties of jam. Same store, just fewer options.
Guess which display table led to more sales?
You guessed it – when there are more options, people tend to get overwhelmed and do nothing.
Fewer options is better.
This is also true in business: for example, when faced with too many marketing options you might, in fact, do nothing. Psychologist Barry Schwartz called this the ‘paradox of choice’. And that brings me to marketing. Just like jars of jam, when faced with too many marketing options most people either dabble in a few ideas or do nothing at all.
And it’s getting worse. For the last decade we’ve been inundated with a truck-load of online marketing choices.
Should you build your Facebook followers, post videos on YouTube, learn all about Instagram or plan an affiliate launch?
Or, maybe you should simply reduce your choices and focus on what works?
We love blogging because, unlike most other online marketing strategies, it keeps on working for us. And, despite all the hype of “latest, greatest” social marketing, every year more companies are investing in their blogs.
Your blog will attract new followers, keep you in touch with clients and help convert followers to buyers. Even your old posts keep attracting readers.
And, as much as we like promoting on our social channels, good luck getting people to read an old tweet or watch a two-year old video on YouTube.
So, why not make this your year of the blog?
How to make this the Year of the Blog
Alrighty, you’ve committed to blogging. But you’re feeling a little unsure how to get started. The last time you published a blog post was 5 months ago and that one took you two days to write. Ouch!
At BlogWorks we speak with bloggers every week who have this challenge—they know their blog should be central to their marketing, but they struggle to publish. Just like the Jackson’s 1970’s hit song, “A-B-C it’s as easy as 1-2-3,” blogging can be as easy as following 3 steps.
By the way, “A-B-C” stands for Always Blog Consistently (I’m kind of proud of that one).
1. Set your goals
2. Block the time
3. Follow an SOP
Let’s dig into the details:
1. Set your goals
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” Zig Ziglar
Creating a few meaningful goals for your blog doesn’t have to be complicated or scary.
Start with a few metrics which are important for you, like: site traffic, list size, publishing frequency and
then create the goal based on last year.
For example, if your site traffic last year averaged 1,000 users (unique visitors) to your site your new goal could be to increase site traffic to 1,500/month.
Similarly, if your list size is 800, make a goal to double it this year.
And if you published 10 times last year, commit to 2 posts per month, or 24 posts in the year.
But, don’t stop there. Goals only work if you check on them. At least once a month, fill in a simple spreadsheet with your progress.
2. Block the time
“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.” James Clear, Atomic Habits
I have written about time management and productivity for over 10 years. And I’ll let you in on a little secret…
When I’m coaching chronic procrastinators or clients who are tackling huge projects I always recommend one strategy. Are you ready?
Block your time.
Admit it, if you had a 2:00 appointment with your dentist, you’d prepare, leave home and be there on time. Right?
It’s no different with a scheduled conference call, webinar, sales meeting, or meeting a friend to show them this blog (hint, hint). When we block time for a meeting, we treat that time differently. You can always move that time block, but your writing time should be protected.
Most authors, bloggers, speech writers and other creative people do their best work in the morning, shortly after waking up. That could be a good place to start blocking your blog writing time.
3. Follow your SOP
“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” Mike Murdock
One of the best changes I made to my blogging was to create a Standard Operating Procedure.
That’s right, one of the changes that accelerated the growth of this blog and my blog was to document all the steps it took to get my rough draft published and promoted.
Two things happened: 1) I wasted less time trying to muddle my way through all the minutia of WordPress tags, categories, headers, etc. 2) I was closer to outsourcing the $12/hour jobs.
Once I’d written up all the steps (and there were over 30 steps!), it was obvious that a disproportionate amount of time was spent doing non-creative, routine tasks. In fact, I created BlogWorks because of that exercise!
To get started, use Google Docs (it’s easy to share when you are ready to outsource this) and simply list all the steps your blogging process needs. Next, identify repetitive tasks you can outsource. For example, you might want to outsource creating the Featured Image for each post.
Contact us to learn how we can transform your rough draft into a published and promoted post.
Install the sumo or social warfare floating social share bars to encourage more readers to share your articles.
Share your best stuff. You readers will be attracted (and will share) your best ideas, solutions, strategies, and resources.
Finally, keep the faith—all successful bloggers started small and slow, persistence and consistency are more important than perfection. Keep writing, publishing and promoting!
Whoa! I know this was a long list.
And so we have two more thoughts for you…
First, you don’t need to do all of this. In fact, you don’t need to do half of it! Instead, choose one change you will make this month. Believe it or not, in our research we have found the most blogs never change! Year after year there is virtually zero attention given to plug ins, format, easy ways to share the post…nothing. So, go easy on yourself and choose one thing for this month (my favourite would be to add the cool, free Editorial Calendar).
Lastly, you might have noticed that there are only 51 tips in our list, and not 52. That’s because you deserve a break! For at least one week, slack off. A great way to do that is to schedule your posts in advance (see #14 and #15 to save time.)
There you have it – great tips you can use one at a time. Have fun with it—your blog is a license to be creative and experiment. Do that and your readers will reward you with more readers.
The Internet is a busy place. And one way to cut through the noise and get some attention is to use images in blog posts.
Pictures, video, screenshots, diagrams, and illustrations are a great way to keep your reader from clicking away. Images will also help readers understand your information and ideas, and remember your post.
The trick is to know how to create and add those blog images quickly and effectively.
In this post, we’ll walk you through all the steps, tools and tricks to dress up your blog without having to lose your afternoon doing it.
Okay, let’s jump in with why images work:
Your blog competes with a lot of distractions. And once you get a reader to your blog you need to keep them there.
“Our brain is mainly an image processor (much of our sensory cortex is devoted to vision), not a word processor.” Psychology Today
65% of senior marketing executives say that photos, video, illustrations, and infographics are core to how their brand story is communicated.
Visual search tools are becoming increasingly important too, so when you use images in blog posts the right way, it can help your SEO.
You should aim to add images to every article you write online. A good rule of thumb is to add one image every 300 words.
PIXELS, FORMAT, SIZE AND ALL THAT STUFF
Trying to understand the different image size options can get pretty complicated. The two basic things to know are orientation and size/compression.
For most blogs, a horizontal orientation (longer width than height) works better. Horizontal/landscape images take up less real estate on the screen, allowing your content to catch the eye of your readers. Horizontal images are also perfect for sharing your blog on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
But vertical or square images perform better on Instagram and are more likely to be pinned on Pinterest. Again the reason is simple – Instagram and Pinterest are all about images. A vertical/portrait image takes up more screen real estate, which makes them more eye-catching.
So in the end, what orientation you choose comes down to your users and what social platforms they use!
Sprout Social maintains an up-to-date list of the best images sizes for the various social media channels in this post.
Image Size and Compression
When talking about images, size can mean two things – the physical size of the image (length x width) and the file size (bytes).
Most images straight from your camera or from a high-quality stock photo website are higher in resolution and physical size than they need to be for the web.
A digital photo is made up of pixels (px) – tiny square tiles of colour. We generally talk about pixels in two ways – pixel count and pixel density. The pixel count is the number of pixels that form your photo. So an 800px by 600px photo simply means that your photo is 800 pixels wide and 600 pixels tall.
Pixel density, or dpi, is the number of pixels per square inch. The more pixels per square inch, the higher the resolution of the image and the clearer it is. For print photos, 300dpi or higher is ideal. For the web, 72-150dpi is more than sufficient.
Start by working out the best physical size for images on your website.
There’s no point filling your blog post with images that are 3000px wide if your blog template automatically resizes them to 800px! Even though the image looks like it’s 800px on your blog, the 3000px image is still being downloaded, which slows down the load speed of your page!
Your images should only be as large as your blog content width (or close to it! Let’s face it, sometimes you just can’t remember if your blog template is 800px or 1000px wide … or is that only me?). If your blog is responsive (that is, it automatically resizes the page depending on the size of a viewers screen), size your image for the maximum width.
Find a balance between file size and quality when you use images in blog posts
The smaller the file size of your image, the faster it will load for your reader. But, reducing size too much can create a fuzzy image. Your goal is to find the balance between the lowest file size and an acceptable quality.
Try to keep your image size between 150KB and 300kb. Take a look at the example below. The original image was 7.6MB and 5000px wide. The image on the left was resized to 860px wide and saved as a high-quality jpeg, which produced a 250KB file. You can barely tell the difference between this image and the original when viewed online. The image on the right was resized to be 860px wide but saved as a low-quality jpeg. It’s only 30KB so it will load quickly but it’s fuzzy and of poor quality.
Of course, it isn’t always possible to keep your images to under 300KB. On retina displays, a complex photograph may likely look fuzzy at 300KB.
The key take-home idea is keep file sizes as small as you can, especially if you are using a lot of images in your post! Page loading times affect your google rankings and readers are likely to be turned off a page that takes ages to load.
There’s a number of free services for reducing image size, like Pic Resize, and Tiny PNG. Or you can use free design sites like Canva or PicMonkey to get the right size and resolution for any social media site or for your website (more on using those tool below).
Do I use JPG, GIF, PNG, SVG?
What is the best image format for your blog images?
JPG/JPEG – offers great quality images at a small file size. It’s the best option for photos unless they need to be transparent, animated or have a lot of text in them
GIF – perfect for small graphics and animations, and they can have transparent backgrounds.
PNG – ideal for detailed graphics, images with a lot of text or transparent images. PNG files tend to be larger than JPG files.
SVG – this is a scalable vector format, which means it stays crisp and clear at any resolution. They tend to be large in terms of file size, but if you have a complicated graphic that needs to automatically resize, and/or has rollover effects or animations, SVG is a perfect choice.
NOTE: Not all websites are set up to automatically handle SVG files. WordPress has plugins that will help. For non-WordPress sites, give it a go and if your SVG file doesn’t display check with your web developer.
Test your images
Most content management systems (like WordPress), allow you to preview your draft blog post before you make it live. So if you aren’t sure about an image, upload it to your draft blog post and preview it!
FEATURED IMAGES IN BLOG POSTS
The simplest way to use images in blog posts is with a brilliant, eye-catching feature image.
Your featured image could be just a photograph or you can add your headline onto a photo. Either way, it needs to create some curiosity and make the reader want to read on. Remember – this is what appears at the top of your post and in social streams when your post get’s shared. It’s also the first thing that people see when they land on your main blog page. An eye-catching image will help get readers, clicks and reshares.
In WordPress, you’ll find the link to choose your Featured Image on the right side of your WordPress menu.
If I’m using a photograph, I try to avoid cheesy stock images, like the image on the left, and look for something more original like the image on the right.
MAKING YOUR OWN IMAGE
Be creative! Stock images are great, but original are better – even if you are just adding a twist to a stock image.
You don’t have to be a graphic artist or own expensive software to create your own images. Free tools like canva and picmonkey have a wide range of templates, images and ready-to-use graphics and fonts. With a little practice, you can add your unique spin on your images or create quote images, memes, diagrams, and infographics.
Here’s an image I made in Canva in only 3 minutes.
OK, so it’s not groundbreaking – the point is that I was able to find a free-to-use high-quality stock image, add some stylized font and download the image at the right size for my blog in just three minutes.
Once you get comfortable with the above tools, you can get creative with your results. Simple techniques like resizing images, adding screens, cropping – even choosing more interesting fonts will make your image stand out.
If you are using an image under a Creative Commons license, it’s good practice to credit the photographer and source. You can add credits in the final slide or provide a link in your YouTube video description. For images, it’s usually as simple as adding a link to your photo back to the original photo. Most stock photo websites will supply you with the link when you download the image.
Some great sites that have loads of images safe to use are pixabay, unsplash, Refe, Magdeleine and if you still can’t find what you want go to librestock where images from over 40 sites are aggregated for you to search. We listed 7 sites to find great pictures in this post. You can even use Google to do an image search – just be sure to choose ‘Labeled for reuse’ under Tools.
Quick tip about searching for that “perfect” image: it’s really easy to lose 20 or 30 minutes flipping madly through photos for the perfect picture of a woman holding a cappuccino staring thoughtfully at her laptop – finding a picture that is slightly better than one you found in the first 5 minutes won’t make your post go viral. Try to limit yourself to 5 minutes to find a good-enough image and get it uploaded into your post. You can always change it later if you find a better one.
USE IMAGES OF REAL PEOPLE
Pictures of people are one of the most engaging forms of content on the internet. Faces are unique and humans have a hardwired visual preference for staring at faces. Images of faces and people will hold a reader’s attention.
But they need to relate to the content or help explain a concept or point – studies have found that pictures of people are glossed over by readers when they are generic, decorative images.
When it comes to social media, faces engage us. Photos with faces attract more comments and likes.
ADDING SCREENSHOTS AND DIAGRAMS
Let’s say you are trying to explain how to use an online search engine or where to go on your site to find your latest book, or even how to make sure your opt-in email didn’t go into that person’s “promotion” folder in Gmail.
Kind of hard to explain in words – right?
That’s where screenshots are super helpful. Within a couple of minutes you’ve captured the image, added a couple of arrows and now your picture is worth a thousand words – plus you get more people going to the right place!
A tool like Snagit is an invaluable investment. For only $50 you have a ready-to-go workhorse for screenshots, videos, and even gifs.
Here’s a video I created in Snagit of using Snagit to edit a screenshot (now that’s meta!).
Custom graphics and diagrams are another great way to explain complex concepts or just add some fun to your post. Snagit is a great tool but there are plenty out there. OmniGraffle and Lucidchart offer flowcharting tools that you can use to make fun diagrams. Piktochart has a free version for creating infographics and data-driven graphics.
Need a chart to help illustrate some information? You can take them right from Excel, Google Sheets or Word. Just copy your chart and paste it into your text editor, or take a screenshot.
And don’t be afraid to pick up a pencil or pen! Sketch your idea and take a photo. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t an artist – your readers will enjoy seeing that you are just like them!
ADDING VIDEO AND GIF’S
Sometimes text alone isn’t quite enough. That’s where video and animations can come in.
I’ve been asked many times how I add videos to my blog. I’m certainly no expert, but when it comes to anything that smells technical I remind myself ‘done is better than perfect’ and I keep it simple. Start to finish, a simple video should take me no longer than 15 minutes.
Here’s an illustration of the steps I go through.
You do need to host your video somewhere. We have used Vimeo for many years and love the price and how fast and simple it is to use. You can also use YouTube or Wistia.
The steps to adding video to your blog are pretty simple once you’ve practiced them a few times, but they do vary depending on your website and where you are hosting your video.
Here’s how to insert a video from YouTube into WordPress:
This process had gotten super simple. Start by locating the video you want on YouTube.
Log into your WordPress website, open the blog post to edit, locate your cursor where you want the video, paste the URL.
This free tool will allow you to customize the look of your YouTube video and do things like turn off the annoying “related” videos
Here’s how to insert a video from Vimeo into WordPress:
To get your video’s embed code, go to its page on Vimeo and click the ‘Share’ button.
Click the ‘+Show options’ link and copy the embed code.
Log into your WordPress website, open the blog post to edit and click on the ‘Text’ tab in your text editor.
Locate your cursor where you want the video and paste the embed code.
Note: You should include text in your post with your video if you want your post to get picked up by search engines like Google. You can see how it’s done on the Gone with the Wynn’s travel vlog. With every blog post they have lots of text, images and video to keep you, the reader interested and for SEO purposes.
Using a consistent theme
When you are choosing images or fonts it’s a good idea to be consistent with the theme of your site and your blog. It could be as simple as using a consistent font (I’m a fan of Helvetica Neue, Marker Felt, Yellowtail and Bebas Neue), a color scheme or icon style.
The customer service app, Help Scout does a great job of using consistent design elements in their blog that are light, modern and quirky.
Choosing the right file name
Image SEO starts with the file name. When you use images in blog posts, you want Google to know what your image is about without even looking at it!
Before you upload your new image, take a look at the name of the image. Your image should be named something that relates to the image and/or the content of your article. It should also include your keywords whenever possible. Choosing a keyword-rich name for your image will make it easier for search engines to rank your page.
For instance, if you are writing an article on how to choose the best chew toy for puppies, name your image “best-chew-toy-for-puppies.jpg”. If your image shows a sunset on a beach in Koh Samui, Thailand, name it ‘thailand-koh-samui-beach-sunset.jpg’.
Use dashes between words, rather than spaces, underscores or running all your words together.
This recommendation comes straight from Google. We’re not sure of the exact reason for this as Google guards how it’s search engine algorithm works closer than a magician guards their tricks. But the Google Webmaster say dashes between words helps google find your images!
When you upload your image, video or other media, you have the option to include ALT text. You should do this whenever you can.
The ALT text tells search engines about your image, which helps your rankings. Plus, screen readers read out the ALT text so you are helping your content be more accessible.
Your ALT text should help explain your image or the point you are trying to illustrate. Like choosing a file name, your ALT text should be related to the content of your article or your keywords.
Captions and Headlines
Image captions are the text that appears next to the image on your page. You don’t have to include them but they do help. Many readers tend to scan an article’s heading, images, titles, and captions quickly before deciding to read it in full. And they can help readers understand the point that you are trying to make with your image.
There’s no need to add a caption every time you use images in blog posts – sometimes an image is self-explanatory. Add them where they make sense or when you think they may help a reader understand your point of view.
BarkPost, the inventors of the monthly dog treat subscription Bark Box, tantalize dog lovers (like me) with goofy, fun images of pooches matched with Hollywood tabloid-style headlines, like these:
5 Signs Your Dog’s Eye Boogers Are Caused By Something Dangerous
18 Dogs Who Don’t Approve Of This Water Torture You Call “Bath Time”
I Signed My Dog Up For A Dental Care Box, And Here’s What Happened
Your final checklist
Any images you add to your blog should make your readers’ experience better. Ideally, they are a part of the message and make the reading experience better.
Too many images and you post becomes cluttered. The wrong images and your post is distracting to read.
As a final check when I use images in blog posts, I ask myself these two questions:
will this image keep the reader on the page?
does this image add to my argument or help the reader to understand better?
The extra effort you put into finding and adding images – of all types – to your post can pay big rewards. Instead of getting passed over, your post could be shared with thousands of readers and take on a life of its own.
After all, our goal is to get our blog read, shared and loved. Right?
Tell me in the comments what tricks you’ve found for working with images.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
First, let’s look at what social media was designed for.
The real reason we use social media
Social media is first about being social — sharing personal updates, helpful news, valuable resources and connecting.
Sure anyone in business is happy to receive business from Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and we can advertise there as well. But, we go to social media first for the social.
“Creating content online that educates, adds value to people’s lives and inspires” wrote online marketing expert Jeff Bullas, “is something worth aspiring to.”
When you post the same content over and over you send the wrong message. It’s like the same TV commercial interrupting your favourite sitcom … again and again. Pretty soon, you just tune out.
One day a trusted friend tells you about some scheduling tool that has saved their bacon (isn’t it fascinating how we love to brag about some solution, even if we’re not completely convinced it works?). And after clicking on their suggestion, plus a bunch of other sites – all promising that the burden of keeping up with your social media will soon evaporate – you enter your credit card and create a password.
Um, did they happen to mention the real work is about to begin?
Let’s take a minute and look at the real cost of schedule software.
The real cost of social media scheduling tools
Most advice about online marketing and social media is given by people whose job is to (surprise!) do online marketing and social media. They live and breath this stuff. And their advice about using social media scheduling tools should come packaged with the warning, to borrow from TV shopping channels: “results may vary.”
Let’s break down the real cost of scheduling tools for someone who is not an online, social media expert. I think you’ll quickly see that the cost of the software subscription is only a small part of the real cost:
The typical cost of a software subscription: $10 – $99/month
Time to learn the software (assuming you value your time at $100/hour): 2 – 10 hours @ $100/hour = $200 – $1,000 sunk cost.
Time to keep software actively loaded every day: 2-4 hours/week @ $100/hour = $800 – $1,600/month.
So, using these very rough numbers, if you were completely dedicated and undistracted, you could be up to speed at a sunk cost of $200 – $1,000 and investing $810 – $1,699/month (time + subscription fee) to update and maintain your schedule.
Here’s the rub.
I don’t know any business owner who is 1) dedicated enough to commit 8 hours a month to anything that doesn’t produce an immediate ROI to their business or 2) organized enough to stick to a routine this demanding for more than, oh, I don’t know, a week?
That’s why (this is when we start to sound a bit biased) we created BlogWorks.
Why we created BlogWorks
We are small business owners – just like you. And we know you don’t sit around thinking “Gee, I sure wish I had some software I could while away a couple of hours loading some stuff into.”
So we created a solution that does what you should be doing to promote your blog, and we use real people to do it.
Sure, we also do other nifty things, like: update hashtags, promote top performing blog posts, double check for grammar and spelling and monthly reporting.
It’s like having a trained, dedicated marketing assistant, but without the hassle of recruiting, hiring and training and without the high price.
A day late and a dollar short
Let’s face it, no solution is perfect—in an ideal world we’d all be sipping drinks with umbrellas and working Tim Ferriss’s 4 hour work week. But we don’t.
Time is scarce and we need to make smart decisions to keep our business growing and keep our calendar clear (of course, I’m assuming you’re not 18 and living in your parent’s basement).
Sure, you can sign up for any one of a dozen scheduling tools and feel great. For a few minutes.
The problem comes when you (or Mary at the front desk) try to keep up with the loading, adjusting, tweaking, relearning and the messing around it takes to make your new, fancy social media scheduling tools actually work.
When you’re ready to offload all of that and get back to what you do best, give us a shout.
Want more info on How to Get The Social Media Monkey Off Your Back?
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:
It isn’t sexy.
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:
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.
They rush to a sale right after connecting with a potential prospect.
They never move the conversation offline, or don’t know how to, as it’s offline that you convert a prospect to a client.
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.
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.
You’ve got a blog – so far, so good. And you’ve written six posts, but now the inevitable time crunch is happening.
A week goes by, and then another.
No blog post.
Two more weeks and despite your best intentions…still no blog post.
We see it all the time: orphaned blogs. They still command a place on your menu bar, but nobody’s home.
One solution is to hire a writer. Sounds simple, right?
You hire someone to write your posts for you. You sit back, the posts come in, you get more engagement and more business.
But, whoa there silver! There are a few things to consider before going down the freelancer highway and starting to read resumes. Let’s start with the most important question first.
Should you hire a writer?
As tempting as it might seem to hire a writer, you should first consider how important it is to use your own voice in your blog posts.
If you have a content blog sharing great advice, maybe it doesn’t matter so much who wrote it, as long as the content is unique and the writing is high quality. Two good examples of this are inkbotdesign.com or contentmarketinginstitute.com.
On the other hand, if you are the brand, then maybe having someone else write your blog is not the best idea. A freelance writer is unlikely to accurately mimic your style of writing or humour and certainly can’t match your knowledge.
It is possible to find a great match with freelancers, after all, ghostwriters have written many of the best-selling autobiographies. But it could mean higher costs and a longer search process.
The workaround is for your freelancer to write content pieces, not personality pieces. A good example of this is Jon Morrow, who writes brilliant posts about his take on blogging, life after his accident and “living in paradise.” Meanwhile, you’ll find many freelancers contributing great how-to content to Morrow’s SmartBlogger blog.
What to look for in a writer
Before you start posting your job or searching forums for writers, it’s important to know what you’re looking for.
Just like shopping for groceries, if you don’t start with a list it could be an expensive trip to the store.
Your list of requirements will be unique, based on the content expertise you are looking for, but here’s a good list to start with:
Writing skills. As basic as it sounds, there’s nothing more frustrating than bad grammar from a “professional writer.” If you really want to test if applicants are detail oriented insert this instruction “Please mention ‘Blue Moon’ in your application.”
Basic knowledge. As a minimum, your freelancer should have proven experience writing similar posts and a basic knowledge of the content area.
Confident writing voice. It’s great to be accurate, but a big challenge for any blog is to be interesting enough to stop readers from clicking away.
Commitment to quality. In your interview process, give some feedback. How your freelancer receives your advice is one of the best measures of how well they will work out.
How to get started
We published a detailed post about job posting boards, forums and even searching Twitter to find freelancers. If you’re ready to find that perfect writer, that’s a good place to start.
Adding to that post, there is, of course, the Mack truck of freelancing, Upwork. At BlogWorks, we use Upwork every month for market research, graphic design and other long-term and one-off jobs.
The tip we most often share is to use the applicant filters and to individually invite the freelancers you are most interested in working with (as opposed to letting Upwork send you applicants.)
Invite the right applicants to write
For example, if hiring a blog writer, I would follow this simple routine:
Post the job. You can start with this being a one-off job and set the price level as “intermediate”
When you move to “Invite freelancers”, immediately open “Filters” and start selecting the criteria you are looking for. You can even select your country of choice.
Once you have selected your filter criteria, Upwork will start displaying the freelancers that fit your criteria. This is where you invite the best applicants to apply.
The most remarkable aspect of Upwork is the speed at which you can go from job posting to communicating with qualified applicants. And because you have posted a one time job (as opposed to an ongoing contract), your risk is pretty minimal.
Whether you hire a writer or commit to writing all of your posts, either way, committing to a consistent schedule of publishing is important. The worst option is to have an orphan blog on your site collecting dust.
Your readers want to learn from you and be inspired. Now, get publishing.
Before you hover over the “Publish” button after completing a blog post, ask yourself: “Did I target the right keywords? Did I correct my grammatical errors and spelling mistakes? Did I remember to use hashtags in my social media posts and tweets to boost my social engagement?”
Today, we’re going to talk about how to use hashtags and their importance to promote your social media posts, tweets and call outs. After reading this article you’ll never forget to add tags again.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Why Hashtags Are So Important
Think of hashtags as keywords for social search engines. When someone is searching Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for a specific topic, the social media posts with those keyword-rich hashtags will show up first.
To prove how important hashtags are, take a look at the image below provided by HubSpot:
As shown above, you’ll get around 15% moreretweets (or shares) just by adding hashtags to your tweets! Pretty sweet, right? What about Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn? Including hashtags has also been shown to increase the visibility and reach of your social media updates.
That means your content will be in front of new eyeballs daily, which will ultimately attract new viewers to your blog posts and website.
Use Hashtags That Make Sense
While a tag does not need to be a summary of your entire blog post, it does need to make sense.
Your hashtags should be applied to keywords that are relevant to your business and target audience. Think of hashtags as helping your audience find topic matches. Alternatively, you might want to use them to start a conversation around a topic.
How Many Tags Should You Use?
Notice how we didn’t go overboard with tags in the above tweet? Research suggests using only 1 or 2 hashtags per social media post for the best engagement. Any more than two and your engagement actually drops!
Too many hashtags can look spammy to your followers (not to mention ugly and hard to read). Take a look at this image we pulled from Instagram to see what we mean:
This person went from dogs to different colors, to parties, and more. Now, we’re not saying this person didn’t have a colorful sunset beach party with dogs, but their message would have been a lot easier to reach if it contained only a couple of hashtags.
Where To Find Hashtags To Use
Now that you realize just how important it is to use hashtags in your posts, it’s time to implement what you’ve learned.
But… what happens if you can’t think of any relevant tags at the moment? Or you want to be sure that people are actually searching for information on the hashtag you are planning to use.
Never fear! The BlogWorks team researched some of the best hashtag analytic tools!
Coming up with your own tags can be a lot of work. More often than not, the tags you’re thinking about using have been used previously! Thanks to Sprout Social’s Trends Report, you’ll be able to see what tags have been used in the past, as well as what’s popular now.
Want to know what tags are trending in your niche this very moment? With Hashtagify, you can search any keyword to find the best tags out there right now. Not only do they give you the best tag, they also populate seven related tags to the most popular one. What a great deal – 8 for 1!
With this hashtag search tool, you can enter any keyword and RiteTag will give you a list of hashtags that contain the phrase. Along with potential hashtags to use, you’ll get helpful data like how many times the hashtag is Tweeted per hour, how often Tweets containing the hashtag are getting Retweeted and more.
Not to mention they’ll clue you in on whether or not people are following the tag you entered. This is an amazing tool that does practically everything for you! Except adding the tag into your post, of course!
Some Parting Words
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of this post.
By now, you should understand just how important it is to use hashtags, how many you should (and shouldn’t) use, and you have a few great tools to find the perfect tags for your blog posts!