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How to Apply Consistency to Your Website to Get More Leads

In a small suburb of California, researchers went door to door with an absurd request.

They were asking homeowners if a huge ‘Drive Safely’ sign could be erected on their front lawn. As you might expect, almost no one agreed.

But, on one street a strange thing happened – over 70% of people actually agreed. The reason they said yes could be one secret to you getting more sales.

What happened?

Well, one week earlier the same homeowners had been asked if a small sticker could be placed on their window with the same message. It was such a small request that almost all of them agreed.

When one week later the same person returned and asked about placing the huge sign on their lawn. As it was much harder for the homeowner to reduce the request, the sign went up.

The Principle of Persuasion

In his 1984 ground-breaking book, Influence, psychologist, Robert Cialdini1Learn more about Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. identified 6 principles of how to get someone to say yes (convert them). They are:

  • Reciprocity – we want to return a favour
  • Scarcity – we buy because it is in short supply
  • Authority – we believe trustworthy and credible experts
  • Liking – we say yes to people we like
  • Consensus – we trust the power of the crowd, and
  • Consistency
In his best-selling book, Influence, psychologist Robert Cialdini defines the 6 principles of how to get someone to say yes (convert).

The Principle of Consistency

The principle of consistency states that we like to be consistent with what we have said or done in the past. Tell people you like Grande, nonfat, Caramel Macchiato, and next time you’re in Starbucks you’re more likely to order it (even if you’d feel better drinking tea).

Consistency also plays a part in marketing and sales.

Your waitress drops by your table to ask how your meal is. With your mouthful, you pause, consider how delicious the burger is a mumble that it’s great. What appears to be simply good customer service is also the principle of consistency in action.

Customers who agree they liked their meal are more likely to order dessert2There are many studies on the impact of a waiter’s behaviour and the number of tips they receive. One study found that if waitresses added a smiley face on a bill it increased tips (but not for waiters) and when waitresses briefly touched the patron’s arm when asking if they’d like to order a drink, tips increased an average of 25%., stay longer, and tip more generously.

The ad agency wants you to think that the new truck displayed in their ads is a perfect fit for a person like you (adventurous, rugged, and the kind of person who would happily hook a chain to a friend’s 4X4 and pull them out of the mud).

A car salesperson wants you to agree that you like the color of the new car in the showroom.

We are responding to our need to be consistent without knowing it. Applying the principle of consistency to your website can motivate visitors who otherwise might visit and leave to stop and take action.

First, you need to deal with a high exit rate.

High Exit Rate

The goal of your website is to showcase your business to prospects and fill your sales funnel. Of course, your website can help build a brand, or offer members access to a membership site, but the primary goal is sales.

Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening. Most visitors to your site arrive and then leave. Quickly.

How to Apply Consistency to Your Website to Get More Leads - Exit Rate
Unfortunately, most visitors to your site leave on without getting past the first page

Imagine running a store where customers walk in the door, look around, and then leave – within one minute. It would be disastrous! The reality is that one minute is the average time people will stay on your site.

The good news is that a small percentage of those visitors will stay 3, 5 even 10 minutes. Those are your future customers.

The trick for getting short-time visitors to your site to become long-time visitors is to get them to take one small step. That’s where the principle of consistency comes in.

Just like you agreeing with your waitress that you like your meal if you can get a visitor to act in a way consistent with what they believe in you have a good first step.

One Small Step in the Right Direction

A good place to start is with your customers. Start by asking yourself what does your ideal customer already believe about themselves?

Brian Clark’s company Copyblogger invites readers who consider themselves to be “smarter” to join his list and learn more from his company.

How to Apply Consistency to Your Website to Get More Leads - CopyBlogger
Caption What does your ideal customer believe about themselves?

Like many software companies, Convertkit invites site visitors to take a free trial of their software. What happens next is a great example getting prospects to take one small step.

Once, you click the button to take the free trial you are asked a simple question: are you starting a new mailing list or moving from a competing product?

Depending on how you answer that question you are asked one more question about your goals and then led to enter your name and email to open a free trial account.

The genius of this step-be-step method is that prospects are being led down a path of consistency—each question naturally follows what you indicated in the last question.

How to Apply Consistency to Your Website to Get More Leads - Convertkit
Convertkit using the principle of consistency by asking prospects to answer questions that are consistent with the previous question.

Getting started

Getting a prospect to say yes to a sale will always be easier if they are acting consistently with their beliefs and the way they have acted in the past. Using the principle of consistency could be the secret weapon for turning your website into a sales funnel and converting more visitors into customers.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more all about putting your blog to work:

The ultimate guide: How to use images, videos and screenshots in blog posts
How to build your perfect website performance dashboard in just 5 minutes
How to write an amazing roundup post

How To Add Youtube Videos to Your Blog: The Ultimate Guide

Want to get more traffic and keep visitors around longer? Once you know how to add Youtube videos to your blog, you can kill both these birds with one stone.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to put a link in your blog to a YouTube video. You’ll also learn how to add a Vimeo video, GIF, and SlideShare. And I’m going to make this very untechnical (even I can do it and so can you).

Once you have your video inserted and playing, I’ll also show you some neat tricks to get them to behave how you want.

But, first let’s take a step back and talk about WHY you should add Youtube videos to your blog.

Why add Youtube videos to your blog?

More time equals more business.

conference room of people
Your blog is like a series of breakout rooms off the main conference hall

Your blog is like a series of breakout rooms off the main conference hall.

Your website is like a conference hall – people come from different directions to visit, explore, learn, and even buy.

Visitors arrive directly via your emails (announcing your new blog post) or from social media or organic searches (people find you by searching for a topic). Some leave soon after arriving—as many as 75-85% won’t make it past the first room. The average time in that conference hall your website is about one to two minutes.

And then there’s your blog…

Your blog is like a series of breakout rooms off the main conference hall. Each room has a different topic – a new set of solutions tackling a problem your clients struggle with.

What’s different about those breakout rooms/blog posts is people stay a whole lot longer—like 5-13 minutes.

That’s a HUGE opportunity!

Imagine if conversations with your prospects were 5-10 times longer – that’s good, right?

That’s what your blog can do: make people stop, explore, look at your products and services and ask for more.

When you add richer, more detailed content – like video – this works even better.

Now prospects will stay longer and get to know you better. Soon you’ll start to develop that know/like/trust relationship we all want.

That’s why it’s such a good idea to add media, like Youtube videos, to your blog.

Adding video is a great start, but here are 7 other ways to help your blog stand out from the crowd.

Now, let’s look at how to actually get the video into your blog.

How to put a link in your blog to a YouTube video

If you’ve already mastered the steps to insert images in your blog, adding video will be easy.

Not a pro yet? Don’t worry—we’ve got a guide for adding images to your blog posts right here.

WordPress comes installed with a neat feature called auto-embed. This allows you to insert videos in your WordPress blog post by simply pasting the URL of your video directly in the post.

Auto-embed will work with YouTube, Vimeo and Wistia hosted videos. It will even work with your favourite Slideshare videos.

If you’re working with a simple MP3 or GIF video, you can upload the file into Media, but note this will slow down loading time.

Your best practice is to always embed your videos from YouTube or a hosting site like Vimeo or Wistia. You can also embed your video directly from your Google Drive (see instructions below).

Here’s how to put a link in your blog to a YouTube video:

  1. The first step is to capture the URL of the video you want. You can copy the URL from your browser’s address bar or directly from the YouTube share link button.

screenshot showing how to add youtube videos to your blog

Tip: For longer videos, you can easily change the start time (for example, 30 seconds in) by first checking the “Start at” box and choosing the time you want. Then copy the link.

screen shot of how to embed youtube video url

2. The easiest and quickest way to embed YouTube videos in WordPress is to simply copy/paste the URL into your new post. Make sure you are looking at the “Visual” editor, not the “Text” editor.

gif of how to add youtube videos

3. Once you have the video inserted, go to Preview and you can see it in action.

Want to change the settings? Use the WordPress blog edit menu.

If you want to change the size of the video (this only works if you pasted the embed code), go to the “Text” editor and change the actual “width=” and “height=” settings.

Be sure to keep the ratio between the numbers the same (warning: this involves math!)

For example “<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=” (315/560 = .56) could be changed to “<iframe width=”800″ height=”450″ src=” (450/800 = .56)

 

 

screenshot of how to edit inserted video

 

How to insert video from your Google Drive

If you’re like the team at BlogWorks, we like to have all the elements of our blog post neatly organized in one folder on our Google Drive. This includes the images and the videos for that post.

The goal is to embed that video, not upload it, so it will load faster and not take up room on our WordPress site.

It’s a bit of a workaround, but once you’ve done it once (like making bread, Origami, or sex) it’s not so scary. Ready?

It’s a bit of a workaround, but once you’ve done it once (like making bread, Origami, or sex) it’s not so scary. Click To Tweet
  • Click on the video in your Google Drive.
  • Once opened look for the 3 dots and click on “open in new window”
  • Again, click on the 3 dots, and this time click on “embed item…”
  • Copy the embed code (it will start with “<iframe src=”https://drive.google.com/file…”)
  • Head back to your new blog post and select the “Text” view (instead of “Visual”) and paste the embed code where you want it.
  • Finally, go back to the “Visual” view to see your video and edit the settings.

HOW TO ADD YOUTUBE VIDEOS TO YOUR BLOG: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

Note: your video share settings must be set to be viewed by anyone who has the link. You can quickly change your share settings by opening the video, go to 3 dots, click on “Share”, click on the sharing option drop down (you might have to then click on “more…”) and change settings. When you change settings here, it changes how your embedded video works on your site.

New to Google Drive? Here’s how to master it.

How to insert a Slideshare deck into your blog

If you are still a fan of Slideshare it’s easy to add your latest slide deck to your blog post. Slideshare (owned by LinkedIn) can be a great way to not only dress up your LinkedIn profile (upload decks directly to your profile) but also to keep readers happily clicking through slides and staying on your site longer.

Here is a good example:

Here’s how to insert a Slideshare deck into your blog:

  • First, open Slideshare, and find the deck you want to add.
  • Click on the “Share” button. That should open up a menu with your embed code. It should look like this.
Adding your latest Slideshare deck to your blog post is a great way to keep readers on your site longer
  • Open your “Text” view in WordPress and insert the embed code in your post.
  • Finally, go back to the “Visual” view to see your video and edit the settings.

About privacy settings

Recent versions of YouTube have removed some of the earlier options to modify how your video played on your WordPress site (if you are using the embed code option.) You can still remove the player controls (start/stop etc.)

One option that has been added (and that you should use) is the “Enable privacy-enhanced mode.” Essentially when you select this, YouTube won’t collect information about your visitors unless they play the video.

Okay, now that you know how to add Youtube videos to your blog, it’s time to get started on creating awesome content.

We can help with this.

Did you like learning how to add Youtube videos to your blog? Here are more articles all about videos, images and more.

How to Leverage Video Content on Your Blog for SEO
4 Ways to Make Your Blog Images Pop
Free Images for your Blog: 7 Awesome Sources

This article was originally written in May 2019, and updated in 2020 to help you!

Hiring a Blog Writer? Here’s What to Look For

Hiring a Blog Writer? Here's What to Look For

You’ve got a blog. You’ve written six posts, but now the inevitable time crunch is happening.

You know your blog is a great way to attract interested prospects and build a list of valuable followers.

But, a week goes by, and then another…and

no blog post.

Two more weeks and despite your best intentions…still no blog post.

We see it all the time: abandoned blogs. They still command a place on your menu bar, but nobody’s home.

Over time, you’ll start to see the consequences of an abandoned blog.

Your readers need to be well-fed! They’re not going to keep coming back if there’s nothing new to come back for…

Not to mention, a regularly updated blog is great for SEO. But more on that another time…

For now, let’s focus on what you can do about your abandoned blog.

One solution? Hire a blog writer.

Sounds simple, right?

You hire someone to write your posts. 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. First, there’s one big question to ask:

Should you hire a blog writer?

As tempting as it might seem to hire a blog 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.1Two 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 isn’t 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. At BlogWorks we take the time to develop a complete profile, including your ideal customer, competitors, and business objectives.

But it could also mean higher costs and a longer search process.

A common strategy we use at BlogWorks is 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.”2Jon Morrow talks about how to quit your job and get paid to change the world in this post: www.problogger.com/how-to-quit-your-job-move-to-paradise-and-get-paid-to-change-the-world You’ll also find many freelancers contributing great how-to content to Morrow’s SmartBlogger blog.3Morrow’s Smart Blogger blog is packed with tips to help freelance writers succeed

Hiring a Blog Writer? Here's What to Look For

What to look for in a blog 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, in your next job posting insert this instruction: “Please mention ‘Blue Moon’ in your application.” If you don’t see “Blue Moon” mentioned in their application it could mean they won’t pay attention to details in your work.
  • Basic knowledge: As a minimum, your freelancer should have proven experience writing similar posts and basic knowledge of your industry.
  • Confident writing voice: It’s great to be accurate, but a big challenge for any blog is to stop readers from clicking away. Look for a unique writing style and the ability to improve your writing with examples, analogies, and metaphors.
  • 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 for 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, Upwork4UpWork is our go-to source for hiring market researchers, graphic designers, and hiring for other long-term and one-off jobs.. At BlogWorks, we use Upwork every month to hire freelancers for market research, graphic design, and other one-off jobs.

Want to learn more about finding writers on other job boards? Check this out.

The tip we most often share about using Upwork is to use the applicant filters. There, you can 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:

  1. Post the job. You can start with this being a one-off job and set the price level as “intermediate.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Check out the video below for a step by step guide on using Upwork.

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’ve posted a one time job (as opposed to an ongoing contract), your risk is pretty minimal.

Another option? Hire BlogWorks to write high-traffic blog posts that attract more readers and convert more business. We take the time to understand your unique blogging goals and to customize our approach to every article. We also track your blog article performance and conversion on articles. Our goal is to give you a turn-key solution that drives more traffic to your revenue pages.

Oh, and of course we can promote your blogs too. Our team of local writers uses the best of your blog content to write and post daily announcements on social media. Click here if you’re dying to know more.

Want to write articles yourself? Download our Ultimate Writing Template.

Whether you hire a blog 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.

Did you like learning about what to look for in a blog writer? You won’t want to miss these posts either:

7 Ways to Make Your Blog Stand Out from the Crowd by Being Different
11 Blogging Statistics That Might Surprise You
9 Big Blogging Mistakes You Need to Avoid in 2020

This article was originally published on February 6, 2018, but we spruced it up in May 2020 just for you.

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard in Just 5 Minutes

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard

You’ve spent money on your website.

You’ve invested hours into your blog.

Now it’s time to track the results.

Just like any part of your business, if you want to improve performance you first need to know where you’re at. These are often called KPI’s, or Key Performance Indicators.

Enter your website performance dashboard.

This dashboard will give you the most important numbers you need to track and warn you when you need to make changes.

At BlogWorks, we are checking our website performance dashboard and it’s one of the first things we recommend our clients create.

It’s Monday, you walk into your office…

It’s Monday morning, you’re updating your list for the week and you stop.

There it is—that item you’ve been putting off for weeks: “update website.” Every week you’ve moved it to the next week; not sure how to start. Should you do a major overhaul (ugh!) or does your site need tweaking?

The problem isn’t your website. The problem is you don’t have the right information.

You need good information to make good decisions

Now imagine a different scene…

It’s Monday morning, you walk into your office and there’s a single page report lying on your desk. You smile.

It’s your website performance dashboard and it quickly gives you all the numbers you need to make good decisions. Cool, right?

But, before we get into what goes into your website performance dashboard, let’s look at a common mistake.

It’s called scope creep.

Avoid scope creep

As you start to build your website performance dashboard it’s easy to go too far.

For example, you want to know about traffic going to your site in the last 30 days. Great! But do you look at unique visitors (“users”), or do you look at pageviews, bounce rate, session duration, country of origin and best time of day to publish?

There are hundreds of data points on your site and trying to track any more than the essentials will quickly turn your website performance dashboard into a failed experiment.

Trying to track too much data is a recipe for disaster.

It’s like the dashboard in your car. There are hundreds of moving parts in your car, but to drive safely and make good driving decisions all you need are: speed, fuel level, distance (odometer), and maybe tachometer. All other indicators are hidden (like low oil warning light) until you need them.

Anything more is scope creep.

The perfect website performance dashboard needs to do 3 things:

  1. Give you important feedback on your online performance
  2. Be easy to update
  3. Indicate problem areas that need fixing.

The other problem with scope creep is the time it takes to update data.

The dashboard I’m recommending requires pulling data from multiple sources, so the more data points you collect, the more time this will take, and the more likely you are to stop updating it.

In the past, I have built crazy-complicated dashboards. Sure, they were full of great information, but it was a hassle to pull all the data, and inevitably they all failed.

In this article, I’ll show you how to build your website performance dashboard in just 5 minutes.

First, let’s look at where this puppy is going to live.

Where to keep your new dashboard?

There are lots of places where you could keep your new spreadsheet:

  • On your computer
  • Dropbox
  • Google drive

At BlogWorks we use Google Docs for all of the information we share with members of our team. It’s easy to use, you can select who gets to view, comment, or edit the document and there’s virtually no risk of losing the document or wasting time searching for the document on your hard drive.

Plus, it’s free when you are starting out and don’t have a lot of data to store.

The perfect starter kit

To get started, the perfect website performance dashboard will have only 3 categories:

  1. Mailing list size
  2. Website performance
  3. Social media followers

At the time of writing, I’m delivering two webinars a month, so at BlogWorks we also track webinar performance.

Here’s an example of what your first website performance dashboard can look like:

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard
Example of your first website performance dashboard

Let’s get into more detail on each category.

Mailing list size and growth.

Your mailing list is one of the most valuable marketing tools you have. Unlike social media, emails from your mailing list can get directly into your prospects’ Inbox. You can deliver invitations, follow up with leads, and nurture your list with new blog posts.

Even if you only have a few hundred on your list now, growing your list should be a business goal. Here’s why…

As our world rushes to get online, most business owners are reconsidering their business model. Traditional businesses, like lawyers, physiotherapists, retail stores – even house painting – are finding ways to attract customers online. In many cases, those businesses are now delivering their service online.

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard
Building a larger email list means you have more options in your business for future growth.

Having a mailing list makes all of those changes possible.

The sooner you start building your mailing list the sooner you can start building online revenues for your business.

The sooner you start building your mailing list the sooner you can start building online revenues for your business Click To Tweet

At BlogWorks, we track the total list size every week. And because we have multiple lead magnets, we track the number of people who accepted each opt-in offer.

Website performance

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with Google Analytics because it tracks all activity on your site. That won’t help you!

Most business owners simply need to track:

  • Number of unique visitors (called “users”)
  • Goals

Periodically you should also be checking:

  • Top blog posts
  • Source of traffic
  • Percent of mobile users
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion on top blog posts

Here’s how to find unique visitors:

Log into Google Analytics. Click Audience > Overview

In Google language “user” means the number of people who visited your site at least once (it doesn’t include multiple visits)

How to create goals in your website

To simplify your website performance tracking you need to create goals within Google Analytics. In WordPress, this is a one-time exercise that starts the data collection so in one click you can get all the numbers you need to add to your website performance dashboard.

Typical goals will include traffic to your:

  • sales page (consulting, book, products, etc.)
  • prices page
  • thank you page (for an opt-in)
  • special offer page
  • contact page
Once you have your goals created it’s easy to update your dashboard

Creating a new goal is easy:

  • Click the Gear button (bottom-right corner)
  • Click Goals > “+ NEW GOAL”
  • Click “Custom” (the last option in the list) > CONTINUE
  • Enter the name of your new goal (like “Contact page”) and for Type, click “Destination” > CONTINUE
  • Under “Goal Details”, enter the last part of the URL for the page you want to track, like “/contact” > SAVE
With a few steps, you can create a new goal and easily track your website performance

Automatically Receive your Google Analytics Report

If you want to have a bit more detail you can easily set up Google Analytics to automatically send the standard website dashboard to you on a regular basis.

Here’s how to set that up:

  • Log into Google Analytics.
  • Click on Audience > Overview.
  • In the top-right corner, click “Share”. Fill in the form that pops up including selecting the frequency you want and you’re all set.
It’s easy to set up to receive your Google Dashboard every month

Social media followers

Each social channel has its own measures of “success”. On Facebook, it is followers, likes on posts, comments, and shares. LinkedIn tracks connections, followers as well as likes on posts and shares.

That’s great to know if you’re making decisions on what posts to create next, but it’s too much information for a regular dashboard update.

I recommend your dashboard only tracks your number of followers (connections in LinkedIn.)

Create a system

Now that you have your first website performance dashboard created it’s time to add a system (or SOP Standard Operating Procedure) to make updating it a no brainer.

The worst thing to do is go to all the work to build the dashboard and then stop updating it.

If you are going to update the website performance dashboard yourself, one trick is to block time to make it happen. Create a calendar appointment for 15 minutes that repeats.

Now that you have your website performance dashboard you will want to keep it updated

You can also create a reminder that repeats.

If you have an assistant or use remote freelancers, this is a perfect task to outsource.

Your business will grow because of your hard work, but also because of good information. Just like knowing your financial information you should also be tracking your online performance.

With a little effort, you can easily create your first website performance dashboard and start using it to make better, more informed, decisions.

Liked this article? Here are 3 more all about growing your business with a blog:

SEO 101: using keywords in your blog post
How to hire an awesome writer for your blog
57 remarkable statistics and insights about blogging

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

You’ve written your best blog post ever.

Seriously, this is great stuff that’s going viral with hoards of hungry readers.

Woah there Silver! First, you need to get their attention.

Before anyone will read your brilliant piece they need to first stop and pay attention.

That’s where images come in..

Pictures, videos, screenshots, diagrams, and illustrations are a great way to keep your reader from clicking away. Adding images to your blog helps readers understand your information and ideas, and remember your post.

The trick is 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 add images to your blog without having to spend hours doing it.

WHY IMAGES WORK

“Our brain is mainly an image processor, not a word processor.” – Psychology Today

We are (literally) wired for images. Neuroanatomist R.S. Fixot estimated that two-thirds of our brain’s activity is dedicated to the visual activity. And it makes sense…

Historically we used our sight to warn us against nasty attacks from predators or to spot food that we could either hunt and kill or pick and harvest.

It’s no different online…

Your readers are unconsciously scanning for content relevant or entertaining, or both. In fact, articles containing relevant images have 94% more total views than articles without images.

Articles containing relevant images have 94% more total views than articles without images Click To Tweet.

That’s where images help. Anything from a simple picture to a custom created gif will make the reading experience more interesting and keep your reader scrolling down.

Our brain can process images 60,000 times faster than text

In fact, 65% of senior marketing executives say that photos, video, illustrations, and infographics are core to how their brand story is communicated.

So, if images are so, great, how should you add images to your blog to get more traffic and better results?

Let’s start with image sizes.

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.

Orientation

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.

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 image sizes for the various social media channels in this post.

It’s handy to know the basics of image sizes for each platform you use.

Size/Compression

The image 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 stock photo website are higher in resolution (file size) and physical size than they need to be for the web. The problem with large image files is they slow your site down.

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 make up your photo. So an 800px by 600px photo simply means your photo is 800 pixels wide and 600 pixels tall.

The image on the left is 3456 × 5184px and 2.7Meg. The image on the right was reduced to 800 x 1200 and 193kb.

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. But, for the web, a good range is 72-150dpi.

Best sizes for your website

The goal for your website is a good resolution (not fuzzy) and speed (not big).

Your images should only be as large as your blog content width. All modern sites are built with responsive design (automatically resize the page for smartphones, laptops, tablets, and desktop screens), set your image for the maximum width.

Find a balance between file size and quality

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 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. It’s perfect for the web.

The image on the right was resized to be 860px wide but saved as a low-quality, 30KB jpeg. Sure, it will load quickly but it’s fuzzy and will look amateurish.

The optimal image size is 150-300kb. Any smaller and your image will be too fuzzy.

Of course, when adding images to your blog 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 to 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 tools below).

Tools like Pic Resize make it easy to shrink the resolution on your image without sacrificing quality

Do I use JPG, GIF, PNG, SVG?

If you’ve ever been confused with all the image types (jpeg, gif…) this will help.

When adding images to your blog what’s the best format?

  • JPG/JPEG – offers great quality images at 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.

In most cases, use jpeg for all images unless you want a transparent background.

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

Not sure how your image will show online? Most content management systems (like WordPress), allow you to preview your draft blog post before you make it live.

FEATURED IMAGES

Every blog post needs a Featured Image.

Your Featured Image is the first thing your reader sees and is the image pulled by your social media channels. In this article, we explain what to do if your image is not being pulled correctly by your social channels.

Your featured image could be a photograph or, with a little extra work, overlay your headline on the image. Either way, it needs to create some curiosity and make the reader want to read on.

In WordPress, you’ll find the link to choose your Featured Image on the right side of your WordPress menu.

MAKING YOUR OWN IMAGE

Stock images are great, but original is 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 5 minutes.

With a little extra effort, you can overlay your headline on your image.

Once you get comfortable with these 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.

Learn more simple techniques for making your images pop in this post.

[You don’t have to be a graphic designer to dress up your images so they stand out.]

AVOID THE LAW

You’ve searched the web, found the perfect image, and added it to your blog.

Fast forward two months and you receive a ‘cease and desist’ letter demanding money for damages.

WHAAAAAAAT?

Images have ownership, just like artwork. And you can’t use some images without the owner’s permission. In this post, we explain how creative commons works with images.

The good news is there are more sites than ever to supply you with brilliant images you can either buy user rights to or use by crediting the artist.

Credit the artist

If you are using an image under a Creative Commons license, it’s good practice to credit the photographer and source. Most stock photo websites will supply you with the link when you download the image.

With sites like Unsplash, they make it easy to copy the artist’s credit so you can paste that in the bottom of your post

At BlogWorks we use a number of sites for our images. We do have an account with Adobe Stock that we rely on for our clients’ blogs, plus we often use Pixabay, Unsplash, Refe, and Magdeleine.

Adobe provides a high-quality source for images, along with other creative software packages. If you are looking for an easy new way to find or create images, you can check out their products here.

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 add images to your blog – just be sure to choose ‘Labeled for reuse’ under Tools.

If using Google to find images, always search for ‘Labeled for reuse’

Quick tip about searching for that “perfect” image: finding a picture slightly better than the one you found in the first 5 minutes won’t make your post go viral. Limit yourself to 5 minutes to find a good-enough image – 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 your image needs 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.

If I’m adding images to our blog, 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.

Stock photography can be cookie-cutter, unoriginal, and sort of boring (left) or more interesting and original (right)

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 (all the screenshots used in this post were created with Snagit).

Here’s a video I created in Snagit of using Snagit to edit a screenshot (now that’s meta!).

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

Custom graphics and diagrams are another great way to explain complex concepts or just add some fun to your post. 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.

Giphy and Tenor are good resources for animated GIFs. Sitepoint has a great resource list of places to find creative commons images, videos, and other media.

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.

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

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:

  1. This process had gotten super simple. Start by locating the video you want on YouTube.
  2. Next, copy the URL for that video (it will look something like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKrPz6JHwYw)
  3. 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:

  1. To get your video’s embed code, go to its page on Vimeo and click the ‘Share’ button.
  2. Click the ‘+Show options’ link and copy the embed code.
  3. Log into your WordPress website, open the blog post to edit, and click on the ‘Text’ tab in your text editor.
  4. Locate your cursor where you want the video and paste the embed code.
How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro
With tools like Vimeo, it’s easy to insert videos into your blog like a pro.

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 videos to keep you, the reader interested, and for SEO purposes.

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

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.

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

CHOOSING THE RIGHT FILENAME

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 says dashes between words help google find your images!

ALT TEXT

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.

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro
The Alt text on your images explains what your image is about

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 usually appear below your image. Many readers scan articles and your image captions can grab their attention and get them to get curious about your content.

At BlogWorks we try to write captions that add to the written content. The idea is if the reader only reads the captions they will get a good idea of what the article is about.

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 image you add to your blog should make your readers’ experience better. And entice them to read the article – which means they stay on your site longer.

As a final check, ask yourself these two questions:

  • Will this image keep the reader on the page longer?
  • Does this image help the reader to understand my message better?

The extra effort you put into finding and adding images to your blog 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?

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more all about images, video and making your blog go viral:

The ultimate guide to adding YouTube videos to your blog.
Free Images for your Blog: 7 Awesome Sources
4 Ways to Make Your Blog Images Pop

Footnotes:

  1. In a paper published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology neuroanatomist R.S. Fixot estimated that 50% of our neural tissue is directly or indirectly related to vision and two-thirds of our brain’s electrical activity is used for visual processing.
  2. In one study by eMarketer photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide and generated 87% interaction rate from fans (compared to less than 10% from any other post type.)
  3. A study at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs looked at 1.1 million posts on Instagram and found that pictures with human faces are 38% more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces. They’re also 32 percent more likely to attract comments.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

Thinking About Creating Your First Online Course? Take This Test First.

Starting an Online Course?

Online courses are all the rage.

Especially (as I write this) in a time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for online learning is huge.

And it’s getting bigger. The global market for e-learning is expected to reach $241 billion by 2022 – largely driven by the growth of Internet infrastructure, global connectivity and a growing acceptance of online learning.

If you’re already in the business of coaching, training, keynotes, the transition to online learning is a pretty obvious next step. Afterall, who wouldn’t want to get paid while you sit at home in your jammies watching Office reruns on Netflix?

I went down that road.

My first attempt at distant learning was a box-set of audio lessons for time management. It was a painful, time consuming and expensive exercise that after one year barely returned my investment.

Fast forward 5 years and I sold my first online course teaching how to build a public speaking business. For over 20 years I’d been earning a nice paycheck delivering corporate training and keynote speeches, so it was a natural next step to teach others my approach.

[For over 20 years I’d been earning a nice paycheck delivering corporate training and keynote speeches, so it was a natural next step to teach others my approach.]

That course was a home run and earned over $250,000.

Nice, right?

So, if an online course can be so profitable, why am I saying don’t do it?

Before I get to that, let’s look at what is an online course.

What is an online course?

Online courses come in many forms. The most popular is an automated, self-directed series of videos and handouts (possible quizzes as well) hosted on an LMS (Learning Management System) like Kajabi, Thinkific, or Teachable.

Your course will take loads of time to create, but the LMS takes care of registration, sign-in, delivery of each module, managing the student’s progress, and payments.

Modern LMS platforms, like Thinkific, make it easy to organize your course content into a professional-looking package

You can also create a video course hosted on LinkedIn Learning (was Lynda.com before being purchased by LinkedIn in 2015) or Udemy. Both of these platforms give you access to millions of viewers and offer profit sharing on revenues.

What topics are best for online learning?

The scope of online learning topics is growing daily. The old standards of learning Excel and Word have been joined by every possible type of technical lesson (Adobe, Java, UX), self-development, crafts, photography, self-employment, and hundreds of other topics.

If you already teach something, you are probably a good fit for the online learning world. The entrepreneurs I see moving successfully into this space teach on topics including online marketing, goal setting/achievement, video/YouTube, finances and self-development.

If you have expertise (even in tiny niche topics) there is a space for you with online learning

There are also outliers, like a course on the history of pro wrestling from MIT, the art of clowning (for fun and profit), and my all-time favourite: what to text a girl you like.

Why everybody wants an online course

If you’ve slaved away in the public speaking arena or as a consultant or corporate trainer, online courses can look like manna from heaven. You already know the content and with a bit of effort you could have that wonderful PASSIVE INCOME that you’ve always wanted.

While it is true that many seasoned experts have successfully transitioned to online learning (like I did). The mistake most entrepreneurs make is they grossly underestimate not only what’s involved to build and perfect their first online course, they rarely consider what’s needed to attract the students.

[The mistake most entrepreneurs make is they grossly underestimate not only what’s involved to build and perfect their first online course, they rarely consider what’s needed to attract the students.]

What you need to make it work

Fair enough, if you plan on loading a course on Udemy or LinkedIn Learning, your work is pretty simple. Create an amazing course on a super popular topic and help drive traffic to that course.

That’s a great place to start.

By the way, those sites are great for doing research on the most popular topics. Search by keyword for your topics and then look at the student registration numbers. In a few minutes, you can discover what topics are trending.

Platforms like Udemy are great for doing quick research on best-selling topics

If you are going on your own you’re into a whole different ball game.

To start, you need to design and create the course – that’s true no matter what route you take. That process alone would take me a month of planning, writing, creating my slide decks, time in a studio and then hours of editing the finished course lessons.

Once your course is loaded onto your LMS, you need to build your sales funnel. Nobody will find your course unless you drive traffic to it.

For that you’ll need an email list, opt in sequence to collect emails, landing page to sell the course, email sequence to nurture your leads and some kind of attention-grabbing events like webinars to convert leads.

And then you need marketing to drive traffic to that event. You can go down the affiliate road of cross-promotion (I’ll promote your course if you promote mine) or paid advertising.

Or, maybe you should just walk away now.

Sorry, to be a black cloud over your passive income dreams, but here’s the reality.

The complexity of transitioning your existing content to an online platform and then marketing that course is not for the faint-hearted. And it’s unlikely you can do it all yourself.

I have always had an assistant to help with the non-creative details like messing with software set up, void credit cards and student’s questions. Every successful online course creator I know has a team.

But, there’s a more important consideration – is this right for you?

After, fielding dozens of calls and emails from want-to-be course creators I’ve come up with a quick test. This might just save you from months of frustration and from heading down a dark road of exhausting effort.

A quick test for you!

I was speaking with a friend this week who’s a coach. It seems every time we speak the subject of online courses comes up. “Maybe I should build an online course – what do you think?”

First, I know in all the years she has been asking me this same question she’s probably invested, oh I don’t know, 5 minutes of research into how courses work. My sage advice is unlikely to change anything.

In frustration, I offered a new response: “Here’s a test: if you don’t like technology you won’t like online courses.” For example, you:

  • Have never looked at the analytics for your website (and have no idea if it’s even installed),
  • Think keyboard shortcut keys are for geeks,
  • Rarely go to Google or YouTube to solve problems.
  • Have sticky-notes with login passwords stuck to your screen.

The reality is creating and driving traffic to an online course is technical. I’m not even talking about the complications of the LMS you use – which have plenty of complexity – even understanding how your online course fits into a sales funnel is enough to make most entrepreneurs throw up their hands and quit.

Thinking About Starting an Online Course?
Building a successful sales funnel that actually attracts students is a critical (and complicated) piece of the online course puzzle.]

The good news is there are other (much less technical) ways to serve more people and make more money.

Here’s what you can do instead

When entrepreneurs come to me for advice about diving into the online course world I try to explain what the deep end could look like and to remind them of the alternatives.

Sure, lots of people are making good money with their courses. And they help students solve problems or start a new hobby.

But, there’s more than one road to Rome.

These 4 alternatives will let you serve more people, hopefully increase your income. And you can always add an online course to your product mix later.

  1. Sell a premium product. A percent of your clients will always pay for a premium service. If you are a consultant who normally charges $2,000 for client work, create a $10,000 more in-depth offering. Solve a bigger problem and you can attract a bigger fee.
  2. Bundle your services. When you offer more value you can charge more. If you’re a coach, maybe include pre-recorded video lessons of you teaching your favourite models. If you’re a consultant, add coaching, follow-up, or employee assessments.
  3. Group delivery. If you want to reach more people or offer a lower priced offering, create a group delivery option. If you’re a coach, invite clients to a for-fee webinar or host a coaching session on zoom using break-out rooms. The goal is to serve more people and increase your revenues.
  4. Affiliate sales. Promote someone else’s course and earn a commission. If you have a list, most course promoters will love to hear from you. I’ve done this successfully for courses and as an affiliate for software that I recommend.

Believe it or not, I am a big fan of online courses.

I use them for my own learning and have been successful at creating them.

But, as lucrative as an online course might be it can also be a huge distraction from doing the hard work of building your business.

So, before you hide away in your basement toiling away on your first course, please heed my advice and look at the alternatives first.

You’re welcome.

Enjoyed this article about growing your business? Here are 3 more all about business success:

Blogging vs Social Media, what gets you the best ROI?
How to hire an awesome writer for your blog
How to write an amazing roundup post