The Ultimate Guide to adding YouTube Videos to your Blog

the ultimate guide to adding youtube videos to your blog

Video is a great way to attract more readers to your blog and having them stay longer.

If you know how to do it.

In this guide you will learn how to quickly add 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 the way you want.

But, first let’s take a step back and talk about why you might want to add video.

More time equals more business

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

Your website is like a conference hall – people come from lots of 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 will leave soon after arriving—as many as 25-40% won’t make it past the first room. The average time in that conference hall 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, get to you know you better and start to develop that know, like, trust relationship we all want.

That’s why video can be such a great addition to your blog. Now, let’s look at how to get the video into your blog.

How to insert your video

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

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 are working with a simple MP3 or GIF video, you can upload the file into Media, but note this will slow down loading time. You 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 are the steps to embed your video directly from YouTube.

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 are like us 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 work around, 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 work around, 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 “Text” view (instead of “Visual”) and paste the embed code where you want it.
  • finally, go back to “Visual” view to see your video and edit the settings.

gif showing how to insert video from google drive when adding youtube videos to your blog

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 sharing option drop down (you might have to then click on “more…”) and change settings. When you change settings here, it will change how your embedded video works on your site.

 

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 will not collect information about your visitors unless they play the video.

Found this valuable? Here are more articles all about videos, images and more.

The ultimate guide: How to use images, videos and screenshots in blog posts
4 Ways to Make Your Blog Images Pop
Free Images for your Blog: 7 Awesome Sources

5 Quick Ways to Measure Your Blog’s Performance

5 Quick Ways to Measure Your Blog’s Performance

Let me ask you a question:

Would you drive a car without a dashboard or put your money in a bank if you couldn’t see your balance?

Not likely – right?

So why are you investing in a website, but not measuring results?

Of course, if you are measuring your results, please pat yourself on the back and go back to your spreadsheets.

If not…you really need to take 5 minutes and read this article.

Every day at BlogWorks we speak with wonderful, hard working business owners who have a website and a blog. Almost all fail to measure results.

No numbers, no comparison of this month to last month—no way of knowing what’s working.

Meanwhile 78% (I just made that up) want to invest more money into their website so it will “perform better”!!

What if you could get basic feedback on your blog’s performance – without having to hire a pimply 21 year old or having to learn SEO?

What if you could get basic feedback on your blog’s performance - without having to hire a pimply 21 year old or having to learn SEO? Click To Tweet

Great, right?

Well, it is possible to measure your blog’s performance and do it quickly and easily.

Here’s 5 ways to get you started…

1. Dollars in the Bank

The most basic question to ask yourself is: does your blog put money in the bank? After all, you should be getting a return on your the investment you put into your blog.

The most obvious return on that investment is enquiries from prospects who read your blog:

    • a prospect replies directly to the email you sent announcing your latest blog post.
    • prospects are responding to an offer in your blog announcement.

When you email your blog to your list do you get a spike in traffic to your site (see Google Analytics below)? That spike in traffic can drive more attention to your product and services pages. This article will show you 7 ways to include a Call-To-Action in your blog posts.

2. Comments and Shares

This isn’t the most scientific measure, but reader engagement is a sign of your blog’s performance. On the most simplest level, more comments and social shares equates to performance of that post.

Let’s face it, we all have blog posts that miss the mark and complete winners that haul in half your traffic. More comments on one post is a positive sign, just as posts that get shared more mean your readers found value in your content.

We wrote about social sharing plugins that are free and easy to use in this article.

3. Growing your list

Your mailing list is one of the most powerful ways to reach your audience. Even with the incredible power of social media, emails have more shelf life—an email might be opened, read and responded to days – even a week – after you send it.

So consider your list growing strategy. Do you have obvious opt-in invitations on your blog? Is the incentive to join your list working? Do you have a simple email sequence that is sent out automatically when someone joins your list? This article is all about adding call-to-actions to your blog.

As a speaker, I invite my audience to sign up for my blog. At a typical presentation 50-80% of the room complete a simple form to sign up. My blog becomes a way into those businesses. That’s a value I can measure.

4. Check your Numbers

analytics overview to measure your blog performance

The real data behind your blog performance comes from Google Analytics.

Once you know Google Analytics is installed, you can dive into the data as simply or as deeply as you are comfortable. Learn more about using the data in this article.

Once you log-in, set the date range for the last 30 days (top-right hand corner of display). The basic 3 numbers to pay attention to are:

  1. Users – this is the number of unique visitors (each person is counted once).
  2. Pages/Session – average number of pages per visit (session) indicates if readers are exploring your site.
  3. Avg. Session Duration – the higher this number, the better – you want readers to spend enough time to go from reading your blog to your “revenue pages.”

If you want  to go a bit deeper (and impress your friends), set your dates to the last 30 days and then click “compare.” Now you can see how your site performance compares to the past 30 days.

Google Analytics comparison to measure your blog's performance

Dashboard Delivery

It’s unlikely you’ll log into Analytics very often which is why we recommend it comes to you! In one minute you can set up Analytics to send you a simple dashboard report every month:

  1. Click “Share” (top right corner)
  2. In the pop-up window, enter your email address.
  3. Choose “Attachments” – PDF
  4. Choose “Frequency” – Monthly
  5. Click “I’m not a robot” > Send

gif showing how to use google analytics compare to measure your blog's success

5. Think long term

You have lots of marketing choices – always will. And one of the best marketing strategies is to  create relevant, valuable unique content to attract prospects. That takes time.

With a little planning, some consistent effort and by checking your results you can outdistance your competitors.

Blogging is not a bright-shiny-object you do for a week. It’s about thinking long-term and committing. The good news is, measuring your performance results not only will let you know what’s working and what needs attention, but you’ll also get to enjoy watching your investment payoff.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more articles all about blog performance:

51 ways to get more business from your blog in the New Year
90 seconds to becoming a better writer
5 steps to writing an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes

 

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

get more blog traffic

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

Does yours?

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

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

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

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

1. Internal link

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

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

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

blog traffic

2. Bottom of post

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

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

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

blog traffic

3. Social shares

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

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

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

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

blog traffic

4. Content upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

blog traffic

5. Click to tweet

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

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

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

blog traffic

6. Sidebar CTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. The Pop-up CTA

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

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

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

One more thing I’ve got to do!!

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

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

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

You’re welcome.

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

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

4 Blogging Tools That Will Save You Time

“Time grabs you by the wrist. Directs you where to go.” -Green Day

We’re all busy.

And new projects and opportunities are always waiting to fill any spare moments.

And then, there’s your blog. You know sharing your best content will build followers that know, like and trust you – followers that will build your business. The trick is to find ways to keep the blog publishing efficiently.

We’ve written posts about creating a Standard Operating Procedure (highly recommended if you are thinking of outsourcing any part of the blog publishing process), how to compose, write and publish faster and how to dress up your post to get better results.

In this article I want to share 4 simple tools that will cut of few minutes off your blogging work.

HubSpot Blog Topic Generator

You’ve decided to finally update your blog. The kids are asleep. Your partner is happy watching Game of Thrones. It’s time to start working.

What are you supposed to write about?

A really useful tool to start your blog topic search with is the HubSpot topic generator. Simply type in a topic and then, 5 blog title ideas will be generated for you. Enter your email and it will unlock another 250 topics.

In this post we describe the process we use to generate ideas for this blog.

Evernote

If you’re like me, you might just have a drawer full of random bits of paper. Or two drawers. Or maybe a room whose door is best left closed. That’s fine for collection—terrible for recall.

Instead, use a free system like Evernote. With this tool you can keep all your ideas, articles, To-Do lists and reminder notes in one place. Evernote syncs quickly with your smartphone, laptop and desktop and with the paid version you can access your information off line.

There’s no need to rummage through the junk drawer, trying to find that great idea you had last week. Instead, simply open the app and everything will be there.

To learn more about the power of Evernote check out this article.

Trello

If you like visuals and seeing projects move from start to finish, you might like Trello. This free project organizer is popular with solopreneurs and small teams. In Trello, each project is a Board and each Board has a list of tasks for that project. Team members can log in and slide work from left to right as they progress through their responsibilities.

For those that write for multiple blogs, it can start to become quite confusing just what content needs to be posted. Luckily, there’s a handy tool for all this.

Trello allows you to create different boards for each blog. You can fill in important information, such as your WordPress password.

For each blog board, you can create a title card of a blog. Then, you can attach the document for it and even images.

Finally, all your creative output can be stored in one, easy to find place.

BlogWorks

You’ve found a topic to write about. You’ve started making notes. You even managed to write and publish a few blogs – now what?

It’s time to promote them. And one of the best ways to get leverage in your promotion is to put your blog in front of your followers. Think of it this way…

If you add up your social media followers and, let’s say that number comes to 6,000 on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, combined. And if you announce your new blog post to those followers and only a fraction see the post and an even smaller fraction share you post with their followers, your reach could be in the tens of thousands.

how blogworks works

Of course, you still want to share you blog with your email followers, but don’t ignore the viral potential of social media.

That’s what BlogWorks was designed to do. You publish the blog, we turn your blog into daily updates on social media.

And if you don’t have time to write your blog, we can also help you with that.

Get Started

Now that you know a few tools that save time for blogging, there’s nothing stopping you from writing. Pick up your pen. Start typing. I expect to see your next blog post soon!

 

Need more ideas on how to start writing a blog post? Check these out:

5 steps to writing an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes.

How to write your blog posts better and faster

7 WordPress plugins you need to create amazing content 

 

Marketing: Make This The Year Of The Blog

Marketing make this the year of the blog

“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?

For the last decade we’ve been inundated with a truck-load of online marketing choices Click To Tweet

Or, maybe you should simply reduce your choices and focus on what works?

Blogging 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.

Companies with active blogs enjoy 55% more inbound traffic and receive 67% more leads than those that do not.

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.

goals
Pro tip: At least once a month update your blog goal sheet.

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?

When you block time it becomes an appointment you can’t break.

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

Creating your first Blog SOP can be as simple as recording all the steps in a Google Doc.

One of the best changes I made to my blogging was to create a Standard Operating Procedure.

Huh?

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.

Liked this post? Here are more posts about getting that blog published!
A Simple Lesson in Time Management (That Will Make You Money)
How To Blog More Consistently (And Stop Missing Deadlines)
How To Write Blog Posts Faster And Better

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

get more business from your blog

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

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

You want more traffic—the right traffic.

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

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

Right?

Well, we are here to help.

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

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

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

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

Planning 

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

Writing

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

Publishing

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

Getting results

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

Better numbers

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

Attracting more readers

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

Whoa! I know this was a long list.

And so we have two more thoughts for you…

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

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

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

Looking for more articles on related topics?

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

Your end of year blog tune up

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

Like my blog.

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

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

How about you?

CHECK YOUR BLOG DASHBOARD

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

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

Users

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

Bounce rate

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

Average session duration

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

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

FINDING YOUR GOLDEN GOOSE

Imagine you have a retail store.

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

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

What about your blog?

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

Every blog has winners and losers

How to discover your golden goose.

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

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

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

TIME TO TUNE UP YOUR POSTS

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

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

Here are 5 easy ways to spruce up your posts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

TURN READERS INTO PROSPECTS

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

Are you turning readers into prospects?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Click To Tweet

OUTSOURCE $12/HOUR JOBS

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

Sorry, was that too blunt?

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

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

And here’s the secret…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking for more great articles to read on this topic?

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

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

overcome procrastination

Let’s get one thing straight.

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

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

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

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

But, before I get to that…

Why we waste time:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sound familiar?

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

For a while…

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

And the problem is you’re an idiot.

Why we’re all idiots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s called Blocking.

How to block your time

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

STEP 1: Flight Plan

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

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

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

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

STEP 2: Block Time

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

That’s blocked time.

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

That’s why blocking works.

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

overcome procrastination by blocking time

Blocking time makes you more productive

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

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

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

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

How to get started

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

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

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

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

Finally, I work through my blocked time.

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

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

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

How I overcame procrastination by blocking time.

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

How to get organized with Evernote

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

build a better blog

Sometimes a simple lesson can change everything.

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

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

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

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

Specifically, I asked them:

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

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

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

Reader warning:

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

 

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

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

1. Keep the faith

Most bloggers want to quit. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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

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

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

The trick is to keep the faith.

Harsh Agrawal

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

 

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

It all takes time – often time and money.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Answer your audience

answer your audience. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.

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

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

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

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

Ugh.

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

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

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

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

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

10 Essential Business Leadership Skills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They wanted social media done for them.

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

3. Reach out to others

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

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

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

 

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

And it all starts with giving back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Rework what’s already working

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

5. WRITE TO BE SHAREDwrite to be shared blog post

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE TO BUILD A BETTER BLOG

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

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

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

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

The ultimate guide: How to use images, videos and screenshots in blog posts

how to use images in blog posts

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:

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.

Once you get a reader to your blog you need to keep them there. 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.

In fact, articles containing relevant images have 94% more total views than articles without images.

“Our brain is mainly an image processor (much of our sensory cortex is devoted to vision), not a word processor.” Psychology Today

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

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.

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.

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.

quality is important when using images on your blog
Low compression/High quality (left) VS High compression/Low Quality (right)

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.

using featured images in blog posts

 

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.

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

make your own blog images

 

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.

Get creative!

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.

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

FINDING SAFE IMAGES

It’s important you protect yourself from getting slammed for using a licensed image. Start by reading our post about creative commons

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.

finding images to use on your blog with Google

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!).

screenshots are a great option for images in blog posts

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!

draw your ideas and take a picture

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 add videos to your blog

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 insert your Vimeo videos into WordPress blog posts

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 text with videos helps with SEO

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.

use a consistent theme when using blog post images

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!

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.

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

 

how to use captions with images

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.