7 words that make your reader stop and take action

7 words that make your reader stop and take action

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

That’s a quote by Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts. He may be a fictional character, but his quote is certainly grounded in reality. Words are magical, capable of great things.

Words are magical, says Albus Dumbledore. You can use them to your advantage. Click To Tweet

Not all words are created equal, however. Some are more powerful than others. Here are seven words that will make your reader stop what they’re doing and sign up for your newsletter, download your ebook, or buy your product.

#1: Discover

The first word is “discover”. It has an almost magical sound to it, doesn’t it? Like you’re about to discover a lost land, a buried treasure, or a hidden secret to getting more traffic to your website.

Discover is a great word to use in a headline or a call-to-action (CTA). You could write something like, “Discover 5 ways to get rid of your acne now!” It makes a great headline and an equally great link to an ebook or product.

#2: Reveal

Similar to discover, “reveal” has a mystical property. It’s like you’re pulling back the curtain to reveal a magician’s (aka a “marketer’s”) secrets.

The word 'reveal' has a mystical property. Like you're pulling back the curtain. Click To Tweet

You could write a CTA along the lines of “Click here to reveal the dirty little secret about social sharing for your blog“. Tempting, isn’t it?

#3: Secret

Something that’s revealed is almost always a “secret”, is it not? People love to hear about secrets because of our natural need for hierarchy. If we know something someone else doesn’t, it gives us a leg up.

As an example, use a headline or CTA like, “5 Secrets Social Media Marketing Masters Don’t Want You to Know”.

#4: Quick (or Fast)

There are two things in this world everyone wants more of; money, and time. If you can give people a way to save time, they’ll love you. Because of our need to save time, when we see the word “quick”, we naturally gravitate toward it.

You could use a CTA like, “Here are 5 quick ways you can get the most of your marketing budget.”

#5: New

We all like new stuff, right? Like secrets, getting something “new” makes people feel they have an edge. If it’s new, it might mean not a lot of people have it yet. It’s also a status symbol if you have new things.

An example CTA might be, “Get your new guide now!”

#6: Free

This is the holy grail of power words. Remember before when I said people like to save money and time? Well, here’s the money part! If it’s free, it’s for me.

Here’s an example: “Get your FREE worksheet now!”

#7: You

Did you notice 5 out of the 6 CTA examples I gave above contained the word “you” (or “your”, for you smart alecs out there)?

You are the most important person in your life. Everyone else is the most important person in their lives. That’s what makes “you” so special – it pertains to the most important person in the world!

Some Extra Tips on Headlines and CTA

Now you’ve got seven powerful words. But it doesn’t stop there! Here are a few tips to get the most of your new-found power:

  • Use multiple “action” words (i.e. “Discover the Newest Secrets of Millionaires… for FREE!” or “Click here to reveal the secrets to losing weight fast and free“)
  • Be specific about the benefits and time or money involved (i.e. “Find out how you can increase email signups by 300% in just 30 minutes“)
  • Provide data (ie. “One study found that sitting can cut 10 years off your life. Click here to find out why.”)
  • Know your audience. If you don’t, it won’t matter how good your headlines or CTAs are.

Hungry for more? Go check out our 5 quick & dirty steps to writing a top headline or read about how BlogWorks gets you blog traffic.

Good luck!

Make your blog sticky with embedded media

Embedded media can make your blog sticky

I’m sure you’ve done this.

The blog headline grabbed you – you clicked through. And then – despite your best high-school effort – you clicked away after only 3 paragraphs.

Bummer, that blogger just lost you.

That’s where embedded media can help.

Sure, it’s eye candy and it’s not really the bright, insightful content we came for…but it works.

Grab any magazine off the shelf and look at how images are used to draw you in and keep you reading. We process images some 60,000 times (of course I measured that) faster than the written word so it makes sense we will be drawn to what we can process fastest.


Adding media makes your blog sexy (well, sort of).

Adding media makes your blog sexy. Click To Tweet

To get you started, let’s look at the options you’ve got. This list is from (Darren Rowse’s excellent Problogger podcast).

  • Video – YouTube etc. easiest and best way to add audio and visual
  • Slides – Slideshare easy way to turn list post into slide deck (I explain how here)
  • Tweets – Every tweet can be embedded in a blog post
  • Facebook – posts, status updates, videos and images
  • Audio Files – Anchor – file to quickly put thoughts out and reply
  • Cartoons – Andertoons
  • Live-Streaming or Replays – Periscope, Blab
  • Instagram – Pictures and videos
  • Slideshows – Flickr and from other photo sharing sites
  • Infographics – am
  • Bookmarks – Pinterest and pins
  • Google – Maps or Google Earth
  • Polls and Quizzes – Qzzr
  • Mindmaps – MindMeister
  • Google – Docs, forms and PDFs
  • Podcast – Podcast players
  • Animated Gifs – GIPHY

Some of these are simple to insert into your blog, like a link to a document, or an image. Others you have to do a bit of monkeying around to find the html code to insert (like with Slideshare or GIPHY).

WordPress has made inserting YouTube videos a snap – here are the instructions.

Like everything, the best way to get started is to experiment!

How to rescue a lost blog -7 ways to stand out from the crowd

Make your blog stand out from the crowd

Every day at BlogWorks we look at blogs – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

The reality in blog-land is that your blog has to be competitive and that means smart writing, brilliant headlines and attractive design.

But that doesn’t mean you need a team of writers, graphic designers and massage therapists (well, the last one would be nice). You can do it all yourself.

How to rescue a lost blog

In this post we’re sharing our latest SlideShare (learn more about getting started with SlideShare in this post) all about rescuing your blog from oblivion.


There are 7 objectives described in this SlideShare – you have 2 jobs:

First, comment below which one is going to be most important for you to adopt into your blogging routine and why.

Your second job is to work on it for just one month.

Alrighty then, here’s the show…start clicking 🙂

Google Analytics for non-analytical people

Google Analytics Basics

For a long time I resisted Google Analytics. Just the word “analytics” conjured up images of unwashed twenty-somethings ogling Excel spreadsheets while sipping Red Bull and mumbling about decimal points of Pi.

No thanks.

It was only when I realized that without Google Analytics (GA) I didn’t know a damn thing about my blog I was converted.

“The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” — H.P. Lovecraft Click To Tweet

In my most recent post I showed you how to know if Google Analytics is installed and collecting data on your site. Now it’s time to look beneath the hood and see what we can learn from the data.

When you first log into your Google Analytics (GA) account it might look a bit overwhelming – lots of graphs, numbers and menus. Don’t worry – most of it you can ignore.

First, it’s helpful to remember that GA only records what people do on your site. Every time someone arrives, clicks, leaves, returns, clicks again is all recorded. It even tracks where they came from, what device they were using and what they had for breakfast (kidding).

With Google Analytics, your job is to decide the minimum data that is meaningful to your business. Here’s where I get started.

With Google Analytics, your job is to decide the minimum data that is meaningful to your business. Click To Tweet

Just the facts, ma’am

When you sign into Google Analytics (if you have multiple websites, like I do, use the same Gmail account to access them all) you get the main dashboard.

main dashboard

Let’s jump into the main dashboard results you should know about. Note, you can change the time frame in the top-right corner. Default will be the last 30 days.

Sessions – total visitors

Users – total unique visitors (each person is counted once). This is sometimes called “uniques”

Pageviews – total pages viewed

Pages/Session – average number of pages each person viewed

Avg. Session Duration – average time on site

Bounce Rate – percent of people who left after one page (lower is better)

% New Sessions – estimate of first time visitors out of total visitors

You can easily get GA to email you on a regular basis this dashboard, or a custom dashboard. Before I started using www.cyfe.com as my main dashboard, I received a monthly custom dashboard from GA and it was a quick way to see what was going on.


Alrighty. Now that you’re educated on the basics, let’s look at some deeper data you can dive into (not to mention a few more alliterations).

Your top blog posts

One of my favourite stops is Behaviour > Overview this chart shows me my top traffic blog posts. The idea is to monitor what posts are going viral (you might be surprised at how old your top posts are) and then to write more on those topics.

Behaviour report

For example, I know if I write about mistakes speakers make or how to make money as a speaker, those posts will always do very well.

Traffic sources

Head over to Acquisition > Overview to see where your visitors are coming from. Once there, click on “Organic Search” to see the keywords they are typing in their browser to find you.

Acquisition > Social > Overview will give you a snapshot of what social channels are are driving traffic (maybe all the time on Pinterest is paying off).

Going mobile?

If you’re interested to know what percent of your audience visits your site (In my case it’s 36%) on a mobile device, head to Audience > Mobile > Overview. There are a number of free sites where you can see how you site displays on mobile devices.


If you want to measure the number of people who requested your free ebook, or choose to watch a video on your site, that’s called a goal. First copy the URL of the “success” page that appears when someone accepts your offer. Next, in GA, go to ADMIN > Goals > + New Goal > Custom.


Enter the name of your goal (like “opt-in pages”), choose “Destination” > Continue. Under “Destination” Choose “Equals to” in the drop down and then enter the URL of the “success” page and click Save.

To see your goals, return to the main dashboard and then go to Conversions (in the left-hand main menu – it has a flag beside it) > Goals > Overview.


Beyond these results you can get into much more sophisticated analysis, like what route people take through your site and…

That’s beyond the scope of this article and, besides, I don’t know how to do it 🙂

How to know if Google Analytics is installed on your blog

Let’s get one thing clear about Google Analytics – it’s not an option, or nice-to-do thing, like opening the door for grandmothers. If you’re serious about your blog you must track just a few basic results in Google Analytics. There, I’ve said it.

And to do that, you must first make sure that Google Analytics is installed.

I’m still amazed at how many beautifully designed sites don’t have Google Analytics installed. It’s like building a beautiful car with no dashboard (“I think I’m going pretty fast!”).

Sure, you can use tools like www.buzzsumo.com to measure social shares or SimilarWeb for rough estimates of traffic (or Tarot cards to predict the future), but only Google Analytics has accurate traffic data to understand what people actually are doing on your site.

In this post I’ll give you a quick test to know if Google Analytics (GA) is installed and, if it isn’t, how to get it installed.

In the next post we’ll go over the basic information you should be watching from Google Analytics.

How to know if Google Analytics is installed

When GA is properly installed there will be a Universal Analytics (UA) code snippet in your web site’s source code (the hidden information that runs your site). That code will look something like: UA-453782-0

Sample UA code

If that code is there, you’re gold. Google Analytics is recording every click, swipe, burp, and keystroke on your site. But if it’s not there, nothing is being collected. And even if you install Analytics today, it’s not retroactive—no code, no data.

Depending on the browser you use, there are different ways to show your source code:
On a MAC right-click directly on your web site home page and look for “View Page Source”. On a PC press CTRL + U on you computer’s keyboard.

If that doesn’t work, you can go through your browser menu:

In the “Tools” menu, click “Web Developer”, then click “Page Source”

Google Chrome:
In the “View” menu, click “Developer”, then click “View Source”

In the “Safari” menu, click “Preferences”, choose “Advanced”
Click the checkbox “Show Develop menu in menu bar”, close window
Click “Show Page Source” in the “Develop” menu.

Internet Explorer:
In the “View” menu, click “Source”

Now that you have all that crazy code opened up, you want to search for the Google Analytics snippet.

On a PC use “Control+F” or for Macs use “Command+F”. Then type in “UA-” (without the quotes) in the “Find” text box. If Google Analytics is installed, you should see the snippet (like: UA-453782-0) highlighted. You might need to scroll down to find it.

If it’s not installed, you will see “UA-000000-0” or “UA-         “, either way, you need to go the next step and install Google Analytics.

How to get your Tracking Code

Step 1: First, you have to have a Gmail account (I know, I know, big brother has you now), you’ll see a sign-in page like below. If you don’t have an account yet, go to Google Analytics Signup Page.

Sign in to Gmail

Step 2: Once you sign in with your account, you’ll be prompted with this screen, you can select Google Analytics on the right-side drop-down.

Sign in to Google Analytics

Steps 3: Fill in the required information and then click on the Get Tracking ID button

Fill in form

Steps 4: Now you will be presented with Google Analytics tracking code. Copy this tracking code because you will need to enter it in your WordPress site.

Google Analytics tracking code

How to install Google Analytics

There are a number of non-technical and technical ways to install your tracking code on your site. I always recommend using the free plug-in from www.wpbeginner.com. It just takes a few minutes and then, presto! You’re all set.

Whew! Now that you are recording data (it will take a day or two before you can see results). It’s time to learn what to look for.

In the next post I’ll share how to use the Google Analytics numbers to make more intelligent decisions with your blog.

10 surprisingly simple tune-ups to make your blog sexy (and get more blog traffic)

Make your blog sexy and get better results

We all want better blog traffic numbers.

Way back, when Tyrannosaurs roamed the earth, blogs were personal journals for reflection and maybe for close friends to enjoy. Not anymore.  Many blogs are for building your brand, attracting business, building your list and hopefully even growing sales.

But you need blog traffic.

In this post we’re looking at super simple tune-ups to make your blog work better and, maybe, even a bit sexier. Sound good?

  1. Use keywords

Keywords are how organic searches (when someone searches the Internet for a solution, like “gardening supplies”) find you. You can use keywords in your headline, text copy and headline in the text. Stuffing keywords just for the sake of SEO is bad form and makes your post less attractive and less likely to get shared.

Using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a great place to start to find long-tail (low competition, higher conversion) keywords. After that, include those phrases as a natural part of your writing.

  1. Powerful headlines

The last thing I work on when writing a blog is the headline. Your headline is the first thing people see in social media posts (after the image), Internet searches and links from other sites—it’s worth getting it right. It can make a difference to your blog traffic.

While a headline like, “10 ways to deliver better customer service” may be accurate, it’s as boring as ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks. A better headline might be “10 ways to knock the socks off even the most reluctant customer”.

Great headlines include: lists, “you”, “your”, “free”, “how to”, “DIY”, “I/me/my”, “easy”, and “new”

  1. Good images
More natural photography can help blog traffic
Stock photography vs. more natural photography

A quick fix for any blog is better images. Try to avoid “stock images” of multi-ethnic teams smiling into the camera-instead look for natural images of real people doing real things.

A quick fix for any blog is better images. Click To Tweet

For posts longer than 400-500 words, insert a second image to break up the text and keep the reader moving. If you’re serious about your blog, it’s worth getting familiar with basic editing tools like canva or picmonkey.

  1. Cross link

A simple strategy to encourage blog traffic and keep readers on your site longer (which is measured as lower Bounce rate in Google Analytics) is to cross link from one blog post to another. The ideas is to invite the reader to learn more about your topic by reading a related post.

A simple strategy can keep readers on your site longer Click To Tweet

Start with a short list of 4-5 posts you ideally want every reader to see and then link to them whenever it seems like a natural opportunity.

  1. Current dates

Consistent publishing dates is a good thing. Just like a magazine, it’s going to be easier to attract followers if they know they can count on the regular issues.

Or course, life happens and you might have a gaps between posts. The good news is that WordPress makes it easy to smooth out your publishing dates and even republish old posts.

Simply open individual posts, change the “Published on:” date and click “Update”. Presto – your posts are re-dated or older posts are re-published.

Current dates

  1. Opt-in is working

When was the last time you opted in to your your own opt-in? You might be surprised to learn that your invitation isn’t, well, very inviting. Here are some quick tune-ups for your opt-in sequence:

When was the last time you opted in to your your own opt-in? Click To Tweet
  • inviting offer – most people aren’t interested in getting “newsletters” anymore. Try offering “weekly tools and tips”, or “free helpful advice”, or “regular updates”, or simply offer your opt-in gift and let them decide if they want to join your list.
  • double opt-in instructions – remember the opt-in isn’t complete until they click on the confirmation email. On your “success” page (that pops up once they enter name and email) instruct them to check their inbox but also to “white list” your emails.
  • follow-up emails – once a person becomes a follower it’s time to nurture them and invite them to stick around. An email sequence (ideally, you remove them from regular emails while in this “quarantine” period) of 3-5 emails that welcome them and introduce them to your services is a smart way to build loyalty and even move a follower to a buyer.
Example of ‘success’ page and instructions on how to double opt-in
Example of ‘success’ page and instructions on how to double opt-in
  1. Use the “Featured Image” for your main image.

If you’ve ever noticed that the wrong image gets pulled from your blog on Facebook or Twitter it could be you aren’t using the Featured Image option in WordPress. Featured Image is a selection on the right-hand side of your WordPress editor that allows you to choose one image from your media library for the top of your post but also to be the thumbnail pulled anytime the link to your post is used (like in Facebook). The right image can lead to more blog traffic.

Use the Featured Image feature in WordPress to ensure your image is properly pulled into social media
Use the Featured Image feature in WordPress to ensure your image is properly pulled into social media

Not sure if you are using Featured Image? Head over to your latest blog post, scroll down and on the right-hand side you should see a thumbnail of your main image that is labeled Featured Image. Click there, select the image you want from your media file and you’re set.

  1. Social share buttons

When a reader shares your post on Twitter, Facebook, or any social media, they are exposing your content to their followers. That’s a good thing.

The easier you make it for readers to share your content the better—tiny icons from now-obscure social media channels, like yelp and foursquare won’t help you with blog traffic.

To see what posts are getting the most shares, head over to buzzsumo, drop in your site URL and you’ll get a list of your top five.

Encouraging sharing can help build blog traffic
The SumoMe social share menu floats on the page as the reader scrolls through your post

We use SumoMe by Noel Kagan – the social share menu floats alongside your blog as the reader scrolls down the screen and works perfectly on mobile.

  1. Measure results

Google Analytics is your dashboard—it’s the only way to accurately know what’s really going on with your blog traffic, visitor behaviour, history trends, and sources of visitors. Your CRM (Customer Relations Management software, like Mail Chimp or Aweber) is the only place to accurately measure opt-ins.

If you haven’t been checking Google Analytics, first make sure it’s installed by following these instructions.

Next, get familiar with basics, like:

  • user volume (number of unique visitors),
  • page views (total pages visited),
  • bounce rate (percent that leave after one page),
  • average session duration (time on site),
  • Behaviour (scroll down main menu, on left, and look for box icon > Overview – most viewed pages on site. This is where discover what blog posts are most popular.
  1. Click to tweet

The old, manually-loaded Click To Tweet was a neat way to get readers to quickly fire off a tweet to point people to your post.

A better version, cleverly called Better Click To Tweet, makes it easier for you to create the tweet as you load your new post into the WordPress editor.

Once the plugin is installed, a blue bird will appear in your editor menu bar. Highlight and copy the text you want tweeted, click the bird, paste the text where asked and you’re set.

As you can likely see, there is a blog post in each one of these strategies. Maybe in the future we’ll do that.

In the meantime, you know what you need to do.

Free Images for your Blog: 7 Awesome Sources

Find free images for your blog

It’s no secret – images make the world brighter and get you more attention. In fact, 65% of senior marketing executives (after all, who would you trust?) believe photos, video, illustrations and infographics are core to how their brand story is communicated. [This post was originally posted at http://hughculver.com/find-awesome-free-images-blog/]

Not only that, content with images gets 94% more views (like your blog) than content without.

The question is where are the best sources for free images for your blog, ebook, SlideShare, promotion, or whatever?

In this post I’ve listed the best sites for finding free images you can use without license. Some require attribution to the artist, but none of them cost anything to use.  Content with images gets 94% more views - there’s no excuse to publish naked. Click To Tweet

First let’s look at the rules.


For the curious, here’s a quick run-through of the three main copyright categories:

Public Domain – either the copyrights have expired or the creator has relinquished all rights to the works. You are free to use these for private and commercial use. The exception to this “free for all use” policy can be images of recognizable people (if you want to use pics of the Kardashians that another issue.)

Royalty Free – when you find sites offering “royalty free” images – these are “free” to use once you pay a licensing fee. You don’t have to give credit to the artist, but you will be paying a small fee (often the higher resolution means higher fee.) Before you toss this option with a “Pfft!”, consider the time and grief you could avoid by only searching one location and all the images are high quality. I’ve been paying for two years and it’s been a huge time saver. Popular sites for royalty free images are istock, shutterstock, and gettyimages.

Creative Commons – is a universal system for categorizing shared photography and other images by six types of allowed usage. Creative Commons Zero (CC0) being completely open to use, sharing, changing and without any attribution necessary to the artist, whereas the most restrictive Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) allows sharing works, but without any changes and with attribution to the artist.

Creative commons images

All of sites recommended in this post offer Public Domain or Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensed images. This means no attribution (neither the name or link to the artist) is required. Regardless, you should do your due diligence and ensure any image you download and plan to use or manipulate is free of restrictions.


There’s lots of advice on finding the best sites for free images, but I find often the results are mixed.

I’ve tested all of the sites listed below and most I use frequently for my blog and SlideShare decks. At the time of writing they all have big libraries, are free of licenses, and have good search tools to help you find that perfect image. In some cases you will have to give attribution to the artist.

  1. Pixabay — reliable, simple to use, and quality images with a very good search tool that lets you narrow your free image search by image orientation (vertical or horizontal). I often check Pixabay first, before trying other sites. You’ll see for-fee Shutterstock images at the top of every search.
  2. Unsplash — brilliant landscape, people and nature pics, with 10 new high-quality photos released every 10 days. If you need a quick meditative moment, just head over and scroll through Unsplash (it’s cheaper than red wine).
  3. red — pretty simple site, maintained in Switzerland, basic search tool, multiple sizes to choose from. Not a huge library, but I’ve found some funky free images in a pinch. Free images - Red
  4. Refe — created in Lithuania (go figure), Refe has stunning images with a twist towards “imagery of people interacting with technology.”
    Refe free images
  5. Compfight — a search tool for Flickr that allows you to quickly navigate through world’s largest photo site (Flickr). I certainly wouldn’t call Compfight user friendly – you’ll have to sort through amateur contributions and you might get pics that require attribution – but you definitely won’t get tacky stock photos.
  6. Magdeleine — similar to Unsplash, Madeleine offers stunning free images in limited volumes. You can sort by either public domain (CC0) or requiring attribution. Magdeleine
  7. io — loads of gorgeous pics sorted by popularity. Very easy, but limited, search tool – great for landscapes and “mood” images.

Anytime you list sites like these someone will have two more (go for it, list them in the comments), but these will give you a good start.

Now, let’s look at how to best use them.


Searching for the perfect image can burn up hours of time – at some point, who cares?

Instead, look for an okay image that you can make great. Here’s a couple of tricks that will save you time and might even get you better results.

Resize and crop

Sometimes an image has the right element but there’re distractions you don’t want. Rather that spending more time hunting for a better image, resize what you have and crop the unwanted parts.

In this example I liked the image, but I wanted to remove the man in the hoodie (far left) to allow more blurred space to layer text over.

before after resizing and cropping

Fade into background

An easy solution to fix a so-so image is to simply fade it into the background. The image can give texture and feel to the message, but the text you layer on top will become the main focal point.

fade background

Screen under text

A third option is to layer a screen over your image to highlight your text. I use this effect often when building a SlideShare deck when I want to viewer to focus on what I’m saying but also have the image pull their attention.

screen under text


As a final thought (or two), some mistakes to avoid are:

  • using stock photography. I’m sure you can picture a group of perfectly groomed, multi-cultural, smiling folks, all with their hands in centre of a circle to represent team work. Using stock photos in your blog is more than passé – it’s boring.

True confession: I’m guilty of using cheesy, stock photography (sorry). Now, I’d much rather manipulate (see list above) a so-so image and put the focus on my text, or even use something I shot on vacation or walking my dog. If I want people to be interested in what I’m sharing I have to use images that are interesting.

  • using large files. I’m no expert on resolution, but I know large images (like over 140kb) will slow your site load time. In our instant gratification world you can’t afford people clicking off your site because of slow load time.

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 web site.

  • not giving attribution. If you’ve ever received a “cease and desist” letter for copyright infringement you’ll know to never grab an image off Google, or not follow Creative Commons requirements (I’m just saying.)

Your blog, slide show, or promotional piece will always get more attention and shares if you use an image. Full Stop.

Learning how to find great ones or do some simple manipulation shouldn’t be a barrier. Heck, if I can do it…