5 brilliant tips on how to start a blog post with a bang 

start your blog post with a bang

Most blogs suck. 

You might have the most brilliant advice, but nobody reads it. 

The solution starts withthe start. 

A recent survey found that only 30% of readers make it to the end of a post. Just like a YouTube video – if you dont grab your readers attention in 3 seconds its sayonara.  

Theyre gone. 

In this post you will learn a 5 step approach to quickly retro fit old posts gathering digital dust, or tweak new posts to start working miracles.  

Lets jump in with some mind work on how to start a blog post.

1. Enter the conversation

To capture your readers’ attention you have to first enter the conversation going on in their mind (Robert Collier). In other words, grab their attention with something theyre already thinking about. 

– If youre a financial planner, tell me how to avoid costly mistakes.
– If youre a realtor, tell me how to make more money when I sell my home.
– If youre an IT consultant, tell me how to choose the best IT consultant. 

Not sure where to start? Start with a list of the most common questions your prospects ask you.

2. Get my attention

water splashing in woman's face

This is keymake me stop and want to read more. Your reader found your latest post via your email or social media. But, theyre not committed yetwith the click of their mouse theyre gone – never to return to that post. 

So, hook them with bait that makes them hungry for more. 

Start with your first sentence. Its job is to get me to read your second sentence. And so on.  

In your #blog, the job of your first sentence is to get me to read your second sentence. And so on. Click To Tweet 

Dont force me to wade through a muddy dissertation. Instead, start with a bold statement, a bit of controversy or a question. 

For example, I could have started this post with something like: 

The problem with all too many blogs is that they fail to get the attention of readers and, as a result, dont drive traffic to your products or services. 

Ugh. 

Instead, I started with: 

Most blogs suck.

3. Tell me the Problem

person holding question mark to face

Heres a blogging secret. If the reader doesnt care about your topic, they wont care to read about it 

So, make it obvious. 

In the first 2 sentences you need to TELL ME THE PROBLEM you will solve. 

Here’s a blogging secret. If the reader doesn’t care about your topic, they won’t care to read about it. Click To Tweet 

Even better: choose only one problem to solve. 

Here are 3 examples from our blog:

1. In this post we tackled time management:
Lets get one thing straight. I waste time, you waste timeeveryone wastes time.

2. This post is all about getting more traffic:
And its time to get serious about your business and your blog. You want more trafficthe right traffic.

3. This post is about restarting your blog writing:
You havent published for at least a month – not so great.

4. Make a promise

Every salesperson worth his/her salt knows this. To keep your prospects attention you need to make a promise of what you have to offer. 

It could be as simple as Let me show you how we can fix that, or I think I have the perfect solution for you. 

Its no different in your blogonce you get my attention, tell me what comes next.  

For example, this post is about blog performance:
In this post were looking at super simple tune-ups to make your blog work better and, maybe, even a bit sexier. Sound good?

5. Please get to the point!

time on site screenshow showing how to start your blog post with a bang
The average time we see on our client’s blog posts is 2-3 times more than other pages.

Finally, a great blog gets to the point. 

You got my attention, you entered the conversation going on in my mind, you even described a problem you know I have – great! Now, get to the point and deliver the goods.  

The average visitor time on our clients websites is about one minute. The average time we see on their blog posts is more like 3 to 7 minutes. Wow! 

Your blog has the ability to stop readers from clicking away. Your blog can also drive traffic to your revenue pages.  

If you do it right. 

A few small changes to the start of your post can improve time on site, list growth – even conversion to sales.  

It all starts withthe start. 

Enjoyed this post on how to start a blog post? Here are 3 more all about blog writing: 

5 easy steps to publishing your next blog post (even if you dont have time)
90 seconds to becoming a better writer
How to never run out of blog ideas ever again

9 blog post ideas your audience will love

blog post ideas

There you are…blank screen, fingers poised over the keyboard, coffee going cold. Ugh. You need to get your next blog post written. But where to start?

In this article I’ll walk you through 9 ways to slice and dice your way to a brilliant blog salad. Follow this recipe and you’ll never run out of blog post ideas again.

First, you need to think about your main theme (the big problem you solve) and sub themes (individual solutions).

Let’s imagine you’re a realtor. Your main theme is that you list and sell homes.

Sub themes could be:

  • How to sell your home
  • How to buy a home
  • Money and financing
  • How to choose a realtor

From those four sub themes you can come up with hundreds of topics, all pointing back to your main theme. The idea is that whatever article your reader discovers on, it will point them back to what you sell.

Now, this might seem pretty obvious – right? But, the reality is that far too many personal brand blogs read more like a rambling diary, instead of a helpful guide that solves their clients’ problems.

The reality is there are lots of personal brand blogs that read more like a rambling diary, instead of a helpful guide that solves their clients’ problems. Click To Tweet

This article will get you back on track and converting readers to followers and followers to customers.

Let’s get started with our list of 9 blog post ideas.

1. The Opinion Post

blog post ideas to get more business from your blog
The opinion post lets readers know what you stand for, and how you solve problems

The Opinion post might be the most popular blog theme for personal brand blogs (like authors, consultants, coaches, public speakers). You take a stand.

The opinion post lets readers know what you stand for, how you solve problems—it separates you from the competition. At BlogWorks our goal is to get our clients more business (like this article “51 ways to get more business from your blog”) A pretty blog is nice for compliments, but a blog that attracts more business is even better. So our blog posts have centered around the opinion that if your blog isn’t bringing you business, it’s broken. Of course, there are hobby bloggers who could care less about traffic and results, but that’s not our market.

A pretty blog is nice for compliments, but a blog that attracts more business is even better. Click To Tweet

2. The Mistakes to Avoid Post

This is an easy one—build a blog post around a common mistake your clients make. This is also a powerful way to get attention, because your prospects will recognize you as a problem solver. Our post about procrastination was designed to help our readers and clients overcome their own challenges with getting stuff done.

3. The Facts and Statistics Post

Your blog can set you apart as an authority. One way to do that is by bringing important facts or statistics to your audience. It could be trends in your market, statistics that support a solution you offer (like % of employees that leave a company because of their boss).

9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

 

4. The Research Based Post

how to fix broken windows in your life
Including research into your post makes you stand out as an authority

If you work in the areas of human development, personal success, fitness or mental health there are tons of articles documenting research that you can build a blog post around. You can also be a bit creative with the application of that research. For example, I once used the broken window phenomenon as a base for an article about productivity.

5. The Resources Post

What are tools, books, templates or software you rely on in your work or life that your readers would benefit from knowing about? As an authority, part of your brand could be as a problem solver and resource for clever solutions. At BlogWorks we like to share tips that are easy to implement and operate, like installing a Click to Tweet or Editorial Calendar plugin (watch the video).

6. The Question Post

blog post ideas if you're thinking of quitting blogging
We are suckers for questions

Want to grab your readers’ attention? Ask a question (oh! I just did).

We are suckers for questions—we want to answer them and immediately engage in that topic. Start your blog with a question (even put the question in the headline) and you can stop readers long enough to get them reading (like in this example).

7. The Contrarian Post

This is a fun one for blog post ideas! Think of a problem you know your ideal client has and recommend the opposite. Of course, this has to make sense, but if you can get your reader’s attention (like this post about killing your To-Do list) you can present the solution you know they really need.

8. The Controversial Post

Take a stand and be noticed! In a world of vanilla blog posts you can be the maraschino caramel that stands out when you take a stand and be a little controversial. Think about a bold statement that got your audience’s attention in a recent sales presentation or the middle of a speech – that could be the start of a great blog post.

In a world of vanilla blogs you can be the maraschino caramel by being a little controversial Click To Tweet

9. The Warning Post

blog post ideas to improve a boring blog
The goal is the get your readers to stop skimming and grab their attention

And finally, there is the warning post. Like the mistakes to avoid (#2) post, the warning post helps your prospects avoid a common problem, but with a little punch. The goal is the get your readers to stop skimming and grab their attention. We did that with our “Excuse me, but your blog is boring!” post.

There you have it – 9 ways to repackage your main product and service topic to keep your readers coming back. And if your readers are coming back, they’re becoming followers – and followers build business.

Time to start writing!

Enjoyed this article about blog post ideas? Here’s 3 more all about writing and getting more readers.

7 words that make your readers stop and take action
6 ways to get more blog traffic this year
10 surprisingly simple tune-ups to make your blog sexy (and get better results)

A proven 3 step method to finally overcome procrastination and get it all done.

procrastination

You had the best of intentions.

Heck, you even coloured it with a highlighter, put a star beside it and blocked time on your calendar.

Then you procrastinated.

Or, at least you thought you did…

The reality is you didn’t procrastinate and – better still – with a 2 minute secret action you can overcome pretty well any resistance you have to any action.

Let me show you how.

You are NOT a Procrastinator

“Everybody procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator” – Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D

This might surprise you, but you are not a procrastinator. Nobody is (even though 20% of people think they are.)

Let me explain.

You respond differently to different situations. You don’t procrastinate about buying groceries or thanking a friend for listening to you or flossing your teeth (more on flossing below.) You’ve got those actions nailed.

If you were a “procrastinator” you would be completely unreliable – that’s not you.

You are a responsible person…you just put somethings off until later.

Get it?

This is an important point. If you think you are a procrastinator then please stop reading right now, because I can’t help you (of course I can help you, it just will take longer 🙂

STEP 1: Before you move to the reason behind your resistance, catch yourself thinking you’re a procrastinator and to stop and to remind yourself you are NOT a procrastinator – you are simply resisting this action.

Now, let’s look at what’s really happening.

Why you DON’T take Action

It’s all about value.

You do something because the value of that action is better than the alternative. You thank your friend for listening because you know that 5 minutes from now you’ll regret it if you didn’t.

You floss you teeth because the alternative is an expensive trip the dentist.

And everything you procrastinate about happens because, in the moment, it gives you more value than the alternative. This applies to refilling the chip bowl instead of stopping at one serving, allowing Netflix to load the next episode of Game of Thrones, instead of turning the TV off or checking email instead of calling the client you’ve been avoiding.

So, it comes down to what you value. Yes, you can build habits, but habits are built on values, so you have to start there.

STEP 2: Stop and think about the value you attach to the alternatives. That sounds more complicated than it is.

In other words, before you take action decide what will give you the biggest reward, long-term.

>> I know that if I go for my 15 minute morning walk I have more energy later in the morning (the walk gives me more reward than not walking.)

>> I know that if I work in blocks of no email, no social media I can plough through my work uninterrupted (focussed work gives me more reward than distractions.)

>> I know that if I take a few minutes before I finish my work day and plan my next day I am far more focussed and productive in the morning (making a list gives me more reward than just ending my work day with no list.)

Now, that you understand what action will give you the biggest long-term reward, let’s take action.

The 2 minute rule will help.

The 2 Minute RULE and how it Works

“Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think. Our research shows us that getting started changes our perception of a task. It can also change our perception of ourselves in important ways.” – Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D

One of the simplest ways to overcome procrastination is also one of the fastest. It’s the 2 minute rule (Stanford Professor B.J. Fogg popularized this idea by demonstrating how to start the habit of daily flossing by starting with just one tooth.)

One of the simplest remedies to procrastination is also one of the fastest. It’s the 2 minute rule. @bjfogg Click To Tweet

Here’s how it works.

When you realize you are about to put something off, take a 2 minute action.

For example, you are trying to get traction on a big project, like redesigning you web site, or cold calling prospects, or doing your taxes.

Start with just 2 minutes of action.

But, that’s not all…

Yes, you will start up the mountain with 2 minutes of walking, but you must also finish by planning your next step – what will you do and when will you do it.

It works like this.

Let’s say you want to redesign your web site (we can show you how to save thousands$’s from bad advice) – that’s a humungous job! Of course, you’re going to put it off—you have all sorts of other priorities that can be finished faster.

But, it has to get done. You know this is overdue and, if you get it done, it will help your business long-term (more value than putting it off.)

Step 3: Enter the 2 minute rule: what can you get done in just 2 minutes that will be a step in the right direction up the mountain?

>> You could bookmark competitor’s web sites in your browser for future reference.

>> You could make a list of changes you want to make to the existing site.

>> You could email 3 designers you know and ask about their availability (no point getting quotes if they can’t start for 2 months).

You get the idea.

You can make progress, break the ice and get a tiny dopamine reward by working uninterrupted for just 2 minutes. And then plan your next step.

We can all make progress, break the ice and get a tiny dopamine reward by working uninterrupted for just 2 minutes. Click To Tweet

Block time in your calendar for the next step (read this article about blocking time), to list what you like about your competitor’s sites, or prioritize the changes you want to make, or reply to the designers and ask to see their latest work.

Time investment: 2 minutes.

Reward to you: feeling great about making progress!

What You Must DO the Next Time

“So let’s get started. I’m ready to be heard. Before the dear departed. Can have the final word.” Get Started, Paul McCartney

It’s normal to put things off until later. We all do it. We’ll always do it.

Sometimes it’s a smart strategic move, like waiting until the morning to make a tough phone call, or ignoring your email in order to finish a proposal uninterrupted.

And then there are the non-strategic, wimpy moments when you caved. We all do that as well.

Here’s the thing. Those moments of uncertainty or hesitation don’t define you—those were just human moments.

Let it go and go back to your 3 steps:

Step 1. Don’t define yourself as a procrastinator. You aren’t.

Step 2. Consider the long-term rewards: what is most important for you right now?

Step 3. Take 2 minutes, take some forward action and then plan your next step.

It may not look heroic working on a project for only 2 minutes. But, it could be the most heroic thing you did all day. And you might just impress yourself with the ice-breaking momentum you just started.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more all about procrastination and getting more of what you want:

A simple lesson in Time Management (that will make you money)
How to Blog More Consistently (And Stop Missing Deadlines)
9 expert bloggers reveal their best strategies

3 Amazing WordPress Blog Plugins to Power up your Site

WordPress blog plugins to power up your site

This might be the most important article you read this year.

Okay, a bit of hyperbole, but if you’re trying to get bigger results from your blog, this will be damn good.

In this article we are looking at the 3 WordPress blog plugins we use the most often on this site.

Think of a plugin like an app on your phone. They can be a waste of time and actually slow down your site…or they can be amazing and make life oh-so-much-better. Add to that, most plugins are free, or at the very least have a free version.

Here they are:

1. Better Click to Tweet
2. Insert Post Ads
3. Editorial Calendar

I’m going to spell out the steps for each of these WordPress blog plugins below. You can also grab some popcorn and watch this 12 minute video.

Video roll:

01:00 Better Click to Tweet
4:38 Insert Post Ads
10:26 Editorial Calendar

1. Better Click to Tweet

This might be the simplest improvement you make to your blogs results—make it easy for readers to Tweet about your blog. In our goldfish-like attention world, nothing is better than saving your customers’ time.

In our goldfish-like attention world, nothing is better than saving your customers’ time. Click To Tweet

Better Click to Tweet is a simple, free plugin that makes it super easy to let your readers, with just 2 clicks, share your post to all of their followers on Twitter. And that one tweet can put you in front of thousands of followers loyal to that reader.

There are similar tools, like Click to Tweet and plugins like sumome and social warfare offer a click to tweet option.

This video explains how to install the plugin.

Once you have the plugin installed adding a click to tweet is easy:

Copy a quote from your blog 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!

more blog traffic

2. Insert Post Ads

This WordPress blog plugin is amazing! I first came across it on Mike Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner’s blog (which has become like a Wiki for how-to social media). I noticed there were ads for his conference on every blog post. And I knew he had thousands of posts – clearly it wasn’t possible to have inserted the ad manually. That’s when I had a peak at his source code and viola!..Insert Post Ads (Thank You Mike.)

On any WordPress site, you can insert a banner for a webinar, live event (like Stelzner did for his conference), book sales, optin, content upgrade, a sale event or your daughter’s lemonade stand.

Within a few minutes your advertisement/offer/announcement is on every blog post on your site. And just as quickly you can remove it.

more blog traffic

Here’s how this clever little plugin works…

Once you have the plugin installed (did I mention it’s free?).

1. Drop the banner image you want displayed into a draft page on your WordPress site. You won’t be publishing this page – it’s just there so you can quickly get the html code from the image.

2. Click on the image, go to edit, and select “Link to Custom URL” and paste the link to the event or sales page you want to promote. Click “Update” to save the banner. Now that you have a linked banner, you need to load that into the Insert Post Ads plugin.

3. Click on “Text” to display the HTML code for that page (if you’re getting confused, watch the video on this page.) Copy the code for that banner into your clipboard. Click “Save Draft” to save your page in WordPress.

4. Go to your Insert Post Ads plugin “Post Adverts > Add New Posts.” Enter the name of the new insert where it says “Advert Title.” Paste the HTML code into “Advert code:” Choose “Display the advert After Paragraph Number” and choose a number. Click “Publish”

That’s it. It’s going to seem like Greek (no offense to all the Greeks who read my blog), but once you’ve done it, oh let’s say 114 times, it gets easier!

I encourage you to write out the steps so next month when you go to replace the banner it’s much quicker.

3. Editorial Calendar Plugin

I think I saved my favourite of the WordPress blog plugins for last.

Imagine having all your blog posts – past and future – nicely organized and displayed on a calendar. Automatically! That’s what the Editorial Calendar plugin (yup, free as well) will do.

Imagine having all your blog posts - past and future - nicely organized and displayed on a calendar. Automatically! Click To Tweet

All you have to do is install the plugin and presto! it populates with all your posted blogs and – this is my favourite part – it lists all your draft posts in a tidy list in a right-hand side bar.

But, wait, there’s more! (thank you Steve Jobs for that one.)

more blog traffic

You can do a quick edit of a draft right from the calendar. You can also move your draft posts on the calendar and it will automagically update the posting date on the draft.

If you aren’t using a more robust tool, like coschedule or post planner, Editorial Calendar is a slick, nibble alternative. And if you collaborate with an editor or assistant, this tool will save you tons of emails back and forth about dates.

You’re welcome.

Ready to learn more? Here are 3 of our most popular articles on this topic:

7 Types of Call To Action to Move your Blog Readers to Action
Your end of year blog tune up
51 ways to get more business from your blog in the New Year

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

A blog call to action can boost your business

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

Does yours?

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

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

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

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

1. Internal link call to action

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

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

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

internal link call to action for your blog

2. Bottom of blog call to action

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

At the bottom of each post simply list 3 more posts they might enjoy. After all, if your reader gets to the bottom of the post they probably want more on that topic. It’s a great blog call to action that can keep your readers on your site.

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

bottom of blog call to action

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.

social calls to action

4. Content upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

example of blog content upgrade

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!

example of click to tweet

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.

Use your sidebar for a CTA

7. The Pop-up Call to Action

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

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

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

popups work as a call to action

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

90 seconds to becoming a better writer

writing a blog

“Finding success is all about taking action. You can read all you want, but nothing will happen until you execute.” – Pat Flynn

Your blog is a reflection of you.

Sloppy writing that might have got a passing grade in high school won’t help.

Fear not loyal reader!

In just 90 seconds you can transform your writing from a C- to an A+.

Better yet, your readers will stay on your site longer and that means more business. Lucky you.

Here goes: 7 ways to sharpen your writing and cut to the point in 90 seconds (or less):

1. Make me want to read this

“A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.” – Lee Odden

Compelling writing starts with targeting your avatar, or ideal customer. If you can help them reach their goals faster, cheap or better they will become loyal readers.

Rambling thoughts about unrelated topics that caught your fancy is great if you flew in space, wrote a best-seller or your last name is Branson. If not, stick to solving problems for your target market.

This article walks you through the 5 step process – including how to pick killer topics – we use for every blog post. Start with that.

Compelling writing is first about targeting your avatar, or ideal customer. If you can help them reach their goals faster, cheap or better they will become loyal readers. Period. Click To Tweet

2. Start with a template

“The first thing you need to decide when you build your blog is what you want to accomplish with it, and what it can do if successful.” – Ron Dawson

I’ve written about using a writing template before, like this article and this article. A writing template is not cheating! You will save time and your writing will improve.

I start with a rough outline of what I want to write about and then move content to slot into my template. It might sound rote or mechanical, but my writing always improves this way. The template hauls me back from side trips and reminds me to include important parts like a summary and call-to-action.


3. Put your reader in the story

“The key is, no matter what story you tell, make your buyer the hero.” – Chris Brogan

Great salespeople use ‘you’ more than ‘I’. So should you.

This is a quick edit. Simply scan you post before publishing and look for all the “I”, “my”, “our”, “me” and starts swapping them for “you”, “your”, “your’s” and “you’re.”

When you put your read in the message they begin to envision how they could be applying your solutions.

Before: “When I block time I make an appointment with myself.”

After: “When you block time you make an appointment with yourself.”

4. Clean up sloppy writing

“Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs.” – Seth Godin

More words do not make your blog better. Instead you force your reader to slow down and stumble through run-on sentences, bloated paragraphs and awkward grammar.

Not good.

More words do not make your blog better. Click To Tweet

The simple test is if you remove the word and the sentence still works, leave it out.

Before: “If you have staff members who are well-organized, their productivity levels can go through the roof with remote working.”

After: “Staff who are well-organized can benefit from remote working.”

5. Remove dead words

“Qualifying words, such as very, little, and rather, add nothing to your meaning and suck the life out of your sentences.” – Copyblogger

Improving your writing can start with removing unnecessary words and helping your reader get to the bottom of your post. Readers that finish reading a post are more likely to share your article and more likely to spend time on your site looking at your products and services.

Get ready to start deleting!

That

In many cases, removing that improves the sentence: “This is the most amazing blog post that I’ve ever read.”

Book marketing expert and author Diana Urban suggests, “If a sentence still makes sense after removing ‘that’, delete it.”

Then

For example: “I stepped on stage and then the audience went quiet.” can be “I stepped on stage and the audience was quiet.”

All, every, totally, always, completely, absolutely, literally

For example: “If your employee doesn’t respond to your feedback you can always try coaching.

Better: “If your employee doesn’t respond to your feedback, try coaching.

6. Use words correctly

99.9% of great bloggers are not awesome on day 1. Their awesomeness is the accumulation of the value they create over time.” – Darren Rowse

Bad grammar is a bad reflection on you. Here’s a quick check list of what to avoid:

  • Everyday means common or normal. Every day means today, tomorrow, the next day and so on.
  • If you adapt something you change it. To adopt is to take it as your own.
  • Already is talking about the past; all ready is about the future.
  • Regardless is a word, irregardless is not.
  • Especially means particularly, whereas specially usually means “in a special or careful manner” or “specifically.”
  • Then is about time. Use than to compare something.
  • You write on stationery that is (hopefully) stationary. Get it?

7. Break up looooong paragraphs

“The shorter your paragraphs are, the less dense and threatening the post looks.” – Jon Morrow

Your blog is not a technical thesis written for tenured professors paid to read your writing. Your goal is to keep readers on your site.

A simple fix for most blogs is to break up paragraphs and add what I call ‘cliff hangers’ (just like I’ve been doing in this post.)

Cliff hangers are like teasers that compels the reader to keep scrolling. For example: (that’s one)

But, before I get to that solution, let me ask you a question…

Here are three quick ways to start a conversation.

Has that happened to you?

Ready to turn your blog magnet on?

The theme of this post is less is usually not only best, but stronger—stronger results for your traffic and your business.

Invest 90 seconds to chop, cut, cull and shape your blog and you will keep readers on your site longer. More time on site means more readers into prospects and more prospects into business.

Nice.

Ready to write your killer post? Here are 3 more articles to get you started:

Excuse me, but your blog is BORING!
Write killer blog posts with this template
How to Build a Better Blog: 5 Industry Experts Share Their Top Tips

How to get more blog traffic (142%!)

How to get 142% more blog traffic

Let’s face it – if you have a blog you want traffic – right? But you need to know how to get more blog traffic.

It makes sense: more traffic equals more business…

In fact, companies that blog receive 55% more traffic than companies that don’t. And according to at least one study, 83% of consumers trust the advice of a blog.

The trick is to first get people to read your blog. And for that I have some help. In fact, I’ve used these same strategies to increase my blog traffic by 142% in one year. Not bad when you consider most blogs we watch trickle along with a modest 5-10% annual growth.

Before I get to my solutions on how to get more blog traffic, let me ask you a question:

Are you writing your content to be helpful?

Don’t get me wrong – it’s great that you want more business. But, if your blog is all about click-through rates and opting into lists – it will be obvious. Like the old saying: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

If your blog is all about click-through rates and opting into lists - it will be obvious. Like the old saying: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Click To Tweet

Here’s the good news…

If you write your blog to be truly helpful – without expecting something in return – you will build a tribe and eventually get what you want. It might not be gangbusters overnight, but you will attract people who like your approach. That will happen.

With that caveat out of the way …

Here’s a quick summary of all 25 points on how to get more blog traffic – Slideshare style:

Here’s my favourite (all white-hat) 25 tips on how to get more blog traffic without breaking the bank or staying up all night.

  1. Know this is important work and publish on a regular basis. Once a month is much, much better than – as Tim Urban puts it: We publish every sometime.
  2. Write shorter posts. If you insist on writing Ulyssey’s-length essays you might be losing a lot of readers.
  3. Notice what works and do more of that (this is my fav. overall strategy – read this).
  4. Write in the second person (“you”, “your”, not “me”) – after all, every reader cares most about themself.
  5. Write about your failings. “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker.” Denis Waitley
  6. Share on social media (hey! we can do that for you).
  7. Take a risk – like write a short post (#2), admit you suck as something (#5), take a bold stand (#19), or start with a personal story (#24).
  8. Do (just a bit of) research. As a minimum, use a tool like buzzsumo to find top ranking blog posts on your topic.
google analytics
With a little strategy and some hard work I was able to increase my traffic 142% in one year.
  1. Be funny (at the very least choose a funny image.)
  2. Write stuff people will want to link to.
  3. Be remarkable.
  4. Don’t interrupt your writing with a lot of links (except for this post, of course.)
  5. Keep adding to your idea pile (I use Evernote and tag them as ‘unused blog posts’ to capture ideas on the fly.)
  6. Kill and bury old, low traffic blog posts. This is a good SEO strategy, but also good for your readers.
  7. Edit ruthlessly. Pro writer’s tip: don’t start editing until you have completed the first draft.
  8. Experiment with your blog on video, SlideShare, illustrations, cartoons or finger paint.
  9. Be patient! Great content with some promotion will attract the readers you want.
  10. Quote bloggers with big followings (then let them know on social media).
  11. Take a stand—a strong voice will cut through the Internet fog and, like a search light, will find the readers you want.
  12. Make it easy for readers to share your blog. We use the floating share button from sumo.
  13. Ask your readers to do something. Like add a comment, share the post or download a guide.
  14. Read lots of inspiring blogs. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Stephen King
  15. Don’t be boring. That’s worth repeating: don’t be boring. There.
  16. Tell stories.
  17. Assume every day is a new beginning because you always have new readers.

I know you’re reading this because you care. You care about results but you also care about helping people with your blog. That’s cool.

Knowing how to get more blog traffic can be confusing

Blogging is hard work.

Some months I struggle with every blog I write. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time, or the topic, or the damn thing just stalls out in the middle and I don’t know how to wrap it up in a meaningful way.

What keeps me going is knowing that __________ (fill in your monthly website traffic) people are coming into my “hotel room” to read what I wrote. And most of them are new (point #25). That’s a big and exciting responsibility, opportunity and role that I play.

If you’re up for that, I know these 25 tips and actions on how to get more blog traffic will help to fill your hotel room.

Thanks to Seth Godin for inspiring this short post. And Jeff Goins for adding to Seth’s post with his own list.

 

Want more help getting results with your blog? Check out these posts:

Tips and Encouragement for Bloggers who Doubt
21 Traffic Building Tips from Professional Bloggers
Build blog traffic while you sleep

(and our cool download “Get more blog traffic now”)

 

Excuse me, but your blog is BORING!

boring blog

Let’s face it, you won’t watch a movie to the end, finish a book or read a magazine article if it’s boring. Your blog is no different.

You might have the best tips, strategies, insights or even keys to the kingdom, but if you have a boring blog, people won’t read it.

In this post, I’m sharing 7 ways to turn any blog from boring to brilliant, get more readers and have readers become loyal fans.

Ready?

1) Start with a problem (I just did it)

I started this post by describing a problem (your blog might not be working, possibly because it’s boring) to get your attention. That’s very different from starting with a bland statement about why blogs are important or why you need more readers.

If you want to get your reader’s attention, design your blog post to “answer the question going on in your customer’s mind.” In other words, get clear about the problem you are going to solve, make that clear in your headline and then deliver the goods!

If you want to get your reader’s attention, design your blog post to “answer the question going on in your customer’s mind.” Click To Tweet

2) Tell a story

Stories are often the most indelible parts in a blog post—remembered long after statistics, facts and advice are forgotten.

We love stories. In a keynote (think of your favourite TED talks), stories are often the most indelible parts in a blog post—remembered long after statistics, facts and advice are forgotten.

The story could be from your life (in this post I wrote about making money by drinking tea), your work (here I talked about creating the world’s first airline in Antarctica), or retelling a story (like this post about experimental economist John List.)

Sometimes the story could be a simple observation. Like this morning you noticed that everyone standing in line at Starbucks were checking their phones.

When you invite your reader into a story you capture their imagination – a picture develops in their mind – and you have their attention.

When you invite your reader into a story you capture their imagination - a picture develops in their mind - and you have their attention. Click To Tweet

3) Keep the reader moving

Nothing is more boring than run-on sentences with too much detail about points nobody cares about that never reach a meaningful conclusion. Like this one:

“It used to be that work-life balance was the holy grail of work-life. Work hard, but also have equal, or more, time for family, friends and personal time. In our new world of 24/7 communications and flat organizations it’s harder to turn work off and even harder to stop thinking about work after hours.”

You can add punch and get to your point faster with short sentences and short paragraphs, like this:

“Work-life balance is dead.

In our new world of 24/7 connections and flat organizations, it’s hard to end work at 5PM – even harder to turn work off.”

(see #7 about retrofitting your old blog posts.)

4) Remove unnecessary words

“Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

In his classic On Writing-A memoir of the craft, Stephen King pulls no punches when it comes to culling unnecessary words: “Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

Here’s a short list to get you started:

  • Then. You don’t need to have ‘then’ to tell us something is coming next. Book marketing expert and author, Diana Urban, goes one further: “Using “then” frequently sounds repetitive and even juvenile.”
  • All, every, totally, completely, absolutely, literally. If I’m writing “I packed my clothes and left the room.” It doesn’t help to say I packed all my clothes (it’s assumed I have them all). A quick test is to remove the suspect word and see if your meaning is intact.
  • That. I’m still surprised by the number of times I find a useless ‘that’ lurking in my writing – shoot on sight! Diana Urban suggests, “If a sentence still makes sense after removing ‘that’, delete it.”

Chopping out unnecessary words helps to move the reader along, cuts word count and make your work appear more professional.

5) Break it up with a dash

A dash often replaces the word ‘to’, as in “Breaking sentences with a dash moves readers forward – get the results you want with fewer words.”

An em dash marks an abrupt change of thought in a sentence—often replacing a colon or semicolon. It’s popular use has made it, as Kimberly Joki writes in Grammarly, “the Swiss army knife of punctuation.”

Here’s an example from the post Why you are so damn distracted and how to finally get stuff done on my site: .

I took this original writing:

You can think of your brain as a sentry on speed. It’s job (all 3 pounds of it) is to keep you safe from harm. So anything that appears to need attention, your brain’s attention gets it.

With dashes, I cropped 8 unnecessary words and gave the writing some punch:

Think of your brain as a sentry on speed. It’s job – all 3 pounds of it – is to keep you safe—anything that needs attention gets it.

6) Ask a question

Let me ask you a question…

Are you using questions in your blog?

When we read a question a light goes on in our brain (this is probably not scientifically accurate) that says “Huh, I wonder what the answer is?”

That’s a good thing because now your reader is engaged and wants to read on.

You can use a question to segue into your next topic or just to get reader’s attention. You can even use them as orphan sentences, like this:

What’s a question that would get your readers’ attention?

7) Have something to say

The world has too many blog posts about leadership, relationships and dog grooming.  To be more accurate; the world has too many boring blog posts about leadership, relationships and dog grooming.

The world has too many boring blog posts about leadership, relationship and dog grooming. Click To Tweet
The world has too many boring blogs about leadership, relationship and dog grooming.

What reader’s crave are unique reflections and insights – that hard-won wisdom only you possess. When you write original, relevant and valuable content, people will flock to your site. And you will build loyalty – not with everyone, but with those who matter.

Ultimately, a reader will hire you or buy your product or come to your restaurant (or get their dog groomed by you) because they like and trust you. Bland, generic, boring writing won’t get you there.

Before you start writing, ask if this is interesting – will it stand out in a crowded blogging world. Your blog doesn’t have to unlock secrets to the universe or explain how to split an atom (although that would be cool), but it does need to keep your reader’s attention.

 

Here’s the good news:

Any blog post (I look at dozens every day) can be greatly improved with a 5-minute retrofit. Break up sentences, delete dead words, pose questions and make your reader think.

Do that and you will quickly build a loyal audience and – best of all – they will keep coming back for more.

 

Want to know How to Get The Social Media Monkey Off Your Back?

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How to Write an Amazing Roundup Post

How to write an amazing roundup post

Have you ever seen a roundup post?

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

Why would you want to write a roundup post?

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

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

Steps to Write an Amazing Content Roundup Post

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

Step #1: Find some great posts

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

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

Roundup Content Using Klout

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

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

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

Step #2: Write the post and cite the authors

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

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

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

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

Content Roundup Example

Step #3: Be consistent

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

Step #4: Reach out to the authors

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

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

Subject: I loved your blog post

Body:

“Hey, [Name]!

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

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

[Link to roundup post]

I’d love to get your opinion on it!

Cheers,

[Your Name]

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

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

Content Roundup Post Examples

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

Conclusion

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

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

Want to Drive New Traffic to Old Blog Posts? This is What to Do

How to drive new traffic to older blog posts

In a world where bloggers are writing posts every month, week, and even day, posts get old – fast.

How do you drive traffic to your old posts?

This post will show you how to dust the cobwebs off your older posts and bring new life (and traffic) to them, right now.

There’s one caveat: Your old post needs to be an “anchor” post (also called “evergreen”), meaning it is still relevant despite being an old resource. Sure, it may require some updated sources and content, but for the most part, it’s just as relevant as it was the day you wrote it.

Here goes nothing!

Recycling “Anchor” Posts on Social Media

When you first write a post, you share it on social media, right? But, did you share it again… and again?

Just because you shared something once doesn't mean you can't share it again. Click To Tweet

Just because you shared something once doesn’t mean you can’t share it again. You’ll gain followers over time. New people will see the post who may not have been online when you first sent that tweet. Perhaps a different headline entices someone to read a post they didn’t originally click on.

CoSchedule does this well with their content:

Recycling your best social media anchor posts

As you can see, they shared the same article nine times over a single week, for a total of 70 unique link clicks.

But don’t just stop there! Continue to schedule the post once a month, every month, for the rest of the year. Heck, keep going every other month in year two, and so on.

Just be sure to update the post before you share it again – perhaps give it a refresher every six months or so. That way, the content stays relevant and will continue to be useful.

Related Reading: Scheduling Software – good idea or not?

Cross-Linking to Your Old Posts

The second strategy I want to talk about is cross-linking (also referred to as “internal linking”).

Cross-linking means linking to one of your blog posts from another one of your blog posts. In visual form, it looks like this:

Visual model of cross-linking posts
(Source)

Every one of the lines represents a link from one page to another. Of course, the more posts you have, the more complicated this web gets – but the theory stays the same: Whenever you write a post, look for opportunities to link back to your other, older posts.

This strategy increases traffic to those older pages, visitor’s engagement with your content, and time spent on your site!

Conclusion

Recycling your best content to be shared over and over again, and linking internally to your older posts, is a super easy and effective way to get more traffic and engagement. It’s your blog’s low-hanging fruit!

Not only will these strategies improve your blog traffic and engagement, but they’ll also give you a boost in SEO by making it easier for Google’s bots to crawl your website (meaning it makes it easier for Google to rank you in search results.)

Now I want to hear from you! What are your best strategies from breathing life into an old blog post? What’s worked well for you, and what hasn’t worked well? Leave a comment below!

As always, don’t forget to share this post if you liked it!

Read Next: Use Stories to Boost Your Blog Engagement