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

Starting an Online Course?

Online courses are all the rage.

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

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

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

I went down that road.

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

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

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

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

Nice, right?

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

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

What is an online course?

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

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

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

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

What topics are best for online learning?

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

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

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

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

Why everybody wants an online course

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

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

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

What you need to make it work

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

That’s a great place to start.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, maybe you should just walk away now.

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

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

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

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

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

A quick test for you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what you can do instead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re welcome.

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

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

9 big blogging mistakes you need to avoid in 2020

Key Blogging Mistakes to avoid

If you have a blog congratulations!

Whether you’re a lawyer, financial planner, doctor, motivational speaker, you’re on the right track.

Even in 2020, this is the easiest and most effective way to attract clients, build rapport, build a contact list, book appointments, and sell products.

But there are definitely blogging mistakes you want to avoid.

Some are obvious, like bad grammar, spelling mistakes or using tacky stock photography.

Here we’ll outline 9 blogging mistakes you might not know you are making that can hurt your results.

Ready?

Let’s dive in…

Mistake #1: Not Solving a Problem

Imagine you’re meeting with a financial planner to decide if you want to hire them. And all they do is talk about themselves.

Interesting? Maybe.

Helpful? Nope.

What you want is solutions—what do they know that will help you?

Your blog is no different. Every article has the potential to solve a problem for a reader. And the more specific the problem, the better.

Here are some examples of some bloggers that consistently offer valuable, useful content:

Seth Godins Blog
There is a reason why Seth Godin has earned millions of readers – consistently great content. 

One of the biggest blogging mistakes you can make is not making this problem obvious. So start at the top to grab attention.

It’s no different than a speaker on stage asking their audience “Has this ever happened to you?”

Right away, we are leaning in…waiting for the solution.

Mistake #2: Not Measuring Results

You wouldn’t drive a car without a speedometer or open a bank account if you couldn’t see your balances, so why would you invest in a website if you couldn’t see the results?

Examples of metrics you’ll want to pay attention to include:

  • Social shares
  • Bounce rates
  • CTA clicks
  • Traffic sources

Here’s more on how to measure your blog’s success.

A great place to start is by making sure you have Google Analytics installed correctly on your website. Here is how to check. Next, set it up so you get a simple PDF of your results emailed to you once a month. Now, you will be getting feedback on your site and can track the results of your blog posts and site traffic.

Google Analytics
A good place to start is to set up your Google Analytics to send an automatic report

Mistake #3: No Call-To-Action

Every article you publish should help your readers take the next step.

It could be as simple as a related article on your site they can enjoy, or a link to your book or to learn about your services.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to do anything fancy here! Just make sure that you are offering some valuable content, product, or service that is relevant to the reader.

Here are some examples of Call-To-Action for your blog:
– read a related post (like this post all about adding a Call-To-Action to your blog)
– download a more in-depth ebook, report, or video on this topic
– complete a quick survey on this topic
– learn more about your book, courses, facility, staff, services…
– submit a comment
– share this post on social media

Mistake #4: Doing it All Yourself

You’re a busy professional. Your time is valuable.

One of the biggest blogging mistakes is trying to do it all when you could be delegating tasks to other professionals.

If you’re looking at your content and thinking “It’s no big deal, I’ll just do it myself” maybe it’s time to do a little self-reflection.

Next time you are about to log into WordPress to publish your blog, ask yourself: What does this time and inconvenience cost me?

Those 15-20 minutes are an interruption in your day and a big distraction from growing your business, enjoying a break or even reading a chapter in that book you bought last month.

Here are some blogging tasks that are easy to outsource:

  • Research – wouldn’t it be great if someone was pulling together the perfect quotes, statistics, stories, and facts for your next post?
  • Editing – once the writing is done, editing is a tedious task someone else can do.
  • Publishing – there are at least 15 steps to publishing a blog (if you do it correctly and set up: tags, categories, meta descriptions, etc.). And they are repetitive – perfect for outsourcing.
  • Video creation – you are the rock star, not the whole crew. There are lots of freelancers who love messing around with transitions, intro’s and sound.
  • Slide decks for presentations – if the presentation is important enough, it’s worth have a pro check over your slides and adding final touches.

Upwork is a great place to find talent. If you’re using it, use filters to help you narrow down parameters like country, skill level, and rates. In this post, we walk you through how to set up a job and find freelancers.

At BlogWorks we pride ourselves on being able to deliver white-label, SEO rich blogposts to our clients. If this is something you are interested in, contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help you!

Mistake #5: Being Inconsistent

One of the biggest blogging mistakes that people tend to make is trying to publish randomly, when inspiration strikes, or even every day.

But, just like most things, quality is more important than quantity.
So if you want to stick with a schedule of weekly or bimonthly, that’s fine! But stick to it.

Consistency builds loyalty, and readers will look forward to your next post.

At BlogWorks, we publish weekly. And we can see a nice spike in our traffic every time we publish.

Start by blocking out a little time for writing out some drafts or ideas, and then outsourcing (see #3, above) where you can.

TIP: Check out Cal Newport’s argument for time-blocking in his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Cal Newport Book

Mistake #6: Skipping Your Mailing List

If you are a service professional (doctor, lawyer, professional speaker, medical professional, coach, etc.), then your blog is the ideal way to attract more clients. You get to showcase your best solutions and your clients get to “test drive” your services.

Your blog is also a great way to build your mailing list.

Having a mail list is a simple way to stay in touch with your audience, keep them informed of what you’re up to, and advertise your latest products and services. It also adds value to your business.

Unlike, advertising that you have to constantly feed, your mailing list can reach your followers for free. And unlike advertising that is pushing your products and services on people, your blog is welcomed by readers and attracts them to your solutions.

Not having a mailing list is one of the biggest blogging mistakes you can make. So, even if you only have 200 people on a list now, it’s not too late to start growing that list. Before you start, though, check out these 5 questions to ask before you build your mailing list.

Mistake #7: Not using an Template

You wouldn’t start a business or go on a vacation without a plan. Similarly, you shouldn’t write a blog without a template. Your template, or blueprint, or outline, is a guide for what comes first and what follows.

For example, all blog articles need to start by getting your readers’ attention. That’s pretty obvious, right? After all, your reader needs to stop scrolling long enough to pay attention to your post. But, did you know that the next part is all about a problem?

The whole idea is to create a reading experience just like a conversation. You start by getting your listener’s attention, then you present a problem you think they would be interested in solving and then tell them what you know about that.

Often, just by reorganizing your content you can turn a ho-hum blog post into a viral machine that attracts thousands of readers.

Here’s a quick overview of the exact template we use at BlogWorks.

Opening – always start by getting your reader’s attention and get them to stop scrolling on their phone or tablet or lean in if this is a presentation. Start with a story, a bold claim or a statistic/fact.

Problem – next, you need to make it obvious what the problem you are solving. It could be to save time, rescue a marriage, or delegate better – whatever it is, make it clear that you understand their problem.

Personal – why are you writing/speaking about this? What is your personal experience or client’s story, or research you’ve completed?

Promise – what will you share? What will they get from reading further or listening to you?

Solutions – what do they need to do or change? Can you give examples of how this has worked for others? Is there anything they need to avoid?

Next Steps – remind them of the problem and why this is important.

The Offer – how they can go further with you (products, services, courses, etc)

Close – motivational message, call-to-action, or challenge

Download your copy of the complete template here.

Mistake #8: Forgetting Social Media

At BlogWorks we love to bring you more love.

We don’t use mindless automation, instead, we have a team of wonderful, local writers who get to know your writing style and craft each update for your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

It’s important to have a clear picture of what’s working, but wading through a sea of metrics can be time-consuming and even confusing.

Here are some tips to help you simplify

  • Get clear on how to use social media analytics
  • Choose only one or two key channels which are most relevant to your audience
  • Hire a dedicated social media professional to manage and monitor posts
  • Develop a content plan which encompasses social posting and all marketing activities

Learn more about why social media scheduling tools might be a bad idea.

Mistake #9: Getting Discouraged and Giving Up

Finally, we are at the biggest of all the blogging mistakes: giving up!

Here’s the thing:

Your blog will never be as sexy as paid advertising or as daring as hosting a webinar or renting a hotel room and inviting people to a free seminar.

Instead, it will be something that adds value to your company slowly over time.
Every day, readers are giving you their attention. They come back over and over for advice and guidance.

And all it costs you is some planning and a bit of your time.

You will want to quit. After all, it’s not like you see the readers marching into your office waiting room or lining up at your home office. But they’re there.

When you get discouraged and want to give up, remember this…

You’re building an audience and if you serve them well that audience will become fans and those fans will become clients. Your blog is an investment in your business that will keep paying rewards for years to come.

Now all you have to do is keep investing in your blog!

Did you like this blog? Here are three more you’ll want to check out:

The Ultimate List: 7 Reasons Why You (Yes, You) Need A Blog Today
5 Ways To Get More Social Media Followers
3 Reasons To Measure Your Blog’s Success (And How) 

Why Do Best-Selling Authors Brown, Kiyosaki, Rubin, Maxwell, and Godin All Blog?

“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”
Br
ené Brown

Guess what in-demand professional speakers: Bené Brown, Robert Kiyosaki, Gretchen Rubin, John Maxwell, and Seth Godin all have in common?

They all blog. 

Strange, right?

I mean, after all, aren’t they all successful – too successful to bother with blogging?

There must be a good reason why busy authors and speakers are still using a blog to get their message out and attract the business growth they want.

Let’s dig a little deeper…

You connect

There is something very special about sharing your voice with readers. You connect. You can also instruct, advise, direct – even admonish, but you always connect. 

It’s hard to connect in a 140 character Tweet or as people scroll past your post on Facebook or Instagram. You need time to connect.

[bctt tweet="“It’s hard to connect in a 140 character Tweet or as people scroll past your post on Facebook or Instagram. You need time to connect.”" username="YourBlogWorks"]

At BlogWorks we commonly see blog articles holding readers’ attention for 4, 6, even 13 minutes! That’s an eternity in Internet time. Imagine you had 100 people in a room taking in your advice for even 5 minutes every day, year-round. 

You have time to share your position on complicated topics like marriage, financial planning or selling a home. You have time to share your style, or unique approach and build rapport. You have time to invite readers to learn more about your company, your team and your solutions.

That’s what a blog can do.

Let’s look at how some of the most sought after speakers, authors and thought leaders use their blog.

Bené Brown

Prolific, best-selling author Bené Brown has been blogging since 2007. Her posts range from 400 word thoughtful muses like this one to 2000 essays like this one.

Not every blog post has to be an essay.

Not afraid to “let it all hang out” Brown allows her readers to see all of her vulnerabilities as an addict, mother, wife and, of course, as a celebrity. Just like her books, reading a Brene Brown blog post is like listening to her speak—authentic, often raw, insightful and always positive. 

If you’ve ever looked into improving your personal wealth, you’ve most likely come across serial author and celebrity finance wizard, Robert Kiyosaki. Kiyosaki’s empire includes real estate, books, games , coaching, retreats – you name it. If it has to do with making money, Kiyosaki has his hands on it.

He also has a massive following and uses his blog (written by both Robert and his wife, Kim) to nurture his list of over 1.5 millions subscribers. 

At BlogWorks we are huge fans of updating and reposting old blog posts. Kiyosaki uses this strategy and goes the extra distance with not only updated content but also images.

Updating and reposting old blog posts saves time but can also result in boosted traffic.

Gretchen Rubin

One of my favourite books about mindset and living with self-awareness is Gretchen Rubin’s bestseller The Happiness Project. And I remember reading that about half-way through writing the book, Rubin decided to share her monthly experiments with happiness in a blog

What was most remarkable about her blogging exercise was how her reader’s feedback started to inform her writing. Her blog became a kind of two-way conversation.

Your blog can become a kind of two-way communication with readers.

John Maxwell

You don’t have to always be the author of your own blog. Best-selling author, speaker and leadership expert, John Maxwell blends his own writing with posts from his CEO, Mark Cole. True to brand, all of the articles are about Maxwell and his teachings. 

Regardless of your workload or age (at the time of writing, Maxwell is 73), you can invite other writers to contribute to your blog. In fact, it can be a win/win. You get an article to publish and your contributor gets exposed to your audience.

Inviting other writers and speakers to your blog can be a great win!
Inviting other writers to your blog can be a great win/win.

We recently published a post on the BlogWorks blog contributed by editor Barbara McNichol and by communications expert Lauren Sergy.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin is the epitome of marching to your own drummer – including how he runs his blog. Millions of daily readers return to Godin’s quirky, short (his posts rarely exceed 400 words), but consistently insightful thoughts on life, thinking, marketing, and success.  

Godin’s blog and followers are a big part of his success as an author, speaker and thought leader.

Why Do Best Selling Authors and Speakers All Blog?
Your blog can be a feeder for attracting new followers and clients

You don’t have to be famous

You don’t have to be famous to blog. Your blog is a powerful way to connect with readers and to attract more followers. All of the authors profiled in this post are successful and they still use their blog as a core part of their marketing strategy.

Sure, social media, video, podcasts are great ways to get your message out. But if you want to attract people to your message and have them convert from readers to followers and then to buyers, you won’t do it with a Facebook update or Tweet.

Want to be able to write like a pro? Download our Ultimate Writing Template.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more to help you with your blogging success:

21 clever ways to attract more readers and boost blog traffic this year
How to increase your blog traffic by almost 30% in only 90 days-a case study
How to (finally) make money with your blog

7 Strategies for Crafting Blogs for Lead Generation

Blogging tips for lead generation, traffic and engagement.

Blog content is typically considered “top of the funnel” brand awareness marketing material meant to engage a broad audience.    

But did you know that your blog can be used for lead generation as well? 

In this article, you will discover 7 strategies you can start using right now to build convert readers into followers. Some of them (like #1) are easy; others will take some time to build into your marketing strategy. 

But all of them are being used by the top internet marketing companies to supercharge their ROI from their blog content.  

Read on and learn how to generate blog posts you can take to the bank

Build & Track Your Email List 

Your email list allows you to reach followers and customers directly to their Inbox. A list can be used to launch new products and services, announce special offers or events or just continue to nurture your followers.

Your goal is to have a net increase every week and to build a list of followers who can become customers, so you want to make it as easy as possible to join your list. 

It’s important to check your list regularly (at Blogworks, we do this weekly) because it’s only natural that not everyone will stick around as they change their mind, find alternatives or simply want to reduce their email volume. 

There are plenty of automation tools out there to help you build your mailing list and track changes. 

Use tools like OptinMonster, or Thrive Leads to build your list as a lead generation strategy. 

Experiment with Lead Magnets to entice more readers to join your list.

For a tiny investment, you can get creative offering incentives, controlling how readers see your opt-in offer and experimenting with lead magnets. 

This Lead Magnet offer by Optinmonster uses the “I want”, “I don’t want” approach.

Blogging tips for lead generation, traffic and engagement.

A time-saving template is often an enticing offer for your readers, like this one from John Corcoran.

If you are a consultant, coach – even a realtor or financial planner – a case study offering can be an attractive offer for your readers.

When it comes to using blogs for lead generation, don’t be afraid to ask readers to become followers. 

Remember you are giving free advice and the Law of Reciprocity is that when we receive a gift we naturally want to give something back. 

Learn About SEO (But Don’t Obsess Over It)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is certainly important. But more important is creating content that is human, relatable. 

SEO is an algorithm. But you are human, and (presumably) your clients are too. This means you need to learn how to speak to them. 

Using SEO can certainly guide you towards what people are reading and what Google is prioritizing. But it’s just one piece of the puzzle.  

We can help you create content for lead generation which are both SEO-friendly and engaging. 

Update (“Re-Love”) Old Posts 

If you have a high volume of content that spans back a few years or more, you can always re-use it again. That’s one of the things that we like to do, too. 

We will reshare our most popular posts, even changing up the content, titles, and images. 

Sometimes you might want to update posts to include new links, time-relevant events, or new offerings.  

This is one of the easiest ways to use blogs for lead generation because it doesn’t require creating entirely new posts. 

Craft a Clear Call-to-Action 

A call-to-action (CTA) should be something that your readers want. 

When crafting your CTA, be sure to clearly include your “why” so that the reader understands that you are giving them what they want. 

Examples: 

  • Learn more about our coaching solutions 
  • Take the Leadership Quiz now 
  • Like in this client example  

You can use a few CTAs throughout your articles, but just make sure that you make it super easy for readers to acquire your offering. 

Use Social Metrics to Guide Your Content Process 

Blogging and social media are great ways to get to know your audience, and as you engage with them more, you get to know more about what they want and share content that speaks directly to them. 

Use Google Analytics to help you gain a better understanding of your customer demographics. 

You can also use Click to Tweet and Social Buttons in your blogs to encourage people to stay in touch.  

Learn How to Track Blog Performance: 5 Quick Ways 

Link Strategically  

We recommend Including internal “revenue” links in the first third of your article as a lead generation strategy. 

You will also want to use external links to help create authority. 

Anything that you can include, from your site or authority sites, to help readers find out more about all you have on offer, will prove useful for keeping your business and offerings at the top of their minds.  

Your Blog Can (And Should) Generate Returns

You don’t have to be a writing expert, and you don’t even need to post every day. But you should try to create at least one high-quality blog posts a week. 

Your blog is an investment and you absolutely should see a return. A successful blog should be attracting more followers, growing your list and making more sales.

That’s a return you can take to the bank!

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you: 

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year
Attract More Readers to Your Blog Today
How to Increase your Blog Conversions with a Test Drive  

 

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year

“Cheers to the New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah

The new year is a perfect time for a fresh start. How about your blog? 

Whatever your results were last year, the new year brings new ideas, energy, inspiration and, with a bit of focus, even better results. Your blog could be one of your most powerful marketing tools if you put it to work.

In this article, we are sharing our 7 favourite new year blog improvements. You can do each one independently. And most of them can be done in less than one hour. 

Ready? Let’s get started…

Clear the clutter

Your readers don’t need more distractions. Now is the time to remove low-value parts from your blog pages that pull your readers away from your content. Here are some examples: 

Blogrolls. Your blog is not a library where people park themselves for hours and your readers don’t need a list of past blogs (we all know how to scroll down the page and click the “previous” button).

Tag clouds/lists. Unless you are getting thousands of readers a day you will want to direct readers to your latest blog post. Lists of tags (or blog categories) are for high-traffic sites that need to direct readers who are returning multiple times.

Social media widgets. An invitation to go to social media is an invitation to lose readers. If you want to invite readers to connect with you on social, add social share buttons to your blog with tools like sumome or social warfare, plus add the widgets at the bottom of your site.

Watch the numbers

You can’t make good decisions about your money until you know your current financial status, and you can’t get better results from your blog until you know what the current performance is. And the only way to see what’s happening with your web site is with Google Analytics.

In this article, we show you how to know if Google Analytics is installed. While in this article we explain what numbers to watch and what they mean.

To go one step further, log in to Google Analytics, Go to Audience>Overview then click the “Share” button in the top-right corner of your screen and set up an automatic monthly report to be emailed to you. This is a great way to get a nudge in your inbox every month to pay attention to your numbers!

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year
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Create a calendar

A great way to kick off the new year and to get your creative juices flowing is with a content calendar for the year. Think of this as a map of all the topics you want to share with your readers.

You can organize future posts around seasons, holidays, annual events, or product launches. This is also a great time to look at past blog posts and think about updating old posts that have done well (#4 idea) but are outdated. 

You can build your calendar using the Calendar WordPress plugin (see my video on this), in Microsoft Excel, planning tools like Trello, or in social media scheduling tools like coschedule.

The Calendar plug-in makes it easy to organize future blog posts

The old is new again

One of our favourite traffic-building strategies is to update old blog posts that have done well in the past but are in need of a quick update. Not only can this be a big-time saver (compared to writing a completely new post), but you are building on the traffic the post is already getting. 

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year

The strategy is to give each article a quick make-over to update the content, refresh the look and then to republish with a new date. The goal is more traffic, plus you save a lot of time and effort, compared to starting from scratch with a new article.

This post explains in detail how to use this strategy.

Linking is the new Liking

Imagine you park your car, walk into a store, ready to buy an accessory for your computer, but there’s nobody there to help you. You’d probably leave. Right?

With most blog posts we look at, that’s what happens – over 90% of readers leave the site. 

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year
Unless you have a good reason to stay, most readers will exit without ever visiting a second page.

One of the quickest ways to get better performance from your blog is to add a call-to-action. The call-to-action (CTA) might be a simple link to your book or programs, or an invitation to learn more about your products, like “learn more about our custom leadership workshops.”

Keywords are the key

Confused about SEO, keywords, meta tags, and jargon concerning attracting more organic traffic? Well, it can be confusing – especially if you try to follow the advice of guru’s who spend their whole day thinking about this stuff. Or it can be really easy.

The basic concept of SEO for your blog post to include what the readers you want are already looking for. If your target market is searching for “leadership training’”, “roll-up garage doors”, or “Denver real estate lawyer” you need to include that phrase a number of times in your article (ideally in your headline as well).

A super-quick way to discover what people are searching for is to start typing a query into your search bar and then see what Google suggests people are searching for. You can also see a list of suggestions in blue at the bottom of your screen.

You can also use Google Trends to discover keyword phrases used in the past 7 days, month or longer.

 

Practice writing faster, better

When it comes to blogging, it’s more important to stay connected with your followers with regularly posted articles than it is to keep reworking an article until perfect. Learning how to turn a blog idea into a finished post faster and better will make it easier to keep up with your publishing schedule. 

This article is an example: I wrote this over 3 mornings and for about 30 minutes each time. 

Here are some tips on how to write faster and better.

  1. Start with your content calendar (#3, above). Having topics ready to go allows you to start thinking about the post – even taking notes – long before the article is due.
  2. Use a writing template. Every blog should flow from: attention, personal, promise, content, to call-to-action. Get your free copy of the template here. At Blogworks, our team all use The Ultimate Writing Template for most of our client’s articles. 
  3. Only edit at the end. Each time you go to work on your draft post, avoid the temptation to edit what you’ve already written. The goal should be to first write what author Anne Lamott calls your “shitty first draft” and only then to go back and clean up your post.
  4. Write like you speak. A blog is a conversation where you solve problems or share topics of interest with your audience. The best blogs use a conversational style of writing (without a lot of jargon or “$10 words”)  that makes the reading experience easy and enjoyable. Try recording your thoughts as you speak and then using a service like rev.com to transcribe your voice into a draft article.
  5. Ship it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how clever your ideas are or how amazing your solutions if you don’t, as serial blogger Seth Godin would say “Ship it.” Even if it means cranking out a 300-word muse about an article you just read, it’s better to stick to a regular publishing schedule and keep your followers coming back for more.

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about writing blogs:

How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

Attract more readers to your blog today!

7 tips on how to get people to read your blog

So you’ve started a business along with a blog, You’ve worked on building an audience, but maybe you’ve reached a bit of a plateau, and you want to know how to get more people to read your blog.

Or you’re not getting the type of readership you’d expect given how much you’ve expanded your network. 

It seems that not so many people are reading your blogs these days, which may leave you wondering… 

Am I doing something wrong? 

Chances are you are doing everything well enough. But staying on top of Google’s ever-changing SEO trends is a challenge. 

Not to worry, though! Read on for a few tried and true tips to help you understand how to get people to read your blog! 

Track the Right Metrics 

If you’re posting blog posts just for the sake of “getting something out there,” you might want to stop and reconsider how you can craft content to support your key business goals.  

Given that Google’s algorithms are almost always moving towards supporting higher quality content, consider re-evaluating your content strategy based on questions like:   

  • What is the value you’re offering to your readers?
  • How well are the blogs working to engage and convert customers?
  • Where in the sales funnel am I placing my content?

Step away from the actual numbers (for instance, how many “likes” a blog gets), and try to hone in on why they are how they are.  

Here are some tips on how to track blog performance

Use Relevant Social and Blogging Platforms 

Do you want “more” readers, or do you want to attract the right readers? 

If you want to know how to get people to read your blog, you have to look at the entire process of creating and sharing it. That means that there could be a flaw in your marketing process.  

For instance, if your business is B2B, you’ll likely want to be taking advantage of LinkedIn where you can easily share posts. 

Medium is a great platform for sharing posts in a personal or business account. You can also follow and submit to niche-specific publications — or even start your own. 

The main thing here is to not spread yourself too thin. Focus on channels where your target audience is most likely spending time. 

Create Great Headlines 

Headlines are key to attracting attention, and sometimes even changing a single word can make or break a person’s decision to click on an article. 

Check out our article 11 Insanely Powerful Words for Your Blog for headline inspiration. 

Focus on Value, not Going “Viral”

Of course, you want to know how to get people to read your blog and boost traffic to your website or landing page. 

But what’s happening after people find your blog? 

Checking your metrics is not just a numbers game. These numbers tell a story and they can help you figure out exactly what the content is doing for you — and them — in the long run. 

Are readers sticking around long enough to engage more with your brand? Are they clicking over from your call-to-action? 

Is your blog actually bringing the right target audience to your website or getting people on that mailing list?  

This is the kind of quality that google will “notice,” too. 

Oh yes, and this is very important: Don’t be boring! 

Count on Keywords

If you want to know more about how to get people to read your blog, you should definitely be on top of your keywords. You need to use the right ones strategically to ensure that Google “likes” your blogs. 

And the right ones should also be of interest to your readers! 

There are plenty of free tools out there, such as Google Adwords Keyword Planner, which can help you with this. 

Make sure to not over-optimize though! Search engines will see right through you if you put too many keywords in your blog. And make sure your language flows naturally. This will ensure that both crawlers and real readers will follow it clearly.

If you want help with SEO and keywords, contact us for a consultation

Write Longer Posts Less Often 

Niel Patel is constantly pushing the long-form blogs and recommends blogs of 2000-3000 words. We don’t always work at this level, but we definitely encourage you to build blogs that are around 1000 words rather than 500. 

And just to clarify: publishing consistently is key, but you want to have a balance between quality and consistency. This will vary from business to business. 

Longer form blogs have the potential to perform better SEO-wise and will be more useful to your readers.   

Strategic Planning for the Win   

If you plan and organize ahead of time, you can learn to create content that not only performs better traffic-wise but is actually more useful for readers. 

Consider creating a handful of blogs ahead of time and scheduling them out with an automated tool like HubSpot

But if you have too much on your plate, you can always hand the planning, strategizing and writing over to a professional. 

We can help you more people to read your blog with all these things, and more!

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

21 clever ways to attract more readers and boost blog traffic this year
How to Leverage Video Content on Your Blog for SEO
How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash