3 Amazing WordPress Plugins to Power up your Blog

more blog traffic

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 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 plug in 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.]

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 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

I think I saved my favourite 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!]

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

Facebook Page vs Profile: Everything You Need To Know

Facebook Page vs Profile

This post was originally published May 16, 2017 and has been updated with new information, facts and advice. Enjoy!

It’s a no-brainer: Having a Facebook presence is a must. To get the most out of this important social channel you need to first understand the difference between a Facebook Page vs Profile.

Most business owners understand the potential of having a Facebook Page, but understanding the specifics can still be hard figure out. Confused about how your blog can bring you more business? Book a free, confidential call today to learn how BlogWorks can help.

Specifically, many business owners aren’t sure whether to create a Facebook Page or a Facebook Profile.

If you’ve been confused between the two, don’t worry. This post will break down the differences and help you pick the best choice for your business.

Facebook Profile

A Facebook Profile is a personal account assigned to you when you sign up with Facebook.

You’re only able to create one profile, which includes only your personal information – no business information.

Your Facebook Profile is where you connect with family, friends, and colleagues. You’re able to see personal posts and updates from your friends in your newsfeed as well as share your own photos and posts. 

Your Facebook Profile is for personal use only and shouldn’t be used for business in any manner.

Note: It’s technically against Facebook Terms to use a Facebook Profile for business.

Facebook Page

A Facebook Page is a page created on Facebook that’s separate from your Personal Profile.

A Facebook Page is set up simply by selecting the “Create a Page” link from the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of your Facebook Profile. Once your Facebook Page is set up, you can begin to promote your page to gain more likes.

In order for Facebook users to see your business’s updates in their feed, they must like your page.

If you can help it, start with a business account from the beginning.

Social media Examiner states, “When you go to www.Facebook.com without logging in, there’s a link to “Create a Page” underneath the signup form. This will create a “business-only” account.” This makes your personal profile and your business account easy to keep separate.

Differences between “Like” and “Follow”

You guessed it- Facebook has made things more confusing (again). When you “like” a page, you automatically sign up to “follow” that page, too. This means any updates posted by a Facebook Page will be seen in a person’s newsfeed.

The good news is that individuals can opt to “unfollow” a page, while still “liking” it. While this is still good news for a business, as the more “likes” the better, it’s still important that you have as many people “following” your page as possible.

If people don’t follow your page, they don’t get your updates. And without news updates and blog links, it is far too easy for people to forget about your company.

The reason for someone to “unfollow” your Facebook Page is pretty simple: they don’t like the content of what’s being posted. Either it’s too much and seems like spam, or it’s simply uninteresting.

Bottom line, it’s important that posts from your Facebook Page are interesting and meaningful – you want to keep your customers interested in both your product and your company.

Benefits of a Facebook Page vs Profile

A Facebook Page should be included in every business owner’s marketing plan.

One of the key benefits of Facebook is having access to the social site’s 2.27 billion active users. A well-focused Facebook Page can yield your business more results than a website while costing you less.

facebook historical user count graph

Let’s get into more of the Facebook Page vs Profile benefits.

Target Market

Defining and targeting your ideal audience members is easy to do with Facebook. Facebook makes setting up advertising campaigns an easy process and you’re able to measure and track your results with Facebook analytics.

Build Trust

As a business owner, it’s important to build trust and loyalty among your customers. Facebook makes this easy by allowing you to constantly post updates and photos about your business.

The beauty of using a Facebook Page is that you’re able to automate your posts so that you can share great content anytime.

Want to take it one step further? Delegate your entire Facebook promoting duties to someone else, by adding an admin user.

Grow Your Fan Base Quickly

Want to grow your fan base quickly? Facebook lets you throw contests, conduct surveys, and promote coupons as a way to motivate new and current users to connect with your business.

Facebook contest example

Facebook also allows you to promote posts. If your business is launching a new product or doing a flash sale, a promoted post is a great way to get your fan’s attention.

Market Research

Creating contests and surveys are also a great way to learn what your audience wants so that you can give them more of what they are craving. 

By running surveys and contests, you can see which campaigns spike the most engagement. The information you receive back will be invaluable. You can turn it into engaging shareable posts, blog posts, and even products.

Search Engine Optimization

By having a Facebook Page vs Profile, Google will index it for you. That means your business page will show up in Google’s search results. 

This makes it easier for customers to easily view your information while also giving it a layer of authority.

Growing Your Facebook Fans

You’re going to want to grow your fan base if you plan to be successful on Facebook.

Your focus should always be on attracting quality fans over quantity. Those who are clicking the like button and don’t feel the need to interact with your page, are not who you want as fans.

Be sure to pay attention to both the number of “likes” and the number of “followers.” If there is a large gap between the two, then you need to increase the quality of your posts.

Good fans will take the time to share your content and buy your products. Just listen to the experts:

Jon Loomer Social Media ExpertJon Loomer shares a simple, yet straightforward strategy in this article to obtain authentic fans.

He believes, “Even if you only reach a fan with paid ads, you know they are interested in you and are willing to hear from you — as opposed to blindly targeting people, selling your crap.”

Make it Personal

One of the best ways to build a highly-engaged audience is to add personal touches.

This can be done by sharing photos of your team or of your office space. This adds an element of relatability, which builds a bond with your fans. As blogger Neil Patel says, “Not every update you send out on your Facebook Page should sell.”

Share a Mixture of Content

Instead of sharing nothing but photos or blog posts, switch up your content by doing a mixture of both.

Your fans want variety and posting all of one type of content can get boring very fast.

If you’re looking for ways to double the amount of content you have, look for shareable tweets from your blog posts that you can add to some of your photos. This is an easy way to create more content without creating entirely new posts to share.

Apply Your Knowledge

Now that you know the difference between a Facebook Page vs Profile, you’re ready to get started with your Facebook business promotion. Our BlogWorks social plan makes it easy to stay top-of-mind with your fans and save the frustration and time updating your social media channels.

If you’ve been using a personal Facebook Profile to promote your business, it’s time to switch over to a Facebook Page. The value of a Facebook Page is definitely worth it.

If you take the time to map out your social media marketing plan, you can make this social site work for your business and enjoy the results.  

 

4 Blogging Tools That Will Save You Time

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

We’re all busy.

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

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

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

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

HubSpot Blog Topic Generator

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

What are you supposed to write about?

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

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

Evernote

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

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

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

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

Trello

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

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

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

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

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

BlogWorks

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

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

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

how blogworks works

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

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

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

Get Started

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

 

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

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

How to write your blog posts better and faster

7 WordPress plugins you need to create amazing content 

 

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

build a better blog

Sometimes a simple lesson can change everything.

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

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

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

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

Specifically, I asked them:

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

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

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

Reader warning:

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

 

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

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

1. Keep the faith

Most bloggers want to quit. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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

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

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

The trick is to keep the faith.

Harsh Agrawal

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

 

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

It all takes time – often time and money.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Answer your audience

answer your audience. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.

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

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

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

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

Ugh.

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

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

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

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

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

10 Essential Business Leadership Skills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They wanted social media done for them.

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

3. Reach out to others

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

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

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

 

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

And it all starts with giving back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Rework what’s already working

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

5. WRITE TO BE SHAREDwrite to be shared blog post

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE TO BUILD A BETTER BLOG

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

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

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

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

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

how to use images in blog posts

The Internet is a busy place. And one way to cut through the noise and get some attention is to use images in blog posts.

Pictures, video, screenshots, diagrams, and illustrations are a great way to keep your reader from clicking away. Images will also help readers understand your information and ideas, and remember your post.

The trick is to know how to create and add those blog images quickly and effectively.

In this post, we’ll walk you through all the steps, tools and tricks to dress up your blog without having to lose your afternoon doing it.

Okay, let’s jump in with why images work:

IMAGES WORK

Your blog competes with a lot of distractions. And once you get a reader to your blog you need to keep them there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visual search tools are becoming increasingly important too, so when you use images in blog posts the right way, it can help your SEO.

You should aim to add images to every article you write online. A good rule of thumb is to add one image every 300 words.

PIXELS, FORMAT, SIZE AND ALL THAT STUFF

Trying to understand the different image size options can get pretty complicated. The two basic things to know are orientation and size/compression.

Orientation

For most blogs, a horizontal orientation (longer width than height) works better. Horizontal/landscape images take up less real estate on the screen, allowing your content to catch the eye of your readers. Horizontal images are also perfect for sharing your blog on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

But vertical or square images perform better on Instagram and are more likely to be pinned on Pinterest. Again the reason is simple – Instagram and Pinterest are all about images. A vertical/portrait image takes up more screen real estate, which makes them more eye-catching.

So in the end, what orientation you choose comes down to your users and what social platforms they use!

Sprout Social maintains an up-to-date list of the best images sizes for the various social media channels in this post.

Image Size and Compression

When talking about images, size can mean two things – the physical size of the image (length x width) and the file size (bytes).

Most images straight from your camera or from a high-quality stock photo website are higher in resolution and physical size than they need to be for the web.

A digital photo is made up of pixels (px) – tiny square tiles of colour. We generally talk about pixels in two ways – pixel count and pixel density. The pixel count is the number of pixels that form your photo. So an 800px by 600px photo simply means that your photo is 800 pixels wide and 600 pixels tall.

Pixel density, or dpi, is the number of pixels per square inch. The more pixels per square inch, the higher the resolution of the image and the clearer it is. For print photos, 300dpi or higher is ideal. For the web, 72-150dpi is more than sufficient.

Start by working out the best physical size for images on your website.

There’s no point filling your blog post with images that are 3000px wide if your blog template automatically resizes them to 800px! Even though the image looks like it’s 800px on your blog, the 3000px image is still being downloaded, which slows down the load speed of your page!

Your images should only be as large as your blog content width (or close to it! Let’s face it, sometimes you just can’t remember if your blog template is 800px or 1000px wide … or is that only me?). If your blog is responsive (that is, it automatically resizes the page depending on the size of a viewers screen), size your image for the maximum width.

Find a balance between file size and quality when you use images in blog posts

The smaller the file size of your image, the faster it will load for your reader. But, reducing size too much can create a fuzzy image. Your goal is to find the balance between the lowest file size and an acceptable quality.

Try to keep your image size between 150KB and 300kb. Take a look at the example below. The original image was 7.6MB and 5000px wide. The image on the left was resized to 860px wide and saved as a high-quality jpeg, which produced a 250KB file. You can barely tell the difference between this image and the original when viewed online. The image on the right was resized to be 860px wide but saved as a low-quality jpeg. It’s only 30KB so it will load quickly but it’s fuzzy and of poor quality.

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

Of course, it isn’t always possible to keep your images to under 300KB. On retina displays, a complex photograph may likely look fuzzy at 300KB.

The key take-home idea is keep file sizes as small as you can, especially if you are using a lot of images in your post! Page loading times affect your google rankings and readers are likely to be turned off a page that takes ages to load.

There’s a number of free services for reducing image size, like Pic Resize, and Tiny PNG. Or you can use free design sites like Canva or PicMonkey to get the right size and resolution for any social media site or for your website (more on using those tool below).

Do I use JPG, GIF, PNG, SVG?

What is the best image format for your blog images?

  • JPG/JPEG – offers great quality images at a small file size. It’s the best option for photos unless they need to be transparent, animated or have a lot of text in them
  • GIF – perfect for small graphics and animations, and they can have transparent backgrounds.
  • PNG – ideal for detailed graphics, images with a lot of text or transparent images. PNG files tend to be larger than JPG files.
  • SVG – this is a scalable vector format, which means it stays crisp and clear at any resolution.  They tend to be large in terms of file size, but if you have a complicated graphic that needs to automatically resize, and/or has rollover effects or animations, SVG is a perfect choice.

NOTE: Not all websites are set up to automatically handle SVG files. WordPress has plugins that will help. For non-WordPress sites, give it a go and if your SVG file doesn’t display check with your web developer.

Test your images

Most content management systems (like WordPress), allow you to preview your draft blog post before you make it live. So if you aren’t sure about an image, upload it to your draft blog post and preview it!

FEATURED IMAGES IN BLOG POSTS

The simplest way to use images in blog posts is with a brilliant, eye-catching feature image.

Your featured image could be just a photograph or you can add your headline onto a photo. Either way, it needs to create some curiosity and make the reader want to read on. Remember – this is what appears at the top of your post and in social streams when your post get’s shared. It’s also the first thing that people see when they land on your main blog page. An eye-catching image will help get readers, clicks and reshares.

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

using featured images in blog posts

 

If I’m using a photograph, I try to avoid cheesy stock images, like the image on the left, and look for something more original like the image on the right.

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

MAKING YOUR OWN IMAGE

Be creative! Stock images are great, but original are better – even if you are just adding a twist to a stock image.

You don’t have to be a graphic artist or own expensive software to create your own images. Free tools like canva and picmonkey have a wide range of templates, images and ready-to-use graphics and fonts. With a little practice, you can add your unique spin on your images or create quote images, memes, diagrams, and infographics.

Here’s an image I made in Canva in only 3 minutes.

make your own blog images

 

OK, so it’s not groundbreaking – the point is that I was able to find a free-to-use high-quality stock image, add some stylized font and download the image at the right size for my blog in just three minutes.

Get creative!

Once you get comfortable with the above tools, you can get creative with your results. Simple techniques like resizing images, adding screens, cropping – even choosing more interesting fonts will make your image stand out.

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

FINDING SAFE IMAGES

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

If you are using an image under a Creative Commons license, it’s good practice to credit the photographer and source. You can add credits in the final slide or provide a link in your YouTube video description. For images, it’s usually as simple as adding a link to your photo back to the original photo. Most stock photo websites will supply you with the link when you download the image.

Some great sites that have loads of images safe to use are pixabay, unsplash, Refe, Magdeleine and if you still can’t find what you want go to librestock where images from over 40 sites are aggregated for you to search. We listed 7 sites to find great pictures in this post. You can even use Google to do an image search – just be sure to choose ‘Labeled for reuse’ under Tools.

finding images to use on your blog with Google

Quick tip about searching for that “perfect” image: it’s really easy to lose 20 or 30 minutes flipping madly through photos for the perfect picture of a woman holding a cappuccino staring thoughtfully at her laptop – finding a picture that is slightly better than one you found in the first 5 minutes won’t make your post go viral. Try to limit yourself to 5 minutes to find a good-enough image and get it uploaded into your post. You can always change it later if you find a better one.

USE IMAGES OF REAL PEOPLE

Pictures of people are one of the most engaging forms of content on the internet. Faces are unique and humans have a hardwired visual preference for staring at faces. Images of faces and people will hold a reader’s attention.

But they need to relate to the content or help explain a concept or point – studies have found that pictures of people are glossed over by readers when they are generic, decorative images.

When it comes to social media, faces engage us. Photos with faces attract more comments and likes.

ADDING SCREENSHOTS AND DIAGRAMS

Let’s say you are trying to explain how to use an online search engine or where to go on your site to find your latest book, or even how to make sure your opt-in email didn’t go into that person’s “promotion” folder in Gmail.

Kind of hard to explain in words – right?

That’s where screenshots are super helpful. Within a couple of minutes you’ve captured the image, added a couple of arrows and now your picture is worth a thousand words – plus you get more people going to the right place!

A tool like Snagit is an invaluable investment. For only $50 you have a ready-to-go workhorse for screenshots, videos, and even gifs.

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

screenshots are a great option for images in blog posts

Custom graphics and diagrams are another great way to explain complex concepts or just add some fun to your post. Snagit is a great tool but there are plenty out there. OmniGraffle and Lucidchart offer flowcharting tools that you can use to make fun diagrams. Piktochart has a free version for creating infographics and data-driven graphics.

Need a chart to help illustrate some information? You can take them right from Excel, Google Sheets or Word. Just copy your chart and paste it into your text editor, or take a screenshot.

And don’t be afraid to pick up a pencil or pen! Sketch your idea and take a photo. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t an artist – your readers will enjoy seeing that you are just like them!

draw your ideas and take a picture

ADDING VIDEO AND GIF’S

Sometimes text alone isn’t quite enough. That’s where video and animations can come in.

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

I’ve been asked many times how I add videos to my blog. I’m certainly no expert, but when it comes to anything that smells technical I remind myself ‘done is better than perfect’ and I keep it simple. Start to finish, a simple video should take me no longer than 15 minutes.

Here’s an illustration of the steps I go through.

how to add videos to your blog

You do need to host your video somewhere. We have used Vimeo for many years and love the price and how fast and simple it is to use. You can also use YouTube or Wistia.

The steps to adding video to your blog are pretty simple once you’ve practiced them a few times, but they do vary depending on your website and where you are hosting your video.

Here’s how to insert a video from YouTube into WordPress:

  1. This process had gotten super simple. Start by locating the video you want on YouTube.
  2. Next, copy the URL for that video (it will look something like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKrPz6JHwYw)
  3. Log into your WordPress website, open the blog post to edit, locate your cursor where you want the video, paste the URL.

This free tool will allow you to customize the look of your YouTube video and do things like turn off the annoying “related” videos

Here’s how to insert a video from Vimeo into WordPress:

  1. To get your video’s embed code, go to its page on Vimeo and click the ‘Share’ button.
  2. Click the ‘+Show options’ link and copy the embed code.
  3. Log into your WordPress website, open the blog post to edit and click on the ‘Text’ tab in your text editor.
  4. Locate your cursor where you want the video and paste the embed code.

how to insert your Vimeo videos into WordPress blog posts

Note: You should include text in your post with your video if you want your post to get picked up by search engines like Google. You can see how it’s done on the Gone with the Wynn’s travel vlog. With every blog post they have lots of text, images and video to keep you, the reader interested and for SEO purposes.

using text with videos helps with SEO

Using a consistent theme

When you are choosing images or fonts it’s a good idea to be consistent with the theme of your site and your blog. It could be as simple as using a consistent font (I’m a fan of Helvetica Neue, Marker Felt, Yellowtail and Bebas Neue), a color scheme or icon style.

The customer service app, Help Scout does a great job of using consistent design elements in their blog that are light, modern and quirky.

use a consistent theme when using blog post images

Choosing the right file name

Image SEO starts with the file name. When you use images in blog posts, you want Google to know what your image is about without even looking at it!

Before you upload your new image, take a look at the name of the image. Your image should be named something that relates to the image and/or the content of your article. It should also include your keywords whenever possible. Choosing a keyword-rich name for your image will make it easier for search engines to rank your page.

For instance, if you are writing an article on how to choose the best chew toy for puppies, name your image “best-chew-toy-for-puppies.jpg”. If your image shows a sunset on a beach in Koh Samui, Thailand, name it ‘thailand-koh-samui-beach-sunset.jpg’.

Use dashes between words, rather than spaces, underscores or running all your words together.
This recommendation comes straight from Google. We’re not sure of the exact reason for this as Google guards how it’s search engine algorithm works closer than a magician guards their tricks. But the Google Webmaster say dashes between words helps google find your images!

ALT Text

When you upload your image, video or other media, you have the option to include ALT text. You should do this whenever you can.

The ALT text tells search engines about your image, which helps your rankings. Plus, screen readers read out the ALT text so you are helping your content be more accessible.

Your ALT text should help explain your image or the point you are trying to illustrate. Like choosing a file name, your ALT text should be related to the content of your article or your keywords.

Captions and Headlines

Image captions are the text that appears next to the image on your page. You don’t have to include them but they do help. Many readers tend to scan an article’s heading, images, titles, and captions quickly before deciding to read it in full. And they can help readers understand the point that you are trying to make with your image.

There’s no need to add a caption every time you use images in blog posts – sometimes an image is self-explanatory. Add them where they make sense or when you think they may help a reader understand your point of view.

BarkPost, the inventors of the monthly dog treat subscription Bark Box, tantalize dog lovers (like me) with goofy, fun images of pooches matched with Hollywood tabloid-style headlines, like these:

  • 5 Signs Your Dog’s Eye Boogers Are Caused By Something Dangerous
  • 18 Dogs Who Don’t Approve Of This Water Torture You Call “Bath Time”
  • I Signed My Dog Up For A Dental Care Box, And Here’s What Happened

 

how to use captions with images

Your final checklist

Any images you add to your blog should make your readers’ experience better. Ideally, they are a part of the message and make the reading experience better.

Too many images and you post becomes cluttered. The wrong images and your post is distracting to read.

As a final check when I use images in blog posts, I ask myself these two questions:

  • will this image keep the reader on the page?
  • does this image add to my argument or help the reader to understand better?

The extra effort you put into finding and adding images – of all types – to your post can pay big rewards. Instead of getting passed over, your post could be shared with thousands of readers and take on a life of its own.

After all, our goal is to get our blog read, shared and loved. Right?

 

Tell me in the comments what tricks you’ve found for working with images.

A Social Media Survival Guide for Small Business

A social media guide for small business

“I can only conclude that people who don’t use social media are, at best, considered to be mavericks or, at worst, some kind of psychopath.” Steve Blakeman

“I’m not a very social media person” my new client admitted to me. “I mean, I know I should be…I’m just not.”

I get it.

If you were born before 1980 you are less likely to be a ‘social media person’.

So, there you are: a business person who needs social media to reach your tribe – even attract a bigger tribe. The problem is the thought of checking Instagram every morning or uploading a video to Facebook gives you a cold sweat.

You could go cold turkey, buy a yurt and live in the desert (been done), or…
you could find a happy compromise and use social media on your terms.

There is a solution and it starts by understanding that you don’t need to reach the world.

 

If you were born before 1980 you are less likely to be a ‘social media person’.

 

Social Media Guide for Small Business: You don’t need to reach the world.

“There is also the joy of learning new ways of marketing, with that there is often the accompanying pain of mistakes that comes along for the ride.” Jeff Bullas

Has this happened to you?

You see a tweet that had 425 retweets or your competitor has 10,000 followers on Facebook. “Damn,” you think “I really need to spend more time tweeting. Or posting. Or pasting. Or someting!”

Well, whoop-di-doo (tech speak for ‘who cares?’) they got a bunch of monkeys to jump!

Maybe that’s not your goal?

Unless you’re promoting your new punk band or selling a new gaming app, volume is not your goal. Click To Tweet

Your goal should be to build loyal followers

The kind of loyal followers who follow you all the way back to your website. The kind of followers who share your content and buy your stuff.

You don’t need to reach the world … you need to reach your tribe.

Start by getting a clear notion of who you are speaking to – who is your ideal audience, or avatar:

— what age are they?
— gender?
— type of work or career?
— what problems do they seek solutions for?
— what style of writing do they enjoy: high-brow philosophy or Gary Larson cartoons?
— how do they like to engage: sharing, quizzes, comments?

Evernote (read my post about how I use this fantastic, free tool) does a great job of writing to people who love lists and getting organized.

Good is better than more.

“I am 100% convinced that you can live without using or be on social media.” Israel Garcia

There’s lots of “expert” advice online on how to schedule loads and loads of updates (I wrote about the problem with scheduling software). As if volume is the ultimate goal.

There’s lots of “expert” advice online on how to schedule loads and loads of updates. As if volume is the ultimate goal. Click To Tweet

Let me ask you a question…

If you went to a restaurant, would you rather have a huge bowl of mediocre food or a small portion of delicious food prepared by a talented chef? I’d choose good over more every time.

Good can simply mean a few extra minutes editing, choosing an original image, or making a reference to a trending topic.

A good rule with social media is people share what makes them look smart. Putting a clever twist on what they think they already know will have more legs than one more post about 5 ways to be a better leader.

Comparing two posts on similar topics, my post “5 steps to writing an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes”  got a much better reaction than the earlier post “5 blog posts that will keep your reader coming back.” Taking a stand – even a bold claim – is an invitation for readers to share to their followers. They feel smart sharing the post they just enjoyed and you get the benefit of new readers.

A good rule with social media is people share what makes them look smart. Click To Tweet

Oreo does a great job of creating smart, often sarcastic, comedy in their Tweets.

Work in batches

“The best way to engage honestly with the marketplace via Twitter is to never use the words ‘engage,’ ‘honestly,’ or ‘marketplace.’”Jeffrey Zeldman, Founder, A List Apart magazine

One of the best ways to be more effective is to work in batches. That could be 15 minutes of solid email work, followed by no email for an hour, instead of constantly checking your email all morning.

You can also batch your social media.

Instead of interrupting your day with updates and responding to followers, you can do it once a day. You might not go viral, but you will have time for other work without distraction.

Fortunately, there are scheduling tools like Buffer and CoSchedule that let you load up a calendar full of updates. The problem with any schedule tools (this will intentionally sound self-serving) is that most people – especially super busy business owners – don’t have time to learn how to use the scheduling tool, let alone constantly fill it.

I know, because before I created BlogWorks, that’s what I tried to do.

I’ll give you two weeks before you quit.

Good news! At BlogWorks we can do it all for you. No scheduling tools, searching for articles, fussing with pictures, or shortening links. One account, one solution, social media is done. Learn how to get started with BlogWorks.

Good news! At BlogWorks we can do it all for you.

Outsource $10/hour jobs

“If you love life, don’t waste time for time is what life is made up of.” Bruce Lee

One of the most powerful lessons I received as an entrepreneur was about the value of my time.

Here’s a simple exercise that was a big eye opener for me and might be for you as well.

Start by making three columns on a piece of paper (a flip chart is even better) and title them: $10, $50, $[what you charge clients per hour]. These are the values of the time for each task, starting with up to $10/hour, and then up to $50/hour and finally, up to your current value when working for clients.

Now, fill in all the tasks, jobs, routines, roles you fill in a typical week, putting each one in the column that matches the value of the job in dollars.

A common mistake entrepreneurs make is doing $10/hour jobs instead of delegating them to others.

Do you see a problem?

Most business owners discover there’s lots of $10 jobs they are still doing, even though they charge 10X that, or more, to their customers. This is what Michael Gerber meant when he said we are “…spending too much time working in our business instead of working on our business.”

The solution begins by first documenting the process routine for all your $10/hour jobs. Simply make a list of each step using a Google Doc (we use Google Doc’s because they’re easy to share within our team).

These are called SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) and they can change your life.

Next, go on UpWork and hire a freelancer to do that job. Don’t worry about creating full-time employment or giving them five jobs to make it worth their time — just start with one reoccurring job that needs to get done.

A good job to start with is publishing your blog.

You might be surprised to learn how many steps go into publishing a blog. There are at least a dozen steps, starting with logging into WordPress, entering the headline, choosing tags, that have to be done the same way every time to get your blog looking good.

The solution is to start documenting the routines for all your $10/hour jobs.
Pro tip: once you post your job in Upwork, use the filters to choose the criteria for the freelancer you are looking for.

Even if you’re not into social media, you don’t have to abandon it altogether.

The strategies in this social media guide for small business can keep you in the game with minimal effort and time.

Speaking of which, now you have more time for what you are into, like watching reruns of All in the family with a nice mug of Ovaltine.

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

It’s no secret that publishing blog posts on your blog consistently is important.

Whether it’s twice a month, once a week, or even more frequently, the more consistent you are with your blog posts the more your readers will return and bring their business with them.

But it’s hard to find the time to research, edit, publish and promote. Right?

At the same time there’s nothing worse than visiting a blog and seeing the last blog post is from a year ago. Your prospect might be thinking “If the blog is out of date, I wonder if the rest of the site is out of date?”

This post will help.

With a few shortcuts, a few tricks and a bit of focus you can write an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes.

Let me show you:

  1. Really Quick Research
  2. Get your Shitty first Draft
  3. Super Fast Editing
  4. A Publishing Routine
  5. Follow a Promotion Plan

1. Really Quick Research

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King

When you read “research” do you want to run away screaming?

For most people, researching blog topics is about as much fun as doing your taxes. The good news is there are quick and dirty shortcuts that work.

When it comes to blogging and getting more traffic: if it’s working, keep doing it. In other words, if one of your blog posts went viral, use that topic again. If a Tweet got 130 impressions, retweet it.

When it comes to blogging and getting more traffic: if it’s working, keep doing it. Click To Tweet

Here’s how you do that with your blog post topics.

1) Start with your Google Analytics. Scroll down on the left menu to “Behaviour”, click“Overview” and look at your top three blog posts. For whatever reason, these got the lion’s share of traffic.

Choose one of those topics and write your next blog post on a related topic. For example: if one of your top posts is “The hidden cost of workplace conflict”, your next one could be “3 super easy ways to reduce workplace conflict.”

2) Next, go to BuzzSumo and type in that topic (“workplace conflict”). Find blog posts that have been shared the most and take inspiration from their headlines.

3) Finally, type your blog topic into your search bar. As you type, Google will suggest endings to your typing. These are based on query volume and can give you a clue for your next topic.

For example, you start typing “workplace conflict” and Google suggests “workplace conflict examples” Ah! You could start a blog post with a scenario of workplace conflict from your consulting work.

When you scroll to the bottom of the search results page in Google you’ll get more suggestions:

2. Get your Shitty first Drafthow to write a blog post

Now comes the fun part – you get to write your draft and not care how good it is! Let me explain…

There are two things that stall out most bloggers and authors: 1) thinking their work has to be perfect and 2) trying to edit before finishing the first draft.

There are two things that stall out most bloggers and authors: 1) thinking their work has to be perfect and 2) trying to edit before finishing the first draft. Click To Tweet

Instead, use a simple writing template to get the words flowing and keep your thoughts in order, AND avoid editing or looking up references until the draft is done. Before you know it you’ll have what author Anne Lamott famously calls your “shitty first draft.”

You can download the writing template here.

ultimate blog post writing template
Use a simple blog post writing template to get the words flowing and keep your thoughts in order

3. Super Fast Editing

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” Brian Clark, Copybloggers

Editing can be fun. The hard work of writing your post is behind you and the trick now is edit quickly and be done. Set yourself a time limit for editing. It’s amazing how much you can improve your post in 5 minutes or less. Sure, you could spend an hour thinking of clever analogies or searching for the perfect images – but that’s not as important as getting it done.

Fussing over some sentence or punctuation will just slow down the process and make it less likely that your blog comes out on a regular basis. You can always spend more time editing your next book.

Here’s how to do super fast editing:

1) Remove redundancies, most uses of “that” and chop long sentences into smaller ones.
2) Keep the reader moving by breaking big paragraphs into smaller ones.

3) Build in short teasers that keep the reader moving like:
Let me explain what I mean…
But, before I get to that…
There’s only 3 things you need to get started:

3) Grab a catchy, license-free image at pixabay, unslpash, or pixels.

4) Include a call-to-action: invite comments, link to your products, invite to share on social, etc.

4. A Publishing Routine

“Don’t try to plan everything out to the very last detail. I’m a big believer in just getting it out there: create a minimal viable product or website, launch it, and get feedback.” Neil Patel

Publishing is simply a mechanical exercise. Don’t waste time on this. If you’re using WordPress (over 30% of all websites do), log in, open a new post, copy/paste your text, add the main image, add tags, check your Yoast plug-in, set the date to publish on and hit “Publish.”

This is not the time to explore some cool widget or learn the HTML code for borders around your image. Stick to your routine and move onto promotion.

5. Follow a Promotion Plan

“What you do after you create your content is what truly counts.” Gary Vaynerchuk

You can waste a lot of time here or we can do it all for you. Find out how to get the social media monkey off your back for half the price of a Virtual Assistant.

If you are going to do this yourself, create a routine. We call these Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Not only will you not waste time dreaming up some newfangled way to get more retweets, you’ll have a routine you can hand off to a freelancer or staff when you’re ready.

There you go: how to write a blog post in less than 60 minutes. And, guess what? That’s how long this one took to post!

Now here’s how you can help me! Click on the social share button (on the left) and help your friends learn how to publish a blog post in 60 minutes or less.

Want more info on How to Get The Social Media Monkey Off Your Back?

How To get the Social Media Monkey off your Back E-book

 

 

Click here for our white paper.

 

 

 

 

Or contact us at yourblogworks.com/contact/

The ultimate list: 7 reasons why you (yes, you) need a blog today

Do you need a blog? 7 reasons the answser is yes

Does your business need a blog?

Sometimes we do things just because everyone else does. Like wearing socks to work or washing our car on Saturdays. Sometimes we need to rethink those decisions. Especially when it comes to marketing.

In this post I will explore the question … does your business need a blog?

A bit ironic to write about this in a blog, but here goes…

Blogging has been around for over 20 years and is no longer the domain of only political pundits and geeks. According to some estimates, there are 300 million active blogs(!) and approximately 40% of businesses use a blog to connect with their customers and attract new ones.

And there’s loads of glowing statistics promoting the benefits of blogs:

Bu,t the question remains: do YOU need a blog for your business? After all, maintaining an active blog takes time, effort and attention – three things usually in short supply.

Maintaining an active blog takes time, effort and attention- three things usually in short supply. Click To Tweet

First, you have to research, write, edit and publish the blog with images and keywords. Then you have to promote the blog and worry about generating traffic and converting that traffic to sales. It’s a lot of work – especially if you don’t have a team helping you.

That’s why in this post we are looking at the WHY of blogging. You’ll want to also explore our other articles about how to write a blog, find a ghost writer, get more traffic, measure success and even overcome procrastination.

Here are the top 7 reasons that experts believe you DO need a blog.

Top 7 reasons you need a blog

1. Build loyalty

In the crazy-busy world of marketing, blogs are unique. Instead of pushing your products and services on consumers, with your blog you attract them with valuable information they want to consume. Just like a magazine or TV show; we are attracted to the content—selling is secondary.

Instead of pushing your products and services on consumers, you are attracting them to you with valuable information they want to consume. Click To Tweet

Blogs also build loyalty. Small at first, your blog will find loyal readers who value your advice, want your recipes or enjoy your unique insights on life. Those loyal readers can then join your list, attend your webinar, visit your restaurant or buy your online course.

A great example of building loyalty with the blog is Angela Liddon of the Oh She Glows recipe books. Since 2008, Liddon has built up a fan club of over 1 million readers and written New York Times best-selling cookbooks (we have 2 of them). The heart of her success started with posting to her blog 3 times a day!

Blogs can build loyalty - Oh She Glows
The care and attention to every blog post took Angela Liddon from baking and selling snack bars from her home to a New York Times best-selling author.

2. Build your platform

Of all the reasons you need a blog, the most powerful could be to build an online platform.

In the old days of marketing, we would define a market position with the 5 P’s (promotion, product, price, place, people). Now we use “platform” to refer to all the pieces you have on the Internet related to your business that create an image in the consumer’s mind and a competitive advantage in your market.

As author Michael Hyatt would say, your platform is about leading a tribe of engaged followers”.

Now we use “platform” to refer to all the pieces you have on the Internet related to your business that creates an image in the consumer’s mind and a competitive advantage in your market. Click To Tweet

Uber entrepreneur Neil Patel used his blog to build a platform as a consultant and speaker and for his associated companies, Neil Patel Digital, Crazy Egg, SproutSocial and Hello Bar.

Build your blog with a platform
When Neil Patel started to build his online empire, it all started with a blog.

3. Attract new followers

Here’s something you probably don’t know about your blog. Most visitors are new to your site. A sampling of 20 BlogWorks clients found that over 85% of visitors were new to the site. First time. Brand spanking new to your world—that’s a huge opportunity, and another reason you need a blog.

It’s like renting a hotel room and 85% of the people who walk into your evening seminar are meeting you for the first time.

What an opportunity!

Those first-time readers can join your list, request more information, watch a demonstration video, buy product or bookmark your site for future reading.

But, arriving at a blog for the first time can be confusing. As author, podcaster and blogger, Pat Flynn writes, “it’s like trying to read a book that was written on loose-leaf paper, un-numbered and thrown into the air and having the pages randomly land on the ground.”

The trick is to guide those new visitors to where you want them to go. Start with an index of the blog posts you most want new visitors to read. From each blog post direct your readers to read related blog posts or to your contact page or product page.

Attract new followers with your blog
A simple way to welcome new readers to your blog is to hand-pick the list of blogs you want them to read first.

4. Convert to sales

Of course, converting readers to sales is the most popular blogging objective. You want readers to buy your recipe book, order that exercise bike or contact you about executive coaching. That would be great.

While some readers will go straight to your sales page or fill in your contact form, it’s less likely on the first visit. What’s more likely is a reader will commit to a small first step – like joining your list.

Following that, your job is to move them to a sale.

Design Pickle founder Russ Perry does a great job of getting new visitors to watch a video before making a buying decision. After all, not everyone is going to sign up for a monthly fee over $300 on their first visit. But they will be closer to making that decision after committing to a 3-minute video (we use the same strategy).

Convert blog readers to sales
You might not be ready to commit to a $300+ monthly fee, but how about a 3-minute video?

5. Build your list

The long game with blogging is to build a valuable list of followers who eventually need what you sell. Getting to your prospect’s inbox will always generate better results compared to social media or advertising.

The good news is that list building from your blog with tools like Mail Chimp, Zoho and Constant Contact is easier than ever.

Start with a simple offer of delivering your latest post directly to your follower’s inbox, then go the next step with an “ethical bribe” for signing up, like a free ebook, or 30 minutes of coaching. Next, build a simple email sequence that starts to be delivered once a new prospect joins your list.

Referral expert, Steve Gordon makes his blog promise on the home page of his site The Unstoppable CEO “We help service businesses get great clients.” From there it’s an easy one click to schedule a call to learn more or to download his ebook “The Exponential Network Strategy” and 8-video training series.

Build your list with your blog
A clear promise with an easy call-to-action is the best formula for a high performing site.

6. Nurture your followers

Let’s imagine someone interested in your consulting company or gluten-free recipe for chocolate torte finds your blog. Great – that’s the first step. But if they aren’t ready to buy or even join your list, what will you do to stay top of mind? That’s another reason you need a blog.

As a professional speaker, I need my clients, event planners, HR managers and speaker bureaus to remember I’m still active and looking for speaking opportunities. Rather than calling them every two weeks, I send them my latest blog post by email.

Sure, I might only have an email open rate of 25-30%, but that’s still thousands of people who are being reminded of the work I do.

Nuture your followers with your blog
Instead of calling my clients every two weeks, I send them my latest blog post by email

7. Pure fun and sharing

There is nothing wrong with having fun with your blog. Blogger Tim Urban makes it clear from his homepage at Wait But Why you should expect the unexpected, starting with his promise of “We publish every sometime.”

Urban’s blog posts range from simple cartoons to tackling complicated global social issues with 20,000+ word treatise that dive deep into topics like the birth of the electric car.

These are big, hairy topics and Urban is fearless. He also has some fun with his readers, like this recent post about table-hogging at a coffee shop.

Pure fun and sharing
Sometimes the best approach to a touchy topic is with humor

 

Here’s the bottom line (funny, I’m at the bottom of the blog) – get clear about the purpose(s) of your blog and then put it to work. Nothing beats a loyal customer and your blog is one of the best ways to get more of them.

Still considering whether you need a blog and want to read more?

You’ll want to also explore our other articles about how to write a blog, find a ghostwriter, get more traffic, measure success and even overcome procrastination.

 

Want more info on How to Get The Social Media Monkey Off Your Back?

How To get the Social Media Monkey off your Back E-book

 

 

Click here for our white paper.

 

 

 

 

Or contact us at yourblogworks.com/contact/

Five Simple Steps to Double Your Business with LinkedIn

double your business with linkedin

LinkedIn may not be up there with the “cool” kids like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but if you know how to take advantage of it, LinkedIn can provide you with a lot more leads and new clients that all other social networks combined.

Despite what some people still think, LinkedIn is not simply a place to find a job or for recruiters to find talent. Over 80% of all B2B leads generated by social media come from LinkedIn.

By following some simple steps, you can put your lead generation in the fast lane, expand your reach, elevate your authority and most importantly, grow your sales. LinkedIn provides fantastic targeting abilities, where you can hone in on precisely the type of customer you want.

But you need to understand what is required to attract today’s buyer.

It requires a shift in the sales dialogue from “What can I sell you?” to “How can I help you?”

Today, your personal brand is more important than it’s ever been as people are looking to find out more about an individual before they do business with them.

Seven seconds is all you have to wow a potential client. Your social selling success is dependent on how your LinkedIn profile represents your personal brand.

With all of these challenges, there is still tremendous opportunity. You now have tools available to you to connect directly with your ideal prospects, with the click of a button.

And while everyone has been talking about social media for years, few talk about the power of LinkedIn. I believe many businesses ignore LinkedIn for two primary reasons:

  1. It isn’t sexy.
  2. It isn’t fun or exciting.

While LinkedIn may not be exciting, getting new clients and having a successful business certainly is!

The LINK Method™ – Double your business with LinkedIn

There are five crucial steps that will turn LinkedIn into a highly predictable lead generator for you. I call this The LINK Method™.

In the infographic below I will share with you the five-step process, what you need to have in your profile to attract your ideal clients, trigger events that allow you to build relationships with your prospects on LinkedIn, how to leverage existing relationships, and much more.

Are you interested in discovering how to turn LinkedIn into a lead generation machine? Take a look at the infographic below:

The LINK Method™

 

I believe that when you stop collecting connections and start building relationships, you increase trust, credibility and attract more clients. This is vital because effective social selling is all about building relationships and trust.

The beauty of LinkedIn is that it is a platform that was designed to help you find, connect and then build a relationship and trust with the exact group of people that comprise your target audience.

Yet people continue to make two very serious mistakes with LinkedIn and social selling.

Mistake #1:
They rush to a sale right after connecting with a potential prospect.

Mistake #2:
They never move the conversation offline, or don’t know how to, as it’s offline that you convert a prospect to a client.

 

LinkedIn is the premier business platform for social selling and the tips shared in this infographic represent just a small portion of the blueprint laid out in my brand-new book LinkedIn Unlocked: Unlock the Mystery of LinkedIn To Drive More Sales Through Social Selling.

 In LinkedIn Unlocked you will learn a step-by-step system that will help you generate a steady stream of new leads, clients, and sales on LinkedIn in under 30 minutes a day.

To celebrate the launch of LinkedIn Unlocked, there is also $221 in free bonuses, including a companion workbook with all of the exercises, worksheets, and templates provided in the book. Click here now to learn more about LinkedIn Unlocked and the exclusive bonuses.

double your business with linkedin

 

Melonie Dodaro, is the founder of Top Dog Social Media and a leading expert on LinkedIn and social selling. She’s the author of two books, including the #1 Amazon bestseller The LinkedIn Code and her brand-new book LinkedIn Unlocked. Melonie has trained over 27,000 businesses and individuals and appears on countless lists as a top sales and marketing influencer.

9 expert bloggers reveal their best strategies

pro blogger

There is no end of advice online about becoming a successful blogger – some of it brilliant, some not so much. Some tips for blogging success even conflict with other advice.

You should write short posts. You should write long posts.

Try using more pictures. Add infographics.

Short, punchy writing is the peach. Long-form writing attracts a more committed audience.

…you get the idea.

We know you don’t have the time to wade through a sea of conflicting advice to find the gems, so we went mining for you.

We reached out to people we respect as being expert bloggers and who we know have used their blog to help built large followings and a sustainable business.

This is hand-picked advice – just for you – of what pro bloggers want you to do with your blog in 2018.

Newsjacking

If you’ve ever wondered about how to connect your readers with breaking news – David Meerman Scott (best selling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR) is the expert. In fact, he coined the term ‘Newsjacking’ – the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story to generate tons of media coverage, get sales leads, and grow business.

Newsjacking blogging success

Here’s how David explains it:

“As the story develops in real-time, buyers become interested in products and services based on what’s happening now. Newsjacking generates sales leads and adds new customers. For free! Newsjacking is a great way to grow your business. Faster than ever!”

Buyers are interested in products and services based on what’s happening now. @dmscott Click To Tweet

Further Reading

Are you making it easy for your readers to stay on your site longer?

Just like a store that displays other products you might want, we want to make it easy for readers to find posts that are related to the one they are currently reading, and hopefully stay on your site longer.

That’s what psychologist and author Liane Davey does with a simple list of “Further reading” at the bottom of every post.

“One of the things I’ve started doing is adding three older posts as ‘further reading’ at the bottom of each post.” Davey told us, “It’s exposing new readers to older content, giving them more to sink their teeth into and getting my number of clicks per visit up.”

blogging success: include further reading

Old is new again

This is an idea we have started using on this blog. It saves us time and is getting great results.

“Rather than constantly be creating something new,” founder of The Agents of Change conference and owner of Flyte New Media, Rich Brooks told us “find some older blog posts that can be easily updated.”

Rather than constantly be creating something new, find some older blog posts that can be easily updated. @therichbrooks Click To Tweet

The process is pretty simple and starts with just a bit of research:

“If you use Google Analytics you can find some blog posts that were page one success stories that may have fallen off the first page recently. Some additional images, an expert quote, an extra graph or two and you’ll be back on the first page with a lot less work than creating something from scratch.”

improve existing content: blogging success

Be authentic

After trying all the tips and tricks in an attempt to achieve blogging success; it’s good to know the basics haven’t changed. Like being real:

“Focus on offering valuable content that truly reaches your audience in an authentic way,” marketing strategist and best-selling author Susan Gilbert told us.

Focus on offering valuable content that truly reaches your audience in an authentic way. @susangilbert Click To Tweet

And more than just being honest and showing your personality, Gilbert encouraged us to stand out with unique solutions:

“Find a way to provide the answers they are looking for and not finding anywhere else.”

successful blogging strategies: be real

At BlogWorks we’re doing that with our blog topics.

Heading into the New Year, our editorial team is working on bringing you articles that we think reflect what our readers and customers are facing every day. Sure, tips on successful blogging are always valuable, but we believe our readers (like you) also want help with procrastination, getting organized, dealing with imposter syndrome and all the barriers that come up when you’re sharing your ideas and solutions publicly.

Keep ‘em clicking

A strategy we use on every blog post is to link to other, related posts. We start by identifying what we think are ‘anchor posts’ – these are posts that have attracted lots of readers AND are posts that help explain the value of working with us.

One way to think about anchor posts is this: if you were explaining your services/products to someone for the first time, these are the posts you’d recommend they start with.

Once you’ve identified your anchor posts, it’s time to find opportunities to link to them. For example, if I was writing about keywords I would link to one of our popular articles on keywords.

Don’t overdo it – we usually link to 3-4 posts within one post. And you can do this retroactively—edit your top five highest traffic posts by adding links to anchor posts.

Let your reader in

Ultimately, your readers want to learn from you and connect. They have lots of choices, but they have chosen you to guide them – whether it is business advice or life strategies.

Click To Tweet

“I have slowly come to understand the power of letting my audience in.” says BlogWorks founder Hugh Culver “As much as I write primarily to a business audience, my readers seem to be interested in me and what I am doing with my business – even what I’m doing in my life.”

“Four years ago, on a whim, I wrote a post about my goal of retiring in 1460 days. It would be the date I turn 60 and it really just wrote the post for myself. Since that post went live – 4 years ago – I have been asked hundreds of times about my retirement!

And here’s my point – very few people ask me about my other posts. Sure them might write a comment on the post or share it, but when I’m on the phone with my readers or meeting them at conferences they ask about my retirement.

I’m not sure what’s the right balance for you—between your professional blog and your personal life, but I suspect your readers would enjoy learning more about the person behind the blog.”

Repurpose your content

successful blogging strategies

A much talked about online promotion strategy is to repurpose your content. Some experts like Chalene Johnson start with a Facebook Live broadcast and turn that recording into a YouTube post, blog and podcast post – even a list of tweets to go out through the week.

Speaker, sales trainer and author, Frank Furness has a version of repurposing just for bloggers he calls COPE – Create Once Publish Everywhere.

“My first publishing of any article is with www.blogger.com” explains Furness “then I take the link and promote it with www.plus.google.com. Both these products belong to Google and this results in me getting onto the first page of Google for certain keywords for a day. I repeat this every week.”

Longer is better!

longer is better

“There is so much confusing information out there about blogging.” LinkedIn expert and author Melanie Dodaro told us.

“Perhaps you’ve heard people say…

  • People don’t want to read long articles, keep them short to under 500 words.
  • No one wants to read anymore, they’re only interested in videos.

Neither of those is true! People will read long blog posts as long as they are filled with quality, actionable tips and how to’s. And the bonus, Google loves longer articles. That’s why most of my blog posts range from 1500 – 2500+ words.  In fact, longer blog posts generate nine times as many leads as shorter posts.”

Click To Tweet

Deliver what your market cares about

“Learn what your market cares about,” coach and author Michael Zipursky told us. “Get detailed and provide content, ideas, and observations that add value.”

“Focus on answering questions that aren’t answered by (many) others—at least not others with more credibility than you” adds marketing expert Peter Sandeen. “When your target customers search for the answer, your answer will be at the top of search results. That gets you in front of new people through Google. But it also keeps you focused on creating content people see as useful and easy to consume, so your existing readers get a lot of value from you.”

Be consistent

Finally, we get to one of the secrets to successful blogging that many bloggers struggle with: consistency.

“Consistency is key,” says Zipursky.

“Create content on a regular basis and don’t stop just because you don’t see a result overnight. Blogging and content creation is a long-term strategy that pays dividends if you keep it up.”

Click To Tweet

And (self-promotion), this is where BlogWorks helps. We take all the promotion of your blog off your hands so you can focus on researching new topics, writing and welcoming new traffic to your business.

Pro tip: a simple solution to staying consistent with your publishing is to have one blog post ready to go. When you have a lighter week, find some time to write a timeless post that you can save for a ‘rainy day’ – it could mean you are more consistent with your publishing (a good thing) and reduce your stress.