How to increase blog traffic by almost 30% in only 90 days – a case study

Busy street symbolizing an increase in blog traffic

At BlogWorks we love to see results.

Especially when the results are fast.

And we really, really love seeing client results when we’re using one of our favourite techniques.

What we call re-loving old posts.

The idea is simple…

If you have been blogging for a while, your inventory of posts will have been indexed by the search engines. In other words, Google will have decided how to “rank” your blog posts against all the other posts about similar topics.

This is why some of your posts show up on the first page of search results and some on the 13th page.

Updating old content can fix that.

Let’s start with why updating old posts works.

Why you need to update your old content to increase blog traffic

The strategy of updating old content to increase blog traffic works best if you’ve already published at least two dozen blog posts. This post explains in detail how to use this strategy.

Here are the most important reasons why we love this strategy. Book a call today to learn if this can work for your business.

1. Better click-through. When you update that old content you improve your click-through rate – the volume of people who choose to click on your article – simply because the date is more current.

2. Google likes fresh content. One of the many factors Google looks for in posts is how fresh is your content. When you update your old posts you also will update the publish date. More recent equals more results.

current dates in search engine results page
In this example, 6 of 7 search results were posted in the last 12 months

3. Improve your title. Your post title tells readers what the article is about but also should attract and intrigue the reader enough to want to jump in. Now is the time to turn that boring headline into a killer question, or use any of the 5 techniques described in this article.

According to Convince and Convert, a great title is clear (what will I get if I read this?) but intrigues the reader to dive in. Remember, you are competing with everything else on their phone or laptop – you need to get and keep their attention!

blog post title matters
The best headlines are about 8 words and 70 characters

4. Fix grammar and spelling. Updating your old posts gives you a chance to catch those spelling mistakes or tighten up the grammar. A quick improvement is to remove the word “that” – it will make your sentence read better and improve the flow of your post.

5. Link to “revenue” pages. Here’s a quick test: in the first third of your article does you post link to at least one “revenue” page, like a product or service page? When you update the old post, also update internal links to your site.

image of internal links in a blog post

6. One less article to post. Updating an old post takes a fraction of the time it takes to write a new one. Many of our clients combine one new article (we do that as well!) with one updated article each month.

Now that we’ve looked at the reasons, let’s look at an example of how one BlogWorks client used this strategy.

The Speaker Exchange

Like many small business owners, Brittanny and Julie at The Speaker Exchange were aware of the value of content marketing, but needed an outsourced solution. They had been using newsletters to stay in touch with their audience.

They reached out to BlogWorks for a solution.

Home page of The Speaker Exchange

The goal was to create consistent inbound traffic using original blog posts targeted to the event planner audience. At BlogWorks we have a team of local writers, each with specialties.

We write blog posts for a wide variety of wonderful clients ranging from leadership authors and public speakers to cyber security experts. And in this case, we have writers who know the speaking industry.

The BlogWorks solution

The BlogWorks solution was to write one original post and to update one older post every month, plus promote the blog through social media. In the first 90 days, site traffic was up almost 30%! Even better, Sessions and Pageviews were both up over 20%.

Image of analytics showing increased blog traffic

A part of the solution was more consistent blog publishing, but the biggest results was from updating old content with better keywords, headlines, and content.

The client example we shared in this post could be yours(!) Contact us today to learn how to increase your blog traffic by updating old posts.

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

 

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

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

get more blog traffic

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

Does yours?

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

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

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

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

1. Internal link

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

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

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

blog traffic

2. Bottom of post

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

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

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

blog traffic

3. Social shares

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

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

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

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

blog traffic

4. Content upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

blog traffic

5. Click to tweet

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

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

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

blog traffic

6. Sidebar CTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. The Pop-up CTA

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

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

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

One more thing I’ve got to do!!

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

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

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

You’re welcome.

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

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

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.

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.

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/

How to get more blog traffic (142%!)

How to get 142% more blog traffic

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

It makes sense: more traffic equals more business…

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

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

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

Are you writing your content to be helpful?

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

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

Here’s the good news…

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

With that caveat out of the way …

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

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

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

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

Knowing how to get more blog traffic can be confusing

Blogging is hard work.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

How the experts create world-class PowerPoint Slides (and you can too)

powerpoint

 This post was originally published on www.hughculver.com

We’ve all been there.

We were looking forward to the presentation – it could have been a webinar, keynote speech or office meeting. And then there were the slides…

…tiny fonts, long lists of indecipherable bullets, fuzzy clipart from the 1990’s and blocks of text repeating word-for-word the presenter’s speech. The content could be pure gold, but you’ll never know.

Bad visuals and sloppy design drag your attention away even more than the guy next to you tapping away on his phone.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

With a bit of forethought, a touch more effort and by using these uncommon approaches your slides can make you look like a pro and drive home all the right points without stealing the show.

Just like in the movies – good visuals make the story stronger and bring out the best in the actors.

Whether it’s a sales pitch, team update, webinar, main stage keynote, all-day workshop, screen-capture video or upload to SlideShare, your slides can be your best friend and make you look like a hero.

Here’s why this is important.

Visuals work (more than ever)

All day, we’re confronted with more content than we could ever hope to consume.

Emails, websites, magazines, reports, newsletters, and video compete for our attention. That’s where visuals come in. Not only do we process images faster than words, and 65% of us are visual learners, but presentations using visual aids were found to be 43% more persuasive.

A well-placed picture, infographic, video or animation can drive a lesson home (more on that below), segue to a new lesson or add a perfectly-timed humorous distraction.

It’s the reason why over 80% of TED presenters use PowerPoint slides (or Keynote for a MAC) – they need to make the maximum impact in only about 18 minutes.

Powerpoint
Over 80% of TED presenters use slides.

The trouble happens when slides are slapped together and tacked onto a presentation last minute, rather than being designed as a part of the message.

In a typical 60 minute keynote you can present 30-60 slides. And each one has a job. Just like the screenplay for a movie, you’re unfolding a story that leads your audience on an emotional journey.

Your job is to choose images that follow that journey.

Here are 5 uncommon ways to put more juice in your visuals and add more punch to your message.

We’ll start with planning.

1. Plan before you Paste

It’s easy enough to add images to your PowerPoint presentation, copy, paste and move on.

But wait!

Before you head off to search for a picture of a cute baby or office workers “team building”, ask yourself what emotional message are you communicating?

Your hard content is made up of your words, text, bullet points, facts, and statistics. But emotional content is all about stories, visuals, and tone – even the speed you deliver your content.

Powerpoint
Al Gore used lots and lots of data and graphs to provide overwhelming proof that the threat of global warming is real.

In the Academy Award-winning presentation, turned documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore used lots and lots of data and graphs to provide overwhelming proof that the threat of global warming is real. The point was not to have you remember the graphs or statistics—the point was to convince you to listen to science and facts and not opinion-based naysayers.

When Apple CEO, Tim Cook unveils the latest Apple watch or iPhone model he uses photographs that show off the sleek designs and ease of operation – not the complex, high-tech wiring that makes it all work. Apple wants you to fall in love with the product – details can come later.

“I love using verbal stories but sometimes, an image can tell a more powerful, surprising, or efficient story.” Ron Tite

Tesla promotes the driving experience.

Similarly, when uber-entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled the “every man’s” Testa Model 3, it was all about driving experience (driving range, safety, carrying capacity and speed) and nothing to do with the complexity, research or science that makes the car work.

Before you search for visuals, ask yourself what do you want your audience to feel. Is your message about hope and optimism, teaching, and information, or is your goal to provide clarity and direction? Getting clear about one or two emotional goals should provide a filter for every visual selection decision.

“Each change on the screen should relate to one simple new thought,” wrote Garr Reynolds in his popular book Presentation Zen Design, “that should be expanded and explained by the presenter.” (hat tip to Dave Delaney)

One more example:

Powerpoint
Amy Cuddy’s goal was not to impress us with research data but motivate us to use power poses.

In her popular TED talk about “power poses,” Harvard Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy showed images of the actual poses she was describing. Similar to Apple and Tesla, Cuddy’s goal was not to impress us with research data, but to motivate us to use power poses to feel better and to be more successful in meetings, relationships and negotiations.

Now that you’ve thought through the emotional reaction you want, let’s look at making your visuals memorable.

2. Make it memorable

Nothing puts a wet towel on your presentation faster than cheesy pictures that scream ‘stock photo!’ Sure, your picture shows office workers happily smiling to the camera, but if it looks staged or fake your audience can’t relate to it. In fact, bad stock photography can be more of a distraction than an aid.

The good news is, with a little effort you can find brilliant, free images to support your message and draw your audience in.

Nothing puts a wet towel on your presentation faster than cheesy pictures that scream ‘stock photo!

Sites like unsplash, pixabay and pexels are great for finding unique, original images that are rated as creative commons zero (you’re allowed to use without permission or giving attribution to the artist). If you don’t mind a few extra clicks, you can save time by using librestock.com which sources free images from some 47 plus sites.

You can also use your own photographs.

For example, I have pictures (like picking up garbage on my runs) that support the story I’m telling. I also have an inventory of images that set the mood for my message, like a wandering footpath (goals and next steps), sunrise (hope and new beginnings) and walking my dog (habits and routines).

“Opt for clear before clever. Your audience should never be distracted from what you’re saying because they’re trying to figure out what your slide means.” Rob Cottingham

Read more about your choice of colors, shapes, and fonts in this Venngage post.

Now that you’ve selected your images it’s time to bring out the best in them.

3. Bring out the Best

With a little creativity, you can transform a ho-hum image into a show stopper that grabs your audience. Let’s start with the rule of thirds.

Rule of thirds
Use the Rule of Thirds to make your image more interesting.

This classic photography technique can be used with any visual. The basic idea is to make your image more interesting by putting what you want us to focus on off-centre. Start by dividing your image into two evenly spaced vertical lines and two evenly spaced horizontal lines. If you’re working with an existing image, try to crop so your focal point is on a horizontal line or at a point where the lines cross.

Cropping

A simple improvement to most images is to crop out any unnecessary background to emphasize a central area of focus. Cropping can sometimes make it easier to have a clear area to add text to, for example as a featured image on your blog post.

Original art

If you’re feeling brave, you can always use original art to get your message across.

Wait but why
If you’re feeling extra brave, use your own photos or stick man, like Tim Urban, in your slides.

Tim Urban, in his popular blog, waitbutwhy.com uses his comical stickman drawings to dress up his often sardonic points of view (see how he turns his blog post images into a slide deck in his 2016 Vancouver TED talk about procrastination).

Other examples are Jessica Hagy’s index card messages, James Clear’s graphs and Hugh MacLeod’s art on the back of business cards.

A quick way to get started to bring out the best in your images is to use canva.com, picmonkey or if you’re more of a fan of starting with a template, adobe spark. All are free tools that allow you to very quickly crop, add text and graphics, overlay screens and export a sharp image ready to go into your PowerPoint presentation.

And with a little research, you can turn a small collection of facts and statistics into an eye-catching infographic using Venngage.

After hunting down and improving your images, it’s time to shoot some holes in your bullets.

4. Build Better Bullets

If you have to use bullets to get your message across, proceed with caution.

Any time your audience sees text (like this blog post) they’ll start to read. But they’ll quit just as quickly if bullets seem redundant, too long, or too hard to read.

This is such a common problem it’s worth looking at why it happens in the first place.

When we create a presentation (webinar, slide deck, SlideShare, screen capture video or infographic), we’re sharing information. And a common assumption is more is better.

In fact, less is almost always best (see below).

The purpose of your visuals is to pull your audience in to pay attention and because we remember visuals more than text, your visual is there to anchor your message and make it memorable.

Anything more than that is too much.

Powerpoint
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield used 35 slides and only 5 words in his 2014 TED Talk.

In his 2014 TED talk, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield used only 35 slides with a total of five words (and he received a rare standing ovation.)

If you are flipping through your latest slide deck, here’s a quick rule:

  • limit bullets to four on a slide,
  • each bullet no longer than eight words and
  • use at least 32 point font.
Powerpoint
Start by limiting your bullets to 4 on a slide.

“Please use a font WAY larger than you think you’ll need, for the people in the back of the room and for those looking at your webinar or course on their phone.” Phil Gerbyshak

Two more tips: if you are presenting slides, always:

  • animate your bullets (so the audience can process each bullet as you present it) and,
  • use a remote clicker (so you don’t distract the audience by leaning over and searching for the right key every time you want to advance a slide.)

5. Less is Best

The most common mistake with any presentation is to have too much content. In almost all cases, less is best.

“The best advice I got was don’t use slides.” Brian Massey

Your visuals are there to add to your message, reinforce key points and create memory anchors that make you and your message more memorable. Cramming in more content won’t get you there.

Powerpoint
Del Harvey, VP of Trust and Safety at Twitter.

When Del Harvey, VP of Trust and Safety at Twitter, spoke at TED 2014, she dramatically emphasized the exponential growth of traffic on Twitter with one slide. “Back in January 2009,” she said, “we saw more than two million new tweets each day on the platform. January 2014, more than 500 million. We were seeing two million tweets in less than six minutes. That’s a 24,900-percent increase.”

Her slide simply read: “That’s a 24,900% increase.”

“People are only capable of absorbing a very small amount of material at a time.” writes Garr Reynolds, “Therefore, it is counterproductive to throw up a slide with lots of text or complicated diagrams.”

Every time I delete slides from my keynote presentation the talk improves. I’m less concerned about clicking the right slide at the right time and I can focus more on connecting with the audience.

And there’s always a bit of hesitation before I hit the ‘delete’ button. I catch myself thinking: ‘But this is great information’ or ‘What if someone wants to write this stuff down.’

I never regret the decision to delete.

“Leave most stats on the cutting room floor, and focus on masterfully detailing the implications of a few statistics.” Tom Webster,

Pro tip:

If you’re in a habit of designing your slides to also be handouts, you could be making a mistake. Your visual presentation is there to augment your message, not be the complete message.

If you do need handouts, don’t cheat and use the print handouts option in PowerPoint (or Keynote)—lots of your slides are there as visual anchors and won’t make any sense in handouts. Instead, handouts should be created separately as a stand-alone document.

When in doubt, delete—no one will miss what isn’t there.

“Slides should reinforce your words, not repeat them.” Seth Godin

Get started

When I’m designing a new deck (or doing triage on a deck that’s gone stale) I have three objectives:

  1. choose images that support the emotional content (cautionary, upbeat, motivational, trustworthy, etc.)
  2. create visuals that anchor the lesson (if you use the image again will it remind them of the lesson?)
  3. use the minimum amount of text to support the message (don’t duplicate what you are going to say)

Your message and delivery are what your audience came for. With a little effort, your visuals will help bring your message to life and keep people talking about you long after the standing ovation.

How to Use Hashtags to Get 15% More Shares

Social Media Hashtags

Before you hover over the “Publish” button after completing a blog post, ask yourself: “Did I target the right keywords? Did I correct my grammatical errors and spelling mistakes? Did I remember to use hashtags in my social media posts and tweets to boost my social engagement?

Today, we’re going to talk about how to use hashtags and their importance to promote your social media posts, tweets and call outs. After reading this article you’ll never forget to add tags again.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

Why Hashtags Are So Important

Think of hashtags as keywords for social search engines. When someone is searching Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for a specific topic, the social media posts with those keyword-rich hashtags will show up first.

To prove how important hashtags are, take a look at the image below provided by HubSpot:

What effect does it have when you use hashtags?

As shown above, you’ll get around 15% more retweets (or shares) just by adding hashtags to your tweets! Pretty sweet, right? What about Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn? Including hashtags has also been shown to increase the visibility and reach of your social media updates.

That means your content will be in front of new eyeballs daily, which will ultimately attract new viewers to your blog posts and website.

Use Hashtags That Make Sense

While a tag does not need to be a summary of your entire blog post, it does need to make sense.

Take, for example, this tweet mentioning our blog post on increasing your engagement with your social media followers.

Your hashtags should be applied to keywords that are relevant to your business and target audience.  Think of hashtags as helping your audience find topic matches. Alternatively, you might want to use them to start a conversation around a topic.

How Many Tags Should You Use?

Notice how we didn’t go overboard with tags in the above tweet? Research suggests using only 1 or 2 hashtags per social media post for the best engagement. Any more than two and your engagement actually drops!

Too many hashtags can look spammy to your followers (not to mention ugly and hard to read). Take a look at this image we pulled from Instagram to see what we mean:

Too many hashtags

This person went from dogs to different colors, to parties, and more. Now, we’re not saying this person didn’t have a colorful sunset beach party with dogs, but their message would have been a lot easier to reach if it contained only a couple of hashtags.

Where To Find Hashtags To Use

Now that you realize just how important it is to use hashtags in your posts, it’s time to implement what you’ve learned.

But… what happens if you can’t think of any relevant tags at the moment? Or you want to be sure that people are actually searching for information on the hashtag you are planning to use.

Never fear! The BlogWorks team researched some of the best hashtag analytic tools!

Sprout Social

Find and use Hashtags with Sprout Social

Coming up with your own tags can be a lot of work. More often than not, the tags you’re thinking about using have been used previously! Thanks to Sprout Social’s Trends Report, you’ll be able to see what tags have been used in the past, as well as what’s popular now.

Hashtagify

find trending hashtags

Want to know what tags are trending in your niche this very moment? With Hashtagify, you can search any keyword to find the best tags out there right now. Not only do they give you the best tag, they also populate seven related tags to the most popular one. What a great deal – 8 for 1!

RiteTag

ritetag hashtag research

With this hashtag search tool, you can enter any keyword and RiteTag will give you a list of hashtags that contain the phrase. Along with potential hashtags to use, you’ll get helpful data like how many times the hashtag is Tweeted per hour, how often Tweets containing the hashtag are getting Retweeted and more.

Not to mention they’ll clue you in on whether or not people are following the tag you entered. This is an amazing tool that does practically everything for you! Except adding the tag into your post, of course!

Some Parting Words

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of this post.

By now, you should understand just how important it is to use hashtags, how many you should (and shouldn’t) use, and you have a few great tools to find the perfect tags for your blog posts!

Next up, learn the three social media activities actually worth your time.

If you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with your colleagues!

17 proven strategies for building a better blog

blog traffic

In this post we are sharing one of our most popular slide decks published on SlideShare. It’s advice from the gurus that is not only really smart, it’s actionable.

PRO TIP: Once you scan through these, go back and choose just one to work on this month. For example, you might want to put more attention on your headlines – great! Go through your underperforming posts and rewrite the headlines using keywords (don’t change the URL of the post – just the headline).

Here’s the complete list:

  1. think: long road
  2. build your avatar
  3. don’t guess – ask them
  4. think like a publisher
  5. do the grunt work
  6. don’t make it all about you
  7. survive the first draft
  8. be a name dropper
  9. solve problems
  1. each post is a product
  2. give readers what they want
  3. great headlines
  4. include eye candy
  5. make it about them
  6. use a template
  7. spread the good news
  8. be consistent