Tuesday, May 31, 2016
I have a love/hate relationship with a soap company.
About five years ago, I stumbled across their products online. They boasted rare and unique scents and naturally-sourced ingredients. They were irresistible (to me, anyway). And their prices seemed reasonable.
So, I placed an order. And that's when my troubles began.
I had to share my email address to complete my transaction. You know, to “receive an order confirmation.”
Within days, I found myself receiving marketing email after marketing email. Coupons. Special sales. New soaps. New scents. Free shipping.
I imagined their marketing department high-fiving one other and saying, “We've got one on the line. Quick! Reel her in!”
And you know what? The products I received were exceptional. They smelled amazing (I'm a sucker for a unique scent). So, I stuck it out for a while. But not forever.
Because I knew how wrong my experience was. I knew there was a better way to market your business. A kinder, gentler way - one that doesn't alienate the very people you want to nurture.
Time went on.
I sent dozens of their catalogs to the landfill - a new one came in the mail every few weeks.
Finally, I gave up. After placing a few orders, I contacted the company and asked them to please - for the Love of All that Is Holy - stop sending me catalogs. I clicked the unsubscribe link in one of their many emails and used the form on their site to let them know why I was unsubscribing.
Then, I stopped hearing from them.
Here we go again: relearning a lesson
A lot has happened in the meantime. Life went on, and I forgot about this company's overzealous marketing efforts.
A few weeks ago, when my husband asked me what I'd like for Mother's Day, I said, “How about a gift certificate to (The Soap Company in Question)?” And my husband - smart man that he is - got me the gift certificate.
And guess what? It started all over again. Within just a couple of weeks, I have received three catalogs.
I take full responsibility for the situation. I got myself back on their radar and now I'm paying the price. I do still love their products, but I wish they understood modern marketing techniques as well as they clearly understand the soap business.
It's obvious to me that they don't read Copyblogger. Because if they did, they'd know the four basic truths of modern content marketing.
Let's review them.
Truth #1: Content pulls; it doesn't push
Rather than blanket prospects in catalogs and crowd their inboxes with sales emails, modern content marketing offers valuable, helpful, and even entertaining information.
The information is so helpful that prospects purposely sign up to receive it. And they stick around when the content they receive is consistently useful.
Read these posts to learn more about creating content that pulls (and doesn't push):
- How to Attract, Nurture, and Grow the Business-Building Audience You Want
- 5 Remarkable Qualities of Effective Online Content
- 5 Ways to Get More of the Online Attention You Crave
Truth #2: Content offers; it doesn't demand
Solid, effective content marketing doesn't stomp its foot and demand in a whiny voice that you pay attention to it.
Instead, it confidently offers a hand - the exact information you need, right when you need it.
One way modern content marketers do this is by using marketing automation.
If my soap company had sent me a little brochure about how to save money on laundry day (and a coupon for their laundry soap), I would have held on to that piece of content. I might have posted it next to my washing machine! It wouldn't have gone to a landfill like all those product catalogs.
Read these posts to learn more about making offers (not demands):
- Landing Pages: Turn Traffic Into Money
- How to Be a Copywriting Genius: The Brilliantly Sneaky Trick You Must Learn
- 6 Proven Ways to Boost the Conversion Rates of Your Call-to-Action Buttons
By the way, our Rainmaker Platform makes marketing automation a snap.
Truth #3: Content entertains; it doesn't annoy
One of the foundational truths about content marketing is that it must serve your audience if you want it to be effective (more on this below).
And one way to do this is to meet your audience - wherever they are - with content that is so compelling they want to consume it.
Podcasting isn't a requirement, but it's a great fit for those who are comfortable with audio - who are more comfortable talking than writing.
Read these posts to learn more about creating entertaining (not annoying) content:
- The Art of Being Interesting
- 22 Ways to Create Compelling Content When You Don't Have a Clue [Infographic]
- 58 Ways to Create Persuasive Content Your Audience Will Love
Truth #4: Content is about the consumer, not the producer
Please repeat after me:
“I will resist the urge to constantly write about me, my offers, my company's history, our goals, our mission statement, or our new products. Instead, I'm going to focus on writing about topics that serve my prospects and customers.”
It's tough for traditional marketers to wrap their brains around this one. But your customers' #1 concern isn't you … it's them.
That's why, for example, if the soap company had sent me information about alternate ways to use their soaps (Perfume your pajama drawer! Hang one in your closet! Use it to repel mosquitos!), I would have stayed subscribed.
And an occasional offer woven into the helpful content wouldn't have fazed me one bit.
A highly effective technique for serving your prospects' and customers' ongoing needs is creating a series of cornerstone content pages on your website.
Cornerstone pages serve up foundational information that your prospects and customers need to understand your field of expertise.
Read these posts to learn more about creating cornerstone content pages that serve your audience:
- A Practical Approach to Using Powerful Cornerstone Content on Your Site
- Your Cornerstone Content Blueprint: Answers to 9 Common Questions
- 11 Essential Ingredients Every Cornerstone Content Page Needs [Infographic]
Here's the painful truth: I spent the first part of my career creating exactly the kind of marketing materials my soap company is annoying me with now. Direct mail postcards. Sales catalogs. Promotional brochures.
But now I know there's a better way. A kinder, gentler way to market your business, serve your prospects and customers, and create marketing that is valued, not sent straight to a landfill.
That's the kind of marketing we teach inside our Authority program. To learn more about it, click the button below.
The post How to Implement Kinder, Gentler Marketing: 4 All-Natural Truths appeared first on Copyblogger.
Monday, May 30, 2016
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Supplanting your energy source and picking vitality lessening lighting choices can have an immense effect to your expenses and even offer you solid lighting particularly for your open air needs. There are such a large number of lighting options and sunlight based LED lights are a portion of as well as can be expected pick. This is on the grounds that they are financially savvy, as well as don't require an excess of vitality to serve your necessities. Sun based LED lights use assets at an abnormal state, making them exceptionally useful when utilized as a part of various sources. You remain to appreciate various advantages when you select these lights for your utilization and they incorporate the accompanying.
1. Driven enlightenments are more viable
This is on account of the lights produce directional light bars superior to anything fluorescents. The lights likewise have low lumen yield appraisals making them perfect alternatives for open air light applications. Their aspect makes them very dependable notwithstanding amid dim sky days.
2. Sun powered LED lights have upgraded effectiveness
LEDs and sun powered cells share loads of attributes like they both require adjusting and sorting for execution to be upgraded. Sun powered LED lights need to adjust resistors since they are all around designed. They enhance light levels and current streams and this enormously enhances the general framework effectiveness.
3. They can be calibrated to address client issues
They are programmable and can be calibrated not at all like their ordinary lighting partners. They won't just convey the light where it is required, however will likewise convey at once and levels that are required. This has diminished the sun oriented board size furthermore the battery limit by a colossal rate. You can choose a lighting profile that works for your application. You can likewise have custom profiles introduced to coordinate your undertaking nature and size when utilizing sun based LED lights.
4. You will appreciate developed battery runtime
Most galaxies today have tended to battery drops that are normal with the frameworks. When you pick a sunlight based LED light that is deliberately organized, you will appreciate highlights tending to framework cost, siting issues and board size to ensure that your definite needs are fulfilled. At the point when the framework operation is guided by the precise needs, you have nearby, then you can make certain to appreciate expanded run time of the battery making them entirely dependable.
5. You show signs of improvement execution even in icy climate
Sun powered LED lights and sunlight based cells offer enhanced execution, effectiveness and even lifetime administration amid colder temperatures, making them profitable contrasted with other light sorts whose lifetime and execution drop amid colder atmospheres like DC fluorescent. A sun based LED light can last up to ten times longer as DC fluorescent in these frosty situations making it more dependable.
Sun powered LED lights come in various styles and outlines and in addition sizes, making it workable for you to pick the lights that are most suited for your open air needs. It begins by considering the lighting prerequisites you have in your space before then selecting the best lights.
Sun based LED lights are unquestionably worthwhile yet you should likewise guarantee that you get your lights from dependable sources to appreciate all the advantages.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
We have a special treat for you on Rainmaker FM this week …
Music legend and entrepreneur Henry Rollins joins Brian Clark on Unemployable to discuss how his career (including his role as frontman of Black Flag) has thrived due to a DIY-producer ethic, why he formed his own publishing company, and how he became a self-made media personality.
There's a lot of other great content on the network these days, so be sure to check out the rest of the shows highlighted in this week's edition of Rainmaker Rewind.
- Unemployable. Henry Rollins joins Brian Clark for a second time to discuss music, entrepreneurship, and the art of self-promotion: Henry Rollins on Entrepreneurial Art
- Copyblogger FM. Sonia Simone dives into why focusing on email opt-ins is one of the most important content marketing practices: Content Marketing Best Practices: Getting Email Opt-Ins
- The Digital Entrepreneur. Brian Clark and Jerod Morris explain how you should be using social media to connect with your audience: Does Your Social Media Strategy Need a Mindset Shift?
- Hack the Entrepreneur. Jon Nastor chats with Paul Kortman about the transition from office life to entrepreneur life: The Reluctant Path to Becoming an Entrepreneur
- Elsewhere. Charlie Gilkey welcomes Sonia Simone to The Creative Giant Show to chat about marketing, careers, and digital business: Sonia Simone on The Creative Giant Show
- The Missing Link. Jabez Lebret and Steve Anderson discuss building authority and becoming an influencer on LinkedIn: An Influencer's Guide to Building Your Authority on LinkedIn
- Zero to Book. Jeff Goins and Pamela Wilson review the various means of publishing and identify which route is ideal for authors - especially first-timers: Artisanal Publishing and the Hidden Power of the Beginner's Mind
- The Showrunner. Jerod Morris and Jon Nastor explain how and why booking guests for your podcast is well-worth the sometimes overly complicated booking process: How to Execute Engaging Podcast Interviews
- Confessions of a Pink-haired Marketer. Sonia Simone talks web traffic, sales pages, and the one element you need to master if you want your content to work: The Context of a Successful Content Strategy: The Harpoon and the Net
- Youpreneur. Chris Ducker shares the top five reasons why originality is so important in business and gives away one of the keys to long-term business success: How Being 'Original' Can Boost Your Business Faster than Anything
And, one more thing …
If you want to get my Rainmaker Rewind picks of the week sent straight to your favorite podcast player, subscribe right here on Rainmaker FM.
See you next week.
The post Rainmaker Rewind: Henry Rollins on Entrepreneurial Art appeared first on Copyblogger.
Friday, May 27, 2016
As everyone says…
You need to build an email list.
Email marketing provides the highest ROI for most businesses at $40 for every $1 spent (on average).
I'm sure you see a ton of content on a regular basis that shows you different ways to build that email list. Great.
But how much do you see that tells you how to interact with that list effectively?
I think it's safe to guess not much.
I wouldn't be surprised if you had questions such as:
- What do I send my subscribers?
- How do I keep open rates high?
- How do I make my emails exciting?
While I can't show you all of that in a single post, I'm going to show you 7 different types of emails that most businesses can send.
These types of emails are emails that your subscribers and customers will enjoy getting, will interact with, and will help you build strong relationships.
1. Exclusive offers make subscribers feel special (but which kinds are best?)
It's nice when someone, whether a close friend or a relative stranger, goes out of their way to do something nice for you.
As a website owner with an email list, you're hopefully somewhere in the middle of that friend-stranger spectrum in the eyes of your subscribers.
If you can do something for your subscribers that they really appreciate, it will do many important things:
- Make them think more highly of you
- Make them more loyal (to stay a subscriber and to buy in the future)
- Make them more willing to reciprocate (if you ask for a share, referral, or something else).
The question then is: what can you give them?
For most businesses, an exclusive offer is the best thing they can give.
Let's go through a few real examples and then some more general situations.
First, you can offer a live event that only your subscribers are invited to. Not only will the event be valuable because it's live, but it will also be well attended because it's exclusive.
Bryan Harris often does this, so it must work well for him. For example, here is an email with an offer to attend a private mastermind:
He sends a few emails leading up to the event and one or two at the last minute. They aren't complicated-just a brief description of what to expect in the event.
What else can you offer subscribers? Another thing of value that doesn't cost you much, if anything, is early access.
Matthew Barby created a WordPress plugin and sent this email to his subscribers, giving them free access to it:
That's a pretty sweet offer. In reality, Matthew is also gaining his first group of users, which is another win for him.
If you're launching any big guides or tools, consider getting early feedback from your subscribers.
What else can you offer?
- Secret products (like limited one-on-one consulting)
- A sneak peak at original research
- Free samples
Be creative. If you can think of any other ideas, tell me about them in a comment at the end of the article.
2. Give subscribers the gift of convenience
Take care of your subscribers because your list is one of the most valuable assets you own.
You can give value in many ways. Some may be big gestures (email type #1), but even small things go a long way.
If someone is on your list, that means they've already told you that they like your content (if they signed up from a blog post, for example).
However, just because they want to hear your thoughts and advice doesn't mean all your subscribers want it in the same way.
Typically, you'll email all your subscribers about any new content you create. When you do this, consider giving them alternative ways to consume the content. Make it as convenient as you can.
For example, Tim Urban created a long post about SpaceX. He then sent out this email to subscribers:
On top of the regular link that he had already sent his subscribers, he sent this email with two other options: a PDF version and an audio version.
It takes a fraction of the time to re-create the original content in a different form, but it adds a lot of extra value.
Nathan Barry offers another way to make your content more convenient.
After he hosts a webinar, he uploads it to YouTube and sends an email with a link to all his subscribers.
It's something that I know most subscribers really appreciate, and it also exposes his webinar to those subscribers who forgot to sign up for the event.
Convenience typically comes in the form of different mediums of content.
If you wrote a blog post, particularly a long one, consider emailing it to your subscribers with more than one version:
- a cheat sheet
- audio version
- video summary
Or if you created a video, reformat that into:
- an e-book
- an MP3 download
- a video download
- a cheat sheet/summary
You don't need to create all the formats. Just think about which ones your subscribers would like most and which make sense for the content you made.
3. Short value emails can be a nice change of pace
Think about your subscribers' email boxes.
Day after day, they get several emails from friends, families, and businesses they like.
What do most of the business emails consist of?
- “Read our content”
- “Buy our stuff”
About 90% of business emails fall into these two categories.
And it's not that those types of emails aren't valuable to your subscribers-because they are, but some subscribers will get fatigued by them.
If you're looking to maximize your subscriber happiness as much as possible, consider sending emails that focus on nothing but teaching something interesting to your subscribers.
No links to your content or anyone's website.
No asking for replies-just a clear show of value.
Bernadette Jiwa is known for her story-telling talent.
She sends out this exact type of email I'm talking about on a regular basis. Sometimes her emails have links underneath, and sometimes they don't.
Here's an example of such an email (yes, that's the whole thing):
It's short but gives her subscribers an interesting thing to ponder, which helps them tell better stories (their goal).
It's a nice break from overwhelming amounts of content (which I may be guilty of myself).
4. Highlights need to be interesting
Email newsletters are nothing new.
Any email sent out on a regular basis that summarizes what's been happening on a site can be considered an email newsletter.
They're supposed to consist of highlights.
But like the name implies, they need to consist of the very best of your site.
Whether you have user-generated content or content produced by your writing team, highlight emails are an option.
However, make sure you're not including everything. But don't select content randomly either.
You should be giving previews of the most popular content on your site for that particular time period.
For example, Quora (the question and answer site), regularly sends users the most upvoted questions from their feeds.
Here's what it looks like:
I would guess that these are automatically generated by the most upvoted questions during the week.
5. One way to show that you really respect subscribers
One goal that every email marketer should have is to form deeper relationships with subscribers.
Admittedly, this is difficult. It's tough to break down that barrier over email only. You've probably never met your subscribers, and by default, they think of you as just another business.
Even if they like your business, most subscribers will still be skeptical about your claim that you care about them and not just their money.
One thing I encourage businesses to do is find employees through their email list.
I've done it before, as have many others. Here's an example of Ramit Sethi sending an email to his list while looking to hire for more than 10 positions:
When you do this, you make it clear that you think of them as people whom you respect and who you believe have valuable skills.
And it's good business too. Your subscribers likely have an in-depth understanding of your business and obviously think in similar to you ways (since they like you).
Even if someone doesn't apply or doesn't get hired, it's clear to them that you're looking to develop partnerships and relationships with people on your list.
It's one way to break down that barrier a bit and become more than “just another business.”
6. Don't fall victim to the “curse of knowledge” (deliver your best stuff)
Many bloggers suffer from the “curse of knowledge.”
The curse of knowledge is a fairly old concept. It basically states that it's hard to understand what lesser-informed people are thinking.
If you're an expert in math, it would be hard for you to even fathom that someone doesn't understand something like basic calculus.
It's the reason why some people are geniuses but absolutely awful teachers. Conversely, someone who just learned something can often teach it best because they understand the perspective of someone who doesn't know it.
Let's apply this to your subscribers and content.
Over the years, you might write hundreds of pieces of content. At that point (possibly present day), you're naturally going to assume that your average new subscriber is more informed than they used to be.
For me, as an example, it's easy to assume that every new subscriber understands on-page and off-page SEO as well as concepts such as white-hat and black-hat link building.
From that perspective, it's hard for me to send them my advanced guide to SEO because I'm assuming they already know everything in it.
Chances are, though, your average new subscriber won't change much over time.
And it's very likely that my average new subscriber could benefit from more general SEO knowledge before I get to the specific tactics I currently write about.
The autoresponder “crash course”: If you think that this is a problem, one way to fix it is with an autoresponder sequence.
Think of what an average subscriber knew even a year or two ago, and make a list of what they need to learn to get up to speed with the rest of your content.
Then, put together an autoresponder sequence that you send to all new subscribers, where you showcase your old content that teaches these basic concepts.
For example, if you sign up for Wordstream's list, a PPC optimization business, you'll get a few emails like this:
The guides are all older content, and the field may have advanced since it was written, but the fundamentals hold true, and new subscribers will greatly appreciate learning them.
The takeaway from the “curse of knowledge” is that you're probably giving subscribers a bit too much credit. Don't assume they've read every single post you've ever written-because they haven't.
Don't be afraid to send emails featuring the best of your older content.
7. Preview big events that subscribers will be interested in (be your own hype man)
You need to give subscribers incentives to open that next email.
There are many ways to do this, but one way is to build hype in advance.
Think about any popular TV show. They show previews for the next episode in commercials and at the end of episodes.
These get you excited, and you make sure you watch the next episode.
Brian Dean does a similar thing really well, but for content.
For example, he sent this email to subscribers:
In that email, he shared his story about struggling and then finally succeeding with SEO.
It's an interesting story that draws you in and makes you curious about the specifics of his success (building hype).
At the bottom of the email, he teases subscribers with bullet points that outline what he's going to show them over the next few emails:
Right at the end, after building that hype, he tells them to watch out for his next email in which he'll send the first post about how to succeed with SEO like he did.
You'd better believe that he had a fantastic open rate on that email.
You can do the same. When you're planning to publish a big piece of content or a new tool, first send an email that focuses on the benefits of it.
If possible, tie it into an entertaining story to suck in your subscriber even more. That will only add to the anticipation.
It's not enough just to build an email list-you have to use it effectively.
Emails are a great personal way to communicate with subscribers and customers.
Use as many of these 7 types of emails (where they make sense) to start building more meaningful relationships.
If you're having trouble deciding exactly what to send to your subscribers, just fill me in on your situation in a comment below, and I'll point you in the right direction.
This Week In Credit Card News: Thieves Steal $12 Million With Fake Cards; Free Credit Scores For All
Creating great content is pointless…
…unless you're getting it in front of your target audience.
You do this by using any one of a number of promotional tactics to reach your target audience on a variety of platforms.
Most of these platforms can be grouped together, and that's where we get marketing channels. A promotional tactic can then be applied to most of the platforms in the channel.
For example, social media is a marketing channel, consisting of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Depending on whom you ask, you'll get different answers to the question of how many marketing channels there really are.
The number gets even more complicated if you consider that there are many offline marketing channels as well.
However, for most of us, the number of channels doesn't matter.
What does matter is that there is a handful of core channels that are by far the most effective digital marketing channels.
That's what this post is all about.
We'll go over the six main digital marketing channels you should at least be familiar with. On top of that, I'm going to show you how to evaluate each channel to determine whether it's worth your time.
The real power of studying channels: If you want to learn this stuff because you love marketing, that's great. But there's also a great practical reason for you to want to learn it.
Once you learn how to identify the best marketing channels for your business, you can study them and create content for those specific channels (and sites in them).
By targeting content towards a specific audience, you're much more likely to create something they'll love and want to read.
Channel #1: Search engines (SEO) is the best place to start
There are very few websites that wouldn't benefit from search engine traffic.
No matter what industry you're in, some of your target customers are using search engines to search for something.
That doesn't mean you should necessarily spend all your time on SEO. It's not always the best channel, but it's one that you must research.
What you should be looking to do at this point is just some basic keyword research. Afterwards, you can do some more advanced keyword research with these resources:
- 5 Modern Keyword Research Methods to Uncover Hidden Gems
- Keyword Research – The Advanced Guide to SEO
- How to Use the Google Keyword Planner Tool for SEO
Here, we just want to see the general number of searches your target audience does every month.
For that, the Google Keyword Planner will work just fine.
Start by entering some broad niche keywords. For example, “content marketing” or “social media marketing” if you were starting a blog like Quick Sprout.
Look through the list that comes up, and see how many keywords have a significant search volume (at least a few hundred per month).
While you're missing out on a lot of keywords using this simplistic method, you want to see at least 50 keywords worth targeting.
If you don't know where to start when it comes to searching for keywords, find a close competitor in your niche.
Then, enter their URL in the website field of the keyword planner instead of typing in keywords.
If they have a WordPress blog, you can typically add “/feed” to the end of their blog URL to get a more complete set of keywords.
For example, instead of entering:
That will give you a set of really broad keywords, and you can enter any of those into the tool to get a list to analyze.
Channel #2: If you want readers fast, PPC (pay-per-click advertising) is the way
When you identify a marketing channel, you first want to make sure you can actually reach your readers through it.
After, you need to decide if it's ideal for your business. All channels have their strengths and weaknesses.
SEO, for example, can provide you with steady, high-quality free traffic. The downside is that it is hard to earn that traffic, can take a long time to get, and requires an upfront investment.
PPC, on the other hand, allows you to drive the same type of traffic (if you're using AdWords) from day one of publishing content. There are also many more platforms you can use other than search such as Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising, or even a small network like 7search.
The downside is that it's expensive, and if you don't have a solid conversion funnel in place, you'll end up wasting that traffic and losing money.
When can you use paid advertising? Another benefit of PPC is that you can use it for virtually any niche.
If there's search traffic, you can advertise on Google or Bing.
If it's most popular on social media, you can advertise there.
If you have a significant content promotion budget (on an ongoing basis), PPC is an option at your disposal.
However, if you don't already have a solid sales funnel, be prepared to lose money.
Your time should mostly be spent optimizing ads and conversion rates of your content (readers into email subscribers). From there, you'll need to determine the best way to sell to those subscribers.
Channel #3: You don't always have to compete with other blogs
If you're starting a blog, I sure hope there are at least a few other, remotely similar to yours, popular blogs that already exist.
If not, there probably aren't many potential customers reading blogs in that niche, and you're wasting your time. The one exception is if you're writing about a very new topic that has just started growing.
These blogs are usually seen as competition, but they don't have to be.
A reader is not an all-or-nothing asset. A reader can follow multiple blogs.
If you give blog owners an incentive, you may be able to get them to allow you to get your message in front of their readers.
The main ways are:
- Guest-posting – I guest-post on a regular basis and have written multiple guides to using it effectively. Here, the incentive is free content for the site owner. Of course, you need to make sure that your content is good enough to be worth it. Not all blogs allow guest posts, but many do.
- Joint content – For all my advanced guides (in the sidebar), I've gotten help from respected bloggers in each niche. They get publicity, and I get help with my content.
- Sponsored posts – You can contact a blogger and offer to sponsor a post. These typically involve a few mentions naturally throughout a post.
- Joint ventures – You can even get involved with a product a blogger sells and help improve it. Their customers will see you in a very good light, and many will follow you because of it.
For now, you want to find as many of those blogs as you can.
It's pretty easy these days. Start by Googling a phrase like “top (niche) blogs.”
You'll probably find at least a few results, featuring long lists of blogs in your niche.
Write these down somewhere.
You can also head to Alltop, find your niche in the menu bar, and then write down the blogs that come up:
Traffic is king: There's no point in doing a guest post on a site with very little traffic. Even if your post is great, you'll only get a few readers from it.
Your next step is to estimate the traffic levels of each site you wrote down.
Visit each site, and look for:
- Average number of comments on each post
- Average number of social shares
- How well designed the site is
- Whether the number of subscribers is listed anywhere
It's hard to know if a site has a lot of traffic, but if it's getting 5+ comments or 100+ social shares on each post, it has enough to consider partnering with.
Filter out all the low traffic sites. If you still have 20+ sites left to potentially work with, then these blogs are another channel you can target.
Channel #4: Can you be social?
Social media sites are usually hit or miss.
Some niches, like fitness, food, fashion, and even marketing to a degree, are highly shareable.
In order to use social media effectively, you need those extra followers and readers you get from “likes” and “shares.”
That's why you don't see a lot of asphalt companies or paper companies killing it on social media. It's really hard to create shareable content in those niches.
To see whether it's viable for your niche, you can use Buzzsumo, a tool I've mentioned many times before. Not only will it show you if your niche is popular on social media, but it will also tell you which social media sites to focus on.
Type your niche into the top content tool. If the results seem irrelevant, add quotation marks around your keyword:
In addition to the core keywords, I recommend typing in a few related keywords for more data.
You're looking for two things here:
- Is content in my niche shareable? – If there are several pieces of content with over 1,000 shares, it's safe to say that your niche is viable on social media.
- Which network(s) is most popular? – You'll likely see that one or two networks make up 90% of the shares. In the case above, Twitter is the dominant source, followed way behind by Facebook and LinkedIn in most cases.
While there may be a few fluctuations, you'll see that there is a pattern when it comes to the most popular social networks. You'll want to focus on the most popular ones if you choose to use social media.
Channel #5: Forums are the backbone of the Internet
Forums have been around since the start of the Internet and continue to play a big part in most users' online lives.
While getting readers from forums doesn't scale very well, it can be very effective when your blog is new and you need that initial audience to write for.
On top of that, it's free-other than your time investment.
Here, you need to find out whether there are any popular forums. To do so, Google for “(niche) + forum.”
You need a minimum of one highly active forum. You want to see 100+ users a day making new posts.
Check out the first few results, and see if any meet that criterion.
You can usually scroll to the bottom of a forum to see how big it is.
Turns out, there actually aren't any good content marketing forums – bummer.
If you run into a case like this, you do have the option of expanding your scope (“marketing forums”), but it's usually better just to move on.
Channel #6: Q&A sites
Some might group question and answer (Q&A) sites with social media sites, but I think they're distinctive enough to warrant their own section.
The biggest Q&A sites are Quora and Yahoo Answers.
Just like forums, these don't scale well, but they can drive a good amount of traffic to your blog (if you include links in answers).
One bonus is that your answers will rank well in Google for long tail search terms (which are usually questions), which will send you consistent traffic in the future as well.
Head to Quora, and start typing your niche into the search bar. You're looking for a topic that is exactly the same as yours or close to it (click it):
Quora provides follower statistics on each topic page on the right. If a topic has a good number of followers (say 20,000+), it's active enough that you could focus on it as a marketing channel:
As a side note, here's my post on using Quora for marketing.
Now that you have a good grasp of the ways to determine whether you could use a channel for marketing, it's decision time.
Take a look at each channel, and first decide if your audience uses it (as I've shown you).
Then, consider the relative popularity of each channel, your budget, and your goals, and determine the top 1-3 channels.
You don't want to try to target too many channels at once. Instead, focus on one or two, and put all your resources into using them effectively.
If you need help doing this, I'm happy to try to point you in the right direction. Leave me a comment below with as much detail as possible, and I'll try to help out.
It was an early morning of coffee, loud music, and blasting the internet with everything I could muster.
I had already published a few articles on my website, skipping the draft process. Then I scrambled to share them on every social media network and group chat that I could think of.
Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Slack channels, Facebook groups, email newsletter(s) - you know the drill.
It was a copy/paste nightmare, but that's what the “experts” had told me to do. The familiar phrases of “Content is king!” and “Blog every day!” were among the many maxims running through my mind that morning.
We are often told that your frequent presence online is vitally important. More interaction, more connection, more conversion.
This is partially true, but experience has taught me that excessive presence damages both your authority and your own personal fulfillment.
More content is not always better content
I was on a content-production rampage during this particular reinvention (yes, I've done this “online thing” quite a few times, and from scratch). Yet, I was just as internally frustrated as when I wasn't producing any content at all.
The problem - obvious now in hindsight - is that more does not always mean better.
It's the most basic of truths, known by everyone you've ever met, yet contrary to the mainstream teachings of many online “gurus.”
Instead of wasting your time with fruitless effort, here are five steps that will help calm your content anxiety and safeguard you against our shared tendency to believe frequency trumps quality.
Step #1: Adopt the “One-day-queue” rule
Slowing down might sound easy, but it's far from it.
If you're like me, your typical routine is to go from inspiration to creation to production in the same morning (thanks to that gallon of coffee).
That habit makes sense when you're passionate about your project. Unfortunately, it may stunt your capacity to produce meaningful work for your audience.
Instead, live by what I call the “one-day-queue” rule:
When you are inspired, resist the urge to create and publish on the same day.
This includes blog posts too - don't rush to publish an idea that you haven't fully developed.
Hold back to ensure you're publishing the most relevant, useful content.
Step #2: Work with an editor
If you write any type of content, working with an editor should be a priority.
Your editor can shield you from your own impulsiveness and prevent you from publishing a post on your blog or sending your email newsletter in a fury.
When you get in the habit of having someone else review your content before you publish, you're forced to slow down your process.
Editors also don't have to be expensive. If you ask a friend, coworker, or family member, he or she might even review your work for free to support you.
An “editor” who has an eye for polished content will help you craft your best work - and any cost will be money well-spent.
Step #3: Schedule social media updates
What do I mean by that?
Let's say you're scanning - you guessed it - your Twitter timeline, and you get an idea for a tweet.
Instead of satisfying the urge to post that tweet immediately, funnel your impulse through a filter by scheduling it for at least 10 minutes in the future.
In that time, you might rethink posting that tweet and therefore have time to delete or rephrase it.
That's an option you wouldn't have had if you just impulsively posted the tweet.
Step #4: Learn the art of observation
Simply observing may be difficult for some creatives, but it's undeniably required.
Discovering and examining your audience's needs will help you serve them better.
Spend more time watching and less time building.
Don't build for the sake of production; build for the sake of creating a solution.
Solve your audience's problems, and you won't have to shout so loud.
Step #5: Focus on the entire process, not just the product
I once mentioned in a newsletter email on mobile-first design that web designers should focus more on the process than the product.
It's understandable that we have a natural tendency to be preoccupied with that glorious finished product - part of the process, even.
But our motivator can often become a distraction and we neglect other important steps.
Aim to balance the time you spend on your marketing efforts and creating your products.
Better content, at a manageable pace
Following these guidelines has allowed me to craft high-quality content at a more regular pace, and with less effort.
I don't write a blog post and publish it the same day, or blast out an email prematurely, just to find several typos in each of them the next day.
Instead, I feel confident knowing that the content I do publish (or cancel) has been carefully reviewed.
In turn, those who follow me receive better content, read articulated and refined writing, and experience an overall stronger presentation.
The post How to Calm Your Content Anxiety in 5 Simple Steps appeared first on Copyblogger.
You've probably heard us talk about landing pages a lot around here.
There is a good reason for that.
When executed correctly, a landing page is a powerful tool that helps you gain new subscribers, sell your products, and more.
But what exactly is a landing page?
Watch our short, fun video about landing pages
Here's our video for the definition of a landing page:
Animation by The Draw Shop
And for those of you who would prefer to read, here's the transcript:
A landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result. Think of a golf course … a landing page is the putting green that you drive the ball, or prospect, to.
Once on the green, the goal is to put the little white ball in the hole in the grass. Likewise, the goal of the copy and design of a landing page is to get the prospect to take your desired action.
The goal could be to sell a product. It could be to get email newsletter sign-ups. It could be to download an ebook. Watch a video. Sign a petition.
The variety of landing page goals is endless, but the important thing to remember is to have one goal per landing page.
One page, one goal. Nothing more.
Share this video
Click here to check out this definition on YouTube and share it with your audience. You'll also find 11 additional Content Marketing Glossary videos.
Learn more from the Content Marketing Glossary
We'll feature the rest of the videos soon, but if you'd prefer not to wait, you can watch all the videos now by going directly to the Content Marketing Glossary.
If you would like to learn more about landing pages, visit these three resources:
- Landing Pages: Turn Traffic into Money
- The Savvy Marketer's Checklist for Seductive Landing Pages
- 3 Surprising Stages of Successful Landing Pages
By the way, let us know if you have any definitions you'd like us to add to the glossary! Just drop your responses in the comments below.
The post Landing Pages Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video] appeared first on Copyblogger.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Halfway through the writing course, our instructor - not known for being one to sugar-coat - threw out a challenge:
“Send me a favorite piece of your writing and I'll critique it; I'll tell you whether or not it's any good. The only catch is, I'll be critiquing it in front of the entire class.”
A surprising number of us (bristling with hope and hubris I suppose) took up the offer. The ensuing session was, to date, the most illuminating experience I've had as a writer.
The key message we all took away?
Not that we needed to self-edit more tightly or have better ideas. It was this:
If we wanted to be truly great writers, we had to first write many, many words. And then we had to be willing to walk away from the majority of them.
Back to the session …
Find the single, golden line
The first thing our instructor did was throw most of our work straight on the scrap heap:
“Completely vanilla. If you have nothing new to bring to this topic, don't add to the noise out there in the world about it.”
Next came her response to a 1,000-word piece of text. From it, she identified a single, golden line - the seed of a big idea:
“Start again with just that line. Throw away the rest.”
A rambling 900-word tribute to someone dearly departed? Ruthlessly whittled down to 250 emotion-laden words that cut the reader to the core.
At the end of the session, our instructor told us not to feel dismayed. She applied the same ruthlessness to her own work; three out of four blog posts she wrote never saw the light of day.
This was revolutionary to me. Previously, I assumed that if I'd spent any amount of time writing and editing it, then the content was worth publishing.
After? I discovered the truth in her lesson and found that throwing away words made the difference between simply creating content and creating content that resonated deeply with the world.
I also found that while my “throwing-away-words muscle” was pretty weak initially, the more I used it, the stronger it got.
So, how do you exercise that muscle? These three activities helped me.
1. Make time each day to free write
As someone with limited time on her hands, I always felt pressure to make the most of my precious writing hours.
While I was making time to write every single day via a daily Morning Pages habit, I'd spend that time writing first drafts. (Not really in the spirit of Morning Pages!)
I decided to stop with the “first drafting” and instead use Morning Pages the way they were intended - as an exercise for writing 750 stream-of-consciousness words.
It was astonishing to see the incredible thoughts and ideas that emerged from that pressure-free environment; they were ideas I'd never have accessed without the time, space, and permission to write hundreds of words I might never use elsewhere.
2. Write first drafts longhand
I always used to type first drafts on my computer … and I also would edit along the way.
This is bad form: Editing as you write is not terribly efficient, but worse than that, I was extra reluctant to let those words go - even if I knew they weren't working - because it had taken so much effort to produce them in the first place.
So, I tried writing my first drafts longhand, and one of three things started to happen:
- I was more willing to let an idea go if I realized I couldn't effectively communicate it.
- I'd start writing about one idea and then another, much better idea would emerge.
- I'd write my first draft at night and my subconscious would ponder it while I slept. The next day, my second draft was always infinitely better than if I had typed the first draft.
3. Give yourself time to do complete rewrites
He initially wrote what he called a “minimum viable book,” put it out in beta to a select group of readers, and gathered their feedback. Then, after a considerable amount of editing based on their feedback, he started again from scratch.
He started again from scratch?
That sounded like a nightmare.
But then I started giving myself more lead-time when I wrote articles.
Having considerable breathing space between each draft helped me see when I needed to start again in order to communicate an idea more clearly.
The key was, I now had time to do a complete rewrite instead of trying to edit the existing piece into something workable.
The path to great words
Many writers I know don't complete their final drafts until the last moment, fooling themselves into thinking they work better under pressure. I used to think that too.
And, certainly, I've always been able to produce work that is “good enough” while under pressure.
But I want certain content I write (like this article for Copyblogger) to be better than “good enough.” I want my writing to change how people think and move them to take action that makes their lives better or easier - or makes the world a better place.
For those pieces of writing, I make sure I set aside enough time to write thousands of words to start.
Because I know that's the surest path to the words I really want. The ones that are great.
The post One Skill that Will Take Your Writing from Good to Great appeared first on Copyblogger.
Monday, May 23, 2016
If you want to build a software business, there are a lot of advantages to the world of WordPress plugins.
To begin with, you have a built-in audience of committed users. That audience is massive - around a quarter of the planet's websites use WordPress. And that number is growing every day.
But we all know that “Build it and they will come” is a myth - for software or any other business.
There are tens of thousands of plugins with just a few downloads, and a few successful standouts.
Here's how to put your awesome plugin in the second category.
#1: Start with the user experience
User experience should drive your code, not vice versa
Successful plugins are built on a foundation of excellent user experience.
WordPress expert and evangelist Chris Lema sees an awful lot of popular plugins.
He had this to say in his article on The one thing many WordPress plugin developers seem to forget:
“… Most developers seemed to think about the user experience only after most of the development of their plugins was complete.” – Chris Lema
His recommendations include:
- Getting users involved early on - don't try to design your plugin in a vacuum
- Measuring the number of clicks to complete each main task - keep tasks as simple as possible
- Designing the screens and experience before you write your code - experience should drive your code, not vice versa
Sometimes technical folks are tempted to start with the functionality first, then “figure out the user experience part” later. That's a recipe for expensive mistakes and a less-than-awesome plugin.
#2: Design matters
Successful plugins leverage great design.
Starting with the user experience will get you a good way down this road, but if you aren't a strongly visual person yourself, make sure you get one involved.
Even if your plugin works perfectly, it only makes it harder to get traction if it's ugly and visually disorganized or cluttered.
It's not about eye candy for its own sake - it's about careful design thinking that reinforces your plugin's functionality and makes it a pleasure to use.
#3: Serve a real need (or want)
Successful plugins address a real-world user problem or desire.
If you're not building something WordPress publishers actually want, you're going to have a tough time.
You may have a highly technical improvement that you're sure all WordPress publishers should add to their sites. But if it's solving a problem they don't care about, you'll never get any traction.
Get to know lots of WordPress users and you'll quickly learn what they want from their sites. Great plugins usually make WordPress simpler or more powerful.
Some examples include:
- More easily customizing the look of the site
- Improving the site's SEO
- Enhancing the audience experience with community-building elements
- Reducing spam
- Adding a complex and desirable feature, like a membership site
If your plugin is on the technical side, remember to translate the benefits for non-techie users.
A plugin that “improves origin caching” is great, but make sure you also translate that to: “Makes your site load a lot faster.”
#4: Have skills (or know where to get them)
Successful plugins have rock-solid code.
If you're new to programming, working on plugins can be a fun and interesting way to get better.
But if you want to create a truly great plugin, you need to pay your dues and become an excellent coder. (And no, this does not happen overnight.)
If that isn't you yet, you can shortcut this by partnering with an excellent coder. You might supply the vision, the marketing mind, and the business knowledge, and they bring their sweet dev skills.
Solid developers don't just write great code, they also work within a defined process to make sure they're releasing a quality product.
“Beyond your standard programming best practices, I think the best thing to do is to test, test, and test. Keep up your code. Have development environments with commonly found themes and plugins. Test against different configurations. If it's a commonly used theme (like Genesis), make sure it functions as expected and if not, see what needs to be done before releasing it.” – Andrew Norcross, founder of Reaktiv Studios
#5: Carve out your position
Successful plugins stake out clear positioning in the WordPress marketplace.
Just like any other software product or service, your plugin needs to occupy a well-defined position in the market.
You need to be able to communicate in an instant:
- What your plugin does
- Who it's for
- What specific and remarkable benefit it brings to sites
Keep the simplicity factor above in mind, if your plugin is intended to reach a broader audience than the most tech-savvy users.
#6: Consider working within an ecosystem
Successful plugins are part of a greater ecosystem.
Every WordPress plugin, of course, benefits from the overarching ecosystem of users and developers.
But in an era of so many plugins, many developers niche that down further, coding for a particular framework such as Genesis.
For example, one of Andrew Norcross's most popular plugins is Genesis Design Palette Pro - that lets users change the look of their Genesis sites with just a click or two, without any coding.
You might think that working within a niche ecosystem would result in fewer users, but often the opposite is the case. You'll stand out more easily, because you're crafting more specific solutions to your users' desires.
#7: Recognize the community
Successful plugin developers respect the WordPress community.
Along with the many benefits of the WordPress ecosystem, there are also community responsibilities.
Here's how Andrew Norcross put it when I asked him about the importance of nurturing the relationship with the community:
“I firmly believe it means the difference between success and failure, overall. While you can easily make a living cranking out WP code in themes or plugins for clients or agencies, there's a definite ceiling (in my opinion) with how far you can progress without being at least somewhat active in the community. More importantly, however, having a bad reputation can be a career killer. Many people put personal recommendations above all the marketing they see, and once someone develops a bad rep, it's really hard to shake it. We're beyond fortunate that at Reaktiv Studios, we have developed a solid reputation with our clients, in that many of our new leads are referrals from our previous clients.”
– Andrew Norcross, founder of Reaktiv Studios
Want some help with that?
You may have seen Brian Clark mention last week that we have a brand-new course on how to create a successful WordPress-based product or business.
When we added this course to the schedule - even though we have a wealth of in-house WordPress knowledge - we knew we wanted Chris Lema to lead it for us. In addition to being a great teacher, Chris has worked with just about every significant WordPress company on the planet.
His detailed perspective on the WordPress premium market is even broader than ours, and his experience really shows.
Here's what Chris covers in this brand-new course:
- Understanding the Size of the WordPress Ecosystem
- Determining Realistic Market Potential
- Evaluating the Competition
- Shaping Your Idea for the Win
- Scoring Your Ideas for Validity
- Understanding Estimated Cost and Potential Revenue
- Building Your PR Channels
- Finding and Hiring Developers
- Buying a Product
- Planning Your Launch
Snag the best price this week
Chris Lema's course is just one of four in-depth courses in Digital Commerce Academy - with more courses to come, as well as case studies, group coaching calls, “cutting edge” sessions on new techniques, and more.
If you want to launch a digital business or grow the one you have, Digital Commerce Academy is the place to be.
You can get access two ways, both of which offer incredible value - but both of them are about to go away:
- Invest $395 for a year of full access to everything in Digital Commerce Academy. You remain at that pricing for additional years no matter how much the price rises and no matter how many new courses we add. Cancel any time and never be charged again.
- Register for our live Digital Commerce Summit happening October 13-14, 2016 in Denver, Colorado, and get your first year of Academy free. After the first free year, you're grandfathered in at $395 for additional years no matter how much the price rises. Cancel any time and never be charged again.
On May 27, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, the Academy-only price goes up to $595, and the free year of Academy bundled with the Summit will be eliminated. As always, we have a hassle-free and no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee, so there's no risk to you.
Want more details? Click here to get started.