Archive for BLOGGING

How to Get Found

By: Guy Kawasaki

Brian Halligan is the founder and CEO of HubSpot, an Internet marketing software company that helps small and medium-sized businesses get found on the Internet and converts website visitors into leads and customers. He is also the author of Inbound Marketing: Get Found In Google, Blogs, and Social Media.

It used to be that you could efficiently grow your businesses by interrupting potential customers with outbound marketing methods like cold calls, email spam, and advertising. Today people and businesses are tired of being the targets of so much outbound marketing and they’re getting better and better in blocking it out.

At the same time, people and businesses have fundamentally changed the way they shop and learn, turning more and more to Google, social media sites and blogs to find what they want. Inbound marketing helps companies take advantage of these shifts by helping them get found by customers in the natural way in which they shop and learn. The following are Brian’s five steps to help you get “get found.”

  1. Be remarkable. Ten years ago you needed to spend gobs of money on PR and advertising to spread the word about your idea. Today the friction that marketing must overcome is very low for remarkable ideas such that they can spread on their own. Unremarkable ideas languish unfound regardless of how much PR and advertising you do. So make sure you have a unique, remarkable offering as it will spread like wildfire on the Internet if it’s truly different.
  2. Create content. Once you have your remarkable product or service, start creating lots of content about it—including blog articles, videos, podcasts, and tweets. Remarkable content about your remarkable product gets hyperlinked from other websites. Those links send you traffic, and they also tell Google that you should be higher in the rankings.
  3. Optimize content. Before publishing your content, you need to “optimize” it for Google and for the people on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc who will spread it. For Google, you should include some of your “keywords” in the title of your content piece so it will be easier for Google to find it. For readers, you should make your titles as irresistible as possible. A good model for this is this blog that uses titles like “The Art of Schmoozing,” “MBA In A Page,” and “The Top 10 Lies of Venture Capitalists.”
  4. Promote content. Once you have a remarkable piece of content that is optimized, start spreading it. Post it on your blog, email it to your newsletter subscribers, tweet it, update your Facebook fan page and LinkedIn profile with it. If the content is remarkable, others will spread it for you. As that content spreads, you will have more people follow you or subscribe to you, so that the next piece of content you publish will have a wider audience in the future.
  5. Measure results. You need to measure your results for each channel. For example, you should compare your results for Google organic branded search, Google organic non-branded search, Google paid, blog, email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn group, and tradeshow campaigns to each other. For each campaign, you need to track visitors, leads, opportunities, and customers over time. Then double down on the campaigns that are working and kill the ones that aren’t.

The fundamental way in which humans shop and learn has changed dramatically the last five years because of the increased power of word-of-mouth and search. Therefore, you need to change the way you market your products to match the way people learn and find out about them.

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Getting Your Blog Noticed

By: Matthew Lyle

It’s tough to make a blog. You can write all the great content you want, but if nobody sees it then what’s the point? Luckily there are a few things you can do to help make sure people become readers of your blog.

1. Trackbacks

Not all blogs allow these, but trackbacks are comments that are automatically sent to a blog when it’s been referenced. If you’re talking about something, and somebody else has written about it, reference it! Either directly in the post or at the end put a “Further Reading” section and put links there. This will not only get you a (most likely nofollow) link out in the blogosphere, but there’s a chance the owner of the blog you referenced will check the site out.

2. Social Networking

This topic has been done to death, but make sure you’re doing it. Especially Twitter. It’s “hawt” as hell right now. Also make sure that you’re reading other blogs and being active in the blogging community by leaving comments etc.

3. Social Bookmarking

Putting your links up on social bookmarking sites can get your website out there in the internet world, and if you get lucky, get you massive amounts of traffic. Don’t count on that, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Add a plugin like Sociable and it will make it easier for you to rise the ranks at these social bookmarking sites.

Some popular social bookmarking sites:
Digg
Stumble Upon
del.icio.us
Reddit
Technorati

4. Search Engine Optimization

Ok, it’s almost 2010 now, and if you’re NOT doing heavy SEO then you need to start over with your internet exploits. There’s no reason not to make effective headlines, have keyword rich posts, and get backlinks. I’m not going to go into SEO because that’s a whole blog on it’s own, but make sure you’re aware.

Some SEO tutorials:
Search Engine Optimization 101
8 tips to enhance your WordPress blog SEO

Some SEO forums:
Digital Point SEO forum
Wicked Fire traffic & content forum
Warrior Adsense/PPC/SEO forum

5. Link Exchanges

Not as popular as they once were, but participating in a link exchange can have some definite benefits. This isn’t just limited to Google Juice either; you’d be surprised at how many clicks I have gotten just from having a website listed in the Blogroll section of some sites. Just email all the websites you would like to exchange links with. You’ll be more successful with smaller sites, but don’t be afraid of emailing some bigger ones. The worst that can happen is they say no and you’re where you are now.

Secret Tip #6: Write! I can’t say this enough: The more content you have, the more people will talk about it. Keep writing.

35 (Really) Incredible FREE Icon Sets

http://www.smashingmagazine.com

When it comes to icons, web designers and graphic artists have an excellent opportunity to showcase their craft, prove their experience and explore their creativity. A sweet, nice icon set is a perfect showcase of designer’s work and a powerful instrument to build up your reputation online.

In fact, designers make use of it, creating absolutely amazing icon sets and offering them for free download. The result: hundreds and hundreds of sets available almost everywhere, usually not that well executed and often duplicated from other sets. However, there are indeed free high-quality icon sets. And this post is supposed to prove exactly that.

Below we present 35 incredible free icon sets which you can use for your web designs or your desktop to spice up your posts with some nice illustrations or enrich your desktop with outstanding dock icons. Some of the listed icons can be used in web designs, some of them are supposed to be primarily for desktop. So hopefully everybody will find something useful.

You might want to take a look at the following articles we’ve presented earlier:

Please notice: not all listed freebies can be used for commercial projects, however you can use all of them in your private projects of for you personal purposes. Please read the disclaimers carefully before using the icons – they’re changing from time to time.

Free Icons For Your Web Designs

Bagg & Box Telecharger Icon Pack
70 high-quality free icons released under a Creative Commons license. You can use them as illustrations for your posts or as buttons on your weblog.

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Mammoth Icons
4 freeware icons inspired by prehistoric Mammoths. They might fit perfectly to spice up your blog with some pretty funny character.

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Dino Icons
6 freeware icons of cute dinosaurs and cavemen.

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Cemagraphics Icons
Includes .png and .ico in sizes 512px, 256px, 128px, 64px and 32px.

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Wifun Icons
Website navigation icons.

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City Icons
The City icon pack contains 16 high quality (256×256 pixels) icons; PNG and ICO formats. This package includes: Hollywood Ticket icon, Umbrella icon, Hot Dog Car icon, Mail icon, Bench icon and more.

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Irish Icon Pack
26 Irish icons which you can use to brighten up your blog with some unique and beautiful icons.

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Simpsons Mail Icons
The Simpsons: 7 512 × 512px .png and .ico icons.

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Free Web Applications Icon Set
There are 20 icons designed specially for web applications (e.g. Charts, Profile, Search, Add, Delete, Email, Print, Warning and etc…). Icons come in 3 sizes; 48×48 px, 32×32 px, and 24×24 px. All of them are in PNG format with transparent background. Web Application Icons Set is completely Free for both personal and commercial projects in any way you like.

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Knob Buttons Toolbar Icons
These are 39 icons in PNG, ICNS, TIFF and ICO formats, Mac and Windows compatible, 32×32 pixels dimensions only. You are free to use these icons on your software application or website.

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Monofactor Free Vector Icon Set
The first part of the set contains 25 scalable Illustrator format icons. You can open the .ai file with any version of Illustrator above 8.0. With earlier versions, you might loose some of the effects on the icons.

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Polaroid Icon
512×512px .PNG.

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TV Icon
Perfect for an occasional blog post related to TV.

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Apple Mail Icons

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Sticky Pack
38 icons, 128×128, png, psd.

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Feedicons 2
33 impressive RSS-feed icons. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works.

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Users Icon Set
11 user icons with functions like add, chat, edit, offline, remove, send, upload, user, user group, video chat, voice chat.

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RSS-icons
9 icons.

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PI Diagona Pack
400 (200+200) icons are included in PNG format.

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Free Icons For Your Desktop & Dock Icons

Niome Icon Pack
This pack contains 90 high quality (256×256 pixels) icons; PNG and ICO formats. This package includes: Disc Icons, File Icons, Folder Icons, Hardware Icons, Network Icons, Other Icons, Start Menu Icons, Symbol Icons and more.

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iVista Icon Pack 2
This pack 2 contains 92 (256×256 pixels) icons; PNG and ICO formats. This package includes: Alarm Icons, CDs & DVDs Icons, Devices Icons, Files Icons, Folder Icons, Network Icons, Other Icons, Start Menu Icons and more.

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Flat Panel Monitor Icon
128px desktop & application icon. Don’t forget to check out the PDP Panel Icon.

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Green Icon set
9 icons.

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Onibari + Onibari Light Icon Packs
Two sets of desktop icons released under a Creative Commons license. More icons.

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iMac Icon
The package includes both PNG & ICO format.

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Vista Aero Pack
135 full sized Windows Vista icons, in large .png formats for free. Our 256×256 PNG images rival most sites that give you only small ICO files that can not be used for other things than icons.

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Simplistica
The set includes useful application and web icons which come in the sizes 16×16px, 32×32px, 48×48px and 128×128px and 32-bit transparency PNG file format. PSD’s are included as well.

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Simplexity File Icons
Includes 120 different file extension icons in both png and icon format (31mb). All major file extensions are included.

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Black Pearl
39 black pearl file pngs, containing almost all popular file formats. All pngs in 256 × 256px. Not for commercial use.

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Adobe Work Folders
.PNG format and vary in ranges from 256, 128, 96, 64, 32 & 16 pixels, .ICO (win) format and vary in ranges from 256, 128, 96, 64, 32 & 16 pixels, al in 32 & 24 bit color, .ICNS (mac) format and vary in ranges from 128, 96, 64, 32 & 16 pixels in 24 bit color (*.icl format library included for Windows)

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HP Dock Icon Set
1024px, 512px, 256px. All file types are .PNG.

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40 Ways to Take Your Ad Agency’s Blog to the Next Level

By: Michael Gass

 

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As important as it was for your ad agency to have a website, it is now equally important that your agency have a blog. A blog is the gateway to your agency.

Many agencies have a blog to be able to say, “yes, we have an agency blog.” But their blog’s content  is all over the place. No focus, no target, no purpose and therefore no traffic.

Here are 40 ways to help take your agency’s blog to the next level:

  1. Make your target audience crystal clear. 
  2. Build a community that keeps coming back for helpful, relevant content.
  3. Consistently deliver original content.
  4. Be personal and conversational in your tone. This isn’t an academic exercise.
  5. Post consistently but don’t post just to post. Make sure your material is worth the read.
  6. Asks questions, enlist feedback. You’ll build a loyal audience if they can contribute.
  7. Get your own unique URL. This is critical if you are on a site such as WordPress.com, Typepad or Blogger and you decided to change platforms.
  8. Have a clean layout that highlights your content, not a bunch of sidebar widgets.
  9. Highlight your best posts based upon your blog’s analytics, with a Best Of or Most Popular Posts page.
  10. Have a “cornerstone” post that is a summation of your blogs purpose, your point of differentiation, your stake in the sand.
  11. Start out with WordPress.com, an easy platform to upgrade from without dependency upon someone from your IT department and allows you to concentrate on the most important part of your blog, the writing.
  12. Dominate a few key words that your target audience will most likely use to find you. 
  13. Your blog’s design and layout should be configured for SEO.
  14. Get in the habit of checking your blogs analytics frequently. Keep it simple, but know at least daily the number of unique visitors, page views, top posts, how people got to your blog, search terms and incoming links. 
  15. Provide links to and from your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
  16. Include your blog address on your business cards as well as your email signature. 
  17. Allow your blog to become the “gateway” to your agency.
  18. Become the face of your agency. We are in a relationship business. Your blog should be your central platform for online engagement with your prospective client audience. People want to work with people they know, like and trust.
  19. You don’t have to be naked but be transparent. 
  20. Repurpose your blogs content using Twitter and Twitter tools such as Tweetlater.
  21. At the bottom of a post provide “Additional articles that may be of interest” and have a bullet pointed list of relevant articles as a convenience to your audience.
  22. State the purpose of your blog in the header. Don’t force people to have to dig to find out what your blog is about because most often times they wont!
  23. Don’t sell! The moment you start to sell on your blog is when you will most likely lose your audience.
  24. Show that you have a genuine compassion for your audience and a willingness to help with their marketing challenges and obstacles by “giving away your thinking.” 
  25. Always lead with “the nugget, the takeaway” of the post. Use an inverted pyramid newspaper style of writing.
  26. Identify who your audience is in your post titles. This is especially helpful when you repurpose your content on Twitter and an important part of SEO for your blog.
  27. Always take the time to link when writing about another person, company post or website. 
  28. People reading differently online so write for “scan-ability.” 
  29. Have a disciplined, organized, strategic approach to your online reading by using an RSS Reader. I recommend using Google Reader. Stay committed to it until you get through the awkward stage.
  30. If you are using WordPress.com, in the Tool Section of your Dashboard add “PressThis” button to your browser bar. It will simplify adding new material to a draft that you can later turn into a posts.
  31. If you are referencing resource material that isn’t specific to your target audience, in your intro paragraph “bridge the gap” so that they understand how it is relevant to them.
  32. Take time to develop your post titles. Great titles will generate traffic.
  33. Mix up your blog with occasional videos, podcast interviews, write something more personal that your audience might not know about you.
  34. Include search tool at the top of your blogs side bar to make it easier for your audience to find content.
  35. Be sure and list your blog site on Google, Yahoo and Technorati.
  36. Include your blog feed in your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
  37. Make it easy for people to contact you. 
  38. Encourage dialogue, feedback and engage your with audience. Allow for differing points of view. Remember to, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
  39. Comment on the well known blogs that your prospective audience are reading. This will help generate interests and traffic back to your blog.
  40. Make sure your blog’s URL is on all of your other social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

 

What Sesame Street can Teach us About Breakthrough Blogging

By: Sonia Simone

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They taught us about sharing and the letter Q. They taught us to jump rope in Spanish and how to count to 10. They taught us about life in the city, diversity, and the true love of a rubber ducky.

But did you know that Sesame Street actually has lots of lessons about how to be a better blogger?

There’s a reason Sesame Street is the longest-running children’s show in history. Actually, there are (at least) five reasons. And you can apply each of these to your blog, to create something that’s memorable, effective, and maybe even loved.

 

1. Testing, testing

Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller The Tipping Point revealed something surprising about our favorite show.

When we watch, everything feels very casual and unforced. You’d never guess that Sesame Street was actually shaped by round after round of rigorous testing with pint-sized focus groups.

Groups of little children were allowed to watch the show, with another appealing diversion just across the room. In other words, the testers tried to pull the children’s focus away.

Each time a child’s attention skipped away from Sesame Street, the producers made a note. That segment needed to be made more “sticky,” more compelling, more effective.

Kids are riveted to Sesame Street because the show is designed to be riveting. It looks informal and fun, but behind the fun is a lot of analysis.

How you can apply it: Don’t shy away from giving your analytics program a workout. (Google Analytics is free and excellent, but there are other options as well.)

Find out what kind of content rivets your audience and glues them to the screen, and what kind has your readers skipping away to find something more interesting.

Do more of what works. Do less of what doesn’t.

 

2. The people in your neighborhood

What would Sesame Street be without Cookie Monster? Or Bert and Ernie? Or Oscar, for heaven’s sake?

I’ll even admit that Elmo has a small (annoyed) place in my heart.

The storytelling in Sesame Street is grounded in memorable characters. The lessons, both academic and emotional, stick with us longer because they’re brought to life by lovable, familiar faces.

Storytelling and great characters create empathy, emotional involvement, intense interest, and even a sense of belonging. When we watch, we feel that Sesame Street is our neighborhood.

How you can apply it: Embrace your inner Grover. Be a character on your blog. That character can be quiet or loud, smart or dopey, brave or cowardly. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, with all your strengths and weaknesses.

Even if you’re a little bit goofy. Or furry. Or blue.

 

3. Make it snappy

Sesame Street’s segments are bite-sized and don’t demand too much attention or time. They keep the energy high with humor, music, color and fun.

Each segment gets to a very specific point, and it does that quickly. The show’s writers understand that their preschool-age viewers have the attention spans of fruit flies.

Unfortunately, our grown-up readers do, too.

How you can apply it: Keep things moving. Punchy, brief posts nearly always outperform weighty tomes. Yes, Maki can pull it off, but most of the rest of us can’t.

 

4. Focused variety

While the imagination of a child is nearly limitless, the focus of Sesame Street is nicely constrained.

Letters. Numbers. Emotional or confusing situations faced by preschool children. That’s about it.

Sesame Street uses the same sets, the same characters, the same animation styles, the same motifs to make these points again and again. There’s certainly enough variety to keep everyone interested, but the show never sprawls. They know exactly what they’re there to do, and they stick to the territory they’ve staked out for themselves.

How you can apply it: Strive for the same balance of focus and variety. Yes, you want to mix things up so your readers don’t get bored. But you also need to find your own best territory, then explore that thoroughly.

Don’t worry too much if you haven’t defined your territory yet. It can take some time to find your own “sweet spot.” But when you do, stick with it.

 

5. Once more, with feeling

Watch Sesame Street for a week and things will start to look strangely familiar.

The show’s writers know that little children need repetition to learn. But they don’t hammer away at the letter A for an entire hour. That would bore their audience to tears. Or at least tantrums.

Instead, Sesame Street comes back to the same lessons again and again, at intervals. Every day, people interact with Oscar and learn about handling grouches. Every day, the Count sings about his love of numbers. Every day, a letter and a number are selected. The show comes back to that letter and number again and again, in short bursts, with other material in between.

 

How you can apply it: If your blog has key themes (and it should), you’re going to repeat yourself. It’s natural to try to avoid that, but you shouldn’t.

Repetition is how you’ll get your most important points across. You’ll have to keep working to create fresh angles, metaphors, and interesting new frameworks for those ideas. That’s where a little art (and craft) can come in handy.

Try putting these five techniques into your blog. You might not create something as magnificent as Sesame Street. But isn’t it worth shooting for?

9 Benefits of TWITTER for Bloggers

By: PRO-BLOGGER

http://www.problogger.net

Twitter-Benefits

I was a little slow getting onto Twitter last year (when so many other bloggers embraced it). To be honest I didn’t think it had much to offer me – I’m beginning to see how wrong I was.

In this post I want to explore how I’m using Twitter to:

  • improve the quality of my blogs
  • network with other bloggers
  • widen my readership
  • grow my profile
  • drive traffic to my blogs

Before I get into some of the benefits of Twitter – let me say that I’m still new to it as a medium. I’m in a phase of experimenting and finding my voice. So please treat this as a progress report rather than a complete and definitive one.

Also note that tomorrow I’ll share some of the more practical tips of how I’m finding Twitter to be most useful. Today is more the ‘benefits’ and tomorrow I’ll make some suggestions about how to use the tool more effectively. Subscribe to my feed to ensure you don’t miss that post.

The Benefits of Twitter (to me)

One of the main things that I’ve discovered about Twitter is that no two Twitter users are using it in the same way. Almost every Twitter user that I come across tells me that they have a different objective when it comes to using it and are benefiting from it differently.

As a result I won’t attempt to write a definitive list of the benefits of Twitter – but will share how I’ve found it to benefit me (feel free to add your own comments).

1. Research Tool

One of the things that I’ve come to enjoy about Twitter the most is the way that it can be used when you’re researching a post.

  • Stuck for inspiration? Twitter and idea and see what others add to it.
  • Need an example for a point you’re making? Twitter it and you might get some good ones.
  • Got a question that you’re stuck on? Ask it to your followers to see what they think.
  • Need to test a hypothesis? Do a straw poll on your followers.

The beauty of Twitter is that it’s quick, is used by a wide variety of types of people and because of the 140 character limit to messages it keeps interactions concise, manageable and productive (usually).

Example – Let me illustrate this with a ‘live’ example. Lets just say that I’m writing a post on RSS feed subscriptions and wanted to find out how many feeds people were following. I’d post a Tweet like this:

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Now I actually posted that Tweet a few minutes ago and in the time that it took me to grab a screen shot of the tweet and made myself a coffee I’ve had the following responses:

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What other medium can you gather that kind of data in 5 minutes? (actually by now – 10 minutes later there have been 30 responses and it’s the middle of the night for most of my followers).

2. Reinforce (and expand) Your Personal Brand

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I’ve written previously about how I’ve found interacting on multiple mediums can be important in building your personal brand. Whether it be social networking, blogging, bookmarking, real life interactions etc – all of these ’straws’ when added together can go a long way to building your own brand. Twitter is another ’straw’ in my personal brand (and that of my blogs).

What I’ve found is that I’m getting emails and messages from people saying things like:

  • ‘I used to read you at ProBlogger but had lost track until I found you on Twitter’
  • ‘I subscribe to your RSS feed on the blog but seeing your posts on Twitter reminds me to read them more’
  • ‘I was scanning through someone else’s Twitters yesterday and saw your face. I recognized it from your Facebook account so thought I’d check out you.’
  • ‘I saw your name mentioned the other day on Scott Karp’s Twitter feed. I hadn’t seen your blog for a while and it reminded me to resubscribe.’

This type of comment to me illustrates that Twitter is another useful tool in putting you as a blogger in front of readers and potential readers.

The other thing that I’ll say about branding and Twitter is that it can be used to expand your brand or to show a different side of you. Some of the people that I enjoy following the most on Twitter inject humor into their Twittering that I don’t see on their blogs. There’s also something a little more personal about many of the people I follow on Twitter (even if they Tweet on a ‘professional’ topic – their voice is often more personal than on their blogs).

Example – the wonderful thing about Twitter is that it’s actually others who brand you and not just you who does all the work. Look at the example above and you see that 30 people (it’s now up to 40) answered my question and each time they did they publicly used my blog’s name and linked to my Twitter account. Those 30 or 40 people are collectively being followed by thousands of others and by responding to my question they ’sneezed’ the ProBlogger virus out to them (incidentally I’ve had 15 new followers join up since posting that question just minutes ago).

3. Promote Content

The first thing that people usually ask me when I say that I’m on Twitter is ‘how much traffic does it drive back to your blogs?’ I’ve purposely held off on writing about Twitter as a means to drive traffic until this point in this post because I don’t see it as the main benefit of the tool. Having said that – it can potentially promote content and drive traffic.

I’ve been using a tool called TwitterFeed for the last four weeks (31 days to be exact) to take the headlines and URLs from my blog’s feeds and to publish them in my Twitter account. In that time I’ve seen just over 1350 visitors come from Twitter to Problogger after something like this appears in my Twitter feed each time I post:

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That is not a massive amount considering I have over 1000 followers at the moment and considering that it’s .38% of the total traffic that the site has had in that time – however it’s not insignificant because I suspect that Twitter users are a fairly influential bunch of people and could potentially be spreading my URLs wider than just on Twitter (on their blogs etc).

Here’s how my traffic has grown since starting to use Twitter more seriously a month ago.

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One surprising thing that I found when I started publishing my stories on Twitter was that some Twitter readers told me that they now read ProBlogger exclusively through Twitter – to the point that they didn’t check the feed any more. At first I was a little concerned by this – but then i realized that it was a good thing because those readers had found a way that fitted more with their own rhythm to read my content.

Twitter had become an alternative subscription method for them. Plus it actually caused these readers to read the blog on the blog rather just in their feed reader – creating increase page views/unique visitor counts.

4. Extend Audience – Find NEW Readers

One challenge that bloggers who’ve been around for a while in their niche can face is that they reach a saturation point. They sometimes feel like everyone who will hear about them has already heard about them and they can see a plateau in their stats. This often happens 6-12 months into a blog.

My encouragement to this type of blogger is to think about where potential readers might be gathering that they’re yet to tap into. I’ve found that this has happened for me with Twitter.

I’ve already touched on how this happens above in the ‘branding’ section – however a number of Twitter users have told me that they’ve just discovered my blogs through my Tweets (and the Tweets of others). There hasn’t been a flood of new readers from this – but my Google analytics says that 27% of of the visitors who have come to ProBlogger from Twitter are ‘new’ to my blogs. For me that’s about 15-20 new readers per day through Twitter – over a year that could definitely add up and those 5000 – 7000 new readers could have a significant impact upon a community.

5. Networking

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Another obvious benefit of Twitter is the ability that it gives you to network on a different level with other bloggers, readers and ‘others’. I’ve lost count of the direct messages and group conversations that I’ve had with people that I’d never have ‘met’ any other way.

Already this has opened up some fascinating opportunities to work together on promoting each other’s content, sharing advice etc. It’s also opened up 3-4 opportunities for me to find new guest bloggers for my blogs.

One more thing on a networking front – I find it difficult to put this one into words, but there’s a certain camaraderie that develops when you read what someone’s written every hour or so throughout a day (and know that they’re doing the same with you). For me it’s something like that feeling that you get after spending a couple of days with someone at a conference – you know each other on a whole other level. Difficult to explain and I’m not sure I’ve quite put my finger on what this is (anyone able to say it better?).

6. Previews

Last week on a couple of occasions I released exclusive little previews to Twitter followers of information that I hadn’t yet posted on my blogs. I did this in two ways.

1. Once I posted news that I was yet to break on ProBlogger (I think it was about AdSense retiring their AdSense referral program). I did this because it was important news and I hadn’t yet had time to write up a post. I included in the Tweet that I’d post about it shortly – this created a little anticipation among followers (to the point where a few started direct messaging me asking when my post would go up).

2. The other time I shared a link to a post on ProBlogger that was yet to go live (ie I’d published it as an advance post at a time that was yet to happen – this created a page but no one would have known it was there). I did this as an experiment to see what would happen. The result was that when the post did go live on the blog on the front page it already had comments and a good discussion. I also found that three people had already linked to it. It also helped some readers to feel a little special to get a Twitter exclusive (in fact I’m publishing the link to this post on Twitter 3 hours before it actually goes live on the the blog).

There’s one more thing that I’d like to try in terms of combining this idea of ‘preview’ and the ‘research’ point mentioned above – and that’s to create a private post on my blog that I reveal only to Twitter followers and to then post a draft there of a post I’m working on to get feedback on before publishing it publicly. This would be an interesting exercise and explore the idea of a more communal writing of a post.

7.Speedlinking

twitter-speedlinking.png

One of the things that I’ve been doing lately instead of posting so many ‘Speedlinks’ here on ProBlogger is to share these links on Twitter. I’m doing this largely from Google Reader using a Firefox add-on created by Bob Lee. While Speedlinking is something that has worked reasonably well here on ProBlogger (in posts like this for example) I’m actually finding the medium of Twitter to be well suited to it also.

Note: – if you’re not into Twitter but still want to follow my speedlinks I’m posting alot of them in my Shared Items feed via Google Reader.

8. Story Gathering

A number of times this past week I’ve heard of breaking news in my niches via the Tweets of others. I would have heard of these stories via my news aggregator and the RSS feeds of others eventually – but due to the immediacy of Twitter I heard them just minutes after they broke.

This can be the difference between breaking a story to readers and being second or third at it.

9. Find Out What People REALLY Think

Another observation that I’ve made in the last couple of weeks while on Twitter is that people have a certain level of honesty and rawness on Twitter that they sometimes mask or hide on their blogs. I’m not sure why this is – but perhaps when confronted with saying something in 140 characters they have to strip away some of the disclaimers and politically correct language and just say what they mean.

The good thing about this is that it gives you a sense of what people are really thinking on a topic. This helps you to get to know them on a new level but also helps you keep your finger on the needs and feelings of your potential readers.

So they are some of the benefits that I’ve found of using Twitter. I’d be fascinated to hear how others have found it to be useful. Don’t forget to look out for tomorrow’s post with suggestions on how to improve your blogging with Twitter.

PS: I wrote this post over a number of days. Since starting it Maki at DoshDosh put together his 17 Ways You Can Use Twitter post which has some good suggestions too.

10 Effective Ways to Get More Blog Subscribers

10 Effective Ways to Get More Blog Subscribers

The question I seem to be getting over and over these days is…

How did you get 6,000 subscribers in 10 months?

The answer is simple—I value subscribers more than any other measure of blog success, such as page views or raw traffic. Subscribers are the life blood of a successful blog in my opinion, and frankly, I wish I had more of them.

OK, that may be a bit vague.

 So here are 10 specific strategies you can begin to implement today and start getting more blog subscribers right away.

1. Make it easy and obvious

As I’ve said before in more detail, make your subscription options prominent, offer an email alternative to RSS, and ask for the subscription, preferably at the bottom of each post.

2. Be laser focused

Make sure that you are primarily focusing on a particular topic, and the more specialized that topic is, the better you’ll do. It’s also key to step back and evaluate whether there are enough prospective readers in your chosen niche. It’s better to be brutally honest with yourself than to toil away and end up disappointed.

3. Offer a bribe

Relax, it’s nothing illegal. It’s an ethical bribe, in the form of a free ebook, report, e-course or audio series. Typically this only works with email subscriptions tied to autoresponders, because you want to condition delivery of the bonus on subscription.

But here’s a nifty way to do it with RSS:

If you have a WordPress blog, use the free Feedvertising plugin to link to the download page for your free gift. Since Feedvertising links only show up in the feed (and not in the post), only feed subscribers will see the link and have access to the bonus.

4. Use viral ebooks

This is a spin on the ethical bribe strategy, but instead you let other people give away your PDF ebook or even bundle it for sale with other products. The PDF in turn promotes your blog. Check out this post to see how I bundled my free Viral Copy report with a book that spent several days at the top of the Amazon bestseller list.

5. Dedicated subscription landing page

Create a page that is dedicated to nothing more than obtaining a subscription, and drive traffic to it from your blog, AdWords, or really any other source you want. You can even put it on a unique URL, and add in the ethical bribe strategy to increase signups. For more information on doing this with AdWords, read this article, and then this one.

6. Become a guest blogger

Contributing content to someone else’s blog may seem crazy, but it’s a solid strategy to gain exposure for your own blog and build your subscriber base. Just make it very clear to the blog owner that you require a very brief byline at the end of the post, with a link back to your site. And make sure it’s original content, not something recycled off of your blog.

7. Start a podcast

Start a related podcast on your subject matter, and get it into iTunes and listed in the various podcasting directories. Mention your blog in every episode and the benefits of subscribing, and try to land some interviews with prominent players in your niche. Not only will you be opening up a new promotional channel, you’re also creating bonus content that can be reused as part of your ethical bribe campaign for new subscribers.

8. Post in forums

A tried and true technique since the earliest days of the Internet is to be a helpful, proactive participant in forums that are important in your niche. People will notice that you are offering yourself up to others, and will be more inclined to see what else you have to offer with your blog.

9. Networking

This is perhaps the most overlooked strategy for gaining traffic and subscribers. Don’t badger other bloggers for links, because it rarely works anymore. Find a way to help them with something, and then eventually work that initial graciousness into a business relationship and even friendship. There are real people behind these blogs, and they respond to good will just like people do offline.

10. Cross-promotional deals

Here’s another cool way to make use of the Feedvertising plugin for WordPress.

Find a blogger that publishes related, but non-competitive content. Work out a deal where you both promote each other in your RSS feeds, using Feedvertising. If one blog has way more subscribers than the other, work out a ratio deal. Since Feedvertising allows you to create up to six rotating links, the smaller blog would promote the other blog continuously, while the larger blog would reserve one slot for the smaller blog, and use the other slots for other cross-promotion deals, affiliate links, or sponsor ads.

So there you have it, with one additional word of caution.

All of the above presupposes that you are producing the best content you can. If you honestly cannot say that you are doing your best work content-wise, start there. But afterwards, using some or all of the above will definitely increase your subscriber count.

 

Laws of Persuasive Blogging

The 5 Immutable Laws of Persuasive Blogging

Blogging is a great way to grow a business, promote a cause, or spread new ideas, because when you take an educational approach to marketing, you gain the attention and trust of people who might otherwise simply ignore old-fashioned advertising. Not only can those people become your customers or converts, they can also become your advocates.

 While there are as many ways to approach blogging as there are blogs, some things remain steadfast when it comes to gaining influence and prompting action. Here are the 5 bedrock elements to keep in mind when you blog to persuade:

1. The Law of Value

Your blog must provide value to the reader by addressing a problem, concern, desire, or need that the reader already has. Fresh, original content is critical.

2. The Law of Headlines and Hooks

Your post titles must stand out in a crowded, noisy blogosphere, and you must quickly communicate the value of reading further with your opening.

3. The Law of “How To”

People don’t want to know “what” you can do, they want to know “how” it’s done. If you think you’re giving away too much information, you’re on the right track.

4. The Law of the List

Love them or hate them, informational posts presented in list format are easily digestible, and allow for an efficient transfer of your value proposition to the reader.

5. The Law of the Story

Stories are the most persuasive blogging element of all, as they allow you to present a problem, the solution, and the results, all while the connotation of the story allows readers to sell themselves on what you have to offer.

Reasons You Should Blog – Not Just Tweet