So you’ve churn out a stellar blog post. I mean a real whopper, something that will make people say, “wow, I’ve never thought of it like that!” Packed with data, case studies, and references, written with the eloquence of a modern day Shakespeare, your article is going to take the internet by storm, if only it finds a few interested eyeballs.
Hold on there, cowboy or cowgirl, it’s a long road ahead. Not that that’s anything to be afraid of. Once your blog post goes live, here are a few ways you can kickstart its ability to gain some attention.
Email sources. The advantages of citing actual sources and other authorities in a niche are twofold. First, they give your own writing extra authority because anyone can just say something, but once it’s backed up with facts and figures you can show that you’ve done your homework.
The second advantage is that you can actually try and leverage the people and sites you’ve used as sources to help share your article.
If you wrote in an article on top resources for bloggers (please, don’t actually write this article unless you can do something better than the 40,327,811 out there that already exist), you might have mentioned someone’s software that you use on a daily basis.
Once your article goes live, send the company an email and/or tweet at them, letting them know you’re a fan and saying you mentioned them in your latest post. At the end, politely ask that they consider sharing the article with their own audience if they enjoyed it.
Make friends with the big dogs, even when they seem out of reach. Every big content marketer whose blog posts now get 1,000+ shares each week started out where you are. They were grinding when no one paid attention and they recognize the struggle.
If you can offer them some sort of help in their business, if you can consistently network and show them that you ask smart questions in their comment sections, or that the posts of yours that you’re tweeting show that you’re putting in the time and effort and aren’t going anywhere, they’ll notice.
When the time comes, it might just not be too much of a stretch for you to reach out and ask if they might give some super cool thing you’ve written a nudge. That’s pretty cool (so make it happen!).
Of course, you should also be making sure that you give your own channels a mega nudge on your own.
Post to Facebook, schedule several tweets to go out over a few days using tweetdeck, post images to tumblr that link back to your content, take advantage of Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn groups, as these can be deceptively good places to get your content seen by those who would find them relevant.
More sensitive communities, like Reddit and Inbound, can also be great places to share, but will require some more finesse.
Whatever your promotional tactics, keep them constantly evolving, and don’t be afraid of trying something that might not work, because it just might be a gold mine for you.
One of the best ways to learn anything in the internet marketing world is to get out there and take action. There is absolutely no substitute for finding out what works for your exact business model and personality than by experimenting and tweaking what you focus on based upon your results.
Having said that, the second best way to learn has to be from other companies and individuals who have been through the phase you’re at already, and have been kind enough to package their own lessons into easily consumed content for you.
Often, this comes in the form of a blog, where you can regularly get updated on whatever the topic that person or company has expertise in. For entrepreneurs, here are 4 that are especially awesome and go out of their way to deliver constant value to readers.
1. The Groove Blog
Honestly, this is one of the best transparency blogs around for entrepreneurs. Run by Groove CEO Alex Turnbull, the blog follows this customer support startup every step of the way as they journey to $500k per month in recurring revenue.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of insights to be learned from a company well on their way to hitting those ambitious numbers. The nice thing is that they share a lot of things that didn’t work as well, and provide the data to back up anything they say or recommend.
2. The Daily Egg
Crazy Egg is a product all about data, so it’s not surprising that the research that goes into posts on the Daily Egg (CE’s blog) are packed with awesome research. Plus, they have a great track record of securing some awesome guest posters, which help to flesh out the blog as an authority on a wider range of subjects.
As if all of that weren’t enough, the blog is one of Neil Patel’s projects. If you don’t know Neil, he’s one of the most prolific writers and content marketers around, and just about everything he touches is gold.
3. Swift Branding
A new player on the scene, Swift Branding is run by George Karboulonis over in Greece, and it’s got a good thing going for it right now. The blog does a great job of committing to providing as any useful resources, freebies, and guides for IM’ers as possible.
While some of the content is more general or entry level, there are some real gems as well, and George seems to have a knack for getting people to share their interesting stories with him in the form of revealing case studies.
Finally, Copyblogger. Copyblogger has been around for a long time, and even has a now-rebranded media branch you can find at rainmaker.fm
While CB’s original focus was, no surprises here, copywriting, the team have really branched out over the last few years and broadened their topic reach without any falloff in quality.
Let’s get one thing out in the open straight away: We all know that podcasts are nothing new. In this newsletter, I’m not going to try and tell you that podcasts are anything new – these web-hosted, episodic radio show type broadcasts have been around for roughly a decade now. So no one would have known that they would have just soared back into popularity, but, by gosh, they absolutely have.
Of course, the time to develop the medium and for listeners/viewers to grow their expectations means that anyone who wants to standout these days is going to need to try a little harder in order to make a splash. Let’s take a look at how you can turn your personal brand(s) into the splashiest of podcast.
First things first, dig into something that you can really dominate. What are you so passionate and knowledgeable about that you’ll be able to put in more hours each day than anyone else? What part of your business do you feel you have the strongest execution in and would be the most impressive for someone earlier on in their journey to learn about?
Once you’ve honed in on something you can do well, start thinking about how you could make it interesting. For most people, podcasts start out as a series of videos or recordings where they simply talk about what they know. As long as you’re personable and can pull that off with some enthusiasm, you’re ahead of the game. That said, once you get several episodes deep, even the most prolific thinkers might be at a loss as to what to say into the microphone.
Here, a great route to go down is the Q&A route. If you’ve built up a little subscriber base, ask them to tell you what they want to know, ask how you can help with the problems they’re facing, etc. Or you can go down the tutorial route. Or you can create themed episodes in which you do a giant fast paced knowledge-dump of everything you’ve got on a certain topic. Keep your show interesting at all costs; look at what else exists in your market, and make your content the obvious choice.
This revival is also very much about the use of diverse media. In the early days, podcasts were often audio-based and lived in itunes, embedded in webpages, or even on platforms like Soundcloud and the like. Now, many podcasts come in video form – it’s not a necessity, but it does give you broader options for presenting your show. Even if you stick to audio format, take advantage of promotional graphics and logos to pique interest for your podcast.
Become memorable through the use of a catchy intro or jingle. Don’t make music? Don’t write jingles? No problem, just grab a freelancer – old standbys like fiverr, odesk, and freelancer are alright to start, but with a bit of searching you can find specialists ready to spice up your show intro without breaking the bank. There’s a reason advertisements have had jingles for decades: They get stuck in your head, and, along with them, comes brand recall.
Finally, assure good audio (and video, if applicable) quality. Don’t worry, you can do this on a budget. For most audio podcasts, you can achieve a professional sounding setup for less than $100. Grab a quality USB mic (the ‘Snowball’ and other iterations by Blue are really excellent). Once you’ve got your recording, learn a bit about how to make your voice sound nice and rich using a free program like Audacity. When you launch your podcast, try to have several episodes already recorded so that listeners will be hooked from day one.
As an entrepreneur, it’s far too easy to find yourself a bit disorganized and losing time throughout the day. As many people grow up and begin their work under the dynamic of a boss-employee relationship, it can be easy to have a bit of a crisis when first learning to self-manage. Unfortunately, that’s a mistake that’s not just left to the newbies.
While you may have avoided the disorganization and task jumping plague, here are just a few tips for making sure that your day goes to the most important tasks on your plate, and in the right proportion.
1. Don’t just make a to-do list, have time slots. For example, write out approximately how much time you think each task will take, and then assign it a time in your day. To-do lists have a weakness, and that’s their lack of boundaries. Too often, we can let tasks drag on and on because we just want to have them done and ‘check them off’. When each task has a specific time allotted, we tend to be pretty good at actually sticking to that allotment.
2. Check email at 2-3 specific times throughout the day. The nice thing about email is that it’s a form of communication that people don’t expect to be instant. Even as everyone has their phones on them all day and can check their emails constantly, most people still understand that email communication is asynchronous. Most professionals waste an ungodly amount of time in their inbox, and for entrepreneurs or those who are working in consulting (contacted by clients all day, etc.), email can turn into a huge time sink before you even realize it. Many productivity experts recommend making special times a couple times throughout the workday for non-emergency communications, and sticking to them. Turning off the alerts on your phone for new emails during this time can help you resist the temptation to read and reply to everything as it comes in.
3. Take a lot of breaks. In a net way, you want to be working extremely hard and putting in a lot of effort into your business to give it the best chance of supporting you. That said, many people don’t realize that the human brain can absolutely suffer from task burnout. If you can stomach the change, try a week of working for 20-30 minutes, then taking a 5-10 minute break. Do some pushups, play a game on your phone, write a song â€“ anything to completely switch gears for a few minutes and come back at your tasks refreshed. Every person will respond slightly different to this type of schedule, so be willing to tweak it a bit and find out what exactly will work for you before knocking it completely!
Finally, consider taking your office outdoors for a day, or at least a few hours. Work in the office most days? Try the kitchen! Entrepreneurship, especially done from home, can be lonely and unstimulating despite its best parts. Changing scenery can be a great way to break things up!
Since Google is cracking down on website scraping (even though Google is the biggest website scraper out there giving viewers condensed content scraped from other sites right in a box at the top of SERPs), the ‘how to’ article has become a bit of a taboo. In reality, unless you have an entire site built around ‘how to’ articles (i.e. eHow, Yahoo Answers and Instructibles, etc.), you are fine to go ahead and continue using this click-heavy format:
– Introduce the problem
– Present the benefits of your solution
– List the steps
– Provide detail
– Wrap it up and call to action
The Right Way to Write a How To
In fact, since everyone else is scared to write a ‘how to,’ you’ll be one step ahead of the competition. Just make sure you do it correctly, that is to say, in the following order:
1. Introduce the Problem You are Solving. Obviously, you want your reader to know that they are in the right place to solve their problem and that you are the person that has the solution. Make the reader understand that even if they don’t realize they have this problem, they likely do or will, and thus, need to read the solution.
2. Present the Benefits of Your Solution. Why is your solution better than anyone else’s solution? Why should the reader keep reading? Are you going to solve the problem in the blog or are you going to provide half the steps and then a free eBook download at the end with a comprehensive look at the solution? Are there going to be videos? Is this a multi-part blog? Let them know!
3. Give Them the Steps. Your steps should be laid out in a list, a screenshot, a picture, etc. Just give them them the basics and a brief explanation. If you need to, you can get into more detailed paragraphs or chapters on each step in later blogs or an eBook. But laying out the steps in a numbered or bullet list will allow faster-paced readers to skip to the sections they need. Perhaps they have half of the solution and just need the last few steps. Remember, the easier you make it for every single reader that comes to your site, the better it is for you. Cater to the beginner, but also make it easy for the seasoned pro to glean what they need and get on to the next step. Don’t waste anyone’s time and they won’t waste yours.
4. Detail is Key. The detail to your solution is going to be key here. For instance, if you provide a solution without an example, what’s to say that the writer really has life experience solving this problem? They could just be an affiliate for a product spinning content from their associates. Graphics, step-by-step instructions, easy to follow language, all of this falls under detail.
5. Conclusion. Your conclusion is where you wrap up the ‘how to’ and recap the benefits that your reader now possesses. It’s important to never forget your call to action. If you don’t have one specifically and are just writing an informative or authoritative blog, add your contact information and have the reader sign up or contact you for more details. You can also link to other solutions you’ve provided, or have an opt in or email sign up for a newsletter or eBook.
As you can see, there is absolutely no reason to abandon such a highly effective blog format. Google is really just trying to punish ‘how to’ sites at large, not the average internet marketer.
How many times have you read a lame “5 Ways to Improve Your Bottom Line!” title, clicked through, and the been disappointed to find the same old generic, rehashed information on the other side?
If you roll your eyes whenever these titles come up in your Facebook feed or from some marketer’s Twitter account, you’re not alone. Unfortunately for marketers looking to take the easy way out, millions of other people are feeling the same way and are becoming immune to the type of clickbait titles that have dominated marketing communications for way too long now.
In the near future (actually, now), no one is going to be clicking on cheesy, cringe-worthy headlines that mask lackluster, uninspired content. Instead, you should be working to standout with your titles in other ways to help draw people in without misleading them. Of course, step one is to make sure your content is up to par; no great title or thumbnail image can lead to the conversions you’re after if you don’t have great words waiting for readers on the other side. Be valuable, be useful.
Next, consider tossing out additional hyped up adjectives and adverbs for statistics. Many of the most successful content marketing triumphs to pop up in 2015 were case study types which could boast a specific change in a variable in their title.
For example, the popular Groove blog wrote an article with a title along the lines of “How we raised our traffic by 12,267% with zero advertising.” It’s just about as enticing as a marketing blog post title could possibly be because it gives you an exact statistic that you can hold the author to.
By the way, that blog post really is excellent and outlines a bunch of free traffic generation methods that the company used to, no kidding, give an insane multiple-thousand percent increase to their traffic numbers in an impressive amount of time.
You should consider also making your titles platform specific. For example, WordPress has plugins which allow you to display different title and description tags for certain social networks. For example, if you know that Facebook shows only the first 70 characters of a link title and LinkedIn shows 110, you can create custom titles that fit those exact lengths and make the most of you allotted characters on each platform.
Titles which are native (made for) a platform will without a doubt perform better in terms of clickthrough and reader interest. Futhermore, platform specific titles can help you create clever synergies between the titles and preview images shown on each network, which can go a long way toward making your homegrown marketing efforts look more professional and thought out – and that’s never a bad thing!
Basically, titles still need to deliver clickthroughs and intrigue readers, but the way in which they accomplish these goals is going to need to be more genuine and helpful going forward. Working together to eliminate crappy content and titling is just one way to make audiences less skeptical of content marketing, which makes things easier on the rest of us, doesn’t it?