Tuesday, April 25, 2017 by Shayla PriceAn impressive online presence matters. It’s the difference between visitors learning more about you or losing interest in your brand. To grab your target audience’s attention, upgrade your copywriting skills to engage with visitors. “You can’t transform a crappy painting into a masterpiece with a few brush strokes. Likewise, you can’t transform crappy copy into a persuasive message with a few minor tweaks. You need good copy at the heart of your message,” says Nick Kolenda, author of Methods of Persuasion. Effective copy helps your business sell more products, boost brand awareness, and dominate the competition. Try these seven copywriting tips below to create a memorable visitor experience. Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits. Targeted copy will pinpoint the solution you offer visitors. You’re not just a food blogger or a website designer. People want to know how you can help them with their problems. In the image below, The Art of Sculpting tells you exactly how they serve their potential customers—taking their fitness to a new level.
Thursday, April 13, 2017 by Shayla PriceBlogging isn't easy. There’s a common misconception that bloggers just write. And as a full-time blogger for your own site or maybe multiple clients, you know that writing is just one of many responsibilities. Beyond writing creative text, bloggers must develop attention-grabbing topics, create eye-popping visuals, and promote their posts on social media. Plus, there’s the business of blogging that includes tracking time, signing contracts, and collecting payments. That’s why it's so important for bloggers to use tools to make their lives less hectic. Here’s a list of 15 tools every ambitious blogger needs to excel in their craft and business.
1. Hubspot’s Blog Topic GeneratorSo, it’s time to write. You sit down at your computer and stare at it for 30 minutes. You’re experiencing a bad case of writer’s block. The creative juices aren’t flowing. To break through this mental barrier, try using Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. This tool will help you generate ideas fast. Type in a few terms in the form. And voila! The generator produces a week’s worth of blog topics.
2. GrammarlyMost writers will agree that writing is only 20% of your job. The other 80% is editing. Writers continue to refine their writing to give readers their best work. It’s how they master the skill. Grammarly makes you a better writer by spotting grammatical errors and offering synonym suggestions. It’s like having a virtual editor. “With Grammarly, we have managed to eliminate almost every type of mistake that could potentially sneak their way through our editorial process. Grammarly has lead us to much higher customer satisfaction rates and fewer headaches for everyone involved in the content creation process,” says James Kosur, chief marketing officer at Presto Media.
3. CoSchedule’s Headline AnalyzerHeadlines rank as one of the most significant parts within a blog post. If you can’t capture people’s attention in a few seconds, it’s likely that your post will never get read. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer helps you solve that problem by scoring your titles. The analysis includes the overall structure, grammar, and readability of your headline. Moreover, you’ll learn whether your title needs an added boost of emotion.
4. BuzzSumoBlogging is very competitive with the growing number of content pieces being published every single day. People want their voices heard. To scope out the competition, use BuzzSumo to explore what types of content get traction. Also, learn who is sharing content and how that content compares to your posts. “With BuzzSumo you can type in a specific keyword and get a list of the most shared content related to that keyword. That way you can see what was involved and attempt to duplicate the results (or "10x" as they say),” writes Jordan Lore, a content marketer and PPC manager at Wishpond.
5. CanvaResearch uncovers that content paired with a relevant image boosts people’s retention of the information by 65%. Therefore, it’s essential that your blog post contains jaw-dropping visuals. With Canva, you can produce high-quality graphics for your post. Choose from millions of images and hundreds of fonts. It’s drag-and-drop feature makes designing easy for beginners. If you ever need inspiration, check out the brand’s interactive tutorials.
6. Keyword PlannerHow will your target audience find your content? It all starts with boosting your organic search traffic. Google’s Keyword Planner is effective for forming keyword ideas, viewing historical statistics, and generating traffic forecasts. “Google’s Keyword Planner is a great place to start plugging in keywords that are relevant to your site to see what the competition for each of those keywords looks like. This will help you eliminate the ones you shouldn’t be optimizing for and select the ones that can work best to drive traffic to your site,” states Forbes contributor Jia Wertz.
7. Sprout SocialContent promotion amplifies the reach of your work. So it makes sense to use social media because it helps spread your message to a diverse audience. However, managing multiple platforms is a time-consuming task. That’s where Sprout Social comes to the rescue. This platform lets you schedule and publish your content across several social channels. With its powerful analytics, you’ll identify your best content and discover trending topics in your mentions.
8. Constant ContactEmail marketing plays an integral role in connecting directly to your audience. Your subscribers are already familiar with your content and want to read your emails. With customizable templates, Constant Contact gives you the flexibility to shape your message. And you can track your success in real-time. “One of the key perks to using Constant Contact (vs. sending emails manually) is that you can track the successfulness of your emails. Constant Contact tells you how many people opened the message, clicked a link inside the message or forwarded the email to a friend,” says Jeremy Marsan, a business analyst and staff writer for Fit Small Business.
9. HostGatorAn online presence is critical for bloggers to build their brand and attract new readers or clients. A website makes it possible for you to show off your skills and portfolio. From site building tools to templates, HostGator gives you everything to launch your website right now. The WordPress Hosting plan also empowers bloggers to manage website content more efficiently.
10. TogglWhen you’re engulfed in your work, it’s easy to forget how much time has elapsed. Knowing the time it takes to complete specific tasks helps you manage your time efficiently. Toggl makes sure you never lose a minute of your billable time. To increase client satisfaction, you can send reporting straight to their inboxes. No Wifi? Not a problem. The tool offers offline support.
11. WaveWhen tax season rolls around, scrambling for pertinent documents will only add to your frustrations. Every professional blogger needs accounting software to create, send, and track invoices. Wave helps you stay organized and run a better business. Within the software, track income and expenses to understand your cash flow. You also can connect your bank accounts for transactions to appear in your bookkeeping.
12. SortdIt’s difficult to stay productive when you receive hundreds of emails per day. Without even noticing, a few crucial emails might slip through the cracks, causing more chaos. Sortd maximizes your productivity by turning your inbox into an organized workspace. Tori Reid, a contributor at Lifehacker, writes: “With Sortd you can sort your emails into actionable lists. Just drag and drop an email from the left pane—your inbox—into one of the lists you've created on the right. You can use the lists for follow ups, receipts, or anything else you see a need for.”
13. DocuSignWhether you’re signing brand partnership agreements or a new client contract, you don’t want the burden of paperwork. You need a digital solution. DocuSign starts the signing process with quick access to your documents. Trust that your electronic signature is secure and legally binding. The platform uses the strongest data encryption technologies to protect your privacy.
14. DropboxWe live in a mobile culture. You constantly bounce around between multiple locations. So it’s common to forget your laptop that contains all your work files somewhere. Dropbox solves that problem by giving you access to your files from any device. Forgot your laptop? Just open them from your mobile phone. The tool also makes it convenient to collaborate on projects with your partners or teammates.
15. TransferWiseWant to receive timely payments? Of course, you do! However, invoicing payments to your overseas clients isn’t always a simple task. TransferWise calculates the real exchange rate so you don’t lose any money. Choose to send payouts to your email or bank accounts. On top of that, this tool is 8x cheaper than banks.
Take Your PickYes, the life of a blogger is sometimes unorganized and stressful with back-to-back deadlines. Fortunately, you can move in a positive direction. Start using these tools to accelerate your writing and business. They will help you increase your productivity, so that you can become a better blogger.
Friday, April 7, 2017 by Shayla PriceMore often than not, consumers trust industry influencers over paid advertisements. Customers crave honest and candid messages that speak their language. And brands are starting to recognize that trend. Research found that 84% of marketers are employing an influencer marketing campaign. This finding presents an opportunity for bloggers to collaborate with their favorite brands. With a robust platform, bloggers can talk directly to a company’s target audience. From posting product reviews to hosting a video tutorial, bloggers have the power to influence a generation of consumers. But how can bloggers garner the attention of top brands? Here’s five creative ways to land your next big gig:
1. Tell the WorldLet’s face the facts. There are millions of blogs on the Internet and hundreds more are cropping up everyday. If you want to work with corporations, you must spread the word. Start by dedicating an entire blog post to discussing your desire to partner up brands and why you would be a perfect fit. This content should highlight your knowledge as well as your accomplishments. Consider the post like a Batman signal. You’re placing everyone on notice that you’re ready to engage in business. And by telling your audience, you’re tapping into their network of colleagues. Also, take the time to develop a page dedicated to attracting companies. Provide brand managers with details about your services and how they can contact you. Serial entrepreneur and bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk possesses a ‘Hire Me to Speak’ page on his website. He pinpoints exactly what he can offer brands and includes a contact form, along with his most recent talks. And don’t limit marketing efforts to just your blog. Share the news on all your active social media accounts. Send a teaser tweet with a link to your promotional post. Or record an Instagram story about the announcement. No one knows that you’re open to brand opportunities until you tell them. So, tell as many people as possible.
2. Target Specific BrandsCan I share a secret with you? Not every brand will match your blog’s audience or needs. That’s why it’s so important to narrow down your options. To target specific brands, learn more about your readers. What are their behaviors and interests? And what companies do they currently buy from? Use this knowledge as a foundation to focus on certain brands. Because if you’re already catering to their customer base, they may feel more comfortable spending advertising dollars on your site. Next, do some research on those particular companies. Make sure their values coincide with your beliefs. For instance, if you’re an advocate for clean energy and Company X doesn’t believe in that cause, you may want to eliminate it from your list. The last step is to actually reach out to the brands. Send an email or write a letter expressing your interest in establishing a partnership. And don’t let the fear of rejection stop you. “Companies will say no that is a fact. But you will be amazed at how many people will respond with a polite letter explaining why they can’t sponsor you at this time. Thank them for their time and keep them in your database for future reference,” state Dave and Deb, the smiling faces behind The Planet D. Not every business will meet your standards. Therefore, conduct research to find the ones that do.
3. Sell Your NicheAs a blogger, you’re doing something very special. You’re writing posts, recording sound clips, or maybe even talking in front of the camera. The uniqueness lies in your ability to offer your perspective about a chosen topic. You might be sharing family recipes or giving readers your personal gardening tips. And all of that content matters to companies. Selling your niche means showcasing your distinctive traits that make your blog outstanding. Why do your subscribers sign up? What keeps them coming back for more? “The fact is that most of us will never compete with the broad publications that are out there...sell the fact that you’re different and that you can reach a narrow and targeted group of people that makes the money an advertiser spends much more effective,” writes Darren Rowse, founder and editor of ProBlogger. Brands are hungry to collaborate with bloggers that will make them stand out. You can offer a vertical of exclusive content, or let companies receive access to your VIP audience. While most fashion bloggers cater to petite women, Tanesha Awasthi at Girl With Curves is doing something different. She is empowering curvy women to live their lives with confidence. Stand up and be heard! Demonstrate what sets you apart from all the other bloggers.
4. Create a Media KitAfter you get the word out, it’s possible that you may receive a few inquiries about your work. Executives will be curious to know what you’re doing and who you serve. Prepare for this conversation early by creating a media kit. A media kit is usually a PDF containing the nitty-gritty about your blog. It should include an introduction about yourself, your mission, notable clients, website statistics, and frequently asked questions. If you already know what type of partnerships you want, provide a section about your services and package rates. “I can’t stress this enough – the energy and effort you put into your media kit can either open doors of opportunity for you or slam them in your face...if you want to be competitive and really shine in front of brands, do yourself a favor and invest in a professional design for your media kit,” says Jeni The Blog Maven. Spice up your media kit with images. Below is an example from Jessica Fiorillo at Feed me dearly. Professionalism is part of connecting with brands. Invest some money into producing a quality media kit.
5. Showcase Brand ResultsIt feels amazing to have relationships with brands. They recognize your talent and see the value in what your blog brings to the table. However, it’s still a business. And brands are interested in knowing if you can deliver results. Can you drive significant traffic to their websites? Can you persuade 200 of your readers to enroll in their free webinar? At the end of the day, your record of results will matter. Social proof is an effective way to present your achievements to potential brands. Ask previous clients to give a short testimonial of how you executed on a marketing campaign. You also may want to develop case studies. These detailed stories outline how you solved a company’s problem. Blogger Kristi Hines offers a few suggestions for creating a case study:
- Write about past experience your ideal brand can relate to.
- Tell a story from start to finish.
- Provide an easy-to-read format.
- Talk about specific strategies.
Build a Solid ConnectionInfluencer marketing isn’t anything new. However, bloggers can seize the opportunity to work with major brands. Spread the word about your hunt for partnerships via your blog and social media channels. Attract brands with your expertise in a specific niche. And create a media kit for executives to learn more about your blog. Ready for the big leagues? Start connecting with brands today.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by Shayla PriceOnline entrepreneurship isn’t as simple as people think. Similar to a brick-and-mortar business, internet entrepreneurs are managing various tasks, like sending relevant customer messages and collaborating with team members. That’s why it’s important to stay organized throughout the entire process. “Some of us are energized by the chaos. Others of us are totally thrown off by the chaos. For the entrepreneur, it’s important to make sense of the chaos in order to truly succeed,” writes serial entrepreneur Neil Patel. Use tools to help you manage the chaos. Here’s a roundup (not an exhaustive list) of the best tools for internet entrepreneurs.
1. TrelloEntrepreneurs are never handling one task at a time. They must focus on several projects at once. Project management tools like Trello give business owners the confidence to stay motivated. Trello keeps your whole team connected with drag and drop cards. Organize multiple projects amongst several people without worrying if someone received your message. Communicate with your team members by adding comments, uploading file attachments, and setting due dates.
2. BufferSocial media helps spread brand awareness about your business, and it’s key for telling fans about your products and upcoming events. Share content during peak times with Buffer. This social media management tool also tracks your engagement and conversions. “If you’re looking for software that is easy to navigate, looks simple, and can make your team more efficient, then Buffer is definitely your key to managing social media,” says Kenneth Waldman, editorial assistant at EssayMama.com.
3. WistiaBased on Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, global consumer internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019. So, if you’re not investing in video marketing now is the time. Wistia takes your video marketing to the next level. Generate new leads with its Turnstile email collector, and customize the color and controls of your videos. Plus, you can track how each viewer interacts with your content.
4. IntercomStay in constant contact with your customers. Conversations ensure that your team is addressing current problems and meeting consumer expectations. Intercom offers the personal support your customers deserve. Establish a knowledge base for buyers to solve their own problems, or manage support tickets with a help desk. “With Intercom, all of our customer support conversations happen in one place, and we can automate messages based on complex behavior aimed at making sure our customers are happy and that our service is as effective for each person as possible,” states Corbett Barr, CEO of Fizzle.
5. HostGatorFor internet entrepreneurs, online presence means everything for your business to thrive. Websites broadcast your brand image and showcase your products to consumers. HostGator makes building sites easy with its one-click application installer and templates. Need help? A support staff is available 24/7/365 to answer your questions.
6. HAROShape how your target audience views your brand. Earning recognition in publications adds to your credibility and builds trust amongst your followers. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) connects journalists to a database of sources for their stories. Join the daily email list to sift through potential media opportunities and then send your pitches directly to the journalist. “When it comes to finding existing media opportunities that make sense for your client or brand, this subscription-based newsletter is the ‘right tool for the job’,” writes Ashley H. Sherman, director of digital media relations at DigitalRelevance.
7. SlackCommunication holds your team together. Entrepreneurs must interact with their co-workers to complete projects and plan future growth. The Harvard Business Review reports that “over the past two decades the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.” Slack releases your team from email and improves everyone’s work productivity. Not only can you send direct messages, but you also can start voice and video calls.
8. SquareKeep the sales rolling in with straightforward payment solutions. Thanks to technology, business owners can take payments and track profits without the hassle. Square offers a variety of software services to manage inventory in real-time, reward repeat customers, and collect customer feedback. Start selling more with the customized business dashboard.
9. Google AnalyticsThere’s power in understanding data. Analytics helps your team acquire insights from consumer behavior to increase your ROI. Google Analytics gives you the knowledge to create a better customer experience. Gain a complete picture of how your content and products perform, and permit your team access to shareable reports.
10. PexelsContent is essential to educating your customer base. You want to attract and maintain their attention. Vivid imagery can tell your story better. However, most small businesses don’t have the time to capture original photos. Pexels provides an arsenal of 25,000 free stock photos under the Creative Commons Zero license. Search through their tagged collection to find what works for your brand.
11. SkypeThe McKinsey Global Institute found that companies can increase their employees’ productivity by 20-25% by using social technologies. Create the conditions for workers to build trust and earn one another’s respect. With Skype Meetings, your team can join online conversations from any device. Use the tool to record meetings, share screens, and annotate PowerPoint presentations.
12. HelloSignGone are the days of waiting for someone to sign physical paperwork. The digital age has introduced us to electronic signatures. HelloSign equips your business with the tools to request signatures and receive notifications about your documents. Insert your logo and tagline to enhance the signer’s experience. “HelloSign’s saved signatures are a timesaver, too, or you can type in a signature, add initials, or fill out a form with text editing. If you're the one needing to collect another person’s signature, send a document by email right from the app,” states Paula DuPont, a contributing writer at Zapier.
13. FreshBooksWhere’s your money? Accurate accounting ensures that your business maintains profitability, and financial reports are essential to gaining insight on how to move your company forward. Spend less time on invoicing and focus on serving your customers. With FreshBooks, you can automate several tasks, including organizing expenses and tracking time. Get paid faster by accepting credit card payments from your customers.
14. GoToWebinarWebinars rank as the second most effective type of premium content for marketers seeking to increase their lead generation efforts. Are you taking advantage of webinars? GoToWebinar lets you tell your brand’s story and grow your business. During live presentations, you can engage the audience with polls, surveys, and Q&As. Generate a list of engaged attendees and turn those qualified leads into customers.
15. MeetupJust because your business is online, doesn’t mean you’re limited to communicating with people only on the internet. Some of the best opportunities happen offline. Meetup lets you experience more in real life. Discover groups in your local area to learn new skills from others. Can’t find one that appeals to your interests? Start your own and find like-minded individuals.
Fill Up Your ToolboxAs an internet entrepreneur, you’re faced with the same challenges as any other business owner. You must manage your team, review data reports, and interact with your target audience. From accounting to social media management, tools help streamline your company processes. So try a few and take your business to new heights.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by Shayla PriceDo you want more blog traffic? Of course, you do! Social media is continuing to be a hub for people to connect with others around the world. Moreover, Pinterest is paving the way for bloggers to drive referral traffic and increase audience engagement. Research shows that “the half-life of a pin is 1,680 times longer than a Facebook post.” This means more people are interacting with your content months after you post it. “Interaction is so easy on Pinterest that other networks have a reason to envy it. The recipe of a successful interaction is a smooth delivery of information across the board... All you need to do is create new boards, add new pins, invite others and like and re-pin other’s pins,” writes Mike Dane, a digital marketing professional. It's time to send Pinterest users to your blog. Here are five ways to get you started.
1. Create Multiple BoardsOn Pinterest, visibility is vital to attracting new individuals to your account. Even with a targeted audience, there are several interests that your pinners will possess. So, make sure you’re catering to those needs by developing multiple boards to gain their attention. For instance, if your blog is dedicated to all things cooking, create a board for slow cooker meals, one for dishes made under 30 minutes, and maybe another for desserts. This segmentation gives someone an opportunity to pick what they want and find it quickly. For example, HostGator has several boards devoted to website inspiration, ranging from blogging tips to design ideas for an arts & craft blog. Another pro tip? Don’t limit yourself to posting your articles in only one board. More than 80% of pins are re-pins. Thus, sharing the same pins in several boards can help more people find your blog via Pinterest’s search function and category algorithms. “It’s okay to pin your blog articles to more than one Pinterest board, but spread them out over time and pin other content in between so your Pinterest feed isn’t just you pinning five pins of your blog post to different boards,” says Peg Fitzpatrick, co-author of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users. Want to give your fans a chance to find your blog posts? Drive traffic with multiple boards. [bctt tweet="80% of Pinterest pins are re-pins. Pro tip: reshare pins on multiple boards to increase visibility." username="hostgator"]
2. Post Creative ImagesPhotos make up 92% of all Pinterest posts. So, you should really focus your energy on producing creative images for your followers. Start by formatting images properly. The ideal aspect ratio for Pinterest images is 2:3 with a minimum width of 600 pixels. Add a story-filled background to your images. For example, a recipe blogger might post a bowl of fruit on a checkered tablecloth in front of flowers. You want to set the mood for the person looking at the image, to entice them to want to read the blog post. Take photos up close, suggests blogger Ali at Gimme Some Oven. People should feel like they can actually experience the object on your Pinterest board. Tie your images to seasonal or holiday events. Pinners are two times more likely to celebrate events and holidays. Plan your marketing strategy around pinning images that connect to special occasions, like Valentine’s Day or Halloween. Experiment with your pin images and track which photos resonate with your fans. Then create more of those. [bctt tweet="#Pinterest Photo Tips: Add a story line, take photos up close, and tie in seasonal events." username="hostgator"]
3. Write Descriptive CopyPinterest isn’t all about photos. There’s space to write text to make people take a second glance at your work. For instance, article pins include a headline, the author’s name, and story description. These rich pins let you shape how people perceive your board. The headline should stick out to the reader. Use catchy, bold language that appeals to your audience. What would they like to read? If you have to shorten the original article title, do it! Use the same brand name on your blog on your Pinterest account. So, if everyone knows you as Betty the Gardener, keep the consistency. You don’t want to confuse followers. Lastly, write a description that’s interesting to the individual. You want people to feel compelled to click to learn more. Check out this example from the New York Times: Freelance writer Elna Cain offers some additional tips to boost traffic:
- Make it easy for pinners to find your pin with a spot-on description.
- Give enough information to entice a pinner to click through to your blog.
- Draw on the emotions of the pinner by using sensory-related words and positive sentiments.
- Add a call-to-action in your description, like, “check out…” or “click to find out more.”
4. Focus on TimingResearch revealed that to optimize audience reach on Pinterest pinners should post 10 to 15 times per day. As your fan base grows, deliberately timing pins becomes important to providing a consistent brand message to your platform. You’ll soon learn that pinning at any time isn’t a good strategy. Bloggers can waste lots of effort posting pins whenever they think is the best. Instead, take a pragmatic approach. Examine your website traffic to uncover when are the best days and times to post your pins. [bctt tweet="When's the best time to post on #Pinterest? Look to your blog traffic for the answer." username="hostgator"] “The smart strategy is to look at your traffic stats for your own blog to see when you consistently get the most traffic, and then plan to pin during those times, because that’s when your audience is surfing the web and most likely to spread the word,” states Beth Hayden, a social media expert. And remember, every sector is different. The time that works well for retail bloggers might not work best for financial bloggers. In the chart below, experts found that the best time for the food and beverage industry pinners is between 11am and Noon Eastern time. Gain more traffic by optimizing when you post your pins. It will help your followers and your blog.
5. Engage With Your CommunitySimilar to most social media networks, engagement is always critical to influencing people to visit your site. The interaction shows people you’re interested in their opinions. Use the comment section of your pins to answer questions and thank your followers. And encourage people to like and save pins and follow you. By doing so, you’ll gather information on what they enjoy most and how to better cater to those desires. The average user stays on Pinterest for close to 15 minutes at a time. That’s remarkable since most people get bored on social media after a couple of minutes. For your active fans, ask them to curate your board with you. It’s an effective way to collaborate with people and lets their followers discover your blog. Here’s a group board focused on blogging. It has more than 50+ people adding their voices to the Pinterest conversation. Involve your community in the creation of your boards. It helps with engagement and brings new fans to your blog.
Start Growing Your Blog TrafficBring attention to your blog today with the help of social media. Use Pinterest to attract people to your posts. Create multiple boards based on your readers’ interests. Post eye-catching photos that will make people take a second look. And engage with your community to lure people to your site. Grow your blog now. Update your Pinterest account (and while you're at it, follow HostGator!)