Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week / ProBlogger.net

Do you feel like there is so much change afoot this year? I totally do! And I think this week’s picks really reflect that. There is an undercurrent of taking risks and moving forward. My kind of undercurrent.

I’d love to hear what changes you’re making, if you’re starting a blog, revamping a current one, branching out into online business or something else? I’m also keen to hear your input into our community discussion on what social platforms everyone uses and why.

WHSR Twitter Chat Recap: Blog Smarter and Stay Productive to Grow Traffic | Web Hosting Secret Revealed

Plenty of ideas to stay on top of things here, and I particularly love the tools breakdown.

Google to Penalise Widget Link Tactics | Search Engine Roundtable

If you’ve got some keyword-stuffed or otherwise not-so-legit links in your widgets, you might wanna remove them – now!

Instagram Reaches 500,000 Advertisers, Releases New Business Stats | Social Media Today
With the advent of new business accounts and integration with Facebook, Instagram has seen a surge in people using the platform more strategically. Have you got a business account, and do you find it helpful?
Facebook Plans to Expand Program to Fight Against Online Hate Speech | Wall Street Journal

This is more for online activists fighting against terrorist propaganda, but I can imagine it would be the beginning in a drip-down effect for online hate speech in general.

How This Social Media Strategist Stays Focused on His Goals | Entrepreneur

I LOVE hearing how other people deal with these issues! Super helpful.

organiselife

Two Pads and a Calendar: The Simple System I use to Organise Life | Kelly Exeter

If you’re struggling with overwhelm, your to-do list threatening to take over your entire life, then check out productivity ninja Kelly’s streamlined life/work organisation.

Want to Slowly Kill Your Content on Google? Simply Use a Directory Structure With Dates | Sistrix

Ouch! Probably time to get the date out of your URLs – just like we’ve done here at ProBlogger.

How Creating A Private Facebook Group Can Unlock New Business Opportunities | Business2Community

It’s like a virtual office/sitting room where everyone can network, chat, share ideas and information and ask you questions. It can be invaluable (but also getting to the point of being overdone). Do you have a Facebook group? What do you do in there?

4 Creative Ways to Use Instagram for Business | Social Media Examiner

Oh my gosh, that Old Spice idea is GENIUS.

Want to be a Better Social Media Marketer? Listen to These 10 Podcasts | HubSpot

Something for everyone here – from strategy to ideas to hacks to success stories. I’m hooked!

What’s caught your eye this week?

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How to Turn Your Business Blog Readers Into Paying Customers

How to Turn Your Business Blog Readers Into Paying Customers

This is a guest contribution from Alicia Rades from aliciarades.com

You started a blog because you recognized the importance of content marketing. You know that businesses that blog get more traffic than those that don’t.

But more traffic doesn’t necessarily mean more customers. You have to be able to leverage your blog content in a way that convinces readers to trust you and buy from you.

So how do you get readers to pay for your product or service? Start with these five tactics you can use in your blog posts today.

Weave Testimonials Into Your Content

People are naturally skeptical when businesses talk about themselves or how great their product is. They’re more likely to trust their own peers—people who are just like them. In fact, the statistics show that written testimonials can increase conversions by as much as 25 percent. Leverage this powerful marketing tactic by weaving customer testimonials into your content.

Don’t just insert quotes where they’re not needed, though. Use them to tell your story.

This approach is particularly effective when writing case studies. You can also use it to back up claims. For example, let’s say you offer social media management services. You’re writing a post about converting followers on Instagram, and one of your tips discusses optimizing your profile. Maybe you just helped a client with this, and it doubled their followers in two weeks. To add credibility to your advice and show that it actually works, you could include a testimonial from that client.

In this example, the testimonial supports the content without it being a direct sales pitch for your services. It gives the story a fresh voice from someone your readers can relate closely to, which helps customers put more confidence in your claims, your business, and your service.

Use Your Blog as a Platform to Host Deals

Hosting deals on your blog does two things:

  1. It encourages readers to shop when they may not have otherwise spent money on your product.
  2. It allows you to gather people’s email addresses, who you can market and sell to in the future.

For the best conversion rates, consider teaming up with other companies to offer everyone’s product in a bundle and at a super low price. Not only does it make the offer more appealing, but you’ll all benefit from reaching each other’s user bases.

Here’s an example from Time-Warp Wife. In this giveaway, over 100 homemaking bloggers came together to offer nearly $700 worth of eBooks for only $29.97. And to further encourage sales, the deal was only good for six days.

How to Turn Your Business Blog Readers Into Paying Customers

Of course, you don’t need to team with over 100 other bloggers to see success. Host a deal with 3-5 other people in your field, and post the info on your blog to entice readers to buy.

Include In-Line Product Links

When the opportunity presents itself, point a couple of links back to relevant products or services on your site. This gets readers to visit your product pages to move them down the sales funnel.

The idea here isn’t to blatantly promote your products. Your blog posts shouldn’t be a sales pitch. However, links to relevant sales pages can actually be useful to readers who are interested in applying the advice in your blog post.

If it will be helpful to your readers, you can also present the product link as a “side note.” Here’s an example of how freelance writing coach Elna Cain handles this approach. She presents her product as a solution to writers’ struggles without focusing the entire post on her course.

How to Turn Your Business Blog Readers Into Paying Customers

Use this tactic sparingly so you don’t overwhelm your readers, and make sure you’re only linking where it’s relevant so readers know what to expect when they click the link.

Write Strong Calls to Action

Every blog post should end with some sort of call to action (CTA). You might encourage readers to:

  • Leave a blog post comment
  • Sign up for your newsletter
  • Visit a page on your website
  • Follow or share on social media

If your goal is to sell to your readers, then your call to action should point them to the next point in the sales funnel. For example, they might be interested but not ready to buy yet. You might ask them to subscribe to your newsletter or sign up for a free webinar so you can turn them into paying customers in the future.

You could also position your product or service as a solution to the topic in your blog post. Point them to your “how it works” page to get them to learn more and sign up.

Be bold with your calls to action. Tell readers exactly what to do next, and use your website design to your advantage. You can use a custom call to action for each post with an in-line link or CTA button, or you can place a universal CTA widget below each post.

Here’s an example from Blogging Wizard that illustrates both options. Adam Connell encourages readers to leave a comment, but he also uses a CTA widget to promote newsletter sign-ups.

How to Turn Your Business Blog Readers Into Paying Customers

Don’t Be Overly Promotional

The key to getting all of this to work is to avoid being overly promotional. Yes, your purpose is to sell. But blog readers aren’t looking for a sales pitch. Trying too hard to sell to them through your blog posts only pushes them away.

Instead, focus on providing advice to your readers. Show them what their problem is (they may not even know they’re struggling or what they’re struggling with). Suggest ways to fix it. Then briefly show that you have the solution. It’s only after that that the sales pitch comes into play. If you help them first, you’ll gain their trust, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you in the future.

You won’t use all five of these tips in every blog post you write, but incorporating them where you can will help turn readers into paying customers. Which one of these suggestions will you try out first? Let me know in the comments.

Alicia Rades is a professional freelance blog writer who specializes in blogging, writing, and freelancing topics. Visit her site at aliciarades.com, where you can download her free blogging guide, 20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hitting Publish.

 

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How To Monetize Your Blog By Repurposing Content

 How To Monetize Your Blog By Repurposing Content

This is a guest contribution from Natalie Sisson of Suitcase Entrepreneur.

Sometimes creating valuable content week after week feels a bit like you’re running on a hamster wheel, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t even matter how much you like writing blog posts and replying to readers’ comments. If your blog doesn’t start to make money, you will start resenting all the work you put into it, and the days of loving your blog will be short lived.

So let me tell you a little secret.

Your blog will stop feeling like a chore and start feeling like an investment if you can find the key that links your content directly to the money you make.

The great news is you can start monetizing your blog straight away by simply using the content you’ve already written on your blog and repurposing it.

Let me show you how.

Back in 2008, I had just quit my corporate job and co-founded a startup to build a fundraising app for Facebook. Being a startup was a crazy rollercoaster ride and I really enjoyed building something from the ground up.

In the middle of all this, I started my first blog, WomanzWorld, to share my experiences on starting a business, and to interview successful female entrepreneurs about their experiences in building their companies.

I hustled like crazy to build a community and following, and slowly began to attract an audience of people who found my writing to be inspiring. I began to enjoy blogging and interacting with my readers in the comments.

So much so that in 2010, I decided to leave the startup and focus on growing my blog and business — which was, at that stage, just my blog.

However, almost immediately after I left I realized there was a big problem — I had no way to monetize the blog (read: no way to turn my hobby into an income).

For the next 6 months, I kept writing blog post after blog post, but I couldn’t figure out how to make money in a way that was aligned with my values.

I loved creating content and sharing my experience, but I was getting anxious about not having an income. I was down to the last $17 in my bank account when I was finally able to turn it around.

Since then I have used the same strategy to create multiple streams of income directly from my blog, and turn it into a multiple six-figure business that allows me to travel the world while helping impact people’s lives.

Today, I want to share with you what I did, and how you can do the same.

How to monetize your blog by repurposing content

If you have been producing content for any amount of time, on your blog or other people’s sites, it’s likely you are sitting on a wealth of information that could be useful to a lot of people.

All you have to do is repurpose and package that information into formats that people will find really helpful and are willing to pay for. You can start by looking at which topics and posts have been receiving the most traffic, likes, shares or comments and start with that.

Let me break down the content repurposing process I went through when I monetized my blog:

Step 1 – Find out what content your audience is engaging with

When I started my blog, Facebook (and social media in general) was still in the early stage. Working in a startup, building a fundraising app for Facebook gave me a unique insight into the world of social media, and I started sharing this knowledge with my readers.

I found that the posts about social media strategies were getting a lot of comments, more than the posts on any other topic. I realized that people were interested in social media strategies to help build their business and credibility, so I took it to the next step.

Step 2 – Validate your content idea

Just because people liked a couple of blog posts didn’t mean that the topic would continue to hold their attention. I needed to validate the idea that people were genuinely interested in the topic and would continue engaging with it.

So, I wrote a series of 12 blog posts on the topic and published regularly over the space of a month. My readers loved the information as most people were still relatively new to using social media for business purposes. The content series was a huge success.

I saw a sharp rise in the traffic to my blog and saw that the visitors were engaging with the content. Now, I knew for sure that people were interested in reading more about social media strategy.

Step 3 – Validate the idea with a minimal transaction

I knew my readers were actively engaging with the content, but I needed to find out if they were ready to take the next step by becoming a subscriber. So, I created a lead magnet in the form of an ebook that outlined social media strategies for small businesses.

Can you guess how I did that?

Yep, that’s right. I combined the 12 blog posts into an ebook called, The Social Media Workout for Entrepreneurs. I added a bit more depth in some posts and packaged it all up into a well designed and value packed PDF.

As soon as I made the lead magnet available for download on my blog, I saw a sharp growth in the number of subscribers and my email list kept growing after that. In fact, it was so popular that it continued to serve for over 5 years (with regular updates of course) as the only lead magnet on my blog.

Step 4 – Ask your subscribers to buy

Nothing validates an idea like people actually paying money for what you offer. I knew some of the readers had been with me through the entire journey and now I could email them directly and ask them to buy.

So, that’s what I did. I sent out an email to my subscribers, asking them if they would be interested in a two-day, in-person workshop on social media strategy, where they could get personal feedback from me on their unique problems. More importantly, I asked if they would be willing to pay to attend this workshop.

It was a gut wrenching moment for me, asking for people to pay me. It was the real test of whether I could monetize my blog.

Before I knew it I had 3 sold-out workshops with 30 people attending in total and $15,000 in the bank (that previously had just $17 in it). It was the first time since I started growing my audience that I had been able to directly monetize my blog and my knowledge.

I knew I could continue to offer similar workshops and make money, but I had something else on my mind. Namely, travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina and to scale my workshops to reach a larger audience, such that they didn’t have to be there in person to learn.

Step 5 – Create a residual revenue stream

I wanted to see if people would be interested in buying an online training program on social media strategy. I could take all the content that I had created, the workshop I had conducted, and package it up in a way that people could buy and access online. I could price it much lower than an in-person workshop, it would be just as valuable, and people could learn at their own pace from anywhere in the world.

So, a couple of months after the workshop, I released and shared this online training program with my audience, and few of them bought it. I didn’t make a lot of money initially, but sales for my Social Media Bootcamp (online training program) kept growing as I got better at marketing it and more people started referring it to others.

I was excited that I had something I could sell online, without having to create any new content, and that people were readily paying for. I finally had a residual income stream that would continue bringing in money while I was traveling the world.

Many people may call this passive income, but I beg to differ. You have to select the right content, package it up, set up payment and support systems, and market it to your audience. As you can see, it still is a lot of work.

You just do all the work up front and continue to get paid for it. And even then, you have to keep updating the product, and do relaunches to keep the momentum going.

But this first stream of residual income was just the start. Since then, I have grown my blog and audience into a successful business that makes multiple six figures by creating multiple streams of active and residual income by providing solutions to the specific problems and challenges my community have; while traveling to 69 countries.

Trust me when I tell you that content repurposing really works. Even counting all the other amazing monetization strategies, I have a feeling that as a blogger this one will resonate with you the most.

Figuring out your own content repurposing strategy

Monetizing your blog has never been easier because now content doesn’t just mean blog posts. Ebooks, infographics, podcasts, videos, and everything in between is a form of content.

This is good news because your readers may not want to pay for reading blog posts, but they are willing to pay for content in other formats like:

  • Books
  • Audiobooks
  • Online Courses
  • Membership sites
  • Even newsletters

It may still be the same content at the heart of all of it, but everyone loves the convenience learning and digesting the information in one format or in one place. That is why they will willingly pay for it.

This presents a tremendous opportunity to repurpose the content you’ve already created and package it up in ways that people are ready to buy.

Let’s say you have a blog post that has done well. After you have validated that this is a topic people are interested in, you can grow your audience with the same content in a new format by:

  • Recording yourself reading the blog post and turning it into a podcast episode
  • Recording a video of yourself reading the blog post and publishing it on Youtube. If you don’t want to be on camera, you can create a simple slide deck summarizing the blog post, and record a voice-over-slides style of video.

As you continue to grow your audience, you will find they have specific needs and will even ask you for solutions. You can create products to fulfill those needs and sell them directly on your blog, knowing that they will pay for it.

For example, to create an online course, you can split up the validated topic into a series of blog posts, turn them all into videos, and package it up so that it delivers a specific outcome to your readers.

You can also expand on the series of blog posts, create an ebook on the topic, and package it up with the course as a higher value offering. Just like Jeff Goins talks about in this Problogger post on six-figure product launch strategy.

You can start repurposing content today with a simple content audit — use Google Analytics to look at the most popular content on your site and best-performing articles, or use social sharing statistics and comments. Then, all you have to do is follow the 5 step content repurposing strategy I outlined above, and soon you will start making money from your blog.

If you enjoy creating content and want to keep doing it, you owe it to yourself to monetize your blog and free yourself from the hamster wheel of content creation.

Repurposing content can become your ticket to freedom.

 

Natalie Sisson is an Amazon No #1 bestselling author of the Suitcase Entrepreneur, podcaster, speaker and adventurer who believes everybody has the right to choose freedom in business and adventure in life. She’s on a mission to ensure 1,000,000+ entrepreneurs do just that by 2020 over at the SuitcaseEntrepreneur.com

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How to Pitch Yourself to Be a Podcast Guest

This is a guest contribution from Michelle Kulas of PodcastMotor.

If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you may have had daydreams about achieving fame, fortune and glory through your blog. At the very least, you’ve probably been hopeful that you’d reach your target readers and maybe make some money by selling a product or service that you talk about in your blog.

While a blog is an excellent way to spread the word about your chosen topic, there is another medium that literally speaks to 57 million Americans: podcasting.

Over one-fifth of the American population over the age of 11 is listening to podcasts at least occasionally and about a quarter of Americans between the ages of 12 and 54 listens to at least one podcast per month, according to Convince & Convert. Think about how many more people you could reach if you were on a popular, relevant podcast.

How to Pitch Yourself to Be a Podcast Guest

Now, you don’t necessarily have to drop everything to start your own podcast. You could do that, of course, but it will probably require more work, time, money and energy than you have to expend, particularly if the idea is on a whim.

Instead, why not pitch yourself as a guest to podcasts that already have an audience?

Great idea, right? Before you run out and start firing off emails, however, it’s important that you know what you’re doing. Popular podcasters receive pitches all the time; after all, who wouldn’t want to be on a show if they had the chance to talk about themselves, their blog, or their product?

The idea is to pitch yourself in such a way that the podcaster seriously considers your request and, hopefully, says yes.

Take a look at these tips on boosting the odds in your favor.

Narrow Your Focus

Quick, name a popular podcast. Did you say This American Life, TED Radio Hour, The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe or How I Built This? These are among the top-ranking podcasts, and for good reason. They’re general enough to appeal to a wide variety of people, and done well enough to get people to share the episodes with their friends. Sounds perfect?

Stop. Unless you are already achieving extreme success, you are probably not going to have your pitch accepted by one of the biggest and most famous podcasts. Could it happen? Sure. You could also have the Publisher’s Clearinghouse people stop by your house to drop off a check the size of a Volkswagen.

Focus on pitching to podcasts that are relevant to your topic.

Kai Davis, owner of Double Your Audience pointed out two advantages to narrowing your focus to smaller podcasts with a more defined niche.

First, you’re more likely to get a “yes.” If your pitch is one of a dozen, it will be looked at with much more consideration than if it is one of a thousand.

Secondly, you’re more likely to appeal to the audience. A huge general audience might have a small percentage of people who are interested in what you have to say. A smaller audience of people who are following a specific topic that you happen to be knowledgeable about, however, will give you a larger percentage of active listeners.

These are the listeners who are much more likely to convert into readers (or, even better, buyers).

How to Pitch Yourself to Be a Podcast Guest

Find Specific Shows to Pitch To

How are you going to find the perfect podcasts to pitch to? There are a lot of ways that you can locate shows that are not super famous (but who are successful and interesting). First, you need to determine what type of podcast you want.

Think about the people you are trying to reach with your blog.

Let’s say you’re a florist and you write about flower arrangements on your blog. Who is your target reader/customer? Brides-to-be? Look for a podcast centering on wedding planning. Women who want beautiful flowers for their homes? Find a podcast that talks about interior designing. Men looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day arrangement? Consider a podcast that talks about marriage, family relations, or holidays. Make a list of possibilities.

Once you have your list, now it’s time to search for podcasts that will appeal to the same people you’re trying to reach. You have some tools at your disposal:

  • Just type “podcasts about weddings” into your favorite search engine and see what comes up.
  • Type in your topic and take a look at the titles that are good matches.
  • If you have an Android phone, Stitcher is one of the best options for finding and listening to podcasts.
  • This is a search engine that focuses on, you guessed it, podcasts.

Listen to several episodes of the most promising podcasts to see if they seem like a good fit for you. This gives you yet another way to find potential podcasters to contact, too: Many times, podcasts will feature the hosts of other podcasts. These interviewees might also have a podcast that would be worth pitching to.

Make Your Pitch

Do you know those irrelevant, poorly written spam comments that you occasionally (or frequently) get on your blog? The ones you delete?

A poorly written, off-the-cuff pitch is going to get the same reaction from the podcasters you write to, so you’re going to want to take some time to come up with a good pitch and present it in a way that will pique the podcaster’s interest.

Here’s a framework we like that helps get predictable and high quality results:

  • Use the subject line to make your request clear. When the podcast host glances at the inbox, you want him or her to understand that you are making a podcast pitch and the gist of what it’s about. A good subject line for the aforementioned florist pitching to a wedding podcast would be “Podcast Idea: The Perfect Flowers for a Wintertime Wedding.” Be creative, but limit yourself to 10 word or so. You want the whole subject to show up on one line.
  • Introduce yourself. Be quick about it; this isn’t the time to share your life story. Just give a couple sentences of background.
  • Explain why you would make a good guest. You want to show that you have listened to their podcast and that you’ve thought this through. Tell them what you can bring to the table and why you would appeal to their listeners.
  • Give a short list of topics that you would be able to cover. This will be expanded upon later, so you don’t have to include everything. Just a handful of topics is fine.
  • Include your links. If you’ve been on a podcast before, mention that and include a list of relevant shows you’ve appeared on. Put in a link to your blog, your website and your social media.
  • Don’t forget your contact information. The recipient will have your email address, of course, but also include your phone number and your Skype ID. This boosts your social proof with the podcast host.

Before you hit “send,” be sure to proofread. You want to show the podcaster that you’re serious, so don’t be in such a hurry that you send it off with a misspelling, the wrong phone number or extra keystrokes.

How to Pitch Yourself to Be a Podcast Guest

All that’s left to do is cross your fingers and hope you hear back! If you follow the framework above you’ll get several hits. This can lead to a podcast tour, which allows you to string a number of podcast appearances together to promote a product, service or launch, explains Kai Davis in his book, Podcast Outreach.

Also, this can have the domino effect; once you’re on your first podcasts you can stairstep your way to bigger, higher profile shows in the future.

Getting a guest appearance on a podcast is not likely to make your dreams of fame, fortune and glory come to fruition overnight (although it might!), but it can absolutely help bring new readers to your blog and help you promote your products and services.

So build some time into your schedule to pitch podcasters to help your blog and business grow.

Michelle Kulas is on the PodcastMotor team, a full service, concierge podcast editing and production service.  They take all the hard work out of podcasting so you can focus on creating great content.

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Community Discussion: What Social Platform Works for You (and why?)

ProBlogger social network community discussion

There have been so many changes to the social media landscape across the years, in fact an incredible amount of changes just in the last 12 months.

Where Twitter and forums used to reign supreme, you’ll find today’s bloggers fatigued with Facebook, confused about Snapchat, and getting their heads around the same capabilities, only over on Instagram.

With each blogger comes a specific set of circumstances and needs, and therefore successful social strategies will look different from person to person.

With ProBlogger, for example, Facebook and Twitter still appear to be the most popular ways of sharing and engaging with our content (the new ProBlogger Challenge Facebook Group is also growing). With my own lifestyle blog, it’s definitely Facebook (both a group and a page), and Instagram, with Snapchat bringing up the rear (I miss you, Twitter!).

Two different blogs, two different places to spend our time both promoting posts and interacting with readers. And success can depend on the time of day too, per platform.

With all the changes cycling through so fast we thought it would be fun to open up a discussion and informally poll our readers – where do you hang out online? What kind of blog do you have and what social platforms are the most successful for you? Is your audience on the platform you want to be on, or would you prefer to interact elsewhere? What works on your social channels?

Leave your comments below and let’s get chatting!

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