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Sourced from Renes Points

These are interesting times to be a travel blogger and a frequent floater (I cruise – a lot) who does not fly and visit lounges or stay in hotels or get on cruise ships. I have to admit I am getting more than a little bit stir crazy but understand staying home is the wisest choice for my family.

The one mega upside of being stuck at home is time to do an endless list of projects that I have had on my “to do list” as well as a number of things my wife has wanted help with. I blogged a few weeks back about my mega computer upgrade that was FAAAARRRRR overdue. Having used it for a while now I have to tell you I am simply thrilled. But it was missing a few things.

Enter some of my old technology! 🙂

I friend of mine, when I was lamenting of only have one monitor (an HP Pavilion 27″), asked me if I had some old tablets laying around.

I said, “sure – who doesn’t nowadays“.

He said, have you heard about “Spacedesk“?

Oh my – hello sweetness!

This little program let me use my old 10″ Samsung 10″ Tab as well as my very old Samsung 8.4″ Tab as two extra monitors (oh and I picked up another HP Pavilion 27″ as you can see above).

The result, as a blogger, is I can have the blog up and running for posting, Flipboard up and running for constant news and travel updates, the BoardingArea home page up as well as Twitter for updates.

Perfect!

It also affords me a bunch of other perks when not in “blogger land” if you will. I host a bunch of ZOOM meetings and this setup allows me to host ZOOM on one monitor (and my USB HD Webcam sits nicely on top of my 27″ monitor and slides side to side) and use another tablet logged into the ZOOM meeting as a vanity monitor to see what I am really broadcasting. The other two I can use to have info I am using during the presentation as well as the last one for media shares.

Again – Perfect!

Lastly, when I am neither blogging or ZOOMing I have a sweet setup for my financial life. I can have my financial software and trading platform up, stock quote streaming on another, CNBC on another screen, and a browser on the 4th screen.

All of this I have been able to create using a bunch of older tablets that were sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Yes, I did have to get a few things like:

But these were minor costs to be able to create such a user friendly and efficient multi-screen experience for all aspects of my current stuck at home life.

What do you think? Have you been updating your home tech during the COVID mess? Are you as ready as me to get back to travel once it is safe to do so? – René

Sourced from Renes Points

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

By Linda Orr

Everything you need to know about effectively and efficiently targeting your audience through social media.

40 percent of the world’s population and 69 percent of Americans aged 18-29 are active users of social media. Social media has revolutionized how companies communicate with, listen to and learn from customers, much like TV advertising did in the 20th century.

A marketing strategy involves identifying a target market, establishing actions to reach that target market and continual analysis and adjustments. A social media strategy, on the other hand, educates engages, and excites your customers and builds brand loyalty. Excited and engaged customers bring in 23 percent more profits. Through video sharing sites customers can quasi-experience products as well, making a purchase more likely. Here are four areas of social media that all entrepreneurs should know.

1. The power of blogging and content marketing.

According to the book M: Marketing, 78 percent of customers prefer to get to know a company through articles rather than ads. Content marketing has six times higher conversion rates and has the potential for a 7.8-X boost in web traffic than other social media tools. In 2018, U.S. adults spent an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on smartphones. Most of this time lends itself towards content marketing. For example, customers spend 11 percent of this time on personal productivity and finances. Customers want content marketing about personal finance management. They want to read it.

If you sell medical devices, you should have articles about any health issue surrounding the problem that your product solves. If you sell makeup, you should have how-to articles about makeup application and likely skin care guides. If you own a restaurant, provide information about food trends, dieting, or perhaps event planning.

To start a content campaign, figure out what your customers might care about and start writing. Local experts may be happy to provide articles because that is free social media advertising for them. Also, content marketing generated toward a political or charitable cause is impactful because 73 percent of all customers want to buy from companies that communicate upstanding moral philosophies.

2. Read and respond to reviews and complaints.

84 percent of customers trust online reviews. Ask your customers to review your company. You can manually check sites, like Google, or use reputation management software to track online comments and reviews. Respond to comments on social media rapidly! 53 percent of customers from all sites and 72 percent of Twitter customers expect a response in one hour, according to M: Marketing. Social media is now the number one place where customers want their complaints handled. No response or a template response are bad responses. Someone inside your company should personally address each complaint.

3. It’s not just about Facebook anymore.

All other social media channels should be used based on your specific target market. 68 percent of Americans use Facebook. Overall Facebook usage has been slowly declining and may be unprofessional. If you have a good webpage, there is no reason to have a Facebook page. It can confuse and overwhelm customers.  A local farmer’s market announces events, like strawberry picking dates, on different sites like Facebook and Twitter at different times. Confusion and added time searching turn customers away. 32 percent of Americans not on Facebook will give up as well. Stick with a robust homepage.

M: Marketing says that the average cost per click on a Facebook ad is $1.72. There is a 0.77 percent conversion rate on these clicks. That means that it costs $223.37 to gain a customer from Facebook plus the cost to create and manage the ad. You will likely not get a return on this investment although there are exceptions.

Two hundred sixty million people use LinkedIn each month; 40 percent daily. Use it for business-to-business content marketing! LinkedIn users prefer more word count per article than other sites. The most read articles, by more than a factor of three, were articles over 1,900 words. LinkedIn also has the highest conversion rate of all the sites. The lead to conversion rate is 2.74 percent versus Facebook (0.77 percent) and Twitter (0.69 percent).

Since Google bought YouTube, it shows up prominently in searches. Seventy-three percent of Americans use YouTube, the highest percentage of all social media forms. With video, you can engage emotion and excitement better. You can post a how-to and other useful videos. Even incredibly professional companies like the Cleveland Clinic use YouTube to demonstrate their innovations and accolades.

Dr. Dre launched “Beats by Dre” using social media. Instagram was influential in building brand awareness, attracting approximately 2.5 million followers. 35 percent of Americans use Instagram. Instagram, like YouTube, is a place to build excitement quickly.

Sites like Twitter and Pinterest have an audience of less than 35 percent of Americans. Pinterest is a great place to show home décor products and vacation pictures and would be helpful in those markets. Twitter can be a low investment place to respond to user comments rapidly.

Third-party bloggers are like a combination of content marketing and online reviews. Disney is famous for its use of Disney Moms. A group of 1,300 select moms receive perks, but not compensation, to visit and blog about their experiences. The moms talk about real issues, like dealing with food allergies or what to pack for a day in the park. Third party blogs are more credible and relatable.

4. Use data to learn, analyze and adapt.

An advantage of social media usage is the available data. You can use social media metrics to gauge attitudes, preferences, and trends. Available metrics are hits, page views, bounce rates, click paths, conversion rates and keyword analysis. There are numerous software packages available to examine each metric. Do not put too much weight on keyword optimization. Google regularly changes its search algorithms so sites should never be designed to game the Google system.

Use social media strategically. Make sure you know your target market. Use the tools to communicate in an engaging, informative, and caring way. Content marketing and responding to online reviews are the most important social media tools. Use the available metrics to revise your actions.

Feature Image Credit: jayk7 | Getty Images

By Linda Orr

Dr. Linda Orr is a Marketing Professor at the University of Akron. She has taught marketing and sales courses for over two decades and is the author of five books and many articles. Dr. Orr has experience in the record, restaurant and finance industries, along with numerous consulting experiences.

Sourced from Entrepreneur

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There are a multitude of blogging platforms out there and it can be an overwhelming endeavor to find the right one for your blogging needs, budget, and skill level. Luckily, we’ve come up with a list of the best blogging platforms out there. There’s sure to be at least one platform that will fit your preferences and help you reach the goals you have for your blog.

01 of 10

WordPress.com: Best for Beginner Bloggers

Desktop site screenshot of WordPress blog dashboard that shows site views and statistics.

What We Like

  • There is a viable free option, not just a free trial.
  • Blog post interface is simple to use.
  • The views statistics feature is very informative.

What We Don’t Like

  • You must upgrade to at least the Premium (mid-tier) option before you can really customize the look of your site.

WordPress.com is a great option for beginners with its easy-to-use blog editor and easy to understand page view statistics page, but it’s also not so overly simple that bloggers interested in learning the nitty-gritty of web design can’t do so while they work on customizing their blogs to their particular aesthetic.

WordPress.com offers a free service option, as well as a number of Premium service subscription options. For those interested in hosting their own blog’s site, you can also sign up for WordPress.org.

The pricing of a WordPress site starts at $0 (for the free service option). From there, there are five different premium options ranging from $3 to $45 per month. These subscriptions are billed yearly, though.

02 of 10

Squarespace: Best for Bloggers Who Plan to Sell Products

Desktop site screenshot of a possible blog design template users can use on their own sites if they blog with Squarespace.

What We Like

  • Gorgeous, modern design template options.
  • iOS mobile app to edit and manage blog.
  • 14-day free trial that doesn’t require a credit card.

What We Don’t Like

  • No permanent free option.
  • Lowest annual plan rate is expensive and offers only basic controls.

If you think your blog may involve a bit of eCommerce, then Squarespace may be the right fit for you. Squarespace’s pricey premium plans tend to work best for those who plan to sell products or receive donations through their blog’s site. In fact, three out of their four paid plans offer at least four or more eCommerce features, such as the ability to accept donations and “sell unlimited products.”

Squarespace allows its users to pay for its service plans either on a monthly or annual basis, though users who pay annually will pay 30 percent less than those on the monthly payment plan. If paying annually, the per month price starts at $12 at the lowest tier and ends at $40 at the highest service tier. If you’re paying monthly, the price range is $16 – $46 per month.

03 of 10

Blogger: Best for Setting up a Blog Quickly

Desktop site screenshot of Blogger's Create a new blog webpage.

What We Like

  • Easy, simple to use content creation interface.
  • Quickly set up a free blog with just a Google account.

What We Don’t Like

  • Design templates look dated and overly simple.

Blogger is the easiest, quickest blog platform to use on this list, primarily because it’s free to use, the content creation interface is easy to use, and all you need is a free Google account to set your blog up.

That said, you’ll need to purchase a domain separately if you want to customize your blog’s web address.

04 of 10

Tumblr: Great for Bite-Sized Blogging

Desktop site screenshot of part of Tumblr's main webpage. This page shows the variety of blog post types Tumblr users can publish on Tumblr.

What We Like

  • Preset blog post formats make it easier to curate and produce content on your Tumblr blog page.
  • Preset allow for more creative storytelling among users.
  • Reblog feature makes it easier to develop a following for your blog .

What We Don’t Like

  • Reblogging can clutter your page with other people’s posts instead of having yours front and center.

Tumblr isn’t quite a traditional blog, but that’s okay because it isn’t really meant to be. Tumblr blogs are perfect for building online communities, content curation, and showing off your passions and projects with (usually) bite-sized blog posts, multimedia posts, and memes. Tumblr blogs tend to resemble brightly colored bulletin boards filled with a variety of posts.

The reblogging feature is particularly useful, as it allows other Tumblr users who enjoy your posts to display your posts on their page for their followers to see, which gets your work the exposure it needs. Tumblr is free to set up and use.

05 of 10

Medium: Get Paid to Blog Without Having to Worry About ClicksDesktop site screenshot of Medium's blog post draft dashboard and blog post settings menu.

What We Like

  • No emphasis on trying to drive traffic to your blog posts for the purposes of getting paid which drives genuine engagement.
  • You can remove your articles from Medium even after publication.
  • Totally free to publish articles on the site.

What We Don’t Like

  • Difficult to build a following at first.
  • If you want Medium to promote your posts, you must follow specific curation guidelines.

There are a number of blogging platforms that will allow you to publish your articles and make money off of them. Medium is unique among these because Medium bloggers who choose to join the Medium Partner Program can be paid for their work if Medium subscribers (readers who pay a monthly fee in appreciation of the work produced on Medium) engage with with their work in a meaningful way.

Medium bloggers in the Partner Program essentially don’t have to worry about hosting their own blog site, or about driving traffic to their articles to get advertising clicks.

The Medium blog post editor is very simple and easy to use, and it’s also free to publish articles on Medium.

06 of 10

Wix.com: Easiest Blog Platform to Use and Set Up

Desktop site screenshot of Wix.com's design template offerings for those who blog with Wix. These templates can be used to design a blog's appearance.

What We Like

  • A wide variety of beautiful, blog-style design templates and themes.
  • Free option available.
  • 14-day free trial of a Wix Premium service plan.

What We Don’t Like

  • The lowest priced Premium plan doesn’t have many benefits.

Wix offers a lot of features geared towards making web design and blogging as simple as possible, including the Wix Editor that has a drag and drop-style website builder and built-in Search Engine Optimization.

There’s also the Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence), which allows users to design a website in just a few minutes by answering a few questions to help the artificial intelligence in Wix ADI determine the optimal web design for your blog’s goals.

Wix does offer a free service option and a 14-day free trial of any Wix Premium service plan. The Wix Premium service plans for websites range in price from $13 per month to $39 per month.

07 of 10

Ghost: Best Professional Blogging Platform

Desktop site screenshot of the sign-up page for Ghost's free 14-day trial.

What We Like

  • Professional level blog experience, that’s beautifully designed.
  • Search Engine Optimization is included.

What We Don’t Like

  • Service plans are pricey.
  • Limits to how many views your site can have per month and you’ll be asked to upgrade to a higher-priced plan if your views exceed that limit on a “three month rolling average.”

If your blog is intended to be used as a company blog or as a publication, Ghost may be the best option for your needs. In fact, it’s even used by companies like DuckDuckGo, Mozilla (of Firefox fame), and even Tinder.

If you go with Ghost, you can expect to have your site’s updates and backups totally managed by Ghost. Additionally, features include support for other staff members or admin for your site and even support for content in multiple languages.

There is no free service option. The premium options range in price from $29 to $199 per month, if you choose annual billing. If you choose monthly billing, the range increases to $36 to $249 per month.

08 of 10

Weebly: Most Customizable Blogging Platform

Desktop site screenshot of Weebly's website design template options for blog-style websites.

What We Like

  • Free option comes with comes with 500MB of storage and Search Engine Optimization.
  • Fully customizable themes/design templates.
  • Mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices.

What We Don’t Like

  • The only difference between the free plan and the lowest tier paid plan is the latter comes with a custom domain.

Weebly comes with a vast assortment of beautiful and modern-looking design templates, and they’re all fully customizable. Like Wix, Weebly also features a drag-and-drop style website builder. There is a free service option, while paid service plans range from $5 to $25 per month and are paid annually.

09 of 10

HubPages: Get Paid to Blog and Share Your Expertise

Desktop site screenshot of the HubPages blog sign-up page.

What We Like

  • The Learning Center Guide provides helpful information on how to craft successful blog posts and online content.
  • You own the copyright to your work on HubPages.

What We Don’t Like

  • Can take up to six months to start seeing earnings.
  • You must drive traffic to your pages to earn money.

HubPages is perfect for bloggers passionate about very specific, very niche subjects. It’s also great for bloggers who are willing to learn all about what it takes to drive web traffic to online articles to make those article profitable.

Like Medium, you can make money from your articles through an earnings program, but unlike Medium, HubPages does rely on web traffic and views to determine how much its “Hubbers” get paid. It’s free to publish your articles on HubPages.

10 of 10

Typepad: Best for Blogs That Need Unlimited Storage

Desktop site screenshot of the main page of the Typepad website, which shows examples of other blogs published on this platform.

What We Like

  • All monthly subscription plans come with unlimited storage.
  • Layouts are easily adjusted by just dragging and dropping.

What We Don’t Like

  • No free options.
  • The lowest priced plan doesn’t come with the ability to fully customize your site’s design.

Typepad, for the most part, is a very basic blogging platform boasting pretty web designs, and for three out of the four service plans: the ability to create unlimited blogs.

In addition, all levels of service include unlimited storage, which can be helpful if you’re planning on blogging often and with large-sized multimedia content. Besides a 14-day free trial, Typepad is not free to use and paid plans range from $8.95 per month to $49.95 per month.

Feature Image Credit: rawpixel.com/Pexels

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Sourced from lifewire

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The 21st century is all about creativity. People and companies are finding new ways of marketing. From traditional marketing strategies to blogging and now “Guest Posting” and whatnot. Every company is striving to stand out in the cyber world and want to create value for their platforms. For this purpose, they have found yet another online marketing strategy commonly known as “Guest Posting.”

Never heard of it? Well, keep reading. “Guest Posting” is a relatively new marketing strategy in which a blogger creates unique content and posts it on another website with the name of the author. Most often, the website, the author is writing for has some relevance to that of the author’s blog or website resulting in mutual benefits for both.

Why Is “Guest Posting” Beneficial?

Guest posting is beneficial because it will increase the reach and engagements for your content. It will generate work for you, making your brand or product or work famous. It will open new ways for your business and will satisfy the urge you have for writing.

How to Write a Perfect Guest Post?

If you are willing to increase traffic on your website, guest posting must be the first thing on your mind. If you are wondering how can you do it? Keep reading, and you will find the most natural and essential tips and tricks to create the perfect guest posts.

1.      Plan and Organize:

If you have been writing guest posts for a while now, you must be aware that it is a hassle to choose the website you have to write for. The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you select the sites that have a resemblance to your work. Do not just choose any website, be smart and choose the website that is relevant in some way to generate authentic traffic. Search appropriately before making any plans to write.

2.      Look Out For Credible Bloggers:

People won’t come out of the blue and ask you to write for them. You will have to make an effort if you want to succeed. Google the keyword “Write for us,” “Guest Post Submission,” “Guest Posting”, etc. to find websites that allow external writers to publish content. In addition, you can add a relevant keyword with the ones mentioned above to search for sites that fall under your niche.

3.      Be Yourself:

Know that every writer has a different writing style, and so do you. Make sure you don’t hesitate while writing for a new website and carry on with your unique writing style.

4.      Know Your Audience:

Everybody indeed writes differently, but the audience you are writing for will be different from your blogging website. Before you start preparing your content, it will be helpful if you have a look at the audience of that site, so that you can write stuff that won’t offend them.

5.      The introduction is Key:

The audience on the guest post submission site isn’t familiar with who you are. If you can’t write an engaging start to your post, do not write at all!

Most of the people won’t read the whole blog if the introduction is not good. Use your creativity to make the introduction worth reading. Your introduction will decide whether or not the reader should continue reading or bounce off. An engaging start with an attempt to connect with your readers can put you in a win-win position.

6.      Tell The Audience Who You Are:

While writing the post, make sure you tell them about yourself. If you have a story that can be related to your blog post, you should include that. It makes the audience feel related. You can also introduce yourself and mention your business and expertise in the blog post you are writing. If people don’t know you, they will question your credibility and won’t even bother to go to your website. Storytelling has turned out to be a crucial content marketing strategy in the modern business environment.

7.      Request The Host To Promote Your Post:

If, by now, you have written a guest post for any website, gratefully ask them to promote your post on their social media. The reason being, we live in the era of social media. Using social media is as essential as breathing. If you have written a fantastic piece and haven’t requested the host to share on their social media platforms, the results won’t be good enough.

8.      Keep an Eye on the Analytics

How do you know if anything is working for you unless you see the results? The same goes for your guest posting strategy. You can use Google Analytics to keep an eye on the number of users that enter your site through the recent guest posts you have submitted. That way, you’ll be able to understand what your next move should be or area where improvement is required.

9.      Don’t Stop:

Writing just one guest post won’t lead you to your desired results. You have to keep writing. Write for as many hosts as possible; this will make you create value for your products or brand. However, never ignore quality while going for quantity. No matter how many guest post deals you close, always maintain the quality of your blogs. The better the content, the greater the chance of it getting ranked higher on Google and other search engines.

Ending Words:

Some people still believe that blogging is not a good marketing strategy. We live in the age of digitalization, and if we don’t evolve with the time we will not only be left behind but will also be the ones closing down our businesses.

The competition is intense and to fight with that we do need to learn to market our content and brand. If you want to write and are thinking about your first stop, this article provides you with everything you need to know about guest posting; the ideal content marketing strategy.

Feature Image Credit: Via TradeKey

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Sourced from Thrive Global

Recently, my blog turned two and a half years old! That means that today, I’ve been blogging for 136 weeks and this is my 136th post. Over the years, people have asked me for my greatest advice for blog writing, whether that is how to grow a following and get noticed or how to go about writing for an atheist blog when you’re still in the atheist closet. Today, I want to share with you some of my answers to some commonly asked blogging questions.

1. How do I start a blog?

This is a fairly simple question with a straightforward answer. Ask anyone who has ever started a blog, and they will tell you that this is by far the easiest step in blogging. For me, it involved choosing a blog name (The Closet Atheist at the time) and clicking on the big, unmissable Get Started button on WordPress.com. WordPress (almost) literally holds your hand throughout the blog-building process, and there is nothing technical to it. Any WordPress blog can be free, by the way, if you don’t mind a URL ending in .wordpress.blog and a few ads on your site. My blog started off as theclosetatheist39.wordpress.com (does anyone remember this?) because theclosetatheist.wordpress.com was (and still is) reserved. But oh, how far we’ve come!

2. How do I start an anonymous blog as a closeted atheist?

The first thing of which I must warn you—which I had to learn the hard way—is not to expect it to stay hidden forever. I think I did a pretty good job of writing anonymously for that year and a half. My name or face were nowhere to be seen on the site, my Twitter, or anywhere related to them. You better believe The Closet Atheist was not only the name of my site, but my second identity. It was my email address and my Twitter handle, and there was not any way that anyone who didn’t know me could have ever found me on Instagram or Facebook through it.

But writing anonymously, continuously, is hard. You can’t write your life story without details of your life slipping in. Even when I was writing anonymously, you would have known that I was raised in the Lutheran Church, that my mom was an organist, my brother-in-law was a pastor, and I went to a Christian college where I played in a marching band. But I think that giving up that many details of my life were worth how much this blog saved my sanity. Even YouTubers make videos anonymously, but I think that puts you at a much higher risk of being found by people you know.

3. How do I keep my blog going?

I’ve seen more blogs than I can count with one post, or a handful of posts, which were then left and never touched again. Thinking of a cool name, a sleek design, and a catchy topic is simple until you realize that if you want your blog to succeed, you are going to have to keep writing. And writing. And writing. And writing. (Repeat, in my case, 136 times so far.)

Not to be harsh, or overly obvious, but you probably shouldn’t start a blog if you don’t have a pretty long list of post ideas. You don’t want a blog with a total of four or five posts, but you want to be able to write for as long as possible, and to do that, you need things to talk about. I think that generating topics is more difficult as a blogger than it would be for a podcast or for YouTube, because on those media, there are endless other videos to reply to, and endless people to invite onto your podcast to interview (wink, wink—like me!). But I find that it is nearly impossible to collaborate with others or review videos through blogging, so I stick with reviewing books and articles, and in the past I’ve responded to sermons, speeches, bible studies, and class lectures.

4. How will I ever come up with that much to talk about?

The best way to come up with post ideas is deciding the overall topic of your blog. It absolutely has to be something you are passionate about, and that you could talk about for literal years. And you should be able to put your own spin on it, own it, and write about it from your perspective. If you’re telling your story, it should be easy because no one else can or has told it before. For me, I combined my story of becoming an atheist, living as an atheist at a Christian college and in a Christian family, and coming out to the people in my life. On quiet weeks, I interspersed my life experiences with the aforementioned reviews and responses. Nowadays, with my atheist story being quiet and peaceful, I’ve started branching out from the topic of atheism and religion—to posts like this!

5. How do I grow my following?

Here’s my practical, tried-and-true advice: Engage. This is true for every content creator: YouTubers, Instagrammers, and traditional bloggers alike. Comment on, follow, and like other people’s blogs and blog posts. Follow them on social media and interact with them there. The audience will follow if you have built relationships with people. This also means that you can’t make it all about you. If you comment on anyone’s blog saying only “Nice post! Check out my blog at doucheymcdouche.wordpress.com,” they will probably delete it immediately, if it doesn’t get sent automatically to spam. If the post you are commenting on is something you’ve also written about, you should still summarize your thoughts in your comments before linking to your specific post and explaining why. But I find that it is always good enough to not self-advertise at all. Just be logged in, where your blog link will be in your username automatically.

But on a more authentic, less marketing-centered level, it is really all about what you are actually writing. I am a firm believer, when it comes to personal blogging (as opposed to marketing blogs or other paid content), in this unpopular opinion.

The writer comes first. The readers come second.

This probably goes against any blogging advice you have ever read. But for he or she who blogs unpaid, just to tell their story, it is vital. If you write what you want to write, you will have more fun, you will write better, and your readers will know that you love what you’re doing. This is how you keep them around, and this is how you keep your blog going before you decide that it’s “just too hard,” it’s “not fun anymore,” and “no one’s reading it anyway and I can’t figure out what they want!” Just keep going. At the very least, you will be enjoying it. Even among my own readership, I can tell you right now that no matter what, this blog’s biggest fan is me!

6. What’s your biggest advice for anyone who wants to get into blogging?

STICK TO A SCHEDULE!

I cannot stress this enough. At all. Is it absolutely crucial.

I follow a number of blogs, and I can’t tell you how much it drives me crazy when they do not keep a posting schedule, especially when they claim to! If you tell your audience you will upload every Tuesday at 11 a.m., you have to upload every Tuesday at 11 a.m. This is part of building trust. My readers knew that this post would be up today at 8 a.m., and I know that my views are always highest on Sunday mornings. I have never kept my readers wondering for longer than 12 hours where my last post was or when I would write next. There are many Saturdays when I don’t have time to write, and there are no Sundays (anymore) when I am up by 8 a.m. One of the greatest things about WordPress is the ability to write a post any time you want and schedule it to go up when you want it to.

When I was in a graphic design class in college, one of my projects was to make an instructional infographic. I chose a how-to on personal blogging. So if you want a more concise and design-centric list of blogging tips from me, you can look at this poster called “5 Traits of a Successful Personal Blog”.

B

Sourced from The Curious Atheist

By Dave Schneider

What do Neil Patel, Tim Ferriss, and Brian Clark have in common? They are three of the most influential personalities in the digital marketing sphere today. And they built their influence through blogging. Why don’t you start blogging to build influence as well?

You can say that they blogged their way to fame and fortune. But it was not an overnight success. It was a rigorous process borne out of a passion for finding solutions and sharing their knowledge to as many people as possible through digital tech and the Internet.

In this post, we will identify the common qualities influencers share. We will also look at some of the best’s best practices that, hopefully, you can adapt to position your best content forward.

The Common Denominators

Just like Patel, Ferriss, and Clark, top influencers share these qualities that help put them in their stature.

  • They create thought-provoking content that inspires their audience to take action. Influencers go beyond promoting their businesses and themselves. They spend time knowing the industry, pinpointing areas of improvement, knowing what makes people tick, providing solutions to problems, and keeping up with the trends. Take Barry Schwartz, for example. His site, Search Engine Roundtable, is often the first go-to resource for any Google algorithm update.
  • Influencers exude authenticity and transparency, both in the content they create and their online persona. They publish their works in different platforms and are active participants in online discussions. They are not afraid to voice their opinions, but acknowledge their shortcomings when they’re at fault. Making themselves more relatable as a human is the quality that builds the audience’s trust and the influencer’s credibility.
  • Despite his busy schedule, Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor and Chief Content Officer of Search Engine Land, still maintains his personal blog to talk about his personal musings and other passions aside from SEO and digital marketing.
  • They are engaging. Neil Patel, for example, has helped millions of his followers learn digital marketing in an engaging manner through his blog, Quicksprout. He crafts in-depth tutorials that are fun and easy to read. And beyond that, Quicksprout analyzes websites shows how they can be improved in terms of generating more traffic – free of charge.

So you want to become a digital influencer? Then…

1. Start blogging and give it all you got. Don’t expect it to be an instant hit though. As Seth Godin puts it, “If you love writing or making music or blogging or any sort of performing art, then do it. Do it with everything you’ve got. Just don’t plan on using it as a shortcut to making a living.”

It takes about a year or so for a blog to gain traction, provided you’re blogging more than 11 times per month. So, consistency is imperative.

To avoid sounding too boring in your writing, find a topic that you’re passionate about where you feel you can add value in. You’ll also find it’s easier to write in a conversational tone when you let your words reflect your personality. It’ll be easier for people to relate to you and see what you’re all about and how you’d contribute to your niche.

2. We all know how crucial content is when building a loyal following. If you’re still at a loss on what high-quality content is, let Google’s Quality Guidelines bring some light to it.

  • Create posts primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t write for writing’s sake, just so you have something to post for that day. The audience should learn something valuable from your post.
  • A useful test is to ask is, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” Because when you help people, they naturally want to like and trust you.
  • Think about what makes your website unique, engaging, and valuable. Make a list of things of what makes you stand out. Apply that to your writing and make your website stand out from others in your field.
  • Don’t mislead your users. Employing tricks to improve search engine rankings is definitely a no-no. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee.

3. Plan your strategy to start blogging

While content is crucial, the most important aspect of winning a loyal fan base is strategy. Use the analytics tool on your blog and social media. See what type of content is most shared and liked, and participate in discussions about it.

Study wording in the titles and images on articles in order to determine what attracts an audience the most, and then craft your content around it.

4. Determine collaboration options

For starters, look for other bloggers and ask if they could share your content and give you credit free of charge.

5. Use social media

Maintain visibility and activity in discussions on trending topics in your niche. Don’t just spew words. Do some research, if you need to, to bring more value to the discussion. You can easily build your online presence this way, attract more followers or blog subscribers.

6. Get ready to scale up

Reevaluate your blog analytics. If after at least a year you are attaining or exceeding your goals, then it’s time to scale up.

You will naturally produce more content than what you used to. So determine the need for additional writers and an editorial team to oversee that all articles are error-free and aligned to your branding.

Consider hiring a marketing manager to assist you in devising multiple streams of income through your blog and pitching to potential advertisers and partners. Get a professional graphic designer, if you can afford one, to help you in brand development through ongoing projects.

If your budget screams no to hiring one, use a graphic design tool such as Snappa to make it easier for you to create stunning visuals. The app’s resizing tool is one of its core features. So your blogs social media posts, display ads, emails, blogs, and infographics can be resized and repurposed as YouTube thumbnails.

Conclusion: Start Blogging TODAY!

Challenge yourself to be the most you can be. Set high goals, do some growth tracking, and crunch some numbers. It will all be difficult at the start but should be attainable once you set your mind to it.

Are you ready to start blogging now?

By Dave Schneider

Dave Schneider is an expert on Blogging. Dave is the cofounder of NinjaOutreach, an innovative new blogger outreach software for marketers based in Boston, Massachusetts. He writes about blogging for businesses, entrepreneurship, and has a love for travel, having visited over 40 countries. Dave can be found at lesschurn.io and daveschneider.me.

Sourced from Neal Schaffer

By Melissa Burns

Blogging is one of the most valuable tools you can use to engage with your customers online and ultimately improve your marketing and business results. If you don’t have a blog already, you should definitely start one now.

Over the years, blogging has emerged as one of the main elements in marketing strategies today. And 2019 promises to be the year of blogging.

Before we delve into how you can use blogging to connect with your audience, let’s examine the benefits of adding a blog to your website. Then, we’ll discuss how to get started with blogging.

The Benefits of Blogging

A blog is really a simple, concise and easy-to-use platform that allows you to connect with your target audience online and share with them relevant information about your business and other relevant information. Because it is your own platform, you can explain directly to your audience all about your products or services and how to use them. Also, you can easily track customer engagement on your blog and get their valuable feedback firsthand.

As SEO is a part of most content marketing strategies nowadays, more and more businesses are focusing on optimization to improve their search engine rankings. To have a better ranking on Google, the most popular search engine, the most effective way is to add a blog to your website. However, it’s not enough just to have a blog. It will have to be active and you’ll need to learn how to apply SEO recommendations to make your blog popular.

According to a Hubspot survey, 60% of businesses that have a blog on their website acquire more customers. Your blog is where your content strategy starts. From your blog, you can pull out content for your email and newsletter campaigns, social media channels, webinars, eBooks, guides, and so on. Having all your vital information in one place will not only be helpful for your customers, but also for yourself as well.

Keep in mind, though, that your target website or business audience is whom you’re writing to when blogging. That’s why it’s important to provide them with useful tips and tricks so they are benefiting from the blog and finding reason to keep coming back for more information.

Among the numerous benefits of adding a blog to your website, the most crucial one is that it gives you and your company a voice. There is no better way to personalize your company than by having a blog. For instance, you can show all the values that are important to your company and its employees by writing about company culture.

Your blog is also a place where you can write about upcoming products or services, and comment on industry trends. Use it to showcase your brand personality and industry expertise. Remember that customers are less likely to buy a product from a company they don’t like. However, they are more loyal and likely to become repeat customers for those brands they like.

5 Steps to Add a Blog and Start Blogging

Starting a blog is easier than it once was, but you have to be more determined and have clearly defined goals before you start working on your platform.

Here’re crucial steps to make your blogging an interesting and beneficial process.

Step 1: Prepare and plan ahead

Every good strategy requires preparation, and it’s the same with blogging. What are the goals of your blog? Do you wish to inform people about your products or service? Do you want to provide them with additional information on product usage? Do you want to position yourself as an opinion maker in your industry so you’ll comment on recent trends and provide guidelines?

Answering these questions will help you determine in which way to go. Don’t forget about writing a list of topics for your blog. To research and get some ideas, use Google Trends, a free tool provided by Google.

Step 2: Add a blog page on your existing website

As a company or serious professional, you probably already have an existing website. To add a blog to the website, create a new website page with a link to a blog you set up on a popular blogging platform like WordPress (WP).

Alternatively, you can move your website to WordPress. Use .htaccess codes to redirect old links on your existing website to new ones on WP. The power of a static blog homepage in WordPress can allow you to run your blog with your website name as the main domain.

You can then customize your blog to match your website and post content on the blog. Visitors will not have a problem identifying and reading your blog.

Step 3: Publish the blog page

If you want your blog to be accessible on your website so that other people can read it, you will have to publish the website page with a link pointing to your blog, or add the blog link to your website navigation. Check that everything is correct in the page and click the ‘Publish’ button.

After publishing and making your blog link live on your website, go to your WP Dashboard and choose ‘Settings’ on the left side. Click the button to create a new static page in WP and select ‘Blog’ under the drop-down menu for ‘Posts.’

It’s very important that you choose ‘Blog’ under the drop-down menu for ‘Posts’ and not the ‘Front’ page, because it will determine where your blog feed appears on your website.

When you’re done with that, you will now have to decide how many posts you want to appear when your readers visit your blog. The number is up to you.

Step 4: Add your first blog post

This is where you’re going to need that list of blogging topics you created in the first step of preparation. Decide on the title and subject or topic that is best to publish as your first blog post.

With blogging topics already decided and written down in the first step, you will have no problem creating content that is high converting. This is why it’s essential that you don’t skip the preparation phase.

Don’t be too strict on yourself, though, especially if this is your first blog post ever. The good thing about blogging is that you can edit all your posts after they’re published without any problem.

add_new_blog_post_wordpress_cms_content_management_system.jpg

Step 5: Create an editorial/blogging calendar

Blog posting should follow a pre-determined strategy for it to be effective. For this reason, create an editorial calendar for your upcoming articles, with topics, deadlines, the persons who will write them and any other information you find useful. Have this information clearly written down ahead of time.

When you blog without an editorial calendar, your blogging messages and schedules are likely to be all over the place, making your blog look disorganized and messy. Your customers may easily get confused. Blogging is pretty straightforward, but mistakes like these can harm your blog performance.

Conclusion

Adding a blog to your website is not something you can ignore today at a time when every business is focused on content marketing. When you decide to start a blog, remember these key points:

  • With a blog, you can easily communicate and engage your audience
  • Blogging will increase your search engine ranking results
  • A blog is a perfect platform for publishing converting content
  • Having a blog allows you to show your company culture
  • With quality preparation, you will simplify your blogging process
  • Having an editorial calendar is crucial for your content to succeed

With all of this in mind, blogging will be inspiring for you and your audience. It will simplify your communication with customers and make it easier for you to convert prospects into customers as well. So, get blogging today!

By Melissa Burns

Melissa Burns is an independent journalist and marketing consultant. Business innovations, technology, and marketing are central topics of her articles. She started writing with a single goal of sharing her expertise with other people. Melissa also provides workshops for start-ups and small businesses.

Sourced from The Web Writer Spotlight

By 

LinkedIn’s Sponsored InMail isn’t always seen as the most effective type of outreach method, but there are ways that it can be used to great effect.

My organization hosts several events each year, focused on best practice-sharing and helping small businesses, and I recently took the lead on marketing a new event which focused on digital marketing and how companies can use it to drive their bottom line. I was ambitious and set a goal of 200 event registrations. With two months to market the event, I had some time to drive registrations using my organization’s traditional marketing channels.

The Problem

My traditional marketing playbook was simply not working. I managed to bring in approximately 15% of my event registration goal through email and organic social media, but I needed to reach more marketers – in particular, digital marketers or those who worked in the online space.

My database of contacts simply didn’t provide the target market necessary to reach my goal, and after two weeks running social media ads on Facebook and LinkedIn, my budget was nearly depleted, and my registration numbers hadn’t moved significantly.

It was clear, at this point, that I needed to take a different approach.

The Big Idea

I not only needed to reach marketers, but I needed to establish a relationship with them, and drive enough brand trust where they would feel comfortable spending money to register for my event. I wasn’t going to be able to do this alone.

My first thought was to use influencers to help spread the word. Recent studies have shown that 94% of marketers have found influencer marketing to be effective. They would help drive brand awareness, and subsequently bring in new event registrations. The ticket price was not cheap ($55) so I needed to really focus on the brand awareness aspect.

But then I thought about the specific influencers in more depth. Simply reaching out to my core digital marketing influencers wasn’t going to do the trick – I needed over 150 people, and there was nobody within a hundred-mile radius that had that kind of pull with the budget I had remaining.

This led to a new plan – aim for dozens of micro-influencers who would each be able to bring in a small handful of paid registrations.

The Implementation

I like to think of myself as a relatively well-known digital marketer, but I don’t have nearly the network required to achieve my micro-influencer goal. I needed a platform to broadcast my call for these people.

This is where LinkedIn Sponsored InMail was useful. Rather than using it for annoying sales pitches or free e-books, I was going to use it to appeal to marketers’ egos. Most marketers like to consider themselves subject matter experts in at least one area. If people were going to respond to my call for help, there needed to be something in it for them.

Thus, I would ask them to provide their expertise by writing a blog post, publishing it with a plug for my event, and then promoting it on their top social channels. In return, they would receive a free registration to the event, and then I would also promote their blog post, giving them the byline and bowing to their expertise.

I made sure my Sponsored InMail headline would catch their eyes: “Call For Digital Marketing Experts.”

I was careful to target only the most experienced and connected digital marketers. Thanks to LinkedIn’s superior ad targeting capabilities, I was able to narrow down my search to a few hundred individuals that would help me achieve my goal.

The Results

My Sponsored InMail campaign only ran for 48 hours, and resulted in 150 delivered messages. Of the 150, 70 responded and 33 eventually became official micro-influencers.

I provided each micro-influencer with a unique link to my event page so I could track the traffic they would bring in to the event site. In total, my 33 unique links led to 2,000 unique pageviews, and 160 event registrations, giving me the numbers I needed to exceed my initial goal.

The numbers may not seem overwhelming, but they’re exactly what I wanted out of my micro-influencers. I gained thousands of new users at minimal cost, while also gaining valuable content from new connections.

Final Takeaways

If you’re considering an influencer campaign, but lack the budget for big names, consider micro-influencers instead. You may need to do a call out to attract their attention, but by bringing together the right combination of people, content and promotion, you can achieve your goals.

Most businesspeople are influencers at some level – it just requires the right type of action to activate their networks.

By 

Follow Nick Mattar on Twitter

Sourced from Social Media Today

By Dave Schneider

You might have heard it already…

Instagram has recently surpassed 1 billion users and has taken the social media industry by storm.

For the blogging community, it works as a gateway to find new followers and like-minded people in their niche. It has become one of the top social media marketing platforms not only for many influential bloggers but also for many major businesses.

In this post, you’ll learn why Instagram is important and how you can use it for your business to complement your blogging strategy.

There was a misconception about Instagram’s importance being limited to businesses like retailers, restaurants, or travel companies.

Not anymore!

Now, it’s increasingly important for all kinds of businesses looking to build their brands online. Despite the surprising fact that it’s been underutilized by many, Instagram is one of the best ways to use visual marketing for your business.

Industry bloggers are consistently leveraging the power of Instagram marketing to promote their brands and grow their business on a large scale.

Why?

Because Instagram is all about visual content, and visual content makes it easier to grab their audience’s attention.

After all, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual!

90% information to the brain is visual

Image Source: Kissmetrics Blog

Why You Need Instagram For Your Business

Think about this for a moment, bloggers are always using Instagram to connect with peers and colleagues, influencers and readers.

How do you think it affects their brand and their business?

It’s simple.

Their network evolves and grows, their brand is exposed to millions of followers, all thanks to the influencers they network with.

According to Brandwatch, “48.8% of brands are on Instagram and by 2017 this number is likely to rise to 70.7%.”

Surely, you don’t want to be left behind, do you?

There are many reasons why you should consider Instagram for business. One of the main reasons is the level of user engagement you get.

The number one goal of your social media marketing strategy is to be where your target audience is engaging and spending their time.

Research suggests that the engagement on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times better than Pinterest, and 84 times greater than Twitter.

So if your business is not active on Instagram, you are missing out…big time!

How To Use Instagram For Your Business

Using Instagram to promote your business is pretty straight forward, but you need a solid strategy to get your desired results.

Remember:

Importance of Content Strategy

Like any other social media platform, you must have a strategic plan for marketing on Instagram to gain traffic, get leads, and generate sales.

Instagram Marketing Strategy

First, you need to establish your marketing goals.

  • Do you want to increase your product sales?
  • Do you want to increase traffic to your website?
  • Do you want to increase your brand awareness?

Each social media network has its own features and advantages. You have to determine which of Instagram’s features match best with your marketing goals.

Next, you should be asking yourself –

  • Who is my target audience?
    Having a well-defined target audience is critical. You cannot say that your target audience is “anyone who is interested in my products or services”!young Internet users are Instagram
  • Your target audience should be a specific market that is more likely to engage and buy from you. For example, single moms over 30 who speak English as their first language. This is a more effective and efficient way to reach your potential clients.Check out this detailed guide by Neil Patel to understand how to define and reach your target audience.
  • Which part of my audience is most active on Instagram?
    After you have a clear idea of who your target audience is, next you need to find out which part of your audience is most active on Instagram; men and women of different age groups, college students with different taste and styles – who is actively using Instagram?
  • What kind of content do they love to engage with?
    Find out what kind of content your target audience is mostly sharing, liking, and commenting on. This will help you create content they’ll love to engage with.

As you can see, doing market research is an important part of your Instagram marketing strategy.

You need data to find out what other brands, businesses, and competitors in your niche are doing on Instagram.

Marketing without data is like riding with your eyes closed

Use this data to evaluate what is working for them, and to find things they are missing out on, as well as things you can implement better than them.

High engaging visual content is the key for Instagram marketing so your goals and strategy should reflect that.

Your Instagram marketing strategy should involve –

  1. Strategizing what you should post on your Instagram.
  2. Finding out how often you should post.
  3. Creating a well-maintained content calendar.
  4. A strategy to get more engaged followers.

Instagram Marketing Tips

  • Tools: You can use tools like Hootsuite, Later, ScheduGram to schedule your Instagram posts in advance. Schedule your posts at your audience’s most active times.
  • Hashtags: They play a very vital role these days in social media. It’s the same with Instagram too! Using hashtags the right way will allow your target audience to discover your content easily. So choose them wisely!
  • Tagging people: This is a powerful technique and can play a huge part in your Instagram marketing strategy. Tag influencers, brands, or businesses featured in your posts and it will show up in their profiles.
  • Following influencers on Instagram: This will keep you updated on the latest industry trends. You can also find interesting, engaging and inspirational content ideas for your own posts.
  • Monitor and Analyze: Monitor and analyze your marketing strategies and see what is working and what is not. Adopt new tactics when necessary.
Instagram analytics

Image source: Social Media Examiner

Use tools like Iconosquare to measure your performance and optimize your strategy. Some other tools similar to Iconosquare are Dash Hudson, Simply Measured, and Sprout Social.

When you are setting up your Instagram marketing campaigns, pay very close attention to your target audience and what they are interested in.

Make sure you are engaging with them by liking, commenting, replying to their mentions and direct messages in a timely fashion.

Eventually, you will find what types of content and strategies are working for your business.

By Dave Schneider

Dave Schneider is an expert on Blogging. Dave is the cofounder of NinjaOutreach, an innovative new blogger outreach software for marketers based in Boston, Massachusetts. He writes about blogging for businesses, entrepreneurship, and has a love for travel, having visited over 40 countries. Dave can be found at lesschurn.io and daveschneider.me.

Sourced from Neal Schaffer

By Laura Hill

An essential part of an effective content marketing program, blogging is a great way to accomplish several of your marketing goals at once.

Need fresh content for your website? Post a blog. Want to establish yourself as a subject matter expert? Write a blog that demonstrates your mastery. Need high-quality content for social media that drives traffic to your website? What about writing you can repurpose for email marketing? Yep. Blogs.

Aren’t there already a ton of blogs out there? Well, yes. But that doesn’t mean you’re too late to start leveraging this very effective tool. Here are some helpful guidelines, so the time you spend on your blog will return the highest return on your investment!

Our top 3 tips for business blogging

1. Provide value

Give prospective customers a real reason to make the jump to your content on the website. Write about topics that are relevant to your audience, whether they are timely or evergreen. A good place to start is with questions you are frequently asked about your services or products. These are questions people will be using on search engines, using keywords that relate directly to your business, making it even more likely you will be found online!

2. Keep it interesting

Make the text easily scannable by breaking up large blocks of text with attractive white space, and adding pictures, videos, and links. Need quality sources for free or low cost images? Create your own using graphic design tools or try free photo sites that provide a natural range of people in current and realistic settings.

3. Connect your blog to your website

Hopefully, by sharing links to your blog through social media and email marketing, and by being found during online search, you will be driving traffic directly to your blog. HubSpot recommends making sure your blog is directly connected to your business website, either as a subdomain (blog.yourdomain.com) or as a page (yourdomain.com/blog) so visitors can easily access additional information about your company.

Reviving a blogging program or starting a new one?

Beginning a blogging program (or restarting a dormant one) can be intimidating and overwhelming. Listen to your customers and clients to learn what topics they are interested in, and follow these best practices to make the time you spend blogging more rewarding and effective.

By Laura Hill

Sourced from BreezyHill