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5 Expert Promotion Tips to Rock Your Blog

You’ve crafted a great blog post. Now what?

If you answered “promote it” — which of course you did — then you’re absolutely right! As you know, all the time and effort you’ve poured into your creation amounts to zero if it’s not reaching your intended audience. No visibility, no engagement, no social sharing, no Web traffic, no conversions. And all that nothing can be…um…discouraging.

So we asked five of the sharpest content marketing minds out there to share their insights into how to promote your blog, via this two-part question:

Digital content writers and marketers read a lot of tips about how to promote their blog posts. In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

Their candid answers are illuminating, often amusing, and rich with details. Enjoy!

arnie-kuenn

Arnie Kuenn (@ArnieK), CEO of Vertical Measures

In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? 

It all starts with creating useful, valuable content that people would actually be willing to share and promote. Assuming you have that, the one thing I still see most bloggers miss is focusing on the actual title of their post.

Many bloggers spend hours creating this fantastic post and only minutes on the title. In today’s world, the title is everything. It typically becomes the title tag and H1 (main header) that search engines love. The title tag then becomes the text that social media displays when posting. So the title is your best chance to get the world’s attention – which is where the sharing all begins.

What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

In a word – Facebook. Our paid search team continues to find creative, cost-effective ways to promote content on Facebook. It almost always seems to work and sometimes there are some pretty big payoffs.

gabriella-sannino

Gabriella Sannino (@SEOcopy), President & Founder of Level 343

In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? 

Let’s face it – most bloggers focus too much on traffic and not enough on retention — keeping visitors coming back. Traffic is only as good as visitors’ staying power, and staying power is only as good as the relationships you build.

Look for your most successful content (analytics, anyone?). Keep it updated. Repurpose it. Pay attention to the headlines and content that brought them in. Do more of that.

At the same time, look at relationship building. Build relationships with influencers and your target market. Work to earn social shares and backlinks from influencers and brand advocates.

A great outreach program is to do competitive research and work on building a tribe with them. Just because you’re competitive doesn’t mean you can’t work to gain mutual satisfaction. For example, we can only handle so many SEO projects. So what do we do when we’re overfull? We refer them to the competition. We look good, the competition looks good – it’s a win, win.

What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

Sending out muffins to people. :)

I’d have to say that my favorite secret strategy sauce is inviting your sources to read, share, and link to your content. Sometimes it’s a blatant invite, but most of the time it’s a notice that you’ve written about them, quoted them, or otherwise brought them some exposure. It’s a “hey, I like you enough to talk about you, hope you don’t mind…”

In the process, it brings exposure to you from the people who visit to see what you said about them.

And if that doesn’t work…. there are always the muffins.

lee-odden

Lee Odden (@leeodden), CEO of TopRank Online Marketing

In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)?

One of the most important blog content promotion strategies overlooked is to consider promotion at the content planning stage, versus after the content is already created. You’d think this would be obvious, but in the case of corporate America, it’s definitely not.

This is a timely question because I just received an inquiry from a company chock full of content – original content from the content team, influencer content, user generated content amongst their community and still – the issue of content distribution and promotion was problematic. Why? Because they focused so much on content creation and on-page SEO, the importance of audience development, syndication and distribution only came as an afterthought.

Successful marketing content creators understand the value of developing channels of distribution for their content whether it’s through an email list, an active community on relevant social networks, forums and groups, or through co-creation that inspires participants to help promote the content to success. In the case of content co-creation, a significant part of content promotion is factored into the planning – from topic to publishing channels to activating the influencers involved.

However, keep in mind there’s a big difference between lazy “listicles” with famous industry pundits and actual co-creation that inspires influencers to help you promote your content.

What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

Secrets cost money :)

It would be easy to suggest a behind-the-scenes network of mutual content promotion groups, but I still think one of the most effective blog promotion tactics is the content itself. Understand what motivates your readers and give it to them – better each time. Nothing inspires sharing of blog content like anticipation of what’s next and your content delivering as promised.

Many bloggers don’t have the patience to grow a community and subscriber base in their search of shortcuts. As a result, they overlook things that can take more work with a bigger payoff a little further out.

mark-traphagen

Mark Traphagen (@marktraphagen), Senior Director of Online Marketing, Stone Temple Consulting

 In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

I could share a lot of high level strategies, but your audience has probably heard most of them, so let me instead share an easy tactic that gets us a lot of traffic and extra shares of our content we might not have had otherwise.

The tip is: create “click to tweet” quotes from your content. Choose a few of the best takeaways or quotable moments from your post, and make it one-click easy for readers to tweet that quote to their followers. The easiest way to do this is with a service such as ClickToTweet. Compose the tweet quote in ClickToTweet (don’t forget to share a link back to your post!) and the tool gives you a shortlink. We usually turn the quote into a simple graphic inserted into our post, with a “Click to Tweet!” call to action included. We then make the graphic a clickable link, using the ClickToTweet-provided short link.

When a reader clicks the graphic, a Twitter composition window opens, with the prepared quote already in place. The visitor just has to click “Tweet” to publish the quote to their followers. If you included a short link back to your content when you did the setup on ClickToTweet, the quote should drive more traffic to your post.

Every time we include these in one of our posts, we get far more Tweets and traffic from Twitter than when we don’t.

kristi-hines

Kristi Hines (@kikolani), Freelance Writer & Blog Marketing Strategist

In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

I’m not sure that a lot of others do this, but one of the things I’ve found most helpful in promoting content long term is setting up Google Alerts and Twitter searches for keywords that people would use when asking a question that my post answers.

For example, I had alerts set up for Thesis versus Genesis for a while to promote a post I had written on the differences between those two WordPress theme frameworks. That post ended up being my most successful in terms of affiliate earnings as it helped anyone asking about the two and, no matter what they chose, they would get them through my affiliate links.

So now the ball’s in your court: do you have any blog promotion strategies that have worked well for you? Please share them with us in the comments below! And thank you :)

Yes, You Should Blog. Here’s How to Make Blogging Easier

Greetings! Today we’re featuring Heather’s highly popular “how-to” business blogging video posts, as well as a third written post that asks “are you too busy to blog?” Good question, no?

No matter the size of your business, from enterprise to soloprenuer, a business blog is a fundamental part of any smart content marketing strategy in this highly competitive world of savvy, informed and content-hungry consumers.

Starting a business blog is much like having a baby. Since many of us are not familiar with business blogging, Heather offers tips for beginners as well as for those of us who may be a bit <ahem> rusty. Then, going beyond the launch of your blog, Heather addresses the less romantic, daily realities facing the business blogger.

And finally, we’re asked to consider if we are too busy to blog? What are the options? Enjoy this 3-part pocketbook guide of biz blogging tips!

3 Business Blogging Tips For Beginners

Were you among the many business owners who resolved to either start blogging or do more of it this year?  Given the overwhelming stat’s showing how blogging can increase leads, boost conversions, and drive more traffic to your site – of course you want a piece of that!

And while that’s a wonderful goal, it can be a challenging one for beginners. Tune in as Heather shows you the ropes and shares tips to help reduce the “frustration factor” of getting started…

3 (More) Business Blogging Tips For Beginners

In this follow-up business blogging video post, Heather goes beyond the launch of your blog and focuses on the nitty-gritty realities of business blogging: Do you have the time, resources, support, and practical wherewithall to keep your blog on track, consistently?

And do you know the critical distinction between sales writing and blog writing?

Are you too busy to blog?

It could be said that “no time to blog” isn’t a reasonable excuse. That’s because blogging drives traffic and helps establish you as an expert. It could be that you’ve found alternative content marketing strategies that work for you.

That said, if you’ve tried blogging and it worked for your company – even as a short-term experiment – you owe it to your bottom line to better manage your time or seek outside help to create the content that your readers crave.

 

photo credit to SweetGirl©

Write a (Good) Blog Post in 1 Hour — Here’s How!

Are you short on time and need to write a quality blog post – fast?

Sounds like it’s time for a quickie (blog post, that is!)

A quickie blog post is still high quality, informative and fun to read. The difference is, you’re writing your blog post fast and furious (and in one hour or less.).

Is it the ideal way to write? No. In a perfect world, you have hours to write, revise, and tweak. However, there are those times when carving out 60 minutes is the best you can do – and you need to write something engaging, intelligent and useful.

Here are some blog writing tips to consider:

– Write about something you enjoy. If you love your topic, it’s easier to write better blog posts – faster. I write motivational posts when time gets tight. They are fun to write, they come straight from the heart – and my fingers tend to fly over the computer keys.

– Narrow down your topic. This is not the time to write a highly-detailed 1,500 word post. Figure that you have between 300-500 words to work with – so choose your topic accordingly. Mini how-to articles or blog posts listing helpful tips are typically good for a blog post quickie.

– Gather everything you need in one place. Searching your desk for paperwork, surfing for source material and checking email wastes time you don’t have. Gather everything you’ll need to write your blog post before you start writing. This step alone will save you tons of time.

– Turn off distractions. There is nothing that will will break your flow faster than an email notification, a text coming through, or the phone ringing. Turn everything off while you write. If you have to, close down email and any browser tabs you don’t need. (I forgot to close my browser tabs, and Facebook is now notifying me that I have two messages. It’s taking me every ounce of willpower I have not to check them!)

– Spend 25 minutes (or so) writing your first draft. Get everything you can out on paper (or on the screen.) Don’t worry about editing. Don’t worry about tweaking that one sentence that’s not quite right. Just write. You can edit later.

(As a side note, I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique, and working in 25-minute chunks. It’s made me a more efficient writer, and it’s nice to know that I get a built-in break every half hour.)

– Get away from the computer. You wrote your blog post in less than 25 minutes? Awesome. Now put it down and take a break. You’ll be able to see your mistakes (and see writing opportunities) faster if you come back fresh.

– Edit your blog post multiple times. This is the time to quickly flesh out what didn’t quite “click” the first time and fix any typos. I will edit a document at least three times, with a break between each edit. When I think it’s almost there, I’ll print out the post one more time, make any final edits, and then schedule the post.

– Ask someone to proof the post before it goes live. Writing fast often means you’ll make some inadvertent boo-boos. A quick proof by another person can free your post from typos and save your bacon. That no-big-deal typo you didn’t see may be a big deal to your readers – and can possibly even lose you business.

What about you? What tips would you add to this list?

3 Business Blogging Tips for Beginners

Welcome back! Today’s video offers three actionable business blogging tips for beginners, as well as for those of you who may be a bit “rusty.”’

Heather thought business blogging would be a timely topic, as many business owners resolved to either start blogging or do more of it this New Year. They’ve seen the stat’s showing how blogging can increase leads, boost conversions, and drive more traffic to their site – and they want a piece of that!

And while that’s a wonderful goal, it can be a challenging one for beginners. So tune in as Heather shows you the ropes and shares bonus tips to help reduce the “frustration factor” of getting started…

 

Tip #1: Make a list of possible blog topic ideas

One of the big mistakes all online writers make – even those who are experienced bloggers – is to assume that the blog topic will come to them once they sit down to write.

Unfortunately, the blogging muse rarely strikes so spontaneously.

It’s easy to feel pulled in a million different directions, so what happens is the deadline you’ve set creeps closer and closer and you panic – realizing you have no idea what to write about.

Here are some starting points to help you plan your topics and avoid the blog deadline panic:

  • What questions do customers ask?
  • Can you offer any DIY (do-it-yourself) tips?
  • What are some “hot topics” in your industry?
  • Research other blogs in your space. What are they talking about?
  • Looking for local customers? Can you tie a local issue back to your business?
  • Is there a list of blog posts/sites that you love?

These are just brainstorming ideas. You don’t have to worry about creating a formal framework or outline at this point – just put your ideas down on paper.

  • Tip: Don’t copy posts from another blog. Link to it instead – and discuss why you think the blog post is a good one.

Besides the obvious copyright violation issue, copying from another blog doesn’t showcase your expertise. So if there is a blog post that you really love, link to it and tell your readers why they should check it out.

Discussing and linking to another post is a far more valuable strategy for positioning you as an expert, as opposed to randomly pulling resources from other sites and having no original content of your own.

Tip #2: Loosen up!

If you’re new to blogging and online writing, it can feel really weird to start. You may flash back to high school or college, conjuring teachers and professors and that red pen inking up your work. You may second-guess every word you write.

  • You’re not in high school English class anymore.

Relax. You’re not writing some sort of “paper” for grading. Try to write as you would talk – it will help the copy flow more easily and naturally.

  • Write with personality! A good writing style can make the most technical subjects approachable and fun to read about.

This is especially true when writing about a technical subject. Your writing doesn’t have to be dry and boring, even if the topic may seem so. Infuse it with personality and it will be far more readable and enjoyable!

Tip #3: Work with an editor

This is a really important tip for everyone, no matter how experienced they may be.

  • Typos happen.

Have an editor to check your writing for typos, grammatical errors, and to ensure that your message is coming through as you intended.

It’s so easy for all of us to get too close to our own stuff that we miss these nitty things. So if you start uploading unedited blog posts to your site, with typos, bad grammar, or rambling, unfocused copy, it just makes your company look bad. And you don’t want to do that.

Also, having an editor is one of the easiest ways you can reduce the stress of writing – just knowing you have a second set of eyes that will catch those common writing errors.

  • If your editor also knows SEO copywriting, he/she can help your post get better search rankings.

A bonus is to have an editor trained in SEO copywriting best practices. Then you have an ally who can not only edit your copy, but also optimize it for search engines to achieve better rankings and drive more traffic to your blog.

 

photo thanks to Jhayne: Foxtongue

Ann Smarty Shares 8 Steps to Landing Guest Posts

Guest Author, Ann Smarty

Ah, guest posting. While blogs were once a fringe activity similar to writing a journal, they now represent a great bulk of much of the average freelance writer’s work. If you own a blog yourself you have probably written guest posts before, or written them for someone else. If you are a writer you will probably regularly look for chances to expand your visibility by searching out chances to get involved with various high-profile sites.

But if your application process is specifically aimed at getting approved for a post you are doing it wrong! Your focus is not in the right place and it might be costing you your chances. Instead, use these eight tips to help you land the spot every time.

Tip #1 – Focus On What THEY Need, Not What YOU Want

You have a great idea for a post about how iPhone apps can be used to increase market visibility, and you know just the blog to pitch the piece to. Having read their blog many times before, you remember a similar piece done just a few weeks ago. So you eagerly shoot off an email along with the headline idea, confident that this post you want to write will be well received. A few days later you get a big, fat no.

What happened?

Really, it should be obvious: a similar piece was already written on the topic a short time before. Therefore, it is not needed. However much you wanted to write it they have no demand, and so you won’t land the spot. You should have taken that into account before offering your services, and shown that you were aware of what they needed.

Not only will it give them a chance at using something they require during that time, but it will show that you are a regular reader. It will also put off a professional and competent air, and that means everything in a business where any blogger is taking a chance when they hire a guest poster. Add that to the fact that you come off as considerate and you have a recipe for a good working relationship.

Tip #2 – Watch Your Tone

I have lost track of the times when I had read a pitch that sounded like the person was doing me a favor. “I am an excellent writer, highly skilled, and I have this post idea I know you and your readers will love! Let me know when it is up, please.” This is a line taken directly from a pitch I received just a few days ago. I saved it in order to show you an example of a quick way to be turned down.

Not only was he talking himself up immediately, but he assumed that I was just going to put it up on my blog. He didn’t ask, he didn’t give me a chance to read it first, he just made the aggressive move of telling me to let him know when it was published. What a jerk! Would you go to a job interview and end it by asking your potential boss when you start?

He may have thought he sounded confident, but he just came off as arrogant. Plus, the post wasn’t anywhere near the quality I demand of my guest posters.

On the other hand, sounding too submissive is also a turn off. I have gotten emails from people begging to write for me, or asking for links. It is annoying and I tend to just ignore them outright.

Tip #3 – Don’t Be Intimidated…You Are Equal

When dealing with one of the “Blogerati” and celebrity writers that have taken over the Internet with their popular sites, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. These are successful people who have gained actual status in cyberspace, which is not that easy to do. With such a huge wash of blogs out there, they managed to claw their way to the top. They are the Perez Hilton’s and Jason Chen’s, and you might feel intimidated.

But remember, they were just like you once. They are regular people who are running a business and know what it is like to just start out. They had to work to get there, and they are usually pretty nice people. Remain friendly and natural, and acknowledge their success without fawning over it. These are writers, not rock stars.

Tip #4 – Have a Good Sense of Humor

I go through endless guest blog requests a month. So many that they tend to swim in front of my eyes and leave my brain the moment I read them. It takes something special to really catch my attention, and humor is a big factor. If you can make me laugh then I will remember your email forever. You will also be much more likely to get on my list of published bloggers, because it shows me you can add that humor to your writing.

That doesn’t mean you should make everything into a joke. But show me you can turn a couple of things into that direction and you are golden.

Tip #5 – Research, Research, Research

One of the most aggravating things I see is someone applying to guest post without any knowledge of my blog. Honestly, you would think that they would take a little bit of time to get to know me and what it is I do. Maybe read a few posts, check the FAQ page, read updates on projects. Anything. But so many completely ignore this part and instead offer unrelated posts or at times when the last thing I need is more content.

Before you shoot off that eager email, take some time to study the site. Look at what it is all about and what has been going on recently. Check posts to see what kind of topics get the most response. See if there is anything from the past you could properly update that got a lot of attention but hasn’t been covered in awhile. Research the blog, not just the post!

Tip #6 – Introduce Yourself Without Writing a Biography

Of course the blogger want to know a little bit about you: where are you from, what are you interested in, what do you do? Basic questions that any survey would probably ask, mainly to get an idea of who you are and what you will be able to write about.

But notice how I said a little bit. No one wants to read a biography about you, not an introductory email. Offer up a few small facts about yourself and leave it at that. Anything else should be specifically about your work experience, and even then only a few choice bits you are especially proud of.

Tip #7 – Show What You Got

When I was first starting up I would always offer a small list of three links that showed off online work I was really proud of. These were my “samples”, and it was usually on those samples alone that I got work. They showed that I could write well and covered a broad range of topics.

Remember when you are linking your own samples not to do too many. Three is usually any ideal amount, as it is enough to show consistency. You should also try and link to at least one related to the topic you are applying to post about. Though that isn’t actually mandatory.

Tip #8 – Drop a Few Names

Yeah, it sound like a cheesy move. But dropping the names of a couple of blogs along with your pitch can really help to show that reliable sources have published you in the past. Of course, you don’t want to do too many of these. Just name off two or three places that have hired you in the past. You can attach those to links for your samples as well.

Land The Post Every Time!

See, it isn’t that hard. These are some common sense rules that are nevertheless violated on an alarmingly regular basis. If you keep these tips in mind you will be sure to greatly improve your chances to getting that guest post of your dreams.

Ann Smarty is the SEO consultant and professional blogger at SEOsmarty.com. She is also the owner of MyBlogGuest.com, the free community designed to connect guest authors to blog owners. 

Blogger’s Block? Time Crunch? 5 Easy Ways to Reuse Your Blog Posts

Crunched for time? Uninspired? Suffering blogger’s block?

Or maybe you just need to take a break. Maybe even – dare you say it – a vacation?

You’re not alone.  Many bloggers struggle with the occupational hazard of being chained to creating exceptional content on a regular basis – even if their muse, time, and sanity are suffering.

So, in today’s video blog, Heather shares five easy – note, easy – ways you can reuse your hard-labored, older blog posts to produce new, fresh content!

Interested? Thought so. Tune in as Heather delineates five specific ways you can repurpose your older blog posts, so you can take some well-deserved time off and recharge your blogging mojo!

Heather was inspired by a recent post by Chris Brogan on just this topic, in which he discussed how recycling blog posts wasn’t only good for you, but also good for your readers in that they appreciate seeing older blog posts presented in a new way.

So here are five ideas to help you make that happen:

1. Group Similar Content Together in a Guide-Like Format

  • The advantage? You’ve created a fantastic resource, and the post is easy to write!

The example that Chris Brogan used was that he could include all of his blog posts on Google+ and voila – have a complete guide to Google+ : it would do very well in the blogosphere and be easy for him to pull together.  All he’d have to do is write the introduction, include the links, and he’d be good to go!

  • Create a download-ready PDF: As an aside, you can also do the same thing –but rather than putting it online as a guide, you could create a PDF for your readers to download as a way of lead generation.

So there are a lot of ways you can play with grouping content together, if you have the type of content that lends itself to a guide-like, themed format.

2. Look at Your Analytics

  • Share your top 5 or 10 most popular blog posts

When you’re just stuck, look at your analytics and consider writing a blog post around the five or ten most popular posts of the quarter or year.  You see these types of posts a lot near year’s end.

3. Look for Similarities Among Your Posts

  • List the posts with the most comments, the most controversial, or even the most “under appreciated”…

You might not be looking at a guide necessarily, but you can play with ways that your posts may lend themselves to grouping, and you can have a lot of fun with it!

4. Look for Differences: Do You Have a New Perspective?

  • Include snippets from your “old” blog post and discuss your new opinion

If you work in an industry that’s moving quickly, chances are that your mind has blown a number of times!  So the perspective you shared a couple of years ago – or, in some industries, even six months ago – may have shifted somewhat.

This is a great opportunity to share with your readers your new take on a given subject from your older post.  You can include snippets from your older blog post and then indicate your change in thinking about the topic.

This would make for a more personal post, and one your readers most likely would appreciate.

5. Use Past Blog Posts to Inspire Video Content

  • Ask yourself:  “Can I take something from an older blog post and create a video around it?”

Chances are, you most certainly can! This is something a lot of folks forget to consider. It is so, so easy to think that you need to hammer out a new, exceptional and wonderful blog post every day/week/what have you, when you can repurpose content from an older post into a video post.

So instead of looking at how much you need to write, consider recycling an older blog post into a video. You can use your past blog posts to inspire video content!  You can simply take a snippet from just one point of a blog post then use that to create brand new video content.

You can still have a blog post wrapper around the video, of course. But also consider that video reaches people in a different way, and it’s yet another way for folks to find in Google.

 

photo courtesy flickr: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital

Blog About It! A Smart Content Marketing Strategy

Greetings!  Today we’re picking up our discussion of content strategy, specifically, how to develop and leverage our content by writing blogs.  As you’ve surely noticed, blogging is big and is only getting bigger, and with good reason:  besides helping to build search rankings and an online brand, blogs present a fantastic content marketing venue!  And because they’re relatively simple to set up and publish, blogs lend themselves well to providing new content on a regular basis.

As covered in some detail in the previous two posts (“Are you leveraging these content strategy opportunities?” and “Content Strategy: building out your content with articles”), the smart SEO content strategy seeks to capture prospects while they are actively searching for information and resources on our product or service.  This research phase of the buying cycle is where we meet them with fresh, useful content that (hopefully) leads them back to our site.  Blogs are an excellent platform for doing just!  So let’s look at building out and leveraging our content with blogs.

Blogs:  Pros, Cons, and Community

Blog Pros:

  • Blogs are highly malleable, allowing you to write about any subject you choose in as many words as you choose.  You’re not beholden to a word count – whether less than 100 or over 1,000 words, the only “rule” that applies is what works best for your target audience.
  • If you have an inflexible site template that doesn’t lend itself to adding new content, such as an e-commerce site, a blog gives you a forum to do so.  Similarly, if you’re dealing with a site that feels a bit “uptight” or you find yourself bored with its “corporate” tone, a blog allows you to unleash your personality and express your bad self!
  • Blogs allow you a rapport with your readers, and real-time feedback via comments: good, bad, and spammy.  Your community of loyal readers can help you with your business; their comments can guide you in making product or service decisions, and provide insight into what your target market is interested in.  As for spam, it can be deleted.  And negative comments can also enlighten you: even if it stings, it’s better to receive such comments directly than have them circulating beyond your radar.  You can at least deal with them when they’re right in front of you.

Blog Cons:

  • Blogs require consistency and commitment.  And they are work, make no mistake.  Writing a blog can feel especially burdensome when you’re crazy-busy, but it’s critical you stick to your editorial calendar and publish your blog regularly.  It doesn’t have to be daily, but then again, if you’re only posting once a week, you need to be sure that it is substantive:  it has to count!
  • Blogs require monitoring and attention.  You need to be responsive to your readers’ comments; it’s bad practice to publish then forget it.  It’s a certain blog-killer when your readers find their thoughtful, well-considered comments ignored.

Voice and Community:

  • If you plan to delegate your blog-writing to another, you need to provide a very clear outline of your editorial guidelines:  what’s okay, what is not, and what specifically is expected of them.  Not to advocate smothering their creativity, just underscoring the importance of being reasonably clear and ensuring consistency with your “voice.”
  • Whether it’s you or your delegated blog-writer, networking with other bloggers within your “circle” is an integral part of effective blogging.  Blogging is about community, and while simply blogging for the sake of it is okay, sharing your input with others via guest blogs, commentary on other blogs, linking out, and mentions will encourage others to help you with the same: linking out to your content, mentioning your work, promoting your offerings, etc.  You have to earn your blogger love!

How to Structure a Blog Post

Structuring a blog post is much like structuring an article.  You can check out Twitter and Google Insights to see what folks are discussing, as well as what they want to know.  As with articles, you’ll want to use the same keyphrase and linking strategy:  use your main keyphrase in your headline, and whenever it is possible and makes sense, hyperlink the keyphrases.  Smart blogging will also link seamlessly to your site’s product or service pages – again, when it makes sense to do so.

There, the similarities end.  There are several ways blogs differ from articles, notably:

  • Unlike the monologue of an article, a blog post encourages discussion and seeks to build a rapport with a community of readers.  It provides an ideal venue for soliciting feedback, running interviews, and offering your (informed) opinion.
  • Blog writing is personal, real-time, and spontaneous.  And a great way to measure your blog-writing success is by the number of people commenting on your posts.  Ideally, you want to get folks discussing and sharing your post with others in their network.  It follows that if you’re looking at having to run every word by the corporate legal department or are otherwise stymied, a blog is not going to work for you.
  • As opposed to articles, it’s perfectly okay to write short, snappy blog posts interspersed with longer, in-depth ones.  (This actually can be a highly effective strategy, as evidenced by Seth Godin’s success with this style).  Another perk of this kind of flexibility is that you can give yourself a break every once in a while!  It’s not easy to conjure 500 words about such-and-such topic every day; grinding them out regardless of your muse invites a slow and painful burnout.  Here’s where the editorial calendar comes in to save your sanity:  setting it up around your schedule, going easy on the blog posts on your busiest days, is a great strategy.

Well, folks, that’s a wrap for today.  Thanks for visiting, and please feel free to leave a comment :-) Next week, we’ll discuss the art of writing news releases in our ongoing series on savvy content marketing strategy.  See you then!

5 Tips to Guarantee Your Guest Blogging Pitch Doesn’t Suck

I see a lot of guest blogging pitches. Most of them are simply ignored because most of them are really, really bad – sometimes they’re so bad they make my brain hurt.

But every once in a while, someone manages to make their pitch stand out from the cesspool that guest blogging has seemingly become. What’s their secret? They get “it”.

What is “it”, and how do you get “it” if you don’t already have “it”? Let’s find out by looking at some actual examples of emails I’ve received from people who want to write for my website.

Are You the Keymaster?

At some point, you’ve probably read a story about how editors are the “gatekeepers.” Well, I’m one of those gatekeepers.

Considering that Search Engine Watch (SEW) is the longest running site dedicated to covering the latest developments in all thing search, naturally it attracts attention from people in the search marketing industry – and sometimes from even people beyond SEM. During a week, we may see anywhere from 25 to over 100 requests from people who want to write for SEW.

Like many sites, SEW has a pretty straightforward page for people who are interested in writing for SEW, fittingly called “Become a contributor.” If you’re so inclined, you can click on that link and go read those simple rules, which aren’t there just for SEO purposes. These rules are meant to explain to potential contributors exactly what we’re looking for so we can avoid wasting each other’s time.

Still, so many people seemingly go to that page and fill out the form fields and click submit without bothering to read the guidelines, or even put much thought into their pitch.

Rather than talk in generalities, though, let’s look at a few examples of guest pitches that suck, so you can know what to avoid and increase your odds of guest blogging or becoming a regular contributor for a website you really want to write for.

1. Don’t Tell Me Where You Write, Show Me

Actual email: “I would like to see if you have an opening for a writer! As a full service digital agency, I write for [REDACTED] on SEO, UX, web development, kiosks, media production, mobile, and social.”

Why This Sucks: Too generic and not nearly enough information here to stand out from any of the 100+ pitches I’ll see this week, all from people with the same/similar skillsets (and many of them also have a “full service digital agency”).

Tip 1: Don’t tell me where you write, show meLink me to awesome posts you’ve written or at least to a bio page on another site. Trust me, gatekeepers at authoritative sites generally won’t make the time to hunt you down if you obviously haven’t spent more than two minutes on this form.

Additional (real) examples of things not to do:

“Please see my sample posts and let me know if you need anything else.” (No sample posts or links included.)
” ” (No, that’s not an error. More than one person has left the message where he/she should have included additional details, such as maybe a potential topic or links to previously published posts – or anything really!)

2. Your Pitch Isn’t About You

Actual email (excerpt): “[REDACTED] would love to expand his expertise by join SEW’s writing team. He is interesting in contributing articles that focus around SEO, social media analysis, content marketing and their relationship with new business.”

Why This Sucks: I’m instantly put off by someone who thinks that writing for my website will grow HIS expertise. (Remember: I don’t know you yet, so don’t expect me to fall in love and jump into bed with you (metaphorically speaking, of course) instantly!)

SEW wants to feature contributors who share their expertise with the greater community. SEW’s mission is to help marketers (our core audience) do their jobs better. If you need to grow your expertise by writing for us, you aren’t writing for SEW. The same will be true with other quality publications, regardless of the niche/vertical.

Tip 2: Your pitch should focus on the site you’re targeting: Show me how the post you want to write for SEW will help our readers, not you. Show me you’ve done some kind of research and we aren’t just a notch in your guest blogging bedpost.

Additional (real) examples of things not to say as your “pitch”:

“I produce a ton of good content. I’d love to become a contributor for SEW.” (You and 1,000 other people.)

“All I would ask is to be able to place 1-2 relevant do-follow links back to my client’s reputation management website.” (Asking for links is just asking to be ignored.)

“Kindly allow me to write here.” (Kindly, no.)

“I’m willing to become a regular contributor here at SearchEngineWatch.com. I have been following this platforms since many years and it would be really a good achievement for me to be a part of the platform I have been admiring.” (You may be willing, but I’m certainly not!)

“I am primarily looking to get my word out and write about something i have much passion in.” (Your word, eh?)

“I have been a reader of SEW for several years now, and would like to be a contributor on a bi-monthly basis. Thank you for your consideration. Looking forward to your response!” (But that first guy would “love” to be a contributor…you only would “like” to? ;))

“It has always been a goal of mine to write on a regular basis for a quality source of information and SEW is, in my eyes, perfect for me.” (So, are you expecting me to start singing “Call Me Maybe”? Because I just met you, and this is crazy.)

3. Grammar and Spelling Count, Big Time!

Let’s stick with the same email excerpt from the previous section for a minute.

Another Reason This Sucks: Just as typos or grammatical errors will get your resume thrown in the trash, so too will a pitch with just wording as “by join SEW’s writing team” and “He is interesting in contributing articles” get your email deleted. If you want to write for a site, you better be able to, you know, show that you are able to write.

Tip 3: If you really want to write for a website, check your spelling and grammar before you send that email or submit that form. First impressions count. If you can’t get your pitch right, I assume everything about your content will be suspect, and you definitely aren’t worth the risk.

Additional (real) examples of bad grammar that kill you dead:

“Please let me know if you can allow me writing a guest post on your blog and I will send you my article for review.” (There’s a difference between can and won’t.)

“All of the content I provide is unique and written to a high quality ” (This is a huge warning sign that your content will actually be the opposite.)

“I writes passionaly about social media in reliance on marketing tactics, technique and on my marketing education.” (Passionaly? More like painfully.)

” I’m be interested in writing for searchenginewatch…” (Work on mastering writing first, OK?)

” I would like to contribute as a write to your prestigious portal” (Funny, I want to keep it prestigious.)

4. Your Contacts Have Names

Actual email (excerpt): “Hello Admin…”

Why this Sucks: My name is not Admin.

Tip 4: Do a bit of research: Find the “About Us”, “Staff”, or “Contact Us” page on the website or blog/publication you want to write for. There, you’ll likely discover an actual name of a staff member, editor, or webmaster. Show the blog owner or editor a signal that you know who they are. Make it personal.

Additional (real) examples of things not to say as your “pitch”:

“Hi {NAME}” (Wow. Just wow.)

“Dear Sir/ma’am” (My facial hair doesn’t give away my gender?)

“I’ve been reading your blog on searchenginewatch.com since long.” (Don’t use a domain name…use the publication, website, or blog name. Not to mention don’t use terms such as “since long”.)

“I was just checking out your blog…” (Obvious way to show you don’t know the website.)

5. What Are You Going to Write About?

Some people simply link to their writing samples. While linking to published content is helpful, by itself it is useless.

Tip 5: Clearly explain what you want to write about: If you’re targeting a search marketing publication, you should have some expertise in SEO, PPC, social, analytics, local, mobile, or video. What topic do you want to write about?

Even better, pitch a headline and blurb (teaser). This will be another indicator that you’ve given some good thought to your pitch.

Even better, do a site: search and make sure the post you’re pitching hasn’t already been written about. Identifying a hole in your target site’s coverage, or perhaps offering to update/rewrite an existing article, are two quick ways to potentially get your foot in the door.

You Can’t Game a Gatekeeper

Think of gatekeepers as if they’re Google. Google’s algorithm determines a website’s ranking based on more than 200 ranking factors and signals. So when you pitch a blog post, you can’t just focus on any one of the above areas, or even other “intangibles”, and expect success.

Spammy guest blog pitches will be wiped out of inboxes in the same way Google removes spam from its index. Sending editors all the right signals won’t guarantee success for any number of reasons, but you will definitely improve the odds of getting a reply to that email you’re waiting for.

Bottom line: Don’t be selfish. Be human. Be polite. Be smart. Be specific.

 

About the AuthorDanny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin was the Editor of  Search Engine Watch,  the longest running search industry publication dedicated to covering the latest search and social news and trends, as well as providing how-to guides and actionable advice for marketers and advertisers of all skill levels. He’s now the Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal. You can find him on Twitter.

Blogging: 4 Experts Share Their Favorite Tips & Strategies

Four reader favorites about blogging are featuredLast month we shared a collection of our all-time favorite posts that focused on content: creation, marketing, quality and strategy.

Following up on that thread and twisting it a tad, today we feature four reader favorites about blogging by experts who shared their favorite tips and strategies with us!

Learn: how to land a guest post gig, what to watch for when writing and publishing your blog, how to write a quality post in a time crunch, and the content marketing mojo of blogging beyond SEO.

And enjoy!

Ann Smarty

8 steps to landing guest posts

Widely known in the SEO and blogging community as the owner of MyBlogGuest and SEOsmarty, Ann Smarty writes an expert mini-guide on how to land guest post gigs, every time!

 

 

Nick Stamoulis

Beyond SEO: The content marketing power of the blog

Brick Marketing’s Nick Stamoulis discusses why blogging makes for a powerful content marketing strategy and savvy business practice in establishing yourself as a go-to resource for your clients and becoming an expert in your vertical.

 

Melissa Fach

5 things that make me stop reading a blog post

Written from her perspective as the (then) Managing Editor of Search Engine Journal, Melissa Fach discusses what she can’t abide in a blog post. With its inclusion of readability and usability, this is especially helpful information for aspiring bloggers!

 

 

Heather Lloyd-Martin

Write a (good) blog post in 1 hour – here’s how!

Our own Heather Lloyd-Martin shares 8 pro tips for cranking out a fun, informative, quality blog post in a time crunch. (It can be done, and well!)

 

image thanks to Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

 

3 (More) Business Blogging Tips for Beginners

Greetings! As you might have guessed, today’s how-to video builds on last week’s “3 business blogging tips for beginners.”

While thinking about that post, Heather realized that there were definitely more than just those three blogging tips to share, and so she created three more to do with the realities of time management and scheduling, as well as the question of sales vs. blog writing.

So if you are one of those folks who resolved to do more blogging for their business this year, tune in as Heather shares three more business blogging tips for beginners (and for those who may be a tad rusty)…

Original 3 business blogging tips: a recap

Last week, Heather discussed these three business blogging tips:

  • Brainstorm a list of possible topics
  • Loosen up!
  • Work with an editor

This week’s video focuses on the gritty realities of business blogging, starting with…

Tip #1: Be realistic

This first tip is focused around the time that you have to blog – realistically.

  • How much time do you have to blog?

A lot of people start off with the goal of writing a blog post every single work day, or maybe even churning out a couple of posts a day. They may think I have a lot in my head that I want to say…so yeah, that’s reasonable…

  • The challenge is that life gets in the way – and business gets in the way – of these ambitious blogging goals.

While you might have all these great ideas swirling about in your head, by the time that you’re able to actually sit down and write, you may well find that you really don’t have that much time to create a quality blog post… So think about how much time you really have to blog.

  • Think quality over quantity.

If it turns out that you can only create one blog post a week right now, that’s okay!

One really good, quality blog post a week is far better than five so-so blog posts a week, cranked out at the 11th hour just for the sake of creating something. Think quality over quantity.

  • Can other people help you?

Another thing to consider is if there are other folks within your company that can help you with writing blog posts.

This one can be tricky – because these other folks would need to be accountable for their blog posts, making blog writing an additional part of their normal responsibilities.

But if you have other people available within your business that could be good writers and have topic ideas, definitely see if you can bring them on board to help!

Tip #2: Schedule your blog posts

This tip addresses time management, and the editorial calendar.

  • Set deadlines and put them in your calendar.

This means: know exactly what you’re going to write, when.

Last week, we discussed brainstorming ideas for possible blog post topics – this is where you put those ideas on paper and say, “Okay, I’m blogging twice a week, and for Wednesday’s posts I’m going to talk about X.”

In the writing world, we call this an editorial calendar. It is a visual tool that allows you to look at a given week and know exactly what you’re going to be writing, and know exactly when you need to publish the post online.

  • Give yourself a lot of writing time.

If you’re just getting into blogging, be gentle with yourself: it may take a long time to write a blog post and again, that’s okay!  Even for professional writers, it can take a very long time to write a quality blog post.

  • So make sure you give yourself that gift of time. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself by thinking, “I have 30 minutes…I can kick out the post really fast.” Even an experienced writer might choke in such a situation.

Prevent that last-minute deadline stress and give yourself a lot of writing time before the deadline.

  • Be faithful to your blogging schedule.

Consider your blog post schedule and deadlines with the same weighty level of seriousness you’d give to your clients’ deadlines, or those of the IRS. Make a commitment to keep to your blogging schedule and honor your editorial calendar.

Tip #3: It’s OK to link to your products/services – just don’t overdo it.

This final tip concerns the writing itself.

  • Blog writing and sales writing are different – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some soft promotion.

Rather than thinking of your blog post as a sales medium – where you talk about all the wonderful things you can do or provide for the reader – instead come up with a general, informational article.  Think of a topic that would address customer questions, or would otherwise be useful to your readers.

  • If it makes sense to link to a product/service in your post – go for it.

You can easily direct traffic into your website’s inner product/service pages with links from your blog post, if it flows naturally and makes sense to do so. Such soft promotion is okay – just don’t overdo it.

  • You can always put a sales “blurb” at the bottom of every post, too.

You don’t have to get heavy-handed with the sales writing. You can simply place a sales “blurb” at the end of each informational blog post, such as: “Would you like to learn more about our emergency plumbing services? Feel free to contact us at X.”

  • Using a sales blurb provides you an opportunity to include a little bit of call-to-action, while ensuring that the integrity of your blog post stays intact.

photo credit: mrbill (Bill Bradford)