There is a reason Ramen noodles are so popular with college students.
You boil water. You add the noodles. You stir in the seasoning packet.
Could it be any simpler?
There is a reason Ramen noodles are so popular with college students.
You boil water. You add the noodles. You stir in the seasoning packet.
Could it be any simpler?
Everyone loves a good quote! Or, at least everyone should. Otherwise Shakespeare died in vain.
The following is a list of top blog quotes from 102 of my favorite bloggers and entrepreneurs.
(I also added one silly quote of my own, so I would look cool by association.)
The following takes place in an alternate universe. It’s one?where bloggers hate reader engagement and hate receiving comments, but in a cruel twist they cannot simply “turn off” their comments. Instead, they’re forced to use other means to discourage engagement…
Ugh, am I right?
Just the other day, I?received a comment from a female reader who told me she loved my blog and thought I was cute. She also said she was going to share my post with her 84?million Twitter followers.
Thanks, @taylorswift13, but no thanks. Who needs that kind of drivel?
Losing my job was one of the most horrible and wonderful things to happen to me.
For four months, I was in limbo. Paychecks stopped being deposited. Savings accounts started dwindling. Ramen noodle consumption skyrocketed.
This wasn’t part of “the plan.”
It wasn’t what I had in mind when I entered the work force 12 years ago. It wasn’t what I had in mind when I worked 40+ hours a week while going to graduate school. It wasn’t what I had in mind when I proposed to my wife, confident in the knowledge I would be able to financially support her and our future family.
And yet, there I was. Contemplating our future. Contemplating a career change. Contemplating whether or not to put on pants that particular day.
Somehow, as He often does, God blessed me during this trial. Oh, sure, I was worried about finding work and paying bills. But this worry couldn’t override the fact I was able to spend every morning, every afternoon, and every evening with my wife.
We woke up and, instead of me having to rush off to work, we had coffee together. Instead of working on [top secret projects] in my windowless office, I helped my wife wash dishes while looking out our kitchen window. Instead of eating lunch at my desk while watching cat videos on YouTube, I had lunch with my wife on the couch while we watched Netflix.
When the phone call came telling those of us who remained to come back to work, it was a bittersweet moment. Sweet because I could stop worrying about money. Bitter because what I would be giving up…
I loved being at home with my wife.
Sometime during those 4-months of limbo, I decided I wanted to find a way to work from home. Honestly, I’m not sure why the thought hadn’t occurred to me before. I do four things well — develop websites, blog, teach, and sneeze with my eyes open — and three of those things are ideal for home-based businesses.
I had been a teacher for 3 years. I had been blogging for almost 10. I had been developing websites for over a decade, and creating custom WordPress themes for almost as long. Why wasn’t I using my experience to help other bloggers?
That’s when the idea for Be A Better Blogger was born.
Using Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger as inspiration, I wanted to create the greatest “blogging on blogging” blog since… well, ProBlogger. At the same time, I wanted to present content in a way people weren’t accustomed.
I wanted to be motivational. I wanted to be entertaining. I wanted to be funny. Much like I did when I taught classrooms full of high school freshmen, I wanted my readers to not even realize they were learning.
If I could accomplish this tricky feat more times than not, I knew I had a chance to be successful.
A year later, this idea has turned into a thriving blog. I’ve written the most popular guest post in the history of Jon Morrow’s Boost Blog Traffic. I’ve gone from 22 to 21,704 (and climbing) followers on Google+. I’ve made more blogging friends than you can shake a stick at (if you were inclined to do so for some reason).
I feel incredibly fortunate and blessed. A year ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed I could be here right now. Here is great. Here is awesome.
But here isn’t enough.
If my goal was for Be A Better Blogger to earn enough money to buy Starbucks once a month, then guess who has two thumbs and one vanilla latte? That’s right. This guy.
“No, I don’t want a ‘tall,’ Mr. Barista. Give me the ‘grande’ size. It’s been a good month!”
However, that wasn’t my goal. I dreamed bigger. A good bit bigger.
My goal is to do this for a living.
I want to be able to quit my day job, work from home, and spend as much time with my wife and our future children as I possibly can.
That’s my goal.
And to reach it, I can’t be content with “nice traffic.” I need great traffic.
I don’t need several thousand followers on social media. I need tens of thousands.
I don’t need a few hundred email subscribers. I need ten times that many.
Aiming high? You better believe it. And to be where I want to be, I have to constantly be thinking several moves ahead.
Enter the Rainmaker Platform by Copyblogger.
Some of you may already be familiar with it, but I imagine most of my readers know very little about it. And if you Google information on the Rainmaker Platform, you’ll find descriptions like “all-in-one platform” and “turn-key website solution.”
Those descriptions are simultaneously accurate… and ridiculously vague.
Rainmaker is a powerful, hosted platform built on WordPress. For a monthly (or annual) fee, your website runs on the platform, is hosted by Copyblogger’s fast and secure servers, and has access to a growing list of features.
I’ll discuss those features (or at least the ones which compelled me to sign up) momentarily.
It’s not a domain registrar. You need to already have your own domain name, such as beabetterblogger.com, or you need to go to a registrar such as GoDaddy or Namecheap to buy one.
It’s not an email provider. If you want to have an address such as firstname.lastname@example.org, this capability is not offered by Rainmaker (“due to performance and security reasons”). You will have to use a service like Google Apps Email or GoDaddy’s Email Essentials, which costs $4 to $5 per month.
It’s not for bloggers who love plugins. Because it’s a hosted platform, you can’t just pick and install any plugin you desire. (More on this one in a little bit.)
It’s not for casual bloggers. If you have zero plans to monetize your blog or website, Rainmaker is an unnecessary luxury. Could it get the job done? Of course. But it would be overkill.
Finally, it’s not irreplaceable. By this I mean you could duplicate most of, if not all of, what Rainmaker offers. You could buy a premium theme here, a hosting account there, a plugin here, a tool there… wash, rinse, and repeat. And if done properly, the end result could be just as good as a site built with Rainmaker.
It just will have cost you more. More of your money. More of your time.
I’m a frugal guy. I value… well, value.
That’s the difference between someone who is cheap, and someone who is frugal. A cheap person doesn’t like to spend money period. A frugal person will happily spend money if it’s a good deal.
A cheap person would never purchase something like Rainmaker. Never in a million years.
But a frugal guy like me? A guy who will gladly spend $1 today if it will save him $2 tomorrow? Such a guy would research it, strongly consider it, and pray about it.
And that’s what I did.
What I soon realized is Rainmaker could eliminate certain expenses I have today, and many expenses I planned to take on in the future.
Expenses such as…
Starting at $37 per month (paid quarterly), LeadPages is a lead-generation platform which helps you turn readers into subscribers. In this screenshot, you can see an example of LeadPages used by my friend Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard.
I signed up for LeadPages after being blown away by its amazing features. It allowed me to create “LeadBoxes” like the one used by Adam in the image, and it let me create some slick-looking landing pages.
And it’s worked. The number of subscribers I’ve gained since signing up for LeadPages has gone way up!
But it costs $37 a month.
That’s over 1/3 the cost of Rainmaker, which covers some of the same territory as LeadPages.
I won’t have as many templates for landing pages to choose from with Rainmaker as I do with LeadPages, but the number is more than adequate and the quality is excellent. My Welcome page was created using Rainmaker’s landing page template.
Is it a perfect replacement? No, but combined with AWeber and free options offered by SumoMe, I won’t be hurting for list-building tools if I decide to leave LeadPages.
Buffer and Hootsuite are social media management systems. Both offer free plans, and their paid plans cost around $10 a month.
These tools allow you to schedule updates on social media platforms in advance. So, for example, if I was about to go on vacation for a week, I could schedule it so tweets would be published throughout the week while I was away.
I could be sleeping, swimming at the beach, or fighting a bear in the mountains; all the while my Twitter account is posting tweets promoting my “The Howdy Neighbor Technique” post.
Scheduling tools like these come in very handy as you get more involved in social media. And the bigger you get, the bigger your needs. In the past, I have used Buffer’s free plan. But upgrading to their paid plan is something I’d already planned on doing sometime soon.
Well, now I won’t have to.
One of the newer features of Rainmaker is “social media posting and scheduling.” I’m able to schedule tweets hours, days, and weeks in advance. And I’m able to do it right there in my Rainmaker dashboard.
I’m a huge fan of AWeber. It’s an opt-in email marketing service used by over 120,000 businesses, bloggers, and entrepreneurs.
When a reader subscribes using one of my forms here at Be A Better Blogger, they’re added to a mailing list maintained by AWeber. I can then email my list, and AWeber works to ensure my messages aren’t labeled as spam. I’m able to track subscribers, see who is opening my emails, see who is clicking on links in my emails, and much more.
You’ve probably heard other bloggers say “the money is in the list.” That’s true, and it should give you an idea how important it is use a reliable email service.
However, “reliable” usually isn’t free. And in AWeber’s case, it sets you back $19 a month if you have 500 subscribers or less. Have more than 500? It’ll cost you $29 a month. Have more than 2,500 subscribers? Now you’re paying $49 a month.
You can see where this is going. The more subscribers you have (yea!) the more you pay (boo!). And if God smiles down at me and grants me 10,000 or more subscribers, I’ll be paying a whopping $130 a month to AWeber.
Granted, you can chalk this up as one of those “nice problems to have.”
But what if you could eliminate the excess cost from the equation?
One feature Rainmaker will be implementing in the months to come is an “integrated email service.” Once it’s launched, and once it’s worked out any bugs it might have, I could cancel AWeber and switch my list over to it.
And I will be saving $19, $29, $49, etc. each month when I do.
To quote Annie Edison: “That’s jacket money!”
I get it. I know frugality means little in a vacuum.
Rainmaker helps me with those expenses, but they’re voluntary expenses. I don’t have to use an email service like AWeber. I don’t have to use Hootsuite or Buffer. And I certainly don’t have to pay for lead-generation software like LeadPages.
These are expenses I’ve taken on, or will soon take on, because I believe they’re necessary. I believe I need them to help me be the best blogger I can be. I believe I need them to help take my blog from here…to there.
Having the potential to eliminate the aforementioned expenses is how a platform like Rainmaker gets the attention of a frugal guy like me.
It makes me sit up and take notice.
Then it gets the wheels in my head turning.
“Wow, imagine what I could do with that.” Or, “boy… the things I could do with this feature.”
Rainmaker is designed for people who mean business. It’s designed to help you go from where you are to where you want to be.
It’s designed for the dreamers like me.
I didn’t “need” Rainmaker in order to reach my goal of working from home full time. But as I researched and prayed about it, it became clear the platform would give me a far better chance…
Previously, Be A Better Blogger was hosted on a shared server which cost me $3.96 per month. As a starter host, it was fine. It served my needs well. The site rarely experienced down time, and the customer support was adequate.
But was it fast? Was it secure?
No. No it wasn’t.
According to Alexa.com, 87% of sites are faster than Be A Better Blogger. This was despite the fact it was built on the Genesis Framework, which is known for its clean code, and designed by yours truly, a trained web developer who created the theme with speed in mind.
My web host was friendly to my wallet, but it wasn’t friendly to my visitors. Online, speed is the name of the game. And if Be A Better Blogger was slower than 87% of the sites online, my site was losing.
From now on, my readers will get to experience a faster website. I’ve gone from a 4 cylinder engine to an 8. And I no longer have to deal with upgrading my site someday once it gets more popular. I’m already with a web host built for large traffic.
Maybe I have a few PDF bonuses. Maybe I have an eBook. Maybe I have a never-before-seen blog post titled “What the Little Mermaid Can Teach Us About Blogging.”
With Rainmaker, I could create a library or membership area on Be A Better Blogger. When someone joins it, they would be granted access to all the content I made available for members.
By offering a free members area, I could entice more people to join my mailing list. This is a strategy used successfully by numerous businesses and blog owners, including my friend Bryan Harris of Video Fruit.
Thanks to Rainmaker, it’s a strategy I can easily implement one day, too.
The free content I create each week will never end. I enjoy blogging too, too much for it to ever go away. Still, the reality is it serves a greater purpose.
The more content I create, the more readers and subscribers I gain. The more readers and subscribers I gain, the more people who will buy or promote my digital products. The more people who buy my digital products, the more feasible “quitting my day job” becomes.
And once I’m ready to join my friends Jaime Buckley and Brittany Bullen in the book-writing game, Rainmaker will make it easy for me to sell my products thanks to its integrated shopping-cart and merchant features.
I’ve been a web developer for 13 years. I’m also a micro-manager. I’m also a perfectionist.
Know what that means? Well, yes, it means I have the ability to drive my wife crazy. But mainly, it means I can’t… stop… redesigning.
Be A Better Blogger is a year old, and yet I have “tweaked” its design approximately 274 times. And I’ve tested countless number of plugins.
Most of these tweaks and plugins have been very, very small.
And that’s the point. I’m tweaking and changing things which 99.9% of my readers won’t even notice. In most cases, my wife and I are the only ones who notice. And the only reason she notices sometimes is because I point them out to her.
This is a horrible, horrible use of my time.
There’s no money in it. I’m simply scratching an itch. Don’t you think my time would be far better served writing blog posts? Or working on an eBook? Or connecting with new bloggers?
Absolutely it would.
Rainmaker comes with 27 HTML5 responsive designs to choose from, most of which have multiple color options. I do have the ability to submit my own custom theme for review, but I’ve made a conscious decision not to do so.
I picked one of the 27 designs. Yes, I tweaked it. (They provide the Custom CSS option. I couldn’t help myself.) But there’s only so much I can change these existing themes.
Besides, they don’t need changing. These designs are the same premium Genesis themes sold by StudioPress. They’re beautiful. I picked the one I liked best, put my own spin on it, and now I’m leaving it alone.
True, it requires a bit of self control on my part. I can constantly tweak the CSS if I so choose. It’s going to be on me not to do so.
As for plugins, yes, I can no longer install any WordPress plugin I desire.
That’s simply a product of hosted platforms. I’m limited to what Rainmaker offers.
Many of the plugins I used and enjoyed previously are no longer an option for me. Goodbye CommentLuv. Goodbye Q2W3 Sticky Widget. Goodbye “subscribe to replies to your comment” plugin (and sorry I can’t remember your name).
Some of these I’ll definitely miss. Some were incredibly useful.
But did I need all of them? Not really.
Plugins are like potato chips. When you start out, you plan on only having one or two. Next thing you know the entire bag is gone. For WordPress users, what starts out as a handful of “essential” plugins soon turns into baker’s dozen. Times two. Plus seven.
Heck, I routinely fell into the trap even though I knew better. Plugins slow down your site. They break. They have to be updated over and over.
Honestly? It’s a relief not having to deal with them anymore. Now, I can…
Writing. Promoting. Networking. Creating digital products. Responding to comments readers have left me. Building my list.
I don’t have to worry about security, upgrades, maintenance, and hosting headaches. Rainmaker handles those.
I don’t have to hunt for tools to help me optimize my content for search engines and social media. Rainmaker has those tools built right in.
Soon, I won’t have to use separate tools for social media and email marketing (or have to pay extra for said tools). Rainmaker will soon be providing both right in my dashboard.
Rainmaker is going to make everything easier for me. I like easy. And, frankly, I’ve been doing it the hard way for far, far too long.
It’s finally time I let someone else carry my luggage. It’s heavy! Besides, I have a big journey ahead of me…
A couple years ago, Derek Halpern of Social Triggers referenced a book by Marshall Goldsmith to explain why he was about to begin producing YouTube videos.
The book was titled “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful.”
Derek had already reached an enviable level of success by this point, but he knew the things which had gotten him to his current level at the time — blog posts and podcasts — weren’t enough to get him to the next level. He didn’t want to plateau, so he added “video” to his arsenal.
Though I’m several rungs down the success ladder today than Derek was two years ago, I was approaching the same crossroads in which he found himself. I could have been passive, waited until I hit the inevitable plateau, and figured out a solution when the time came…
Or, I could be proactive. I could position Be A Better Blogger with the future — not what’s worked for me in the past — in mind. I could give my dream its best chance for success.
I chose the latter.
I chose Rainmaker to make it easier to grow my site. Whether it’s a membership area, forum, podcast, or something else entirely, I now have integrated tools to make it happen. I can now do A/B testing, to see what’s working and what isn’t. I can now track my progress without getting elbow deep into Google Analytics. I can now spend less time updating plugins and themes, and more time updating content.
I can now focus on the important things.
The Rainmaker Platform has every feature I need today, every feature I’ll need tomorrow, and probably every feature I don’t yet know I need.
It’s my very own dreamcatcher.
I’ll be home shortly, Sweetie. See you soon.
You stare at your blank screen.
Time is ticking.
Words won’t come. There’s no flow.
You try every trick you know to kickstart your writing, but nothing happens.
You feel frustrated and powerless. This is betrayal.
When your words won’t flow, you feel betrayed ? abandoned by your creativity. Powerless to make your living as a writer.
But it’s not just about making a living.
You love to write. You’re motivated to write. You want to write with every fiber of your being. So when you can’t write, it hurts. Deeply.
Most remedies for writer’s block distract you ? provide temporary relief. But they only skim the surface of what’s separating you from your words.
Your creativity rises from deep inside you. So you must go there to unblock your flow.
Creativity doesn’t come from your working mind.
Your working mind is the one that calculates, identifies, categorizes, reasons, thinks. Psychologists call this your ?cognitive consciousness.?
While you need your working mind to organize and construct your writing, that’s part two of your writing process. First you must have ideas and inspiration.
Ideas and inspiration arise from the deeper levels of your consciousness. Your non-cognitive levels. They come from your creative mind ? the one that feels just out of reach when you have writer’s block.
Unless you connect regularly to your deeper levels, over time you lose touch with them. They are still there, and you sense that they are still there, but you are blocked from them. Then you can’t write. At all.
Tension in your body blocks your ability to access your creativity.
The sneaky thing about tension is that you create and hold onto it without even being aware of it.
Much of what you do during the day ? for work, for fitness, to manage your busy life ? contributes to core tensions in your body. These tensions obstruct your creative mind.
When your body holds tension and stress, you can’t access the deeper levels of your consciousness. Your creative mind and creative flow are obstructed.
You become like the proverbial garden hose with a kink in it. As the kink tightens, the flow becomes more and more restricted ? barely a trickle. At this point, most of us do one of two things: ?turn up the water pressure or turn the water completely off.
When you can’t write and you try distractions, either you shut down completely or you up the tension in your body, hoping to get a little more flow.
When you turn the pressure on and try to force inspiration, you’re using your working mind, and your creative mind shuts down. If you turn the pressure off with a distraction, after a while you might be able to get a few thoughts through the kink, but only a few. ?And it’s only a temporary solution.
Effective solutions to writer’s block involve unkinking the hose, permanently, and restoring your natural creative flow.
Dissolving tensions systematically in your body allows you to unkink your body, then your mind, then your creative flow.
The good news is that you need only one tool to do this, and you already have it.
Did you know that ancient writers and philosophers could not read without sounding their words aloud?
Cicero, the brilliant philosopher who flourished around 63 B.C., in a letter to one of his correspondents, apologizes for not answering sooner. In this letter he explains that he couldn’t read his friend’s letter because ?my throat was sore.? It never occurred to him that he could read silently and still be engaged with the words.
Ancient writers had scribes. Writers spoke their words aloud, and scribes wrote them down ? taking dictation. Then the writers revised and restructured the written word from the spoken word.
People then were keenly aware of the power of the sounds of their words ? the connection of their words to their breath. Even when, in the Renaissance, people began to read silently, they still coordinated their reading with their breathing.
You still do this. You just aren’t aware of it. If you’re not convinced, try reading silently to yourself while holding your breath.
How does that work for you? Do you find your ability to hold onto meaning fade when your breath stops flowing through your body?
That’s because you can’t see your words, you can’t feel them, you can’t hear them until you add your breath to them. Your breath gives life to your words, carrying them from the inside of you to the outside ? into the world to touch you and others, literally, with their sound.
Because reading and writing have become silent, you’ve simply lost this connection.
Even when you read or write silently, your breath plays an important part in connecting your ideas and inspiration to your words ? to your writing.
Your breath is the bridge between your inspiration, your ideas, your words, and your working mind which must structure them into a coherent piece of written work.
The Latin root for the word inspire is ?spirare? ? which means ?to breathe.? Inspire literally means ?to breathe into.? That’s how intimate the connection between your words and your breath is.
That’s why using your breath to unblock your words is effective.
Dissolving the tensions in your body with your breath removes the kinks that block your creative ideas. Then your words flow ? you liberate them, and they flow through your body and out on your breath.
You gradually unkink the garden hose.
All you need to do this simple practice is a chair, the floor, a timer, and ten minutes. If you are in a noisy space, ear buds or ear plugs would be helpful.
Turn off your phone. This is really important.
Make sure alerts and messaging are turned off. It’s critical when connecting to your inspiration that you not be interrupted. Interruptions will instantly disrupt the connection to your inspiration, and you won’t be able to get back to it without starting over.
Set a timer for ten minutes so your mind isn’t busy counting. Ideally you have a timer that works when your phone and messaging is off.
The optimal position for inspiration using your breath to release tensions in your core is lying on your back on the floor with your legs resting over a chair or ottoman or even a coffee table. Whatever you do, don’t lie flat ? the crunch in your low back when you lie flat creates spinal tension that blocks your breath.
Bend your knees and rest your calves over the seat of the chair. Make sure your chair has an opening at the back so that your feet can slide through the back ? i.e., not be jammed up against anything.
Place something under your head ? a small pillow or folded towel so that your forehead is slightly higher than your chin. This uncrunches your neck.
Once you set your timer, soften into the seat and the floor ? softening your head, your face, your arms, your torso, your legs, your feet.
Now notice where in your body you feel your breath moving and resting.
Your breath has four parts. It flows in and pauses. It flows out and pauses. ?Become aware of these facets of your breath.
Now listen and observe. At first the pauses may be difficult to find. That’s fine. ?They are there, and you will notice them in time.
Watch where your breath goes, how it sounds as it goes, whether it pauses, and if it pauses, rest in the pause.
And then you keep breathing easily and softly.
As you listen, that sound may change, and your breath may change. It may get louder, softer, longer, shorter, deeper, or more shallow.
Whatever your breath is doing is fine.
If you find your thoughts starting to intrude or worries entering your mind, bring your attention back to your breath.
Focus on that.
Do this for ten minutes.
At the end of your breathing practice, give yourself a minute to re-enter your space. Move gently and slowly.
If you are in the middle of a writing block with a deadline looming, take a little transitional break. Get something to drink, take a slow, easy, short stroll around your office or home. Have a little snack.
Your words will flow.
If you don’t experience dramatic positive change after your first practice, that’s okay. Tension builds in your body in layers. You likely have so much tension built up that you’ll need time to fully unkink.
Give yourself that time. Your body isn’t a machine, to be quickly calibrated. It can take time to dissolve tension and reconnect with the source of your creative flow.
It’s time. ?Time to come back to your screen.
Time is still ticking.
The screen is still blank.
But it feels different, doesn’t it? ?The deadlines don’t bother you.
You come back to your screen and notice that you’ve shifted from anxiety about getting words down to calm excitement.
You may have a completely different sense about what you’re writing. A unique perspective, a fresh insight, a savvy positioning of your message.
You won’t strive and strain for your words. You won’t force them.
They will just flow, like your breath.
Dissolving tension with your breath allows you to write from a place of ease.
As you continue to practice even when you are not blocked, your words will become unstoppable. Just ten minutes a day, or even every other day, and your core tensions will dissolve, and with them your block to writing.
This is ancient wisdom. It’s readily applicable wisdom. And now it’s yours.
Did you know that one of the best ways to get more traffic to your blog is actually?building your email list?
Yep, that?s right. If you?ve been struggling to drive more traffic and attract more social shares for your blog posts, your email list is about to become your new best friend.
You might be shaking your head at this point, and wondering, ?What the heck does list-building have to do with blogging? Do I even care about sending emails, or building an email list? I thought I was supposed to focus on driving more traffic, attracting more social shares, and getting more people to comment on my posts.?
Here?s the secret a lot of people don?t know: Building a loyal email list for your blog can get you all three of those things. In fact, it?s one of the very BEST ways to get all three.
Blogger, author and speaker Michael Hyatt, who is one of the most successful bloggers in the world, has a list of over 500,000 email subscribers. He said this about his list:
?I have literally built a million dollar business on the strength of my email list. Ninety percent of my income comes from it. Even today, my email list is still my #1 business priority and asset.?
Michael Stelzner, founder and owner of Social Media Examiner, has a list of almost 600,000 dedicated subscribers who receive his blog posts in their inboxes every day. Stelzner said, ?Email is the most important channel for you to cultivate in your online business.?
But why exactly is building a list the key to a blogger?s success? Why is it so important, and why are all the world?s top bloggers recommending you focus on building your list?
According to The Inbox Report ? which collected details of the email habits of over 1,500 Americans ? over 89% of adults check their email at least once a day, and nearly 21% check their email more than 5 times a day.
No other marketing tool allows us to connect with blog readers as quickly and effective as email marketing ? and focusing on list-building can give you some remarkable blogging benefits.
Here are four of the biggest reasons why building your list can give your blog a big boost:
You will get more unique visitors from your own email list than you will get from practically any other traffic source ? especially if you?re a beginning blogger.
When someone joins your email list, they will read more pages on your site than they would if they were not on your email list ? so if you want a high-traffic blog, it?s a good idea to focus on building your email subscriber count.
Want to see how you can turn email subscribers into blog visitors? Let?s go back to Michael Hyatt for an example.
When Michael publishes a new post, he sends an email like this out to his list subscribers:
Michael?s email subscribers click one of the links in the email and go straight to his newest blog post. Keep in mind, Michael has over 500,000 subscribers, so that?s a LOT of potential traffic.
Once people get to know, like and trust you, they are more likely to share you content on their favorite social media platforms ? so if you?re looking for more shares and wondering how to make a post go viral, the answer is in your email list.
As your list grows, your social share numbers will rises accordingly — especially if you prompt people to share your posts, like Jon Morrow does in his content notifications:
Do your blog post comments feel like a ghost town most of the time?
If so, I get it. Getting people to speak up in your comments section is challenging ? but once again, you can go back to your email list for the answer to this problem.
Your visitors are more likely to comment on one of your posts once they are on your email list, so your email subscribers will usually be your most frequent commenters.
People often want to be a part of your community before they start commenting, and being on your list helps them feel connected to you ? especially when you?re sending them high-quality content on a regular basis.
This one shouldn?t surprise you.
If you want to start bringing in revenue with your blog (or bring in MORE revenue from your site), building your email list is the #1 thing you should focus on.
Jon Morrow tells his students that if they are amateur marketers, they can probably make about one dollar per email subscriber, per month. If you have 5,000 subscribers on your list, that means you can probably make around $5,000 a month from your blog ? and it only goes up from there, as you become a smarter copywriter and a better marketer.
If you want to use blogging as a springboard to quitting your day job, improving your lifestyle, or taking that dream vacation, remember that the money is always in your email list.
What if you don?t have an email list yet?
Perhaps you?ve been focusing on writing great content for your site, and you didn?t think starting a list was important. Maybe the task ?Start an email list for my blog? has been on your to-do list for months.
If that?s the case, don?t keep putting it off! Follow these simple steps for starting an email list for your blog this week:
I know you don?t want to spam people, and I also know you don?t want to pay steep penalties (up to $16,000 per email!) for violating federal CAN-SPAM laws.
A reputable email service provider (like MailChimp, Emma, AWeber, or Drip) will make sure that the email messages you send to your list are CAN-SPAM compliant, and make it easy for people to subscribe and unsubscribe from your list.
Our fearless leader, Kevin Duncan, uses AWeber (affiliate link) as his email service provider, and I use Infusionsoft. There are tons of choices out there, so you should be able to find a service that fits your needs and your budget. Most services make it easy to sign up and get started.
Last week, I was talking to a client on the phone, and I asked him about his list size.
?I have about 500 people on my list,? he said.
But when I asked him about the last time he emailed anything to his list, he answered ?I think it?s been at least six months. I just don?t know what to send them.?
Too many bloggers start bringing subscribers in ? and watching with glee as their email list numbers grow ? but they have no idea how to connect with those new community members.
It?s critical that you figure out in advance what you?re going to send to your subscribers, and when you?ll send it ? and then you keep your word and do what you?ll say you?re going to do.
At the very least, I recommend sending out what I call ?content notifications? any time you?ve published a new blog post (see Michael?s example, above), but you can also do a weekly newsletter, a curated blog post of great stuff from around the web, or a daily tip.
Whatever you decide, just do it well, and do it consistently ? it will help your new subscribers start to trust you!
Most email service providers (like MailChimp and AWeber) will let you send an automated welcome message to new subscribers. This message will go out to new folks who join your list, whether they sign up in the middle of the night or at 2 PM in the afternoon ? and because it?s totally automated, you won?t have to lift a finger to send it.
Your welcome message should be friendly and gracious, and it should explain what?s going to happen next.
Once you?ve decided how often you?re going to email your list (see #2, above) explain that plan to your new subscribers in your welcome message, so they know exactly to expect.
For more information on crafting a welcome message that connects with your subscribers and builds trust, download my free report, “The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Warm Welcome Message for New Subscribers.”
There are a million ways to get more subscribers ? and just as many bloggers who want to give you advice on this topic ? so I?m just going to give you three quick-and-dirty list-building tips.
Unfortunately, you can no longer just add a little ?Sign up for my newsletter!? box to the sidebar of your site, and expect new subscribers to come pouring in the door every day. We are so inundated with email offers every day that most of are really picky about what we sign up for.
Want to know how to get past people?s hesitations? Give them something valuable if they sign up for your list. Some call it a ?incentive,? some call it a ?bribe,? and some call it a ?giveaway.? Whatever you decide to call it ? you need one for your blog!
If you give new subscribers an incentive to entice them to sign up for your list, you can build your list up to 10 times faster than you can without an incentive.
If you?re still dragging your feet, look at it this way: Would you rather take one year to get your first 1000 subscribers, or 10 years? Having a powerful incentive on your website can literally save you nine years of time and effort.
Come up with a giveaway idea that it compelling for your audience, and create it this week. It doesn?t have to be long or complicated! Sometimes one-page cheat sheets or checklist bring in more subscribers that 300-page ebooks. Keep it simple and create something quickly.
Once you decide what you?re going to give away, you?ve got to let your blog visitors know you?ve got something great to offer them.
You can add a welcome gate, pop-up, pop-over, landing page, or content upgrade to your site, or simply add a footer to your blog posts that says, ?Like this post? You?ll love my [awesome giveaway name here]. Sign up here to get it right away.?
Derek Halpern of Social Triggers recommends spending 20% of your blogging time creating content, and the other 80% promoting that content. Sound extreme? I know. I was a little shocked when I saw those numbers.
Even if you don?t meet that standard, absorb the lesson Derek?s trying to impart: We should spend more time promoting the content we?ve already written. This is especially true for the vast majority of bloggers who don?t promote their content at all ? they just hit ?publish? and pray someone will notice their new stuff.
Looking for idea for promoting your posts? Start with this list of 107 content promotion ideas from CoSchedule. I recommend finding 10 ideas that are in your comfort zone, and four that are ?stretch? goals for you (like asking partners and affiliates to share your content) ? then doing all fourteen of them every week.
Promote your content consistently, and see your email subscriber (and blog traffic) numbers grow!
Yes, this strategy still works, although it?s not the goldmine it was five or six years ago. There are still great guest blogging gigs out there, but you need to be very selective about where you guest post.
Here are the questions I ask myself before I consider submitting a guest post to a site:
If (and only if) a blogger meets all four of these criteria will I approach them with a guest posting idea.
Hint: When I asked these questions about Be A Better Blogger, I got ?YES? answers for all four ? which is why you?re reading this post today!
If you?re feeling stuck in your blogging journey ? if you?re frustrated by your traffic numbers, aggravated by your lack of comments, and bewildered because no one is sharing your posts on social media ? I encourage you to focus on building your blog?s email mailing list.
List-building isn?t easy, but every minute you spend focusing on your list it is going to pay off tenfold in your traffic, engagement, and social sharing numbers.
Start your email list today, and start enticing people to join that list by offering a useful and valuable giveaway. Then use some of the tips above to start attracting more email subscribers.
Here?s my promise to you: Having a loyal list of subscribers who can?t wait to read, share, and comment on your blog posts is going to make you feel like the king (or queen) of the blogging world.
Writing and maintaining a blog is hard.
But it is nothing compared to actually finding readers for your blog.
If you find yourself going through the frustration of not being able to generate enough interest in your blog post and not being able to improve its visibility in search engine rankings, you?re not alone. I?ve been there. It?s not a good place to be.
And it?s not easy to get out. But it?s not impossible either. If you want to generate backlinks for your blog and receive likes and shares on social media, I have two words for you:
The hint is in the name.
An expert roundup is usually a blog post or a piece of content that rounds up the opinions of all the experts in that particular niche.
In essence, it brings together the best and most valuable suggestions on the topic at hand.
Think of it as a compilation music album that gathers the best of the best to pack them all into a powerful punch.
With a roundup blog post, the readers can receive insights from some of the most respected names in the industry.
You can use roundups to expand your blog?s reach as well as maximize your conversion ratio.
Like many bloggers who are starting out, Tor Refsland felt the frustration of not getting any attention on his posts.
He was fed up of what he referred to as the triple zero club comprised of people who received zero shares, page views, and comments.
So he decided to try something new for his blog.
He decided to go for a roundup post.
Not just that.
He decided to go all in and create a truly epic post on the biggest productivity tips. But there was something special.
The post included contributions from some of the leading experts and influence in the field.
It was a massive success.
Within a few days, Tor received 20,231 page views, 1,500 shares, and 84 comments on his blog post.
And this is just the beginning.
His post also got the number three spot on Google search under the keyword ?productivity tip’.
There are plenty of reasons why expert roundups work so well when nothing else does.
The biggest reason is that they actually offer something substantial to the readers. They offer actionable tips that the readers can use. The expert opinions bring a certain level of credibility to what?s being said.
The experts, themselves, are a huge reason why these posts are so insanely successful. Each expert featured on the post is an influencer in their respective fields.
If the post successfully manages to get a lot of backlinks on their websites, it contributes to an increase in shares as well as the creation of content that will rank in search engines.
This brings us to our main question.
How do you actually go about creating a roundup post?
Where do you start?
Where do you end?
By the end of this post, you?ll have a much better idea and a direction.
The first thing you need for an expert roundup is the actual experts. And where do you find them?
Well, you start your search by looking for some of the best and most followed blogs in your niche.
There are two advantages of doing that. First, the top bloggers in your niche are top bloggers for a reason.
They have the knowledge and the experience that gives their voice the authority you need to give your roundup post heft and weight.
The second reason you need top bloggers is that they come with a lot of followers.
They?re not just experts in their niche — they?re also influencers. And you need those precious backlinks to improve your website?s search engine ranking.
Also, a recommendation from their social media page would send followers flocking your way.
But how do you actually find those top blogs?
One of the best ways to do that, according to Karol K, is plain old Google. He says:
?There are two ways you can use Google: (1) looking for blogs one by one, or (2) searching for list posts compiled by other people that already showcase the top blogs in a given niche. The latter is a much more effective approach.?
Type in ?best?, followed by your niche, followed by ?blogs? into Google and hit enter.
Here?s an example:
What?s the point in writing a blog if almost anything you can contribute has been said already?
Picking a niche and sticking to it is not enough. You need to find areas in your niche that have not been addressed.
That doesn?t mean you have to be so specific that no one, except for a few people, are interested in the topic.
You need to find that right balance in being interesting for everyone and being original and innovative. In short, you need to find a topic that rocks!
One way to go about it is to use Quora for your search.
Quora gives you a snapshot of what people are generally looking for in your niche. This gives you an idea of the demand in the market.
And not just that, but you also get to know about how people frame that demand. According to Benjamin Brandall:
?Keywords are, at their core, a human way to accurately query a massive database. We want to match our keywords to the ones people are actually searching for, which means being in tune with the way they speak.?
In addition to providing you your topic, Quora will also let you promote your post. Read more about that here.
Here?s an example of how a simple search would offer you tons of stuff to write on:
If you want your expert roundup to do well, you can?t shoot in the dark and hope it strikes the bull?s-eye.
When good bloggers sit down to write a blog post, they don’t do so haphazardly. They know exactly what they?re doing.
They do keyword research. When you set out to find a topic, you also need a keyword that?s popular with the audiences.
This is one of the things that blogger Emil Shour used to take his site from the bottom of the barrel to the number one spot in Google rankings.
He conducted a keyword research and found a demand for the keyword ?wellness program ideas?.
From then onwards, his task was simple. Take his website to the number one spot in that keyword search. And he did it!
Once you?re all set and ready with a specific topic in your niche, it?s time to conduct the actual research and generate content.
In this case, both of these steps involve emailing your group of experts and asking for a comment.
For instance, if you?re writing about beating writer?s block, you need to email blog writers and ask for actionable tips on how to achieve that.
Be sure to ask them about their personal experiences as they help the readers relate to the problem and the solution.
Here?s an example of how I contacted Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends when it came to writing my own expert roundup blog:
Anita was really kind.
She took out valuable time from her schedule to come up with this suggestion:
And so, the brief interaction was a small success.
Once you publish the blog, you?ve only achieved half of what you originally set out to do. Working hard to compile a variety of tips from a variety of experts won?t lead you anywhere if no one actually reads your blog post.
And, to make sure people do, you need a small favor from the aforementioned experts again.
You need them to link your post on their website and/or share your blog post through social media as well.
Experts don?t just bring valuable opinions to the table. They bring actual followers as well.
After my post went live, I alerted Anita about it and actually got a link on her website Small Business Trends:
Okay, so you?ve finally finished writing the expert roundup blog post. Your labor of love has finally come to an end.
Now if there could just be a place where you can find an eager audience, how wonderful would that have been?
Well, good news! There is such a place.
And it?s called inbound.org.
Inbound allows you to reach experts, influencers, and interested audiences at the same time.
Seriously, what?s not to love?
Within just a few days, it got thousands of page views and a bunch of comments from Inbound alone:
So you see?
Expert roundups are a smart way to acquire an audience by tapping into other people?s resources.
If you work hard and do your research, amazing things will happen.
I mean, who knows?
Maybe you could even end up earning six figures from your blog.
Now that you?ve seen how to use expert roundups to generate links and social shares on autopilot, I?d like to hear from you.
What do you think of the expert roundups?
Or maybe you have a question about creating expert roundup posts.
Either way, leave a quick comment below.
I?ll be around to reply to comments and answer questions.
Boom! You just published your latest masterpiece. It took you a couple hours to do so and you?re quite proud of it.
So are two million other bloggers. According to MarketingProfs, that?s the number of blog posts published every single day.
Will your post stand the test of time or be forgotten in a matter of days?
Back in 2005, when blogging was brand new, you could just publish crappy articles on a consistent basis and get a lot of traffic.
Today, if you want to get noticed, you need to create remarkable content. Quality beats quantity on every level.
It?s better to create ONE remarkable piece in a month than to publish numerous boring articles every week. It is true in the short term and in the long term.
In this article, I will show you the kind of results you can get by publishing top-notch content. Then, I?ll share with you 7 strategies that will allow you to get similar results. You will learn:
Sound good? I even created a handy table of content to help you navigate:
And at the end of the article, you can download a cheat sheet for creating remarkable content that summarizes everything you will learn today.
When Tim Soulo looked at his data on guest blogging, he realized he was averaging only 50 visitors per guest post. Naturally, he concluded guest blogging was not a good strategy for getting traffic.
A similar survey by Mirasee revealed that 46% of their audience was getting less than 25 subscribers per guest post.
But is this always true? Look at a few?examples of remarkable content and the results obtained by their authors.
It?s hard for me to talk about remarkable content without mentioning Alp?s post.
His post is a point of reference in the world of guest blogging. He didn?t just give a few tips here and there to land guest post opportunities. No, he gave you everything you need to know about guest blogging ? everything from building a relationships with bloggers to crafting the best pitch ever.
It is 20,000-word long and is an extreme example of remarkable content. The good thing is that it got him extreme results as well:
You could never get those results with most of the content you find on the internet. Indeed, it took him dozens of hours to get it done, but the results made it worth it.
This post is SO good that it still gets comments every month?even though it was published over a year ago.
Look at the numbers:
But that is only half of the story.
For more than a year, Danny had only two posts on his blog. Was it because he was too lazy to publish new blog posts?
No, it was because he had published remarkable content and there was no need to publish anything else. The two articles he had on his website were enough to get traffic, subscribers, and establish his authority as an expert in his field.
He shared his story in How I built a 6-figure online business in 12 months. With only two articles on his website, he was able to make 6 figures over a year.
So-called experts often recommend publishing every week?(or even every day) as the key to building your blog. It isn?t true. These experts don?t know the power of remarkable content.
This post has been the turning point of my business.
Before publishing it, I was still a struggling blogger with no revenue and a lot of doubts on whether I would be successful one day or not.
Two months after publishing it, with 300 new subscribers, I was selling my first product and made my first 15 sales. I was now in business.
It didn?t stop here, though. Even today, I still reap the benefits of this post without doing anything. Without any promotion, I got 17 new opt-ins in the last 90 days:
Now, it?s true that 17 subscribers are not a lot, considering I got hundreds after the publication of the article.
Yet, when I compare this with the standard content I published in the past that got me less than 10 subscribers (and I?m sure this happened to you as well), I?m pretty happy with this free bonus.
Now that you have an idea of what remarkable content is and the kind of results you can get out of it, let?s talk about how to create it.
I keep seeing time and time again articles about fitness, productivity, social skills, etc. that try to appeal to everyone. And, by doing so, they appeal to no one.
Let?s start with an example in the productivity industry. I know this industry well, because that?s where I started my website. And like so many others, I made the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone.
For example, you may?try to help people be more productive in their everyday lives by being more efficient ? thereby completing their tasks faster ? so they can enjoy more free time.
It might sound good in theory, but who is your target reader? “Everyone?”
The examples, stories, and solutions that you will give should be completely different depending on who you are trying to help.
Think of how the challenges are different for a 9-to-5 employee, a stay-at-home mom who wants to get freelancing clients, a solo entrepreneur, a student, and so on.
By picking a specific audience and knowing them well, you will be able to have a lot more impact than you would targeting everyone.
For example, when I switched from helping people be?more productive to helping bloggers create more content on a regular basis, my business completely changed. People started to listen to what I was saying and they also started to buy what I was selling.
Instead of helping “everyone”, I was helping a specific audience (?bloggers who struggle to create content consistently?) achieve a specific result (?write 1,000 words a day, consistently, to create a ton of content”) with productivity tools and strategies.
The examples and stories I used directly targeted the specific desires of my audience.
So what is the difference between a detailed, specific audience and a broad audience?
To make sure your writing will be compelling, you need these three things:
For example, let?s say you are in the fitness industry. Helping a young woman in her twenties and?helping a busy executive in his fifties are?completely different ? even though the basics of nutrition or exercising you will teach them are similar.
In short, your?language and your marketing strategy will be completely different.
To the young woman, you will tell her about looking sexy, about having a flat stomach, etc. To the busy executive, you will focus your message on?exercising with limited time, about losing the pounds he accumulated through the years, and so on.
Instead of just simply writing about fitness, how to eat better, or exercise more; you will start writing about how your specific audience can achieve a burning desire and solve a burning pain. It?s not about you and your knowledge in fitness ? it?s about them, achieving their desires, and solving their problems.
If you can write about what people want, they won?t stop reading.
Now let?s talk about the specifics: How to define your audience and how to find out about their pains and desires.
The best way to define your audience is to create an Ideal Client Profile (ICP). This is the story and description of your ideal client. He may only exist in your mind, but he?will give you a specific picture of the type of person you?re writing for.
For example (staying in the fitness industry), let?s say I?m targeting busy executives who are in their fifties and want to lose weight. I will try to create a picture of my ideal client:
He is John, he?s 54, works in a big company, and has had a lot of success in his career. Now he?s a top executive and has a lot of responsibilities. Of course, as a result, he works a lot and has limited time with his family and to take care of himself.
He always eats lunch in front of?his computer and often eats junk food when he?s traveling. When he was younger, he played a lot of soccer, which made him fit, but since his thirties he?s been exercising less and less. And while he?s been trying to jog from time to time, he can?t stick to it.
See how accurate I try to be? And this is just the beginning of the story.
The more specific you are, the better. Don?t worry about being too specific, it?s almost impossible.
There are different factors to define your ideal client that will depend on your industry. For example:
These are only suggestions.
You shouldn?t try to guess anything. While I made up the story above, you should directly talk with your audience to know them better.
That?s why it?s so important to communicate with your subscribers and people potentially in your audience on Facebook groups, Reddit, in your friends? circles, etc.
The next step is to ask them for their pains and desires.
You need to know exactly what they want to achieve (what I call desires) and what prevents them from achieving it (what I call pains).
If you can solve a deep burning problem they think about every day, they will read your article no matter what.
Think about someone who has back pain. Every morning when they get up, their back hurts. They are obsessed with it, so every day they look for solutions on the internet until one day they stumble upon your blog ? specifically, your comprehensive guide on how to reduce back pain.
At that point, you can make grammar mistakes and write like a 6th grader, but it won?t matter because you will be solving their deep burning pain.
That?s why creating remarkable content is not about being able to craft beautiful sentences or being a master at grammar. You need to be good enough at this, of course (you don’t want to annoy your readers), but really it shouldn?t be a priority. No, your priority should be helping your readers with their pains and desires.
The best way to know the pains and desires of your audience is to ask your subscribers in the first email they receive from you. Ask this question:
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to?X?
Replace ?X? with your industry (for example: losing weight, getting more subscribers, writing, etc.)
Then keep the conversation going. Try to go deep in what they want, why they want it, how it impacts their lives, and what it would mean to them if you could solve their problems. You want to picture their lives as accurately as possible.
If you can, jump on a call with them, as you will be able to go much deeper than by emails. Make it about helping them, and as you help them, keep asking questions to know them better.
Once you know who they are, what they want, and what they?re struggling with, you can write a specific blog post that will solve a specific problem they have.
Every article you write should solve a specific problem and let the reader go away with a clear solution.
Before showing you what to do, let?s talk about what everyone else is doing.
Most articles won?t give you any solution for your problems. Here are three types of common articles on the internet:
They tell a story and then leave you with nothing to actually change your life. But, you do get a short burst of inspiration.
They make you feel good. They have headlines like??18 Reasons why X is important.?Since half the population is doing X,?these articles work as a form of affirmation.
(The other half of the population feels guilty because they aren’t doing X. Think they should do something about it, but don?t know what to do.)
Finally, a lot of articles are actually trying to solve many problems at the same time, but on a superficial level. They are often list articles, and a typical headline would be ?10 Habits That Will do X?.
Then, you get a short article with just a few lines per habit and it leaves you overwhelmed because you don?t know where to start. Additionally, it doesn?t guide you in how to achieve each point ? it?s far too superficial.
Some of these articles can be useful sometimes, don?t get me wrong. Not everybody wants to read a big, long, comprehensive guide like this one. But they are NOT remarkable and will soon be forgotten.
On the other hand, when you write something useful for your readers, focusing on one specific problem, giving them one specific solution and a clear action plan, they will come back to the article time and time again until it?s solved.
For example, in this article, I’m helping you create remarkable content because you want to write compelling articles that people will keep reading until the end.
My hope is that every time you want to write a new blog post, you come back to refer to this article to make sure you?ve done everything right.
The best way to solve a specific problem is to write a How-To post.
Basically, the title will be something like ?How to Solve This Problem? or ?How to Achieve This Desire?. The How-To part can sometimes be changed for a number if the solution is broken down into several steps.
For this article, I could have called it ?How to Write Remarkable Content Easily?, but I chose to start with a number because list articles tend to perform better and because the post fit well with this title since I give you several steps on the way to create remarkable content.
Neil Patel is the king of creating remarkable content, and in each of his articles, he will either solve a specific problem or help you achieve a specific desire.
Look at some of his recent?articles:
There are many ?How To? articles, and the others could easily?be replaced by a How-To headline.
(The only exception is the article called ?I Need Your Help??, which is a short-term oriented post to promote his book. In this case, he has no need to create something remarkable that people will keep reading months later.)
Now, how to find what problems your audience has?
Again: Communicate directly with your readers:
Writing an article is not about providing information. It?s about making a transformation.
Michael Ellsberg put it beautifully in his talk:?Your Competitive Advantage is Not Information, It?s Transformation.
In this talk, he explains how?being an information provider (what a lot of bloggers think they are) is a losing strategy. Nowadays, information is cheap and abundant. You can find everything you need thanks to Google.
However, you?re not just here to provide the right information to your readers ? you?re here to help them change their lives and solve their problems. Your goal is not just to give them the information that will solve their problems, but to make it actually happen.
That?s what Michael Ellsberg call “Transformation.” You provide a transformation to your readers, and that?s where your competitive advantage is.
That is also the reason why you can build a successful fitness blog despite the existence of so many similar blogs in the blogosphere. You may provide the same information, but the way you provide it will make different people take action.
For example, I am a non-English native speaker and I help bloggers to write good content on a regular basis. Other non-English native speakers can more easily relate to my situation and be inspired by the journey I made from not being able to speak English to where I am today.
On the other hand, a?native-English?guy from the United States who does the same thing will attract a different kind of audience that will (most likely) relate to him more than?me.
We are changing the lives of our readers with our stories ? not just by feeding them with information.
So how do you do that exactly? How do you provide a transformation and not just information?
To create a transformation and not just be an information-provider, you need to tell stories, give examples, and add pictures and explanations.
My first blog posts were terrible and huge failures. I thought people only had to have the right information and that I could give it to them.
So I made my first posts about giving as much information as possible. I was giving strategies, tools, techniques, everything I knew that would solve their problems.
But it didn?t work. Those articles were failures.
Then, I changed my approach to writing and wrote How to Find 10 Hours per Week to Work on Your Side Business. This was my first really successful article and it is completely different than what I used to write before.
It is filled with personal stories, with me talking about myself, about my life, my experiences, putting pictures of my life, and eventually talking about one of the most common topic in the world of productivity: the morning routine.
But because 90% of the article was stories/examples/pictures, people loved it. I thought it was just ?me, me, me? and that it would be boring to people, but it was exactly the opposite. People could relate to my situation, imagine themselves in my shoes, and then they felt compelled to take action at the end of the article.
There are four ways you can create a transformation: Stories, examples, pictures, and explanations.
A story is what I just did in the previous paragraphs. I told you about my experience with my first articles, how they were failures, and what I changed to write my first successful post.
A basic story is:
This is the most basic story, but it will work. For a more comprehensive analysis of what makes a story irresistible, I recommend this guide from Alaura Weaver: “Storyhacking: Cracking the code behind the irresistible selling power of stories.”
I first read about how to use examples from Bryan Harris in his post ?Expanded Guest Post: How to 100x the effectiveness of your next guest post?.
He says that to write a good article, you simply need to use the phrase ?For example?.
Every time you make a point, affirm something, or talk about something; start things off with these two little words:?”For example.”?This will allow you to go deeper, give more details, and illustrate your writing with something concrete with which your readers can associate.
Here is an exercise for you: Type ?Ctrl + F? on your keyboard and search for the phrase ?For example? in this article. You will find it?numerous?times, simply because I?m constantly trying to give more examples to illustrate what I write.
Pictures are powerful examples. You?ve heard the saying: ?A picture is worth a 1,000 words?.
I already told you to try to put examples every time you talk about something. Well, also ask yourself if you can add a picture of it. Sometimes it simply won?t be relevant. Other times, it will make your article a lot more valuable.
When you explain how to use a tool, nothing beats a screenshot with some annotations. You can easily add annotations on a picture with Skitch.
I like to use Gyazo. It’s a?tool to take screenshots, upload them at light speed, and then annotate them.
Sometimes you?re just not inspired to find a good story. You don?t have any good example in mind and pictures are not relevant to what you want to say.
In this case, you need to explain your point in plain English. This is the least preferable option since it doesn?t really help your reader to visualize what you mean, and it?s easy to ramble?when explaining.
But you?ll notice that sometimes you don?t have a choice, in particular when you get into technical explanations of processes or tactics.
So, there you have it: Four ways to expand on the points you make in your articles. They?re not necessarily exclusive; you can give explanations, and illustrate them with a picture, then add an example, to finally end with a quick story.
You can mix them as much as you want. And I actually recommend that in the first place you write as much as possible, put as many examples/stories/etc. as possible. And later, when you?ll edit your article, you will get rid of the unnecessary components.
Thinking with the ?information/explanation? framework will not only make the writing much easier for you, but also make the life of your reader much easier.
If you?re a blogger, you know that writing is hard. It?s hard for everyone, even for experienced writers. However, using the framework I just showed will make the process?easier. Look at what my outline looked like for this section:
It reads like this: First I make a point. This is just one or two sentences about what I want to say.
Then I put bullet points and fill them with all the stories, examples, pictures, and explanations I can think of.
It takes a little bit of time to write this outline, but it makes you gain a TON of time down the line. Think about how easy it was for me to write my first draft. All I needed to do was copy/paste the sentences in bold, and then expand on the examples.
It also gives you an overall structure of your section. By having such a high-level vision, it helps you decide whether the links between your points make sense or not.
Usually, you start with the main point of the section, and then you try to anticipate the questions your readers might have. Simply ask questions such as ?Why??, ?How?? and ?What if ??? and you?ll get a comprehensive article.
Really, length doesn?t matter that much. You should write as many words as it takes to write a compelling article, but no more.
Most content on the internet is too short. People just spend a couple hours on it and don?t really take the time to dig into it. Their goal is quantity-oriented (i.e. posting as many posts as possible) instead of quality-oriented.
For example, you might have heard time and time again that you need to publish on your blog every week. Some people even recommend publishing every day.
But? really? Do you see Kevin J. Duncan publishing every week? Even including guest posts, we don?t see many articles on Be A Better Blogger. But?it doesn?t matter!?Why? Because every time there is a new article, it?s a high-quality one.
Too short doesn?t stand the test of time. It will give you a short burst of traffic, but fade away a few days later. And that leads to you?needing to create more articles. That?s why those people are focusing on quantity and try to publish as much as possible.
On the other hand, remarkable content gives you a lot of traffic right away, it slowly fades away but still sticks for months, and builds up as other articles are added.
A study done by OkDork and BuzzSumo showed that the longer the content, the more shares it gets.
What?s even more interesting is that there were 16 times more content with less than 1000 words than there were content with 2000 or more words. This proves that?most bloggers focus on quantity. So if you want to stand out and do something differently, focus on quality.
Now, too long is not good either. First, it?s long, by definition, so it takes a lot of time to read, and time is the most limited resource of your readers. So if you ask them of their time to read your stuff, you better have something really good.
You should have just the ideal length that gives you enough words to explain everything you want without rambling and repeating yourself too much.
How to find the ideal length? I use a two-step process in the writing of my articles: First, write as much as possible, then cut as much as possible.
I use the ?Information/Explanation? framework that I explained in the previous section, so I write information, and then I explain it with stories, examples, and so on.
The first step of the writing is to put as many stories and examples as possible. I put everything I can think of, write the stories completely, and I don?t hold myself back.
Of course, if you publish this draft, it will be filled with lots of rambling, repetitions, and boring stories.
The second step is to cut the writing as much as possible. For each paragraph, I ask myself questions such as:
The goal is to keep the same information and to make it crystal clear with just the right amount of examples explained in just the right amount of words.
Yes, this is a lot of work. You need to go through your article a second time, and it?s not just editing for grammar mistakes. It?s not something you can outsource easily. But remember, we?re creating remarkable content here.
As stated before, remarkable content tends to be long, and long content takes a lot of time to read. So you better make it easy for your readers.
What do you do when you stumble upon a long article? Before even starting to read it, you scroll down to see what it looks like.
What do you see then? The subheadlines, the overall structure of the article, and the pictures. This all happens in a matter of seconds and this is your first contact with the article.
It means that if the subheadlines aren?t good, or if the overall structure of the article is confusing, people may just close the window and move on to something else.
In the introduction of this guide, I showed you an example of remarkable content by Alp Turan: How Complete Newbies Can Land Killer Guest Posts: The Ultimate Guide.
Now, despite being a good article, it?s also a good example of what a confusing structure is. If you start scrolling down, you?ll quickly identify 3 main parts for the article.
However, the article being 20,000-word long, you need a bit more structure than those 3 big parts, and that?s where it gets confusing. The issue is that different levels of headlines look exactly the same:
So, when you scroll down, you don?t really know where you are in the article, and you have to take a step back to identify the overall structure of the post.
How can you?avoid this?
First, you could simply put a table of contents. When you read a book, this gives you an idea of what the book will contain. If there is no table of contents and you need to skim through the book to find all the chapter titles and so on, it gets confusing and will take a lot of time.
For example, in the article The Ultimate Guide to Creating High-Quality Content Every Time, there is a nice table of contents right at the beginning that tells you directly and clearly what you will find in the article. It also gives you links to easily navigate in the article:
Your readers need to have a clear idea of what your article is about and what it contains in a matter of seconds.
Here is what you can do to have a clear structure to help your readers:
If you’ve made it this far, you have done an incredible job at creating a remarkable article. Now you don?t just write articles for the sake of writing articles. You have a goal behind it: being getting exposure, getting subscribers, getting sales, etc.
A good CTA won?t make your article more remarkable, but a bad CTA will make it a complete failure and screw up all your efforts.
Before telling you how to write a good CTA, I want to show you a CTA that has performed extremely well:
This CTA is an entire subsection right at the end of the article. It performed well for so many reasons that we will discuss in a moment. But this CTA wasn?t?given only once. It was also spread throughout the article.
Right at the beginning:
And also in the middle of the article:
Now let?s talk about why it performed so well. Here are the 7 elements for a successful CTA:
In the above?examples, my CTA is a part of the article.?Too often you will see a separated CTA in a box called ?Biography? or ?About the author? that people can ignore so easily.
When I was starting out, I had one lead magnet as an incentive to get subscribers, and I was using the same lead magnet for every one of my articles.
As a result, it wasn?t always a good fit and thus didn?t perform well. In this case, though, I built what?s called a Content Upgrade (something I learned from Bryan Harris) that was specifically made for the article. It was a great fit and a logical next step for every reader that liked my article.
So often you see CTAs in the ?About the author? box, and because it?s called like that, people just talk about themselves. Let me be honest with you: Nobody cares about you and what you do. People care about themselves and what you can do for them.
That?s why I don?t explain what I?m doing with my life, but I explain what clicking on this CTA can do for THEM.
That may sound stupid, but just putting a link is not enough for your CTA. You need to make it clear that your reader needs to click on the link. That?s why I always include “by clicking here” in the CTA so that there is absolutely no doubt about what the reader needs to do.
That might seem like overkill, but the internet is full of distractions. You?need to make the decision brainless to ensure the best conversion rate.
Notice that I don?t use marketing language in my CTA. I use the same words as if I were talking to you, and I explain what it will do for you. So many times you will see things like ?Get the Professional Kickstart 5-Step BluePrint for Boosting Lead Engagement.” What does that even mean? Honestly, I’m asking.
You?re not in the corporate world when you write on your blog, so please use normal words that everyone can understand.
Of course, more CTAs are?better. If people miss the first one, they might see the second one, and vice versa.
But another benefit is that it allows the readers to prepare in advance for what they?ll get. In this example, I mention my writing framework right at the beginning. The readers don?t know what it is yet, but it builds expectations. And once they read about it, they already know that they can download a cheat sheet about it.
We just said that more CTAs are?better, but this is true only as long as you’re using the same CTA. If you have CTAs about:
In this case, more CTAs are?not better. They’re actually worse because, faced with too many choices, your reader will end up not taking action at all. That?s why you?d rather have one CTA and put all your focus on it than have multiple CTAs that will perform worse overall.
This is very important, as sometimes you write a guest post and your CTA will be?surrounded by many other CTAs from the blog’s owner. Usually, yours is just a couple invisible lines, and his are huge pictures with flashy colors. This simple detail can be the difference between getting hundreds of subscribers or just a few.
Writing the perfect article requires a ton of effort. As you learned in this article, there are many factors that influence the quality of your article, and you might think that you need to get all of them right.
It isn?t true.
Most people out there aren?t ready to put the necessary hard work to create remarkable content. As a result, most blog posts are just common short pieces that all look the same and bore their readers.
That?s good news for you. It means being remarkable isn?t that hard. If you apply only the first two strategies of this article, you?re already way ahead.
Sometimes, you want to write something epic. We?re not talking about remarkable content anymore, we want something that is truly excellent.
I actually don?t recommend you spending too much time on each of your articles to make them all perfect. At a certain point, the benefit becomes too small for the amount of time exerted.
But that being said, here are extra items to consider if you want to take your article to the next level:
When people think about writing well, they think about style and grammar. But that?s actually the least important stuff.
All you need is to make simple sentences and to not have too many grammar mistakes in your articles. It?s totally fine if you have a few typos here and there. People won?t be mad at you for this. I promise.
Recently, I asked a friend for advice on how to go to Thailand and live there for a few months because he just did it recently. We jumped on a call, during which he told me it wasn?t necessary to take notes because he would send a follow-up email with all the information I needed.
He sent his email. It was long and detailed, and I was incredibly grateful for the considerable time he had spent?to help me and give so many insights. At the end of the email, he wrote:
P.S. Excuse the typeos, bad grammar, etc, I just went for a complete brain dump with no edits lol
I was like? WHAT? This guy just gave me a TON of value, and he apologizes for making mistakes? I don?t care about mistakes ??this was extremely helpful!
And this should also be true for each of your blog posts. When you write epic articles that help them, most people won?t care about grammar!
For any normal article, do this:
That is good enough.
If you want to go the extra mile, I recommend hiring an editor who will do it for you. You can find one on Fiverr for a cheap cost. I did it when I was starting out and was making a lot of grammar mistakes because I?m not a non-native English speaker. That?s how I learned.
You can?t put?everything into your articles. You need to have a specific focus and then redirect your readers (via hyperlinks) to more comprehensive resources when you talk about something else.
Links allow you to promote other content you have written. Through the links, anyone reading your article will have the chance to discover other articles from?you.
Links?also allow you to promote the content of other people. Of course, you don?t really benefit from it, but everyone will appreciate it and it can help to build relationships.
Keep links natural and try not to overwhelm the reader. Sometimes, I stumble upon articles with links in?almost every sentence. As a result, I just ignore all of them. It?s too overwhelming.
You shouldn?t force yourself to put links. Only add them when you feel it is necessary and really add value to your reader.
Always keep the reader’s interests in mind. You?re writing articles for them, not for you. Even if you want to put more links for SEO purposes, make sure they?re relevant.
Something that helps a lot with establishing your authority and bringing more credibility to what you say is to strengthen your writing with expert quotes.
Simply show that famous people share the same opinion as?you. We mentioned earlier to add examples, stories, etc. Adding experts? quotes is another possibility to illustrate your points.
You could either use something they already wrote as a quote or directly ask them for an original quote. That?s what people do when they create those “expert roundup” posts.
They gather a lot of quotes from experts in one article around a specific topic. The next step then is to let those experts know, contact them, and hope that they will share your article because they?re featured in it.
And speaking of?sharing your article, here is another important point to go the extra mile…
If people need to copy/paste your URL and think of a message to tweet your article, they won?t do it.
However, they will if they can directly tweet your article with?one click.
That?s why you should use something like a “Share” bar. There are many social sharing?plugins out there, but my preferred one is the one from SumoMe.
In two clicks, you can easily share the article on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and any other social media channel.
Look, the headline of your article is super important ? it will determine how many people click on it.
But even if they click, they?re still not convinced that the article is worth reading. That?s the job of your introduction, so you better spend enough time on it to make it really good.
Here are some great ways to write a compelling introduction:
I won?t lie to you. Creating remarkable content is hard. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and effort. You will not be able to create something outstanding in just a couple hours.
My best articles took me more than 10 hours to write. We?re even getting closer to 20 hours for the longest one.
But it?s completely worth it?for the right article. You get hundreds of new subscribers, you build authority, you get noticed by the big guys? there are so many benefits that completely crush the strategy of ?I?m just gonna publish crappy articles every day and Google will notice.?
And to help you with this daunting task, I have created a 1-page Remarkable Content Checklist. You can download it by clicking here so that you can refer to it for each of your future articles and make sure they stand out.
This is just some of what your body can endure when you have a blog. Or when you attempt to write a post.
It?s so much work, and the stress can be brutal at times. So much that it makes you want to quit.
You bail on those posts sometimes. Don?t you?
You decide to tweak your about page, or look through your Twitter stream, or even clean the keys on your laptop. Anything to avoid writing that post.
Why is it so difficult?
And why do you keep putting yourself through it?
You?re not getting any more readers.
Your subscription list is in a constant two steps forward, two steps back state.
And you can?t seem to get the engagement levels that so many other bloggers have.
Maybe you?re better off on the sidelines. It?s easier being the audience, the reader.
Well, you know who else has these thoughts but pushes through them?
They have sweat. They have tears. Hair pulling and nail chewing, not so much. But they have blood, blisters and bladder issues to deal with. They have more gory issues too, but this is a family show folks, so we?ll leave it up to your imagination. And if you?ve run a marathon before, you know what I?m talking about.
So what lessons from marathoners can bloggers learn to push on when things get tough?
Besides the promise of a participants? medal and a dry bagel at the finish line?
The following nine lessons will get you through the sometimes grueling process of blogging.
And these lessons are practical. If you?re looking for inspirational clich?s or for ways to channel your writing muse, this is not the post for you.
So put your shoes on. Let?s go.
If you?ve never run a marathon, you may think the actual running part is what?s difficult. It is. But just getting to the start line is difficult too. And that?s not a metaphor.
Your alarm wakes you up at 4:00 am. You eat your pre-run tested breakfast. You get dressed.
Do not underestimate that last step.
I know you?ve been dressing yourself since you were a child, but it takes on a whole new dimension when dressing for a marathon. Why? One word. Chafing.
Then there?s transportation. Do you have a supportive friend who has no young children, enjoys waking up before sunrise on a weekend, and is willing to drive you an hour or more to the race?
And you won?t be your usual cheerful self on the ride there either.
No, you?ll worry ? out loud – that you should have eaten the whole banana instead of the half. Or that you should have brought nine energy gels instead of seven. Plus, any digestion issues you may be having. And if you?re not having any digestion issues, just wait until mile 20, my friend.
So what can bloggers learn from this?
Well, it?s not easy to start writing a post. It?s probably the hardest part. And you have to do it several times a month, or more. When you sit down, you may not even have an idea in your head yet. But if the race starts at 7:00 am, you can?t say you?re not ready yet. You just show up and start. This is what you gotta do when it?s time to write.
And it doesn?t end there. Writing one post is just the start. You?ll also need to create a plan for promoting on social media, give a compelling reason why readers should subscribe, oh, and don?t forget to create a great freebie like a checklist or a whitepaper.
So much to do, but at least you don?t need to worry about chafing.
How do you get started? Try one of these lessons:
Stick to it. When it?s on your calendar, it becomes a part of your day, not something you try to squeeze in if you get the chance.
Someone you?re accountable to. Tell them you?re going to send a draft by Thursday at 2:00 pm. There?s nothing like a commitment to a friend to get you moving.
Good nutrition and sleep are not just important for athletes. It clears your mind and helps you focus. Make it a priority.
A common strategy for marathoners is to divide the race into thirds. If you?re thinking about mile 22 in your first mile, it feels overwhelming and a long, long way away.
So you only think about the next eight or nine miles. It?s more manageable.
The first chunk of time, you?re seeing how things shake out. Is your hamstring feeling okay, can you sustain this pace, and should you have included that Bruno Mars song on your playlist?
When you?ve finished that first section, you can re-evaluate. You might be feeling great and can push your speed. Or it?s warmer than you expected, so you adjust your pace and drink more water.
You can do this when blogging too. Don?t think about hitting the 2000-word mark right when you start typing, or selling your e-book before you have any subscribers. Getting too far ahead of yourself will slow you down. You lose focus. You get distracted.
Focus on one thing at a time. And when you?re done, move on to the next.
Use the following ways to do so:
For each block of time you?ve set aside, just work on one thing whether it?s headlines, an email campaign, or building your profile on a social media platform.
Maybe you?ve written the introduction for a post, and you suddenly get a great idea to include in the conclusion. I wouldn?t wait until conclusion writing day. Get it down now. Sometimes, you get a little wind at your back ? so go with it.
A time comes in every marathon when the energy and excitement of the beginning ends, but the finish line is nowhere in sight. I call these the lost miles.
This is when your mind starts playing funny tricks.
You see a tree, and there?s a glowing light surrounding it. Calling you. Telling you this is the perfect place to take a nap.
Or you wonder why you thought this race was a good idea. It?s not a good idea. It is, in fact, a bad and painful idea. You should stop.
And you think about stopping. But then what?
You’ll experience immediate relief. Then regret. Then shame.
So you keep running instead. It?s actually easier than dealing with the shame of stopping.
Then you start humming the chorus from that Bruno Mars song. You hum that same chorus, again and again, for the next five miles.
You’ll get no immediate payoff when you?re nurturing a subscription list or while you?re in the middle of writing a blog post. It may even feel like a chore. But you don?t want all of the work you?ve put in to waste away. Yet, you?re not sure where you?re going with this whole blogging thing.
It?s so much work, and you can?t even tell if it?s going to lead somewhere. Will anybody actually read it this time? Or what if you write a killer post but then never get another idea again?
So many thoughts are running through your head.
Maybe you?ll just finish writing one more post, then quit.
Yes, let?s do that.
Or, you could try this:
Unsatisfying, right? When marathoners feel like stopping, they tell themselves they?ll just run one more block or until the next water station. When they get to that spot, they do it again. You can finish the whole race, an entire post, or a newsletter this way.
Marathoners have a saying. They say that all of your training is for the last six miles. Yes, you?re running 26.2 miles, but it?s those last six that count.
The end is in sight, but you?ve got the most arduous miles ahead of you. You?re definitely not going to stop now. You might walk, or limp, but you?re still upright and moving forward, dammit!
You can?t decide what?s more painful. Is it your left hip, your right ankle, or your lungs? Or that once-loved Bruno Mars song? (You?ll never listen to it again.) Everything else is numb. Numb or painful. I?m not sure if I?ve emphasized the painful part enough?
And now there?s a hill. Really?
Why do the spectators look so relaxed and cheerful while holding their stupid coffee cups and wearing their stupid athletic wear? They?re not even participating in a sport. They?re just standing there. Why do you need to wear Lululemon just to stand there? Don?t they know what you?re going through?
Sorry. I?m cranky. This part?s hard. It?s a bit difficult to find perspective.
Yes, it?s the finish line. Look at all these people cheering for me. I love spectators. I can see the end. I can really see it! Here I come. Watch me fly.
I get that same unexpected burst of energy when I?m close to completing a blog post. This is really happening, I think. I?m really going to do this! The words, which were so difficult to excavate earlier, are streaming through my fingers. The keyboard on my laptop sounds like a tap dancer rather than the slow drip of a leaky faucet.
Yes! I did it! My 17 subscribers are gonna love this post!
Maybe your second wind comes when you hear from a reader who says your blog helped her learn a new skill, or when you get a bunch of new subscribers, or when you finally figured out how to add that widget to your site.
And when you get that second wind, it feels incredible. You feel powerful and forget about the struggle ? you think, ?That wasn?t so bad.?
Which leads me to some final lessons:
Maybe you?re an elite runner, and you?re gunning for gold, or maybe this time last year you could barely jog around the block. If you?re new to blogging, getting a single post out every month is a success; if you?re a veteran, you may be looking to sell your book to the subscribers list you?ve been nurturing for years. Define your own success.
Marathoners are competitive people who are always working for a personal best. Most are not trying to beat someone else; they’re trying to find excellence within themselves. Strive to improve something every time you sit down to write.
Comment on their posts, or share them on social media. When it?s your turn to get cheered, the encouragement will help you to keep moving forward.
You did it! You crossed the finish line. Whatever your finish line is ? a move to full-time blogging, financial independence, or consistently writing a post.
Things were rough for a while.
But you kept up your momentum. One step at a time.
It wasn?t easy. You endured pain. And the voices in your head almost made you stop.
Think about how you feel right now. Good, right?
No, not good. Awesome! Like you can do anything you want.
Enjoy this feeling. Remember it. You earned it.
You?ll think about this feeling when things get difficult again (and they will).
But you know how to cope now ? with nine solid lessons to keep you going when you want to quit.
With these lessons, you?ll look forward to new challenges. Why? Because every challenge you meet changes you for the better.
But for now ? enjoy a long shower and a good meal. You deserve it.