Want to Make Money Blogging? Build An Email List

A lot of people want to start a blog and make money. If you ask people, they will tell you that the blog market is saturated, and you can’t make money. Lies.

“If you have a blog about smurfs, smurf if up.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

As funny as that sounds, it’s true. You can make money talking about anything online. There are niches and communities for everything.

For ideas on what type of communities you can create, check out the subreddits on Reddit.

Check out this list of the top 200 subreddits categorized by topic. Remember there are thousands more.

So how do you make money blogging? Simply build an email list.

If you focus on this and this alone, you will be able to make money online.

Why Email Marketing is Important…

EmailMarketing

Because people check all day long. Someone giving you their private email is like someone giving you their home address and saying “yea send me stuff. I like what you have to offer”.

Email gets viewed way more than social media. You can post stuff on your Twitter timeline or Facebook fan page, and your viewers can completely miss it. But with email they have to act on it. They will view it and choose to open it, click it, archive it, spam it, or delete it. They have to take action with it.

Other mediums have a high probably of being completely missed or overlooked.

Email Pays Off

To put it in perspective, let say that you have a blog about fresh organic, eco-friendly DIY projects. You have been active in creating content for the site, guest blogging, and outreach. You are capturing emails and have a list of 1000 people.

You send out relative information to your list, and they look forward to your emails. One day you announce that you are creating an ebook or video course on how to do some advanced DIY projects that will save your readers 100s of dollars a year in energy bills.

Let’s say 5% of your email list buys the video course at a price $49 each. You just made $2450 from your email list.

Keeping this same conversion rate, let’s say in one year you grow your list to 5,000 people. Now you introduce an expanded version of your course with interviews, a private community, etc. for $97. You sell 250 (5%) at $97 each. You just made $24,250. Imagine if your list was 10k or 50k?

Growing a list can be profitable.

Proof That It Works…

I have a course called the Import Crash Course that I created after validating it online in a couple different forums. I was able to build up a list of 1,200 interested people and sell 300 copies of the course when I launched it.

I grow the email list by giving away awesome content like recorded webinars or case studies of people who have succeeded or failed at importing. I get their emails and after providing value, I offer them the full course (which is more valuable than any free content they have received).

How to Get Email Subscribers

SubscribeStamp

There are are a couple ways to get subscribers. Most people think that just creating great content will attract people to your site. The “build it, and they will come” approach doesn’t work unless you write something super amazing or have an established brand. People like Neil Patel can just publish and get 1000s of views and hundreds of comments.

Guest Posts

I always thought this was a waste of time. Write something for someone else’s blog and let them have it? What the hell? Blasphemy!

Well, countless entrepreneurs have created 6 figure businesses doing this. If you don’t have an audience in a particular niche, write for a bigger brand who wants content and drive traffic back to your site.

It’s no secret that this guest post will drive many visitors back to my website.

Interviews

Interviews are easy and fun. Find people who are influencers or experts in your industry and request to interview them. For the Import Crash Course, I wrote about my experience importing from China. It was good buy itself. But I increased the value of my product by interviewing seven people who have been importing for a long time.

This strategy increased the perceived value of my product.

Now your guests share their interviews with their audience, and you get traffic and email subscribers.

You can use these interviews to grow your email list. Sites like Mixergy and Entrepreneur on Fire are prime examples of how you can use interviews to build up an email list and create a large revenue stream. John Lee Dumas has over 14,000 subscribers and according to his last month’s income report, generated $282,353.16.

This flow summarizes what I have talked about plus a couple other methods.

Grow Your Email List 2

Tools You can use

There are a couple tools that you can use to grow your email list.

Sumo MeThe best free option is Sumo Me. It is a suite of marketing apps design by the guys at AppSumo. They are designed to help you grow your blog traffic. List Builder, Smart Bar, Leads, Scroll Box, are all apps in the suite designed to capture your email subscribers.

Here are some great paid options.

There are many others. Your goal should implement an email capture tool on your blog in some fashion to capture emails.

Give Value

This is the most important part of the entire process. People will only give you their email address if you can give them something of value.

What can you give? Video courses, checklists, blog posts, presentations, or guides. Keep it simple.

Closing Thoughts…

Every time I ask an entrepreneur if they had to do it over, how would they start, they always say through email. Relationships for through email, the deal can close via email, and you can build a brand and audience through email.

Build your list and you will grow your business.

How are you using email marketing in your business? Let me know in the comments below.

The 10 Best Secrets to Blog Post Titles that Attract Readers and Get Noticed

With so many blogs existing in the world, you have a very short amount of time to catch the attention of your valued readers. Your title is what most readers will see first – in an RSS feed, in Google or Bing or embedded in an email. If your title is clunky, too long or plain lackluster, your blog post will likely be lost, forgotten and just plain not seen. With so much pressure to perform, you may find your title writing skills flagging when it matters most. If your goal is to create blog post titles that attract readers, whip their heads your way, and click on your latest blog posts with fervor, here are the ten most well-kept secrets for optimizing your blog titles that every blogger should know.

Enticing Blog Subject Matter

If you are stuck on what to write about, these three title categories are sure to lure new readers to your blog in droves.

  1. Provide a Benefit: Titles that get clicked on the most promise a clear benefit to the reader. They solve a pressing problem, they offer advice from luminaries in the field and they generally seek to improve readers in one way or another.

Whether readers are trying to improve conversions, lose weight or train their dogs to sit and play fetch, get to the heart of their passions, desires, apprehensions and fears and craft blog titles that speak to your readers and promise results; and make those results fast if possible. A good example of this is the blog title How to Eradicate a Zit in a Single Evening.

This will require extensive research in order to accurately analyze the psyches of your reader base, but today’s social networks and popular forums make that research easier than ever before.

  1. Spread the News: Some of the most popular blog titles are those that strive to keep your audience informed of updates and happenings as they relate to your niche. Scour the news, read the latest press-releases in your industry and write blog titles that keep your readers on the up-and-up. A good example of a title for an IT blog might be Ten Industry Updates All IT Professionals Should Know. 
  1. Pique the Curiosity: Attempt to write blog titles that are different than everyone else’s and that resonate with your audience. Use odd but relevant word choices, personal experiences, funny anecdotes and quirky subjects that no one else is using. Your readers won’t be able to help themselves but click and read. An example of a title for a construction blog might be Hammers and Hamburgers: A Day in the Life of a Construction Worker.

Proper Title Construction

Use the following tips to develop titles that drive traffic and attract comments.

  1. Set Expectations and Tease: Your blog title should let readers know exactly what they will get out of reading your blog in its entirety. For best results, tickle your readers with a hint of what’s to come and force them to commit to experience the true payoff.

Consider this title for a weight loss blog: See What Happens when Weight Loss Happens Too Quickly. Notice how the title doesn’t say what happens, it just urges readers to continue reading and pay attention.

  1. Concise is Nice: The shorter your title happens to be, the better. Remember, you only have a very short window to reach your audience. Not only that, but your readers will typically have very short attention spans. Long, drawn out titles get ignored more often than shorter ones. A short and sweet title for a gardening blog might read 7 Plant Watering Secrets.
  1. Optimize for Search: Use your primary keyword very early on if you want to beat out competitors that are optimizing for that same term. For example, if you are writing for a cosmetics blog and your keyword is ‘eye shadow’, your title might read Eye Shadow Tips from the World’s Top Makeup Experts. While not a sure way of improving rankings, there is always the chance that this technique will give you an edge against other bloggers that are using the same term keyword term a little later on in their titles; so this tip is always worth considering. 
  1. Beat Competitors: Once you get a good idea of the title you would like to create, get online and start searching for others who are writing about the same subject. Take their titles in, process them and then use what’s available to make yours even better. 
  1. Use Active Language: Stay away from passive verbs and instead use plenty of action words to get your readers’ hearts racing. Instead of the title How the Best Athletes are Running and Jumping Today, it would be better to use the title Run Faster and Jump Higher Just Like Today’s Best Athletes. 
  1. Lists Bring the Clicks: Blogs that contain numbered or bulleted lists tend to always perform well. Readers prefer blogs that contain easily digestible content, and lists provide exactly that. For instance, 10 Mistakes All New Police Recruits Should Avoid. 
  1. A Strong Title Never Lies: Your titles should always come through on the promises you make. In other words, if your blog title promises to help readers Change a Car Tire Quickly, Even in the Rain, make sure you provide exactly that advice. If your readers are ever made to feel misled, you may lose those readers forever.

Test Your Titles for Better Results

The above advice should help you develop titles that get results, but don’t stop there. Keep testing your titles, feeling your audience out and start looking for patterns of most-read blog posts by studying your analytics data. If you notice that some titles get more clicks than others, replicate your results for even more blog conversions.

They say that your choice of title can make or break every blog post you write. With these ten tips, your posts are sure to strike a nerve with every reader you target.

Beginner’s Guide to Setting up a Self-hosted WordPress Blog

Over the last decade or so, blogging has emerged as a promising career option and many bloggers have adopted it as a full time profession making a decent living out of it. Business entities big and small alike are integrating blogs into their website for better engagement and conversion. From blogging for hobby on a free platform like Blogspot to setting up a full-fledged self-hosted blogging site on CMS like WordPress, blogging for sure has come a long way.

So, what does it take to set up a professional looking blog that you can call your own in the real sense and take with you from one webhost to another, whenever you feel like? Well, the answer is – nothing much. All you need is a domain name for your website and a hosting service to keep it live 24×7. The installation process is no rocket science either. If you are comfortable running a PC, you are good enough to set up your own blog.

In the tutorial below, we walk you step by step through the process of setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Step 1: Register a domain name

Before you begin setting up a blog, you need to decide upon an address with which people can access it from their web browser. It is called domain name and it forms a major part of your blog URL. For example, in the URL http://learntoblog.com, learntoblog.com is the domain name.

You can buy a domain name from a domain name registrar for a particular period of time (usually a year and in multiples thereof) and then continue to renew it so long you intend to keep it with you. There are a lot of domain registrars you can register a domain name with; here is how you can do it with Godaddy, one of the popular domain registrars:

domain-search

  • Visit their website: godaddy.com
  • Using the search box on the homepage, check out the availability of the domain name you want. You can check for different extensions but .com, .net and .org are among the most popular domain extensions, in that order.
  • Once the domain name you want to go with is available, add it to the shopping cart and click on Continue
  • They will try to cross-sell various other products/services along with the domain name, but you can ignore all of them and Continue to Cart
  • This will take you to the order review page. Once you are sure of the order summary, you can Proceed to Checkout
  • If you have not registered with them earlier, click on New Customer and fill in all the details. You will also have to select a payment method and enter the necessary details. Once ready click on Continue.
  • Once the payment is processed successfully, the domain will be in your account. You can login to your Godaddy account using your username and password, and manage your domain.

Step 2: Buy a web hosting account

Next you will require a web server where you can install the blogging software and upload your blog files. But you don’t have to buy yourself a physical server for this. There are a number of webhosts that offer this service. So, all you have to do is buy a web hosting service from some reliable provider like HostGator:

  • Click on View Web Hosting Plans

view-webhosting-plans

  • Select the plan you want to go with and click on Order Now. For beginners intending to set up only 1 blog, Hatchling Plan should be sufficient. If however, you want to set up multiple blogs, then you should go with the Baby Plan.
  • In the order form that comes next, select the radio button I already own this domain (since you will have already bought a domain name in Step 1). Now enter your domain name in the box just below that. Remember, it’s just the domain name (without http:// or www).

already-own-domain

  • Fill up the rest of the form with your desired Username, Security Pin (password), Billing Information, Payment Information and other details.
  • See the Hosting Addons section in the form carefully. If some items are checked and you don’t need them, just uncheck them.
  • Below the Hosting Addons section, you will see a box to enter a Coupon Code. Enter the code: LearnToBlog1 to get a discount of 25%. If there is already some default code in the box, you can replace that with this code and you’ll see your total due amount come down substantially.

hostgator-coupon-code

  • Check the terms and conditions acknowledgement check box and click on CREATE ACCOUNT.
  • Now the system will start processing your payment and on successful processing, you will receive your hosting account details at the email address that you mentioned in the order form. Don’t forget to check your junk or spam folder if you don’t see it in your inbox.

Step 3: Point the domain to your nameservers

Now that you have a domain name and a hosting account, the next step is to link these two. This too is fairly easy:

  • Check the account information mail that you received from your webhost (HostGator). Note down the nameservers. There will be 2 nameservers and you’ll need both of them. It will look something like this: ns3167.hostgator.com and ns3168.hostgator.com
  • Now login to your domain account (Godaddy)
  • Hover on: Products > Domains and click on Manage Now. You will see a list of all the domains in your account.

manage-domain

  • Click on the domain name you want to set up your blog on.
  • You will see the default nameservers under the settings tab which would be something like: NS67.DOMAINCONTROL.COM and NS68.DOMAINCONTROL.COM. Just below that, you will see a link to Manage your nameservers. Click on it and a small Nameserver Settings window will pop up.

manage-dns

  • Select the Custom radio button and click on Enter custom nameservers. Enter both the nameservers that you got from your hosting provider, one each in a box. Click on OK and Save the settings.

add-nameservers

This will link your domain name with your hosting account. But remember, the settings will not come into effect immediately since they will have to spread all over the World Wide Web. This process of domain name server (DNS) propagation usually happens in a few hours but can take as long as 72 hours to complete.

Step 4. Install WordPress

Ok, now the real action begins. We will start installing WordPress, the most popular blogging software, on our server. Here we go:

4.1 Uploading and extracting of files:

  • Go to wordpress.org
  • Download WordPress. You will get the option of downloading it as .zip or .tar.gz compressed file; the choice is yours.
  • Now login to your webhosting control panel (cPanel) using the username and password you got from your web hosting provider. Your cPanel login URL would be: http://domainname.com/cpanel where you need to replace domainname with your actual domain name. But if your DNS has not yet resolved (not propagated on the web), this URL will not work. In such case, use the temporary cPanel URL that your webhost has provided.
  • Click on File Manager under the ‘Files’ section. In the ‘File Manager Directory Selection’ popup that appears, select the radio button for Web Root (public_html/www) and click on Go. This will take you to your root directory public_html.

file-manager

  • Now upload the WordPress compressed file to your root directory. For this, click on the Upload button from the menu at the top, and choose the file to be uploaded. You can see the upload progress in the bottom right corner. Once the upload is complete, you can come back to your root directory by clicking on the link that appears in the center of the upload page. If however you want to install your blog in a subdirectory instead of the root directory, then you should create a new folder first and upload the WordPress file in that folder. The name of that folder will become a part of your blog URL. For example, if it is named ‘blog’, then your blog URL would be similar to: http://domainname.com/blog

upload-button

upload-files

  • Since we have uploaded a compressed file, the next step would be to extract it. For this, select the compressed file and click on Extract from the top menu. Select the path as the root directory (/public_html) or the subdirectory (/public_html/blog, etc.) depending upon where you want to install the blog, and then click on Extract File(s).
  • Now if you observe properly, you will see that a new folder called ‘wordpress’ is created and all the extracted files are placed inside that folder. We need to bring the content of this folder directly under the root directly or the subdirectory where we want to install the blog. So, go to this ‘wordpress’ folder and select all the content of this folder using shift key and mouse. Files being selected, click on the Move File icon in the top menu. Select the correct destination path in the pop-up and click on the Move File(s) button. This should make the ‘wordpress’ folder empty which may now be deleted.

4.2 Creating a database and user:

WordPress installation runs on a MySQL database. So, let’s get creating one:

  • Close the File Manager (to avoid any likely confusion) and come back to the cPanel homepage.
  • Under the Databases category, click on MySQL Database Wizard.

mysql-database-wizard

  • You will see that your cPanel username is prefixed to your database name by default. Complete your database name by adding up preferably 6-7 characters in the box provided, and head on to Next Step, which is to create a database user.

database-name

  • Just like the database name, fill up the box for username as well in order to create a database user. For ease of identification, you can keep it same as your database name. But remember, you can enter only upto 7 characters.

database-user

  • Use the Password Generator to generate a strong and safe password. Make note of the password; we will need it soon. Now, check the checkbox to acknowledge that you have copied the password and then click on Use Password.
  • Everything filled in, click on Create User.
  • Next is the step for adding the user to the database. But before this, note down the complete name of the database as well as the user. Now check the checkbox for ALL PRIVILEGES and hit on Next Step.

db-user-privileges

With this, we have created a database, a database user, and added the user to the database too.

4.3 Editing the wp-config.php file:

For the database to become functional, we’ll have to link it to WordPress. Here is how we do this:

  • Once again, go to the File Manager and look out for a file named wp-config-sample.php. Rename it to wp-config.php (double clicking on the file name will change it to edit-mode).
  • Now start editing the renamed wp-config.php file. You can do this by selecting the file and clicking on the Edit icon in the top menu.
  • Enter your database name, database username and database password.

editing-wp-config-file

  • Save Changes and close the file.

4.4 Running the installation script:

Almost there! Just one more step to go:

  • Open your blog URL in a web browser. It would be similar to: http://domainname.com or http://domainname.com/blog depending upon where you installed WordPress.

wp-install-script

  • Fill up the installation form with your desired details like site title, username, password, email ID, etc. Don’t forget to check the checkbox saying Allow search engines to index this site unless and until you want your blog to be a secret affair hidden from Google and other search engines. As a final step, click on Install WordPress. That’s it. Your blog is ready to rock!

4.5 Installation using auto-install script, Fantastico:

If you don’t want to go through the manual installation process of uploading files, creating database, editing wp-config.php file and all, there is an easier alternative available. The auto-install script called Fantastico can do it for you:

  • Go to your cPanel homepage and click on Fantastico De Luxe under the Software/Services category.
  • Click on WordPress from navigation menu on the left side and then on New Installation.

fantastico-auto-install

  • Fill in the details and hit the Install WordPress button.

That’s all you got to do. Everything else will be taken care of by the auto-install script.

4.6 Logging in to your WordPress site:

You can login to your WordPress site using the login URL which would be like: http://domainname.com/wp-admin

wordpress-login-screen

It will ask for your username and password. These would be the ones that you used while running the WordPress installation script or the ones you filled up in Fantastico, as the case may be. Note that your domain login credentials, cPanel login credentials and MySQL database credentials have NOTHING TO DO HERE.

4.7 Adding www. in the URL:

By default, your blog URL would be like: http://domainname.com

What if you want to add www. to it in order to make it look like: http://www.domainname.com

No worries, this part is easy too:

change-wordpress-url

  • Login to your WordPress site
  • Go to Settings > General
  • Add www. in the WordPress Address (URL) as well as in the Site Address (URL). Click on Save Changes and you are done. As you save this, you will be automatically logged out of your site. Don’t worry, it just happens because your URL is changed. You can login again using the new URL with www.

Step 5. Install a suitable theme

Design and looks of your blog depends upon the template that you use. A WordPress template is popularly known as a theme. The WordPress blog you install comes with a default theme. You can change this theme anytime you want to change the looks of your site; and you can do this without affecting the content of your site.

5.1 Installing a free theme from WordPress repository:

WordPress has a huge collection of free themes to choose from. You can see them all here: wordpress.org/themes

You can access and install any of these themes directly from your admin panel:

install-theme

  • Login to your site
  • Go to Appearance > Themes and click on Add New.
  • You will be taken to an interface where you can search for a theme either using a keyword or a specific set of features. You can also get the list of Featured, Newest and Recently Updated themes.
  • Click on the theme that you like. This will give you preview of the theme as well as an option to install it. Click on the Install button if you like the preview and want to proceed with installation. Now the theme is added to your blog’s collection but remember – it is not live yet.
  • To make your theme live, click on Activate. Or before doing that if you want to see how it looks on your site, click on Live Preview.

While browsing through WordPress themes repository, if you happen to like a theme, you can download and install it by following the below method as well.

5.2 Installing a theme from outside WordPress repository:

Sometimes, you may want to go with a premium theme. Or it may be just that you found a great theme from somewhere outside the WordPress repository and want to install it. Well, even that’s possible; just see to it that the theme is a WordPress theme and follow the below process:

upload-theme

  • Download the theme that you want to install. This should be a compressed, .zip file.
  • Login to your site
  • Go to Appearance > Themes and click on Add New.
  • Click on Upload
  • Choose the file (theme in .zip format) and click on Install Now.
  • Click on Activate and there you are!

All the themes that you upload or install will be available in Appearance > Themes. You can activate any of them any time you like.

Step 6. Start writing your blog post

Now that you have installed your blog, you are ready to begin writing your first blog post; or should I say, you’ve already done that! Yes, your default ‘Hello world’ post goes live as soon as you install a blog. You can choose to edit it, ignore it or delete it.

add-new-post

  • Login to your site and click on Posts in the left panel. This will take you to the list of existing posts.
  • Hover over the default post and you will see the options to edit or trash it.
  • If you want to add a new post, click on Add New button either at the top or in the left panel under ‘Posts’
  • Add the post title at the top and write the post in the main body.
  • Should you need to add any image, click on Add Media, upload the image file and then click on Insert into post. When you upload an image, you also get to choose its alignment, link it to a URL and optimize it by means of Alt Text, Description, etc.
  • You will also need to select a category for your post. Since the only category by default would be uncategorized, you may want to add a new category. You can easily do this by clicking on + Add New Category.
  • You can also add some tags to the post if you feel like.
  • If you want to see how it would look when the post goes live, you’ve got a preview button for that.
  • Once everything ready, hit the Publish button and your post is live. If you want to leave the post half way for now and continue with it later, you can save it as draft.
  • For scheduling a post to a future date, click on the small Edit button just beside ‘Publish immediately’. Enter the date and time you want to schedule for and click on OK. This will change the Publish button to Schedule button. Now click on that as a final step.

Once you set up your blog and continue to write more blog posts, you will keep learning more things. Writing static pages, inserting videos, adding plugins, creating users for co-blogging… there are loads of other features and options to explore. We will be covering them separately on our blog, stay tuned!

4 Reasons Your Small Business Needs a Blog

Unless your new business venture involves a branch campus of the Illuminati, you probably want your small business to get noticed. So what do you do? Set up your business in a high-traffic area? Great. Get a big sign? Fantastic.  Set up your website and social media sites? Even better.

While many small businesses consider this a great place to stop, they don’t realize that they are actually missing a very crucial element.

According to a recent study done by GE Capital Retail Bank, 81% of consumers will engage in online research before making a major purchase, a number that is up by 20% from 2012.

This means two things for you, the small business owner. First, you need people to find your company amidst their research. Second, they need to like what they see. But how do you do that? How do you differentiate yourself from other companies that are in a similar field and make your business more visible?

Thankfully, the answer is not as elusive as it may feel, and doesn’t involve spending copious amounts of marketing cash or hiring a pothead teenager to spin your sign on a street corner. Simply put, start a blog.

Not the answer you were expecting (or wanting)? Before you begin throwing rotten cabbage at me, please consider a few things. As much as we enjoy Mad Men, marketing has taken a dramatic shift in the 21st Century. Our means of connection and interaction have moved to the digital universe, and thus, we need to meet our customers there.

If you are aspiring to grow your small business and beat out the competition, blogging is a non-negotiable. Below are 4 reasons your small business needs a blog… right away.

1. Search Engines Will Love You

Teenage romance movies seem to be all the rage these days. If you have seen any of these movies, you notice a trend. Though the themes may change (vampires, sports, inner-city life), the plot basically stays the same:

  • We are introduced to a socially-outcast girl at a local high school
  • We also meet a handsome boy (often a jock) at the same high school
  • Socially-outcast girl makes a reference to an upcoming prom and how she plans on not attending
  • Due to some unforeseen incident, the boy and girl have to partner together in a class
  • Both hate each other and frown upon the others social identity
  •  Through shared experiences and time together, they soften toward one another
  • At the night of the big dance, socially-outcast girl shows up without glasses and in a beautiful dress
  • Boy realizes that he loves her, renounces his prom king award, cheerleader girlfriend and Princeton scholarship (that dad forced on him) and confesses his affections to her

If Google is the handsome jock, then your small business needs to be the prettiest girl at the dance, and blogging will help get it there!

Search engines love fresh content. As you add new and regular content to your website, search engines will begin to move you higher on their results page. Is your website regularly getting new content or is it stale? If you want to be seen you need new (and regular) content!

Your blog is the easiest and most effective way to regularly add content to your website. This isn’t a ‘one and done’ exercise. You need to be consistent with your posting. It may feel daunting, but your business will thank you for it.

Don’t make your clients wade through 12 pages of ‘search results’ to find you!

2. Potential Customers Have More Opportunity to Find You

When your company begins to embraces blogging, not only will customers be able to find you more easily, they will also be able to find you more often. The reason is simple: diversification.

When you regularly post to your company’s blog, you are creating another opportunity for potential customers to come across your website. The reason is twofold:

  • More Posts = More Search Engine Results

Let’s say that you run an independent insurance company and recently set up a website. At that point, your only hope of being found online is if a customer Google’s “insurance company [your city]”.

However, if your company is also embraces blogging, you make yourself more available. A certain customer may have never  heard of your insurance company, but when they Google “Should I use an independent insurance agent” they will likely find an article about that subject… written on your website. Why? Because you are blogging about your business and industry. In an instant, you went from an unknown company to an entity that is educating someone as to why they should use your services.

  • More Posts = More Social Media Exposure

On top of search engine results, regular blogging will also give you a stage on various social media sites.

How?

One of the keys of good marketing is networking. If you want to see more success in your business, you need to connect with other people that will help your company grow. Since the rise of social media, this has never been easier.

As your company begins to take advantage of blogging, it would benefit your company to show its blog posts on your social media sites.

Not only does your network of peers get to see your work, but they may also share your post with others who may be interested as well. Going back to the 81% of people who do online research before purchases, testimonials and personal endorsements via “sharing” a post goes a long way.

Additionally, your blog can even begin to collect a following of readers and subscribers. This will drive regular traffic to your website via dedicated followers.

3. You Establish Expertise

Here’s some truth: In order to be trusted by the public, your business needs to prove itself. And that’s fair. You may know that you are one of the best in your field, but that doesn’t mean much to the consumer. If you want the public to give you their business, you need to show them why.

Can you guess what the remedy might be? Yep, blogging!

Blogging is one of the best platforms you have as you seek to display your expertise. Write about your industry, whether it is current events, ‘how-to’s’, tutorials, helpful advice or things of the like. And do it often. Show your customers that you are well versed in your field.

But be careful. If you’re attempting to build your credibility and expertise (which you should), make sure that you are giving correct information. Your credibility can take a huge hit if you are known to supply shoddy work. Remember, trust is hard to gain and easy to lose.

4. A Blog Gives Your Business a “Personality”

Not only will a blog help get your company noticed, it can also help put your customers at ease. For many people who fear the unknown, even walking into an unfamiliar business can be anxiety-provoking. What can you do to help?

Keeping a regularly updated blog can help to set a tone for your business that will benefit customers. As you blog about current events happening in your store and in your industry, as well as ‘how-to’s’ and other relevant topics, do not be afraid to infuse some personality. Not only does this make good writing, it also helps your customers feel comfortable with you and your company.

Moving Forward

The idea of starting a company blog can feel daunting; that is understandable. Amidst all of the other work you have to put into your business, writing a blog can feel like a hassle. But the truth is, you can’t afford not to blog. If you are seeking to be found and noticed on the internet, a blog is necessary.

If you really feel like you do not have time to blog, hope is not lost! There are still avenues you can take to have a thriving blog:

  • Delegate writing responsibilities to a trusted employee
  • If your budget allows, hire a freelance writer(s)
  • Consider posting on a regular, but less frequent, basis (2-4 times a month)

So if you’re ready, take the plunge today and start your business blog! We want to hear your feedback. How has your small business benefited from blogging? Please leave a comment and share your experience with us!

9 Content Strategy Ideas for New Bloggers

You’ve registered your domain, found a great blog theme, assembled your plugins, and read up on SEO. Now the nuts and bolts of your new blog are in place, so it’s time for the fun to begin. Writing content!

So, what’s your blog content strategy? You do have one, don’t you?

A good content strategy can be nothing more than a hastily scribbled list of topics that sit on your desk. But if you’re willing to invest a little extra time on a great blog content strategy, you can avoid getting stuck in idle when you’re out of ideas and reach lots of people with your content. You’ll also be able to pivot quickly when timely blog topics crop up that you want to tackle immediately.

A killer blog content strategy is really a two-pronged approach. You need methods for consistently creating compelling content and ways to get it in front of peoples’ eyeballs. Here are some proven content strategy ideas for new bloggers to get the job done, along with some ideas you might not have considered.

Content is king (and queen, and the whole royal court)

One of the scariest things about blogging is the fear you’ll run out of ideas. It happens to all bloggers at some point, so the key is to have a content strategy in place that keeps your blog running smoothly even if you’re not firing on all cylinders. Let’s take a look at some ways generate content ideas.

1. Answer questions. Q & A websites like Yahoo, Quora, and Google Discussions are veritable gold mines of ideas. Some of the best blog posts out there help people answer questions and solve problems, so find out what people want to know. For example, if your blog is focused on horse racing, Quora can tell you what kinds of questions people are asking so you can answer them on your blog.

quora

2. Round ups. Round up posts that pull in timely information from a variety of sources are beneficial in two ways. First, they give your readers multiple viewpoints of the same topic. Second, they’re great for getting on the radar of bloggers you’d like to connect with. A blog post titled, “What the 7 Best Sports Commentators Are Saying About the Sochi 2014 Olympics” grabs the attention of readers who are glad you culled the information. There’s also a good chance the commentators your mention and link to will happily share your content because, hey, who doesn’t like to be on a “best of” list?

3. Guest posts. One reason networking on social media platforms is so important is that it gives you an opportunity to connect with other bloggers in your industry. We’ll get into the importance of setting up social media accounts in a minute, but once you’re established and sharing your content across these networks, be sure to cultivate friendships with others for possible guest posting down the road. It’s a great strategy for writers to get new readers fresh eyes on their work.

3. Infographics. Sometimes delivering hard data via eye-catching graphics can turn a dry blog post into a quick and easy read for the information overloaded. Imagine a long blog post describing the nuanced differences in popular fonts. Are there even enough adjectives in the world to explain fonts with that level of detail? Now have a look at an infographic web designer Rylee Blake put together.

RyleeBlake infographic

You don’t have to be a web design pro to create an infographic on your own. Try a free online service like Piktochart or infogr.am to create a clever image with interesting information.

4. Video. Once in a while even the most prolific blogger should step away from the keyboard and create a video blog post, or, vlog. Of course, you’ll want to experiment with video content to see if it’s something your readers find useful before committing to a long string of videos. While consumable video content may not be right for every blog, it’s a natural fit for others. No one wants to watch a talking head drone into the camera for 20 minutes, so a good rule of thumb is to rely on vlogging for action-oriented content like a walking tour of local craft beer breweries or a how-to on using power saw without losing a finger.

5. Polls/Surveys. Everyone likes to share their opinion so polls and surveys are a treasure trove of information that can often generate multiple blog topics. Use a free polling site like Survey Monkey to poll your readers on questions related to your blog content and use their responses to come up with content and ideas for future posts.

6. Social media networks. As you begin strategizing topic ideas, be sure to secure accounts at The Big Three social media services: Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. If your blog content is valuable to industry professionals, also consider setting up a LinkedIn account. Social networks are a terrific method for sparking ideas based around trending topics and for finding out what people are talking about right now.

7. RSS feed. Save yourself some time and sanity by filling an RSS feed reader with blogs and websites that are relevant to the topic you’re writing about. You’ll be checking these sites frequently so scanning a neatly filtered feed is much easier than opening 36 bookmarked tabs in your browser. As an added bonus, many RSS readers let you favorite, star, tag, or otherwise annotate posts so you can quickly find them again later.

8. Google Alerts. If RSS feeds are a long, leisurely walk you take while developing blog content ideas, Google Alerts are a quick run into the convenience store to grab something off the shelf before it’s gone. Depending on the type of content you’re creating, writing about rapidly trending topics around the internet can make or break the success of your blog. Going back to our Olympics analogy for a moment, few people want to read about who won gold medals five weeks after the event is over. That kind of content must be published as it happens or it stands little chance of ever being seen. Google Alerts keeps you informed in near-real time whenever your choice of keywords or topics are mentioned around the internet so you can whip up a post right away.

Bonus tip

9. Set up an editorial calendar. Once you begin collecting blog topics, assemble them into a loose schedule using an editorial calendar. This can be as elaborate or as bare-bones as you prefer; Google Calendar is a good place to start. As your blog topics begin to gel, an editorial calendar helps keep you on track and shows you at a glance what can be moved around to accommodate timely ideas you come across via Google Alerts, available times to schedule guest posts, and so on.

I can’t promise you that you’ll never draw a blank on what to write about because it happens to every blogger eventually. But a good content strategy keeps you on track and keeps those ideas flowing even when you think there’s nothing left to say — because there’s always something to say.