How to Find the Best Affiliate Products to Promote On Your Blog

Many bloggers hope to become millionaires from affiliate marketing. This is a realistic goal, but unfortunately few marketers ever reach that dream. A recent survey from last year’s Affiliate Summit found that nearly 40% of affiliate marketers make less than $5,000 a year. One of the largest reasons some affiliates are more successful is that they know how to find the right affiliate products to promote on their blog.

You need to find great products to promote to succeed as an affiliate. Here are some guidelines for finding and vetting affiliate partners.

How Do You Find Products to Promote?

There are plenty of great products that need awesome affiliates like you. Here are some tips to help you find the best affiliate partners.

Check Out Affiliate Networks

There are a number of great affiliate networks that you should look into. Clickbank, Commission Junction, Click Booth, ShareASale and PayDotCom are some of the most popular. You will find thousands of different products on each of these networks. ClickBank is arguably the most popular. Here are some steps for finding a product with it.

Clickbank

Browse Products

The first step is to start looking for products. You can do this by either navigating the categories page or searching by keyword in the search bar. Try using a number of different search terms if you are using the search bar.

Review Products

The products will be listed in the center of the page. You will want to look at the different statistics to get an idea which products are a good fit for your blog. These are the stats that you need to look at:

Easy Video Suite

  • Product price and commission. The listing should list both the amount of money that you can make on a sale and the percentage commission of the total sales price. You will want to also pay close attention to the cost of the product to ensure it is within your readers’ budgets.
  • The gravity weight. This is a measure of the number of affiliates that have earned a commission promoting the product in the last 12 weeks. Most experts recommend promoting products with a gravity weight of 20-100, because they are clearly products that customers are willing to purchase. However, it is a good idea to track the gravity of a product over time, because it can drop sharply if the market is saturated or many dissatisfied customers return it.
  • Average % rebill. This figure tells you how much money you can make off a product if people continue to renew it. Find out what the cost of renewal is to estimate the total commission that you would receive.

You should always check the merchant’s site first to learn more about the product. You don’t want to promote it unless you are confident the product looks useful and the merchant seems credible.

Look for Other Affiliates in Your Niche

You can also find great affiliate products from your competition. Finding other affiliates will require a lot more research. Here are some ways that you can find competitors and start promoting their products. Over half of affiliates promote at least a few products, so you should be able to find a few good products by looking at their sites.

When you find other affiliate sites, you should avoid clicking the links to the merchants. It is better to navigate to the merchant site on your own, because the affiliate may be part of a multiple tier affiliate program which means that you will earn lower referrals if you visit the site through their referral link.

Search for Disclosure Pages

A simple Google search may help you find affiliates. The FTC requires all affiliates to disclose that they are paid commissions for their sales. You may be able to find the disclosure pages for sites on Google.  Here are some search terms you may try:

  • +niche disclosure
  • +niche “affiliate links”
  • +niche “affiliate disclosure”

Not all affiliates living in the United States abide by FTC laws and some are based outside of the U.S. so they may not be required to have such a page. Therefore, you won’t be able to find all of your competitors this way, but it is a good place to start.

Search for Reviews

Many affiliates also write reviews about the products that they promote. You can find their review pages with another simple Google search:

  • +merchant name +review

Once you find the review page, you can start looking at the other pages on the site. You will probably find a number of other affiliate products to promote.

Backlink Analysis on Merchants

You may also want to look at the sites that link to the merchant’s homepage. Many of them will include the affiliates that you are trying to promote. Here are some tools that you may want to use:

  • Analyze Back Links
  • BackLinkWatch
  • OpenSiteExplorer
  • Link Diagnosis

Some of these tools limit the number of backlinks that you can analyze unless you provide a free trial. However, even the free trial can give you a list of a number of great sites worth checking out. You can easily find out which ones are other affiliates.

Look at Individual Companies

You may also want to look at individual companies in your niche. Many of them may have affiliate programs. There are a couple of ways that you can look for them:

  • Conduct a Google search using key terms such as “join our affiliate program +niche”
  • Look at ads in Google. Many companies that purchase Adsense ads also create their own affiliate programs.
  • Email companies in your niche that may be interested in having affiliate programs. Some of them don’t advertise these programs and they are by invitation only. However, they may be inclined to work with you if you have a great niche blog with plenty of traffic.

Contacting companies in your niche will take more work. However, it could open the doors to a number of great programs that your competitors haven’t discovered.

What Should You Look for in an Affiliate Product?

There are tens of thousands of affiliate products and services that you can promote. However, finding products that are worth promoting is a bit more difficult. Every product you promote needs to meet the following characteristics:

Product Meets the Needs of Your Readers

Do you buy products that you don’t serve any purpose? I didn’t think so. Your prospective customers won’t either. You will need to find affiliate products that meet a need.

You need to make sure that any products you promote complement the niche of your blog. Sometimes it is easy to know if the product is a good fit for your site. Any affiliate worth his salt knows there is no point trying to promote a lawnmower on a dieting site.

However, there are times when it is a bit harder to tell. Your blog may have evolved into something that is much different than what you envisioned it. One blogger I know once created a blog for young entrepreneurs but eventually changed the theme to writing tips. He made the change because his readers expressed that they were much more interested in learning to write than starting a new venture. He wouldn’t have been able to promote startup resources to them even though that is what he initially intended.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you any surefire tips for choosing affiliate products that your readers will want. You are the only one that knows the people that read your blog. The best advice I can give is to engage with them to learn what types of things they are interested in. You don’t want to ask them what products you should try selling to them, but you can figure out what makes them tick and what needs they need to meet.

Merchant Seems Trustworthy

People are very skeptical about products that they buy online. They are also skeptical of affiliate marketers. You will need to make sure that you only promote products that are promoted by honest merchants. The product needs to deliver on its promises or people won’t purchase it.

This is a very important point to keep in mind. Your credibility as a blogger is at stake. If you promote products that turn out to be garbage then your readers will stop trusting you. I would recommend the following:

  • Look for testimonials from previous customers. Make sure the testimonials look like they are written by real customers.
  • Do a quick Google search to see if anyone has complained about the product.
  • Consider buying a copy of the product and give it a try yourself. I started off doing affiliate marketing by promoting products that I had already tried, because I knew other buyers would be just as satisfied with them as me.

Unfortunately, if there are too many reviews then it may mean the market may be saturated and you may be entering too late in the game. However, it is safest to look for products that have some positive reviews before attaching your reputation to them.

It can be harder to tell if a new product meets these criteria if many customers haven’t purchased it yet. You might want to find out if the merchant has created any other products in the past. If they created great products in the past then the new product may be good too. However, you should probably pass on the product if nobody has purchased the product before or heard of the merchant.

Design Elements that Kill a Blog & How to Fix Them

The death of a blog is a sad thing to witness. Strangled by pervasive advertisements, bludgeoned by the overuse of pop-ups, and drowned in huge blocks of text, too many good blogs are found wanting.

Many bloggers believe incredible content overshadows design, but it’s actually quite opposite–bad design overshadows good content, every time.

Does this mean you must create or invest in a dazzling web design? Not necessarily. I find that the best design is often quiet usability, where your blog design anticipates the reader’s needs and quickly serves them. The main function of content is serving readers. This is also true for design elements like search boxes, about me pages, and footer navigation. Creating a clean and usable blog will do three things: highlight your content, keep readers on your site longer, and prop you up as a professional.

Let’s take a look at how to improve your blog with design elements. First, we’ll look at what to avoid:

What to Avoid

1. Too Many Fonts

I’m a fontophile, and feel about fonts how most women feel about shoes. I understand how easy it is to get carried away with fonts, but it’s important to restrain yourself. Using too many fonts in your design will cause eye fatigue. When visitors tire of adjusting to each font on your page, they’ll simply click away.

Instead, utilize two fonts on your page, maybe three, if you include a specialized logo. Find web-safe fonts that are quickly loaded on every browser. Stay away from scripts or handwriting fonts, though. Large type is preferable–stick for size 14 or even larger. No one should be squinting to read your blog.

2. Too many ads

Advertisements fuel a lot of blogs, but there must be a delicate balance in your monetization. You rely on readers clicking your ads, but you don’t want to bombard them with too many ads. In my very humble opinion, in-text advertising is unadulterated evil. An ad-heavy blog comes across as scammy.

Instead, be choosy about the ads you sell on your blog. Don’t attach ads to every element on your blog, like text or images. Rather, place ads on the sidebar, but not both sidebars. Choose one, preferably the right side.

3. Big Blocks of Text

Big Block Of Text

It’s a sad fact that many readers will not hang on to your every word. Because of this, blog posts should be scannable. Break up texts into digestible bites. Forget the rules of grammar–it’s okay to have only two sentences in a paragraph. (I’m sorry, Mrs. Anderson.)

To further improve readability, incorporate bullets or numbered lists.

4. Pop-Ups!

Few things are more annoying than pop-ups. Pop-ups were almost beaten into submission a few years ago, only to make a roaring resurgence in 2013. Although everyone is doing it doesn’t mean that you should do it. Readers are immediately turned off by pop-ups.

But, how do you inform visitors of your wonderful, resourceful newsletter? There are better ways; we’ll cover this in the second half of this article.

5. Auto-Play Music

Autoplay Music

Yes. This is still a thing. Auto-Play music is akin to a person who, while hiding from a crazed murderer, accidentally coughs. That murderer will hunt down said person. I feel that way when a site I’ve just opened automatically starts playing music. There’s no greater satisfaction than closing down that tab.

6. Captcha

The use of captcha has killed more blogs than the prior 5 elements combined. Captcha does an excellent job of keeping bots away, but it has the same effect on humans. Captchas are difficult to decode (or maybe I’m the only one who must re-attempt a minimum of 5 fives). Whenever I see a captcha as a comment requirement, I just skip the comment. Avoid this happening to your blog. Comments breathe life into blogs.

What to Include

1. Responsive Design

Mobile Responsive Design

Is your blog easily readable by mobile devices? If not, that’s your most important mission. With almost a billion smartphones in service, a sixth of the world’s population has mobile access to your blog. How will you serve them?

By implementing a responsive design that works on whatever platform used by your blog visitors, you will improve your usability and visitor retention.

2. A Tagline

tagline

Not everyone who arrives on your blog will know what it’s about. This is your opportunity to evangelize your brand. A tagline defines what your blog is about in one simple sentence. It should go underneath or close to your logo.

3. Start Here Page

starthere

When a first-time visitor arrives at your site, disillusioned and scared, don’t let them wander around aimlessly, hoping that they find what they’re looking for. A “Start Here” page guides visitors to your best blog posts, and informs them of how awesome you are.

Closely associated to the “Start Here” page is the “Top Posts” in the sidebar widget. Do both for maximum benefit. Showcasing your best, or most popular blog posts will only increase their popularity.

4. About Me Page

about

An “About Me” page is crucial to any design. It may be difficult to write your own bio, but it’s important to put a personal touch on what is often an impersonal experience. On your “About Me” page, share who you are, why you blog, and where you can be reached. Be sure to include your email or a contact form (even if you have a contact me page), as well as your social media links.

A lovely bonus is having a picture of yourself. It lends credibility to your site. Even better, include an introductory video of yourself. It really makes you appear trustworthy.

5. Footer Navigation

footer

After I’ve scrolled through your posts, the last thing I want to do is scroll back up to find your menu navigation. Add navigation to your footer, as well.

You can also add a contact form to your footer, as an easy way to reach you, without forcing the visitor to take extra clicks.

6. White Space

whitespace

You need a lot of white space. And white space is not necessarily “white.” It can be any color, as long as it’s devoid of words and pictures. The emptiness of white space gives respite to the eyes.

7. Call-to-Action

call-to-action

In Things to Avoid, we briefly discussed the evil that is pop-up advertisements. Now, we discuss what to use instead: header calls-to-action. If you are advertising your eBook or newsletter, the most unobtrusive, yet effective way to do that is by placing an opt-in header at the top of your blog. It’s infinitely better than pop-ups–I immediately click away a pop-up, without even reading it. I will linger at the top of the page to read any important updates. It’s prime real-estate.

Another great place to put a call-to-action is at the footer, to remind readers who have just finished reading your content.

8. Search Box

search-box

Search boxes are necessary, and should be prominently displayed near the top of your blog. Readers want to be able to track down information quickly and effectively. If you do not have a search box, it’s hurting your usability.

9. Amazing Images

photo

Approximately 65% of the population are visual learners. This means your blog must include something to stimulate the optical nerves. Fortunately, great resources abound; many of them are free. Allow pictures to craft your story.

10. Use Thumbnail Links Whenever Possible

links

It is always possible. In conjunction with the above, use thumbnail links to related topics at the end of your blog posts. Readers are very likely to click these links, enticed by the related material and the pretty pictures.

In Summary

Good design is about what you include and also what you exclude. It takes effort to avoid the minefields that many bloggers have fallen victim to. Creating a balanced design that’s classic, but also fresh, starts by treating readers as king, content as faithful servants, and design as the castle.

What are your least favorite design elements?

Grow Your Blog’s Traffic With These “Off The Beaten Path” Ideas

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve probably tried some of the traditional marketing methods out there, such as  advertising on various sites. However, by keeping an open mind to “off the beaten path” marketing ideas to grow your blog traffic, you can generate more blog traffic and build a blog brand’s credibility even faster with less competition. Another advantage to marketing in unusual places is that you will reach customers you might not come across in other forums and get a leg up on your competition, who may not have a presence in this out-of-the-way  online venues.

Breaking New Ground

When you’re ready to add some test markets to your promotional plan, there are a handful of unique promotions that you’ll want to start with. These sites and methods get high traffic and have been successful for other entrepreneurs.

SlideShare

According to SlideShare, about 3 billion slides per month are viewed on this website. That breaks down into 1,140 views per second. The majority audience at SlideShare is made up of professionals, such as business owners and executives. If your blog is one that would appeal to this demographic, then creating a slide or two on topics you’re an expert in can be a good way to introduce your business to new people.

The slideshows are similar in nature to a Power Point presentation. In fact, if you create a slideshow in Power Point, you can then upload it to SlideShare and allow it to serve a dual purpose. The site is different than other social media networks, because it is less interactive. However, it is very informational, so you can teach people about what you do in a fun way.

As a blogger, you’re probably aware that Google’s algorithms have changed drastically in the last couple of years. The new Google appears to favor information that has high value and is quick and easy to read. SlideShare covers both of these requirements, so the site ranks well with Google’s search engines. This means that your slideshow may rank better on this site and you’ll get more browser mileage out posting a slideshow here than you might elsewhere.

You will want to make a couple of changes to get the most traffic possible from your posted slideshow. Most importantly, you’ll want to add a clickable hyperlink to your website at the end of the slideshow. You’ll also want to use the embed feature to embed the slideshow onto your own website.

Pinterest

You likely already have a presence for your business on Twitter due to the massive numbers of visitors using the site. According to Pew Internet Research in their Social Networking Use report (May, 2013), about 18% of online adults use Twitter. However, Pinterest is within reach of Twitter’s coat tails at 15%.

With that many people actively using this interesting website, this can be one place where your blog can have a presence and reach new users that the competition may have overlooked. Pew states that 68.2% of the users on the site are women. If your blog would be of interest to women, then this site may be of particular interest to you.

The site is driven by images. Most people going to Pinterest are looking for crafts, recipes and interesting sayings that they can then share on other social media networks or save on “pin” on their boards to share with friends on Pinterest or use later. To take advantage of this site, you might want to:

  • Create some motivational quotes and combine them with beautiful background images.
  • Come up with a how-to article that relates to your blog’s theme and share it on Pinterest.
  • Offer a recipe each week that ties into your blog. For example, if you write a blog with golfing tips, you could create a recipe called “Golf Day Stew” that golfers could allow to cook in a crock pot while out golfing.

When it comes to Pinterest, if your blog doesn’t naturally fit into the crafting and recipe type format, you may have to think outside the box a little to come up with a way to reach new customers through this format.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging isn’t exactly a new idea. However, you can take this concept off your typical course and reach out to new markets. What businesses are related to yours that are not competition? For example, if you write a wedding planning blog, can you guest blog on sites about floral arrangements, shoes, cake decorating and photography? Think about topics you can write for each of these types of blogs that would tie into what you’re already doing but still be unique. Example, you could write an article about simple floral arrangements for a country themed outdoor wedding for the floral arrangements site and an article about choosing the best photographer for your wedding for the photography site.

Another unique concept is to create a “blog tour” that lasts 30 days. You will need to find 30 blog owners willing to let you guest blog and come up with 30 unique posts.

You may feel a little uncertain about guest blogging. After all, Matt Cutts, Google Spokesperson, recently stated that using guest blogging to drive traffic to your site could potentially hurt your overall ranking. However, if you seek out quality blogs and provide quality content, you will gain new visitors through these posts. So, it just depends on what your overall goal is. Keep in mind that Google doesn’t like backlinks just for the sake of backlinking. Make sure you choose quality websites to guest blog on and that you only link to your own site once, if it even makes sense to do so.

There may even be occasions where you guest blog simply to increase name and brand recognition and don’t include a link back to your site at all. The choice is yours. The important thing is to be smart about making those choices. Stay away from ad-heavy blogs that might be flagged as spam sites or take a hit from Google. It is important which sites you link to or that link to you with new Google algorithm changes, so just be aware and make linking decisions accordingly.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is one of those sites that pulls up in Google often. You’ve probably noticed it when you’ve searched for various terms. It holds prime real estate value. It would be nice to get a piece of the 116,835,000 visitors it claims. However, Wikipedia is tricky. If you go over there and start adding links to your own site in the hopes of getting visitors from them, you’re likely to get pinged by Wikipedia editors and blocked from the site.

Essentially, you have to spend a little time and get involved on Wikipedia. Talk to others in the community. Edit articles without any self-interest and without adding your own link. It’s smart to stick to educational and government resources when doing this as they are seen as extremely credible. You can thus establish yourself as an authority on your topic and someone else in the community may begin to use your articles as references.

This process can take time, so this isn’t a quick fix to get on Wikipedia. However, having just one article linked to on there can help your website traffic increase.

Liveblogging

Liveblogging events has taken on a life of its own. Nielson announced that during the 2013 Super Bowl 26.1 million tweets were posted. The year before it was around 13 million. There is a definite uptick in the number of people micro-blogging about an event as that event goes on. However, your blog can take advantage of the popularity of this trend in a number of ways.

  • Install a live feed on your own website with WordPress plugin LiveBlog.
  • Place a feed in your sidebar and utilize a service like Feedjit.
  • Use Pirate Pad and invite your customers to get involved in reporting on the event.
  • Host an event, such as a guest speaker, and then live blog about that event on Twitter.

The other thing you’ll want to do is try to find an event that makes sense for the theme of your own blog. For example, if you blog about daily soaps, then liveblog about the Daytime Emmy Awards. You may even want to line up an interview or two ahead of time with some of the newer stars on daytime soaps and include a link to those posts within your liveblogging feed.

Become a Trend Watcher

Ultimately, to benefit from ideas out of the norm, you have to become a bit of a trend watcher. What are the latest social media sites people in the age demographic you are targeting are frequenting? For example, if you are targeting readers in their teens and early 20s, Instagram seems to be a favorite. How can your site get involved there and gain a following?

On the other hand, if your demographic is senior citizens, you’ll want to seek out what is trending in that age group. What current topics are of concern to seniors and how can you tap into that with your blog marketing?

Be open to new ideas. Pay attention to what other blog owners are doing as well as what they aren’t yet doing. Be a trend watcher, so you can become a trend setter with your marketing plan and forge a new path that puts you ahead of your competition.

 

20 Ways to Start a Blog Comment Feeding Frenzy

The Internet is awash in a sea of blogs – 31 million to be exact – with every blogger vying to be first; the first to be read, the first to be ranked by the search engines and the first to receive a slew of blog comments. It’s the latter that you should be concerned with. A blog that has a list of strong comments in the comments section will always be seen as the more popular one among readers. After all, the average reader can’t tell at a single glance how much traffic you’re generating or how extensive your social reach happens to be. They can only determine popularity by the amounts of quality blog comments you receive. If you can think of the blogosphere as an ocean, you’re about to learn how to go hunting for sharks. Sharks, in this case, indicate strong commenters that actually have something to say and that actually add value to your blog. When you write a blog and proverbially cast your line into the deep abyss of blog readership, you shouldn’t be satisfied with a nibble or even a bite. Oh, no. When you want blog domination, you should only be content by starting a blog comment feeding frenzy with every blog you write. Here are 20 ways to do just that.

Run a Tight Ship

Before you can hope to attract a herd of voracious sharks to your blog, tighten up your ship. In other words, optimize your blog to make the chances of a blog comment feeding frenzy more likely to occur.

  1. Engaging Titles: Get in the habit of crafting titles that cause your readers to whip their heads in your direction. Be concise, use keywords where appropriate and use powerful language that effectively steals readers from your competitors.
  2. Fresh & Regular Content: Tom Demers, founder of Measured SEM, recommends that you post at least two to three blogs per week for best results. The more posts you have under your belt, the more comments you are likely to receive with each post.
  3. Make it Easy to Comment: Test your blog out by leaving a comment of your own. If you encounter obstacles, fix them now before you hinder any strong commenters in the near future.
  4. Provide Excellent & Sometimes Weird Content:  Your blogs should have something to say, they should have a clear direction and should seek to inform, educate or at least entertain with every post. Whatever you do, strive to be different. Don’t be a cookie cutter blogger. Stand out and the comments will come.
  5. Set Comment Alerts: Modify your blog settings so that you are notified whenever a new comment comes in. We will get to why in a moment.
  6. Have a Good Time: Srinivas Rao, co-founder of BlogcastFM, says that you should always strive to have fun when you blog. The more fun you have, the more your blogs will resonate with your audience and the more comments you are sure to receive.

Cast a Strong Line

Your blog is now optimized and you have the proper bait in place. Now it’s time to cast your line and hope for the best.

  1. Leave Something for Readers to Add: When you write your blogs, don’t be so thorough that your readers have nothing to add to the conversation. Purposefully leave a void that your readership can fill.
  2. Ask a Question or For Readers’ Opinions: The blogs that receive the most comments tend to be the ones that actually ask for them. Urge your readers to participate and they most likely will.
  3. Share the Comment-Wealth: You’ve heard of the commonwealth? Well, this is the comment-wealth. Pass it around. Find other bloggers in your field and leave meaningful comments that are sure to get noticed by the blogger and his/her loyal readers. The more comments you leave, the higher the likelihood of you receiving comments in return.

Clean Up the Water

To attract more sharks, you need to keep the water spotless.

  1. Cut the Spam: Use plugins like Akismet or other means to keep spam to a minimum. The less spam you have, the more quality comments you will receive.
  2. Don’t Restrict Comments, Monitor Them: The more restrictions you place on your commenting system and the more hoops you force your readers to jump through to add to the conversation, the fewer comments you are likely to receive. Instead of restricting comments, monitor them (here is where blog alerts come in handy) to get rid of any useless comments that aren’t detected by the anti-spam system you have in place.

Add Some Chum

Now it’s time to add some delectable morsels to the water to really draw the sharks in.

  1. Extend Your Social Reach: Use as many social networks as possible to advertise your blog. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and even YouTube are all possibilities. The Internet is vast and only social networking will help you reach all four corners of it.
  2. Email Marketing: Start an email list so that you can blast out notifications of your blogs with every post you publish online.
  3. Friends, Family & Associates: Ask those within your immediate network to leave the first comments to start things off and get the party started.

The Smell of Blood

Here’s how to add a drop or two of blood to the water, which they say sharks can detect from up to a mile away.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid of Controversy: Don’t always try to agree with everyone, as that makes for a very boring blog. Instead, look forward to opportunities that have you going against public opinion. You may appreciate the outcomes.
  2. Reply to the Best Comments: Blog commenters like to know that their comments are making a difference. Respond to the best comments you receive and let your readers know that you value their viewpoints.
  3. Ask Questions in Your Replies: While you’re responding to comments, ask questions and encourage more readers to relay their thoughts on the subject at hand.
  4. Make Posts About the Best Comments: Reward your best commenters by crafting entire blog posts based on their views. This will encourage more commenters to participate as they all vie to be the next one to act as inspiration for a future release.
  5. Polls & Contests: Most everyone on this planet has two things in common: they love to give their opinions and they love to win free stuff. Use human nature to your advantage by using two of the best comment enticers – polls and contests – whenever possible.
  6. Show & Tell: John Chow, blogger and entrepreneur, says that, “Blogging is about forming relationships.” To attract more comments to your blog and to start a feeding frenzy, really get to know your readers in the comments section. Share your stories and encourage your readers to do the same. The more can you make your blog seem like a one-on-one conversation between you and your readers, the more loyal your readers will become and the more comments they will leave behind.

Are You Prepared for a Blog Comment Feeding Frenzy?

You could put all the above tips into practice and your blog still might fizzle out if you’re not keeping on top of all the quality comments that come in. On the other hand, if you do all of the above, if you optimize your blog, cast a strong line, add some chum to the water and a little drop of blood here and there; you are sure to experience a blog comment feeding frenzy the likes you’ve never seen. When that happens, to paraphrase the words of police chief Martin Brody in the movie Jaws, “You’re gonna need a bigger blog.”

5 Things to Include In Every Blog Post

Blogging is a great way to get to know your audience.  It puts you directly into contact with them.  It provides you with an opportunity to explain, in detail, the products and services your business offers.  It gives you the chance to give a voice to your blog, answer questions, and address some of the concerns your customers might face in their day-to-day lives.

You know what makes Seth Godin’s blog readable?  His posts are short and sweet yet they cause you to question yourself and the world around you.  If in four paragraphs, the best-selling author can make you think, why do you need 1,000 words to get your message across?

Blog writing is not black or white.  There is a lot of grey area to address and this largely depends on the audience you’re catering to.  You can’t write for twenty-something computer programmers and expect forty-year-old housewives with college-aged children to respond the same way.  Know your audience before writing a single post.  It will help you move forward in the right direction.

Good Content Adds Value to Your Blog and Website

With that being said, there’s a distinct difference between good content and bad content.  Good content adds value to an experience.  Bad content aims to please no one.  It simply exists as a way of tricking the search engines into thinking it’s something worth reading.  For a long time, bad content slipped through the cracks and jammed up the Internet superhighway before it was discovered.

Cracking down on blog writer violators wasn’t as easy as first thought.  After all, there are scores of people who know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and try as they might to punish the repeat offenders, Google was very unsuccessful.  A number of changes are in place to prevent bad content from flooding the web yet again.  One of the most obvious is Google’s removal of its free keyword tool.  If you want to access it, you need an Adwords account.

Know Your Audience

When writing blog posts for your company website, there are a number of different things to consider.  First and foremost, what is the point behind your blog?  Is it to gain new customers or to show the customers that you have new ways of using your products and services?  Is it to educate, entertain, gain support or a little of each?

Who is your audience?  What type of people purchase your products or services?  How do they get their information?  From your blog, through your social media accounts or do they take something away with them each time they visit both?

Anatomy of a Killer Post – 5 Things to Include In Every Blog Post

Have you ever wondered why some bloggers have such a big following?  It’s because they follow a simple formula for creating killer content.  That, and they’re consistent.  They update the blog regularly and they constantly engage their audience through meaningful social media posts.

These 5 things should be included in every blog post:

  1. An attention-grabbing title.  Think of the title of each blog entry as your “book jacket”.  People will determine whether or not your blog is worth reading in a matter of seconds.  If the title is blasé, your bounce rate is going to be high and your retention rate is going to be low.  It’s hard to win over a reader after they’ve decided that your blog is useless to them.
  2. A high quality, relevant photo.  You don’t have to post a picture under every paragraph but you should at minimum have a least one to two photos per blog post.  If you take them yourself, you get bonus points.  If you don’t possess any camera skills, you can always purchase images from a stock photography website like Shutterstock or Dreamstime.
  3. A hook that captivates the audience.  So much content is recycled that you have to approach subjects in a fresh and exciting way.  How will you grab the interest of your readers?  Will you share a personal story with them?  Will you speak out on a controversial subject?  What makes you different is what makes you interesting.  Don’t write for the sake of writing.  Write as a way to express yourself and the ideologies that you and your company believe in.  Write to stay on top of current events.  Write to address customer questions and concerns.
  4. Headers, subheaders, and bulleted or numbered lists.  Scrolling through paragraph after paragraph of blocky text is annoying.  No one in their right mind will spend time reading your blogs if they don’t have some type of formatting.  Headers, subheaders, and lists give readers a break from the monotony of text.  It also allows them to quickly scan the blog for the information that they need quickly and effectively.  Everyone loves a list so include one whenever possible.
  5. Links to authoritative websites.  If you refer to another website in your post, make sure to link to it.  You can set it up so that your reader never leaves your page.  Instead, the link opens in another window.  Find out who pulls weight in the industry you’re writing for.  Link to their website.  They may reward you by doing the same on their website.  If you’re known for great content, no matter how old your blog is, you’ll start to see people visiting from other sites.  Take advantage of this as much as possible.  It’s like guest blogging without needing to write a word.

Your blog doesn’t need to be updated several times daily to be effective.  Think about it.  Quality trumps quantity every day of the week.  Write shareworthy posts and you’ll get the traffic you need to your website.  People will want to know what you have to say.  They’ll look forward to reading your blog.

Follow the simple formula listed above to write blog posts that promote your business.  You’ll be astounded at how quickly you’ll build a following.  Whatever the objective is for your blog, you’ll achieve it successfully in very little time by following the advice listed above.

From Day Job To Traveling The World In The Name Of Blogging – How Blogging Changed My Life

“Who would be stupid enough to do THAT? Wait, so what is Bull Poker again?”

I couldn’t help but think this sounded awesome. Four people sitting around a small card table in an arena, when a mad bull is let in. The last person out of their seat wins.

You can read about that on my blog, along with many of my other adventures, marketing ideas, and whatever else crosses my mind. A blog lets you share whatever you want, but did you know it could also change your life completely?

Here’s how blogging changed my life.

Inspiration Flashback

I was a photographer living in Fort Lauderdale, but the beach high-rise and flexible schedule weren’t doing it for me. My friends weren’t as entrepreneurial as I was, so they couldn’t just take off to go to Disney in the middle of the week.

I decided to move… but I didn’t know where. A friend suggested Los Angeles, as my style of photos would go a long way there, and he suggested that I crash on a mutual friend’s couch.

BOOM. It hit me! Why not just move to LA? Why not see everywhere, and then decide where to live. There are people with couches everywhere, and thus, my blog idea had transpired.

Benefits of Blogging as a Couch Surfer

Taking Couch Surfing Seriously

I realized that my life is a story, and that my blog was a great way to tell that story—good, bad or indifferent. It was also a way to make a bit of extra income through affiliate offers.

On top of that, a blog provides access to anything. As a photographer, I had press passes—a magic card that gets you into concerts, fashion shows, or parties at the Versace mansion. My blog was the same.

I would reach out to people as a blogger, tell them about my couchsurfing project, and ask if I could crash on their couch and interview them.

Don’t like staying on couches? First, consider this: People that you would normally have to pay $10,000-$20,000 a day to get part of their day, were granting me access with them for days or weeks at a time, at no cost. People like Perry Belcher, Tony Hsieh, Matt Bacak, Jason Moffatt, and many more opened their doors (and couch) to me.

I’m not telling you to go play bull poker, or sell your belongings and go on the road (though, it is very liberating, and makes you discover a lot about life), but you can blog. And you can leverage the fact that you have a blog!

Building a Reputation, and Other Lessons

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It was through blogging and during my journey that I built my reputation by attending conferences. I highly recommend going out there and meeting people in person. A blog is a great place to start, but meeting people face-to-face really strengthens those relationships.

Learning is another game changer. With six years of couchsurfing, I spent my driving time listening to audio books (and don’t forget all the stuff you’ll learn at those conferences). With all this info, people thought I was smart.

Want a cool way to build authority, help people, grow your brand, and get smarter?

Learn…then teach what you learned, then blog about it.

A Blog Business

Because of my blog, my unique stories, and my sharing of information, I had many people hire me for various projects.

Eventually I got fed up with projects, because my lifestyle was too important to me, and they were a distraction from it.  So, rather than making websites, or copywriting, or creating graphics, I applied all the things I learned, and did it for myself.

I made my own product, Make WordPress Easy, which teaches people how to set up and run their own blogs and websites (with a focus on ease), and my course got so big that I needed to settle down to work on it.

So, bringing it full circle—I started my 6-year journey to figure out where to live next… So I chose Austin, Texas.

Pointers for Success…for Your Blog (and Life)

Take chances. If you’re writing and saying what everyone else is, you’re boring.

Follow your passion. Most people’s lives are boring (to them). They crave authenticity and passion, which you can provide. Do what you care about, and share it with the world. You will also attract like-minded people.

Be yourself. Be loud, be expressive, and write in your voice. This is YOUR blog, don’t be shy! This isn’t a job where you have to wear a tie, and be polite. Write as if you’re talking to your best bud, and you’re catching up.

Don’t be afraid to share the real deal. Most people try to hide what’s going on in their private lives, but that is the interesting stuff. What are movies about? The real stuff that happens.

Your life is a book—write it in your blog. If your story ended today, would you be ok with that? If not, start making the choices that will make for a more interesting story, and it will write itself.

Comment on other people’s blogs. Authentic writing comes from the heart, and it’s nice to know that someone’s read what we wrote. And guess what? It’s karma; they’ll often come back and read your stuff too.

Go out there, blog, and be yourself. If you’re not sure exactly who that is, even better. Go discover yourself, and blog about it. It will change your life.

How are you changing your life through your blog? Let me know in the comments below.