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NMX Hanging Out & Discussing Podcasting with Rich Brooks, John Lee Dumas & Chris Christensen

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Rich Brooks giving podcasting tips on a Google Hangout

Our first ‘official’ Google Hangout On Air was streamed live on November 21st , 2013. NMX’s own Coach Deb Cole had a lively and fun interaction with Rich BrooksJohn Lee Dumas and Chris Christensen in which the audience received an abundance of podcasting tips from these pro’s. There was a vibrant sharing atmosphere within which host Coach Deb, Rich, John & Chris clearly broke down and explained their creative approaches to the adventure of podcasting.

Podcasting Pro’s

Rich Brooks hosts the Agent Of Change (AOC) in Maine, which is a growing event for digital marketers creating buzz reverberating far from the North East coast. Rich has the legendary status of attending every single NMX / Blog World and has a long standing professional relationship with us all.

John Lee Dumas is the recognizable voice behind Entrepreneur On Fire, where he interviews a different business owner every single day.

Chris Christensen of AmateurTraveler has received a million travel podcasts downloads per year. Impressive!

Coach Deb and her Hangout buddies started out discussing how Rich landed his college course teaching gig, and how this led to other opportunities. Chris also teaches at his local community college, a role he got after successfully pitching the idea to them. The conversation was geared to inspiring listeners to pursue similar teaching positions if qualified.

John Lee expressed excitement to be speaking at NMX in Vegas about acquiring a massive podcasting following. Chris is looking forward to spending time with peers sharing ideas and new information, and he also stressed the importance of tapping into the community to get a feel for what content they seek. Rich’s NMX presentation will revolve around using social media to generate leads and make money for your business – be driving traffic and then converting them to customers.

Monetizing Blogging & Podcasts

Questions came in from the viewing audience asking if the panel felt it OK to make money as a blogger. John explained how the blogger passion carries over through every step of the process including building the audience and then monetizing that through multiple streams – connecting content with the best following to benefit everyone.

Rich added how much he loves running a small business and interacting with his clients in the rural setting of beautiful coastal Maine. He monetizes in different ways, by bringing in leads effectively, and can do this from the small area he chooses to live.

Chris told a story demonstrating that in 2005 bloggers & podcasters were very turned off by the premise of making money from their passion. For him, it is still a labor of love, and his income comes from other internet activities that offshoot from his podcasting.

NMX & The Media Revolution

The podcasting participants then looked into the future, discussing how new car technology will bring easy dashboard access to content, and how that will change the entire landscape of podcasts, and possibly make them the ‘go to’ car trip activity!

The Media Revolution is on – said Coach Deb, and this informative and spirited Google Hangout On Air opens the door for the viewers to see through the eyes of these inspirational content creators and digital marketers.

Rich, John, and Chris are all speaking at NMX in January. If you haven’t reserved your seat yet, make sure to do so now! Use the code LOYAL20 for 20% off y our ticket.

Four Ways Service Businesses Can Stand Out This Holiday Season

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bigstock-businessman-creative-design-39173434 Christmas Creep started even earlier this year (was it my imagination or did I see ads before Halloween?). For retail owners—both brick and mortar and online—the pressure is amped up to get in the holiday spirit, rack up sales, give deep discounts, and plaster their real and virtual storefronts with holiday decorations. But for professional services and consulting businesses, it’s a different time of year: distributing cards and gifts to clients while phone calls and emails slow down, filing more—in other words it’s low season.

Fortunately there are many ways you can stay on your customers’ radar, show appreciation for their patronage, and leave a lasting impression to start 2014 off right. So get going now with ideas from real people in the service business trenches.

Fill Someone Else’s Pockets, Not Your Own

The holiday season is a popular time for people to give back—whether donating food to shelters, taking part in a coat drive, or giving to a favorite charity. For service businesses, think about tying that donation to a meaningful cause in your industry. For example, Forward Push Media came up with a promotion for a client who does prenatal chiropractic treatments: the company is taking online donations through the season to help out moms-to-be facing financial hardships; the perfect outreach for staying true to the brand while giving back to the community.

Your Blog Can Be A Gift (Really)

Your blog is a great tool for your business year-round, but the holidays present more personal opportunities to detour from business as usual, throw in some creativity and spice, and yes, everything nice. Add to that, you can use time you’d normally allocate for follow-up calls to connect with your clients in a different way.

For example, tell a personal story that inspires you—it doesn’t need to be work-related but should remind readers of the season or what’s important in life; do a funny year-in-review, or post predictions that you hope don’t happen in 2014; think up an evergreen post that’s good all year long, such as tax deadlines if you’re an accountant, or the best months to buy furniture if you’re an interior designer. And remember, your blog doesn’t have to be written: It can be a short, crisp video (or depending on your audience, use super-hot Snapchat‘s new “Stories” feature for a holiday greeting that hang around for 24 hours).

Invite Clients “Over”

When we think of service businesses, some people envision slaving away in their PJs or crammed in a teeny cubbyhole, but this is not always the case by a long shot. Many professionals have offices with multiple employees scurrying about. That said, you won’t witness a “50% off” sign in the window. All the more reason to invite customers to your place of business during the holidays. And you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg; if you have a great idea and you promote it, they will come.

Just ask Carla Higgins, a real estate agent with Grubb and Co. For their wildly popular annual holiday promotion, Santa Claus makes an appearance at the office to entertain clients and their families, while treats are served. Mona Koussa of ehomesurf is inviting clients and prospects to the office parking lot for a “Shredding Event”. A mobile, environmentally-friendly truck will destroy confidential documents and guests can nibble on sticky buns and drink hot chocolate all the while. Plus mortgage- and real estate-related vendors will be on hand to answer questions—nice touch.

Embrace Your Inner Black Friday

When it comes to promoting, there’s no reason you can’t turn up the volume and play like the big-box retailers who thrive during the season: From having a one-day “flash sale” on your priciest services to free add-ons for 2014. Your only barrier is imagination (plus your time and ability to do the work).

This time of year, Diane Shapiro Sommerfield, a social media marketing consultant, offers 25 percent off her normal price for a new client package, which range from kick-starting a social media program to a facelift on clients’ current social networks.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on the holiday season. Are you now spurred to come up with a promotion of your own? Well tick-tock!

Editor’s note: Stay tuned! NMX will be featuring our very own holiday promotion, the 12 Days of Giveaways, where we’ll be giving away tons of freebies starting in mid-December. Want an email when the 12 Days of Giveaways starts? Make sure you are signed up to our newsletter list on the sidebar!

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20 Brilliant Bloggers Talk about Becoming an Authority

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Becoming an Authority

Your perceived authority on a topic can drastically effect your online business, and that might be the understatement of the year. Someone who is perceived as an expert will make more sales, find more readers, and be able to more easily grow. On the other hand, someone who is perceived as being a novice or – worse – a scammer will find it hard to continue to grow online.

So how do you brand yourself as an authority on a topic, especially when you’re blogging or building a business in a crowded niche? Check out what our Brilliant Bloggers have to say on this topi!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

bonnie andrews Become An Authority: 3 Ways to Take Blogging from Hobby to Hot in 30 Days or Less by Bonnie Andrews

“Becoming an authority is a choice, not an appointment. That is the real secret. No one is going to give it to you. No one can nominate you as an authority – at least not until you’ve positioned yourself as one. In order to become an authority, you need to initiate it. It’s that simple. You choose to give other people a reason to view you as an authority as you consciously step out, take risks and write what really matters.”

I love this post from Bonnie, who is part of The SITS Girls, because it cuts to the core of how to be seen as an expert in your field: you have to actually go for it. It doesn’t happy by accident. This post has some great tips as well, so it’s the perfect place to start if you’re hoping to begin building an authority brand online. Don’t forget to follow Bonnie on Twitter at @HobbytoHOT after you’ve read her post!

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 5 Ways to Make Sure Your Blog Never Becomes an Authority Blog by James Junior
  2. 7 Steps to Become an Authority in Your Industry by Lewis Howes (@Lewis Howes)
  3. 10 Tactical Ways to Position Yourself as an Authority Online by Laura Roeder (@lkr)
  4. 10 Ways to Build Authority as an Online Writer by Demian Farnworth (@demianfarnworth)
  5. 11 Ways to Use Content to Build Online Authority by Corey Eridon (@Corey_bos)
  6. 100-Plus Tips and Resources to Become an Authority Site in Your Niche by Inside CRM
  7. Becoming a Trusted Authority with Content Marketing by Caeden MacGregor
  8. How Being an Authority can Boost Your Online Sales by Zach Bulygo (@zachcb1)
  9. How to Achieve Blogging Authority: How Content Can Make You King or Queen by David Boozer (@dboozeman)
  10. How to Become an Authority and Why It Will Soon Matter to Google and Your SEO by Amanda DiSilvestro (@ADiSilvestro)
  11. How to Become an Authority Blogger by Ryan Imel (@ryanimel)
  12. How to Become an Authority in Your Field by Leigh Peele (@leighpeele)
  13. How To Build Yourself As The Authority Figure In Your Industry by Travis Petelle
  14. How To Create An Authority Blog Using Case Studies by Sarah Chrisp (@SarahChrisp)
  15. Leverage Blogging to Build Business Identity, Authority and Credibility by Rebekah Radice (@rebekahradice)
  16. The “Answer” to Becoming an Authority Blogger in your Niche by Zac Johnson (@moneyreign)
  17. The Breaking Bad Guide to Becoming an Authority Blogger by Hector Cuevas (@HectorCuevas)
  18. The Surprising Key to Becoming an Authority by Jeff Goins (@JeffGoins)
  19. Two Very Different Ways to Create a Profitable Authority Blog by Tom Ewer (@tomewer)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about becoming an authority? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Email Newsletters

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

10 Easy-to-Fix Content Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making

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Content Mistakes

Over the past few years, content marketing has emerged as the answer to a lot of our online marketing challenges. And because it works, we all do it—but not all of us do it as successfully as we’d like.

Granted, there’s no fool proof marketing plan that guarantees success. The only guarantee we have is that we’ll make mistakes and hopefully, learn from them. Unfortunately, a lot of times we don’t even realize we’re doing something wrong…and that’s where the trouble starts.

Below are 10 easy-to-fix content marketing mistakes you may not even know you’re making.

1. Not Reusing Content Effectively

The beauty of content marketing is in its reusability. Just because you’ve written a blog post doesn’t mean its life expectancy is limited to that post alone.

Expand on the topic and write a short ebook, report or white paper on it. Turn it into a presentation, a podcast, or even a video. Better yet, invite an authority on the subject and interview them. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Editor’s note: You can also do the reverse and take other content, like ebooks and presentations and turn them into blog posts. For example, every year, we turn the presentations at NMX into several blog posts, like this one we published based on Dino Dogan’s session at NMX 2013.

2. Using Jargon

Using industry jargon is a big fat “no” in content marketing and most of us know it. But we still end up using it in our content. We forget that our audience might not have the same understanding of the subject that we do.

Sure, we live, breathe and sleep our respective niches – but our readers don’t.

So go through your existing content and weed out any jargon used in your copy and replace them with layman terms.

3. Ignoring Your Current Audience in Favor of Attracting a New One

This phenomenon used to be a classic customer service mistake but it’s found in content marketing too now. A lot of times, content marketers are so focused on gaining new readers/followers/subscribers that they ignore the ones they already have.

Find a balance between the two but always give more importance to your existing audience. After all, retaining an audience is a lot easier than attracting a new one.

4. No Email Subscription Option

Is your content marketing strategy too focused on social media? Do you measure the success of your content in terms of social shares?

If yes, then it’s time to step back and think about email subscription. Social shares are fleeting. Once someone shares your content, they’re gone. There’s no way to contact them again or even find out who they were in some cases.

Email subscription on the other hand gives you the foot in the door you need to make a lasting impression.

HubSpot does this brilliantly. They have visually appealing call-to-actions for email sign ups after every post they publish.

5. No Incentive or Bribe to Encourage Sign Ups

Here’s the thing. Folks who sign up for newsletters don’t do it because of your stellar content. Well some do, but they’re very rare. Most of them sign up because they want to receive something in return. Something they can only get if they sign up for your newsletter.

Jon Morrow used his free report “52 Headline Hacks: A Cheat Sheet For Writing Posts That Go Viral” to get 13000 email subscribers for his new blog before he wrote the first post.

Crazy, right?

Your audience is more likely to do what you want if you give them an incentive. So make them an offer they can’t refuse.

For even more tips, check out this post on getting more email subscribers.

6. No Automation in Place

Even if marketers have their email subscription and incentive in place to capture leads, your subscribers will forget about you if you don’t follow up.

Even if they think the free report/ebook/ecourse etc. they received was brilliant, they won’t seek you out unless you do so first.

Email auto-responders are the best way to do that. They keep your audience engaged even when you don’t have the time to talk to them. It also saves you hours and hours of time you’d otherwise have spent coming up with content ideas.

Spend time creating an auto-responder series relevant to your subscribers and then watch as they become more and more engaged with your content.

7. No Guest Blogging

Content marketing isn’t worth the time, money and energy you invest in it if you don’t have authority. One of the fastest and most effective ways to build authority is by guest posting on reputable blogs.

Find popular and well respected blogs in your niche and reach out to them for guest blogging opportunities. Plenty of popular blogs accept guest posts and even have guidelines listed for them on their website.

Want more advice on guest blogging? Check out the following posts:

8. No Branding

Your online marketing efforts can’t be successful until you get your branding right. And having a great logo, professional web design, and stellar content is all well and good but that’s not the whole equation.

Your branding needs to be on every piece of online property you have your name on. That includes everything from the background and cover photos of your social media profiles to your email signature.

Here’s a tip not many people think of. If you’re investing in stock photos, get the right license and brand them as well. This way, when someone tweets, shares or pins your photo, folks will know at a glance who the content belongs to.

9. No Clear Call to Actions

The whole aim of producing, publishing and marketing content is to get people to take a specific action. Yet so often, we forget to include a call to action. We assume that since it’s a blog post, readers will comment. Or just because it says “free report”, folks will automatically sign up to download it.

If you want your readers to take action, you have to prompt them to do it. Figure out what action you want a particular piece of content to encourage and then spell it out.

10. Ignoring Smaller Tools and Tactics

Content marketing isn’t just about the big things like blog posts, newsletters, freebies and guest posts. It’s also about the small things you do to prolong the life of your content.

Don’t shy away from using different tools within your content that encourages sharing. Occasionally give away a freebie for the price of a tweet or a Facebook share. Include a “Click to Tweet” link in your blog posts, ebooks and other content to make it easy for people to share it.

Take a quote from your content and put it on an image to make it more share worthy. The Write Life does a great job of doing so in their posts. They then use those photos in their Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ updates.

What’s other easy-to-fix content marketing mistakes have you seen people make?

Image credit: Bigstock (altered)

6 Keys to Every Great Blog Post

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bigstock-Blog-10686950 Despite the uniqueness found in every blog post, there are certain commonalities that exist in every great blog post. Use this list and make sure your post has all six of these elements before sending it out to the world.

1. An Intriguing Title

Why are you reading this post? It’s probably because you wanted to learn about how to write a better blog post. My title was intriguing, attracted the right audience, and brought in readers like you.

Use different types of hooks to grip your readers. Some of the most captivating hooks include:

  • The Educational Hook: connects a concept with the mind.
  • The Topical Hook: connects a concept with the news.
  • The Fresh Spin Hook: connects a concept with a normally unrelated idea.
  • The Self-Interest Hook: connects a concept with the reader’s personal identity.
  • The True Story Hook: connects a concept with real-life stories.
  • The Curation Hook: connects a concept with a series of unrelated ideas.

Can you tell which hook I’m using in my title?

2. Examples

Blog posts are much more interesting and useful when the author uses examples. Some ideas of examples that you can use in your post include:

  • Pictures
  • Charts/Graphs
  • Screenshots
  • Videos
  • Article References
  • Statistics
  • Excerpts
  • Case Studies

These are all great ways to show (not tell), and it helps keep the post more interesting and sharable.

3. Breaks in the Content

Breaking up your content is a crucial part of a great blog post. While it doesn’t change your message, it can quickly determine whether or not readers will actually read through and share you blog post.

People don’t like to read. Instead, they scan blog posts, looking for the most important points before moving on.

The Nielson Norman Group found that only 16 percent of readers read web pages word-for-word. That means that most of you aren’t actually reading this. You simply read my subheadings and moved on.

Posts without breaks in the content are visually unappealing and hard to read. Here are a few tips on how you can break up your content:

  • Use subheadings.
  • Write short paragraphs.
  • Include bullet points or numbered lists.
  • Bold or italicize important points.
  • Add pictures.

Remember white space is an element of your blog post. Use it.

4. Proper Conventions

If I run across a post that’s packed full of spelling and grammatical mistakes, you can be sure that I’m never returning to that blog again no matter how qualified the author is to speak about the subject.

Realistically, though, I can easily let a few mistakes slide; mistakes are understandable. However, if an author’s not willing to edit and revise their content, it’s not worth my time to try putting the pieces together and guess what they’re trying to say.

On the other hand, a blog post that uses proper conventions sounds more professional and is easier and more enjoyable to read.

Bookmark a good grammar site and check any rule or wording that you are unsure about, or use a grammar checker if you don’t have a second set of eyes to scan your post before it goes live.

5. An Engaging Appeal

While I wouldn’t say that an engaging aspect is essential for a great blog post, it certainly helps peak readers’ interest and helps them get the most out of the piece.

You have to get your readers involved. For example, you might include an exercise to get your readers more engaged in the subject, or you could simply ask a question for them to answer in the comment section.

The Write Practice certainly has this down, and they have thousands of followers because of it. In each of their posts, they include a practice exercise and have readers share their results in the comment section.

6. A Unique Voice

A survey conducted by SmartBlogs.com found that 43.41 percent of respondents say a distinctive voice is the number one aspect a successful blog needs.

This means that readers love unique writers, someone who doesn’t copy another writer’s voice and can put their own personality to their work.

Your voice should not be forced, and it is yours alone. Not sure what your unique voice is yet? Use these 10 Steps for Finding Your Writing Voice which includes exercises like:

  • Describing yourself in three adjectives
  • Examining the types of writing you like to read
  • Listing your favorite cultural influences

Your unique voice will set you apart and give your audience a reason to follow you. So find a voice, stick with it, and add some creativity and uniqueness into your posts.

When reading blog posts, it’s clear when the post is great, but when we break it down like this, creating your own spectacular blog post becomes a bit easier. Do you include all six in your blog posts?

Image credit: Bigstock

3 Steps to Increase Blog Visitors, Mailing List Signups, and Product Sales

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3 Steps to Increase Blog Visitors, Mailing List Signups, and Product Sales

What’s the difference between a $100 bill and a $1 bill? Same paper. Same ink. So why do we value one more than the other?

The copy.

Like dollar bills, the words you put on your blog or speak during your podcast will make all the difference as to how people value what you create.

Good copywriting is similar to baking a cake. You can have all the raw ingredients, and know what the end result should be, but if you don’t mix and bake everything in a specific order, the result isn’t nearly as good.

The following three copywriting tips, used in the correct order, will help you to get the results you’re looking for the next time you write a blog post. You’ll increase visitors, increase subscribers, and make more sales.

Step One – Know Your Market

Before you write a single word of sales copy, you absolutely need to understand who you’re selling to. You need to understand their needs, desires, and objections to anything you have to offer.

You want to build rapport, which is essential for any successful selling situation. You can do this by speaking to readers in the language they themselves use. Anything else is like using profanity in a church – you’ll show “you don’t belong here.”

Reading other blogs, browsing forums, and looking over product reviews in your niche/industry will give you a good feel what the people you’re trying to connect with want, what they don’t want, and how they communicate with each other. Even if you’ve been in your market for years, and even if you’re part of your own market, this is something you should do on a regular basis to make the most of your content creation.

Step Two – Kick The Door Down With a Great Title

When you’re ready to start writing, pay special attention to your title. It doesn’t matter how good the meat of your content is if nobody reads it. A great title says, “I’m here. Let’s talk!” It’s the big entrance you need to get your the full attention of your audience, so they they’ll read the rest of your message.

A great headline, like a great blog post title, is a promise to the reader that you’ll meet a need, fulfill a desire, or solve a problem.

Look to sales headlines for great examples of what a powerful title can be. These headlines, written by professional copywriters, wouldn’t be used if they didn’t get results.

Here is an example for a one-hour laundry service. A time-poor businessman needing clean clothes for an important meeting would highly respond to something like this:

We’ll Dryclean Your Suit Within One Hour – Or You Don’t Pay!

This is much better than a general slogan, such as:

Great Service for Over 15 Years

Nobody cares how long you’ve been in business – they only care that you’re able to solve their problems. When you let them know this is possible, they’ll read the read of your offer.

Like a businessman who needs clean clothes, the people who come to your blog are also looking for a solution to their problems. Do your blog post titles offer these solutions?

Below are five problem-solving blog post title formats that you can use to get started. Feel free to edit any of the examples listed so they’ll apply to what you’re doing.

1. The “How to” Title

  • How to Lose 10 Pounds in Only 7 Days
  • How to Make Money as a Professional Gambler
  • How to Lose Your Shirt in the Stock Market
  • How to Get a Date Tonight
  • How to Live on Only $2/day!

2. The “Fear” Title

  • Are You Making These 7 Mistakes?
  • Do You Have Any of These Symptoms?
  • What The President Isn’t Telling You About Gun Control
  • What Does Congress Know About Social Security That You Don’t?
  • 57% of Americans Have This Disease – Are You One of Them?

3. The “Simplify” Title

  • Lose 10 Pounds Guaranteed (Without Exercise!)
  • Get More Done in Less Time
  • A Clean House in Only 20 Minutes? Yes!
  • 3 Easy Steps to Get a Low-Interest Mortgage
  • 7 Healthy Meals Using Just 3 Ingredients

4. The “Solution” Title

  • Sleep Better With This Strange Trick…
  • My Kid Was Failing Math…Until This Came Along!
  • Tired of Riding The Bus? Get a New Car for Only $97/month!
  • If You Think Your Spouse is Cheating, I Can Help!
  • Finally! A Diet The Really Works!

5. The “Secret” Title

  • Insider Tricks to Beating the Stock Market – Guaranteed!
  • The Secret Doctors Don’t Want You to Know
  • The Diet Only Celebrities Know About…Until Now!
  • Right-Wing Secrets Every Democrat Should Know!
  • Liberal Secrets Every Patriot Should Know!

Step Three – Ask For What You Want!

When you write a blog post, keep in mind what you want readers to do. If you want them to sign up for your newsletter, ask for that. If you want them to follow you on Twitter, ask for that. If you want them to leave comments on the blog post, let them know! Every post needs a strong call to action.

Don’t assume that people visiting your blog or reading your blog posts will know want from them. Unless you specifically ask, they don’t. Be crystal clear about what you want from your readers. That is the only way they’ll know what you want.

Final Thoughts

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating effective blog posts and titles for them. Simply look to the words your readers are already using to describe the problems (and solution to those problems) they are already asking about. Finish this process by asking for what you want them to do – sign up for your email newsletter, leave a comment, buy a product, etc.

Do you have a favorite blog post title that solves a problem or a call to action that worked extremely well? Please share it in the comments section.

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The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Selling Digital Products on Your Blog (Step Five)

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Step Five Serving Cusomters

Your product is out there! You’re starting to make some money! Now you can sit back and just watch the passive income roll in, right?

Wrong.

One of the biggest mistakes most people make when selling digital products is thinking that the work ends after launch day. Very few people can “set it and forget it” when it comes to digital products. You need to provide great customer service to turn your fans into customers and to turn your customers into advocates.

Step Five: Continuously Serving Your Customers

Today, before ending this series of posts on selling digital products, I want to delve a little deeper into the life of a digital product after launch day. Let’s talk about…

  • Whether or not digital products are actually a source of passive income
  • Finding new customers beyond the initial burst of sales
  • Short-term customer care
  • Long-term customer care

When Passive isn’t Really Passive

Everyone always talks about how great passive income is, but the fact of the matter is this: passive income isn’t typically truly passive. Whenever you have money changing hands, customer support is needed. There will always be someone who has trouble downloading your product or logging into your website. There will always be someone who wants a refund. There will always be someone who has problems with payment processing.

This can be passive in the sense that you don’t have to be personally providing the customer support. You can instead hire a team of VAs to help you with this task. Then, all you’ll need to do is some initial training.

Just be aware that if you choose not to provide customer support, the result will not be good for your bottom line. People who have bad experiences tend to be extremely vocal on social networks. When someone googles your name/product, do you want a bunch of bad reviews to be the first thing that pops up?

Finding Customers

Launching a digital products is exciting because you typically see a rush of sales on launch day, slowly dropping off over the course of a week or two. But what then? If all you do is link to your product on your sidebar, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Every person who visits your blog is a potential sale. How much money are you missing out on, simply because you leave it up to people to figure out you have a product for sale?

So what can you do to find new customers continuously? Here are a few ideas?

  • Set up an email campaign some that when someone signs up for your mailing list, they get a message about your product.
  • Write blog posts about similar topics and link to your product at the end.
  • Write guest posts for other bloggers and mention your product in your bio or even within the post if relevant.
  • Run promotions throughout the year, offering discounts or free trials.
  • Work with your affiliates for special promotions.
  • Host a Google+ Hangout and talk about your product.
  • Come up with a plan to mention your product on social networks on a regular basis.
  • Create free products related to your paid product to give away, then upsell to the full product.
  • Do a free webinar about a related topic and talk about your product at the end.

Short-Term Customer Care

Short-term customer service is all about taking care of problems, right? Well, kind of. Problems should be your main focus, since these are opportunities to turn a bad situation into a good situation. However, don’t ignore your customers who are singing your praises or you biggest group of customers–the ones who say nothing at all.

Create an automated email sequence so that about a week after your product is purchased, the customer receives an email follow up. Ask for feedback, offer a surprise bonus, or simply thank them a second time. You want that “second touch” with each customer to show that you really do care.

Make sure you reply to anyone who emails you, even if they are not inquiring (or yelling!) about a problem. The people who love your product or just have a question are the people who will sing your praises if you give them a little attention. We all like to feel like we’re important. When you personally reply to someone, even to just say thank you, you’re making your customers feel noticed.

While I do advocate you doing this yourself, you can have a VA help you manage this part as well by categorizing your emails so you can reply more quickly.

Long-Term Customer Care

Think about how you’re going to connect with your customers long-term as well. Why should you care? Because they’ll give you even more money! When you have another product for sale, someone who has felt they received a lot of value from you in the past is going to pull out their credit card a second time.

It’s about more than a great product. You do want to be sure that what you’re selling is awesome. But more importantly, if you go that extra mile, you’ll have people begging you for another product or even giving you more money in the form of a donation. Pat Flynn once told a story about people purchasing a product from him that they didn’t even need just to say “thank you” for his free help in the past!

The key is VALUE. Here are a few ways you can offer long-term value:

  • Offer a free “second edition” version of your book to people who purchased in the past.
  • Ask your customers to become affiliates so they can earn a little income from recommending your product.
  • Engage with customers on social networks. Beyond just talking about your product, get to know them and share their links from time to time.
  • Create a community around your product, offering forums, Facebook groups, etc. for customers to talk to one another.
  • Do a call/webinar with your customers around the 3-month-since-launch mark to answer any lingering questions.
  • Touch base via occasional emails.

The point is this: keep people involved. Then, when you have another product for sale or want a boost in sales for your current product, ASK your community of customers to help you! They can…

  • Tweet, pin, and otherwise share via social networks
  • Send emails to their friends and followers
  • Write testimonials
  • Review your product on other sites

So, while you might be thinking of your digital product as a passive source of income, if you put some more time into building a community around the product, you’ll sell more products over the long term. Passive? Not really. Profitable? Absolutely!

I hope this series has helped you prepare for selling your next digital product. Remember to check out all of the other posts in the series if you haven’t already!

 

See Other Posts in This Series:

  1. Step One: Building Relationships
  2. Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product
  3. Step Three: Creating Your Product
  4. Step Four: Planning Your Launch
  5. Step Five: Servicing Your Customers (this post)

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

Guest Blogging Tips That Work: A Step-by-Step Guide to Guest Posts

Author:

The marketing world is in a guest-blogging frenzy right now. However, rushing to join in without a sound strategy, wastes a rare opportunity to improve brand awareness, increase your subscriber base and inbound links, build authority and ultimately become a niche trailblazer. Guest blogging can offer you all these benefits when you work with a thought-out approach. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of successful guest blogging.

The Basics of Guest Posting: Know the Benefits

Two or three links won’t really amount to a hill of beans in this crazy Internet world, as Humphrey Bogart might say today. If you want to be successful at guest blogging, you need to understand the real benefits.

Guest blogging is all about relationship building. The friendships you build for your brand can help you stay ahead of the pack, no matter what your niche, but these relationships need to be mutually rewarding and persistently nurtured to work out. That’s why guest blogging is such a great option: yes, there is benefit for you, but it is also helping the other blogger, since you’re providing quality content and encouraging others to visit their blog.

Of course, there are some SEO benefits to guest posting as well, but if you’re just in it for the links, you’re missing out.

Assess Your Options

If you read other blogs in your niche, you probably know at least a few people who accept guest posts. You can use Google to research even more options. Search using the keywords “guest post” and “guest post guidelines,” preferably with other keywords that define your industry to find blogs you could guest blog at. Create a list of at least 25 potential blog post opportunities.

Blogs worth considering should:

  1. Have substantial readership
  2. Be actively shared/discussed on social networks
  3. Be relevant to your industry

It’s better to have one quality link than five cheap ones. Pratik Dholakiya at MOZ says that guest bloggers should avoid being associated with sites that over-publish content or that are too lenient with substandard material.

For the best results, sites with a low PageRank should be avoided and I personally recommend targeting blogs with a Domain Authority (which you can check with Open Site Explorer) greater than 30. This is not a hard rule; you can make exceptions, but only if there is something about guest posting on the blog that is advantageous.

Niche blogs tend to have higher engagement. Stop thinking of your niche competitors as your enemies. Guest blogging at their blogs lets you increase your exposure to an otherwise taken market segment.

While some niche sites might not have as high of a PageRank or Domain Authority, if you’re reaching a very targeted audience and building relationships with others in your niche, they’re better options than larger sites covering a broad range of topics. Weigh all of the benefits before reaching out to ask about guest posting opportunities.

Approaching Other Bloggers

Before you communicate with the targeted blog owners, it’s wise to interact with them through consistent social media engagement. Leave thoughtful and purposeful comments; engage with them on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks where they are active. When someone recognizes your name from an earlier interaction, they’re more likely to answer your email.

Neil Patel at Quick Sprout states that successful blog owners are inundated with guest blogging requests. He personally received 931 requests and admitted to accepting none. His explanation was that they all read like SPAM.

Make sure your request is:

  • Professional (yet not too formal)
  • Brief
  • Relevant
  • Complete (i.e., including topic suggestions, outlines, and anything else the blogger requires)

Check out this post about common phrases that can get your guest post denied or ignored.

Your Content: What Should You Write?

What you should cover in your guest post depends on your knowledge and the blog where you want to publish the post. Here are a few tips:

  • Be relevant and expand on a hot topic. Don’t recycle what others have written about a million times before. Offer new insights and different interpretations and don’t forget to add your own flavor.
  • Write on what you know. Build your credibility and boost your status by focusing on a subject you’re knowledgeable in. Guest blogging is your chance to establish your authority and increase your impact.
  • Study the blog’s keyword phrases. This will impress the blog owner. In you, they would be finding a keyword researcher in addition to a great writer—double the value! You can easily research keyword trends and appropriate keywords for the blog with tools such as Google Alerts, which keep you up to date with the latest trends and the hottest topics.
  • Focus on showmanship. Make a dazzling headline out of your keyword, preferably one that’s share-worthy. A common blogging mistake is creating quality posts that have indifferent titles or introduction. Your title should entice your readers, giving them a reason to want to read further.
  • Follow the guest post guidelines. Read the guidelines set by the blogger very carefully. If you ignore their guidelines, they will likely reject your post.
  • Use quotes and case studies. Substantiate your arguments whenever possible with scientific studies and other authority references and statistics. Always verify your facts.

Post-Publishing

 After the post is published, your work isn’t done. Here’s what you need to do once your guest post is live:

  • Interact with your readers. Be sure to respond to questions or comments once your post goes live. If you find that your post isn’t getting much engagement, then it’s possible you are lacking in the “call to action” department. Ask the blog’s readers for their comments, perhaps phrasing a relevant question to continue the discussion.
  • Reply to both positive and negatives comments. Offer clarification and re-assert arguments that the readers debunked. Carol Billingsley at Social Media Today, suggests that the formula for responding to negative feedback is apology+solution= happy reader.
  • Promote your post. Work for your guest blog and it will work for you! If you want to solidify your relationship with a successful blog owner do your best to bring in traffic. You can direct your own community to read your guest post through social media.
  • Check to see how well your guest posts performs over time. You might not examine analytics information but you can keep track of comments, likes, shares, and other useful data.

Guest blogging is the ultimate adventure in building authority and driving sales. With the proliferation of blogs, article directories, commercial websites and online magazines, there is an abundance of knowledge, and yet not enough quality content.

If you can produce quality content, you can earn powerful links and build authority around your brand. Guest blogging offers tangible and instantly felt benefits. With a clear guest blogging goal and a carefully planned approach, you can unlock its multifaceted potential too.

What do you consider a must-follow rule when it comes to successful guest blogging?

What A-List Bloggers Know about Supporting Their Own Content

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When I first started blogging, I made a big mistake: I wrote about the topics that inspired me.

Before you take up arms and lecture me on how important it is to feel passionate about the topics you cover on your blog, hear me out. I think it’s fine to write about content when you are inspired. Passion is a very good thing if you want your blog to thrive. But if that’s the only way you plan your content, you’re not doing your posts justice.

The Reader “Sales” Funnel

How many posts do you have to read by someone before you’re hooked? Maybe it’s just one really awesome post…but more likely, you have to see that person’s name a few times before you start to take notice. We’re bombarded with so much content every day that it’s hard for a single author to stand out unless they consistently wow a reader. Only then, will the reader perform an action, like following on social networks, subscribing to a mailing list, subscribing to an RSS feed, etc.

Reader Sales Funnel In the world of sales, we talk about a “sales funnel.” This funnel exists on your blog too, even if you aren’t actually selling anything. At the top of the sales funnel, you have your widest audience of readers – people who land on your site for any reason. Next, you have a smaller number of readers – people who actually read your post instead of clicking the back button right away. Then you have a smaller number, people who read the entire post without clicking away. Then an even smaller number – people who want to read more. Then the smallest number – people who take an action that you want. That’s the red part of the diagram at right. We actually posted a really great explanation of sales funnels last week that you should check out for more information.

Your goal is to get as many people as possible taking that action, and to do that, you need to do two things:

  • Increase traffic from the top
  • Increase the conversion rate of people who move down the funnel at each level.

I’ll leave increasing traffic conversations for another day (check out this post for example). What I want to talk about today is moving people down the sales funnel.

If you have great content, people will automatically move from “sticking around” to “reach the end of the post.” And really, most people who actually read to the end of the post want more information. You have to hand it to them, though. If you wait for them to find it, you might be waiting a long time. People are lazy. If you want them to read related content, give them the link on a silver platter.

After you get people wanting and reading more, you can move them on to take an action.

What a-list bloggers know is that it isn’t enough to just point people to other posts on your blog. Your content has to actually work together in a way that makes sense.

If you only write when you’re passionate about a topic, it is really hard for your content to support itself because you’re just jumping from conversation to conversation.

An Analogy: A Conversation with A Friend

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you’re having coffee with a friend you haven’t seen for several years. Well, don’t actually close your eyes…because then you can’t read the rest of this post! But imagine it. It’s an experience we’ve all had.

Usually, you start off talking about one topic and then three hours later you’re still chatting away, even though you’ve moved to a completely different topic.

You didn’t have a break in your conversation where you both said “Okay, we’ve talked about our kids long enough. Let’s talk about our jobs now.” No, you just naturally moved from topic to topic. That’s how a blog works when you write content in a way that supports itself (only doing this takes a little more planning than you would do during a conversation with a friend!).

Now think about saying goodbye to your friend after a conversation over coffee. No matter how long you talked, you probably had more to say, and you might even be thinking, “I wish I would have asked about…”

You don’t want this to happen on your blog. You want to provide your readers with all the content they need about your niche. That’s where planning and a content calendar come into play. Don’t allow your content to fall into the deep abyss of forgotten blog posts on the Internet!

Your Content Calendar

If you don’t have an editorial calendar, you need one. That’s the best way to plan out a natural flow of supportive content. This post is a really great introduction to planning your content with an editorial calendar.

Beyond scheduling effectively, though, what you really need to do is make sure each post has the opportunity to shine not only on the day it is published but by being linked to in other posts.

Think of your blog posts as vines. Your want those vines intertwining and growing as much as possible. This will create a maze of content for your readers – and believe me, it is a good thing when someone gets lost in your blog because they are finding so much value!

For example, let’s say that I run a pet food blog and I’m going to write about the best brands of dog food. As I write, I may realize that I don’t have any posts that talk about doggie dental health, but there’s a great opportunity to link to that. So I write that post. Then I realize I should also have a posts about shiny coats and foods that are dangerous to dogs. So I write those posts too.

So far, my post schedule might look like this, with the arrows indicating that a post links to another post.

best dog foods 1 As you keep brainstorming posts, though, look back at your calendar. Always try to find that connection so you can link to posts you’ve recently written. So in our example, I wouldn’t leave the “best dog foods” post hanging. I would think, what are some follow up posts that I could write about this topic? AND, even better, are there follow up posts that I can write to link to some of the other recent posts on the blog as well? Also, what content do I need to write that is not on the blog yet?

So, my post schedule might expand to look like this:

best dog foods 1 From there, I would keep expanding the ideas, and I would also edit older posts to link back to newer posts when appropriate. The key is to always make sure each post is linked back to at least 3-5 times from other posts. That way, you’re creating a chain reaction. See how I might expand even further:

best dog foods 1 As you can see, it starts to get a little messy, but what is important is that nothing it left “hanging” without connections to other posts. All posts include links and are linked to by others. At least, that’s what is being built. If you map out your content, you can see what holes you have to fill. In our example, I would probably what to write something that links to cat hairball control next, since nothing is linking to it.

The best bloggers out there are organizing their content this way, rather than just writing whatever they want and not tying it into their other content. For example, check out this post on Problogger:

problogger post

It starts off by saying that recently they published a post about a certain topic, and this new post would be expanding on that topic. Throughout the post, there are also other links to old evergreen content.

Here’s another example, from Rich Brooks at the Flyte New Media blog:

flyte example

See how the post starts with a reference to a previous post, to tell readers that this new post is an expansion on the same topic and you should go read the other one too?

You don’t have to be as blatant about it if you don’t want to. You can just simply link to other posts without actually saying “Hey, I wrote this other post…”

The point it, you need to link internally, and the top bloggers do so in a structured way, not just willy-nilly. Don’t leave anything hanging out there by itself. Don’t leave it up to your readers to find your best content. Help them along the way. Support your own content. That way, your posts will live on and readers won’t  be able to leave your site.

What are you doing to support your own content? Do you link internally in a structured way? Do you cover topics according to a content schedule?

Top SEO “Services” That Are Actually Spam

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lotus823-integrated You could spend a few years of your life sorting through all of the blogs, whitepapers, and videos online offering advice on search engine optimization. Yet, so many users get convinced that certain SEO strategies are worth their time and money when these companies are really just touting spam services hidden behind smoke and mirrors.

For SEO specialists like myself (I never like to use the word expert, because Google is constantly changing), these spam services put a bad taste in people’s mouth about the industry.

Specialists do educate on what SEO should be and how it is constantly evolving to a focus on social media and content marketing, but it is still easy to get trapped by outdated methods when you have someone speak to you in technical terms that are hard to understand.

Don’t fall for these SEO services that are actually spam:

Excessive, Behind-the-Scenes Link Building

Due to the changes in Google, content creators tend to move in one extreme or the other in terms of link building. Link-building can help you, but it has to be in moderation. Think of links as the paths that both users and the search engine will travel to find your content.

If you outsource this, be aware of the types of link building done outside of content such as directory link building. It should seem natural and not done all at once with a flip of a switch. If you’re concerned, ask how many directories your site is being added to each month and ask to have the Page Rank pulled for each of those sites. No link building at all (remember, social shares are link building) doesn’t allow Google to connect the dots as quickly to what your website is about. It is still a robot, after all. But you have to be smart about it.

Landing Pages for the Sake of Content

Now that you’ve sprinkled in a few links here and a few links there, you’re doing SEO, right? Not really. Circle back to the previous mention that SEO is about user and the content. This means that a link should be relevant and the page the user lands on should also be relevant. If you link on the phrase “iPhone case” it should land on a page about iPhone cases. That is how Google begins to connect all of your content and ranks it in search for a particular phrase.

Focus on strengthening the landing pages you have now, instead of adding 100 new pages every month, and make them relevant through quality content and natural link building. If you outsource this, the vendor should be more concerned with unique content that engages users rather than a report stating how many pages of content was added to the site in a given month. Beware of any company focusing on quantity instead of quality.

Also, unique and relevant content means it was written for your brand, not repurposed content from elsewhere. That type of service should be a supplement to your content strategy, not your only means of content building. Which brings us to…

Cheap Content

I’ve had many bosses, clients, and co-workers who loved the idea of cheap content. Every time someone forwards me an email that talks about x amount of words for x cents, I furiously press the delete button and then have to talk a walk around the building to cool off. Content isn’t cheap and no, not everyone can write great content. Look up how much a seasoned freelance blogger charges for a blog post and set that as your new standard for content. It’s not $10.

When outsourcing content, read everything! Many times I’ve sent content to a client for review and it was never even reviewed by them. If you’re going to outsource content, ask for writing samples from the specific writer who will be creating content for you, and read everything before it goes live. Set your standards not only by price but by quality.

Someone Else Taking Complete Control

“We’ll build you that blog, create those videos, and completely run your social networks!”

“…but if you leave us they all come down.”

Anything built on your dime should be yours. In some cases, it is industry standard for a “secret sauce” to be proprietary information (such as with paid advertising), so always read your contract carefully with any type of vendor to see what you own at the end of its terms. This goes for agreements even outside of SEO companies – when was the last time you read the terms for Instagram or Facebook posts? Stay in control of your content and understand what is yours, what is for the public to use, and what is owned by a third party vendor you just hired.

Reports That Don’t Make Sense

Many times when a client would come on board, they would send me their SEO reports or they would send over emails from a salesperson from another company. I’ve seen quite a few examples of great reports and not so great reports. The not so great report never makes much sense.

“Congratulations, client, you are ranking number 1 for a search time that we made up to make the ranking results look fantastic!”

Reports should be focused on building awareness within your target market, and that takes time. Confused? Send it to an unbiased third party to review.

Hopefully, highlighting these common “spam” services sheds some light on SEO strategies that make sense for your business and for yourself. Listen to your gut above all, you know what is right for your brand better than any “guru” out there!

Looking to do more? Stay on top of these tips and tricks each week!

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