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August 2012

NMX Speakers Announced

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Although NMX in Las Vegas may be months away, the team here is fast at work to make it the best conference yet. We have some neat, new things we’ll be rolling out for January and we’ll give you updates as we finalize details. Today, however, we want to tell you about our first batch of confirmed speakers and their session topics.

 

Bill Belew

4 Concrete Steps to Get 1,000,000 Relevant Unique Visitors to Your Blog

 

C.C. Chapman

How To Add Photography Into Your Marketing Mix

 

David Copeland

Ten Blog Posts That Got Shared, Informed Readers, Generated Clicks and Kicked Ass In 2012

 

Dino Dogan

How To Build a Community of Fanatics

 

David Gass

How Much Can I Sell My Blog For?

 

Patti Londre

The Art of Becoming a Leader In Your Niche

 

Peter VanRysdam

Defining and Maximizing Conversions Through Better Usability

 

To help you learn more about these speakers, be sure to click on their names above. We’ve also included all the many ways you can connect with them (e.g. blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). No reason to wait until the conference to start networking; why not start now!

Haven’t registered for the big event yet? Discounted tickets are available until September 15th, so don’t delay. After that, all passes will go up. So be sure to lock in the best price by registering early.

See you in Las Vegas!

 

Build a Pinterest Presence from Scratch: Staying Active in 15 Minutes a Day (Day Five and Beyond)

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Pinterest logo This is part five of a five-part series to help you create a Pinterest presence from scratch for your business or online content. Start at the beginning with this post.

It doesn’t matter how well you set up your Pinterest profile if you don’t stay active. On Pinterest, pins have the ability to go viral again weeks or even months after initial interest fades if the right person checks out your profile and repins something. However, no one will check out your profile if you’re inactive. People want to follower users who are actually pinning stuff on a daily basis.

I know it’s daunting when you already have tons of tasks to do every day. But with the following plan, you can conquer Pinterest in just 15 minutes per day! It’s doable for everyone who wants an active presence on Pinterest.

This post assumes that you already went through days one through four of this series, and that you have a profile set up with boards and are following a good number of people (50 or so to start). So if you haven’t done that yet, start at Day One of this series and go through it to get your profile up to speed.

Morning Duties (10 Minutes)

First, make Pinterest one of the things you do every morning, like checking your email. This part of your Pinterest upkeep will take about 10 minutes and is great to do over coffee, since Pinterest is as much fun as it is work. Here’s what you do:

  • Pin one thing (post, product, etc.) from your own site. Do this first, since it has the most potential to show up on category pages.
  • Pin one thing from a site other than your own. The goal is to highlight really great content that might not otherwise be found on Pinterest. Tag the author/company if they are on Pinterest.
  • Repin three pins from people you are following. Try to pins stuff to different boards.
  • Respond to any comments you received since last time you logged in.
  • Leave at least three comments on others’ pins.
  • Find at least three new people to follow via search, category pages, etc. (See our “finding people to follow” post here)

That’s it! Then, just go about you day. If you come across cool stuff in your travels, pin it, but otherwise, you don’t have to focus on Pinterest during your day.

Afternoon/Night Duties (5 Minutes)

You should log in again during the day at some point. Exactly when depends on your niche. I find that with business-related stuff, late afternoon, when everyone is trying to kill time before leaving work, is a sweet spot. With a more hobby-related niche, like cooking, late night works better – after the kids are in bed, parents are browsing Pinterest. So log in that second time whenever it makes sense for the kind of stuff you’re pinning. Here’s what I recommend you do:

  • Pin at least one original thing from your own site or from someone else’s site.
  • Repin at least three pins from people you’re following, to different boards than you did that morning if possible. Comment when relevant.
  • Find at least three new people to follow.
  • Respond to any comments you received since you last logged in.

That’s it!

Now of course, you can spend a lot more time on Pinterest than what I’ve listed above, but this list of tasks allows you to stay active in just 15 minutes per day. It’s super easy to fit into your schedule, so no excuses! And actually, once you start really getting used to Pinterest, these activities don’t even take 15 minutes, so you have even more time for pinning, repinning, commenting, and following on Pinterest during your allotted 15 minutes. The more active you are on this network, the faster you will grow.

Have questions that this series hasn’t answered? Check out our free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, or Videos with Pinterest for more detailed information about rocking on Pinterest. You can also leave any questions you might have in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!

See the entire series here:

Did You Miss Out on 44 Publicity Opportunities Last Week?

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Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a great resource for those looking to build up expertise and credibility in a field by offering information to reporters and PR professionals. The brainchild of Peter Shankman, HARO currently boasts over 200,000 sources as members, and I suspect that many of the savvy NMX blog readers are among those in this number. HARO provides a great opportunity for an individual (and sometimes a related business) to gain publicity and credibility via a variety of mainstream and alternative media outlets. When a reporter is looking for a source for a story, they post an inquiry to the HARO list, and folks can respond and offer their input. This can lead to being quoted in the story and often a backlink or referral from a highly-trafficked website (not to mention the ability to say “as seen in [insert well-known publication here]”.

Recently I started noticing a trend in the various HARO requests.

They want photos.

Lots of them.

Bloggers... with photos... at BlogWorld I counted… during a recent week, forty-four HARO requests asked for photographs. Sometimes it was of an office, product, or situation, but more commonly it was of you, the source. In order to get the free publicity (and arguably, credibility) that comes along with being published as a result of a HARO inquiry, you would need to submit a decent photo of yourself. For several years now we’ve heard that photos and graphics help drive reader engagement with our blog posts, and when a journalist or author is creating content of their own the same remains true. If they’re going to write about your experiences or cite you as an expert, there’s a good chance they’re going to want a photograph.

We often think of blogging as a text-centric medium, and we increasingly hear about vlogging and podcasts, but still photographs are an important bit of supporting material. If you don’t have some decent photos of yourself, I’d suggest that you should obtain some… they can be an important part of a blogger’s tool kit. As a professional photographer myself, I’m biased in suggesting that you find someone who knows what they’re doing to create your photos. You should be able to find someone near you who can create a professional business portrait for you. It doesn’t have to be stiff or formal…when I work with my clients we create images that reflect their personality and flair. If you don’t know a photographer or haven’t seen a recommendation from someone you trust, head over to the Professional Photographers of America’s Find a Photographer directory. You can search by location and find someone who’s a member of the professional organization. If you’re not in the US, see if there’s a professional photographer association in your locale.

Just as you’re probably prepared to give someone your elevator pitch, you should be ready to supply them with a photo if requested. Avoid disappointment of what would be an otherwise-great publicity opportunity because you don’t have a photo ready.

Build a Pinterest Presence from Scratch: Get People to Follow You (Day Four)

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This is part four of a five-part series to help you create a Pinterest presence from scratch for your business or online content. Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss a single day!

So far in this series, we’ve learned how to created a Pinterest profile, how to build your first ten boards, and how to pin, repin, and follow people. Today is all about promotion. Now that you’ve set up Pinterest, how do you actually get people to follow you there? I’ve got lots of ideas for you! Implement them all or pick and choose based on your specific niche/industry:

  • Add buttons to your website.

Your regular fans may want to promote your content or products on Pinterest already, but they need a reminder to do so. A lot of social media plugins have added pin button options, and there are even more plugins out there just for Twitter, so it’s only a matter of installing them. I also recommend adding a Pinterest button linked to your profile on your sidebar or wherever you have other “follow me” social media buttons. Basically, wherever you tell people to follow you on Twitter or Facebook, also tell them to follow you on Pinterest.

To get a Pinterest button for your sidebar, just go to “About” on your navigation bar, and you’ll see a “Pin It Button” option:

  • Link to Facebook and Twitter.

If you haven’t already, link your profile to Facebook and Twitter. That way, you’ll show up on your friends’ pages as “recommended” and many will follow you. I also suggest tweeting out and sharing on Facebook that you’re a new member of Pinterest. You want your current community to follow you there if they aren’t already.

  • Comment on others’ posts.

On Pinterest, fewer people are commenting like they are on Facebook. This means you have an opportunity to stand out by commenting on others’ pins. So don’t just repin; actually take the time to comment on pins you like. People are more likely to check out your profile if you care enough to comment.

  • Pin a variety of categories.

When you have a narrow focus, it’s harder to reach new fans. You want to stay relevant to your audience, but be aware of related topics where you can have a Pinterest presence. Create boards in different categories as much as possible, while still keeping that connection to your niche. For example, if you have a furniture store, don’t just have boards in the “home decor” category. Pin wall art in the art category, cool home design in the architecture category, and furniture restoration projects in the DIY (do-it-yourself) category.

  • Write good descriptions.

Descriptions are the captions that show up below your pins. Write them well so they’ll not only be engaging, but so they’ll also help you show up in search results. Depending on your pin, also consider adding a a call to action to get people to click through to your site.

  • Be creative and interesting.

Take a look at your board names and descriptions. Are they unique or boring? Yes, you want to include keywords for search optimization, and you definitely want people to be able to tell what the board is about at a glance, but you’ll get more followers if you’re funny, creative, or unique in someway. For example, I like zombies, so I have a board about them called “My Zombie Board is a No-Brainer.”

  • Pin good content often.

By far, the best thing you can do to get people to follow you is the same advice I’d give you on any social network – be active and give your followers the best content out there. Don’t just let your Pinterest profile sit dormant. Make time for it every single day and you’ll see your follower numbers increase steadily.

How exactly can you make time for Pinterest on a daily basis when your days are already busy? It doesn’t have to take more than 15 minutes per day! That’s the topic of tomorrow’s post, the final installment of this five-day series on building a Pinterest profile from scratch. You can also check out our free Pinterest ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, or Videos with Pinterest.

See the entire series here:

Build a Pinterest Presence from Scratch: Pinning and Following (Day Three)

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This is part three of a five-part series to help you create a Pinterest presence from scratch for your business or online content. Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss a single day!

If you’ve been following along with our little series about creating a Pinterest presence, you’ve already created your profile and created your first ten boards. Now it’s time to start filling those boards with some great content and find some people to follow! push pin

Pinning and Repinning

On Pinterest, you can add content in three ways:

  1. Upload an image directly to Pinterest (this is usually not the best option).
  2. “Pin” content you find online, both from your own site and from other sites.
  3. “Repin” content that you see others pinning.

You want to split your time between pinning and repinning. Pinning something allows you to be the start of the repin ripples, which is good if you have content that hasn’t been added in other ways and if you want more followers. Repins are good too, though. It’s like retweeting content on Twitter – it’s a cool way to say “thank you” to people. Interacting with your community is a gesture of goodwill, and if you repin stuff from people who aren’t following you yet, it encourages them to check out your profile and perhaps follow you back.

So, both are good. Pin and repin often. If you get the “Pin It” button, it’s pretty easy to do; you don’t even have to go to Pinterest’s site to pin stuff you find throughout the day.

Whenever possible, pin a few things here and there, rather than a clump of 10-20 pins within an hour. When is the best time to pin? That depends on your target market. When is your audience most likely to be online, checking out Pinterest? Do some testing to find out.

Pin both your own content and content from others. It’s like Twitter: if you pin only your own stuff, you look selfish. So spread the love and pin from multiple sources.

Also like Twitter, you can use hashtags, and if you put an “@” before someone’s name, it will tag that person so they’ll be notified of a pin. But – and this is important – you can only tag someone if you’re following at least one of their boards. So how do you find people to follow?

Following Other People

There’s a great section about following others on Pinterest in our free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, or Videos with Pinterest. Let me go over some of the top tips here:

  • Follow profiles, not boards.

When you see someone interesting, you can choose to follow their entire profile or you can just follow the boards that interest you. Most of the time, it makes sense to follow the entire profile and then unfollow the boards that don’t interest you. That way, you’ll see future boards they create. If you just follow some of their boards, you won’t see any boards they create in the future unless you click to their profile and review their board list again. It’s much easier to just unfollow boards!

  • Use the search function to find interesting boards.

When you write good descriptions for your boards, pins, and repins, it helps you get found when people search on Pinterest. You can use this same search function to find other people interested in the same topics you like. When you search for a keyword, remember to look at pins, boards, and profiles by toggling between these three options.

  • Follow your fans.

People who repin and like your content may be others you want to follow. You don’t have to follow back everyone, but if someone finds your pins interesting, chances are that you have similar tastes and will find their pins interesting as well. So pay attention to the people who are interested in your content.

Check out the ebook for even more advice about how to find people to follow!

See the entire series here:

Why I Podcast

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The question comes up a lot, and I recently realized that the answers I’d been giving for the past year or so were unsatisfactory. Before I get into the backstory of how I came to realize this (because it’s fascinating), let’s run down the new list of reasons. I’d suggest taking notes, but this is print form so… yeah. Never mind.

#1. It’s FUN.

It is extraordinarily, massively, awesomely, deliciously fun to talk into a microphone and know that thousands of people will hear what I’m saying. No matter the format, whether it’s a serious interview or just a goofy segment talking about hot dogs, it is always fun for me. I’ve said for years and years that if something isn’t fun, I won’t do it. Life is too short.

Døp hot dog

But not so short that we can’t talk about weird hot dogs.

#2. I’m an introvert and podcasting helps.

Not that being an introvert is something that needs to be helped, I simply mean that I’m not the most gregarious person in the world. I get stage fright. I get nervous introducing myself to crowds of unfamiliar faces. I favor solitary situations in most cases. The thing is… I love to talk. I can do twenty minutes about almost anything. I don’t even like sports very much, but if someone asks me to be on a sports podcast, I’ll say yes and then spend a few hours studying. Podcasting gets me out of my shell.

#3. It’s easy.

Well, it’s sort-of easy. Randy Cantrell, one of the greats as far as I’m concerned, likes to say that something is only hard until it’s easy. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: this ain’t rocket science. I can say that with certainty because I know actual rocket scientists. When you live down the road from NASA in Houston, Texas, you can’t throw a moon rock without hitting a rocket scientist. Podcasting can be daunting at first, but when it comes right down to it, the basics are simple. Press record. Talk. Press stop. Simple. Podcasting is only as complicated as you want it to be.

Moon rock from the Apollo 16 site

Fun fact: moon rocks are easier to throw because they have less gravity than earth rocks. Science, FTW!

#4. It compliments your existing business and it can be your primary gig.

A podcast is a wonderful addition to a blog because it allows readers to hear your voice; unless you write like you talk, this can be a great way to give readers a better sense of who you are. Podcasting also has the potential to be a primary business. Between affiliate marketing, sponsorships and listener donations, it is very possible to launch a podcast or podcast network and make it profitable.

The Backstory…

Last week I was in New York City for Affiliate Summit East 2012. Three major tasks dominated my agenda. One, I was the emcee for the event. Exciting! Second, I was leading the fourth iteration of Affiliate Improv, an educational brainstorming session, and always a lot of fun. Third, I was tapped to speak about podcasting for half an hour during a special adjunct to Summit called the Monetize Your Blog Using Affiliate Marketing Training Course. It’s this third bit that prompted me to write this article for you today.

I had a few dozen slides prepared and my plan of attack was simple. Part one of my presentation would be about why everyone should podcast. Part two, how to podcast—hardware, software, recording… you get the idea. Part three, how to monetize a podcast and how to use a podcast to better monetize your site. The presentation went very well! I was comfortable, the slides looked great, and I believe I hit all my marks. It wasn’t until later that it was brought to my attention how I screwed up one very, very important point.

The Point That Wasn’t Made

Part one of the presentation was half a dozen slides detailing why someone should be a podcaster. These were easily inserted into the mix because I’d used them before. Last year, I did a webinar called 5 Rock Solid Reasons to Podcast (I even adapted the webinar for an article here at Blogworld.com). I tweaked those slides and called it done because that part was not the main focus of the course, monetization was. During my talk, I breezed over the five reasons, then got into the how-to and wrapped up quite nicely with some monetization tips—I even had enough time for Q&A.

Had I thought more about the first part of the talk instead of just repurposing my old slides, I might have saved myself a little jolt of embarrassment later on.

Two days later, I was in the Blogger Lounge at Affiliate Summit when I was approached by Wendy Limauge. She said what a great job all of us presenters did at the monetization course and asked me if I’d be willing to do an interview with her. Being the media who—uh, slave, that I am, I of course said sure. She said, and I’m paraphrasing because I have the memory of a chipmunk, “great, because I’d love to ask you why you’re a podcaster. You didn’t mention that in the presentation on Saturday.”

I… didn’t? But I have those five rock solid reasons… how did I not…?

As I started to talk in the interview, I realized what a terrible mistake I’d made. I never did explain why I’m a podcaster. Yes, a lack of FCC oversight is a great thing about podcasting. Sure, being an inexpensive endeavour makes podcasting attractive. The trouble is, my five rock solid reasons aren’t reasons. Saying that podcasts are the most portable form of communication is true, but it’s like saying you should buy a Miata because it will get you from Point A to Point B. That’s not a reason to buy a Miata—a Pinto will get you from Point A to Point B, too.

Car Fire

Usually.

So, now I toss it to you, dear reader. Do you podcast? Why?

Main image credit

Build a Pinterest Presence from Scratch: Create Your Boards (Day Two)

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This is part two of a five-part series to help you create a Pinterest presence from scratch for your business or online content. Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss a single day!

Yesterday, we went over how to sign up for and create a profile on Pinterest, but having an empty profile won’t get you many followers, nor will it help your business or online content. So today, we’re going to go over how to create boards that set you up for success.

Creating a board is pretty simple. Simply click the “Add” button in your navigation bar and choose “Create a Board.”

creating a board on pinterest

In our free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, or Videos with Pinterest, I talk about the ten boards I think everyone should create as a start to their Pinterest profile. Let’s start with just three boards to keep things even simpler:

1. A board about a hobby/interest related to your niche

Pinterest is about sharing cool stuff, and that means going beyond your niche or industry. You do want to keep your pins related to what you do, but think outside of the box. For example, on the BlogWorld Pinterest profile, we have a board about coffee. We’re not in the coffee business, but our readers drink a lot of coffee, so it’s a good fit.

You want people to follow you not just for information about your content or products, but because they like the culture your company creates. Pinterest is about community, not just link promotion.

2. A board for quotes (either general inspirational quotes or inspiration quotes specific to your niche/industry)

People on Pinterest love quotes. It’s also really easy to create quotes images yourself by finding a quote you love and using Photoshop, PicMonkey, PicFont, or another program to add the quote over pretty, stock photography or even your own photography. Quote pins get repinned a lot, and you can link them to any of your related content, so they’re a great option for Pinterest.

3. A humor board (either general humor or humor related to your niche/industry)

Like quotes, people love images that make them laugh. Don’t worry if you’re not artistic enough to create your own funny images and cartoons. You can use this board mostly for repinning others’ funny images! But because humorous images get repinned pretty often, you definitely want this kind of board so your pins and repins spread and more people find your profile. Keep your humor niche/industry related as much as possible so you’re attracting followers who are relevant, and always be mindful about having good taste with jokes.

You’re off to a great start! Now, let’s fill out your profile with some more boards related to your specific niche or industry. In addition to the above three boards, I recommend that you create at least seven boards where you can pin both your own stuff and stuff from other people.

I know what you’re thinking! Seven boards?!? Why do I have to create so many?!?

You want to create so many boards for two reasons:

1. Not everyone who lands on your profile will know you. If they come to your profile and see a board called “My Food Blog” with all of your blog posts pinned to it, they have no quick concept of what they’ll find on the board. You want to name your boards after things that are well recognized, like “Cakes” and “Chicken Recipes” so people know exactly what to expect.

2. People need options that are as segmented as possible. If you have a furniture store, for example, people with different needs will be landing on your profile. Person A might have ten kids and need cool playroom ideas. Person B might not have kids at all, but wants garden furniture. Person C might live in a high-rise with no outdoor space, but is looking for a bedroom set. If you just have one “furniture” board filled with all of those things, all three people will look at that board and think, “Well, I might like some of this stuff, but most of it isn’t for me, so I’m not going to follow it. It makes much more sense to have boards of kid’s rooms, bedroom sets, outdoor furniture, and so forth.

My general rule of thumb is that you should create boards in narrow categories, but not so narrow that you can’t find something to pin or repin to them at least once a week. In terms of how narrow to go, therefore, it will depend on your specific needs and relation to the category. For example, if you blog about lifestyle design, you might want one overall travel board, along with boards about health, family, etc., but if you blog just about travel, you’ll want to segment and have boards like “Travel Tips for Parents” and “Tropical Destinations” (or whatever makes sense for your blog).

Think about how your readers define themselves. This might not be the same way you define them in categories on your website. It depends on your audience.

But your goal today is to create at least seven boards based on the links you can offer. On these boards, you can pin both your own stuff and stuff from others. So, adding to the first three boards I mentioned, you’ll have a great start with ten boards.

Of course, as you use Pinterest, it is A-okay to add more! The best and most popular Pinterest profiles out there tend to have dozens and dozens of boards. Just make sure you can maintain what you create, adding pins to each board at least once or twice a week.

This is very important: Every time you create a board, go back in and fill in the details so you show up in search results. When you add a board, you’re asked to categorize it, which is a start, but you want to also add a description. To do this, click your name in the navigation bar and once you’re on your profile page, click on the name of the new board you’ve create. Then, click the “edit” button and this will pop up:

edit a pinterest board

Make sure you fill in the “description” box with something that tells viewers what the board is about and indicate the topic so that when people search, your board will potentially show up. For example, on the Cookies board above, I used the keyword “cookie recipes” in the description since people might type that into the Pinterest search box.

Then, simply hit the “save” button and your board is ready to go.

See the entire series here:

What Kind of Links are Most Popular on Twitter? [Infographic]

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People share tons of links on Twitter. So many links, in fact, that it can be difficult to stand out. You should, of course, retweet others’ links, not just your own, but when you do tweet out a link, what should you be tweeting?

The answer to that question is going to depend on your niche, but I thought this infographic was interesting; it outlines the most popular kind of links that are shared on Twitter. Check it out!

What Kind of Links Are Shared on Twitter?

Browse more infographics.

Build a Pinterest Presence from Scratch: Sign Up and Create Your Profile (Day One)

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This is part one of a five-part series to help you create a Pinterest presence from scratch for your business or online content. Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss a single day!

So you want to start a Pinterest profile. Good thinking–this is one of the hottest social networks right now, and that’s a trend that isn’t going to change any time soon. Learning a new social network can be daunting, though. This five-part series is all about making the process as painless as possible and setting you up so that you can be successful on Pinterest well beyond five days.

As a reminder, you can also pick up our free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, or Videos with Pinterest, if you want even more in-depth education about using Pinterest. But this series will at least get you started out on the right foot.

Let’s dive right in! Today’s lesson only has TWO steps that take about ten minutes to complete, so no excuses! You can get this done right now.

Step One: Signing Up

In the past, Pinterest was in beta, so you had to request an invite to join or get an invite from someone already using Pinterest. If you requested an invite, it could take anywhere from an hour to over a week to get in. How annoying! Just recently, however, Pinterest opened up the network to absolutely everyone, which is a fantastic update. Now, you can get right in! Yay!

I recommend using the same username that you use on other networks, like Twitter. This consistency will help people find you more easily as they’re moving across all networks.

On Pinterest, there’s no division between personal accounts and business accounts like you’ll see on Facebook and Google+. This is more like Twitter–you can create a profile under your own name, under your business/website name, or both.

When you sign up, you’ll go through a process where they’ll ask you to pick a few images that speak to you. It will then auto-follow a number of people for you based on the images you liked.

I feel like this is a poor system on Pinterest’s part, simply because the people it auto-follows for you often have nothing to do with the images you picked and they tend to be people with large follower numbers who aren’t following many people themselves. It also only follows single boards, not entire profiles (more about boards versus profiles later in this series). I suggest you go through these auto-followed people right away and unfollow them all so you start with a fresh, empty profile. Hopefully, Pinterest will change this in the future!

Step Two: Creating Your Profile

Now it’s time to create your profile. You edit your profile by clicking on your name in the upper right-hand corner and then choosing “settings” as shown below:

Creating Your Pinterest Profile

Scroll down until you reach the “About” section. Here, you have 200 characters to describe yourself. I recommend using some keywords to help people find you. Most of the time, you can use whatever you’re using on Twitter, with some minor edits.

Next, upload an image. Again, for consistency’s sake, I recommend using the avatar you use on other social networks.

You can choose whether or not to include a location (it doesn’t really matter), but definitely make sure you list your website. This is a do-follow link, so not only will it lead followers to your site, but it’s good for search engine optimization.

You can choose to link with Twitter and Facebook if you want. If you do, you don’t have to send every pin to Pinterest. You get to pick and choose where you notify people with every pin, simply by checking these boxes when you pin something:

I recommend turning both of these to the “on” position so you can send pins to Facebook and Twitter when it makes sense. Linking will also allow Pinterest to find your friends who are already on Pinterest, giving you a base of people to follow, and it allows little Twitter and Facebook links to appear on your profile so people can find you from one network to another.

That’s it! You now have a Pinterest profile. See? That didn’t take long at all. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Build a Pinterest Presence from Scratch post, when we’ll talk about creating boards for your profile.

See the entire series here:

Red Routes: What City Busses Can Teach You about Website Usability

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Even though people in London drive on the wrong side of the road, there are still some things we can learn from their transit system. Their bus system, just like every other one in the world, is designed to get people where they want to go quickly and easily. However, they’ve found a way to optimize travelers’ experiences using a system called red routes. This same logic can help you optimize your website to guide your visitors to the information they’re seeking.

As you might expect, some places in London are more popular than others. In fact, just 5 percent of the city’s roads make up a third of the traffic. The city decided to fast-track busses on those popular routes by creating red routes, which received their name courtesy of the double red line land markings. These routes place restrictions on other traffic patterns and prohibit parking in bus lanes. By optimizing the efficiency of these routes, they’ve managed to reduce wait times on those routes by 15 percent in the first five years.

Now think about your own website. Chances are there are one or two pages off of your homepage that make up at least a third of your traffic. On my Web design company’s site, for example, most of the traffic from our home page goes to either a page about our services or our portfolio. I know that these are important pages to my visitors, and I also know how frustrating it can be when you can’t find what you’re looking for on a website. Therefore, I want to make sure this majority group can easily find links to that content.

Just as in London, Web developers now commonly refer to these critical paths as red routes. And, just as in London, optimizing them can have a big effect on your most important metric: conversions.

Identifying Your Website’s Red Routes
The first step is to identify these routes. A quick look at your analytics can shed some light on how visitors flow through your site today. Granted the paths might not be as easy as it could be for visitors, but these numbers will show you the popular tracks your customers are actively seeking out. By improving the flow to these red routes, your goal is to more easily direct the more passive visitor down the same path. After all, all red routes should lead to a conversion.

Optimizing Your Website’s Red Routes
Now you have two good pieces of data: where you want your visitors to go on your website, and where they’re currently going. It’s time to put those together to create a simple path for users to not only get to those pages, but more importantly, to also get from those pages to a conversion. Take this site as an example. Two obvious goals for this site are to get users to opt-in to the BlogWorld newsletter, and to register for the NMX conference. At the same time, let’s assume the most popular page after the home page is the most recent blog post. That is why there are prominent banners on the right of all blog posts showcasing these two things. There are plenty of sites that just feature these types of calls-to-action on the homepage, and they’re missing out on a big opportunity.

Testing Your Website’s Red Routes
Once you’ve identified your red routes and set them up, it’s time to see if they work. While things might look obvious to you, it’s best to try some user testing to see what an average visitor thinks. When testing your own site, it’s always a good idea to give users a series of tasks to complete to see how difficult it is for them. Think of this like a virtual scavenger hunt on your website. You want to know if users can easily find what they want, or in this case, what you want them to find. This is much more valuable than simply asking how your site makes a person feel.

In this kind of testing, it’s critical to test your red routes. Can people locate the content that is most important to them? There is nothing worse than a customer on an ecommerce site who is ready to buy but can’t find the product they’re after. Likewise, a visitor to a blog that can’t find the “subscribe” or “share” buttons would be equally frustrated.

Red routes are just one important way to give your visitors a better experience on your site. If you’re looking for more tips, then you’re in luck. I’m speaking at NMX in January on defining and maximizing conversions through better usability. I hope to see you there!

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