Looking for Something?
Posts Tagged for


The Daily Social Media Habits of Successful Bloggers


Want to know the secret for engaging with your followers online? In the world of social media, it’s all about your habits. The daily habits you implement as social media routines directly impact the ways you’re able to connect with your followers. When you are consistent, focused, and strategic in your efforts, the results show it.

Here’s what you should be doing, every day, on social media channels:

Google Plus: Post every new blog post.

When you post the link to your latest blog post on your Google Plus profile, that content gets indexed faster and you expose your content to your network. What’s more, content on Google Plus tends to do well in Google search results, helping you improve overall SEO. Here’s an example of how Brian Samuels, the blogger behind A Thought for Food, publishes his new posts on Google Plus, usually with commentary and #hashtags:


Pinterest: Pin every day—5 to 30 times.

As with every social media site, the idea with Pinterest is to be a resource of good content without being annoying. You shouldn’t pin nonstop anymore than you should pin infrequently; for the best results, pin every day. Pin content that’s relevant to your brand in some way—but feel free to think outside the box, too.  The more quality content you pin, the more opportunities for others to repin your content and promote you profile, as well as to find your content through search. Look at the example of photographer Nicole Franzen, who regularly pins bright, beautiful images across her 31 different boards:


Editor’s note: If you don’t have time to sit on Pinterest all day every day, you can use Pingraphy to schedule your pins so they appear throughout the day instead of all at once.

Twitter: Tweet every day—at least 4-5 times.

According to research published at Media Bistro, profiles that Tweet at least four to five times a day see some of the best results on Twitter. Use your updates to interact with followers, retweet info you find interesting, share valuable information, and promote your content. Whole Foods Market does this well, posting relevant updates almost every hour:


Facebook: Share Images and Quotes.

An article at TechCrunch last year pointed out that Facebook updates typically receive responses for up to three hours after being posted—so spreading updates out by at least that amount of time makes sense. The content that does best on Facebook are images and quotes—users tend to stay on the network rather than clicking links that send them away. For an example of a blogger who’s doing this well, check out Deliciously Organic:


Overall: Think Strategically.

If looking at the above list feels overwhelming and you’re wondering how to find the time to do all these tasks each day, don’t be discouraged. To help you maximize your productivity, here are a few tips for being active on social media without spending every day tied to a computer screen:

  • Schedule Facebook posts and Twitter updates: Use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to plan your posts throughout a day. You can schedule updates to run at various intervals to spread them out for maximum impact.
  • Take a few minutes each morning to curate content: Rather than hanging on your social networks all afternoon, set aside a certain chunk of time each day to pull together shareable content. Because you’re scheduling posts, you can easily set these updates to go live all day long.
  • Monitor and adjust: Not every blogger needs to be on every social media platform, so test the different ones o see which makes the most sense for you. If you find engagement on Facebook brings in most of your traffic, make that site a priority; if regular and relevant Tweeting yields few results, focus your attention elsewhere.

Whether you blog about baseball or beauty products, using a chunk of weeks or a full month to test these social media habits is a good idea. Set aside a period in which you consistently post, share, pin, and tweet every day—and, at the end of that period, take a look at the results. They might surprise you.

5 Ways to Be a Super Hero Blogger


super hero blogger

Have you ever wanted to fly through the sky, jump over skyscrapers, swing from building to building or fight crime around the world? If so, it sounds like you wish you were a super hero!

Who wouldn’t want to be a super hero? Everyone loves them, they get movies made about them and are just so cool!

In the mean time you can settle for the next best thing… being a Super Hero Blogger!

Hey, it’s not all bad, bloggers have it pretty good too!

We get to:

  • schedule our own hours
  • write on whatever topics we like
  • reach a growing audience
  • build our businesses over time

All in all, it’s pretty cool to be a blogger and best of all, it doesn’t matter if you are just starting out or have been in the game for years. The blogging world is still young and there is still so much more room for growth. New bloggers are entering the online world every day and they love to look up to super hero bloggers to guide them along the way and to follow in their steps.

How to Be a Super Hero Blogger

So what makes some bloggers bigger and better than others? At the end of the day it’s the name recognition and how large of a following you have on your blog and on major social networks, but there is actually a lot more that goes into being a top blogger. I’ve taken a few of these concepts and related them with being a super hero.

  • Flight

Look, in the sky! It’s a bird… it’s a plane! No… it’s a social media marketing bloggers with over a hundred thousand followers on Twitter! In all seriousness, you might not be able to fly through the skies, but you can definitely propel your way past the competition and build a name for yourself as a top blogger!

Here are some more resources to help you with name recognition:

  • Invisibility

As cool as it would be to be invisible, being a successful blogger from home is almost the next best thing. A great way to think of blogging and the power of invisibility is to think about all of the business opportunities that you might see that the average person doesn’t.

You can find more tips about using your blog to get business opportunities here:

  • Fire

The Human Torch is one of the most well known super heroes for being able to fly when he lights himself on fire. Sometimes bloggers and online marketers find themselves in “the zone” and are on fire, burning with new ideas and passion to bring their business and sites to the next level!

Check out these posts to read more about passion and blogging:

  • Strength

It doesn’t matter how weak or strong you are in real life, what matter is how strong your will to succeed is. The world of internet marketing and blogging is tough, you need to have a strong backbone to continually fight against your latest failures to find your next success!

Here are a few posts about facing failures as a blogger:

  • Mind Reading

Imagine how much more we could accomplish if we could simply read minds? Even though we can’t, as bloggers and marketers we still have a talent for knowing what our audience is looking for and how to give it to them.

These resources can help you learn more about using your blog to learn about your audience

It’s time to take all of these ideas and super power dreams and put them into real life examples. Be sure to check out my How to be a Super Hero Marketer slide show and share it along with all of your friends.

What’s your favorite super hero power?

Image Credit: Altered, from Bigstock

From Good to Great: 5 Ways to Turn Passion into Better Blogging


If there’s one thing that sets the big blogs apart, it’s passion. With that in mind, here are five ways to turn your passion into better blogging!

1. Be Willing to Learn New Things

Take that enthusiasm you have for your industry and use it to grow your ability to communicate about it. Blogging is a unique medium, different from magazine advertising, direct mail marketing, or email newsletters—so invest the time to learn how it works and to continually improve your skills. Here are a few areas to explore:

  • HTML/CSS: In today’s world of user-friendly blog software and templates, you don’t need to know HTML or CSS coding to start a site—but learning a few basics won’t hurt. In fact, with a little extra coding knowledge under your belt, you’ll be better equipped to tweak your design as you like. For a good start, see this helpful article at Google.
  • Design: Content may be king, but design definitely matters. Keep track of blog designs you like and continually look for ways to raise the bar on how your site looks to visitors.
  • SEO: Search engine optimization is crucial for increasing traffic because it helps bring users to your site when they’re already searching for related information. For more information on this topic, take a look at “Why SEO Matters No Matter How Brilliant Your Content Is.”
  • Photography: The Internet is a visual place, so improving your pictures goes a long way towards improving your site. At the Straight North Blog, we’ve used royalty-free images from Fotolia; at my personal blog Food Loves Writing, I’m always looking for ways to take better pictures and even to hand-illustrate when appropriate.

2. Let Your Excitement Show—on Social Media

When someone is passionate about what he or she is saying, it’s not hard to tell—and that’s just as true online as it is at cocktail parties. Whether on Twitter or Facebook or another site, let your genuine enthusiasm show by sharing and posting online the things that catch your attention.

  • Relevant Links: Find a blog or website that inspires and motivates you? Share it with your followers and tell them why you like it. Not only does this make your feed more valuable, but it also builds community with the authors and creators whose works you’re promoting. Food bloggers do this all the time when they share recipes and links from other sites, like Sarah Kieffer from the Vanilla Bean Blog does here on Facebook:

vanilla bean blog

  • Interesting Articles: When you come across a study or article that relates to your industry, tell your fans about it—they might feel the same way, like Helene from French Foodie Baby does here:

french foodie baby

  • Your Own Work: Promoting your own content on social networks is acceptable, as long as that’s not all you promote. With discretion, let your followers know about your recent work—blog posts, press releases, news updates—and where they can find it.

the house that lars built

3. Find Other People as Passionate as You Are

One of the greatest benefits of sharing your passion online is finding a network of people who also love what you love. Whether you’re a food blogger obsessed with baking, a business blogger fascinated by corporate case studies, or a graphic designer ever on the hunt for slick logos, you can bet there are other bloggers who feel the same way. By forming relationships with like-minded people, you create a strong community that greatly enhances your online experience. Reach out on social media or via email.

Some of the benefits of blog community include:

  • Genuine friendships
  • Loyal audience
  • Promotion of each other’s work
  • Creative inspiration
  • Opportunities to learn
  • Greater visibility
  • Enjoyment

4. Reach High for Specific Goals

Passion is great, but passion with a purpose is even greater. Rather than just striving to blog better, set specific goals—this helps guide your efforts and ensures you’re moving towards a better blog.

Three tips for setting blog goals:

  1. Be Specific: Don’t say, “I want to blog better.” Say, “I want 2,000 new RSS subscribers by the end of three months.”
  2. Make Goals Measurable: If your goal is more subscribers, find a way to calculate that number. If your goal is a lower bounce rate, set up Google Analytics. Make your goals measurable so you know if you’re hitting them.
  3. Set Time Limits: Be sure to set time limits on your goals. Rather than aiming to blog twice a week, aim to blog twice a week for a year—this helps to keep you motivated.

5. Branch Out

Who says you have to stop at blogging? Why not branch out beyond traditional posts into the world of videos or podcasts? Sometimes a new vehicle is all you need to improve your work. Here are a few ideas for spreading your passion even farther:

  • Videos: Visual, engaging, and filled with potential for adding your personality to your site, videos are typically crowd pleasers. Try answering reader questions, sharing behind-the-scenes information, running interviews over video, or giving helpful how-tos, like Meghan from Eat Live Make does here:

photography 101

  • Podcasts: Built off the idea of radio broadcasts, podcasts let you communicate with your audience orally, opening up all kinds of possibilities, from interviews to roundtable discussions to music and more. One new way to do this is through a Google+ Hangout, which is what Alex and Sonja from A Couple Cooks did on March 9.
  • Guest Posting: Spread your voice online by guest-posting on other websites, like authors do on this site regularly. This builds community with other blog authors and gets your brand out to a larger audience.
  • E-books: By making an e-book, you have a packaged product to sell or give away. This option is great for how-to guides, topical booklets, compilations, etc.  You may create the book in a Word processor, save it as a PDF, and market that PDF directly through your site; or you could go through a service like Amazon Kindle Direct, like we did with our ebook.

written together

Your Thoughts

Whether you’ve been blogging a day or a decade, what have you seen to be keys to blogging passion? How does it show? How can you nurture it? Is passion driving what you do?

The Mobile Majority Wants Your Small Business


mobile small business Remember when mobile phones used to be about..making a call? Neither do I. The explosive growth of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices over the past few years has drastically and permanently changed the way we socialize, work, and do business. The net-net? It’s imperative to travel with your customers and prospects wherever they go.

In fact, a recent report revealed that 28% of smartphone users and 55% of tablet users shop online: That means they are searching, evaluating, or making purchases—possibly all three in one fell swoop. That’s why small businesses—whether  a consultant, online site, or retail—are now expected to serve up discoverable, easy to navigate, and actionable content on mobile devices. If not, there is a gaping hole of awareness, customer and  prospect interaction, and the opportunity for your competition to grab business.

Consider these recent mobile device statistics:


Even though you know it’s the “right” move for your business, thinking about the effort required can be overwhelming, or perhaps you don’t even know where to start. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to position your business in the mobile marketing game without reshuffling your plans, allocating a huge budget, or calling yourself a tech-genius.

Depending on whether you have a store-front, are a consultant, ecommerce site, or other business model, you will have one or more content areas to mobile-ize. Additional factors to consider will be your overall marketing goals, tools you use to promote your business, and how often you communicate with your customers and prospects.

Let’s start making your content mobilicious:

  • Entice with easy-to-read mail: The great thing about optimizing email for mobile devices is that you’ll get a two-for-one: Not only will your email be easier to read, visually pleasing, and clear on what action to take, it will result in a better promotion on any size screen. Here are some rules of thumb:
    • Keep the text short and punchy: Edit. Edit. Edit. What email wouldn’t benefit from that?
    • Use time and space wisely with your Call-to-Action (CTA): Think discounts, free offers, and new services you want to promote.
    • Have few images but make them clickable: Streamlined but effective graphics can pull double duty by being touch-friendly to navigate and also prompting action, such as pointing to social media icons, or click to buy, to name a few.
    • Let the fingers do the walking: With virtually all smartphones using a touchscreen these days, make sure your email is “finger-friendly” to open, navigate, and zoom around the content.
    • Consider getting help: If email marketing is a big part of your business, think about hiring a vendor to do the heavy lifting for you, such as Movable Ink or BrightWave Marketing.

So is your small business ready to join the mobile majority? Yes, it will require some initial work, but taking these steps today will put you front and center with your customers and prospects wherever they are, now and in the future.

Once you get on the mobile marketing train, I recommend that you stay up to speed on the trends: Because it’s a growing and ever-changing technology, being ahead of the curve will help improve your chances for mobile marketing success. Check out resources on all aspects of mobile marketing. There are tons more online.

What’s next? Start thinking about blinging out your presence with apps, QR codes, video, texting, advertising, search widgets, which will be covered in my article next month.

Image credit: Bigstock

How Often Should I Blog?

Find your blogging pace

Find your blogging pace

One question I get asked a LOT is, “How much do I need to write at my blog?”

The question needs clarification.

How much does a blogger need to write to do what? Have an online platform? Get readers? Make money? Make money from traffic alone? Make money by offering display or affiliate ads? Make money by offering a service? Make money by some combination of all of these?

The answer to how much a blogger should write at their blog will differ depending on why the blogger writes? Depending on what the blogger’s end game is.

That being said, there is one thing that is absolutely foundational to making money with your blog. You have to have traffic = eyeballs of people specifically interested in the content at your site.

The traffic can be minimal, as in only those people you tell to go there. The traffic can com via referral, as in those people who are told to go there by hook or by crook. Think through social networking. The traffic can come via search = somebody dropped something in a search engine box and found you. The traffic can come through some combination of these methods.

In my Marketing with Social Media MBA course, I am teaching my students how to get people to find them via search engines.

Believing that is cheaper = a better of use time spent, for people to find me than it is for me to find them, I am teaching my students that they need to write in such a way that they become visible to the search engines without compromising the quality of their content.

The question again, “How much does a blogger need to write at their blog to get found by real people via search engines?”

Here are the weekly guidelines I am giving my students:

1.  Each student must write a minimum of 600-750 words daily. Those words can be in the form of 3 posts that are 200-250 words long, one post that is 600-750 words long or a 200-250 word post and a 400-500 word post.

2. Each student must guest blog (400+ words) at my site on a subject that I give them. And in this guest blog, they link back to their own sites. After guest blogging at my site, as one of their daily posts they must write about their experience of guest blogging at my site and link to it.

3. Each student must guest blog at a classmate’s site. They are free to pursue which site they will guest post at and the rules are the same. They will write 400+ words about something relevant to their classmate’s site, providing a link back to their own web site. And as one of their daily posts they must write about their experience of guest posting with a link.

4. Finally, each student is required to write an anchor/pillar/evergreen post at their home site. (400+ words) that they would be particularly happy with AND they are asked to share it with their social network IF they have one.

There are 73 students enrolled in the class. More than 50 of them are very active. A few of them are wasting their money and my time. I can’t help that latter group.

So, how is this working?

I will delve into the analytics as the weeks progress. But for now, the interested reader can see how the top 10 sites are performing after weeks one, two and three.

That question one more time: “How much do I need to write at my blog?”

My answer: “How much traffic do you want at your blog? Keep writing until that many people show up.”

The above guidelines will get you started.

10 Movie Plots That Can Help You Write Better Blog Posts


Formulas can make your writing boring, but they exist for a reason: they work. The key is making the same old, same old you own with a little creativity. In this post, we’ll go over 10 movie plots that can help you write creative, engaging blog posts for your community.

some like it hot

1. The Fish Out of Water

Description: The main character gets thrown into a situation where he or she is very uncomfortable. Hilarity typically ensues, and the protagonist usually learns a lesson.

Movie Examples: Big, Some Like it Hot, Edward Scissorhands

The Twist for Bloggers: We’re all a little set in our ways. Try putting yourself in a situation that isn’t comfortable for you, and reporting back on the results. It’s even better if you can put your own little spin on it. Teach your readers a lesson through your experiences.

Blog Example: Let’s say you run a food blog that typically posts home-style recipes, just like mama used to make. What would happen if you took one of her butter-heavy favorites and made a healthier version? Sure, you might not be a traditional health food blog, but this could be a nice spin, especially if you not only post the recipe, but also talk about what you’ve learned about slimming down a meal.

karate kid

2. The Coming of Age

Description: Coming-of-age films follow the story of a child becoming an adult. Through the series of events in the movie, the protagonist matures physiologically and enters a new stage of life.

Movie Examples: My Girl, Can’t Hardly WaitThe Karate Kid

The Twist for Bloggers: Tell your readers a “coming-of-age” story that makes sense for your topic. In other words, talk about your transition from one way of thinking to a more mature way of thinking.

Blog Example: A tech blogger, for example, could tell the story of how he/she always hated a certain brand of cell phones, until getting one for Christmas and finding out that all assumptions about the brand were wrong.


3. The Buddy Comedy

Description: Buddy movies pair two unlikely candidates together and put them in a situation where they have to rely on one another. Usually, the two people are of the same sex and they solve some kind of crime or defeat some kind of evil together, with hilarity ensuing at every turn.

Movie Examples: Men in Black, Up, The Odd Couple

The Twist for Bloggers: Team up with another blogger to do some joint debates, where you take one stance and the other blogger takes the opposite stance. You can combine these into one post, or write separate posts. The point is to give the reader a look at both sides of the coin so they can decide for themselves. It’s great for getting community interaction on your blog, since people like to give their opinions on polarizing topics.

Blog Example: We did this right here on the NMX blog when we asked Jason Falls and Marcus Sheridan to each talk about their opinions on using curse words on your blog.

texas chainsaw

4. Serial Killer/Slash

Description: Most serial killer (slasher) movies start with a group of unsuspecting teens or young adults who are having fun, and then start getting picked off one by one. At the end, there is usually one person or a couple left standing.

Movie Examples: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead, Halloween

The Twist for Bloggers: The same way killer might pick off people one by one, you can pick off topics one by one in a special series, where you cover one item in a category every week/day.

Blog Example: Let’s say you have a home improvement blog. You could do a series on the types of tile, with each post covering one type and going over the advantages, disadvantages, and costs.


5. The Love Triangle

Description: One of the most common chick flick movies is the love triangle, where two people randomly meet and develop feelings for one another, but one of them is already engaged.

Movie Examples: Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Wedding Planner

The Twist for Bloggers: The essence of the love triangle is that one of the people realizes that they are not in love like they were or they realize that the relationship isn’t right and they should break it off. Think about a habit or technique relating to your topic that you really should quit, and talk to your readers about the outcome of doing so.

Blog Example: If you run a fashion blog, you could talk about how you have a tendency to buy or keep clothing that is too small, and how it was liberating to purge your closet of items that just remind you you aren’t as thin as you used to be.

slumdog millionaire

6. Rags to Riches

Description: The hero of this story goes from being poor and downtrodden to being rich in a strange turn of events. This can also mean that the “ugly” girl is turned beautiful or that the geek is turned into a popular kid.

Movie Examples: She’s All That, The Blind Side, Slumdog Millionaire

The Twist for Bloggers: How did you change your life? People read your blog because they want to be like you. So teach them lessons based on your own experiences.

Blog Example: On your financial blog, you could talk about how you got out of debt or on your marketing blog you could talk about how you grew your email list to over 100,000 people.

day after tomorrow

7. Man versus Nature

Description: The characters in the story are battling a natural disaster that threatens to totally wipe out mankind. Or, the characters are battling an animal that threatens to totally wipe out their little group. Either way, man is fighting Mother Nature, usually just battling to survive because there is no possibility of stopping the natural world.

Movie Examples: The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon, Jaws

The Twist for Bloggers: What challenges are inevitably found in your life? How have you overcome these challenges? When you’re dealt a certain lot in life and don’t have a choice in the matter, what can you do to still succeed? The theme of your post should be survival of something you have no control over.

Blog Example: Maybe you run a small business blog and you can talk about how a small real estate firm used social media to survive the housing marking crash. Or maybe you have a green blog, and you talk about how you grow your own ingredients, even though your apartment has no outdoor space.

v for vendetta

8. Man versus Society

Description: The protagonist of a Man versus Society movie is battling against “the man.” He or she sees a problem in the world and chooses to stand against it. Often, this person ends up leading a revolution.

Movie Examples: Schindler’s List, V for Vendetta, Braveheart

The Twist for Bloggers: What do you see happening in your niche that is bad? It can be scarey to speak out against other big-name bloggers or common advice that everyone follows, but doing so can also start a revolution.

Blog Example: On our TBEX (travel exchange) blog, our CEO Rick wrote “You Are Not a Travel Blogger” about some of the bad behavior he sees in this niche and how some people who call them professionals aren’t really professionals.

shrek 2

9. The Sequel

Description: When a movie does well in the box office, it is usually followed up with a sequel. Sometimes the same actors are involved. Other times, it’s a completely new cast. Rarely is the sequel as good as the original, but sometimes it is even better.

Movie Examples: Shrek 2, The Dark Knight, Aliens

The Twist for Bloggers: Got a post that’s getting tons of traffic or comments? Write a follow up to that post. You could pull inspiration for your new post from a discussion in the comments or go into further detail about your opinion.

Blog Example: If you wrote an informative post about a recent news story, you could follow it up with an op-ed about the story. Or if you wrote “15 Tips for…” you could follow it up with “15 MORE Tips for…”

true grit

10. The Remake

Description: When a movie is good the first time around, it sometimes gets remade. People are usually highly critical of the remakes, because they loved the original, but you’re starting with a proven story, so there’s the opportunity for greatness with a remake.

Movie Examples: Dawn of the Dead, Scarface, True Grit

The Twist for Bloggers: There’s no reason you can’t rewrite a post to modernize it. Update the information so it’s more relevant for users. You can also do this with posts from other blogs, but make sure you’re adding something valuable of your own, not just rewriting information, and always give credit where credit is due.

Blog Example: Say someone in your niche writes “The Top Things You Need to Know about…”. You could write your own version of this, referring to some of his/her points, but also adding some of your own.

Some Final Thoughts

Of course, most movies are actually a combination of formulas and plots. If they weren’t, going to the movies would be pretty boring. So think about how you can combine some of these formulas and use them to create interesting blog posts. No matter what your niche, you can use these plots to make your blog better.

7 Pieces of Blog Advice to Ignore


When it comes to advice, blogging’s like anything else—everybody’s got an opinion, and these opinions often conflict. How can you know whose to trust? Which advice is the right advice? Are there certain tips that you can always assume to be untrue?

To help answer those questions, here are seven pieces of advice you can safely ignore:

1. “Always blog every day.”

One of the earliest and most popular pieces of advice given to bloggers was also one of the worst, saying you have to blog every day. While the experts say daily blogging is necessary for building traffic, the truth is that daily blogging is not the only way to gain readers. In fact, some bloggers find the pressure to post every day lowers their posts’ quality and therefore, in the long run, hurts them more than it helps.

Better advice: Blog regularly, but blog quality.

2. “You need to be controversial.”

Controversial topics indeed draw readers’ attention—but sometimes they backfire. When a site with a generally happy, uplifting tone publishes a sharp, critical article, the audience recoils. Controversy for its own sake is not beneficial; it’s alienating.

Better advice: Don’t feel you need to be controversial to be different. It’s just as interesting to approach a topic from a new angle or perspective. More than that, stay authentic to your own voice.

3. “Comment on other sites constantly.”

In blogging’s early days, everyone said to comment on other sites as much as possible because by responding on other blogs, you alert other bloggers to your site.

Better advice: Rather than commenting on blogs to bring traffic to your own, comment on other blogs when you’re genuinely interested in what the blogger has to say. This fosters real relationships.

4. “Don’t go too specific.”

The biggest blogs are about the biggest topics—or at least that’s what some experts say. That’s why specialists often recommend writing about the industries with the largest followings. But if writing about the popular topics isn’t authentic to your voice, readers will notice—and you’ll never get anywhere.

Better advice: When someone says your niche is too specific, don’t listen. Whatever your passion, an audience exists for it.

5. “You have to build traffic.”

Whether you blog about accounting or home design, the experts push for numbers, numbers, numbers. Everything is about building Web traffic and attracting more eyes to your content—but, in reality, building traffic is only one potential goal.

Better advice: Evaluate what you hope to accomplish with your site—Brand awareness? Better SEO for your website? New leads? More sales?—and see if that goal demands more traffic. If it doesn’t, don’t waste your time.

6. “Pull pictures from Tumblr.”

Everybody knows pictures make blogs more attractive and interesting—they give readers something to look at, respond to, and sometimes share. And if you look at other blogs, you’ll find other bloggers taking pictures from Tumblr or Pinterest and posting them on their own sites. You may do it, too.

Better advice: Most photos on Tumblr don’t link to the original source, and taking someone else’s picture without permission is not okay; it’s stealing. It’s better to use your own pictures, or use a resource that gives full permission for usage.

7. “Nobody reads blogs anymore.”

Here’s a piece of advice meant to discourage: Blogging is done. You hear this from cynics and experts alike, along with stats on how many blogs exist and how few find success. Why should you even bother with a blog? Stick to social media instead.

Better advice: The prevalence of blogging is less a testament to over-saturation and more a testament to its power. In 2013 more than ever, content is key for firms to stand out online, as well as for individuals. Blogs add relevant, authoritative content for businesses and draw big-time SEO power for websites. That’s why, whether you blog for business or pleasure, blogging is worthwhile.

Your Turn

Does this post resonate with you? Have you received advice like this from well-meaning blog experts and wondered what didn’t add up? What other bad advice have you received about blogging? What good advice?

5 Creative Solutions for Twitter Embeds on WordPress


When WordPress came out with the ability to embed Tweets on posts and pages, a few of us thought, “cool.” It’s so easy. Just click on “Expand”, then on “Details,” which will open up the single tweet. Then just copy and paste the URL. And there you are: a sweet, instantly embedded tweet, like this:


But after the excitement wore down, we struggled to find a really good use of it, and it seemed that the feature would become just another WordPress function.

With that said, let’s wrap our brains around 5 ways to get creative with embedded tweets.

1. The Rambling Testimonial Problem

Sometimes your clients’ testimonials can seem too formal, too long or lacking in authenticity while the real ones —short, to the point and fun— are ‘hidden in unexpected places.

The Solution: Mix it up by embedding a few real-time tweets on your site’s pages along with your others. If someone brags about your services, workshops or products in a tweet, be ready to capture it before it whooshes by.

2. The Boring Review Problem

Sometimes reviews of products or services feel canned to your readers, lacking in freshness, spontaneity and personality. They are just plain boring.

The Solution: I see fantastic, personal, in-the-moment tweets about restaurants, hotels and other products and services come through my stream all the time. If you see a tweet about you or your business, take it for what it is and consider using it because it’ll make a powerful statement.

3. The Dull Fact Problem

Sometimes facts you want to present in a blog post or web page are intriguing and other times they are dull.

The Solution: If someone shares a fact on Twitter,  someone with a name and a face, well, that makes it more interesting. Of course, you should verify that it is indeed true, but think about livening up your article or post with it.

4. The Self-Important About Page Problem

Let’s face it. An about page can easily become the ramblings of an egomaniac. Whether you write in the first person or third person, you are talking about yourself and attempting to show the world that you can solve their problems. It can make you feel icky, writing so much about yourself.

The Solution: Sometimes someone shares something unique about you on Twitter and in fewer than 140 characters, the have captured the essence of you. It’s great because it provides social proof. It isn’t just you saying things about yourself. A few tweets from other people on your about page offer that unique, outside perspective.

5. The I’m-Talking-to-Myself Problem

 Your blog can feel like one huge echo chamber  if it’s always just you.

The Solution: Bringing in new voices to supplement your post or story is a great way to create a conversational setting. By scattering tweets here and there from people who have something to say about your topic in real time can add an in-the-moment feel. Another benefit of embedding your tweets is that if a reader finds the per on interesting, they can click and follow them on Twitter, right from your blog.

What other ways can you see embedded tweets being used to make your content more powerful?

5 Beginner Steps to Creating a Blog that You Can Monetize


Last week, I wrote Follow 50+ MBA-level Case Studies in Content and Inbound Marketing about a 48-hour class that is happening at a university in Silicon Valley.

In the first week, my students wrote a combined 750-ish posts of varying length and purpose – daily posts, guest posts, link bait posts. At Top 10 Content Marketing Sites in the Social Media MBA course I listed up the best performers. You’re welcome to take a look to see just how many unique visitors, total visitors and page views that much effort can produce in sites that are starting from zero.

In this post I want to articulate the 5 first steps my students and I had to take BEFORE they could think about making money with content marketing and the challenges I faced to get them there and how I, ahem, overcame those challenges just to get the students online and writing.

Step One: Get a Domain Name and Hosting

More than 2 weeks out my trusty TA (teacher’s assistant) and I started sending emails to the whole class via the school’s learning management system. No response. What do you do when you can’t get a response and the only way to contact the students is email? You spam them until they figure out they had better do something.

About half of the 60+ students showed up with a domain name and hosting.

Another one fourth showed up thinking, “What’s the difference between having a domain and hosting? Aren’t they the same?

And still others said, “You emailed us? When? You want us to do what?”

There was no easy answer. My trusty assistant, Kevin, came to class and they drove him ragged getting everyone a domain and hosting. It wasn’t pretty. But over the course of the first 2 days and 16 hours of in-class time and a ton of emails, we got everyone in the class online with a domain, hosting and WordPress installed.

If any reader here has a better solution to this problem…by all means let me know.

Step Two: Get the Right Plugins and Set Up the Back End

With a group of students who don’t even know what WordPress is, much less a plugin, there was no easy answer to this either. Throwing something up on the giant screen and having everyone follow along just wouldn’t work. Besides I had to spend a LOT of time on Steps 3-5 and couldn’t afford the time.

I nearly killed my local and overseas staff. They were spending about 1-2 hours per site setting the permalink structure I like, getting the right plugins in place – SEO, sitemap, etc. Creating webmaster accounts for each and installing Google Analytics so we can track the results. 60+ websites at various stages of coming online x 2 hours each = a LOT of time.

Again, I knew of no simple way to do this other than throw food under the door to keep my staff happy, or at least well fed, while they brought all the sites to an equal footing. Suggestions?

Step Three: Decide What to Write About

Unlike the first two steps,  at this point I finally had everyone on the same page, in the same room, doing the same thing. I could get all 60+ students to look up and follow along.

I had all students create a tagline. My specific instructions were for them to tell me what they were going to write about in 10 words (not a magic number, but definitely less than 12) or less what they planned to write about. They were NOT to use adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions or articles. They were to come up with 3 different iterations and show them to five other classmates for feedback and pick the best one. Focus for a site from the get go is critical

Other instructions:

  • Write about something you are interested in
  • Write about something you can create an interest in
  • Write about something you have a lot to say about.

In my world, if a blogger doesn’t have a 1,000 things to say about their topic they will have a hard time making money with their site.

Step Four: Use SEO to Ensure Posts are Found

What is SEO anyway? Search Engine Optimization. But what is that?

I define Search Engine Optimization as content that appeals to real people (first) and to search engines (second). But it must appeal to both.

If a blogger only considers readers they might get read but only by the people the blogger tells to go their directly. They will not be found as well by search engines. If the blogger considers only the search engines they are likely to come up with stuff that is just unreadable. There is an ideal balance for the content. Ideal balance = optimization.

I have learned that there are some 220+ parameters that can go into an ideal post/page. I have also learned that pages can be overly optimized. But what I find of particular value is that I have also learned that there are about 20 ‘things’ you can do to a blog post that will get you 90-95% of the results you want. I will write about them in a future post.

If you can’t wait, you can buy the book – Marketing with Social Media. It’s the text book, first draft, that I wrote for this course.

Step Five: – Make a Plan and Work the Plan

For every hour of classroom work, I can require 2 hours of work outside of the class.  I am requiring my students to write 600-750 words DAILY. How hard can that be? They are permitted to adapt to their own style.

Some like to write multiple short posts.

Some like to write one long post each day.

Some like to do a combination.

It doesn’t matter to me.

Additionally, the students are required to guest post weekly at my home site about their progress (you can read their posts at Bill Belew Guest Writer AND guest post at one classmate’s web site that is relevant. Lots of link love happening that will only get better and of more value as the sites mature = get more content. Lastly, they are required to write one relatively higher quality post – link bait style.


All 5 of these steps were done in the first 2 days of class, each a full 9-hour day, counting lunch. The students are off and writing at this point. Some get it, some don’t. Every educator knows that just because you tell somebody something, it doesn’t mean they learned it.

In the meantime, in about 10 weeks, this class will wrap up with some 15-20,000 posts being written over a large variety of niches and at various paces and different lengths and with different intensity and interlinking. How cool is that?

What do you think I can learn from this?
What would you like to learn?

What you can do:

Step 1 – Subscribe to the Bill Belew.com/blog to get more immediate updates from me at my home site. You will also be able to read the inbound and content marketing student experiences first hand

Step 2 -Subscribe to this NMX blog to get updates when they come out here.

Thanks for reading.

Blog Gamification: The Key to Community Growth?


I look at my clock and it’s less than an hour until my next deadline. I haven’t had time to eat a proper meal in days, nor do I remember the last time I got a full night’s sleep. Heck, I haven’t even had time to shower yet today, and let’s not talk about my pile of laundry. Must work. Must get this done before time runs out…

And then my phone buzzes to tell me that it’s my turn to play on Draw Something. Somehow, I find the time to play.

Does that scene sound familiar? It does for me. A few months ago, I had to quit mobile/social games cold turkey because they were actually starting to interfere with my work. These games can be intoxicating, addictive even. And it’s no accident. Gamemakers know exactly what they are doing when they make games. They want you to spend as much time playing as possible, since that means you’re viewing more ads or even spending your own money on customization options.

It’s no wonder how Farmville, one of gaming powerhouse Zynga’s most popular games, has 2.5 million active daily users. What blogger among us wouln’t kill for those stats? Games are addicting; they keep people coming back for more. Maybe there’s something we can learn from that.

Could gamification be the key to building your blog community? Could it be the element you’re missing, the reason your stats haven’t yet exploded?

Gamification, Blog Style

Gamification doesn’t mean that you make your blog agame. It simply means that you use game elements to make the experience more interactive and addicting for your community members.

Blog posts as an evolution of the article already bring some of these elements to the table. For example, blogs were the beginning of a more social web. For the first time, published articles weren’t just a one-way street, with the author talking to an audience. Most blogs allow comments, which makes the conversation two-way.

Being able to add to an article and start a conversation makes you invested. You’re talking to the author and you’re talking to other members of the community. You’re involved now.

Comments are so common online, though, that they don’t have the same effect as they did at first. So, how can you take these same gamification elements and expand them to get your community involved even further?

Gamification Examples

To better understan the concept of gamification, let’s take a look at some examples of bloggers adding these elements to their sites:

  • Featuring Community Work at Six Sisters’ Stuff

Over at Six Sisters’ Stuff, the blog is host of a weekly link party, where other food and DIY bloggers post links to their favorite projects from the past week. This already adds a level of interaction, but even more importantly, the sisters feature their favorites every week, choosing a handful from the projects submitted to promote to their fans. It’s a mini competition every week, with the community encouraged to participate every week in order to be considered for the honor of being featured.

  • Leaderboards on Social Media Examiner

To complement their highly successful blog, Social Media Examiner also launched community discussion forums. Called Networking Clubs, this area of the Social Media Examiner site allows users to continue the discussion even away from traditional blog posts. It’s a great community element. But there’s a gamification element too. On the Social Media Examiner sidebar, you’ll see a “leaderboard.” Here, ten members are featured, so it’s a game among members. The more you participate, the more likely you’ll show up on the sidebar. You also earn a higher “rank” the longer you remain an active member.

  • Rewards with Comment Luv

Comment Luv’s premium version isn’t free, but it does allow you to enable some gamification on your blog posts. With Comment Luv, you can allow readers to include a link to their latest blog post every time they leave a comment. This in and of itself is gamification, as you’re rewarding people for taking an action that you want them to take (in this case, the reward is the link and the action is the comment). With the premium version, however, you can also allow them further rewards for taking more actions. For example, you can set it up so that readers who comment a certain number of times get access to post not just their most recent link, but any of the ten most recent links.

You can increase the gamification of this by including a “top commenters” widget on your sidebar in order to recognize readers who comment the most. This is something we do here on the NMX blog. Our sidebar shows the top non-staff commenters over the past 30 days, which encourages people to comment more and reach the top of that list.

The Elements of Gamification

Basically, gamification comes down to two elements: a rewards system or competition. The best systems allow for both. You want to offer something of value for people who participate in your community, whether that’s a link or a special feature or something else. You also want to pit community members against one another to see who can be the best at something (always making sure the competition is as fair and friendly as possible). The three examples above aren’t the only ways to do this on your blog.

Businesses are starting to realize more and more the benefits of gamification. Offline, this translates to items like punch cards (buy seven coffees, get one free!) while online this translates to items like Foursquare check-in coupons. Blogs, however, have been a little slower to the world of gamification. What examples of gamification have you seen on other blogs? Do you think this is a good way to build a community?

Learn About NMX


Recent Comments