The Point

Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Mar

Headline Advice to Confuse You and Kill All Creative Impulses

Data about writing headlinesWhat do I know about writing headlines?

Yesterday I was asked to lead a headline writing session at a major marketing conference. I accepted. I’ve done it many times before and enjoy it.

An infographic I created about headlines (presented below) is one of my most popular pieces of content. I’ve written several posts featuring headline writing tips. I get interviewed on the subject all the time. In fact, recently I landed a nice piece of business from a CEO who heard me dispense headline advice on a podcast with Copyblogger’s Damien Farnsworth.

I’m a loyal reader of the HubSpot blog. It’s one of the best. I’m also a contributor to it. In fact, the most popular piece I wrote for HubSpot was my first, Copywriting 101: The Principles of Irresistible Content.

Writing effective headlines

Sooo… when I saw HubSpot and Outbrain had collaborated to produce “Data Driven Strategies for Writing Effective Titles & Headlines,” of course I got my hands on it (but that’s not my hand above).

The 28-page paper reports findings on clickthrough rates, engagement and conversion drawn from a number-crunching study of 3.3 million headlines from paid links. (Outbrain is a content discovery platform, meaning it puts sponsored content in the path of website readers. It’s new media advertising, basically.)

The data is pretty damn shocking…

… and confusing… and frustrating… and counter-intuitive… (more…)

Feb

Content Amplification Strategies to Reach a Larger Audience

Amplify Content ebook offer

You’ve spoken. Loudly. Cleary. But your voice echoes off the wall. It’s not what you were hoping to hear.

You’re sure you had something of value to say. In fact, your recent masterpiece is the most helpful content you’ve ever put out. But it’s found no audience—or no audience has found it.

You, like so many other content marketers, especially those joining the content party in the 2000-and-teens years, are learning how hard it is to find an audience, to be heard, to get a response.

You need a content promotion plan

“Most people create content first, then think about content promotion as an afterthought. You’re much better off flipping this on its head – thinking of about who would help amplify your content and why. If you can’t answer this question first, don’t bother creating it.”

— Larry Kim, Founder of WordStream

Most marketers post content on their blog and then dispatch a few updates via their social media networks. If this strategy isn’t working for you (it works for very few), you need to do more.

(more…)

Jan

The Benefits of Guest Blogging (from a Veteran Guest Blogger)


Guide to guest blogging

Are you guest blogging? Perhaps you don’t know how to get started. Or maybe you saw some of the scuttlebutt about guest blogging last year and decided it was a no-no.

Make no mistake. The benefits of guest blogging are immense. It will boost your business.

Despite the highly misunderstood announcement from Google’s Matt Cutts in 2014, guest blogging remains an ace tactic of effective content marketers in nearly every niche.

The great ones are committed to guest blogging. Ann Smarty, in a guest post on Social Media Examiner (where I guest blog as well), points out how guest posting is a weapon in the arsenal of Phil Libin (CEO, Evernote) and Marc Benioff (CEO, Salesforce).

Marketing leaders including Ann Handley, Jay Baer, Joe Pulizzi, and Ekaterina Walter, are avid guest bloggers. Online marketing superman Neil Patel, who probably examines and shares effective strategies more vehemently than anyone on the planet, offers:

If you’re in the market for targeted traffic and powerful backlinks, guest posting should be at the forefront of your mind. And while Google has publicly warned against mass, low-quality guest posting, there’s no doubt that it’ll remain a link building bedrock for years to come. (Source: Quicksprout’s Advanced Guide to Linkbuilding)

Guest blogging may be the reason you discovered me

Guest blogging has been my top marketing strategy for years. Shortly after I began blogging, I set out to find a larger audience by getting published on established websites.

Guest blogs by Barry Feldman

My articles have appeared on more than 20 highly visible websites including Copyblogger, HubSpot, Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, Convince and Convert, The Next Web and many more.

Some of the benefits of guest blogging I’ve enjoyed include:

  • Massive exposure to audiences I’ve chosen.
  • 2-3X increases in year-over-year referral traffic to my website (and email subscribers).
  • Many paid offers to write blog posts and other content. (I’m currently a paid scribe at six websites and ghostwriter at several more.)
  • Heaps of invitations to do interviews and webinars, which boost visibility and perceived expertise (I hope).
  • Invitations to speak at conferences.
  • Mentions of, quotes from, and links to my works in round-ups, best-of lists, eBooks and infographics.
  • New friendships and opportunities to collaborate with leaders in my field.
  • Lots of new clients. (It’s rare when a new client doesn’t discover me via guest posts or social media, which is often tied to my articles.)

Universal benefits of guest blogging

Though you just gathered some benefits of guest blogging, which in some cases, are specific to a professional writer, here’s a list of compelling reasons to guest blog for any type of business.

  • Build authority in your niche.
  • Expand your reach and fan base.
  • Generate quality, targeted traffic to your website.
  • Increase your ranking in search engines.
  • Capitalize on valuable network opportunities.

The web’s healthy appetite for guest blogging

Great news for brands: it’s an understatement to say today’s mediascape is ripe for guest blogging. Publishers are hungry for guest posts. I’ll cite research presented by Influence & Co. in its report, The State of Contributed Content. Based on a survey of more than 150 editors, the research states:

  • 86% of editors are planning to increase the amount of contributed content on their sites.
  • 92% prefer contributed content from industry experts and leaders (vs. journalists), so you need not be an experienced blogger.
  • Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, one-off contributions are encouraged (so you need not commit to becoming a regular).
  • Editors prefer unique insider advice, which is non-promotional and professionally edited.

Contributed content data

Finding opportunities for getting published

Audience first

Your foray into guest blogging is going to take research. You’ll make a number of decisions. To make good ones—as is the case with all things marketing—knowing the audience comes first.

Before selecting blogs to approach with your offer to contribute content, you need to identify the audience you seek. You’ll likely have some specific blogs in mind because you’re a reader and fan. But with some additional digging, your target list will probably expand.

Of course, the subject matter—the editorial focus of the blog—should be foremost in your mind. You want to communicate with potential buyers and influencers.

You should also consider how the blog performs. You may not eliminate a blog strictly because of the size of its audience. You might just have a strong hunch about an up-and-comer. That’s fine. Still, understand what you can about the blog and consider the following:

  • Traffic—You can quickly learn where the blog/website stands relative to others by checking its Alexa ranking. The number reported there indicates the number of sites, globally, that generate higher traffic. So a ranking of 1,000 indicates only 999 sites get higher traffic.
  • Social shares—Take note of the social share counters. Are readers sharing the strongest posts? Which networks are favored? You might also want to look at the social media accounts of the blog and see how actively the host promote the posts.
  • Comments—If it’s important to you to engage with readers via blog comment streams, be sure the blog actually allows for commentary and see if readers respond.
  • Quality—You’ll make subjective calls here, but take the time to read recent posts. Is the quality consistently high? Will you fit in?
  • Author bios—The bylines you want generally include an author bio, which should allow you to include links to your blog and social media profiles. Be sure to look for these. Most blogs catalog posts on index pages for guest bloggers, which is a helpful bonus.

Identifying the right blogs

Here are some suggestions for finding blogs in your niche that are receptive to guest bloggers.

Search—An excellent tactic is to conduct searches that include two elements: (1) keywords representing your niche and (2) phrases often published on websites actively seeking guest bloggers. Guest blogger extraordinaire Kristi Hines suggests trying keyword such as:

  • guest post by
  • guest author
  • guest post guidelines
  • guest blogging guidelines
  • guest author guidelines
  • guest posting guidelines
  • guest bloggerd wanted
  • guest writer wanted
  • contributor guidelines
  • writers wanted
  • bloggers wanted

Another phrase worth searching, because it’s often published, is “write for us” or “write for this blog.”

In addition to using this approach via search engines, try the same searches on Twitter.

Networking—Do you often come across writers making frequent guest blogging appearances in your industry? If so, add their names to your searches. Try to encourage them to learn your name by commenting on their guest blog posts, sharing their content, and connecting via social media. When the opportunity arises, you might seek out these established guest bloggers for recommendations and/or referrals. They probably have relationships with the editors on your short list.

A variety of guest blogging networks exist. You can find networks like this such as Guestr, MyGuestBlog, and many more via search. Also, you can join LinkedIn Groups dedicated to guest blogging.

In Kristi’s detailed eBook, The Guest Blogging Survival Guide, she also suggests blogging job boards and offers a massive list of sites that offer paid writing gigs for guest bloggers.

Finally, industry conferences represent wonderful opportunities to uncover guest blog gigs. Of course, the time and money you’ll invest can be substantial, but the rewards can be too. Do some research in advance looking for speakers with reputable blogs and seek them out at conferences. Building relationships this way has helped me win opportunities to write for many top-notch blogs in the online marketing world.

Getting the guest blogging gig

How will you increase your chances of getting the gig? We’ll look at some smart ways to approach the decision. What will you write? We’ll look at that too.

Set yourself up to succeed

Over time, as an established guest blogger, editors will seek you out. But this how-to article isn’t for established guest bloggers, so it’ll work the other way around. You’re going to have to sell yourself and your ideas. I recommend you:

  • Share—Share the posts you value—with more than just a click. Do some thoughtful curation.
  • Speak up—Before you contact an editor, it’s wise to show the blog some love by making small, but meaningful contributions in the form of comments. Don’t pour on the praise for the sake of good will. Add something to the conversion. Ask questions. Reference helpful content. Challenge ideas, if you’re up for being bold.
  • Know the blog—Surf the turf. Read as many posts as you can paying special attention to the hits. You need to get a good sense for what works on the blogs you’re targeting.
  • Learn the rules—Rules may be too strong a word. It’s guidelines you’re after. Many multi-author blogs publish them. Read them, of course. If you can’t find guidelines, it’s on you to surmise them. Keep reading until you’re confident you’re able to describe the style and define the editorial content published there.
  • Connect—After figuring out who manages the blog and the blog’s most successful writers, connect with them. Follow them. Interact with them. It’ll be far easier to make headway if you’re not a stranger.

Make a strong pitch 

Some blogs are going to have regimented processes for new writer inquiries and some won’t. You’ll need to play by their rules if they have them and be more resourceful if they don’t. Chances are, your proposition will come by way of email. To nail that email you should:

  • Write a personalized email—This is no time for a template. Write a sincere, personalized email making it clear you recognize who the editor is and what his or her needs are.
  • Respect their time—Managing editors are busy and always dealing with deadlines. Don’t bore them with your resume. Get to the point fast.
  • Reflect your appreciation for their blog—I told you about familiarizing yourself with the blog. Write something that makes it clear you’re a reader. Don’t overdue this.
  • Sell smart—Now that I’m an established blogger, I receive boring, self-serving pitches from guest bloggers all the time. Don’t be that guy or gal. Tell the editor why they’ll gain by publishing your post, not what they’ll gain by publishing you.
  • Be on topic—At this point you must know what works for the publisher. Make it clear you understand and how your contribution fits in and furthers their cause. Explain the topic you’ll write about or better yet, the topics.
  • Whet their appetite—You can rock your headlines, right? Offer your ideas in the form of headlines. If you’re pitching just one idea, lay it out in an ultra-tight synopsis that’s just one or two sentences. Don’t send the post; just offer it. A very brief outline is another viable option.
  • Be flexible—While I recommend you pitch your ideas with conviction, it’s smart to mention you could entertain variations of the idea or different ideas.
  • Offer your portfolio—Don’t assume you’re a known commodity. If you’ve made headway as a guest blogger, invite the editor to read your best work. If you haven’t, invite them to read your blog, especially the most relevant post or two. If you’re not publishing great stuff on your blog, you’re not ready to guest blog. Perhaps I should have mentioned that earlier.
  • Blow their minds—If you feel you know of a topic they haven’t hit yet, but should, say so—gently. I’ve even gone as far as doing keyword research on their behalf. Proceed with caution here, but play that card if you can. And definitely, DO NOT speak of your SEO wishes. I get that now and then from would-be guest bloggers. It’s annoying.
  • Be a team player—Be careful not to write checks you can’t cash, but if you believe publishing your guest post comes with benefits, say as much. If you have a substantial following on social media or a solid email list, tell the editor you’ll further their cause by promoting your guest post.

Don’t just be a guest blogger, be a guest star

The editor responded in the affirmative. You got a “yes?” Or you may have got a “maybe” in the form of something like “We’ll consider publishing your piece if it’s a good fit for our blog.” What do you do?

Make it a perfect fit. Write a post so great the publisher would be nuts to decline. Aim to accomplish all of the following:

  • Write the best post of your career—Never submit your second best work. Revisit your best work and do everything in your power to surpass it. Brainstorm, research, outline and write something entirely original. Then edit. Then edit again. Read it aloud. Ask yourself if it’s the very best you can do.
  • Make it publication ready—Follow the blog’s guidelines and/or do all you can to comply with its standards. Ensure your submission is error-free. Structure the post correctly with headlines, subtitles, lists, etc. Include everything the editor will require: links, images (unless asked not to), image sources, your author bio and photo.
  • Offer some additional ideas—Many editors like headline options. Provide a shortlist of contenders, but indicate which is your favorite. To show you’re putting their interests first, you might offer keywords suggestions (and justify then), potential additional images, and internal links. You might even offer “Click to Tweet” ideas.

Everything came together. Your post is published. If you’re new to guest blogging, this is an exciting day. You’ll probably want to be invited back and definitely want to land more guest blogging opportunities, so be an asset to the publisher.

  • Promote your post—Share your post on social media immediately and often. Notify some of your peers who you think might share it too. Mention the post in your enewsletter (with a link, of course).
  • Participate in the commentary—Don’t make the editor chase you down to respond to comments. Keep tabs on your post and respond quickly to the readers’ comments and questions.
  • Follow up with editors—Remember your guest blogging pursuits are meant to be beneficial to you and the sites you contribute to. Follow up with your editors. Ask for feedback. Find out how your post performed. Try to build a relationship.

Help yourself too

Though you don’t want to be a self-serving showboat, you do want to realize the benefits of guest blogging you sought to begin with.

  • Write a great bio—Your author bio will need to be short and humble, but it’s among the rewards of guest blogging. Use your bio to promote your strengths, include links to social media profiles, and of course, a link to your blog.
  • Include backlinks—Careful here. Your guest post can’t be a thinly disguised heap of backlinks, but if your content alludes to powerful ideas and resources that support your story, include a few.
  • Offer even more resources—Does your article contain topics for which you’ve created eBooks, webinars or other deep resources? If so, mention them. If you’ve recently published something meaty, you may be able to include a link to the resource or its landing page in your author bio.
  • Showcase your guest blogging—You’ve earned the right to make your guest blogging accomplishments known. Create some form of an “as seen on” collection for your site, even if it starts small. Featuring the logos of recognized publishers on your site reflects well on your subject matter expertise.

I like how frequent guest blogger Greg Digneo explains how to “use guest blogging as social proof” (no. 18 on his list of 25 guest blogging lessons).

  • Analyze results—Make a habit of checking your analytics to determine if (and to what extent) your guest posts are driving traffic to your site. Over time, this data is likely to help you decide which guest blogging endeavors are valuable to your business.

I think it’s time to go

I wanted to be thorough, helpful, and inspiring. Turns out, this is one of the longest posts I’ve ever penned. So I now want to write an extremely concise conclusion.

Try guest blogging. If I can help you further, I will. For starters, I recommend scrolling back to the top of this post and get going.

Guest-Blogging-Guide-by-Kristi-Hines1I’ve referenced this great eBook several times. Thank you Kristi, you’re a true blogging superstar.  

Dec

Content Marketers, Go Deep or Go Away

An Interview with Deana Goldasich

(Plus… The Mighty “Mad Dash,” My Favorite Post of 2014)

My favorite post of 2014 was written by my friend Deana Goldasich (@goldasich), CEO of WellPlannedWeb, specialists in content solutions exclusively for thought leaders. Actually, Deana and I were just pen pals. We had met a few years back at Content Marketing World. Our conversations in the past had been about Rick Springfield and Jelly Belly candy.

But then she penned this mighty manifesto. Deana came out swinging with a message that said, in no uncertain terms, if you want to succeed with content marketing you have to create ultra-meaningful content. You have to lock eyes with the audience. You have to go far past good.

She said those racing to create content in quantity create poop. She really did. You’ll see.

Deana’s post resonated with me so much I had to ask for an interview. She agreed. So I have for you here, not only the post of the year, but a fun and informative 25 minutes with Deana. Watch. Read. Enjoy. And make 2015 the year you go deep.


Here’s the post in its entirely, republished by permission.

Why the “Mad Dash” to Content is Coming to an End

Post image for Why the “Mad Dash” to Content is Coming to an End

It’s no secret that Content Marketing has been the “mad-dash marketing” theme in recent years. For good reason. Content Marketing works when done right — especially for B2B marketers looking to help prospects research a complex product or service. But, word got out and we humans tend to spread (and tweak) any promises of instant profit like wildfire. (more…)

Dec

Top Content and Lessons Learned in 2014

Top Content 2104 Feldman Creative

I want to thank you, big time. Interest in The Point, the blog here at Feldman Creative, skyrocketed in 2014. I learned a lot and I’m hoping you did too.

I checked the analytics for the top content I published in 2014 and tallied the top topics and posts for page views. I also looked at the data to determine which was the most popular eBook and infographic. So you’ve probably read some of this content. But if you missed anything you think will help you create more effective online marketing, this year-end roundup presents popular favorites once again.

I value having you as a reader and appreciate your feedback and comments. If you would, share with me, and the readers here, some of the lessons you’ve learned in 2014 about online marketing. Also, let me know if there are subjects you’d like to learn more about. I’m on it. That’s what top content marketers do: answer questions (as you’ll learn about in what proved to be our number one blog post in 2014, “The Most Effective Content Marketing Tip Ever.”

Happy reading. Happy holidays.

Content marketing

The topic of content marketing appears to have been your top area of interest. Good for you. My hope is in 2015, you’ll take it very seriously and publish great works. The following posts covered the best way to get started, how a content marketing consultant can support your initiatives, and a plan and template for creating a content marketing plan fast, efficiently and effectively.

The Most Effective Content Marketing Tip Ever

What Can a Content Marketing Consultant Do for You?

The Content Marketing Plan that Quadruples Your Leads

(more…)

Dec

How to Get Your Blog Post on the First Page of Google – Featuring an Interview with Andy Crestodina

the first page of google, Crestodina

The “SEO is dead” parade marches on. Even some search professionals are now writing obits for their old friend.

But search continues to thrive. It continues to drive traffic more than, well, anything. So what gives? For any given search, ten web pages are going to command page one rankings and earn waaaaaay more clicks than the gazillions of pages that follow.

If you’re a content marketer, you’d love to see your next blog post on the first page of Google. How important is it to understand SEO? It’s crucial.

I’ll be straight with you. If you want to play last decade’s lightweight Google games, you’ve come to the wrong place. A pro like Andy Crestodina won’t indulge you.

However, if you want to talk about creating immensely useful content while executing a strategy to rank atop Google SERPs (search engine results pages), you’d want to listen to Andy, if you could. And you can.

Right now. Right here. I present my friend, the content chemist himself, with a full set of answers on how he gets his blog posts on the first page of Google and how you can do the same.

Listen to Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media explain:

•  How he puts in the effort—in advance—to create blog posts with a very high chance of landing on the first page of Google.

•  Why it’s always more important to appeal to readers than searchbots.

•  His formula: traffic x conversions = success.

•  The three questions that must be asked and answered:

  1. Is anyone searching for this phrase?
  2. Do I have a chance of ranking for the keywords?
  3. Can I make the best page on the internet for the chosen topic?

•  The number one factor for ranking in Google.

•  What to do after you publish.

•  A better name for “SEO.”

•  A more effective approach than keyword density.

•  The case of the ambidextrous armadillo.

(more…)

Oct

In Loving Memory of a Blog [Back from the Dead] Infographic

It’s back from the dead.

Actually, it’s still dead. Huh?

What I’m trying to say is I have a new infographic for you. I’ve taken the “Eulogy for a Blog” post I originally wrote for Copyblogger (and republished here) and teamed with my friends at ClearVoice to create this haunting infographic. Enjoy.

Eulogy for a Blog infographic

[BTW, if blogging and content marketing haunts you, learn how a content marketing consultant can help.]

THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Dearly Beloved,

We gather here today to honor the memory of our friend, Web Log.

That was his birth name.

Most knew him simply as Blog.

Blog’s life was tragically cut short at a very young age. I’m saddened to say, he never really hit his stride or had the chance to grow up to enjoy what might have been his prime.

When Blog was born he was full of hope and vigor. He dreamed of being an educator. He loved having an audience, though our friend Blog had to settle for a very small one.

Those of us who knew Blog well, knew he was not a patient man. Though many admired Blog because he was a self-starter, he was often cautioned about rushing into things.

I suspect if Blog were here today, he’d tell you he would have been wise to have been more deliberate about planning.

Again, though we honor Blog’s spirit, like all of us, he was deeply flawed.

(more…)

Oct

How to Write a Lead Like a Professional Blogger

Write a Lead

 

Writing leads is a bitch.

But I just wrote a great one. How do I know? You read the second sentence. And now you’re on the fifth. I’m on a roll. You’re into sentence number seven and I love you for it.

The objective of the first sentence (often called the lead, or lede) is to get you into the second one. Some say the lead is the first paragraph and, as you must have gathered, its goal is to get you to read the paragraph that follows.

Of course, the headline ranks highest, so those that dole out writing advice tend to focus on it. I thought we’d focus on the lead today. When it fails you, your reader takes in only two lines. That’s a form of rejection no writer can live with.

So let’s get back to that bitch

At this year’s International Association of Procrastinators Conference (which was originally scheduled for last year), a poll determined the hardest part of every task is getting started.

Beginning a blog post is no exception. The challenge often thwarts the progress of the most successful professionals. Kristi Hines, professional blogger of the highest order, told me:

“For me, the lead is the most difficult part of the article to write. I’ve found that when I get stuck, the best approach is to write the rest of the article and circle back to it. By that point, I know exactly what I’ve covered in the article and that makes it easier to introduce the content. Otherwise, if I try to force the lead out first, I end up procrastinating on the whole piece.”

We have our first tip: skip the lead if it freezes you. Try to switch to defrost and just dive into the story. (more…)

Sep

How to Grade a Blog (Including Yours)

Blog report card

I failed. Big fat F. But I’m giving myself a redo. I’m the teacher. I get to make that call.

Actually, for growing my business as a content marketing consultant, I’ll give myself a passing grade. It’s going well, but new (and tough) tests keep coming. I don’t ace ‘em all.

I have a new client that’s moving forward fast and furiously putting the pieces in place—new WordPress site, HubSpot, enewsletter, social media, collateral, the works. And they’re making a good size commitment to fueling inbound marketing efforts with a steady stream of content.

To help accelerate my ability to direct a kickass content marketing initiative, my client has given me an assistant. And she’s a go-getter. I can’t even move fast enough to push her because she’s pushing me.

In an effort to help the team blast through some initial planning stages, she created the spreadsheet that ate Cincinnati. I asked her to make one of its many tabs a rundown of competitors’ blogs, or prominent blogs in the field. She did that. It was a long list.

So then I asked her to try to save me some time by checking them out and grading them. (I figure I’ll only dig into the A and B material.) She graded them. I checked out the blogs she gave good grades. They didn’t deserve A’s and B’s. She was enormously generous.

I was thinking she failed me, but realized I’m to blame. I didn’t tell her how to grade the blogs—what criteria to use.

I got busy thinking it through a bit and along the way decided this would call for a simple and decisive blog report card. I think it’ll be helpful to her/us. I’m hoping it’s helpful to you too.

The blog report card criteria

When you peruse this report card, you’re bound to find some of the criteria I’m laying down as subjective. So be it. To keep it simple, the score can be either 1 or 0, so you need to make the call for the subjective ones, like #1…

(more…)

Aug

Content Marketers that Walk It, Talk It & Get It Done

Mark Masters

Now here’s a chap who knows how to create content and repurpose it wisely. Meet Mark Masters of the ID Group in the U.K. His idea was quite simple: interview an extensive series of marketing leaders. I’m sure it took a ton of work, but he made it happen. I was thrilled to be included in a long list featuring Jay Baer, Joe Pullizzi, Ann Handley, Robert Rose, Doug Kessler, Marcus Sheridan, Lee Odden—and many more of my favorite authors, teachers, consultants, speakers—and probably yours too.

Mark took excerpts from his interview series, “Talking Content,” and created this roundup slide deck, “What I Have Learnt from Content Marketers Who Have Walked the Walk.”

 

Here’s the complete interview I did with Mark.

And stay tuned below for links to additional interviews I chosen to share because Mark got into “storytelling” with these guests too. (more…)