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Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category


9 Unforgettable Tips for Writing Headlines that Work [Video & Infographic]

When you battle for attention in the noise fest that is the Internet, the most important skill you could possibly possess is headline writing. Your headline is going to be the make-or-break element that determines whether or not your content is read.

I want to help make you a better headline writer.

I’ve created a cheat sheet you can use to hone your headline writing. It’s ultra-simple. I spell out 9 tips based on the word HEADLINES. I’ve made it an acronym, a memory device. Each letter is one of the 9 tips… easier to remember, right?



Digital Marketing Basics: Simplified and Comprehensive

Digital marketing basics

Marketing works differently now.

Push is out. Pull is in.

You have to think inbound.

Traditional “outbound” marketing tactics that dominated the pre-Google world are now alarmingly ineffective. We all have the power to filter out advertising and we’re not afraid to use it.

The customer is in control. The communications process begins if and when the customer wants. Without advertising. Without phone calls. Without you.

Instead of pushing out messages via paid media, to reach this customer, you must put the power of content marketing, search, and social media to work. The relationship with your brand begins there.

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads
(such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
~ Search Engine Journal

To be an effective marketer, you have to do a complete 180. The strategy is to pull people to your website with magnetic content.

Additional resource: introduction to inbound marketing.

Define objectives by beginning with the end in mind

“Our digital marketing isn’t working.” 

The great thing about digital marketing is how easy it is to measure results. So if you say the program isn’t working, it’s only a valid assessment if you’ve defined what “working” actually means.

Your sales and marketing team must agree on the program’s objective. Objectives differ from company to company, site to site, and program to program. Generally speaking, the mission is to generate traffic, leads and sales.

Are you aiming to expand an email database? Sell off the page? Foster word of mouth?

You’re going to experience failure and success. Digital marketing is forever experimental. You know what you need to conduct a meaningful experiment, right?

You need an outcome.

Additional resource: fast-track approach to setting objectives and planning.



How to Take Advantage of the Web’s Two Most Important Words

Two most important words

Two words: how to. Simple. Effective. Foolproof. Timeless.

“How to” are the two most important words on the web. Experienced writers know it. Now you do too.

Should every headline begin with “how to?”

No. That’d be boring as the Celine Dion catalog.

Should every business blog include how-to articles?

Yes. Some blogs use the technique in practically every post. Again, snoozeville. Some bloggers purposely avoid the “how to” headline. They find it too cliché. Big mistake. Here’s the thing about clichés: people get ‘em.

You can make every post title include “how to” or never type the two words your entire publishing career. Doesn’t matter.

What does matter is your blog posts, web pages, infographics, podcasts, videos, SlideShares, and every friggen helping of content you serve should serve your audience. The sooner you start applying this principle, the sooner you’ll have an audience.



100 Ways Your Company Loses to Better Online Marketers

It's a jungle online

It’s a jungle out there.

Online marketing has become a wild animal. But you don’t have to be a gorilla to dominate. Nor do you have to go ape and do absolutely everything. However, you do indeed need to understand what’s working for the leaders of the pack.

I thought I’d survey the landscape and give you my take on how the most cunning companies are killing it with online marketing tactics. So here you are: 100 ways companies are thriving on the wild, wild web.



Personal Branding Strategy: Make Guest Blogging Pay

Guest blogging

You rarely hear stories of people who get involved in social media and content marketing—and boom—their personal brand takes off. It may be the dream, but it’s seldom the reality.

I wonder… Are you taking guest blogging seriously? I’m going to shed some light on someone who made guest blogging a high priority and benefited from it nicely.

Yes, that someone is me, but I’m not aiming to glorify what I’ve done. I want to show and tell you why it’s worked, and how, so you can work toward getting similar results.

B is for blogging

The story traces to an infographic I conceived, The Complete A to Z Guide to Personal Branding. With the help of my collaborator, Seth Price, who is an amazing study in personal branding, the infographic became a smash hit.

Seth and I wrote posts—featuring the infographic—for several prominent blogs, and enjoyed seeing it go insanely viral. [I just did a search using the name of the infographic and it dominated the first 12 pages of the Google search results.] Months later, Buffer’s Kevan Lee wrote a post for Entrepreneur highlighting the ideas the graphic contains.

Thanks to media coverage such as that, it was shared hundreds of thousands of times and generated mountains of backlinks for us. And then it generated opportunities.

I should add, we nurtured that baby with a SlideShare presentation. Then came interview requests… podcasts and videos. I did a webinar on it. I was invited to present the content at a few conferences.

Same deal for Seth. In fact, the momentum of our “guide” played a part in inspiring Seth to create a spectacular personal website about personal branding. We’re working on another project related to it too, a big one, we hope. (Here’s Seth and I talking about our baby…) (more…)


20 Signs Your Web Content Writer Won’t Cut Through the Crap

Web content writer

I was on vacation in Vancouver with my family last week. We went to the famous public market on Granville Island. There’s a lot to see and do there. The market seems to offer every flavor of everything.

I would have enjoyed it more if my sinuses were not a stuffed-up mess. When I decided to give my throbbing head a break and sit down and listen to a busker play guitar, my family headed back into the market for tea.

When they came to rally me again, they presented me with a tea specially blended to kick colds. The concoction included ginger and cayenne pepper. I took a sip, gagged, and tossed it in the trash. The tea was nastier than my head cold.

It wasn’t the highlight of my trip, but it’s not an experience I’ll soon forget. I’ll remember where I got it and how it made me feel.

Who the hell puts cayenne pepper in tea?

The answer is a tea specialist, a tea specialist who wants to make someone feel better… a tea specialist that wants to make a bold statement… a tea specialist aiming to get a response from her customer.

For all the same reasons, I submit great copywriters mix in cayenne pepper too. They may not use pepper in every paragraph they serve. They may choose to forgo the pepper in favor of different flavor. But trust me on this: they shan’t shy away from peppering their prose with spice.

Everyone’s a web content writer now

The gold rush of 1849 produced the term 49er, meaning a person who had gone to California to mine gold.

I just did a Google search for “web content writer.” In a half-second the search engine returned 115-million results. From my POV, it seems today’s mother lode is content marketing, the treasure trove that connects customers to companies.

Will the legions of new web content writers earn the nickname 15ers?

I’ve written this post to help you understand wordsmiths are cut from different cloths. I hope to tool you with insights to spare you from the headaches symptomatic of hiring the wrong writer. (more…)


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…)


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.



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.  


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…)