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Category Archive: Blogging

  1. 7 Rules of Social Media Etiquette for Personal Brands

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    Etiquette is no longer limited to just the physical realm. Consider your personal brand on social media to be the digital representation of yourself. Obviously, you want to build up your authority as much as possible by connecting with specific people, sharing great content, and creating a reputation for yourself in the industry, but there are also unwritten, subtle, societal rules that you’ll have to follow if you want to maintain that reputation and authority.

    These rules might not seem like a big deal, but if you break one of them, you could critically damage your personal brand’s image:

    1. Never send blind invites.

    Never send blind invites

    Building a strong personal brand means making lots of new connections, as more connections leads to more leads, more readers, more sales, and a better image for those meeting you for the first time. As such, it’s tempting to send out as many invites as possible, even to people that you don’t know personally. Some people are perfectly fine with getting invites from people they don’t know, especially on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, but some people take it as an invasion of privacy and might think of you differently as a result. Don’t be afraid to send an invite to anyone you’ve made contact with—even if it’s just in the form of a simple comment in an online thread. The real problem is with completely blind, unwanted invites.

    2. Only ask for shares occasionally.

    There’s a principle on social media that’s been heavily abused; if you ask your followers to share something, they’ll be more likely to do it. However, this only works if done occasionally. I’ve seen dozens of different people telling their followers to share or retweet practically every post they come up with. Doing so makes you seem spammy and only interested in gaining more followers. If you want to use this strategy, preserve your reputation and use it the right way—only ask for shares with content that you feel particularly strong about.

    3. Respect others’ blogs and brands.

    Respect others’ blogs and brands

    Your personal brand isn’t the only one that’s around, and it isn’t the only one that carries influence. If you want to be successful, you’ll need to respect and help out the other blogs and personal brands in your industry. For example, if you notice a fellow industry professional sharing one of your articles, return in kind by sharing one of theirs. Pay attention to what they’re saying and writing, and participate in the conversations that they start. Inject yourself as a part of the community, rather than segregating yourself as being “above” the community. Ignoring others can damage your reputation.

    4. Share only what is valuable.

    Share only what is valuable

    Every post you make has potential to increase your brand’s visibility, and the more followers you have, the truer this becomes. Unfortunately, many personal brands have taken this as an indication that they should share as much as possible as often as possible, sharing every post they deem even remotely interesting. This cycle of constant updating will sap your time, but more importantly, will eventually register as white noise to your audience. It’s your job to sort out what’s truly worth sharing and what isn’t, and if you neglect this step, your audience will simply stop listening to you.

    5. Don’t directly advertise.

    directly advertise

    Advertising your products or services directly with your personal brand these days can be considered a breach of etiquette. For example, if you offer financial consulting services, you might gain value by posting articles, comments, and insights about best practices in personal finance. But the minute you post something like “contact me for a free quote today,” your followers will see you as an advertiser, rather than a trusted, authoritative resource, and your credibility will shrink. There’s nothing wrong with calling people to a site or a landing page that does the work for you, but directly advertising this way is a breach of trust and etiquette.

    6. Spell and construct your messages carefully.

    This has a bigger impact than you realize. Misspelling a word or sending out an update with a grammatical error so bad the message can barely be recognized will instantly alienate your followers. Take the extra time to proofread and double check your message’s appearance. One breach of this rule can be a harmful blow to your reputation as a thought leader.

    7. Always respond.

    It’s called “social” media for a reason. It isn’t a monologue. It isn’t designed as a speaking platform. It’s designed as a conversation platform, and if you want to earn a good reputation for your personal brand, you need to use it as a conversation platform. Whenever someone comments on your articles, asks you a question, or replies to one of your posts, it’s your job to respond. Thank people for sharing your articles. Answer their questions. Reply to their queries. The engagement factor is critical for personal brands especially, so don’t breach etiquette by ignoring someone’s response.

    These rules of social media etiquette are new and still somewhat malleable. Nobody’s going to physically punish you or chastise you for breaking one, but if you follow them consistently, you should see more followers, more engagement, and a better overall reputation. Think carefully before you take any action on social media, and take your personal brand seriously. The last thing you want is to come off as a spammer, a jerk, or even worse—someone completely ignorant of social media etiquette.

  2. 10 Ways to Attract New Readers to Your Blog

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    Content marketing is a great way to improve your customer relationships, increase your brand visibility, and earn more conversions from your site visitors. There’s only one problem: in order to get the benefits of your content marketing strategy, you need to have a preliminary readership. Without a first set of eyes to see your content and spread the word, your inbound marketing investment might fizzle.

    Your brand’s current customers could serve as a first-line audience, but if you want to scale your visibility and start seeing real results, you’ll need to think bigger. Try using one of these 10 ways to attract new readers to your existing blog:

    1. Post on Social Media.

    articleimage860Post on Social Media

    The first step is one of the easiest. Hopefully, if you’ve already got a blogging strategy under your belt, you’ve also got plans for a social media strategy. If not, now’s the time to outline one. Use popular platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ to syndicate links to your most recent posts, and frame the links in a catchy, enticing way. These social platforms are public, giving you access to people all over the world, so post often and engage with others to maximize the initial visibility of your blog.

    2. Take Advantage of Guest Posting Opportunities.

    Blogging shouldn’t be exclusively refined to your own platform. Look for guest posting opportunities and start taking advantage of them—common places to look include industry-related blogs or forums, or popular publishers who may be looking for content based on your area of expertise. Guest posting on an external blog that already has a steady following will naturally attract more visitors to your own blog, especially if you’re consistent with your offsite efforts. It also has a positive SEO effect if you include a backlink within the body of your content.

    3. Invite Guest Posters.

    articleimage860Invite Guest Posters

    Guest posting isn’t a one-way strategy. As much as you guest post on external blogs, invite other guest posters to publish on yours. It might seem like it takes away from your authority, but on the contrary, having multiple industry experts posting on your blog can do wonders for your authority. Also, those contributors will be likely to post links to that content to their own followers, giving you an influx of new readers for your own blog. This, too, is worth considering as an ongoing strategy.

    4. Set Up Pay-Per-Click Ads.

    If you’ve got the budget for it, pay-per-click ads are a perfect way to get a new stream of visitors to your blog. It will cost a bit of money up front, but with PPC programs, you always get what you pay for: raw traffic. By advertising with Google, Bing, or even a social platform like Facebook, you’ll guarantee a stream of new visitors falling within your target demographics. However, you should consider stepping up your conversion optimization efforts to directly recoup some of the costs of PPC advertising.

    5. Place Affiliate Links.

    Affiliate links are typically reserved for e-commerce sites, but if you’re desperate for some new traffic to your blog, they’re worth considering. Like with PPC ads, you’ll only be paying for the actual traffic your affiliate links generate, and if you partner with a site you’re familiar with, you could work out a pretty comfortable deal. Since they’re paid links, they won’t contribute to your SEO visibility, but they will increase referral traffic.

    6. Network With Influencers.

    Another strategy is to network directly with major influencers in your industry. Look for personal brands with big followings or individuals who have made a substantial impact in your niche. Reach out to them on social media or in person (when you can), and simply ask if they’d be willing to push out a link to your blog. Even one or two successes could result in hundreds or thousands of fresh eyes on your content.

    7. Use Social Bookmarking Sites.

    articleimage860 Use Social Bookmarking Sites

    Social sharing and bookmarking sites, like StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit, are all valuable places to post your content. It can increase your domain authority, increasing your ranks in Google, but more importantly, it gives your blog the chance to go viral if it catches on.

    8. Submit to Content Aggregators.

    Submitting to content aggregators is a similar process. Find RSS feeds to submit your blog to, or take some of your best content and submit it to major aggregators of blogs in your industry. Usually all you have to do is follow a basic submission process or reach out to the webmaster, and as long as your blog fits their niche, you’ll be published in their directory.

    9. Cater to Searchers.

    Search visibility is critical for getting new eyes and inbound traffic for your blog, and link building is one way to improve your domain authority and ranks. However, it’s also important to write topics that will maximize your chances of getting seen in search engines. How-to articles, articles that answer specific questions, and articles that cater to common searches are all great choices for topics that will attract searchers to your blog.

    10. Find Communities for Your Target Demographics.

    Instead of waiting for your users to find you, you can go out and find them. Look for blogs, forums, or any type of online community where your target demographics gather. Then, look for opportunities for you to mention your brand or link to a helpful article in the comments section. Doing so will earn you some new referral traffic and increase your domain authority in the process—but make sure what you’re posting is relevant to the conversation and not just a gimmick to lure people to your site. Otherwise, you could be flagged as spam.

    If your blog is captivating and informative, your new readers will naturally want to come back to read more. Furthermore, they’ll spread the word, helping to grow the blog on your behalf, and before you know it, you won’t need an outreach strategy at all. In addition to growing your initial audience with these visibility strategies, make sure you retain a focus on the consistency and value of your blog.

  3. Can Sponsored Guest Blog Posts Hurt Your Rankings?

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    There are many guest post strategies businesses can use to improve their online visibility. Guest posting on an external site can pass page rank to your website, thereby increasing your SEO ranks, and can also increase your reputation in your industry and send referral traffic your way directly.Offering guest posts on your own site can help boost your reputation, especially if you can work with major influencers, and can beef up the diversity of your content offerings.

    But one form of guest posting—namely, sponsored guest blogs—is perceived as risky. There are a number of misconceptions and fears around sponsored guest posts, but for the most part, the fears are misplaced.

    What Are Sponsored Guest Blog Posts?

    articleimage829 What Are Sponsored Guest Blog Posts

    Let’s start by describing what sponsored guest blog posts are and aren’t. There are some gray areas when it comes to this type of sponsorship, but as far as Google is concerned, the definition is clear. Sponsored guest posts are any type of written post that somebody paid to have published. For example, if you give an external site any form of direct monetary compensation for featuring your work, that’s going to be considered a sponsored guest blog post.

    The Problem With Paid Links

    articleimage828The Problem With Paid Links

    As Matt Cutts of Google has explained and reiterated, buying links for the purposes of passing page rank and manipulating ranks in SERPs is explicitly forbidden, and will earn Google’s wrath in the form of a penalty. Back in the day when quantity was all that mattered to a link building strategy, webmasters would take advantage of the vulnerability by buying up whatever links they could. Today, Google wants to prevent any such activity, so if you’re caught buying a link to improve your rank, you’re probably going to be penalized sooner or later.

    However, merely exchanging money for a place on the web is not the problem. For example, Google’s position on affiliate links is one of understanding. Affiliate links are essentially paid links—clients pay hosts a set fee for each click those links earn—but they aren’t penalized, so long as they’re set up properly. This is because the intention of affiliate links is to attract direct traffic, rather than to manipulate search rank—as long as you aren’t trying to cheat the search engine, Google doesn’t care what you buy or sell on the web.

    Google’s Official Position on Sponsored Guest Posts

    articleimage829Google’s Official Position on Sponsored Guest Posts

    In accordance with their stance on affiliate links, Google is perfectly fine with sponsored posts, so long as they aren’t meant to pass page rank. If you pay for a position on an external site, Google’s stance is that the position should not in any way pass authority to the site responsible for posting the content. In effect, as long as you aren’t paying for the opportunity to increase your rank, you aren’t going to conflict with Google’s policy, and you aren’t going to earn a penalty.

    The trick is to make it clear that the guest post is sponsored. First, you owe it to your readers to disclose the fact that the post was sponsored. You can do this by introducing the content as a sponsored post, either at the beginning or the end of the article, and including a “sponsored” indication somewhere if and when you syndicate a link to the post through social media. Second, you owe it to Google to disclose the fact that it’s a sponsored post and make sure any links available in the post do are not considered for passing authority. The easiest way to do this is to mark any links in the sponsored content with a “nofollow” designation, which will prevent search engines from crawling those links.

    The Benefits of Sponsored Guest Posts

    This policy by Google is something of a double-edged sword. So long as you prevent your links from passing authority, you can be assured that Google won’t penalize you for posting sponsored content. However, passing authority is one of the most important motivators for making guest posts in the first place.

    Fortunately, paid guest posts still have a number of benefits:

    • You’ll get more brand mentions. Assuming your brand name is mentioned at least once in the body of your article without a hyperlink attached to it, there’s a possibility you’ll get some increase in domain authority. Google views un-linked brand mentions similar to the way it views links—but you won’t be penalized for rank manipulation by including them.
    • You’ll increase your visibility and broaden your audience. As long as your article is published on a reputable source, anyone who sees your brand’s content is going to instantly hold you in higher regard. Thousands of new visitors who haven’t heard of you will suddenly know your name, and thousands of visitors who already know of you will see you as having more authority, thereby increasing your potential to attract and retain customers from your reader base.
    • You’ll increase your direct referral traffic.Finally, remember that including a “nofollow” tag for your links won’t make them stop working entirely—it only puts a mask between them and the search engine bots. People who read your content and see your links will be able to click them and get to your site directly, giving you a new stream of direct, steady inbound traffic.

    Are Sponsored Guest Posts Worth It?

    If your primary goal in guest posting is to increase your domain authority and thus, your rank in search engines, sponsored guest posts simply aren’t worth it. You might earn some residual authority from brand mentions, and you might end up attracting a handful of secondary inbound links from people citing your work, but since all of your sponsored links will be blocked, the SEO benefits are almost negligible.

    If your primary goal is to gain more visibility or more traffic, sponsored guest posts could be worth it. It all depends on the cost of featuring your post, the audience that could potential view it, and the level of authority of the hosting site. For example, if you have to pay $1,000 to have a guest post featured on a site that only gets a few hundred hits a week, it may not be worth it. But if, for $100, you can earn a “featured” slot on the top of a news feed for a major publisher, the opportunity could eventually pay for itself. It helps to know your conversion rate for inbound referral traffic and an estimate for how much traffic the post would generate.

    If you’re worried about getting penalized for sponsoring a guest post on an external site, don’t be. As long as your host indicates that the post was sponsored, and as long as any inbound links in your material are covered with a “nofollow” tag, you don’t have to worry about attracting the wrath of Google. However, be aware that sponsored guest posts do not carry the same benefits as traditional guest posts, and sponsorship opportunities are only worthwhile if the amount of exposure you receive outweighs the initial cost. Keep traditional guest posting as the core of your strategy, and treat any sponsorship prospects with a critical eye before moving forward.

  4. 7 Ways to Use Your Blog for an Email Marketing Campaign

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    The popularity of email marketing campaigns has been volatile, especially as the emergence of new online marketing techniques such as social media marketing and content marketing have risen to dominance. Email marketing is sometimes considered ineffective—in part due to the fact that new communication mediums are proving to be more popular than email correspondence, and in part because creating a great list and emailing effectively are tricky to accomplish.

    Still, there are a number of advantages to maintaining an email marketing campaign. It’s cheap to sustain, especially if you use templates and have a relatively small list of recipients. It keeps your brand top-of-mind even if your emails aren’t opened and fully read. It gives you another outlet through which to connect with your audience.

    If you can combine your other, broader strategies—namely, your content marketing campaign—with your email campaign, and keep them aligned, you can maximize your returns on both fronts. Here’s how you can use your blog synergistically with your email marketing strategy:

    1. Use Your Email Blasts as Blog-Based Newsletters.

    articleimage799Use Your Email Blasts as Blog-Based Newsletters

    This is a great strategy for businesses without a solid offer for their emails. In order to be effective, emails need to offer something valuable to their potential readers; otherwise, readers have no reason to open them. That value is flexible—it can be something tangible, like entry in a giveaway for taking a specific action, a special offer like a discount on new products, or something intangible, like information.

    Using your blog as that value can be beneficial, especially if you’re looking for new ways to bring readers in. For example, you could take your three most recent blog posts and highlight them, showcasing the first paragraph of each in your weekly email blast. The idea is to give your email readers value, thereby increasing the likelihood of them opening future emails, while simultaneously reminding them of your blog and giving them the opportunity to revisit it.

    2. Encourage Signups on Your Blog Directly.

    articleimage799Encourage Signups on Your Blog Directly

    This is the second portion of a potentially ongoing mutual process. On one end, you’ll be taking your email subscribers and showing them your blog. On the other end, you’ll be taking your blog readers and getting them to sign up for your email list.

    There are several ways to do this. First and most simply, you can include a small signup form on the side of your blog asking users for their name and email address. This is inconspicuous, yet still relatively visible, so it will be effective without interfering with the rest of your page. Alternatively, if you want to be aggressive with your signups, you can hide your content behind a signup wall, mandating or highly suggesting your users to sign up before they read your content. This will get you more conversions, but may also irritate your users. Finally, you can simply call users out in the body text of your blog, sending them to a separate landing page to fill out their information and sign up. This will get attention, since it’s in the body of a post, but few users will take the extra action.

    No matter how you choose to woo potential signups, make sure you’re making a good first impression. The quality of the first blog your reader sees could mean the difference between getting a signup and losing one.

    3. Use Email-Specific Content to Entice Subscribers.

    articleimage799Use Email-Specific Content to Entice Subscribers

    Another strategy you can use involves appealing to the fans you’ve already generated. By offering email-exclusive content, such as niche blog posts that don’t appear on your blog, you can earn a significant amount of additional email campaign signups.

    The trick is to maintain a balance between the content you offer on your blog and the content you offer through email. You want to ensure your free onsite blog content is substantial, comprehensive, and interesting, but at the same time you want your email-exclusive content to be interesting and unique enough to warrant an audience that follows it. To resolve this potential dilemma, you could publish the email-exclusive content on your blog a few months after sending it out via email—this way, email subscribers still get the value of seeing it early, but you can recycle the content for your regular blog readers as well.

    4. Create Lists Based on Sub-Categories of Your Blog.

    This strategy is perfect if you’re trying to appeal to a highly targeted audience. The first step is to ensure your blog is segmented effectively. Create sub-categories for your content based on the most popular topics you can find, and segment them based on your target audience. For each sub-topic, compose a list in your email management platform, and customize your email signup forms based on the category each blog post belongs to. For example, you could have a list dedicated to customers interested in “SEO,” or “social media,” rather than just having one pooled list. This will allow you to create highly customized messages to each of those audience segments.

    5. Use Blogs for a Non-Threatening Call-To-Action in Email Blasts.

    Another factor every email blast needs to be effective is a strong call-to-action, usually leading them back to your site in one form or another. Typically, retailers try and assign a monetary value to this call-to-action, asking users to “shop now” or “make a purchase,” but for some businesses, this type of language can turn someone away. By using your blogs as a leverage point, with calls-to-action like “read more,” you can call someone back to your site without that intimidation factor.

    6. Profile Your Readers to Make Great Offers.

    Of course, if you’re already making great offers to your customers in the form of discounts, giveaways, or other special events, you can use your blog as a platform to learn more about your customers and make better offers to them. One of the easiest ways to do this is through an on-site survey or discussion thread, which you can initiate under the guise of a blog post. Write briefly about a given sub-topic, and ask your readers for their opinions. Learn what they’re looking for, what they like and don’t like, and tailor your special email offers based on that information.

    7. Create a Seamless Brand Experience.

    Ultimately, email is going to serve as one more communication platform you can use to give your customers and followers a seamless overall brand experience. Instead of merely focusing on how to convert your email recipients, use email as it was intended—as a medium for communication. Reinforce the ideas and values you’ve presented in your blog, remind users of who you are and what you do, and use your blog to get your users to trust you and sign up for the updates.

    Remember, the key to building an effective email strategy is trial and error. Measure the results of each of your campaigns and analyze them. Understand the factors that work, the factors that don’t work, and put that information to good use in your future campaigns. Only through a series of ongoing reflection and adjustment will you be able to perfect your strategy, especially when you’re integrating it with an otherwise independent content marketing campaign.

  5. The True Value of a Blog Comment

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    Hopefully, blog comments are already a part of your offsite SEO strategy, or at least a part of your overall online reputation marketing strategy. It may not seem like one blog comment can make a big difference in the grand scheme of your marketing campaign, but when properly nurtured, blog comments can be collectively responsible for a massive influx in both site traffic and perceived online authority.

    Potential Benefits of Blog Comments

    articleimage767Potential Benefits of Blog Comments

    Blog comments are some of the most worthwhile posts you can make online—as long as you make them strategically. Blog comments are a free resource, so use them as often as you can to start building your reputation. These are just some of the benefits that blog comments can carry.

    Increased Traffic

    First, blog comments can increase traffic to your site or to whatever page or profile you end up linking to. Some blog sites will allow you to create a profile, which will in turn give you the opportunity to link back to your homepage. Users who like your comments regularly can check out your profile and end up at your site. Even simpler, if you mention your site in a content (appropriately), or mention a link to one of your specific pages, that page will gain more visibility, and you’ll see increased traffic as a result. This effect compounds with every mention.

    Improved Ranks

    As long as you’re linking to a page or mentioning your brand name, your comments will also increase your site’s rank in major search engines like Google. Google takes a number of offsite factors into consideration, but one of the most important factors is the frequency and quality of your offsite mentions. If links to your pages are posted in a relevant conversation (or mentions of your brand name to a similar effect), you’ll gain more domain authority, and you’ll rank higher for almost any keyword relevant to your business. Just be careful with this strategy—too many links from one source or low-quality links could actually hurt you in the long run.

    Better Relationships

    Bloggers live and die by their reputations, and most of the blogs you’ll be using as grounds for your comments are going to be run by nearly-famous bloggers. If you comment on their articles with enough tact and enough frequency, you’ll easily be able to build up a professional relationship over time. Leveraging the power of those external authorities is invaluable in boosting your own reputation, and as you guest blog more frequently, you’ll have more opportunities to extend your potential reach. If your businesses allow it, you could even work together on a mutual project.

    Strengthened Reputation

    As you post on more blogs and get involved in more communities, eventually you’ll be able to build a reputation for yourself. While posting, you should be leveraging the power of a personal brand rather than a corporate brand; with this strategy, you’ll become known as an involved expert in the industry, and you’ll be able to attract more potential clients and customers as a result. The improved reputation you’ll enjoy as a participatory member of multiple interrelated communities is a gateway that will lead you to increased success in all other areas.

    The Exponential Value of Blog Comments

    articleimage767 The Exponential Value of Blog Comments

    Posting one blog comment is not going to help you on any front. But if you start engaging with multiple comments and getting involved on multiple fronts, eventually you’ll start to see some traction. And if you continue that momentum, and commit to consistently stepping up your involvement on all sides, eventually you’ll start to see massive payoffs.

    The value of your blog comments is directly proportional to the frequency and quality of your comments. As long as you’re contributing beneficial information, and as long as you stay consistent in your posting efforts, the increased traffic, ranks, relationships, and reputation you enjoy will start to exponentially increase.

    When you first start leveraging the power of blog comments, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Blog commenting is a strategy that requires patience and nurturing over a period of months, if not years, but the end result is a massive wave of new traffic and new interest—and all it cost you was the time it took to commit your posts.

    How to Incorporate Better Blog Comments Into Your Strategy

    articleimage767How to Incorporate Better Blog Comments Into Your Site

    Even if your offsite SEO strategy already has a place for blog comments, there are always ways to improve your overall strategy.

    Developing the Personal Brand

    As I mentioned before, when you’re trying to build the power of your blog comments, it’s best to develop the influence of a personal brand rather than a corporate brand. Comments from an individual poster are generally viewed as more trustworthy and more personal than those from a corporate counterpart, and it will be easier and faster to build your reputation as a result. As long as you’re tying your personal brand into your corporate brand, your company will still get to enjoy all the benefits.

    Finding the Right Blogs

    Finding appropriate blogs for your commenting strategy is another important element of your campaign. These blogs need to be relevant to your industry—preferably your specific area of expertise, but any industry-specific blogs will suffice. Look for blogs with decent comment volume—high amounts of commenters means your comments will get substantial visibility. You’ll also want to diversify the types of blogs you comment on; you’ll need to maintain a common thread between them, but the more domains you operate on, the more visibility you’ll get.

    Linking the Right Material

    When you post comments with links, make sure you’re linking the best possible material. Use blogs from your own site or deep pages with high-quality information. Above all, make sure your links are both appropriate and valuable for the conversation. Otherwise, you might get penalized or worse, you could be seen as a spammer by the community. Don’t link every post; instead, vary things up with brand mentions and comments with no links at all.

    Continuing the Conversation

    The best way to earn your reputation as an authority is to follow conversations through to their natural ends. Rather than posting one comment and leaving the page, stick around and see if anyone follows up with you or adds their own insights. Respond to them diligently, and keep the conversation moving to generate more attention to your expertise.

    Making Repeat Appearances

    While it’s important to diversify your blog sources, it’s also important to make repeat appearances on your most important blogs. Visit new articles by the same authors, and post new comments. Over time, your shared audience will come to recognize you as an authority in your field.

    Following Up on a Daily Basis

    It’s also important to commit to this strategy. Blog commenting is not a campaign that garners you instant recognition or a sudden increase in web traffic. You’ll need to take some action for your blog commenting strategy on a daily basis, whether that means following up on your previous comments, making a new comment, or just working to get to know your audience better. Align your blog comments and personal brand with your social media strategy, and soon you’ll create a mini online empire where your reputation and visibility earn you the respect and interest of your potential clients.

  6. 6 Ways to Use Someone Else’s Blog for Your Own Gain

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    The number of free resources available to business owners looking to improve their online visibility is astounding. There are free integrations and data aggregation platforms, like Google Analytics, profile and engagement platforms, like almost every social media channel in the world, and all kinds of tools that exist solely to make the processes of SEO, online branding, and marketing much easier.

    There are so many external tools that sometimes, business owners forget what a rich network of resources exists in the form of outside blogs. There are many ways these industry-related blogs can be used to bolster your own reputation and online marketing strategy:

    1. Learn.


    My first suggestion is perhaps the most obvious; read external blogs to learn more about your industry, as well as recent developments that you could harness for your own blog. The more resources you have to learn from, the more diverse and well-read your blog will become.

    Rather than directly copying or transforming any of the posts you read, try reimagining a new angle for them. For example, if one of your indirect competitors takes a strong stance on a particular issue, take the opposite stance or examine an element of the argument that they didn’t touch on. Otherwise, you can allow the new information to simmer in the back of your mind, for occasional use in your future blogs. Reading regularly will make your writing more knowledgeable and therefore, more authoritative.

    Collect a series of blogs to use for this purpose; you can aggregate them using a newsfeed application, or simply have them as bookmarks in your web browser. Be sure to check them out on a regular, preferably daily, basis.

    2. Guest Post.

    Guest posting is still one of the most effective online marketing strategies available, especially if you’re aligning your personal brand with your corporate brand. By guest posting on an external site, you’ll gain visibility with a new audience and borrow some of the authority of the host site to propel your content forward. Guest posting on multiple sites can build an appeal with a mutually shared audience, and eventually establish yourself as a leading and reputable authority in the field. Including links to your social profiles can also help build your social following, which in turn will boost your site traffic and brand recognition, and including backlinks that point to your main site can also boost your domain authority.

    Getting your content posted on external blogs isn’t as hard as you might expect. For most external blogs, all you’ll need to do is ask the writer or webmaster for a guest posting opportunity, and send along a pitch for a topic they might find valuable. In some cases, you might want to build your reputation as a regular commenter first. In others, you might want to include links to your other content as an example of your work.

    3. Attract Content.

    The opposite strategy can also be effective. Rather than taking your content and guest posting it on a popular external blog, you’ll be offering the external blog’s writer a spot on your own blog. While you may be reluctant to allow someone else’s words and voice on your blog, especially if you’ve spent a significant amount of time developing the perfect brand voice and blog platform, doing this is a mutually beneficial and highly valuable strategy.

    If your writer of choice already has a substantial loyal audience, chances are that audience would love to read the writer’s new piece on your site—that means an immediate flow of new traffic and new readers. Plus, the writer will be motivated to publish links to his/her blog on your site on his/her social media profiles, which will add to your site’s visibility and increase your domain authority at the same time.

    Finally, having multiple high-profile writers post blogs on your site can make you seem more authoritative for new visitors. For example, if a new visitor stumbles across your site through a simple search and sees multiple industry leaders featured on your blog page, that visitor will be more likely to associate your brand as a leader in the industry.

    4. Comment.


    Commenting on external blogs is a very simple, but very powerful act. It may not seem like much, and a single comment isn’t going to skyrocket your brand visibility, but over time and when compounded with the effects of a consistent, frequent commenting strategy, your brand comments can culminate in a commanding effect.

    When commenting, it’s best if you use the power of a personal brand, rather than your corporate brand—this will encourage trust and more personal interactions. Comment appropriately, adding value to the conversation when you can and including deep links back to your site when possible. If you comment consistently, the audiences of your favorite blogs will come to see you as an important and valuable contributor to the community, and your corporate writing will get more attention as a result. Plus, all your link building and brand mentions will increase your domain authority for SEO.

    5. Get Reviewed.

    articleimage758Get Reviewed

    This strategy is perfect for product-based businesses, though service-based businesses might also find a use for it. When searching for a new product, most potential new users seek out reviews and opinions of their peers before making a final decision—this is the case for practically any product in practically any industry. High-profile bloggers, whose blogs you’re already reading on a regular basis, tend to have the strongest opinions on these products, and they carry the most weight with prospective buyers because of the level of respect they command.

    Offer a free sample of your product to one of these high-profile gust bloggers in exchange for them writing up an honest review on it. The blogger will enjoy the free product as a gift, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of getting your product mentioned on the web. Hopefully, the review will go well, and that review post will convince multiple new buyers to go with your product.

    6. Share.

    Last but not least, simply sharing the content of external blogs can be a beneficial strategy. Your social media campaign demands new posts at a near-constant rate to satisfy your followers, so sharing an external article can take some of the pressure off you to make your own content. Sharing from multiple sources can convey a sense of connectedness, building your own community from pools of different audiences and showcasing your authority in the industry. Plus, sharing content from an external source regularly can influence that source to respond by sharing some of your content in turn. Sharing content builds relationships, and relationships are the driving force in strong online communities.

    While as a general rule, you can use any blog related to your industry as a platform for these strategies, it’s also wise to avoid posting directly on a direct competitor’s blog. Doing so could mark you with a negative reputation.

    Otherwise, start taking advantage of other blogs as much as you can. The more you build your brand in line with the network of bloggers around you, the greater your reputation will grow and the more traffic and leads you’ll receive as a result.

  7. 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing Style with Ease

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    Having trouble keeping your readers spellbound? It might not be your content, but your style that is causing them to yawn unnecessarily. To amp up the voltage from your writing, you need to focus on the style demands from: your reader demographic, your authentic voice, and the proper mechanics of writing.

    Your 10-Step Plan Towards Attention-Grabbing Copy

    Isn’t it amazing that a topic written by one person can be so much more thrilling than another? The difference is not in the details and facts, it’s in the way it is written. Writing well is a skill that needs to be honed over time, but there are some basics that anyone can use to get to a level of ease with their writing that may have previously eluded them. Here are 10 ways to improve your writing style that will show dramatic improvement in the copy you publish:


    1. Write with Your Targeted Audience in Mind – The first step is to always write for your intended reader. The reason for this is because what interests one demographic does not necessarily interest another. Knowing your targeted reader helps you to write copy of interest to them, by taking their preferences into account – even before a single word is written on the page. For instance, if you are writing for a group of business owners, they will be more interested in facts and figures than when you are writing copy for a fashion magazine, in which you will want to focus on look and feel.

    2. Outline Your Main Ideas First – Once you know who you are writing to, then pick a concept of interest to them and outline the main ideas so that you can start with a coherent framework in mind, instead of just winging it. Once you get the hang of outlining your start, middle, and end, you can often do this step in your head. If your outline is too long, start trimming.


    3. Keep It Short and Simple – Each main section of your outline should be easily encapsulated in short paragraphs. However, if you are writing more than just a feature article, your outline may need to focus on themes for individual chapters first, and then break it down into noteworthy ideas related to the theme for each main section of the chapter. The point is to make each idea easy to read, easy to digest, and not overwhelming or wordy. Avoid run-on sentences, blocks of run-on paragraphs without subheadings, and chapters that are too lengthy to digest in one sitting.

    4. Avoid Redundancy – Get straight to the point. If you repeat yourself in writing, it comes off as dawdling. Do not repeat ideas, unless you are adding useful information, like when you use a story, metaphor, or an example to clarify the thought process. Do not use multiple words with the same meaning in the same sentence.

    5. Use an Active Voice – Passive verbs in your sentences make the copy less exciting, so use active verbs that create action in the story. Present tense is also a good way to draw the reader into the moment with your story, instead of having them focusing on the past or future. Anytime your subject is not taking direct action and instead, is being acted upon by other agencies in your sentence, revise it to active voice to make your copy style more powerful.

    6. Show, Don’t Tell – Fiction and creative writers will have to focus on also being descriptive, to create a 3-D world with their words. That means that they will need to also show what their characters are thinking, what they believe, and how they feel by what they do, instead of telling the reader what to think about those actions. They will need to be good at describing things in a new way, rather than using common words that are flat and uninteresting.

    7. Provide Examples, Metaphors, and Stories – Even if you don’t write fiction, and want to write blogs and/or magazine articles, you can still benefit from showing the reader what you mean, via examples, metaphors, and stories. These types of techniques can make your style riveting and addictive, as well. It also provides a way to engross the reader on many levels, by invoking a common experience that triggers memory and, sometimes, sensory feedback.

    8. Be Creative with Layouts – Your writing style isn’t just about the words on your page. It’s also about how those words are laid out on the page. Take advantage of formats that can make your writing style easy to read and concise, like bulleted or numbered lists. Don’t overlook the use of whitespace to make your writing easy on the eyes. Separate a large paragraph into two, if you need to add whitespace. This is particularly helpful for web copy written in successive paragraph. These consecutive paragraphs have a tendency to run into each other visually when they are on a computer screen.

    9. Do an Editorial Review – With so many tools that can help you spell check and proofread, there is no reason not to do an editorial review of your own work. Good spelling and grammar makes your pieces look professional. It makes your style more polished. However, if you want to get some more insight into your style, you can get a professional critique for samples of some of your writing and use the advice to propel your work to a new level.


    10. Practice, Practice, Practice – Every piece of copy you write is a chance to improve your writing style. Give it your best every time, and you will improve from the simple act of doing it over and over. If you spend years writing, you will be able to look back at your first attempts and see a vast difference in your style as it progresses and you learn more. The key is to never give up learning new ways to express yourself with your own authentic voice.

    Every writer has a different style that they eventually adapt as their own. It can be a product of years of experience and training, or the result of an experiment in writing that proved successful with their particular audience. Each individual writer will ultimately progress on their own path, creating copy that echoes their own personality, even as it attempts to pull the reader into it. Those that master the craft of writing with unique styles, no matter how it ends up, will end up with a loyal grouping of avid fans and readers. For people trying to build an online business, the art of writing copy that is entertaining, informative, and persuasive can yield a return on their investment by closing more sales and creating a bigger audience of potential buyers and marketing leads as years go by. For writers who simply want to excel at their craft, it can help them generate a unique voice that audiences associate as their personal brand and is as good as money in the bank. Either way, it is a satisfying way to polish your professional image and find new ways to express your inner you.


  8. Five Ways to Decrease Bounce Rate in Your Blog Posts

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    Blogging has become a popular pastime, both for fun and for earning money. Lots of people have studied and put into practice tips that will help them drive traffic to their site. But getting people to visit your blog is only the first step. If you can’t get them to stay, or to come back on a regular basis, all the traffic in the world won’t mean much at all.

    Enter the term “bounce rate.” Bounce rate is how many visitors go to your blog and just hightail it out of there. If you have a high bounce rate, too many of those visitors are doing just that—leaving—and not taking time to click around your site. The goal is to keep the bounce rate as low as possible, because the lower it is, the more people are loyally reading through your blog links. However, it can be a challenge to get and maintain a low bounce rate, so here are five tips on how to get your traffic up with fewer bounces.

    articleimage330  Driving Traffic

    1. Driving Traffic

    One method of lowering your bounce rate is to start at the beginning. By targeting the right kind of audience, you’ll start with a higher likelihood of people who are interested in what you’re saying. So, don’t advertise your music blog on a recipe website, at least not in the early stages. Otherwise, you’re losing valuable time. There may be some interested folks in there, but there may not. Promote your blog to like-minded people and you’ll get a higher rate of interest from the get-go.

    Once your readers arrive, make sure your blog loads quickly and smoothly. If you’ve ever visited a page that loads slowly (I think we all have), you know it doesn’t take much to say “forget it” and close the page. Today’s society is high-speed, and if people can’t read your blog right now, they’ll go somewhere else instead. Slow load times will keep your bounce rate high, even if the people who are initially coming to check you out have an interest.

    articleimage330 Well Written Content

    2. Well Written Content

    This is one of the most important things when it comes to blogging successfully and reducing your bounce rate. Don’t just slap random stuff up there and hope it works. Writing quality content can take some time, but it’s well worth it, because that’s what will get people to be loyal readers of what you have to say. Get creative and be unique with your content, too. Standing out from the crowd is a great way to earn fans. If you look like everyone else, you’ll be lost in the sea of bloggers. Be fun and engaging with your readers. The more they feel like they know you and can relate to what you’re saying, the more likely they are to stick around and see what else you have to offer.

    Also, make sure you don’t get stuck writing in the same way all the time, because that lends to boredom and losing your crowd. Practice using different kinds of tones. For example, one time your blog may be informative, so it’s chock-full of information. The next time, you can write an opinion piece, letting people know your thoughts on any given subject you happen to be talking about. Throw in an open-ended blog on occasion also, where you’re asking for input and what your readers think. Nothing engages the fans like getting to share their thoughts. It creates a sense of relationship and grows loyalty, lowering your bounce rate.

    articleimage330Make It Readable

    3. Make It Readable

    As a general rule, people get turned off quickly by a giant wall of text, because it seems like an awful lot of reading. That doesn’t mean you have to cut it short, though. Whatever the length, readers are more likely to stick around if you make it easier by including things that break up the monotony. Try bulleted lists, using headers, or even just smaller paragraphs. All of these will go a long way toward making your blog reader-friendly. Another tip is to try to make your site mobile-friendly. So many people are using their smart phones for the internet now that it pays to have a site that is easy to read on these smaller devices.

    4. Proper linking

    When people click on a link to go to your blog, have them first directed to a summary, instead of the whole page. If you’ve done a good job writing and it catches their attention, they’ll have a thirst to finish reading. By starting with a summary, the next click will be on your blog, and they’ll be more committed to you. From there, they’ll be more likely to click on other links that you have on your pages. Just make sure the summary is unique and exciting, or you might still lose your potential reader.

    Once you have your reader committed to reading your blog post, you should help them find other posts they may be interested in. There are lots of different links you can provide that will do the job. For example, you can have a link for the most popular posts. If your reader can access those with a simple click, they’ll get a chance to see what everyone else is hooked on, and it will whet their appetite for more. Or, try posting a link for the most recent posts. Some people are interested in the more up-to-date blog posts you have to offer. This may be because they feel older stuff could be outdated and irrelevant. Whatever the reason, if they can see the new stuff, they’re likely to check it out.

    5. Ditch The Over-done Ads

    Having ads on your blog site is not a problem. Having the wrong amount or poorly placed ads is. If there are tons of ads all over the place, it won’t feel like a welcoming environment; it will feel more like a business pitch, regardless of what you’re writing about. So, be careful not to overdo it. Similarly, ads that are in bothersome places will quickly drive people away. For example, have you ever seen a blog where the ads are blocking part of the writing? It’s incredibly annoying, and you can’t get around them without copying and pasting the text into a word document. No one, and I mean no one, wants to put that kind of effort in to reading your blog. It’s your job to make sure they’re not bothered by poorly placed ads. If they are, they’ll be gone in a flash, and they’re probably not coming back any time soon. This means a higher bounce rate.

    The internet is incredibly vast, and blog competition is increasing all the time. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer from a high bounce rate. By following these simple tips to get people to your blog and get them to stick around for more, you’ll lower your bounce rate and raise your popularity.


  9. How to Increase Your Blog Traffic in 30 Minutes

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    Increasing your blog traffic in 30 minutes is a tall task, but there are ways that you can make this happen. You can use any of the steps laid out below to bring in more readers in 30 minutes. However, you must remember that you can grow your readership in the half hour after that, as well. You can go for short term results, but your ultimate goal should be loyal readers who come back in the future.

    Take the steps listed below as a framework for growing your readership. You may not gain a thousand followers before the hour is out, but you may see instant gains. These instant gains should cause you to do even more to improve your blog.


    Choose Trending Topics

    You could spend a half hour every day bringing in new readers if you spent some time writing on trending topics. You must be willing to write about something that is trending on social media or that is controversial. You cannot worry about what people think. Some people will absolutely hate what you say, but they will come to find out if you have more to say in the future.

    The people who hate what you write are going to tell all your friends how terrible your blog is, and all their friends are going to come to your site. You have increased your readership among a group of people who do not even like you. You must remember that some of the people who were referred to your hatefully will leave your blog enjoying it and wanting more. Any press is good press.

    The people who visit your blog because they love what you are saying are even more likely to return. They will refer more people because they have positive things to say, but they do not refer many more people than those who do not like you. People say they will stop reading a blog, listening to a radio show or watching a TV show, but they simply cannot stay away. Your blog does not have to be a train wreck, but your blog should be a place where bold ideas are presented boldly. People respond to passionate ideas, and your passionate ideas deserve to be heard.


    Market Yourself On Social Media

    Social media is a place where you can create readership that has not visited your blog yet. You can link your blog to your social media accounts so that every new blog post is listed on social media. You could invest some time in a Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to come away with quite a large following.

    Your Facebook links could be posted to your personal account. Every one of your friends can click the link you provide to visit your blog. If they choose to share your link, all their friends will have a chance to visit your blog. Word can spread on Facebook relatively quickly.

    Twitter is a much more effective way to bring in readers. If you choose to write about something that is trending, you must use the trending hashtag that is associated with your topic on Twitter. You could write about race relations and use the hashtag #racism. Anyone who is searching for that hashtag will see your article link as one of their results. Millions of people search for hashtags every day, and your blog post can spread like wildfire because anyone in the world with a Twitter account can find you.

    Tumblr takes this a step further. Tumblr allows you to bring the content to your readers. People on Tumblr get a preview of the blog post when they see it on their dashboard. They can read just a few lines before they choose to click on the link and visit your blog. If you have several hundred followers, many of them will likely reblog the post. All their followers will see the same post, and this gives many people a chance to visit your blog. Tumblr also allows tagging so you can help people find your contact based on their search for a keyword.

    articleimage327 Partner With Other Blogs

    Partner With Other Blogs

    When you partner with other blogs, you can share links to your work with people who have a larger readership than you. You may partner with someone who has several thousand regular readers, and posting just one link on their site could lead to several thousand hits on your site. Someone who has a popular blog could improve your readership in ten minutes just because of the size of their following.

    You may also want to let other blogs use you as a partner. A popular blogger who posts one item on your blog could easily drive several hundred readers to your site all at once. Their endorsement is enough to bring their readers over, and you will be able to share these readers because people can simply open another browser window just for your blog.

    Write A Follow-Up

    If you wrote a popular blog post or story on your site, you must be willing to do follow-ups to those posts. The people that so enjoyed the first post will jump at the chance to read a follow-up post. You may not be in the mood to write a sequel, but you must be willing to give the people what they want. If you know that a series of blogs is popular, you need to write in that series until you run out of ideas.

    Interact With Readers

    The beauty of social media and blogging in today’s world is that you can directly interact your readers below each post that you write. Your readers can post comments on what they have just read. You can respond to those comments, and the commentary below can become just as popular as the story. Your dialogue may be shared by other people on social media, but you should be sharing this content, as well. When you post your responses to comments on your social media pages, you are urging people to read the content and the comments. People will spend more time on your site reading everything you have to offer, and you will gain increased readership quickly because people will want to tell their friends about the witty new blogger they found.

    Be Persistent

    You must write every day if you want to improve and gain new readers. You can go out and increase your blog traffic in 30 minutes today, but what will you do tomorrow? You must continue to follow the same steps to get better results by the day. Bloggers who allow their blogs to run cold for more than a couple days are often thought to have abandoned their blog. The work you did to gain readership could be undone by a lack of consistency and drive.

    You can change your life with a blog that is gaining more traffic every day, but you have to follow the steps above to gain the readership numbers you are looking for. You can make changes that will increase your readership a half hour from now, but you must have a plan to do the same thing over and over if you wish to be successful.


  10. 5 Unique Ways to Think of Killer Blog Topic Ideas

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    Some days it feels as if writer’s block has invaded your blog. You’re staring at a blank Evernote file and trying to come up with something clever to say. But the more you try to come up with something memorable that will stick in your readers’ minds, the more trouble you have writing something. Some days it feels as if you’ve completely run out of ideas.

    You can find ideas for posts and for refining your blog’s niche by looking at similar blogs, reading blog directories like Alltop, or even watching hours of cable. But if you really want to make a splash with you blog, you should look into under-utilized ways to come up with blog topics.


    Tactic #1: Head to the local library.

    On the shelves you’ll find books with information on your blog’s topics that aren’t currently talked to death on every blog in your niche. Pull out a book from thirty or more years ago and look at how the author suggested solving a problem in your niche. If it’s relationships and the “solution” is laughingly dated, you can write a blog post about the “history of relationship advice from the 1960s,” or “how to catch a woman’s eye during the disco era.”

    Readers love seeing how a particular topic has developed over the years, and if there’s a particular topic (like how to do the perfect cat eye for makeup devotees), they’ll love seeing how a classic has held up over the decades.

    On the other hand, you will find some truly outdated advice from older books, and you can re-write the advice from a modern perspective. A book in the “work from home” genre from the 1930’s may advise women to take up sewing or making cakes for extra money, but today’s readers want to learn about a range of home based opportunities for women.

    If you want to harvest the power or Amazon, check out a couple of the latest books in your genre. Write a review post on the latest or most popular books in your genre. Talk about what you loved, what you hated and what’s missing. Post part of your post in Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads and you can increase blog traffic by getting your name out there on reputable and high traffic sites.

    This is also a great tactic if you’re looking for ideas for an e-book. If you want to know what kind of ideas you can fit into a 400 to 700 word blog post, a traditionally published book will give you an idea of what kind of ideas have real staying power in your niche. If you’re planning on writing a 20,000- word or more e-book, you can use the table of contents in published books to give you a road map for writing your own book.

    As you’re looking through the table of contents, you will find some great topics and main points that you can spin into several blog posts. As you upload them you can use them as teaser for the e book. Each can function as a tool to pre-sell the book in your blog or on Amazon and Smashwords.


    Tactic #2: Talk to someone who knows next to nothing about your niche

    Remember all those stupid things Uncle Phil says about smartphones when you see him during the Holidays? He may not understand them, but some of the things that he has to say are a gold mine for topics. Make a list of all the things he gets wrong, and create a “total newbie’s guide to smart phones” or “top ten total misconceptions people have about smart phones.” You already have your research right in front of you, and chances are that many of the things that he’s said or thought over the years other people have said and thought but were too embarrassed to say it out loud.

    Even if your blog is not geared towards newcomers in your genre, you can still use what you learn from Uncle Phil to write a “back to the basics” series for your blog.

    articleimage312Read a book or visit a website that has nothing

    Tactic #3: Read a book or visit a website that has nothing to do with you niche

    Take a trick from fiction writers: if you want to get a new perspective, pick up something completely unrelated to the work that you do. Not only will this give you some perspective that you peers don’t have, it’ll allow you to make connections between two things that appear to be completely unrelated.

    You can grab another bit of inspiration from fiction writers- using the characters in the books as hypothetical case studies in your posts. A character in a thriller whose online identity is stolen makes for a great example of what could happen if a reader doesn’t utilize the security software that you blog about on a regular basis.

    Finding obscure sources for you blog can eventually help you become a leader in your niche. As you develop a reputation for successful risk taking, more people take notice if you and you grown in credibility. Your niche was created at some point by someone coming up with an idea that seemed crazy, and if you’re constantly bringing innovative ideas to the table, you can help set the future of your niche.

    Tactic #4: Run far away from what the crowd is doing

    Remember when every blog post was something along the lines of “The Amazon way of content marketing,” and “Container gardening the Apple way?” It was a great idea, but it got old fast because everyone was using it. Really, who wants to read twelve version of “The Abraham Lincoln method of baking apple pies?” If there’s a trend going on, do your best to go in the opposite direction- fast.

    The more you follow a trend or a meme the faster your brain will turn off and before you know it you’re a “me too” blog. This can be a delicate balance when you’re trying to establish your blog. You want to be relevant and relate-able to leaders in your niche, and if they like you partnerships and can help build your audience. But it’s hard to draw in an audience if your blog is indistinguishable from the pack.

    One rule of thumb to follow is the moment you notice a trend is developing, start working on something completely different.

    Tactic #5: Tell as much of your life story as possible

    What’s the best way to become and remain an original? Stay true to your own story. Write about the time your kindergarten teacher sent you to the corner for stealing little Emily’s blue crayon. If it’s in your memory, it had a profound impact on who you are emotionally. And your readers will relate to you better for sharing something so deeply personal.

    The more that you play on your uniqueness, the faster you can build a brand. There are limitless stories and examples from our lives that we can draw upon, and even if we think no one can understand them, a few readers will come along and tell you how much they could relate to how you felt or what you did.


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-The AudienceBloom Team