blogging tips

How to Get Serious About Social Media

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Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, a friend told me it was time to get serious about my social media strategy. She even went so far as to start my Pinterest account for me. I'll be honest, I didn't see the value at the time, but I have seen the light. Pinterest and social media (in general, along with some good SEO juice) are the greatest sources of traffic to my sites (I run more than one business and social media matters for both of them). In other words, serious social media pays the bills.

I'm glad I had a friend tell me that I needed to start using social media with a serious mindset, so now I want to share with you the top 17 ways I recommend to start authentically using social media for your blog or business.

1. Pick your platforms wisely.

Not only do you not need to be on every single platform to be effective, it can actually be an unwise use of your time (especially as a solopreneur) to try to be on each one. It's really about where your ideal audience is and where you can be most effective for your brand. This is where you’ll need to do some research on where your ideal client is hanging out online and narrowing the scope of where you’ll show up.

And make sure that part of your narrowing process is clearly planning what you'll use each platform for. Write it down. Make it real. Have a plan.

2. #EditorialCalendar it when stuff is important.

^^ That's being used as a verb by the way. This simply means, when you have upcoming product launches, brand launches, important posts, challenges/giveaways you want to promote, etc., it's time to make an editorial calendar of your social media content.

Did she just say that? That sounds like a lot of work.

It is. I don't lie on this blog. Now my other blog is another story. All lies. But here I tell you the truth. It's a lot of work, but it is so rewarding. Go ahead and click on the link (image) below and create a copy of the Google Sheets doc that pops up. This is the level I suggest you go to for any super important posts/products. Plan it out for 10 days or 30 days, whatever the situation calls for. It takes a while up front to do your editorial calendaring (see that verb use?), but you’ll be so glad you did when your brand is telling a cohesive story across your channels.

3. Research people before you respond.

How do all the cool, Snapchat-using kids say it? "I'm so over" people tweeting or commenting on social media before they've taken two seconds to check someone out. I've had people ask me the strangest things, way outside of what I do/know, and I really feel like the 10 seconds it takes to read my Twitter bio or click on the link to my site would have saved them the trouble. Also, you leave such a solid impression when you respond to people based on their needs + interests.

4. Unfollow junk accounts.

Options include Crowdfire app, not for the somewhat middle school activity of unfollowing people just because they unfollow you, but because it allows you to identify people who haven't used their accounts in like seven years. You can unfollow accounts on Twitter and Instagram very simply to keep the people you're following to actual people who actually use these platforms. With other platforms, you may just have to do an audit of who you follow, and unfollow any accounts that aren't really active or that don't add value to your feed. Exceptions would be customers you want to interact with--they totally add value.

5. Follow wisely, my friend.

You're being serious about social media now, and when you’re using social media for your business you kinda have to be purposeful about who you follow. Some platforms have lists or ways to segment the people/brands you follow so you can try to get to your most important content first, but others don't. So if you don't want to crowd your feed with stuff that doesn't help you help others, then you have to be selective. Follow:

  • potential clients/readers

  • leaders in your industry

  • people who inspire you to make your business even more awesome

  • people who just inspire you or have engaging content

  • people you might want to collaborate with

  • people who go out of their way to promote/help you

  • people you like who put out quality content

  • @MindyKaling (just do the right thing here, she's hilarious)

6. Don’t retweet, repost, or repin anything you haven’t checked out first.

Again, you’re serious about social media now. It represents your brand. You can't share something with broken links, super low quality, or something that (gasp) redirects to a totally inappropriate or sketchy page. The Internets will unfollow you if you send them to a place with digital viruses and lousy marketing schemes.

7. Don’t be afraid of the “advanced features” in each platform.

  • Group boards on Pinterest will get your pins and profile in front of more people.

  • Twitter lists will help you organize the people you like and want to see tweets from, and lists will also help you make others feel special when you add them.

  • Facebook Groups and Slack Communities allow you to create deeper connections with like-minded people and potential customers.

  • Twitter chats are epic ways to converse with others and gain new followers.

  • Etc.

No seriously, go create a list in Twitter if you've never done so before. It can be public (when you want everyone to see it and be able to follow it) or it can be private (like when you want to store all your connections who live in a country half way around the world so you can tweet them at specific times or go see what they're up to when you're randomly up at 3 a.m.).

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8. Thank everyone, one person at a time (if possible).

OMG. Thank you @name1, @name2, @name3, @name4, @name5 . . . @name17."

^^ Can usually be re-worded as:

I just didn't feel like thanking you individually."

Except for in the instances when you are in fact Justin Timberlake or when you intentionally want people to be in the same comment.

Your brand may already be at the point where it's just not logical to thank each person for their comment or specific action . . . totally understandable, but perhaps you can try to "favorite" or "like" their comments.

9. Embed the heck out of your social media feeds.

If you're making a point (in a blog post or on a web page) that relates to a specific Pinterest board of yours, plop it in using the Pinterest Widget Builder.

Follow byRegina (blogging + business)'s board Social Media for Champs on Pinterest.

If you're making a point that involves a tweet you once published, embed it. I embedded the tweet below in one of my posts, and it still gets RTs and favorites . . . not because people are going back several months on my Twitter profile, but because it's front and center in a post people still read.

The one word others throw around too much that belittles how hard I know you work: LUCK. If they only knew how many work hours "luck" took.

— Regina Anaejionu (@byReginaTV) August 30, 2014

10. #StyleGuide the photos, hashtags, and wording you'll use in your updates.

When you're making a style guide for your blog or website, add in the specifics of how you'll treat social media. Consistency helps you stand out so, so, so much.

P.S. @Erika_Madden, do you mind if I use you as an example now?
P.P.S. I think we should all go follow Erika now so she won't be mad at me for using her as an example without permission.
P.P.P.S. Just kidding. She probably won't get mad, but let's all go follow her anyways. She's amazing. And she likes LOTR and sushi. Clearly an outstanding human being.

11. Create templates, yo.

Whether it's quotes or sayings (like the examples in Erika's IG account above), or the custom images you'll make each time you share your blog posts or new products on Twitter, make templates for any social media graphics you'll be creating. This will save you time and help you look super organized and consistent.

12. Batch everything.

Like that time you mixed up vegan cookie dough for just one emergency cookie . . . umm, no. Multiple cookies are always necessary so I'm assuming you typically mix enough dough to last you a day or so, right? Well, create your social media images (quotes, questions, challenges, regular pictures of you behind the scenes, etc.) in batches (perhaps 1 - 4 weeks of content at a time). That way you'll never be without something to share, and you'll be that much more likely to stick to the promotion schedule (editorial calendar) you made in #2 above.

13. Buffer (or Hootsuite) all the stuff.

I use Buffer (+ Hootsuite is another similar tool) to load multiple tweets, Facebook posts, etc. at once. So, all that stuff you just batch created . . . now you can schedule it ahead of time and not worry about it.

14. Write a better bio.

Communicate value and your personality in your bio. 👀Try really hard not to just list nouns or adjectives that describe you and your attributes. Try to communicate what makes you you in longer phrases or full sentences. So instead of opting for:

Cat lover. Chocolate lover. Wife. Mom. Friend. Copywriter. Editor."

Please don't get mad at me for that ^^--it just really doesn't stand out as much as:

I help you write words that people remember. I also like cats, and chocolate, or chocolate cats . . . I'm not picky here."

15. Get a better avatar/headshot/profile image.

Hire a photographer, or get handy with natural light and a good editing app. (Hint: VSCO Cam or Snapseed)

16. Similarize (word check: does that exist?) your bios + headshots across all platforms.

#AwkwardTruthMoment: People just don’t know you like that. If you have curly hair and a blue dress on your Pinterest profile and straight hair with a red shirt on Twitter, we might not get that you are the same person. Also, if you talk about your love for cats on Instagram and you only talk about your love for editing works of fiction on Twitter, we might not get that you are the same person.

Your average Internet user looks at 1,307 different faces online each day (most of them poorly lit selfies). I'm totally kidding y'all. I made that stat up. But, seriously . . . we just don't know you like that. Use similar headshots (you know, like either the exact same shot, or you in the exact same setting/outfit) and bios across your platforms.

17. Update your cover photos.

Make them compelling. Make them pop. Make them fitting of the season or of your newest product launch or epic freebie. Whatever you do, don't waste your cover photo space . . . people actually look at them.

Here’s the awesome Ade Aprilia who uses her Facebook cover page .

18. Verify, connect, list, and link.

Verify your site/accounts in Pinterest. Connect your accounts (such as Instagram and Twitter so that you can automatically tweet something you Instagram every so often). List and link your other accounts on each platform (where applicable--so, YouTube should have links to all your other accounts, etc.).

19. Join chats.

Find Twitter chats (or discussions in other social media communities) that focus on topics you love, that can help you learn, or that include a lot of your ideal audience. You will have great conversations, you will gain new followers, you will meet new collaborators, you will likely even find new customers.

My favorite new chat? you ask. #CreateLounge, hosted by the amazing @Kayla_Hollatz.

20. Join communities.

People with like minds, similar challenges/issues/desires, and similar interests often congregate online in Facebook Groups, Slack Communities, group Pinterest Boards, Twitter chats, various website forums, and other online clubs or organizations. When you're taking social media seriously, you're not tweeting on an island . . . okay, bad example, because you can literally tweet from an island and connect with the whole world. But, you know what I mean. You're not tweeting in a bubble . . . okay, you can probably do that too . . .

What I'm trying to say here is: Community is important. When you're using social media for a brand or business, community is everything. Serious social media is not one-sided. It's interactive. It's meaningful. And it's like that one phrase people always use, "You're not tweeting in a vacuum my friend."

That analogy works, right? I'll get it one of these days.

21. Get serious about hashtag research and social media search features.

But Regina, you're telling me to go out and find my ideal clients/readers, and to find like-minded people to connect with on social media, and to do a bunch of other stuff that requires me to actually find these mythical people. How do I do that?

Ahhhhhh, the power of search. Figure out key phrases people might use when looking for content like yours or products like yours, and then search for those phrases. A simple Twitter search of the phrase "need to start a blog" returned tons of results (people saying everything from "I need to start a blog before my site goes live" to "I need to start a blog to help with all these emotions"), so if you were in the business of helping people start blogs, you'd totally have new friends.

P.S. Don't creep people out or annoy the heck out of them when you tweet them by telling them about all your services, instead, congratulate them, converse with them, point them to free resources . . . don't be weird.

While you're in research mode, don't forget to search hashtags on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Find out the most popular hashtags among your clients and communities (just do a Google search for "popular hashtags for ____"), and then search for them and use them. Connect with people who use them. You get the point. We're serious about social media now; we can't be lazy.

22. Add value, but also be yourself.

It's part of establishing a "you" brand. You always want to add value, else, why would people follow you? But, you always want to be yourself. In being yourself and sharing things with personality or sharing things other than articles/research, you're giving yourself some wiggle room. If you have a powerful presence as a brand and as a person in one, we'll follow you when you pivot into a new brand or space. Pinky swear.

23. Mix it up.

There are many types of things you can share on social media. Below are my top 25 suggestions for types of content. Click the image below or download your copy here.

24. Create a hashtag.

If you're using social media for your business, you'll perhaps want to look into creating hashtags for your brand, for your products, for your communities, and for your challenges/contests. People are so used to using #hashtags nowadays, that if you create and clearly communicate + use your hashtags, you'll likely find that they slowly catch on. So, when you ship out products, casually let people know each product's specific hashtag. You may find that it reminds people to share your products on Instagram. Or, you may find customers saying stuff about your products (on Twitter for example) who you didn't even know bought your stuff.

You may mess around and create a movement with one of your hashtags. Just don't go crazy; be mindful of the platform you're in. And on Twitter, you probably can't fit more than 3 with your tweet.

25. Create a community, show, or event . . . or host something specific on each platform.

Give people additional incentive to follow you on each platform that you're taking seriously for your blog or business. Hold monthly Q+As on Facebook, a weekly Instagram Live, an occasional Twitter chat, a show on YouTube or FB, or even a scavenger hunt on Instagram or a pin party on Pinterest. Include prizes or free resources the first few times (or permanently). People will love the events and the communities that form around them.

26. Share other people’s stuff and tag them when you do so.

You’ll create some of the most grateful, awesome fans when you share other people’s stuff (on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, wherever). If you’re able to tag the person, they are that much more likely to follow you, to re-share your content, or to love you bunches. Using social media for your brand means stepping out and connecting. You may share to crickets at first, but people will take notice and be appreciative in time.

27. JUST SAY NO to (most) drugs and automated responses.

Just kidding, kids. Say no to all drugs.

Also, if it doesn't look like a human sat down and gave the tweet/post some serious thought in the moment, don't post it, message it, or do it. What I mean is: No auto direct messages on Twitter when someone follows you, no auto tweets through a third-party app thanking the five people who retweeted you that week, and no post that simply shares the name of a product and a link ("Gold leaf scarf http://awkwardurl234567here.com").

None of these things look like an actual human sat down and gave the post some thought. Using social media effectively for your brand means standing out. Automated, impersonal, uninteresting posts do not qualify and in fact, they damage your brand as a whole.

28. Ask for help.

People love to help you and give you feedback. Whether you're asking what color you should release a new product in, asking if anyone knows someone who does _____, or asking people for advice on a certain topic, people will commit to memory those that they help and those that are appreciative of said help. When you're first building your accounts up, you might mention or tag someone directly (and without being creepy) to ask for their expertise on something . . . or you might just throw your question out into Internet land with an applicable hashtag and hope someone sees it. Either way, give it a try.

29. Switch up your post based on the platform.

That one time you saw someone post the exact same wording across all eight platforms they use. That was so interesting, right? (Insert an unamused emoji face here and while you’re at it, do use emojis to spice things up a bit in Internetland.)

Different platforms call for different hashtags, lengths of posts, wording, vibes, and images. Take advantage of the specific communities you've connected with on each platform. Delight them in different ways, and always, always optimize your images and words for the platform you're on.

30. Get handy with the editing tools.

Make your quotes and images look spiffy with free tools like Canva, VSCO Cam, and Pixlr.

31. Put your URL on it.

  • Stuff gets lost on the Internet. Have you ever found an image and wish you knew the original source? Can you imagine a potential reader coming across a great article on Pinterest but getting frustrated when the pin doesn't lead back to the original source? Ditto Google Image search. That wouldn't happen if your URL was on the image.

  • Images get stolen and misused on the Internet. A super sweet blogger emailed me a while back to let me know that some of my images (along with several other bloggers' images) were being used by a shady guy on his Pinterest board to get traffic back to his site. So, whereas it looked like you were clicking on a picture that would take you to my piece on How I Started Making a Full-time Blogging Income, you were actually being taken to his site. The only way my new blogger friend was able to alert me to his image theft, was because my URL was on my pin.

  • Including your URL or logo, or both, is a great way to reenforce your brand identity.

So, what do you think? Maybe make the information above into an R&B slow jam? Agreed.

32. READ. Because readers are leaders.

Find a book about social media in general (The Art of Social Media // Grow Your Blog Traffic with Social Media) or a book about the specific platform you want to study in the moment. As power users, let's make power moves and really explore all the features and uses of the platforms we choose to be on.

33. Stop, go back, and use the person's name.

When replying, when contacting, when asking something, when breathing, when freaking sneezing, use the person's name. People like to hear/read their own names. People like when you take time to address them personally.

Now . . . I'll give you the instances where people make their names too ridiculously hard to find. Like when their Instagram and Twitter handle are brand names, and their website bios don't have their names, and all their posts are signed "M." >> they just don't want you to have the information you need. Abort mission. But other than that, use the person's name.

How else do you get serious about social media? What do you spend most of your social media time doing? Planning, posting, finding people, thinking of what to say, designing images? Holla at me in the comments about it.

23 Types of Audio, Video, and Other Media You Can Add to Your Course (or Blog) to Make It Even More Epic

23 Types of Audio, Video, and Other Media You Can Add to Your Course (or Blog) to Make It Even More Epic

Not that text lessons and articles aren't super valuable, but in the interest of making your online courses (or blog in general) more accessible, delightful, and useful for different learning styles, it is a good idea to explore the many types of media you can create---easily---and most often without any investment at all other than your time. Check out the 23 types of media below that you can add to your online course, website, blog, landing pages, and more to create a more valuable and user-friendly experience for your students and audience.

The 6 Most Profitable Blogger Career Paths (and How to Get Started in One)

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Oh man. Listen. I 100% believe what I’m about to say and it IS big. I’m not even necessarily being the overly dramatic version of myself that I normally am. Here it is.

There are six distinct blogger career paths, which if you understand and work on, can absolutely change your world.

I’ve been down each one of these paths in the past, and it is time to share them . . . and to change the careers that we consider, pursue, and build for ourselves.

P.S. Everything below and more is available as an audio file. And here is the flowchart I reference and show.

 How do you make money as a blogger? What careers are there in blogging? Here's a resource to help.

How do you make money as a blogger? What careers are there in blogging? Here's a resource to help.

For years, and years, and years, society has been quick to teach us the traditional career paths of lawyers, and teachers, and plumbers, and even professional basketball players. We know which schools we need to go to, which judge to get an internship with, how to get certified during night school, which recruiters and game stats we should shoot for, etc.

We know that once we become a lawyer, we can look forward to either practicing law at a major firm and trying to make partner, or starting our own firm, or teaching law, or working as a public defender, or working for a major corporation as an attorney, or doing pro bono, or advising a non-profit, or getting into politics and perhaps running for president of our country one day.

Great.

But, what about career paths for bloggers? For content creators? For infopreneurs? For some of these positions and interests that are popping up, making money, and sticking around?

Just as becoming a lawyer doesn’t guarantee you money or clients, but it does provide many paths to monetize (explained above) and many specialties to focus on (family law, corporate issues, intellectual property, taxes, tort law, etc.) and is thus considered a legitimate career . . .

Becoming a blogger doesn’t guarantee income or fame by any stretch of the imaginations, but it does provide many paths (explained below and in the audio file) and practically endless specialties to focus on (food, business, travel, crafts, fitness, accounting, fashion, etc.) that make money and should thus be considered a legitimate career.

I hope they start teaching it in schools everywhere soon. But until then, may I please present my shiny new Blogger Career Paths flowchart with some explanations and notes (if you’re taking them) that I hope will blow your mind? Okay. Let’s get started.

 The 6 Blogging Career Paths

The 6 Blogging Career Paths

The first thing to understand is what is happening in any career path, anywhere, at any time, on any day. You are learning something new in one of two ways. You are either:

  1. Acquiring a skill. or

  2. Acquiring information.

Right? And, depending on which one you are doing, there are quite a few ways that your career path can develop and morph. Plus, keep in mind that you can continually add new skills or information to the mix to tweak your path as new interests and desires come up.

So, let’s break down what the 6 most profitable career paths for bloggers are, and then, you can optionally decide to listen to the audio file above where I break down these Blogger Career Paths into the two actions of acquiring a skill or acquiring information as a starting point.

The 6 Most Profitable Career Paths for Bloggers

Becoming a DFY (done for you) freelancer.

“I like to do X, so I’m going to do it for you, in a customized way.”

Ex: A copywriter for your sales and landing pages. A document designer for your book. An interior designer for your daughter's room.

2. Becoming a coach or consultant in a Dwy (done with you) way.

“I like to show you how to do X successfully.”

Ex: A divorce + transition coach. A yoga coach. A brand or content coach. Like my girl over at JenCarrington.com.

3. Becoming a speaker.

“I want to talk about X to help make it better and advance the way we think about X.”

Ex: A speaker who raises awareness of the dangers of childhood obesity. A speaker who talks with corporations about how to motivate their team members.

4. Becoming a spokesperson.

“I like to do X and talk about X, so I partner with brands that allow me to do so.”

Ex: A food blogger who is an affiliate for products and gets food brands to pay them for special recipes. A fashion blogger who gets money, clothes, and accessories because they make brands look good. A travel blogger who becomes a brand ambassador for a boutique hotel chain (yes, I actually know someone who did this and their niche is not even travel). Me, when WD sponsored me to talk about their personal cloud device.

5. Making products so people can diy their solutions.

“I want to create a way for people to do X better.”

Ex: A blogger who creates an editorial planner (haha, shameless---that's my editorial planner for sale on Amazon.com. No but seriously, the Epic Blog Planner is actually pretty great). Or a fitness blogger who creates an app to help you track your fitness goals. Or a yoga-loving blogger who creates more versatile or sustainable yoga gear or bags. Or the blogger behind the food blog Inspiralized.com who made a popular kitchen tool and cookbook.

6. Becoming a publisher for profit.

“I want to teach a lot of people how to do X in a clear way.”

Ex: A course creator who teaches yoga for rehabilitating a weak back. Or my friend Heather who teaches how to style a bookcase. A blogger-author who sells books on financial planning and independence. A blogger who has published multiple books and now teaches SERVE Academy, an email-list building and sales cycle program. You get the point---there are a lot of ways to publish for profit.

Oooo, when you learn by acquiring a new skill, what are the blogging career paths available to you? And what about when you learn by acquiring info?

I'm so glad you asked this question, ninja friend. I get to that in the podcast episode--I just have a few more tips for you here in this post.

But, let’s take a #secretbreak real quick. Which is, get this, a break in which I tell you a secret.

I'm desperately passionate about helping you find the blogging career that makes sense for you, your learning passions, and the people you like to talk to and help or entertain. I'm passionate about it because I have tested and seen many monetization methods in each career path (as in: there's more than just one way to make money as a "spokesperson"), and at some point in the last few years, I've done each of these careers for full-time income. 

No seriously, it was just about learning and growing.

And testing. And you know what?

It IS possible to pursue blogging as a career . . . it just needs to be approached wisely.

So, you will notice, especially as you listen to the episode and take a gander at the flowchart, one common theme that helps you monetize scalably is to figure out a process with what you do, and then figure out how to make it better (through products, or tools, or coaching/guidance), how to explain it better (through organized information), or how to present it better. These ALL deal with publishing information.

  • Visual information.

  • Written information.

  • Information as tutorials or videos.

  • Audio files.

  • There are a lot of options.

And I want to help you navigate them. I’m not gonna just leave you like “Yay. Blogging careers are real. Go find one.”

Here’s the deal. Carving a career for yourself out of this new industry requires (1) something you are passionately interested in---and p.s. you can test things out and binge-do the Internet to start finding out what that is if you don’t already know, and (2) being consistent about creating value out of what you’re passionately interested in. How to create content that wins will be a focus of the next few episodes of the #StayScrappy podcast and of the posts on this blog . . . but . . .

At the very least . . . you can start by taking our free 5-day email course on building an engaged email list of people who actually buy from you. 

Then, if you’re feeling good about your setup and wanting to move forward, please feel free to check out ALL the free content here on the blog to see if that gives you what you need, or, if you're ready to super duper pursue this, you can come join us in SERVE Academy.

Regina out.

How to Expand a Blog Post (or Series) into a Book

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So, here we are, you and I . . . about to dive into: How do you turn a blog post series into a book? OR EVEN How do you turn a blog post into a book? My friend, I do not have all the answers, and I'm sure there are multiple ways to go about it, but I can tell you what I've done in this situation to expand blog posts into eBooks (like The Epic Guide to Creating a Brand Identity and The Guide to Creating an Epic Information Product in 3 Days).

When expanding on posts that already exist for free on the webs, I try to take a step back and look at the whole topic from the reader/customer perspective. This comes in the form of five questions you can ask yourself about your current post or series as well as five general idea-generating questions you can ask yourself to create an awesome chapter/content list for your book.

You can download the worksheets below (just click on them) to help you work through and record your ideas from this post.

 How to go from a blog post series to a book

How to go from a blog post series to a book

For the purposes of this post, let's take for example a series you did on car maintenance for your "modern superwoman" blog. P.S. If it is a single post you are turning into a book, break it down into the main points/sections you made.

Below, I assume it is a series, but you can change my list out for your post sections.

1st post: Changing a Tire

2nd post: Checking All Important Car Fluids

3rd post: Changing the Oil

4th post: Changing Your Air Filters

5th post: Adding Air to Your Tires

When it's time to write the book Car Maintenance: Superwoman Style, you'd step back and review these:

Five Questions to Ask About Your Current Blog Post or Series

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For each of the posts in your series (or points in your blog post) ask yourself:

1. Can I expand it with additional points?

For example: Your post on Checking All Important Car Fluids might have included transmission fluid, engine oil, brake fluid, steering fluid, and coolant. Awesome. But now that you're creating a book out of it, you have room to expand. Can you possibly cover windshield wiper fluid now as well?

Homework: Use the accompanying worksheets to record any expansion you can do (on each post in your series) that will add value or present a more full picture of your topic.

2. Can I focus on a different aspect?

For example: Your post on Changing a Tire might have taken a wonderful and in-depth look at each step in the process, but could you maybe focus on which tires are less prone to go flat? Or what you should look for in a spare tire? Or checking your car to make sure you have a spare? Or where to get a premium tool kit for tire changes?

Homework: Use the worksheets to write down different viewpoints/aspects of each post or point you've already created.

3. Can I give more background information?

For example: You may have told us all about Changing the Oil, with high-res images and everything, but might we also be interested in the background of the different types of car oil and which types are best for certain cars? And with all your great instructions on Changing a Tire, might we still need you to clarify that if we're changing our tire on the side of a highway, there are different sets of concerns we need to address? And yes, we can check our car fluids, but are there Three (Non-Fluid) Checks You Should Do Before You Drive Your Car Each Day?

Homework: Decide >> what are some additional background points you can make (or chapters you can create) that will help your audience? Are there possibly some things you're assuming your audience knows that they might not know? Try to talk with someone who would be an ideal reader and figure out what background information they might appreciate. Write down your ideas on your worksheet in the appropriate section.

4. Can I make it apply to a segment of people?

For example: You told us all about Changing a Tire and Checking All Important Car Fluids, but were those just general tips or did they apply to those who live in severe cold temperatures? Are there different concerns for a certain segment of people? Those who drive in the cold or in extreme heat? Those traveling great distances vs. those who only drive a few miles at a time? Those who only use their car once per week or once per month?

Homework: Think about each type of person who might want or need your book. Is there content that doesn't fit for them? More importantly, is there additional content that you can add and create a completely different and more amazing experience with?

5. Can I write the follow-up content?

For example: You did an amazing job educating us on Changing a Tire, but now that we've changed it, what can/should we do with the old one? Recycle it? Donate it? Make a tire swing out of it?

Homework: Think through each post in your series (or each point in your post) and ask yourself if you followed the point all the way through? Is there something that comes afterward that your audience will consider useful? I, for one, have no idea what to do with a tire after I change it, so if there's a way to easily donate or recycle it, I'd love to know.

Use your worksheets to write down your expansion ideas. Then, use your worksheets as you contemplate:

Five Idea-Generating Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Topic

1. Why does my ideal reader want to learn about this topic in the first place?

Our car maintenance blogger should ask: Why would my ideal reader want to learn about car maintenance? Is it because she drives an older car and doesn't ever want to be stranded on the side of the road? Is it because she's finally purchased her dream car and wants to keep it pristine?

This might inspire some new chapter ideas:

Chapter Idea: Tips and Tricks for Both Old and New Vehicles
Chapter Idea: Preventative Maintenance: How to Upkeep Your Baby on the Regular Chapter Idea: The Basic Tools Any Savvy Superwoman Should Have on Hand Chapter Idea: The 10 Checks You Should Do Before a Road Trip

Homework: Ask yourself why your reader is interested in your topic. When you write down that answer (or those multiple answers), see if it inspires any topic/chapter ideas you don't already have written down on your worksheets.

2. Where does my ideal audience member need to start?

Our car blogger should ask: With my blog post series I just jumped into changing a tire, but is that the beginning? Where does my reader need to begin their knowledge of car maintenance as a whole?

This might inspire some new chapter ideas:

Chapter Idea: The Parts of a Car and How They All Work Together

Chapter Idea: Knowing the Lights on Your Dashboard

Homework: When you knew nothing about this topic, what would have been most helpful to know? What order would you explain this in to someone in the seventh grade? To a young child? To someone who knew almost zero about the topic? To someone who has never heard of your topic before? Write your content ideas down in the correct column of your worksheet.

3. What are additional concerns my audience might have that I have had before, heard before, or can relate to?

Our car maintenance blogger should ask: What are the things I've been doing so long (or have known so long) that can be real roadblocks to someone encountering them for the first time? What questions and comments do I hear when hanging out (online or in real life) with my ideal readers or people like my ideal readers?

This might inspire some new chapter ideas: 
Chapter Idea: When to Take Your Car In (and What to Look For in a Mechanic) Chapter Idea: When to Sell or Give Away Your Car

Homework: Consider surveying your friends + readers, or simply thinking through past conversations or your own experiences to develop a list of additional concerns, thoughts, or needs that might be a good fit for your book. Add your ideas to your worksheet.

4. What additional resources will enhance my audience’s understanding of this topic?

Our car blogger should ask: Are there certain topics or sections that won't work as simple text? Does any of this fit better as videos, links, worksheets, downloads, a list of tools/resources, etc.?

This may cause new ideas such as:

  • Resource Idea: (Video) How to Check Your Tire's Air

  • Resource Idea: Links to all the best resources to estimate what your used car will sell for

  • Resource Idea: (Worksheet) Car Maintenance Checklist for Cars Over 10 Years Old

Homework: Review the ideas you've had thus far on your worksheets and figure out whether something other than text is necessary to convey your points effectively. Write down your ideas for additional resources or materials that can complement your book.

5. Which of these topics and ideas fit together as one book and which ones could be expanded on later or made into separate books?

Both you and our car blogger should ask: Is some of this too advanced for where my ideal audience is at? Will certain chapters overwhelm my audience? Can I create additional streams of income and more specialized content by breaking some of this into mini-books, workbooks, a class, or other content?

Homework: Pull out any ideas that you want to save for a later project and set them aside. Flip back to the first page of your worksheets and record all your final chapter/content ideas. Use this to make your official outline for your new book.

 

So yes, there are definitely ways to use blog post content, but make it more full and more useful as a book. I think you simply focus on developing the important things that you know will really make a difference for your audience, and then plan out your current book (and any follow-up books) to address the needs and immediate interests of your readers. If they are your primary motivation during the process, you'll likely see great content ideas naturally form, and meh ideas naturally fade.

So tell me good friend of the Internet, will you be creating a book or product out of some of your blog posts? Have you already done so? Do tell . . .

And pssssst, if you liked this lesson, you might just love our email course on building an engaged email list of people who actually buy from you. . . because if you plan on selling books, you’ll need an audience. Grab the course here.

SEO for Bloggers: The Non-Techie Guide

intro to SEO for bloggers.jpeg

Regina here. Desperately hoping I can make "#SearchEngineSaturday" a real thing, because that's what I want to talk about today . . . and it's a Saturday. And honestly, what I really want to do is get at the most important facet of search engine optimization (SEO) for bloggers >> it's all based on humans >> and spending our lives worrying about techie, crawly, spider-y, secret robots who arbitrarily rank our sites is probably a waste of time. Allow me to expand this point: I hope someone who knows me just laughed in their head at that and said, "Of course you're going to expand Regina. You always talk too much. I mean, share such lovely, long details with us."

So yes, I am going to share the 10 things that over time will make the biggest difference for your blog's SEO, but in order to do that, I think it is best to explain what major search engines like Google are doing and how it's really about humans. P.S. I will not be using ANY techie words in this post. This is a post you could share with your grandmother, or your 8-year old, or your awkward Uncle Phil who wants to start making money with the Internets but doesn't even understand what the Internets is . . . are . . . is/are . . . I don't know which one to use there.

What are search engines really doing?

Search engines (such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo!) are providing a service to humans. They attempt to go out into Internet Land and discover all the pages available. These pages can be actual website pages (like an About, Bio, or Contact page) that give specific information or they can be your individual blog posts. Search engines like to have a record of all the pages possible so that when a human comes along and searches for a specific term, the search engine has a large amount of pages to pull from and show as results.

If you used a search engine to search for instructions on how to change a tire, and you got back results on the best new tires you should buy, or someone's top 18 pictures of their tire swing, would you get a bit annoyed? Further, if you kept getting unhelpful results from that specific search engine, would you eventually switch to a different search engine to get your answers?

Well, as a company providing a service, Google knows that it needs to give you the best results possible in order to keep your attention and your business. Each search engine seeks to give out the results that will most delight you, a human.

What delights you as a human? Wild guess here: pictures, simple instructions, stuff that actually answers your question, stuff that's well organized, content that is well written, content that includes the phrases and titles you actually searched for . . . say I'm getting warm here.

How do search engines rank sites then?

Since search engines aren't actually human, but are trying to imitate human behavior and logic, the creators of search engines have to create guidelines for their software to help give the most human search results.

Google, Bing, and other engines are always trying to modify their software to get to the most pleasing results for humans (also on the Internets as algorithms)>> so as a blogger, if you're spending time learning the 200 new factors that affect SEO each time a search engine updates its software, you are focusing on the dew, which is on the leaves, which are on the trees >> and you might be missing the forest you're standing in.

Instead, let's think of search engine software as an imperfect system trying to get closer and closer to what humans like. If you're doing what humans like on your blog, you're headed in the right direction.

Here are the ten factors that will make the biggest difference for your blog . . . because they're what search engines are basing their site ranking process on . . . because they are the things that matter most to humans:

1. Well-Written Content

I know you care about this not only because it affects your blog's SEO, but also because you take pride in your work. Well, search engines care so much about this (and write their software to look for this) because it makes a difference to how much a reader enjoys their search results.

Translation: Write your blog content in a natural, helpful tone. Double check your work. A few errors are okay here and there, but craptacular grammar can easily affect how much people enjoy reading your work. Also, paragraphs that don't make sense or don't flow logically can distract people.

2. Multimedia Content

Us humans love when points are illustrated by photographs or drawings, or available as videos, or downloadable as audio . . . we love options. We love pretty things. We love simple things. Search engines know that their users (humans) will be happier with posts that include multiple forms of media, instead of just text, so search engines show more love to those posts.

Translation: If you are making a point that is explained better through a video, make a video. Provide a main blog post image that lets people know what your post is about. However, don't forget that you can include more images in the body of the post when they relate to your points. For example, I'll casually drop in the image below because it illustrates how much more interesting a blog post with pictures looks than a post that is just text . . . clever girl.

 Blog posts with images and other media perform better than just text

Blog posts with images and other media perform better than just text

3. Keywords That Make Sense

Humans use keywords all the time. I shall illustrate this point with some extremely real dialogue:

Hey, I ran into James and Regina the other day," says Person 1.

Oh, you mean the crazyblogger with curly hair and her sidekick who always wears red tights and a cape?" says Person 2.

Person 2 used all the underlined keywords to clarify who James and Regina were. Keywords are details that help people classify and verify information. If you completely forgot my name and my sidekick's name, you might search the Internets for "blogger with curly hair and a sidekick in red tights."

Yes, I could have gone with a more relevant example above, but I think we had more fun with this one. The point is: people will pull out and search the keywords and terms that are most memorable or important to them. Google and other search engines know this. They return results that use those keywords naturally.

Translation: You know the people you want to reach with your website. Think of the keywords and the exact phrases they are likely to use when they search for your type of content online. Use those keywords in your post (and in your blog post title and heading--but that's information for another point, coming soon). As an example, this blog post is titled SEO for Bloggers, mainly because I feel that you as a blogger might specifically search that. Sure, you might also search for SEO tips or search engine optimization for blog owners, but I felt my title was a good guess.

4. Content That Engages Readers

Have you ever landed on a website that looked like it was last updated in your year of birth? I know I have, and the Internet wasn't a real, wide-spread thing when I was born . . . so, translation, that's bad. When I land on sites like that, I leave immediately. Hi, my name is Regina, and I'm a shallow Internet snob. And as a snob, I won't stay on sites that aren't engaging. Your design needs to engage and your post content needs to engage. If readers check out mentally after your first paragraph, they're outta there.

Search engines want to show you (as a reader and content consumer) sites that are interesting and that you will spend a lot of time on. They are paying attention to how engaging a blog's content is, they are designing their software to identify interactive, captivating sites more and more.

Translation: Engage your blog readers through great content, images, a logical layout, an easy-to-use site, and your stellar personality and jokes. Your blog's search engine rankings thank you. If you're able to keep people on your site longer than other sites, search engines love you.

5. Links That Lead to Your Blog

Do you want another epic dialogue example to illustrate a point? Of course you do:

Hey, do you know a good store to get corduroy skinny pants from, Bob?" asks some clearly cool person.

Oh yeah, go to Too Regit to Quit, it's a new boutique on South 1st Street," says some other clearly cool person.

What just happened? Old school word of mouth. Well in Internet land, people have these same conversations (where they're recommending a specific entity or resource) through links on their blogs that recommend something or social media platform shares. The social media thing is the last point in this post, but let's address links.

When another website or blog links to your site, search engines take that to mean someone is recommending you. More links means more people think your blog is hot stuff. In our corduroy pants example, if you repeatedly hear of this shop, (epically named) Too Regit to Quit, you would eventually go there.

But, here's the deal: If your successful and popular best friend who has the same taste in clothing recommends a boutique store, that means way more to you than the socially awkward man at the gas station who shouts out the boutique's name while driving off and bumping Ace of Base. No offense Ace, I think I know the lyrics to all your songs, backwards.

Search engines act the same way as you did in this situation, they will take the link/recommendation of reputable blogs as more valuable than the random link from a site that just popped up last week and still seems a bit awkward. And in general, they will take the link/recommendation of a blog in your same space (ex: fashion) as more relevant than a link from something completely unrelated (ex: a toaster oven blog).

Translation: Guest write posts and articles for established blogs in your general industry. These blogs will typically link back to your blog within your guest post. Also, focus on creating content that people will want to share. Build the best metaphorical corduroy skinny pants you can through your blog.

6. Blog Post Titles That Make Sense

If I ask you for your best social media book recommendations, and you tell me about a book titled "The Girl with Yellow Shoes," I will look at you with the what's-in-your-cup-other-than-the-coffee-I-thought-was-there stare. I already feel you're about to tell me something unrelated and annoying. What's interesting though is >> "The Girl with Yellow Shoes" might be the best book on social media ever written . . . but the title of the book would suit me better if it made more sense . . . especially if I only have a limited amount of time available to me to decide on my next social media book.

Google knows that if you wrote an epic post on using MailChimp as an Etsy store owner, you might have naturally included "MailChimp" and/or "Etsy" in your blog post title. But, more importantly, Google knows that if a web searcher searches for "how to use MailChimp for your Etsy store," that person is more likely to click on a blog post titled "MailChimp for Etsy Shops: The Champion's Guide to Awesome Emails" than "This Girl Still Has Yellow Shoes On, It's Weird."

Translation: Title your posts in ways that would cause you to click (if you fit in your ideal blog reader group). Title your posts with keywords that will help people figure out what it's all about. Title your posts in ways that build excitement and accurate expectations.

7. Content That's Long Enough to Really Address a Need

Remember that one time you Googled "SEO for Bloggers" and landed on a post that was only 10 words long? No. You don't. Because it probably never happened. Since you as a human want enough information to actually accomplish your goals (ex: become awesome at blogging, learn how to change your car's oil, create tasty gluten-free desserts, etc.), you probably prefer content that gives you a full picture. This usually requires more than 200 words.

Search engines realize that 2,000 words will give users/searchers a more complete picture of how to do something epic than 500 words. It's based on a human need, and it's translated to how their search engine software treats all the posts in Internet land.

Translation: Use headings, and images, and bullet points to keep your text interesting, but then make sure there is enough text and content to really help and engage people.

8. High-Frequency Content (Also, a Lot of Content)

A friend recently explained to me how he used to start every morning of his life . . . he woke up and grabbed his phone to check the blog of one of his favorite music artists. The days that the music artist posted something were the best days ever. The days the artist hadn't said anything new, were days where he probably searched the web for other interesting content. He was devoted. But, that music artist eventually stopped adding new stuff, and my friend eventually stopped visiting that website.

Frequent posts, and a lot of past posts to browse through, give people the confidence to fall in love. They feel the blogger is around to stay. They feel the blogger is in it for them as the readers.

Search engines know that consistency and options (multiple past posts to choose from) really influence our enjoyment of a site. Therefore, search engines are more inclined to load their top search results with blogs that honor the frequency concept (and also blogs that have a large library of posts).

Translation: Publish new stuff consistently. Search engines love it because people love it. Build trust. Build up your library/archive of past posts that are epic.

9. Blog Post Headings That Make Sense and Organize Your Information

Imagine this post without any of these numbered headings. How would you keep track of what point you were on? Would you finish the article and go back and count to make sure there were actually 10 points as promised? Do the headings also help you know what I'm about to say? Do they help you get mentally prepared?

Your blog's search engine optimization is affected by the headings you choose to include. Do they make sense? Do they have keywords in them? If so, that means your reader will be happier. And as we've said through this post a bagillion times, happy readers is what search engines want to create. You'll never have a reason to use anything but the search engine that consistently delivers useful results.

Translation: Use headings. Organize your content. Do you remember those keywords and phrases you thought of that people might enter into a search engine to find content like yours? Make those words part of your headings.

10. Content That's Popular (on Social Media Platforms)

'Member that corduroy pants example from #5 above? Well, it applies here too. If you see friends, and perhaps even tons of strangers, talking about this one thing/store/blog/item, you'll want to know what it's all about. The term "social proof" means that something has enough attention from Internet land/people to get new people to notice it. When you see that 1,000 people like/share something, you take that more seriously than if 0 or 10 people like it.

Search engines can read the links and content from most social media platforms. They're able to tune in to conversations and see what/who is hot right now. They may return some of those social media posts or Pinterest pins in search results, but they also use the mere existence of all the shares and links to figure out which blogs are the best to return in search results.

Translation: Don't ignore social channels. First, make content and images that are simple to share on social media sites. Provide people with clear buttons and sharing options (ex: the buttons at the bottom of this post before the comments area . . . you can just click on your favorite platform and share). Join social media sites where your readers spend their time and become active. Start conversations about anything interesting. Promote your stuff, promote other stuff you like, socialize with others . . . people will notice that you are there and helpful.

So, how do you feel about SEO for your blog as it relates to human interaction? Are there any areas in which you might incorporate new tactics? I gotta say, it was a bit hard to not use words like "algorithm" and "sitemap" in this post, but my intent was to communicate the foundations of SEO for bloggers in a non-techie way. These are the core concepts you can follow to help your blog get noticed by search engines.

Sure, there are definitely other factors like site speed, clean website code, a mobile-friendly site, and perhaps using a great plugin like the one I use, SEO by Yoast (if you're on WordPress), but the 10 items above are the real places to begin your search engine optimization strategy. Everything stems from how people use/like your site. Speed is important because people are impatient, pictures are important because people like visuals, etc. With every decision you make for your blog, ask not what search engines would like, but what actual humans would like.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the most important part of getting traffic to your blog. And that’s doing something meaningful with that traffic. like getting them on your email list. If you want to turn your blog into a business, you’ll need to grow your audience with people who actually engage with you and want to buy from you. And guess what? We’ve created a 5-day email course to teach you exactly how to do that.

Thanks for reading this, you beautiful human, you. Any questions or epic thoughts? Would love to hear them below, because I too am human.