How to Write Content That Both You and Your Audience Love

How to Write Content That You and Your Audience Love

Bloggers must walk a delicate tightrope.

On one hand, you started blogging because you had something important to say. Your blog topics must feel relevant to you and tied in to what you care about the most. Otherwise, you won’t want to keep writing.

On the other hand, you want your blog to connect with an audience -if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be sharing your writing with the world. And if you want that connection, you need to write content that your audience craves.

So…how do you do both?

1. Get clear on your values and your superpowers.

First, look inward.

What do you care about?

This is something that’s woven through your life like a vibrant thread. You can look back and see it stitched into all different parts of your life.

Ask these questions:

  • What do people always come to me for that I also love helping them with?
  • What can I do for hours and not even notice the time passing?
  • What commonality ties together some of my best memories?
  • What would I stay up until the wee hours of the night doing?
  • If someone introduced you with, This is my friend. She’s amazing at _____, what would go in the blank?

Write what comes up and DO NOT judge it. Do not let yourself think, Yeah, but everyone is good at that. or Yeah, but that’s not a good idea to focus on. Or, Yeah, but everyone is writing about that.

Or, think those thoughts. And then let them go. Because they aren’t true.

Half the battle is figuring out what you have to offer, and the other half is feeling that you’re worthy to offer it.

2. Define your audience.

Your audience isn’t everyone.

Your audience isn’t even 50% of the population. (Sorry if you are thinking, My audience is women.)

Your audience are just the people that you would absolutely LOVE to hang out with.

If you’re still not convinced, think about your high school cafeteria. (If you’re thinking, Aww, really, do I have to? I totally get it.)

How many of the people in that cafeteria would you want to hang out with? Probably not that many.

Think of your blog as your table at the cafeteria. Who do you want to sit with you?Click To Tweet

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re not going to be hanging out with your audience; that they’re just going to be reading your blog. Because to create content your audience truly loves, you need to get to know them as well as your BFF. And that means you’ll be spending a LOT of time with them.

So imagine the people you want sitting at your table now (because let’s be real, you might not want to sit with the same people you sat with in high school).

Here are some audience-defining questions for you:

Imagine you’re going out for a drink with your audience member.

  • What kind of place does she suggest you go to?
  • What is she wearing when she meets you?
  • What is she drinking? Eating?
  • What kind of jokes does she crack?
  • What is she obsessing about right now?
  • What does she ask you for help with?
  • When you offer help, what is her reaction?
  • What is she going to do when she leaves?
  • What are her weekend plans?

Get as clear as you can about who she is and what she cares about.

3. Get to know your audience.

Once you’ve defined your audience as clearly as you can, it’s time to get to know them and see what they want to read about.

Here’s the process I recommend for learning deeply about your audience:

  1. Survey them.
  2. Interview them.
  3. Find meaningful themes in their responses.

A few tips as you go through this process:

1. Make sure to only survey/interview people who are truly in your ideal audience.

If you let anyone take your survey, you will end up with results that don’t reflect what your audience actually wants to read about.

Also, if you give your survey to people you wouldn’t want to hang out with, you will feel like you have to start creating content you also wouldn’t be that excited about. Don’t fall into that trap.

2. The purpose of this process is to get to know your audience well.

Ask them open ended questions. Don’t give them multiple choice questions.

Asking multiple choice questions where you have preselected the answers is like asking a friend if they like you better in the red dress or the black one. It’s still about you, not them.

So frame your questions in a way that gets them to open up about what they care about.

3. Actually interview them.

Yes, I know the survey is easier. And less scary. But the only way to get to know your audience members is to talk to them. You wouldn’t email your BFF a survey to ask for her in-depth opinion on something, so don’t stop there with your audience, either.

4. Create a content plan based on what you’ve learned about yourself and your audience.

Now that you know what you care about, who is in your audience, and what they care about, it’s time to create a content plan.

Please, please, (for the love of all that is good in the world), do not base your content plan on posts that you think people want to read but that you’re not that excited about.

Take your survey results and your notes from your interviews, and then pull out common themes and struggles. Break them down and identify how you can help your readers accomplish small wins in the different areas.

Example:

Audience: Busy moms of young kids who want to get fit and love the outdoors.
Common theme: Wanting to get outside and exercise regularly but not having the time to do it.
Possible blog post ideas:

  • How to work out with your kids without them driving you crazy.
  • How to fit exercise in when you have no time.
  • Why taking time to exercise isn’t selfish – it’s a gift to your family.

Want more on how to brainstorm blog posts? Read this.

5. Write irresistible content.

Write your blog posts.

Make sure they have great headlines.

Add drool-worthy blog graphics.

Format your posts so that they are super-readable by busy people. (Because we’re all busy when we’re online.)

Want more on how to do this? Check out The Blog Makeover.

How to Write Content That You and Your Audience Love

To recap, to write content both you and your audience love…

  • Know yourself
  • Identify your audience
  • Get to know your audience as well as you know your BFF
  • Create a content plan
  • Write irresistible blog posts

Your turn…

What do you do to get to know your audience better? Share in the comments below.

How to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas

How to never run out of blog post ideas (1)

One of the hardest parts of blogging is coming up with consistent blog post ideas.

When you’re new to blogging, it’s hard to know what people want to read about. And when you’ve been doing it for a long time, you start to feel like you’ve written every single thing about your topic already.

But the good thing is, there are always more ideas lurking in the shadows. Here’s how to make them come out into the light.

1. Get focused.

Do you worry that if you get focused, you’ll run out of ideas to write about?

Actually, the opposite is true.

When you have a very wide range of topics to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and struggle with pinpointing a topic to write about.

But when you get more specific, suddenly, you can see ideas that were hiding before.

It’s kind of like zooming in on Google Maps.

When you’re zoomed out, you can see the entire world, but each location is indistinct. And then, the more you zoom in, the more you can see individual countries, then states, then cities, and then streets.

Choosing a specific focus is like zooming in and seeing the streets – your ideas become clearer and more tangible. (And you also feel like you’re not trying to capture the entire world in each blog post.)

2. Stay close to your audience.

When you stay close to your audience, you will constantly find new blog post ideas that they want to read about.

The best blog post ideas come from the intersection of your ideas and your audience’s desires.Click To Tweet

How do you stay close to your audience?

First, know who they are.

Then, hang out with them in Facebook groups. Survey them. Call them up and have a conversation on the phone.

Go out and meet them in person.

Ask them about the challenges they’re facing.

Learn what they’re obsessed with. Listen closely so that you can find the deep emotion behind their words.

Become an idea sleuth. Consciously pull out blog post ideas and write them down for later.

Which brings me to the next point…

3. Keep a library of ideas handy.

I use Evernote to keep track of all my new blog post ideas.

Whenever I have an idea for a blog post, I:

A. Write a new note with the blog post title as the note title
B. Write a few bullet points in the body of the note
C. Tag the note with “Blog Post Ideas”

Then when I want to write a post and I can’t think of anything, I just search for that tag, and I have dozens of ideas to choose from.

4. Approach the same topic in different ways

Do you worry that you will bore your audience if you cover the same idea more than once?

If so, I’m going to let you in on a little (not so) secret.

Are you ready?

Most people aren’t reading all of your blog posts. You (and maybe your mom, or your partner) are probably the only ones reading all of your posts.

Sad. I know.

But guess what? That means you don’t have to worry about covering the same topic in different ways. You won’t bore anyone. In fact, you will actually serve your audience, because different kinds of messages resonate with different people.

Writing about the same thing in different ways serves your audience. Don't be afraid to go deeper. Click To Tweet

By covering the same topic from different angles, you will also establish yourself as an authority on that topic. Which is kind of the point of blogging to begin with.

If you’re ever struggling to come up with blog post ideas, look at your analytics, see which old posts have been popular, and then ask, How can I approach this in a new and fresh way?

5. Learn from others in your niche

Beyond knowing what your audience cares about, there are loads of other ways to research and come up with new blog post ideas.

First, set a timer. (That way you won’t get lost in the black hole of the Internet, never to return.)

Search for your topic on BuzzSumo. You’ll find the most shared posts on your topic. Then take them and put your own spin on them.

Check out which books cover your topic in Amazon. Look at the table of contents. Can you write a blog post on the same topic as one of the chapters?

Create a Pinterest board of posts on your topic. Then refer back to it whenever you feel stuck.

You don’t need to (and you can’t) come up with a totally unique blog idea topic every time. Don’t be afraid to learn from others in your niche.

6. Write thematically

One of the easiest ways to come up with a lot of blog post ideas is to stay with a specific theme for a period of time. (I call this “dating a topic.”)

Choose a theme and commit to writing about it for a month or more.

Then see all of the different angles you can take on it. Write a broad blog post on your topic and then a more specific one.

For example, let’s say you had an art blog and you chose to write about how to do watercolor paintings.

You could write about…

  • The tools you need for watercolor painting
  • How to use water effectively
  • The different types of brushes and how to use them
  • How to paint a sunset
  • The differences between watercolor and oil painting

Then you could offer a free watercolor painting challenge and link to it in all of your posts. BOOM!

You’ve come up with dozens of blog post ideas AND grown your email list. (You can thank me by sharing this post. Wink, wink.)

7. Get inspired

Sometimes it helps to go outside of your blog (and away from your computer) to find inspiration.

I get inspired by…

  • Taking a shower
  • Working out
  • Going to good movies
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Reading books
  • Having conversations with friends
  • Exploring new places
  • Meditating

What are you doing when you get the best blog post ideas?

Make sure to do that regularly.

8. Write the things you want to write but are afraid to

It’s really hard for me to write when I’m resisting an idea.

An idea will come to me, but then I’ll think, No one wants to read about that, or That’s too risky to write about or I’m afraid to write about that because I don’t feel like I’m an expert.

(Don’t you just love imposter syndrome?)

So I will try to come up with a different idea to write about. I’ll look into my Evernote folder and try to get inspired.

But no matter what I do, I can’t force myself to write.

That’s because the idea won’t let me. It needs to be written, and until I give in and write that tough post, I can’t write about anything else.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one this happens to.

So if you have an idea that you are avoiding, just go ahead and write it.

You don’t even have to post it on your blog. Just get that idea out of your head so that you can move on with your life (and your blog).

9. Have a writing practice

Writing practice means that you write on a regular basis, just for yourself.

Here are Natalie Goldberg’s rules of writing practice:

Set a timer, and then…

  • Keep your hand moving the whole time.
  • Don’t think.
  • Lose control.
  • Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar. (You can even write off the sides of the page if you want.)
  • Feel free to write the worst junk in the world.
  • Be specific.
  • Go for the jugular.

Writing practice helps you get used to writing. It kicks writer’s block in the butt by forcing you to get your thoughts on the page.

Even if you never use anything from writing practice in your blog, doing it helps you tap into your deepest truths. And when you get those out, you’ll unleash a torrent of blog post ideas too.

Want to banish writer's block? Give voice to your deepest truths.Click To Tweet

How to never run out of blog post ideas

To recap, you’ll never run out of blog post ideas if you…

  • Get focused
  • Stay close to your audience
  • Keep an idea library ready
  • Approach the same topic in different ways
  • Do research
  • Write thematically
  • Give voice to the tough topics
  • Commit to a writing practice

What do you do to come up with blog post ideas? Share in the comments below.

How to Create Powerful Transformations and Get More Blog Fans

How to Create Powerful Transformations and Get More Blog Fans

Think of your favorite story.

Now, tell me this. Does it include some kind of transformation? I am betting it does.

There’s Harry Potter’s transformation from scared kid to powerful wizard.

There’s Katniss Everdeen’s transformation from poor District 12 citizen to world-changing heroine in The Hunger Games.

And what about Frodo Baggins change from homebody hobbit to savior of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings?

(Yes, I like fantasy movies. How could you tell?)

And guess what? The reason we’re so drawn to transformational stories is because we as human beings also go through experiences that transform us into different (and hopefully better) people.

When someone reads your blog, they are doing so because they yearn for transformation.

It may be a tiny transformation they’re seeking – like knowing how to cook something they’ve never made before.

Or it could be a huge one – like losing 50 lbs.

They key to getting more blog fans and followers is intimately understanding what transformation you are giving your readers – and where it fits into their journey as a whole.

That’s why so many of us (myself included) choose ourselves as our target audience – we deeply understand the journey our audience is on because we’re on it as well.

Once you map out the transformational journey of your audience, it becomes easier to help give them mini-transformations with your blog posts – and to create products based on what you know they want.

Ideally, every blog post you write, every opt in freebie you create, every paid product you make should be informed by your audience’s transformational journey.

Every blog post you write should create a mini transformation for your readers.Click To Tweet

Mapping Out Your Audience’s Transformational Journey

The parts of transformational journey include:

  1. The starting point
  2. The inciting event
  3. The goal
  4. The obstacles
  5. The transformation

1. The starting point: before the journey begins

The starting point is the status quo. It’s what life looks like before your reader decides to make a change. (Think about Harry living with the Dursleys and not knowing Hogwarts even exists.)

If you’re a food blogger, your reader could be feeling bored with her typical meals, and ready to explore new things.

If you’re a life coach, the starting point could be feeling dissatisfied with her life and wanting a change.

If you’re a homeschool blogger, the beginning of your reader’s journey might involve wanting to start teaching her kids but not knowing how and feeling overwhelmed.

Why this step matters

Often, the beginning is the most confusing part of the journey. But it’s also the time where there’s a lot of motivation to create change.

Understanding where your readers are coming from in the beginning can really help you write in a way that shows them you “get” them.

You can build trust and excitement by choosing blog topics that help your readers in the very beginning of their journeys. (And that lead them on the path to more of your content.)

2. The inciting event – What makes your reader want to change?

Often, people don’t make change until they experience something that spurs them into action. (Think Katniss’s sister getting chosen as tribute in The Hunger Games.)

For your readers, it might be finding out they have Celiac Disease and have to go gluten free.

Or it might be jumping on the scale and finding out they’ve gained 30 lbs since the last time they weighed themselves.

Or maybe it’s having their kids turn 5 and realizing they don’t like any of the public schools in your area, thus deciding to homeschool.

Why this step matters

Knowing why your readers want to make a change will help you get to the core of their desires and build a connection with them.

When you have an idea of what started your specific reader on her journey, you can also create content tailored to her particular circumstance.

For example, if she decided to lose weight because she’s getting married in 6 months, you can write posts on weight loss and wedding prep. But if she decided to lose weight because she gained the freshman 15 in college, your posts would look very different.

3. The goal:

Once your reader realizes she wants to make a change, she will probably choose a goal for herself and start moving towards it.

Goals may include losing 50 lbs, cooking more interesting meals, changing careers, learning how to teach, starting an online business…and on and on.

There may be smaller, incremental goals in the middle, like losing the first 5 lbs or cooking one impressive dish, but the important thing to focus on right now is the big hairy audacious goal at the end of the journey for your readers.

Why this step matters

When you really get what your reader is trying to accomplish in her life, you can help her make the changes she needs along the way to achieve that goal.

And if you can walk your reader over the bridge separating her starting point and her goal, she will trust you forever.

4. The obstacles

In movies like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, the obstacles create drama and excitement. They’re why we actually care about the story.

If there was no friction or difficulty – if Harry beat Voldemort in the first book – there wouldn’t be much of a story.

And in real life, the obstacles are what provide a real sense of accomplishment at the end of the journey.

Plus, without the obstacles, your readers wouldn’t really need you. They would just walk over that bridge on their own.

Think about all of the hurdles your reader has to overcome to lose those 50 lbs. What makes it hard?

Maybe she eats out of boredom, or has trouble saying no to food at parties. Maybe she’s holding onto that weight out of fear. (If you’ve ever watched The Biggest Loser, you know what I mean.)

What about creating more interesting meals? Why is that difficult for your reader?

Maybe she lacks confidence in her skills in the kitchen. Or perhaps she doesn’t have time to meal plan.

No matter what audience you blog for, your readers have loads of obstacles to overcome on their path to greatness (and lucky for you, you’ve already overcome them).

Why this step matters

Knowing your readers’ obstacles and struggles can help you generate years’ worth of blog posts.

Most people read blog posts to solve their most pressing problems. When your blog posts are based on your readers’ pain points, they will be read more, shared more, and loved more.

5. The final step: the transformation

When your reader accomplishes her big goal, her outer world changes.

She may be thinner and healthier. She may have a life that’s more aligned with what she cares about. Or maybe she is able to teach her children and watch them have aha moments.

But it’s not just her outer world that has changed. It’s her inner one, as well.

She may feel more confident and sexier. Maybe she trusts herself more than she ever did before. Or perhaps she’s just proud of herself for learning something new.

Why this step matters

It is essential to understand the inner and outer transformation you’re creating for your reader, because when you have a true sense of the feelings she would like to have, you can create them in your blog posts and tap into them on your sales pages.

You know how you felt at the end of the last Harry Potter book? I don’t know how you felt, but I felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Ultimately, that’s what you want for your readers. You want to write a blog that helps them transform.

Because once you do that, they’ll never forget you.

And you’ll have a fan for life.

 

How to Nourish Your Blog During the Holidays

How to Nourish Your Blog During the Holidays

I have always been a big fan of the holidays.

I love seeing the Christmas lights, eating and drinking things with pumpkin in them, and the idea of a warm fireplace when it’s snowing outside. (Although, living in Miami, it’s more of an idea than a reality.)

But winter isn’t just a time to celebrate. It’s also a time of hibernation. A time with more darkness, more time to for self-reflection…and, often, less time to give to our blogs.

I’ve recently been hearing a lot of people saying they are burnt out or taking breaks from blogging, and it’s not even December yet!

That tends to happen – the beginning of fall feels like a great time to get into high gear and take action on our blogs. It’s the beginning of the school year, and the end of the relaxation of summer. So we work, work, work on our blogs.

Then, right about now, the burnout sets in. And with everything going on during the holidays, it can be easy to just let our blogs gather dust for a few months while we hang out with friends and family, drink eggnog, and search for gifts.

For me, the low point was the end of October. I just felt kind of ick. Not wanting to work on my blog or my business. So I took a break. And something magical happened – I reconnected with why I started blogging in the first place.

And since then, I’ve been thinking about how we can all stay nourished on our blogging journeys – at any time of the year, but now, especially.

Join Our Blog Planning Mini-Course

Do you want to plan to make money with your blog in 2016? Sign up for a free training with me and my blogging friend Sue Anne Dunlevie on December 12th. We will walk you through the process that we both use to plan for our blogs, and to make money.

1. Check in with yourself instead of checking your blog stats.

Your blog stats, whether they are visitors, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, or email list subscribers, are just numbers.

And, even though I love math, numbers are kind of boring. They don’t give the backstory behind why they are the way they are. Yes, you can track them over time, but if you just look at the numbers, it’s often deflating and unmotivating.

Numbers are also low in nutritional value. Even if you have “good” numbers, that surge of happiness will be short lived. Living on a diet of blog stats is a sure way to feel depleted. It lets random strangers on the internet dictate how you feel, instead of giving you control of your emotions.

Instead of refreshing your blog stats one more time, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re doing it. Are you looking for validation? Self-esteem? Happiness?

You can’t get those things from stats – you can only get them from reconnecting to yourself. So maybe put your phone down and go for a walk, or take a long bath instead. You will feel rejuvenated and ready to keep doing creative work.

Feeling down about your blog? Check in with yourself before you check your blog stats again.Click To Tweet

2. Let yourself celebrate everything you’ve accomplished this year.

The holidays are a time for celebration. You can celebrate your blog, too. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished this year in your blog, and in your life.

Give yourself props for every blog post you published, every graphic you created. Because every time you created a blog post, you were telling the world that you believe in your own voice. That’s freaking amazing.

Take yourself out for a manicure to reward yourself for all of your hard work. Or just drink a pumpkin spice latte without feeling guilty about it. You deserve it!

When you take time to celebrate your blogging accomplishments, you nourish the part of yourself that needs some acknowledgment for doing the hard work of blogging. And it will help you keep going, even when you get busy.

3. Be intentional and plan ahead for your blog during the holidays.

If you know you will be busy during this time of year, with holiday celebrations, vacations (if you’re lucky), kids being off of school, etc., you can plan ahead now and make sure that your blog doesn’t go on its own winter break.

Some ideas for planning ahead:

  • Write a bunch of posts in advance, so that you won’t be stressed about getting them out when you are supposed to be spending time with family.
  • Plan for a holiday series of shorter posts that will be easier and quicker to write.
  • Republish old posts that could use a little love – since not as many people read blogs during the holidays, why spend hours writing new content?

4. Try something new.

The holidays are a great time to mix it up and try something new with your blog. Think about how people are feeling during this time of year, and write posts specifically geared toward the holidays.

You can write a series about one of the holidays, you can suggest different ways to celebrate, etc. Last year, I wrote a post on how Jews feel about Christmas. It was my most-read post at the time.

Ask yourself, What can I do in my blog to invite my readers to celebrate with me? Get creative.

How to Nourish Your Blog During the Holidays

To nourish your blog during the holidays:

  1. Check in with yourself instead of checking your blog stats.
  2. Let yourself celebrate everything you’ve accomplished this year.
  3. Be intentional and plan ahead for your blog during the holidays.
  4. Try something new.
  5. Plan ahead for next year.

Every time of year presents an opportunity for you to grow your blog and learn along the way. How are you going to blog differently during the holidays? Join the conversation below.

Join Our Blog Planning Mini-Course

Do you want to plan to make money with your blog in 2016? Sign up for a free training with me and my blogging friend Sue Anne Dunlevie on December 12th. We will walk you through the process that we both use to plan for our blogs, and to make money.

How to Set and Achieve Audacious Blogging Goals

 How to set and achieve audacious blogging goals

In the past, I would get super excited about an idea for a blog. And then I would work on it with passion. For about 1 month.

After that one month mark, I would stop.

Why?

Because I didn’t have any other specific goals for my blog. All I had was a few content ideas, and a huge longterm vision of success. But there was nothing in the middle – no incremental steps to make my dream a reality.

This year, I did it all differently. Every month, I wrote down specific numbers I wanted to hit.

And, surprisingly, it worked. My blog audience has grown SO MUCH this year. Yours will, too. If you plan for it.

When you plan for blog success, instead of hoping for it, you will be way more likely to succeed.Click To Tweet

5 Blogging Goals to Keep in Mind as You Make Your Plan

 

1. Create incredible content.

When you first start blogging, your primary concern will be creating content that people crave. But how do you do this?

1. Write a list of possible topics you can write about.

2. Break it down and choose one to focus on at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.

3. Set up a blogging schedule where you put out regular content.

4. Create a writing style that is uniquely yours. Pay attention to which posts are getting the most attention, and then use that information to guide your writing.

You will know you are successful when:

You blog consistently. You look forward to blogging and never run of ideas to blog about.

2. Get more eyes on your blog.

In your first year of blogging, you want your number of readers to grow every month. Here’s how to make it happen:  

1. Keep writing! The more awesome posts you write, the more opportunities people will have to find your blog.  

2. Each month, choose a social networking platform to master so that you can get your blog posts out there.  

3. Make sure you have social sharing buttons installed on your blog.  

4. Comment on other people’s blog posts and build relationships with potential readers.  

5. Build relationships with influencers.  

6. Guest post.  

You’ll know you are successful when:

Your Google Analytics and social share numbers go up.

3. Build relationships with your current readers.

You don’t just want people to stop by and leave. You want them to come back. But how do you make sure they don’t disappear forever?  

1. Build an email list so that you can let people know about future posts.  

2. Respond to comments.  

3. Join Facebook groups and Twitter chats, and deliberately build relationships with people.  

4. Ask people to tell you what they want to read about, and then give it to them. Over and over again.

 You will know you are successful when:

You hear from the same people again and again. Your email list numbers go up. Your readers feel like friends.

4. Create a community around your blog.

This is when your readers don’t just have a relationship with you, but with each other as well. They talk to each other about your posts, and they share your posts and spread your message.

How to build community:  

1. Create a gathering place for your tribe. This can be a Facebook group, a Google+ community, a Twitter chat, a link up, etc.  

2. Make an event where people can connect. Think a webinar, challenge, course, etc.  

3. Give back to your community. Give them reasons to connect with each other and with you.  

You will know you are successful when:

You have a growing group of people who love connecting with each other and with you.

5. Making money from your blog

For many bloggers, the big goal is to make money. But how?  

1. Selling affiliate products to your audience.  

2. Selling ad space on your blog to sponsors.  

3. Writing sponsored posts.  

4. Selling products or services.  Keep in mind that no matter how you choose to make money, the real way to create an income from your blog is to build a loyal audience that trusts you. I definitely recommend weaving these monetizing goals in with your other blogging goals, but don’t make them your primary concern – at least at first.

You will know you are successful when:

You are making, and meeting, reasonable income goals.

How to set and achieve audacious blogging goals

Now that you have an idea of the 5 main goals, you can create a monthly plan for meeting them.

1. Each month, choose 1 or 2 of these goals to focus on.

 2. For each of the goals, write specific steps for how you will meet them.

 3. Break this down into weekly action plans.  

Here’s an example:

Let’s say in September, your primary goals are content creation and getting more eyes on your blog. Your specific goals and action steps could be:

GOAL:

Write 2 blog posts a week.

ACTION STEPS:

 

 1. Find a specific focus to write about for the month.

 2. Break that focus into 4 topics, and blog about one each week.  

3. Create an Evernote folder where you gather blog post ideas.  

4. Decide on a blogging schedule that you can stick to.  

5. Put blogging time into your calendar each week.  

GOAL:

Get 5,000 page views and 600 social shares.

ACTION STEPS:

 1. Share in 5 Facebook groups each week.  

2. Share posts in your Facebook page every time you publish them.  

3. Join 5 Pinterest group boards and share your posts on the boards.  

4. Tweet each post out 5 times.  

Do you see how you can set goals for your blog, and then work backwards to achieve them?

60 Ways to Grow Your Blog in an Hour or Less

If I’ve learned one thing about blogging, it’s this:

Blogging is a longterm game. It’s thousands of tiny actions that, when put together, make a huge difference.

It’s not just about writing blog posts and hoping that people will like them. It’s about learning from your readers, building relationships with other bloggers, sharing your stuff, and on and on.

And it can feel really overwhelming when you look at the big picture.

Blogging takes a lot of time. So it’s easy to get discouraged, to throw your hands up and go, I can’t do all of this.

But you would be surprised at how much you can do for your blog in a short amount of time.

You don’t need 5 hours. You don’t even need 1 hour. Sometimes, all you need is 5 minutes to connect with another blogger or share your post.

15 Things you can do to grow your blog in one hour

  1. Write an outline for a blog post. (Or write the whole post, if you are a fast writer.)
  2. Create an editorial calendar for the next month.
  3. Edit your “About Me” page.
  4. Create a new free gift for your readers.
  5. Write an email newsletter.
  6. Schedule social media posts to go out for the week.
  7. Interview a reader to see what she really cares about.
  8. Create a survey for your readers.
  9. Research places to guest blog.
  10. Listen to a podcast about improving your blog.
  11. Brainstorm 15 blog post ideas.
  12. Participate in a Twitter chat.
  13. Set up an opt-in box for people to join your newsletter.
  14. Set up a giveaway on your blog using the King Sumo giveaway plugin.
  15. Create an infographic for one of your blog posts.

15 Things you can do to grow your blog in a half hour

  1. Write a guest blogging pitch email.
  2. Create a branded image for one of your blog posts.
  3. Write the introduction for a blog post.
  4. Edit and improve one of your old blog posts.
  5. Research and ask to join 5 Pinterest group boards.
  6. Schedule pins to go out with Tailwind App.
  7. Do keyword research to see what people want to read about.
  8. Do some “forum stalking” on Quora and in Facebook groups for post ideas.
  9. Optimize for SEO by installing the Yoast SEO plugin and writing meta-descriptions for 3 posts.
  10. Pitch podcasters to get interviewed.
  11. Send out emails asking people to contribute to a “roundup post.”
  12. Email a blogger you respect letting them know they’ve improved your life.
  13. Go on a photo shoot for your blog around your house or neighborhood.
  14. Update your Facebook or LinkedIn profile.
  15. Record a YouTube video to go with one of your blog posts.

15 Things you can do to grow your blog in 15 minutes

  1. Compose 5 tweets to go out after your blog post is published.
  2. Add a Call to Action at the end of a blog post.
  3. Comment on 3 blogs you love.
  4. Write down 3 post ideas in Evernote.
  5. Have a short conversation with another blogger on Facebook.
  6. Do an informal poll on Facebook asking people what they are struggling with when it comes to your blog topic.
  7. Post your blog post into a Facebook blog challenge and then comment on others.
  8. Add your blog post to a link party.
  9. Change the colors in your blog to better reflect your brand.
  10. Install the Use Any Font plugin and choose a custom font for your blog.
  11. Checking your Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from and thank anyone who has linked to your blog.
  12. Adding social share buttons to your blog. Affiliate link
  13. Improve a blog post headline using the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.
  14. Submit a blog post tip on the SITS Girls.
  15. Republish a blog post on LinkedIn Pulse.

15 Things you can do to grow your blog in 5 minutes

  1. Write a “click to tweet” for one of your blog posts.
  2. Retweet a blogging friend’s post.
  3. Answer a question in a Facebook group.
  4. Tweet about one of your blog posts.
  5. Write a comment on one blog post you like.
  6. Repin 3 pins to group boards on Pinterest.
  7. Respond to a comment on your blog.
  8. Post an inspirational quote on Twitter or Facebook.
  9. Subscribe to get updates of an influencer’s blog (so you can be the first to comment later).
  10. Share a blog post in a LinkedIn group.
  11. Add some people to a Twitter list of VIPs you want to connect with.
  12. Update your WordPress plugins.
  13. Make a backup of your blog.
  14. Ask for feedback in a Facebook group.
  15. Tell yourself how awesome you are for blogging.

The next time you have a few minutes to spare, instead of using them to play a game on your phone, do one small action that will build your blog. You would be surprised at how quickly those little actions add up.

Avoid These 6 Mistakes and Get More Email Subscribers

Avoid these 6 Mistakes and Get More Email Subscribers

Your blog can be a powerful engine that gets you email subscribers and helps you rock your business goals.

Yet many (if not most) bloggers struggle to build their email lists. If you’re one of them (as I was for YEARS), you may be making these mistakes.

Avoid them and watch your email list grow daily.

1. Writing random blog posts without an end-goal in mind.

When you build an email list, you want to attract a list of people who are potential customers – people who really need what you are offering.

Your blog posts are a great way to draw interest – but if you are drawing interest to things that don’t connect to your business offerings, you’re doing a lot of work without getting a return. And that sucks.

Do you write random blog posts just for the sake of “getting something up there”? If so, stop. Every post you write should have a purpose.

When every post connects to your larger business goals, the email addresses you get will be from people who really care about what your business is offering.

2. Not having opt-ins that are directly tied to your blog posts.

Many bloggers fail to get email subscribers for an easily fixable reason – they don’t create opt-ins that are directly tied to their blog posts.

Here’s what I mean: I recently read a blog post about how to use Scrivener to blog. And at the bottom of the post, the writer offered the template he uses to blog with Scrivener. I immediately opted-in, and am happily using the template for this very post.

If he hadn’t offered that template, but instead, offered a vague opt-in offer like a PDF of “10 Ways to Become a Better Blogger”, I would probably have passed. But because the opt-in was addressing the EXACT SAME topic as the blog post, I didn’t even think twice before subscribing.

(Also, having a “subscribe to get all of my posts by email” sign up form doesn’t cut it these days. You need to give them something they can ONLY get by subscribing to your list. But you probably knew that already.)

Do you take the time to create specific opt-ins for each of your posts? If not, you may be losing a lot of potential subscribers.

3. Failing to factor opt-ins into your editorial calendar.

When you write your editorial calendar (and if you do, you are miles ahead of most bloggers already), do you include opt-ins? Or do you just list out your blog topics?

Even if you have every intention of creating specific opt-ins for each post, if you don’t actually put them on the calendar, you won’t end up creating them. (Believe me, I share this from personal experience.)

So when you sit down to write your editorial calendar, put the opt-ins in as well as your blog posts. That way, when you sit down to write your next post, you’ll already have created an opt-in gift that you can easily offer at the end.

4. Jumping all over the place with your blog topics.

Writing about all sorts of different things makes it REALLY HARD to have a specific opt-in for every blog post. Because, let’s face it, creating opt-in gifts takes a lot of time and energy.

What if you could use THE SAME targeted opt-in gift for multiple blog posts? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Well, you can, if you write your blog posts in clusters that focus on the same topic for a few weeks or a month at a time. Then you only have to create one opt-in gift for a handful of posts, instead of making a new one each time.

5. Putting too much pressure on yourself to create the PERFECT opt-in gift.

If you’re like I used to be, you make each opt-in gift with great care and deliberation. It sometimes takes you hours to create the perfect PDF worksheet for your blog readers.

Even as I write this, I feel a gnawing sense of unease, thinking about all of the hours I spent creating opt-in gifts that looked beautiful but took me WAY TOO LONG to create.

If you put pressure on yourself to create the perfect opt-in gift, you will dread making them. And you won’t want to create different ones tailored to each post.

So instead of trying to make your opt-ins perfect, try to make them usable instead. You don’t have to create a gorgeous PDF every time. Why not make a Google Doc that they can fill in, instead? It’s way more usable. Or make a quick video tutorial without doing heavy editing, or an audio-file of your post?

You can also make a template on Canva or whatever design program you use that you can reuse for each opt-in gift. That way, you can ensure that your gifts are beautiful, easily recognizable as yours, and don’t take hours to create.

Then create a page containing all of your opt-in gifts so that you don’t have to make a special flow each time you put up a new opt-in. How’s that for an answer to the dreaded opt-in setup time suck?

6. Having too many calls to action.

I’m sure you’ve read this MANY times before, but I feel like it needs repeating.

Your post should only have ONE call to action. That’s ONE thing that your readers should do when they are done reading your post. If you ask them to make a comment, send you an email, contact you, and opt-in for an awesome worksheet, they will most likely do none of the above (or default to the easiest option).

If you really want people to join your email list, make that the only call to action. They will be far more likely to actually do it.

Avoid these 6 Mistakes and Get More Email Subscribers

To recap:

To get more email subscribers:
1. Make sure that each post has a specific purpose.
2. Have a specific opt-in gift for every post.
3. Put your opt-ins on your editorial calendar.
4. Write about the same topic for multiple posts so that you can reuse your opt-in gifts.
5. Simplify your opt-in gift creation process.
6. End with ONE call to action.

8 Pit Stops on the Road to a Better Blog

8 pit stops on the road to a better blog

Blogging is an adventure. One that requires perseverance, passion, curiosity, and a plan for the journey ahead.

Kind of like a road trip.

And in order to arrive at your destination (in this case, a blog that you can’t stop thinking about or working on, because it’s just that amazing), you need a map, and a few good places to stop along the way.

Pit stops where you can refuel your tank and your spirits.

Blogging Pit Stop #1: Write a Blog Mission Statement

Your blog needs a mission statement. Without one, you’re kind of like a car without gas or GPS.

Your mission statement gives your blog direction. It provides the momentum for you to keep writing.

Your mission statement should state:

A. Whom your blog helps. (Your target audience)

B. How your blog helps them differently than anyone else can. (Your unique selling proposition aka USP)

C. Why you care enough to keep helping them. (Your purpose)

For example, here’s mine: I help bloggers who feel stuck find purpose and clarity so that they can strategically grow a blog that they love and that works toward their goals. I focus on setting up a strong foundation for blogging successfully and look deeper into what readers REALLY need to blog consistently and build a blog they love. My 3 big passions in life are writing, teaching, and entrepreneurship, and this blog lets me do all 3.

Your mission statement is like the gas in your tank. Your readers don’t need to see it, but it’s important for you to have one to go anywhere.

Blogging Pit Stop #2: Define your voice online.

Defining your voice is like choosing what type of trip you are going to take. Are you going to take the back roads, or the highways? Stop and take pictures every hour or so, or drive through the night without stopping?

As someone who has taken MANY road trips, I know that each trip is largely shaped by the other people in the car.

When I drove from New York to Denver with my sister, we listened to teeny-bopper music and drove for long stretches without stopping.

When I drove with my husband Daniel and my friend Hagit from Denver to Miami, we stopped every 2 hours and talked the entire time. Each trip was great, but they were very different experiences.

Defining your voice helps your readers decide if they want to come along for the ride.

And you don’t have to write for months or years to do it. You just have to answer these 4 questions:

1. What adjectives do I want people to associate with my blog? (My adjectives are honest, deep, and helpful)

2. What place do I want people to feel they are visiting when they read my blog? (My place is a coffee shop)

3. What words and language evoke the feelings in #1 and #2? (Words I tend to use a lot are “powerful” “figure out” and “purpose”)

4. Who would like to read a blog that is [adjectives from #1] feels like [place from #2] and uses [words and language from #3] (My readers are generally bloggers who are writing from a deeper place and who are genuinely passionate about what they are writing.)

For more posts on defining your voice, go here.

For an awesome course where I guide you through this process, go here.

Blogging Pit Stop #3: Write down specific blogging goals.

This is like writing a list of places you’d like to visit when in a new city. You can wander around and just stumble on different things, or you can be strategic and shape your visit.

Blogging goals can include:

  • Growing your page-views
  • Selling something
  • Growing a community
  • Getting more social shares
  • Getting more email subscribers
  • Building your credibility

It’s important to have specific goals, because if you don’t, you won’t be able to create a plan for meeting them, or be able to tell if you’re successful or not.

So put some dots on your blogging road-map. When you get to them, you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment.

Blogging Pit Stop #4: Schedule your goals for specific dates.

Once you’ve chosen your destinations, it’s time to make a schedule.

I’m going to Kauai with my family on Friday (and let me tell you, I am SUPER excited). There’s a restaurant there called the Beach House. It’s right on the water, and you can watch the sunset while drinking a delicious mojito. But you can only get the best table, the one right by the ocean, if you make reservations ahead of time.

Scheduling goals is kind of like making reservations. It makes it much more likely that you’ll actually meet your goals (or get into the restaurant).

So pull out your calendar and put those goals in. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Blogging Pit Stop #5: Begin working toward your first goal with strategic blog posts and opt-in gifts.

Now that you’ve set your goals, aka made your reservations, it’s time to get your blog in gear.

You know where you are going and when you need to be there, so you can start putting your pedal to the metal.

Writing about random topics is kind of exhausting. When I am in random topic mode, I have to be constantly spending energy thinking of things to write about.

But when I have a strategic goal, I can plan all of my blog posts and opt-ins around that goal ahead of time, so when I sit down to write, I already know what I want to write about, and I’m already excited about it.

Instead of driving around aimlessly looking for a place to eat (like Daniel and I did in Memphis last year), I can go straight to my destination and enjoy a sunset view.

Blogging Pit Stop #6: Listen to your navigator (Get feedback from people you trust).

When I’m on a road trip, I always have a navigator at my side helping me know where to turn and which road to take.

It’s the same for your blogging journey. It’s SO important to have other people along for the ride who will let you know if you are moving in the right direction.

You can get feedback in a bunch of ways:

  • By asking for feedback in Facebook groups (Click here to join my group…it is full of people who give great feedback.)
  • By doing surveys
  • By hiring a blogging coach
  • By reading your blog comments
  • By using your stats to see which posts get the most social shares

When I’ve driven on my own, I’ve gotten lost WAY more times. (As I did in my last 5 blogs.) Don’t make the same mistakes I have. Get a navigator (or a few) ASAP.

Blogging Pit Stop #7: Check your map.

Have you ever been chugging along on your way to a new place, and then slowly realized that you should have been there by now, and then stopped your car to look at a map and seen that you went in the wrong direction?

Even if you have a great navigator, she might doze off or read the map wrong.

It’s so important to stop at regular increments to see if what you’re doing is working; if you’re getting any closer to your destination. Feedback from other people is the first step; cold hard data is the next.

When you’re on a road trip, you can do this by pulling out a map (or trusty Google Maps).

When you’re building your blog, looking at your stats can accomplish the same thing. (But beware, stats can become addictive.)

Some stats you can check include:

  • Your page views/unique visitors
  • The number of people on your email list
  • Your social shares
  • The number of people that bought your product

Note: The type of stats you pay attention to will depend on the goal you set in #3.

Blogging Pit Stop #8: Course-correct and get back on the road.

Now that you’ve figured out where you are, it’s time to get back out there and keep working toward your goal. And if you’ve already met that goal, it’s time to head to your next destination.

The open road is calling your name.

8 pit stops on the road to a better blog - Facebook

A quick recap of the pit stops:

1. Write your blog mission statement.

2. Define your voice.

3. Write down specific blogging goals.

4. Schedule your blogging goals for specific dates.

5. Begin working toward your first goal with strategic blog posts and opt-in gifts.

6. Get feedback.

7. Check your stats to make sure you’re making progress.

8. Course-correct and get back on the road.

7 Reasons Recycling Ideas Makes Your Blog Better

7 reasons recycling makes your blog better

Did you know that writing multiple blog posts on the same narrow topic will help you teach your readers better, keep your audience on your blog longer, sell more stuff, and build authority?

Many bloggers avoid writing about the same topic more than once.

They think that once they’ve covered a topic, they can’t go back to it.  They’re afraid they’ll bore their readers or something.

But I actually believe the opposite – I think it’s not only okay to write multiple posts on the same topic, it’s essential.

And there’s no way you’ll bore your readers by covering the same topic twice. If they already love your blog, they’ll want to read more. And most people will have missed your previous post, anyway.

Here are 7 reasons why you should absolutely cover the same topic more than once.

1. People learn through repetition, so writing multiple posts on the same topic actually helps your readers.

You may think that readers will be annoyed by reading about the same topic multiple times, but you are wrong.

In order to learn, most people need at least a couple of repetitions of the same material. When I was a teacher, I needed to repeat the same concepts a couple of times before my students internalized it.

It’s the same for your audience. Because of your level of expertise, you may think that one post is enough to convey a concept, but most of your readers aren’t experts like you are, so they need multiple exposures to the information.

Think about it like riding a bike. Did you get on once and know how to ride perfectly? No. You needed practice.

It’s the same for your readers. You can help them by giving them new tools and perspectives on a single topic.

2. Your readers will stay on your blog longer to read all of the similar posts.

When your blog provides multiple posts on the same topic, your readers will have more reason to stick around.

If I’m reading a post on how to make an incredible cup of pour-over coffee, for example, I am more likely to click to another post about it than I am to read a post about how to make French Press coffee.

That’s because I am trying to master a very specific skill, and I want to read many posts on that topic. Even though a post on French Press coffee is related, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for.

Even if you’re writing about a narrow topic, you can still find new ways to approach it.

There are so many ways to encourage your readers to stick around when you write about the same topic multiple times.

You can:

  • Include links in your post back to other relevant posts on the topic
  • Create a specific sub-category for people to find all of your posts on the same narrow topic
  • Use a plugin that prompts readers to check out posts with similar categories to the one they’re already reading

3. You will grow your authority by showing that you intimately understand your topic.

In order to be seen as an authority on a topic, you need to cover it in great depth.

For example, when I think of vulnerability I think of Brene Brown. She’s written multiple books on vulnerability and did a TED talk on it that millions of people have seen.

By focusing so deeply on vulnerability and courage, she’s become a world-renowned expert on the topic.

I know a lot of bloggers who write about a topic 2 or 3 times and then get bored and move on. But if they would just stay the course and go deeper into their topic instead of switching to something else, they would start to become known for their expertise.

4. It builds momentum toward selling products or services.

Blogging is a powerful medium for selling your stuff.

As I mentioned above, when you write multiple posts on the same topic, people can learn more from you. So they start seeing you as an expert. So they begin seeking you out and asking for your help.

That’s when your blog goes from being a hobby to being a business.

First, you learn a lot from your readers on what they care about – what they want to read about more, what they are struggling with, etc. That information is essential for guiding you in knowing what products and services to sell.

And second, once you have those products and services out there, and they are based on your readers’ input, you already have an audience that is ready to buy.

5. You can reuse the same opt-ins again and again.

Opt-ins are little gifts you give your readers in return for their name and email address. (See mine at the top of this page.)

The best opt-ins are ones that directly tie to your blog posts.

Think about it. When you read a blog post that is about how to blog consistently, wouldn’t you rather get, say, a planning guide to help you make the most from the post, instead of a random blogging checklist that has nothing to do with what you’ve just read?

If you cover the same topic multiple times, the same opt-in will be relevant to your readers for each post. That means that you can use the same gift over and over again and still have lots of people opting in.

It’s less work for you and more value for your readers.

6. By writing about the same topic from different angles, you achieve different goals.

I know lots of bloggers use the acronym AIDA to guide their writing. AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action.

When you write many blog posts on the same topic, you can achieve a different goal each time.

Here’s my example from my series of posts about how to define your voice:

One post can get people’s attention by providing a tutorial on a specific topic, say, elements to think about when defining your voice.

Another post can spark their interest by going even deeper into the topic like this post about the steps you need to take to define your voice.

Yet another post can activate their desire by explaining why it’s important to define your voice.

And another post can encourage people to take action by emphasizing the awesomeness of a course on how to define your voice.

(Okay, so the last one is a sales page, but you get the point.)

Do you see how each of those posts, even though it focuses on the same topic, approaches it from a different angle, both from the learner’s perspective, and from my perspective as a blogger? If I just published one post on defining your voice, I would be missing out on lots of opportunities to help my readers and to interest them in my course.

7. You can go deep and write posts that make an impact.

The more posts you write on the same topic (as long as they are all useful and unique), the closer you get to writing something that truly makes a difference.

I have noticed that when I sit down to write about a new topic, my first instinct is to approach it in a very common way.  For example, I wrote a post last week on how to write tutorial posts. It was your basic 7 step post.

But if I were to write another post on the topic, I would have to stretch a little. I’ve already written the basic post, so I would have to go deeper. Maybe I could write a post on how to write a really compelling introduction to a tutorial post, or a roundup of a bunch of tutorial posts I’ve loved, or a guide on how to create a great graphic for a tutorial post.

All of those post ideas have probably been done less than my initial post, which, let’s be honest, has been written before, albeit in different ways.

7 reasons recycling makes your blog better - Facebook

Here’s my challenge to you:

The next time you sit down to write a blog post, write it about something you’ve written about before. Push yourself to look at your topic in a new and different way.

How to Brainstorm a Year’s Worth of Blog Topics in Under an Hour

How to brainstorm a year's worth of blog topics in under an hour

Do you ever feel like you are too close to your business to effectively write about it?

I’ve talked to a number of business owners recently who have told me that they have gotten to such a high level of expertise in their business that it’s become difficult for them to see the smaller picture in order to write blog posts about it.

This mind-mapping exercise will not only help you break down your business into smaller concepts, it will help you generate loads of post ideas in a short amount of time, and, to top it all off, you can use those clusters of post ideas to strategically post in order to support your business goals.

I used a free program called Coggle in order to do this. To use Coggle, click here.

I will show you how I generate my mind-map, from the big picture, to smaller topics, to action steps within each topic, and finally, post ideas.

Step 1: Write down your overall business concept.

Here’s mine:

Screenshot 2015-03-29 11.34.22

Here’s another example from my friend Sara who is a college consultant:

Screenshot 2015-03-29 12.24.00

 

Write down the main thing you help people do.

If you’re an accountant, you could write “Save money by doing your taxes the right way.”

If you’re a life coach, you could write, “Help people find their purpose and passion.

Step 2: Add subtopics.

Here’s my example:

Screenshot 2015-03-29 12.05.11

Here’s Sara’s example:

Screenshot 2015-03-29 12.26.30

Now take the main thing you do for your clients, and brainstorm at least 4 ways in which you help them do it.

Create branches coming out of the main idea for each of your subtopics.

Step 3: Break those subtopics down.

Here’s my example:

Screenshot 2015-03-29 12.10.19

Here’s Sara’s example:

Screenshot 2015-03-29 12.32.54

Your subtopics are still way too big to use as blog posts. You need to take them and break them down even further.

If you struggle with this, ask yourself these questions:

What do I do to help my clients with this?

How do I support them in this process?

What action steps are associated with this sub-topic?

Step 4: Take each of your sub-subtopics and brainstorm at least 3 blog posts you could write about them.

Here’s my example:

Screenshot 2015-03-29 12.15.43

Here’s Sara’s example:

Screenshot 2015-03-29 12.38.52

 

Don’t be afraid to write multiple posts on the same topic.

First of all, it builds some momentum in your blog when people know that they can come back again and again for more insights on the same topic.

Also, the more you write about the same topic, the deeper into it you are forced to go and the more creative you have to become to keep writing about it.

Here are some questions you can keep in mind while doing this:

What do my clients really struggle with in this process?

What questions come up regularly about this action step?

What components of this process tend to trip people up?

See if you can come up with:

  • List posts
  • Tutorial/How-to posts
  • Case study posts of clients you’ve helped in the process
  • Interview posts – either someone interviewing you, or you interviewing a client
  • Posts with a sense of humor

Step 5: Take your blog topics and schedule them strategically

This is where you go from just thinking of blog post topics to actually using them to drive your business goals.

For example, I can take all of my posts on blogging consistently and publish them leading up to launching a blog coaching package that helps people blog consistently.

Sara can choose to publish her college essay posts in a time of year when students are really struggling to write college essays and may be looking for a college counselor to help them with the process.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What are my business goals for the next 3 months?

2. How can I use my blog posts to get people interested in my services/products?

How to brainstorm a year's worth of blog topics in under an hour - FB

To recap:

1. Write the main way you help clients.

2. Break it down into smaller chunks.

3. Break those chunks down further into action steps.

4. Take an action step and brainstorm blog topics relating to it.

5. Plan to publish those blog posts to align with your business goals.

 

Now, go forth and plan!

How to Discover What Really Matters to Your Audience

How to discover what really matters to your audience

If there is one thing you can do to understand your audience, to come up with topics that they really care about, it’s to talk to them.

I used to shy away from talking to people in my audience. I thought that they wouldn’t want to talk to me. I worried about bothering them.

I knew that I needed to get more feedback from other people, so last March, I decided to interview 101 people about building business relationships. So far, I’ve interviewed 30 people, and learned a ton from each and every one of them.

I also learned that interviewing people isn’t all that scary.

In fact, it provides a perfect opportunity to connect and discover new ideas.

You don’t have to talk to 100 people, or even 30. 5 honest conversations can make a big impact.

It can help you think of blog articles to write about, about how to communicate so that people really “get” what you’re offering, and about how to help people with what they need the most.

And here’s how to make it happen.

1. Find people to talk to.

This was the part that scared me the most at first, but it’s actually really easy. And it has the added benefit of making “networking” easier, because instead of asking people for a coffee date, which may make them worry you want to sell them something, you can tell them you want to interview them to help you with your blog.

Here are a few places to find them:

  1. In your circle of friends.

You probably already know a few people who are interested in what you blog about. Even your good friends…especially your good friends are perfect people to interview.

  1. In person gatherings.

These can be Meetup groups, conferences, even potluck dinners.

If someone mentions that they enjoy reading your blog, or even blogs on similar topics to yours, or if they bring up something that fits into what you write about, they will probably be a good person to interview.

  1. Facebook groups

I am seriously addicted to Facebook groups. I can spend my entire day on them. And it’s so easy to find and join groups where your potential audience members hang out.

Join a Facebook group or 2, hang out in them, ask questions, give feedback, share people’s blog posts. And then, pick a few people whom you think would be up for an interview.

  1. Twitter

If you are using Twitter correctly, you are having conversations with people and getting to know them. If not, start. Comment on people’s tweets. Start dialogues. You will probably run into a few people you really like. They will make great interviewees.

  1. Your email list

If people are on your list, you can assume they are audience members, and would make great interviewees.

2. Invite them to interview with you.

You can do this one of 2 ways:

  1. Approach it as a way for you to gather information from them.
  2. Present it as a free consulting session that you are offering them.

Here’s what worked for me (and what I wish I would have done in addition):

  1. I messaged specific people, told them about my project, and asked them if they would be willing to chat with me for 30 minutes. (I also posted a general request in a Facebook group. I got about 4 people from that as well.)
  2. I scheduled a meeting with them over email.
  3. I followed up with them the day before the interview to make sure they were still up for talking.
  4. I gave them specific questions to think about beforehand
  5. I let them know that I would be calling them, and got their phone number/Skype name.

3. Do the interview.

A few things to consider during the interview:

Record it.

I used Skype to call my interviewees’ phones, and then recorded the conversation on my Mac using either Evernote or Quicktime. You can also use an app to record phone conversations on your phone, but it’s a little bit more cumbersome.

Let the conversation flow.

Some people probably use the same questions every time. I found that it was more natural and organic to have specific questions in mind but to let the conversation go where it needed to go. Everyone had unique insights to offer, and I let those insights guide our conversation.

Take minimal notes.

My sweet spot was taking notes, but not too many notes. That way, after the conversation, I remembered the bigger points, and during the conversation, I could really focus and listen.

4. Spend some time reflecting on the interviews and writing down the main take-aways.

I published all of my conversations online, so I transcribed them to try to include all of the great insights.

If you are doing interviews to better understand your audience, and don’t plan on publishing them, you can probably listen to them again and just write down blog post ideas as you listen.

You can also create a chart with the main topics that come up, and add in tally marks for each interview that hits on the same points. That way you’ll know which topics are relevant to the most people.

5. Follow up and thank your interviewees.

Send them a thank you email, a list of next steps for whatever you coached them on, a personal handwritten note, a gift card, or anything else you think would be appropriate.

6. Write the blog posts and share them with your interviewees.

If your interviewees inspired a blog post or 2, don’t be afraid to share the posts with them. They will probably be more than happy to read your insights, because you are responding to topics that came up in your conversations.

A final note:

You don’t have to interview a lot of people to get great material for your blog. If you feel stuck on topic ideas, just one conversation can spark ideas for a month of blog posts.

Try it out. You’ll be surprised at how powerful a simple conversation can be.

How to REALLY become a consistent blogger

How to REALLY become a consistent blogger

Lately, it seems like everyone and their mother is using an editorial calendar.

Not blogging consistently?

No problem. Just create an editorial calendar and you’ll be putting out content like the best of them.

Can’t come up with ideas you want to write about?

No problem. Do some brainstorming ahead of time, write your ideas in an editorial calendar, and you’ll be good to go.

I have no doubt that an editorial calendar works for some people.

But thinking that just writing post ideas in a calendar is going to make you a consistent blogger is like thinking that writing down “Go to the gym” on your calendar will make you a buff gym goer.

It just doesn’t work like that.

I’ve tried an editorial calendar myself. I schedule posts into my WordPress calendar and then I end up having a bunch of unpublished drafts that I thought I wanted to write about.

Yet I’ve been able to create a consistent blogging schedule and stick to it.

Here’s how you can become a consistent blogger, too.

1. Have a clear big picture goal for your blog.

Before writing this blog, I’ve had 6 other ones.

And all of them fizzled out after awhile. That’s because I didn’t have a clear idea of why I was blogging.

I would start out with a lot of joy and excitement in writing, and then after a few weeks, I would lose interest. My daily posts would start to become weekly posts, and then I would stop blogging altogether.

I am all for starting a blog just because it feels right.

But at some point in the process, you have to sit down and decide what your big picture goal is for the blog.

Is it to create a business and make money?

Is it to sell your existing products or services?

Is it to share your story?

Whatever you choose, it has to really, really MATTER to you. If it doesn’t, you won’t be able to keep the momentum going.

2. Have clear short term goals for your blog.

So let’s say you chose “To sell my existing products or services” as your big picture goal.

That’s great, but you also need smaller, short term goals to inform your writing.

Having a short term goal will help you create an editorial calendar for your month that you’ll actually stick to because you’ll have a clear and specific outcome tied to it.

For example, if you sell jewelry, your short term goal might be to get your new line of earrings sold.

At the beginning of the month, you can sit down and think of 4-12 post ideas that are tied directly to your new earrings.

You could write a post about how to pick the perfect earrings to go with your outfit, another about how wearing earrings improves your appearance, etc.

You will be motivated to blog consistently because you will be acutely aware of the outcome of blogging versus not blogging. (i.e. people buying your products versus not buying them)

Then your editorial calendar will become a tool to organize your ideas, rather than a motivational tool.

3. Tie your editorial calendar to a promotional calendar.

It’s really hard to keep writing when you don’t know if anyone is going to read your posts.

That’s why it’s essential to have a promotional calendar in place.

For each blog post, I post it on Twitter 6 times over the course of 2 months. I use CoSchedule* (affiliate link) to do it.

I have a strategy for getting more followers on Twitter so I’m not just tweeting to 10 people.

I also share in a number of Facebook groups who have dedicated days for promoting blog posts.

Pinterest is also a huge one for me. For each post, I systematically share on Pinterest in a number of ways.

Having a promotional plan keeps me blogging because I know that when I write a post, I can put it in front of my audience.

So create a plan, and promote the heck out of every post you write. When your social shares, comments, and page views go up, it will keep you motivated to blog consistently.

4. Know when you will blog each week, and see it as a vital, non-negotiable part of building your business.

Choose a dedicated time to blog, and schedule it in, just like a client appointment.

Writing a post into your editorial calendar for next Wednesday will not ensure that you will actually write the post.

Creating a block of time next Wednesday when you will do nothing but blog, and being adamant about it, will mean that you’ll actually write.

You don’t need to write every day. You really, really don’t.

I started out writing every day. Then I scaled back to 5 times a week, and now 3 times a week.

Even though I don’t write as much, my posts are way better than they were before. Because I can put more thought and time into each one.

My point is, figure out what works FOR YOU. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much. If you create an unreasonable schedule for yourself, you’ll do it for a week, and when you realize it’s not sustainable, you’ll feel like a failure and give up writing altogether.

If you work better writing an hour everyday, do that. If you want to write only on Friday mornings, do that.

And if your schedule changes over time, let it. Just be sure you keep some time to write every week on your calendar.

5. Build relationships with other bloggers.

Blogging can be a lonely thing. Sitting at home in front of your computer by yourself producing content is hard.

And not only that. People who don’t blog just don’t get it. They say things like, Can you really make money from your blog? and I know you blog, but what do you do as your job? and How does your blog really benefit the world? (That one was courtesy of my sister. She’s a social worker.)

All of this can be very demotivating.

That’s why you need to get out there and meet other bloggers.

I’ve built really great relationships with other bloggers in Facebook groups.

I met my accountability partner in a Facebook group, and we talk on the phone every single week. He keeps me going and gives me great ideas. Just this morning, he helped me brainstorm my first paid product.

You can also find them through podcasts, on Twitter, at conferences, and by commenting regularly on their blogs.

To stay motivated to blog consistently, you need to put relationship building as high on the list as actually writing blog posts. It’s that important.

How to REALLY become a consistent blogger - Facebook

If your editorial calendar isn’t working, it’s not you.

It’s not because you’re flaky, or can’t keep to a schedule.

It’s because staying motivated to blog consistently is hard, and it requires more than a list of post ideas.

Instead of only focusing on your editorial calendar, figure out:

  • Your long term goal for your blog.
  • Your short term goals for your posts.
  • How to promote the heck out of every post and get it read.
  • When you will blog every week. And stick to it.
  • How to build relationships with other bloggers.

If this list seems daunting, it is.

This isn’t an easy, quick fix.

But it is a framework for how to become a consistent blogger. If you are willing to do the work.