I think I’ll get up at 5am, go for a run, make breakfast for everyone, get showered and dressed (in a great outfit with heals and makeup), pack lunches, drop my kids off at school, go to work for 10 hours, meet the kids at their practice, handle the parents who are complaining but not volunteering for the team, come home, cook dinner, clean up, monitor homework, get the kids showered, spend some quiet time with each of them while I tuck them in bed, then open up my laptop to do some more work until midnight because I couldn’t get it all done at work, sleep for about 5 hours so that I can do it all again tomorrow.
Laundry. Cleaning. Groceries. Pets. Getting the kids where they need to go. Healthy meals.
We expect women to raise kids like they don’t have jobs, and work like they don’t have kids. Mothers didn’t just enter the career world, they signed on for two full-time jobs and then some.
The allure is strong…yoga pants instead of corporate attire, tending to a load of laundry when you need a quick break from your computer, and chopping some veggies at lunch to throw in your crock pot.
But before we go any further, please allow me to check my privilege at the door so you don’t have to make assumptions: I am a white woman with a college education. I am married. I live in a small Normand Rockwell-ish town and I have a career I genuinely like. #grateful
Here’s the stark reality
Universities train students for the dream of a corner office…but at a certain point, women, especially mothers, begin to recognize that working a 9 to 5 outside the home is a constant source of fatigue and frustration.
“Having it all” can mean different things to different people, and this is especially dependent upon your “stage” in life.
I’d like to think I’ve had some exceptional work “accomplishments”, I worked a 9 to 5 for the first 10 years after college, in fact at the time, I worked my way up the corporate ladder and made more money than my husband did.
But then life changed in an instant. My mom became very sick, I was pregnant, and I knew that working remotely was not going to get me a 6-figure salary. At least not in 2006!
Fast forward a few years after freelancing and starting a blog while my kids were napping, answering emails with puke in my hair, no time to breathe. Trying to at least make enough money to pay our taxes because my husband is a teacher and supporting 4 of us now. I am a strong woman and I have it all. I got this.
Um, Livin' the dream…right?
When my kids were finally ready to go to school, I was ready to leave the unpredictability of freelance work and get back to a regular salary. But something strange happened. A loyal friend had seen some of my work creating websites and online marketing plans, and asked me to come work for him, in an industry that I knew nothing about.
I put in countless hours outside the home, doing a job that was only partly what I signed up for. I worked for 12 hours a day while he was on a tropical vacation with his family. I was lucky if I got to hug my kids while they were awake before bed.
Does this sound like you too? If so, let me know in the comments below.
When I walked in the door after a 12 hour day, my husband pleasantly asked “what's the plan for dinner?”
I scream: “Shit!! I guess we’ll just have eggs and toast tonight.”
Calm down. Take a deep breath. Everything will come together.
I truly believe he helps out more than the average husband.
I’m not working a minimum wage job. I’m not disadvantaged in any way…except that I am a working mother in the United States.
So, about that opportunity to Start a Mom Blog so you can Work from Mome?
What I’m saying here is that we need to start changing some social norms…especially the notion that blogging is not a “real” job. It’s like we all said hey, let’s change the narrative for women, #womenempowerment, but lets not change anything else. Like it doesn’t matter if your 22 or 42 or 62…it’s not too late to start a blog and make money from it.
It needs to be truly okay for women to opt-out of working outside the home and realize that starting a blog from the comfort of your home IS A CAREER, WHERE YOU CAN EARN A LIVING. Not just like “oh, you started a blog” but behind your back everyone thinks you don’t have a “real” job or you’re wasting your potential.
This whole “having it all” thing has been grossly misinterpreted by American society. The fact is, you CAN have it all, just not all at the same time.
Here’s what Starting a Mom Blog looks like…
Women need to join together to provide support for ALL women, regardless of color or income level. Because there is enough space online for all of us to thrive. Women who support other women are truly magical.
The CMO at a company is no more entitled to paid maternity leave, job security, and adequate childcare than the waitress who works long hours at the only restaurant in town. Working is not a luxury or a choice for the vast majority of us, so we need to stop acting like it is.
Why are we even calling this a “mom blog”? Just because you're a mom and you're starting a blog, it may or may not be on the topic of your children, the childrearing process. That's ok. Your blog doesn't have to be about your children to be a “mom blog” although it certain can be! I consider myself a mom-blogger, yet I blog about business. Anyway, here are the facts about starting a blog (or a mom blog!) so that you can decide if it’s something that will fulfill your need for choice.
It takes just as much work to make a blog profitable (ie: Make Money with your blog) as it does to be good at any other business. It doesn’t happen instantly and if you think you can write a blog article here or there and then the social media fairies will automatically send people to your website to read it or pay you for your opinion then you’re mistaken.
If you’re contemplating giving up your corporate job to work from home, here are a 3 realities to help you transition smoothly:
1. Master the Mindset
It sure is nice when you don’t have to rush everyone out the door in the morning. You might envision a morning walk, yoga, or even just a quiet cup of coffee before the kids wake up. When I left my corporate job, I was initially thrilled at how the morning changed. I actually planned a morning run after the kids went to school. But until I got back, showered, had something to eat and sat down at my laptop, half my day already seemed like it was gone, and I still had to get to the grocery store. Before you know it, the blessing and curse of working from home becomes a reality. It take work to build a business, so if you treat it like a regular job and stick to some goals and a routine, you’ll be much more productive!
2. Ace Time Management
This one may seem obvious, but when you’re a new mom with a baby who runs the show, and a home-based business owner, it isn’t always a walk in the park. You’re used to being in control of your time, and with a baby, time management looks a little different for everyone. Babies thrive on routine, and so do adults, so don’t be afraid to do what works for you and your family, even if it’s different from what everyone else is doing or suggesting. A consistent mealtime, bath time, play time, going for a walk time, or whatever it is that works for you can also be factored in to the time you spend building your business. Give yourself some grace if it takes a few extra weeks or months to nail down your routine.
3. Plan for Distractions
Sometimes, I feel like I have a hundred things to do before I open my laptop. Other times, I’m in an incredible groove, only to be interrupted by my kids bickering about nonsense. Even if I’m in a room with the door shut. It’s 3:30, they just walked in from school, “Mom, what are we having for dinner, I’m starving” is all too familiar, maybe I should have used my Sunday Prep-Day a little more wisely. I’m better at being a mom when I’m prepared for the week. Often on a Sunday I just want to sit down on the couch with a cup of coffee and a book and relax, but instead I make a list for the grocery store and plan dinners for the week because that is more productive. Then Sunday night rolls around and I think I’ll finally get out that book until my daughter says “can we make s’mores with the neighbors because it’s national s’more day after all”.
GirlBoss Secret: Don't Stop Until You're Proud!
Bloggers who work from home might not experience the glamorous happy hours and spa retreats that some of our corporate counterparts do, but I’ve learned that owning your own business is certainly better than working toward someone else’s vision.
The moral of the story is, if you don’t set some goals for yourself and take risks, you’ll always work for someone who does.
It’s challenging building a business from scratch, but is it worth it to get more flexibility and less stress? Damn straight it is! Take my Free Quiz and I'll send you a Free Blogger Getting Started Guide!
Now the fun part…let's find out what your Blogger Personality is!
Learn how to make a transparent text background, also called a “Clipping Mask”
If you want to know how to cut the text out of your background (but you have no idea where to start) you’re in the right place! This article will provide two ways to achieve transparent text against any background that you like.
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.
One way I will show you is to do so by using the free version of Canva. For this method, there are a few steps to follow to get it accomplished. The alternative is very quick and easy, but uses Adobe Photoshop, which can be pricy if you are new to blogging. If you don’t have a subscription to Photoshop, you can always accomplish your goal by signing up for a free trial. While it’s much easier to do using Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, the drawback is that after the free trial is over you’ll need a subscription.
Here is a video demonstration if you prefer to watch instead of read.
Canva: Steps to Create a Transparent Background (or Clipping Mask) for FREE
1. Go to Canva.com and create a free account.
2. Once you're inside the Canva dashboard, you can either search for a design in a specific size, or you can type what you're looking for in the search bar (i.e.: Pinterst Pin, Instagram/Square, Facebook Cover, etc.
3. Type in some text, choose the font you desire, and then change the font size to make it as big as you can but still fit into the size of the template you’re designing for. You can always make it smaller later.
4. Make sure your text does not have a background, and download the .png file (you do not want to use a .jpg because you will see a white box around it.
5. Double click your downloaded file to open it up in Preview. Use the magic wand selection tool to highlight one letter at a time, and delete.
6. Once you’re finished with each letter, save this file as a new .png and upload it to Canva.
7. Select the background that you want to use, either from one of the Canva background templates, or you can upload your own background.
8. Place the new file on top of the background and you’ll see through the text. Adjust this to how you like it, and then download the .png file again.
9. Open up this new file in Preview, and this time, you’ll use the magic wand selection tool to select the “inverse” and delete. This will delete the background and leave you with the letters against the background that you like.
10. Save the new .png file and the background of the letters will be transparent so you can place the “cut out letters” against any background you choose.
Even though there are more steps (i.e.: uploading and downloading) to achieving your goal with this method, it’s not too difficult once you’ve got the hang of it…and that’s the trade off for being free. On to the Photoshop method.
Steps to create a Clipping Mask using Photoshop or Illustrator
1. Place your desired background layer on the bottom and add a new layer to position your text.
2. Click >Object >ClippingMask >Make (or Command 7 on a Mac)
3. Voila! You can save this as a .png or add a new background directly to the same file and drag the background layer to the bottom.
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The process of introducing a prospective customer to your product or service by leading them through a natural progression toward purchase is called a sales funnel. Digital marketing has changed how the traditional sales funnel works because prospective customers can learn about products and services by performing their own research online. Furthermore, the game has changed because not only do savvy buyers do more research than ever before in history, they are also interrupted by various forms of digital media such as ads, emails, popups, push notifications and even live streams.
Who knew writing for conversions would be any different from any other form of writing?
No matter how beautiful a website design looks, your site is just not complete without great copy. From headlines and captions to the text in the meta-data fields, your words are what convert a website visitor into a paying customer.
Is your strategy working?
Do you even have a strategy yet?
When you're considering starting a blog for the purpose of making money with your blog, or even if you're just looking for ways to optimize your website, copywriting is one of the most important but overlooked components to a brand’s overall marketing efforts from building a website to their digital marketing plan to their customer service.
Consider the first thing you do when you find out about something that is “new to you.” Most of us perform a Google search. Yet the way people search for information online is very different today from what it was even one year ago.
Think about your own online behavior today in comparison to what it was 3, 5, or even 10 years ago. The expectation is that Google will deliver search results that are relevant to the words you just typed.
Here are four laser focused suggestions for how to write for conversions:
1. Identify Your Goal:
If you are selling something, stay focused on selling that one item. Consider this: Every time a person clicks somewhere, it is a persuasion for them to move to exactly what you want them to do next. Perhaps your goal is to get your visitor to read another blog, or, perhaps you want them to buy the vegetables that you sell, the end result is the same — to “sell” the user on a specific action. By giving careful thought to exactly how each sentence is written you can lead the website visitor to your “goal.” Think of words on your website as they fit into a specific location in the sales funnel. Words that work: Click Here, Buy Now, Learn More. In order to lead your prospect down a natural “funnel” you need to be very specific by instructing them on exactly what you want them to do next.
Top of the Sales Funnel vs Middle vs Bottom
The way you speak to someone who is in the “Top of the Funnel” (TOFU) stage (also called the Awareness stage) is very different from how you'll speak to someone who is further down the funnel. When someone is first becoming “aware” of a new product or service, they are typically seeking information and doing research. They are not ready to buy anything yet.
If you can pinpoint what types of questions your audience has at the “top” of the funnel compared to the “middle” of the funnel compared to the “bottom” of the funnel (all very different stages of the sales funnel) you can offer information to them and be helpful in a way that is not “salesy”.
Here is an example: this particular article that you're reading right now is for a Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) audience. In other words, you likely already have a blog and you're looking for ways to optimize it. The language I'm using in this article is not likely to attract a reader who doesn't have their blog set up yet, because they are not thinking about “conversion” or “optimization” yet.
Although this is just a guess, it's much more likely that you are seeking ways to get more traffic to your website or better ways to convert your visitors into paying customers…so I'm going to address those kinds of questions which lend themselves to the middle of the funnel.
Right now, you are likely in the consideration stage, the MOFU (middle of the funnel). In this stage, you already recognize that you have a problem (you need to convert your website visitors into customers).
The goal with a middle of the funnel article is to give you a deeper understanding of exactly how to structure your writing so that you can start to guide your website's visitors toward a conversion.
Whether that is to join your email list, to download a free lead magnet, to take a quiz, or to book an appointment with you, your words are what turn a website visitor into a loyal fan and eventually, a paying customer. This process of matching up your intended target customer to the exact phase of the sales funnel that a particular article caters to is a marketing concept called: “Journey Mapping.”
Every Sentence and Call-to-Action Should Have a Purpose
Every word on your website should have a purpose. By using clear language, you can effectively direct people to exactly what you want them to do next. A website is not a research paper, if you use overly technical language, it becomes confusing to the majority of the visitors.
To get the most value from each of your visitors, focus on using simple, descriptive words, proper grammar, and clear instructions. Avoid phrases that contain jargon or industry-specific terms unless they are totally necessary. Would you rather buy “locally grown, organic vegetables” or “vegetables grown under biodynamic farming principles which have a greater focus on astrological cycles and the idea of the farm as a single organism”?
2. Establish your Tone.
Should you take a formal tone? Comical? Sarcastic? Whether your site covers a serious topic or more playful subject matter, the most effective choice is to write in a conversational but slightly formal tone. If your tone is too formal, it can sound too academic, yet if it’s too playful, you can sound inexperienced. In fact, recent studies have shown that when browsing the internet, people pay extra attention to website content written in a conversational tone. It is important to note, however, that writing in a conversational tone does not mean using profanity or using poor vocabulary.
Some websites speak conversationally with a light tone, while others cater to a very formal tone. The voice you establish through your words should match your brand image and remain consistent across all channels. If you are fun and eccentric on Facebook and Twitter, then that same tone should carry across your website. Catering to academia? That website structure would likely be a bit more formal.
Choosing the right words to showcase your brand in the best light is something that many website owners struggle with. The great part about writing, though, it that you have time to look back over your work to make sure your words engage and connect your audience exactly the way you intend to. You don’t necessarily need a professional copy-editor as long as you follow these guidelines.
The most important factor is to engage your audience. Should you use rhetoric? Using rhetoric (asking questions) is a great way to encourage people to participate. In other words, get your readers thinking about what they would do instead of passively absorbing (or not absorbing) the information you are presenting. Remember, you are speaking to and creating a connection with users; personal pronouns are good option. Have you gone back to re-read a blog post or a sales page to make sure it speaks to the correct stage of the sales funnel? Let me know in the comments below.
4. Edit, edit, edit!
Nothing can make or break your website like good editing. Every word needs to be read and reread until it makes sense, is grammatically correct, and without error. Painting a picture with words and images works wonders, but if you have errors in sentence structure or spelling, your visuals will be overlooked instead of completing the package.
Make sure to keep things simple. It is much more effective to be succinct and leave out technical or industry language. Think about it, we rarely use complex vocabulary in everyday conversation, so keep the main copy easy to read and extrapolate only for the most technical information.
While people don't always give much thought to writing emails when they're starting a blog, if you want to make real money from your blog, it's important to approach email automation and writing emails in much the same way as you would write copy for your website's sales or conversion pages. Talking to your audience in the same tone that you convey on your website will establish consistency in your brand. To learn more about writing for email, I recommend reading this article on Email Marketing Automation for more information on why a “newsletter” is not the best way to convert your list into revenue.
Want more advice and expert tips for growing your blog?
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Want to know the most efficient Pinning Strategy inside Tailwind to get all your pins scheduled for the week in 20 minutes or less?
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.
If you're not using Tailwind in the right way, you can waste hours of time trying to make your way through tribe content to get your pins scheduled for the week. You probably already know that using Tailwind can up your Pinterest marketing game and send heaps of targeted traffic to your website. But what most professional bloggers leave out is exactly how to accomplish this.
How to Up Your Pinterest Marketing Game
First things first, there are a few pre-requisites before you will completely understand some of the language used in this article because it’s hyper-relevant to Pinterest Marketing, but I’m not going to shame you with yet another affiliate link to someone else’s Pinterest Marketing Course that you have to pay for. Instead, I’m going to do my best to give you some real, actionable tips that you can start using immediately.
I believe in transparency and authenticity in business, and my goal is to provide real value…always! Cracking the code to Pinterest marketing is like any new tactic, when you’re learning for the first time, you just want to become a sponge and soak up as much information as you can so that you can start making it work for you…as quick as possible!
Although I’m a veteran of digital marketing (I worked in agency and corporate for 14 years) in the grand scheme of things, Pinterest Marketing in particular was fairly new on the scene and to be honest, at the time most corporations who were hiring digital agencies to handle their online marketing campaigns were not looking to Pinterest.
As I did research and read more about Tailwind, I kept coming across people who would have a killer headline on their pin and blog post (about pinning), and then I’d get to the article and they weren’t actually share any real tips. Instead of offering value in the blog post, they would ramble on and on about a Pinterest Course they took, then they would share their affiliate link to the course. #annoying
Using Pinterest for Business
If you are still rather new to Pinterest Marketing, then I would recommend checking out my Free Checklist before you try to implement the suggestions inside this article. The Checklist covers the basics of Pinterest for Business, such as making sure your business profile has a good description, creating beautiful and engaging pins, board covers and hyper-relevant descriptions that are loaded with long tail keyword phrases. In addition, joining Group Boards helps with the amplification tactics that I’m about to discuss below. If any of the above sounds confusing, start here with this checklist.
When I first converted my Pinterest account over to a business account, I didn’t think I needed to use Tailwind to see the results. I wasn’t about to pay for yet another tool just because everyone was talking about it. Without Tailwind, and with some vigorous manual pinning on a daily basis, I was able to get my Pinterest daily views to about 60,000 per month. To break that down, that translated to only about 50 blog page views per day from Pinterest, which isn’t much. Nobody can make a passive income on 50 website page views a day. Just as a basic frame of reference, to actually start seeing some passive income (i.e.: affiliate commissions) coming in, your website views need to be at least 1,000 per day.
After about 2 months of killing myself, spending time in different Facebook Group threads and manually pinning for 2-3 hours per day (I’m including time to reciprocate in that as well) I was already getting burned out and frustrated with Pinterest. The strategy I keep hearing about wasn’t working, and I was starting to believe that all the digital agencies were right.
I was barely approaching those 50 website visitors per day, and when I wasn’t participating in a group thread, the views were down to 20. Not to mention, those visitors were likely just visiting to reciprocate with support and share my content, not actually because they were interested.
Enter Tailwind. I gave in. I was desperate to make it work. But two months into using Tailwind, I still wasn’t seeing the results I thought I would. What could I possibly be doing wrong?
I was sharing the Tribe content like crazy. I was spending time in the tribes reciprocating to make sure that I shared pins from everyone who shared mine. It was taking hours. What’s up with this 20-minute per week that everyone was talking about?
Finally…the revelation. After some experimenting, and digging deeper, I finally realized what I was missing. Although I was using Tribes, I was not pinning my own content the right way, and I wasn’t using my Group Boards the right way!
The Tailwind Secret
Here’s a short video to illustrate the most efficient way to pin and leverage your Group boards using Tailwind.
So in a nutshell, the process looks like this:
Join Relevant Group Boards
Create Board Lists inside Tailwind
Batch Scheduling: In other words, Pin with the Chrome Browser Extension to one hyper-relevant topic at a time (see above video for illustration of how to do this)
In the Draft section, schedule all pins to your Board Lists
Shuffle your queue
PRO-TIP: INTERVAL PINNING
If you don’t currently use a scheduling tool, it’s likely that when your blog post goes live, you pin it to every group board you are a part of. In theory, it seems like a good idea, but for your followers, it comes across as spammy and reduces the number of people who will actually see your pin.
Instead, click the interval button (it appears when you add more than one board inside the scheduler).
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Growth Hack Marketing refers to the use of digital tactics to drive leads and revenue to a business. This is done by implementing a series of online strategies to achieve a specific and measurable goal. In other words, a “growth hacker” is actually just a digital marketer who gets results.
So…if that's the case, then what is the difference between Growth Hack Marketing vs Online Marketing vs Digital Marketing?
Nothing. The difference is in the results…and this is what makes a blog a business.
Growth hacking isn’t something specific, rather it’s a methodology or process by which a business achieves it’s online marketing goals. If you're a blogger and you want to make money from your blog, there really isn’t a difference between other forms of online marketing and applying a “growth hacking” strategy, other than the fact that most often, businesses (especially small businesses) implement digital marketing tactics that don’t get results. Then they wonder why they paid for an Ad that didn’t drive any sales. The reason they are not getting results, is because they either don’t know the correct process to follow, or they choose not to act upon the information that the data is telling them.
There are many examples of digital marketing gone wrong. So, how can you get it right?
First, a little perspective here…I’m not just any blogger blogging about how to blog!
I spent the first decade of my career in corporate marketing and practically grew up through the digital transformation of the early 2000s. The year was now 2006, and I found myself at a significant crossroads. I was pregnant with my first baby, and my mother was quite ill. I needed some flexibility, yet working remotely was still not considered acceptable by many corporations, so at the time, I started my own business, Vogue Media, and I spent the next few years doing freelance work…coding websites from scratch.
When social media first entered our lives (right around that same time) I was fortunate to be able to connect the dots between what I did for the first decade of my career with the need many of my clients had…which was the “new” way to market online. At first, large corporations hesitated, because they didn’t know if social media would be a passing trend or if it was here to stay. Over the next few years the world watched those who were willing to take risks enjoy massive success with online advertising, soaring far past their competitors.
I’m a creative designer at heart, so over the next 10 years of my career, I perfected the art of merging beautiful advertising campaigns with good UI/UX design and ultimately revenue by designing websites and sales pages in a way that leads customers through the digital sales funnel and toward the ultimate goal of purchase…all the way from the digital advertisement to the post-sale nurturing. This includes social media marketing and email nurturing. As an independent contractor, I did this kind of work for corporations large and small, grew email lists from zero to 70,000, generated 6-figures per month, and even managed online communities along with it.
So if you want to call that growth hacking, then call it growth hacking. I think the reality is, these days what differentiates a “growth hacker” from a regular digital marketer, is that the “growth hacker” is empowered to make quick decisions based on the metrics of the campaign. Now that we live in a world with real-time metrics, decisions can be made fairly quickly. Often, I make decisions about a campaign within the first 24 hours. So growth hacking is really just digital marking that is done right. When it’s done right, you get results. Massive results!
How do you get these massive results from Digital Marketing?
The formula for success is widely known, but what most marketers miss is the ability to follow the process exactly. You can't skip any part of the process. You also need to think critically about each step of the process, which is something that isn't easy to do…especially when you are filling the role of marketer for your own small business. Marketing, especially digital marketing, is not just about advertising the product or service for sale.
In order to be successful, you need to clearly understands how to journey map, and then communicate in a voice that speaks specifically to the different stages of the sales funnel.
Um, say what? Here's a video I made recently to explain the journey mapping concept a little better:
What is Journey Mapping?
Making sure that you speak to a prospect in the correct “stage” of the their journey from the time they first became aware of a new product or service all the way to the time they actually pull out their wallet and make a purchase. A lot of people talk about how the sales funnel is no longer relevant because people can enter the funnel at different stages. While this is partially correct, if you follow the proper methodology, you, as the digital business owner, can control much of the process.
For a small business, blogger, or solo-entrepreneur, you can be ultra successful with digital marketing when you follow this methodology precisely. Your next move consists of making sure all of the pieces of the digital marketing puzzle are in place. Need some help? Sign up for my FREE 5-Day Email Master Class. I’ll send you a series of exclusive emails that are specifically designed to move you forward in your digital marketing journey.
For a corporation or in a startup situation, your next step is hiring a digital marketer that knows the ropes and has a proven track record. You see, digital marketing works differently for a corporation because they have a separate sales team and a separate marketing team. For this set up, when the sales team and the marketing team are truly aligned, sales understands that it’s not the job of the marketer to sell the product, it’s the job of the marketer to educate in a way that prepares the customer for the sale.
Marketing is about creating a hypothesis around a tactic and a goal, testing, measuring, and then analyzing the results. What separates a growth hacker from a regular digital marketer, in my opinion, is their knowledge of business operations from a broad scope. The growth hacker has experience…and the ability to make decisions about how a particular tactic affects the business overall, (i.e.: they know within 24 hours whether a specific strategy is working or not working) and since the term is used mostly in start-up companies and small business, the growth hack marketer is typically empowered to change their tactic based on the results they get instead of losing time implementing systems and waiting for 20 different approvals. Not only that, they know how to change the tactic quickly and efficiently to grow the business.
So what exactly is the methodology? In simple terms, it is:
Design the offer
Nurture the leads
Make the offer
Create raving fans and repeat customers
While not necessarily as easy as it sounds, here are two pre-requisites that you absolutely need before you can even begin to implement the methodology mentioned above:
1. Optimize your content
Content marketing will never work for the long term unless your website is optimized first. Keyword research, meta-data, internal links, external links, and referral traffic all help put your website on the map. Read more about search engine optimization and SEO best practices here.
2. Social sharing
Sharing on your social channels brings consistent traffic that complements the organic traffic. This works best when you have click-worthy headlines and eye-catching creative. If your post looks like clip-art people will scroll right by. So instead of delegating social media management to your intern, splurge and hire someone who actually knows that they are doing.
What resonates is emotion, story, and practicality, so your social media manager needs to understand how to pull those traits out of your brand and into your lead magnet. Your social media manager is a marketer, and you’ll find that the standouts typically have a background in communication, graphic design, copywriting, and even website design.
Creating lead-magnets is no joke, and once you have one created, the exact methodology must be followed to drive traffic to the lead magnet first…remember, this is still the “design the offer” phase, so you’ve got to start at the very beginning if you want to nail it.
Are you a small business owner who is thinking about incorporating a video strategy into your online marketing?
If you’ve been considering creating a video strategy to promote your blog or business, there is no better time than now to start planning. Lets be real though…it’s not the easiest medium to master. This article will give you some golden nuggets so you can get started in the quickest and most efficient way.
Preliminary Work: Get Clear About the Focus of Your Video Strategy
I know what you’re thinking…I’ve already got a focus. I thought the same. I had already brainstormed more than 30 topics, but it takes a lot more effort than that to nail it. Before you get started, I recommend taking some time to answer the following questions:
What sets your blog or business apart from others? Write down a few things that make you different. You’ll need this in the introductory section of your video, but zero in and be able to articulate what you do in just 5-10 seconds. No really….I'm not kidding. This seems obvio but you've got to be able to state with confidence exactly what you do in 5-10 seconds flat. Great video is not just a screen capture, in order to nail it, you've got to pretend like you're a news anchor.
Who do you serve? This question is vital to understand who your audience and your target market is. Here are a few tidbits to get you started thinking clearly: How old is your ideal customer? What do they do for a living? What are their hobbies? What brought them to your blog? How can you help them? The truth is, producing engaging content for your blog or video strategy is not about figuring out who is reading it or watching it…it’s more about deciding who you want to be your target, and then producing content for them.
Who are your competitors? Before you launch your blog into a business, and your business into a video strategy, it’s imperative that you know exactly who you are competing with. Give me a name and URL, not just a broad “I’m competing with people who blog about making money online.” This is not going to be about looking at what others are doing in comparison to you, it’s about looking at what they are doing that is working well and how you can capitalize on that knowledge.
Once you get through the initial stages, planning a collaboration with your competitors is ideal, but not at the very beginning. When you focus on relationships and building each other up instead of competing, you both win! There is more than enough space online for everyone, so don’t feel that your nîche is too saturated. There will always be room for your own personal expertise, and your personality with inevitably resonate with someone better than a competitors.
After you’ve done some soul searching with these questions above and conducted some hard core research and competitive analysis, you’re ready to get started with the actual video production strategy. Keep in mind, though, you will not reach your goals if you spend too much time checking in on what everyone else is doing and trying to replicate it. Instead, do your research, decide what works for you, and then create
your own plan.
The Methodology: A Video Strategy that Works
There are 4 parts to this video strategy. Although they may seem somewhat obvious at first glance, don’t get all rockstar on me…pay close attention, because there are some critically important factors that you’ll need to understand completely that accompany each part:
1. Research the Video Topic Thoroughly
2. Scripting, Recording, Editing
3. Publishing and Optimization
4. Engagement & Sharing
Lets dive into research first. Yes, you’ve got to do some competitive analysis (i.e.: take note of what is working for your competitors) to see what others in your nîche are talking about, but you’ve also got to understand how to do proper keyword research so that you’re choosing the topics and keywords that will actually benefit your ranking ability based on the size of your blog (or the size of your YouTube channel).
By the way, I would love it if you'd Subscribe to my YouTube Channel…I post a new video each week, and if you love learning about tips for bloggers and small business owners, you'll enjoy my channel!
One of my biggest pet-peeves I have is the nîche blogger who decides to tackle an unrelated topic when they don’t really understand it. This is what promotes the stereotype whereby most digital agencies and corporate online marketers don’t take bloggers seriously. (I can attest to this first hand, as I spent 14 years of my career working in corporate and agency marketing before starting my own blog in 2006).
I admit, I used to be guilty of stereotyping bloggers…there was a time when I thought bloggers didn’t know what the heck they were talking about. Not ironically, it was because most of those writers (and some vlogers too) went off track for the low-hanging fruit. What do I mean by that?
When you have a nîche blog about a topic that you have an expertise in, such as a finance blogger, and then you suddenly gain some perspective on SEO so you decide that you’re qualified to write a blog post about it, that is going off track. So when that happens, here’s what the rest of us are left with…instead of actually getting some good advice by reading the blog post with a catchy headline about SEO, you get one or two regurgitated tips that are not helpful because my goodness you’ve already updated your alt-tags and meta-data descriptions with keywords and you’re still not ranking in the search results.
…So you and me…we spend hours reading blog posts that offer nothing new on the topic we're researching. We fall victim to clicking on those catchy headlines, yet we're lucky if we come across a blogger who actually knows what Schema means.
Just like Mr. Finance Blogger spent 15 years working in finance before starting his blog, keep in mind that a truly qualified digital marketer likely spent 15 years performing and implementing SEO research on hundreds of websites, and might even remember what life was like before Penguin. Ok this rant is over.
The moral of this story is stay in your nîche. When you really focus and stay on point, with your writing and your video, you will grow your audience and thus your revenue much faster. When you chase low-hanging fruit and deviate from your expertise, thinking that it’s working for others so you might as well give it a try, then you’re just fooling yourself. Stay in your lane, capisci?
Here’s a quick example of how to do keyword research (the right way!)
Lets say you are writing a blog (or producing a video) about how to do affiliate marketing. Let's assume your email list has less than 1,000 subscribers and your following on social media is around 100 to 500 per channel. You already know that using a free Chrome browser extension, keywordseverywhere.com will allow you to look up the keyword phrase “make money online” which returns a result of 201,000 results per month (as of the date this blog is being published). Do you think that seems like a good keyword phrase to use in your meta-data?
I mean heck, TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND people are searching for that phrase every single month, it must be good, right?
The answer is a resounding “NO!” You will never rank for that keyword with the stats above. No matter how many times you type the words “make money online” into your meta-data, your foundation does not support enough of the other ranking factors to get you on the first page of Google. In fact the first organic search result is for Entrepreneur magazine. Is that magazine one of your competitors that you identified above? Not likely. In order to get the strategy right, you’ll first need to clearly understand how to conduct keyword research the right way.
PRO TIP: How to get Keyword Research Right
To rank a small blog or small channel, you need to focus on long tail phrases that offer a search volume of less than 100 per month. Here’s an example long tail phrase that is more focused on one are: how to make money online using your phone
There is much less competition for this phrase (the volume is only 40 per month) because it is much more targeted.
How can you zero in and get crystal clear about your topic to make the search volume much less? Start with the keywords everywhere free browser extension.
So it’s not like you’re going to just sit in front of the camera and start talking about your topic! If you did that, you’d have a completely failed video strategy, kind of like I did back in January. I literally sketched out 30 topics and planned a rough outline of what I was going to talk about. My thought was that I did not want to read from a teleprompter because I wouldn’t look natural and relaxed. Well, I muddled through it, but I can tell you it was not effective in building my business one iota. I was about to give up, but instead I invested a substantial sum of money and hired a very specific, niche, video mentor.
I was determined to get it right. I learned that there is a specific script formula that needs to be followed in order to get it right. The short description is “Hook, Story, Offer” but unless you’re a superstar sales person, that might not make complete sense. (By get it right I mean monetize….in other words, grow your subscriber base and your revenue with an evergreen lead magnet that plays off the video).
Once you’ve got your script written, there are some tools you’ll need to deliver it well. I started out by stacking my laptop on some books and recording myself in front of a white wall. I still do this because I think it’s less distracting for viewers than having a messy office behind you.
Here is a list of some of my favorite tools and resources that I use personally. (Please note: I do not recommend products that I do not personally use, so if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask me.)
Editing Software (for Mac): Screenflow
Webinar Software (if you are seeking an all-in-one solution for a lead magnet): Webinarjam
Landing Page Builder with ECommerce Functionality Built in: Clickfunnels
On to the third step. Publishing is not as simple as clicking Publish…at least not if you’re going to do it right! It’s important to pay close attention to the tags you use in your videos. One way you can begin is to research the tags that your competitors are using, (again, use TubeBuddy because that will highlight exactly which tags you can rank for). You can also enter those tags into a Google search bar to find out the search volume. Using Google’s Keyword Planner is another way to give you an idea of long tail phrases and search volume. As you prepare to publish your video, you’ll pay close attention to the title, description, and tags. These should be repetitive, and since voice recognition is increasingly important, you should also repeat these key words and phrases in your actual video script.
PRO TIP: Meta-Data is much more than just Title and Description
Other places you can incorporate these tags are within the subtitles, the featured image meta-data, and by using hashtags. Adding hashtags anywhere inside the description box will allow your hashtags to show up right under your title.
Want to learn exactly where to add your meta-data for video SEO? Watch this video.
Tip: If you don't know how to lookup the Source Code to find Keywords inside your competitors videos, you can use TubeBuddy to do it more easily and efficiently.
Engagement & Sharing
Lastly, the methodology of sharing should be done in a strategic way so that you can get as many eyes on your video as possible when it goes public. The first 24 tho 48 hours of publishing a video is the most important, because that indicates to the YouTube algorithm that people are genuinely interested in your video and it allows your video to rank in the search results. Assuming you’ve followed the protocol with tags, descriptions and optimization, this will help your video get as many eyes on it as possible.
Plan to send an email to your list encouraging them to watch your video. Also post or schedule on your other social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to drive even more views to your video.
Create multiple Pins for your video as well, as Pinterest is a great way to drive traffic to your videos. Did you know that Pinterest now attracts 150 million people per month? If you’d like some additional tips on using Pinterest to drive massive amounts of traffic (to your blog or your videos) check out my Free Pinterest Business Plan Checklist.
Boost your Engagement!
By the way…if you're interested in boosting engagement for your own blog or video, I provide share opportunities for all nîches inside my private Facebook Community, the Digital Collective, where we come together for the purpose of connecting and sharing, and growing each other's social media and blogs! I currently post share threads every Friday (since the group is still small) but we are growing…and as the group grows I will move the threads to more often with a goal of once a day! Click here to join!
Have you tried video yet in your marketing strategy? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This blog may contain affiliate partner links which allow readers to easily find the resources mentioned and support this blog at no cost to you. While we may earn minimal sums if a reader clicks, you are in no way obligated to use these links. Thank you for your support!
First things first: what exactly does website hosting mean?
Website hosting is kind of like a digital file cabinet. Think of your website as if you wrote a bunch of pages in a book. Even if your site only has 3 or 5 pages to start with, if you created your site with WordPress, there are actually hundreds more pages that work behind the scenes that you don’t even see that enable your website to be brought up on people’s computers, phones, and tablets. These pages include all the computer science codes that enable a browser to read the designs, colors, photos, logos, and everything that makes your site unique, including forms such as a contact form, social media integrations, and even the ability to embed video.
Even though WordPress makes it much easier for the average person to create a website these days, all the functionality that makes WordPress work behind the scenes is done with coding languages. The more I browse Pinterest, the more I see folks in the blogosphere giving advice about “how to start a blog and make money”. That's all fine and dandy, but if you’ve never heard of words such as: LAMP Stack, SAAS/LESS, MYSQL, PHP, jQuery, NodeJS, and Task Runners, then please don’t pretend to give advice to people about how to create their first website. Although being proficient in the use of WordPress is a wonderful skill, I myself do not even claim to be a web developer…and I've been creating WordPress websites for businesses both large and small for the digital agencies that I've worked for, for 14 years.
What Do Regular People Need to Know About Hosting?
All that aside, here’s what regular people (like someone who wants to start their own blog) needs to know: Hosting is the virtual environment (sometimes called a “server”) where all your the electronic files are stored. These files make up your website. Your hosting account is what makes your website available for people to find on the internet 24/7. If you’ve ever taken a manual backup of your website (by using a plugin such as UpdraftPlus) then you may have downloaded a bunch of zipped up files to your computer, only to open them up and find a lot of unreadable gobble-de-gook (is that you you spell gobble-de-gook?). Anyway, no need to worry if that happens…as your computer will be able to reformulate the gobble-de-gook back into your beautiful WordPress blog.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Hosting?
Everybody who has a website needs hosting to store their files, and everybody who owns a website should also own an SSL certificate. That is the security feature that automatically protects your site with the https protocol. Recently Google publicly announced that their search results will favor secure websites over insecure ones, and further, they will show the user a message that your site is not secure. Yuck! Who wants that kind of experience for the readers of their blog or their potential customers! This is why it’s so important to have https. What I’m trying to illustrate for you here is that with website hosting, you simply get what you pay for. Why not get SSL for free with your hosting plan from a reputable hosting provider? As a veteran in the industry for 14 years, I use both GoDaddy and Bluehost. For newbies and bloggers setting up WordPress, I highly recommend Bluehost. Still…if you're researching hosting providers, how do you know who to trust? Below is a brief outline of the most well-known hosting providers.
A Little Perspective & Background on Hosting Providers
While this article will speak to the most widely recognized hosting providers, it’s important to note that there are literally thousands of small hosting provides across the globe. Heck, I am even a hosting provider. How is this possible? For digital agencies who want to set up hosting for their clients, they become a sort of intermediary. For example, if you looked at my hosting services through Vogue Media (this link is for informational purposes only, please, PLEASE do not create an account and buy your hosting through this link because this is not my business model any longer. I set this up when I was strictly building websites for clients back in 2006 and I still have a few active sites on this hosting plan, but I’m showing you this link simply for illustrative purposes so you can see how versatile the hosting providers really are). In this model, I am/was a reseller of GoDaddy hosting. You'll see how similar my “shop” looks to GoDaddy. What that means is that I can sell GoDaddy domains, hosting, and any other product available on GoDaddy through my own store. It's different from an affiliate program, I'm actually a reseller, not an affiliate. The program came out well before most internet affiliate programs and is only available to digital agencies. Interesting right?! So the point I’m trying to make here is that smaller hosting companies may not provide the same great service as large ones do. So what does that mean for bloggers? Here are the critical points you should know about the most widely recognized hosting providers:
1&1 and GoDaddy are vying for world hosting domination for the largest global providers for enterprise business, global corporations, and also small business. The drawback is that for the newbie blogger, these hosting provider can make things seem super techy and completely overwhelming. As someone who worked in a Digital Agency, I used providers like this for large corporations. This is why I very highly recommend Bluehost for bloggers, but more on that in a moment. 1&1 is a European company while GoDaddy is a US based company. Both offer essentially the same services, however, for larger businesses (and businesses who gross between about $1 million and $10 million and have their own tech team) I prefer GoDaddy over 1&1 simply because their dashboard is more intuitive. I’ve used both for different clients since 2006, and feel confident in GoDaddy’s ability to deliver to the larger business and corporate business for web hosting.
Endurance International Group owns two big players, Bluehost and HostGator, as well as Constant Contact and iPage. Bluehost is known for their user-friendly WordPress hosting and they also offer a FREE SSL Certificate which makes them a very good choice for new bloggers. HostGater is for larger businesses, but from a flexibility standpoint, cannot compete with GoDaddy and 1&1. Bluehost is significantly easier for the average person to navigate, and their customer service team caters to the average, non-techy person.
SiteGround Hosting is an independent web hosting company founded in 2004. They are based in Bulgaria. They are heavily marketed in the affiliate blogging world because of the low up-front hosting fees, however, they collect large fees on the back end. That means after a year or two when it’s time to renew, it will be several hundred dollars for the year instead of $40. This is not ideal, and they also do not offer Free SSL or stress the importance of SSL, therefore I do not recommend this company.
Other companies that offer all-in-one hosting packages are those such as Wix and Weebly, but you absolutely get what you pay for. The ability to monetize, customize and add plugins and integrations is very limited with these types of website builders. These website builders are best for the hobbiest, but you’re planning to use your site for business, then this is not the best option.
Do I need a Shared or Dedicated Server?
Next question, do you need a shared server or a dedicated server? This is an easy one, if you are a small business and you’re not expecting millions and millions of views, you don’t need to pay extra for a dedicated server. Facebook needs a dedicated server. Your business probably does not. And even if you become the most successful blogger in the world and you do start generating millions and millions of views each day on your website, then you can very easily upgrade to a dedicated server. Easy to understand that right?
Should You Transfer to Another Hosting Provider if You're Not Happy with Yours?
If you were one of the unfortunate ones who fell victim to an affiliate promotion and purchased a plan through a shoddy hosting provider, how hard is it, really, to transfer your site somewhere else? I’m here to reassure you, it’s not that hard and I can help you do it in less time than you think. I know what you’re thinking, you did a lot of work on your blog in the last year and you don’t want to lose everything. It’s really not that complicated and I’m going to fully walk you through it, step by step of how to transfer your website from one host to another with very minimal downtime, in fact, the entire process can take as little as one hour. So if you’re interested, make sure you click head over to my YouTube Channel and click that subscribe button. Note that Subscribing to my YouTube Channel does not add you to my email list, and it also does not send you any automatic notifications (I get it…I'm busy and I don't need to be pinged every time someone posts something!) You'll simply see my channel in your “lineup” any time you visit YouTube. So go ahead and visit my new channel for high quality and free blogging tips! I have the “how do I move my hosting” video planned for mid-April.
The first step to understanding how to structure your perfect opt-in (more commonly referred to as a lead magnet) is to determine why you're building a list in the first place. Many businesses start by creating a newsletter sign up on their website, and unfortunately, newsletters went out of style years ago. (If you're still sending Email Newsletters, read this first! The best strategy to grow your revenue online in 2019 is to build your list with a very targeted and specific lead magnet.
But how do you determine what the precise lead magnet will be? Ask yourself this question first: Who is your ideal customer? It’s critical to become crystal clear about your ideal consumer, and having only one list means that you don’t have a way to differentiate between who is who on your list. The biggest mistake businesses make in this initial stage of targeting is that they don’t zero in on the hyper-specific details of their ideal client or customer. When you offer a lead magnet, you can control your targeting and segment your list into meaningful categories.
First things first. Before you can even figure out what type of opt-in or lead magnet you’re offering, you’ll need to be crystal clear about WHO you sell to. This will help you determine the ideal client or customer that you want on your email list, because you don’t want just anyone, and you definitely don’t want as many people as possible. WHY? because Ideal customer’s recognize the need your product or service fulfills for them…they trust your expertise and they will come back to you again and again for help in solving their problem.
When thinking about the broad scope of why you’re building an email list in the first place, consider what you are going to offer in the context of how it will help you move this ideal target client or customer closer to buying your product or service. Essentially the lead magnet is a smaller piece of what you plan to sell to them. For example, if you are selling marriage counseling services, your lead magnet might be “enter your email address and we’ll send you 10 text messages to instantly start a conversation with your significant other”. That is a very targeted way to get someone to opt into your email list, and it’s also a great way to prep them for an email nurturing sequence.
Whatever your nîche may be, it’s important to really think about WHO you’re selling to first in order to determine the lead magnet that will attract the perfect customers for you.
Nurturing and Segmentation
Understanding and thoughtful planning of the sequence of events that happen once someone gives you their email address in exchange for your lead magnet is critical. Some people call this the “funnel” or nurturing sequence. If set up properly, it’s the process by which the person moves through their customer journey inside your sales funnel and eventually emerges as a customer instead of a prospect. With digital marketing, the strategy is put in place as soon as a person provides their email address. Another term for the structure of this process is email automation.
In the past, businesses used to just send an email to deliver the guide, freebie, or whatever it was that was requested. That is no longer the best strategy. Instead, smart business owners use the first email as a way to connect and establish a relationship with their new prospect.
It may sound counter-intuitive to not want “everybody” on your email list, but the tighter the list the better. In other words, the way most businesses think is, the more people on my list the more potential customers I have to sell to, but that’s just not how it works with online marketing in 2019. People are savvy buyers, they do research online before they buy, and they know what they’re looking for, so unless you have established a rapport with your list, they will simply ignore your emails.
The biggest secret to generating revenue with email is to have an engaged list. Once you do, you can evaluate important digital metrics such as how people found you, what content is effective and working, how your ads and content offers affect your bottom line, and which of your online campaigns are converting the best.
Lets go back to your offer to see what kinds of people could potentially end up on your list.
There 4 kinds of leads that will opt-in to your offer …
1. Freebie Seeker
3. Proof Seeker
4. Raving Fan/Evangelist
1. Freebie Seeker – no matter what you offer, she just wants the free download. She will probably never spend a dime on what you have to offer, she’s just looking for the next free download. That is not your ideal customer.
2. Researcher – She’s following your channels and she likes what you have to say, but she’s still not sure if you have the right product to solve her problem. What happens after she downloads her lead magnet is very important. The follow up sequence (or funnel) is critical for this type of lead in order to move her forward on her buyer’s journey.
3. Proof is in the Pudding – this person needs proof in order for her to open her wallet and buy from you. This is something easy to do once you have a page built specifically for testimonials or case studies, depending on what type of business you have. I will also go into more detail about this step in another video.
4. Raving Fan/Evangelist – she’s the perfect lead…she’s a big fan of you and your business. These leads are a critical part of your list b/c they will tell her friends and followers about you and what you have to offer.
For my email automation, I use and highly recommend ConvertKit. It's a platform that is easy and intuitive to use, and integrates well with just about any other platform.
The 4 types of leads mentioned above will always make up the majority of your list. Understanding the funnel means that you need to treat each one of these types of leads differently with a different follow up sequence. I know it sounds like a lot to set up 4 different followup sequences, but if you do, it will make your online marketing so much easier as you move ahead.
Why might you want to control the pins from your blog?
Sometimes it doesn't make sense to start off your blog post with a gigantic vertical rectangle like this:
Implementing the “pin-no-pin” meta-tag within your WordPress website is a great way to control what your readers can pin to their Pinterest boards, without having to sacrifice images that don't always enhance the way your post looks and reads. Because Pinterest is so visual, most professional bloggers want to make sure their content both stands out above the competition and provides an exceptional experience for their audience.
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.
In 2018, 2.4% of U.S workers voluntarily quit their jobs. That number is absolutely staggering. (In case you’re wondering, that is millions of people). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there haven’t been rates this outstanding since 2001.
New media has made it a genuine reality for people across the globe to work for themselves. This is exciting for the global workforce, because it’s so different from what life was like when many of us first started our career. Social networks not only enable connections for social reasons, if you know how to use them in the right way, they act as a vehicle for an infinite number of possibilities for growing your business.
If you spend a lot of time on Pinterest, you know the network is much more a search engine than it is a social network; I recently had the opportunity to meet with Charlie Padilla from Pinterest who gave me some great insights about the platform. Optimizing your blog for Pinterest using the “pin-no-pin” meta-tag is a great way to ensure that you have complete control over what your content (pins) look like across the platform.
Optimizing Your Blog Images for Pinterest
Optimized pins are the best at 1000px by 1500px (these pins are also sometimes referred to as the “long” rectangle). They are both visually attractive and they take up a lot more vertical space than their square counterparts. In order to be eye-catching and impactful, be sure to put careful thought into both your design and your copy. If you are designing these images yourself, a great tool to get started with is Design Wizard. Design Wizard is an easy and intuitive to use cloud-based app, and they already have pre-set sizes and templates that you can modify to match your own branding.
If you are a graphic designer or need something a little more robust for customizing your images, I recommend PicMonkey. PicMonkey is kind of like Photoshop but not quite as expensive.
To further optimize your pins for the best visual impact, aim to use at least 2 different fonts and colors that compliment your logo and branding.
When you don’t use the pin-no-pin meta-tag, and a user pins from your blog post, they will get a choice of any image that is part of your blog, and that includes images on your sidebar, the featured image, as well as any embedded video thumbnail images. A typical blog post that is not optimized for Pinterest pins will look something like this when a reader clicks to pin:
This is not ideal, because the user can choose any of these images, and most of the time, a reader doesn’t really care which image they choose, they'll choose the first one, or wherever they happen to click; they just want to be able to come back to your website later. The problem with this method is that anyone who follows their boards will then see a pin that is not as “optimized” as it could be, and it may even be a photo from your sidebar, an ad, or something that isn't even really related to that post.
You want to ensure that your blog reader can only pin what you want them to. After all, you've spent a lot of time creating Pins specifically to correlate to your post, you want them to Pin the right image! To do this, you will use something called Inline CSS to wrap the images that you don’t want pinned in a specific meta-tag that tells your blog “hey, don't make this photo available to pin”.
The above Inline CSS is used whenever you embed an image directly into your blog post. This is also called “manual” coding. It should be used when you embed a YouTube video as well, otherwise the rectangular YouTube Thumbnail will also show up as an option. There are other meta-tags you can use such as the data-pin-media as well as the data-pin-description, but you won’t need to do that if you have your Pinterest account enabled as a business account. That would be the recommended and automated way to pull in the rich-text directly from your blog’s meta-tags into your Pinterest Pin, that way you won’t have to deal with coding this manually using these additional tags. To enable your blog for business, follow the link to this article that explains how to do it on Pinterest.
The WordPress Sidebar
The next item of business is to take care of the sidebar. Since your sidebar likely changes often, I find that the most efficient way to take care of this is to add a snippet of code to your WordPress Theme’s Functions File. Don’t let this “techy” stuff scare you. To see a quick demo, watch the video below.
Before you modify your website’s code, I highly recommend making a backup just in case you accidentally change or delete something wrong. Code is very sensitive and even a space in the wrong place can throw it all off and take down your entire website. To make a backup of your site for Free, I recommend using the Free version of the WordPress plugin UpdraftPlus.
To add a snippet to your functions.php file:
/* added by Insert Your Name to exclude featured image and sidebar images from pinning */
Thinking of creating a Digital Course? Here's why your website needs to start with an intuitive plan. Designers call this UI/UX Design.
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.
UI/UX Design is really just a fancy way of saying “user experience” and “user interface design” and in simple terms, this means making sure your blog, website, and digital course are easy and intuitive for people to navigate so they can find exactly what they're looking for…quickly.
Over the few years, I've built dozens of successful online courses for my clients. (Before I started my own business, I worked in corporate and agency marketing and built websites & digital marketing plans for global corporations for 14 years). Believe it or not, many people don't really consider user experience when they first create their website…and you're not alone…marketing directors at large corporations don't always consider it either!
Fast forward to 2019, where consumers now embrace mobile devices and seek information at their convenience, so the rules of brand engagement are continuously evolving. If your website isn’t set up to adapt and respond to visits from many different screen resolutions, you may miss out on opportunities. To achieve greater success with both your regular audience as well as your students, (and the search engines!) aim to make your website not only look fantastic on different screen sizes, but make sure your mobile navigation menu, header, and footer are set up in a way that reflect precisely what you want your customer to do next. When brands think about how to reach their consumer on the consumer's terms, in the right moment, with the right information…it feels less like sales and more like the connection you're aiming for.
Here are 5-Steps to building a successful digital course:
Organize audience insights: The first step in the process involves a little research into your audience to determine exactly what information they are looking for. What pages get the most hits on your website? What time of day does your audience typically visit? If it's a course you'll be selling, you will want to measure your audience insights carefully to help determine when you might “go live” for a Q & A session, or what types of tools they will need for support as they navigate through your course. In thinking through delivery, will you use video? Video with screen capture? Audio podcasts? And what platform will you use to deliver the membership capabilities of your course? While it might seem simple to use Teachable or Udemy, the biggest drawback to these platforms is that you will not have control of your business. To learn more about platforms for delivery, watch this short video.
Design compelling creative. It's so important to make sure that both your website as well as your social media and the sales page you use for the promotion of your course or product is visually compelling. First impressions are everything online, so if you don't capture the attention of your audience within seconds, you'll miss out on the opportunity to sell to them. Even the most educational courses have to be compelling enough to capture attention first. There are a few ways to accomplish this if you're not a graphic designer yourself. Consider starting with an easy-to-use tool such as Canva. With social sizes already built in, you can choose from a variety of free backgrounds and fonts.
If you're looking for something more robust, but you don't want to invest in an expensive app like Photoshop, PicMonkey is easy to use and much less expensive than Photoshop.
For free stock photos, I like Unsplash and Pexels. But if you're planning to use Pinterest for traffic, know that the free photos are overused, and this can actually be harmful for your Pin SEO.
Pixistock as well as GirlBoss Stock both provide a library of female entrepreneur stock art that is much less expensive than iStockphoto and Getty.
Prefer the services of a professional designer to create something custom (like a new logo or branding package), my recommendation is Fiverr which is a good, inexpensive way to get a team of graphic artists to choose from to bring your brand alive visually and implement brand consistency across all channels, all without the crazy fee of hiring your own design team.
Execute with integrated technology. It’s possible to fully analyze a consumer’s purchase path and understand which touchpoints are most likely to translate into action, however, it’s also important to have a good tool for measuring your data. I recommend different tools to different businesses, depending on the size and scope of your project.
Tools for Delivery of Your Digital Course
For small businesses looking for the best all-inclusive option for both sales pages as well as course delivery, then I would recommend Clickfunnels. It's a website and landing page builder with E-Commerce built in, so it really simplifies the online shopping experience if you have less than 20 products. Not to mention, it also has a membership site capability and marketing automation system all wrapped up in one, very easy to use package for beginners. Translation…you can sell your very own Digital Course without the need for a platform such as Udemy or Teachable. Those platforms severely limit your ability to sell, customize your sales page, connect with your audience, and keep profits that really should be yours, so if you are considering a digital course at some point, I very highly recommend Clickfunnels. I have used this platform for both my own online course as well for as my clients, so please…don't hesitate to ask me if you have any questions about it!
For greater creative control over your membership site in terms of having multiple courses or dripping content on a specific schedule, you can incorporate WishList directly into your WordPress Dashboard. You will need to also implement the e-commerce plugin WooCommerce in order to sell your course, so if you're fairly comfortable with WordPress and Plugin Integrations, you will be able to use these options instead of Clickfunnels. If you're super tech-savvy, then WishList will be a great option for your course and membership site. Keep in mind that you may need the help of a professional for a more custom look and feel if you don't know basic HTML/CSS.
Reach audiences across screens. Plan for the mobile world we live in now, not the world you grew up in. Although you'll have to pay for it, using a tool such as Thinkific or Teachable can mean that your site is intuitive and responsive across all devices, implementing programmatic advertising affords brands to take a big leap toward actionable measurement. Optimize your images and ads for mobile too…not just your theme.
Recently, Google publicly announced that their search engine algorithm will take both quality content as well as the mobile-readiness of your website into consideration when listing your website in its index. What this means is that your website needs to retain both quick loading speeds as well as easily readable content. This core functionality is especially important when accessed from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.
Even if search engines weren't partially judging your site based on its responsiveness, it would still be a great idea to build your site in a way that optimizes the user experience. After all, now that you've engaged a customer enough to buy your course, you want to make sure to continue delivering a great experience.
Good developers already build sites to be intuitive and responsive right out of the gate, but if your site hasn't been updated for a year or two, it’s definitely worth your time to understand how the research and planning process works, and why it’s important to the success of your digital course (or whatever you're ultimately selling.) Not to mention, if you take a short cut and use a platform such as Udemy to deliver your course, you're really going to miss out on the real benefit and longevity of an online business. Lets talk about that more.
Measure the impact. How will you know what high level decisions to make and what KPIs to tweak unless you implement a plan to measure the progress? Whether it's just you evaluating your metrics or other key decision makers and stakeholders, you want to be armed with a way to understand the metrics. Consider implementing Google Analytics at the very least, and for greater understanding of your metrics, implement the Google Tag Manager and Data Studio to bring your metrics to life.
A closer look at intuitive UI/UX Design & Site Architecture
A very important component of usability is site architecture. More recently referred to as UI/UX design, planning for proper organization and structure will allow your users to easily and intuitively find exactly what they are looking for quickly and efficiently. Instead of sending them in loops without a clear-cut path to finding the information they need, you can use what industry professionals call a wireframe plan to help you organize your structure. A wireframe is simply a visual representation of the flow of your website design.
This step is easy to overlook, yet without a carefully planned site architecture, many website redesigns will only yield a “prettier” version of your old website…without improving upon usability. Using a wireframe as a guide can assist with constructing the page schematics and visual blueprints. While most professional designers and creative agencies will provide a wireframe report during the research and planning phase to help organize your project before any development takes place, there is no reason why bloggers can't do this too! If you would like to play around designing your own wireframes for free, check out Wireframe.cc.
Once your website is organized in a way that makes it easy and intuitive for your visitors to get answers to their questions, you then take complete control of the sales process. Instead of being “salesy” you instead become helpful because you've provided a solution to their problem, and you've done it in a way that makes it esy for them to find the solution. This makes their experience and their interactions with you much more pleasant, and shareworthy!
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