Using The Right Blogging Platform For Your Needs

Using The Right Blogging Platform For Your Needs

Choosing which blogging platform to use is one of the most important decisions that you can make as a blogger. The right platform can make blogging a breeze, and the wrong platform can make blogging a chore. Because the program that you use to blog with is such a powerful part of your blogging experience, it is well worth putting in the time to find a platform that provides your ideal balance between a user-friendly interface and a flexible framework that allows you to make your blog look and feel unique. Finding the right platform isn’t always easy, but with a little bit of contemplation and a little bit of research, you will be on your way to finding the perfect blogging platform.

 

Deciding what your priorities are in terms of ease of use versus customization. Most highly customizable blogging platforms, like moveable type, are a bit more difficult to use than very automated platforms like WordPress. If you are new to blogs and to internet technology, you might want to sacrifice the ability to create a custom background design or to integrate a unique font into your template in order to find a program that will be easy for you to use. On the other hand, if you are a veteran web designer with knowledge of html or javascript, you will probably find the limitations of a user-friendly platform to be frustrating.

 

There is no such thing as a blogging platform that is objectively the best platform, because every blogger has unique needs. The blogging movement is very much about individuality, so it makes plenty of sense that there would be many different platforms available that are designed to meet the needs of different kinds of individuals undertaking different kinds of projects. This diversity is a good thing, because it means that you will almost certainly be able to find a program that suits your level of technical aptitude.

 

However, the fact that no two bloggers need the same thing from a blogging platform can make your search for the right platform a bit tricky. When you are reading reviews of different platforms, try to keep your priorities in mind and do your best to take into account the position that the reviewer is coming from. For example, a negative review written by an accomplished software designer who complains that a popular platform is too limited may tell you that the platform in question is ideal for a beginning blogger. There is no such thing as the perfect platform for everybody, so instead of looking for the “best” platform, look for the best platform for your specific criteria.

 

You can start learning how to use WordPress here.

 

Photo by Fikret tozak on Unsplash

A Great Idea For a Blogging Web Site is No Longer Enough

A Great Idea For a Blogging Web Site is No Longer Enough

Because there are so many blogs and web sites about blogs on the internet, it can be tough to distinguish your blogging web site from all of the others. Whether you are starting up a new web site aimed at bloggers or whether you are looking to make your existing blogging site more distinctive, the key to building and maintaining a site that will capture the interest and attention of the blogging community is finding your niche. If you can fill a unique need in a way that no other web site does, you’ll be able to build a lasting readership among web surfers. Once you have discovered a niche, you will still have a lot to do, but finding your place in the blog-o-sphere is the place to begin.

 

Every great blogging web site starts with a great idea, and you can’t build a successful site that will last without one. There are many great sites aimed at today’s bloggers, and competition for the attention of this growing demographic is fierce. To make your blogging web site stand out from the pack, you will need to offer something that no other site is currently offering, or you will need to do the same thing that an already popular site does but in a more impressive or valuable way.

 

One way to discover an ideal model for your blogging web site is to look at the sites that have successfully captured a blogging audience already to determine if you can appropriate some of their strategies to help realize your vision. Of course, you will also need to add a unique flair to your project in order to stand apart from your competition. Many people agree that the web sites that do the best in today’s market are the sites that have the most personality. The fiercely individual surfers who are bloggers are a demographic that responds especially strongly to personality, so consider how you can give your site a unique and attractive feeling by lending your own voice and sensibility to your site’s design and content.

 

Once you have a great idea for your site, have pinpointed a special niche that you are well equipped to fill, and have infused the site with personality, the next step is figuring out how to get the word out to bloggers. In the long run, a great idea just isn’t enough to propel your blogging web site to success. You will need to draft a smart and realistic marketing plan in order to draw readers to your site. Once you hook a blogger, your great content will keep them coming back, but it is vital to get that first glance or your site won’t have a chance to shine.

Blogging For Business Owners

Blogging For Business Owners

If you run a small company, you may find that the world of blogging for business owners is a world that you want to be a part of. Blogging is a great way to get the word out to consumers about your product or service, and it can even be useful for inspiring employee loyalty and helping you keep your workers at peak morale. If you are looking for a way to take your business to the next level, consider what starting a blog might be able to do for you.

Blogging for business owners has a lot in common with all other types of blogging, but it has its own unique pitfalls and strengths. The key to having a successful blog as a business owner is keeping your goals clear and concrete at every step of your blogging adventure. It can be all to easy to get sidetracked, especially if you are just learning about the exciting possibilities of blogging technology, but if you want your blog to succeed you need to stay focused. Write up a plan for how often you will update, how you will promote your blog and retain readers, whether you will feature
photographs or video, and other aspects of your blog, and then stick to it with the same kind of determination that you used when you built your company.

 

 

Step Two of Your Content Marketing Funnel – Get Them on Your List

Step Two of Your Content Marketing Funnel – Get Them on Your List

The money is in the list. You’ve heard this a lot, I’m sure. The reason you hear it so much is because it’s true. It’s been true since the advent of email, and it’s even truer today. Email is not dead and using content marketing to get people on your list is the best way to accomplish building your list so you can nurture your audience with more content and convert them to customers and eventually turn them into brand advocates.

Choose the Right Platform for Your Needs

When you choose email marketing software, it’s imperative that you understand the terms of service of the platform. For example, if you plan to engage in affiliate marketing, some platforms don’t allow it, and some encourage it. Read the fine print but pick software that has room to grow, that you find easy to work with and understand, and that has the features now and in the future that you will use. Pay for the platform instead of using free versions. You need the features, and you need ownership.

Provide Many Opportunities to Enter Your Email List

To move more people to your email list, you need to have as many entry points as possible for your audience. Studies show that websites with 100 landing pages or more do a lot better than those with fewer landing pages. Make specialized landing pages for each product directed toward each member of your audience.

One product may have five or more landing pages, due to the audience you want to attract. For example, if you guest post on a guru’s site, you should create a specialized landing page for anyone who clicks through to your site from the article you posted.

Try Active Campaign for creating your first list.

Create Low Price and Free Entry Level Products and Services to Try

Your audience needs to build their trust for you, and one way to do that is to give away freebies or promote low-cost products that grab their attention. These products can be in the form of workbooks, checklists, cheat sheets, video tutorials, discount codes, PDF guides, trials, and more.

Plan Your Autoresponder Content

It’s not enough to just get people on your list, you must be prepared with autoresponder content in advance. You’ll need immediate welcome, thank you, and educational info to go out upon registration. Beyond that, you’ll need to plan for autoresponder content for pre-purchase information, during purchase information, and post-purchase and beyond information to go out to your list members based on how they signed up, so that it’s complexly personalized and relevant to them.

Promote Your Information

It’s not enough to create the landing pages, the freebies, or the low-cost and entry-level products, you must promote them too. Promote your freebies the same way you promote your highest-priced items so that they get the attention they deserve. You can promote on social media, in your profiles and bios, on your website, within the content you create for your blog, in certain Facebook groups, in your own communities and groups, where your audience hangs out, within your bio on guest posts, and within emails.

Check the Numbers

Once again, we’re to the point where it’s becoming redundant to mention it, but it’s so important that you always check the numbers and mind your data. The data you gather on your audience, on their behavior, and through the various platforms you use matters greatly. It’s the only way to be sure you’re using your time wisely and getting results from your actions.

The truth is, even more important than directly focusing on sales, you should focus on moving interested audience members to your email list. Most people just don’t buy these products simply by browsing a website. Instead, they buy based on the fact that they trust and believe in the person promoting the product. This can only happen if you help them get to know you better, and the best way to do that is your email list.

Step One of Your Content Marketing Funnel – Get Their Attention

Step One of Your Content Marketing Funnel – Get Their Attention

The first thing you need to do for any type of content you’re going to develop for your business is to know why you’re doing it. Every single piece of content needs a reason that is tied to a very specific and measurable goal.

When you’re focused on getting your audience’s attention, there are a few goals that you can work toward that work well in the attention-getting phase, or the awareness stage – such as building your reputation, getting to know your audience, and more.

Establish Your Expertise and Legitimize Your Reputation

Find ways to build trust in your expertise and reputation by publishing the right educational information that demonstrates your knowledge. You can also collaborate with experts by interviewing them a la Oprah Winfrey. When you surround yourself with other experts who are well thought of, you will be thought of as reputable too.

Types of content to use:

  • Expert Interviews
  • Long-Form Blog Posts
  • Educational Blog Posts
  • eReports
  • eBooks
  • White Papers

Where to publish the content:

  • Your Blog (Always)
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

 

Get to Know Your Audience and Let Them Get to Know You

Your audience is real human beings with problems and lives. Get to know them as much as you can by creating buyer personas for every single stage of the buying journey. For example, you might want to build a community on one of the social media platforms or by installing your own forum and message board on your website. User-generated content on forums and message boards is very important when building a community.

Surprise People with Unexpected Content and Bonuses

If you become too predictable, sometimes people tune out. Try to make the experience your audience has unique, regardless of the platform they’re using on which to engage with you. For example, if someone downloads your free eBook, why not give them a nice coupon or make a bonus offer to incentivize them to make a purchase – without telling them about it in advance. Or, you could host a spontaneous “live” event on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube to show your audience behind-the-scenes action.

Be Disruptive but with Caution

One way to grab attention has always been to be disruptive. Studies show, unfortunately, that negativity gets more engagement and views than positivity. This doesn’t mean that you need to be nasty. Poke the pain points; disagree with a guru. But always ensure that whatever you do that is disruptive isn’t painful or hurtful but instead ultimately helpful to your audience.

Mind Your Data

Everything you do must be data-centric. The only way you know why about anything you do is because you check the numbers. For example, you cannot assume a new blog post or interview is directly responsible for all your conversions unless the data supports that idea. When you set up the metrics based on your goals and really use them, you’ll improve your success with content marketing exponentially.

As you’ve learned from studying the buyer’s journey, as you build your content marketing funnel, the first step to connecting with your audience is to gain their attention. You can do this by focusing on content that informs, instructs, interacts with, and inspires your ideal audience to learn and act on the information you provide to them. To do this, you must get their attention. That is the first step in the buyer’s journey (awareness) and the first step in your marketing funnel. The next step is to move them to your email list, and you’ll learn about that next time.

 

Mapping Out a Marketing Funnel from Content to Sale

Mapping Out a Marketing Funnel from Content to Sale

Content marketing follows the same process as any type of marketing. You need to know your audience, your products and services, and when, where, and how to get your audience’s attention. The marketing funnel consists of the three or more steps that also covers the buying journey.

A marketing funnel includes:

  1. Awareness – This is when your customer may or may not know yet about the problems they have, that they can be solved, and that you can solve them.
  2. Consideration – This is the time when the audience now knows that they have a problem that can be solved, and you need to give them exclusive content that helps them pick your solution over others.
  3. Purchase – They’ve made the purchase, and are now your customers, so now it’s your job to keep them and delight them by sending them the right content.

Understanding this cycle and what it means for the buyer is important because it also means something for you as the content creator who wants to attract and serve their ideal customer in a very customer-centric way. A content marketing funnel seeks to map the content you’re going to push to your audience and customers to the place it needs to be within the marketing funnel.

I think it’s helpful to make this funnel more in-depth to get even more specific about the content you need to develop and publish. Creating a mini funnel at each stage can be very helpful for keeping it straight in your mind.

The main reason is because even though the existence of the funnel makes it seem like the audience moves through the funnel the same way each time, the truth is, any entry point to your funnel works. So, whether they get on your list in the awareness stage or after they make a purchase, the process is the same.

Awareness

Awareness can consist of many levels of your funnel and not just one. Some people in the awareness stage know about their problems, some don’t. Some know about the solutions available, some don’t. You’ll need content for all the levels you identify. The types of content you can create for the awareness stage includes:

  • Blog Posts
  • Social Media Updates
  • Infographics
  • Images and Photos
  • Memes
  • White Papers, eBooks and eReports
  • Web Pages
  • Podcasts
  • Video
  • Print Magazine or Newsletter
  • Primary Research
  • Webinars

 

Consideration

When people are in the consideration stage, they’re trying to evaluate the problem and the solutions that they have discovered. Think of this also like an evaluation. The types of content that are needed to navigate this part of their journey include:

  • Educational Resources
  • Surveys, Quizzes, and Interactive Content
  • Discounts
  • Offers
  • Emails
  • Other Types of Resources
  • Downloads
  • Webinars
  • Events
  • Testimonials
  • Case Studies

 

Purchase

The purchase stage of the buyer’s journey and the marketing funnel includes making a purchase or sometimes called conversion. After all, sometimes conversion isn’t about making the sale, but about getting someone on your list. Also, remember that purchase includes getting them to make the purchase or convert, as well as a time you can delight the customer too. The content that works great for ideal customers in this stage of their buying journey includes:

  • Demonstrations
  • Customer Stories or Case Studies
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Spec Sheets
  • Stats
  • Thank You Notes
  • Exclusive VIP Offers
  • Events and Masterminds
  • Bonus Information
  • Offers
  • Reports

 

Loyalty and Advocacy

I like to add this, which should go under the purchase designation of the buyers’ journey and the marketing funnel. The type of content you can use at this stage is a combination of the content used at every stage, and then some, because you really want to delight your customers so much that they become brand advocates. The content you can use here includes:

  • Loyalty Programs
  • Exclusive Emails
  • Exclusive Events
  • Exclusive Access to You
  • Case Studies
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Interviews
  • User-Generated Content
  • Webinars
  • Content in Groups and Communities
  • Contests
  • Conversations

 

Of course, for all this to succeed, you need a clear vision first. You need to know who your audience is, what they want and need, and why and how you can provide it to them. The more understanding you have of them and yourself, the easier and more effective your content marketing will become.

 

 

 

Why You Don’t Want to Try to Sell Them Directly in Your Content

Why You Don’t Want to Try to Sell Them Directly in Your Content

Content marketing is not about the direct sale. While you may view a sales page as content, and it is part of it, content marketing is a long term strategy and process by which you develop, create, publish, and promote informative and educational content that helps you reach your goals.

This doesn’t mean you don’t give the audience opportunities to buy, or that you don’t include a call to action, but content marketing is more a seduction process than it is a direct selling process. The content that you develop and publish works its way through the buying cycle in a deliberate way and is almost never forceful, always putting your ideal customer first.

Instead of focusing on sales, focus on:

  • Delivering Value – Whenever you produce content, besides setting a goal for it, you should also ensure that it provides something of value for the consumer. This means that it needs to solve a problem or define a problem or do something that the user determines has value. You can only do this by fully studying your audience so that you know the pain points and the available solutions for your ideal audience.

 

  • Creating Personalized Content – The more the content speaks directly to the reader or viewer, the better. Try to create content that is as personalized as possible, using all the technology you can afford to ensure the most up-to-date and possible personalization. This is especially important in email marketing.

 

  • Building Trust – The content you publish on your blog can also work to build trust. The more consistent you are with your brand voice and the messages you deliver to your audience, the more people will naturally trust you.

 

  • Getting Back Links – One of the goals for publishing content is so that it gets shared, and the person who shared it is offering more links to your content so more people can find you. To ensure you get more shares, you’ll have to create more shareable content like infographics, for example.

 

  • Asking and Answering Questions – This is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Ask questions of your audience so that they can give their opinion and give your opinion about your expertise freely by answering their questions.

 

  • List Building – This is almost the most important part of content marketing. Use content marketing right by producing lots of opportunities within the content you publish to get your audience to move to your lists, such as in-content downloads, gated content, freebies, and more.

 

  • Getting to Know Your Audience – The more content you publish, the more opportunities you have to engage with and get to know your audience. If engagement is a goal, always ensure you include the right calls to action to ensure it happens.

 

When you understand that content does make sales but that it is not supposed to appear like a sales letter to your audience, then it is easier to understand the way content marketing works. Each piece of content needs a clear non-sales-oriented goal, as mentioned above, with clear steps for achieving the goal included. When you start understanding that content marketing is a long-term strategy for building your business, you’ll realize how powerful it really is.

Using Content to Draw in New Potential Customers

Using Content to Draw in New Potential Customers

One goal for content marketing is to continuously draw in new potential customers so that you can get on the radar of your target audience. With content marketing, you can help create a great first impression, remind existing customers of your offers, and delight them too. But first, you must draw them in. Let’s look at how to use content marketing to draw in new potential customers.

Publish Informational and Educational Blog Posts

A new potential customer is someone who may still be in the awareness stage of their research about their problems and the solutions offered. For this reason, use your blog to post educational and informational content that systemically teaches them about their problems and points them toward your solutions too.

Write Guest Posts

You can do the same thing with guest posting. Find out where your ideal audience hangs out and offer to contribute guest posts that are very targeted and relevant. Don’t pay for the privilege. You may even be able to find sites that will pay you instead. You are giving them something of value, and the value for you is the links back to your landing pages.

Encourage and Incentivize User-Generated Content

The content your users generate can also attract more search engine traffic. When users put a lot of content on your behalf – such as comments on blog posts, social media posts, or in your forum – that helps other people trust you more and makes search engines send more people to your information.

Curate Relevant Content

You can also use curated content to help get the attention of your ideal customers. When you create a one-stop-site for all the information about your niche directed toward your audience, it’s just a natural progression to mention relevant content and discussions happening and give your thoughts on it.

Solicit Expert Content

You can also ask people that you believe have something to offer your audience the opportunity to guest post on your blog. Allow them to directly sell their information through the blog post, and you’ll find more willing participants. If you’re an affiliate, you’ll earn from the effort, too, while also providing interesting content to your audience.

Incorporate Images That Make Your Audience Curious

Always include images in every post that help advance the meaning of the information you’ve shared with them. Also, if you include video, infographics that explain data, and other images into your content that look interesting and match your brand, you’ll cause them to be curious enough to click through.

It’s Okay to Entertain Your Audience Too

Don’t forget that the content you create for business awareness doesn’t have to be boring and uninteresting. You can use interactive quizzes and games as well to attract and inform your audience.

Trade Something of Value for Their Email

Remember that every single piece of content you create should also somehow move them to your list. You can accomplish this by offering gated content in addition to the initial content that brought them to your site so that you can move them to your list. The list is where you’ll encourage them to become customers.

Using content to draw in new potential customers is one of the ways that content marketing is most effective. You put the material in front of them, give them what they want essentially, and then they join you so that you can tell them about your offers and thus finally solve their problems.

Do You Have a Content Marketing Plan with Clearly Defined Goals?

Do You Have a Content Marketing Plan with Clearly Defined Goals?

Properly executed content marketing plans will increase your brand’s reach, demonstrate credibility, advance your subject matter expertise, educate your audience, and so much more. But only if you learn how to set clearly defined content marketing goals so that you can avoid busywork that slows productivity and tricks you into thinking your ideas are bad.

Define the Purpose for the Content

Some potential purposes for any content you create include earning more links to your site, ranking higher in the search engine results, educating your audience, driving social engagement, building your list, or something else.

Determine Where the Content Will Live

One thing you need to know when you define goals for content is, based on the purpose of the content, where will you place the content for maximum attraction and views.

Know the Format the Content Needs to Be In

When you know the purpose and where the content will live, then it’s easier to determine the format the content should initially appear in. For example, if you’re going to put the content on YouTube, it should, of course, be a video, but if you put content on your blog, it can still be a video along with a transcript of the video and so forth.

Define Exactly How You’ll Promote the Content You Publish

It helps to know the purpose of the content, where the content is going to live, and what format it is before you decide how to promote it. You’ll probably want to use a combination approach, but it does depend on who the content is for how you’re going to do things, and you can only know that if you have taken the time to set clear goals.

Use SMART Goal Setting Techniques

Anytime you need to set goals for anything, using the SMART goal setting techniques helps you create actionable goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. When you ensure that your goals cover those areas, you’ll also ensure that they are clearly defined so that you can easily follow them because the process creates clarity.

Transfer Your Goals to a Real Schedule

If you don’t schedule the work that you need to do in order to reach the goals you’ve set, then the goals aren’t really that clear. Put the information into a calendar, giving yourself enough time to get it done in a timely manner.

Like most things in life, if you create clearly defined goals, you’ll end up with much better results. Setting relevant goals for content marketing will ensure that you aren’t just creating content for the sake of creating content. That doesn’t work and will just frustrate you. Every single piece of content that you create must have a purpose, and you should define that purpose prior to even starting to develop it. When you do that, you will experience so much success.

What Platforms Should You Utilize in Your Content Marketing

What Platforms Should You Utilize in Your Content Marketing

When engaging in content marketing, one of the steps is to choose the platforms you’ll use to publish and promote your content so that you can reach your content marketing goals. Which platforms you should utilize will depend on the goal of the piece of content, where your customer is in their buying journey, where the customer likes to get their information and hang out, and other factors.

For most business owners, there are essentially three platforms that you need to be aware of using in your content marketing efforts. You’ll want to use all three, without exception: your website, your autoresponder, and your social media platforms. But there are also a lot of choices when it comes to each of these.

Your Website / Blog

Every single business owner, regardless of whether they are online or offline, needs to have a website with a blog. In fact, today, blogs are totally interchangeable with websites and should be thought of as the same. The term “blog” should be thought of as where you will place the informative and educational articles needed to bring awareness about your products and services to your ideal audience.

The content you put here will be designed to bring awareness to the problems and solutions that you are promoting for your ideal audience. It should be focused on informative, valuable, and educational content that helps the audience become aware of their problems and the solutions that you offer.

Pro tip: If you want to monetize your blog, you need to use your own domain instead of using free, ready to use websites. This is one of the things that you should invest in. You can register cheap domain names and hosting services at Namecheap.

Your Email Autoresponder

Content that you use in your email autoresponder, or even in one-time blasts to your list, is also an important aspect of effective content marketing. The platform you choose depends on your budget and the features that you need for the type of business you have. Always read the fine print because some platforms don’t allow you to do affiliate marketing, and some do.

This content is designed to inform and educate list members further on the information they desire, based on how and why they signed up to be on your list. For example, if you had inserted an in-content PDF file on your blog post about eating family dinner that required an email address to download, then you’d want to start marketing your products and services designed to solve their problem even more.

One of my favorite email autoresponders to use is Active Campaign because of it’s features. It took me some time before I was able to find which email marketing app I was comfortable using with and provided the best results for my clients. Active Campaign offers free trial. Check out Active Campaign here.

Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms like YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and so forth are great for promoting your content. You’ll want to choose at least the top three that you know for sure your audience uses. It’s always a good idea to set up a presence on any up and coming platform, but if you place your focus on just the top three, at least until you get a grasp on your process, it’ll be a lot easier.

The type of content you put on social media will be designed to promote the content on your site and landing pages so that you can drive traffic and convert buyers. You can also use content that is designed to help new buyers use their products or services more effectively and create delighted customers that become brand ambassadors.

Using these three platforms to publish and distribute the content you develop and create for your audience is an important part of effective content marketing that you shouldn’t skip out on – no matter what other people say. Email marketing is not dead, and neither is social media marketing or blogging. All are effective forms of content marketing that you need to utilize to succeed.

 

 

 

*This post contains affiliate links which may allow me to earn a few bucks to keep this blog going.