How to create blog posts that drive traffic (inc. free download)

How to create blog posts that drive traffic (inc. free download)

You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect blog post. You’re super proud of what you’ve written and can’t wait to share it with the world. You just know it’s going to be an epic blog post that will drive traffic and convert into paying customers.

You hit publish, share it across all your social channels and then remember you forgot to include a call to action, or you didn’t place it in the right category, and you’ve missed the tags –  D’oh!

Your masterpiece has fallen into the Ether and all you hear is Crickets!

How can you stop this from happening again? Read on my friend and I will show you (free downloads also available).

It’s all in the headline
Headlines carry so much weight when it comes to Search Engines. Have you researched to see what’s already out there and how you can make yours better and more appealing?

Think emotion – words that will capture the attention of the readers (and keep them reading).
Example: how to, tips, fast, easy – including these will entice the reader that you’re going to solve their problem.

There are lots of tools out there to help you. I use these 2 all the time

https://headlines.sharethrough.com/

https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer

Action: try it now with an existing post & see how you can improve

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What’s the purpose of the post? Think A.I.D.A

Are you trying to attract Attention to your post?
Is it all about generating Interest in your services/products?
Does it leave the reader with a Desire to know more?
Have you included a clear call to Action?

Example: Host a challenge (Attention), start a debate or discussion post (Interest), how-to guides (Desire), clear CTA post (Action)

Action: review your latest blog post – does it include any of the above? If not, how can you re-write it?

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Where does it belong?

You should make your content as easy to find for your reader as possible. Using categories and tags is a an ideal way of doing this, but think about the user experience. Is the category title logical? Is it relevant to the post? Have you used the right tags?

Action: take a look at the categories on your blog, do they make sense to the user?

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What’s the hook?

In your opening paragraph have you clearly laid out what the post is about? I follow the S.P.I.N method, which is actually a selling technique I was taught back in the day but it works great for the blogging world too.

Situation – what is the current situation the reader find themselves in? For example with this post it’s aimed at remembering everything you need before you hit publish and I’ve made that clear in the opening.

Problem – have you highlighted a common problem?

Implication – what does that mean to the reader? Do they recognise that problem themselves?

Need pay-off  – What do they need to resolve the problem?

Action: re-read your opening paragraphs – do they clearly layout the problem, the implications and how you can help them?

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“Pursue done, get pretty later” Amy Porterfield

Love this piece of advice from online marketing guru, Amy Porterfield. So many times I work with businesses that won’t publish unless it’s got all the spangly, sparkly bits in place. Yes of course it’s important to have the right (royalty free) images that match your content, but don’t hold off publishing it just because you can’t find the right picture. You can always go back and add it in later.

Some great resources for royalty free images are;

https://pixabay.com/

https://www.pexels.com/

Action: remember to add alt-tags to your images to help with SEO. Have you credited the source (if applicable)?

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Check SEO

Blogging, content creation and SEO all go hand in hand so you need to have even just a basic understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes.

Have you researched and used keywords throughout your post?

Action: Are the URLs short with your slug containing the keyword? Are meta tags present? (Check title, description, alt-tag for images, and keywords.)

  • Can the content be shared?
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That’s a lot to take in right? Worry not my friend, I’ve put together a handy, simple Blog Checklist that covers all of the above and more. You can download it here >>>> Blog Checklist

Of course, the world of blogging is ever evolving and there’s no way to teach all of this in a single blog post which is why I offer 1-2-1 blog coaching. If you’d like to know more just watch this short video where I explain all the benefits https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=WbpsYfKbmpM 

If you’d like more information or a free review of your existing blog, use the contact form below to get in touch[gravityform id=”1″ title=”true” description=”true”]

Part 2 – Is your business social media ready?

Part 2 – Is your business social media ready?

If you missed the first blog in this series, you can read it here – Is your business media ready?

So your social media profiles are all set up, and may have been running for a while but engagement is low and you’re not really seeing a return on the time you spend posting updates. So how can you make that tweet go further, increase the number of ‘likes’ and increase comments? This is not an exhaustive list by any means but it should help.

influencer marketingFind influencers
On any social media platform there are those known as ‘influencers’. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have a huge following (though that does help) but they may be able to leverage their brand influence to elevate you and your product / service. For example, as I’m writing this post about social media, my good friend Pamela Hopkinson from SMS may find it of use to her audience so when I tweet the blog post, I’ll tag Pam (@SMSUK_Ltd) and hopefully she’ll share it with her audience. Of course, it helps if you let someone know beforehand and ask if it’s OK! Remember to check that what they are tweeting is relevant in terms of content and also to your shared audience.

Instagram Comment Pods
Understanding the Instagram algorithm is like herding cats (excuse the pun!). Some posts can get hundreds of likes and comments and some can fall into the abyss. That’s where comment pods can really help. In short, a group of like-minded Instagram users create a group via direct message and everyone likes and comments on the images in that group. Each pod will have it’s own set of rules (i.e min/max word count on comments) and ‘code of conduct’ but they’re relatively easy to join. By having a shared interest and engagement, you buck the algorithm and increase engagement on your posts.

Hashtags
I love hashtags, I know – a bit sad but I’m not sure where we would be without them. How can I interact with people who are watching the same TV programmes as me? How else would I be able to find journalists on Twitter (#journorequest). Hashtags work on every social platform so go ahead, find them, use them – take complete advantage.

Facebook Groups
Facebook has given considerable time and energy into making groups a highly interactive platform. As these groups don’t fall into the general newsfeed unless you’re a member they’re a great way for leveraging your reach. If you have a blog that’s looking for more engagement, you can search a wide range of groups and select the one that seems a good fit for you. You can ask for advice, reviews, techy info – just about anything goes. You can join the Herding Cats Facebook Group here.

If you haven’t been in touch to claim a free review of your online presence, click here now!

The next blog in this series covers the various types of media that should be included in your online presence to make sure your business is media ready.

Part 1 – Is your business media ready?

Part 1 – Is your business media ready?

FREE REVIEW THROUGHOUT MARCH 2017 – CLICK HERE TO JOIN

When it comes to raising your profile in the media, one of the first things a journalist or editor will do is review your online presence and look at your website, latest blog posts and if you’re active across social media channels. This is also known as social proof. But it’s not enough to just have a presence, you need to be active and providing useful, valuable content to your audience. The first place to start is to take an evaluation of your current online presence – go ahead, Google yourself! It’s not as egotistical as it sounds, honest. Here’s the first page of results that show when I Google my name.

Catherine Yaffe Media presence The social media platforms that I’m active on show first, along with other content that has either been published by me or about me. If the local BBC radio station were looking for an expert in writing for the media then the previous posts I’ve written for The Guardian show up in the search results so any producer or editor can follow the links and have the social proof that I’m credible.

But I was an early adopter of social media, I joined Twitter back in 2008, and Linkedin shortly afterwards.

If I were starting today I would concentrate on 2 – 3 platforms that I can do well, as opposed to trying to be all things to everyone.

ACTION TO TAKE: Take a look at the channels you’re on, are they working for you? Do you need to scale up or down activity?

Just posting on these channels, especially if you automate them through Buffer or Hootsuite is not enough. You need to be posting content that’s useful and has a perceived value for your intended audience. Sharing content produced by others is fine, and actually recommended, as long as it’s relevant to your business or area of expertise.

ACTION TO TAKE: How often are you posting content? Is it consistent and engaging. Do you have regular exchanges between yourself and your audience? Are your tweets liked, retweeted and generating comments? If the answer is No then you need to rethink your strategy.

Quality over quantity is also a key factor. Just churning out posts that aren’t adding value won’t increase your followers or likes. There is an awful lot of noise out there and you have to find a way to break through and be heard. Try to locate a social media influencer (someone with A LOT of followers) and ask for retweets to their audience. Do any of your updates include a call to action? Do you give the reader something to do once they’ve read your post?

ACTION TO TAKE: Look at your last few updates and make a note of which posts had the most interaction. Look at Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics which should give you all the info you need.

How consistent is your bio or profile on each platform? Do you have a picture of yourself as well as your logo? I recently invested in some professional headshots so that whichever platform I’m on, it’s recognisable to the viewer. Take a look at some of mine (and my cheesy grin!) here;

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

If you’re feeling a bit out of depth with it all, then I’m on hand to help. Throughout March 2017 I’m working with businesses to help make sure their online presence is media ready – and it’s completely free of charge. Not only that, but I will create a step by step plan for you to work to. If you’re interested in finding out more click here to subscribe to the newsletter and I’ll be in touch to arrange a time and date to have a chat.

 

Building relationships with editors

Building relationships with editors

Read this post if: you’re curious about reaching out to editors and journalists. 

One of the most important aspects of pitching to editors is building a relationship with them. It’s much easier to connect with key editors and journalists via social media but there are a few definite no-no’s if you don’t want to go on their black-list!

  1. 1. Be persistent, but don’t stalk
    If you’re following on Twitter for example, it’s OK to comment on a link or question they’ve asked or an article they’ve tweeted. Retweet by all means, but not every single tweet, every day. Sounds like common sense right, but you’d be amazed how much it happens and it is so annoying!

2. Be persistent!
Yes, I know I’m repeating myself but this is if you’ve submitted an article and haven’t heard anything back. Editors are very busy people and as there’s less staff in the newsrooms, the chances are an editor is juggling a number of roles. It could be that they simply haven’t had time to review your piece.

3. Call them
That’s right, pick up the phone. Remind them that you’re there. It can often be easier to take a quick call and give a quick reply than waiting for that elusive email that may have got lost in the inbox.

4. Speak to the right person
Don’t waste time chasing down the wrong person. Make sure you have the right editor for the right section of the publication you’re pitching for. Again, a quick call to the editorial team will confirm this. If it’s a radio station you’re pitching to, approach the production team directly if possible.

5. Network with journalists
There are plenty of opportunities to network with journalists and editors. Remember that they are looking for stories too and events such as ‘Meet the Journalist’ are ideal for researching the right contacts. Don’t pitch anything, just ask for their contact details and what kind of stories they’re looking for.

6. Read & comment on their articles
If you write a blog then you know it can be a lonely place sometimes. Once you’ve identified a couple of journalists or editors you’d like to connect with find out if they have a blog. You could always ask them on Twitter, then make sure to go and like, share and comment on the article.

7. Take your time
Don’t jump straight in with a pitch. Get to know them a little first. Are they on Linkedin for example? Do you have any connections in common that can introduce you? You can always refer to this in your pitch at a later stage.

8. Don’t take the p**s
As and when you get your story accepted, stick to the deadline – submit earlier if you can. Consider the audience and who you’re writing for. DON’T submit a barely disguised promotional piece, it’s sure to get rejected and put in the ‘DNA’ (Do not accept) drawer i.e THE BIN!

9. Become their go-to expert
Every radio station, news outlet and TV station have a go-to expert that is tried and tested. This data is shared between various stations and channels so the possibilities are endless. Once you’re on friendly terms with your editor, ask if there’s any other area that you can help with. Suggest ideas if you feel it fits with their publication and doesn’t already exist.

10. Say Thank You
Simple and somewhat obvious but often overlooked. If you’ve had a piece accepted and published then follow it up with a thank you call or email. And whilst you’re there, suggest another article/feature – it’s perfect opportunity to build the relationship.

I hope these tips have helped you get clear on how to build and strengthen relationships with journalists and editors. If you liked this post and found it helpful you might also like download Top 10 Pitching Tips here.

Benefits of Guest Blogging

Benefits of Guest Blogging

Guest blogging was something that came on my radar a few years ago. The concept is simple, you write a blog for someone else, they publish it, both of you share it and promote the heck out of it over social media and you both benefit from lots of lovely inbound links, social shares and of course it promotes you as an expert in your field.

Over the years I’ve written guest posts for The Guardian, BDaily, FeMail, Culture Vultures to name just a few across a wide variety of subjects; social media tips, TV reviews, arts and exhibitions as well as getting to interview my favourite author Alison Weir for a local literature festival.

The social media tips that I wrote for The Guardian and Bdaily were hugely popular and were shared umpteen times across Twitter and Linkedin. They helped to elevate my position as a thought-leader in my  industry and went a long way to raising my personal profile. I managed to secure several speaking engagements as a result, which led to solid business.

But how do you approach these kinds of sites if you’re relatively new to the scene? Well, I did some digging around on their websites, found the relevant editor and approached them. Firstly I called to make sure I had the person and the right email address, then sent a brief note which outlined the intended article and asked if they would be interested. (We’ll go into this more in the How To Pitch To Editors post).

I knew I had useful, valuable information to share with their readers, who were also my ideal client. I worked on making sure all my social profiles had a consistent bio and recognisably branded. My website was up to date and relevant blog posts were written and published at least three times a week. This all helped to build my credibility so that when the editor searched for me online, they could see I knew my stuff.

Ultimately, you just have to bite the bullet and put yourself out there. Other businesses are out there doing it, so why not you?

Good luck, and let me know how you get on.

How to gain expert status in the media

How to gain expert status in the media

Do you want to be the one that the media calls for your opinion on something that’s happening in the news related to your industry? (See? Martin of Money Saving fame).

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a regular slot on ‘This Morning’ or similar? Imagine the awareness it would raise for you personally, and of course for your business. You could even, like Martin, sell your business for  millions to a huge conglomerate, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

How would you even start to build a reputation like that? Well, Money Saving Expert started life as a blog,

Write helpful blog content

A blog should never be self-serving. Don’t talk about how great you are, unless it relates to the story. Instead be helpful, be useful and keep people coming back for more. Make it clear what readers can expect as soon as they land on your page. It’s fine to share your views and experiences if it will generate comments and interaction – in fact, more so the better. Be consistent, blog regularly, ask people to sign up to receive the latest updates. Make it timely, if it can tie in with a national media story that’s ideal. Don’t expect overnight success but then don’t be afraid to put your blog out there. Make contact with local journalists on Twitter (search #journorequest) and tweet links to your blog. Don’t stalk, just keep providing useful content, which leads nicely into the next point.

Become a trusted source

Have you ever read a piece in the local press and a competitor of yours has been asked to comment. Have you thought “Why didn’t they ask me?” Did the journalist know how to find you? Are you hiding behind a PR firm and not making direct contact? Journalists have to uncover stories and one of the most common sources is blogs. Start off small with local journalists and become known to them as the ‘go-to’ person for views and feedback. Just make sure that when you do get coverage, you also get the credit!

Speak at events

This might be outside of the comfort zone of some people but it can boost your profile massively. Speak at local networking or industry events to start with and build your way up. You never who is in the audience and it could lead to bigger things. Public speaking isn’t about selling, it’s about sharing your knowledge and expertise on a particular subject. Have a holding slide in the background with your name and job title, as well as your social media profiles so people know where to find you.

Share connections

Attend networking events, either in your local area or specific to your industry. But don’t then just throw the business cards in a draw and forget about them. Devise some way of recording them and refer contacts to other contacts. By listening to what people are looking for you can spread your circle of influence infinitely and be able to build strong relationships that will enhance awareness of you, your business and your ideas.

Have you found this blog useful? I’d love to hear your thoughts and any other tips you may have over on our Facebook Page.

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