Tag Archives: Blog Promotion

220: What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters

What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters (and Answers to 4 FAQs About Email)

Do you email your blog readers regularly?

Maybe you put ‘set up email newsletter’ on your ‘someday’ list ages ago, but still haven’t done it.

Or maybe you have a newsletter list, but you haven’t sent one in months.

You might think it’s optional – something you can do once you’ve finished everything else on your to-do list.

You might even think email is dead (or at least old-fashioned), and that you’re better off building connections through social media. (Which is nothing new, by the way. I was talking about bloggers having similar concerns nine years ago.)

The truth is, email is still one of the best ways (if not the best way) to connect with your blog’s readers.

Email is a big part of my strategy on both of my blogs. It drives traffic, and helps us build our community, understand who’s reading our blog, and monetize both directly and indirectly.

If you’re not using it, you really are missing out.

  • But what do you email?
  • What is the content you include in your communications?

Email can be used in many ways, and you can sent a variety of email types. But today I want to talk about creating a regular email newsletter, which for me is the foundation of my email strategy.

A few of the most common questions I get about newsletters and email strategy:

  1. What tool should I use?
  2. What content should I put in my emails?
  3. What format should they be in – plain text, rich text, HTML?
  4. How frequently should I send emails?
  5. What other types of emails should I consider sending?
  6. How do I get more subscribers? (I’m not going to cover this today, but recommend you listen to episodes 68 and 69)

Links and Resources on What to Include in Your Email Newsletters:

Other Podcasts On Similar Topics:

Tools We’re Using: (These are affiliates and we get a small commission on purchases.)

  • Drip – the current email service provider for ProBlogger
  • ConvertKit – a tool we’re just starting to experiment with that looks very promising. Built from the ground up for bloggers.

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there and welcome to Episode 220 of the Problogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, a podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks, and soon to come some courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog and to make some money from it as well. You can learn more about Problogger at problogger.com.

And while I’m mentioning it, sign up for our newsletter, Problogger PLUS. You’ll see calls to action to do that wherever you go on problogger.com. That will keep you in the loop in terms of our new content, but also some of the new things we’ve got coming for 2018.

In today’s episode, I wanna talk about email. It’s a fairly introductory… I guess the frequently asked questions that I get about email, particularly what should you include in the emails that you send. I think most bloggers know that they should be sending some emails and collecting email addresses, but I regularly get asked the question, “What should I put in my emails?”

I wanna talk today about what we do with our newsletters, talk about some of the questions we get around whether you should use plain text or rich text or HTML, how frequently you should send, and other types of emails that you might wanna build into your sequence as well.

We’re talking all things email today. If you haven’t yet got a newsletter or an email list, today is gonna be good for you because we’ll also mention some tools that you might wanna use. And if you have got one but you haven’t been sending, this would be the perfect podcast for you, I hope.

Let’s get into it. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/220.

Do you email your blog readers regularly? Maybe you have had this on your ‘to do’ list, your ‘someday’ list, for a long time now. It’s amazing how many blogger I meet have got ‘Set up an email list’ or ‘Start sending emails’ as one of the items on their ‘one day’ list.

I wanna encourage you today, as we approach the end of 2017, move into a new year, to put this on your today list. I really wanna encourage you to make this an essential item, a big part of what you do in 2018, because as I look back over the years in my blogging, this is one of the most important things that I ever took action on, starting to send emails.

You might think email is dead or an old-fashioned medium and that you’d be better off building your connections through social media, which is certainly one way that you can build relationships with your readers and drive traffic to your blogs. The truth is, email is still one of the best, if not the best, way to connect with your blog readers.

Things are changing all the time in the space that we’re operating in. But email is not going away. It hasn’t gone away. It one day may go away but I can’t see it going away in 2018, 2019, 2020. Whilst all of these other options of communicating with your readers do come and go in terms of their effectiveness, email is still a very effective way to reach your readers.

And it’s a big part of the strategy on both of my blogs. It drives a lot of traffic every week. It helps us to build community. We use our email to direct people to some of the social media accounts that we’re building community on, to drive engagement. It helps us understand who is reading our blog because we can get feedback from those who subscribe. And it helps us to monetize the business as well, both in terms of selling our product but also directly monetizing the emails.

We actually sell advertising in some of the emails that we do, particularly on Digital Photography School. So it’s paying for itself, and is a profitable part of our business.

If you’re not doing email, please consider it, and make it a priority for 2018 in terms of starting that email list or making your email list more effective for you.

I do get a lot of questions about email. And I wanna cover some of the more common ones today because it can be used in a variety of ways. There’s no blueprint for how you should do it but I wanna explore some of the different methods that you can use to use in email.

Particularly, there are six questions that I wanna talk about today. In fact there’s five and I wanna give you some further listening for the sixth one.

The first question is, “What tool should I use?” I get it all the time. I wanna suggest to you a few tools that you might wanna consider.

Number two question is, “What content should I put in my emails? What are my options in terms of sending a newsletter?” particularly.

Number three, “What format should they be in?” Should you be sending plain text emails, rich text, HTML, pretty, designed emails.

Question number four, “How frequently should I send emails?”

Number five is what other types of emails should you send in addition to that newsletter that you do.

The sixth question, I’ve got some further listening for you, is how to get more subscribers for your list. I’m not gonna cover that specifically, but I do have some further listening which I’ll mention at the end of today’s show.

That’s where we’re headed today.

The first question, let’s get into it, what tool should you use. There are an amazing array of tools on the market today. When I started doing email, I think it was back in 2004, 2005, there weren’t really that many tools. But today there are so many. Every time I ask in our Facebook group what tools do you use, it’s amazing how many different tools are mentioned there. They come in all shapes and sizes, with different levels of features and different price points.

What I really encourage you to do is to pay for an email service. Don’t use a free one. Don’t send your newsletter from your Gmail account. It’s just gonna get you into trouble in terms of spammy practices, and it’s gonna hurt your deliverability. You do want to invest in an email service provider. It does cost, but if you use email right it should pay for itself through selling products, through selling affiliate products, through potentially even having advertisers in your email.

It’s not that expensive to start out. Most of the tools that are out there have free entry points, or they’ll give you trial for certain amount of subscribers and then they increase the price as you get more subscribers. You shouldn’t have to pay too much to get started.

This isn’t a time or place to compare all the different options out there. But what I will say is over the last 12 months we’ve looked at quite a few of the options at Problogger for our own use. For many years, I’ve been using AWeber as a tool. It is a solid option that I know many Problogger readers use. It’s been around for years, it’s reliable, it’s relatively affordable.

But over the last few years, we’ve increasingly come up against challenges that are starting to hold us back in terms of what we are trying to do with our email list. Some of the features aren’t quite there in comparison to some of the other tools out there. You can do a lot, but you kind of have to hack it together. It’s a little bit clumsy in terms of the way that it’s arranged. But it is a good solid tool if you just wanna send a newsletter every week and you don’t wanna get much more sophisticated than that.

We’ve decided to start looking around at some of the other options. It’s been years that I’ve been using AWeber. We’ve started to also notice a little bit of deliverability issues. That could be partly because of the size of our list, and because our list is quite old as well. We have a lot of people who signed up for that list in 2005, 2006 and so deliverability is kind of… there’s some issues there for us as well.

So when it came to looking at what we should switch our business to in terms of email, we considered a lot of different tools and we came down to two. There are two that I would recommend for you.

The two that I would encourage you to consider, and we’ve got links to these on our show notes, are Drip and ConvertKit. We’ll do an episode in 2018 with more detail on these tools and talk a little bit about the actual features of them, but we came down on Drip. We’ve decided to move to Drip. We’ve actually switched Problogger over to Drip in the last six months and it’s been amazing. We’ve loved using it. It’s very powerful. It enables us to do a lot more segmentation of our list and deliver different types of emails to different people to create different sorts of sequences of emails. It’s very powerful and it’s incredibly intuitive to use.

It is more expensive for us than AWeber but we’re already seeing, as a result of high deliverability and more powerful tools, that we’re going to be able to make our money back on that. And we will be moving Digital Photography School over to Drip next year. That’s a big task for us because we’ve got so many lists and so many subscribers there.

So Drip has been very good for us but ConvertKit, I would highly recommend that as well. It is a newer tool, perhaps it hasn’t matured as a platform quite as much as Drip, and not quite as advanced in some of the tools.

When we looked at the size of our list and some of the things we wanted to do, it wasn’t quite there, ConvertKit for us particularly when we made that decision ConvertKit, you couldn’t do HTML emails. That may be coming or it may have already come. You had to do plain text. I know for a lot of bloggers plain text is totally fine. We’ll actually talk about why plain text might be the best option for you anyway. But we came down on Drip.

If you are perhaps not wanting to do something quite as sophisticated as Drip and you want a tool that has been specifically designed for bloggers, ConvertKit is amazing. I would highly commend that company to you as well. Both of the companies are brilliant in terms of their customer service. Do have a look at both of them. If you wanna signup for them, I’d appreciate it if you’d do it through our links on the show notes because they are affiliate links and we do get a small commission on those things, help us to keep Problogger running. But even if you don’t, check them out. I do highly commend them to you. Both have a really good customer service as well, they’ve been very helpful for us.

They’re the two tools that I would use. I know others of you are using other tools. Most of the tools out there do have the same types of features. Again, if you haven’t set up a list yet, do pay for one. Don’t send your emails from your Gmail account. It’s just gonna get you into a lot of trouble.

Question number one was tools. Number two is “What content should I put in my emails?” And “How should I format them?”, I guess, is the third question as well. That’s where I wanna turn our attention to.

There are no rules for what you should send in a newsletter. There is one thing I would strongly encourage you to consider and that is to be consistent and to be regular, be consistent. Email subscribers are like blog readers, they like consistency. They quickly form expectations of what they’re gonna get from your list. They will signup and they’ll see your first email and they’ll see your second email. If they are similar to each other, they’ll expect your third email is gonna be like that.

If you are storytelling in your emails and then you suddenly switched to an opinion piece and then you suddenly switched to tips and then you suddenly switched to promotional stuff and you’re mixing things up constantly, some of your readers are gonna get frustrated with that. If you’re using different voices in your newsletter, they’ll begin to get a bit frustrated with that. We’ve actually found that our subscribers really like it when we do the same thing every week. I’ll tell you what we do in ours as well.

There’s a variety of things you can do in your newsletter but try to keep some consistency there in terms of how it looks, how it reads and I guess the benefits of it as well. They’re much more likely to stay subscribed and just stay engaged with your list, keep opening your list, keep looking for your emails if you have some consistency there in terms of what they get and also when they get it. Don’t stray too far from the normal, you can mix things up a little bit. Always try to keep some consistency there particularly in the way it looks, I think, is really important.

There’s a variety of things you can do with that newsletter. What I wanna do is just give you three different options, you could also probably do a combination of these things or something else as well, again consistency is the key. These are the three most common things that I see in newsletters doing. Each has their own strength. The first thing you could do is to write exclusive content especially for the newsletter list.

I see some bloggers doing this very effectively, they send a weekly or maybe every second week or even a monthly type of email. You open the email and it’s an article in the email. There’s actually a tip or there are some news or there’s a story in the email itself. You don’t have to click on it and anything to go and read the content, they actually put the content in the email. It’s something exclusive and valuable just for the subscribers. It’s almost like they’ve written an extra blog post that week just for the email.

There are lots of bloggers who do this. I’ve used the example of Nicole Avery who is one of our subject matter experts on Problogger, she has written a lot of articles for us. She’s got a blog called Planning with Kids and she does this in her newsletter. If you subscribed to it you’ll see that she’s essentially writing an extra article or blog post every week just for subscribers, you can’t get it anywhere else.

This approach works really well because it helps your subscribers to feel a little bit special, you’re giving them a reason to stay subscribed because they can’t get this valuable content anywhere else. Your emails have the value inside them. They actually begin to look for them and begin to expect them and they open them. They don’t say, “This is all just stuff in the blog.” This is something I can’t get anywhere else. They get into the habit of opening those emails. That’s a really powerful thing.

The downside of this approach is you have to write something extra every week. It is going to go to a smaller audience than potentially your blog. You write a blog article and it’s there for all time and it gets indexed by Google and it gets shared by social media for all time. It can get a lot more eyeballs on it. It feels like you’re doing a lot of work for less effort but the work that it’s doing with your subscribers can be very powerful because it can build a deep connection with them, it can make them very thankful for it and it gets them in the habit of looking for your emails because they know they cannot get it anywhere else.

That’s option number one, you create something exclusive for your newsletter list. The type two of what you could send in terms of a newsletter is where you send out your blog post by email. Essentially every time you publish a blog post, you send an email sending people to that blog post or you actually email the blog post itself. There’s a couple of different options within this one. This is something that’s possibly a little bit easier to do because you’re not writing extra content for your newsletter, you’re just promoting that content or you’re repurposing that content for your newsletter as well.

If you’re short on time, this is a good way to go. An example of this is Jon Morrow, Jon has a blog called Smart Blogger. He argues really strongly for this type of newsletter. If you sign up for his newsletter, you’ll get an email anytime he publishes a new blog post. The email generally has two or three paragraphs that introduce the topic and then links to where you can read it. Sometimes he might have the first paragraph or two of the blog post and then says further reading or read the rest here. Sometimes he will rewrite that introduction and give you a good reason to go and read that article.

He’s sending out these emails every time he does a new blog post. This works for Jon because he’s not publishing everyday. Sometimes, I think, he publishes two or three times a month. It’s less regular. He’s not interrupting his subscribers constantly. It’s probably not recommended if you publish everyday or several times a day. I think on Digital Photography School, our readers will get highly annoyed if we email them every time we did a blog post because we publish 14 a week.

This approach is good for those of you who are short on time. It’s all about delivering traffic to your blog. The emails themselves don’t deliver a lot of value in the email. It’s not as good in terms of getting people used to the idea of opening the emails because there’s that little voice in the back of their heads saying, “I could read this on the blog, I don’t need to read this email.” You’re giving them perhaps a little less reason to do it. If the content is valuable on your blog and you’re only doing one a month or one a week, it’s possibly something that will work for you.

Another approach that I have seen on this is where the blogger has actually put the whole blog post in the email. They might publish the blog post on their blog but then they’ll also send that whole blog post in an article format in the email itself. This is where you do build some value in the emails themselves. This means your subscriber doesn’t visit your blogs often but for some of us, that doesn’t matter.

If you’re monetizing your blog with advertises, you do wanna get them over to your blog. Teasing them with that first paragraph or two and then saying read the rest here, that’s definitely a good way to go. If you are just about trying to build credibility, authority, you’re trying to make your readers connected to you, then it probably doesn’t matter where they read your content. This is an option, if that is your goal, if you wanna monetize your blog less directly by selling a product to them, then you maybe just wanna deliver that content in the email itself. There’s a couple options there.

The last type of email that you might wanna send is what I do, that is where you do a digest type email. You might send a weekly or a monthly digest of what you’ve published in that last period on your blog, you might wanna send links to all of the new content you’ve published or just the highlights of what you published in that period of time. Generally, people are doing this weekly or monthly but you could do it any period as well, you could do it every second week.

If you’re publishing several posts a week like we do, you don’t wanna be emailing your readers every time a new post goes up or as people unsubscribe. This is really where you digest it all. Digital Photography School is a good example of this. Every Thursday, I sit down and I look at the 14 posts that were published over the last week and I arrange them into categories and then I plug them into a template that we have had designed for us, it’s an HTML template. It’s basically a digest of the week.

Basically if you open that email, I can put a screenshot in today’s show notes, sometimes we’ll put a little introduction of something that happened during the week or highlighting a promotion that we’ve got on. The email is essentially a list of our new posts. They’ll be 14 new posts there, we also have some messaging from advertises there if we’re promoting something of our own or have a promotion going, we will highlight that as well but it’s generally a digest of all the stuff that’s going on in the blog. Occasionally we’ll also link to our Facebook page or our Facebook group and promote the community that’s going on as well.

Problogger PLUS newsletter is similar although simpler, we only publish three posts a week usually on Problogger, one blog post, one podcast, and one Facebook live or video on Facebook. Our Problogger PLUS newsletter only got the three links. Occasionally, I’ll also highlight a post in our archives that I think is relevant still today. I usually would include an introduction in the Problogger one because I’m trying to build a connection with readers as well, I wanna give people an insight into what’s going on at Problogger headquarters or something that has been going on on the blog over the last week.

These digest type emails are good for those of you who do have a lot of content. They’re also really good if you are trying to drive traffic to your site, you wanna get people across to your site, you’re highlighting all the blog posts but you’re not annoying your readers if you’re publishing a lot of content.

Use an introduction, I would encourage you to do that as well because that’s where you can build a more personal connection with your readers as well.

Three different types of newsletters that you can do. The third question I wanna briefly cover is what format should they be in, I get this question all the time. Should you be sending your emails in plain text, rich text which I’ll explain in a moment, or HTML. On our blogs and if you get the Problogger PLUS newsletter, you’ll know it’s branded with Problogger, you’ll see the logo in it, it’s a fairly simple design but it is HTML. There’s a picture of me in it, there’s color, there’s the Problogger color, there’s the Problogger logo. This, hopefully, makes it a little bit more visually appealing but it also reinforces the brand and it personalizes it as well because it got my face in it.

We do the same thing with Digital Photography School as well, we have the DPS colors, we’ve arranged it into categories. Particular on DPS, it’s useful to go HTML because we got a lot of content in there, there’s 14 links, there are messages from our advertises as well. We wanna draw the eye to different paths of it as well. HTML is really good if you’ve got a lot going on in your emails as well.

That costs us, we actually had to pay to get those designs done, our developers did it so we pay them to do that. It does take a little bit of time to get our emails together each week, it’s not just a matter of sitting down and writing a few paragraphs. I actually have to sit there and plug it into the template to test all the design to make sure it’s all working. It’s a little bit more involved in terms of putting it together but I do think it reinforces our brand.

Plain text is another option. I see a lot of bloggers doing it. I think there are some really good reasons for just doing plain text emails as well. Firstly it’s cheaper, you don’t have to get anyone to design it, it’s quicker and easy to put together. Generally it takes me 45 minutes or so to put out newsletters together each week, a little less for Problogger. A plain text email would be a lot quicker than that, at least half that time not including whatever you’re writing. Sometimes the writing itself could take more. The plain text email would be a lot quicker.

Also, the deliverability of a plain text email could be better than an HTML one. We’ve certainly seen that when we do our promotional emails, when we promote with an HTML email, our deliverability suffers. We generally do our sales type emails in plain text. You might wanna test that, plain text versus HTML. Every time we’ve done a split test on that in terms of our sales emails, we see plain text winning.

The other option is what’s called rich text. This is where you use some formatting. You might use bold or italics or you make any links, you link a word rather than putting the full link. This makes your emails look a little bit neater, it means you can draw the eye, you’d bold to create headings. It can be more useful if you’ve got slightly longer emails as well to draw the eye down the page. They are your three main options.

I would encourage if you’re just starting out and you’re feeling challenged to buy it all and you’re tethering on the edge of should I get into email or not, start with plain text, it’s so much simpler to do. At least you’ll be sending something every week, you wanna get into the rhythm of sending that. You can always progress to HTML later. Start simple.

Fourth question, a really brief answer to this one is how frequent should I be sending the emails. Again there’s no right answer here except to say regularity is so important, your readers will get used to the rhythm that you choose so stick to it. Personally, I really like weekly emails because it becomes a part of people’s week, it also leaves enough space between the emails that you can also send them extra emails. I’ll talk about some of those in a moment. Also, they forget who you are. That’s the danger of going monthly, is that if you go monthly, some will not signup for your newsletter today.

They may not hear from you for 29 days if they sign up on the first of the month then you send your emails on the last of the month. That distance between emails, there’s a danger there that they don’t feel connected to you, that they forget they even subscribed to you. I like weekly because it is a little bit more regular than that and it keeps you in front of people at the top of their mind.

Ultimately, the frequency you choose really needs to depend upon one, how much time do you have. If you don’t have much time, less frequent is okay. The format that you’re trying to send emails in, if you’re doing HTML, it could take a little longer so it may be less frequent. If you’re doing plain text, it’s a little bit easy to do so it may be more frequent. What are you putting in your emails, are they long, are you writing exclusive content for them, then less frequent might be okay because one, it’s gonna take you longer to create those emails but two, it’s gonna take longer to read.

You don’t wanna be sending really long articles everyday to your readers because again they can’t consume that much content so less frequent might be okay if the content is a really deep content. I guess ultimately, what are your readers’ expectations and what’s their ability to consume the content as well. They’re some of the questions I would be asking. Again, I think weekly is probably a good starting point. You can always decrease or increase it slowly over time but don’t jump and change too much.

Fifth question, it’s really the last question, is what other types of emails should you consider sending as well? We send out our weekly newsletters but in between the weekly newsletters, some weeks, there’s another email. Sometimes there’s even two. There’s different types of emails that we add into the sequence of emails that we send.

Let’s go through the three types. Promotional emails, this is where we launch a new product or run a sale on an existing product or doing an affiliate promotion of some kind or a sponsored type of campaign as well. If you’ve got a sponsor, sometimes you might send an email out about that campaign or about that offer as well.

Emails, for us, result in most of our sales. This is a really important type of email for us but we don’t wanna go overboard with the promotional emails as well. If we promote something new every three days, our readers are gonna push back and they’re gonna get mad. We really try to be as careful as possible, we wanna be promoting enough that we are profitable but we don’t wanna promote so much that we lose subscribers. You’re gonna play this a little bit by ear.

One key for us is that we map out at the start of the year what promotions we’re gonna run over the next year. We are, at present, mapping out 2018, what ebooks and courses are we going to launch, which ones that we’ve already launched will we do relaunches of or promotions on, what seasonal promotions are we gonna do in 2018, are we gonna do Black Friday, are we gonna do a Christmas sale and what affiliate promotions are we gonna do. The beauty of mapping it out ahead of time is that you can space things out.

We typically run a promotion for a week or even two weeks. We know that during those times, we’re gonna be sending out multiple emails in addition to our newsletter. We wanna space those out, we don’t wanna run a promotion this week and then another promotion next week and then another promotion the week after. We wanna space them out, give our readers a bit of a break in between. That’s another type of email that you could build in.

An autoresponder sequence would be another option. This can be a really great way to bring your new subscribers up to speed with some of the other stuff that you’ve got in your archives. If someone subscribes to Digital Photography School today, they’ve missed out on over 7000 articles in our archives. What we’ve created is a sequence of emails that goes out automatically to anyone who subscribes to our newsletter. Every 30 or so days, they get an extra email. It’s time to go out on a Sunday, our newsletters always go out on Thursday, our promotional emails usually go out on a Tuesday.

We got this rhythm that you always will get a Thursday email newsletter. You’ll sometimes get a Tuesday promotional email, this is maybe one in three weeks and then one in four weeks you’ll get a Sunday email that is highlighting something in our archives. An autoresponder is where you setup that sequence of emails ahead of time. You just let it run to anyone new who subscribes up.

There is a whole episode of this podcast dedicated to autoresponders that I’ve done in Episode 70, I’ll link to that in the show notes but you might wanna also go back and listen to that. It’s a very powerful strategy to use because it’s a set and forget type of thing. You do it once, you setup that email once and then for all eternity or until you stop, I choose to stop sending that particular email, that email automatically go out to all new subscribers at the set intervals, a very powerful strategy.

The third type of email that you might wanna send as well is more of an interaction type of email. This is where you send out a question to your readers and encourage them to reply. This might seem a little bit crazy, you don’t want all your subscribers sending you emails but it’s a very powerful thing to do. For example you might send out a welcome email and then at the end of that welcome email say, “Please tell us about your experience with…” That is a very powerful thing because it signals to your subscribers that you’re interested in hearing from them.

That adds work to you because you’re gonna start getting more emails but it’s gonna give you incredible insight into your subscribers and it’s gonna make it realize that you are not just wanting to send them emails, you’re wanting to have a conversation with them.

Another option that may be a little less work is where you setup an email and it might be part of that autoresponder sequence that we just talked about where you send out an invitation to complete a survey. This is something that we do on Digital Photography School after you’ve been subscribed to our newsletter.

I think that’s three months, we have an email that goes out automatically on the autoresponder sequence. It says, “Could you take five minutes to do this survey?” The survey has questions about their demographics but also asks them questions about their photography and it gives them an opportunity to ask questions as well about photography that they’ve got which gives us ideas for content. These types of emails are not so much about driving traffic to your archives and are not designed to get sales. They’re designed to help you understand who your readers are and also to make them feel a little bit more connected to you.

Another option that you might wanna do is adding the occasional email that promotes your Facebook group, your Facebook page, your Instagram account, these type of places as well. Again, this is about engagement, trying to get a second point of connection with your subscribers. These are the three types of extra emails that you might wanna send, there would be others as well. If you’ve got any others that you send out, that you’ve built into your rhythm of sending emails, I’d love to hear about them over in the Facebook group.

The last question that I get asked all the time from people is how do I get more subscribers to my newsletter. I’m not gonna cover this today in this episode but I do recommend you go and listen to two episodes, Episode 68 and Episode 69. These are two different strategies for building your subscriber numbers of your newsletter. I think both of those would be well worth listening to once you finish this one in a couple of minutes.

The last thing I wanna say is to make it a priority, make email a priority for 2018. I’ve seen something, the two big problems I see amongst so many blogger are bloggers who don’t have email lists, that’s the number one problem, or they’ve signed up for a service and they aren’t collecting email addresses. The second big problem is bloggers who don’t send emails. I see this all the time, people who are collecting emails everyday, they’re getting new subscribers but they’re not sending emails.

If you fall into either of those categories, one, know that you’re not alone but two, know that I’m not satisfied until you get that thing fixed. I want you to make it a priority in 2018. I really have seen the way that email has transformed my business, it has really brought a lot of traffic and a lot of income and a lot of connection with our readers as well over the years. It is a central part of what we do. Put some priorities into that. Even if you’ve got an email list and you’re still listening, make it a priority to take a critical look at what you’re doing with your email.

Do you need to change up your newsletter? Do you need to start an autoresponder sequence? Do you need to think about the design of your email? Do you need to test the format, plain text versus HTML? Do you need to do some testing in terms of the subject lines that you use? Do you need to consider upgrading your email service provider? I highly encourage you to take a critical look on some of that type of stuff.

The last thing I’ll say is if you haven’t started, start simple even if you just send a monthly plain text email once a month, a plain text email with three paragraphs that simply links to a recent post that did well for you. That is better than nothing. Don’t let the tools, don’t let the formatting, don’t let the link, don’t let the content itself hold you back, send something. Make it valuable, it doesn’t need to be long, it doesn’t need to be profound, just make it deliver a little bit of value to your subscribers and they will keep looking for your emails and it will begin to build some momentum for you.

I can’t wait to see what happens as a result of this. Remember to start simple and then let it evolve from there. You can always get more complicated with your emails but you really need to make a start on it.

Today’s show notes where there are links to Drip and ConvertKit and there’s a bit of a summary through a transcript of all the things that I’ve said and some further reading for you as well, further listening. You can find that all over at problogger.com/podcast/220. It’s the end of the year and I do wanna add my season’s greetings to those of who are celebrating at the moment and those of you who are listening in the New Year. I hope it’s been a good year for you.

We are moving now into a bit of a series of podcasts where you’re going to hear some other voices. I’m gonna introduce them but as I said in last week’s podcast, we wanted to hear some of your stories and we’ve had some amazing stories submitted. I’m really looking forward to introducing them to you in the coming weeks over at the end of the year and as we move into next year where we’re gonna start a series of content on starting a blog. I really am looking forward to that.

Those of you who haven’t started a blog yet, this is gonna be a great time for you. Those of you who wanna start a second blog, this is a great time for you to do that as well because we’re gonna give you some great content that’s gonna help you to do that, it’s free. We’re also going to help to celebrate some of those new blogs that have started. Make January a time of starting a new blog. I look forward to introducing that whole concept to you more next week on the ProBlogger podcast.

If you are looking for something else to listen to, I do recommend you go back and listen to Episode 68, 69, and 70. 68 and 69 are about how to get more subscribers for that email list that we’ve just been talking about and Episode 70 was all about auto responders. You should be able to find them all over in iTunes where I hope you’re all subscribed and have left some nice reviews for us or over on the show notes areas at problogger.com/podcast and then you just put the number, 68 or 69 or 70. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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220: What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters

What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters (and Answers to 4 FAQs About Email)

Do you email your blog readers regularly?

Maybe you put ‘set up email newsletter’ on your ‘someday’ list ages ago, but still haven’t done it.

Or maybe you have a newsletter list, but you haven’t sent one in months.

You might think it’s optional – something you can do once you’ve finished everything else on your to-do list.

You might even think email is dead (or at least old-fashioned), and that you’re better off building connections through social media. (Which is nothing new, by the way. I was talking about bloggers having similar concerns nine years ago.)

The truth is, email is still one of the best ways (if not the best way) to connect with your blog’s readers.

Email is a big part of my strategy on both of my blogs. It drives traffic, and helps us build our community, understand who’s reading our blog, and monetize both directly and indirectly.

If you’re not using it, you really are missing out.

  • But what do you email?
  • What is the content you include in your communications?

Email can be used in many ways, and you can sent a variety of email types. But today I want to talk about creating a regular email newsletter, which for me is the foundation of my email strategy.

A few of the most common questions I get about newsletters and email strategy:

  1. What tool should I use?
  2. What content should I put in my emails?
  3. What format should they be in – plain text, rich text, HTML?
  4. How frequently should I send emails?
  5. What other types of emails should I consider sending?
  6. How do I get more subscribers? (I’m not going to cover this today, but recommend you listen to episodes 68 and 69)

Links and Resources on What to Include in Your Email Newsletters:

Other Podcasts On Similar Topics:

Tools We’re Using: (These are affiliates and we get a small commission on purchases.)

  • Drip – the current email service provider for ProBlogger
  • ConvertKit – a tool we’re just starting to experiment with that looks very promising. Built from the ground up for bloggers.

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there and welcome to Episode 220 of the Problogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, a podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks, and soon to come some courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog and to make some money from it as well. You can learn more about Problogger at problogger.com.

And while I’m mentioning it, sign up for our newsletter, Problogger PLUS. You’ll see calls to action to do that wherever you go on problogger.com. That will keep you in the loop in terms of our new content, but also some of the new things we’ve got coming for 2018.

In today’s episode, I wanna talk about email. It’s a fairly introductory… I guess the frequently asked questions that I get about email, particularly what should you include in the emails that you send. I think most bloggers know that they should be sending some emails and collecting email addresses, but I regularly get asked the question, “What should I put in my emails?”

I wanna talk today about what we do with our newsletters, talk about some of the questions we get around whether you should use plain text or rich text or HTML, how frequently you should send, and other types of emails that you might wanna build into your sequence as well.

We’re talking all things email today. If you haven’t yet got a newsletter or an email list, today is gonna be good for you because we’ll also mention some tools that you might wanna use. And if you have got one but you haven’t been sending, this would be the perfect podcast for you, I hope.

Let’s get into it. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/220.

Do you email your blog readers regularly? Maybe you have had this on your ‘to do’ list, your ‘someday’ list, for a long time now. It’s amazing how many blogger I meet have got ‘Set up an email list’ or ‘Start sending emails’ as one of the items on their ‘one day’ list.

I wanna encourage you today, as we approach the end of 2017, move into a new year, to put this on your today list. I really wanna encourage you to make this an essential item, a big part of what you do in 2018, because as I look back over the years in my blogging, this is one of the most important things that I ever took action on, starting to send emails.

You might think email is dead or an old-fashioned medium and that you’d be better off building your connections through social media, which is certainly one way that you can build relationships with your readers and drive traffic to your blogs. The truth is, email is still one of the best, if not the best, way to connect with your blog readers.

Things are changing all the time in the space that we’re operating in. But email is not going away. It hasn’t gone away. It one day may go away but I can’t see it going away in 2018, 2019, 2020. Whilst all of these other options of communicating with your readers do come and go in terms of their effectiveness, email is still a very effective way to reach your readers.

And it’s a big part of the strategy on both of my blogs. It drives a lot of traffic every week. It helps us to build community. We use our email to direct people to some of the social media accounts that we’re building community on, to drive engagement. It helps us understand who is reading our blog because we can get feedback from those who subscribe. And it helps us to monetize the business as well, both in terms of selling our product but also directly monetizing the emails.

We actually sell advertising in some of the emails that we do, particularly on Digital Photography School. So it’s paying for itself, and is a profitable part of our business.

If you’re not doing email, please consider it, and make it a priority for 2018 in terms of starting that email list or making your email list more effective for you.

I do get a lot of questions about email. And I wanna cover some of the more common ones today because it can be used in a variety of ways. There’s no blueprint for how you should do it but I wanna explore some of the different methods that you can use to use in email.

Particularly, there are six questions that I wanna talk about today. In fact there’s five and I wanna give you some further listening for the sixth one.

The first question is, “What tool should I use?” I get it all the time. I wanna suggest to you a few tools that you might wanna consider.

Number two question is, “What content should I put in my emails? What are my options in terms of sending a newsletter?” particularly.

Number three, “What format should they be in?” Should you be sending plain text emails, rich text, HTML, pretty, designed emails.

Question number four, “How frequently should I send emails?”

Number five is what other types of emails should you send in addition to that newsletter that you do.

The sixth question, I’ve got some further listening for you, is how to get more subscribers for your list. I’m not gonna cover that specifically, but I do have some further listening which I’ll mention at the end of today’s show.

That’s where we’re headed today.

The first question, let’s get into it, what tool should you use. There are an amazing array of tools on the market today. When I started doing email, I think it was back in 2004, 2005, there weren’t really that many tools. But today there are so many. Every time I ask in our Facebook group what tools do you use, it’s amazing how many different tools are mentioned there. They come in all shapes and sizes, with different levels of features and different price points.

What I really encourage you to do is to pay for an email service. Don’t use a free one. Don’t send your newsletter from your Gmail account. It’s just gonna get you into trouble in terms of spammy practices, and it’s gonna hurt your deliverability. You do want to invest in an email service provider. It does cost, but if you use email right it should pay for itself through selling products, through selling affiliate products, through potentially even having advertisers in your email.

It’s not that expensive to start out. Most of the tools that are out there have free entry points, or they’ll give you trial for certain amount of subscribers and then they increase the price as you get more subscribers. You shouldn’t have to pay too much to get started.

This isn’t a time or place to compare all the different options out there. But what I will say is over the last 12 months we’ve looked at quite a few of the options at Problogger for our own use. For many years, I’ve been using AWeber as a tool. It is a solid option that I know many Problogger readers use. It’s been around for years, it’s reliable, it’s relatively affordable.

But over the last few years, we’ve increasingly come up against challenges that are starting to hold us back in terms of what we are trying to do with our email list. Some of the features aren’t quite there in comparison to some of the other tools out there. You can do a lot, but you kind of have to hack it together. It’s a little bit clumsy in terms of the way that it’s arranged. But it is a good solid tool if you just wanna send a newsletter every week and you don’t wanna get much more sophisticated than that.

We’ve decided to start looking around at some of the other options. It’s been years that I’ve been using AWeber. We’ve started to also notice a little bit of deliverability issues. That could be partly because of the size of our list, and because our list is quite old as well. We have a lot of people who signed up for that list in 2005, 2006 and so deliverability is kind of… there’s some issues there for us as well.

So when it came to looking at what we should switch our business to in terms of email, we considered a lot of different tools and we came down to two. There are two that I would recommend for you.

The two that I would encourage you to consider, and we’ve got links to these on our show notes, are Drip and ConvertKit. We’ll do an episode in 2018 with more detail on these tools and talk a little bit about the actual features of them, but we came down on Drip. We’ve decided to move to Drip. We’ve actually switched Problogger over to Drip in the last six months and it’s been amazing. We’ve loved using it. It’s very powerful. It enables us to do a lot more segmentation of our list and deliver different types of emails to different people to create different sorts of sequences of emails. It’s very powerful and it’s incredibly intuitive to use.

It is more expensive for us than AWeber but we’re already seeing, as a result of high deliverability and more powerful tools, that we’re going to be able to make our money back on that. And we will be moving Digital Photography School over to Drip next year. That’s a big task for us because we’ve got so many lists and so many subscribers there.

So Drip has been very good for us but ConvertKit, I would highly recommend that as well. It is a newer tool, perhaps it hasn’t matured as a platform quite as much as Drip, and not quite as advanced in some of the tools.

When we looked at the size of our list and some of the things we wanted to do, it wasn’t quite there, ConvertKit for us particularly when we made that decision ConvertKit, you couldn’t do HTML emails. That may be coming or it may have already come. You had to do plain text. I know for a lot of bloggers plain text is totally fine. We’ll actually talk about why plain text might be the best option for you anyway. But we came down on Drip.

If you are perhaps not wanting to do something quite as sophisticated as Drip and you want a tool that has been specifically designed for bloggers, ConvertKit is amazing. I would highly commend that company to you as well. Both of the companies are brilliant in terms of their customer service. Do have a look at both of them. If you wanna signup for them, I’d appreciate it if you’d do it through our links on the show notes because they are affiliate links and we do get a small commission on those things, help us to keep Problogger running. But even if you don’t, check them out. I do highly commend them to you. Both have a really good customer service as well, they’ve been very helpful for us.

They’re the two tools that I would use. I know others of you are using other tools. Most of the tools out there do have the same types of features. Again, if you haven’t set up a list yet, do pay for one. Don’t send your emails from your Gmail account. It’s just gonna get you into a lot of trouble.

Question number one was tools. Number two is “What content should I put in my emails?” And “How should I format them?”, I guess, is the third question as well. That’s where I wanna turn our attention to.

There are no rules for what you should send in a newsletter. There is one thing I would strongly encourage you to consider and that is to be consistent and to be regular. Be consistent. Email subscribers are like blog readers – they like consistency. They quickly form expectations of what they’re gonna get from your list. They will sign up and they’ll see your first email, and they’ll see your second email. If they are similar to each other, they’ll expect your third email is gonna be like that.

If you are storytelling in your emails and then you suddenly switched to an opinion piece and then you suddenly switched to tips and then you suddenly switched to promotional stuff and you’re mixing things up constantly, some of your readers are gonna get frustrated with that. If you’re using different voices in your newsletter, they’ll begin to get a bit frustrated with that. We’ve actually found that our subscribers really like it when we do the same thing every week. I’ll tell you what we do in ours as well.

There’s a variety of things you can do in your newsletter. But try to keep some consistency there in terms of how it looks, how it reads and I guess the benefits of it as well. They’re much more likely to stay subscribed and just stay engaged with your list, keep opening your list, keep looking for your emails if you have some consistency there in terms of what they get and also when they get it. Don’t stray too far from the normal – you can mix things up a little bit. Always try to keep some consistency there, particularly in the way it looks, I think, is really important.

There’s a variety of things you can do with that newsletter. What I wanna do is just give you three different options. You could also probably do a combination of these things or something else as well. Again consistency is the key.

These are the three most common things that I see in newsletters doing. Each has their own strength.

The first thing you could do is to write exclusive content especially for the newsletter list.

I see some bloggers doing this very effectively. They send a weekly or maybe every second week or even a monthly type of email. You open the email and it’s an article in the email. There’s actually a tip, or there are some news, or there’s a story in the email itself. You don’t have to click on it or anything to go and read the content. They actually put the content in the email. It’s something exclusive and valuable just for the subscribers. It’s almost like they’ve written an extra blog post that week just for the email.

There are lots of bloggers who do this. I’ve used the example of Nicole Avery, who is one of our subject matter experts on Problogger. She has written a lot of articles for us. She’s got a blog called Planning with Kids, and she does this in her newsletter. If you subscribed to it you’ll see that she’s essentially writing an extra article or blog post every week just for subscribers you can’t get it anywhere else.

This approach works really well because it helps your subscribers to feel a little bit special. You’re giving them a reason to stay subscribed because they can’t get this valuable content anywhere else. Your emails have the value inside them. They actually begin to look for them and begin to expect them and they open them. They don’t say, “This is all just stuff in the blog.” This is something I can’t get anywhere else. They get into the habit of opening those emails. That’s a really powerful thing.

The downside of this approach is you have to write something extra every week. It is going to go to a smaller audience than potentially your blog. You write a blog article and it’s there for all time and it gets indexed by Google and it gets shared by social media for all time. It can get a lot more eyeballs on it. It feels like you’re doing a lot of work for less effort. But the work that it’s doing with your subscribers can be very powerful because it can build a deep connection with them. It can make them very thankful for it, and it gets them in the habit of looking for your emails because they know they cannot get it anywhere else.

That’s option number one, you create something exclusive for your newsletter list. The type two of what you could send in terms of a newsletter is where you send out your blog post by email. Essentially every time you publish a blog post, you send an email sending people to that blog post or you actually email the blog post itself. There’s a couple of different options within this one. This is something that’s possibly a little bit easier to do because you’re not writing extra content for your newsletter, you’re just promoting that content, or you’re repurposing that content for your newsletter as well.

If you’re short on time, this is a good way to go. An example of this is Jon Morrow, Jon has a blog called Smart Blogger. He argues really strongly for this type of newsletter. If you sign up for his newsletter, you’ll get an email anytime he publishes a new blog post. The email generally has two or three paragraphs that introduce the topic and then links to where you can read it. Sometimes he might have the first paragraph or two of the blog post and then says further reading or read the rest here. Sometimes he will rewrite that introduction and give you a good reason to go and read that article.

He’s sending out these emails every time he does a new blog post. This works for Jon because he’s not publishing every day. Sometimes, I think, he publishes two or three times a month. It’s less regular. He’s not interrupting his subscribers constantly. It’s probably not recommended if you publish every day or several times a day. I think on Digital Photography School, our readers will get highly annoyed if we email them every time we did a blog post because we publish 14 a week.

This approach is good for those of you who are short on time. It’s all about delivering traffic to your blog. The emails themselves don’t deliver a lot of value in the email. It’s not as good in terms of getting people used to the idea of opening the emails because there’s that little voice in the back of their heads saying, “I could read this on the blog, I don’t need to read this email.” You’re giving them perhaps a little less reason to do it. If the content is valuable on your blog and you’re only doing one a month or one a week, it’s possibly something that will work for you.

Another approach that I have seen on this is where the blogger has actually put the whole blog post in the email. They might publish the blog post on their blog but then they’ll also send that whole blog post in an article format in the email itself. This is where you do build some value in the emails themselves. This means your subscriber doesn’t visit your blogs often but for some of us, that doesn’t matter.

If you’re monetizing your blog with advertises, you do wanna get them over to your blog. Teasing them with that first paragraph or two and then saying read the rest here, that’s definitely a good way to go. If you are just about trying to build credibility, authority, you’re trying to make your readers connected to you, then it probably doesn’t matter where they read your content. This is an option if that is your goal, if you wanna monetize your blog less directly by selling a product to them, then you maybe just wanna deliver that content in the email itself. There’s a couple options there.

The last type of email that you might wanna send is what I do, that is where you do a digest type email. You might send a weekly or a monthly digest of what you’ve published in that last period on your blog, you might wanna send links to all of the new content you’ve published or just the highlights of what you published in that period of time. Generally, people are doing this weekly or monthly but you could do it any period as well, you could do it every second week.

If you’re publishing several posts a week like we do, you don’t wanna be emailing your readers every time a new post goes up or as people unsubscribe. This is really where you digest it all. Digital Photography School is a good example of this. Every Thursday, I sit down and I look at the 14 posts that were published over the last week and I arrange them into categories. And then I plug them into a template that we have had designed for us. It’s an HTML template. It’s basically a digest of the week.

Basically if you open that email, I can put a screenshot in today’s show notes, sometimes we’ll put a little introduction of something that happened during the week or highlighting a promotion that we’ve got on. The email is essentially a list of our new posts. They’ll be 14 new posts there, we also have some messaging from advertises there if we’re promoting something of our own or have a promotion going, we will highlight that as well. But it’s generally a digest of all the stuff that’s going on in the blog. Occasionally we’ll also link to our Facebook page or our Facebook group and promote the community that’s going on as well.

Problogger PLUS newsletter is similar although simpler. We only publish three posts a week usually on Problogger – one blog post, one podcast, and one Facebook live or video on Facebook. Our Problogger PLUS newsletter has only got the three links. Occasionally, I’ll also highlight a post in our archives that I think is relevant still today. I usually would include an introduction in the Problogger one because I’m trying to build a connection with readers as well. I wanna give people an insight into what’s going on at Problogger headquarters, or something that has been going on on the blog over the last week.

These digest type emails are good for those of you who do have a lot of content. They’re also really good if you are trying to drive traffic to your site, you wanna get people across to your site, you’re highlighting all the blog posts but you’re not annoying your readers if you’re publishing a lot of content.

Use an introduction. I would encourage you to do that as well because that’s where you can build a more personal connection with your readers as well.

Three different types of newsletters that you can do.

The third question I wanna briefly cover is what format should they be in, I get this question all the time. Should you be sending your emails in plain text, rich text (which I’ll explain in a moment), or HTML. On our blogs, and if you get the Problogger PLUS newsletter, you’ll know it’s branded with Problogger, you’ll see the logo in it. It’s a fairly simple design, but it is HTML. There’s a picture of me in it, there’s color, there’s the Problogger color, there’s the Problogger logo. This hopefully makes it a little bit more visually appealing, but it also reinforces the brand and it personalizes it as well because it’s got my face in it.

We do the same thing with Digital Photography School as well. We have the DPS colors. We’ve arranged it into categories. Particular on DPS, it’s useful to go HTML because we got a lot of content in there. There’s 14 links, there are messages from our advertises as well. We wanna draw the eye to different paths of it as well. HTML is really good if you’ve got a lot going on in your emails as well.

That costs us, we actually had to pay to get those designs done, our developers did it so we pay them to do that. It does take a little bit of time to get our emails together each week, it’s not just a matter of sitting down and writing a few paragraphs. I actually have to sit there and plug it into the template to test all the design to make sure it’s all working. It’s a little bit more involved in terms of putting it together. But I do think it reinforces our brand.

Plain text is another option. I see a lot of bloggers doing it. I think there are some really good reasons for just doing plain text emails as well. Firstly it’s cheaper. You don’t have to get anyone to design it. It’s quicker and easy to put together. Generally it takes me 45 minutes or so to put our newsletters together each week, a little less for ProBlogger. A plain text email would be a lot quicker than that – at least half that time not including whatever you’re writing. Sometimes the writing itself could take more. The plain text email would be a lot quicker.

Also, the deliverability of a plain text email could be better than an HTML one. We’ve certainly seen that when we do our promotional emails. When we promote with an HTML email, our deliverability suffers. We generally do our sales type emails in plain text. You might wanna test that – plain text versus HTML. Every time we’ve done a split test on that in terms of our sales emails, we see plain text winning.

The other option is what’s called rich text. This is where you use some formatting. You might use bold or italics or you make any links, you link a word rather than putting the full link. This makes your emails look a little bit neater. It means you can draw the eye, you’d bold to create headings. It can be more useful if you’ve got slightly longer emails as well to draw the eye down the page. They are your three main options.

I would encourage if you’re just starting out and you’re feeling challenged to buy it all and you’re tethering on the edge of should I get into email or not, start with plain text, it’s so much simpler to do. At least you’ll be sending something every week, you wanna get into the rhythm of sending that. You can always progress to HTML later. Start simple.

Fourth question, a really brief answer to this one is how frequent should I be sending the emails. Again there’s no right answer here except to say regularity is so important. Your readers will get used to the rhythm that you choose so stick to it. Personally, I really like weekly emails because it becomes a part of people’s week. It also leaves enough space between the emails that you can also send them extra emails. I’ll talk about some of those in a moment.

Also, they forget who you are. That’s the danger of going monthly, is that if you go monthly, some will not signup for your newsletter today. They may not hear from you for 29 days if they sign up on the first of the month. Then you send your emails on the last of the month. That distance between emails, there’s a danger there that they don’t feel connected to you, that they’ll forget they even subscribed to you. I like weekly because it is a little bit more regular than that, and it keeps you in front of people at the top of their mind.

Ultimately, the frequency you choose really needs to depend upon one, how much time do you have? If you don’t have much time, less frequent is okay. The format that you’re trying to send emails in, if you’re doing HTML, it could take a little longer so it may be less frequent. If you’re doing plain text, it’s a little bit easy to do so it may be more frequent. What are you putting in your emails? Are they long, are you writing exclusive content for them, then less frequent might be okay because one, it’s gonna take you longer to create those emails but two, it’s gonna take longer to read.

You don’t wanna be sending really long articles every day to your readers because again they can’t consume that much content. So less frequent might be okay if the content is a really deep content. I guess ultimately, what are your readers’ expectations and what’s their ability to consume the content as well. They’re some of the questions I would be asking. Again, I think weekly is probably a good starting point. You can always decrease or increase it slowly over time, but don’t jump and change too much.

Fifth question, it’s really the last question, is what other types of emails should you consider sending as well? We send out our weekly newsletters but in between the weekly newsletters, some weeks, there’s another email. Sometimes there’s even two. There’s different types of emails that we add into the sequence of emails that we send.

Let’s go through the three types. Promotional emails, this is where we launch a new product, or run a sale on an existing product, or doing an affiliate promotion of some kind or a sponsored type of campaign as well. If you’ve got a sponsor, sometimes you might send an email out about that campaign or about that offer as well.

Emails, for us, result in most of our sales. This is a really important type of email for us, but we don’t wanna go overboard with the promotional emails as well. If we promote something new every three days, our readers are gonna push back and they’re gonna get mad. We really try to be as careful as possible. We wanna be promoting enough that we are profitable, but we don’t wanna promote so much that we lose subscribers. You’re gonna play this a little bit by ear.

One key for us is that we map out at the start of the year what promotions we’re gonna run over the next year. We are, at present, mapping out 2018, what ebooks and courses are we going to launch, which ones that we’ve already launched will we do relaunches of or promotions on, what seasonal promotions are we gonna do in 2018, are we gonna do Black Friday, are we gonna do a Christmas sale and what affiliate promotions are we gonna do. The beauty of mapping it out ahead of time is that you can space things out.

We typically run a promotion for a week or even two weeks. We know that during those times, we’re gonna be sending out multiple emails in addition to our newsletter. We wanna space those out, we don’t wanna run a promotion this week and then another promotion next week and then another promotion the week after. We wanna space them out, give our readers a bit of a break in between. That’s another type of email that you could build in.

An autoresponder sequence would be another option. This can be a really great way to bring your new subscribers up to speed with some of the other stuff that you’ve got in your archives. If someone subscribes to Digital Photography School today, they’ve missed out on over 7000 articles in our archives. What we’ve created is a sequence of emails that goes out automatically to anyone who subscribes to our newsletter. Every 30 or so days, they get an extra email. It’s timed to go out on a Sunday. Our newsletters always go out on Thursday. Our promotional emails usually go out on a Tuesday.

We got this rhythm that you always will get a Thursday email newsletter. You’ll sometimes get a Tuesday promotional email, this is maybe one in three weeks and then one in four weeks you’ll get a Sunday email that is highlighting something in our archives. An autoresponder is where you setup that sequence of emails ahead of time. You just let it run to anyone new who subscribes up.

There is a whole episode of this podcast dedicated to autoresponders that I’ve done in Episode 70. I’ll link to that in the show notes, but you might wanna also go back and listen to that. It’s a very powerful strategy to use because it’s a set-and-forget type of thing. You do it once, you set up that email once and then for all eternity or until you stop, I choose to stop sending that particular email, that email automatically go out to all new subscribers at the set intervals, a very powerful strategy.

The third type of email that you might wanna send as well is more of an interaction type of email. This is where you send out a question to your readers and encourage them to reply. This might seem a little bit crazy, you don’t want all your subscribers sending you emails, but it’s a very powerful thing to do. For example you might send out a welcome email and then at the end of that welcome email say, “Please tell us about your experience with…” That is a very powerful thing because it signals to your subscribers that you’re interested in hearing from them.

That adds work to you because you’re gonna start getting more emails but it’s gonna give you incredible insight into your subscribers and it’s gonna make them realize that you are not just wanting to send them emails, you’re wanting to have a conversation with them.

Another option that may be a little less work is where you set up an email and it might be part of that autoresponder sequence that we just talked about where you send out an invitation to complete a survey. This is something that we do on Digital Photography School after you’ve been subscribed to our newsletter.

I think that’s three months We have an email that goes out automatically on the autoresponder sequence. It says, “Could you take five minutes to do this survey?” The survey has questions about their demographics, but also asks them questions about their photography and it gives them an opportunity to ask questions as well about photography that they’ve got, which gives us ideas for content.

These types of emails are not so much about driving traffic to your archives and are not designed to get sales. They’re designed to help you understand who your readers are and also to make them feel a little bit more connected to you.

Another option that you might wanna do is adding the occasional email that promotes your Facebook group, your Facebook page, your Instagram account, these type of places as well. Again, this is about engagement – trying to get a second point of connection with your subscribers. These are the three types of extra emails that you might wanna send. There would be others as well. If you’ve got any others that you send out, that you’ve built into your rhythm of sending emails, I’d love to hear about them over in the Facebook group.

The last question that I get asked all the time from people is, “How do I get more subscribers to my newsletter?” I’m not gonna cover this today in this episode, but I do recommend you go and listen to two episodes – Episode 68 and Episode 69. These are two different strategies for building your subscriber numbers of your newsletter. I think both of those would be well worth listening to once you finish this one in a couple of minutes.

The last thing I wanna say is to make it a priority,. Make email a priority for 2018. I’ve seen something, the two big problems I see amongst so many blogger are bloggers who don’t have email lists, that’s the number one problem, or they’ve signed up for a service and they aren’t collecting email addresses. The second big problem is bloggers who don’t send emails. I see this all the time, people who are collecting emails every day, they’re getting new subscribers, but they’re not sending emails.

If you fall into either of those categories, one, know that you’re not alone but two, know that I’m not satisfied until you get that thing fixed. I want you to make it a priority in 2018. I really have seen the way that email has transformed my business. It has really brought a lot of traffic and a lot of income and a lot of connection with our readers as well over the years. It is a central part of what we do. Put some priorities into that. Even if you’ve got an email list and you’re still listening, make it a priority to take a critical look at what you’re doing with your email.

Do you need to change up your newsletter? Do you need to start an autoresponder sequence? Do you need to think about the design of your email? Do you need to test the format, plain text versus HTML? Do you need to do some testing in terms of the subject lines that you use? Do you need to consider upgrading your email service provider? I highly encourage you to take a critical look on some of that type of stuff.

The last thing I’ll say is if you haven’t started, start simple. Even if you just send a monthly plain text email once a month, a plain text email with three paragraphs that simply links to a recent post that did well for you, that is better than nothing. Don’t let the tools, don’t let the formatting, don’t let the link, don’t let the content itself hold you back. Send something. Make it valuable. It doesn’t need to be long. It doesn’t need to be profound. Just make it deliver a little bit of value to your subscribers and they will keep looking for your emails and it will begin to build some momentum for you.

I can’t wait to see what happens as a result of this. Remember to start simple and then let it evolve from there. You can always get more complicated with your emails, but you really need to make a start on it.

Today’s show notes, where there are links to Drip and ConvertKit, and there’s a bit of a summary through a transcript of all the things that I’ve said and some further reading for you as well, further listening, you can find that all over at problogger.com/podcast/220. It’s the end of the year and I do wanna add my season’s greetings to those of who are celebrating at the moment and those of you who are listening in the New Year. I hope it’s been a good year for you.

We are moving now into a bit of a series of podcasts where you’re going to hear some other voices. I’m gonna introduce them, but as I said in last week’s podcast we wanted to hear some of your stories. And we’ve had some amazing stories submitted. I’m really looking forward to introducing them to you in the coming weeks over at the end of the year and as we move into next year, where we’re gonna start a series of content on starting a blog. I really am looking forward to that.

Those of you who haven’t started a blog yet, this is gonna be a great time for you. Those of you who wanna start a second blog, this is a great time for you to do that as well because we’re gonna give you some great content that’s gonna help you to do that. It’s free.

We’re also going to help to celebrate some of those new blogs that have started. Make January a time of starting a new blog. I look forward to introducing that whole concept to you more next week on the ProBlogger podcast.

If you are looking for something else to listen to, I do recommend you go back and listen to Episode 68, 69, and 70. 68 and 69 are about how to get more subscribers for that email list that we’ve just been talking about and Episode 70 was all about auto responders. You should be able to find them all over in iTunes where I hope you’re all subscribed and have left some nice reviews for us, or over on the show notes areas at problogger.com/podcast and then you just put the number, 68 or 69 or 70. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 220: What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to Create a Reader Avatar for Your Blog

How to create a blog reader avatar

For several years, I’ve been using Reader Avatars (also called Reader Profiles or Personas) on my blogs – and I’ve found them very effective and helpful.

To create your first reader avatar, you’ll need to spend some time thinking and writing about a type of reader that you’re either attempting to reach or who is already reading your blog. Describe them in as much detail as you can – who they are, what their interests are, why they might be reading your blog and what their needs are.

(We’ve created a template you can use to help you do this, and I’ll be sharing some examples of my own reader avatars throughout this post.)

The idea is that you end up with a picture of who you’re writing for that you can then use to create posts that will resonate more strongly with your actual readers.

Before I talk about the benefits of doing this and make some suggestions on how to create reader avatars for your own blog, let me show you one that I first created several years ago for my photography site

"Grace"
Mom-a-raz-zo

Grace Momarazzo Avatar

Grace describes herself as a Mom-a-raz-zo photographer because 90% of her photos are of her young children. She’s 34 years old and lives in London.

She is in the market for an entry level DSLR and lens to help her capture her kids growing up. She studies photography is high school so has a basic understanding of how to use a camera, but until now has been using an entry level point and shoot camera.

Grace reads dPS for two reasons - firstly to help make a decision about which camera to buy. She’s a little nervous about making the choice and is looking for the advice of others. She’s also looking to connect with other Mom-a-raz-zo photographers and to learn how to improve her portrait photography.

Grace is a photography book addict - she subscribes to a photography magazine and has an expanding collection of portrait related photography books.

Grace dreams about one day making a little money from her photography - perhaps using what she learns in photographing her own children - to photograph other families. Her biggest obstacles in achieving this are a lack of confidence (she worries a lot about what others think of her work) and the equipment (which she is saving for).

Grace is on Facebook, is a heavy user of email and has a Flickr account.

The profile above describes one of the types of readers that we have on DPS – people whose main use of their cameras is to photograph their kids.

The profile describes why “Grace” reads DPS, some of her dreams, the type of photography she’s into, how else she uses the web, a little about her demographics, the level she’s at, and so on.

Here’s another one from a different type of reader at DPS:

"Keith"
Grey Nomad

keith grey nomad avatar

Keith is a first time digital camera owner. He’s recently retired and has bought an entry level DSLR to help him record an upcoming trip across the USA.

Keith reads dPS to work out how to get the mosts from his new camera, which to this point, he is using only in Automatic mode.

His needs and challenges are fairly beginner level and include learning about settings like Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, knowing how to get his images off his camera and to store them safely, as well as basic composition techniques.

Keith dreams of taking great landscapes, macro photography and a little portrait work.

Keith is on a budget, living off his savings. He is willing to spend a little to improve his photography but researches all purchases carefully.

Keith has been online for years, but his preferred way to connect online is email.

Again – I’ve described another type of reader in a similar way to the first.

In each of these cases the reader profile is based upon a reader group already within the Digital Photography School community. If you’re just getting started with your blog, this same exercise could be done with potential readers – or the type of person you want to read your blog.

Why Should You Create Reader Avatars?

Hopefully you can already see some of the benefits of these kinds of reader avatars – but let me list a few of the things I’ve found most useful:

  • It makes your blogging feel more relevant and personal – I find that having a person (real or pretend) in mind as I write reminds me that there are real people on the other end of my posts. There are people with faces, names and needs – I find it inspiring to visualise them reading what I write, and thinking about them helps me to write in a more personal tone.

  • It informs your writing – having these kinds of avatars in mind as I write reminds me of some of the problems and questions that readers might have. That leads me to write write more practical posts that focus on real readers’ needs. Often as I write, I visualise the questions and reactions that these different readers might have to my posts – and then try to build answers to those into what I’m writing.

  • It identifies opportunities – although it was several years ago now, I still remember writing the first profile above (Grace) and realising that quite a few of my readers have mentioned their dreams of one day making some money from their photography. As a result, I created a section of the DPS forum specifically about making money with photography ... and later, we published an ebook on “Going Pro”.  (Note the forums are currently closed.)

  • It can be helpful for recruiting advertisers – potential advertisers will want to know what type of reader you have. You can simply share your reader avatars with them: no need to think through a new answer each time. This also shows that you’ve thought about your readers and run a professional site.

  • It identifies ways to connect with your readership – you’ll notice I’ve included details in the profiles on what else the reader does online. It’s really useful to know what other sites your reader uses and which social networks they prefer as this can identify opportunities to identify places where potential new readers hang out.

It will identify opportunities to monetize your blog – knowing what your readers currently spend money on, what their needs are, and what kind of income they have at their disposal will give you all kinds of ideas for the types of advertisers you should seek out, the type of affiliate promotions you could do and the type of products you could develop.

How to Create a Reader Profile?

There are no real rules – you can see I’ve developed a certain style in my personas above. I added a picture to each of the type of person in the profile to further personalise it. I’d suggest trying to include information in the following areas:

  • Demographics – basic facts, like age, gender, nationality, and education level. You can use Google Analytics not only to see how many readers are coming from which countries, but also to see how your readers fall into different age categories, and what the balance of genders is. Google’s page on Demographics and Interests explains how this works.  

  • Financial situation – are your readers well off, secure, or just about managing? This will obviously affect the types of products you choose to promote as an affiliate, or create yourself.

  • Needs and/or challenges – what are your readers struggling with, or what are they keen to know about? With photography, for instance, readers like Grace will want to know how to capture their children as they grow up.

  • How they use the web – you might want to think about the other blogs they read, the news sites they visit, the social networks they’re active within, and whether they tend to browse on a computer or on a tablet / mobile (again, Google Analytics can give you insight into this).

  • Motivations for reading the blog – for instance, are your readers hobbyists or taking their first steps into a career related to your topic? Do they read your blog to be inspired, educated, or entertained?

  • Level of experience with the topic – are your readers total beginners, highly experienced, or something in between? You may want to create several reader avatars for people at different levels of experience and familiarity with the topic.

  • Dreams – what do they wish they could accomplish ... and how can you help them get there? You might find that the emails you receive and the comments on your posts help you figure out what your readers’ dreams are.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list – if you’ve created a reader avatar (or several) before, please feel free to share your suggestions and tips in comments below.

Let me finish this post off with one last persona – again for DPS.

"Gareth"
Going Pro

gareth going pro avatar

Gareth (39 and living in Denver) prides himself on being one of the first people in his friendship group to own a digital camera. He invested heavily in a Sony Mavica that had the ability to take and store 9 images on a floppy disk!

Gareth sold his extensive film camera kit years back and fully converted to a Canon DSLR kit which he regularly updates and adds to whenever a new camera, lens or accessory comes onto the market. He also collects a range of other cameras - Liecas, Holgas and other more obscure models. He has a high disposable income.

Gareth works as a successful freelance designer but had recently put together a portfolio site for his photography and is on the way to going pro as a photographer.

Gareth knows most of what there is to know about photography - he is part of dPS because he loves to show his work and help others improve their photography. He’s also looking to increase his profile and exposure as a photographer.

Gareth photographs everything - he particularly loves live music photography, urban landscapes and anything experimental.

Gareth is an early adopter in many areas of life - he’s prolific in social media circles, has his own blog, Flickr account and is active on Facebook, Twitter and regularly uses Delicious for social bookmarking.


Now it’s over to you. Have a go at writing at least one reader avatar for your blog ... and leave a comment below to let us know how you got on.  

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How to establish your brand on Pinterest (and make it popular)

How to Get Popular on Pinterest.png

This is a guest post by Larry Alton

If you’re a ‘picture paints a thousand words’ kind of person, then Pinterest may be a great option for you.

Its tight-knit community and visual focus make it an ideal board for circulating and popularizing your ideas. And while it may not be as popular as Facebook and Instagram, it still has more than 150 million active users each month.

Pinterest also has a number of advantages:

  • All content is publicly visible.
  • Content can quickly ‘go viral with far less effort than other platforms.
  • It provides monetization options for businesses and stores (e.g. buyable pins).

People use Pinterest in many different ways. But let’s say you want to create a business or personal brand account on it to build an audience and ultimately drive more sales. What’s the best way to maximize its popularity?

Creating the Account

First, you’ll need to create your brand’s account.

  • Find a target audience. There are millions of users on Pinterest. So what makes you unique? Decide on your target audience, and how you’re going to appeal to that niche.
  • Optimize your profile. With your target audience in mind, optimize your profile so it will appeal to that audience. Include keywords they might search for, and describe your brand as accurately as possible.
  • Plan a content stream. You’ll need some ideas for an ongoing content stream. What types of images will you post? Will they be photos or digital designs? What’s your primary subject matter?
  • Integrate your account. Like any social media platform, you should integrate your Pinterest account with the other communication channels you have in place. For starters, you’ll want to announce your new Pinterest presence on your company’s blog and other social media platforms.

Popularizing Pins

Once you’ve created your account, you can focus to optimizing and popularizing your individual posts, known as “pins.”

Post regularly, but don’t spam

Your pins should be regular without being overwhelming. Pinterest users like a steady stream of new content, but not as much as high-volume platforms such as Twitter. Pinning once a day is fine.

But while you may only be pinning once a day, you should check in regularly and be ready to communicate with your followers. It may be worth investing in a mobile hotspot so you’re never disconnected from your audience.

Sephora has nearly half a million followers, and is a great example of how to time your pins. They’ve pinned close to 12,000 items, and yet they never flood or spam their users. They generally post post once or twice a day with things like “Today’s Obsession” and “Makeup of the Day”. They’ve clearly worked out a pinning schedule that’s perfect for their audience.

Create boards

Pinterest lets you store related pins in folders known as ‘boards’. You can create as many boards as you like, and give them whatever name best describe the pins inside them (“Recipes”, “Interior Design”, etc.) You can make a board public or secret, and even create boards containing both your own content and content shared from other sources.

Whole Foods is one brand that’s exceptionally effective at creating and managing boards. They have more than 60 independently developed boards, each showing off recipes and ingredients in specific categories such as “summer recipes” and “Paleo”.

Be original

Pay attention to what your top competitors are doing, and learn from their actions. But don’t just take inspiration from their most popular pins. Look at what they’re not doing as well. If you want your pins to get attention, they need to show people things they’ve never seen before.

Take Japanese brand UNIQLO’s campaign to dominate the infinite scroll. They created elongated vertical images and posted them in just the right way to present the illusion of animation when users scrolled past. It was never tried before, and immediately caught the attention of thousands of users.

Create tall, defined images

Most of Pinterest’s users are on mobile devices, so your best bet is to create high-definition, vertical images that mobile users can access easily. Tall pictures that fill up the entire space offered by the newsfeed are more likely to outcompete images in the same feed. The effect becomes even more powerful when the image is dominated by a single color.

Limit the text

Pinterest is a visual board, so keep any text on your pins to a minimum. Include a few words if you need to explain what the image is about or announce the date of an upcoming event, but otherwise keep the focus on the image.

Offer practical information or tips

Pins have space for text as well as images. This is a great way to give your audience practical information or tips. And because they’ll want to share that information with their friends and family members, they’ll be more inclined to share your pins.

The “Build It!” board set up by Lowe’s is a great example. Its thriving  is almost entirely outsourced, giving independent bloggers and DIYers the chance to contribute their own projects, complete with how-to guides, for all their shared followers.

Repin other high-quality pins

Generate more attention for your own brand by repinning high-quality or popular pins from other brands—preferably ones that would also appeal to your target audience. This will increase your visibility in other Pinterest feeds, and help you define what your brand is and what it stands for.

You can even create boards specifically for user submissions. Anthropologie has been extremely successful with a board called “Your Anthropologie Favorites”. Fans are encouraged to tag pins with #AnthroFave, resulting in even more visibility. And with 768,000 followers, it’s a brand you can learn a lot from.

Once you’ve created your account and have a stream of optimized Pinterest content flowing, it’s only a matter of time before you start attracting followers. And once you have your audience, you can nurture and tweak your strategy to grow your business – and your sales.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The post How to establish your brand on Pinterest (and make it popular) appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

208: 5 Actionable Tips You Can Use to Get Better Results on Your Facebook Page

Get Better Facebook Page Results With These 5 Actionable Tips

Today, I want to present you with five actionable things you can do to increase the effectiveness of what you do to build your business on Facebook – particularly from Facebook pages.

I know there’s a lot of pain and frustration among bloggers when it comes to Facebook pages. Just a short year or two ago FB was a major source of traffic, engagement and even monetization for many of us. But increasingly over that time FB has been making organic reach and engagement harder and harder.

So today, I’ve invited someone who understands FB as well as anyone I’ve ever met to chat with us about how to approach the social network.

That person is Rachel Miller from Moolah Marketing, whose teaching has had an incredible impact my own FB strategy in the past six months.

Rachel began her journey as a blogger, but in more recent times has created FB pages that reach millions of fans. She has a real knack for building audiences and then monetizing them.

I met Rachel back in 2015 at a conference, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I really dug into what she does. Rachel has an amazing Facebook group that is dedicated to helping online entrepreneurs with their FB pages. I joined it six months back and immediately started to get actionable tips from Rachel.

I was so impressed with what she offered that when she opened up a FB training course I immediately signed up.

The course is brilliant. I’ve learnt so much, and ever since I’ve wanted to get Rachel on the show to share what she knows with you.

Of course the topic is massive. We could quite easily have talked for days about this, which is why she offers training courses. So to bring some focus to today’s episode I pulled out five actionable things I loved about Rachel’s training that I think you could start implementing straight away.

These are all things you can do without spending money and which I’ve found helped me grow my pages.

Links and Resources on 5 Actionable Tips You Can Use to Get Better Results on Your Facebook Page

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Rachel’s course. But I’m also a paid student, and personally recommend it based on my experience as a student.

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: My name is Darren Rowse, and welcome to episode 208 of the ProBlogger podcast. I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board and series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience and make money from your blogs. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Today, I want to present you with five actionable things that you can do today to increase the effectiveness of what you do on your Facebook page. I know there’s a lot of pain among your audience when it comes to Facebook pages. I see it all the time in our Facebook group. A couple of years ago now, Facebook was a major source of traffic and engagement for many of us. It even helped us monetize our blogs directly in many cases but increasingly over the last couple of years, it’s so much tougher to get organic reach and engagement on Facebook. You can certainly pay to get it but that organic reach is disappearing for many of us. We hear that pain from you, our audience, quite regularly.

Today what I’ve done is invited someone who understands Facebook as well as anyone I’ve ever met, to come on to the show, to talk to us about how to approach Facebook. That person is Rachel Miller from Miller Marketing whose teaching has impacted my own Facebook strategy over the last six months, quite incredibly in fact. She’s taught me so much.

Rachel began her journey many years ago now as a blogger, but in more recent times has created Facebook pages that reach millions of fans and she talks about some of them in today’s episode. She has a real knack for building audiences and monetizing them directly on Facebook itself.

I met Rachel back in 2015 at a conference. We had a nice breakfast together and a few other people, and I was really impressed by what she was doing back then. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I really dug into what she does. Another friend had recommended her Facebook group, which I’ll link to in today’s show notes. It’s a Facebook group dedicated to helping online entrepreneurs with their Facebook pages and I joined it. I’m a member of many Facebook groups and this is probably one of the most valuable ones that I’ve ever joined. I joined it six months ago and immediately, within a couple of days, I was getting tips and ideas from Rachel and the other members of that community, that led to real growth on my Facebook pages. It was immediate, like within a day or two. Me taking action, very important, on the tips that I got in that group, I was amazed. I was so impressed with what she offered that when she opened up her Facebook training course, I signed up to it.

The course is really brilliant, but so is a lot of the free advice that she gives as well. That’s what I want to do today. I want to get her on to share some of what she knows about Facebook. Of course, this is a massive topic and we could quite easily talk for days on this topic which I guess is why she offers a course. But I brought her on to today’s episode to really talk about five actionable things. I asked her to nominate five things that really will help people without having to pay money, without having to boost your post, without having to advertise. Five things that you can do today, that’s the focus of this episode. There are of course many things that you can do to spend money on Facebook, but there are five actionable things that are going to help you to get better results from your Facebook page.

I will say before we get into the conversation that there is a downloadable for today. Rachel’s put together what she calls an audience growth pack which has three resources for you on helping you to create better titles for your Facebook, start better conversations on Facebook and also some words to avoid on Facebook as well. If you want to get those downloadables, it’s over at problogger.com/growth. I’ll link to them on the show notes as well. You can see today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/208, that’s the episode 208 today. You’ll also find this over on iTunes.

I really do you hope you enjoy this conversation. I literally just got off it from Rachel and I have a pad full of ideas that I’ve jotted down as we talked and you’ll hear me talk about a couple of things that’s I’m going to do as a result of today’s show as well. I hope you enjoy it. She’s got so much energy and enthusiasm for this topic. I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of it as well. Here we go.

Rachel, this conversation comes at a really good time because on two Facebook groups that I’m a part of, I have just seen people going on massive rants about Facebook and how it is dead to them because their organic reach is plummeting, particularly this week there seems to be quite a few people really struggling with it. I’m really grateful for you spending some time with us today to talk about Facebook. I guess my first question for you is should I be giving up on Facebook? Is Facebook pages dead?

Rachel: I strongly believe no! I’ve seen people grow so fast, and even just this last six weeks, we had a student explode their page. I don’t know if she is the record because I have to verify but she tells me that she’s grown by over 100,000 fans. She might just be my new record. It’s been insane seeing the growth that people have had. It’s a thing right now.

Darren: Is that translating across to their websites or their blogs or whatever it is that they’re building as well?

Rachel: Yes. I have one girl who just a couple of weeks ago, she told me she was making $1,000 off of her website. After taking the course, she would now make $8,000 this last month off of her website and she was like, “Oh my Lord! I never expected this!” It just came from ad revenue because she had more people seeing her content.

Darren: She was happy to drive much more traffic across.

Rachel: Yes. She had a couple of virals and that helped her just explode her ad revenue.

Darren: Great. Alright, I was hoping you’d say that because otherwise this interview is dead. I really want to dig into some of the teaching that you do.

Rachel: We’ve had businesses. I know your audience’s bloggers and I actually was a blogger for ten years. That’s how I got started. But we’ve actually had stores who’ve had even greater results. We had one author, it was their second book on CreateSpace. I can’t remember exactly how many books on CreateSpace but he sold $71,000 worth of his book last month. He checked everywhere. It was so exciting.

Darren: That’s exciting. I’ve done half of your course, and I was seeing some benefits starting to flow into our pages as well. I really love the journey you take students through, and I wonder if we can move through some of the things that I think most bloggers could really benefit from. Five things, five actionable tips, we’re calling it, that people can use to build their audience as well without spending money which is the other important factor.

First one was building your niche neighborhood, you talk about that early on in your course. I wonder if you could give us a definition of what is a niche neighborhood and what can we actually do to build that?

Rachel: When I think of niche neighborhoods, I like to think of this is a family instead of a competition. This was me three years ago, I was like, you know what? I don’t want to tell the DIY people what I’m doing because they might copy me. And then we’ll all have the same front porch post and it’ll be really frustrating because we all have the same post, we won’t grow together.

Self-protection is like, I’m not going to share all of my knowledge, and then I realized that wait a second, if I open it up and I connect with my competition, I don’t just grow, they grow and when they grow, they pull me up farther with them. When they’re having a viral explode, I can tag along with their big viral. When I am having a big viral, they can tag along because the reality is the DIY person who loves DIY house projects, they’re not following one blog, they’re following 15. I notice that actually in the crazy cat sphere which I’m not actually a cat person, it was kind of a joke that I started it and then it was super successful so I was like I guess I’m a cat person now. I found multiple fans that love six crazy cat lady pages. They’re named the same name! It’s crazy.

Darren: It’s about identifying other Facebook pages in your niche. What do you actually do once you’ve identified them?

Rachel: There’s a couple of different tricks that you can do. You want to use Facebook like it’s a search engine. Just like in Google, you want to have different links coming from different places going to your website. You want them to come with different terms to your website. It’s the same thing in Facebook. Facebook’s an algorithm, it’s like a search engine, it’s a computer. You have to speak the computer’s language. Things like finding a cat page, I’m a cat page interlinking my post with their Facebook post. You can do this even if they’re not participating, although it’s a whole lot more fun if they are, your best buds in your neighborhood and you’re popping over at their house.

It’s a lot easier when you have collaboration where they’ll say, “Hey I’m going to share your post and you’re going to share mine,” but at the same time you can do this without them participating by leaving a link as a comment or as a visitor’s post or tagging your page on one of their photos that they have, if they have open tags. Leaving them a message from your page, writing them a message from messenger. Anything to say my page I just like that page.

Darren: These are all little signals to Facebook that you should connect your pages in some way.

Rachel: I’m the same as this page so that audience from that page will also like my content. When that person runs out of their cool content and my content’s trending, Facebook’s going to show my trending post to them because Facebook wants to keep those people on Facebook. Once my post is doing well, Facebook’s like, “Woah, wait a second. All these neighbors, they’re going to want that post too because it’s keeping people on Facebook.”

Darren: It’s the other part when someone likes their page then Facebook’s says there are other pages like this one, then they give that little personal recommendation as well.

Rachel: Right now Facebook’s giving that recommendation to groups but three weeks ago, it’s pages. My guess is that in two months, it’s going to change right back to being pages again and then two months later, groups. Goes back and forth between the two. You can also niche neighborhood with groups. You don’t just have to niche neighborhood with pages. That concept works with groups and we actually have groups that connect with pages as part of our system.           

Darren: The actionable thing that people can do is to identify some other pages in the niche, can you give us any suggestion on which ones are the best ones to do? Should we be looking for the biggest ones, should we be looking at others around your size or smaller ones?

Rachel: I look for the smaller ones that are the most active. Because the smaller ones that are the most active are the easiest to game. Just like in keywords, you go for the long tail because no one else has it. If I go after the big dogs, everybody’s going after the big dog. Everyone’s trying to promote their content on theirs. The little dogs, they’re so thankful to have a visitor’s post, they’re thrilled. I connect with the smaller pages first and then grow to the bigger ones.

Darren: Actually we’ll identify and engage. Whilst you say you can do this without them really even knowing what you’re doing, the ideal is really to build that relationship with other page owners and then to be able to collaborate and look for ways to support one another, to build a win-win relationship then.

Rachel: Yeah, totally. At the same time, even if some people say I don’t have any friends or I feel awkward writing them, you can still connect with other pages without necessarily their permission.

Darren: Number one is build your niche neighborhood. Number two is around sharing the right content. So many of us have Facebook pages but we spend all our time sharing our own content. I’m guilty of this. I don’t look at my pages at the moment because I just got this really high rotation of my own content. I got thousands of post in my archives. This used to work really well. It drove a lot of traffic to our pages and to our blogs, but hasn’t been working as well lately as a technique. One of the things that you do in your teaching is talking about finding content and sharing content that’s been blessed by Facebook’s fairy dust. Wonder whether you can talk to us about one, what is the Facebook fairy dust? None of us had heard of it before and what do you actually mean by that?

Rachel: I like to call it fairy dust because it’s a little bit magical. I can’t quite quantify it but yet it’s dust, you can’t collect it, you can bank it and you can cord it and you can spread it, you can sprinkle it on different things, and you do collect it. That’s one of those things, it’s a little bit of magic so I call it fairy dust. Some people call it Facebook juju or the juice or ‘oh I got the blessing’ or ‘I won the Facebook lottery.’ Basically, these are the posts that Facebook is sending more organic traffic to. Facebook tells you which ones they are because you can just go to the Facebook search bar and type in ‘cats’ and you could see all the cat posts that Facebook says is trending right now.

Darren: It’s about working on what you want to share on the topic and then just simply doing a search for that. Are you looking there for links or photos or videos or all of those things?

Rachel: I do a mix. It depends on what sites and pages. With my newer pages, I want to share whatever’s getting the most likes. When my page is over 100,000 now, I want to share something that I’m getting more shares than likes. I also want the content to come from me if possible. I would see a photo that’s getting a lot of shares right now and say hey, why don’t I contact that person and say, “Hey, can I put your photo up on my page?”

Darren: Okay and then you’re crediting where you got it from.

Rachel: Sometimes, if it’s just people, they just give me their video and they say, “Yes, sure.” I don’t offer credit unless I know it’s a blogger. If it’s a regular person, they often are like, “Yeah, you can show my cat drinking milk from that food bowl and link to that Amazon product. That’s awesome! My cat’s on your page.” They’re totally happy! I just say it’s reader submitted.

Darren: We’re looking there for content on Facebook. Already loving, blessing, fairy dusting and then sharing that, is that part of the mix? Are you also including some of your own content in the mix? Getting this mix right I think is something that a lot of our readers do ask about, how much of other people’s content should we be sharing? How much of our own? Does that change over the last of your blog as well?

Rachel: It does a little bit. It depends on your engagement. When you’re smaller, I like to share three-quarters of other people’s content because then I’m training myself what’s popular. I have no clue what’s going viral in my niche until I interact with so many virals. As I grow over 50,000, I want to start doing more posts coming from me, from my page. I might have two out of every four coming from my page. That doesn’t necessarily means it’s my post, but it’s originating on my page. It’s a video cross post uploaded, it’s a photo that I’ve uploaded onto my page. That way, the juice leads back to my page. Then out of 100,000, I want three-quarters of the content to come from my page, and a quarter to come from other sources.

Darren: In terms of getting traffic to your blog, because this is what a lot of bloggers want. Ultimately I guess it’s about earning. Whether you get people to your blog or not, doesn’t really matter but a lot of bloggers do want to increase their traffic. Can you give us some tips of getting that traffic back to our blog?

Rachel: Yeah. A lot of it’s the way you feed Facebook. If you use Bitly links, those have no social proof so Facebook is not going to show it to as many people. If you add multiple links to your post, instead of having one link that leads to your blog, you have a link and your PiNet link, that’s driving people, it’s going to lower your reach of your traffic to your website. A lot of it’s things like the words you’re using, the titles, the photos. If you’re feeding your reader, if you’re giving them the things that make them happy, and you’ve optimized your page with other content, you’re already engaged, it’s like a rising tide, your content will also grow. Once you grow your engagement, traffic comes.

Darren: That’s what I found in doing your courses. Once I started to share a bit more of other people’s content and a bit more of that viral content, and even creating a few more of the meme type content from myself which I’ve always resisted, I always find it a little bit corny, but there are ways if you work at it. You can create that kind of content that has the potential to go viral. It then impacted the rest of our content which was links to our blog post and that type of thing.

Rachel: Exactly! It’s kind of looking at it as a whole picture. Because if you just focus on just getting your traffic to your site, you’re not going to grow your audience. If you grow your audience, it trickles down and you will rise in your traffic because you have more people seeing your content now.

Darren: It’s a bit of a mind shift for a lot of bloggers because I have this sense of I want to drive traffic to me. I don’t want to highlight other people’s stuff but it does have a flow and effect.

Rachel: It totally does! Know too, it’s about your reader, because if you make it about your reader and you serve your audience, you can drive traffic to them with your blog or you can make money anyway. Once you have that audience, you can do anything with it. It doesn’t just have to be the blog, the blog’s one way to make money but ask your readers, “Do you want to consume content on a blog or do you want to consume content in a different way?” “Oh, you like memes, I have affiliate links and you buy products that are also unrelated to the meme because they had an affiliate link in it.” Okay, not a problem. I can make money that way. If your audiences have different things that you can serve them with, they’ll tell you what they want.

Darren: Great. You mentioned titles, that’s the third thing I wanted to ask you a little bit about. One of the things that I’ve noticed makes a huge difference when I’m sharing content, whether it be photos or back to my own site is that the engagement can vary wildly, depending upon which words were used in our titles and the descriptions as well. I wonder if you can give us some tips on how to create more effective copy, it’s not just the title, it’s all of the words you use around your updates. I’d love to get some tips on that.

Rachel: We’ve got three different parts of a post. You’ve got the description, that’s what you type into the status update. And then you’ve got your link, and then you’ve got your actual title of the post. In the description section where I’m talking about the post that I’m sharing, I like to talk from my reader’s perspective. I don’t want to tell them about this apple pie I made with my Aunt Cindy because no one else has an Aunt Cindy. That’s not their experience, they can’t connect to it. Does that make sense?

Darren: Yeah, yeah.

Rachel: But if I can say the apple pie that totally made July 4th or totally made your memorial day weekend or whatever, labor day is coming up, totally made that weekend, that makes sense for them because oh, that could be my story. You want to say it like it’s their story. That’s my first tip, in your descriptions, putting them into the reader’s perspective. Not about you.

My next tip would be to speed Facebook with that and don’t look like a brand. Which I guess we’re going to talk about in just a few minutes. But not looking like a brand means what do brands do on Facebook and how can I look like a person and not the brand, like a reader essentially, like the people that we’re reaching. They’re probably not filling their feed with lots of hashtags, they’re probably not tagging 1,500 things. Just like the reader would use hashtags, you want to speak like them. That would be my second tip, is to avoid hashtags and then those links that Facebook doesn’t like.

My third tip. I have a formula for my titles. It’s like a trust factor and then an emotion and you, because I’m talking to the reader and then the result. Trust factor would be something like the number or guarantee, or these words that instil I believe in you. If you tell them a number, like there is 15 ways. Fifteen is telling them what they’re going to get, that’s establishing trust with them. If I cut this, I’ll see 15 things, I can trust it more because I know what I’m going to get. It just gets a little bit of a trust factor.

The next part is emotion. Fifteen totally awesome or awe struck. Fifteen emotion and then you, anytime you use the word ‘you’ in your titles, you’ll do better. You won’t believe what happened when, and then the results.

Darren: Yup, okay. We got trust factor, emotion, you, as in the audience and then the result.

Rachel: Think of that as the number if you can think about another.

Darren: Something concrete so they know what they’re getting on the other end of it.

Rachel: Yes, yes! We’ve got variations of this. I went through actually and I looked at my virals. Last year I had 29 virals. Those are the virals that each of the post got over a million eyeballs on individual posts. I went through those virals and I was like okay, what’s similar about these posts? What made these go viral versus the other ones? I collected all the titles and put them into a spreadsheet for you guys. You could take out the words, I say “15 Ways Your Husband Could Wash the Dishes Better” and I take out the words “Your Husband Could Wash the Dishes.” Fifteen ways something could blah blah blah better. You can switch out the words for your own, basically still those viral titles. I give that to your audience as a freebie.

Darren: We do have the audience growth pack which we’ll talk a little bit about at the end of the call but that is part of that. It’s a downloadable, you can find it on our show notes today. Today’s Facebook posts all got viral titles.

Rachel: One of the people that I’m friends with and is in the course, she took these titles and she gave them to her VAs, she said okay, this is the first one, the second one, the third one. She said that she was able to sketch out her content for a week in 30 minutes because she had all the titles. I’m like, “It works!”

Darren: What we’ve noticed with ours is that there are other trigger words that no one else is using. They just seem to work with your audience, so you really do want to do that exercise that you said and analyze the top post, the most engaged post on your page to then work out which was the common things and we found that every time we mention “10 Mistakes That Will Stop You From Taking Great Photos.” People click that like. Crazy because I want to know that mistake and there’s a benefit there, we use the personal term ‘your photos’ a lot. Works.

Rachel: The result! The result is no mistake. That’s a really killer one, that’s awesome.

Darren: The other thing we’ve found worked really well with our audience is anytime you mention any kind of pain or any kind of gain. Using the pains and gains really work well.

Rachel: Have you tried different synonyms of mistake? Like failures? Avoid these Photography Failures?

Darren: Yeah, it doesn’t work as well. We have tried a bit. I guess the other thing that we really want to be careful of is we don’t want our page to be negative as well. Mistakes can bring things down a little bit. How to Avoid Them titles work as well. There’s an upside, that’s not just Don’t Do This, But Do This, that works too.

The other type of thing we’ve noticed working well is really targeting in on the type of users. Digital Photography School, there’s lots of people there. There’s Photoshop users, there are Lightroom users, they use different things. Sometimes for us, starting with Lightroom users, and then getting into the pain. Actually, since we target the right person, we’ve seen our audience a little bit more.

Rachel: Yeah. When your page is over 100,000, you do need to segment your audience a little bit in order to continue to get that engagement. I love it.

Darren: It’s just an intuitive thing. I think we noticed as we did some analysis. The other thing you’ve almost hinted on there is number 14, to avoid certain banned words. There are words that I’ve noticed on our page, even before I came across your teaching, that just seem to kill our reach. Anytime we mention a product or a sale or discounts or any of those sort of words, what’s going on there?

Rachel: Instead you can say, “We’ll make your pocketbook lighter.” Or you can say, “Your wallet will love this.” You could do that without saying discount, you use the word ‘discount’, your buyers will kiss that post goodbye. I’ve noticed that anytime you use those ad or sponsored, those can lower your reach. You have to put a couple dollars on it to try to boost it, to tell Facebook, yes, I’m making money but you can make money too.

There are some little tricks you can do if you have to use those banned words. Banned words are something like, ‘like this’, ‘share this’, ‘tag your friend’. Instead of that, say, “Know someone who?” and then they’ll tag their friend for you. Or ‘You’ll want this later.’ Now, they’ll save it or they’ll pin it. ‘Bookmark it because you’ll need this.’ These are all different ways that you can attract them without being bossy. People don’t want to be bossed. If you’re saying like this, it comes across as bossy and scammy. I think it’s even against Facebook’s Terms of Service. They redid the terms of service, I think it’s even in there. You’re not supposed to request that. Facebook doesn’t like them too much.

Darren: In their perspective, leads to organic activity coming on. People gaming the system a little bit. As part of your audience growth pack, we’ve also got some words to avoid as well as part of that download.

Rachel: I forgot, we had a powwow where I brought in I think it was like 58 frugal bloggers. The frugal bloggers were just having the hardest time getting their content out there. We’re like, “Okay guys, let’s look at the words together.” We’re looking through all the words. I’m like, “These are the words that are tanking. Free works, but only if it’s near the word gluten. If it’s not near the word gluten, you’re tanking.” You want to look at how you’re putting the phrases together. We collected those phrases and then we also thought of different ways to say the same things. Instead of ‘buy one get one free’, ‘have one and you could have another.’

Darren: That’s a little awkward.

Rachel: It’s a little awkward but it worked! The posts are being seen and they’re even able to get more traction on their coupons.

Darren: This really ties into that last point as well. You do the analysis on what’s working but also do some analysis on what’s not working and look for patterns in that as well. Maybe there are some words that you’re using that are triggering Facebook to go yep, we’re not showing that, that will be well worth doing.

The last thing that we’ve got here is to stimulate conversation. This is something I’ve noticed ever since I started on Facebook is the more conversation you get, the more engagement you get, the more engagement you get. Conversation attracts conversation.

Rachel: You’re telling Facebook who you are and Facebook needs conversation. There are people that are up at 2AM in the morning that are bored out of their skulls and they’ve seen everything and they need some more engagement content. Facebook depends on us, pages and groups, to keep that person looking at something at 2AM. What we’ve done is try to make our pages a little bit more like groups and our groups a little bit sometimes like pages so that we can bolster our businesses. We’ve got these conversation starters.

You basically ask a question like something that people don’t have to spend any time thinking about but that hopefully has more than three words in that answer. Because if they have more than three words in the answer, Facebook ranks this higher, or if it uses a photo. Using gifs or hey, show us a photo of your kids today, who is your super kid? Or how old are your kids. I need help with supper, what are you eating for supper? All of these are ways to get people to just make a small simple engagement on your page. When they do that, not only do they see your content more often, all of their friends see that page more often. Any of their friends that also like your page, you now jump up in their feed.

Darren: I certainly noticed that and I didn’t seem to see your next posts as well. I know that anytime I engage with any post, I quite often won’t engage with the post that I want to engage with because I don’t want to see more from that page.

Rachel: Totally, totally.

Darren: Again, we’ve got that as part of our audience growth pack to download as well, 25 conversations starters there. You’ve got those three, Rachel. It’s a great little pack to have and I’ve had those three resources open on my browser ever since I downloaded it. I just constantly go back to them.

Rachel: It just doesn’t work on Facebook pages, they also work on Facebook groups. We have got a guy, Daniel, said that his group went from crickets to highly engaged in just two or three weeks from putting one of those up every single day.

Darren: That’s great. Actually what we do on ProBlogger is we got those massive long spreadsheet of questions that our audience have asked us that now we ask them. Every time we get asked the question, we just put it in our spreadsheet and one, we use that for blog posts or for content that we could do on Facebook Lives. Also, we just put those questions back to our audience because our audience actually know the answers collectively.

Rachel: I love it, I love it, I love it.

Darren: It must be 300 or 400 now, we’ve got enough that we could do one a day forever.

Rachel: You can schedule up to a couple of months in advance. Schedule them out. The cool thing is, this ecosystem, the copy, the headlines and then the words I’ve given you, the conversation starters, you can really just copy them, put them in the schedule and turn it on autopilot. That lets you now have two posts that you don’t have to fight about. You don’t have to think about, they just come.

Darren: We’ve got build your niche neighborhood, share the right content, use effective titles, avoid banned words and stimulate conversation. Five things that you can go away and do today.

Rachel: Yeah, I love it.

Darren: Yeah, that’s great.

A few other questions that we had coming from our group members because I said we’re doing an interview today and they thought they’d throw some questions at you too. Some of them relate a little bit to some of the things we’ve talked about. But one that I get asked all the time is how many times a day should I be posting onto my Facebook page? Is there too much? Can you get to a point where it’s too much? Is one a day enough? Is one a week enough? What’s the ideal or is it different for different pages?

Rachel: It’s different for different sizes of pages. The bigger you are, you can post more posts because Facebook’s not going to show the original post to all the people in your audience. There is a point where you can be too many because that will hinder your ability to have virals. One of the things we depend on in the course that I teach is virals because when you get a viral, it levels you up really fast in your engagement, in your audience and in the potential that your business has. We want to protect how many times we post so that we can still have enough ability to go viral. If everyone in your feed that likes your page has already seen all your content that day, Facebook’s not going to let a post go viral because they’ve already seen it, they want to spread the love so they just don’t see one person in their feed all the time.

When you’re under 25,000, I suggest posting four times a day or less. Two to four times a day. And then when you get to about 25,000, you can start adding up to six. And then 50,000 to 100,000 you can start moving to posting eight times a day to even up to 24 when you’re over 100,000. But it depends on your audience. When you’re over 100,000, you’ll have to test your audience and see. Some audiences can still go viral when they have 8 posts a day and some go viral if they have 24. It just depends on you. If you’re not getting any virals, at that point, if you have any problems with engagement, back off.

Darren: Okay. If you are seeing dips, that’s a good thing to take away. Maybe pull back, you think that’s a signal.

Rachel: If you’re 150,000 followers and you’re not having high engagement, go back and look, what posts are tanking? They have a schedule system, you could see what kind of content is doing well, what kind of content is not doing well. You’re noticing that any time I put a link up that’s about flashes, it’s not doing well. You know what, I’m not going to put another link. We’re going to take that section that I talk about flashes off and now we’re going to talk about natural lighting or whatever it is that you have in your spreadsheet. You want to take what’s not working and do more of what is.

Darren: Another question that actually came in this morning from Andrea was, “What mix of posts shall we be doing? We’ve got sharing other people’s content, sharing your own content on your own blog, there’s a link, you’ve got video that you can upload, images or graphics or quotes or memes. Live video would be another one, what’s the ideal mix?” Again, that probably depends. You can just give us the answer that you got.

Rachel: I know. I have a formula and so far the formula’s working. What I like to do is feed Facebook. Facebook likes to have comments. What gets comments? When you give a status update with no links, no photo. That’s “Hey. What are you eating for breakfast today?” That feeds Facebook comments. Check, I did that today.

Next one, Facebook likes, shares. Meme photos tend to get more shares than any other type of content. I’m going to put a meme up because I want to make sure I’m feeding Facebook shares. What gets comments? Videos and photos of certain different types of things. Lives sometimes get comments. I want to do those to make sure I get comments. I want to have every different type of comments of engagement.

In addition to that though, when you’re under 100,000 fans, you also want to focus on getting more likes on your content and the other type. While I still want shares, I still want comments. I don’t want to say I’m never going to post this status update because I never get likes on those, I still want to have those but I want to make sure I put a little bit extra content that tends to get more likes. That tends to be both videos that you’ve uploaded or photos you’ve uploaded or that you’re sharing videos or photos. Those get more likes because I can then invite people who like that content to like my page and then I can grow so fast because you can invite up to 500 people a day from each admin of your page to like your page.

As soon as you get a post that’s going bonkers, you can put some ad dollars on it and I’m talking like $2 in ad spend. Get that post to even higher levels just to invite every single person. You do that every day and you’ve grown greatly without even realizing it.

Darren: This is something that I think a lot of people have no idea that they can do. Anytime anyone likes your page, you click on those, that number of likes and it opens up who has liked you page.

Rachel: It’s content. Liking your content.

Darren: Yeah. Like any post or any content. You click on the number of likes and it shows you who has liked you page and then it has a button that you can press that invites them to then like your page. If you do that within the first few hours, or first 24 hours of them actually engaging with your content in that way, a lot of them come back and like your page. This is brilliant.

Rachel: It’s really cool. I’ve had people that have gone back and I invited them weeks later, and it still works. The thing is you have to have a page that people can identify with. As long as your page have a gut reaction of, yeah, I like that. Then they’re going to like you. Like ProBlogger, I consider myself to be a pro blogger so if that popped up, I don’t remember necessarily the content that I liked from you but I say I’m a pro blogger so I’m going to automatically say heck yeah, that’s me. I like that.

Darren: This only works with pages under 100,000 fans. If you’re bigger than that, bad luck.

Rachel: If you’re close to 100,000 there are a couple of tricks you can do to make it last a little longer but yeah, pretty much it’s gone after 100,000.

Darren: Yup, okay. I’m approaching that. In the ProBlogger page, I think I have 93,000 or something like that. I know my days are numbered there.

Rachel: I’ll send you a little hack in a little bit.

Darren: Another one that I’ve got to ask, you’ve alluded to this. How should your strategy change as your Facebook page grows? Obviously we just talked about pages under 100,000 can do their invites for likes. I guess once you get over that 100,000 mark, are you then looking for more shareable content rather than getting content that’s going to get likes as much?

Rachel: Facebook’s algorithms changes that and sees you as an established page. I know we’re established when we’ve gotten 93,000 likes, we all know that. But in Facebook’s world, you’re still in that growth phase when you’re under 100,000 fans. They give you extra growth abilities. When you’re over 100,000 fans, they throttle you, they start to throttle you a little bit. At that point, you depend more on shares to continue to grow. But you have more audience so those shares can totally explode your page. It’s not like you’re done growing, it’s just your tools change a little bit.

Darren: Have you seen people have multiple pages, once they get over that 100,000 mark, really targeting on specific niches within their overall topic? This is something we’ve been talking about with Digital Photography School. We’ve got post processing, we’ve got camera gear reviews, maybe we should be having multiple pages.

Rachel: Yes! When you get over 300,000. This is getting into that powwow phase. I have a Facebook group that’s got 13,000 people in it and it’s too big to connect with everybody. We do break out powwows whenever I feel like it. It’s not very often. Every now and then, we’ll have powwow. When you’re over 300,000, all those people get together and you start to have problems with being targeted, you have problems with sometimes your content is not doing well or you’re feeling like I’m having the link to other people, and what’s in it for me a little bit. If that makes sense.

Become your own neighborhood. Done! We’ve got people who have vegetable gardening, regular gardening, organic gardening, outdoor fun in your home. Now, he’s got five pages that are over 100,000 each. Now whenever he’s sharing pages, he’s just sharing his own. He’s his own Facebook ecosystem. The cool thing too is there’s not that much of a difference between the reach of a 500,000 fan base and a million fan base. The amount of potential proposed is the same. When you’re at that stage, instead of growing to the million, which is still really cool to get that number. I was really excited when one of my pages got to a million. That said, it’s just as powerful to have a 300,000 or 100,000 and 500,000 page because you have more collective reach than you did if you had a million.

Darren: That’s right. What about those really at the beginnings of their Facebook page? We’ve talked up to 100,000. They should be doing that likeable content inviting people? Is there anything else that real new Facebook pages should be focusing upon?

Rachel: There’s a completely different strategy for the little guys and the little pages. We’ve got little pages, we’ve had a person just a couple of weeks ago, she started her page brand new, and I checked the stats this morning, because something tagged me. She’s at 180,000 fans. This can happen really fast. You can start in six weeks and grow fast. Anyways, she started her page and she followed what I called The Fast Trap Plan, which is you want to be very sure to only attract who wants your content. You’re almost hyper selective when you’re beginning to not accept the fake fans. You don’t want to invite your mom, you don’t have your friends from your PTA liking your page. You want the actual fans who can’t wait to have that content in front of them.

And then you tell Facebook who that person is a little bit. With my cat page, I’ll put six posts up and I’ll have different types of posts and I’ll tell Facebook I want all of these to go to cats and then we’ll put $2 on each of them or a dollar on each of them. However low Facebook lets me go because I don’t want to spend much money. Just enough to see what content does well.

And then I see, okay, anytime I talk about my cat, I say it’s a kid. For some reason that’s what cat people want, their cat as a kid. That’s what they want, now where are those cat people. I do another couple of rounds of boost, just so I can find where those people are that are insanely passionate about my niche.

When it’s crock pot cooking, I found a religious minority group that loves crock pots. I thought maybe soccer moms would be the crock pot people or busy working moms, the Mormon Church has a lot of people that love crock pots. When I start targeting them, they shared my post to everybody and they keep commenting on it. Next thing you know, I exploded because I found who was most passionate.

With the cat page that I have, I found them in no-kill shelters. You got to find who that person is, and once you find them, you can be like best ideas for kids and explode your page by over 100,000. She did that though by finding what type of content they wanted and almost getting rid of the people that aren’t her fan.

Darren: This really comes down to a lot of what you do teach, is really doing a lot of work on thinking about who it is that you want to reach and understanding them and interviewing them which is something that our listeners would have heard other guests talk about a lot as well is really focusing on who it is that you want to have on your site and really position your page very well for them. I think it’s really great advice to have.

Rachel: Once you can serve those people that love cats and you love on them, they’re going to love on you with your content. They’re going to spread your content, they’re going to notice when you forget to post and you’ve left your schedule empty that day. They will literally stalk you down because they found your address at the bottom of an email and let you know, “Hey, just FYI, haven’t heard from you, did you disappear?” It’s building a community with your readers and they will love you back and share your stuff and buy from you.

Darren: Two more questions. Actually it’s three, but one is connected. People have been asking. Pages versus groups is the question but also live video is another one that got weaved into that question. Shall we be doing live video, if so, for what? Are groups an alternative to a page or do they really work hand in hand?

Rachel: I use them all the same. I probably have seven groups that are not part of my marketing. I’m talking about groups that I’m admin over and that I created one. I also have pages that I’ve created and run dozens of them. You need all three, there are three ways that people interact on Facebook and to be an influencer, you need to know and interact on all three levels. That’s your personal profile and then your page and then a group. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your group, a lot of groups are open to bloggers. I have groups that I let any blogger promote their own content any time they want to as long as they follow these rules.

There are other groups that are like that for bloggers too. On your personal profile, you want to interact with other brands in your niche that establishes you as an influencer, that then raises your admin ranking in your topic area. Next one is your page. That’s where you can target new people, it’s either go to your group to join your email list to do anything to send you products but you have to do targeting from inside of the page. That’s where you tell Facebook who you’re going to be reaching. With moolah, I have a bigger group than I do my page but I need my page. My page is crucial, because I would not be able to drive new people to my group if I didn’t have my page.

The group is where you can get that community. We’ve had people, the Decluttering Club, she grew her Facebook page to 20,000 but then exploded her group like almost within two months to 16,000 and it’s from her group that she’s monetizing now. It’s interesting but she wouldn’t be able to do that if she didn’t have the page to feed the group. You need both. I typically monetize more personally from my pages than I do my groups as a blogger. There’s different monetization methods for everyone.

Darren: Maybe that’s a question for another call, how to monetize this.

Rachel: I made a couple hundred thousand just off my blogs last year. It’s really fun.

Darren: We need to book in that call. Live video is the other question as part of that. What’s its place in all of this?

Rachel: Facebook loves live. It has a short term lifespan. I don’t suggest pages start doing lives until they got 4,000-10,000 fans because in my mind, if you have an hour, spend that hour finding what’s viral, spend that hour in other ways. Once you’ve got 10,000 fans that you can engage, start doing lives and using those lives to build that future post. Uploading video is also important because that has a longer tail. It lasts on Facebook longer. Something from two years ago can go viral again today. Whereas live video, in two weeks, it’s pretty much dead, unless you’re continuing with ads, which you can totally do. I do suggest doing 1-2 lives a week if possible from your page once you’re between 4,000 and 10,000.

Darren: We have actually found live video is great if you want someone to do something now, like right now, we are launching right now, it’s happening now, come and join us. But a video is much better if we want them to do something over the next month or so. But we’ve got a launch starting, we’ll do a live to announce it but then we’ll put a video up that we then allow to continue to grow momentum over a month or so.

Rachel: For me, as a blogger, I prefer uploading videos because I want to do that hour of work one time and not have to do it all the time. I do lives whenever I’m demanding an action but on my 500,000, my 200,000 pages, I’m not doing lives regularly because I don’t want to have to be a slave to my page. I turn the videos on. I still come in but…

Darren: Yeah. I’ve seen a few people recently do the live and then download their live or get the video of the live and chop it up. They get rid of the start and the end which is more interactive and they just have the middle bit which is a teaching part and they use that as an uploaded video later on and that seems to work quite well.

Rachel: That only works if you don’t have the same first ten seconds. Facebook tracks the first ten seconds of your videos. If you had a video go viral, or you’ve had a live, you can chop it up as long as it’s not the same first ten seconds, you can recycle it as much as you want. Repackage it and now you have two viral videos, it’s really fun.

Darren: Yeah, that’s great. Last question was around boosting. You’ve mentioned a few times, you boost a dollar here, $2 there. If bloggers do have a little bit of money to throw, what’s the best way to use those dollars to build a page and build a blog?

Rachel: There’s a whole strategy too, but because of the time, I’ll just give you a couple of do and don’t rules. My first tip with rules is to always use the ads manager to boost. Don’t use the boost on your page because you’re going to cannibalize your page, unless you have custom audiences and stuff set up. Always boost with ads manager and make sure that you exclude your page whenever you’re boosting. That way, your boost goes to people who don’t know who you are. Facebook still sends out your organic traffic to the people who like your page but people who don’t know who you are now get a glimpse of how awesome your page is and why they should love you.

Darren: Great, excellent. Good first tips there. Thank you so much, Rachel, we will have links to the audience growth, you’ll get the 25 viral titles, 25 conversation starters, you’ll get a list of banned words as well. Thank you for providing that. I know our listeners are going to really enjoy.

Rachel: Darren, this has been a blast! A blast!

Darren: I loved it. I’ve got about ten other questions I’ll need to ask you for next time. I’ve been writing them down and I’ve got a couple of ideas that I’m going to go and implement myself. I think I need to start some more Facebook pages.

Rachel: You won’t regret it. If you’re over 100,000, it’s really easy to start your second one now because Facebook gives all that juice so you could share from that little page. It’s fun to see them rise together.

Darren: Yeah, very cool. Thank so much.

Rachel: Yeah, thank you, Darren. I appreciate it.

Darren: Wow! Rachel has to be one of the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable Facebook presenters that I’ve ever come across. She’s actually presenting at our Dallas event later in the year as well. If you have been thinking about coming to the Dallas event Success Incubator, I’ll link to it on the show notes as well but you can also find more information on that at problogger.com/success.

Rachel does pack a lot of value into what she shares on her Facebook group and in her training as well. What I love about what she said today, and I really want to emphasize this, is that you really need to work out what Facebook wants. You heard her say it a couple of times in today’s episode. Work out what Facebook wants and give Facebook that.

Facebook wants content that will be shared, that people will comment upon. Start with that. Many of us as bloggers look at Facebook through the lens of what we want. We want traffic, we want engagement, we want comments. Some of those things Facebook wants as well, but when you start with what Facebook wants, and importantly and you heard her say this a few times today, start with what your readers want. That’s a much better place to start with your strategy on Facebook. Don’t start with what you want, start with what Facebook wants, what your readers want and work from that place because it’s going to give you a great foundation.

Rachel’s Facebook training course is opening up again in the next week or so. I’ll link again where you can join a waitlist for that training course if you’d like to do that. But whether you take the course or not, I really would recommend you get into her Facebook group. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well and download those downloadables too.

Today’s show notes, where you can get all the links to all of what Rachel’s doing, her course, her Facebook group and the downloadables are at problogger.com/podcast/208 and get those downloadables at problogger.com/growth. I am an affiliate for Rachel’s courses, I want to disclaim that right now, upfront. I want to be very transparent about that. But I will emphasize that I paid for her course myself when I first saw it and I did the course personally, my team haven’t done it, I did it and I would highly recommend it from having engaged in that as well. Again, if it’s for you, that’s great but there’s a lot of great free stuff there as well.

Thanks for listening, I look forward to chatting with you next week in episode 209 of the podcast. Again, today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/208. Thanks for listening!

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The post 208: 5 Actionable Tips You Can Use to Get Better Results on Your Facebook Page appeared first on ProBlogger.

208: 5 Actionable Tips You Can Use to Get Better Results on Your Facebook Page

Get Better Facebook Page Results With These 5 Actionable Tips

Today, I want to present you with five actionable things you can do to increase the effectiveness of what you do to build your business on Facebook – particularly from Facebook pages.

I know there’s a lot of pain and frustration among bloggers when it comes to Facebook pages. Just a short year or two ago FB was a major source of traffic, engagement and even monetization for many of us. But increasingly over that time FB has been making organic reach and engagement harder and harder.

So today, I’ve invited someone who understands FB as well as anyone I’ve ever met to chat with us about how to approach the social network.

That person is Rachel Miller from Moolah Marketing, whose teaching has had an incredible impact my own FB strategy in the past six months.

Rachel began her journey as a blogger, but in more recent times has created FB pages that reach millions of fans. She has a real knack for building audiences and then monetizing them.

I met Rachel back in 2015 at a conference, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I really dug into what she does. Rachel has an amazing Facebook group that is dedicated to helping online entrepreneurs with their FB pages. I joined it six months back and immediately started to get actionable tips from Rachel.

I was so impressed with what she offered that when she opened up a FB training course I immediately signed up.

The course is brilliant. I’ve learnt so much, and ever since I’ve wanted to get Rachel on the show to share what she knows with you.

Of course the topic is massive. We could quite easily have talked for days about this, which is why she offers training courses. So to bring some focus to today’s episode I pulled out five actionable things I loved about Rachel’s training that I think you could start implementing straight away.

These are all things you can do without spending money and which I’ve found helped me grow my pages.

Links and Resources on 5 Actionable Tips You Can Use to Get Better Results on Your Facebook Page

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Rachel’s course. But I’m also a paid student, and personally recommend it based on my experience as a student.

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: My name is Darren Rowse, and welcome to episode 208 of the ProBlogger podcast. I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board and series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience and make money from your blogs. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Today, I want to present you with five actionable things that you can do today to increase the effectiveness of what you do on your Facebook page. I know there’s a lot of pain among your audience when it comes to Facebook pages. I see it all the time in our Facebook group. A couple of years ago now, Facebook was a major source of traffic and engagement for many of us. It even helped us monetize our blogs directly in many cases but increasingly over the last couple of years, it’s so much tougher to get organic reach and engagement on Facebook. You can certainly pay to get it but that organic reach is disappearing for many of us. We hear that pain from you, our audience, quite regularly.

Today what I’ve done is invited someone who understands Facebook as well as anyone I’ve ever met, to come on to the show, to talk to us about how to approach Facebook. That person is Rachel Miller from Miller Marketing whose teaching has impacted my own Facebook strategy over the last six months, quite incredibly in fact. She’s taught me so much.

Rachel began her journey many years ago now as a blogger, but in more recent times has created Facebook pages that reach millions of fans and she talks about some of them in today’s episode. She has a real knack for building audiences and monetizing them directly on Facebook itself.

I met Rachel back in 2015 at a conference. We had a nice breakfast together and a few other people, and I was really impressed by what she was doing back then. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I really dug into what she does. Another friend had recommended her Facebook group, which I’ll link to in today’s show notes. It’s a Facebook group dedicated to helping online entrepreneurs with their Facebook pages and I joined it. I’m a member of many Facebook groups and this is probably one of the most valuable ones that I’ve ever joined. I joined it six months ago and immediately, within a couple of days, I was getting tips and ideas from Rachel and the other members of that community, that led to real growth on my Facebook pages. It was immediate, like within a day or two. Me taking action, very important, on the tips that I got in that group, I was amazed. I was so impressed with what she offered that when she opened up her Facebook training course, I signed up to it.

The course is really brilliant, but so is a lot of the free advice that she gives as well. That’s what I want to do today. I want to get her on to share some of what she knows about Facebook. Of course, this is a massive topic and we could quite easily talk for days on this topic which I guess is why she offers a course. But I brought her on to today’s episode to really talk about five actionable things. I asked her to nominate five things that really will help people without having to pay money, without having to boost your post, without having to advertise. Five things that you can do today, that’s the focus of this episode. There are of course many things that you can do to spend money on Facebook, but there are five actionable things that are going to help you to get better results from your Facebook page.

I will say before we get into the conversation that there is a downloadable for today. Rachel’s put together what she calls an audience growth pack which has three resources for you on helping you to create better titles for your Facebook, start better conversations on Facebook and also some words to avoid on Facebook as well. If you want to get those downloadables, it’s over at problogger.com/growth. I’ll link to them on the show notes as well. You can see today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/208, that’s the episode 208 today. You’ll also find this over on iTunes.

I really do you hope you enjoy this conversation. I literally just got off it from Rachel and I have a pad full of ideas that I’ve jotted down as we talked and you’ll hear me talk about a couple of things that’s I’m going to do as a result of today’s show as well. I hope you enjoy it. She’s got so much energy and enthusiasm for this topic. I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of it as well. Here we go.

Rachel, this conversation comes at a really good time because on two Facebook groups that I’m a part of, I have just seen people going on massive rants about Facebook and how it is dead to them because their organic reach is plummeting, particularly this week there seems to be quite a few people really struggling with it. I’m really grateful for you spending some time with us today to talk about Facebook. I guess my first question for you is should I be giving up on Facebook? Is Facebook pages dead?

Rachel: I strongly believe no! I’ve seen people grow so fast, and even just this last six weeks, we had a student explode their page. I don’t know if she is the record because I have to verify but she tells me that she’s grown by over 100,000 fans. She might just be my new record. It’s been insane seeing the growth that people have had. It’s a thing right now.

Darren: Is that translating across to their websites or their blogs or whatever it is that they’re building as well?

Rachel: Yes. I have one girl who just a couple of weeks ago, she told me she was making $1,000 off of her website. After taking the course, she would now make $8,000 this last month off of her website and she was like, “Oh my Lord! I never expected this!” It just came from ad revenue because she had more people seeing her content.

Darren: She was happy to drive much more traffic across.

Rachel: Yes. She had a couple of virals and that helped her just explode her ad revenue.

Darren: Great. Alright, I was hoping you’d say that because otherwise this interview is dead. I really want to dig into some of the teaching that you do.

Rachel: We’ve had businesses. I know your audience’s bloggers and I actually was a blogger for ten years. That’s how I got started. But we’ve actually had stores who’ve had even greater results. We had one author, it was their second book on CreateSpace. I can’t remember exactly how many books on CreateSpace but he sold $71,000 worth of his book last month. He checked everywhere. It was so exciting.

Darren: That’s exciting. I’ve done half of your course, and I was seeing some benefits starting to flow into our pages as well. I really love the journey you take students through, and I wonder if we can move through some of the things that I think most bloggers could really benefit from. Five things, five actionable tips, we’re calling it, that people can use to build their audience as well without spending money which is the other important factor.

First one was building your niche neighborhood, you talk about that early on in your course. I wonder if you could give us a definition of what is a niche neighborhood and what can we actually do to build that?

Rachel: When I think of niche neighborhoods, I like to think of this is a family instead of a competition. This was me three years ago, I was like, you know what? I don’t want to tell the DIY people what I’m doing because they might copy me. And then we’ll all have the same front porch post and it’ll be really frustrating because we all have the same post, we won’t grow together.

Self-protection is like, I’m not going to share all of my knowledge, and then I realized that wait a second, if I open it up and I connect with my competition, I don’t just grow, they grow and when they grow, they pull me up farther with them. When they’re having a viral explode, I can tag along with their big viral. When I am having a big viral, they can tag along because the reality is the DIY person who loves DIY house projects, they’re not following one blog, they’re following 15. I notice that actually in the crazy cat sphere which I’m not actually a cat person, it was kind of a joke that I started it and then it was super successful so I was like I guess I’m a cat person now. I found multiple fans that love six crazy cat lady pages. They’re named the same name! It’s crazy.

Darren: It’s about identifying other Facebook pages in your niche. What do you actually do once you’ve identified them?

Rachel: There’s a couple of different tricks that you can do. You want to use Facebook like it’s a search engine. Just like in Google, you want to have different links coming from different places going to your website. You want them to come with different terms to your website. It’s the same thing in Facebook. Facebook’s an algorithm, it’s like a search engine, it’s a computer. You have to speak the computer’s language. Things like finding a cat page, I’m a cat page interlinking my post with their Facebook post. You can do this even if they’re not participating, although it’s a whole lot more fun if they are, your best buds in your neighborhood and you’re popping over at their house.

It’s a lot easier when you have collaboration where they’ll say, “Hey I’m going to share your post and you’re going to share mine,” but at the same time you can do this without them participating by leaving a link as a comment or as a visitor’s post or tagging your page on one of their photos that they have, if they have open tags. Leaving them a message from your page, writing them a message from messenger. Anything to say my page I just like that page.

Darren: These are all little signals to Facebook that you should connect your pages in some way.

Rachel: I’m the same as this page so that audience from that page will also like my content. When that person runs out of their cool content and my content’s trending, Facebook’s going to show my trending post to them because Facebook wants to keep those people on Facebook. Once my post is doing well, Facebook’s like, “Woah, wait a second. All these neighbors, they’re going to want that post too because it’s keeping people on Facebook.”

Darren: It’s the other part when someone likes their page then Facebook’s says there are other pages like this one, then they give that little personal recommendation as well.

Rachel: Right now Facebook’s giving that recommendation to groups but three weeks ago, it’s pages. My guess is that in two months, it’s going to change right back to being pages again and then two months later, groups. Goes back and forth between the two. You can also niche neighborhood with groups. You don’t just have to niche neighborhood with pages. That concept works with groups and we actually have groups that connect with pages as part of our system.           

Darren: The actionable thing that people can do is to identify some other pages in the niche, can you give us any suggestion on which ones are the best ones to do? Should we be looking for the biggest ones, should we be looking at others around your size or smaller ones?

Rachel: I look for the smaller ones that are the most active. Because the smaller ones that are the most active are the easiest to game. Just like in keywords, you go for the long tail because no one else has it. If I go after the big dogs, everybody’s going after the big dog. Everyone’s trying to promote their content on theirs. The little dogs, they’re so thankful to have a visitor’s post, they’re thrilled. I connect with the smaller pages first and then grow to the bigger ones.

Darren: Actually we’ll identify and engage. Whilst you say you can do this without them really even knowing what you’re doing, the ideal is really to build that relationship with other page owners and then to be able to collaborate and look for ways to support one another, to build a win-win relationship then.

Rachel: Yeah, totally. At the same time, even if some people say I don’t have any friends or I feel awkward writing them, you can still connect with other pages without necessarily their permission.

Darren: Number one is build your niche neighborhood. Number two is around sharing the right content. So many of us have Facebook pages but we spend all our time sharing our own content. I’m guilty of this. I don’t look at my pages at the moment because I just got this really high rotation of my own content. I got thousands of post in my archives. This used to work really well. It drove a lot of traffic to our pages and to our blogs, but hasn’t been working as well lately as a technique. One of the things that you do in your teaching is talking about finding content and sharing content that’s been blessed by Facebook’s fairy dust. Wonder whether you can talk to us about one, what is the Facebook fairy dust? None of us had heard of it before and what do you actually mean by that?

Rachel: I like to call it fairy dust because it’s a little bit magical. I can’t quite quantify it but yet it’s dust, you can’t collect it, you can bank it and you can cord it and you can spread it, you can sprinkle it on different things, and you do collect it. That’s one of those things, it’s a little bit of magic so I call it fairy dust. Some people call it Facebook juju or the juice or ‘oh I got the blessing’ or ‘I won the Facebook lottery.’ Basically, these are the posts that Facebook is sending more organic traffic to. Facebook tells you which ones they are because you can just go to the Facebook search bar and type in ‘cats’ and you could see all the cat posts that Facebook says is trending right now.

Darren: It’s about working on what you want to share on the topic and then just simply doing a search for that. Are you looking there for links or photos or videos or all of those things?

Rachel: I do a mix. It depends on what sites and pages. With my newer pages, I want to share whatever’s getting the most likes. When my page is over 100,000 now, I want to share something that I’m getting more shares than likes. I also want the content to come from me if possible. I would see a photo that’s getting a lot of shares right now and say hey, why don’t I contact that person and say, “Hey, can I put your photo up on my page?”

Darren: Okay and then you’re crediting where you got it from.

Rachel: Sometimes, if it’s just people, they just give me their video and they say, “Yes, sure.” I don’t offer credit unless I know it’s a blogger. If it’s a regular person, they often are like, “Yeah, you can show my cat drinking milk from that food bowl and link to that Amazon product. That’s awesome! My cat’s on your page.” They’re totally happy! I just say it’s reader submitted.

Darren: We’re looking there for content on Facebook. Already loving, blessing, fairy dusting and then sharing that, is that part of the mix? Are you also including some of your own content in the mix? Getting this mix right I think is something that a lot of our readers do ask about, how much of other people’s content should we be sharing? How much of our own? Does that change over the last of your blog as well?

Rachel: It does a little bit. It depends on your engagement. When you’re smaller, I like to share three-quarters of other people’s content because then I’m training myself what’s popular. I have no clue what’s going viral in my niche until I interact with so many virals. As I grow over 50,000, I want to start doing more posts coming from me, from my page. I might have two out of every four coming from my page. That doesn’t necessarily means it’s my post, but it’s originating on my page. It’s a video cross post uploaded, it’s a photo that I’ve uploaded onto my page. That way, the juice leads back to my page. Then out of 100,000, I want three-quarters of the content to come from my page, and a quarter to come from other sources.

Darren: In terms of getting traffic to your blog, because this is what a lot of bloggers want. Ultimately I guess it’s about earning. Whether you get people to your blog or not, doesn’t really matter but a lot of bloggers do want to increase their traffic. Can you give us some tips of getting that traffic back to our blog?

Rachel: Yeah. A lot of it’s the way you feed Facebook. If you use Bitly links, those have no social proof so Facebook is not going to show it to as many people. If you add multiple links to your post, instead of having one link that leads to your blog, you have a link and your PiNet link, that’s driving people, it’s going to lower your reach of your traffic to your website. A lot of it’s things like the words you’re using, the titles, the photos. If you’re feeding your reader, if you’re giving them the things that make them happy, and you’ve optimized your page with other content, you’re already engaged, it’s like a rising tide, your content will also grow. Once you grow your engagement, traffic comes.

Darren: That’s what I found in doing your courses. Once I started to share a bit more of other people’s content and a bit more of that viral content, and even creating a few more of the meme type content from myself which I’ve always resisted, I always find it a little bit corny, but there are ways if you work at it. You can create that kind of content that has the potential to go viral. It then impacted the rest of our content which was links to our blog post and that type of thing.

Rachel: Exactly! It’s kind of looking at it as a whole picture. Because if you just focus on just getting your traffic to your site, you’re not going to grow your audience. If you grow your audience, it trickles down and you will rise in your traffic because you have more people seeing your content now.

Darren: It’s a bit of a mind shift for a lot of bloggers because I have this sense of I want to drive traffic to me. I don’t want to highlight other people’s stuff but it does have a flow and effect.

Rachel: It totally does! Know too, it’s about your reader, because if you make it about your reader and you serve your audience, you can drive traffic to them with your blog or you can make money anyway. Once you have that audience, you can do anything with it. It doesn’t just have to be the blog, the blog’s one way to make money but ask your readers, “Do you want to consume content on a blog or do you want to consume content in a different way?” “Oh, you like memes, I have affiliate links and you buy products that are also unrelated to the meme because they had an affiliate link in it.” Okay, not a problem. I can make money that way. If your audiences have different things that you can serve them with, they’ll tell you what they want.

Darren: Great. You mentioned titles, that’s the third thing I wanted to ask you a little bit about. One of the things that I’ve noticed makes a huge difference when I’m sharing content, whether it be photos or back to my own site is that the engagement can vary wildly, depending upon which words were used in our titles and the descriptions as well. I wonder if you can give us some tips on how to create more effective copy, it’s not just the title, it’s all of the words you use around your updates. I’d love to get some tips on that.

Rachel: We’ve got three different parts of a post. You’ve got the description, that’s what you type into the status update. And then you’ve got your link, and then you’ve got your actual title of the post. In the description section where I’m talking about the post that I’m sharing, I like to talk from my reader’s perspective. I don’t want to tell them about this apple pie I made with my Aunt Cindy because no one else has an Aunt Cindy. That’s not their experience, they can’t connect to it. Does that make sense?

Darren: Yeah, yeah.

Rachel: But if I can say the apple pie that totally made July 4th or totally made your memorial day weekend or whatever, labor day is coming up, totally made that weekend, that makes sense for them because oh, that could be my story. You want to say it like it’s their story. That’s my first tip, in your descriptions, putting them into the reader’s perspective. Not about you.

My next tip would be to speed Facebook with that and don’t look like a brand. Which I guess we’re going to talk about in just a few minutes. But not looking like a brand means what do brands do on Facebook and how can I look like a person and not the brand, like a reader essentially, like the people that we’re reaching. They’re probably not filling their feed with lots of hashtags, they’re probably not tagging 1,500 things. Just like the reader would use hashtags, you want to speak like them. That would be my second tip, is to avoid hashtags and then those links that Facebook doesn’t like.

My third tip. I have a formula for my titles. It’s like a trust factor and then an emotion and you, because I’m talking to the reader and then the result. Trust factor would be something like the number or guarantee, or these words that instil I believe in you. If you tell them a number, like there is 15 ways. Fifteen is telling them what they’re going to get, that’s establishing trust with them. If I cut this, I’ll see 15 things, I can trust it more because I know what I’m going to get. It just gets a little bit of a trust factor.

The next part is emotion. Fifteen totally awesome or awe struck. Fifteen emotion and then you, anytime you use the word ‘you’ in your titles, you’ll do better. You won’t believe what happened when, and then the results.

Darren: Yup, okay. We got trust factor, emotion, you, as in the audience and then the result.

Rachel: Think of that as the number if you can think about another.

Darren: Something concrete so they know what they’re getting on the other end of it.

Rachel: Yes, yes! We’ve got variations of this. I went through actually and I looked at my virals. Last year I had 29 virals. Those are the virals that each of the post got over a million eyeballs on individual posts. I went through those virals and I was like okay, what’s similar about these posts? What made these go viral versus the other ones? I collected all the titles and put them into a spreadsheet for you guys. You could take out the words, I say “15 Ways Your Husband Could Wash the Dishes Better” and I take out the words “Your Husband Could Wash the Dishes.” Fifteen ways something could blah blah blah better. You can switch out the words for your own, basically still those viral titles. I give that to your audience as a freebie.

Darren: We do have the audience growth pack which we’ll talk a little bit about at the end of the call but that is part of that. It’s a downloadable, you can find it on our show notes today. Today’s Facebook posts all got viral titles.

Rachel: One of the people that I’m friends with and is in the course, she took these titles and she gave them to her VAs, she said okay, this is the first one, the second one, the third one. She said that she was able to sketch out her content for a week in 30 minutes because she had all the titles. I’m like, “It works!”

Darren: What we’ve noticed with ours is that there are other trigger words that no one else is using. They just seem to work with your audience, so you really do want to do that exercise that you said and analyze the top post, the most engaged post on your page to then work out which was the common things and we found that every time we mention “10 Mistakes That Will Stop You From Taking Great Photos.” People click that like. Crazy because I want to know that mistake and there’s a benefit there, we use the personal term ‘your photos’ a lot. Works.

Rachel: The result! The result is no mistake. That’s a really killer one, that’s awesome.

Darren: The other thing we’ve found worked really well with our audience is anytime you mention any kind of pain or any kind of gain. Using the pains and gains really work well.

Rachel: Have you tried different synonyms of mistake? Like failures? Avoid these Photography Failures?

Darren: Yeah, it doesn’t work as well. We have tried a bit. I guess the other thing that we really want to be careful of is we don’t want our page to be negative as well. Mistakes can bring things down a little bit. How to Avoid Them titles work as well. There’s an upside, that’s not just Don’t Do This, But Do This, that works too.

The other type of thing we’ve noticed working well is really targeting in on the type of users. Digital Photography School, there’s lots of people there. There’s Photoshop users, there are Lightroom users, they use different things. Sometimes for us, starting with Lightroom users, and then getting into the pain. Actually, since we target the right person, we’ve seen our audience a little bit more.

Rachel: Yeah. When your page is over 100,000, you do need to segment your audience a little bit in order to continue to get that engagement. I love it.

Darren: It’s just an intuitive thing. I think we noticed as we did some analysis. The other thing you’ve almost hinted on there is number 14, to avoid certain banned words. There are words that I’ve noticed on our page, even before I came across your teaching, that just seem to kill our reach. Anytime we mention a product or a sale or discounts or any of those sort of words, what’s going on there?

Rachel: Instead you can say, “We’ll make your pocketbook lighter.” Or you can say, “Your wallet will love this.” You could do that without saying discount, you use the word ‘discount’, your buyers will kiss that post goodbye. I’ve noticed that anytime you use those ad or sponsored, those can lower your reach. You have to put a couple dollars on it to try to boost it, to tell Facebook, yes, I’m making money but you can make money too.

There are some little tricks you can do if you have to use those banned words. Banned words are something like, ‘like this’, ‘share this’, ‘tag your friend’. Instead of that, say, “Know someone who?” and then they’ll tag their friend for you. Or ‘You’ll want this later.’ Now, they’ll save it or they’ll pin it. ‘Bookmark it because you’ll need this.’ These are all different ways that you can attract them without being bossy. People don’t want to be bossed. If you’re saying like this, it comes across as bossy and scammy. I think it’s even against Facebook’s Terms of Service. They redid the terms of service, I think it’s even in there. You’re not supposed to request that. Facebook doesn’t like them too much.

Darren: In their perspective, leads to organic activity coming on. People gaming the system a little bit. As part of your audience growth pack, we’ve also got some words to avoid as well as part of that download.

Rachel: I forgot, we had a powwow where I brought in I think it was like 58 frugal bloggers. The frugal bloggers were just having the hardest time getting their content out there. We’re like, “Okay guys, let’s look at the words together.” We’re looking through all the words. I’m like, “These are the words that are tanking. Free works, but only if it’s near the word gluten. If it’s not near the word gluten, you’re tanking.” You want to look at how you’re putting the phrases together. We collected those phrases and then we also thought of different ways to say the same things. Instead of ‘buy one get one free’, ‘have one and you could have another.’

Darren: That’s a little awkward.

Rachel: It’s a little awkward but it worked! The posts are being seen and they’re even able to get more traction on their coupons.

Darren: This really ties into that last point as well. You do the analysis on what’s working but also do some analysis on what’s not working and look for patterns in that as well. Maybe there are some words that you’re using that are triggering Facebook to go yep, we’re not showing that, that will be well worth doing.

The last thing that we’ve got here is to stimulate conversation. This is something I’ve noticed ever since I started on Facebook is the more conversation you get, the more engagement you get, the more engagement you get. Conversation attracts conversation.

Rachel: You’re telling Facebook who you are and Facebook needs conversation. There are people that are up at 2AM in the morning that are bored out of their skulls and they’ve seen everything and they need some more engagement content. Facebook depends on us, pages and groups, to keep that person looking at something at 2AM. What we’ve done is try to make our pages a little bit more like groups and our groups a little bit sometimes like pages so that we can bolster our businesses. We’ve got these conversation starters.

You basically ask a question like something that people don’t have to spend any time thinking about but that hopefully has more than three words in that answer. Because if they have more than three words in the answer, Facebook ranks this higher, or if it uses a photo. Using gifs or hey, show us a photo of your kids today, who is your super kid? Or how old are your kids. I need help with supper, what are you eating for supper? All of these are ways to get people to just make a small simple engagement on your page. When they do that, not only do they see your content more often, all of their friends see that page more often. Any of their friends that also like your page, you now jump up in their feed.

Darren: I certainly noticed that and I didn’t seem to see your next posts as well. I know that anytime I engage with any post, I quite often won’t engage with the post that I want to engage with because I don’t want to see more from that page.

Rachel: Totally, totally.

Darren: Again, we’ve got that as part of our audience growth pack to download as well, 25 conversations starters there. You’ve got those three, Rachel. It’s a great little pack to have and I’ve had those three resources open on my browser ever since I downloaded it. I just constantly go back to them.

Rachel: It just doesn’t work on Facebook pages, they also work on Facebook groups. We have got a guy, Daniel, said that his group went from crickets to highly engaged in just two or three weeks from putting one of those up every single day.

Darren: That’s great. Actually what we do on ProBlogger is we got those massive long spreadsheet of questions that our audience have asked us that now we ask them. Every time we get asked the question, we just put it in our spreadsheet and one, we use that for blog posts or for content that we could do on Facebook Lives. Also, we just put those questions back to our audience because our audience actually know the answers collectively.

Rachel: I love it, I love it, I love it.

Darren: It must be 300 or 400 now, we’ve got enough that we could do one a day forever.

Rachel: You can schedule up to a couple of months in advance. Schedule them out. The cool thing is, this ecosystem, the copy, the headlines and then the words I’ve given you, the conversation starters, you can really just copy them, put them in the schedule and turn it on autopilot. That lets you now have two posts that you don’t have to fight about. You don’t have to think about, they just come.

Darren: We’ve got build your niche neighborhood, share the right content, use effective titles, avoid banned words and stimulate conversation. Five things that you can go away and do today.

Rachel: Yeah, I love it.

Darren: Yeah, that’s great.

A few other questions that we had coming from our group members because I said we’re doing an interview today and they thought they’d throw some questions at you too. Some of them relate a little bit to some of the things we’ve talked about. But one that I get asked all the time is how many times a day should I be posting onto my Facebook page? Is there too much? Can you get to a point where it’s too much? Is one a day enough? Is one a week enough? What’s the ideal or is it different for different pages?

Rachel: It’s different for different sizes of pages. The bigger you are, you can post more posts because Facebook’s not going to show the original post to all the people in your audience. There is a point where you can be too many because that will hinder your ability to have virals. One of the things we depend on in the course that I teach is virals because when you get a viral, it levels you up really fast in your engagement, in your audience and in the potential that your business has. We want to protect how many times we post so that we can still have enough ability to go viral. If everyone in your feed that likes your page has already seen all your content that day, Facebook’s not going to let a post go viral because they’ve already seen it, they want to spread the love so they just don’t see one person in their feed all the time.

When you’re under 25,000, I suggest posting four times a day or less. Two to four times a day. And then when you get to about 25,000, you can start adding up to six. And then 50,000 to 100,000 you can start moving to posting eight times a day to even up to 24 when you’re over 100,000. But it depends on your audience. When you’re over 100,000, you’ll have to test your audience and see. Some audiences can still go viral when they have 8 posts a day and some go viral if they have 24. It just depends on you. If you’re not getting any virals, at that point, if you have any problems with engagement, back off.

Darren: Okay. If you are seeing dips, that’s a good thing to take away. Maybe pull back, you think that’s a signal.

Rachel: If you’re 150,000 followers and you’re not having high engagement, go back and look, what posts are tanking? They have a schedule system, you could see what kind of content is doing well, what kind of content is not doing well. You’re noticing that any time I put a link up that’s about flashes, it’s not doing well. You know what, I’m not going to put another link. We’re going to take that section that I talk about flashes off and now we’re going to talk about natural lighting or whatever it is that you have in your spreadsheet. You want to take what’s not working and do more of what is.

Darren: Another question that actually came in this morning from Andrea was, “What mix of posts shall we be doing? We’ve got sharing other people’s content, sharing your own content on your own blog, there’s a link, you’ve got video that you can upload, images or graphics or quotes or memes. Live video would be another one, what’s the ideal mix?” Again, that probably depends. You can just give us the answer that you got.

Rachel: I know. I have a formula and so far the formula’s working. What I like to do is feed Facebook. Facebook likes to have comments. What gets comments? When you give a status update with no links, no photo. That’s “Hey. What are you eating for breakfast today?” That feeds Facebook comments. Check, I did that today.

Next one, Facebook likes, shares. Meme photos tend to get more shares than any other type of content. I’m going to put a meme up because I want to make sure I’m feeding Facebook shares. What gets comments? Videos and photos of certain different types of things. Lives sometimes get comments. I want to do those to make sure I get comments. I want to have every different type of comments of engagement.

In addition to that though, when you’re under 100,000 fans, you also want to focus on getting more likes on your content and the other type. While I still want shares, I still want comments. I don’t want to say I’m never going to post this status update because I never get likes on those, I still want to have those but I want to make sure I put a little bit extra content that tends to get more likes. That tends to be both videos that you’ve uploaded or photos you’ve uploaded or that you’re sharing videos or photos. Those get more likes because I can then invite people who like that content to like my page and then I can grow so fast because you can invite up to 500 people a day from each admin of your page to like your page.

As soon as you get a post that’s going bonkers, you can put some ad dollars on it and I’m talking like $2 in ad spend. Get that post to even higher levels just to invite every single person. You do that every day and you’ve grown greatly without even realizing it.

Darren: This is something that I think a lot of people have no idea that they can do. Anytime anyone likes your page, you click on those, that number of likes and it opens up who has liked you page.

Rachel: It’s content. Liking your content.

Darren: Yeah. Like any post or any content. You click on the number of likes and it shows you who has liked you page and then it has a button that you can press that invites them to then like your page. If you do that within the first few hours, or first 24 hours of them actually engaging with your content in that way, a lot of them come back and like your page. This is brilliant.

Rachel: It’s really cool. I’ve had people that have gone back and I invited them weeks later, and it still works. The thing is you have to have a page that people can identify with. As long as your page have a gut reaction of, yeah, I like that. Then they’re going to like you. Like ProBlogger, I consider myself to be a pro blogger so if that popped up, I don’t remember necessarily the content that I liked from you but I say I’m a pro blogger so I’m going to automatically say heck yeah, that’s me. I like that.

Darren: This only works with pages under 100,000 fans. If you’re bigger than that, bad luck.

Rachel: If you’re close to 100,000 there are a couple of tricks you can do to make it last a little longer but yeah, pretty much it’s gone after 100,000.

Darren: Yup, okay. I’m approaching that. In the ProBlogger page, I think I have 93,000 or something like that. I know my days are numbered there.

Rachel: I’ll send you a little hack in a little bit.

Darren: Another one that I’ve got to ask, you’ve alluded to this. How should your strategy change as your Facebook page grows? Obviously we just talked about pages under 100,000 can do their invites for likes. I guess once you get over that 100,000 mark, are you then looking for more shareable content rather than getting content that’s going to get likes as much?

Rachel: Facebook’s algorithms changes that and sees you as an established page. I know we’re established when we’ve gotten 93,000 likes, we all know that. But in Facebook’s world, you’re still in that growth phase when you’re under 100,000 fans. They give you extra growth abilities. When you’re over 100,000 fans, they throttle you, they start to throttle you a little bit. At that point, you depend more on shares to continue to grow. But you have more audience so those shares can totally explode your page. It’s not like you’re done growing, it’s just your tools change a little bit.

Darren: Have you seen people have multiple pages, once they get over that 100,000 mark, really targeting on specific niches within their overall topic? This is something we’ve been talking about with Digital Photography School. We’ve got post processing, we’ve got camera gear reviews, maybe we should be having multiple pages.

Rachel: Yes! When you get over 300,000. This is getting into that powwow phase. I have a Facebook group that’s got 13,000 people in it and it’s too big to connect with everybody. We do break out powwows whenever I feel like it. It’s not very often. Every now and then, we’ll have powwow. When you’re over 300,000, all those people get together and you start to have problems with being targeted, you have problems with sometimes your content is not doing well or you’re feeling like I’m having the link to other people, and what’s in it for me a little bit. If that makes sense.

Become your own neighborhood. Done! We’ve got people who have vegetable gardening, regular gardening, organic gardening, outdoor fun in your home. Now, he’s got five pages that are over 100,000 each. Now whenever he’s sharing pages, he’s just sharing his own. He’s his own Facebook ecosystem. The cool thing too is there’s not that much of a difference between the reach of a 500,000 fan base and a million fan base. The amount of potential proposed is the same. When you’re at that stage, instead of growing to the million, which is still really cool to get that number. I was really excited when one of my pages got to a million. That said, it’s just as powerful to have a 300,000 or 100,000 and 500,000 page because you have more collective reach than you did if you had a million.

Darren: That’s right. What about those really at the beginnings of their Facebook page? We’ve talked up to 100,000. They should be doing that likeable content inviting people? Is there anything else that real new Facebook pages should be focusing upon?

Rachel: There’s a completely different strategy for the little guys and the little pages. We’ve got little pages, we’ve had a person just a couple of weeks ago, she started her page brand new, and I checked the stats this morning, because something tagged me. She’s at 180,000 fans. This can happen really fast. You can start in six weeks and grow fast. Anyways, she started her page and she followed what I called The Fast Trap Plan, which is you want to be very sure to only attract who wants your content. You’re almost hyper selective when you’re beginning to not accept the fake fans. You don’t want to invite your mom, you don’t have your friends from your PTA liking your page. You want the actual fans who can’t wait to have that content in front of them.

And then you tell Facebook who that person is a little bit. With my cat page, I’ll put six posts up and I’ll have different types of posts and I’ll tell Facebook I want all of these to go to cats and then we’ll put $2 on each of them or a dollar on each of them. However low Facebook lets me go because I don’t want to spend much money. Just enough to see what content does well.

And then I see, okay, anytime I talk about my cat, I say it’s a kid. For some reason that’s what cat people want, their cat as a kid. That’s what they want, now where are those cat people. I do another couple of rounds of boost, just so I can find where those people are that are insanely passionate about my niche.

When it’s crock pot cooking, I found a religious minority group that loves crock pots. I thought maybe soccer moms would be the crock pot people or busy working moms, the Mormon Church has a lot of people that love crock pots. When I start targeting them, they shared my post to everybody and they keep commenting on it. Next thing you know, I exploded because I found who was most passionate.

With the cat page that I have, I found them in no-kill shelters. You got to find who that person is, and once you find them, you can be like best ideas for kids and explode your page by over 100,000. She did that though by finding what type of content they wanted and almost getting rid of the people that aren’t her fan.

Darren: This really comes down to a lot of what you do teach, is really doing a lot of work on thinking about who it is that you want to reach and understanding them and interviewing them which is something that our listeners would have heard other guests talk about a lot as well is really focusing on who it is that you want to have on your site and really position your page very well for them. I think it’s really great advice to have.

Rachel: Once you can serve those people that love cats and you love on them, they’re going to love on you with your content. They’re going to spread your content, they’re going to notice when you forget to post and you’ve left your schedule empty that day. They will literally stalk you down because they found your address at the bottom of an email and let you know, “Hey, just FYI, haven’t heard from you, did you disappear?” It’s building a community with your readers and they will love you back and share your stuff and buy from you.

Darren: Two more questions. Actually it’s three, but one is connected. People have been asking. Pages versus groups is the question but also live video is another one that got weaved into that question. Shall we be doing live video, if so, for what? Are groups an alternative to a page or do they really work hand in hand?

Rachel: I use them all the same. I probably have seven groups that are not part of my marketing. I’m talking about groups that I’m admin over and that I created one. I also have pages that I’ve created and run dozens of them. You need all three, there are three ways that people interact on Facebook and to be an influencer, you need to know and interact on all three levels. That’s your personal profile and then your page and then a group. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your group, a lot of groups are open to bloggers. I have groups that I let any blogger promote their own content any time they want to as long as they follow these rules.

There are other groups that are like that for bloggers too. On your personal profile, you want to interact with other brands in your niche that establishes you as an influencer, that then raises your admin ranking in your topic area. Next one is your page. That’s where you can target new people, it’s either go to your group to join your email list to do anything to send you products but you have to do targeting from inside of the page. That’s where you tell Facebook who you’re going to be reaching. With moolah, I have a bigger group than I do my page but I need my page. My page is crucial, because I would not be able to drive new people to my group if I didn’t have my page.

The group is where you can get that community. We’ve had people, the Decluttering Club, she grew her Facebook page to 20,000 but then exploded her group like almost within two months to 16,000 and it’s from her group that she’s monetizing now. It’s interesting but she wouldn’t be able to do that if she didn’t have the page to feed the group. You need both. I typically monetize more personally from my pages than I do my groups as a blogger. There’s different monetization methods for everyone.

Darren: Maybe that’s a question for another call, how to monetize this.

Rachel: I made a couple hundred thousand just off my blogs last year. It’s really fun.

Darren: We need to book in that call. Live video is the other question as part of that. What’s its place in all of this?

Rachel: Facebook loves live. It has a short term lifespan. I don’t suggest pages start doing lives until they got 4,000-10,000 fans because in my mind, if you have an hour, spend that hour finding what’s viral, spend that hour in other ways. Once you’ve got 10,000 fans that you can engage, start doing lives and using those lives to build that future post. Uploading video is also important because that has a longer tail. It lasts on Facebook longer. Something from two years ago can go viral again today. Whereas live video, in two weeks, it’s pretty much dead, unless you’re continuing with ads, which you can totally do. I do suggest doing 1-2 lives a week if possible from your page once you’re between 4,000 and 10,000.

Darren: We have actually found live video is great if you want someone to do something now, like right now, we are launching right now, it’s happening now, come and join us. But a video is much better if we want them to do something over the next month or so. But we’ve got a launch starting, we’ll do a live to announce it but then we’ll put a video up that we then allow to continue to grow momentum over a month or so.

Rachel: For me, as a blogger, I prefer uploading videos because I want to do that hour of work one time and not have to do it all the time. I do lives whenever I’m demanding an action but on my 500,000, my 200,000 pages, I’m not doing lives regularly because I don’t want to have to be a slave to my page. I turn the videos on. I still come in but…

Darren: Yeah. I’ve seen a few people recently do the live and then download their live or get the video of the live and chop it up. They get rid of the start and the end which is more interactive and they just have the middle bit which is a teaching part and they use that as an uploaded video later on and that seems to work quite well.

Rachel: That only works if you don’t have the same first ten seconds. Facebook tracks the first ten seconds of your videos. If you had a video go viral, or you’ve had a live, you can chop it up as long as it’s not the same first ten seconds, you can recycle it as much as you want. Repackage it and now you have two viral videos, it’s really fun.

Darren: Yeah, that’s great. Last question was around boosting. You’ve mentioned a few times, you boost a dollar here, $2 there. If bloggers do have a little bit of money to throw, what’s the best way to use those dollars to build a page and build a blog?

Rachel: There’s a whole strategy too, but because of the time, I’ll just give you a couple of do and don’t rules. My first tip with rules is to always use the ads manager to boost. Don’t use the boost on your page because you’re going to cannibalize your page, unless you have custom audiences and stuff set up. Always boost with ads manager and make sure that you exclude your page whenever you’re boosting. That way, your boost goes to people who don’t know who you are. Facebook still sends out your organic traffic to the people who like your page but people who don’t know who you are now get a glimpse of how awesome your page is and why they should love you.

Darren: Great, excellent. Good first tips there. Thank you so much, Rachel, we will have links to the audience growth, you’ll get the 25 viral titles, 25 conversation starters, you’ll get a list of banned words as well. Thank you for providing that. I know our listeners are going to really enjoy.

Rachel: Darren, this has been a blast! A blast!

Darren: I loved it. I’ve got about ten other questions I’ll need to ask you for next time. I’ve been writing them down and I’ve got a couple of ideas that I’m going to go and implement myself. I think I need to start some more Facebook pages.

Rachel: You won’t regret it. If you’re over 100,000, it’s really easy to start your second one now because Facebook gives all that juice so you could share from that little page. It’s fun to see them rise together.

Darren: Yeah, very cool. Thank so much.

Rachel: Yeah, thank you, Darren. I appreciate it.

Darren: Wow! Rachel has to be one of the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable Facebook presenters that I’ve ever come across. She’s actually presenting at our Dallas event later in the year as well. If you have been thinking about coming to the Dallas event Success Incubator, I’ll link to it on the show notes as well but you can also find more information on that at problogger.com/success.

Rachel does pack a lot of value into what she shares on her Facebook group and in her training as well. What I love about what she said today, and I really want to emphasize this, is that you really need to work out what Facebook wants. You heard her say it a couple of times in today’s episode. Work out what Facebook wants and give Facebook that.

Facebook wants content that will be shared, that people will comment upon. Start with that. Many of us as bloggers look at Facebook through the lens of what we want. We want traffic, we want engagement, we want comments. Some of those things Facebook wants as well, but when you start with what Facebook wants, and importantly and you heard her say this a few times today, start with what your readers want. That’s a much better place to start with your strategy on Facebook. Don’t start with what you want, start with what Facebook wants, what your readers want and work from that place because it’s going to give you a great foundation.

Rachel’s Facebook training course is opening up again in the next week or so. I’ll link again where you can join a waitlist for that training course if you’d like to do that. But whether you take the course or not, I really would recommend you get into her Facebook group. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well and download those downloadables too.

Today’s show notes, where you can get all the links to all of what Rachel’s doing, her course, her Facebook group and the downloadables are at problogger.com/podcast/208 and get those downloadables at problogger.com/growth. I am an affiliate for Rachel’s courses, I want to disclaim that right now, upfront. I want to be very transparent about that. But I will emphasize that I paid for her course myself when I first saw it and I did the course personally, my team haven’t done it, I did it and I would highly recommend it from having engaged in that as well. Again, if it’s for you, that’s great but there’s a lot of great free stuff there as well.

Thanks for listening, I look forward to chatting with you next week in episode 209 of the podcast. Again, today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/208. Thanks for listening!

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The post 208: 5 Actionable Tips You Can Use to Get Better Results on Your Facebook Page appeared first on ProBlogger.

3 Ways to Turn Blog Posts into Engaging Instagram Content

3 Ways to Turn Blog Posts into Engaging Instagram Content

This is a guest post from Jonathan Chan of Foundr Magazine.

You are probably here because you are a proud blog owner.

Your content is consistently fresh and up-to-date, your mission statement is on point, you’ve managed to create a brand from scratch and everything is going swimmingly. But you’re still not using Instagram to promote your ground-breaking content.

If that sounds like you, we’ve got great news. 700 million monthly users are waiting for you to reach out to them.

In one of their articles, Forbes compared promoting content on Facebook with Instagram. The results showed that a promoted post on Instagram gets 4x more likes than the average Facebook ad. The interesting thing is that the number of impressions isn’t drastically different between the two, but Instagram users engage with content much more than those on Facebook.

This means it’s time to make the leap and look at Instagram as a full-fledged content platform; not an afterthought.

To help you do that, we’re sharing 3 highly effective ways that are guaranteed to turn your already engaging blog posts into even more captivating Instagram content.

#1 Pull Quotes

The brain reacts to visual stimuli in as little as 13 milliseconds. This means you have a fraction of a second to grab a viewer’s attention – and pull quotes, i.e. visual representations of key points – are the perfect way to do just that.

In order to create an engaging pull quote, pick an image you think will grab a person’s attention and add to it an engaging quote from your blog post. The best way to make these posts interesting is to keep them short and sweet, like so:

The extended version of that same quote, or a short paragraph explaining the quote, should go in the description section below the image. Note that you have 2200 characters to get the user to click on the shortened link you’re attaching with the image; plan ahead to make sure you don’t run out of space!

Chances are, you’ve seen plenty of pull quote posts on Instagram. This makes sense: according to Yotpo, Instagram drives the most engaged traffic compared to other social media platforms (including Youtube and Pinterest). This means that text, which may scare less engaged users away, works extremely well on Instagram. This is huge for your marketing – and here’s the reason.

People are likely to remember 10% of the information they hear and read several days later. But if you pair the same information with an image, you are likely to remember 65% of it.

Yes, folks, vision is the sense to exploit in content marketing – and pull quotes are an easy way to turn text into visual content.

Next on our list, let’s take a look at…

#2 Infographics, data visualizations, and beyond

According to eye-tracking studies reported by Nielsen Norman group, internet users prefer looking at images that carry information. The same study found that infographics and data visualizations get 3x more shares than other images on social media.

In other words, infographics and data visualizations aren’t just a powerful way to convey all the information you want to show your followers in one image. They’re also a highly engaging form of content on their own!

The catch is that you don’t want to make infographics too complicated or have them give out too much information. The best thing to do it is give the users a little snippet that has them wanting to know more. The idea is to “wow” them, drive them to your core piece of blog content – and hopefully convert them into subscribers or followers!

Alternatively, you can place an entire infographic on Instagram using their slideshow feature, like so:

Now, to the fun part. Here are 3 tools you can use to make infographics, data visualizations and other data + text images for free:

  • Canva is a great app for creating engaging graphics tailored to the social media platform you want to share it on. Whether you’re creating an Instagram post or want to include the graphics on your blog, Canva is easy to use and has great design options.
  • Piktochart → According to Facebook Marketing Strategist Amy Porterfield, Piktochart is an easy tool for people who want to create viral infographics.
  • Many content creators like WordSwag: an app that lets you add text to any image within seconds. It also features a massive library of 290,000 free images you can use for your pull quotes and more!

Last but not least, let’s cover…

#3 Videos

We pretty much saved the best for last. Why is it the best, you ask?

Because 4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than have to read about it. Yes, we have become a community of skimmers and slackers. This is why video content, like this post from Sir Richard Branson, works so well:

Having understood the effectiveness and potential of video content, Instagram now allows its users to use the 1-minute per video option. If you’re wondering how to get more Instagram followers, you should be actively using the video feature. Here are some key tips to doing this well:

  • Avoid being too commercial and keep it personal. Videos are the best way to really connect with your followers, and posting too many ads and salesy content could ruin that feeling for your followers. Show a snippet of what is coming and get them excited!
  • Use hashtags! This is the most effective way to entice users that are outside of your follower base. Experiment with popular hashtags that describe your content in a nutshell.
  • Use the “swipe option”!! Posting a link through Instagram stories gets publishers 15-20% more clicks. It’s never been more simple, guys, Instagram is helping you out. Create personal posts through stories and make sure to include a “swipe” option that transfers the user to the blog post itself.

This is a great time to jump on the video marketing bandwagon and use the video content tools brought to you by Instagram. KPCB reports that 74% of internet traffic will be video content this year!

Let’s wrap it up

We probably lost you at “700 million monthly users”. Here’s what you really need to remember:

  • Pull quotes are a great way to grab the attention of your followers quickly. Select a good photo, add a short but powerful quote to it, and attach a description with a short link in the comment section.
  • Infographics and data visualizations are powerful. Keep them simple, but make the reader want to know more.
  • Videos, videos, and more videos. Whether you are posting Instagram stories (regularly, no less) or videos on your page, make them personal and make sure to attach links to your blog posts.

If there’s a 65% chance you’ll remember these last points, our job here is done. Good luck!

Jonathan is the Content Crafter and Marketer for Foundr – place dedicated to empowering each and every entrepreneur out there with the best knowledge, tactics and actionable advice on the planet. Whether it’s finding out the latest productivity hacks, or figuring out the best startup business models, Jonathan is all about making sure that anyone that calls themselves an entrepreneur has a chance to continuously improve. You can check out more of his writing, and more about Foundr itself at: foundrmag.com

The post 3 Ways to Turn Blog Posts into Engaging Instagram Content appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

203: How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche

how to reach out to influencers in your niche

How to Connect With Influencers in Your Niche

Today I want to share some teaching on how to approach influencers and other well known people in your niche (or outside it too).

One of the most powerful ways to grow your profile, audience and brand is to connect with others in your niche. The benefits of doing it can be many and varied – the opportunities that flow from these interactions can be pretty cool for the growth of your blog….

BUT doing it the wrong way can also hurt your blog and brand – so I want to share what NOT to do.

Links and Resources for How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche

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Good day there. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com – a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of eBooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow an amazing blog, to create great content that’s going to change the life of your readers and to build profit around that blog too. You can learn more about ProBlogger and our upcoming events over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, episode number 203, I want to share some teaching on how to approach influencers and other well known people in your niche or even outside your niche too. Some of what I’m going to share today actually works really well on a personal level if you admire a comedian, or a musician, or that type of person as well.

One of the most powerful ways to grow your profile, and your audience, and brand is to connect with others in your niche, particularly those who are prominent themselves. The benefits of doing this can be many and varied. The opportunities that can flow from these interactions can be pretty cool for the growth of your blog, but doing it the wrong way can also hurt your blog and brand as well.

Today, I want to share some things to do, the approach that I take with approaching influencers but also some things not to do.

You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/203 where I will share some further reading as well. There’ll also be links on the show notes to our Facebook group, which you can find at problogger.com/group, a thriving group and community of bloggers. We’ve got some new things going in there at the moment which I’ll tell you about at the end of the podcast today.

Also, you’ll find on our show notes today the last chance to get tickets for our Aussie events which are happening in the next few days in Brisbane and Melbourne. You can find more details on those Australian events at problogger.com/events and our Dallas event in Dallas, Texas later in the year, in October at problogger.com/success.

Now, let’s talk about approaching influencers in your niche. Today, we’re talking about how to connect with influencers in your niche. Today’s podcast really comes about after earlier in the week, I listened to a Facebook Live talk by someone else. I’m not going to mention who they are because I’m going to critique what they say. This person was talking about this very topic, how to leverage influencers to grow your blog.

Now, the topic is a good one. As I said at the top of the show, I think that getting to know other people in your niche can bring many benefits to your blog. It’s not just about growing traffic and them sending you traffic. It’s also about growing your profile, growing your credibility, making friends, and helping them as well. It’s a mutual thing in my mind. But after 15 minutes of listening to this Facebook Live, I found myself getting very frustrated, and the reason for this was that the person described a system, a systematized approach that was incredibly formulaic and it was anything but personal.

They actually used a tool to run all of their approaches. The tool I’m not going to name because I really don’t believe in this approach. But the tool itself allowed you to create a sequence of emails that is going to be sent to influencers to get their attention. The emails were all set up ahead of time and depending upon whether the influencer responded to you, it would then send them more emails at different intervals. You can set them up for every 24 hours or every 48 hours.

For example, the first email might be a friendly introductory email where you mention that you’re a fan of their site. If they don’t respond to that, a second email might be, “You might have missed my last email.” The third one might be something funny but a little bit more direct to about, “Why you were ignoring my emails?” The fourth one could be a more direct one, perhaps even strongly worded that you’re disappointed that they didn’t respond.

The person who was teaching this system actually had these templates. As he went through them, I recognized the emails because I get these emails everyday. If the influencer responds at any point, then you can have other emails in the system that you go back, these canned responses asking them to do whatever it is that you’re trying to get them to do. Or you can take over and get a little bit more personal with your responses at that point.

As I listened to this presentation, on some levels, it made sense. I could see how it might work in some cases but what annoyed me most about it was that this person said that once you’ve got this email setup, that you can then scale it and then you can put in 10, or 20, or 100 influencer’s names and email addresses and then get this system going with hundreds of people at once. All you have to do is add in their first name and their site’s URL and then email address and it will just take over and it will run the system for you.

As he described this, it made me remember all the emails that I’ve received that have been the same templated formulaic response. The person doing the Facebook Live said, “If you buy this product,” and it was hundreds of dollars to get this and it was a monthly product as well, they also include all the email addresses of influencers as well, which annoyed me even more because I know I’m on some of those lists. I was pretty annoyed with this presentation.

I guess the main reason that I was annoyed is that I get these emails everyday. I can spot them a mile off. Whilst I didn’t know the name of the tool, I could see what was going on. It might be that these emails are slightly personalized. They usually have my name. Sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, they say, “Insert name here.” You can see that they forgot to insert the name. They might have my site’s URL but they’re obviously not personal.

When they come at predetermined intervals, every 48 hours in a sequence, I simply trash them and mark them as spam. I don’t like to do that because I like to reply to emails that I get. I do as much as I can. It begins to clutter the inbox and I get 10 or so of these everyday and it wastes a lot of my time.

Here’s the thing though. I know that the bulk of people who are sending those emails and buying these very expensive tools have good intentions. I know some people listening to this podcast probably use them as well. They’re being sold these tools, which can be very expensive and promised amazing results but without knowing it, I know these good people who are using these tools are potentially hurting their brand.

Here’s what I want to say today, is that there are better ways to do it. I talk to big influencers. I’m a small fry but I talk to big influencers and what I experienced personally is just the tip of the iceberg. I spoke to one big influencer last week. He actually asked me not to mention his name but he told me that he gets over 100 emails everyday that are the same formulaic approaches. Many times he looks at the emails and can see that people haven’t even bothered to customize the emails. They’re exactly the same for multiple people. They’re using the swipe files.

It was interesting to chat with him because whilst he was really angry about getting all of these emails and wasting so much time, on the other hand he said, “It’s actually not that hard to get on my radar.” He’s actually someone who is very easy to get in touch with, someone who has collaborated with people many times over who have approached him the right way. But people who go this new automated route never, ever succeed with him. He just trashes them. He marks their emails as spam. It really doesn’t build their brand at all to approach him in this way.

I actually asked this influencer if I could interview him for this particular podcast and he was a bit hesitant to do that because he didn’t want to trigger hate amongst people who were using those tools and he also didn’t want to trigger a flood of people trying to approach him because he’s a very busy guy. He did give me some advice. I’ve compiled it into today’s topic and added some of my own thoughts as well. I really do genuinely hope that these help you, for those of you who are trying to reach out to influencers.

Let me go through some of these tips. The first one is to have realistic expectations. Let me start by saying that whether you use the automation route or whether you take the approach that I’m going to talk about today, not all influencers are going to respond to you. They get a lot of approaches and they have a lot of interactions everyday.

The person that I am actually talking about, this anonymous influencer that I’m basing today’s podcast on, he has over a million social media connections. In fact, there’s several million when you add all the networks together. He gets a ton of approaches everyday, not only the automated one, but other ones as well. He does actually interact at a remarkable level. I just looked at his Twitter account. He replied to over 100 people today in the last 24 hours on Twitter so he’s interacted a lot there. He also did a one hour Q&A session on Facebook Live today.

He does a lot of interacting but even at that level of interaction, he tells me that he’s aware he can’t get back to everyone. He feels bad about it. Now, not at all influencers come anywhere near what this influencer does. They’re busy people. They get approached all day, everyday so don’t be surprised if you either hear nothing back or you might get a response back that isn’t what you hoped for. They may be shutting you down in some way, or are saying no to you, or maybe you got something bad from an assistant and not them personally.

But don’t let this stop you. You never know who you can interact with. Make the approach and try to build a relationship with these influencers but know that not all of them are capable. They just don’t have enough hours in the day in many cases. Don’t let it stop you making the approach but also go in with realistic expectations.

As I said at the top of the show, I’ve actually had some amazing interactions over the years with people that I never thought would respond to me, people in my niches who are much bigger than me, movie stars, singers, comedians, business people, really a variety of different people who I thought would probably ignore my approach but who did get back to me. It’s amazing how approachable people are. It’s amazing how interactive some people are but go into it with realistic expectations and knowing it may not work the way that you expected it. That’s my number one tip. Be realistic.

Number two, don’t stalk. Don’t be stalker. All of what I’m going to share with you today is about being useful, it’s about helping influencers, it’s about reaching out and helping to give them a win, about helping them to achieve what they want to achieve. But if you’re not careful, some of what I’m going to share today can look a little bit like stalking. Yes, be enthusiastic, reach out, but be aware of not overstepping boundaries and maybe have an accountability buddy that you share what you’re doing with them, bounce your ideas around so that they can maybe say to you, “Hey, that’s starting to look a bit stalker-ish.” Just be aware that when you are reaching out, people are willing to interact with you but don’t overstep the boundaries. I’ll touch on that a few times during today’s episode.

Number three tip is to be someone worth knowing, which sounds a little bit odd. When you reach out to someone, the chances are that before they respond, particularly if you’re asking them something, asking them to do something, or approaching them in a personal way, many times, before they reply to you, they will do a bit of digging. They will check out who you are. They will do some research. They might check out your blog. They might look on your social media accounts. They’re going to want to know who this person is that’s making an approach.

I guess the question I want to ask is what are they going to find? Perhaps the best thing you can do before you start reaching out to people is to build something worth being found. Show that you’re a genuine person, that you’re a credible person, that you’re a trustworthy person, that you have expertise perhaps, or that other people like you. Build some social proof. I know this is hard if you’re just starting out. You can’t just conjure this stuff up but the more that you can show that you’re a worthwhile person, that you’re worth being known in some way, the more likely they are to respond in a positive way. This takes time to build of course.

Even if it’s your Twitter account, does your Twitter account look good? When they look at your Twitter account, are they going to see you complaining all the time about things? Are they going to see you talking about the topic that they’re interested in? You can think about what are they going to think when they dig a little bit deeper? Work hard at creating a great blog or a great podcast, a great Twitter account, a great whatever it is that you do so that when they do a little bit of digging, they will be interested, they’ll be intrigued. They will see you as a potentially credible source of information and worth being known.

This is all before you even make the approach. This is something just to keep working on, I guess.

Number four tip is to know them before you know them. That is to do a little bit of research, to do a little bit of preparation. Most of what I’m going to share today can be helped a lot by doing a little bit of work before you make the approach. Try to understand who the person is. Try to understand what their goals are, what their motives are, knowing a little bit about their history. What is their story? What are their values? What do they like? What do they dislike? Knowing all of these things will help you to create a better impression and to serve them better. It will inform the approach that you take.

Do a little bit of digging. Look at their social media accounts. Read their blog if they’ve got one. Listen to their podcast. Try to understand who they are underneath the fact that they’re an influencer. Again, this is one of those areas you don’t want to be stalking them. You don’t want to be trying to hack into their Facebook account or getting too personal, but having an understanding of who they are is going to go a long way.

The other thing that’s a part of this is to do a little bit of research into where they engage most. This is really important. They might have a Twitter account but do they engage on their Twitter account or are they using it more to broadcast? They may actually prefer to do their engaging on LinkedIn, or they may prefer to do their engagement in Facebook group, or they may prefer to do it via Facebook Live. Really, most influencers have a variety of social media accounts but if you go and do some analysis, you’ll find that they have a preferred place that they like to interact.

Sometimes, they communicate this. Sometimes, if you look at their contact page on their blog, they might say, “Hey, I hang out in this Facebook group a lot. Come and ask me questions there.” Sometimes, you need to do a little more digging as well.

I’m a good example of this. I have a lot of social media accounts. I don’t use Instagram very much at all. I do have the account there. When I go on holidays, I tend to post more there but I don’t tend to interact much there. I’ve got a Twitter account where I interact a little bit more but for me, Facebook is where I interact more: Facebook group, Facebook Lives that I do on certain times at the week as well. If you were to dig into me, you would find that Facebook is probably a better place to begin to build those relationships. I’m trying to communicate that more and more as well to help people to find me where I’m most accessible.

Do a bit of research into who the person is.

Once you’ve done that research, one of the key things that you should be thinking about is what are the goals of this influencer? How can I serve them? I guess the fifth thing that I want to say is to serve. Serve first, ask later would be the tip that I’d give you. In your research, what are they trying to achieve? What are their goals? What are their passions? What are the outcomes that they are looking for? Most influencers, it’s fairly obvious what they’re trying to achieve. There might be an offer. They’re probably trying to sell more books. They may be a podcaster. They’re probably trying to get more listeners to their podcast.

Begin to think about what is it that they want, what is a win for them, and how can I give them a win in some way. Some of the wins that online influencers are wanting are going to be pretty obvious. For example, if they’re a blogger, most of them are going to want to increase their reach. They’re going to want either more traffic, or a bigger audience, or a bigger profile. That’s something that most online influencers are going to want. That doesn’t come and go. It’s just something that they all typically want.

Most online influencers want engagement. Most online influencers want some kind of conversion, some sort of monetization. They’re trying to sell something whether it’s a product, or a service, or getting people to a website where they convert by getting people to look at their ads. Most online influencers are also trying to create content. These are things that influencers are interested in. I guess the question is how can you serve them? How can you help them to achieve those goals? I’m going to dig into those things in a moment.

There are also other times in an influencers life where they will want something specific, something that’s a little bit more time sensitive, that they may be looking for a particular outcome over the next week or over the next month. These are really key things to latch into and to understand. Are they launching a new book? Are they launching a new product or a new service? Are they supporting a not for profit project that they’re passionate about? Are they launching a new social media account or exploring a new medium that they’re trying to get more traction on? Maybe they’re launching a YouTube account or they just started doing Facebook Lives.

When influencers are starting new things or they’re promoting something specific, two things happen. One, they get really busy but two, they often become very open to being approached if you can help them with that particular thing. If you noticed an influencer doing something time specific, this can, at times, be a great time to approach them. They may be more open to engaging in some way if you are in a position to help them with an outcome that they’re looking for. Be aware of their ongoing wins that they’re looking for, the outcomes that they’re looking for, but also, be really aware of those key times when they’re about to launch something. Often, they’ll tell you when it’s coming.

I was looking at one online influencer the other day and he said he’s got a new course coming out next month. That’s a signal that maybe I should be reaching out to him and saying, “Hey, I noticed you’ve got this launch coming up. Can I interact with you? Can I support you in that in some way?” Be aware of those types of things. What I want to do now is just look at some of those objectives that an influencer might have. Some of them are more of the ongoing ones. Hopefully, this will give you a few more tangible tactical things that you can do, although I hesitate to use that word, tactical, because I really do want this to be about relationship.

Don’t systematize it. Don’t see this as a tactic. Actually be a good human being and build a relationship with them in some ways because ultimately, that’s going to give you and the other person the biggest win and it’s going to be a lot more fun and satisfying along the way as well.

What are some of the objectives that an influencer might have that you could help with? The first one might be that they are looking for engagement. They might want more engagement in some way. The influencer might be a blogger. They might be a podcaster. They might be a video blogger, doing a live video. In all of this cases, one of the things they want is people to engage with what they do. It’s just not satisfying as a blogger or a live video to create great content and to have no one interact with it in any way.

One of the simplest things that you can do is to comment. Leave comments, leave replies on their blog posts. Reply to their social media. Don’t just say that was good, nice post. Go the extra mile by being constructive, by adding something to what they’re doing. If they ask questions, answer the questions. If they’re teaching something, give some examples of their teaching. Ask questions of them.

One of the things that I think can really get on people’s attention is when you go above and beyond with the comments that you leave. I can think back a number of times over the last year where people have gone above and beyond leaving comments on my blog, on my Facebook, in the Facebook group, actually showing that they are not just reading and saying nice posts but that they’re actually interested in engaging in some way. That’s one of the most satisfying things for a blogger, a podcaster, or someone on social media.

Be highly engaged. Add to the conversation in some way. That’s great. Being a highly engaged audience member is great but you can actually take this further when it comes to this idea of helping someone to build engagement. You can actually help them to build community as well. One of the things I’ve noticed is that there’s real opportunity to join in and help influencers build this community around what they’re doing.

Let me give you a really good example of this. This is about six or seven years ago. I noticed a blogger was running a Twitter chat. It was a Twitter chat that was fairly well attended in their particular niche and I decided to join in on that Twitter chat. This blogger had never run a Twitter chat before and so I decided to make myself an unofficial community manager for this Twitter chat. I know I didn’t tell the blogger I was doing it and I didn’t want to be too over the top with it so I kind of restrained myself a little bit.

But I decided I was going to ask some good questions and I was going to respond to as many people as I could in that Twitter chat. My goal is not to build my profile. My goal was to make it the best Twitter chat that it could possibly be. At the end of the Twitter chat, the other blogger messaged me privately and said, “Hey, that was amazing. Could you come back next week to do it as well?”

They didn’t actually know me from ProBlogger. They didn’t know my profile whatsoever. It was actually completely off topic and random that I was on this particular Twitter chat but I had participated in Twitter chats before. I knew what made a good Twitter chat and so I decided just to be the best participant in that community that I could.

By me doing that, it actually drew others into the conversation. They actually really value that. If someone’s doing a Facebook Live, don’t just leave comments answering their questions or asking them questions. Take notice of the other people on the chat and respond to their questions. Say, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Not just to the person doing the Facebook Live, but to other people who are commenting as well. Ask them questions. Try and engage them. Welcome them into the community.

You want to be a little bit careful here. You can go too far with this. This is where you can be seen to be almost trying to take over someone else’s community. You want to be very careful there. Don’t stalk them. Don’t come across in a way that you’re just trying to build your own profile. You want to be really careful that you’re being seen as someone who’s serving that community in some way.

Another thing that could work at this kind of juncture is to actually volunteer in some way. It maybe after you’ve done some of this type of thing and try to build engagement, you might want to reach out to the influencers and say, “Hey, I’ve really enjoyed your Facebook Lives. Would it be helpful if someone was to assist you in them in some way? I’m happy to volunteer my time.” Or maybe it’s a Twitter chat, “I’m happy to participate in that. Could I prepare some questions for you? Can I serve you in any way to help you to make that Twitter chat run better?” It may be that it’s better to participate and then volunteer to take on those type of roles as well.

Another role that you might want to volunteer to participate in is to moderate in the Facebook group as well, although you probably want to be a good, active member of the community before you’d make that kind of volunteering offer.

Help someone to build engagement I guess is the first thing that is going to help them to have a win. Another thing that many influencers are trying to do is to build traffic and reach to build their profile. This is a goal that most online influencers want to achieve so how can you help them to do that? You may not have a massive audience yourself. You may not think that you’re going to be able to send them any traffic but even you attempting to help them can be a powerful thing, something that’s going to get on their radar.

A few practical things that you can do to help them to grow their audience, share their stuff, share their content, retweet their tweets if you think it’s going to be relevant to your audience, and take their blog posts and share them on your social media, link to them from your blog. You may even want to reach out to them and ask, “Can I interview you on my blog to introduce you to my audience?” Sometimes, that may not be possible. They might not be willing to invest the time into an interview but even just sending them a simple question that you get their opinion on, a one question interview, “Hey, could you answer this question? I would use it in my blog.” Those types of things expose your audience to this particular influence and help them to grow their profile.

If they’re not interested in that type of interview type of thing, maybe just do a case study on them. Maybe you can find enough information on what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved in the past so you can write a case study on who they are, how they’ve grown their business, how they’ve grown their influence. You might find a quote and use one of their quotes in your articles.

Link to them from other places. Maybe you write guest posts for other blogs. Don’t just link in your guest posts to your own content, link to other influencers. This happened to me a few years ago now. A blogger that I’ve never heard of before wrote a post in a big business publication. It was a guest post. It wasn’t something that were paid for. That link in their article, I think it was from Businessweek or Forbes, one of those, that sent a ton of traffic across to my site. This blogger could never have sent me that much traffic but by getting an article in a bigger publication and linking to me from that, they certainly got on my radar. You’re writing guest posts, don’t promote yourself, promote other people. See that as an opportunity to help someone else achieve their goals as well.

Maybe giving a talk, a presentation, mention these influencers in those talks as well. It’s amazing how many times people will tweet the influencer that you’re talking about in a talk on those occasions. It may be that you can introduce that influencer to someone else that they need to meet, that might help them. Be a connector. Perhaps, you can’t send them traffic directly but perhaps, you could suggest to another blogger that they link to something that this person has written. Actually be the connector. Help to set them up in some way.

Maybe you could recommend that someone in mainstream media interview them. I remember years ago now, a reader of Digital Photography School, when I was just starting out that blog, they got me an interview in The New York Times. Just as I was starting my blog, this reader thought I was doing something interesting and so they sent a random email to a reporter at The New York Times and that reporter emailed me and asked me to interview me. Maybe you could be that type of person to help them to grow in some way.

Help them to build their audience. When you do these types of things, let them know what you’re doing. You don’t need to boast about it, but if you’ve linked to them in your blog, if you’ve linked to them in a guest post, just send them an email or send them a message saying, “Hey, I mentioned you here.” That is enough. That will get on their radar. Send them a quick message, those types of things.

The accumulation of all those little things that you can be doing, that actually has a big impact. If the influencer is trying to sell something, how can you help them to sell more of that thing? Maybe you could become an affiliate, maybe you could write a review of their products and services, maybe you can recommend their product on social media, but here’s one of the cool things that you can do. Send them a testimonial. People who are selling stuff, they love getting testimonials that they can use. If someone’s selling an ebook, buy the ebook and send them a paragraph of what you think about that ebook that they can then use.

You may even want to send a photo. But here’s even cooler. Send them a video. Send them a video testimonial. Send them an audio testimonial if they have got a podcast. These types of things are going to help them to sell more of their thing. Again, it’s all about trying to work out what is it that they’re trying to achieve and how can you be useful in that.

Another last thing that you can do, many influencers are trying to create content. You can participate in the content creation process. It may be that you have an idea for a blog post that they could write, something that they’ve never written about before. You may even go to the effort of putting a title and three points that they could cover into it. Actually help them to create that blog post. Maybe it’s about asking them questions that they might want to write about.

Maybe, you could actually create some content for them as well. Maybe, you could create a little jingle for their podcast. Maybe, you could create a meme that they could share on social media. Maybe, you could create a social graphic that they could share that promotes one of their posts. Create some little pieces of content that they can share. It may not be much, but even just little things that can be useful to them, little graphics that they can use on their Twitter account, for example. Things that they can use in their own content, to improve their content. It’s actually going to make you the impression.

Maybe, it’s doing research for them into a particular topic. Maybe, it’s finding some data that they might find useful. Maybe, it’s even letting them know if there’s an error in their content, a spelling mistake or something that’s not quite working or a broken link. You need to be a bit careful about those ones. You want to probably do it in private if you can, not call them out, be polite, and be kind in a way that you critique those types of things. But those are the types of things that help them to create better content. That makes an impression upon people.

A few more tips. This is a big one. This probably already comes through a few times in what I’ve said, but it’s to be human. Whilst I’m calling these influencers influencers, they’re not really influencers. They’re human beings. They have good days. They have bad days. They get hurt. They get angry. They feel joy. They have questions and problems of their own as well as questions and solutions that they give other people, so answer their questions.

If they are tweeting that they’ve got a question or they’ve got a problem, research the solution to that problem, actually serve them in that way. Support the courses and passions that they have. Encourage them when you notice they’re going through a tough time. If they’re tweeting about a problem they’ve got, send them a word of encouragement. Celebrate their wins. Notice their efforts. Notice the things that they’re trying to do. Notice their strengths. Laugh with them.

One of the best things you can do is people often blow off steam on Twitter. They might mention that they’re watching Game of Thrones, the season opener of that. Some light hearted banter, a well timed pun, sharing a funny GIF or a meme can go a long way, even if it’s completely off topic. If they have shown a part of themselves to be human, show a part of yourself to be human as well. Maybe even send them a gift. You want to be a bit careful about gifts. You don’t want to do anything too creepy there, but you know, a meaningful gift, something physical that you can send them in the post, can actually go a long way as well.

I did this a few years ago. I noticed a movie star. I’m not going to mention who it is because I don’t want a big note, but this particular movie star was starting a blog. This was 10 years ago now. I decided to send this movie star my book in the post. I didn’t really do it with the agenda that they would link to it or anything and they didn’t but I got this really nice email back saying, “Hey, thanks. No one else really noticed I started my blog. It didn’t really work but I appreciate you reaching out in that way.” Those types of things can really create a big impression. Be human.

Another thing to try is to be memorable where you can. This is really hard. It’s not always possible to do. But if you could do something out of the blue, something surprising, or something funny, or something really smart, or something really generous, that can actually create a memory that can be a very powerful thing. It may also be a part of your brand. It can help you to stand out.

For example, I know one blogger who’s brand is that he always wears bright colored eyeglasses. He must have 50 pairs of them. Almost everyday, he wears a different pair of glasses. It’s part of his brand. It’s the type of thing that people remember. Again, it’s not something you can just do but if you can build something memorable into the approaches that you make, that can really go a long way not only to a first impression, but to create a first impression that lasts in some way. Maybe, it’s the way you use your sense of humor.

This is another one to be a bit careful about. But I know one blogger who’s very good at giving constructive criticism. He gets on really big influencer’s radars by doing something that feels really risky. He points out things that they could improve upon. He does it in such a way that the person actually feels really good about it. You might find a mistake in something that they’ve written or an improvement that they could make to some content that they’ve made or to a product. He points out what are their weaknesses but he has this way of doing it that the person actually feels like he’s being very constructive, very generous, and very helpful.

If you want to take that approach, it feels risky to do it but it can actually create a massive impression. I’ve seen this happen to me a number of times. One example that comes to mind is when I started this podcast. A few weeks after launching this podcast, I got an email from one of our event attendees at an Aussie ProBlogger event, an attendee called Rachelle Colbert.

Rachelle has experience in radio and television and so she’s someone who I knew about. We’ve not really spoken a great deal but she sent me an email on this day, a few weeks after my podcast launched. She had recorded me a personal podcast. It was like 20 or 30 minutes of advice, of ways that I can improve my podcast. She pointed out the things that I wasn’t so good at and things that I wasn’t doing in a good way. She’s actually a radio person so I knew she had some credibility there. One of the reasons I probably did persist with all 20 minutes of that recording was that I knew she was going to give good advice. But I could also tell through her recording that she genuinely wanted to help and she wasn’t just being critical, she was being constructively critical. That really came across in the way she said it.

If you do it, if you want to stand out and be memorable by pointing out criticism, be constructive, show you care, and do it in private where you can as well. Be genuine with your criticism. This example really leads me to my next point, is to personalize your approach.

In this world where influencers are being bombarded by automated personality-less approaches, make your communications as personal as you can. Rachelle sending me a 20 minute personal podcast that no one else would ever listen to, for her going to that length to send me a message, no one’s ever done that for me before. 20 minutes may have been too long if I hadn’t known who she was in the past and we’ve not interacted before but the medium she chose was really smart. Record an audio that allows the person to hear your voice, to understand you are genuine, to hear some of your personality, and to be reminded that it’s a human being on the other side of the approach and not just words on the screen.

Sending audio is so easy to do. Facebook Messenger now allows it. You can record it on your computer and send it in an email. There are so many ways to send audio. Another option is to record video. I’m seeing this more and more lately, people sitting in front of a webcam or a phone or even doing a Screencast and sending that video. It shows that you’ve gone through some effort and that you’re a person as well.

Lastly, I guess, with personal approaches, when possible, meeting the person in person can create a really positive impression too. Just don’t stalk. Here’s my advice again. Don’t stalk. Also, be aware that if you’re approaching someone at a conference, it may not be the best time for them to remember you because they’re probably being approached by a lot of people. If they’re a speaker at a conference, often, they’re being bombarded by people asking questions. So, yes, meet them but follow up with another message, whether it be text, or video, or a message on social media in some way.

A few last tips, a really quick one. Where you can leverage mutual connections, sometimes, getting someone else that the influencer knows to introduce you, can speed things up. I find that really works a lot. Using something like LinkedIn which allows you to do that can be one way to do that, but I personally would try and do it in another way because a lot of people are introducing people on LinkedIn that they don’t really know. If there’s a mutual connection, leverage that in some way if you can.

One of the last things I want to say is to really focus upon building these kind of relationships before you need something. This is the last thing I would say is I get a lot of first contacts from people that come with an ask. Whilst I certainly am open to responding and working with people that I’ve never heard of before, the reality is I’m much more likely to want to connect with someone and help someone that I feel like I’ve had an ongoing connection with. I’m much more open to people asking me to do things or asking me for a favor or asking me to participate in what they’re doing if that relationship didn’t start with that.

Start these relationships with an open ended attitude. I really love what Sonia Simone over at Copyblogger writes on this particular topic. She actually has a really great article that I’ll link to in the show notes today, with 10 tips for connecting with influencers. Some of it has got some overlap with what I’ve said today but she actually uses some tactical advice as well that I haven’t covered. But the last thing she says, I want to read it to you. I hope Simone doesn’t mind. Her last point is it doesn’t always work the way you thought it would.

This is what she wrote. She says, “Way back when I started my first blog, I secretly imagined that one day, I was going to have tea and crumpets with Seth Godin everyday. Turns out, I can’t really eat crumpets. All that gluten is not good for me. Also, possibly more to the point, Seth just wasn’t that interested. To be clear, he’s always been very nice, just not on the daily crumpets level nice. On my path, one of my goals was to someday develop a good working relationship with Seth Godin. Things didn’t work out exactly as I had visualized but a bunch of other good things happened on that path and I did end up building great working relationships with lots of other amazing people. You have to follow the path you’re actually on, which sometimes bears only slight resemblance to the one that was originally in your head. The plan is nothing. Planning is everything, Dwight Eisenhower once said. Do have goals. Do have some folks in mind that you’d love to create professional relationships with and then do a bunch of epic stuff. Be a good egg. Know your topic and make yourself useful and see where the real path leads. It’s going to be somewhere good. Just be ready for a few interesting twists.”

I think this is so important and it really comes back to I guess what I said at the top, many times you’ll try and get to know someone, you’ll reach out to an influencer, sometimes, they won’t reply, sometimes, it will lead to nothing at all, but sometimes, it will lead to something that you didn’t expect. Many of the times that I’ve approached people, I’ve approached with one thing in mind and something else comes out of that interaction as well. It may be that that person is a stepping stone to meeting someone else. It may be that what you pitch that person, ask that person, they say no to but they have another idea that could end up being a fruitful collaboration in some way.

Build the relationships first. Actually reach out to people and who knows where these things will lead to.

Now, last thing I want to do with this episode is to finish off with some words that my anonymous influencer friend wrote down for me to share. It’s his list of five things to do and five things not to do. This is what he writes. He says don’t be a robot. Don’t give false flattery. Don’t be negative or a gossip. Don’t be a fan boy or a fan girl. Don’t be selfish.

And then his do’s, he says be generous, be constructive, be confident, be engaging, and be human. I hope something of what I’ve shared today is helpful to you. Reach out to influencers. You never know where these things may lead to.

You can find today’s show notes with that link to Sonia Simone’s amazing article over on Copyblogger. The show notes are at problogger.con/podcast/203.

Last thing I’ll say, and I hinted this at the top of the show, is that we’ve made some changes in our ProBlogger Facebook group over the last week. The group is now growing. It’s almost up to 8,000 members. As things grow, we need to adapt, evolve, and change things up. A few things that we’ve done, firstly, we have changed it from being a public group to a closed group. It’s not secret but now, if you’ll look at it and you’re not a member, you can’t see what’s going on inside, which makes it a little bit more private. A few people were reporting that threads were showing up in their friends’ feeds and things like that. Now, that won’t happen. If you want to ask questions and you don’t want your readers or other people to see it, only people in the community are going to see them.

We’ve also started using hashtags in our group a lot more. I’ve asked people to only start new threads that start with one or two hashtags. Either ask, #ask, and in that case, you are asking a question or #tip, where you are leaving a tip. We really want the group to be a place where people help one another. So they’re asking questions, talking about the problems that they have, and sharing tips that they’ve got as well.

We also asked people not to share links in the group as well. We’ve all been part of Facebook groups where it’s just the link sharing goes on and on. It becomes a very self promotional place. We’ve asked people to actually share the advice that they’ve got in the thread itself with the tip rather than sharing a link to something that they’ve written elsewhere. That certainly helped to cut down the amount of threads that we’ve got, but also made the threads we’ve got more useful.

The last thing we’ve been doing in the Facebook group is regular thread. Every Monday, we’re now doing goals. What’s your goal of the week thread. I start that or Laney, who works with me starts that off and then everyone responds to that. That’s Mondays. Wednesdays is hump day hurdles. What is the biggest challenge you’ve got this week? What’s the problem that you’ve got this week? It’s about sharing those problems but then we encourage people to be the solution to the problems that each other has and so you share your problem then you look through the list and find someone else that has a problem that you can be a solution for. That’s on Wednesdays.

Fridays is win day. That’s a day where we invite you to share something that you’ve done during the week that has been a win. That is an opportunity for you to point at a post that you’ve written or to link to something that you’ve feel proud about. We are allowing you to share your links and those types of things, but only in those types of threads as well.

We had some really positive responses to what we’re doing in the group. I get a lot of personal messages from people saying, “Thank you. This group has helped me level up in my blogging.” If you are looking for a community that’s supportive, that’s really positive, very constructive, do join the Facebook group. Go to problogger.com/group and you’ll be forwarded into the Facebook group, or you’ll find a link to that in our show notes, or if you do a search on Facebook as well.

Thanks so much for listening to this podcast. I’m amazed every week when I look at the stats of the amount of people who are engaging, listening, and sharing the journey with us in this. It’s a real honor to be a part of that and I look forward to connecting with you maybe at one of our events in the coming weeks or in our Facebook group as well.

The last thing I’ll say is that over the next couple of weeks, I will be at our Australian events as this podcast goes out. We’ve got a bit of a special treat for you for the next two episodes of the podcast as well. Be a bit different to normal so I hope you enjoy what we’ve got planned for you while I’m off at the ProBlogger events. We’re going to give you a taste of what goes on at our events in this podcast.

Thanks for listening and I’ll chat with you next week in one of those episodes, episode 204.

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203: How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche

how to reach out to influencers in your niche

How to Connect With Influencers in Your Niche

Today I want to share some teaching on how to approach influencers and other well known people in your niche (or outside it too).

One of the most powerful ways to grow your profile, audience and brand is to connect with others in your niche. The benefits of doing it can be many and varied – the opportunities that flow from these interactions can be pretty cool for the growth of your blog….

BUT doing it the wrong way can also hurt your blog and brand – so I want to share what NOT to do.

Links and Resources for How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Good day there. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com – a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of eBooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow an amazing blog, to create great content that’s going to change the life of your readers and to build profit around that blog too. You can learn more about ProBlogger and our upcoming events over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, episode number 203, I want to share some teaching on how to approach influencers and other well known people in your niche or even outside your niche too. Some of what I’m going to share today actually works really well on a personal level if you admire a comedian, or a musician, or that type of person as well.

One of the most powerful ways to grow your profile, and your audience, and brand is to connect with others in your niche, particularly those who are prominent themselves. The benefits of doing this can be many and varied. The opportunities that can flow from these interactions can be pretty cool for the growth of your blog, but doing it the wrong way can also hurt your blog and brand as well.

Today, I want to share some things to do, the approach that I take with approaching influencers but also some things not to do.

You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/203 where I will share some further reading as well. There’ll also be links on the show notes to our Facebook group, which you can find at problogger.com/group, a thriving group and community of bloggers. We’ve got some new things going in there at the moment which I’ll tell you about at the end of the podcast today.

Also, you’ll find on our show notes today the last chance to get tickets for our Aussie events which are happening in the next few days in Brisbane and Melbourne. You can find more details on those Australian events at problogger.com/events and our Dallas event in Dallas, Texas later in the year, in October at problogger.com/success.

Now, let’s talk about approaching influencers in your niche. Today, we’re talking about how to connect with influencers in your niche. Today’s podcast really comes about after earlier in the week, I listened to a Facebook Live talk by someone else. I’m not going to mention who they are because I’m going to critique what they say. This person was talking about this very topic, how to leverage influencers to grow your blog.

Now, the topic is a good one. As I said at the top of the show, I think that getting to know other people in your niche can bring many benefits to your blog. It’s not just about growing traffic and them sending you traffic. It’s also about growing your profile, growing your credibility, making friends, and helping them as well. It’s a mutual thing in my mind. But after 15 minutes of listening to this Facebook Live, I found myself getting very frustrated, and the reason for this was that the person described a system, a systematized approach that was incredibly formulaic and it was anything but personal.

They actually used a tool to run all of their approaches. The tool I’m not going to name because I really don’t believe in this approach. But the tool itself allowed you to create a sequence of emails that is going to be sent to influencers to get their attention. The emails were all set up ahead of time and depending upon whether the influencer responded to you, it would then send them more emails at different intervals. You can set them up for every 24 hours or every 48 hours.

For example, the first email might be a friendly introductory email where you mention that you’re a fan of their site. If they don’t respond to that, a second email might be, “You might have missed my last email.” The third one might be something funny but a little bit more direct to about, “Why you were ignoring my emails?” The fourth one could be a more direct one, perhaps even strongly worded that you’re disappointed that they didn’t respond.

The person who was teaching this system actually had these templates. As he went through them, I recognized the emails because I get these emails everyday. If the influencer responds at any point, then you can have other emails in the system that you go back, these canned responses asking them to do whatever it is that you’re trying to get them to do. Or you can take over and get a little bit more personal with your responses at that point.

As I listened to this presentation, on some levels, it made sense. I could see how it might work in some cases but what annoyed me most about it was that this person said that once you’ve got this email setup, that you can then scale it and then you can put in 10, or 20, or 100 influencer’s names and email addresses and then get this system going with hundreds of people at once. All you have to do is add in their first name and their site’s URL and then email address and it will just take over and it will run the system for you.

As he described this, it made me remember all the emails that I’ve received that have been the same templated formulaic response. The person doing the Facebook Live said, “If you buy this product,” and it was hundreds of dollars to get this and it was a monthly product as well, they also include all the email addresses of influencers as well, which annoyed me even more because I know I’m on some of those lists. I was pretty annoyed with this presentation.

I guess the main reason that I was annoyed is that I get these emails everyday. I can spot them a mile off. Whilst I didn’t know the name of the tool, I could see what was going on. It might be that these emails are slightly personalized. They usually have my name. Sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, they say, “Insert name here.” You can see that they forgot to insert the name. They might have my site’s URL but they’re obviously not personal.

When they come at predetermined intervals, every 48 hours in a sequence, I simply trash them and mark them as spam. I don’t like to do that because I like to reply to emails that I get. I do as much as I can. It begins to clutter the inbox and I get 10 or so of these everyday and it wastes a lot of my time.

Here’s the thing though. I know that the bulk of people who are sending those emails and buying these very expensive tools have good intentions. I know some people listening to this podcast probably use them as well. They’re being sold these tools, which can be very expensive and promised amazing results but without knowing it, I know these good people who are using these tools are potentially hurting their brand.

Here’s what I want to say today, is that there are better ways to do it. I talk to big influencers. I’m a small fry but I talk to big influencers and what I experienced personally is just the tip of the iceberg. I spoke to one big influencer last week. He actually asked me not to mention his name but he told me that he gets over 100 emails everyday that are the same formulaic approaches. Many times he looks at the emails and can see that people haven’t even bothered to customize the emails. They’re exactly the same for multiple people. They’re using the swipe files.

It was interesting to chat with him because whilst he was really angry about getting all of these emails and wasting so much time, on the other hand he said, “It’s actually not that hard to get on my radar.” He’s actually someone who is very easy to get in touch with, someone who has collaborated with people many times over who have approached him the right way. But people who go this new automated route never, ever succeed with him. He just trashes them. He marks their emails as spam. It really doesn’t build their brand at all to approach him in this way.

I actually asked this influencer if I could interview him for this particular podcast and he was a bit hesitant to do that because he didn’t want to trigger hate amongst people who were using those tools and he also didn’t want to trigger a flood of people trying to approach him because he’s a very busy guy. He did give me some advice. I’ve compiled it into today’s topic and added some of my own thoughts as well. I really do genuinely hope that these help you, for those of you who are trying to reach out to influencers.

Let me go through some of these tips. The first one is to have realistic expectations. Let me start by saying that whether you use the automation route or whether you take the approach that I’m going to talk about today, not all influencers are going to respond to you. They get a lot of approaches and they have a lot of interactions everyday.

The person that I am actually talking about, this anonymous influencer that I’m basing today’s podcast on, he has over a million social media connections. In fact, there’s several million when you add all the networks together. He gets a ton of approaches everyday, not only the automated one, but other ones as well. He does actually interact at a remarkable level. I just looked at his Twitter account. He replied to over 100 people today in the last 24 hours on Twitter so he’s interacted a lot there. He also did a one hour Q&A session on Facebook Live today.

He does a lot of interacting but even at that level of interaction, he tells me that he’s aware he can’t get back to everyone. He feels bad about it. Now, not at all influencers come anywhere near what this influencer does. They’re busy people. They get approached all day, everyday so don’t be surprised if you either hear nothing back or you might get a response back that isn’t what you hoped for. They may be shutting you down in some way, or are saying no to you, or maybe you got something bad from an assistant and not them personally.

But don’t let this stop you. You never know who you can interact with. Make the approach and try to build a relationship with these influencers but know that not all of them are capable. They just don’t have enough hours in the day in many cases. Don’t let it stop you making the approach but also go in with realistic expectations.

As I said at the top of the show, I’ve actually had some amazing interactions over the years with people that I never thought would respond to me, people in my niches who are much bigger than me, movie stars, singers, comedians, business people, really a variety of different people who I thought would probably ignore my approach but who did get back to me. It’s amazing how approachable people are. It’s amazing how interactive some people are but go into it with realistic expectations and knowing it may not work the way that you expected it. That’s my number one tip. Be realistic.

Number two, don’t stalk. Don’t be stalker. All of what I’m going to share with you today is about being useful, it’s about helping influencers, it’s about reaching out and helping to give them a win, about helping them to achieve what they want to achieve. But if you’re not careful, some of what I’m going to share today can look a little bit like stalking. Yes, be enthusiastic, reach out, but be aware of not overstepping boundaries and maybe have an accountability buddy that you share what you’re doing with them, bounce your ideas around so that they can maybe say to you, “Hey, that’s starting to look a bit stalker-ish.” Just be aware that when you are reaching out, people are willing to interact with you but don’t overstep the boundaries. I’ll touch on that a few times during today’s episode.

Number three tip is to be someone worth knowing, which sounds a little bit odd. When you reach out to someone, the chances are that before they respond, particularly if you’re asking them something, asking them to do something, or approaching them in a personal way, many times, before they reply to you, they will do a bit of digging. They will check out who you are. They will do some research. They might check out your blog. They might look on your social media accounts. They’re going to want to know who this person is that’s making an approach.

I guess the question I want to ask is what are they going to find? Perhaps the best thing you can do before you start reaching out to people is to build something worth being found. Show that you’re a genuine person, that you’re a credible person, that you’re a trustworthy person, that you have expertise perhaps, or that other people like you. Build some social proof. I know this is hard if you’re just starting out. You can’t just conjure this stuff up but the more that you can show that you’re a worthwhile person, that you’re worth being known in some way, the more likely they are to respond in a positive way. This takes time to build of course.

Even if it’s your Twitter account, does your Twitter account look good? When they look at your Twitter account, are they going to see you complaining all the time about things? Are they going to see you talking about the topic that they’re interested in? You can think about what are they going to think when they dig a little bit deeper? Work hard at creating a great blog or a great podcast, a great Twitter account, a great whatever it is that you do so that when they do a little bit of digging, they will be interested, they’ll be intrigued. They will see you as a potentially credible source of information and worth being known.

This is all before you even make the approach. This is something just to keep working on, I guess.

Number four tip is to know them before you know them. That is to do a little bit of research, to do a little bit of preparation. Most of what I’m going to share today can be helped a lot by doing a little bit of work before you make the approach. Try to understand who the person is. Try to understand what their goals are, what their motives are, knowing a little bit about their history. What is their story? What are their values? What do they like? What do they dislike? Knowing all of these things will help you to create a better impression and to serve them better. It will inform the approach that you take.

Do a little bit of digging. Look at their social media accounts. Read their blog if they’ve got one. Listen to their podcast. Try to understand who they are underneath the fact that they’re an influencer. Again, this is one of those areas you don’t want to be stalking them. You don’t want to be trying to hack into their Facebook account or getting too personal, but having an understanding of who they are is going to go a long way.

The other thing that’s a part of this is to do a little bit of research into where they engage most. This is really important. They might have a Twitter account but do they engage on their Twitter account or are they using it more to broadcast? They may actually prefer to do their engaging on LinkedIn, or they may prefer to do their engagement in Facebook group, or they may prefer to do it via Facebook Live. Really, most influencers have a variety of social media accounts but if you go and do some analysis, you’ll find that they have a preferred place that they like to interact.

Sometimes, they communicate this. Sometimes, if you look at their contact page on their blog, they might say, “Hey, I hang out in this Facebook group a lot. Come and ask me questions there.” Sometimes, you need to do a little more digging as well.

I’m a good example of this. I have a lot of social media accounts. I don’t use Instagram very much at all. I do have the account there. When I go on holidays, I tend to post more there but I don’t tend to interact much there. I’ve got a Twitter account where I interact a little bit more but for me, Facebook is where I interact more: Facebook group, Facebook Lives that I do on certain times at the week as well. If you were to dig into me, you would find that Facebook is probably a better place to begin to build those relationships. I’m trying to communicate that more and more as well to help people to find me where I’m most accessible.

Do a bit of research into who the person is.

Once you’ve done that research, one of the key things that you should be thinking about is what are the goals of this influencer? How can I serve them? I guess the fifth thing that I want to say is to serve. Serve first, ask later would be the tip that I’d give you. In your research, what are they trying to achieve? What are their goals? What are their passions? What are the outcomes that they are looking for? Most influencers, it’s fairly obvious what they’re trying to achieve. There might be an offer. They’re probably trying to sell more books. They may be a podcaster. They’re probably trying to get more listeners to their podcast.

Begin to think about what is it that they want, what is a win for them, and how can I give them a win in some way. Some of the wins that online influencers are wanting are going to be pretty obvious. For example, if they’re a blogger, most of them are going to want to increase their reach. They’re going to want either more traffic, or a bigger audience, or a bigger profile. That’s something that most online influencers are going to want. That doesn’t come and go. It’s just something that they all typically want.

Most online influencers want engagement. Most online influencers want some kind of conversion, some sort of monetization. They’re trying to sell something whether it’s a product, or a service, or getting people to a website where they convert by getting people to look at their ads. Most online influencers are also trying to create content. These are things that influencers are interested in. I guess the question is how can you serve them? How can you help them to achieve those goals? I’m going to dig into those things in a moment.

There are also other times in an influencers life where they will want something specific, something that’s a little bit more time sensitive, that they may be looking for a particular outcome over the next week or over the next month. These are really key things to latch into and to understand. Are they launching a new book? Are they launching a new product or a new service? Are they supporting a not for profit project that they’re passionate about? Are they launching a new social media account or exploring a new medium that they’re trying to get more traction on? Maybe they’re launching a YouTube account or they just started doing Facebook Lives.

When influencers are starting new things or they’re promoting something specific, two things happen. One, they get really busy but two, they often become very open to being approached if you can help them with that particular thing. If you noticed an influencer doing something time specific, this can, at times, be a great time to approach them. They may be more open to engaging in some way if you are in a position to help them with an outcome that they’re looking for. Be aware of their ongoing wins that they’re looking for, the outcomes that they’re looking for, but also, be really aware of those key times when they’re about to launch something. Often, they’ll tell you when it’s coming.

I was looking at one online influencer the other day and he said he’s got a new course coming out next month. That’s a signal that maybe I should be reaching out to him and saying, “Hey, I noticed you’ve got this launch coming up. Can I interact with you? Can I support you in that in some way?” Be aware of those types of things. What I want to do now is just look at some of those objectives that an influencer might have. Some of them are more of the ongoing ones. Hopefully, this will give you a few more tangible tactical things that you can do, although I hesitate to use that word, tactical, because I really do want this to be about relationship.

Don’t systematize it. Don’t see this as a tactic. Actually be a good human being and build a relationship with them in some ways because ultimately, that’s going to give you and the other person the biggest win and it’s going to be a lot more fun and satisfying along the way as well.

What are some of the objectives that an influencer might have that you could help with? The first one might be that they are looking for engagement. They might want more engagement in some way. The influencer might be a blogger. They might be a podcaster. They might be a video blogger, doing a live video. In all of this cases, one of the things they want is people to engage with what they do. It’s just not satisfying as a blogger or a live video to create great content and to have no one interact with it in any way.

One of the simplest things that you can do is to comment. Leave comments, leave replies on their blog posts. Reply to their social media. Don’t just say that was good, nice post. Go the extra mile by being constructive, by adding something to what they’re doing. If they ask questions, answer the questions. If they’re teaching something, give some examples of their teaching. Ask questions of them.

One of the things that I think can really get on people’s attention is when you go above and beyond with the comments that you leave. I can think back a number of times over the last year where people have gone above and beyond leaving comments on my blog, on my Facebook, in the Facebook group, actually showing that they are not just reading and saying nice posts but that they’re actually interested in engaging in some way. That’s one of the most satisfying things for a blogger, a podcaster, or someone on social media.

Be highly engaged. Add to the conversation in some way. That’s great. Being a highly engaged audience member is great but you can actually take this further when it comes to this idea of helping someone to build engagement. You can actually help them to build community as well. One of the things I’ve noticed is that there’s real opportunity to join in and help influencers build this community around what they’re doing.

Let me give you a really good example of this. This is about six or seven years ago. I noticed a blogger was running a Twitter chat. It was a Twitter chat that was fairly well attended in their particular niche and I decided to join in on that Twitter chat. This blogger had never run a Twitter chat before and so I decided to make myself an unofficial community manager for this Twitter chat. I know I didn’t tell the blogger I was doing it and I didn’t want to be too over the top with it so I kind of restrained myself a little bit.

But I decided I was going to ask some good questions and I was going to respond to as many people as I could in that Twitter chat. My goal is not to build my profile. My goal was to make it the best Twitter chat that it could possibly be. At the end of the Twitter chat, the other blogger messaged me privately and said, “Hey, that was amazing. Could you come back next week to do it as well?”

They didn’t actually know me from ProBlogger. They didn’t know my profile whatsoever. It was actually completely off topic and random that I was on this particular Twitter chat but I had participated in Twitter chats before. I knew what made a good Twitter chat and so I decided just to be the best participant in that community that I could.

By me doing that, it actually drew others into the conversation. They actually really value that. If someone’s doing a Facebook Live, don’t just leave comments answering their questions or asking them questions. Take notice of the other people on the chat and respond to their questions. Say, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Not just to the person doing the Facebook Live, but to other people who are commenting as well. Ask them questions. Try and engage them. Welcome them into the community.

You want to be a little bit careful here. You can go too far with this. This is where you can be seen to be almost trying to take over someone else’s community. You want to be very careful there. Don’t stalk them. Don’t come across in a way that you’re just trying to build your own profile. You want to be really careful that you’re being seen as someone who’s serving that community in some way.

Another thing that could work at this kind of juncture is to actually volunteer in some way. It maybe after you’ve done some of this type of thing and try to build engagement, you might want to reach out to the influencers and say, “Hey, I’ve really enjoyed your Facebook Lives. Would it be helpful if someone was to assist you in them in some way? I’m happy to volunteer my time.” Or maybe it’s a Twitter chat, “I’m happy to participate in that. Could I prepare some questions for you? Can I serve you in any way to help you to make that Twitter chat run better?” It may be that it’s better to participate and then volunteer to take on those type of roles as well.

Another role that you might want to volunteer to participate in is to moderate in the Facebook group as well, although you probably want to be a good, active member of the community before you’d make that kind of volunteering offer.

Help someone to build engagement I guess is the first thing that is going to help them to have a win. Another thing that many influencers are trying to do is to build traffic and reach to build their profile. This is a goal that most online influencers want to achieve so how can you help them to do that? You may not have a massive audience yourself. You may not think that you’re going to be able to send them any traffic but even you attempting to help them can be a powerful thing, something that’s going to get on their radar.

A few practical things that you can do to help them to grow their audience, share their stuff, share their content, retweet their tweets if you think it’s going to be relevant to your audience, and take their blog posts and share them on your social media, link to them from your blog. You may even want to reach out to them and ask, “Can I interview you on my blog to introduce you to my audience?” Sometimes, that may not be possible. They might not be willing to invest the time into an interview but even just sending them a simple question that you get their opinion on, a one question interview, “Hey, could you answer this question? I would use it in my blog.” Those types of things expose your audience to this particular influence and help them to grow their profile.

If they’re not interested in that type of interview type of thing, maybe just do a case study on them. Maybe you can find enough information on what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved in the past so you can write a case study on who they are, how they’ve grown their business, how they’ve grown their influence. You might find a quote and use one of their quotes in your articles.

Link to them from other places. Maybe you write guest posts for other blogs. Don’t just link in your guest posts to your own content, link to other influencers. This happened to me a few years ago now. A blogger that I’ve never heard of before wrote a post in a big business publication. It was a guest post. It wasn’t something that were paid for. That link in their article, I think it was from Businessweek or Forbes, one of those, that sent a ton of traffic across to my site. This blogger could never have sent me that much traffic but by getting an article in a bigger publication and linking to me from that, they certainly got on my radar. You’re writing guest posts, don’t promote yourself, promote other people. See that as an opportunity to help someone else achieve their goals as well.

Maybe giving a talk, a presentation, mention these influencers in those talks as well. It’s amazing how many times people will tweet the influencer that you’re talking about in a talk on those occasions. It may be that you can introduce that influencer to someone else that they need to meet, that might help them. Be a connector. Perhaps, you can’t send them traffic directly but perhaps, you could suggest to another blogger that they link to something that this person has written. Actually be the connector. Help to set them up in some way.

Maybe you could recommend that someone in mainstream media interview them. I remember years ago now, a reader of Digital Photography School, when I was just starting out that blog, they got me an interview in The New York Times. Just as I was starting my blog, this reader thought I was doing something interesting and so they sent a random email to a reporter at The New York Times and that reporter emailed me and asked me to interview me. Maybe you could be that type of person to help them to grow in some way.

Help them to build their audience. When you do these types of things, let them know what you’re doing. You don’t need to boast about it, but if you’ve linked to them in your blog, if you’ve linked to them in a guest post, just send them an email or send them a message saying, “Hey, I mentioned you here.” That is enough. That will get on their radar. Send them a quick message, those types of things.

The accumulation of all those little things that you can be doing, that actually has a big impact. If the influencer is trying to sell something, how can you help them to sell more of that thing? Maybe you could become an affiliate, maybe you could write a review of their products and services, maybe you can recommend their product on social media, but here’s one of the cool things that you can do. Send them a testimonial. People who are selling stuff, they love getting testimonials that they can use. If someone’s selling an ebook, buy the ebook and send them a paragraph of what you think about that ebook that they can then use.

You may even want to send a photo. But here’s even cooler. Send them a video. Send them a video testimonial. Send them an audio testimonial if they have got a podcast. These types of things are going to help them to sell more of their thing. Again, it’s all about trying to work out what is it that they’re trying to achieve and how can you be useful in that.

Another last thing that you can do, many influencers are trying to create content. You can participate in the content creation process. It may be that you have an idea for a blog post that they could write, something that they’ve never written about before. You may even go to the effort of putting a title and three points that they could cover into it. Actually help them to create that blog post. Maybe it’s about asking them questions that they might want to write about.

Maybe, you could actually create some content for them as well. Maybe, you could create a little jingle for their podcast. Maybe, you could create a meme that they could share on social media. Maybe, you could create a social graphic that they could share that promotes one of their posts. Create some little pieces of content that they can share. It may not be much, but even just little things that can be useful to them, little graphics that they can use on their Twitter account, for example. Things that they can use in their own content, to improve their content. It’s actually going to make you the impression.

Maybe, it’s doing research for them into a particular topic. Maybe, it’s finding some data that they might find useful. Maybe, it’s even letting them know if there’s an error in their content, a spelling mistake or something that’s not quite working or a broken link. You need to be a bit careful about those ones. You want to probably do it in private if you can, not call them out, be polite, and be kind in a way that you critique those types of things. But those are the types of things that help them to create better content. That makes an impression upon people.

A few more tips. This is a big one. This probably already comes through a few times in what I’ve said, but it’s to be human. Whilst I’m calling these influencers influencers, they’re not really influencers. They’re human beings. They have good days. They have bad days. They get hurt. They get angry. They feel joy. They have questions and problems of their own as well as questions and solutions that they give other people, so answer their questions.

If they are tweeting that they’ve got a question or they’ve got a problem, research the solution to that problem, actually serve them in that way. Support the courses and passions that they have. Encourage them when you notice they’re going through a tough time. If they’re tweeting about a problem they’ve got, send them a word of encouragement. Celebrate their wins. Notice their efforts. Notice the things that they’re trying to do. Notice their strengths. Laugh with them.

One of the best things you can do is people often blow off steam on Twitter. They might mention that they’re watching Game of Thrones, the season opener of that. Some light hearted banter, a well timed pun, sharing a funny GIF or a meme can go a long way, even if it’s completely off topic. If they have shown a part of themselves to be human, show a part of yourself to be human as well. Maybe even send them a gift. You want to be a bit careful about gifts. You don’t want to do anything too creepy there, but you know, a meaningful gift, something physical that you can send them in the post, can actually go a long way as well.

I did this a few years ago. I noticed a movie star. I’m not going to mention who it is because I don’t want a big note, but this particular movie star was starting a blog. This was 10 years ago now. I decided to send this movie star my book in the post. I didn’t really do it with the agenda that they would link to it or anything and they didn’t but I got this really nice email back saying, “Hey, thanks. No one else really noticed I started my blog. It didn’t really work but I appreciate you reaching out in that way.” Those types of things can really create a big impression. Be human.

Another thing to try is to be memorable where you can. This is really hard. It’s not always possible to do. But if you could do something out of the blue, something surprising, or something funny, or something really smart, or something really generous, that can actually create a memory that can be a very powerful thing. It may also be a part of your brand. It can help you to stand out.

For example, I know one blogger who’s brand is that he always wears bright colored eyeglasses. He must have 50 pairs of them. Almost everyday, he wears a different pair of glasses. It’s part of his brand. It’s the type of thing that people remember. Again, it’s not something you can just do but if you can build something memorable into the approaches that you make, that can really go a long way not only to a first impression, but to create a first impression that lasts in some way. Maybe, it’s the way you use your sense of humor.

This is another one to be a bit careful about. But I know one blogger who’s very good at giving constructive criticism. He gets on really big influencer’s radars by doing something that feels really risky. He points out things that they could improve upon. He does it in such a way that the person actually feels really good about it. You might find a mistake in something that they’ve written or an improvement that they could make to some content that they’ve made or to a product. He points out what are their weaknesses but he has this way of doing it that the person actually feels like he’s being very constructive, very generous, and very helpful.

If you want to take that approach, it feels risky to do it but it can actually create a massive impression. I’ve seen this happen to me a number of times. One example that comes to mind is when I started this podcast. A few weeks after launching this podcast, I got an email from one of our event attendees at an Aussie ProBlogger event, an attendee called Rachelle Colbert.

Rachelle has experience in radio and television and so she’s someone who I knew about. We’ve not really spoken a great deal but she sent me an email on this day, a few weeks after my podcast launched. She had recorded me a personal podcast. It was like 20 or 30 minutes of advice, of ways that I can improve my podcast. She pointed out the things that I wasn’t so good at and things that I wasn’t doing in a good way. She’s actually a radio person so I knew she had some credibility there. One of the reasons I probably did persist with all 20 minutes of that recording was that I knew she was going to give good advice. But I could also tell through her recording that she genuinely wanted to help and she wasn’t just being critical, she was being constructively critical. That really came across in the way she said it.

If you do it, if you want to stand out and be memorable by pointing out criticism, be constructive, show you care, and do it in private where you can as well. Be genuine with your criticism. This example really leads me to my next point, is to personalize your approach.

In this world where influencers are being bombarded by automated personality-less approaches, make your communications as personal as you can. Rachelle sending me a 20 minute personal podcast that no one else would ever listen to, for her going to that length to send me a message, no one’s ever done that for me before. 20 minutes may have been too long if I hadn’t known who she was in the past and we’ve not interacted before but the medium she chose was really smart. Record an audio that allows the person to hear your voice, to understand you are genuine, to hear some of your personality, and to be reminded that it’s a human being on the other side of the approach and not just words on the screen.

Sending audio is so easy to do. Facebook Messenger now allows it. You can record it on your computer and send it in an email. There are so many ways to send audio. Another option is to record video. I’m seeing this more and more lately, people sitting in front of a webcam or a phone or even doing a Screencast and sending that video. It shows that you’ve gone through some effort and that you’re a person as well.

Lastly, I guess, with personal approaches, when possible, meeting the person in person can create a really positive impression too. Just don’t stalk. Here’s my advice again. Don’t stalk. Also, be aware that if you’re approaching someone at a conference, it may not be the best time for them to remember you because they’re probably being approached by a lot of people. If they’re a speaker at a conference, often, they’re being bombarded by people asking questions. So, yes, meet them but follow up with another message, whether it be text, or video, or a message on social media in some way.

A few last tips, a really quick one. Where you can leverage mutual connections, sometimes, getting someone else that the influencer knows to introduce you, can speed things up. I find that really works a lot. Using something like LinkedIn which allows you to do that can be one way to do that, but I personally would try and do it in another way because a lot of people are introducing people on LinkedIn that they don’t really know. If there’s a mutual connection, leverage that in some way if you can.

One of the last things I want to say is to really focus upon building these kind of relationships before you need something. This is the last thing I would say is I get a lot of first contacts from people that come with an ask. Whilst I certainly am open to responding and working with people that I’ve never heard of before, the reality is I’m much more likely to want to connect with someone and help someone that I feel like I’ve had an ongoing connection with. I’m much more open to people asking me to do things or asking me for a favor or asking me to participate in what they’re doing if that relationship didn’t start with that.

Start these relationships with an open ended attitude. I really love what Sonia Simone over at Copyblogger writes on this particular topic. She actually has a really great article that I’ll link to in the show notes today, with 10 tips for connecting with influencers. Some of it has got some overlap with what I’ve said today but she actually uses some tactical advice as well that I haven’t covered. But the last thing she says, I want to read it to you. I hope Simone doesn’t mind. Her last point is it doesn’t always work the way you thought it would.

This is what she wrote. She says, “Way back when I started my first blog, I secretly imagined that one day, I was going to have tea and crumpets with Seth Godin everyday. Turns out, I can’t really eat crumpets. All that gluten is not good for me. Also, possibly more to the point, Seth just wasn’t that interested. To be clear, he’s always been very nice, just not on the daily crumpets level nice. On my path, one of my goals was to someday develop a good working relationship with Seth Godin. Things didn’t work out exactly as I had visualized but a bunch of other good things happened on that path and I did end up building great working relationships with lots of other amazing people. You have to follow the path you’re actually on, which sometimes bears only slight resemblance to the one that was originally in your head. The plan is nothing. Planning is everything, Dwight Eisenhower once said. Do have goals. Do have some folks in mind that you’d love to create professional relationships with and then do a bunch of epic stuff. Be a good egg. Know your topic and make yourself useful and see where the real path leads. It’s going to be somewhere good. Just be ready for a few interesting twists.”

I think this is so important and it really comes back to I guess what I said at the top, many times you’ll try and get to know someone, you’ll reach out to an influencer, sometimes, they won’t reply, sometimes, it will lead to nothing at all, but sometimes, it will lead to something that you didn’t expect. Many of the times that I’ve approached people, I’ve approached with one thing in mind and something else comes out of that interaction as well. It may be that that person is a stepping stone to meeting someone else. It may be that what you pitch that person, ask that person, they say no to but they have another idea that could end up being a fruitful collaboration in some way.

Build the relationships first. Actually reach out to people and who knows where these things will lead to.

Now, last thing I want to do with this episode is to finish off with some words that my anonymous influencer friend wrote down for me to share. It’s his list of five things to do and five things not to do. This is what he writes. He says don’t be a robot. Don’t give false flattery. Don’t be negative or a gossip. Don’t be a fan boy or a fan girl. Don’t be selfish.

And then his do’s, he says be generous, be constructive, be confident, be engaging, and be human. I hope something of what I’ve shared today is helpful to you. Reach out to influencers. You never know where these things may lead to.

You can find today’s show notes with that link to Sonia Simone’s amazing article over on Copyblogger. The show notes are at problogger.con/podcast/203.

Last thing I’ll say, and I hinted this at the top of the show, is that we’ve made some changes in our ProBlogger Facebook group over the last week. The group is now growing. It’s almost up to 8,000 members. As things grow, we need to adapt, evolve, and change things up. A few things that we’ve done, firstly, we have changed it from being a public group to a closed group. It’s not secret but now, if you’ll look at it and you’re not a member, you can’t see what’s going on inside, which makes it a little bit more private. A few people were reporting that threads were showing up in their friends’ feeds and things like that. Now, that won’t happen. If you want to ask questions and you don’t want your readers or other people to see it, only people in the community are going to see them.

We’ve also started using hashtags in our group a lot more. I’ve asked people to only start new threads that start with one or two hashtags. Either ask, #ask, and in that case, you are asking a question or #tip, where you are leaving a tip. We really want the group to be a place where people help one another. So they’re asking questions, talking about the problems that they have, and sharing tips that they’ve got as well.

We also asked people not to share links in the group as well. We’ve all been part of Facebook groups where it’s just the link sharing goes on and on. It becomes a very self promotional place. We’ve asked people to actually share the advice that they’ve got in the thread itself with the tip rather than sharing a link to something that they’ve written elsewhere. That certainly helped to cut down the amount of threads that we’ve got, but also made the threads we’ve got more useful.

The last thing we’ve been doing in the Facebook group is regular thread. Every Monday, we’re now doing goals. What’s your goal of the week thread. I start that or Laney, who works with me starts that off and then everyone responds to that. That’s Mondays. Wednesdays is hump day hurdles. What is the biggest challenge you’ve got this week? What’s the problem that you’ve got this week? It’s about sharing those problems but then we encourage people to be the solution to the problems that each other has and so you share your problem then you look through the list and find someone else that has a problem that you can be a solution for. That’s on Wednesdays.

Fridays is win day. That’s a day where we invite you to share something that you’ve done during the week that has been a win. That is an opportunity for you to point at a post that you’ve written or to link to something that you’ve feel proud about. We are allowing you to share your links and those types of things, but only in those types of threads as well.

We had some really positive responses to what we’re doing in the group. I get a lot of personal messages from people saying, “Thank you. This group has helped me level up in my blogging.” If you are looking for a community that’s supportive, that’s really positive, very constructive, do join the Facebook group. Go to problogger.com/group and you’ll be forwarded into the Facebook group, or you’ll find a link to that in our show notes, or if you do a search on Facebook as well.

Thanks so much for listening to this podcast. I’m amazed every week when I look at the stats of the amount of people who are engaging, listening, and sharing the journey with us in this. It’s a real honor to be a part of that and I look forward to connecting with you maybe at one of our events in the coming weeks or in our Facebook group as well.

The last thing I’ll say is that over the next couple of weeks, I will be at our Australian events as this podcast goes out. We’ve got a bit of a special treat for you for the next two episodes of the podcast as well. Be a bit different to normal so I hope you enjoy what we’ve got planned for you while I’m off at the ProBlogger events. We’re going to give you a taste of what goes on at our events in this podcast.

Thanks for listening and I’ll chat with you next week in one of those episodes, episode 204.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 203: How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

A Guest Post Follow Up Strategy for Maximum Success

GUEST POST FOLLOW UP STRATEGY FOR MAXIMUM SUCCESS

Once you’ve understood why guest posting is important, got your pitch accepted, and written the post … you might think you’re done.

A lot of the success of your guest post, though, comes from what you do after it’s published.

There’s plenty you can do to get the most out of your hard work, including steps you can take:

  • On your own blog
  • On the host blog
  • On social media
  • On other blogs

Even if you have very little time to follow up on your post, don’t worry: a lot of these activities are ones you’d be doing anyway – like posting on your own blog, or scheduling content for social media.

On Your Own Blog

Hopefully, your guest post will result in a traffic boost to your blog. Those readers enjoyed your guest post, so have follow-up posts ready to go: this will encourage them to stick around.

These follow-up posts can go deeper into the topic you covered. For instance, if your guest post was titled “Ten WordPress Tricks to Try Today” you might follow that with these posts on your own blog:

  • Three Must-Have WordPress Plugins That Every Blog Needs
  • Five Mistakes You’re Probably Making with WordPress … and How to Fix Them
  • The Pros and Cons of Drafting Straight into the WordPress Visual Editor

It helps if you have them at least drafted before your guest post goes live, so you can post consistently over the next couple of weeks. (You may want to make tweaks to your drafts based on the comments on your guest post: try to answer any questions that were asked.)

Link back to your original guest post from the posts on your blog, too: this is helpful for the host blogger and lets your regular readers know that you’ve been featured on a big blog.

On the Host Blog

One of the most important places to follow up is on the host blog where your guest post is published.

You should respond to every comment left on your post (unless a comment looks like spam – in which case, leave it and drop the host blogger an email so they can deal with it).

Remember, your reply won’t just make a good impression on the reader who left the comment - lots of other readers will see it too.

Take note of any comments that ask questions or that spark off an idea for you. Respond to these, of course – but also keep a list of them for potential future blog posts.

Most guest posters receive a very warm welcome, but if you do get a negative comment, you may want to ask the host blogger how they’d like you to handle it. I’m sure it goes without saying, but definitely don’t start a huge fight in the host blog’s comments … that won’t get you welcomed back!

After your post has been up for a few days, drop the host blogger an email. Thank them for running your post, and offer to write another for them. By writing multiple posts over weeks or months, you’ll find that the blog’s readers get to know you, and are more likely to come back to your own blog.

Writing several guest posts will also ensure that the host blogger remembers your name. On some blogs, a handful of guest posts can even lead to a paid blogging job.

On Social Media

Promote your guest post on the social networks that you belong to (without going over the top). This means that:

  • The host blogger can see you’re going the extra mile … so they’ll be more likely to welcome you back to guest post again in the future.
  • Your guest post will get more traffic … helping it to succeed. You may also want to use your posts on social media to encourage readers to comment, or to point out an interesting discussion developing in the comments.
  • Your existing audience will see that you’ve been featured on a big, reputable blog … boosting your credibility with them. (Even if it’s a small blog, your readers will likely be impressed that you’ve been invited to write for another site.)

Don’t see this promotion as a one-time thing to do on the day your post goes live. Keep it up, especially if the post is evergreen: build it into your regular social media scheduling

On Other Blogs

You can use your guest post as leverage for others, by linking to it when you pitch for other guest posting opportunities (e.g. “You can see an example of my work on ProBlogger…”)

As you write more guest posts over time, link to them where relevant from your other guest posts. This can often be more valuable to the other bloggers than links from your own blog would be … plus, interlinking your guest posts in this way helps new readers to discover your body of work and view you as an established expert in your niche.

If you’ve built up a strong relationship with some other bloggers, you may also want to email them to let them know about your guest post and to invite them to link to it. This approach will be more effective (and less likely to annoy your blogging friends!) if you only do it occasionally, and only send people a post that is really on-topic for their audience.

The more you can do to follow-up after a guest post, the more successful that post will be.

If you’re feeling a little daunted by everything I’ve covered here, create a list of simple tasks you’ll complete after each guest post. 

Example Post-Publish Task List

  1. Reply to comments on the post
  2. Write one post (on your own blog) that ties in with and links to the guest post
  3. Tweet about the post and share it on Facebook
  4. Email the host blogger to thank them and ask if you can write for them again

That's the last post in our series on guest posting. If you're looking for or have guest posting opportunities, join our Facebook group and do a search for #writer or #host. Good luck with your guest posting – I hope you see great results.

The post A Guest Post Follow Up Strategy for Maximum Success appeared first on ProBlogger.