Tag Archives: Blogging Tools and Services

How to Use the WordPress WYSIWYG Toolbar to Format Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

WordPress WYSIWYG tutorialAre you using WordPress’ formatting features to their fullest?

I expect you already know the basics of formatting your blog posts to make them more readable. (If you’re just getting started, you might want to check out 4 WordPress Formatting Tips to Make Your Posts More Readable for an overview of the basics.)

But many bloggers  even experienced ones  don’t realise just how many formatting features are built into WordPress.

Understanding the WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

Whether you write your drafts in the WordPress editor or elsewhere, it’s important to be familiar with the WordPress WYSIWYG toolbar and know what all those buttons do.

WYSIWYG (pronounced “wizzy-wig”) stands for “What You See Is What You Get”, and describes any interface where you can see how your text will actually look as you apply various types of formatting to it. Microsoft Word, Google Docs and WordPress are all WYSIWYG editors.

Whenever you create a new post or page in WordPress, you should see the WYSIWYG editor. The toolbar (the buttons along the top) looks like this:

(If you don’t see these buttons, make sure you’re using the “Visual” rather than the “Text” version of the editor. You can swap between the two using the tabs on the right-hand side of the box where you write your post.)

If you’ve written and formatted your post in another WYSIWYG editor and copied the text into WordPress, some of the formatting may have been preserved. But some formatting options, such as blockquotes and horizontal rules, can only be applied in WordPress.

(Don’t worry if you have no idea what “blockquotes” and “horizontal rules” are. You’ll know all about them, and how to use, them by the end of this post!)

Even if some of the buttons look confusing right now, they’re all straightforward to use. We’ll take the toolbar one row at a time.

The Top Row of the Toolbar: The Most Common Formatting Options

The buttons are divided into two rows. The top row contains the options you’re likely to use most frequently.

Here they are:

We’ll go through them one by one:

#1: “Paragraph” Dropdown

HTML tag equivalent: <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc. and <pre>.

This dropdown menu lets you format your text using heading styles:

Heading 1 is used for the title of your post, and so should be avoided for subheadings within your post.

Most bloggers use Heading 2 for their main subheadings and Heading 3 for any subheadings nested beneath those. (In this post, for instance, the subheading The Top Row of Buttons: The Most Common Formatting Options is Heading 2, and the subheading #1: “Paragraph Dropdown” is Heading 3.)

The “Preformatted” option can be used if you’re including sections of code in your post. it will display the text exactly as written using a monospaced font.

#2: Bold Text

HTML tag equivalent: <strong>

The button that looks like a B is probably familiar to you from Microsoft Word and other programs. It makes your text bold like this.

To use it, you can either:

  • Click the “B” button, type the text you want in bold, then click “B” again to turn back to normal text.
  • Type your text as normal, then highlight the portion you want in bold and click “B”.

Use it for: Emphasising a key sentence, or creating a subheading where you don’t want to use a heading style.

#3: Italic Text

HTML tag equivalent: <em>

The button that looks like an I is probably also very familiar. It makes your text italic like this.

Use it for: Emphasis on a particular word, or for a sentence or two of explanatory text (e.g. a note at the start of your post saying This is the first in a four-part series).

#4: Unordered List (Bullet Points)

HTML tag equivalent: <ul> for the list, <li> for each item on the list

The button with three dots and lines might look a bit like Morse Code, but it’s actually used to create a bulleted list (also known as an “unordered list”) like this:

  • Item one
  • Item two
  • Item three

Use it for: A list where the order or number of items doesn’t particularly matter. If each item on your list is more than a paragraph long, you’ll probably want to format your list differently (e.g. using subheadings).

#5: Ordered List (Numbers)

HTML tag equivalent: <ol> for the list, <li> for each item on the list

The second list button is for a numbered list (also known as an “ordered” list) like this:

  1. Item one
  2. Item two
  3. Item three

Use it for: A list where the number or ordering of items matters (e.g. you’re giving step-by-step instructions or writing a top ten list).

For more help with lists, check out my post How to Use Lists Effectively in Your Blog Posts.

#6: Blockquote

HTML tag equivalent: <blockquote>

Blockquote (or block quotation) formatting is used to style quoted text so (normally) it has a wider left margin than the standard text. Depending on your blog’s theme, the blockquote text may also be in a different font and have quotation marks alongside.

This is how blockquotes look on the ProBlogger blog.

Use it for: Any quote from someone other than you that’s more than a few words long. Very short quotes can be placed within quotation marks in a sentence.

#7: Align Left/Center/Right

HTML tag equivalents: <p>, <p style=”text-align: center;”>, <p style=”text-align: right;”>

By default, your text will be left-aligned (flush with the left-hand margin). But you can also align your text so it’s centered or right-aligned.

This text is centered.

This text is right-aligned.

Use it for: Creating a sales page or special offer, where it might make sense to center your text. Some bloggers even use centered text for poems or other slightly unusual types of content.

#8: Link/Unlink

HTML tag equivalent: <a href>

This button lets you turn text into a link that readers can click to visit a different post or page. Simply type the text (e.g. the title of a post), then highlight it and click the link button. You’ll see this:

You can then paste in the URL (web address) of the page/post you want or, if it’s on your own blog, you can search for the page/post by title.

Your link will show up like this:

Which is the Best Blog Hosting Solution?

Use it for: Internal links to your own posts (good for SEO and encouraging readers to stick around longer on your blog), and external links to other people’s posts or other resources (good for demonstrating your knowledge/expertise within your field, and for building relationships).

#9: Read More Tag

WordPress tag equivalent: <!–more–>

Some blog themes show multiple posts on the front page or index page. A “read more” tag breaks the post into two parts: the first part will appear in the index, and the rest will only be shown once the reader clicks “read more” (or clicks on the post title).

Other themes are designed to show only an excerpt from the post (auto-generated or hand-crafted), so you won’t need a “read more” tag. You can see this in action on our own “Blog” page.

Use it for: Breaking off posts after the introduction, or if you want to show part of each post rather than full posts on your home page/blog index page.

#10: Toolbar Toggle

WordPress tag equivalent: n/a

The “Toolbar Toggle” lets you show/hide the second row of icons on your toolbar. (It used to be called “Show/Hide Kitchen Sink”, which you might recognise if you’ve been blogging for a long time.)

Use it for: Viewing the second row of toolbar buttons. Or hiding them if you find them distracting or only have a small screen to work with.

The Bottom Row of the Toolbar: Less Common Formatting Options

While you might not use these buttons very often, it’s useful to know what they do just in case you need them.

Again, we’ll take them one at a time starting on the left.

#1: Strikethrough Text

HTML tag equivalent: <del>

Strikethrough text is crossed out, like this. As with bold and italic, you can click the strikethrough button then type, or you can highlight existing text and apply strikethrough formatting to it.

Use it for: Humorous effect (if that suits your blogging tone), or for special offers on your products (you can “cross out” the normal price and display the offer price).

#2: Horizontal Rule

HTML tag equivalent: <hr />

The horizontal rule creates a line that runs across your post. It can be useful for breaking a post into one or more visual sections (although it doesn’t act as a “read more” tag).

It looks like this:


Use it for: Setting off the start or end of a post (e.g. if you’re introducing a new series of blog posts at the start, or making a special offer at the end).

#3: Text Color

HTML tag equivalent: <span style=”color: #ff0000;”> (for the color red)

Your text will default to the colour set by your blog’s theme – normally black or very dark grey.

Sometimes, you might want to put text in a different colour. You can do this by either:

  • selecting the colour, using the A dropdown, then typing
  • highlighting existing text and then choosing a colour for it.

After you click on the dropdown, you can pick a colour simply by clicking on it:

If you prefer, you can create specific custom colours by clicking “Custom…” and then setting the RGB values.

Use it for: Occasional coloured text, perhaps to highlight a special announcement or offer. Be careful not to go overboard with different colours in your posts. You might want to use the “custom” colour option to match special coloured text to the colour palette of your header or branding in general.

#4: Paste as Text

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

Most of the time you’ll want to paste text into the WordPress editor and keep its formatting. If you paste text that you drafted in Word, most of the formatting will automatically copy across too.

But sometimes you may want to paste text without the formatting. Simply click this button, which looks like a T on a clipboard, to toggle the “paste” function to “plain text mode”.

From now on, when you paste text, all the formatting will be removed. (You can click it again to toggle back to the normal mode.)

Use it for: Pasting formatted text (e.g. blog post titles that are formatted as a header, when you don’t want to keep any of the formatting). Remember to toggle it back off again if you only want to use it temporarily.

#5: Clear Formatting

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

To remove formatting, you don’t need to get rid of each instance of bold, italic, coloured text,  etc. individually. Instead, you can use the “Clear Formatting” button, which looks like an eraser.

Simply highlight the formatted text you want to change and click the button.

Use it for: Getting rid for formatting that you don’t want. That might be formatting that you accidentally applied, or formatting that’s appeared when you’ve copied text into your post.

#6: Special Character

HTML tag equivalent: n/a, though individual characters will have a special ASCII code

Occasionally, you might want to include a special character in your post or page that you can’t actually type, such as the copyright symbol ©.

To use this feature, position your cursor where you want the special character to appear, then click the Omega symbol to open a panel of special characters and select the one you want:

Use it for: Inserting a copyright notice with ©, using a Registered ® or Trademark ™ character when writing about your products/brand or someone else’s (if appropriate), or inserting any other special character!

#7: Increase/Decrease Indent

HTML tag equivalent: <p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>

If you want to indent text (push it over to the right), you can use this feature. The right-hand button of the two creates the indent; you can click it again to increase the indent.

Use the left-hand button to reduce or remove an indent that you’ve created.

Use it for: You might choose to set off specific text using an indent and perhaps a different  colour too (e.g. if giving an example within a “how to” step).

#8: Undo/Redo

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

You’re probably already familiar with these buttons from your usual word processor. Use “Undo” (the arrow pointing to the left) to undo whatever you just did. Use “Redo” if you change your mind again.

Use it for: Easily undoing an action (e.g. if you applied formatting you realise you don’t want, or you accidentally deleted your whole post and want it back).

#9: Keyboard Shortcuts

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

Most of the toolbar functions also have a keyboard shortcut, so you can easily use them without having to move your hands from the keyboard to the mouse. Click the ? button to see them in a handy list:

Some of these shortcuts may be familiar from other programs, such as Ctrl+B for “bold text” and Ctrl+Z for “undo”.

But there are others here that are specific to the WordPress editor, such as Shift+Alt+m to insert/edit an image.

Use it for: Speeding up your workflow, especially if there’s a particular type of formatting you use a lot.

While the WordPress toolbar buttons might not be the most thrilling aspect of blogging, being able to format your posts and pages effectively can really make a difference. Well-formatted posts look professional and are easy to read, and well-formatted pages can do a better job of converting prospects into leads or customers.

Is there a new feature you’ll be using in your next blog post, or on one of your pages? Which one will you be trying out?

Or did you learn about a feature you never even realised existed? Let us know in the comments.

The post How to Use the WordPress WYSIWYG Toolbar to Format Your Blog Posts Like a Pro appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Which is the Best Blog Hosting Solution?

Best blog hosting

Sometimes I feel like I’m asked this question more often than people Google it. If you have a self-hosted website (or are about to start one), you’ll probably want to know the answer too: Which is the best blog hosting solution?

There are plenty of answers to this question. Check out the web hosting services topic on any forum or community discussion board, and you'll see both glowing endorsements and damning negativity for every hosting company out there - no matter how good they are. You'll even see entire sites dedicated to getting a referral commission for a specific blog host.

But the truth is, there's only one way to answer the question correctly. And that's with, “it depends”.

Understanding Your Hosting Needs

As bloggers, we all have different needs and budgets for our blogs. A new blogger starting from scratch will have different needs and priorities to an established blogger with a large audience.

You need to consider a number of factors, such as:

  • cost
  • tech support and customer service
  • data storage
  • email hosting
  • scalability.

Weighing up these factors will lead to different solutions for different bloggers. Which means that as your blog develops you should be prepared to upgrade your hosting, or even change providers.

Before you start asking for hosting recommendations or reading hosting service reviews, think about what you need from your host. If you don't, you may wind up with a hosting company that doesn’t meet your needs as a blogger.

Of course, you may not know what you need. Or you might be interested in what web hosting services best suit bloggers at various stages of their blogging, or what most bloggers prefer.

That's why I’ve compiled a shortlist of recommended hosting providers. Yes, we do receive an affiliate commission for referrals. But my recommendations are based on:

  • the needs of bloggers
  • my own experience
  • input from surveys of the ProBlogger audience
  • feedback from people I know and trust. 

Skip straight to my best blog hosting recommendations 

7 Questions to Ask Yourself or
Your Hosting Provider

Do you need email hosting?

Do you want your email address to be email@yourdomain.com? If so, then you need to stick with hosting companies that provide email hosting. Keep in mind that an email with your domain name looks more professional.

Do you need large storage for media files?

For example, do you plan on uploading videos, infographics, or high-resolution photos? If so, you'll need a host that offers large storage solutions.

But be wary of hosting services with unlimited storage. Some of them will limit your storage usage by capping your inode usage. Before signing up, ask your web host about inode usage. Anything below 100,000 inodes on a shared web host is unacceptable.

Do you expect the site to grow fast?

If you do, then you should probably stick with a web host that gives you room to grow. The more traffic you have, the more data transfer and CPU power you'll need.

Look at the cost of bigger packages and private hosting. Some hosting companies offer cheap rates for small packages, but charge much more than they should for larger ones.

What other additional services you need?

Do you need server root access? Someone to backup your site for you or automated backup? Automated malware scanning? These could all be deciding factors on your hosting choice.

What is your level of hosting knowledge?

Do you need spoon-fed support, or you can pretty much cover everything yourself? Do you prefer phone calls over live chat, or vice versa? If your knowledge is limited, look for a hosting company that caters to newbies or offers inexpensive tech support packages.

Can you tweak and secure your own WordPress site?

If you can't, you may need a developer to do it for you instead. Some hosting companies provide their own web development services. But make sure you check the cost of using these developer services carefully. Does the company charge by the hour, or by the task? Will they teach you to manage your own backend on the server, or will you be paying them for eternity to update your site?

Is the server location important?

If you're not planning on using a CDN, you probably want a server that's closest to your targeted audience so your blog loads faster for them.

This is a great summary of considerations for your hosting needs, and comes from a previous blog post written by regular ProBlogger contributor Jerry Low.

Jerry also talked about seven 'must-know factors' about what makes a good host for you.

What Makes a Good Host?

1. Reasonable Price

Some hosting providers target uninformed shoppers, and are extremely overpriced. That's why it's important to compare web hosting companies and what they offer in their packages.


User-Friendly Control Panel: Both cPanel or vDeck are easy to use, with many online tutorials available on various blogs to talk you through their use. Beware of custom-built dashboards. They're very hit-or-miss, and can be downright painful to use.

2. Payment Plans

You should be comfortable with the payment plan. I’m okay with a yearly subscription if there's a decent discount, but other people want more flexibility. Just because you don’t mind a yearly subscription now doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Look for a host with more flexibility, such as one-, six-, 12- and 24-month subscriptions.

3. Easy to Manage

The control panel should let you install WordPress (or whatever content management system you want) with a few clicks. If it is too complicated to install the software, you’ll wind up paying a techie to do it, which will blow your budget. Check out the demo control panel before signing on with a hosting company to make sure you can complete the tasks you’ll need to easily.

Bluehost covers these first three points really well, and is the main reason we recommend them for first-time bloggers.

4. Helpful Customer and Technical Support

Make sure you can contact the host 24/7 for tech support. You should be able to contact them in multiple ways such as via email, a ticket system on their website, and telephone.

5. Reliable Server Uptime

There's no excuse for repeated downtime. Your site simply must be up most of the time. Try for a site with a 99.9% uptime guarantee - 99.5% is okay (just), but 99.9% is better. And make sure they offer a guarantee.


Don’t just take their word for it either. Track your site’s uptime with tools such as Uptime Robot and Pingdom.

6. e-Commerce Features

If you need (or think you might need) e-Commerce solutions down the track, make sure you have SSH access, SSL certificates, and even easy-to-install shopping cart platforms.

We see numerous bloggers praising Siteground on their attention to those last few points. They seem to be very responsive to support requests, and will help you migrate your site from other hosts. We’ve heard very few complaints about downtime, which is important once you start monetising your traffic. And for your e-Commerce requirements they include varying SSL certificates based on the plan you choose.

7. Room to Grow

Can the hosting company grow with you as your site grows? Can you upgrade to a VPS or a dedicated server? While it’s smart to start with a good shared hosting account, you may quickly reach the point where it just makes sense to upgrade. And when that happens, you don’t want to be moving your entire site if you don’t have to.

Hare are the various types of web hosting. (Most bloggers use shared hosting.)

The Complete Bloggers' Guide to Web Hosting - on ProBlogger.net


Most web hosts can accommodate growth with different levels and types of hosting. Bluehost offers all four hosting options, while Siteground and WPEngine offer cloud and dedicated hosting in addition to shared hosting.

As my blogs have grown I’ve moved through these types of services, starting with Bluehost's shared hosting in the very early days of my blogs. 

We recently moved from VPS hosting with Synthesis (which has incorporated their standalone plans into their StudioPress Sites offering), to VPS directly with Linode. We have multiple servers and multiple WordPress installations that make up both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger.

A Virtual Private Server gives you more control and flexibility, and leaves you less vulnerable to other sites on a shared server affecting your site performance. It’s something you may want to consider if you have high traffic volumes and multiple installs. For most bloggers, shared hosting is sufficient and far more cost effective. 

Here are my recommendations based on different levels and needs of blogging.

Best ‘Budget’ Hosting for Beginner Bloggers - Bluehost

If you’re just starting out, or have a smaller blog, I highly recommend you check out BlueHost. One of the main reasons we recommend them for new bloggers is the price. When you’re just starting out, you don’t want the stress of high hosting rates when you haven’t started monetising yet. Bluehost has made it even more affordable for ProBlogger readers with a special discount that includes a free domain name

WordPress itself has been recommending Bluehost for web hosting since 2005. It has 1-click WordPress installation, and a great walkthrough site builder to get you up and running really quickly. They also offer a range of plans and server types, so your blog can grow without you needing to switch hosting providers.

You may see reviews about customer service not being as great as other providers. But I think it’s in line with the price you’re paying. If you want a premium service, you pay a premium price.

Best ‘Done for You’ Hosting for Beginner Bloggers - StudioPress Sites

If you’re looking for an easy solution, have the healthier budget, and just want to get on with creating content and building your blogging empire, check out StudioPress Sites. It's a fully hosted, all-in-one WordPress website builder that lets you own and control your blog, without having to worry about traffic limits. It comes pre-installed with the Genesis framework and 30+ StudioPress themes.

StudioPress Sites Features

  • Usability: The Genesis Framework – Industry Standard Design Framework that makes WordPress easier, without sacrificing power or flexibility
  • Design: 20 Mobile-Optimized HTML5 Themes – sleek professional designs that provide beautiful frames for your content
  • One-Click Install of Included Plugins – Never wonder which plugins are trustworthy, thanks to your StudioPress Site’s repository of one-click solutions for the functionality you desire.
  • Fast Loading Cloud Performance – cloud infrastructure that’s optimized specifically for peak WordPress performance
  • Zero “Hosting” Hassles – with a fully hosted website that will grow with you and your website traffic
  • Rock-Solid Security
  • Advanced SEO Functionality
  • Automatic Plugin and Theme Maintenance – Many WordPress site owners spend $$$ every month to have an outside service keep things updated and safe.
  • World-Class Support – friendly support team standing by 24/7

Best 'Premium' Hosting for Beginner/Intermediate Bloggers - Siteground

Siteground is a service many bloggers in our community use and recommend. Like Bluehost, Siteground is one of only three web hosts that WordPress also recommend.

Although Siteground’s basic plan is a little pricier than Bluehost's, you may appreciate some of their more premium services as your blog grows.

SiteGround has tools that make managing WordPress sites easy:

  • One-click install
  • Managed updates
  • Very fast and highly rated customer support team
  • The latest speed technologies that make WordPress load faster
  • We proactively protect the WordPress sites from hacks
  • Automatic site backup

Best Premium Shared Hosting for Advanced Bloggers - WP Engine

We recommend WP Engine if you’re looking to host an established site with more traffic (or want to position yourself for it in the future). WP Engine is one of the top WordPress hosting services in the market, but it's also expensive and not suitable for everyone. You can use this link to get two months free when you sign up for an annual plan.

They offer:

  • Industry leading customer service and tech support, including 24/7 live chat
  • Fast load times for site visitors around the world
  • Real-time, page-level performance diagnostics and expert recommendations
  • Automatic updates of WordPress
  • Constant monitoring of servers to ensure uptime
  • Infinite storage for media, by seamlessly integrating with your Amazon S3 account
  • One-step site migration to move your site over to them with no downtime

Ultimately, who you choose will depend on your needs and your budget. You’ll find positive and negative reviews (both objective and subjective) for every host there is. That’s why we’ve given you:

  • the info to help determine your own needs
  • recommendations based on our own and our community’s experiences
  • some guidance on what works for different levels and types of blogs.

I hope it helps you make your decision.

The post Which is the Best Blog Hosting Solution? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

When DIY Blogging isn’t for You: 5 Alternatives to Self-Hosted WordPress

Here on ProBlogger, we’ve always recommended self-hosted WordPress (aka WordPress.org) as the very best platform for blogging.

And with good reason.

Many of the world’s largest blogs and websites run on self-hosted WordPress. Thousands of plugins and themes are available – many for free, although there are lots of premium options too.

And a self-hosted blog gives you full control and plenty of flexibility.

But for some bloggers, self-hosted WordPress might not be the best choice.

You may just want a blog you can use as a personal diary or writing outlet. You may not have the budget for buying domain names and hosting. Even if you do, the thought of settin them up and installing WordPress may seem overwhelming.

Sound like you? Then you may want to look at other options.

(That being said, if you want to build a profitable blog then choose the self-hosted option so you don’t have to migrate everything down the track.)

Which Hosted Platform Should You Choose?

Although there are other platforms that you can install on your own website (where you pay for a hosting account through sites such as Bluehost, Siteground and WPEngine),

But in this article we’ll be looking at hosted blogging platforms.

With hosted blogging platforms, the company hosts your site on their servers – just as Facebook and Twitter let you set up pages and accounts on their sites. And if you want a custom domain name, you can register it through them too.

Which means you can get all the advice, help and support you need from one place–the blogging platform company.

The five platforms we’re covering in today’s post are:

  • WordPress.com (where the basic plan is free)
  • Blogger (where the basic plan is free)
  • Wix (where the basic plan is free)
  • Weebly (where the basic plan is free)
  • SquareSpace (where the basic plan is not free. Instead it’s $16/month or $144/year).

But before we start, keep in mind that your site could disappear from any of these platforms if:

  • your blog violates the company’s rules
  • the company goes bust
  • The company has a major problem or outage.

WordPress.com: What to Expect

Find it at: WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a good choice if you’re thinking of upgrading to WordPress.org (self-hosted WordPress) in the future. It functions like a cut-down version of the self-hosted WordPress, and you can transfer your blog from one to the other. Here are WordPress’ instructions on how to do it.

WordPress launched in 2003, and the company is not only well established but also well regarded in the blogging world.

What You Get With the Basic WordPress Plan (Free)

  • A free domain name (of the format yourname.wordpress.com).
  • 3GB of storage space. (You can upgrade to a paid plan for more.)
  • A selection of free themes (sometimes called “templates” or “layouts”) for your website. And you can switch themes at any time without losing your content – even if you’ve been blogging for months.
  • “Jetpack Essential Features”, which offers features such as SEO optimisation, site statistics, anti-spam and more.

Limitations on the Basic WordPress Plan

  • You won’t have a custom domain name (i.e. one without “wordpress.com” at the end). To get one you need to upgrade to a “personal” plan, which is currently $48/year.
  • Your blog will show WordPress’ branding and ads. To remove them you need to once again upgrade to a “personal” plan, which is currently $48/year.
  • You can’t run your own ads. To use ads from the ‘WordAds’ program you need to upgrade to a “premium” plan, which is currently $94/year.
  • You can’t install plugins or upload custom themes. To do that you need to upgrade to a “business” plan, which is currently $300/year.

Here are the different WordPress plans and their features.

Blogger / BlogSpot: What to Expect

Find it at: Blogger.com

If you want to set up a simple blog quickly, Blogger might be the best choice. It has limited features (which can be a drawback), but it can also be helpful if you don’t want to be overwhelmed by choices.

They offer only a free, basic plan: you can’t upgrade to anything fancier. Again, this could be a drawback or an advantage depending on your blogging needs.

Blogger (aka BlogSpot) is one of the longest-running major blog platforms. It’s been around since 1999, and was acquired by Google in 2003. If you already have a Google account, you simply log in with that and create your blog.

What You Get With Blogger (Free)

  • A free domain name (of the format yourname.blogspot.com).
  • The ability to run ads (and it’s easy to use GoogleAds on your blog).
  • Posts and pages no larger than 1MB, with images uploaded to Google Drive (15GB limit).
  • A number of free themes to choose from, as well as the ability to buy and upload premium themes. You can switch to a different theme at any time.

Limitations on Blogger

  • You can’t install plugins, so there’s no way to extend the functionality of Blogger.
  • If you want to add a custom domain name, Blogger won’t charge you. But you’ll need to buy it from a domain registrar and do a bit of technical setup.

 

Wix: What to Expect

Find it at: Wix.com

Wix has a simple drag-and-drop interface so you can easily design your pages. If you find WordPress and Blogger daunting or confusing, Wix could be what you’re looking for. It’s designed to create websites rather than blogs specifically, so it’s not so blog-focused as WordPress and Blogger.

Wix was founded in 2006, and acquired DeviantArt (a popular online community for artists) in February 2017.

What You Get With the Wix Basic Plan (Free)

  • A free domain name (of the format yourname.wix.com).
  • 500MB of storage space. (You can upgrade to a paid plan for more.)
  • Thousands of fully customisable templates (the equivalent of WordPress’ “themes”). Or you can begin with a blank slate.
  • A beginner-friendly interface where you can drag and drop different elements onto your pages.

Limitations of the Wix Basic Plan

  • Your storage space is quite limited: 500MB. While it will be enough for many types of website or blog, videos and images will use it up quickly. To get 3GB of space you’ll need to upgrade to a “combo” plan, which is currently $120/year.
  • You’ll also need to upgrade to add a domain name. The cheapest way to do this is with a “connect domain” plan for $60/year. (And then you’ll need to buy your domain separately.)
  • Unless you upgrade, Wix’s ads will appear on your site. And the cheapest “no ads” plan is the “combo” plan at $120/year.
  • You can’t use custom templates – you can only choose something from Wix’s options. And once you’ve created your site you can’t switch to a new template. Instead you need to create an entirely new site and transfer your content over.

Weebly: What to Expect

Find it at: Weebly.com

Like Wix, Weebly has a drag-and-drop interface with lots of flexibility to help you design your website. Also like Wix (and Blogger), you can’t use third-party plugins to extend your site’s functionality.

But unlike Wix, Weebly lets you use third-party themes (templates) that you can change at any time – even once you’ve created your website. So if you have trouble committing to a design, or you want to try out lots of options before you making your final choice, Weebly might well be a better choice than Wix.

Weebly was founded in 2006, and launched in 2007.

What You Get With the Weebly Basic Plan (Free)

  • A free domain name (of the format yourname.weebly.com).
  • 500MB of storage space (but you can get more by upgrading to a paid plan).
  • A number of free themes to choose from, with the option of  buying a premium one.

Limitations of the Weebly Basic Plan

  • Your storage space is quite limited: 500MB. Again, while it will be enough for many types of website or blog, videos and images will use it up quickly. You can get unlimited storage by upgrading to a “starter” plan for $60/year.
  • You also need to upgrade if you want to add a domain name. (You only need to upgrade to the “starter” plan to do this.)
  • Unless you pay to upgrade, Weebly’s ads will appear on your site. (Again, you only need to upgrade to the “starter” plan to remove the ads.)

SquareSpace: What to Expect

Find it at: SquareSpace.com

SquareSpace is the only platform on our list that doesn’t have a free plan. Their cheapest is the “Personal” plan at $144/year.

That might put you off immediately. But SquareSpace could still be a good option, so don’t rule it out. (They have a 14-day free trial, so you can try before you commit.)

Like Wix and Weebly, SquareSpace has a drag-and-drop content editor that’s easy to use. If you don’t feel confident with the technology of blogging, it may be a good option for you. While you’re limited to their templates (which can only be customised to a certain degree), SquareSpace’s templates look very professional and slick.

What You Get With the SquareSpace “Personal” Plan ($144/year)

Limitations of the SquareSpace “Personal” Plan

  • There’s no integrated e-commerce at the “personal” level. If you want to sell products through your site you need to upgrade to the “Business” plan, which is currently  $216/year).
  • If you want to change the CSS code or javascript for your site, you’ll also need to upgrade to a “Business” plan.

So Which Blog Platform Should You Go For?

When it comes to blogging there’s no one-size-fits-all. And  if you’ve ruled out self-hosted WordPress as an option, any of these platforms could be a good fit for you.

If you want to set up a simple website quickly with a drag-and-drop interface that lets you position different elements on your page, Weebly is probably your best option. It’s cheaper than Wix if you need more than the 500MB storage space. And  you can change themes at any time. (Still, if you love a particular Wix template it might be worth going with Wix.)

If your focus is on the blog itself, and you’re happy to spend time getting to grips with the interface, Blogger is a simple and straightforward option. And even though it’s free, it still has a lot of features.

If you plan on switching to self-hosted WordPress in the future, opting for WordPress.com now will make the transition much smoother in terms of both moving your content over and your own learning curve.

SquareSpace is widely recognised as having great designs. But that comes at a cost, as there’s no free option. But if you need a premium plan regardless, you might want to go with SquareSpace for its quality designs.

Ultimately, what matters more than your choice of platform is getting your blog online. You could spend months researching and trying different platforms without ever having a live blog.

Blogs can (and do) succeed on a variety of different platforms. If self-hosted WordPress isn’t for you, then any of these options could serve you well. Try a couple that seem promising, and then pick your favourite and stick with it.

I’ll give the last word to Paul Cunningham from Left Brain Blogging, who wrote a great reply to a blogger struggling to choose a platform in our ProBlogger Community group on Facebook last year (emphasis mine):

I know you’ve been struggling with these platform questions for a while so I’m going to give you straight advice. My main concern is that you’ll get so stuck on this decision that it’s going to delay the real progress you’re trying to make.

Go sign up for a free SquareSpace trial. Mess around with the interface and make a few dummy posts or pages. Do stuff you’d normally do, like add an image, or set up a sidebar. Spend an hour on it.

If you like it more than WordPress, then use it. Otherwise use WordPress. Your choice of platform has to be something you’re willing to use and that doesn’t hold you back with technical limitations.

But here’s the bottom line. WordPress is successful for a reason. Whether you like the interface or not, there’s no denying the benefits of going with the mature, large community, feature rich, and deeply customizable platform in WordPress.

What blogging platform do you use?

Photo credit: Christian Stahl

The post When DIY Blogging isn’t for You: 5 Alternatives to Self-Hosted WordPress appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

233: Tools We’re Using to Get More Subscribers and Customers in 2018

The Tools Were Using in 2018 to Get More Subscribers and Customers

In today’s episode, I want to introduce you to a suite of WordPress plugin tools we’ve been using on our blogs for the past six months or so that we’re really excited about.

Today’s show is brought to you by two brand new courses from ProBlogger.

I’ve been talking about one of them – our Ultimate Guide to starting a blog – for the past month or so. It’s perfect for those people who want to get a blog launched with solid foundations.

We’ve had more than 1000 people start the course already, and we’re now seeing many of them launch their blogs. We’ll be celebrating the launches on the 7th February with what we’re calling ProBlogger’s International Start a Blog day. To be included in that day simply register for the course by 31 January and launch your blog by 7th Feb.

The second course we’ve developed that we’ll be launching in March isn’t just for new bloggers. It’s also for those of you who have been blogging for a while. It’s our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course.

Long-time listeners will be familiar with that name. I originally ran 31DBB back in 2009 as a blog post series. Later it was turned into an eBook, which we’ve since updated. That eBook sold tens of thousands of copies. I also did a version of the series to launch this podcast.

But now we’re giving it a complete overhaul and will be launching it as a course.

I’ll give you more details of it in coming episodes. But it’s perfect both for new bloggers who have just set up a blog with our start a blog course, as well as more established bloggers who want to give their blog a real kick start.

It’s really about developing good habits over an intentional month of blogging.

This will be a paid course, although we’ve kept it as affordable as we can. And we’ll be launching it to anyone who preregisters their interest at a launch discount.

Links and Resources on Tools We’re Using to Get More Subscribers and Customers in 2018

Courses

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

Darren : Hi there and welcome to episode 233 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to get the blog started but also to grow it and to build profit around your blog as well. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Now, today’s episode, I wanna introduce you to a suite of WordPress plugins, tools that we’ve been using on my blogs over the last six or so months and that we will be investing more and more time into using more of in the coming year ahead. We’re very excited about these particular tools. I brought my general manager, Laney Galligan, on to talk about those tools.

I wanna talk about those in a minute but before I do, I do want to mention that today’s show is brought not by an external sponsor but by our brand new courses at ProBlogger and yes, you heard me right, courses. I’ve been talking about one of them now for about a month, our ultimate guide to starting a blog and it has been going so well. We’ve had over a thousand people start the course already. There’s another thousand or so who’ve already registered in addition to that who are yet to start the course.

But what’s really exciting me is we’re starting now to see blogs launched as a result of this particular course. We’ve got a little Facebook group where we’re celebrating the launches of the new blogs. It is so exciting to see these brand new blogs coming out the other end of the course. Some are getting some great reviews of the course as well. Please head over to problogger.com/startablog if you’re interested in that particular course starting a new blog.

Now, I will say that you have a little bit of motivation to start your blog in the next couple of weeks because on the 7th of February, we have ProBloggers’ first ever international start a blog day. Sounds grand. It’s probably gonna be a little bit less grand than that but we wanna have this day on the 7th of February where we celebrate all the blogs that are launched as a result of the course. It already looks like there’s gonna be may be 100 or so of them.

If you wanna be included in our international start a blog day and be listed on ProBlogger and hopefully get a few new readers, you need to register for the course by the end of January, 31st of January, and launch your blog by the 7th of February. That’s just to give you a little bit of extra motivation to get that blog you’re been thinking about launching up and ready. That’s the Start A Blog course.

But we’ve also got this second course because we’ve been asked by so many people as we have been promoting this Start A Blog course. Is there a course for people who’ve already got a blog? The Start A Blog course is about getting a blog started. It’s not really relevant for those of you who already got a blog so I do have another course coming in March. We’ve actually already almost completed it. It’s going to be our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course.

Longtime listeners will be familiar with that name, I originally ran 31 Days to Build a Better Blog in, I think, it was 2007 or 2009. I can’t remember. I always get those mixed up but I’ve done it as a series of blog posts which I updated two years after I did the first time. We then turned it into an ebook which I then updated in 2012. There’s two versions of the ebook. We sold that ebook to tens of thousands of people. I know many of you have done that particular ebook and you know that it’s relevant for new bloggers but also for those of you who’ve been around for a while.

The whole idea of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is it’s got teaching but also practical things to do. That’s really what the both of these courses are about. They give you homework. They give you little exercises to do that take you a step closer to your goal. What we’ve done with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is we’ve taken all the blog post series, all the podcast, all of the ebook that I’ve done, and we’ve updated it all. We are launching our new version of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog as a course. That will go live in March.

If you are interested in taking that course, it’s a paid course, but we are keeping it a affordable as we can, we’re actually even launching it with a further discount as well for our people who pre-registered, just head over to problogger.com/31days and that will forward you to where you can register your interest in the course, and you’ll also be able to see a full outline of the course as well. You can find links to both of these courses as well as a transcript of today’s show and links to the tool that we’re talking about at our show notes at problogger.com/podcast/233.

Thanks for listening to all that. I’m gonna get into the show today. I’ve got a little bit to say about the tools and then we’ll get into a bit of an interview that I did with Laney.

Onto the topic of today’s episode, I wanna introduce you to the suite of tools, WordPress plugins, that we’ve been using on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School for the last six or so months now. We are so excited about them. The tools are from Thrive Themes. You might be familiar with Thrive Themes. They’re WordPress themes. They’re very good themes.

We’ve recommended them in the past but over the last year or so, they’ve also been developing a series of nine or so plugins that are just fantastic. Everytime they add a new plugin, we get really excited at ProBlogger headquarters. I’m not gonna get through them all right now because we do so in the rest of the show but these are all plugins that are particularly relevant for anyone wanting to build a business around their blog.

I hope you grow your email list so you convert your readers into subscribers. They’ll help you to then convert those subscribers into customers by helping you design landing pages and customize the look of your pages and blog posts as well. It’s very cool tools. The other thing I love about these tools and I do mention it in the show notes is that they’re incredibly affordable in comparison to some of the other tools that are out there. Some of the other tools that we’ve used in the past, we’ve actually switched from them to Thrive because one, they’re more affordable, and two, they work so intuitively.

You can find all of these tool if you head to problogger.com/thrive. I do recommend as you listen to this show that you go and actually have a look because there are features listed there that we simply don’t have time to get into in today’s show. The last thing I will say before I get into the interview that I did with Laney earlier today is that I wanna really disclose upfront that I’m an affiliate for Thrive but we’re also a paying customer. They haven’t given us this for free. We pay for it. We get so much value out of it and as a result, I’m really comfortable promoting it as an affiliate.

That link, problogger.com/thrive does earn me a small commission if you make a purchase. It doesn’t cost you anything more but it helps me to keep producing this free podcasts. I do appreciate it if you find these tools suited to your needs, head over to problogger.com/thrive and make a purchase as a result of clicking through on that link. It does help us to keep ProBlogger going.

Okay, I’ve talked too much today already. I’m gonna now get into this interview I did with general manager of ProBlogger, Laney Galligan. I asked her to come on and talk to me about Thrive because she is a massive fan of it and has loads more hands on experience with it than I have, and so I thought she’d be perfect to talk about it. This is an interview I did with her earlier today. It goes or an hour so you may wanna make yourself comfortable but do open up that link problogger.com/thrive as you listen, and you’d be able to follow through the nine or so plugins as we go through them. Thanks for listening and I’ll chat with you at the end of this chat that I had with Laney.

Darren: Hi, Laney. How are you today?

Laney: I’m pretty good, Darren. I’m pleased to have you back from holiday.

Darren: It is good. I will be very happy when school holiday is finished but that’s a whole other story for today. We are Lego City all over our house at the moment. It’s been a bit crazy. But we wanna talk today about a suite of tools that we’ve been using on ProBlogger, Digital Photography School for last 12 months.

I thought, rather than me talking about it, I’d get you in because as general of ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, you’ve got very hands on experience with setting up and using this tool from Thrive Themes. We had a conversation about another tool last year in episode 195 on CoSchedule. That was so popular I thought I’d get you back again to talk about Thrive Themes. Welcome back.

Laney: Thank you very much. It’s good to be here. I like talking about these different tools because they make my life easier. It’s all good.

Darren: You’re the queen of tools, I think.

Laney: I think so.

Darren: That could be interpreted two ways, but anyway, maybe if you can talk to us a little bit about Thrive, what is this tool, well, it’s a suite of tools, really. Maybe you can talk us through a little bit about what is Thrive Themes membership tools.

Laney: Sure. I guess most people might be familiar with Thrive Themes themselves. They’re actual themes via WordPress site, and maybe also Thrive Leads is something that people have heard about before for opt-ins and email sign-ups. But really, it’s a suite of a number of different WordPress plugins. The company is very focused on conversion-based plugins. Solutions to help you really convert your audience and get them a good experience on your blog or on your website. They’ve developed a whole range of plugins, not a huge number, I think it’s about nine or so. You can use the plugins individually but you can also access all of them with a membership port which is what we do. There’s that nine plugins and then the membership so you can access all of them.

Darren: We’ll probably focus most of our conversation on the plugins that we use but maybe before we dig in deep into those, maybe we should just run through the plugins in the suite which may peak some interest of our listeners.

Laney: Yeah, sure. Because I do have plugins that help you design your blog, build landing pages, generate leads, increase conversions. The first one which is one that just upgraded recently is a drag and drop [00:10:56] called Thrive Architect and that enables you to create landing pages really intuitively. It’s one of my favorites, has changed my life when it comes to doing things on the fly for both sites. But also, allows you to add elements, really neat elements into your blog posts as well. It’s not just about landing pages.

Darren: I love that it can be used in the blog post because you can really take a normal blog post and almost create a complete custom design for it. It’s amazing.

Laney: You can, yeah. Thrive Leads is for all of your opt-ins and sign-up forms. It’s very, very clever. We’ll talk about that a bit more because that’s one of the second one that we’re using most often at the moment. Thrive Ovation, when I saw this one, I just thought that is super clever. It allows you to to collect testimonials from multiple sources. You can set-up a landing page with a form and say, “Look, could you please leave me a testimonial?” Or you can import comments that are made on social media.

For example, Facebook or comments on your blog, and otherwise as well, you can get those really valuable testimonials and comments and things that are people are saying about you and pull them into a format which then allows you to just drag and drop it onto your landing page if you’re using something like Thrive Architect.

You know when you’re doing a sales page and you’re just, “Ugh. I forgot I’ve gotta get a testimonial. Where do I find one? How do I make it look good? I don’t have the photo. What should I use?” Thrive Ovation actually helps you manage that whole process so that it makes it really easy to get those all important testimonials onto your landing pages.

Darren: Very clever.

Laney: It is specifically that. We’re in the process of setting it up at the moment for a couple of our courses both for ProBlogger and also for Digital Photography School as well. I can’t wait to see those in action.

Darren: That’s sort of ultimatum there.

Laney: Yeah. Ultimatum is again another really super clever solution from Thrive. It allows you to create countdown campaigns. If you’ve got, for example, a limited time offer, or sale, or special on, it’s the thing that you would normally see where a little countdown sort of pops up from the bottom of your site and says, “Hey, this special offer is available for x more days or hours,” so most people are sort of aware of the whole countdown timer thing.

We use it obviously for our Christmas sale at the end of each year. We didn’t use this particular one because we had one coded already. But this does give you a lot more flexibility. You can do it for a specific time, official offer, but you can also do it, and this is where it gets really clever, for an individual. If somebody comes to your site and does something, you can then have an interaction with them, whether it might be they sign-up and then you send them to the landing page or thank you page, you can then actually offer them a personalized offer of some description. Whether it be like, “Hey, thanks for downloading our ultimate guide. We hope you find it useful. If you’d like to take the next step, here’s $10 off our next beginner book available to you for the next x amount of time.”

It gives them a personalized countdown offer which is really, I guess, helping people to convert based on their idea of scarcity. But I like this because it is real scarcity. They come along and you’ve given them an opportunity to take advantage of an offer. You cannot crack that. It doesn’t reset and start again. It’s actually real scarcity. The plugin’s that clever, it knows if they reset their cookies or try to access it on a different device. It’s got a lock down feature on it. It is a true one-time offer for that countdown for that person.

Darren: They’ll come back a couple of days later and if the countdown is finished, it’s finished. If it’s got a little bit to go, it picks up where it should pick up. It’s quite smart.

Laney: Exactly right. Yes, it is. It’ll say, “Look, so you missed out. We’ll send you here instead,” or something along those lines as well. You’ve got all of that flexibility with that particular plugin. It’s quite clever. The Headline Optimizer is one that I haven’t really had much of a look at mainly because I just think, “Well, I’ll just use CoSchedule. It tells me a score for my headlines whether they are any good or not.” But this is one step up from that.

It actually allows you to put in a multiple number of headlines for the same blog post. It’ll split test them all for you live. Depending on who comes to look at it, it’ll give them a different headline, and if they interact with that headline, it’ll know and it’ll count against your traffic. You’ll actually get actual engagement based results in your split testing rather than, “Oh, hey, this one were shared this number of times on social media sites so obviously the better result.”

It doesn’t get skewed by with a one really big social media or account shares something for you. It’s actually based on the results of how they actually came to the site and interacted on your actual website. One that I’m actually interested in having a look at but there’s only so many things you can try out at once but it looks super clever from that perspective.

Darren: I had a look before and some of the metrics it looks at is how long people stay on your sites, how far they scroll down the site, whether the click through on a call to action, it’s looking at all those metrics and then determining which version of the blog post with the different headlines wins, and it automatically selects the best ones which is pretty cool. There are sites like BuzzFeed have complicated tools that do these for them. This is a way of playing with that in a fairly affordable way.

Laney: Absolutely. Some of these plugins, they’re like the BMW of plugins, that are very, very intelligent. Some of the engineering behind them, I think, is just so clever. Speaking of clever, the next one is Clever Widgets. This is something I remember I’m sure I’ve asked Mario before, I’m just like, “Mario, I wanna put this widget in this area but I only want it to show when people are looking at this category. How do we do that?”

What I’m really asking for is conditional widgets. I only show it in this space on the side, or I’ll only put it in the sidebar, or this category, or for these pages, or whatever it might be. Clever Widgets, you just upload it and then whenever you go to your widget areas and you wanna drag something in, you can then have a separate option which is make this conditional and only show it here.

Darren: On our Photography Blog, we could have a Photoshop course that we wanna advertise but only show it when people are looking at a Photoshop article, whether it’s based on categories or tags.

Laney: Exactly. It operates on any of your widget areas, not just your sidebar, but if you’ve got an after content widget area or a banner, or however you want to do it, whatever your theme has, it’ll give you that option, only show it when this occurs. They have themes.

Obviously, I mentioned that and people might be more familiar and that’s where the name originally came from, Thrive Themes. They have 10 conversion focused WordPress themes and again, they’re super sleek. They’re built for speed. They’re built for conversion. They have things built into them so you don’t have to have extra plugins to do things on the site.

They’ve got really great templates for pages and just makes everything streamlined and really quick. I haven’t used them yet so I can’t talk about them to a great extent but I do love the fact that they use some of the same sort of editing styles that Thrive Architect uses as well. Obviously, they integrate perfectly with Thrive Architect, Thrive Leads, and all of the other widgets in Thrive as well to just make it really a smart website.

Darren: They’ve got Quiz Builder.

Laney: Quiz Builder, yeah. I can’t wait to have a play with this one. Quiz Builder is exactly that. It allows you to build a quiz. When you see, for example, on I guess, Facebook, they’ll just say, “What kind of such and such are you.” It’s that kind of thing. You can build a quiz and have people answer questions and then, obviously give them results at the end. Probably a really good one for helping people navigate around your site or around your content.

For example, with photography, it could be what kind of photography I wish I start or what kind of photography course should I do, or with blogging as well. It’s like where are you at, are you just at the beginning, or are you just needing a bit of a [inaudible 00:20:12] of your old blog, are you ready to make some money, and those sorts of thing.

You can use it for almost anything. You can include videos in it and then have, at the end of it, obviously, a customized pathway for your reader to take. You can build offers and all those sorts of things into it as well based on the answers that they give you.

Darren: I think it’s really smart. You could just use this to get engagement from your readers. That, in itself, is a great thing because readers love taking quizzes and seeing their results and sharing their results, but I think, being able to build it into almost like the entry into a funnel, here’s some further reading for you, here’s a product that will be relevant for you, I think that makes a lot of sense.

Laney: Yes. Absolutely. Then, Comments is a new one that they just brought out. It’s not really something that I had the chance to look at yet because it’s not high on our list of needs. The things that we need to work on but they’re just really working on just clever ways of making comments sort of more engaging, easier for people to have conversation with each other as well. They think of everything. They tease them out quite a lot.

If you have a membership, you’ll see that there’s a couple of other things available within the membership port which they are not selling frontend. They really just give the members the chance to do that first. There’s a really cool one which helps you do some simple sort of content protected courses on your website.

Darren: You know, even that Comments one, I think it’s really smart they’ve taken what you see or read, let’s say, in your comments, you can allow your readers to vote up someone else’s comment to write it, you can then feature that comment. Just the smart little things that you could probably hack together with other plugins but to be able to have them all into one sort of suite of tools is really smart.

All of these, I think, you can buy standalone or then there’s the option there to get them all with the membership as well. We might talk about that process towards the end of this episode. Maybe, if we could just dive in to the plugins that we’re particularly using, Thrive Leads, I think was the first one you wanted to talk about.

Laney: Yes. Thrive Leads, we’ve been using this probably more consistently for the last six months. I’ve started it off on Problogger first and we replaced all of the sign-ups on ProBlogger. That was quite a process. Thanks for passing that on to me. I am here. It should brought a lot of fun of going back through, I guess, 8000 posts worth of content on ProBlogger, trying to find all the little faces you had managed to scroll away a sign-up form.

Darren: You’re welcome.

Laney: Yeah. Which was previously done using Aweber forms. If anyone’s familiar with the process with their own email provider, you generally get given some card and you can put that card somewhere on your site and voila, you’ve got a sign-up box, and you just feel quite proud of yourself but please, please, if you’re gonna do that, keep a register of where you put all those things because it really does make it hard to go through and change and update.

There are a number of different ways we use to try and find everything. We did a search in the database for the card, for the form card. I did searches for the words, sign-up, subscribe. We cheat to make sure we capture all the thank you pages. It is quite a process to go through and find all of those touch points and next to steep points where we send people to in order to replace them all with new card. Now, I have set-up a register to make future changes and updates a lot easier.

Also, because you’re generally connecting like Thrive Leads, leads to your email service provider, that integration’s there, and sometimes it’s other integration, and then sometimes you’ll then passing them through workflows while adding tags as well. I actually write out that entire process now. We’ve got a record of how we’re using our different sign-up forms because now, we don’t generally just use one general sign-up form.

We like to be able to customize what we’re offering people based on where they’ve come into our blog. There are a number of different types of sign-up form as well. They are all giving us different information about whatever he does there are most interested in.

Darren: Thrive Leads will let you collect emails in a variety of different types of forms. We’ve got your traditional pop-up level [25:14], sticky ribbons which are the little strips that goes across the top, you can put forms inside content which we’ve been experimenting with quite a bit on Digital Photography School. Slide ins, the big overlays that fill-up the whole screen.

I like the look of the one, I think it’s called the Content Lock where you can put content behind a sign-up so they can kind of see bits of the content but to unlock it, they have to give you their email address. It’s all the normal types of sign-up forms, and as with many of the other tools, you can AB test them as well which we’ve done a bit of. Do you wanna talk a little about that AB testing we’ve done?

Laney: We have. Yeah, for sure. Not only do you have all the different types of forms, you can choose to show them in different ways. For example, you can have what they call a late group, and using late groups allow us to customize what we show our readers depending on the content that they’re viewing.

For example, if they’re coming through onto podcast, podcast episodes, we show them different pop-ups, than if they would come in through somewhere else or if they’re coming into either a podcast episode or a blog post that is from Start A Blog category, we know that they’re beginners and we’ll show them something different to other parts of the site as well.

Lead Groups allow you to do that really well. It just means that you’re not having to go and put card everywhere in your site, and actually just says, “Where do you want this and how?” and allows you to prioritize one group over another as well. That’s pretty cool. Then within those, you can then each of those groups of leads, when as a group it might be like, show them a scroll map series through but then later on do a pop-up or have something through the down on the page where they can also sign-up.

You can start split testing any one of those forms. You can also, I haven’t seen this anywhere else, split test different forms against each other. Split test to see how a full scroll mesh sign-up form compares to an end-content sign-up form. That’s not something that I’ve seen before either. People are always saying, “Oh. Look, I hate those big scroll map thing but if you can show that they actually work and it looks better than something else, then it’s good to know that kind of thing rather than just saying, “Am I making people mad?” Well, you know what, it’s actually performing really, really well.

We have done some AB testing on both ProBlogger and on DPS. On DPS, we restyled the way that we offer one of our opt-ins which are our killer ultimate guides, quite a comprehensive download that we offer for free if you subscribe, and it had a very ugly, plain looking opt-in form to be able to do that. I thought, “Well, we’ve got a nice new landing page. I’ll create a lovely new lead form to go with it.” But I said, “We’ll also recreate the old one as well.” We had a pretty versus ugly and ugly won. Really? Really?

Darren: What’s the way?

Laney: What’s the way? Ugly wins. Everytime. Well, actually ugly doesn’t win every single time but where it does, we’re able to destroy that so we can pick a winner. You can do that automatically. You can say, “Look, pick a winner automatically after it showed at least x number of times, and the conversion is better than such and such.” It can get granular with how you decide to do that or you can just do it manually and just check back in and go, “Yup. You know what, let’s just end this and pick this one as the winner.” You’ve got options with those.

Another one that we did was for ProBlogger for one of our opt-ins there. It tested whether or not it just showed the sign-up form, a single-step sign-up process. The sign-up form popped-up and it asked for your email straight away versus saying, I guess a multi-step sign-up, which would be like, “Hey, this is what we’re offering. Are you interested in it?” People can just say yes or no. If they say yes then you show them the sign-up form. That’s actually been shown to increase conversions because it’s consistent to both what I’ve already told you this. If they are interested in that and then they go on to actually sign-up. For, I think, one or two of our opt-ins, they’re multi-step works better.

The other one single-step works better. Sometimes it’s worth playing around with those just to see whether or not they just need that one little bit stick more rather than just like, “Ugh, another pop-up form,” and dismiss it. You’re actually asking them if it’s something they want or not rather than just putting that sign-up form right in their face. It’s been nice to see how that works as well.

Darren: That’s great. It gives you so much control as to the types of sign-ups you have. I know a lot of people really struggle with anything that interrupts the flow of readers. Another one that they’ve got is what they call smart links. In an article, you can make a subscribe to our newsletter link rather than a form. It’s just a normal link and if they click the link then a form opens up as a result.

You do get the pop-up but only when the person’s asked for it to pop-up. It’s perhaps a more polite way of doing it which is something that I’ve heard converts very well because anyone clicking that link has a high-intent of actually taking action of what you’re calling them to do.

Laney: Yeah. Exactly right. The same concept for sure. That’s Thrive Leads and of course, we’ve talked about some of the other things that we’re looking at with Thrive Ovation and Ultimatum, everything like that. But Leads is something which also integrates into sales pages as well.

With Thrive Architect, obviously they integrate really well with each other. If you’re creating a landing page, you can craft things like a lead generation box that you’ve already set up with Thrive Leads and pull it into the page and use different templates that you’ve already set-up as well.

But we’ve mainly been using Leads and then Architect is to create all of our landing pages and make some of our blog post, particularly on ProBlogger, look way more snazzier. We’ve been able to introduce some really cool elements and visual elements like, pop-out boxes, and other tables which I really had to do otherwise, when you wanna style your blog post.

It just gives you more ability to choose, I guess, color or fonts, and do other things that are over and above what your theme allows you to do. Just the way I’ve been up to just intuitively pick up how it works and create things on the fly really quickly. For example, I think it was when you needed a landing page for your FinCom keynote.

Darren: Yup.

Laney: You had an offer for people who came to your keynote. I was able to go to Thrive Leads, and check out all of the templates that they had, and just picked something, customized it, put it together, have a matching thank you page, and a delivery page for the download. It took no time at all and looked really good.

Darren: There are a lot of landing page creators out there but I really haven’t seen anything that allows you to customize a blog post. This is something I think that more and more bloggers need to be doing. If you’ve got a special series coming up, why not create a custom sort of theme just for that series. Do something really special to make it stand out to your readers. You can do that so easily within Thrive Architect as well.

You’ve come up with 10 top features. Before we talk about what you don’t like about it, let’s talks about the tops 10 things that you do like about, some of which you’ve touched on already. If you wanna take us through those.

Laney: Yeah, sure. These first ones to do with more of the design and interesting functions. Thrive Architect editor works for creating your Thrive Leads forms, your sign-up forms as well as the landing pages, as well as the, like you just said, the blog post. It is drag and drop. It is super fast live editing. This is like nothing I’ve actually seen before. It is actually true live editing.

If you click on the element on the page you’re basically seeing a preview of what you’re going to see and you’re just live editing it straight in. You just  click your cursor on and start doing stuff. You can drag and drop things around to move them. There’s no filling-out fields on the side, or any clicking refresh to see how it looks which is, I think, I’ve gotten quite excited about Leadpages when I first saw it. What else we love Drip who are associated with Leadpages. I just couldn’t persevere with Leadpages because it was just a little bit frustrating and slow.

When I discovered Thrive Architect, well we actually started using it when it was Thrive Content builder, I just couldn’t believe how much easier it was to just either move and things were happening as I was, I could see what I was doing in live time which was really, really great. That would be my top thing, the fact that this drag and drop is just super quick and you’re just live editing as you go.

My second top feature with the editing is it’s so easy to create margins and padding to position your elements. You would not believe how important this is to make it easy to get all your spacing right on your landing page. Previous software that I’ve used or previous plugins that I’ve used you kind of had to [00:35:07] a little bit by putting an extra layer or something like that in the near end. It wasn’t easy and you didn’t always get the result that you were looking for. With Thrive Architect that even improved the way that you do this.

You can actually just go over to this little thing on your sidebar and just drag an arrow up or down to increase or decrease the number of pixels that you want in your margins, top, bottom, left or right. It actually, you see the effect live as you go. It’s not like, “Oh, I think, I wonder what 30 pixels would look like.” You type in 30 pixels in and you want to see what it looks like. You can actually just drag and move it around and it actually just shows you live.

You can also enter the pixels as well. It’s just so easy to use. It uses that same kind of features with things like font size. It’s just a little thing that you can just grab and slide it back with some forwards and see things happen straight away, image sizes, same kind of stuff. It kind of puts it all there at your fingertips and makes you feel like you’re a bit of an architect and I think that’s brilliantly named just for that alone.

Darren: Yeah. I’ve even used it which is saying something. I’m not a designer but I’ve found my way through it. I created a couple of pages, and was able to edit things that I think, when you were away last time, I was able to fix a few things up and change things when we were changing our deals over. It’s really so easy to do once you know which button to click to get into it. It’s so easy.

Laney: Yeah. That was one of the big things. It open up the big factors on why I’ve said look, we really need to see this because it does make us less reliant on having to ask somebody, but for Mario, he’s created some really great custom themes and things for us for sales pages and stuff but you can’t just change it. It’s hardcoded. You have to fill out this field and do this and do that, and they all have to kind of look the same.

Whereas if you wanted to just make changes on the fly or you just want to put an extra element in because that will actually really make sense for this particular product for example, you can’t do that as easily. But with Thrive Architect, anyone of us can do it which is great and like you said, even you can do it which is awesome. My job is done. That works really well.

One of the things that does make it really effective and turn in anybody into a great designer is it’s templates. I started out saying how Thrive are very much conversion focused, they have a whole slate of templates that you can use for both your sign-up forms and your landing pages. It makes whipping something up super fast like the FinCom landing page and sign-up page, and the download page for example.

They are actually families of templates so that when you are setting-up, I guess, a funnel, if you wanna call it that. We go from, “Here’s my sales page or my opt-in page. Here’s my sign-up form, now you’re on the thank you page, and then if you do this and click this, then you’ll go o a download page.” They have families of templates that are all on the same styles so that everything looks consistent. They’re already designed in a way they know convert really well.

Also, all you have to do is, change an image, change the colors and the fonts to suit what your brand is, and it’s done. It’s really, really, really easy. That is my number three top ten favorite feature is those templates where [00:38:36] in gold.

Darren: It does help you create something that’s more professional and consistent. There’s nothing worse than a [BT 00:38:42] experience for your readers. You want them to feel like they’re in something that all belongs together. It makes a lot of sense.

Laney: Absolutely. Now, other than the templates themselves, there are actually different design elements that you can select and edit. One of my favorites is the different frames that you can select for say, inserting a video onto a sales page. I’ll put a link on our show notes. We have a sales page that we did last year for element of time promotion. All the videos are in at this top computer frame. It looks like they’re inside MAC. I looked at them and, “That’s really, really clever.”

You can do so much with it and you can choose a different style of computer or you can put it on a laptop, or you can put it on a iPad, or something like that. Then you can change the size of it and just all these amazing things. They’re your Vimeo or YouTube video, you just put the URL link into your side bar and choose how you want it to look and bam, there it goes.

Darren: So clean as well. I’m looking that page now and it’s a very easy read the way it’s all laid out.

Laney: Yeah, for sure. Again, that was one of Luke’s first sales pages using Thrive Architect. He did an amazing job. It looks fabulous because it’s just so easy to use. Number five would be the content element template. You might create, for example, we created a call out box with your head in it as a little icon to just headers when you’re talking on a page for example, you’re giving a tip. Once you set that box up as an element you can actually save it as a template.

If you’re creating another page or I’m doing a blog post, for example, I’m almost like, “Oh, I wanna call out here with a tip from Darren on it.” I can just go insert, and select tip box with Darren’s head, and pop it in, and there you go. You don’t have to recreate anything. You can save your own designs and elements as well or you can export and import entire pages, sign-up box designs, whatever you want, and use them again on different sales pages as well.

Just being able to have that flexibility is awesome. Because you’re not having to recreate the wheel every time and it does mean you’d move more towards that sort of consistent feel for your brand.

Darren: That’s so useful. I could see that in a blog post quite often you use different types of block quotes. A lot of design themes would have one style that you could create a variety of different ones for things different things or featuring different types of contents. That makes a lot of sense.

Laney: We’ve done them before with some blog posts where we’re just like, “Do this. Don’t do this.” You kind of got your ticks and crosses on all those sorts of things. Any of those little things that you feel like you might use again because they’re useful, you can save as an element and insert it into whatever you’re doing.

Number six, this is really, really, good and are so clever. It is super achieve actual true responsiveness for whatever you’re creating, whether it’s your sign-up boxes, or your landing pages, or your blog posts. You can then further customize them, so you get them looking exactly how you want them to look on tablets and mobile as well. You can hide elements. You can change spacing. You can swap border or elements. It kind of cascades down. It’ll say, “This is what it looks on desktop. This is what it will look like on a tablet. This is what it will look like on mobile.”

You can really make sure that whatever it is that you’re trying to present, if doesn’t work on mobile, take that out, and it won’t impact the other views of your page or your sign-up box for example. You can also just toggle on whether you want your sign-up boxes to even show on mobile or not. Again, heaps of flexibility in terms of achieving I guess, the best viewing results for your readers depending on how they’re coming to you for content.

Darren: That’s so good. This is what a lot of top-end publishers are doing on their sites at the moment. It’s showing different things to different devices really. To be able to do that is very powerful.

Laney: Absolutely. You can even show – for example, if I’ve started changing our heading in the mobile responsive view, that heading will also change on the desktop because you’re making hard changes to the actual content that’s on there but if I change the amount of space after the heading, that would only apply to the mobile version for example.

But then, something else you can do is when you’re creating the content in the desktop view, you can hide whole blocks of content and say, “Don’t show this n mobile,” or “Only show this on mobile,” for example. Again, heaps of flexibility in terms of what you show. Exactly what you show your readers.

Darren: Four more things from your top ten.

Laney: Yup. Four more things. These next three are more about, I guess, just the intelligence, and the way it integrates with the other things that we use. Number seven, I guess, I did touch on this already but the different ways that you can serve a lead form on your site – I talked about lead groups earlier, you can also choose to use short codes. Now, short codes, sometimes people just think, “Oh, no. What if we stop using thrive Leads, or Thrive Architect, or whatever.” You just kind of get left with the short codes everywhere, they don’t do that.

They don’t leave your site littered with short codes just as on a side from this particular point. You will still get your content shown it just won’t be styled in the way that you styled it using the plugins. This is one good thing to know. But you can put short codes which would’ve made things a lot easier to remove with the Aweber forms because you could just turn off a short code and it won’t show anymore.

That is one good thing about having short codes. If you’ve got something inserted with a short code and you decide like, “Right, we’re not gonna offer that anymore or we’re not going to use this sign-up form anymore.” You can actually turn it off from your dashboard rather than trying to go and remove all of the short codes.

Another way is lightboxes. There are actually lightboxes automatically generated if you want to use them which is connected to your lead generation element that you might wanna drag into a landing page as well. There are multiple different ways that you can actually serve the lead form. It just gives you more control over how they’re viewed, where they’re viewed, and allows you to keep an eye on things like conversion rates, and all of that sort of thing from one dashboard as well. Again, love how that works.

Number 8 is again, the split A/B testing, which talked about. I think I’ve given the examples already of what we did with the ultimate guides, and the pretty versus ugly. All of those things are great. I just think it’s great being able to have that level of granularity when you’re looking at, if we do this, will it actually be worthwhile for us. The split AB testing is pretty amazing and I love being really happy with it.

Darren: There’s no point trying new things unless you can track how things are. How things work really. You don’t want to try the new pop-up, or the new take over our scroll map or any of these things unless you’re able to prove that they’re doing a better job than what you were doing previously.

It’s such an important thing to actually use, I know a lot of the tools do have that type of testing, but so many people don’t use them. They just stick the pop-up up and then let it go. You could be constantly tweaking that to improve your results.

Laney: Yeah. I think that’s certainly – when you get to a stage with your blogging and your content where you’ve established your content, you’ve established your audience, and you’re starting to maybe sell things or promote things, this is when you wanna start looking at these kinds of tools, because the difference, and a few percentage, and conversions, and things like that can make a big difference.

It can move the needle and really help you move forward with the growth of your business. Having these intelligent types of tools available to you, just make it so much easier to make these decisions because it gives a lot people out there who are running their blog on their own. You really need to think about, “What’s the return on my end if I’m doing all these things?” You really wanna know if this is worthwhile or not. Again, I love the intelligence of fair solutions.

Number nine is how easy it integrates. We integrate with Aweber still, with Digital Photography School via an API. It’s superfast. It’s like you’re connected to a Aweber and sync everything to this list, tick a box, do this afterwards, and add this tech if you want to. It’s just so simple.

With ProBlogger we’ve been using Drips. We’re really trialling out Drip for the company on the ProBlogger website first. Drip is amazing and we’ll talk about that in another episode perhaps. But with Drip, we actually do it via an HTML form. We basically take the HTML form from the drip form that we generate via Drip. We then put that in and it still allows us to connect it that way, and say, “Yup, pass this tags back to drip.” Again, that’s pretty easy just not quite as seamless as an API. I’ll tell you why we don’t use the API with Drip, the bit I don’t like so much.

Darren: Okay. It integrates with most of, if not all, I’m just looking at it now. You’ve got active campaign, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, Convert Kit, GetResponse, they all sync with these tools. I’d be surprised if listeners were using an email service provider that it doesn’t integrate with.

Laney: Absolutely. There really is no excuse to be putting the HTML code to generate forms directly in your content because remember, you’re gonna go and have to clean that up one day. Don’t do it. The tenth one is the tech knowledge at thrive. The documentation and the support are really good. There’s a comprehensive knowledge base with videos, walking you through pretty much everything, tutorials, there’s a forum.

The one thing that I would say about the forum is just do your homework first. Most of the issues that I in there are user error. You can pretty much search the issue that you’re having, and you can find someone else who’s done the same thing wrong, and the answer from the team. It’s quite good. I’ve only had to use it a couple of times.

There’s a Thrive University, so there’s actual little courses and things that you can go through. It’s not just about their products. It’s just about how to generate more leads and just general good marketing knowledge that they’ve put into the little university there. Some of those are exclusive to Thrive team members only but there are others that are not.

My favorite are their emails. I reckon if they’re running a lead score on me, I would have the highest score ever, because I do open every single one of their emails, and I go to the link that they tell me to, because I find gold, nine times out of a team. I learn something useful pretty much every time. I look forward to the emails that they send.

They put so much effort into the emails, and creating new video tutorials, and telling you how to improve things, how you can use that, even things like, “Hey, we created all these cool design elements. If you wanna use them this is how you get them and open them and save them and like customize them and save them into your own Thrive, so that you could use them on your pages.” I’m like, “Great, thank you very much.” They’re really focused on what they do and they do a great job of delivering it.

Darren: The thing I love about them as someone who isn’t as hands-on as you, it’s just even the sales pages, you can see in the selling of their product, how much they care about it. They’re not into hype. They’re very matter-of-fact in the way that they talk, in the way they sell what they do, it’s very clear, all of the communication that I’ve ever seen is very clear. You don’t guess in what they mean. I don’t know. There’s something about this company that I just really respect the way that they present themselves.

Laney: Yeah. It has something to do with the bald guy who’s just really friendly and matter-of-fact.

Darren: Well, bald guys do tend to.

Lane: I thought you might relate. But, Shane Melaugh is the main name behind Thrive Themes and he is just so sincere, and so straightforward, and very matter-of-fact. Like he said,  “There’s no hype. I just did deliver the goods,” which was fabulous. I’m saying all of it, there are some things that I don’t like as well. But, in saying all of it, there are some things that they lack as well.

Darren: You better tell us those.

Laney: I will tell you those. I mentioned earlier that we started out with Thrive Content Builder which was the previous iteration of the drag and drop editor. They have made amazing improvements to Thrive Architect but some of the old designs that I created didn’t migrate as seamlessly to the new architect as I would have liked.

Here and there I sort of mocked up some few things and stuffed up some of my testimonials on an event sales page that we had, and I lost a bit of content, and I’m just like, “Damn.” There were some things that didn’t go quite as smoothly there. I could say there were a lot of frustrations about that but kudos to them.

They’re really focused on the new functionality, and the new features, and I think those far outweigh a few nickels here and there. I guess it just would have been nice if they migrated over a bit more seamlessly.

I mentioned drip before. Now this probably isn’t so much as Thrive issue, but if somebody unsubscribes to your own Drip, then you can’t reactivate them unless they actually re-subscribe via a drip form. That means you can’t use the API with Thrive because it doesn’t recognize the information being passed through as coming through a drip form which is why we have to use the HTML connection to do that.

We just take the HTML code from the drip form, feed that into Thrive, and then drip goes, “Oh. yup. You’ve actually reactivated your subscription.” If we use the API and somebody says unsubscribe from one thing, which is actually unsubscribe them from everything, or we have indicated them as an inactive person, and actually unsubscribe them ourselves.

They don’t re-subscribe so we’ll see them back in Drip and we’ll see that there’s been activity but they won’t actually be sent any broadcast emails, only transactional emails from Drip because technically, they’re still unsubscribed. There’s just a bit of a niggle, I’m hoping things will get better with that because API connections do make things just a lot quicker.

It’s just a few more steps to do. It’s not hard at all. It would just be nicer to be able to do a quick, easy connection for those sorts of things. With Thrive Leads, I’ve had a few instances when I had been doing the AB testing where it looks like the impressions of a form in the AB test don’t look equitable. They’d be sending a lot more traffic to one than the other.

That’s something that I really need to dig down and find out a bit more about. But the conversion numbers actually tell enough of a story to choose one anyway. The actual number of people who are converting on each form. But there’s just a few little glitches like that, that I would like to get to the bottom of. But generally it hasn’t hurt my being able to make decision on what’s working and what isn’t. It just seems a bit odd. I really wish that you could duplicate lead groups.

When I said before that you might have a group of two or three pop-up forms that come up on a page at different times. If you’re wanting to prioritize some content or saving forms over another, you kind of have to duplicate those forms again if you want them to still show. But you can’t actually duplicate lead groups.

You actually have to save everything as a template and recreate each form, and the group when you create a new lead group. I would just love it if you could just go duplicate. Get a new lead form and a new lead group. But I kind of understand why as well, because  you do you actually have to change the settings of how each of those forms show and lead will show as well.

Darren: One big question, I know a lot of our beginner listeners are thinking about is the learning curve on this. I was talking to one blogger recently who signed-up for a similar tool to this one, I won’t say which one, and they ended up having to hire a consultant to set-up their landing pages using that tool which kind of defeats the purpose in my mind of having a tool like this but is there, would you say there’s much of a learning curve for this and do you need that technical kind of background to be able run it and put it all together.

Laney: Look, I think it’s really easy. It is very intuitive. For example, Thrive Architect does just make you feel like an architect, like everything’s simple drag, drop, tweak here, there. You go directly to where you want something to be changed and you you can change it. The thing that took me the longest to grasp is how lead groups work and Thrive Leads.

I wasn’t just quite sure about the whole set of hierarchy, and which one will suit first, and have to drag that to the top, and then you have to duplicate certain things if you want them to show on the next group. That was a little bit tricky for me to pick-up. But if I was actually patient enough to watch all of the videos in the first place, it’s all explained. Even if there are things that you’re not quite sure about, the videos are awesome, and like I said, Shane Melaugh is really clear in how he teaches you about how things work.

Again, the knowledgebase is there as a backup as well. I guess, I don’t know if I wanna say – they don’t [00:58:09]. Just do your homework first. Read first. All of the information is there. They don’t sort of go out of their way to go, “Oh, I’m really sorry that you couldn’t figure out how to do that. This is how it works. This is what you need to do, go and do this.” Again, their manner is pretty matter-of-fact and that sort of stuff, but do you know what, it’s so straightforward. I haven’t found it that difficult at all, and like you said, you did it yourself.

Darren: If I can, anyone can. Believe me. I guess the big question that a lot of people would be thinking about at this point is, it sounds great but what is this going to cost me? We’re kind of alluded to the fact that you’ve got the two options to either buy individual plugins one off, or or sign-up for the membership. Do you wanna run us through the model that they’ve got for pricing?

Laney: Yeah, sure. You can buy each of the plugins as a license for your site. You can either do a single site license or if you’ve got more than one site that you wanna use on it, or you might have more than one installed for your blog, then you can get five license packs, 15 license packs as well. Then you can actually access all of the plugins through the membership.

But individually, the plugins are priced differently. For example, Thrive Leads is $67 for a single site license, you get all the features that you need within that, and free updates, and a year of support. The only thing that you don’t get after a year is that support. If you want to continue your support, you can upgrade to a membership, or if you just buy one of their other products, then you get another year of support, the new product as well as the one that you have. That’s $67 for Thrive Leads. Thrive Architects, that’s also $67.

Again, super value for all the things that you’re able to do with that. Ovation is cheaper, it’s just $39, to save you from diving into your emails and asking people for testimonials and copying and pasting into things, I think it’s amazing value of itself. Ultimate is a bit more expensive, it’s $97. But just when you think about that, realize that that’s actually a really conversion focused, helping to promote something, to get people to purchase something from you. Would you say that you would get your money back on that one pretty quickly or you can get everything.

Most of them are around about that price, $39, $67, $97 or you can get everything for $19 per month with a Thrive membership. That works out to be $228 per year. You buy either on an annual basis or you buy it, I think you can do it quarterly. You can do it if you pay quarterly as well. You just pay a little bit more but obviously if you pay annually it works out at $19 a month which is $228 a year. All of these stuff including all of their things is pretty incredible.

Darren: I think individually they grow prices as well. That maybe the starting point, for a lot of our listeners, I would suspect. $67 that’s a one-off and unlimited updates. A lot of the tools that I see around even just for Thrive Leads, the equivalent of that, you’d be paying a monthly fee forever to use it whereas $67 is pretty amazing.

Laney: It is. It really is. I think even if you just wanna start playing around with one or two of their plugins, you can just buy them out one-off for such a low amount. If you just love it you can upgrade to a membership. Like I said, I’ve really enjoyed having access to the membership, just for all the different stuff that I’m learning as well through those emails and the knowledgebase, and just knowing that I’ve got access to Thrive University to make improvements to what we’re doing as well. I think it’s great.

You can use, when you’ve got the membership, you can use on up to 25 of your sites, which some people might think, “Oh, that’s so many,” but for us, one site has multiple installs. Between Digital Photography School and ProBlogger, we have about a eight or nine different WordPress installs across a few different servers. It can add up pretty quickly. If you were to be paying for multiple licenses for different plugins and everything. It actually doesn’t take long before you think it’s so much cheaper to do the membership.

Darren: I guess, this is the theme that is gonna pay for itself. You’re not needing to pay a designer. You’re reducing your developer cost. We’ve already seen it we’re calling our developer less because we’ve got, I’ve already created one landing pages. It has the potential to really increase the amount of email subscribers you get but with also the way you are able to convert them using a tool like Ultimatum is pretty amazing as well.

Hopefully, you can see, our listeners the type of tools that this is and how it could be useful for you. If you wanna finish of Laney by just telling who do you think this is ideal for, is this for a real beginner or would you say this is more an intermediate advance tool? Who should be considering this sort of suite of tools

Laney: I think, for a beginner, you might choose one or two of the things to have a play around it. I think that the Thrive things, to me, look pretty good. You might not get as much flexibility in terms of the different types of styles and all that sort of thing you might like and I know when you’re a new blogger, it’s very exciting to to choose a theme and they don’t give you much choice, but if you’re not confident in being able make changes to a theme, these are so user-friendly in terms of the drag and drop, and everything like that.

Thrive Leads, I think, yes, just do it. As a beginner, I think it’s great because it just gives you that good basis to start with. You’re gonna keep your site nice and clean in case you’re not gonna be putting form card everywhere, and trying to remember where it all is. That one I want to recommend to anybody. If you’re at that level where, like I said earlier, you’ve establish your content, you’ve got a bit of idea of what your business model is gonna be, and you get into that sort of stage where every little improvement has a big impact, then it’s worth investing on these sorts of tools.

I’m really excited about Ultimatum because once that’s cranking, it just has the potential for some really nice passive income as well, so that you’re not always relying on broadcast sales, and doing sort of big promotions to your email list. You can actually send somebody a targeted promotion based on what they’re interested in at the time that they’re interested in it. That’s a huge amount of customization available through a tool that costs $97. I think that there are solutions here is for people at all different levels depending on what you’re trying to do.

They just make things a lot faster for you. You’re not having to invest to heavily and recreating a wheel with a developer. You’re not creating a hardcoded solution that has to be updated. You’ve got this kind of, like I said, thing that you’ve built that you have to keep moving along with the times. When these guys are so focused on giving, I guess, the best solution for any particular problem that you might be facing as a website or business owner. Just use their knowledge. Use their knowledge. They packaged it up at such an affordable price that in some case, it’s just silly not to.

Darren: What a great endorsement. I’m sure if they could pull that testimonial in and then use it on their site, they would use their Ovation tool to do so, Laney. As far as I can see, it doesn’t have a podcast integration tool yet.

Laney: Maybe, I’ll talk to them about that.

Darren: I’m sure that it’ll come. Thanks so much for running us through that, Laney. If you are, as a listener, thinking about checking out Thrive, their suite of tools, head over to problogger.com/thrive, and check them out. I’d also love to hear in our Facebook group whether you do pick it up and which of the tools you’re most excited about using as well. Thanks so much, Laney. We’ll have to get you back on to talk about Drip in the coming weeks, I think.

Laney: It’s been my pleasure. I really enjoy researching a different solutions that are going to make a difference to both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. I can save somebody from doing all of the research that I have done. It’s absolutely worth it.

Darren: Great. Thanks so much, Laney.

Laney: Cheers, Darren.

Darren: Thanks so much to Laney for giving us that time today. I hope you found that interesting. Again, you can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/233 where there are links to the tools and our courses as well. You’ll also find a full transcript as we do with all of our podcasts.

A couple of things to mention. We did mention a episode there 195 where Laney and myself talked through using CoSchedule, another tool that has really revolutionized the way that we do our editorial calendar, and a lot of our planning. Particularly useful if you’ve got more than one person in your team and you’re trying to coordinate the editorial responsibilities.

Also, check our our courses. Our Start A Blog course, problogger.com/startablog. Those of you wanting to do 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, problogger.com/31days. Lastly, if you did wanna check out Thrive tools using our affiliate link, you can do that with problogger.com/thrive.

Thanks so much for listening today. It’s been a long one. I hope you found it useful. I love to hear a little bit more about what you think about Thrive Themes and the tools that they have, you can do that either on the show notes today or in our Facebook group, if you’re already a part of that. If you’re not already a part of the Facebook group just do a search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook and you’ll find our very active group there. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week in episode 234.

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233: Tools We’re Using to Get More Subscribers and Customers in 2018

The Tools Were Using in 2018 to Get More Subscribers and Customers

In today’s episode, I want to introduce you to a suite of WordPress plugin tools we’ve been using on our blogs for the past six months or so that we’re really excited about.

Today’s show is brought to you by two brand new courses from ProBlogger.

I’ve been talking about one of them – our Ultimate Guide to starting a blog – for the past month or so. It’s perfect for those people who want to get a blog launched with solid foundations.

We’ve had more than 1000 people start the course already, and we’re now seeing many of them launch their blogs. We’ll be celebrating the launches on the 7th February with what we’re calling ProBlogger’s International Start a Blog day. To be included in that day simply register for the course by 31 January and launch your blog by 7th Feb.

The second course we’ve developed that we’ll be launching in March isn’t just for new bloggers. It’s also for those of you who have been blogging for a while. It’s our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course.

Long-time listeners will be familiar with that name. I originally ran 31DBB back in 2009 as a blog post series. Later it was turned into an eBook, which we’ve since updated. That eBook sold tens of thousands of copies. I also did a version of the series to launch this podcast.

But now we’re giving it a complete overhaul and will be launching it as a course.

I’ll give you more details of it in coming episodes. But it’s perfect both for new bloggers who have just set up a blog with our start a blog course, as well as more established bloggers who want to give their blog a real kick start.

It’s really about developing good habits over an intentional month of blogging.

This will be a paid course, although we’ve kept it as affordable as we can. And we’ll be launching it to anyone who preregisters their interest at a launch discount.

Links and Resources on Tools We’re Using to Get More Subscribers and Customers in 2018

Courses

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Darren : Hi there and welcome to episode 233 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to get the blog started but also to grow it and to build profit around your blog as well. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Now, today’s episode, I wanna introduce you to a suite of WordPress plugins, tools that we’ve been using on my blogs over the last six or so months and that we will be investing more and more time into using more of in the coming year ahead. We’re very excited about these particular tools. I brought my general manager, Laney Galligan, on to talk about those tools.

I wanna talk about those in a minute but before I do, I do want to mention that today’s show is brought not by an external sponsor but by our brand new courses at ProBlogger and yes, you heard me right, courses. I’ve been talking about one of them now for about a month, our ultimate guide to starting a blog and it has been going so well. We’ve had over a thousand people start the course already. There’s another thousand or so who’ve already registered in addition to that who are yet to start the course.

But what’s really exciting me is we’re starting now to see blogs launched as a result of this particular course. We’ve got a little Facebook group where we’re celebrating the launches of the new blogs. It is so exciting to see these brand new blogs coming out the other end of the course. Some are getting some great reviews of the course as well. Please head over to problogger.com/startablog if you’re interested in that particular course starting a new blog.

Now, I will say that you have a little bit of motivation to start your blog in the next couple of weeks because on the 7th of February, we have ProBloggers’ first ever international start a blog day. Sounds grand. It’s probably gonna be a little bit less grand than that but we wanna have this day on the 7th of February where we celebrate all the blogs that are launched as a result of the course. It already looks like there’s gonna be may be 100 or so of them.

If you wanna be included in our international start a blog day and be listed on ProBlogger and hopefully get a few new readers, you need to register for the course by the end of January, 31st of January, and launch your blog by the 7th of February. That’s just to give you a little bit of extra motivation to get that blog you’re been thinking about launching up and ready. That’s the Start A Blog course.

But we’ve also got this second course because we’ve been asked by so many people as we have been promoting this Start A Blog course. Is there a course for people who’ve already got a blog? The Start A Blog course is about getting a blog started. It’s not really relevant for those of you who already got a blog so I do have another course coming in March. We’ve actually already almost completed it. It’s going to be our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course.

Longtime listeners will be familiar with that name, I originally ran 31 Days to Build a Better Blog in, I think, it was 2007 or 2009. I can’t remember. I always get those mixed up but I’ve done it as a series of blog posts which I updated two years after I did the first time. We then turned it into an ebook which I then updated in 2012. There’s two versions of the ebook. We sold that ebook to tens of thousands of people. I know many of you have done that particular ebook and you know that it’s relevant for new bloggers but also for those of you who’ve been around for a while.

The whole idea of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is it’s got teaching but also practical things to do. That’s really what the both of these courses are about. They give you homework. They give you little exercises to do that take you a step closer to your goal. What we’ve done with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is we’ve taken all the blog post series, all the podcast, all of the ebook that I’ve done, and we’ve updated it all. We are launching our new version of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog as a course. That will go live in March.

If you are interested in taking that course, it’s a paid course, but we are keeping it a affordable as we can, we’re actually even launching it with a further discount as well for our people who pre-registered, just head over to problogger.com/31days and that will forward you to where you can register your interest in the course, and you’ll also be able to see a full outline of the course as well. You can find links to both of these courses as well as a transcript of today’s show and links to the tool that we’re talking about at our show notes at problogger.com/podcast/233.

Thanks for listening to all that. I’m gonna get into the show today. I’ve got a little bit to say about the tools and then we’ll get into a bit of an interview that I did with Laney.

Onto the topic of today’s episode, I wanna introduce you to the suite of tools, WordPress plugins, that we’ve been using on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School for the last six or so months now. We are so excited about them. The tools are from Thrive Themes. You might be familiar with Thrive Themes. They’re WordPress themes. They’re very good themes.

We’ve recommended them in the past but over the last year or so, they’ve also been developing a series of nine or so plugins that are just fantastic. Everytime they add a new plugin, we get really excited at ProBlogger headquarters. I’m not gonna get through them all right now because we do so in the rest of the show but these are all plugins that are particularly relevant for anyone wanting to build a business around their blog.

I hope you grow your email list so you convert your readers into subscribers. They’ll help you to then convert those subscribers into customers by helping you design landing pages and customize the look of your pages and blog posts as well. It’s very cool tools. The other thing I love about these tools and I do mention it in the show notes is that they’re incredibly affordable in comparison to some of the other tools that are out there. Some of the other tools that we’ve used in the past, we’ve actually switched from them to Thrive because one, they’re more affordable, and two, they work so intuitively.

You can find all of these tool if you head to problogger.com/thrive. I do recommend as you listen to this show that you go and actually have a look because there are features listed there that we simply don’t have time to get into in today’s show. The last thing I will say before I get into the interview that I did with Laney earlier today is that I wanna really disclose upfront that I’m an affiliate for Thrive but we’re also a paying customer. They haven’t given us this for free. We pay for it. We get so much value out of it and as a result, I’m really comfortable promoting it as an affiliate.

That link, problogger.com/thrive does earn me a small commission if you make a purchase. It doesn’t cost you anything more but it helps me to keep producing this free podcasts. I do appreciate it if you find these tools suited to your needs, head over to problogger.com/thrive and make a purchase as a result of clicking through on that link. It does help us to keep ProBlogger going.

Okay, I’ve talked too much today already. I’m gonna now get into this interview I did with general manager of ProBlogger, Laney Galligan. I asked her to come on and talk to me about Thrive because she is a massive fan of it and has loads more hands on experience with it than I have, and so I thought she’d be perfect to talk about it. This is an interview I did with her earlier today. It goes or an hour so you may wanna make yourself comfortable but do open up that link problogger.com/thrive as you listen, and you’d be able to follow through the nine or so plugins as we go through them. Thanks for listening and I’ll chat with you at the end of this chat that I had with Laney.

Darren: Hi, Laney. How are you today?

Laney: I’m pretty good, Darren. I’m pleased to have you back from holiday.

Darren: It is good. I will be very happy when school holiday is finished but that’s a whole other story for today. We are Lego City all over our house at the moment. It’s been a bit crazy. But we wanna talk today about a suite of tools that we’ve been using on ProBlogger, Digital Photography School for last 12 months.

I thought, rather than me talking about it, I’d get you in because as general of ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, you’ve got very hands on experience with setting up and using this tool from Thrive Themes. We had a conversation about another tool last year in episode 195 on CoSchedule. That was so popular I thought I’d get you back again to talk about Thrive Themes. Welcome back.

Laney: Thank you very much. It’s good to be here. I like talking about these different tools because they make my life easier. It’s all good.

Darren: You’re the queen of tools, I think.

Laney: I think so.

Darren: That could be interpreted two ways, but anyway, maybe if you can talk to us a little bit about Thrive, what is this tool, well, it’s a suite of tools, really. Maybe you can talk us through a little bit about what is Thrive Themes membership tools.

Laney: Sure. I guess most people might be familiar with Thrive Themes themselves. They’re actual themes via WordPress site, and maybe also Thrive Leads is something that people have heard about before for opt-ins and email sign-ups. But really, it’s a suite of a number of different WordPress plugins. The company is very focused on conversion-based plugins. Solutions to help you really convert your audience and get them a good experience on your blog or on your website. They’ve developed a whole range of plugins, not a huge number, I think it’s about nine or so. You can use the plugins individually but you can also access all of them with a membership port which is what we do. There’s that nine plugins and then the membership so you can access all of them.

Darren: We’ll probably focus most of our conversation on the plugins that we use but maybe before we dig in deep into those, maybe we should just run through the plugins in the suite which may peak some interest of our listeners.

Laney: Yeah, sure. Because I do have plugins that help you design your blog, build landing pages, generate leads, increase conversions. The first one which is one that just upgraded recently is a drag and drop [00:10:56] called Thrive Architect and that enables you to create landing pages really intuitively. It’s one of my favorites, has changed my life when it comes to doing things on the fly for both sites. But also, allows you to add elements, really neat elements into your blog posts as well. It’s not just about landing pages.

Darren: I love that it can be used in the blog post because you can really take a normal blog post and almost create a complete custom design for it. It’s amazing.

Laney: You can, yeah. Thrive Leads is for all of your opt-ins and sign-up forms. It’s very, very clever. We’ll talk about that a bit more because that’s one of the second one that we’re using most often at the moment. Thrive Ovation, when I saw this one, I just thought that is super clever. It allows you to to collect testimonials from multiple sources. You can set-up a landing page with a form and say, “Look, could you please leave me a testimonial?” Or you can import comments that are made on social media.

For example, Facebook or comments on your blog, and otherwise as well, you can get those really valuable testimonials and comments and things that are people are saying about you and pull them into a format which then allows you to just drag and drop it onto your landing page if you’re using something like Thrive Architect.

You know when you’re doing a sales page and you’re just, “Ugh. I forgot I’ve gotta get a testimonial. Where do I find one? How do I make it look good? I don’t have the photo. What should I use?” Thrive Ovation actually helps you manage that whole process so that it makes it really easy to get those all important testimonials onto your landing pages.

Darren: Very clever.

Laney: It is specifically that. We’re in the process of setting it up at the moment for a couple of our courses both for ProBlogger and also for Digital Photography School as well. I can’t wait to see those in action.

Darren: That’s sort of ultimatum there.

Laney: Yeah. Ultimatum is again another really super clever solution from Thrive. It allows you to create countdown campaigns. If you’ve got, for example, a limited time offer, or sale, or special on, it’s the thing that you would normally see where a little countdown sort of pops up from the bottom of your site and says, “Hey, this special offer is available for x more days or hours,” so most people are sort of aware of the whole countdown timer thing.

We use it obviously for our Christmas sale at the end of each year. We didn’t use this particular one because we had one coded already. But this does give you a lot more flexibility. You can do it for a specific time, official offer, but you can also do it, and this is where it gets really clever, for an individual. If somebody comes to your site and does something, you can then have an interaction with them, whether it might be they sign-up and then you send them to the landing page or thank you page, you can then actually offer them a personalized offer of some description. Whether it be like, “Hey, thanks for downloading our ultimate guide. We hope you find it useful. If you’d like to take the next step, here’s $10 off our next beginner book available to you for the next x amount of time.”

It gives them a personalized countdown offer which is really, I guess, helping people to convert based on their idea of scarcity. But I like this because it is real scarcity. They come along and you’ve given them an opportunity to take advantage of an offer. You cannot crack that. It doesn’t reset and start again. It’s actually real scarcity. The plugin’s that clever, it knows if they reset their cookies or try to access it on a different device. It’s got a lock down feature on it. It is a true one-time offer for that countdown for that person.

Darren: They’ll come back a couple of days later and if the countdown is finished, it’s finished. If it’s got a little bit to go, it picks up where it should pick up. It’s quite smart.

Laney: Exactly right. Yes, it is. It’ll say, “Look, so you missed out. We’ll send you here instead,” or something along those lines as well. You’ve got all of that flexibility with that particular plugin. It’s quite clever. The Headline Optimizer is one that I haven’t really had much of a look at mainly because I just think, “Well, I’ll just use CoSchedule. It tells me a score for my headlines whether they are any good or not.” But this is one step up from that.

It actually allows you to put in a multiple number of headlines for the same blog post. It’ll split test them all for you live. Depending on who comes to look at it, it’ll give them a different headline, and if they interact with that headline, it’ll know and it’ll count against your traffic. You’ll actually get actual engagement based results in your split testing rather than, “Oh, hey, this one were shared this number of times on social media sites so obviously the better result.”

It doesn’t get skewed by with a one really big social media or account shares something for you. It’s actually based on the results of how they actually came to the site and interacted on your actual website. One that I’m actually interested in having a look at but there’s only so many things you can try out at once but it looks super clever from that perspective.

Darren: I had a look before and some of the metrics it looks at is how long people stay on your sites, how far they scroll down the site, whether the click through on a call to action, it’s looking at all those metrics and then determining which version of the blog post with the different headlines wins, and it automatically selects the best ones which is pretty cool. There are sites like BuzzFeed have complicated tools that do these for them. This is a way of playing with that in a fairly affordable way.

Laney: Absolutely. Some of these plugins, they’re like the BMW of plugins, that are very, very intelligent. Some of the engineering behind them, I think, is just so clever. Speaking of clever, the next one is Clever Widgets. This is something I remember I’m sure I’ve asked Mario before, I’m just like, “Mario, I wanna put this widget in this area but I only want it to show when people are looking at this category. How do we do that?”

What I’m really asking for is conditional widgets. I only show it in this space on the side, or I’ll only put it in the sidebar, or this category, or for these pages, or whatever it might be. Clever Widgets, you just upload it and then whenever you go to your widget areas and you wanna drag something in, you can then have a separate option which is make this conditional and only show it here.

Darren: On our Photography Blog, we could have a Photoshop course that we wanna advertise but only show it when people are looking at a Photoshop article, whether it’s based on categories or tags.

Laney: Exactly. It operates on any of your widget areas, not just your sidebar, but if you’ve got an after content widget area or a banner, or however you want to do it, whatever your theme has, it’ll give you that option, only show it when this occurs. They have themes.

Obviously, I mentioned that and people might be more familiar and that’s where the name originally came from, Thrive Themes. They have 10 conversion focused WordPress themes and again, they’re super sleek. They’re built for speed. They’re built for conversion. They have things built into them so you don’t have to have extra plugins to do things on the site.

They’ve got really great templates for pages and just makes everything streamlined and really quick. I haven’t used them yet so I can’t talk about them to a great extent but I do love the fact that they use some of the same sort of editing styles that Thrive Architect uses as well. Obviously, they integrate perfectly with Thrive Architect, Thrive Leads, and all of the other widgets in Thrive as well to just make it really a smart website.

Darren: They’ve got Quiz Builder.

Laney: Quiz Builder, yeah. I can’t wait to have a play with this one. Quiz Builder is exactly that. It allows you to build a quiz. When you see, for example, on I guess, Facebook, they’ll just say, “What kind of such and such are you.” It’s that kind of thing. You can build a quiz and have people answer questions and then, obviously give them results at the end. Probably a really good one for helping people navigate around your site or around your content.

For example, with photography, it could be what kind of photography I wish I start or what kind of photography course should I do, or with blogging as well. It’s like where are you at, are you just at the beginning, or are you just needing a bit of a [inaudible 00:20:12] of your old blog, are you ready to make some money, and those sorts of thing.

You can use it for almost anything. You can include videos in it and then have, at the end of it, obviously, a customized pathway for your reader to take. You can build offers and all those sorts of things into it as well based on the answers that they give you.

Darren: I think it’s really smart. You could just use this to get engagement from your readers. That, in itself, is a great thing because readers love taking quizzes and seeing their results and sharing their results, but I think, being able to build it into almost like the entry into a funnel, here’s some further reading for you, here’s a product that will be relevant for you, I think that makes a lot of sense.

Laney: Yes. Absolutely. Then, Comments is a new one that they just brought out. It’s not really something that I had the chance to look at yet because it’s not high on our list of needs. The things that we need to work on but they’re just really working on just clever ways of making comments sort of more engaging, easier for people to have conversation with each other as well. They think of everything. They tease them out quite a lot.

If you have a membership, you’ll see that there’s a couple of other things available within the membership port which they are not selling frontend. They really just give the members the chance to do that first. There’s a really cool one which helps you do some simple sort of content protected courses on your website.

Darren: You know, even that Comments one, I think it’s really smart they’ve taken what you see or read, let’s say, in your comments, you can allow your readers to vote up someone else’s comment to write it, you can then feature that comment. Just the smart little things that you could probably hack together with other plugins but to be able to have them all into one sort of suite of tools is really smart.

All of these, I think, you can buy standalone or then there’s the option there to get them all with the membership as well. We might talk about that process towards the end of this episode. Maybe, if we could just dive in to the plugins that we’re particularly using, Thrive Leads, I think was the first one you wanted to talk about.

Laney: Yes. Thrive Leads, we’ve been using this probably more consistently for the last six months. I’ve started it off on Problogger first and we replaced all of the sign-ups on ProBlogger. That was quite a process. Thanks for passing that on to me. I am here. It should brought a lot of fun of going back through, I guess, 8000 posts worth of content on ProBlogger, trying to find all the little faces you had managed to scroll away a sign-up form.

Darren: You’re welcome.

Laney: Yeah. Which was previously done using Aweber forms. If anyone’s familiar with the process with their own email provider, you generally get given some card and you can put that card somewhere on your site and voila, you’ve got a sign-up box, and you just feel quite proud of yourself but please, please, if you’re gonna do that, keep a register of where you put all those things because it really does make it hard to go through and change and update.

There are a number of different ways we use to try and find everything. We did a search in the database for the card, for the form card. I did searches for the words, sign-up, subscribe. We cheat to make sure we capture all the thank you pages. It is quite a process to go through and find all of those touch points and next to steep points where we send people to in order to replace them all with new card. Now, I have set-up a register to make future changes and updates a lot easier.

Also, because you’re generally connecting like Thrive Leads, leads to your email service provider, that integration’s there, and sometimes it’s other integration, and then sometimes you’ll then passing them through workflows while adding tags as well. I actually write out that entire process now. We’ve got a record of how we’re using our different sign-up forms because now, we don’t generally just use one general sign-up form.

We like to be able to customize what we’re offering people based on where they’ve come into our blog. There are a number of different types of sign-up form as well. They are all giving us different information about whatever he does there are most interested in.

Darren: Thrive Leads will let you collect emails in a variety of different types of forms. We’ve got your traditional pop-up level [25:14], sticky ribbons which are the little strips that goes across the top, you can put forms inside content which we’ve been experimenting with quite a bit on Digital Photography School. Slide ins, the big overlays that fill-up the whole screen.

I like the look of the one, I think it’s called the Content Lock where you can put content behind a sign-up so they can kind of see bits of the content but to unlock it, they have to give you their email address. It’s all the normal types of sign-up forms, and as with many of the other tools, you can AB test them as well which we’ve done a bit of. Do you wanna talk a little about that AB testing we’ve done?

Laney: We have. Yeah, for sure. Not only do you have all the different types of forms, you can choose to show them in different ways. For example, you can have what they call a late group, and using late groups allow us to customize what we show our readers depending on the content that they’re viewing.

For example, if they’re coming through onto podcast, podcast episodes, we show them different pop-ups, than if they would come in through somewhere else or if they’re coming into either a podcast episode or a blog post that is from Start A Blog category, we know that they’re beginners and we’ll show them something different to other parts of the site as well.

Lead Groups allow you to do that really well. It just means that you’re not having to go and put card everywhere in your site, and actually just says, “Where do you want this and how?” and allows you to prioritize one group over another as well. That’s pretty cool. Then within those, you can then each of those groups of leads, when as a group it might be like, show them a scroll map series through but then later on do a pop-up or have something through the down on the page where they can also sign-up.

You can start split testing any one of those forms. You can also, I haven’t seen this anywhere else, split test different forms against each other. Split test to see how a full scroll mesh sign-up form compares to an end-content sign-up form. That’s not something that I’ve seen before either. People are always saying, “Oh. Look, I hate those big scroll map thing but if you can show that they actually work and it looks better than something else, then it’s good to know that kind of thing rather than just saying, “Am I making people mad?” Well, you know what, it’s actually performing really, really well.

We have done some AB testing on both ProBlogger and on DPS. On DPS, we restyled the way that we offer one of our opt-ins which are our killer ultimate guides, quite a comprehensive download that we offer for free if you subscribe, and it had a very ugly, plain looking opt-in form to be able to do that. I thought, “Well, we’ve got a nice new landing page. I’ll create a lovely new lead form to go with it.” But I said, “We’ll also recreate the old one as well.” We had a pretty versus ugly and ugly won. Really? Really?

Darren: What’s the way?

Laney: What’s the way? Ugly wins. Everytime. Well, actually ugly doesn’t win every single time but where it does, we’re able to destroy that so we can pick a winner. You can do that automatically. You can say, “Look, pick a winner automatically after it showed at least x number of times, and the conversion is better than such and such.” It can get granular with how you decide to do that or you can just do it manually and just check back in and go, “Yup. You know what, let’s just end this and pick this one as the winner.” You’ve got options with those.

Another one that we did was for ProBlogger for one of our opt-ins there. It tested whether or not it just showed the sign-up form, a single-step sign-up process. The sign-up form popped-up and it asked for your email straight away versus saying, I guess a multi-step sign-up, which would be like, “Hey, this is what we’re offering. Are you interested in it?” People can just say yes or no. If they say yes then you show them the sign-up form. That’s actually been shown to increase conversions because it’s consistent to both what I’ve already told you this. If they are interested in that and then they go on to actually sign-up. For, I think, one or two of our opt-ins, they’re multi-step works better.

The other one single-step works better. Sometimes it’s worth playing around with those just to see whether or not they just need that one little bit stick more rather than just like, “Ugh, another pop-up form,” and dismiss it. You’re actually asking them if it’s something they want or not rather than just putting that sign-up form right in their face. It’s been nice to see how that works as well.

Darren: That’s great. It gives you so much control as to the types of sign-ups you have. I know a lot of people really struggle with anything that interrupts the flow of readers. Another one that they’ve got is what they call smart links. In an article, you can make a subscribe to our newsletter link rather than a form. It’s just a normal link and if they click the link then a form opens up as a result.

You do get the pop-up but only when the person’s asked for it to pop-up. It’s perhaps a more polite way of doing it which is something that I’ve heard converts very well because anyone clicking that link has a high-intent of actually taking action of what you’re calling them to do.

Laney: Yeah. Exactly right. The same concept for sure. That’s Thrive Leads and of course, we’ve talked about some of the other things that we’re looking at with Thrive Ovation and Ultimatum, everything like that. But Leads is something which also integrates into sales pages as well.

With Thrive Architect, obviously they integrate really well with each other. If you’re creating a landing page, you can craft things like a lead generation box that you’ve already set up with Thrive Leads and pull it into the page and use different templates that you’ve already set-up as well.

But we’ve mainly been using Leads and then Architect is to create all of our landing pages and make some of our blog post, particularly on ProBlogger, look way more snazzier. We’ve been able to introduce some really cool elements and visual elements like, pop-out boxes, and other tables which I really had to do otherwise, when you wanna style your blog post.

It just gives you more ability to choose, I guess, color or fonts, and do other things that are over and above what your theme allows you to do. Just the way I’ve been up to just intuitively pick up how it works and create things on the fly really quickly. For example, I think it was when you needed a landing page for your FinCom keynote.

Darren: Yup.

Laney: You had an offer for people who came to your keynote. I was able to go to Thrive Leads, and check out all of the templates that they had, and just picked something, customized it, put it together, have a matching thank you page, and a delivery page for the download. It took no time at all and looked really good.

Darren: There are a lot of landing page creators out there but I really haven’t seen anything that allows you to customize a blog post. This is something I think that more and more bloggers need to be doing. If you’ve got a special series coming up, why not create a custom sort of theme just for that series. Do something really special to make it stand out to your readers. You can do that so easily within Thrive Architect as well.

You’ve come up with 10 top features. Before we talk about what you don’t like about it, let’s talks about the tops 10 things that you do like about, some of which you’ve touched on already. If you wanna take us through those.

Laney: Yeah, sure. These first ones to do with more of the design and interesting functions. Thrive Architect editor works for creating your Thrive Leads forms, your sign-up forms as well as the landing pages, as well as the, like you just said, the blog post. It is drag and drop. It is super fast live editing. This is like nothing I’ve actually seen before. It is actually true live editing.

If you click on the element on the page you’re basically seeing a preview of what you’re going to see and you’re just live editing it straight in. You just  click your cursor on and start doing stuff. You can drag and drop things around to move them. There’s no filling-out fields on the side, or any clicking refresh to see how it looks which is, I think, I’ve gotten quite excited about Leadpages when I first saw it. What else we love Drip who are associated with Leadpages. I just couldn’t persevere with Leadpages because it was just a little bit frustrating and slow.

When I discovered Thrive Architect, well we actually started using it when it was Thrive Content builder, I just couldn’t believe how much easier it was to just either move and things were happening as I was, I could see what I was doing in live time which was really, really great. That would be my top thing, the fact that this drag and drop is just super quick and you’re just live editing as you go.

My second top feature with the editing is it’s so easy to create margins and padding to position your elements. You would not believe how important this is to make it easy to get all your spacing right on your landing page. Previous software that I’ve used or previous plugins that I’ve used you kind of had to [00:35:07] a little bit by putting an extra layer or something like that in the near end. It wasn’t easy and you didn’t always get the result that you were looking for. With Thrive Architect that even improved the way that you do this.

You can actually just go over to this little thing on your sidebar and just drag an arrow up or down to increase or decrease the number of pixels that you want in your margins, top, bottom, left or right. It actually, you see the effect live as you go. It’s not like, “Oh, I think, I wonder what 30 pixels would look like.” You type in 30 pixels in and you want to see what it looks like. You can actually just drag and move it around and it actually just shows you live.

You can also enter the pixels as well. It’s just so easy to use. It uses that same kind of features with things like font size. It’s just a little thing that you can just grab and slide it back with some forwards and see things happen straight away, image sizes, same kind of stuff. It kind of puts it all there at your fingertips and makes you feel like you’re a bit of an architect and I think that’s brilliantly named just for that alone.

Darren: Yeah. I’ve even used it which is saying something. I’m not a designer but I’ve found my way through it. I created a couple of pages, and was able to edit things that I think, when you were away last time, I was able to fix a few things up and change things when we were changing our deals over. It’s really so easy to do once you know which button to click to get into it. It’s so easy.

Laney: Yeah. That was one of the big things. It open up the big factors on why I’ve said look, we really need to see this because it does make us less reliant on having to ask somebody, but for Mario, he’s created some really great custom themes and things for us for sales pages and stuff but you can’t just change it. It’s hardcoded. You have to fill out this field and do this and do that, and they all have to kind of look the same.

Whereas if you wanted to just make changes on the fly or you just want to put an extra element in because that will actually really make sense for this particular product for example, you can’t do that as easily. But with Thrive Architect, anyone of us can do it which is great and like you said, even you can do it which is awesome. My job is done. That works really well.

One of the things that does make it really effective and turn in anybody into a great designer is it’s templates. I started out saying how Thrive are very much conversion focused, they have a whole slate of templates that you can use for both your sign-up forms and your landing pages. It makes whipping something up super fast like the FinCom landing page and sign-up page, and the download page for example.

They are actually families of templates so that when you are setting-up, I guess, a funnel, if you wanna call it that. We go from, “Here’s my sales page or my opt-in page. Here’s my sign-up form, now you’re on the thank you page, and then if you do this and click this, then you’ll go o a download page.” They have families of templates that are all on the same styles so that everything looks consistent. They’re already designed in a way they know convert really well.

Also, all you have to do is, change an image, change the colors and the fonts to suit what your brand is, and it’s done. It’s really, really, really easy. That is my number three top ten favorite feature is those templates where [00:38:36] in gold.

Darren: It does help you create something that’s more professional and consistent. There’s nothing worse than a [BT 00:38:42] experience for your readers. You want them to feel like they’re in something that all belongs together. It makes a lot of sense.

Laney: Absolutely. Now, other than the templates themselves, there are actually different design elements that you can select and edit. One of my favorites is the different frames that you can select for say, inserting a video onto a sales page. I’ll put a link on our show notes. We have a sales page that we did last year for element of time promotion. All the videos are in at this top computer frame. It looks like they’re inside MAC. I looked at them and, “That’s really, really clever.”

You can do so much with it and you can choose a different style of computer or you can put it on a laptop, or you can put it on a iPad, or something like that. Then you can change the size of it and just all these amazing things. They’re your Vimeo or YouTube video, you just put the URL link into your side bar and choose how you want it to look and bam, there it goes.

Darren: So clean as well. I’m looking that page now and it’s a very easy read the way it’s all laid out.

Laney: Yeah, for sure. Again, that was one of Luke’s first sales pages using Thrive Architect. He did an amazing job. It looks fabulous because it’s just so easy to use. Number five would be the content element template. You might create, for example, we created a call out box with your head in it as a little icon to just headers when you’re talking on a page for example, you’re giving a tip. Once you set that box up as an element you can actually save it as a template.

If you’re creating another page or I’m doing a blog post, for example, I’m almost like, “Oh, I wanna call out here with a tip from Darren on it.” I can just go insert, and select tip box with Darren’s head, and pop it in, and there you go. You don’t have to recreate anything. You can save your own designs and elements as well or you can export and import entire pages, sign-up box designs, whatever you want, and use them again on different sales pages as well.

Just being able to have that flexibility is awesome. Because you’re not having to recreate the wheel every time and it does mean you’d move more towards that sort of consistent feel for your brand.

Darren: That’s so useful. I could see that in a blog post quite often you use different types of block quotes. A lot of design themes would have one style that you could create a variety of different ones for things different things or featuring different types of contents. That makes a lot of sense.

Laney: We’ve done them before with some blog posts where we’re just like, “Do this. Don’t do this.” You kind of got your ticks and crosses on all those sorts of things. Any of those little things that you feel like you might use again because they’re useful, you can save as an element and insert it into whatever you’re doing.

Number six, this is really, really, good and are so clever. It is super achieve actual true responsiveness for whatever you’re creating, whether it’s your sign-up boxes, or your landing pages, or your blog posts. You can then further customize them, so you get them looking exactly how you want them to look on tablets and mobile as well. You can hide elements. You can change spacing. You can swap border or elements. It kind of cascades down. It’ll say, “This is what it looks on desktop. This is what it will look like on a tablet. This is what it will look like on mobile.”

You can really make sure that whatever it is that you’re trying to present, if doesn’t work on mobile, take that out, and it won’t impact the other views of your page or your sign-up box for example. You can also just toggle on whether you want your sign-up boxes to even show on mobile or not. Again, heaps of flexibility in terms of achieving I guess, the best viewing results for your readers depending on how they’re coming to you for content.

Darren: That’s so good. This is what a lot of top-end publishers are doing on their sites at the moment. It’s showing different things to different devices really. To be able to do that is very powerful.

Laney: Absolutely. You can even show – for example, if I’ve started changing our heading in the mobile responsive view, that heading will also change on the desktop because you’re making hard changes to the actual content that’s on there but if I change the amount of space after the heading, that would only apply to the mobile version for example.

But then, something else you can do is when you’re creating the content in the desktop view, you can hide whole blocks of content and say, “Don’t show this n mobile,” or “Only show this on mobile,” for example. Again, heaps of flexibility in terms of what you show. Exactly what you show your readers.

Darren: Four more things from your top ten.

Laney: Yup. Four more things. These next three are more about, I guess, just the intelligence, and the way it integrates with the other things that we use. Number seven, I guess, I did touch on this already but the different ways that you can serve a lead form on your site – I talked about lead groups earlier, you can also choose to use short codes. Now, short codes, sometimes people just think, “Oh, no. What if we stop using thrive Leads, or Thrive Architect, or whatever.” You just kind of get left with the short codes everywhere, they don’t do that.

They don’t leave your site littered with short codes just as on a side from this particular point. You will still get your content shown it just won’t be styled in the way that you styled it using the plugins. This is one good thing to know. But you can put short codes which would’ve made things a lot easier to remove with the Aweber forms because you could just turn off a short code and it won’t show anymore.

That is one good thing about having short codes. If you’ve got something inserted with a short code and you decide like, “Right, we’re not gonna offer that anymore or we’re not going to use this sign-up form anymore.” You can actually turn it off from your dashboard rather than trying to go and remove all of the short codes.

Another way is lightboxes. There are actually lightboxes automatically generated if you want to use them which is connected to your lead generation element that you might wanna drag into a landing page as well. There are multiple different ways that you can actually serve the lead form. It just gives you more control over how they’re viewed, where they’re viewed, and allows you to keep an eye on things like conversion rates, and all of that sort of thing from one dashboard as well. Again, love how that works.

Number 8 is again, the split A/B testing, which talked about. I think I’ve given the examples already of what we did with the ultimate guides, and the pretty versus ugly. All of those things are great. I just think it’s great being able to have that level of granularity when you’re looking at, if we do this, will it actually be worthwhile for us. The split AB testing is pretty amazing and I love being really happy with it.

Darren: There’s no point trying new things unless you can track how things are. How things work really. You don’t want to try the new pop-up, or the new take over our scroll map or any of these things unless you’re able to prove that they’re doing a better job than what you were doing previously.

It’s such an important thing to actually use, I know a lot of the tools do have that type of testing, but so many people don’t use them. They just stick the pop-up up and then let it go. You could be constantly tweaking that to improve your results.

Laney: Yeah. I think that’s certainly – when you get to a stage with your blogging and your content where you’ve established your content, you’ve established your audience, and you’re starting to maybe sell things or promote things, this is when you wanna start looking at these kinds of tools, because the difference, and a few percentage, and conversions, and things like that can make a big difference.

It can move the needle and really help you move forward with the growth of your business. Having these intelligent types of tools available to you, just make it so much easier to make these decisions because it gives a lot people out there who are running their blog on their own. You really need to think about, “What’s the return on my end if I’m doing all these things?” You really wanna know if this is worthwhile or not. Again, I love the intelligence of fair solutions.

Number nine is how easy it integrates. We integrate with Aweber still, with Digital Photography School via an API. It’s superfast. It’s like you’re connected to a Aweber and sync everything to this list, tick a box, do this afterwards, and add this tech if you want to. It’s just so simple.

With ProBlogger we’ve been using Drips. We’re really trialling out Drip for the company on the ProBlogger website first. Drip is amazing and we’ll talk about that in another episode perhaps. But with Drip, we actually do it via an HTML form. We basically take the HTML form from the drip form that we generate via Drip. We then put that in and it still allows us to connect it that way, and say, “Yup, pass this tags back to drip.” Again, that’s pretty easy just not quite as seamless as an API. I’ll tell you why we don’t use the API with Drip, the bit I don’t like so much.

Darren: Okay. It integrates with most of, if not all, I’m just looking at it now. You’ve got active campaign, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, Convert Kit, GetResponse, they all sync with these tools. I’d be surprised if listeners were using an email service provider that it doesn’t integrate with.

Laney: Absolutely. There really is no excuse to be putting the HTML code to generate forms directly in your content because remember, you’re gonna go and have to clean that up one day. Don’t do it. The tenth one is the tech knowledge at thrive. The documentation and the support are really good. There’s a comprehensive knowledge base with videos, walking you through pretty much everything, tutorials, there’s a forum.

The one thing that I would say about the forum is just do your homework first. Most of the issues that I in there are user error. You can pretty much search the issue that you’re having, and you can find someone else who’s done the same thing wrong, and the answer from the team. It’s quite good. I’ve only had to use it a couple of times.

There’s a Thrive University, so there’s actual little courses and things that you can go through. It’s not just about their products. It’s just about how to generate more leads and just general good marketing knowledge that they’ve put into the little university there. Some of those are exclusive to Thrive team members only but there are others that are not.

My favorite are their emails. I reckon if they’re running a lead score on me, I would have the highest score ever, because I do open every single one of their emails, and I go to the link that they tell me to, because I find gold, nine times out of a team. I learn something useful pretty much every time. I look forward to the emails that they send.

They put so much effort into the emails, and creating new video tutorials, and telling you how to improve things, how you can use that, even things like, “Hey, we created all these cool design elements. If you wanna use them this is how you get them and open them and save them and like customize them and save them into your own Thrive, so that you could use them on your pages.” I’m like, “Great, thank you very much.” They’re really focused on what they do and they do a great job of delivering it.

Darren: The thing I love about them as someone who isn’t as hands-on as you, it’s just even the sales pages, you can see in the selling of their product, how much they care about it. They’re not into hype. They’re very matter-of-fact in the way that they talk, in the way they sell what they do, it’s very clear, all of the communication that I’ve ever seen is very clear. You don’t guess in what they mean. I don’t know. There’s something about this company that I just really respect the way that they present themselves.

Laney: Yeah. It has something to do with the bald guy who’s just really friendly and matter-of-fact.

Darren: Well, bald guys do tend to.

Lane: I thought you might relate. But, Shane Melaugh is the main name behind Thrive Themes and he is just so sincere, and so straightforward, and very matter-of-fact. Like he said,  “There’s no hype. I just did deliver the goods,” which was fabulous. I’m saying all of it, there are some things that I don’t like as well. But, in saying all of it, there are some things that they lack as well.

Darren: You better tell us those.

Laney: I will tell you those. I mentioned earlier that we started out with Thrive Content Builder which was the previous iteration of the drag and drop editor. They have made amazing improvements to Thrive Architect but some of the old designs that I created didn’t migrate as seamlessly to the new architect as I would have liked.

Here and there I sort of mocked up some few things and stuffed up some of my testimonials on an event sales page that we had, and I lost a bit of content, and I’m just like, “Damn.” There were some things that didn’t go quite as smoothly there. I could say there were a lot of frustrations about that but kudos to them.

They’re really focused on the new functionality, and the new features, and I think those far outweigh a few nickels here and there. I guess it just would have been nice if they migrated over a bit more seamlessly.

I mentioned drip before. Now this probably isn’t so much as Thrive issue, but if somebody unsubscribes to your own Drip, then you can’t reactivate them unless they actually re-subscribe via a drip form. That means you can’t use the API with Thrive because it doesn’t recognize the information being passed through as coming through a drip form which is why we have to use the HTML connection to do that.

We just take the HTML code from the drip form, feed that into Thrive, and then drip goes, “Oh. yup. You’ve actually reactivated your subscription.” If we use the API and somebody says unsubscribe from one thing, which is actually unsubscribe them from everything, or we have indicated them as an inactive person, and actually unsubscribe them ourselves.

They don’t re-subscribe so we’ll see them back in Drip and we’ll see that there’s been activity but they won’t actually be sent any broadcast emails, only transactional emails from Drip because technically, they’re still unsubscribed. There’s just a bit of a niggle, I’m hoping things will get better with that because API connections do make things just a lot quicker.

It’s just a few more steps to do. It’s not hard at all. It would just be nicer to be able to do a quick, easy connection for those sorts of things. With Thrive Leads, I’ve had a few instances when I had been doing the AB testing where it looks like the impressions of a form in the AB test don’t look equitable. They’d be sending a lot more traffic to one than the other.

That’s something that I really need to dig down and find out a bit more about. But the conversion numbers actually tell enough of a story to choose one anyway. The actual number of people who are converting on each form. But there’s just a few little glitches like that, that I would like to get to the bottom of. But generally it hasn’t hurt my being able to make decision on what’s working and what isn’t. It just seems a bit odd. I really wish that you could duplicate lead groups.

When I said before that you might have a group of two or three pop-up forms that come up on a page at different times. If you’re wanting to prioritize some content or saving forms over another, you kind of have to duplicate those forms again if you want them to still show. But you can’t actually duplicate lead groups.

You actually have to save everything as a template and recreate each form, and the group when you create a new lead group. I would just love it if you could just go duplicate. Get a new lead form and a new lead group. But I kind of understand why as well, because  you do you actually have to change the settings of how each of those forms show and lead will show as well.

Darren: One big question, I know a lot of our beginner listeners are thinking about is the learning curve on this. I was talking to one blogger recently who signed-up for a similar tool to this one, I won’t say which one, and they ended up having to hire a consultant to set-up their landing pages using that tool which kind of defeats the purpose in my mind of having a tool like this but is there, would you say there’s much of a learning curve for this and do you need that technical kind of background to be able run it and put it all together.

Laney: Look, I think it’s really easy. It is very intuitive. For example, Thrive Architect does just make you feel like an architect, like everything’s simple drag, drop, tweak here, there. You go directly to where you want something to be changed and you you can change it. The thing that took me the longest to grasp is how lead groups work and Thrive Leads.

I wasn’t just quite sure about the whole set of hierarchy, and which one will suit first, and have to drag that to the top, and then you have to duplicate certain things if you want them to show on the next group. That was a little bit tricky for me to pick-up. But if I was actually patient enough to watch all of the videos in the first place, it’s all explained. Even if there are things that you’re not quite sure about, the videos are awesome, and like I said, Shane Melaugh is really clear in how he teaches you about how things work.

Again, the knowledgebase is there as a backup as well. I guess, I don’t know if I wanna say – they don’t [00:58:09]. Just do your homework first. Read first. All of the information is there. They don’t sort of go out of their way to go, “Oh, I’m really sorry that you couldn’t figure out how to do that. This is how it works. This is what you need to do, go and do this.” Again, their manner is pretty matter-of-fact and that sort of stuff, but do you know what, it’s so straightforward. I haven’t found it that difficult at all, and like you said, you did it yourself.

Darren: If I can, anyone can. Believe me. I guess the big question that a lot of people would be thinking about at this point is, it sounds great but what is this going to cost me? We’re kind of alluded to the fact that you’ve got the two options to either buy individual plugins one off, or or sign-up for the membership. Do you wanna run us through the model that they’ve got for pricing?

Laney: Yeah, sure. You can buy each of the plugins as a license for your site. You can either do a single site license or if you’ve got more than one site that you wanna use on it, or you might have more than one installed for your blog, then you can get five license packs, 15 license packs as well. Then you can actually access all of the plugins through the membership.

But individually, the plugins are priced differently. For example, Thrive Leads is $67 for a single site license, you get all the features that you need within that, and free updates, and a year of support. The only thing that you don’t get after a year is that support. If you want to continue your support, you can upgrade to a membership, or if you just buy one of their other products, then you get another year of support, the new product as well as the one that you have. That’s $67 for Thrive Leads. Thrive Architects, that’s also $67.

Again, super value for all the things that you’re able to do with that. Ovation is cheaper, it’s just $39, to save you from diving into your emails and asking people for testimonials and copying and pasting into things, I think it’s amazing value of itself. Ultimate is a bit more expensive, it’s $97. But just when you think about that, realize that that’s actually a really conversion focused, helping to promote something, to get people to purchase something from you. Would you say that you would get your money back on that one pretty quickly or you can get everything.

Most of them are around about that price, $39, $67, $97 or you can get everything for $19 per month with a Thrive membership. That works out to be $228 per year. You buy either on an annual basis or you buy it, I think you can do it quarterly. You can do it if you pay quarterly as well. You just pay a little bit more but obviously if you pay annually it works out at $19 a month which is $228 a year. All of these stuff including all of their things is pretty incredible.

Darren: I think individually they grow prices as well. That maybe the starting point, for a lot of our listeners, I would suspect. $67 that’s a one-off and unlimited updates. A lot of the tools that I see around even just for Thrive Leads, the equivalent of that, you’d be paying a monthly fee forever to use it whereas $67 is pretty amazing.

Laney: It is. It really is. I think even if you just wanna start playing around with one or two of their plugins, you can just buy them out one-off for such a low amount. If you just love it you can upgrade to a membership. Like I said, I’ve really enjoyed having access to the membership, just for all the different stuff that I’m learning as well through those emails and the knowledgebase, and just knowing that I’ve got access to Thrive University to make improvements to what we’re doing as well. I think it’s great.

You can use, when you’ve got the membership, you can use on up to 25 of your sites, which some people might think, “Oh, that’s so many,” but for us, one site has multiple installs. Between Digital Photography School and ProBlogger, we have about a eight or nine different WordPress installs across a few different servers. It can add up pretty quickly. If you were to be paying for multiple licenses for different plugins and everything. It actually doesn’t take long before you think it’s so much cheaper to do the membership.

Darren: I guess, this is the theme that is gonna pay for itself. You’re not needing to pay a designer. You’re reducing your developer cost. We’ve already seen it we’re calling our developer less because we’ve got, I’ve already created one landing pages. It has the potential to really increase the amount of email subscribers you get but with also the way you are able to convert them using a tool like Ultimatum is pretty amazing as well.

Hopefully, you can see, our listeners the type of tools that this is and how it could be useful for you. If you wanna finish of Laney by just telling who do you think this is ideal for, is this for a real beginner or would you say this is more an intermediate advance tool? Who should be considering this sort of suite of tools

Laney: I think, for a beginner, you might choose one or two of the things to have a play around it. I think that the Thrive things, to me, look pretty good. You might not get as much flexibility in terms of the different types of styles and all that sort of thing you might like and I know when you’re a new blogger, it’s very exciting to to choose a theme and they don’t give you much choice, but if you’re not confident in being able make changes to a theme, these are so user-friendly in terms of the drag and drop, and everything like that.

Thrive Leads, I think, yes, just do it. As a beginner, I think it’s great because it just gives you that good basis to start with. You’re gonna keep your site nice and clean in case you’re not gonna be putting form card everywhere, and trying to remember where it all is. That one I want to recommend to anybody. If you’re at that level where, like I said earlier, you’ve establish your content, you’ve got a bit of idea of what your business model is gonna be, and you get into that sort of stage where every little improvement has a big impact, then it’s worth investing on these sorts of tools.

I’m really excited about Ultimatum because once that’s cranking, it just has the potential for some really nice passive income as well, so that you’re not always relying on broadcast sales, and doing sort of big promotions to your email list. You can actually send somebody a targeted promotion based on what they’re interested in at the time that they’re interested in it. That’s a huge amount of customization available through a tool that costs $97. I think that there are solutions here is for people at all different levels depending on what you’re trying to do.

They just make things a lot faster for you. You’re not having to invest to heavily and recreating a wheel with a developer. You’re not creating a hardcoded solution that has to be updated. You’ve got this kind of, like I said, thing that you’ve built that you have to keep moving along with the times. When these guys are so focused on giving, I guess, the best solution for any particular problem that you might be facing as a website or business owner. Just use their knowledge. Use their knowledge. They packaged it up at such an affordable price that in some case, it’s just silly not to.

Darren: What a great endorsement. I’m sure if they could pull that testimonial in and then use it on their site, they would use their Ovation tool to do so, Laney. As far as I can see, it doesn’t have a podcast integration tool yet.

Laney: Maybe, I’ll talk to them about that.

Darren: I’m sure that it’ll come. Thanks so much for running us through that, Laney. If you are, as a listener, thinking about checking out Thrive, their suite of tools, head over to problogger.com/thrive, and check them out. I’d also love to hear in our Facebook group whether you do pick it up and which of the tools you’re most excited about using as well. Thanks so much, Laney. We’ll have to get you back on to talk about Drip in the coming weeks, I think.

Laney: It’s been my pleasure. I really enjoy researching a different solutions that are going to make a difference to both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. I can save somebody from doing all of the research that I have done. It’s absolutely worth it.

Darren: Great. Thanks so much, Laney.

Laney: Cheers, Darren.

Darren: Thanks so much to Laney for giving us that time today. I hope you found that interesting. Again, you can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/233 where there are links to the tools and our courses as well. You’ll also find a full transcript as we do with all of our podcasts.

A couple of things to mention. We did mention a episode there 195 where Laney and myself talked through using CoSchedule, another tool that has really revolutionized the way that we do our editorial calendar, and a lot of our planning. Particularly useful if you’ve got more than one person in your team and you’re trying to coordinate the editorial responsibilities.

Also, check our our courses. Our Start A Blog course, problogger.com/startablog. Those of you wanting to do 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, problogger.com/31days. Lastly, if you did wanna check out Thrive tools using our affiliate link, you can do that with problogger.com/thrive.

Thanks so much for listening today. It’s been a long one. I hope you found it useful. I love to hear a little bit more about what you think about Thrive Themes and the tools that they have, you can do that either on the show notes today or in our Facebook group, if you’re already a part of that. If you’re not already a part of the Facebook group just do a search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook and you’ll find our very active group there. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week in episode 234.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 233: Tools We’re Using to Get More Subscribers and Customers in 2018 appeared first on ProBlogger.

Blog Metrics: Why You Need to Stop Focusing on ‘Vanity’ Stats

Blog metrics

In a recent ProBlogger Mastermind, I shared a slide that seemed to hit a nerve with the group.

While having lots of page views, sessions, fans, followers and even email subscribers may feel good, they don’t actually tell you anything about the health of your blog.

I included this in my Mastermind session after having several conversations with bloggers that all started something like this: “Traffic is growing, and so is my social following and email list. But I’m not making any money”.

For many, the monetization emptiness came from focusing on certain results and metrics (such as those I just mentioned) that sounded great, but had very little bearing on actual monetary return.

Vanity over actionable metrics isn’t a new thing.

The idea of measuring the metrics that matter has been around for a while. People like Neil Patel have made their names and built successful companies through challenging us to think more deeply about the ‘Why?’ behind our numbers. Today, action-driven data is available to everyone doing business online – including bloggers – so there’s no excuse for not using it.

But rather than leaping into the depth of data, I recommend you begin with small steps.

Define your North Star Metric, and what might influence it

Time is the enemy of most bloggers just starting out, and so focus is critical. A North Star Metric gives you one thing to care about above everything else.

“To uncover your North Star Metric you must understand the value your most loyal customers get from using your product. Then you should try to quantify this value in a single metric.” – Sean Ellis

Your North Star Metric should be a metric that will directly improve the health and prosperity of your blog.

Start asking better questions

It’s time to start ignoring what Google Analytics thinks you want to know. Instead, think about the real value you’re trying to give a reader (your North Star), and what observable actions they might take that will show how good a job you’re doing getting them there.

For example, if your blog teaches others how to run a successful blog, what short- and long-term behaviors would you expect to see from someone you’re actually teaching?

They could be basic things such as:

  •   Find you (first time visit)
  •   Come back again (repeat visit)
  •   Engage (comment on a post, or follow you on a social platform)
  •   Give you their email address (subscribe)
  •   Buy or subscribe to a product (purchase)
  •   Buy or subscribe to a second product (purchase again)

Thanks to free services such as Google Analytics, we take comfort in very basic but often misleading blog metrics. After all, who has the time (or the energy) to dive into the numbers? But if think about the questions you need to answer before you start worrying about how to measure them, you’ll quickly change your mindset.

And once you’ve got this down, you’ll be ready to get your numerical nerd on.

Understanding cohorts and segmentation

Statistics and mathematics are probably the last things you want me to talk about. But segmentation and cohorts are important terms that you need to understand.

So what are they?

Segmentation and cohorts are techniques used to collate data into meaningful groups. They let you compare different groups in various ways, as well as over different time periods, and ask questions like, “Are my current first-time visitors behaving differently from the first-time visitors I had a year ago?”

While Google Analytics lets you do some basic cohorts, you’ll quickly find the level of detail Google gives you for free quite limiting.

But when you look at your data through cohorts and segmentation, you can identify specific strengths and opportunities to improve.

What is a cohort?

In statistics, marketing and demography, a cohort is a group of subjects who share a defining characteristic.

For example, you might notice over time that people who find your blog through search are less inclined to arrive at your North Star than someone coming from a different source. By using research, data, and experimentation you can get a better understanding of the situation, and create a plan to improve the experience of these first-time SEO arrivals.

For example, you may need to:

  • create a stronger CTA in your post to help casual SEO arrivals learn more about you
  • find better ways to get readers to check out a second post, or give you their email address
  • spend time building more traffic from those lower volume but higher value-per-visitor channels.

Whatever the answer is, you’ll find it in your experiments and metrics.

And from there you can look at your most recent cohorts to see what impact your new approach is having.

Congratulations. You’re now taking meaningful steps to grow the prosperity of your blog.

The theories are nice, but what about in practice?

At 99designs, we began reflecting on our blog’s performance by asking deeper questions about the impact we were having on our readers.

Some of the results were hard to read.

Do people read our content?

We knew how many people started reading our content. But we had no idea if they were consuming all those wonderful words we’d put so much effort in creating. We could make some guesstimates based on ‘time on site,’ but that was too general. So we produced two reports – time engaged with the page, and how far people were scrolling down the page.

The results were hard to read at first. “What do you mean, ‘Only 5% get to the end’?” But with visibility, we’ve managed to improve this percentage significantly in the past year.

What do people do after they finish reading (or abandon) a post?

We’d tried cobbling together an answer using sign-up rates and other things such as page views per user. But those were meaningless aggregate results.

So we created a report on what people do after reading (or not reading) a post.

What’s driving growth – our old (evergreen) content or our new content?

We assumed our new content was fueling growth. But it was actually a combination of the two.

But wait, there’s more

These graphs are interesting. But when you start to segment things become more insightful. We can look at this graph by channel, post category, author and more to find patterns in what’s being read and what’s providing value to our readers. These insights are now intrinsic to our growth plans for our blog.

Upping the ante for key transitional pages

Our blog is what we call a top-of-funnel page type – one that’s consumed early in a relationship we hope to build with our readers.

As people progress through our funnel, we’ve identified key transitional pages that signal a significant potential shift in the relationship from reader to customer.

One example is our logo design page.

On this page, a reader or visitor is deciding whether to pursue getting a logo with us — an obvious turning point. While we have great tracking measures on our blog, we track ten times as many events on our logo design page to learn even more about our transitional pages. And we use this extensive data to continually improve the page with changes both large and small.

The dangers of misinterpretation

I’ve been fortunate to work closely with some brilliant people who see numbers in a way I sometimes struggle to comprehend. And there have been some less than inspiring moments where I’ve been shown how quite clearly how ‘wrong’ I’m interpreting the data — publicly and privately.

As you get access to more data and learn how to use it, you’ll undoubtedly face the same  challenge. While you may be tempted to scurry back to a comforting world of vanity metrics and intuition, try looking your data critics in the eye and asking them to help you do better. Chances are your first blog post wasn’t very good. Why would your first analytical endeavor be any different?

That said, here’s how to avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made:

1. Become a student of data interpretation

There are a lot of resources, books and courses that can be really helpful. I’m currently doing a Data Science course on the very subject to help me lift my analytical game.

General Assembly, Skillshare, Udemy, Lynda and Udacity all have data- and analytics-related courses you can subscribe to.

2. Don’t go it alone

Collaborating with someone on your analysis — even if it’s just talking through your data and what you’ve learned — helps you find not only mistakes in your logic, but also any subconscious biases that may have crept into your analysis.

3. Find your devil’s advocate

This one is hard, but super important. Find and work with someone who will tell you you’re wrong more often than right. The secret to making the most of this critical view on your decisions is learning when to listen to them and when to ignore them.

Now, how do you set all this up?

The point of this post is to challenge you to step outside ] your data comfort zone. While tools such as Google Analytics can take you some of the way, you might need to look for data in other places.

At 99designs we have a pretty complicated data configuration. You won’t need anything near this level, — but here are some basic tools that can help take your analytics beyond Google.

Segment

We use Segment as the central point for collecting events and distributing them to the various tools that use them.

Indicative

We then use Indicative as our reporting tool for all that wonderful event data. But it’s not cheap, and alternatives such as Mixpanel offer better entry-level plans.

Setting up your new analytics might feel impossible at first. But try not to get too bogged down. A specialist can help set it all up for you.

Instead, focus on figuring out the questions that are important to your business. Start with your North Star Metric and work downward. Once you can describe the questions you are trying to answer with confidence, it’s easy and affordable to get help setting up the analytics you need.

Love over metrics? Nope, love and metrics.

During the Mastermind event, I was fortunate to spend some time chatting with one of the most authentic community builders online, Jadah Sellner. Her session was titled “Love Over Metrics,” which proposed a slightly different direction than the one I was heading at the event.

But as Jadah and I chatted I realised that although we started at different places, we had common middle ground. We both believe that while meaningfulness is in the value you give to your audience, it’s also important to align how you measure yourself to these goals. Results driven from loving your readers can live right next to a love of data.

This post doesn’t have all the answers. But I hope it helps you understand that there’s a life beyond those headline stats we’ve clung to for so long.

Mastering these measures may not give you schoolyard bragging rights with big headline numbers. But it will give you a better chance of building that profitable blog you always dreamed you could.

Shayne has been part of the ProBlogger Team in various ways for more than a decade – from dreaming up new ProBlogger and Digital Photography School products and running marketing to writing books and speaking at events. These days he’s happy sharing his experiences running teams of amazing content creators, marketers and engineers at 99designs.

The post Blog Metrics: Why You Need to Stop Focusing on ‘Vanity’ Stats appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

207: Smartphone and Tablet Apps for Bloggers

Blogger Apps for Smartphone and Tablet

Today, I want to take you on a tour of my iPhone and iPad, and talk about the apps I use most in my blogging and online business activities.

One of the biggest changes that has happened in my blogging since I began back in 2002 is the technology I use. In the early days it was all done purely through my old desktop PC (and by old I mean really old) and via dial-up internet.

Things were so simple. I started on Blogger and everything that went on my blog was written directly into it. Adding images or video to my posts were not even something I considered as my internet speed was too slow and my computer not really powerful enough to do anything with them.

But since that time a lot has changed. For me, it started with an upgrade of computers (I bought myself a little white apple iBook with my first earnings) and upgrading to ADSL internet.

I also remember around that time I got my first phone (a Nokia if my memory serves me correctly) that allowed me to go online and look at websites. It had a built-in browser, and while the user experience was horrible I remember looking at my blog for the first time on it and even managing to find a way to log in to the back end of my blog which enabled me to edit a spelling mistake.

I thought that ability was so cool, even though it took ten or so minutes to login, find the mistake on that tiny screen, make the change (using the keypad) and save the change.

Of course 2007 came around and changed everything when the iPhone was released, and I began to realize that life was about to change for bloggers. Higher resolution screens, touch screens instead of buttons, and these ‘app’ things that while at the time were pretty basic I could see would have amazing potential.

I’m not sure how many iPhones I’ve had since 2007, but apart from one 12 month period when I tried an Android I’ve stuck to Apple products.

I have also had a number of iPads in that time (although I never actually bought any of them – I managed to win them all in affiliate promotions). My first iPads were used more for entertainment – reading Kindle books, watching movies, playing games – but in the last 6 months I have started using an iPad Pro (10.5 inch) which I won and am starting to realize that that device can actually replace my notebooks for some circumstances.

So today I want to talk about the smartphone and tablet apps that I use most regularly.

Of course as an Apple user they’ll be iOS specific, although quite a few of them can also be found on Android.

It’s also worth noting that increasingly I’m using apps that allow me to sync up with my Apple computers. Cloud computing is of course one of the other big changes that has happened, and I LOVE that I can work on my desktop and then keep working on another device.

Links and Resources on Smartphone and Tablet Apps for Bloggers

Productivity and Planning

Analytics

Content

Communications

Other

Other Apps Mentioned by Our Community

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there. Welcome to episode 207 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger and the podcaster behind problogger.com, a site that’s really dedicated to helping you to start great blogs to serve your readers and to build profit around them. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger including our events, upcoming in Dallas, over at problogger.com.

Today, I want to take you on a tour of my iPhone and iPad and talk about the apps that I use most in my blogging and online business activities. One of the biggest changes that has happened in my blogging since I began back in 2002 is the technology that I use. The early days, it was all done purely through my desktop PC, a very, very old machine and dial-up internet. Obviously, things have changed since then. I’m not on dial-up anymore, thank goodness. Things back then were so simple. I really had no tools apart from the fact that I had that computer and I did everything through Blogger because that was the platform that I am set up on.

Everything that went onto my blog was written directly into Blogger. I didn’t have any images, I didn’t have any videos because that was just not possible on the machine that I use, which really could not handle anything much more than text. Also, my internet speed was so slow. There just weren’t any other tools to really edit that video or even edit images. There was no such thing as text overlay really going on in blogging back then.

But since that time, a lot has changed. For me, it really started with an upgrade of computers. I bought myself our first little iBook, one of those little white iBooks with some of my first earnings on my blog. I saved up a few months worth, actually, it was probably after six months worth and bought that iBook then I upgraded to ADSL internet. I also remember, around that time, getting my first phone which I think was a Nokia, from memory, that allowed me to go online. It was this amazing thing to be able to get online. It had its own little browser built into it on this tiny little screen. I remember looking at my blog for the first time on a phone. I remember thinking this is just unbelievable that I can read blogs on my phone.

Of course, it took me ten minutes just to get it uploaded onto my site because the internet was so slow. There was no wifi. It’s all being done through the 3G or the 2G or whatever it was at the time. I thought to myself, “What would it be like if I try and login to the backend of my blog?” It took me an hour to work out how to do it on this little phone. I had to input everything by the button because there was no touch screen on the phone so it was very, very basic. But I remember, eventually, being able to login to the backend and edit a spelling mistake on a blog post which I’d seen.

I thought this was amazing. This was a game changer for me because I thought, “Now, I’ll be able to edit my blog from the road if I was traveling.” Of course, I never really did that because it did take so much time to make those edits, it was all done through that keypad but I could see that things were changing. I began to dream about the fact that maybe one day we would have technology to be able to do this more easily.

Of course, 2007 came around and that changed everything. We have iPhones in our pockets. When that first iPhone was released, I began to realize that life was about to change for bloggers. We had high-resolution screens where you could actually see what was going on our web browser, touch screens instead of buttons, and then these things called apps that at the time, were pretty basic and couldn’t really do a lot but I could see that this was going to change everything. I’m not sure how many iPhones I’ve had since 2007. It’s probably been one a year, almost, maybe not quite.

Apart from one 12-month period where I tried an Android, I’ve got a Samsung, I was stuck to Apple products for most of that time. I’ve also had a few iPads over the years although I’ve never actually bought any of them. I managed to win all of them as an affiliate in affiliate competitions. My first iPad though were used more for entertainment, reading Kindle books and watching movies, playing games. But over the last six month, I’ve actually started to use my iPad, I’ve got my iPad Pro, I won it, 10.5 inch screen.

I’m starting to realize that it is a device that is now starting to replace some of the things that I used to do on my notebook computer, particularly when I’m traveling. Today, what I want to do is really talk about some of the smartphone and tablet apps that I use most regularly. They are changing our lives as bloggers, and I’m getting asked quite regularly what apps do I use. Some of the discussions we’ve had over in the Facebook group over the last few months show me that you are interested in talking about this too.

Of course, I want to say right up front I am an Apple user so all the apps I’m going to talk about today are iOS specific, although quite a few of them also do have Android versions as well. It’s also worth noting that, increasingly, I’m using apps on my devices, my phone and my tablet, that allow me to sync up with what I’m doing on my computer. This is one of the other big changes that massively happened over the last ten or so years, this Cloud computing which enable us to start doing something on one device and end up doing it on another. That would be a theme in today’s show as well.

You can find today’s show notes where I’ll list and link to all of the apps that I mentioned. You can go to problogger.com/podcast/207. You can follow along there and check out the apps that I mention. Also, there are a couple of really good discussions going on in our Facebook group, which I will link to in the show notes as well. One of them where we talk about our favorite apps from a month or so ago and then also, a more recent discussion where we talk about the apps we use to take notes. There’s been quite a robust discussion on that front as well. Let’s get into today’s show. I’m going to take you through some of the apps on my phone.

What I’ve done in going through these apps is to try and classify them into different types of apps. I want to start off by talking about productivity and planning apps. There is a little bit of overlap. Some of these apps probably fit into two different categories but bear with me, I thought it might help give a bit distraction to the show today. The first category, productivity planning. One of the apps that I love is Wunderlist. This is a to-do list type app. It’s a little bit heavier, more feature rich than some of the other to-do lists that I’ve come across.

It allows me to have different categories in my to-do list. I’m looking at my phone right now and I have a category that’s for personal, for family. That’s where I put on my shopping lists and all of those types of things. I have a list for our events and that’s where in the lead up to our events, I was putting all specific things for the event. I’ve got a list there for the DPS, a list there for ProBlogger. I’m able to categorize those lists but it also allows me to see all the things on my to-do lists which allows me to get the big picture, the fire host type list of all the things that I need to do.

Each of the to-do items, you can just have no data. It could just be something you need to do once and it doesn’t really matter, or you can set yourself a reminder and deadlines as well. Once you do set those deadlines, you can look at the full list and see what you need to do today. This really does help to get those things done. You can also share your lists with other people, not that I use that, you can email yourself tasks. For each of the items on your list, you can also add notes and comments and I love that as well because I will set myself the task to write a blog post but I can also begin to outline that blog post in the note that is associated with that task.

Wunderlist sits on my iPhone, it also syncs with the app that I put on my iPad and also there are apps for my computers. I love this that I can have all of that in one place. This is something that I use everyday. It’s very handy for me and it’s something I really can’t imagine living without in many ways.

Another productivity and planning app that I use is Notes. I use, actually, the Apple Notes app that came with my iPhone. This has been the subject of a lot of discussion in our Facebook group at the moment. I actually started a thread, which I’ll link to on today’s show notes, asking people what they use because I’m not completely satisfied with Notes. I used to be an Evernote user but because I’m using four devices, two computers, an iPhone, and the tablet, that changed, I guess, six or seven months ago when Evernote changed their pricing model and I’m a bit cheap. I’m reluctant to pay for a notes app. For me, it’s not something that I feel the need to pay for. Although, because I’m not satisfied with any of the other apps that I’ve tried that are free, maybe I do need to go back to Evernote.

Apple, in their new version of iOS, iOS 11, have said that there are some changes coming with notes, particularly in the iPad which allow you to draw and that type of thing. I’m going to stick with it for a little bit longer just to see how those changes impact the app but I might need to go back to Evernote as well. I will say, on the side, some other note taking apps that I’ve tried recently, there’s one called Bear which I like a lot. It’s a markup-based app though. You actually see the markup code in your note. For me, that clutters the note a little bit and it wasn’t an intuitive experience although I did like the way the app looked.

Simplenote is another one that many in our group have been saying that they love. For me, it feels a little bit too simple. It just didn’t quite work for me as well. Awesome Note is the other one, and I really liked Awesome Note when I tried it but it doesn’t have a computer version. To do anything with that on the computer, you have to use Evernote, which is a bit of a pain. Last one that many number of people have been recommending to me is OneNote, that’s Microsoft’s note app. It is feature rich but to me, it just doesn’t look nice. It’s a bit clunky and a bit corporatey. I’m a bit fussy. This is probably the only app that I’m still looking for the perfect fit for me. I’ll move on from note taking apps. If you’ve got a suggestion, feel free to add it in the Facebook group.

Another app that fits into this productivity area is an app called MindNode, which I have mentioned before on the podcast in the episode where I talked about mind mapping. MindNode is a tool that enables me to create mind maps. I love the visual maps that it creates. It’s very clean, very easy to use. Again, it works on my computer, it works on my iPad, it works on my phone and through iCloud, it syncs together so I can see all my mind maps on all my devices.

The last app that I’ll talk about when it comes to productivity is my calendar app. I actually use Fantastical 2. It’s from a company called Flexibits and it’s a calendar app. For many years, I actually used Apple’s native calendar app which is called Calendar. I quite like that but Fantastical 2 does give me some different options that I really like. I love that I can add in new events very intuitively. I can actually type in, “Meeting with Laney at 2:00PM.” It actually puts it in at 2:00PM. I don’t have to then click something and say 2:00PM. Just adding in the events is easier.

It has a view that allows me to see everything that’s upcoming and it also has something on my computer that allows me a little icon in the top menu bar which allows me to click it. I’m clicking it right now and from that, a little popup appears where I can either add something or I can see my upcoming things. It’s just a cool little tool. I wish Apple’s Calendar allowed me to do that type of thing. For me, it is a paid tool but, again, it syncs across all my devices. There’s an app on my iPad, an app on my iPhone, and an app on my computer. It really does work beautifully. Syncs in with Google Calendars, Apple’s Calendar, those types of things as well. If you already have calendars in different places, you can just use this app to pull in those calendars. There are four apps that I use for productivity.

The next category I want to talk about is analytics. Probably the app that I use the most on my phone as it pertains to my blogging, apart from Gmail, I think I’m probably in Gmail more, the second most would be Google Analytics. If you haven’t got this on your iPhone yet, you probably need to get it. It allows you to get a lot of the stats from Google Analytics that you would get from accessing it on your computer. It doesn’t give you everything, you can’t dig in as deep but the thing that I use it for is real time stats.

I can click the app on my phone and within seconds, I can see how many people are on my site right now. I just clicked it now and I can see that there’s 300 people in Digital Photography School viewing now. I can actually dig in and see where are they. I can see things like where they’re coming from, the source of those readers. I can look at any keywords that they might have used to get in there and it does allow me to see quite a bit. I can also dig into the main categories of Google Analytics, your audience, your acquisition, your behavior.

As I said, it doesn’t really dig in as deep as you can on your computer but for that type of stuff where you want to just see what’s happening on your site today, it gives you enough information. It allows me to, I guess, see if there’s a problem on my site. I probably would check in on Google Analytics on my phone 10 times during the day, just a really quick check, it’s a health check. Is everything okay? It’s okay, I move on, I’m not digging in too deep but it’s just good to know.

Previous to this, there would be times where I wouldn’t even know that my site has gone down or that there might be that there was an issue on my site because an alert that I might have set up didn’t come through. It does really allow me to get a sense of the health of my site.

The other app that I would put into these analytics category probably would also fit into a monetization category is AdSense. There’s an app that allows me to check in on my AdSense earnings, again, in the similar way to Google Analytics, it’s more of a health check for me. In the past, there have been days where there’s been a problem with my AdSense ads on Digital Photography School and I wouldn’t know there was a problem until the next day when I happen to check my AdSense stats on my computer. I’m not checking it all day everyday on my computer but just to know that I can check in at any time during the day, I have a sense of how much my AdSense should be at any given time of the day. I’m looking in there now and I can see that the total of the day so far is about normal and so, everything is okay. It allows me, I guess, to find those problems a little bit more easily as well. There are two apps that I would put into this Analytics category.

The next category I want to talk about is content. Of course, there’s different types of content. I’ll go through a few different types that I create on my phone. The first one is the CoSchedule app. I’m not going to talk too much about CoSchedule because we did a whole episode on this just a few episodes ago in episode 195. We use CoSchedule on ProBlogger as an editorial calendar and also for social sharing as well. It enables us to do some of that on the phone. I have to say I don’t use it a great deal on my iPhone, it is a little bit bitsy but on my iPad, I use it a bit. It is nice to know that I can go into the backend of my blog and edit posts and schedule posts and that type of thing through the CoSchedule app as well. It’s not something that I wouldn’t use everyday but it’s good to have it there when I need it.

One app that I do use everyday when it comes to content is Adobe Spark Post. Adobe Spark, again, it’s something we’ve mentioned a couple of times in the past. Adobe Spark is a great tool and in fact it’s a series of tools. There’s three, I think, Adobe Spark Post, Adobe Spark Page, and Adobe Spark Video. I use the Post one a lot. I use it to create social graphics and text overlay type images for blog posts as well. I love using this app on my iPad, especially. It’s nice on the iPhone but having that extra screen size on the iPad is just gorgeous.

The images that it allows you to create are fantastic. It’s a free app. I think you can pay to get an Adobe creative cloud account which does give you a few more features. But really, it’s amazing, what it allows to do. The quality of the images that it allows is just amazing. You can bring in your own images to use in a collage but there’s also some free images in there that you can use. Some of the images that are in that free library are pretty cool as well. I’m using Adobe Spark Post a lot.

I have also used the Adobe Spark Video app. This allows you to create short little videos that you might want to share on social media as well. It’s similar in some ways to the app that I talked about a few episodes ago, Lumen5, but it allows you to bring in your own audio clips as well. You could use it if you’ve got a podcast. You could bring in some of your audio and then put some images over the top of that as a teaser for your podcast as well. Adobe Spark Post and Video.

They do have another one called Page but it’s not something that I really need to use at all because it creates a little website for you and really, I don’t have any need for using that one.

Another one that I would use in the content section or two that I would use in the content section are for image editing, I use Snapseed and Lightroom. Adobe Lightroom, another app that you can use for editing your photos. It’s actually the tool that I use on my desktop to edit my real photos. I use that regularly on my desktop but also would occasionally edit photos on my phone using the Lightroom app. Snapseed is the other one. I love Snapseed. It’s a Google product. They bought it a year or two ago now. I used to pay for it and then Google made it free so it’s a free tool that you can use.

For me, it’s just very good for any editing of the images that you’ve got. Touching them up, adding a vignette, those types of things. You can do a little bit more on that than you could do through Instagram itself.

The last one that I’ll put into the content section is Google Drive. We, as a team, share most of our documents on Google Drive, whether that’s word processing documents, spreadsheets, most of that goes onto Google Drive as a team and to be able to access that on the go from my phone or iPad is great. I do use it to write blog posts into, particularly now that CoSchedule and Google Drive or Google Documents work quite well together. It’s just a seamless way to write a blog post. I don’t write blog posts on my iPhone but I do on my iPad. I’ve got a keyboard for that as well. If I’m writing something on my iPad, it goes into a Google Doc.

The next category that I talk about is social media. There are so many apps that you can use for your social media for scheduling, updating social media but what I actually do mostly is use the native apps to do my updating. I’ll talk about some of these a little bit later. When I asked in the Facebook group what apps people use, some people were using apps like, there’s one called Tailwind, which allow you to schedule posts on Instagram and Pinterest. If I’m putting something on Pinterest or something onto Instagram, I tend to use the Instagram app and the Pinterest app, probably because I’m not scheduling too much into those spaces.

I use the Facebook app for updating into Facebook. I use Facebook Pages as well to update into my pages. I use Twitter, the native Twitter app. I use the native Instagram app so I don’t really have anything to share with you on that front that’s going to be too groundbreaking, I have to say. But I’ll mention a couple of the other apps that other people use later.

Communications will be the other category that I want to talk about. We use Slack, as a team, for all our day-to-day chat, amongst ourselves as a team. We have a team area setup for ProBlogger, for those in my business who are working on the ProBlogger side of the business and another team area for Digital Photography School. Within each of those team areas, we have channels for specific aspects of the business. In the Digital Photography School team area, there’s a channel for development where our developers in there, Laney, who manages Digital Photography School’s in there, and anyone else that part of the business that’s relevant to be in that area, sees those messages.

We have an editorials channel as well. Our editor, Darlene, is in there, myself, and anyone else that’s relevant to that. We have a marketing channel which is just for those who need to see those sorts of messages. It allows us to have different chats going at any one time and not annoy everyone. It’s not like we just have a Facebook group for all of our team and everyone sees every message, we want to be able to really be specific with the types of chats that we’re having. There’s also private chats that go on as well between individuals or if I’m talking about an operational thing that’s not relevant to the rest of the team. It allows us to have those sort of the privacy types things as well.

Slack is the tool that we use as a team for all of that type of thing. It has lots of different integrations with other things as well so you can integrate it with Google Documents and that type of thing as well so you can be sharing documents in there.

Other communication tools that I use, Gmail. It’s probably the app that I use the most in my phone. I know there are plenty of other email providing tools out there but I find the native Gmail one really does it well for me. I guess the other apps that I’m using for communications would be Facebook Messenger. I don’t do a lot on there these day. It’s not so much for internal team communications but it is a useful tool from time to time to be chatting with other people or readers from time to time as well. I find most people have a Messenger account or Facebook account.

I do, from time to time also, use the native message app and phone app on my phone as well. But, interestingly, I don’t really use my phone app a whole heap these days on my phone. I use my phone other things these days as, I guess, as most of us do. I might prefer to talk via text if truth to be told.

A couple of other apps that I use in my business would be Google Chrome. It’s the browser that I use across all my devices. Again, I love how it increasingly is allowing what I do on one device to be seen on another device. If I bookmark things, say passwords, those types of things that can work across the different devices. Seeing history from one device to another is also great as well. I tend to use Chrome across all those devices. Safari would be my backup when occasionally, I would do need to jump into Safari if something is not rendering right on Chrome or if I’m having issues on Chrome.

The last app that I would use everyday is my Podcast app. Again, I know there are plenty of great podcasting apps out there but I tend to use the native Podcast app that Apple gives us as well. That’s probably because that’s what I started out using and everything is already in there and that’s already set up. But I find that it’s pretty intuitive to use as well and I don’t really have any problems with that. It’s something I use everyday, I listen to a lot of podcasts.

They’re the main apps that I use. In the Facebook group, I did ask a question, what apps do our community use. I found that really interesting. I actually created a bit of a word cloud of all the different things that people said, there must’ve been 60 or 70 people suggest, four or five apps each. There was a lot of apps mentioned. I created a word cloud and it was interesting to look up the most mentioned words and the most mentioned apps.

Number one on the list was Instagram, which I was kind of surprised about. I thought Facebook maybe, or Gmail, or that type of thing but Instagram definitely was number one. I was really surprised that Twitter was number two. A lot of people are talking about how Twitter, that people are moving away from it but it does look like a lot of people are still using the Twitter app as well. Interestingly, they are the native apps as well. Whilst there’s plenty of other tools out there that are available for people, they are certainly the most common apps mentioned.

Number three on the list was Evernote. It does seem that a lot of people are persistent with that particular app. I would be too if it was just on a couple of devices and getting the free version, I might end up going back to that. Pinterest wass number four, Google Analytics was number five and Buffer was number six.

Buffer does allow you to do some social sharing and scheduling as well, great tool. One that I have used over the years as well but, I guess, now that we do use CoSchedule for our social sharing, we haven’t had any before that. There are a few other apps that were mentioned in the group as well that I do want to touch on.

Trello was one that a number of people mentioned. Trello is a great tool. It’s not just an app, it’s actually a project management system, I guess. We’ve used it in our business in the past to manage some of our bigger projects. For example, when we were doing our redesign of ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, we setup a Trello board. It’s a difficult one to explain without you actually seeing it but I do encourage you to go and have a look at Trello if you haven’t heard it before.

It is great or managing projects amongst your team but I know a lot of bloggers do use it individually as well because it can be really useful in brainstorming and setting up systems for yourself, setting up to do lists. I know a lot of our readers use Trello for to do lists, for planning, for brainstorming. It’s a very visual tool that allows you to set up lists but then to move things around. Do check it out. I think it’s well worth looking at and it has apps for different devices as well.

Two tools that people mentioned in the group for scheduling on social media particularly on Instagram and Pinterest, for one of them, is the tool that I mentioned earlier, Later. Later allows you to schedule to Instagram. Tailwind allows you to schedule, I think, to Pinterest and Instagram, maybe some other social networks as well.

A couple of others that people mentioned, Google Keep is an alternative to a note taking app that allows you take notes, lists, to do list and also, I think you can add in images and those types of things as well. Pocket is another one that quite a few people mentioned in the group. It allows you to save articles or videos to view later, which is quite useful if you’re consuming a lot of content.

Two tools that people mentioned to create social graphics, Word Swag and Typorama. I have used both of them and have worked really well. Particularly if you want to do something more of a text overlay type social graphic, I would use those over Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark for me is better for simple text overlays but also for collages. I use Adobe Spark more for the collages. Something like Word Swag or Typorama are really good if it’s a more font rich experience, social graphic that you’re trying to create.

Dropbox is another one that quite a few people mentioned. We use Dropbox as well in our team although I don’t tend to use it on my phone a lot unless it’s an emergency. If I’m on the road and really need to access a document or something, I would use that app but it’s not something I’m using everyday.

Lastly, quite a number of people mentioned Asana. Asana is, I guess, an alternative to Slack in many ways. It’s a project management team communications kind of tool. I guess we haven’t used it because we have invested ourselves into Slack but it does look like a really great tool as well.

They are the tools that I use, the tools that were most mentioned when I asked our community in our Facebook group but I would love to hear what you use. What’s the top app that you use on your phone or your tablet, whether that’d be an Apple or whether that’d be an Android or something else. I would love to hear what you use. Head over to the Facebook group and I will link in our show notes today to a discussion that we’re having in the Facebook group at the moment on this particular topic.

You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/207, where I link to all the apps that I mentioned today and I’ll link into the Facebook group as well. Lastly, I just want to let you know that next week’s episode is going to be a great one. I’m really looking forward to presenting it to you. I’ve got Rachelle Miller, who is brilliant at Facebook, coming onto the show to talk about how to increase your organic reach in Facebook.

If you’re listening to this and this episode’s just come out, do look out for that one next week. If you are listening to this after it’s been already been released, you might even find the next episode there waiting to listen to as well. It’s episode 208 which will be coming out in a week’s time from today. Head over to the Facebook group, join the group if you’re not already in there, there’s over 8,500 people in there at the moment. Daily discussions going on where we’re sharing our challenges, our tips, and asking questions as well.

I look forward to chatting with you there. I hope you found today’s show useful. I’ll chat with you next week while we’re talking about Facebook.

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207: Smartphone and Tablet Apps for Bloggers

Blogger Apps for Smartphone and Tablet

Today, I want to take you on a tour of my iPhone and iPad, and talk about the apps I use most in my blogging and online business activities.

One of the biggest changes that has happened in my blogging since I began back in 2002 is the technology I use. In the early days it was all done purely through my old desktop PC (and by old I mean really old) and via dial-up internet.

Things were so simple. I started on Blogger and everything that went on my blog was written directly into it. Adding images or video to my posts were not even something I considered as my internet speed was too slow and my computer not really powerful enough to do anything with them.

But since that time a lot has changed. For me, it started with an upgrade of computers (I bought myself a little white apple iBook with my first earnings) and upgrading to ADSL internet.

I also remember around that time I got my first phone (a Nokia if my memory serves me correctly) that allowed me to go online and look at websites. It had a built-in browser, and while the user experience was horrible I remember looking at my blog for the first time on it and even managing to find a way to log in to the back end of my blog which enabled me to edit a spelling mistake.

I thought that ability was so cool, even though it took ten or so minutes to login, find the mistake on that tiny screen, make the change (using the keypad) and save the change.

Of course 2007 came around and changed everything when the iPhone was released, and I began to realize that life was about to change for bloggers. Higher resolution screens, touch screens instead of buttons, and these ‘app’ things that while at the time were pretty basic I could see would have amazing potential.

I’m not sure how many iPhones I’ve had since 2007, but apart from one 12 month period when I tried an Android I’ve stuck to Apple products.

I have also had a number of iPads in that time (although I never actually bought any of them – I managed to win them all in affiliate promotions). My first iPads were used more for entertainment – reading Kindle books, watching movies, playing games – but in the last 6 months I have started using an iPad Pro (10.5 inch) which I won and am starting to realize that that device can actually replace my notebooks for some circumstances.

So today I want to talk about the smartphone and tablet apps that I use most regularly.

Of course as an Apple user they’ll be iOS specific, although quite a few of them can also be found on Android.

It’s also worth noting that increasingly I’m using apps that allow me to sync up with my Apple computers. Cloud computing is of course one of the other big changes that has happened, and I LOVE that I can work on my desktop and then keep working on another device.

Links and Resources on Smartphone and Tablet Apps for Bloggers

Productivity and Planning

Analytics

Content

Communications

Other

Other Apps Mentioned by Our Community

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there. Welcome to episode 207 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger and the podcaster behind problogger.com, a site that’s really dedicated to helping you to start great blogs to serve your readers and to build profit around them. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger including our events, upcoming in Dallas, over at problogger.com.

Today, I want to take you on a tour of my iPhone and iPad and talk about the apps that I use most in my blogging and online business activities. One of the biggest changes that has happened in my blogging since I began back in 2002 is the technology that I use. The early days, it was all done purely through my desktop PC, a very, very old machine and dial-up internet. Obviously, things have changed since then. I’m not on dial-up anymore, thank goodness. Things back then were so simple. I really had no tools apart from the fact that I had that computer and I did everything through Blogger because that was the platform that I am set up on.

Everything that went onto my blog was written directly into Blogger. I didn’t have any images, I didn’t have any videos because that was just not possible on the machine that I use, which really could not handle anything much more than text. Also, my internet speed was so slow. There just weren’t any other tools to really edit that video or even edit images. There was no such thing as text overlay really going on in blogging back then.

But since that time, a lot has changed. For me, it really started with an upgrade of computers. I bought myself our first little iBook, one of those little white iBooks with some of my first earnings on my blog. I saved up a few months worth, actually, it was probably after six months worth and bought that iBook then I upgraded to ADSL internet. I also remember, around that time, getting my first phone which I think was a Nokia, from memory, that allowed me to go online. It was this amazing thing to be able to get online. It had its own little browser built into it on this tiny little screen. I remember looking at my blog for the first time on a phone. I remember thinking this is just unbelievable that I can read blogs on my phone.

Of course, it took me ten minutes just to get it uploaded onto my site because the internet was so slow. There was no wifi. It’s all being done through the 3G or the 2G or whatever it was at the time. I thought to myself, “What would it be like if I try and login to the backend of my blog?” It took me an hour to work out how to do it on this little phone. I had to input everything by the button because there was no touch screen on the phone so it was very, very basic. But I remember, eventually, being able to login to the backend and edit a spelling mistake on a blog post which I’d seen.

I thought this was amazing. This was a game changer for me because I thought, “Now, I’ll be able to edit my blog from the road if I was traveling.” Of course, I never really did that because it did take so much time to make those edits, it was all done through that keypad but I could see that things were changing. I began to dream about the fact that maybe one day we would have technology to be able to do this more easily.

Of course, 2007 came around and that changed everything. We have iPhones in our pockets. When that first iPhone was released, I began to realize that life was about to change for bloggers. We had high-resolution screens where you could actually see what was going on our web browser, touch screens instead of buttons, and then these things called apps that at the time, were pretty basic and couldn’t really do a lot but I could see that this was going to change everything. I’m not sure how many iPhones I’ve had since 2007. It’s probably been one a year, almost, maybe not quite.

Apart from one 12-month period where I tried an Android, I’ve got a Samsung, I was stuck to Apple products for most of that time. I’ve also had a few iPads over the years although I’ve never actually bought any of them. I managed to win all of them as an affiliate in affiliate competitions. My first iPad though were used more for entertainment, reading Kindle books and watching movies, playing games. But over the last six month, I’ve actually started to use my iPad, I’ve got my iPad Pro, I won it, 10.5 inch screen.

I’m starting to realize that it is a device that is now starting to replace some of the things that I used to do on my notebook computer, particularly when I’m traveling. Today, what I want to do is really talk about some of the smartphone and tablet apps that I use most regularly. They are changing our lives as bloggers, and I’m getting asked quite regularly what apps do I use. Some of the discussions we’ve had over in the Facebook group over the last few months show me that you are interested in talking about this too.

Of course, I want to say right up front I am an Apple user so all the apps I’m going to talk about today are iOS specific, although quite a few of them also do have Android versions as well. It’s also worth noting that, increasingly, I’m using apps on my devices, my phone and my tablet, that allow me to sync up with what I’m doing on my computer. This is one of the other big changes that massively happened over the last ten or so years, this Cloud computing which enable us to start doing something on one device and end up doing it on another. That would be a theme in today’s show as well.

You can find today’s show notes where I’ll list and link to all of the apps that I mentioned. You can go to problogger.com/podcast/207. You can follow along there and check out the apps that I mention. Also, there are a couple of really good discussions going on in our Facebook group, which I will link to in the show notes as well. One of them where we talk about our favorite apps from a month or so ago and then also, a more recent discussion where we talk about the apps we use to take notes. There’s been quite a robust discussion on that front as well. Let’s get into today’s show. I’m going to take you through some of the apps on my phone.

What I’ve done in going through these apps is to try and classify them into different types of apps. I want to start off by talking about productivity and planning apps. There is a little bit of overlap. Some of these apps probably fit into two different categories but bear with me, I thought it might help give a bit distraction to the show today. The first category, productivity planning. One of the apps that I love is Wunderlist. This is a to-do list type app. It’s a little bit heavier, more feature rich than some of the other to-do lists that I’ve come across.

It allows me to have different categories in my to-do list. I’m looking at my phone right now and I have a category that’s for personal, for family. That’s where I put on my shopping lists and all of those types of things. I have a list for our events and that’s where in the lead up to our events, I was putting all specific things for the event. I’ve got a list there for the DPS, a list there for ProBlogger. I’m able to categorize those lists but it also allows me to see all the things on my to-do lists which allows me to get the big picture, the fire host type list of all the things that I need to do.

Each of the to-do items, you can just have no data. It could just be something you need to do once and it doesn’t really matter, or you can set yourself a reminder and deadlines as well. Once you do set those deadlines, you can look at the full list and see what you need to do today. This really does help to get those things done. You can also share your lists with other people, not that I use that, you can email yourself tasks. For each of the items on your list, you can also add notes and comments and I love that as well because I will set myself the task to write a blog post but I can also begin to outline that blog post in the note that is associated with that task.

Wunderlist sits on my iPhone, it also syncs with the app that I put on my iPad and also there are apps for my computers. I love this that I can have all of that in one place. This is something that I use everyday. It’s very handy for me and it’s something I really can’t imagine living without in many ways.

Another productivity and planning app that I use is Notes. I use, actually, the Apple Notes app that came with my iPhone. This has been the subject of a lot of discussion in our Facebook group at the moment. I actually started a thread, which I’ll link to on today’s show notes, asking people what they use because I’m not completely satisfied with Notes. I used to be an Evernote user but because I’m using four devices, two computers, an iPhone, and the tablet, that changed, I guess, six or seven months ago when Evernote changed their pricing model and I’m a bit cheap. I’m reluctant to pay for a notes app. For me, it’s not something that I feel the need to pay for. Although, because I’m not satisfied with any of the other apps that I’ve tried that are free, maybe I do need to go back to Evernote.

Apple, in their new version of iOS, iOS 11, have said that there are some changes coming with notes, particularly in the iPad which allow you to draw and that type of thing. I’m going to stick with it for a little bit longer just to see how those changes impact the app but I might need to go back to Evernote as well. I will say, on the side, some other note taking apps that I’ve tried recently, there’s one called Bear which I like a lot. It’s a markup-based app though. You actually see the markup code in your note. For me, that clutters the note a little bit and it wasn’t an intuitive experience although I did like the way the app looked.

Simplenote is another one that many in our group have been saying that they love. For me, it feels a little bit too simple. It just didn’t quite work for me as well. Awesome Note is the other one, and I really liked Awesome Note when I tried it but it doesn’t have a computer version. To do anything with that on the computer, you have to use Evernote, which is a bit of a pain. Last one that many number of people have been recommending to me is OneNote, that’s Microsoft’s note app. It is feature rich but to me, it just doesn’t look nice. It’s a bit clunky and a bit corporatey. I’m a bit fussy. This is probably the only app that I’m still looking for the perfect fit for me. I’ll move on from note taking apps. If you’ve got a suggestion, feel free to add it in the Facebook group.

Another app that fits into this productivity area is an app called MindNode, which I have mentioned before on the podcast in the episode where I talked about mind mapping. MindNode is a tool that enables me to create mind maps. I love the visual maps that it creates. It’s very clean, very easy to use. Again, it works on my computer, it works on my iPad, it works on my phone and through iCloud, it syncs together so I can see all my mind maps on all my devices.

The last app that I’ll talk about when it comes to productivity is my calendar app. I actually use Fantastical 2. It’s from a company called Flexibits and it’s a calendar app. For many years, I actually used Apple’s native calendar app which is called Calendar. I quite like that but Fantastical 2 does give me some different options that I really like. I love that I can add in new events very intuitively. I can actually type in, “Meeting with Laney at 2:00PM.” It actually puts it in at 2:00PM. I don’t have to then click something and say 2:00PM. Just adding in the events is easier.

It has a view that allows me to see everything that’s upcoming and it also has something on my computer that allows me a little icon in the top menu bar which allows me to click it. I’m clicking it right now and from that, a little popup appears where I can either add something or I can see my upcoming things. It’s just a cool little tool. I wish Apple’s Calendar allowed me to do that type of thing. For me, it is a paid tool but, again, it syncs across all my devices. There’s an app on my iPad, an app on my iPhone, and an app on my computer. It really does work beautifully. Syncs in with Google Calendars, Apple’s Calendar, those types of things as well. If you already have calendars in different places, you can just use this app to pull in those calendars. There are four apps that I use for productivity.

The next category I want to talk about is analytics. Probably the app that I use the most on my phone as it pertains to my blogging, apart from Gmail, I think I’m probably in Gmail more, the second most would be Google Analytics. If you haven’t got this on your iPhone yet, you probably need to get it. It allows you to get a lot of the stats from Google Analytics that you would get from accessing it on your computer. It doesn’t give you everything, you can’t dig in as deep but the thing that I use it for is real time stats.

I can click the app on my phone and within seconds, I can see how many people are on my site right now. I just clicked it now and I can see that there’s 300 people in Digital Photography School viewing now. I can actually dig in and see where are they. I can see things like where they’re coming from, the source of those readers. I can look at any keywords that they might have used to get in there and it does allow me to see quite a bit. I can also dig into the main categories of Google Analytics, your audience, your acquisition, your behavior.

As I said, it doesn’t really dig in as deep as you can on your computer but for that type of stuff where you want to just see what’s happening on your site today, it gives you enough information. It allows me to, I guess, see if there’s a problem on my site. I probably would check in on Google Analytics on my phone 10 times during the day, just a really quick check, it’s a health check. Is everything okay? It’s okay, I move on, I’m not digging in too deep but it’s just good to know.

Previous to this, there would be times where I wouldn’t even know that my site has gone down or that there might be that there was an issue on my site because an alert that I might have set up didn’t come through. It does really allow me to get a sense of the health of my site.

The other app that I would put into these analytics category probably would also fit into a monetization category is AdSense. There’s an app that allows me to check in on my AdSense earnings, again, in the similar way to Google Analytics, it’s more of a health check for me. In the past, there have been days where there’s been a problem with my AdSense ads on Digital Photography School and I wouldn’t know there was a problem until the next day when I happen to check my AdSense stats on my computer. I’m not checking it all day everyday on my computer but just to know that I can check in at any time during the day, I have a sense of how much my AdSense should be at any given time of the day. I’m looking in there now and I can see that the total of the day so far is about normal and so, everything is okay. It allows me, I guess, to find those problems a little bit more easily as well. There are two apps that I would put into this Analytics category.

The next category I want to talk about is content. Of course, there’s different types of content. I’ll go through a few different types that I create on my phone. The first one is the CoSchedule app. I’m not going to talk too much about CoSchedule because we did a whole episode on this just a few episodes ago in episode 195. We use CoSchedule on ProBlogger as an editorial calendar and also for social sharing as well. It enables us to do some of that on the phone. I have to say I don’t use it a great deal on my iPhone, it is a little bit bitsy but on my iPad, I use it a bit. It is nice to know that I can go into the backend of my blog and edit posts and schedule posts and that type of thing through the CoSchedule app as well. It’s not something that I wouldn’t use everyday but it’s good to have it there when I need it.

One app that I do use everyday when it comes to content is Adobe Spark Post. Adobe Spark, again, it’s something we’ve mentioned a couple of times in the past. Adobe Spark is a great tool and in fact it’s a series of tools. There’s three, I think, Adobe Spark Post, Adobe Spark Page, and Adobe Spark Video. I use the Post one a lot. I use it to create social graphics and text overlay type images for blog posts as well. I love using this app on my iPad, especially. It’s nice on the iPhone but having that extra screen size on the iPad is just gorgeous.

The images that it allows you to create are fantastic. It’s a free app. I think you can pay to get an Adobe creative cloud account which does give you a few more features. But really, it’s amazing, what it allows to do. The quality of the images that it allows is just amazing. You can bring in your own images to use in a collage but there’s also some free images in there that you can use. Some of the images that are in that free library are pretty cool as well. I’m using Adobe Spark Post a lot.

I have also used the Adobe Spark Video app. This allows you to create short little videos that you might want to share on social media as well. It’s similar in some ways to the app that I talked about a few episodes ago, Lumen5, but it allows you to bring in your own audio clips as well. You could use it if you’ve got a podcast. You could bring in some of your audio and then put some images over the top of that as a teaser for your podcast as well. Adobe Spark Post and Video.

They do have another one called Page but it’s not something that I really need to use at all because it creates a little website for you and really, I don’t have any need for using that one.

Another one that I would use in the content section or two that I would use in the content section are for image editing, I use Snapseed and Lightroom. Adobe Lightroom, another app that you can use for editing your photos. It’s actually the tool that I use on my desktop to edit my real photos. I use that regularly on my desktop but also would occasionally edit photos on my phone using the Lightroom app. Snapseed is the other one. I love Snapseed. It’s a Google product. They bought it a year or two ago now. I used to pay for it and then Google made it free so it’s a free tool that you can use.

For me, it’s just very good for any editing of the images that you’ve got. Touching them up, adding a vignette, those types of things. You can do a little bit more on that than you could do through Instagram itself.

The last one that I’ll put into the content section is Google Drive. We, as a team, share most of our documents on Google Drive, whether that’s word processing documents, spreadsheets, most of that goes onto Google Drive as a team and to be able to access that on the go from my phone or iPad is great. I do use it to write blog posts into, particularly now that CoSchedule and Google Drive or Google Documents work quite well together. It’s just a seamless way to write a blog post. I don’t write blog posts on my iPhone but I do on my iPad. I’ve got a keyboard for that as well. If I’m writing something on my iPad, it goes into a Google Doc.

The next category that I talk about is social media. There are so many apps that you can use for your social media for scheduling, updating social media but what I actually do mostly is use the native apps to do my updating. I’ll talk about some of these a little bit later. When I asked in the Facebook group what apps people use, some people were using apps like, there’s one called Tailwind, which allow you to schedule posts on Instagram and Pinterest. If I’m putting something on Pinterest or something onto Instagram, I tend to use the Instagram app and the Pinterest app, probably because I’m not scheduling too much into those spaces.

I use the Facebook app for updating into Facebook. I use Facebook Pages as well to update into my pages. I use Twitter, the native Twitter app. I use the native Instagram app so I don’t really have anything to share with you on that front that’s going to be too groundbreaking, I have to say. But I’ll mention a couple of the other apps that other people use later.

Communications will be the other category that I want to talk about. We use Slack, as a team, for all our day-to-day chat, amongst ourselves as a team. We have a team area setup for ProBlogger, for those in my business who are working on the ProBlogger side of the business and another team area for Digital Photography School. Within each of those team areas, we have channels for specific aspects of the business. In the Digital Photography School team area, there’s a channel for development where our developers in there, Laney, who manages Digital Photography School’s in there, and anyone else that part of the business that’s relevant to be in that area, sees those messages.

We have an editorials channel as well. Our editor, Darlene, is in there, myself, and anyone else that’s relevant to that. We have a marketing channel which is just for those who need to see those sorts of messages. It allows us to have different chats going at any one time and not annoy everyone. It’s not like we just have a Facebook group for all of our team and everyone sees every message, we want to be able to really be specific with the types of chats that we’re having. There’s also private chats that go on as well between individuals or if I’m talking about an operational thing that’s not relevant to the rest of the team. It allows us to have those sort of the privacy types things as well.

Slack is the tool that we use as a team for all of that type of thing. It has lots of different integrations with other things as well so you can integrate it with Google Documents and that type of thing as well so you can be sharing documents in there.

Other communication tools that I use, Gmail. It’s probably the app that I use the most in my phone. I know there are plenty of other email providing tools out there but I find the native Gmail one really does it well for me. I guess the other apps that I’m using for communications would be Facebook Messenger. I don’t do a lot on there these day. It’s not so much for internal team communications but it is a useful tool from time to time to be chatting with other people or readers from time to time as well. I find most people have a Messenger account or Facebook account.

I do, from time to time also, use the native message app and phone app on my phone as well. But, interestingly, I don’t really use my phone app a whole heap these days on my phone. I use my phone other things these days as, I guess, as most of us do. I might prefer to talk via text if truth to be told.

A couple of other apps that I use in my business would be Google Chrome. It’s the browser that I use across all my devices. Again, I love how it increasingly is allowing what I do on one device to be seen on another device. If I bookmark things, say passwords, those types of things that can work across the different devices. Seeing history from one device to another is also great as well. I tend to use Chrome across all those devices. Safari would be my backup when occasionally, I would do need to jump into Safari if something is not rendering right on Chrome or if I’m having issues on Chrome.

The last app that I would use everyday is my Podcast app. Again, I know there are plenty of great podcasting apps out there but I tend to use the native Podcast app that Apple gives us as well. That’s probably because that’s what I started out using and everything is already in there and that’s already set up. But I find that it’s pretty intuitive to use as well and I don’t really have any problems with that. It’s something I use everyday, I listen to a lot of podcasts.

They’re the main apps that I use. In the Facebook group, I did ask a question, what apps do our community use. I found that really interesting. I actually created a bit of a word cloud of all the different things that people said, there must’ve been 60 or 70 people suggest, four or five apps each. There was a lot of apps mentioned. I created a word cloud and it was interesting to look up the most mentioned words and the most mentioned apps.

Number one on the list was Instagram, which I was kind of surprised about. I thought Facebook maybe, or Gmail, or that type of thing but Instagram definitely was number one. I was really surprised that Twitter was number two. A lot of people are talking about how Twitter, that people are moving away from it but it does look like a lot of people are still using the Twitter app as well. Interestingly, they are the native apps as well. Whilst there’s plenty of other tools out there that are available for people, they are certainly the most common apps mentioned.

Number three on the list was Evernote. It does seem that a lot of people are persistent with that particular app. I would be too if it was just on a couple of devices and getting the free version, I might end up going back to that. Pinterest wass number four, Google Analytics was number five and Buffer was number six.

Buffer does allow you to do some social sharing and scheduling as well, great tool. One that I have used over the years as well but, I guess, now that we do use CoSchedule for our social sharing, we haven’t had any before that. There are a few other apps that were mentioned in the group as well that I do want to touch on.

Trello was one that a number of people mentioned. Trello is a great tool. It’s not just an app, it’s actually a project management system, I guess. We’ve used it in our business in the past to manage some of our bigger projects. For example, when we were doing our redesign of ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, we setup a Trello board. It’s a difficult one to explain without you actually seeing it but I do encourage you to go and have a look at Trello if you haven’t heard it before.

It is great or managing projects amongst your team but I know a lot of bloggers do use it individually as well because it can be really useful in brainstorming and setting up systems for yourself, setting up to do lists. I know a lot of our readers use Trello for to do lists, for planning, for brainstorming. It’s a very visual tool that allows you to set up lists but then to move things around. Do check it out. I think it’s well worth looking at and it has apps for different devices as well.

Two tools that people mentioned in the group for scheduling on social media particularly on Instagram and Pinterest, for one of them, is the tool that I mentioned earlier, Later. Later allows you to schedule to Instagram. Tailwind allows you to schedule, I think, to Pinterest and Instagram, maybe some other social networks as well.

A couple of others that people mentioned, Google Keep is an alternative to a note taking app that allows you take notes, lists, to do list and also, I think you can add in images and those types of things as well. Pocket is another one that quite a few people mentioned in the group. It allows you to save articles or videos to view later, which is quite useful if you’re consuming a lot of content.

Two tools that people mentioned to create social graphics, Word Swag and Typorama. I have used both of them and have worked really well. Particularly if you want to do something more of a text overlay type social graphic, I would use those over Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark for me is better for simple text overlays but also for collages. I use Adobe Spark more for the collages. Something like Word Swag or Typorama are really good if it’s a more font rich experience, social graphic that you’re trying to create.

Dropbox is another one that quite a few people mentioned. We use Dropbox as well in our team although I don’t tend to use it on my phone a lot unless it’s an emergency. If I’m on the road and really need to access a document or something, I would use that app but it’s not something I’m using everyday.

Lastly, quite a number of people mentioned Asana. Asana is, I guess, an alternative to Slack in many ways. It’s a project management team communications kind of tool. I guess we haven’t used it because we have invested ourselves into Slack but it does look like a really great tool as well.

They are the tools that I use, the tools that were most mentioned when I asked our community in our Facebook group but I would love to hear what you use. What’s the top app that you use on your phone or your tablet, whether that’d be an Apple or whether that’d be an Android or something else. I would love to hear what you use. Head over to the Facebook group and I will link in our show notes today to a discussion that we’re having in the Facebook group at the moment on this particular topic.

You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/207, where I link to all the apps that I mentioned today and I’ll link into the Facebook group as well. Lastly, I just want to let you know that next week’s episode is going to be a great one. I’m really looking forward to presenting it to you. I’ve got Rachelle Miller, who is brilliant at Facebook, coming onto the show to talk about how to increase your organic reach in Facebook.

If you’re listening to this and this episode’s just come out, do look out for that one next week. If you are listening to this after it’s been already been released, you might even find the next episode there waiting to listen to as well. It’s episode 208 which will be coming out in a week’s time from today. Head over to the Facebook group, join the group if you’re not already in there, there’s over 8,500 people in there at the moment. Daily discussions going on where we’re sharing our challenges, our tips, and asking questions as well.

I look forward to chatting with you there. I hope you found today’s show useful. I’ll chat with you next week while we’re talking about Facebook.

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199: A COOL TOOL To Create Professional Facebook Live Videos

A Tool to Create High Quality Live Video on Facebook

This episode is presented by The Success Incubator – a brand new event I’m co-hosting this year for ProBlogger readers and online entrepreneurs.

The event is happening in Dallas Texas on 24-25 October, and I’m so excited to announce that joining me in presenting at the event are a great lineup of speakers including Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, Kim Garst founder of Boom Social and Andrea Vahl who is a brilliant social media consultant.

In today’s episode, I’m going to share with you another COOL TOOL for bloggers that will help you to create high quality live video on Facebook.

Facebook Live continues to be a medium that is well worth investing time into. Use it and you’ll grow your reach and engagement on Facebook.

The problem with it is that to create a high quality professional looking video can feel a little out of reach. While FB is updating tools there’s still a lot you can’t do without investing a lot into software.

Today, I present to you an affordable option that for under $30 will enable you to do some pretty cool stuff including share your screen, schedule your broadcasts, add overlays and more!

Links and Resources on A COOL TOOL To Create Professional Facebook Live Videos

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there it’s Darren from ProBlogger. This episode is presented by the Success Incubator, a brand new event that I’m co hosting this year for ProBlogger readers in Dallas, Texas on the 24th and 25th of October. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we’ve got this year some great speakers coming to this particular to this particular event. In addition to myself speaking, we’ve got Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, Kim Garst, founder of Boom! Social, and many more speakers. There’s more speakers to be announced in the coming weeks but I’m excited to have Pat, Kim, and Andrea join us.

I’m excited to offer you an early bird discount ticket for this particular event. If you go to problogger.com/success and use the coupon code SUCCESS17, you will get a $50 discount on tickets to this year’s event. I look forward to seeing you in Dallas this October for our only US event this year. Again, go to problogger.com/success.

As I said at the top of the show, my name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks all designed to help you to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at ProBlogger.com.

In today’s episode, I’m going to share with you another cool tool for bloggers that will help you to create high quality, live video on Facebook. Many of you have heard me raving about Facebook Live pretty much for the last 6 to 12 months. It continues to be a medium that is well worth investing time into. I have been doing it on a weekly basis for the last couple of months and am seeing the benefits every time I do it.

If you are to use Facebook Live, you’re going to start to grow your reach and engagement on Facebook. It does help to deepen the relationships that you have with your readers. The problem that many people have with Facebook Live is that to create a high quality, professional looking video can feel a little out of the reach of the ordinary, everyday person. Whilst Facebook themselves are updating their tools, there’s still a lot you can’t do without investing quite a bit of money into software or hacking together a system and being quite technical.

Today, I want to present to you an affordable option that will, for under $30, enable you to do some pretty cool stuff including sharing your screen, which is something that many of you have been asking for, scheduling broadcast, adding overlays, and much more. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/199, where I link to the tool but also give you some examples of live videos I’ve shot and broadcast onto Facebook using this tool. You can also check out our Facebook Group where I do live videos every week at problogger.com/group.

Facebook Live continues to be a great way to build a presence on Facebook itself to support your blog. It’s a great way of getting extra reach on Facebook. We know that Facebook continues to show live broadcast more than almost any other type of post that you can put on Facebook. It’s a great way to extend your reach and to reach those people who follow you on Facebook, who don’t see your other posts. It’s also a really great way to build relationships with those who follow you and have real engagement with followers, real time engagement. When you get on and you actually get a comment from someone, you can respond to that immediately. That takes the relationship further faster. It’s also a really great way to personalize your brand.

Back in episode 188, I gave seven different types of Facebook Lives that you can do. We do talk a little more there about why Facebook Live is so great. Today, I want to talk about a tool that I’ve been using that has really helped me in my Facebook Lives. Facebook have been developing what you can do with Facebook Live a lot since it first went live. In the early days, you could only do it from the mobile phone. More recently, they allow you to do it from your desktop computer just from within Facebook itself. That’s pretty cool.

But there still are some limitations of what you can and can’t do either through the mobile app or through your desktop computer. That is why I’ve always been interested in what some of the other apps and tools will allow you to do. One of the ones that I’ve been playing around with over the last couple of months, really, is Ecamm Live. That’s what I want to talk about today. They first came onto my radar years ago now when I was looking for a solution to record Skype interviews.

When you hear me interviewing someone on this podcast, we did Nikki Parkinson a couple of weeks ago now. That interview was recorded on a little tool that plugs into Skype. It’s called Call Recorder. It’s a Mac based tool that allows you to record your Skype conversations. That’s where I first came into touch with this company who produced Ecamm Live.

One of the things I love about that Call Recorder tool is that it’s really cheap. There’s so many software tools around now which are exorbitantly priced. The Call Recorder was something that I felt was affordable and it’s something that I use all the time so I’ve always been interested when they release a new product. One of the new products that they released a few months ago now is this new one, Ecamm Live, which allows you to put Facebook Live videos up using their particular app.

I want to say right up front, this is a Mac Based tool so if you’re not on a Mac, you’re not going to find this particular episode too useful. There are other solutions out there that you can look at for PC based Facebook Lives but if you have a Mac, you’re going to want to check out Ecamm Live because it is really feature rich. They’re developing it fast and it is very affordable. It’s $30. $29.95. Whilst that may be out of the price range of some people, I think most people can probably afford that if they’re going to invest into Facebook Live because it’s so much cheaper than a lot of the other tools that are out there.

It does allow you to do things that you can’t do easily through Facebook itself and their particular apps. I’m amazed how cheap it is really. I’ve been using it now for six or seven weeks, maybe a little bit more even, on both ProBlogger’s Facebook page and also my Digital Photography School Facebook page. I’m really impressed by what you can do with this particular app.

Let me run through really briefly some of the things that you can do with this tool, Ecamm Live, that you can’t easily do just using Facebook’s native desktop app or phone app. The first one is overlays. You’ve probably seen video online for years now, people will add some kind of an overlay to their video. There are numbers of different types of overlays that you can add into your live video using Ecamm Live.

Firstly, you can put an image onto your video. If you go to ProBlogger Facebook page, you will see one of my videos and in the corner, I have the ProBlogger logo showing all the time through the video. I’m able to brand my live video with my logo, which reinforces my brand. You could add in a larger image and you could actually pop it in as a large one that takes up the whole screen if you want it to but I tend to just put mine in nice and small.

You could also use an animated GIF in that place as well. It’s really easy to do. You just get an image off your desktop, drag it onto the Ecamm Live app and there it is. You can resize it and reposition it if you want. You can add in an image.

You can also add in text. Even during your Facebook Live session, you might want to emphasize a URL, you might want to add in your name at the bottom of the video, you can type in your name and you can change the font and the color and the size of the font as well. You can add in more than one text overlay if you want as well, as well as having that logo. In the last Facebook Live that I did on the ProBlogger page, I had the ProBlogger logo up in the top left hand corner and then under the logo, I had a URL to the Facebook Group that we have at ProBlogger.

You can do a number of different types of overlays during your Facebook Live. That’s one cool feature that you can’t do using Facebook’s native app. Second thing that you can do is show video, pre recorded video in your Facebook Live. This is really useful in a number of different ways. Any video that you’ve got on your desktop, you can simply line it up, press play, and then show it to people on your Facebook Live. This could be really useful if you are a business person.

If you have a business sales widget and you have a video that sells the widget, that demonstrates the widget, rather than having to do it live in front of the camera, you could have this pre recorded video. You could introduce what you’re going to show and then press play on it. You can have a keynote presentation that you’ve delivered at a conference and you’ve got the video of it. Rather than giving the presentation again live on Camera, you show the video.

There’s many number of ways that you can use video. You just play it in the middle of your livestream. You could have a video lined up. Introduce it, press play, stop it halfway, get back on you showing your face and then again, show more of the video. You can shop and change during your Facebook Live, really very useful.

Number three, and this was the killer things for me. This is the reason I got Ecamm Live, is that you can share your screen on your desktop. This is a desktop app and this is really what I wanted because a lot of the Facebook Lives that I tend to do are teaching Facebook Lives. If you’ve tuned in to the ones that I’ve been running over the last few weeks, you will know that I show slides and these are slides that I’ve repurposed from talks that I’ve given. I’ve worked hard on those slides and so it’s really great to be able to show them. I introduce my video, I will give a greeting, and then I will say, “Let’s move into a teaching session.” And then I share my screen and I show a PowerPoint presentation that I have already developed.

You could also share your browser. From time to time, during a Facebook Live, I will jump on over, “Hey, let’s look at this site,” and I will show an example of it. Pretty much any app, you can then show on the screen. The cool thing about Ecamm Live is that they recently did an update which allows you to just show one app. You don’t have to show your whole desktop. You can just show your Safari browser or your Chrome browser. You could show a PDF. You could show your keynote slides. You could share a text document. Any app that you’ve got on your computer, you can just highlight that and just share that or you can choose to share your whole screen. I tend not to do that because my desktop is pretty messy with lots of icons everywhere.

Screen sharing, this is the killer app for me. This is the reason I got it and it works so easily. You literally just press a button and then highlight the app that you want to highlight and there it is up on the screen for people to see.

The fourth thing you can do is have multi cameras. If you want to add a little complexity to your setup, you might want to have one camera set up on just your face, another camera set up as a wide angle, a little bit further away from you to show your office or the set that you’re in. You might have a camera even set up on something else or another person if you’re interviewing them so you can switch between cameras. That’s pretty easy to do as well.

You can actually have an external camera. I used to use my webcam built into my iMac, which is a good little webcam but it’s not as good as some of the other webcams out there so I recently bought myself a Logitech webcam, which is an HD webcam and it works better in low light so I plug that in and use that as well but I could switch to the webcam as well.

Another feature you can do very easily through Ecamm Live is schedule your broadcasts. You can actually say I will be on live on this time at this day. I think it’s anything up to seven days into the future so I could today set one up for tomorrow at this time. I’ve been doing that as well. Anyone who’s following you on Facebook in their newsfeed will see Darren is planning to go live at this time and they have the option to set a reminder when you’re about to go live. If they are on Facebook at the time that you’re going to go live, a notification comes up that says Darren’s about to go live. Go and check it out.

This is something you can do using numerous tools. You can actually kind of do it through Facebook itself but it’s not an easy simple process to do. You’ve got to go to settings at the moment to do that, so this is just a seamless way to do that. There are other features. You see the comments of anyone who is responding to you during your session come up on the screen. As you’re broadcasting, you see what your viewers see, which is really useful. You actually see yourself and then over that video of yourself, you see the comments scroll up.

One of the things I don’t like about it is that the comments are quite small and they are white and so if you have a white background behind you, they can be a little bit hard to see. This is something I feed back to the team at Ecamm Live. I hope that they will fix that and make it so that those comments stand out a little bit more. But you do get that feedback, which is fantastic because it means you don’t have to have Facebook open to go and see what people are saying to you. You also see the likes and the hearts that people give you as well. You get that feedback from people.

Another feature, its HD quality if you choose to have it that way. You can switch that on or off depending upon your internet speed. My internet speed here in Australia is not super fast. I’m on a cable connection but I’ve already got 1MB per second upload, which isn’t really fast. When I did switch HD on, I’ve got a few connectivity issues. I’m not sure whether it’s my internet or whether that was a little bug in their tool at the time so I switched that off and since then haven’t had a problem and the quality is still pretty good.

They’re also adding features regularly. This is one of the things I love about Ecamm Live, is that they are updating the app and they’re updating it almost every second week at the moment. They have a little Facebook group which is reasonably active where they preview upcoming features. They released a new version of it last week, which did add scheduling and some other tools as well. You can location tag your videos if you choose to do that as well.

They also shared the other day that they’re going to add a feature which will allow you to use a Digital SLR as a camera, which will be pretty cool because you’d be able to shoot at a large aperture, getting a little bit technical now in photography terms, using different lenses which will allow you to blur your background, which is a really nice effect and is something that I’m keen to experiment with as well.

It’s a cool tool. There are plenty of other tools around out there that will give you all of these features. There’s nothing unique just to Ecamm Live. But, at $29.95, I am amazed at what it can do. Some of the other tools that are out there are upwards at $400. I saw one the other day for $500. I will say that that tool is a professional level tool and it is pretty amazing. You can do a whole lot more than what I’ve just said. But for $29.95, I’m pretty amazed that Ecamm Live is putting this out there. They guarantee that you get this lifetime updates with that as well.

I’m pretty excited about this tool. I would love it if they would allow us to see the comments a little bit more. I would love it if we could do split screen interviews with other people so I could bring on a guest. That’s on my wish list. They have said in their Facebook Group that they’re open to doing that if Facebook would allow it in their API. Hopefully, that will come. That’s something that you can now do through Facebook’s mobile app, I think or at least some people can. Hopefully, that’s coming.

Again, it’s a Mac only tool. Unfortunately for those of you who aren’t on Mac, you’re not going to be able to use that. I’ve got a link in the show notes to this. It’s an affiliate link. I think I make 15% on that $29.95 so it’s not a great deal but it is a tool that I’m using and genuinely do recommend. I’m not doing this just for that 15% of $30. I’m doing this because it is a tool that is so simple to use and I’m really genuinely very excited about. I’m excited to see what they continue to do to add to it. Thanks to the team at Ecamm Live for creating this tool and putting it in the hands of normal people and making it so accessible to people.

If you give Ecamm Live a go, head over to our Facebook Group at problogger.com/group and share a link to your Ecamm Live video that you did. Back in episode 180, I did challenge you to do some Facebook Lives and I know some of you did take that challenge. I want to issue that challenge again. Give it a go. Give this tool a go, They actually have, I think, a free trial for 7 days or 14 days. You can even use it for free just to give it a go as well. If you do, share the link in our Facebook Group so we can see hey, you went, and give you some encouragement as well.

Thanks for listening today. This is episode 199. You can check out the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/199, where there is a link to this amazing tool. I might also embed a couple of videos that I shot with it so you can check them out as well. That’s problogger.com/podcast/199. If you’ve got a moment and you’re listening to this in iTunes or on the podcast app on your iPhone or some other iPhone network, please leave us a review. It does make a massive difference not only to helping us to be found by other people, but also it makes a big difference to me because I get an email each week with those reviews. It gives me a lot of energy to keep on keeping on with this podcast.

Thanks so much for listening today. Look forward to chatting with you next week in episode 200 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Thanks for listening today. If you would like something else to listen to, I do recommend that you go over to listen to episode 180 where I go through seven different types of Facebook Lives that you can do. I know some of you will be asking the question I want to do a Facebook Live but what would I do on Facebook Live. That episode is going to give you some hints on that.

As I say in the show today, head over to problogger.com/group, where you can share your videos and learn from 6,000 plus other bloggers who are on this journey with you. There’s a great community going on in there.

Lastly, if you do want to check out that Dallas event, head over to problogger.com/success and use the coupon code SUCCESS17 for a $50 discount on that particular ticket. I do really hope to see as many of you as possible at that Dallas event. It’s the only event we’re doing in the US this year. We have a great time lined up for you.

One of the things that we will be doing more of at that event than we’ve been in previous events here in Australia is masterminding. We’re also doing a short sharp series of sessions in the evening of day one of the event called Our Power Sessions. In these power sessions, we are inviting people to share for 20 minutes on a particular topic, really short, sharp practical hacks and systems and templates that they’ve been using in their business. That’s a particular focus of this year’s event.

We’re going to churn through as much actionable content as possible. If you are interested in that Dallas event, head over to problogger.com/success, and again the coupon code, SUCCESS17 to get $50 off that event.

Thanks everyone. Chat with you next week.

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