You are writing your book and starting to wonder about how you can create an effective marketing and launch plan so that your book can be the best-seller it deserves to be. Well, you are in for a treat!
The four essential techniques to effectively market and launch your book while you are writing your book:
Building and Engaging a Community
Maximizing Pre-reader Feedback
Bonus: Exclusive Expert Tips!
Building and Engaging a Community
If you have a community already, then you are ahead of the game and should continue to actively and strategically engage. If you do not have a community, a great way to build a following is to create an opt-in where people get on your list and get a free electronic/PDF version of your book when it releases, but do it when the kindle version is free and tell them they can get it from Kindle for free so you can increase your downloads (you can find a bonus tip about this below). You can build a community by getting people on your email list, starting a Facebook group around the topic of your book, or creating a local meetup.
Engage your community way before the book is even written. The best way to create buzz is to have your community help you make decisions about your book. Ask them what they think about the many decisions you will make regarding your book, for example:
Order of chapters
Layout and feel
Whether you have a companion course/ would people be interested in a companion course.
“Anytime you need to make a decision in the book writing process think about how you can engage your community to help you make that decision.”
In first 30-days of writing your book, focus on creating buzz. This also means that you are asking your community to help you make decisions and are including them in your process. Some ideas to create buzz include:
Letting your community know that you met your writing goal or a major milestone and invite them to celebrate with you. This will get people engaged and curious about what your book is about, and will allow you to share about your book without being salesy. It gets people engaged and interested.
Post a picture of you typing at Starbucks, or sitting back, feet up reading what you’re written. Tell people about what you’re doing “I am reading the draft of my first 5 chapters. I can’t believe this book is happening!”
Maximizing Pre-Reader Feedback
This strategy includes pre-readers, pre-launch, and launch team. One aspect of this strategy is having a promotional team that will help share your upcoming book using Thunderclap or Gleam, mention you on their podcast, share thru their network or send an email to their list. The second aspect of this strategy is having a pre-reader team consisting of a group of ideal readers (about 10) not in your small, close team, or your editor—you want external, objective readers and feedback. You can send the book out in parts or send complete. Ask your pre-readers to read the book and give honest feedback. Those people become your great testimonials, especially people that are high-level and well-known. Start those relationships early while you are creating buzz. Please keep in mind, pre-readers do not replace a professional editor—and you always need an editor.
You can use powerful testimonials on the back and/or inside of the book. If you request testimonials from your pre-readers, when your book publishes you can send what they wrote back to them and ask them to post it on Amazon for an actual review and let them know you are making their lives easier by sending them their testimonial so they can copy and paste.
“One of the best marketing tactics is to make other people’s lives easier.”
Bonus: Exclusive Expert Tips
It is important that the people leaving you reviews on Amazon also be verified buyers, if at all possible. You want the people reading the electronic version and leaving a review to also download the kindle version so that they are a verified buyer.
On your Amazon site, your bio is important—have a picture and a video. Make sure your bio is interesting and that your book is linked correctly to you.
Get on Goodreads and do giveaways thru Amazon and Goodreads. For my first book, I did a full series every week with the topics from by book and included a book giveaway. Also, go to local library and ask them to allow a book signing and create a meetup or that time and location, which will allow you to connect locally.
A great way to make progress on writing and publishing your book is to join a community of people who share a similar goal. Joining a book writing accountability group will help you develop a strategy and schedule to make these techniques more doable without getting overwhelmed.
Remember, before you launch your book into the world check out our FREE Checklist.
I know as a writer or author, the design of your book cover is probably the last thing on your mind.
But imagine your book is sitting on the shelves of bookstores going completely unnoticed despite the amazing words within it. The hard truth is, that unless your customers know you prior to finding your book, the first thing they’ll see is your book cover.
You’ve heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but that’s exactly what people will do with your words. The design of your cover can decide in a split second whether or not a reader is drawn to your book, and you want to make sure that you’re displaying the right visuals to attract the right reader.
Even with the most ingenious content, a poorly designed book cover can lose you countless sales.
Whether you hire out your design or you do-it-yourself, here are some things to keep in mind as you are creating your book cover.
No matter what your book cover ends up looking like, the design must be on purpose. Every font choice, color scheme, and layout decision needs to be there on purpose. What do you want people to think when they see your cover? Ask yourself what type of person you’re appealing to and make a cover based on what they like, not on what you like.
Give Emotional Context
In one glance, a customer should get a feel for what your book is about by the visuals they see. Is it a thriller? Give it an erie feel. Is it a self-help book? Make a design that is inviting and comfortable. Romance? Make it speak passion. Think about the emotions that you want to draw out of people by the art on your cover and then satisfy their emotions with a story to match.
Simple, I know. But no less important. Make sure you can read the title from 20 feet away. Strive of a design that is easily understandable and readable, even from across the bookstore.
You want to make an impression on your potential readers right away. Make them look twice, give them some eye-candy, if you will. If they can remember your book cover, they’re more likely to remember your book. Go for classic designs, modern twists, or designs that challenge the mind to look deeper. This will draw people in and make them flip it around to learn more about what it contains.
Keep It Simple
Lastly, keep it simple. Things don’t have to be complicated to include all of these design necessities. Hire a designer that you know will create something timeless and be sure to communicate all the emotions you’d like to trigger and how you’d like your book cover to appear on the shelves.
In the end, people will judge your book by it’s cover at first, until they realize that under that sharp cover is a magnificent story.
Remember, before you launch your book into the world check out our FREE Checklist.
Self-editing your work is an essential component of the writing and publishing process. It can help improve your manuscript, while creating a cleaner version for your editor. If your manuscript is riddled with easy-to-catch errors, the editing timeline can be significantly longer and costlier. But do not despair, numerous free resources can help you improve your manuscript, and get rid of those pesky errors before you hand it over to a professional.
The grammar game
If you strictly want to catch basic grammatical and usage errors before you hand your manuscript off to your editor, Grammarly is a great resource, and it offers free and paid versions. The free option finds basic grammar and punctuation errors and provides detailed explanations that will help teach you along the way. The paid version focuses on usage and basic sentence structure, in addition to grammatical corrections.
All in the family
Ask a friend or family member to read and critique your work. You are looking for feedback about the plot and characters, and whether they make sense and are compelling, and if your book is one that they would buy even if they weren’t related to you. Beware of asking that person who only reads Spiderman comic books or Cosmopolitan magazine. Choose someone that has a decent grasp of the English language and enjoys reading the genre you write. Ask him or her, to be honest in their critique; an honest review from someone you trust can be very helpful.
Find a local writer’s group that meets in person and provides writing critiques to members. Meetup is a great resource for finding local face-to-face groups. The goal is to connect with people that understand the process of writing and what you are working to accomplish. Allow yourself to be honest about any challenges in your writing or lingering questions about plot or character development. This kind of group can help you get a fresh perspective and provide support to motivate you to keep moving forward.
Connect with an online writing critique group like the Facebook groups The Writing Collective and Fiction Writers or the online community Critique Circle. Each group allows you to post your work or excerpts of your work for peer critiques. Be aware of each group’s rules of engagement before you post.
Kicking it old school
An always reliable, old-fashioned technique is to print your manuscript and, armed with a red pen, circle and correct the things you may have missed while staring at your computer screen for hours on end. You can also try reading it aloud and listen to how the words sound, using a different sense–auditory versus visual–can help you find areas that may need further attention. You may be surprised at how differently you see the words with this fresh perspective.
You have likely written a phenomenal story, my friend, and are in the home stretch of getting it out to the world. Follow these self-editing tips and you will be more ready to submit your manuscript to your trusted editor and watch the magic unfold.
Remember, before you launch your book into the world check out our FREE Checklist.
Writing a book to share your message, experiences and knowledge with the world can be an amazing journey and also a great asset to you & your business! But how do you find the right idea to write about, and then how do you turn that idea into a book that people will resonate with and want to buy?
It can be a really daunting experience… one I can definitely relate to as I’m currently writing my book!! But it can take you to new heights, as we explore in this post.
So, check out this post were I my top tips that are essential if you are thinking about writing your own book!
CHOOSE THE RIGHT IDEA
One of the common mistakes that new authors make when wanting to write their first book is the temptation to fit all the information and knowledge they’ve acquired over the years into it, and almost ending up writing their life story as a business person. This doesn’t usually make for an effective book or a really good reading experience.
When you’re trying to think about the right idea for your book, you want to start with your business goals. When you’re writing a book that is integral to your business, you want to consider how that book will work for you as a tool. For example, if you’re looking to get more speaking engagements you would want to be writing a book that is in line with the topics you’re going to be speaking on. This can often then lead to people wanting to know more about you and your expertise, which will encourage them to buy your book to learn more information, which can then lead them to your website and other services you offer through your business.
TAKING YOU TO THE NEXT STEP & BUILDING YOUR AUDIENCE
Your book can really serve two main purposes in your business, it can help take you to the top as an expert in your industry, putting you on the map and getting you a bigger platform, get you more widely recognized and grow your business in your current area. Or you can use it strategically to help enter a new area of expertise and a new target audience.
BOOKS ARE NEVER PURCHASED IN A VACUUM
It’s common when writing your first book to avoid reading any other books which might be on similar topics, or by authors who might be in the same field, as you might be concerned about being unduly influenced. Obviously you don’t want to unconsciously reiterate someone else’s idea, or pick up something that could later get you accused of plagiarism, and in most cases you probably just want to make sure that you’re writing a book which is original and your own content.
These worries are understandable but can be a big mistake, because when your target reader goes to a bookstore or online and they’re looking at your book, they’re likely to be looking at other books that are in the same category or address the same topics as yours. So you need to know why they are going to buy your book over anyone else’s book. It’s important to get familiar with the competition, so you know how best to position your book.
Remember, before you launch your book into the world check out our FREE Checklist.
Launch your First Book is an informative, helpful workshop that is great for first-time authors and those who are multi-published veterans of the industry.
Filled with tips and tidbits to help you successfully launch your book, this workshop offers a wealth of information writers need to know.
During this workshop we will guide you through the marketing and promotional tasks every author should do to ensure a successful book launch. Filled with checklists of essential tasks, an abundance of publicity suggestions, and questions to personalize your promotions, this workshop will lead you on the journey to a fun and fulfilling book launch.
Discover how and when to:
Craft a compelling book description
How to find time to write your book and make a habit out of writing
You read the headline on this post and thought, “Cool!” Then a little voice in your head whispered something like, “Why do I need another post on all the cool tools I don’t have time to use?”
That is the key, isn’t it? Time. Having the time to set up, play with and truly put to work all the amazing tools that will rocket your blog into the heavens.
And having time to write. And time to follow other bloggers. And time to network on social media.
After your blog is set up, after that technical part is over, every new blogger is fundamentally the same. You’re full of excitement and plans. You have a bright, shiny new blog, bursting with potential and ideas.
And zero readers.
Time then becomes the key factor that separates new bloggers into three dramatically different kinds of bloggers. That’s why all the standard advice about the tools you need is confusing. Tools don’t make the blogger. Time does.
Because it’s how much time you can spend studying the top bloggers in your niche, improving your writing and cultivating relationships with readers and influencers that determines how fast your blog will grow. And how fast your blog grows determines the tools you need.
Tools are essential, but time is the magic elixir.
Again, bloggers span a wide spectrum, but fall into three distinct groups. Read the following descriptions, and then jump to each group’s tool section to discover what you need.
The Minimalist Blogger
You have ideas you want to share but you may not be too sure about this blogging thing. You’re willing to dip your toe in the water, because it seems like it could work, but the tech part is still a challenge. You don’t need the fancy tools.
Most of all, you don’t want to spend a lot of time on it yet, or you don’t have a lot of extra time in your life right now. Maybe you just want to write and follow others in your niche. Whether your topic is a passion, a hobby or related to what you do for a living, a blog is a side project that you can give no more than 10 hours per week, if that.
The Serious and Committed Blogger
You’ve gotten your feet wet in blogging, and you’re committed to what you’re doing. You want to build a business from your blog, but your income and readership are not big enough for you to quit your job. You’re squeezing out as much time as you can, maybe 10 to 20 hours every week, and you need tools that won’t suck up much time but will deliver a big impact.
The Entrepreneur Blogger
You look at blogging differently than everyone else:
You’re not running a blog; you’re operating a business. Blogging is a promotion strategy, but it’s not an end in itself.
Because you’re doing this more or less full time, you have significantly more time to spend experimenting with tools that others can’t.
Because this is your business, you’re willing to invest money in it, so the higher price tags on the more sophisticated services don’t put you off – IF they make sense for growing the business and saving you time and effort that can be used better elsewhere.
The Blogger’s Tools List
We’re listing all tools we’re familiar with and use. Many of the links that follow are affiliate links, for which we earn a small commission if you choose to buy (at no additional cost to you.) Expect additions and changes as we find better tools. We’ll also be adding sections on courses and books that will help you in your blogging business.
We’ve organized it into four sections to match where you’re at as a blogger.
Setting Up Your Blog: This is the tech list. If you’re thinking about starting a blog go here first to find out what you need.
The Minimalist Blogger: Tools to build a solid foundation but nothing fancy.
The Serious and Committed Blogger: Upgrades to many of the basic tools needed as you add products, build your subscriber base and earn money.
The Entrepreneur Blogger: Advanced tools for blogs earning from $10 thousand to $10 million.
Setting Up Your Blog
HOW TO BUY A DOMAIN NAME
NameCheap (affiliate link) is our favorite cheap domain registrar. There’s no good reason to pay more. We recommend you don’t purchase your domain name through your web hosting company either, because if you decide to switch web hosts later, which is likely, it can be more complicated.
HOW TO CHOOSE A WEB HOST
The standard advice to go with a large web hosting company for long-term stability is sound. Small web hosting companies still disappear without warning, a terrifying situation. You will also require different levels of bandwidth and service as your blog grows.
For minimalist to serious bloggers, we recommend BlueHost (affiliate link), which offers several low-priced plans for new and small blogs. You can purchase shared hosting for as low as $2.95 per month and the support is excellent.
WHY YOU MUST START WITH WORDPRESS
We’re adamant on this tool: only WordPress. Forget Blogger, Weebly and all the other free amateur platforms if you want people to take your blog seriously. WordPress has become the industry standard.
Most large web hosts already have WordPress available for installation from within your hosting account. But you can do it yourself by downloading it from http://wordpress.org/. It’s customizable to support a range of functions as your blog grows and you can set up a good-looking blog without knowing how to code.
HOW TO GET A GREAT WORDPRESS DESIGN FOR YOUR BLOG
WordPress provides the behind-the-scenes guts of your blog. A “theme” provides the template and design. You can pay a web designer or you can buy a customizable WordPress theme. A lot of graphic designers will get angry at us for saying this, but don’t spend money for graphic design at this point. As you will see in a minute, premium WordPress themes can be very attractive by themselves and have robust code, making them more than enough for your beginning needs.
While you can get your blog started on the built-in WordPress theme, your blog will immediately look more professional with a premium theme. We don’t recommend you use a free theme. The differences between free and premium themes are in the backend: While both may look good to visitors, free themes don’t come with a technical support desk and are almost always ignored by their developers when they move onto other projects, leaving you with an outdated theme that will become more vulnerable to hackers and more prone to break over time.
Premium themes are updated regularly to keep pace with WordPress upgrades and new trends. Plus, they maintain support desks that will help you with setup, problems, customization, upgrades and maintenance.
We use themes from ElegantThemes (affiliate link) for several sites. It doesn’t take much effort to customize an Elegant theme. For $39 a year you have access to all 86 themes plus customer support. Developer pricing and a lifetime one-time fee are available.
A BASIC SET OF WORDPRESS PLUGINS
With plugins, more is not always better and in fact more can slow your site down or cause code conflicts. You only need a few basic plugins to add enhanced functionality for social media sharing, email capture, analytics and site performance.
Social sharing: Dozens of social sharing plugins are available for WordPress. We like the free Digg Digg plugin because it floats on the side of the screen and follows the reader up or down the page as they read, so it’s always visible.
Popups: We didn’t like the aggressive way popup boxes take the reader’s screen hostage, so we designed a better one – Unpop, a polite popup that slides up the screen, doesn’t annoy the reader and goes away when your reader tells it to. You can use it to get email subscribers, likes for your Facebook page and register readers for a webinar. Try it for 30 days free at GetUnpop.
Analytics: Be sure to get some form of tracking or analytics code on your blog from the start. Google Analytics is free and easy to install. Later as your traffic increases you may want to invest in a paid analytics program but for the short- and mid-term Google Analytics will provide enough data to make your head spin.
Site performance: We recommend installing WPSuperCache to maximize the speed at which your blog’s pages load for a visitor. Consider it fine-tuning for your blog’s engine; knowing the technical details at this point won’t make you a better blogger but your blog won’t annoy your visitors.
SEO: The degree of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you need to implement generates intense debate among bloggers. For beginners, we say forget about it. Seriously. Other than creating the very basic metadata so your posts show up correctly in a Google search, your time is better spent writing great content and promoting it.
Many WordPress themes, like StudioPress, have SEO built in that makes the basic set up quick and painless. Don’t overthink this part.
WHERE TO FIND IMAGES AND PHOTOS
Everyone has their favorite stock photo site, and ours is Bigstockphoto. The prices are inexpensive for small photos, which are the right size and resolution for blog post images. Searching for appropriate images to illustrate a blog post can become a huge time suck, so limit yourself to one or two stock sites.
HOW TO ESTABLISH AN EMAIL LIST
Building your email list should be your primary focus as a blogger from the day you start. Relying on RSS or other email collection programs to maintain your list is foolish. You should aim to collect emails from Day One, or earlier.
We recommend you start with the free version of MailChimp. It has a clean, easy-to-use dashboard and you can not only create multiple lists but also create segments of lists as well. One key thing you can’t do with the free version is create a series of autoresponder emails that will be sent out automatically when a visitor signs up to your list.
You’ll need to upgrade to either a paid MailChimp account or another paid email marketing provider when your blog reaches the point where you’re offering a free email class that requires an autoresponder.
The Minimalist Blogger
SOCIAL MEDIA LISTENING TOOLS
Feedly is a free replacement for Google Reader that you can use for tracking posts from the blogs you’re following in your niche. Set it up with folders by topic or by size or by influence, whatever works best for you.
The free version of Hootsuite is more than enough at this stage to monitor different social media networks in one place as you follow the top bloggers and cool kids in your niche.
ADD CUSTOM EMAIL SIGN UP BOXES
The free version of MailChimp will still be adequate at this point. As you begin guest posting, you might consider a plugin like Sumo to add custom email sign up boxes for the readers who visit your site.
The Serious and Committed Blogger
UPGRADE YOUR EMAIL PROVIDER TO CREATE A FREE EMAIL COURSE
You are probably ready to develop a simple email autoresponder course on your topic. For that, you’ll need to upgrade from the free MailChimp account to either a paid MailChimp account or one of those listed below. All of these email providers provide pretty much the same service and are competitively priced. Pick the one you like the best or find easiest to use during a free trial period.
You’re wise to keep it simple at this point, until you have multiple products or build an affiliate network. Your best choices are PayPal, eJunkie (affiliate link) and Clickbank. Each provides a slightly different set of features, so compare them to find your best fit.
ADD LANDING PAGES TO YOUR BLOG
Offering products or requiring registration for classes, teleconference calls or webinars requires separate landing pages to make the experience seamless for your customers.
SCHEDULE SOCIAL MEDIA SHARING
You should know by now where your peeps hang out on social media, so use a free Buffer account to schedule links to useful and relevant content from other bloggers, quotes, tips and links to your guest posts and blog posts.
TWEAK YOUR WORDPRESS THEME
As you build a reader and subscriber base and tweak your blog angle, you may find your theme doesn’t have the look or features you need. Rather than paying big bucks to have someone design a brand new theme, which can create unwanted technical problems while you’re beginning to make money, search out freelance web designers on Odesk or 99Designs for customizing your current theme.
You can find a lot of talent on Odesk if you take the time to search carefully, using the competency scores and feedback from previous clients as gauges. 99Designs uses a contest model rather than a fee per hour model. You determine what you’re willing to pay and the design requirements. Designers who are interested respond with samples for you to choose from and you choose the winner.
OPTIMIZE YOUR BLOG FOR SEO
You should have gained enough traffic, page views and links for Google to notice your blog consistently by now. We recommend the Yoast SEO plugin to optimize the content on your site.
BACK UP YOUR SITE
Don’t tempt fate. Install a backup plugin. We use BackWPup and back up to our server, but you can back up to an Amazon S3 account automatically.
The Entrepreneur Blogger
UPGRADE YOUR WEBHOSTING
As your traffic grows you’ll want to upgrade your plan and may consider moving to your own server, which you can do with BlueHost (affiliate link) or web hosts dedicated to blogging and WordPress, such as WPEngine and Synthesis at Copyblogger Media. Both are expensive, but the peace of mind and higher-level customer support for a large site that hosts your business, community and products are worth it.
UPGRADE YOUR SITE PROTECTION
As your blog gains traffic and becomes known, expect the hack attacks. It’s not pretty and can destroy overnight the goodwill you earned with your readers and subscribers. Sucuri (affiliate link) cleaned up the nasties when BBT was hacked last year, and continues to keep them at bay. It’s expensive, but not as expensive as losing hundreds of subscribers it took months to win over.
LeadPages offers dozens of slick page designs for sales, event registration and other types of landing pages plus easy split testing. It’s easy to set up and customize.
TWEAK YOUR WEB AND GRAPHIC DESIGN
Your blog-based business has finally reached a point where it could benefit from a custom design. Use Dribbble and Behance to find a really good designer.
EXPAND INTO VIDEO AND AUDIO TOOLS
We continually get questions about how Jon creates his videos. The short answer – he’s a geek. The longer answer includes PowerPoint. Seriously. Jon uses advanced PowerPoint animation techniques you can learn from Slideology. He does a screen recording of the presentation in PowerPoint, then imports it into Camtasia, where he records the slideshow with audio, and then renders it as an MP4. On a Mac, you can use the same animation with Keynote and ScreenFlow.
CONSIDER ADDING A MEMBERSHIP SITE
After you’ve grown a substantial list, it may be time to open the doors to a private membership site to offer exclusive products and information. You need several elements to create that private community.
Wishlist Member (affiliate link) is our choice for managing your membership. It integrates seamlessly with WordPress and the expanding list of plugins allow you to customize your members’ experience. It’s a bit more expensive than other options, but versatile.
Tools like CrazyEgg or VisualWebsiteOptimizer make sense for tracking visitor behavior on your landing pages (but not your entire blog). Moz or Raven Tools are also helpful for tracking your traffic from search engines and social media.
Over $100,000 in sales
You have several ultra-sophisticated, pricey options for data-tracking and analysis: Look at Kissmetrics, MixPanel. You’ll probably need a developer to set up these tools and handle campaigns. At this stage, small tweaks in conversion can equal significant gains, so don’t get lost in analysis paralysis.
ADVANCED SOCIAL MEDIA TACTICS
Because your social media following has likely reached a critical mass that now grows organically, reaching out to individual influencers in your niche is a more profitable use of your time. A tool like BuzzStream efficiently helps you search and track your interactions with bloggers, journalists and other people you want to keep your eye on.
We’re not finished yet…
This resource guide will evolve, as our business grows, as we require different tools and as new tools are introduced. We’ll add a tab at the top of the blog so you can find this guide easily when you come back, and we will keep you posted on the changes.
…and neither are you!
Wherever you’re at with your blog, you now have the all tools you need to take it to the next level. We’ve done the research and explored all the dead ends – so you don’t have to. Whether you have 10 hours, 20 hours, or 60+ hours a week to work on your blog, using the right tools will help you fully exploit the time you have.
So let’s “tool up” and get your blog ready for prime time.
If you have a question regarding a particular tool, post it in the comments below. We’ll do our best to help you.
Does your blog attract embarrassingly few readers?
And do you struggle to convert any of them into loyal subscribers?
The fact is, even if your content rocks, you could still be driving people away by neglecting one simple thing.
If a key element on your blog is either inadequate — or missing entirely — visitors could feel confused and leave.
It may stop people who find your site with a search from clicking through and checking you out, too.
I’ve been reviewing scads of blogs lately, helping writers set them up to earn better, and I’ve found that one blog element is a consistent problem.
Your Readers Need You to Give Them a Sign
One of the first places your new visitors look is up in your header. They’re feeling a little awkward, because they don’t yet know this virtual place. They’re hoping your blog’s title and tagline will fill them in.
Your tagline is a key piece of directional signage on your blog. It’s like one of those big freeway signs that indicate what attractions you’ll find if you exit at the next off-ramp.
Don’t you hate when those are unclear, and you end up in the wrong town, or you can’t find the fairground? I personally loathe getting lost.
Imagine your new blog visitor looking up at your header — your road sign — and wondering, “Am I in the right place? Is this blog really for me?”
If your tagline is either non-existent, a random statement, overlong, or vague, your reader can’t tell if your blog is really for them. And confused visitors are visitors who leave, often never coming back.
Why Big Blog Tagline May Have You Confused
Part of the problem is that bloggers get inspired by the hugely popular blogs they see — and copy them. But taglines are one of those situations where you, as a newbie, can’t do it the way the big guys do.
When you’re Gizmodo, for instance, you can do something funny or random with your tagline. (Theirs is: “We come from the future.”)
You can also have no tagline at all, because everybody already gets it. If you’re, say, Mashable. Other big blogs with no taglines visible on their headers include Engadget, Cheezburger, Jezebel, Deadspin, and Kotaku.
That doesn’t mean you should have no tagline.
When you’re a new blogger trying to build an audience and not an internationally known brand name, your tagline is a critical piece of real estate for communicating with both readers and search engines.
How can you construct a tagline that helps your blog attract just the sorts of readers you want and turn them into loyal subscribers?
There are three effective ways a good tagline can attract new readers and help them quickly understand what you’re all about:
#1 – Refine the Topic
The tagline goes beyond the information we get from your blog name. If that name is a bit inscrutable, the tagline explanation is completely key.
Sometimes the tagline helps narrow down the topic, as on Gail Gardner’s Growmap. From that title, I’m not quite sure what type of growth we’re talking about, but the tagline spells it out for me:
Aha! This is about business growth. If I’m a business owner, I’m sticking around. If I was looking for personal enlightenment tips instead, I move on.
Other times, the tagline signals a broader scope and includes readers who otherwise might have assumed the blog wasn’t for them.
Take Tiny Buddha, for instance. Hearing that blog’s name makes me think that maybe this site is just for Buddhists. But their tagline welcomes a broader group of readers:
Whose life isn’t complicated these days? With those five words, they’ve made this a blog for nearly everyone looking for insights and stress relief.
Many blogs are named after the author. In these cases, the tagline is super-critical in defining your topic.
Which brings us to the next key aspect to incorporate into your tagline:
#2 – Include the Reader
When they land on a new blog, one of the big things readers want to know is, “Is this blogger writing for people like me?” If not, they’re outta there.
With the mommy blog Outnumbered 3 to 1, for instance, we don’t quite know what the blog topic is from that headline. But the tagline tells us who the reader is:
Many blog names are flat-out inscrutable without their tagline, as with this legal blog:
Aha! Now I know that if I’m someone who’s interested in the intersection of crime and the law, this blog is for me.
Many big blogs leave the reader out of their tagline. For instance, The Huffington Post’s is “Inform. Inspire. Entertain. Empower.” But as a smaller niche blogger, it’s vital that you let your readers know right away that you get who they are, and that you’re writing about what they need to know.
Many bloggers don’t include the reader in their blog tagline, I’ve found, because they have yet to crystallize in their own minds who that reader is.
If this is you, stop now and create a profile of your target reader. You can’t grow your blog without knowing your audience. Stop saying your blog is “for everybody, really.” No successful blog is like that.
Once you have a picture of your reader in mind, see if your tagline would speak to that reader. If not, rewrite it until it does.
#3 – Show Your Personality
Your tagline is also the ideal place to give us a sense of your writing style. Will we get humor, snarkiness — what’s the tone here?
We get an instant sense of the snort-milk-funny worldview of The Bloggess’s Jenny Lawson in her tagline:
Personality-driven headlines aren’t always funny ones. Sometimes they’ve got a no-bull attitude that signals the way they do consulting, as with business expert, author, and TV personality Carol Roth:
Carol isn’t looking for emotionally fragile business owners to work with — and she makes it clear right away. Getting your personality into your tagline can help you screen out the undesirables, and people who love your attitude will want to stick around.
How to Get Your Tagline in Front of Your Readers
If your blog has a graphical header, the easiest way to showcase your tagline is often to add the appropriate text directly on the header image.
However, some blog layouts don’t really have a good spot for a tagline there. If that’s you, there’s always the option of hiring a developer to modify your existing theme, or of switching themes to get a tagline spot.
But if you don’t want to change, that’s OK! You can still get your tagline out there.
One way is to put your tagline in your home page’s <title> tag. That way, readers can see your tagline in their browser’s tab or title bar.
That’s what celebrity-news site TMZ does. There’s no visible tagline on the site, but their browser tab says: Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Celebrity News | TMZ.com.
Another advantage to adding your tagline to your blog’s <title> tag is that it will appear in search results — another place where potential readers need to decide in a split second if your blog is right for them.
Quick Sprout uses this method to get the tagline “Make Better Content” to appear next to the blog name in Google’s results:
In fact, you should consider doing this even if you’ve added your tagline to a graphical header, because any text you embed in graphics won’t be visible to search engines.
So how do you achieve this in practice?
The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress makes it easy to change the <title> tag for your site’s home page. It also allows you to update your blog’s “meta description,” which is the text appearing beneath the result’s title. You can use this feature to expand upon your tagline to tell readers more about your site.
If you’re not getting the numbers of readers and subscribers you want, it’s time to write a tagline, or tweak the one you’ve got. Don’t be discouraged! It isn’t easy to sum up everything you do on your blog, and who you do it for, in just a few words. But it’s worth the effort.
Show visitors you know them, clue them in about your topic, and share the flavor of your writing. That’s a killer combo that helps you attract the exact subscribers you want.
As a blogger, you’re in the business of sharing ideas.
You have to consistently come up with new ideas and turn those ideas into blog posts that dazzle your readers. And you want to keep those readers happy and engaged, so you work your butt off to publish new posts on a regular basis.
But if you’ve been blogging for a while, you should have a treasure trove of ideas buried deep in your archives. The longer you’ve been blogging, the deeper your archives go, and the more gems are buried there.
Most bloggers are so focused on delivering new ideas that they neglect to help their readers discover their old posts, and many of those oldies are still relevant today. Many of them just haven’t been discovered by your newer followers yet.
So why not dust them off, and put them front and center again? Why not repurpose those old gems for a brand-new audience?
Below, you’ll find some ways to do just that.
#1. Showcase Your Masterpieces
Okay, you’re obviously an incredibly talented writer and — I know, I know — every post you write is a masterpiece.
But let’s be honest, every brilliant artist has pieces that stand out more than the rest.
DaVinci had his Mona Lisa, and Michelangelo (the artist, not to be confused with the ninja turtle) had his statue of David. Like them, you have stand-out pieces that are a notch or more better than the rest.
But once you’ve been publishing content for a while, some of your best posts will get buried in the archives.
Wouldn’t you want to put these front and center, so they’re easy to find for new visitors? When someone is new to your site, wouldn’t you want them to find your masterpieces first? I mean, that would make one helluva first impression, right?
So give them a little nudge in the right direction. Create a page dedicated to showcasing your best work.
A good example is Fizzle’s Best of page, which similarly lists all its most popular content.
Note also how these pages don’t just give visitors a long list of links. Nope, the page segments the links into separate lists in a number of categories. This doesn’t just look nicer — it also makes it easier for readers to find the posts that will interest them most.
Creating a “start here” or “best of” page puts your best posts in an easy-to-find spot, so your readers can spend hours devouring them one by one.
#2. Put Your Old Posts in a New Jacket
This may come as a huge shock, but did you know a huge number of people just don’t like reading that much?
They might make time to read a bite-sized Buzzfeed post now and then, but if you presented them with Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings, they’d ask you for the audiobook or let you know they’ve already seen the movie.
What that means is there’s a huge number of people who might not be that into your written content, but would love it if they could listen to it or watch it. That means there’s a big audience out there that you’re probably not tapping into yet.
You can use content from a pre-existing blog post and turn it into a podcast, video, infographic or slideshow. That not only allows you to give your old content a fresh spin, but you can publish it on various websites with a link back to your site, delivering thousands more eyeballs to your content.
Now, I get it. The prospect of dabbling with video or audio is daunting — I hate listening to my recorded voice. Ugh!
But no worries if this seems miles out of your comfort zone because you don’t have to do it all yourself. You can hire people to repurpose your blog posts for you.
For instance, you can hire a voice actor on Fiverr to narrate your blog post, and boom — you have your podcast episode. Likewise, you can find someone on Fiverr to turn your post into a PowerPoint presentation, and boom — you have your slide show. Then you can combine the audio of your podcast with your slides, and boom — you have your video.
And you can then publish these variations of your content on various platforms dedicated to hosting people’s infographics, videos, podcasts, and slideshows.
All of this combined can you get you a ton of new exposure, and you can reach a whole new audience who prefer watching videos or listening to audio over reading blogs.
#3 Pass Your Posts Around
Another way to get a surge of traffic from old blog posts is to simply republish them on other sites with a bigger audience than yours.
Whoa, hey now, wait a minute! Won’t Google slap you with a duplicate content penalty for that?
Nope, that’s just a particularly popular myth in the blogging world. Matt Cutts himself has verified that there is no penalty for duplicate content unless it’s particularly spammy or keyword-stuffed.
So, in other words, don’t worry about it.
But still, even if there’s no penalty, don’t all the big blogs ask for original content only?
Well, not exactly. One popular venue for republishing content is Medium. If you’ve already read our guide to publishing on Medium, you know it can be an incredible source of traffic.
But Medium is certainly not the only site that allows republished content.
Other sites that do include:
The Good Men Project
See? You don’t need to create original content to get featured on large publications. Some of them will take articles that you’ve already published on your blog. They tend to be picky, but you’d be a fool not to give it a shot.
#4. Draw the Kindle Crowd
Many bloggers publish ebooks on Kindle to make some sweet passive income, but publishing on Kindle can also be a great source of traffic. Some Kindle readers are just waiting for you to lure them to your site.
And if you have several posts on a specific topic, you have enough (or close to enough) material for an ebook.
Honestly, you don’t need as much material as you might think — just 10,000 words is plenty for an ebook, which should be about 4-6 posts. You’ll need to connect the chapters, add an introduction and conclusion, and possibly rewrite some parts, but with those 4-6 posts, you have most of your book already written.
But before you get ahead of yourself and publish your book all willy-nilly, you should do some prep work to ensure your launch is a success.
Here are some quick tips:
Assemble a support team: Ask your subscribers whether they want to join your team and get a free copy of your new book. Ask them to read the book and provide feedback. If necessary, edit your book to include any changes your team suggests.
Publish your ebook on Kindle and set the price to $0: You want to set the price to $0 so your team won’t have to pay to download the book.
Ask your team for reviews: Make sure you ask them to download the book before they leave their review. This is critical because when they don’t, their reviews won’t be tagged as verified.
Promote your book: When you have a good number of reviews (20 is enough, but the more, the merrier), promote your ebook using promoters of free Kindle books like Book Marketing Tools, Freebooksy, and Bknights on Fiverr. These come with a price tag, but they can send thousands of readers your way.
Create content upgrades: The whole idea is to get your book readers back to your site, right? So incentivize them to do so by linking to a landing page that offers supplemental material in exchange for their email. Think cheat sheets, checklists, resource lists, worksheets, templates, swipe files, or any other kind of bonus content. (If you have an upsell, you can, of course, direct them there as well.)
Once your promotion closes, you might raise the price of your ebook and boost your income, or you can leave it free and keep using it to draw traffic to your site.
In any case, during your promotion, you can expect a surge of traffic.
(Note: Amazon does have a minimum price of $0.99 for Kindle ebooks, so you’ll need to enroll in KDP Select to run a free promotion. To keep your ebook permanently free, you need a little more of a workaround.)
#5 Set up a Throwback Sequence
A few years ago, I got the opportunity to work on the Spanish island of Mallorca for six months. Having grown up in the always-rainy Netherlands, I grabbed this opportunity so hard, that I made it cry crocodile tears.
The problem? I had a year-and-a-half-old blog with a growing audience. I could spend all my time in Mallorca working, or I could choose to abandon it for a little while.
Forgive me, but I chose the latter. I sent my existing subscribers a note that I wouldn’t be around for a while. I figured I’d lose a few along the way, but it was worth the risk. At the same time, though, I didn’t want my first impression on new readers (who subscribed while I was gone) to be, “Hey, see you in six months!”
So I set up an autoresponder that would periodically send them one of my older blog posts. That way, by the time I got back, they’d have received word from me on a steady basis.
And when I got back, I realized this wasn’t a half-bad idea. I realized this was a hands-off way to consistently send traffic to my older content. Once you’ve installed your autoresponder, it will promote your posts on autopilot.
So I just kept it running. To this day, every new subscriber receives a link to an old blog post every so often.
I like to call this a throwback sequence.
We all know how effective email marketing is, so why not use it to promote your older posts as well? You can set it to trigger at sign-up and install it to send a monthly or bi-weekly email.
Your only job it to update it on occasion. Since the throwback sequence can run for a year (or years), you can just keep adding posts as you publish them.
Just ensure that when you add a new post, you add a provision for it not to send to subscribers who signed up before its publication date, or it will send your posts to subscribers who have already read it.
Keep Your Classics Alive
Many of those you debuted months or even years ago are still valuable today, so give them the attention they deserve. Help new audiences uncover the treasure trove of ideas buried in your archives.
Update and re-post them. Write some spin-offs. Set up a throwback sequence. Step out of your comfort zone and put them in a new format. Whatever you do, don’t let them disappear into obscurity.
Keep playing those golden oldies. Because people out there still want to hear them.
I currently run 3 completely different blogs in addition to creating content for my other clients.I don’t have time to waste. Since a lot of work can go into a blog post – from coming up with new ideas, research, photography, copy and not to mention all the social media scheduling to actually get people to SEE all the work that I did, it’s incredibly important for me to streamline my blogging process as much as possible so that I have time to do everything else!
Maybe you don’t run 3 different blogs, but I’m guessing you have other things going on in your life that you’d rather spend time on – like making money, making dinner, or making time for palates… Yeah, me too. Make room for more of whatever YOU need in your life with these 5 tips to save time creating blog posts – #trust, they have helped me out immensely!
Use An Editorial Calendar
Plan your posts. Whether you are using a planner, your google calendar, or another online calendar, plan your content out ahead of time! I’ve tried plugins like CoSchedule, but I always come back to the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin – I love it because it’s simple, but I can easily drag and drop post ideas into the calendar and move them around if I need to. It also allows me to see what drafts I have in process versus which posts are already done and scheduled. Any time I have a post idea, I’ll start a quick draft with a few bullet points if I can. Then towards the end of each month, I sit down and try and schedule out as much as possible for the next month. I find that its usually harder to come up with post ideas when I’m under pressure of a deadline, so planning things out in advance makes things much easier.
Batch Process Photos
Whenever possible, I prefer to use original photos for blog posts and my social media content – but I don’t want to take time out of every day to take and edit photos. I keep a running list in Evernote of ideas for photographs, and every couple of weeks I’ll schedule a few hours to take a TON of photos. Then I’ll edit them down to the ones that I think I will actually use and save them to dropbox so I can access them whenever I’m actually working on specific blog posts or social media promotions.
Create Templates For Blog Post Graphics
I also have templates for blog post graphics (like the one above!) so I can basically just swap out the image and the text when I’m creating a new post. Not only does this help save time, but it also ensures that my graphics are consistent with my brand!
Start A Series
If there are certain topics you write about frequently, save time coming up with new blog post ideas by creating a series. If you’re not sure what topic to create a series around – check your stats to determine which posts are getting the most traffic! Chances are a few of them have something in common. If not, do a little brainstorming. Maybe once a week you can feature your work or interview a client or ask your readers a question – there are so many possibilities.
Consider Contributors or Guest Blog Posts
Potentially the easiest way to save time creating blog posts – have other people create them! Whether you have people contribute regularly or accept occasional guest posts, enlisting other people create content for your blog can be a great way to free up some of your time while also growing your community. Taking on contributors has been a HUGE help, but it’s also important to make sure that anyone who you are allowing to publish on your site clearly understands your brand standards. You need to manage expectations (especially if you are like me and have high expectations!), so be clear on exactly what you want from the start.
If you are a blogger, what other tips do you have for saving time creating blog posts?
No matter how fantastic, informative, and downright awesome the content you wrote is, none of that will matter if you don’t have good headlines. You know that saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover?” Let’s be honest, we all look at the book cover to decide if we want to read it or not. The same goes for headlines.
If you don’t have a headline that gives an overview or benefit of the content, no one is going to click on it. When writing a headline you have to ask yourself, “What’s in it for my readers?” Would you click on a piece of content with that headline? If the answer is no, then you need to spend some time crafting a better one.
How To Write An Effective Headline That Connects With Your Audience
The headline accounts for up to 50% of your blog post’s effectiveness. You’re overall goal for writing a headline is to get someone to click on it. In order for someone to click on it, they have to connect with the headline in some way.
There are several different headline categories, such as:
Let’s take a deeper look into these 5 types of headlines.
A question headline is exactly how it sounds; it asks a question.
This question has to relate to the content it’s linked to. If you wrote about Facebook engagement, then your question headline would sound something like “Are You Struggling To Engage With Your Facebook Audience?” The person reading this will make the connection that they need help with Facebook engagement and click on the link to find the answer.
The goal of a question headline is to leave the reading wondering the answer. Be careful when using question headlines. At least tease the answer to the question in your introduction to keep readers interested.
A benefit headline offers a quick snippet of what the reader will obtain after reading the content.
The benefit headline has to give the reader (you guessed it) a benefit. If you wrote about email marketing, then your benefit headline would sound something like “15 Tactics For Increasing Your Email Subscribers by 137%.” The person reading this will know that after reading this post they can increase their email subscribers.
Studies have shown that headlines with numbers tend to generate 73% more social shares and engagement. The higher the number, the higher the engagement. Would you rather read a post that has 5 ways to increase Facebook engagement, or 21 ways? Studies also found that using odd numbers have a higher chance of engagement compared to even numbers.
A how-to headline offers the reader actionable steps to do something better.
The how-to headline has to provide insights to what the ‘how to’ is. If you wrote a post about Instagram followers, then your how to headline would sound something like “How To Skyrocket Your Instagram Followers With These 15 Tactics.” The person reading this can connect that they need more Instagram followers, and this post will help skyrocket that.
You’ve probably seen a lot of “how to” headlines. That’s because… well, they work. When your audience searches for information, it could be because they want to know how to do something better. That’s where you can step in and provide helpful content to position your business as a source of relevant and useful information.
4. List Post
A list post headline provides a round-up of content or information around a given topic.
The list post headline has to include a piece from the content it’s linked to. If you wrote a post about marketing calendars, then your headline would sound something like “10 Steps To Fill Your Marketing Calendar With Brilliant Ideas.”
There are different ways to write a list post:
10 Ways …
10 Things …
10 Steps …
10 Tips …
Top 10 Most …
Top 10 Reasons …
The #1 Reason …
List posts work and the possibilities are endless. BuzzSumo teamed up with OkDork to share data that basically says list posts get the most social shares after infographics. These headlines give your readers the chance to skim your subheads to see if they’d like to dive in further.
A generic headline is well … generic. This is something you don’t want. You don’t want to have a headline that’s already been written by 10 other people. Even if you are covering the same topic, your headline should be unique and provide an emotional connection with your audience.
A generic headline looks something like “Write Better Headlines Today.” How are you going to write better headlines? This approach offers no inside look at what the reader can expect by clicking.
Avoid generic headlines whenever you can. List post, how to, benefit and question headlines have a better opportunity to get social shares, traffic, and overall SEO value.
Good vs. Bad Headlines for Social Media
Now that we know what kind of headlines work, you’re ready to start writing headlines!
Okay…not quite yet. Keep in mind the headline you’re writing is something that you would be interested in. If you won’t click it, no one else will. Here’s some examples of good vs. bad headlines:
How To Write Good Headlines. (Bad! Provides no benefit or inside look.)
Do You Know How To Write Good Headlines? (Bad! Very vague, close-ended question.)
Are You Struggling To Write Memorable Headlines? (Good! Connects with the audience.)
This headline from Social Media Examiner tells the reader exactly what to expect when clicking on the post. A perfect example of a “how to” headline. Remember to always provide the best benefit and ask the right question! Avoid boring, vague headlines.
This headline below is vague and doesn’t tell the reader what they will be reading about. Is a “how to” guide? Is it going to show examples of user-friendly design? Do I connect with this headline?
A generic and vague headline is something to avoid along with clickbait headlines. Clickbait headlines are manipulative and deceiving. You want to write a headline to connect with your audience, not just to increase your page views. A clickbait headline looks something like “When You Read These 19 Shocking Food Facts, You’ll Never Want To Eat Again.”
Bottom line, avoid clickbait and generic headlines at all costs. Instead, opt for a headline that will connect with your audience on an emotional level. The best way to do this, is to choose your words wisely.
I keep talking about making an emotional connection with your audience, but what does that mean? Emotional words in your headlines entice your audience to click through to read your post. And once they’re reading your posts with emotional headlines, your readers are more likely to share them.
You have a good headline if 10–15% of the words in your headline are emotional.
Like emotional words, power words are usually phrases that are well-known for inciting action. Power words are uniquely different than emotional words because they are a bit out of the ordinary.
These words inspire an emotion or call to action without a lot of context. Power words are typically rarely used words or phrases that almost guarantee some clicks through to your blog posts.
Great headlines have at least one power word in them.
Along with using the right words and making an emotional connection with you’re audience, you also want to incorporate the 4 U’s:
Your headline should be
Your headline should beultra-specific.
Your headline should convey a sense of
Your headline should be
Write Headlines That Drive Traffic, Shares, And Search Results
Writing headlines is an important part of writing content, but it can be tedious and time-consuming.
You can also view your headline history, to make sure you are improving your headline each time.
Start Writing Memorable Headlines Today
Now it’s your turn to start writing headlines your audience will remember! Get more engagement, shares, and traffic back to your blog posts with emotional headlines that relate to your audience.