Blogging Masterclass: Build A Successful Blog In 2020 And Beyond | Brad Merrill | Skillshare

Blogging Masterclass: Build A Successful Blog In 2020 And Beyond

Brad Merrill, Entrepreneur & Tech Journalist

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82 Lessons (3h 19m)
    • 1. Welcome!

      6:40
    • 2. How To Use This Course

      0:53
    • 3. [Foundation] The Mindset Of A Successful Blogger

      5:08
    • 4. [Foundation] Content Strategy & How To Find Your Perfect Niche

      5:49
    • 5. [Foundation] Naming & Branding Your Blog

      3:24
    • 6. [Website] Why You Should Use WordPress For Your Blog

      4:03
    • 7. [Website] What You'll Need To Build A WordPress Site

      3:25
    • 8. [Website] How To Install WordPress In 5 Minutes Or Less

      2:35
    • 9. [Website] Exploring The WordPress Dashboard

      4:44
    • 10. [Website] WordPress Posts & Pages

      1:29
    • 11. [Website] The WordPress Post Editor

      3:57
    • 12. [Website] Customizing Your WordPress Profile

      1:42
    • 13. [Website] Finding & Installing A WordPress Theme

      4:37
    • 14. [Website] How To Customize Your Theme

      1:53
    • 15. [Website] WordPress Plugins

      2:14
    • 16. [Website] Security & Backups

      2:35
    • 17. [Website] Analytics & Data

      1:04
    • 18. [Ideas] Why You Need A Reliable Ideation System

      0:42
    • 19. [Ideas] Creation Begins With Consumption

      2:15
    • 20. [Ideas] Conducting A Brain Dump

      1:09
    • 21. [Ideas] The #1 Tool For Content Research

      2:05
    • 22. [Ideas] Questions Straight From Your Target Audience

      1:33
    • 23. [Ideas] Eavesdropping On Niche Communities

      2:02
    • 24. [Ideas] How Your Existing Audience And Content Can Help You Generate New Ideas

      1:21
    • 25. [Writing] The Importance Of Effective Writing

      2:53
    • 26. [Writing] How To Write Irresistible Headlines

      4:01
    • 27. [Writing] Matching Your Audience's Tone & Vocabulary

      1:45
    • 28. [Writing] Creating Focused Content

      1:23
    • 29. [Writing] How Grammatical Errors Can Cripple Your Efforts

      2:30
    • 30. [Writing] How To Become A Better Writer

      5:37
    • 31. [Content Types] Exploring Various Types Of Content

      0:32
    • 32. [Content Types] How To Create Epic List Content

      2:35
    • 33. [Content Types] Teaching Your Audience With Guides & Tutorials

      2:00
    • 34. [Content Types] Two Approaches To Q&A Content

      1:54
    • 35. [Content Types] Interviews & Profiles

      2:40
    • 36. [Content Types] Where A List Meets An Interview

      2:01
    • 37. [Content Types] How To Write Valuable Reviews & Comparisons

      2:12
    • 38. [Content Types] Working News Into Your Content Strategy

      1:07
    • 39. [Content Types] Creating Valuable Roundups & Resource Lists

      1:03
    • 40. [Content Types] Thought, Opinion, And Controversy

      1:48
    • 41. [Content Types] Statistics & Original Research

      1:29
    • 42. [Content Types] Presenting Complex Data For Visual Learners

      1:25
    • 43. [Content Types] How To Write A Case Study That Turns Readers Into Customers

      3:07
    • 44. [Repurposing] Exploring Alternative Content Formats

      2:25
    • 45. [Repurposing] How To Generate An Infinite Stream Of Fresh Content

      1:26
    • 46. [Repurposing] Watch Me Turn One Video Interview Into More Than A Dozen Pieces Of Content

      4:02
    • 47. [SEO] A Brief Introduction To SEO

      3:24
    • 48. [SEO] Understanding Search Engines

      3:34
    • 49. [SEO] Basic Site Setup For SEO

      3:26
    • 50. [SEO] The Best SEO Plugin For WordPress

      0:56
    • 51. [SEO] Optimizing Your Page Titles

      3:46
    • 52. [SEO] Optimizing Your Meta Descriptions

      1:04
    • 53. [SEO] Themes & Template Settings

      5:13
    • 54. [SEO] Analyzing Your Content

      1:01
    • 55. [SEO] How To Choose The Right Keywords And Create High-Ranking Content On Any Topic

      5:21
    • 56. [SEO] Does Keyword Density Matter?

      1:53
    • 57. [SEO] Internal Links

      2:09
    • 58. [SEO] Image Optimization

      0:50
    • 59. [Promotion] Why Content Promotion Is Crucial

      0:38
    • 60. [Promotion] Guest Posting & Strategic Collaboration

      1:51
    • 61. [Promotion] A Simple Way To Get Leading Influencers To Share Your Content

      1:44
    • 62. [Promotion] Teasing Your Content On Social Media

      1:48
    • 63. [Promotion] How To Get Your Content Featured In Popular Resource Lists

      1:23
    • 64. [Promotion] Don't Neglect This Free Source Of On-Demand Traffic

      1:07
    • 65. [Promotion] How To Promote Your Content In Groups & Niche Communities

      3:01
    • 66. [Promotion] The Most Effective Way To Skyrocket Your Audience Overnight

      4:02
    • 67. [Email] Why Growing An Email List Should Be Your #1 Priority

      2:03
    • 68. [Email] Choosing An Email Marketing Service

      1:26
    • 69. [Email] Incentivizing The Opt-In: 17 Lead Magnet Ideas

      6:54
    • 70. [Email] Where To Place Opt-In Forms On Your Site

      2:05
    • 71. [Email] High-Profile Opt-In Forms

      2:28
    • 72. [Email] How To Turn Commenters Into Subscribers

      0:56
    • 73. [Email] A Counterintuitive Strategy To Increase Your Conversion Rate

      1:01
    • 74. [Email] Leveraging Social Proof To Grow Your Email List

      1:06
    • 75. [Email] Nurturing Your List: The Key To Building Lasting Relationships

      4:04
    • 76. [Monetization] How To Turn Your Blog Into A Business

      1:02
    • 77. [Monetization] The Most Common Way To Monetize A Blog (And Why I Don't Recommend It)

      2:54
    • 78. [Monetization] The Best Way To Monetize A Blog Without A Product Of Your Own

      4:22
    • 79. [Monetization] Creating & Selling Your Own Products

      2:24
    • 80. [Monetization] How To Generate Long-Term, Recurring Subscription Revenue

      1:47
    • 81. [Monetization] Using Your Blog To Market Your Services

      1:17
    • 82. The Next Steps

      1:27
119 students are watching this class

About This Class

Brad Merrill has been building things on the web for well over a decade. In 2010, he started a blog about technology and innovation, and in just a couple of years it grew into a large publication with staff and revenue, serving more than half a million monthly readers. His work has been featured on Techmeme and cited by a number of notable blogs and publications, including the Wall Street Journal.

In this course, Brad condenses ten years of trial and error into a simple blueprint designed to help you build a successful blog.

Transcripts

1. Welcome!: Hey guys, Brad Merrill here. Thank you so much for joining me before we get started. I just want to take a quick second to introduce myself. First and foremost, I am an entrepreneur. I build businesses. I've been building things on the Web for over a decade now, and one of those things was a large tech blogged that served well over half a 1,000,000 readers and paid my bills with it. I built relationships with a number of influential entrepreneurs and innovators, appeared regularly on Tech me and earned links from high profile sights and publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Crunch Base, Wikipedia and many others. What I hope to give you in this course is an all inclusive and up to date guide detail ing what I've learned over the years about what it takes to build a successful blawg. Thousands of students have already used this course to start blogging, and I've heard a ton of great feedback, including from people who have left prestigious jobs at companies like Google to pursue their blogging dreams full time. So what specifically are you going to learn from this course? Well, here, Some of the things will cover. We'll start with the absolute basics and focus on building a solid foundation for success. We'll talk about the mind set of a successful blogger. Everything from motivation to discipline to confidence will take an introductory look at the importance of good content, and you'll learn how to find your perfect niche and start brainstorming ideas for the name of your blawg. After that, we'll dive into the technology you'll need to build your site. Domains Hosting WordPress Themes Plug in Security backups As far as the technical stuff goes, even if you're an absolute beginner, I've got you covered. Then we'll get into what's really important, which is your content itself. We'll talk about some really effective ways to come up with new ideas for your blawg, including some of my favorite tools and resource is that I use for inspiration. After that, I'll give you some quick, actionable tips to improve your writing and make sure that everything you publish on your blog's is top notch. Then we'll talk about the various types of content you can create for your blawg, and I'll actually give you more than a dozen specific content ideas that you can steal and apply to your topic. We'll also look at some different content formats that you can experiment with like podcasting, video infographics. And then you'll learn how to create what seems like an infinite stream of fresh content simply by repurpose ing what you've already created. Once you're comfortable with content creation, you need to know how to reach. A new audience will take an in depth look at S E o or search engine optimization, and then you'll learn a number of proven strategies to proactively get your content in front of people. Toward the end of the course, we'll talk about building on email list, which, even in the age of social media, is still the most effective way to generate traffic and revenue on demand. So we'll talk about the importance of having an email list, how to get people to sign up and what to actually send people once they're on your list. Finally, we'll talk about how to turn your blawg into a revenue generating asset. A blawg is not a business on its own. You have to implement some kind of revenue model on top of it, like selling a product offering services selling advertising will go into detail on all the different options you have. We're gonna go deep with this course. By the end of it, you should be well on your way to building a successful blawg with an audience and revenue . Now, before I go any further, just to be clear, I don't want anyone to get the idea that building a blogger or building a business is easy . Like you just take this course and at the end you're suddenly a successful blogger. Obviously, it doesn't work like that. It takes time and it takes work. I tried to design this course as a complete blueprint with all the information you'll need , but it's up to you to take action and put in the work. My success comes from many, many long hours and plenty of failure and trial and error along the way. I'm hoping to give you a little bit of an edge with this course, but building a business of any kind takes work, and I want to make sure you understand that from the start. So why would you want to do this? What exactly did you get out of building a blawg? Well, There are several common motivations. The first is to build a business. Ah, blawg could be the center of a low overhead location. Independent, lucrative business. There's never been a better time to do this. We are living in the digital age, my friends, and that means it's cheaper and more feasible than ever for you or anyone to start a business. If you're willing to put in the work, you can absolutely do it. You just have to make it happen. The second motivation is to grow an existing business content marketing. Have you heard that term? It's one of the best ways to drive your business forward in a blawg is a tried and true format. Many of the world's biggest companies and brands are now using digital content to market their products and services so you'll be in great company. If you do the same, you can also use a blawg to showcase your expertise. If you want to position yourself as a thought leader or an expert, blogging is an excellent way to do it. I know people who have used their blog's as leverage to land jobs and others who have used them to launch careers in public speaking. And if you have aspirations to maybe publish a book one day, Ah, blawg is a great place to start. Another motivation is building relationships. Blogging can help you become an active member of your community and build relationships with people you want to reach. For me personally, blogging has helped me meet so many new friends and connections in the tech and business world. It's amazing how many people you can meet organically just by becoming an active voice in the community. And finally, if you're passionate about your topic, you may find that writing about it is just a lot of fun for its own sake. Even if you don't consider yourself a great writer, the process of researching and talking to people and sharing ideas is incredibly fulfilling . Now how much does it cost to start a block? Well, as we'll see, the initial investment could be as low as nothing or as high as thousands, depending on your budget. In your ambitions, most new bloggers can get a great website up and running for well under 100 U. S. Dollars will cover all the various costs of setting up a blawg as well as their free alternatives later in the course 2. How To Use This Course: There is ah lot of information in this course, and I want to make sure you get as much value out of it as possible. What I recommend for most students is to first complete the course from start to finish to give you a bird's eye view of everything and then return to individual sections later, based on where you are in your own progress. I've also designed the course to be friendly to people with varying levels of experience so you can feel free to skip around if something feels a bit redundant to you personally. For example, if you've already installed WordPress, there's no reason to sit and listen to me. Talk about installing WordPress. That's just a waste of your time. So please feel free to skip ahead. Also before we get started. I just want to thank you for joining me in this course. I know there are a 1,000,000 other things you could be doing right now, so I really hope to make it worth your time. Thanks again, and let me know if you have any questions along the way. 3. [Foundation] The Mindset Of A Successful Blogger: Let's talk about the mind set of a successful blogger. What does that look like? And how can you set yourself up for success by getting into the right mindset? One of the most important pieces of advice I can offer you if you plan on starting a blawg or really any new endeavor is to know your why. It sounds a little cliche, but it matters. Think about the overarching vision you have for your life and your career and determine how this project fits into that long term vision. What's your endgame? Why do you want to embark on this journey? For example? Maybe you're really passionate about a topic, and you want to share that passion with an audience. Maybe you want to start a business that allows you to live with a little more freedom and flexibility in your lifestyle. Or, hey, maybe you just want to earn more money, which is perfectly legitimate if that's something that truly drives you. Whatever your motivation, keep it in mind to keep you moving forward even when things get difficult. Whenever you run into an obstacle, you can give yourself a boost by thinking back to the reason you started in the first place . Now motivation is important, but to me, what's more important is calm, pounding that internal motivation with a healthy dose of discipline. You're not gonna be super motivated all the time. That's just reality. Motivation often comes in waves. One day you're super excited and just ready to take on the world. The next day you feel like you're not making any progress and you just want to stay in bed . That's normal. The solution again is disciplined. Commit toe, working on your blawg and making tangible progress towards your goals every single day, even when you don't feel particularly motivated. This commitment, this habitual progress is truly what separates world class performers from the rest, Stephen King famously said. Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work. If you're just getting started, this mindset stuff might feel a little off the wall, a little tangential, but the fact is, most blog's fizzle out long before they've had a chance to prosper. There's a lot of competition out there and the odds air fundamentally stacked against you, but when you're working with the right mindset, it's much easier to make everything else fall into place. No blogger has ever failed mid keystroke. Let me say that again. No blogger has ever failed. Mid keystroke failure comes when you stop executing. Look, you may not have as much traffic as you want or as much influence as you want or as much revenue as you want, but those things can always be improved. You Onley fail if you give up and quit. So if you can start with a strong sense of internal motivation and follow through with discipline and habit in your execution, you will be unstoppable. While we're on the topic of mindset, I should also mention that if money is one of your motivations, your blog's is going to be a business, and it deserves to be treated like one with any new business. They're gonna be ups and downs and plenty of setbacks, and it's going to take a good deal of time and effort to grow, so make sure you're prepared when you start a blawg. What you're really doing is building a media company in a media company needs a business model. In most cases, your blog's is not the product. What you're actually selling, what you're charging money for is some other product or service ad space consulting services, a book, a course or physical product of some kind. When you look at it from that perspective, a blawg isn't all that different from any other business. On a related note, it's helpful to think of your revenue model not as monetizing your blawg, but is providing a valuable product or service that improves the lives of your customers or clients. It's a subtle distinction, but it makes all the difference in growing your business because it shifts your focus from lining your own pockets to providing something of value that people are actually willing to pay for. We'll discuss specific business models in more detail later in the course. The last mindset thing I want to cover is for those of you who don't consider yourselves good writers, this is a mental block that keeps a lot of people from getting started. Look, maybe you're not the best writer. Maybe you suck, but so did every other writer when they first started. The only way to get better at anything is to consistently practice and work on mastering your craft. Ask any well known blogger and they'll likely tell you that they're embarrassed by their earliest blawg posts. In a few years you will be, too. And that's OK again. The best way to improve your writing is to write. We'll talk more on that later. But for now, just understand that you don't have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to build a successful blawg. 4. [Foundation] Content Strategy & How To Find Your Perfect Niche: Often when people want to start a blawg, they start doing all kinds of research on Web hosting and content management systems and themes and plug ins and all of the technology without taking time to think about a content strategy. Don't worry. We will cover all that stuff. But it's important to remember that technology is just a tool. It's not the destination. Your number one concern when you start a blawg should be your content, because that's what people want from you. Nobody's gonna read your blawg just because you have a cool WordPress. The design is important, yes, but your content has to come first. The first part of developing a content strategy is choosing a niche, in other words, committing to a specific topic or a specific audience that you want to serve now. This could be scary. A lot of people, as they're starting out, kind of one of appeal to everyone. But the fact is, focusing on a specific topic will allow you to position yourself as an expert and grow a lot more quickly than if you try to be everything for everyone. When you choose a topic, you want to find something that's just specific enough for you to carve out an audience for yourself, but broad enough that a large enough audience actually exists. And more importantly, you want something that you're gonna be able to write about on a consistent basis. So ideally, it'll be something you're knowledgeable or passionate about. So, for example, the first blogged that I had really success with cover technology with a specific focus on innovation and start up companies. I've always liked technology, and I've always had entrepreneurial tendencies, so it was a really natural fit. It's not always that easy, though. A lot of people just don't know where to begin, and that's okay. We're gonna go over a couple of approaches that you can use to find your perfect niche. First of all, start with things you're interested in or passionate about. So when I say that you may have one or two things that pop into your mind right away, which is great, but you may be totally blanking, which is fine as well. If that's the case, there are some really effective ways to uncover what it is you're passionate about, and the 1st 1 is following the money. If you do a lot of online shopping, say on Amazon, for example, go to your order history and take a look at the kinds of things you're buying on a regular basis. Recreational things. Often these will point to a particular interest of yours that could translate to a blogging niche. If you like to read, take a look at the books you own. You may notice some patterns there if you watch a lot of videos on YouTube. Same thing. Go into your YouTube history and look at what types of videos you're watching. You can also learn a lot by paying attention to how you spend your time specifically your free time when you don't have any set obligations, what do you do for fun? Maybe you take photos. Maybe you play video games. Maybe you go out to concerts. All of these things could work as potential blogging niches. Once you've got some interests and passions in mind, it's also a good idea to take inventory of your current skills and expertise. Things you're already good at or knowledgeable about our excellent candidates for blogging niches. Because these are the areas where you can provide additional value where the average person cannot. So think about your professional background, your education, any certifications. You have your hobbies, your experiences and try to hone in on your unique skills. One of them may end up being your perfect niche. If you don't want to commit to a single topic, you can get similar results by committing to a particular audience with a particular worldview. So instead of writing about one singular topic, you can write about a variety of topics that matter to people who share a certain mindset or worldview. For example, Maria Popova writes an excellent blawg called Brain Pickings, and what she does is she reads books, lots and lots of books. And on her blawg, she shares insights and things. She's learned from reading those books, often drawing parallels between different authors and different time periods. Things like that. The topic of each post is unique, but she fundamentally appeals to curious creative people who tend to be lifelong learners. That's her niche. It's just based on an audience instead of a topic. So it's up to you choose a topic, choose a worldview or choose nothing at all, but understand that a more specific focus will allow you to grow more quickly and ultimately monetize more effectively. Once you've settled on a niche, it's time to think about the types of content you'll be creating and what people will gain from it. Most content serves one of four main purpose is entertainment, education, persuasion or conversion. Entertainment is obviously meant to entertain people. Educational content explains or teaches the reader something persuasive. Content makes arguments for a particular position or viewpoint, and conversion entices people to buy or take some other action. You can apply those purposes to various content formats like lists, how to guides, news articles, reviews, thought and opinion pieces, interviews, case studies and so on Later in the course will dive a lot deeper into content strategy. But I wanted to get you thinking about it right out of the gate, because content strategy is a lot more important than what WordPress theme you use. Ultimately, the most important question to answer is this. How into whom will you provide value? Who is your audience, and what will your content do to improve their lives 5. [Foundation] Naming & Branding Your Blog: Let's talk for a moment about branding. The first question many people have is whether you should use your own name or create a separate brand name for your blog. That really depends on your preference. Your personal name is more open-ended and can always evolve with you. But a separate brand is better suited for building a sellable asset or something that's going to be larger than yourself. If you think there's a chance you'll ever part with your blog or if you think it may grow to the point where you have other contributors, it's probably best to create a separate brand. That way it's less dependent on you as an individual. Naming is hard and it's probably my least favorite part of starting a new project. You obviously want to come up with something you're happy with because you're gonna be stuck with it for awhile. But keep in mind, the name really doesn't matter all that much. Your content is what really matters. Everything else is secondary. With that said, I do want to share some tips for coming up with a good name for your blog. You can start by making a list of random words related to your topic or niche, and then run those words through thesaurus.com to get some synonyms, throw in some adjectives or other words that you just kinda alike and play around with different combinations. You can also take a look at other blogs in your niche, see what patterns you notice and draw some inspiration from them. If you're really stuck, you can try using one of the many maimed generators out there on the web. Word OID.com is probably my favorite example. You just set a few parameters for the kind of names you're looking for. And it'll give you a ton of ideas. And by the way, your blogs name doesn't necessarily have to have any inherent meaning. For example, what was a Twitter before Twitter, what was a Google before Google, it's up to you to create meaning around your brand. As you're brainstorming ideas, you'll want to check to see whether your favorites are available as domain names. Name check is a great tool for this that's in a, m, e, c, h k.com. It'll show you exactly which domains are available for the name you enter. And it will also check for the corresponding social media handles, which is extremely helpful when it comes to domains. I recommend going with a.com if possible, just because people still tend to trust at the most. But I'll also say the extension matters less today than ever before. So if you come up with a name that you really like that's not available as a.com. That's okay. Again, it's up to you to build a meaningful and recognizable brand. Once you've decided on a name, you'll probably want a logo to represent your brand visually. Typically designed my Logos myself, but I've also had great results working with 99 designs, where for a couple 100 bucks, you can hold a design contest where dozens of designers all compete to create a winning logo for you. You can also use services like Upwork and fiber for design, but you have to watch out for low-quality designs and trademark infringement. 99 designs guarantees all of its designs to be unique and trade markable. So to me, that's worth the extra money. If you don't personally have designed skills and you're not ready to invest money into a logo. You can also try service like Canva, which offers a number of free logo templates that you can customize for your brand. 6. [Website] Why You Should Use WordPress For Your Blog: when you set out to start a new blawg, there's no shortage of options to use for your content management system. That is the platform you use to build your website and actually publish content. I'm gonna be straightforward here and say There's really no contest. WordPress is the best choice for the vast majority of bloggers. I've been using WordPress for many years. My businesses rely on it, and I really believe it's the single best solution for building a blogger or website. In today's world, it's free to use its extensible with a world of free themes and plug ins, and it doesn't require a lot of technical knowledge to get started. If you can use a computer, you can build a website with WordPress. WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, and it powers more than 32% of all sites on the Web. Just to give you some examples here, some people and brands you've probably heard of who's Websites and blog's are powered by WordPress. So we've got TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Ted, the NFL Mashable, The New York Times, the next Web PlayStation fortune, Mercedes Benz, Coca Cola, Harvard Business Review, Beyonce's Use, a Bolt, Snoop Dog, Katy Perry and many, Many Others. As you can see, you'll be in great company if you choose WordPress for your Blawg. Now I should clarify that I'm talking about the self hosted version of WordPress from wordpress dot org's not wordpress dot com, wordpress dot org's and wordpress dot com are different things, and I know that's pretty confusing. So let's just take a moment to clear up the difference. So wordpress dot com is a fully hosted service that you can sign up for to build a blogger or website without having to manage the underlying technology. Yourself. Wordpress dot org's is where you can download the free WordPress software and install it on your own Web server. I really like this explanation from The Daily Post blogger on wordpress dot com. Having a blogger website here on wordpress dot com is a bit like running an apartment in a complex. You don't have to worry about the pipes freezing in winter. You don't have to mow the backyard, and you don't have to fix the dishwasher if it breaks. All of that is your landlords job. But On the other hand, you can't install skylights. Knock down a wall to combine two rooms or rent out your spare bedroom without the landlord's permission. Similarly, here it wordpress dot com. We support your site, and we take care of all the updates that backups in the security. But since all of our users share this platform, we don't permit you to use plug ins, since they can introduce security risks or outside themes. And there are a few terms of service that we require our bloggers to follow to. Keep wordpress dot com Nice for everybody When you move to a self hosted WordPress site, it's like buying your own house. You can knock down the walls or build an extension. You can run out your garage for practice space to a local band. You can keep a lion in the backyard, but if you're heat goes out in the middle of winter, you have to fix it or hire someone who can. If you self host, you can install all the plug ins you want. But if one of them breaks your site, you have to figure out how to fix it. Luckily, wordpress dot org's has a great support forum with many knowledgable and helpful volunteers . You're also responsible for performing routine updates and backing up your content. But the only rules you're bound by our your own. My recommendation, and what will focus on in this course is self hosted WordPress. It's better suited for serious blog's for a variety of reasons, one of which, being that most of the business models we cover later are incompatible with wordpress dot com. We're going to spend a lot of time in this section covering the process of installing and setting up WordPress. But if you decide to go with another platform, don't worry. There's a lot more to this course than just WordPress, so feel free to skip ahead. 7. [Website] What You'll Need To Build A WordPress Site: Before you can set up a Wordpress site, you'll need a couple of things, a domain name and a web hosting account. Your domain name is the address people will use to visit your site. For example, your blog.com. Your web host is where your site's files are stored and where we'll install WordPress in the next lecture. The simplest approach is to get your domain name and web hosting package from the same company. If you don't, you'll just have to point your domain to your web server in your host, give you instructions on how to do that. But again, if you're just getting started and want to keep everything simple, your best bet is to grab a domain right along with your hosting package. Now, I've used a number of web hosting companies over my career and some are definitely better than others. My go-to recommendation these days is site ground. It's affordable, it's reliable. The customer service is really helpful. And it enables you to get a Wordpress site up and running in just a couple of clicks. If you want to get started with site ground, I'm happy to share that there is a discount available for students of this course. All you have to do is go to site ground.com slash, go slash Brad em. I'll leave it on screen for just a second so you can make note of it or open it in a new tab. Site ground.com slash go slash Brad m. So the page is gonna look like this. You're going to see three different plans here. Startup, grow big, and go geek. Which one of these is right for you? If you're just getting started and you only plan on building one website, the startup plan should be more than enough. It supports one website and up to 10 thousand visits per month. The grow big plan is a great value if you want to create multiple sites under a single account. It supports unlimited websites and up to 25 thousand visits per month. The go geek plan is really powerful, but it's probably overkill if you're just getting started. It also supports unlimited websites, but here you can go up to a 100 thousand visits per month if you're not sure which plan to choose. Here's the way I think of it for somebody who's just getting started. If you only need one site, go with the startup plan. If you need multiple sites, choose grow big, and don't worry, you can always upgrade later if you need to as your website gross. So go ahead and click get plan under whatever package you think is right for you. Then on the next page, you can go ahead and register a domain name for your website. Remember, this is where people will find your site on the web, for example, your site.com. Hopefully use the naming and branding tips we talked about earlier to come up with a good name that's still available. And you can enter that here. After that, you'll enter your billing details and finish up. The account creation process should only take another minute or two. And then after that, you can proceed to the next lecture where you'll see exactly how to set up a Wordpress site and get your blog up and running in less than five minutes. So that's how you get set up with site ground. Now, of course you don't have to use site ground. I just wanted to provide an easy recommendation based on my experience to hopefully save you some time. But you can feel free to do your own research. So without wasting any more time, let's go ahead and take the first step. Get yourself a web hosting package and a domain name. And in the next lecture we'll begin the process of setting up your new Wordpress site. 8. [Website] How To Install WordPress In 5 Minutes Or Less: Once you've got a web hosting account, installing WordPress is a breeze because it's so popular. Most web hosting companies offer an easy one-click WordPress installation. But what that looks like, it's going to vary a little bit from one host to another. You may have had an option when you first signed up to go ahead and install WordPress automatically. Or you may have to go into your control panel and do it there if you do decide to use site ground, here's what that process is going to look like after you've created your account. Once you log into the site ground customer area, you should see a welcome message inviting you to create or migrate your website. To get started, click the setup Site button on the next page, select start new website and choose WordPress as your application. At the bottom, you'll create your Wordpress admin account by entering an e-mail address and a password. This is what you'll use to sign in and manage your website. Once you've entered that click Continue. You'll probably be asked again if you want to add the SG site scanner service, you do not have to do this. You can just click finish at the bottom and guess what? It a few minutes, your website will be up and running. Now before we move on, let me be the first to congratulate you. You just took a major first step. You literally have a live website up and running now, seriously, open up a new tab and type in your domain name. Not much yet, but it's there and now we're ready to customize it. From now on, you'll be managing your website from your WordPress dashboard, which you can find by adding slash WP, dash admin to the end of your domain name. For example, your domain.com slash WP dash admin. Go ahead and login using the email address and password you chose in the previous step. The first time you log into your dashboard site ground is going to show you this wizard that walks you through some of the initial setup stuff like choosing a theme and installing plugins. You can go through this if you want. But I'm actually going to skip it and go straight into WordPress because I want to show you how to do those things on your own without relying on the wizard. So we'll click exit at the bottom here, and then you'll see your main Wordpress dashboard. This is where you'll manage every part of your website from your theme and appearance to your pages, blogposts, settings, and so on. At first, you may feel overwhelmed by all the various menus and options. But don't worry, it doesn't take long to get comfortable with WordPress. Remember, you can always access your WordPress dashboard by going to your domain.com slash WP dash admin. 9. [Website] Exploring The WordPress Dashboard: In this lecture, I want to give you a quick overview of the WordPress dashboard to make sure you understand where everything is and how it all works. Once again, you can find your WordPress dashboard at your domain slash WP, dash, admin. This is going to be super basic. So bear with me if you're a little more advanced, but I just wanna make sure you have a good understanding of how WordPress works so we can start to dive deeper as we move forward. So let's start over here with the main menu. You'll be using this menu a lot to navigate between different Admin pages in WordPress. The first thing you should notice is that our current page, the dashboard, is highlighted and expanded and it has a couple of sub-menu options underneath it. The same is true with the rest of the menus here. Just hover your mouse over each option to expand it. So after the dashboard we have posts, which is where you manage your blog posts, Media, which is where you'll find any photos, videos, or audio that you've uploaded to the site. Pages are a little different from posts. These are your permanent static pages like your About page or your contact page. Comments. That's where you can manage and moderate the comments people leave on your site. Appearance is where you manage your themes and the overall look and feel of your site. Plugins are basically extensions that add various functionality to WordPress to make it do exactly what you want it to do. And you can add and manage plug-ins here. Under users, you can edit your profile and account information, or you can add other users to your site with the exact editing privileges you want them to have. In the Tools menu you'll find things like import and export tools, which allow you to move content from one site to another. Settings includes all the global settings for WordPress and your site itself. Sg optimizer is a plugin that's provided by site ground to speed up your website. So you'll only see that if you're using site ground. And finally, you can actually collapse this entire menu to give yourself a little more workspace, and then just click that little icon to bring it back. Now let's take a look at the admin bar at the very top of the page will just start from the left side and work our way across. The WordPress logo here is something you'll probably never use, but I guess it doesn't hurt to have it there. If you click it, it'll give you information about your current version of WordPress and then you can also go to WordPress.org, read the documentation, visit the support forums, or send feedback. The next item here is just the name of your site. If you click that, it'll take you to your homepage. Next, there's a comment button with a little icon to let you know how many comments are waiting for your approval. And then we have the new button, which is probably what you'll use more than anything else on the admin bar. You can use these options to add a new post Media page or user. And finally, if we jump all the way over to the right side, it says Howdy and then your username. That's just a quick shortcut to edit your profile or log out. Now let's zoom out and take a look at the main dashboard page itself. When you first create your site, you'll see this box at the top. It says Welcome to WordPress. We've assembled some links to get you started. It basically just gives you some easy shortcuts to the essentials, pretty useful as you're getting started, but if you want to get rid of it, just clicked dismiss and it disappears. If you want to bring it back, you can go up to screen options. And by the way, you'll find this on just about every page inside Wordpress and check the box next to welcome. Now of course, you can also select or deselect any of these other options to show or hide whatever you want. And if you want to customize your experience a little more, you can drag and drop each of these Dashboard widgets to whatever location you like. And while we're on the subject, let's talk about these widgets in what they do. At a glance, tells you some quick information about your site, that number of posts, pages and comments, along with the version of WordPress you're running and your theme activity shows you what's happening with your site. Right now you can see your recently published posts and recent comments. Quick draft lets you type in a title and just a little bit of content to save it as a draft. So if you have a quick idea for a blog post, you can use that to make sure you don't forget. And then you have the WordPress news widget, which is basically just a feed of updates from the official WordPress blog. So I guess that's it. That is the WordPress dashboard. In a nutshell, feel free to click around and do some exploring. 10. [Website] WordPress Posts & Pages: right out of the box. WordPress supports two main types of content that you can publish posts and pages. Now, if we look at the editing screen for a post and then the editing screen for a page, you'll see that they are nearly identical. So it makes sense that this confuses a lot of people as they're getting started. What is the difference between a post and a page? Well, we're going to settle this right now, so posts are listed either on your home page or your post page, depending on how your site is set up in reverse chronological order. In other words, the posts appear from newest toe oldest. So whenever you add a new post, it's gonna appear right at the top. Posts are also dated and organized with categories and tags, and they'll often have comments, poster, what most people used to publish the central content of their sites, the content they're putting out on a regular basis. Block posts, news articles, podcasts. These are all things you would publish as posts. Pages, on the other hand, are more static. They stay in one place. They don't show up on your home page. They don't have categories or tags, and they generally don't have comments. A few examples of pages would be your about page. If you're running a business site, you may have a company, history page or a staff page, and then you may have a contact page, all of these air kind of permanent things that aren't time sensitive and that you want to keep in the same place for a long time, So a page is the more appropriate option. 11. [Website] The WordPress Post Editor: Let's take a look at the WordPress content editor now, as we saw the page editor in The Post Editor, are almost exactly the same. But we're going to dive into the Post editor here because there are a few extra settings for posts that you should be aware of. So first of all, you have your post title will go ahead and enter that, and then we'll jump straight down into the main post content. We compose content in WordPress using these things called blocks. Ah, block is basically just a small section of content in your post is gonna be made up of a series of blocks. Once you get used to this, it's really intuitive. So if I were to just start typing here, that creates a paragraph block for me, and you'll notice that when you move your mouse over a paragraph block, you get these formatting options that you're probably used to from using any other word processor. So if I press enter, that creates a new block for me. And if I just keep typing in this new block, it's just treated as another paragraph. So again, it's just like any other word processor But if I want to add some other content element an image or ah, heading or something like that, I can click this plus sign to see a list of options. Let's go ahead and add a heading. As you can see, the sidebar over here changes to give you specific options, depending on which type of block you're working on. So we'll go ahead and add a subheading formatted as heading to and then press enter to jump down to the next block, which again defaults to a standard paragraph, and you'll notice that you can also use thes buttons over here to choose from your most commonly used blocks without having to browse through that menu. One of the nice things about blocks is that you can rearrange them really easily if you want Teoh. So say, I wanted to move this heading up. All I have to do is use these options over on the left side of the block. You can use the arrows, or you can drag and drop. Editing with blocks is a new experience for some people, but I think you'll find again that it's really intuitive and easy to learn. And once you're used to it. It just makes so much sense, and it makes creating content really easy. So if we click out of our blocks, you'll see that the sidebar switches over to the document tab. These air your main settings for this particular post, the pretty self explanatory. But we'll run through him real quick here, so visibility determines whether your post is public private or password protected most of the time. Obviously, you're gonna want to leave that public under publish. You can choose to publish your post immediately or schedule for the future, or backdate it so that it appears to have been published in the past. If you choose to stick the post to the front page, it will always appear on top, even when new posts have been published after it. Pending review is generally used for multi author sites where a particular post needs to be reviewed by an editor. Below that, you can specify categories as well as tags. Every post has to have a category, but not every post has to have tags. If you don't specify a category, it'll just go into the default category, which is uncannily arised. Next, you'll choose your featured image, which is basically just ah thumbnail for your post. And it may also appear a the top of your post. Depending on what theme you use under excerpt, you can write a custom post excerpt that'll show up with this post on your home page and archives instead of it just pulling out the first few sentences under discussion. You can choose whether you want to allow comments on this post. Appear at the top. You can preview your posts so you can see exactly what it will look like on your site. You can save a draft if you want to come back and finish the post later. Or if you're ready to go, you can go ahead and click, publish, confirm your settings and publish the post. So that is the Post editor, obviously one of the core parts of the WordPress interface, So hopefully now you'll feel pretty comfortable using it 12. [Website] Customizing Your WordPress Profile: something you'll probably want to do before you start. Publishing content is customize your profile in WordPress. You can do this by clicking your profile under the users tab in your dashboard. On this page, you can edit a few different options that just customize your experience inside of WordPress. For example, if you want WordPress toe look a little different, you can choose any of these alternative color schemes. But the most important section here is your actual profile information, which determines how you're identified on the front end of your site so you can enter your first and last name here as well as a nickname, which could be anything you want. And then you can choose to display your name publicly as any combination of those. This is what people are going to see on your author page and on posts that you've written. We also have contact info and biographical info, which may or may not show up on your site, depending on your theme. And after that, we have your profile picture. And to edit this, you'll need to create an account on gravity. Our dot com, using the same email address that you used here. Gravitas means globally recognized avatar, and it's basically a way to set a profile, picture for yourself once and have that profile picture follow you around the Web, most commonly on WordPress sites. So it'll show up on your blawg. But it will also show up when you comment on somebody else's WordPress blawg as long as you use that same email address. So sign up for gravity are set a profile picture, and it should automatically sync back to your site. You can also change your password on this page if you need to. And once you've configured everything, just click update profile and you're good to go. 13. [Website] Finding & Installing A WordPress Theme: WordPress is an extremely powerful content management system, and one of the reasons for that is how easy it is to customize your site and build something truly unique. That's made possible by themes. WordPress themes. Take the data and content from WordPress and display it in a way that looks nice and hopefully meets your individual needs. WordPress needs a theme to function properly, so you'll notice that when you first install WordPress, a default theme is already installed and activated. For you. The default theme gets an overhaul about once a year, and as you'd expect, it's compatible with most of the things you'd want to do with a WordPress site. But if you want to give your site a more unique look, you can also install 1/3 party theme. There are a few ways to get a WordPress theme. You can get a free one from the WordPress repository. You can buy one from 1/3 party seller or marketplace, or, if you really want to go crazy, you could create your own or hire a designer to create one for you. But in most cases, you should be able to find a WordPress theme that looks and feels exactly how you want just by doing a little searching. So the easiest and cheapest way to get a WordPress theme is by installing a free one from the theme repository on wordpress dot org's. There are thousands to choose from, and just because they're free doesn't necessarily mean they're inferior to premium themes. Some are definitely better than others, but there's a nice rating system that should help you identify which themes air good and which ones aren't so good. You can actually access the theme repository directly through your own WordPress dashboard . Just head over to the theme section under appearance and click. Add new. There are themes for just about anything, so whatever you're looking for, you're bound to find something you like. At the top of this page, you can choose to view featured themes, the most popular themes or the latest themes, and then you can filter that list by layout features and subject. When you see a theme that peaks your interest, you can click on it to see a more detailed description and a rough preview. If you like it, you can click install toe added to your site and then you can activate it right away. Or go back to the main themes page inside WordPress and Click Live Preview next to that theme that you just installed to see what your actual site will look like. With that theme, you can then customize some settings using this panel on the left side. And when you're satisfied, click, activate and publish. In addition to the free themes from wordpress dot org's, there's a whole world of premium themes that you can buy from third party sellers and marketplaces. Like I said, there's nothing inherently wrong with free themes. But premium themes as a whole do tend to offer more advanced functionality and higher quality design than free themes, and the purchase price usually includes support and documentation. So if anything goes wrong or if you need help getting set up, you've got a lifeline there to help you out. So if you have a little money to invest, a premium WordPress theme can be a great investment. There are a ton of places to buy WordPress themes. If you do a Google search for WordPress themes, you'll be looking at theme after theme on site after site for hours personally. One of my favorite places to buy themes is theme forest dot net, which is a huge market place of independent developers selling their themes in one central location. The prices air pretty reasonable anywhere from 20 to 70 U. S. Dollars, which is nothing compared to what you have to pay a designer to create a comparable design for you. So wherever you end up, whether it's theme forest or some other vendor, the process looks pretty much the same. Just find a theme. You like, purchase it and then you'll be able to download it as a ZIP file. So I'm gonna go over to the downloads page in my theme forest account and download one of the themes I've purchased in the past. It gives me the option to download all the files and documentation or just the install a ble WordPress file. Usually, I prefer to just get the install a bill file because it's super easy to upload the WordPress. In fact, I'll show you what that looks like right now. If you log into WordPress and go to the Themes page under appearance and then click add new , you'll see the same page we saw earlier when we were looking at free themes. But this time we're gonna click the upload theme button right at the top, and you can add that zip file right there and it'll install just like that. So those are the two main ways to install a WordPress theme now choosing a theme is the hard part, and that always ends up being a huge time. Suck for me when I launch new project, so I'll leave that part up to you. 14. [Website] How To Customize Your Theme: WordPress has a really nice theme customizer, where you can edit various parts of your site while viewing a live preview so you can see the effects of your changes in real time. Toe. Open the customizer, go to your WordPress dashboard and click customize under the appearance menu. What you get is this screen a bunch of menus and options on the left in a preview of your site on the right, anything you change on the left should be automatically reflected on the right. What you can actually do with the customizer depends largely on your individual theme. There are a few universal options here, but a lot of it is up to the developer of your theme, and many themes will add a ton of extra customization options. In this example, we're just using the default theme, so there aren't too many options. You can customize your site identity, which includes your logo, your site title, your tagline and your site icon. Here, you can customize the primary color. Next, you can add one or more navigation menus and display them in various locations on your site . Then we have widgets, which are basically little content blocks that you can add to your sidebar or a footer area or something like that. Where these actually show up depends on the widget areas offered by your theme. Most often it will be a sidebar. And finally, if you're a little more tech savvy and want to add some additional CSS to style your theme differently, you can do that here. By the way, make sure you click publish when you're happy with your changes. Like I said, this is just the default theme, and it's a pretty minimal design, so it doesn't have a lot of options. Third party themes tend to have a lot more stuff that you could customise, but I just wanted to make you aware of the customizer. You'll definitely want to take some time to explore it once you get your own theme installed. 15. [Website] WordPress Plugins: one of the biggest selling points of WordPress is its extensive ability. You're not stuck with the default set of features. Your WordPress site is yours to customize, and it's very easy to customize. WordPress plug ins offer a way to extend the functionality of your website without having to write the code yourself. Just like themes, WordPress has a repository of free plug ins, which you can also access from the plug in section of your dashboard. Plug ins range in their scope from simple things like adding social media buttons to your blanc posts to more complex things, like turning your site into a full fledged social network. So just to give you some examples, let's take a look at a few popular plug ins on wordpress dot warg. A kiss Met actually comes pre installed with every new WordPress installation in its function is to monitor your comments and contact form submissions to protect your site from spam. The jetpack plug in gives you access to a bunch of features that are offered a wordpress dot com users that self hosted WordPress sites don't have out of the box, for example, it has a great stat tracking feature that monitors your traffic and gives you real time audience data at a glance. Bebe Press is a solution for adding forums to your WordPress site, and it's actually the same plug in that wordpress dot warg uses for its support forums. And finally, Yost s CEO is probably the best. WordPress plug in for search engine optimization will actually talk about Yost in depth later in the course. So these are just a few examples. We could talk all day about different plug ins and what they dio, and we'll talk about several specific ones throughout this course. But for now, I just wanted to introduce you to what they are and where to find them before you install a plug in from the WordPress repository. Always check out the reviews to see what other people are saying about it. Does it do what it claims to do? Does it cause any problems or conflict with other plug ins? You'll often find that information in the reviews. You can also purchase premium plug ins from third party vendors, but that's not something you'll need to do very often because most of the functionality you can think of is already covered by free plug ins. On wordpress dot org's 16. [Website] Security & Backups: one of the responsibilities that comes with hosting your own WordPress site is managing your own security and backups. This is a pretty dull subject, and a lot of people tend to put it off for. Just assume it's not that important. But trust me, if your site ever gets hacked, or if you lose a bunch of data and some kind of catastrophe, you're gonna wish you been prepared from the start. We won't spend too much time on this, but I want to go over the essentials so you can protect yourself. Let's start with the most basic thing passwords. Understand that as the administrator of your WordPress site, your password is the only thing stopping an intruder from gaining unfettered control of your site and locking you out. So make sure that your WordPress password is secure, like a complex mix of letters, numbers and symbols. That wouldn't be easy to guess. And don't use it for any other site. On a related note, it's a good idea to use a password manager like last pass to generate and store secure passwords for all of your accounts, not just WordPress. All you have to remember is a single master password. Last past handles the rest, and it's totally free. I highly recommend it. I also recommend you install a plug in called Law Organizer. One of the simplest methods that hackers used to gain access to a site is a brute force attack, which is a trial and error tactic where a baht basically tries random user name and password combinations over and over and over until it finally gets in. This plug in will automatically lock a user out after a set number of unsuccessful log in attempts protecting you from brute force attacks. There are a lot of plug ins out there for backups and security, but there's one in particular that I strongly suggest you use, and that's vault press. Now it is subscription based, so it'll cost you anywhere from 5 to $30 a month, depending on the plan you choose. But I'd say it's well worth it for what you get. So what is Vault Press? It's a service that automatically backs up your data and monitors your site for malware and security flaws. If you ever need to restore back up, you can do it basically with a couple of clicks and vault presses made by the same people who make WordPress so they really know their stuff. Getting set up is Aziz IUs signing up at vault press dot com and then installing the vault press plug in on your site. If you can't justify the cost of vault press yet, there are free plug ins out there, such as word fence for security and back up WordPress for backups. As long as you've got something in place to prepare yourself, you're good. 17. [Website] Analytics & Data: As your blawg grows, you're gonna need a way to monitor your traffic and other key performance indicators. Google Analytics is kind of the industry standard for this, and I encourage you to install it on Day one. It's pretty straightforward to set up just goto analytics dot google dot com, Sign in with your Google account and create a new analytics account for your blawg. It will give you a snippet of code to copy and paste, and you want to make sure it's included on every page of your site. Some WordPress themes have a special field in the theme customizer where you can enter this , But you can also do it with a plug in like Google Analytics by Monster Insights, which automatically adds the tracking code to every page of your site and display some of your traffic stats right within the WordPress dashboard. I'm also a big fan of Jet Pack, which is a plug in that provides a bunch of wordpress dot com features to self hosted users . One of those features is a real time stat tracking interface that's simpler than Google Analytics and great for getting a quick overview of your sites performance. Jetpack also has a lot of other useful features, so it's worth checking out 18. [Ideas] Why You Need A Reliable Ideation System: when it comes to building a successful Blawg, content is everything. I cannot stress this enough. The key to success as a blogger is putting out high quality content consistently. It's actually really simple. The more valuable content you publish, the more opportunities you're gonna have to connect with people, grow your audience and build a profitable business. The first step to publishing good content consistently is coming up with good ideas consistently. That's what this section is all about. We're gonna cover a variety of strategies and tools you can use to find ideas and inspiration for your next piece of content. 19. [Ideas] Creation Begins With Consumption: one of the best things you can do is a content creator is make it a habit to consume lots of content. Renowned author Stephen King has a great book called on Writing a Memoir of the Craft. In it, he discusses how important it is for aspiring writers to dedicate time to reading. He writes. The rial importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing. One comes to the country of the writer with one's papers and identification, pretty much in order. Constant reading will pull you into a place, a mindset if you like the phrase where you can write eagerly and without self consciousness . It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done in what hasn't what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying or dead on the page. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor. Consuming content is also great for idea synthesis. You see, there's really no such thing as an original idea. This is kind of a weird concept to think about, But it's true. What we call new ideas are simply new combinations of existing elements. When you immerse yourself in those existing elements, you can really get your creative juices flowing and encourage the ideation process. Now, when I say you should consume lots of content, I don't just mean content that's relevant to your niche. You should definitely be reading other blog's in your space, but also take the time to read books, science, poetry, history, even social media posts. You'd be surprised how two seemingly unrelated concepts can suddenly click and Forman incredible idea, and often this happens when you least expect it. There's a concept known as unconscious creativity when you're working on a problem and then you stop and do something else. Your unconscious mind keeps working in the background until suddenly you have that light bulb moment in the shower or in your car or in some other situation where you're not actively trying to come up with ideas, so consume lots of content, immerse yourself in all those existing elements and then step back and let unconscious creativity work its magic 20. [Ideas] Conducting A Brain Dump: once again unconscious creativity can play a big role in the ideation process, but you're not always gonna have an epiphany in the shower or on your drive home. Sometimes you need to actively extract those ideas from your mind. One way to do that is by conducting what's called a brain dump. Here's how it works. Set a timer for 3 to 5 minutes to create a sense of urgency. Then just start jotting down content ideas as quickly as possible. You can use sticky notes or a whiteboard or a notebook Doesn't matter. Just come up with many ideas as you can, and get him all written down without filtering your thoughts at all. This is about quantity, not quality. So don't worry about how good or bad your ideas are. Just get them out of your head and worry about refining them later. When the time is up, sort through your ideas. Decide which ones could work and look for any emerging patterns or combinations that could work. You may find that more ideas come to your mind during this process, so be sure to record those as well. At the end of the process, you should have a solid list of ideas that could potentially fit into your content strategy 21. [Ideas] The #1 Tool For Content Research: One of my favorite tools for generating ideas and inspiration for new content is buzz Sumo . This service allows you to see the most popular content on any topic or from any competitors based on social shares and back links. So you would open up buzz sumo dot com Inter a topic related to your industry. This could be broad or specific, and what you get is a list of popular headlines from around the Web thes air, all pieces of content about the topic you entered that performed particularly well. You can click each headline toe open up the original post, but there's also a wealth of data right here on the results page. Under each title, you could see the author, the source in the type of content, whether it's a list or how to article or something else. Then, on the right side, there's an overview of the number of times the post was shared on each of the major social media platforms, including the total number of shares on the far right in the middle column. You can view the back links for each results, see who shared it on Twitter or share yourself, and if these results don't quite meet your needs. There are plenty of filtering options over here on the left. For example, you can narrow the results down to content published in the last 24 hours the past week, the past month, year, two years, five years or a specific range of your choosing. Then, if you want to see a wider variety of sources, you can use this check box toe. Limit your results toe one link per domain, and you could also filter by content, type, language, country, word count and specific domains. You consort the results however you want, and you can use any of these search operators to run a more advanced search, and you're not limited to searching topics. You can also enter a competitors domain name to see what content is performing well. For them. Using buzz Sumo can be a great way to understand the mindset of your target audience and see what types of content they're consuming. It's also an opportunity to see where your competitors may be lacking, for example, topics they're not covering or areas where you may be able to create something better 22. [Ideas] Questions Straight From Your Target Audience: Quora is one of my favorite sites on the Web. It's a Q and A service where people asking answer questions on thousands of different topics, and the questions get answered by real people with riel experience. I don't know if you remember Yahoo's Q and A site, Yahoo answers, but man, it was an absolute disaster, wasn't it? The questions were bad, the answers were bad, and there wasn't really a system in place to keep the community positive and helpful. That's not the case with Cora. They've managed to create an incredible community where you have everyone from car mechanics toe astrophysicists answering questions about their expertise. And if you consider yourself a curious person, it is a joy to use with that in mind, Quarrel can also be an asset for your content creation efforts because it allows you to see what questions people are asking about your industry. So you go to cora dot com Inter a topic and then browse popular questions and answers about that topic. If you click Topic F A Q. You'll see a curated list of the most common questions people have on that topic. You can also browse related topics and do the same with each of those. Just like Buzz Sumo. This is a great way to explore the psyche of your ideal reader. You can see exactly what questions they're asking, what problems they're experiencing, even what words they're using. And aside from just knowing your audience, you can also use core questions as a direct starting point for new content. If a lot of people are asking a particular question and you have the expertise to provide a helpful answer, there's your piece of content. 23. [Ideas] Eavesdropping On Niche Communities: another way to find ideas and inspiration and to get to know your potential audience better is by exploring the places where they hang out online. That is, groups and communities focused on your topic or your industry read. It is a great example of this. If you're not familiar with Reddit, it's a message board website divided into various boards or communities called Subreddit its, which are each focused on a particular topic. Read. It is huge, and there's a subreddit for just about any topic you could think of. I always say that if there at least four people in the world interested in a topic, there's probably a subreddit for it. So see, if you could find a couple of active sub bread, it's that are relevant to your audience and take a look around. I recommend browsing through the top posts and changing the sorting toe all time. For best results, look at the links people are sharing. Read the text posts, pay attention to any recurring questions or themes, and consider how you might be able to apply that information to your content strategy again . Read. It is a great place to do this, but you're gonna want to dive deeper, look for other forums and communities focused on your topic. Dig through the archives and see what conversations are happening. You can also look into Facebook and LinkedIn groups, which are becoming more relevant in the age of social media. Public groups are searchable, so find some relevant groups and do the same thing. Watch for any recurring questions and conversation topics, and you should come away with some solid content ideas straight from the people you hope to serve. And finally, you'll, of course, want to follow the major blog's and publications in your industry as well as your competitors read. Their content may be used buzz Sumo to find the top performing content. And then here's the kicker. Pay attention to what people are saying, Read the comments. See how people are responding on social media? What questions or problems are they still facing? And how can you be part of the solution? That's the goal. After all, providing value in solving people's problems 24. [Ideas] How Your Existing Audience And Content Can Help You Generate New Ideas: I mentioned that you should be following the responses toe other blog's and publications in your industry, and it goes without saying that you should also be monitoring your own comments and social media mentions religiously looking for repeat questions and other trends that you could potentially use for future content. You can also just ask your audience what they want from you by prompting them to leave a comment or having them fill out a survey or even interviewing readers one on one. Nobody knows your audience better than your audience, so ask them about their problems, their struggles, their questions, even their reading habits. If you want to get a closer look into their mind and understand what types of content they like to consume, you can also learn a lot from your past content. Take your most successful content and build on it with supplemental material and use the content that didn't do so well as a learning experience. And, of course, you always want to monitor the analytics for your content not just the traffic but also the demographics of your audience and the keywords people are using to find your site. I've often found myself ranking for a keyword that I hadn't even considered, and that gives me a better perspective of what my audience is looking for specifically, which leads to better future content. So be careful not to overlook your existing audience in your existing content when it comes to generating new ideas. 25. [Writing] The Importance Of Effective Writing: in this section, we're gonna focus on writing, and we're going to explore a variety of methods and principles to help you write more effectively. Now, before we get into this, I do want to reiterate that you don't have to be, ah, Pulitzer Prize winner to be a successful blogger. I think you'll find that you'll improve organically without a lot of focused effort, just by continually writing and publishing content day in and day out. But I also don't want to discount the importance of effective writing, so let's talk a little bit about that. As you can imagine, writing is gonna be the basis of most of the content you create for your blawg. Now, of course, you're not limited to the format of a traditional written blawg post, and we'll actually talk about some other formats later. But even things like audio and video will often require some writing ahead of time. Now, writing is a great way to communicate ideas, but it comes with a certain handicap when compared with in person verbal communication, you've probably heard that body language accounts for a significant portion of human interaction. Facial expressions, posture, eye contact, gestures when you're speaking, all of these things can either support or negate the words you're actually saying. We use body language often unconsciously, to connect with people to gauge character and trustworthiness toe, understand how someone is feeling, and so on. What you say is arguably less important than how you say it. But when it comes to writing and publishing content on the Web, many of those qualities are lost. There's no body language. There's no tone of voice. You're totally reliant on the words themselves, which makes effective writing that much more important. You want to be able to build trust, share ideas, educate people and persuade people all without relying on the help of body language. Beyond that, you have to remember the nature of the world we live in today. At any given moment, there are thousands of people and companies competing for your audiences attention. Why should someone spend five minutes reading your content when they could be doing literally anything else? The world of Web content is more crowded than ever before, and it's only getting more competitive. Some people see that as a bad thing, like the surplus of content is driving down the value of content itself. But the reality is, is the volume of content on the Web increases. So to do the rewards for those who create truly valuable content, that's what you're going for. You want your content to be the needle in the haystack, the diamond among thousands of ordinary rocks. Effective writing can help you achieve that. 26. [Writing] How To Write Irresistible Headlines: one of the most important parts of a good blawg post is an effective headline. The headline is your chance to nail the first impression when people come across your content on social media or in the Google search results, it's gonna be one of two things they're either going to click through and visit your website or they're gonna keep scrolling. The key variable here is the headline, because at this stage, that's the Onley information they have, so it needs to be good. When you're working on a piece of content, I recommend starting with a working title, just something simple to identify what you're working on and guide the general idea of the post. Then, once you're finished with the content itself, come back to the headline and refine it. Sometimes you may find that you ended up taking a slightly different approach than you originally intended, so it's usually smart to write the final headline. After you've written the main content, and when it comes to that final headline, you want to take it pretty seriously. Don't just type out the first thing that comes to your mind and click publish. Remember, the headline is your one chance to grab people's attention, so make sure you're spending enough time on it. I'd say five minutes. At the very least, what I like to do is come up with a list of potential headlines at least five, sometimes 10 or more, and then narrow them down until I have the perfect title. So with that process in mind, what elements do you need to have in that perfect title? First of all, you want something unique. If your headline looks exactly the same as all the other content on your topic, what reason does your audience have to think you have any unique value to offer them? Show a little personality? And don't be afraid to be different. A good example of this that kind of takes it to the extreme is the hilarious viral video that put Dollar Shave Club on the Map Dollar shave club dot com. Our blades are great. Yes, it's edgy. Yes, they took a little bit of a risk dropping an F bomb in an official ad, but here's the thing. It worked. It got people's attention, and it showed people right off the bat. That Dollar Shave Club wasn't just another razor. Brands like Bic or Gillette. Now my advising you to be intentionally edgy and swear in your headlines all the time. Absolutely not. All I'm suggesting here is that you allow your blawg toe have a personality and a unique, authentic style. Whatever that happens to look like for you Next, a good headline is specific. You want to be extremely clear about what you have to offer. So if I was writing a post about how to grow a business with content marketing, a bad headline would be something super general like content, marketing or even how to grow your business. Instead, I'd want to be really specific and say, for example, how I increased my company's sales by 50% using content marketing. That way, the reader knows exactly what to expect, and if they're interested in what I have to offer, they'll click through. You don't have to appeal to everyone, just the people who are actually going to get something out of your post and along the same lines. You want your headline to be useful. It should convey a clear benefit to the reader and the example I just gave you how I increased my company's sales by 50%. Using content marketing. It's extremely clear what the reader is going to learn. Same thing with the Dollar Shave Club video. Our blades are great if you're looking for a great razor blade. Well, there you go. So to summarize, when you're writing headlines, make sure to always offer something unique, make it specific and make it useful. Come up with a list of potential headlines for every post you write and narrow down the list to the best one. You may also want to run it by a couple of friends to get a fresh perspective. In any case, always remember that your headline is your chance to make or break the first impression, so be sure to give it the attention it deserves. 27. [Writing] Matching Your Audience's Tone & Vocabulary: in this lecture, I want to offer a quick tip about your words themselves. It's obviously important that you inspire trust in your audience in one of the best ways to do that is with your tone and your vocabulary. Doing this properly comes down to knowing your audience and understanding what they're looking for. So with your tone, you generally want to match the attitude of your reader. You don't want to be perceived as too academic, for example, or on the other side of the spectrum to juvenile. You have to strike a balance between being conversational and being informative. And what that balance looks like is gonna vary from one topic or audience to another. But the best general advice I can give you here is to be human and authentic. You're not writing an encyclopedia. The same principles apply to your vocabulary. It's always a good idea to use the same words and phrases that your audience uses to describe their problems and pain points. That's a great way to form a connection and show that you truly understand them right, because when someone lands on your site and seize their problem explained exactly the way they describe it, they know right away that you're gonna be able to help them. And that also comes with a more technical benefit when it comes to S CEO or search engine optimization. If you use the words and phrases your target audience is searching for, they're gonna be more likely to find your content when they type those keywords into Google . If you're unsure about any of this, as far as what words to use or how to best communicate with your reader, remember, you can always use the techniques and resource. Is we covered for generating content ideas toe. Also better understand your target audience. 28. [Writing] Creating Focused Content: Here's another quick tip that you may find helpful for creating better content. In general, every piece of content you create should have one core idea or solve one main problem. You never want to try to do too much with a single piece of content. If you try to be everything for everyone, you're going to dilute the value and ultimately put off the people who would otherwise be interested. So start with the problem you want to solve. Prepare the solution or the core idea or whatever message you're trying to get across. And keep that in mind throughout the writing process to keep you on course. Now, just to be clear, it's OK to dive deep into certain aspects of the problem as long as they're relevant. For example, I recently wrote a 46 100 word blawg post with more than 25 different subheadings. But every section and every word of that post was focused on solving one main problem. Step by step. What you don't want to do is go off on some kind of tangent and start talking about something that doesn't actually contribute to the value of the post, so whatever your main goal is whether that's teaching the reader something, arguing a viewpoint selling a product. Keep that in mind and make sure that everything you write supports that goal in some way. 29. [Writing] How Grammatical Errors Can Cripple Your Efforts: If you want to inspire trust in your audience, your writing should be free of errors, and your spelling and grammar should be impeccable. Now look, nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes, and one of the beautiful things about the Internet is that you can usually go back and fix your mistakes even after you've published your content. But the fact of the matter is, people judge you based on your ability to communicate properly. And if your post is littered with grammatical errors, you're going to face judgment. And it's gonna be harder to establish that trust because you're showing a lack of attention to detail. For example, if I'm reading a blawg post about taxes written by a leading accountant and tax expert, but throughout the Post, they're using your instead of your That's gonna cause me to think, whether consciously or unconsciously, how can I trust this person to give me tax advice when they can't even handle basic grammar ? I don't say that to be a jerk. I know some people struggle with that stuff, but it's just the cold, honest truth. People will judge you for your spelling and grammar errors, so you need to take steps to ensure that those errors don't happen. First and foremost, if you haven't already, I would strongly urge you to invest the necessary time to learn and master all the grammatical rules of whatever language you're writing in. That's important. Educating yourself is one of the most effective things you can do and that education is going to continue to pay off for years to come second. And this is especially important if you know you're prone to errors in your writing. Have an editor proof. Read your content before you publish it. If you can catch errors in house before they ever reach your audience, you can have confidence that everything you publish is high quality and error free. Finally, please take advantage of the technology you have at your disposal to improve your writing. Your standards fell check is great for typos and some basic grammatical errors, But if you really want a comprehensive safety net, I recommend you check out Graham early, which gives you real time context based feedback on the mechanics, usage, grammar and spelling in your writing. It's basically like having an editor looking over your shoulder at all times, which is really helpful. So with all of that in mind, hopefully you see why error free writing is so important and what you can do to ensure your writing against those pesky grammar mistakes. 30. [Writing] How To Become A Better Writer: to close out this section. I want to talk about some things you can do to become a better writer. Overall, good writing isn't an ability. You're just born with it, the skill you have to practice and develop over time. So the number one thing you can do to improve your writing is to write and write often. Write in a journal, use different styles, cover different topics, even try your hand at fiction. What matters is that you're always improving your ability to communicate using the written word. If you're looking for some quick, actionable ways to improve your writing here, a few tips. First of all, one of the best ways to strengthen your writing is to use the active voice as much as you can. You see in English. There are two main voices you can use in your writing. The active voice in the passive voice. The distinction is simple. Is the subject of the sentence doing the action, or is the subject having the action done to them? Here's an example. You could say Louise kicked the ball across the field, or the ball was kicked across the field by Louise, which one of these sounds better, probably the 1st 1 and that's because it uses the active voice. The subject of the sentence. Louise is doing the action. Louise kicked the ball in the second case, the subject of the sentence. The ball is having an action done to it. The ball was kicked. There are some cases where the passive voice makes sense, but most of the time you're much better off using the active voice. Next, let's talk about contractions. If you've ever written an academic paper, you've probably been told not to use contractions. Words like your there don't aren't isn't and so on. While contractions may not be appropriate for an academic setting, blogging tends to be more casual and conversational. Like I said earlier, you're not writing an encyclopedia. You want to match the style and tone of your audience, and usually that includes using contractions on a similar note. You want your content to be approachable, even for people who may not be experts on your topic. After all, that's usually why people come to you in the first place because you're the expert. So I recommend simplifying your vocabulary and avoiding excessive jargon, a great litmus test for one's understanding of a topic is whether they can effectively explain it to a child. Keep that in mind and always imagine you're writing for an audience that has no experience with your topic unless you know for sure that your audience has a certain level of knowledge. For example, if you write for an audience of physicians, one of the most important tasks you have to accomplish as a writer is keeping your reader's interest. That's especially true in today's world, where as soon as somebody gets bored, they're clicking on to something else. One of the best ways to keep people engaged is to make your content easy to skim short sentences and short paragraphs ideally broken up by subheadings and images. If your post is just one giant wall of text, nobody's gonna want to read it. Try to break your writing up and make it easier to digest. The next thing we need to discuss is one of the most common pitfalls in writing, and that is an overuse of modifiers like adjectives and adverbs. Adverbs in particular, are often unnecessary, and I don't think I could explain it any better than Stephen King in this great excerpt from his book on writing. Consider the sentence. He closed the door firmly. It's by no means a terrible sentence. At least it's got an active verb going for it. But ask yourself if firmly really has to be there. You can argue that it expresses a degree of difference between he closed the door and he slammed the door and you'll get no argument from me. But what about context? What about all the enlightening not to say emotionally moving prose, which came before he closed the door firmly. Shouldn't this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing pros does tell us, isn't firmly an extra word, isn't it redundant? That's the end of the quote by Stephen King. I always reference that when I talk about over using adverbs, the idea here isn't to use zero adverbs just to use them sparingly and finally, editing. Is Justus important as writing Now you could hire an editor to look over your work, but I think self editing is a valuable skill that people too often neglect. After you write your first draft, walk away for a bit, do something else and then come back when your mind is fresh. At this point, you want to start cutting your content down. Be merciless here. You want your writing to be as clear and concise as possible, so you have to remove the fluff. Keep in mind that every piece of content should have one core idea or solve one main problem. Anything that doesn't contribute to that should be cut. And by the way, even if you're great itself editing, it still doesn't hurt to run your content by somebody else just to get a fresh perspective . So that's it. Those air some of the most actionable pointers I can offer you if you want to improve your writing and create better content. Like I said, it does take time and effort to develop the skill of good writing. But those are all things you can start doing to become a more effective writer today, so I hope you put them into action 31. [Content Types] Exploring Various Types Of Content: As I'm sure you know, there are many different types of content you can create to serve your audience. But the interesting thing is, as we discussed earlier, there are no completely original ideas. Everything you create is simply a new combination of existing elements in this section. I want to arm you with some of those existing elements. More specifically, we're going to talk about some of the most common and effective types of blawg content and how you can take the concepts behind them and apply them to your own strategy. 32. [Content Types] How To Create Epic List Content: If you've been on the Internet at all over the last few years, you know that list posts or list IQ. ALS are extremely popular, and it's not hard to understand why. They're easy to skim their share a ble and they don't require a ton of mental energy to digest, which is great for today's forever distracted world. The structure of list content is pretty simple. You start with an introduction, and then you have your list items usually divided by subheadings, and at the end you have a conclusion and hopefully a call to action. But I advocate a slightly different approach to lists that will really set you apart from the competition and that is going really deep into each list item with meticulous detail and explanations, as well as rich media like images and videos. This gives you an opportunity to serve two distinct audiences, the people who just want to skim and the people who want more substance. The skimmers can just browse the subheadings in the first few lines of your explanations, and the readers can get every juicy detail that you have to offer. It's a win win. So as an example, if I were writing a list of the 10 best ways to improve your content marketing. I wouldn't just write a bullet point list and call it a day. That's the lazy approach, and naturally it comes with mediocre results. Instead, I'd essentially write a mini tutorial for each list item detail ing every step for each of strategies in the list. See, this is how you set yourself apart by doing what your competitors aren't willing to dio. The result is your content will be more detailed and therefore more valuable and therefore more visible because people are going to share it, reference it linked to it, and you get to reap the rewards. And by the way, it's worth mentioning that lists also lend themselves to incredibly catchy in terrible headlines. Something about the number in the title just makes it enticing. I'm sure you've seen sites like Buzzfeed and up worthy, having huge success with this, um, as a subcategory of list content, I think checklists are also worth mentioning here because they're a powerful form of content in their own right, with a checklist. The goal is to create a list of items, products or actions that are necessary for a particular task or goal. So you compile everything that people need into a neatly packaged list, and you've got a valuable share, a bowl piece of content. 33. [Content Types] Teaching Your Audience With Guides & Tutorials: how to guides and tutorials are a cornerstone of blogging and one of the most straightforward ways to provide value by teaching people how to do something. In my experience, tutorials are the single best way to drive sustainable long term traffic with a single piece of content. So how do you write a good tutorial? Well, you want to start by clearly stating the objective. Every tutorial should have a specific goal or outcome, and you want to make sure that's established right out of the gate. In both your headline Andrew introduction tutorials could be long or short. It really just depends on the complexity of the task and how long it takes to walk the reader through it. Typically, I recommend formatting each of your steps as subheadings with more information under each one. That's especially true if you're writing a longer tutorial with a lot of steps. Now, when you're teaching someone to do something, it's very important that you're clear and concise. You want to make the process as easy as possible for the reader, so be sure to spell everything out, making no assumptions about the readers current knowledge. But at the same time, be careful not to go overboard with unnecessary details that may overwhelm them. Use your best judgment and try to strike a good balance. Next. Almost every tutorial would benefit from the use of visuals like photos, screenshots or videos. A tutorial with visual elements is much easier to follow than a giant wall of text. Before you publish your tutorial, follow the steps yourself to make sure you covered everything and maybe even have a friend or somebody else run through it as well to give you feedback. This is especially helpful if the person who's helping you doesn't have a lot of experience doing with the tutorial is explaining, because then you can gauge whether you explained everything clearly. And finally, if you have a comments section, make sure to monitor your comments, answer questions, offer support and update the tutorial. If you notice any recurring questions or problems 34. [Content Types] Two Approaches To Q&A Content: another great type of content is Q and A. Questions and answers are always a good starting point, and it's another straightforward way to provide value. Your audience has questions, and you have answers as far as what questions to answer. We kind of talked about that in the Ideas section. There are so many places to get to know your audience and see what questions they're asking . One of my favorites again is Cora. There's just so much information on that site, not just in the answers themselves, but in the wealth of public data you can find on a topic page. The most frequently asked questions. How many people are following each question and so on? There are a couple of ways to approach Q and A content. You can write a long list style post answering a bunch of related questions in one place where you can write a single post answering a single question in detail. Neither of these approaches is necessarily superior. They each have their strengths. So, for example, if I were to write a post listing, say, the top 15 questions asked by new content marketers that could be really valuable for people who fall into that demographic, and it's gonna be really share a bowl. But if I write a post answering just one question and using the question itself as my headline, that gives me the opportunity to rank on Google and other search engines when people search for that question, When it comes to actually writing your answer, make sure you do some research and see what's already out there and determine how you convey, dive deeper or offer more value than the competition. For example, if a question is really popular on Cora, Cora is almost certainly gonna outrank you when people search for that question just because it's such a popular, authoritative site. But you can still stand a fighting chance by creating something that's better and more valuable than any of the answers on Quora and then promoting it accordingly. 35. [Content Types] Interviews & Profiles: an interview is an excellent type of content for almost any topic. The idea is to find an expert in your industry, reach out to them and ask them questions about their expertise. It's a great way to provide enormous value to your audience while also leveraging the authority of the person you're interviewing to boost the credibility of your brand. So how do you conduct a great interview? You want to start by choosing the right format? A face to face interview can be great, but more often, phone or Skype interviews end up being more practical. To talk to someone face to face. You have to be in the same location at the same time. You have to fit into the person schedule, and it often consumes a lot more time than necessary. On interview by phone or video. Chat is a lot easier to set up. It eliminates travel time, and it's still pretty easy to build, report and have a real conversation. You can do email interviews, but they generally don't turn out as well. A spoken interviews make sure you're recording the interview and ideally have a backup method just in case something goes wrong. So, for example, you could be recording video and then have a separate audio recorder running where you could have a microphone and then be taking hand written notes at the same time. You never want to get to the end of an interview and realize you have nothing to show for it. Trust me. Um, before you interview someone, be sure to do your homework, read everything they've written. Know their story, check out the interviews they've done in the past. Make sure you're prepared in terms of the interview itself. Keep it conversational. Don't give the person a list of questions in advance. You don't want canned responses. You obviously want to have some questions in a general roadmap planned out. But don't be afraid to go off course and ask follow up questions. You wanna listen to what they're saying being active listener and treat it more like a discussion than an interrogation. With that said, you also don't want to talk too much yourself. Try to keep the focus on the other person. Interviews can work well in just about any format. You can do video. You can do audio. You can write it up as an article and even publish a full transcript. Whatever you think will be the most valuable format for your audience. If you want to go deeper, you could also do a profile, which is basically a mini biography or documentary of a person or company in your industry . Usually, this begins with an interview, but you also want to do some additional research and include other relevant information to tell a complete story. After interviewing and profiling hundreds of people and companies over the last few years, this is easily one of my favorite content format. 36. [Content Types] Where A List Meets An Interview: the next type of content I want to cover. An expert roundup is essentially a combination of a list post. In an interview, you may find that the most prominent experts in your industry are busy and simply don't have time for an extended interview. That's okay. We can work around that with a roundup style post, where we ask a bunch of different experts one question, and then compile their answers for our audience. Even the busiest people who would have no chance of interviewing for an hour may have time to answer one question For you. The process is pretty simple. Email. All the leading experts in your space. Let them know what you're doing and ask them if they'd kindly answer one question for you. For example, you could ask for their number, one piece of advice, their favorite tools or products or something more specific, like how they'd handle a particular problem. Once you've got some responses, all you have to do is compile them together, and you've got an extremely valuable piece of content showing the various thoughts and perspectives from the captains of your industry. There's another approach to this type of content that doesn't even require an interview. Ah, people to follow list. I'm sure you've seen these. A good example is entrepreneur dot com's 50 online marketing influencers To watch. This is basically a who's who of your industry, a list of people you feel are worth following and why structure it like a list post. Start with the person's name. Write up a short blurb about who they are and why they matter, and be sure to include any relevant links like their website or their Twitter account. Expert roundups are valuable in and of themselves because they introduce your audience to important figures they should know about. But they also generate some extra buzz when the experts themselves share them. If someone takes the time to answer your question or offer some advice for your roundup, or even if they just find themselves featured unexpectedly and your people to follow list more often than not, they want to share that content with their own audience. 37. [Content Types] How To Write Valuable Reviews & Comparisons: another great type of content that you've probably seen and used yourself many times is a review. Reviews are pretty self explanatory. You take a look at a product or service that's relevant to your audience and provide an honest review of your thoughts and experiences breaking down the good and the bad. The goal of a good review is to inform the readers buying decision. You want to give them all the information they need to make an informed choice. The most important thing here is to be completely honest. Your reviews should serve your audience, not the brand or the product itself. If a product is amazing, you should say so. But if it sucks, be honest about that and recommend against buying it. I found the best way to write a review is to start with a brief summary. Go ahead and disclose your recommendation right up front. Is the product worth buying or not? Then break the product down into the most important categories. For example, if you were reviewing a pair of wireless headphones, you could divide your review into sections for sound quality, noise canceling, connective ity, battery life and so on. And for each of these categories, you want to provide a detailed analysis of your experience, both the good and the bad. I like to close a review with a list of pros and cons and in the bottom line, where I explain whether I recommend the product or not. The natural extension of a review is a comparison where you compare to similar products that are competing in the same market. In this case, you want to go over the details of each product, but focus specifically on the key differences between the two. For example, this pair of headphones has longer battery life, but this other pair offers superior sound quality. Things like that. When you're comparing to products, you may find that there is a clear cut winner, in which case you should say so. But often one product or the other may be better suited for a particular group of people. So you could say the pair of headphones with really good battery life is great for the traveler who's always on the go. But the pair, with better sound quality, is better suited for the audio file. Who wants the best possible sound experience again? The goal is to provide helpful information to inform the audiences buying decisions. Keep that in mind 38. [Content Types] Working News Into Your Content Strategy: news content is a great way to keep your audience up to date on what's happening in your industry. News is interesting because it usually won't drive long term traffic, but it can drive a substantial amount of short term traffic if you do it well. In my experience, there are two distinct approaches that are really effective. Either be the first or be the best. If you're the first person to cover an important story, you'll naturally get a lot of shares in traffic and links as the original source. But if you're not first and let's be honest most of the time you won't be. You can spend some extra time to offer additional context and analysis that the original source may have neglected. For example, you could explain the implications of a story, how it applies to your audience and what they specifically need to know about it. You don't need to cover every single thing that happens in your industry, just the stories that actually impact your audience. In fact, you shouldn't feel obligated to do news content at all unless doing so provides some kind of value to your audience. Providing value is always the number one goal 39. [Content Types] Creating Valuable Roundups & Resource Lists: so we talked about expert roundups. But another type of content that may fit into your strategy is a link round up. This is exactly what it sounds like, a collection of links that you feel your audience should know about. I used to do a weekly round up for the tech industry, where I compiled the most important news and the best thought in opinion pieces. Every single week. You could do something like that, or you could go with a more evergreen approach where you compiled the best articles, videos, tools or resource is on a given topic. When you're curating content like this, you'll want to be very selective. The way to create the best round up is to fill throughout all the noise and compile the absolute best content for your audience. Spend some time summarizing each links so people know exactly what they're getting and neatly package it into a nice, cohesive list. A link roundup is pretty easy to write because you're curating other people's content rather than creating your own. But it's still valuable because it saves your readers from having to do the research themselves 40. [Content Types] Thought, Opinion, And Controversy: next up, we have thought in opinion content, your mileage may vary with this one, depending on your brand in your personal style. But opinion pieces are a great way to go deeper with your content and encourage reader engagement. Consider an issue that's important to your audience and take a side elaborate on your position with logical arguments and help the reader understand your point of view. You don't wanna come across his preachy, so allow some room for disagreement, but at the same time, assert your position and don't be wishy washy. Interestingly, controversy is very good for traffic and engagement. I don't think you should actively seek out controversy, but I will say that any time I've taken a stance on a controversial issue, it has generated a lot of buzz. Now, of course, I'm talking about things that pertain to your audience and your niche. Politics and religion and other heavy, divisive topics are usually not gonna fit into your strategy. Unless, of course, you're blawg is about one of those particular things, in which case go for it. But if you're gonna weigh in on an issue, make sure it's something that actually matters to your audience specifically. For example, a few years ago I wrote a series of posts about a large guest blogging network that was using some let's say, questionable tactics to game search engine rankings for the members of their network. I took a hard stance against that, and while I took a lot of hate from the network itself and some of its members, my coverage was widely credited for spurring Google to take action against them. So even though it was controversial, my content was informative and persuasive. It was relevant to my audience in the tech and business world, and as a bonus it resulted in an actual solution to the problem. 41. [Content Types] Statistics & Original Research: One of the great things about the Internet is that it places what is essentially the collective knowledge of the world at our fingertips. That's a key part of what people use the Web for when they're not connecting with other people. They're searching for information. So naturally it makes sense that you, as a content creator, could be a source of that information. Some of my most popular posts have been data oriented articles with facts and figures surrounding a particular topic. Search engines love this stuff, So if you can compile some relevant statistics from various sources and present it in a way that's valuable to your audience, you should be able to drive a good amount of long term traffic. Now, of course, you want to give credit where it's due in sight, all of your sources, so people know where you're getting your information. If you want to take facts and statistics to the next level, you can publish original research by conducting your own studies and surveys and sharing the results. You can become a credible and authoritative source for research in your industry. Something to keep in mind, though, if you're publishing original research it's important to do it scientifically. Make sure you include your hypothesis or research. Question the purpose of the study, the specific details of your methodology, your sample size and so on. You want to be as transparent as possible. Then, of course, you will report the results of the study and share your interpretations and possible implications of your findings. 42. [Content Types] Presenting Complex Data For Visual Learners: sticking with the theme of research and statistics. Infographics are a great way to make complex data and information easy to digest. You can create an infographic using data from your own research, which is a great way to complement the article. Or again, you can just collect relevant data from other sources and visualize it. If you have design skills, you can create infographics in house, and that shouldn't be a problem. But you can also outsource that part of the process, and it could be well worth the investment to do. So you compile the data, hire 1/3 party designer on a freelance site and then publish and promote it. The great thing about Infographics is that they're ridiculously share a bowl, especially if you take steps to make sure they get shared. So the first thing I'd recommend doing is offering an embed code right there with the infographic on your site. Just a few lines of HTML that people can use to re share the infographic along with, and this is the key, a link back to your site. You can also take a PR approach to promoting infographics, reach out to bloggers and journalists in your industry, show them the infographic and offer to let them republish it for their audience. It's a great way to generate some buzz while also providing value to these other people who are looking for valuable content to share. So again, an infographic is a great way to present complex data for visual learners, and it's incredibly share a bowl, so it may be worth working into your content strategy. 43. [Content Types] How To Write A Case Study That Turns Readers Into Customers: a case study is a really effective type of content if you have a business and you're trying to promote your products or services now, I know I've repeatedly said that your primary goal should always be to provide free value. Constantly. Touting your products is not the best way to build trust with your readers, but there's a time and a place for everything in a case. Study is a rare opportunity were bragging about your businesses. Offerings can actually provide value to your audience. So first of all, what is a case study? A Case study tells the story of how you've helped a particular customer solve a problem, often with quotes or testimonials from the customer themselves. Social proof is important in a case. Study is the ultimate form of social proof. So how do you write an effective case study? Well, first, you want to be sure to select the right candidate. Whoever you profile in your case study should have extensive knowledge of your product, enthusiasm about your business and impressive results to back up that enthusiasm. So reach out to some of your top customers, let them know that they're special and important to you and asked them to help tell their story, not your story. Their story. It's important to make them the focus. When you get somebody on board, move forward with an interview process, talk to them about their experiences, ask open ended questions and learn more about their problems and how your business has contributed to the solution. A good case Studies should be structured as a story in this case, the customer. Your profiling is the main character you're telling it. From their point of view. They faced some sort of conflict or problem. They tried X, y and Z. But those methods didn't work, and eventually they overcame the odds and used your business to finally resolve the problem . That's a case study in a nutshell. Now, when you're talking about results, you want to be a specific as possible. For example, if I was doing a case study on how I helped a client with their content marketing efforts, I could say that they were able to triple their traffic or double their conversions. But those phrases air kind of ambiguous, right? I could have taken a company from 10 page views a month to 30 and that would technically count as tripling their traffic, even though the end result was only 20 more page views. It be much more effective if I said that I helped grow a client's traffic from, say, 20,000 page views to 60,000 page views. So use hard facts and concrete data as much as you can. But, of course, make sure you have the customers permission to share anything that may be somewhat private . So those are some things to keep in mind when you're writing a case study again. This is a rare opportunity toe openly tout the benefits of your products, but make sure you always do so within the context of a story. This is a great way to provide value to your audience when they're in the stage, where they're deciding whether your business may be able to help them. That social proof, that story, of how you help someone else can make all the difference 44. [Repurposing] Exploring Alternative Content Formats: Usually when you think of Blawg content, you think of a standard text. Blawg post now might have some images and videos and stuff like that embedded. But when it comes to the core content, what most people think of is text. But I'd like to challenge that assumption a little bit because we as bloggers, are by no means limited to the written word. There are so many different content formats you can deploy to get your message across, and it's worth exploring some of the different options to see which formats best suit your personal skill set as well as the preferences of your audience. So video is a great example. We're actually living in the golden age of online video. So many companies are turning the video as their primary medium for storytelling. And for a lot of consumers, it's the ideal way to consume media. So if you're good on camera, or if you find video to be compelling, you could experiment with putting out video content instead of just text. There are a couple of ways to do that. You could just upload videos directly to your site, but what most people tend to prefer is uploading videos to YouTube and then just embedding the videos in WordPress. That way, the video is hosted by YouTube, so you don't have to worry about the extra strain on your server. And you also get the added benefit of being discoverable on the actual YouTube platform, which is a great way to start growing an audience. Podcasting is another medium that's been exploding lately. I actually hosted a roundtable podcast for a few years, and that was enormous fund to dio. So if you think audio may play well with your audience, give it a try. It's pretty easy to set up a podcast in WordPress. Personally, I always use the power press plug in. You just create a regular blawg post. Attach your audiophile with power press and you're good to go. Here's a little bonus tip. If you're on a budget and want to start podcasting while keeping your expenses to a minimum , pick up the audio. Technica, 80 are 2100. This is, Ah, high quality, affordable microphone that works over both USB and XLR and then use the free program audacity for your recording and editing. So again there's video. There's audio if you have design skills, you could do infographics or something like that. The point here is that you're not limited to the traditional text block post. Feel free to take the content ideas we covered earlier in this section and adapt them to a format that works for you. 45. [Repurposing] How To Generate An Infinite Stream Of Fresh Content: in this lecture, I'm going to share with you a strategy used by some of the world's most prolific content creators to generate what seems like an infinite stream of fresh content. So as we saw when you're creating content for your blawg, you have a number of different formats to choose from. You can do regular written posts. You could do audio. You could do video. You can do other visual formats. You have plenty of options at your disposal, and it can actually be in your interest to do more than one. You see when you create a piece of content in one format, there's a huge opportunity there to repurpose that content and share it again in a different format. You can use that as a way to promote the original content or to deliver the same message to a completely different audience. You can turn video into text and audio. You could turn text into video and audio. You can turn text into an infographic. You can turn audio in the video with slides. Our animation, you can turn block posts into social media content by sharing quotes and graphics. The possibilities here are endless repurpose ING is one of the most valuable secrets of content creation because it's such a simple and effective way to extract additional value from your existing content and to grow your audience by reaching people who may prefer a different format. 46. [Repurposing] Watch Me Turn One Video Interview Into More Than A Dozen Pieces Of Content: in this lecture, I want to give you a concrete example to illustrate the impact that repurpose ing can have on your content strategy and just how much of a competitive advantage you'll have as a result. So let's say you interview Ah, high profile thought leader in your industry, and let's say it's a video interview. That kind of interview by itself is an amazing opportunity to generate traffic and links and social shares and build authority and credibility around your brand simply by having that influence there, come and talk to you. But if you just post the video and call it a day, as most people would, you're not really squeezing all the juice out of the orange. There's still a lot of untapped potential in that one piece of content. So here's what I would do in that situation. First of all, when I initially post the interview, I'd uploaded to YouTube and then embed the video on my site. That way, the video is discoverable on the YouTube platform, so I have the potential to reach a lot of people who wouldn't otherwise know about me or my brand. So again I'd embed the YouTube video in a blawg post. Then I'd write up a quick introductory paragraph summarizing kind of the main points of the interview, and below that I would transcribe the entire interview to text every word. That way, if somebody comes along and wants to read the interview rather than watch it, they can do that. And having that transcript There also helps with search traffic, because search engines are a lot better at understanding text than video. So that's the initial post. I've already done a lot more than my competitors probably would, but I am far from finished. An interview with an influencer can be a great source of social media content, so I pull out a few of the most impactful quotes and tweet them out over the next few days , making sure to tag the person and link back to the interview. Then I'd use those same quotes to create some beautiful graphics using a tool like Can Va or Pablo by Buffer. And I'd post those on Instagram and Facebook again, making sure to tag the person and direct people to the original video. I might even make a short highlight reel of some of the best one liners of the interview and share that on Instagram as well. Then if I have a podcast, I convert the video toe audio and release it as a podcast episode, and I probably just recording intro and an outro so my listeners understand the context of what they're hearing. We're still not done here. We can actually go a little bit further and craft another blonde post with a headline like The Three Most Valuable Lessons I learned from Whatever the person's name is here. We're appealing to a slightly different audience, people who may not have timeto watch or read an entire long form interview but are still interested in getting a condensed version of the main points. Then you can even repurpose that post a little bit. Turn it into a podcast episode, where you elaborate on what you learned and why it matters. Maybe tweet out bits and pieces of what you learned, make more graphics and so on. Think about what I just did. I took one video interview and managed to turn it into a dozen or more individual pieces of content. Most people are not willing to put in that extra effort which makes it a great opportunity to set yourself apart by providing more value than the competition. And you know what? It's not even that difficult, since you're just repurpose ing existing content rather than creating something entirely new. It's not like you have to go back and interview that person again and again to create these other pieces of content. You're just creating them from what you already have. So see if you could work this little trick into your content strategy. It's simple, but very, very powerful. 47. [SEO] A Brief Introduction To SEO: in this section, we're gonna cover a topic that's essential to understand If you want to be able to drive a consistent stream of free traffic to your website every single day, and that is S E O, which is shorthand for search engine optimization. Most websites rely on search engines like Google as a primary driver of traffic. And as I'm sure you know, from first hand experience, if not as a publisher than as a user, the difference between appearing on Page one and Page to convene a difference between hundreds of thousands or even millions of impressions, page views and potential leads and sales. And it's even competitive. On Page one, a study by Katica found that the number one result on Google gets a whopping 32.5% of the traffic, with the second result getting 17.6% and it just declines from there. When you get down to the 10th result, you're only looking at 2.4% of the traffic for that particular search term. So it's easy to see why search engine optimization, or seo, is such a hot topic. If you want to maximize your exposure in the search results. You need to make sure your site is following all the best practices that Google and other search engines have come to expect. Now, whenever I talk about S e o, I like to preface my advice with the fact that there are a ton of shady s CEO tactics out there. But I'm not a fan of those, and we're not going to cover them in this course. You see my philosophy not just in S e O, but in all of marketing is one of long term value. I think you'll gain a lot more by playing the long game and focusing on the quality of your content than by employing spammy short term tactics that may come back to haunt you in the future. Let me give you an example. Years ago, sleazy marketers realised they could get a lot of back links, which are kind of the currency of S E. O, by going to thousands of random blog's and leaving incoherent comments with links back to their sites that actually worked for a while. But eventually Google got wise and penalized all of them Well, At the time I was the editor of a popular tech blawg that had been absolutely ravaged by the Spammy comments. And I started getting emails from companies begging me, even offering money in some cases to remove the spammy comments there Old s CEO agency had left on their behalf because those links were now negatively impacting their search rankings. Please don't make that mistake. S CEO is a long term game. You can get plenty of back links by earning them over time and doing other kinds of legitimate promotion. If you feel the need to game the system, your content probably isn't good enough. So you should focus on fixing that first. What we are going to cover in this section is on site S CEO. That is optimizing your sights, code and content to maximize your visibility on Google and other search engines. There are a wide variety of factors that influence your search rankings, and you can't control all of them. But it's important to optimize the things you can control to put yourself in a position to succeed. That's what this section of the course is about. 48. [SEO] Understanding Search Engines: If you want your content to rank highly in search engines, it helps to look at things from their perspective and understand what they're actually looking for, What exactly, to search engines want, and how can you leverage that to your advantage? The main goal of every search engine is to serve its users by delivering the most relevant high quality results for any given search query. This single statement covers the two most important aspects of S e o relevance and quality . For example, if someone goes to Google and search is how to build a website, Google's job is to return a list of high quality pages that explain how to build a website . It doesn't want to show you a page explaining how to cook an egg that wouldn't be relevant , but it also doesn't want to show you a page about building a website. That's not actually helpful, because while it may be relevant, that wouldn't be considered high quality. The system isn't perfect, but the goals are always the same relevance in quality. Before you worry about title tags or meta descriptions or any of the more technical aspects of S. E. O, you need to make sure the content of your site is relevant to your target audience and better than what your competitors have to offer. And by the way, quality isn't just about your content. Your website itself also has to provide a positive user experience. For example, it should be mobile friendly. It should load as quickly as possible, and it shouldn't be littered with obtrusive ads. More on that later. But for now, keep these two words in mind whenever you think about Seo relevance and quality. Now that you understand the primary goal of a search engine, let's take a look at how it accomplishes that goal. So first, search engines create an index of the Web using a special program called a WebCrawler, which is basically a robot that automatically browses the Web and records information about the pages visits every time it visits a page, it scans the content, makes a copy of the page, adds the U R L to an index and then follows all the links on the page and repeats the same process for each one. Skin the content. Make a copy index the URL follow the links. Repeat. This gives the search engine, a massive index of pages that it can then use to help its users find things on the Web. But with so many indexed pages, how does it determine which results to show? Well, it uses a special algorithm that looks at various signals to determine which pages are worth ranking for a particular keyword. In Google's case, that algorithm is called page rank. So to give you an example, links are an extremely important ranking signal for pay drink. The more links that point to a page, the more useful it appears to the algorithm. And that makes sense if a lot of people think a page is worth linking to, it's probably also something Google will want to show in its search results. But it's not just about the number of links. In fact, that matters a lot less than it used to. Today, quality is far more important than quantity, so one link from a reputable authority site will give you more of a boost than several links from smaller websites. Pay drink also looks at other signals, like when and how often the page is updated, whether the domain is considered trustworthy, as well as a number of technical factors which will cover shortly 49. [SEO] Basic Site Setup For SEO: in this lecture, we're gonna take a look at a couple of basic things you can do is part of your initial set up toe. Optimize your site for search engines. First and foremost, you need to make sure you're allowing search engines to crawl and index your site before a Web crawler visits your site. It looks for a file on your server called robots dot txt. This file dictates whether the crawler is allowed to visit your site at all and whether you'd like any areas of your site excluded from the search results. This is a really powerful file, and it can be helpful if you want to customize which parts of your site get indexed and which parts that don't. Which bots are allowed to visit your site in which aren't and so on and so forth. But being that it is so powerful, you need to be careful and make sure you know what you're doing. If you decide to edit it, the last thing you want to do is start blocking all bots from visiting your site and suddenly disappear from the search results. WordPress manages your robots dot txt file dynamically, and it makes it very easy to toggle the global setting for that file right from your reading settings page, there's a check box at the bottom that says Discourage search engines from indexing this site. If you want your site to appear in search engines, make sure that box is not checked. It's off by default, but since it is just a check box and be pretty easy to enable it by accident, so be careful with that. The next thing to consider is the Perma link structure. For your content. This determines what your post you RL's look like. This is important because search engines use the content of your You are else as one of many ranking signals that determine whether your page is relevant. If you're your l contains the key word you're trying to rank for. That will give you a slight advantage. So to customize your permit links in WordPress, click Perma links under the Settings menu in your dashboard. The default structure looks like this. It's pretty ugly, just a cryptic post I D number, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to people or to search engines when you change your link structure. to something containing the name of your post. You have the opportunity to include keywords in your your else. I prefer to keep things simple and use the post name structure. But if for whatever reason, you'd prefer to have dates in your links, you can do that as well. As long as the post name is in there, you're good now, a word of warning. If you've already got an established site up and running, be careful not to do anything that would break your existing links. You don't want to lose the search crowd You've already worked hard to attain. Finally, the age old question to Www or not to Www. Most Web servers are set up so you can access a site with or without the www dot prefix. This can sometimes present a problem with search engines, because in their eyes, the www version of your site is actually a separate website from your top level domain. So they see two websites with the exact same content, and you end up competing with yourself. Now, search engines have gotten ah, lot smarter in the way they handle this, but I say better safe than sorry, choose the version you like better make sure the other version redirects to your preferred version and specify your preference on the General Settings page in WordPress, there's no S e o benefit to choosing one or the other. It's really just a matter of personal preference. 50. [SEO] The Best SEO Plugin For WordPress: There are a ton of S E o plug ins for WordPress. But Yost s CEO has risen above the rest, and it's really become the industry standard for WordPress Seo. It's literally the first plug in I install on every new site. Yost takes all the headaches out of the more technical aspects of S E O page titles, meta descriptions, site maps, and it really makes optimization a breeze. The basic version of Yost is completely free. There are premium upgrades available, but honestly, the paid features are kind of overkill for most users. So head over to the plug in section in your WordPress dashboard. Click add new search for Yost s CEO and install the plug in. Once it's installed, you'll see a new S CEO option in the main WORDPRESS menu. This is where you'll manage all the various s CEO options that Yost provides feel free to poke around but will cover all the essentials in this section. 51. [SEO] Optimizing Your Page Titles: the first thing you want to do with the Yost s CEO plug in is optimized Your page Titles Page titles Determine what you see in your browser tab when you visit your site, and they also dictate how your site appears in the search results. The page title is the first line for each result, so it's your chance to make a great first impression. In just a moment. We'll use Yost to go ahead and configure our page titles. But first, what does a good page title look like? Well, first, it goes without saying that every title should be descriptive and enticing to encourage people to click through. Next. The keywords you want a rank for should appear early in your page titles. This is for two reasons. First, search engines give more ranking weight to the early words. And second, when people quickly skim through the search results, they're going to see the early words first. So if your keywords appear early in your page titles, you're gonna be more likely to rank highly, and people are gonna be more likely to click through to your site. It's also a good idea to include your site name in your titles for the sake of brand recognition, but you'll want that to appear at the end. So to summarize, good titles are descriptive and enticing. Contained your target keyword, preferably at the beginning, and contain your brand name, preferably at the end. So to configure your global title settings, click search Appearance under the S E O menu in WordPress. The first setting here is your title separator. This is simply a separator symbol that appears between different elements of your title, like your post title in your site name. This is totally arbitrary. Just pick the one you like, the best below that you can set the title for your home page by default. It's just the name of your site, followed by a page number, which only appears if you're on page two or three or whatever of your blawg. You can customize this using a number of variables or by simply typing in a custom title of your own. Next, click over to the content types tab. On this page, you can set the default title template for your posts and pages. Yost's default arrangement contains these elements. The title of your post a page number, which again only appears if you're on at least page two of your comments section in this case, then we have our separator symbol and then the site title. Visually, this would typically translate to something like this, Given that your post titles will likely contain your target keywords, this is a perfect configuration. It meets all of our requirements for a good title. If your title structure doesn't look like this, I'd recommend changing it. So it does. You can then use the tabs at the top of this page to adjust your titles for media attachments. Taxonomy is such as your categories and tags and archive pages, making sure to follow the same principles for each of those. Yost also allows you to set a custom title for an individual post or page overriding the default template. This is a great way to optimize for a specific keyword and ensure your search snippet looks exactly the way you want without editing the actual name of your post or page. After you install the Yost plug in a new Yost s CEO panel becomes available on the Post editor. This panel gives you an idea of how your page will appear in the search results. You can click edit snippet to customize your page title using variables, plain text or combination of the two. This colored bar under the title field indicates whether your page title is too long to be fully displayed, shorter than recommended or just right. Ideally, you want this bar to be green. It's always a good idea to examine your snippet preview before publishing a post. If your title isn't optimized for the keyword you're targeting, it's easy to customize it. 52. [SEO] Optimizing Your Meta Descriptions: Now let's talk about meta descriptions. Meta descriptions don't appear anywhere on the front end of your site, but they're used by search engines for the black tax that appears under the title of a search result. By default a sniff. It will be automatically pulled from your page content based on what the user search for. But writing your descriptions yourself gives you the opportunity to increase your click through rate Significantly. This could be done from the Yost panel on the Post Editor. Click Edit Snippet, then enter your description right here. Make sure it contains the key word you'd like to rank for at least once, and use it as an opportunity to entice the reader to click through. Just like with the title field. There's a colored bar underneath that tells you if your description is too long or too short, always try to keep that in the green range. There's really no good way to automate MENA descriptions, and I don't recommend setting any global MENA descriptions since they should pertain to specific pages. Instead, just take an extra 30 seconds or so after you finish writing a post or page to give it a relevant description. I think you'll find it's well worth your time 53. [SEO] Themes & Template Settings: the way your site is displayed. An organized is extremely important to your S E O. If you're using WordPress, your theme is the backbone of your site, and it's often the determining factor of whether your site delivers a positive or negative user experience. And on top of that, it's important that your site is structured in a way that makes sense to search engines away. That gives him as much context as possible. So what are some important considerations when it comes to your theme and templates? Settings First and foremost is responsive design. We talked about this earlier. A responsive design is one that automatically adapts to the smaller screen of a smartphone or tablet. Now, I'm sure you understand the utility of a mobile friendly design in this world where everybody's using a smartphone all the time. But how does that relate to S. E. O. In 2016 Google began using mobile friendliness as a ranking signal for its mobile search results meeting. Responsive sites will now typically outrank non responsive sites on mobile, which is where 60% of all searches happen. The good news is that responsive design has become a standard, so almost any modern theme you install on WordPress will be responsive. Still, it's worth double checking before you install a new theme. Take a look at the mobile version and make sure it adapts properly and offers a pleasant user experience. If you're using an older theme that's not responsive, it's time for an upgrade. If you care about your S E. O. This is absolutely mandatory. Next, I want to talk about breadcrumbs, which I recommend adding to your site if you can. So what are breadcrumbs? Well, they're a set of links that look like this. They usually show a link to the home page, a link to The Post's main category and the title of the Post. The practical use case here is pretty simple. They help the user get back to where they came from or explore other parts of your site. They're called breadcrumbs because they worked just like an actual trail of breadcrumbs that you would drop and used to find your way back to your starting point. You've probably seen breadcrumbs on some pretty high profile sites, and they're even baked into the Windows operating system. They don't take up much space. They can help users navigate around your site, and as an added benefit, they are extremely search engine friendly. They help search engines better understand the structure of your site and how it's organized. And Google will actually show your breadcrumb trail in the search results in place of your full U. R L As of now, the breadcrumbs themselves are not clickable in the search results, but it's still a great opportunity to customize your search snippet just a little bit more , so I recommend taking advantage of it with many themes. Enabling breadcrumbs is as easy as flipping a switch in the theme customizer, but in some cases you'll need 1/3 party plug in, or you'll need to hard code them yourself. If you feel they're worth the time. Now, let's talk headings. A common way to organize content on a page is with headaches, right. You have a big block of text, and you can divide that text using subheadings. In addition to helping reader skim your content. To get a quick overview, headings tell search engines about the content of your page and how it's organized, so it's important that you use the right headings for the right purposes. There are several different types of headings. In HTML you have heading one, heading two, heading three, heading four and so on, each functioning as a subheading of its parent. These air abbreviated in the actual HTML tags as H one h two, h three, h four and so on it goes up to six. Each one is interpreted by search engines to be the title of a page, so the Onley H one text on your posts and pages should be the title itself. The name of your site can be formatted as each one on the home page, but nowhere else. If you're using WordPress, you shouldn't have to worry too much about your template files, because themes generally handle this correctly. However, when you're creating content, it's important not to shoot yourself in the foot by using the wrong headings. So let's talk about that. I'm in the WordPress Post editor here. I've added a heading block, and as you can see, I have this menu here, as well as in the sidebar where I can choose one of the many heading options. So even though there is an option to use heading one I almost never want to do that, because again, the only H one text I went on the page is my title, and that's automatically included by my theme. Whenever you need a divide, your post into multiple sections always use heading to the same goes for dividing an individual section into multiple subsections. You can have multiple H three sections under a single H to multiple H force under an H three and so on. In most cases, though, all you'll need is hte, too, as a bonus tip, including keywords in your headings. In a natural way, not a spammy way can give you a little bit of a boost because it's one more signal that your page is indeed relevant to that particular keyword. 54. [SEO] Analyzing Your Content: when you're creating a post or page, you want to make sure everything from the title to the slug to the content itself is optimized to rank for the keyword you're targeting. Yost makes it really easy to do this. When you're editing a post or page and you know the key word you're trying to rank for, you can enter it as your focus keyword in the Yost S E o box right below the snippet preview. Once you've done that, Yost analyzes your content looking at everything from your titles and meta descriptions to the key word density of your content itself. If your content isn't fully optimized for any reason, it will give you some specific instructions to get you there. For example, if your keyword doesn't appear early enough in the content, or if your images don't have all tags or if you could use some more internal links, it will tell you that here and as he fix each of these things, the analysis will update in real time. So you know exactly what you still have to do in the next few lectures will take a look at some of the factors Yost analyzes and how you can make sure everything is properly optimized 55. [SEO] How To Choose The Right Keywords And Create High-Ranking Content On Any Topic: From an S e o perspective, it's a good idea to have a strategy in mind and know what keywords you want a page to rank for before you even start writing content for it. But how do you decide on a keyword to target? How do you know what to type into that focus keyword box? Well, you'll have to do some research. If you're writing a block post, you'll usually want to aim for what's called a long tail keywords, which is basically a specific keyword containing multiple words. If you have a general idea for what you're going for, a great starting point is to go to Google. Start typing some variation of your potential keyword and look at the suggestions in the drop down menu. By the way, before you do this, I recommend signing out of your Google account or opening a private browser windows so the options won't include your search history or tailored suggestions. But anyway, all of these suggestions come from riel search data. So these air actual keywords that people are using to search the web a good starting point for this method would be frequently asked questions. Think of the questions that people in your target audience often ask and spend those into the keywords they may use to do research. This is another time when Quora and Reddit and niche communities come in handy. Once you've found some potential keywords you'd like to rank for, the next thing you want to do is determine the search volume for those keywords. In other words, how many people are searching for them? Ideally, you want something with a relatively high search volume because that means you can get a lot of traffic by ranking for that keyword. To determine search volume, you can use the Google keyword planner, which you could find pretty easily just by typing keyword planner into Google. Now, to use this tool, you'll need an active Google AdWords account. You don't have to run any campaigns or anything, but you do need an active account. When you get into the keyword planner, you'll see a few options. We're going to select the one that says, get search volume data and trends. When this box pops up, you can enter one or more long tail keywords. Either one per line or separated by commas, for this example, will just enter one keyword and then click Get search volume. What you get is a table of the keywords you entered in the average number of monthly searches for each keyword. There are also columns here for competition and a suggested bid. Those air directed more advertisers who are considering running ads for this keyword. They don't really apply to our objectives here, so you can ignore those. So just take a look at the average monthly searches for each of your potential keywords, eliminate the ones with low search volumes and then make a list of the ones that look like they're worth pursuing. Next, go back to Google, make sure you're either signed out or using a private browser window and then just run a search for each of the keywords on your list. Make sure to skip over any ads that appear at the top and then take a look at the first few organic search results. Are they the same type of content you intend to create? Would your page fit well into these results? You'll also want to assess the quality of the results. Now, of course, this is kind of subjective, but it really comes down to this question. Would any of the search results completely satisfy someone searching for that keyword? Once you've answered that, you have a couple of options for your next move. When there's nothing on Page one of the search results that would completely satisfy the readers needs, you have the opportunity to write the first article of its kind, so spend some time doing research and putting together a really epic resource that provides exactly what people are looking for when they search for that term. The second and more likely scenario is that there's already at least one piece of content that would satisfy the reader, and that's probably Result number one. The question then becomes, Can you create something better? If the first result isn't absolutely amazing? You can take advantage of that and write the article that people really need by diving deeper and offering more substance than the other top results. And finally, if you're in a situation where all of the top results for your keyword already offer extremely valuable content, you still have another option. You can create a piece of equally amazing content in a different format. You see the most competitive search results. Spots are usually one by writers because they can create detailed, long form content that delivers a ton of value to their readers. But what about people who don't have an extra 15 or 20 minutes to read a super long article or people who prefer to learn visually often what those long form pieces air lacking is a short synopsis that makes it easier to digest. You can offer that by presenting the same information as an infographic or a checklist or video or anything else that takes existing information and presents it in a different way. Of course, you want to cite your sources and give credit where to do, but your content may actually be more valuable than the original stuff to a certain segment of people who prefer that alternative format. So those are some ideas you can use to choose a target keyword and create a piece of content that's worthy of ranking for that keyword 56. [SEO] Does Keyword Density Matter?: in the past, A major focus of S E O was this concept of keyword density, which is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a Web page compared to the total number of words on that page. Search engines use keyword density as a ranking signal to determine how relevant a page is to a particular search term. If a keyword appears a bunch of times on a page, it would make sense to rank that page higher for that keyword, right? Unfortunately, the Spammy marketers of the world figured out how that worked and started keyword stuffing basically over optimizing their pages by including the same keyword or related keywords over and over and over as many times as they could. And the result was a bunch of pages ranking that weren't actually useful. They just happen to have keywords littered all over the page with no regard for the quality of the content. Google's response came in 2011 with an algorithm update called panda, which was intended to reduce the rank of low quality sites and content farms while increasing the rank of higher quality sites that are more useful to the end user. One of the effects of the panda update is that keyword density is no longer a linear ranking signal. So if your keyword density is too low, that tells Google that your page probably isn't relevant, but it can also be too high. And if it's too high, that tells Google, you're probably a spammer just stuffing your page with keywords. Today, the ideal keyword density ISS somewhere between 0.5% and 2.5%. But rather than stressing about keyword density, just focus on creating a great resource in work keywords into your content. Naturally, if you use WordPress, you can enter your focus keyword into the Yost section in the Post Editor, and it will let you know if your content is over or under optimized. 57. [SEO] Internal Links: whenever you're writing a post, it's a good idea to include relevant internal links to other pages on your site that will help your users dig deeper into your content. And it will also help search engines understand the relevance of certain pages, the value of those pages and the relationships between different pages. As we discussed, search engines crawl websites by following links. When you link from one post to another post, that's a way of signaling that those pages are related. When it comes to internal linking, you should prioritise the content that you consider to be most important. Most likely, you'll have a handful of posts that drive a significant portion of your traffic. The kind of core resource is that your site has to offer. You want a link to those whenever you have the opportunity. Now, it should always be relevant. Don't just add random links all over the place, but whenever you feel it would make sense toe linked to one of your most important posts. You should do so. This passes link value onto those pages, and the more you do that, the more clear it'll be to the search engines that those pages represent your most valuable content, which will help them rank more highly When you add internal links. What should the anchor text be if you're not familiar? Anchor text is the clickable text that's actually displayed to your visitors in the old days of S E O. The common advice was to optimize your anchor text by using keywords. Basically, if you link to a post enough times using the same keyword as the anchor text, that post would start ranking for that keyword. But today, search engines are a little bit smarter and pay more attention to the context of the surrounding content than to the anchor text itself. On top of that, over optimizing by always linking with the same keyword can actually have a negative impact because Google considers that to be a little spammy, just like the keyword stuffing tactic we talked about earlier. So these days, the main thing to think about is whether the acre text looks natural in your copy and provides an actual benefit to the end user. It's okay to use keywords, but don't go overboard and use the same anchor text every time you linked to a post 58. [SEO] Image Optimization: one aspect of S E O that often gets overlooked is image optimization. Search engines have no problem reading your text, but they usually need a little help to understand the context of your photos. But if you add the proper metadata to your images, which only takes a few seconds, you can generate some extra traffic by helping your photos rank in places like Google images, for example, and as an added benefit, you can also help visually impaired readers make sense of your content if they're using a screen reader. The process here is super simple. Whenever you upload an image toe WordPress and insert it into a post or page, take a second to write a descriptive ault at tribute to tell search engines exactly what the image is as I'm doing here. This is a simple but effective way to tap into a traffic source that your competitors probably neglect 59. [Promotion] Why Content Promotion Is Crucial: Once you've got a handle on your content strategy, you need to get your content in front of an audience. This is where a lot of people dropped the ball. They start cranking out epic content, but then nobody ever sees it because they don't do anything to promote it. The old build it and they will come. Adage sounds good in theory, but in practice it's just not enough. You have to put in the work not just in your content creation, but in your promotion as well. We've already spent a good amount of time talking about search engine optimization, but in this section we're gonna cover some more proactive steps that you can take to promote your content and grow your audience. 60. [Promotion] Guest Posting & Strategic Collaboration: when you're just getting started. One of the best blawg promotion strategies is writing a series of guest posts for other, more influential blog's. It's a time consuming process, but it can give you a huge payoff by launching your blawg into the spotlight and really putting you on the map. There's an important caveat, though. Any guest posts you write have to meet an extremely high standard of quality. If you write a subpar guest post, it probably won't get published. But even if it does, remember that this is likely going to be the public's first impression of you. So make sure you Onley offer your best work for guest posts as far as actually getting published. I wrote an article about this a few years ago. I call it the art of the Pitch. As an editor, I've gotten tens of thousands of guest post pitches over the years, and most of them go straight to the trash. So which ones do I actually pay attention to? Well, here's what a perfect pitch looks like to me. Simple but descriptive. Tell me who you are and why I should care, and then give me three specific post ideas to choose from with a simple outline or description for each one. Start with the smaller blog's in your industry and work your way up to the big guys as you get some posts under your belt. You can also do other types of strategic collaboration, like making an appearance on a relevant YouTube channel or podcast being interviewed as an expert doing traditional PR things of that nature. The idea is you want to become a familiar face in the media world surrounding your particular industry. This strategy isn't primarily about links or shout outs or anything like that. Those air great and will definitely help you. But the main purpose here is putting yourself in your brand on the map so that in the future you can leverage that existing trust. 61. [Promotion] A Simple Way To Get Leading Influencers To Share Your Content: earlier, we talked about expert roundups as something that may fit into your content strategy. But it deserves a mention as a promotion strategy to not only our expert roundups a great content format there also an effective way to get leading influencers to share your content . So to refresh your memory, you reach out to a bunch of experts. Ask him a single question and compile all their answers into one big post then, and this is where it becomes a promotion strategy. Send them a link to the post when it goes live because they contributed to it. Chances are they won't mind sharing it with their audience. The same principle applies to the people to follow list that we talked about in this case. The person didn't necessarily contribute, but it's a pleasant surprise and even an honor to be recognized as one of the top experts on your topic. So it's worth reaching out to those people is well and saying, Hey, we featured you in our list of experts in our industry. More than likely, they'll check it out to see what you said about them and hopefully share it with their audience as well now a word of warning. This is a strategy that's been overused a bit in the business and marketing niche, so it's not as effective in that space as it once waas. But if you cover a different topic, there should be plenty of room for you to do one of these round ups. And by the way, when you're creating this type of content, please don't just throw a bunch of people into a list because they have a lot of Twitter followers and might end up sharing your post. Choose your candidates based on merit and make sure the end result is something that actually brings value to your audience. 62. [Promotion] Teasing Your Content On Social Media: Of course, we have to talk about social media now. Using social media in your marketing is a lot more involved than just shouting links all day. It's important to understand the unique nuances of each platform and to create quality native content. With that, said, social Media can be a great distribution channel as well. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when you share your content on channels like Twitter and Facebook. Any time you mentioned a person or company in a post, it's a good idea to tag them. When you share it on social media, they'll get a notification, and it's super easy for them to share it or retweet it right then and there. On a similar note, you can use a service like buffer to queue up a series of social media updates about the same post without making it look like you're sharing the same post. Not everyone will see your post when you share it the first time, but you also don't want to post the same headline over and over again. Instead, try sharing bits and pieces of the post. For example, if you did a round up of 15 experts answering the same question. That gives you 15 excuses to tweet out the same post, tagging each of the experts and quoting their individual responses. You can also turn your headline into a question or site a statistic or share some other little nugget of information from the post. A teaser Basically Remember earlier we talked about repurpose ing content, So if you have done a video interview, you could turn some of the best quotes into tweets. Or if you want to go a step further into graphics and share those on Twitter, Facebook, instagram, etcetera, of course, making sure to tag the person wherever you post it. 63. [Promotion] How To Get Your Content Featured In Popular Resource Lists: We covered link roundups as a content idea earlier, and now we're going to take a look at the other side of the equation, which is getting your content featured in someone else's round up link. Roundups are a really popular format, which means there are lots of opportunities. If you have a valuable piece of content to promote, the process is pretty simple. Head over to Google and try searching for different variations of roundup plus your industry. When you find some relevant lists, you can begin to reach out to the creators. All you have to do is tell them who you are. Let them know that you saw there link round up and found it valuable and say that you have a piece of content you want to share with them. Make sure they know exactly why your post is awesome and what value it'll bring to their audience. Now I'm gonna pause here to remind you again that the quality of your content is always priority Number one, and I would never advise you to waste your time and someone else's time promoting a piece of mediocre content. If you're gonna be bold enough to directly ask someone to link to your content. It needs to be something you're truly proud of. With that said, getting featured in a link roundup is a great way to reach a new audience and drive some long term traffic. And it's great for your S e o toe. Have an authoritative site pointing to your valuable resource with a link. 64. [Promotion] Don't Neglect This Free Source Of On-Demand Traffic: this one is going to sound pretty obvious, but a lot of people tend to forget when you have fresh content. The first people to hear about it should be your email subscribers. The people on your email list have specifically requested to hear from you, so they're the best group of people to send new content to. It's a free source of on demand traffic that you actually own. And continuing to send new content to your subscribers is a great way to maintain that relationship. Keep them engaged and hopefully move them down your funnel over time. Here's a bonus tip. After you send out a new piece of content to your subscribers, wait a couple of days and then use your email service provider to segment out the people who didn't open the original message. Then send just those people the exact same message again. But with a different subject line. This is a proven way to significantly increase your open rate and engage people who may have missed that first email. We'll talk more on email marketing soon, but I wanted to offer a couple of quick tips here as it pertains to content promotion 65. [Promotion] How To Promote Your Content In Groups & Niche Communities: we keep coming back to niche communities like forums. Subreddit. It's Facebook groups. These are all important places for you as a content creator to be on one hand, It's a great way to get to know your audience, which can help you to create better content. But these places can also serve as distribution channels if you approach them carefully and respect their rules. Nobody likes the shameless self promoter who shows up and starts promoting their own stuff without establishing a reputation were adding anything of value to the community. So make sure you know the rules of any community you join and focus on becoming an active member. First, you can find forums pretty simply by googling something like your topic, plus forums. If you end up joining a forum site. One of the simplest ways to promote what you have to offer without being obtrusive is by including a link in your signature or your profile, and then just focusing on providing so much value natively on the community itself that people start proactively seeking out your content To find a subreddit relevant to your industry, you could go to reddit dot com slash red. It's enter the topic you're interested in, and it will give you some suggestions. The same rules apply on Reddit, possibly even more so. You never want to be seen as a spammer, read. It is not kind to people who just constantly self promote. They have this thing called a shadow band, which is basically a way of banning people from the community without telling them that they've been banned. So if moderators noticed that all you do is promote your own stuff, they can shadow ban you. And on your end, you'll still be posting things and using Read it as normal, but nobody else will see your posts. You don't want that to happen, so keep your self promotional posts few and far between and again always focus on providing value to the community natively without trying to draw people out. It's counterintuitive, but when people know you and trust you your occasional self promotional posts, they're gonna carry a lot more weight, and people are going to see them as valuable rather than spammy. When it comes to groups on Facebook and linked in the same principles apply, there's really not much more to say. Just make sure you know the rules of the community, participate in conversations, provide value and keep self promotion to a minimum as a bonus tip here. Another way to approach niche communities for the purpose of content promotion is by creating a community of your own. Start your own forum. Start your own Facebook group, get some people on board and work on cultivating a positive, valuable community where you're interacting with your audience, where your audience is interacting with each other and then you'll have a platform that you control where you can share content freely. 66. [Promotion] The Most Effective Way To Skyrocket Your Audience Overnight: in this lecture, we're going to cover one of the most effective ways to significantly grow your audience pretty much overnight. And I know that's a big promise, but this method really delivers if you executed properly. So what are we talking about here? We're talking about giveaways. Giveaways generate a ton of buzz because everybody wants free stuff, right? But like I said, if you want to use a giveaway toe, actually grow your business, you have to be very strategic in your execution. Let me explain. First and foremost, you have to choose a relevant product. This is the most important part, and it's where most brands fail. You see, you can give away just about anything of value, and you're gonna get a lot of traffic in a lot of entries. But at the end of the day, if your product isn't relevant to your business, you're just gonna get a bunch of untargeted traffic and an audience of people who have no interest in your content and will never buy from you all the brands giving away ipads and stuff like that. That is a terrible strategy, because think about who wants a free iPad. Everybody wants a free iPad unless your business is actually focused on electron ICS or apple products. Giving away an iPad is not going to help you. A good product for a giveaway is one that's highly desired but appeal specifically to your target audience. Often this may be your own product, right? Because what better way to attract people who were interested in your product than by giving away your product? But it could be something else entirely. The idea is to give away something that's extremely valuable to your target market but may not be valuable to a random person you meet on the street. In terms of actually conducting the giveaway, there are to plug ins that I highly recommend Gleam and King Sumo. They're both excellent, and they allow you to collect emails for your list while also tackling one of the big problems with viral giveaways. Nobody wants to share a giveaway because the more people who enter the lower their chances of winning become, and that makes perfect sense. People tend to act in their own self interest, but these plug ins actually incentivise sharing by giving people additional entries for referring their friends. So For example, you get one entry right away, and then if you share on Facebook, you get a second entry, 1/3 for sharing on Twitter. And then, if you refer X number of people, you get X number of additional entries. This is a much better system than the traditional one entry per person approach because it incentivizes sharing and makes your giveaway go viral with very little promotion on your part. With That said, you do still want to do some promotion to kind of get the ball rolling. A good place to start is by reaching out to friends and contacts, telling them about the giveaway and asking them to enter and share promoted to your existing email list again. They're already engaged with your brand. They'll appreciate the opportunity to win a free product, and they're likely to share it with their friends. If you put the right incentives in place, then, of course you want to promote it to the rest of your website visitors. Most likely you're going to use a blawg post is the main entry page, but make sure you're pushing people in that direction from other areas of your site for example, you could use something like the Hello bar, which adds a simple header bar to the top of your site, where you can say, Hey, we're giving away this product. Click here to enter. And of course, you can also submit your giveaway to some relevant subreddit. It's Facebook groups and so on. And by the time you've done all of this, your giveaway should be gaining steam through people sharing it, and you should start to see an influx of highly targeted traffic once again. If you select a relevant product incentivize sharing and do a little bit of promotion ahead of time, a giveaway is one of the most effective strategies you can deploy for fast growth. 67. [Email] Why Growing An Email List Should Be Your #1 Priority: when you're growing a new blawg building, an email list should be your absolute number one priority. I know that surprises some people, but it's true. Even today, in the age of social media on email list is still the single most effective tool for generating repeat traffic and repeat customers on demand. Think about it. It's the only communication channel that you actually own, meaning no news feed update or new search algorithm will ever impact your ability to reach people with it. Almost everyone checks their email daily, and most importantly, people have to opt in to your email list, meaning everyone on your list actually wants to hear from you. Your list is your greatest asset for building a strong community and a profitable business . Here's some stats from the marketing world, according to a study by McKinsey and company email is 40 times more effective in terms of customer acquisition than Facebook and Twitter combined. On top of that, get response reports that for every $1 invested, email marketing generates an average return of $38. In other words, Ah, 3700% R A. Y. Now keep in mind a good email marketing campaign begins with a good list. You want riel information from real people who check their email regularly, and you want those people to be genuinely interested in your blawg and what you have to offer. Don't be tempted to buy an email list from a service that promises thousands of email subscribers for a very small amount of money. Most of the emails you get will be old or fake, and the few who are actual people probably won't be interested in you or your content. Plus, there's a good chance you'll get flagged as a spammer, which is just icing on the cake of a very bad investment. You'll see much better results by growing your own list organically and will cover exactly how to do that in this section. 68. [Email] Choosing An Email Marketing Service: When you're ready to start building an email list, you'll need an email marketing service to collect email addresses and deliver your messages . There are a lot of different solutions out there. You've got Convert kit, mail, Chimp a Weber get response, infusion soft and so many others. Any of these air fine. And you can feel free to do your own research to determine which service will work best for you. And the beautiful thing about email marketing is that you can switch email service providers at any time and take your list with you again. It's the only communication channel that you actually own. As far as my recommendation. Convert Kit is extremely powerful and robust, but also intuitive to set up and use. And that's what I usually suggest for new creators. Thes days. It's priced based on the size of your list, starting at $29 a month for up to 1000 subscribers. If you're not comfortable paying for an email marketing platform just yet, but you still want to start building a list, male chimp gets an honorable mention here for there forever Free plan, which is completely free for up to 2000 subscribers. There are a number of limitations, so it's not a permanent solution, but it's better than nothing, and I always recommend it for new projects that don't yet have a budget for monthly services. Again, you're welcome to do your own research, but in any case, you'll definitely want to get signed up with an email marketing service as soon as possible . 69. [Email] Incentivizing The Opt-In: 17 Lead Magnet Ideas: Once you decide on an email marketing platform and set up a list, you need to convince people, toe actually sign up. Now, of course, you wanna place opt informs in key locations on your website, but very few people are gonna hand over their contact information just because you asked for it. You have to incentivize the opt in. In other words, offer something of value in exchange for an email address. So what exactly constitutes something of value? Well, in some cases, it could just be the content of the emails he'll be sending, for example, if you write an industry newsletter or something like that. But most of the time it's better to give people instant gratification with some kind of free resource. This is often referred to as a lead magnet because it attracts leads, and it's probably the most effective way to get email sign ups. With that in mind, let's take a look at some examples to help you come up with an effective lead magnet for your blawg. First we have a checklist or a cheat sheet. This is a classic lead magnet that converts really well because it's so easy to digest you just package everything people need to know into a simple, actionable list. And interestingly, the general consensus in the marketing world is that short resource is like checklists actually convert better than something like an E book because they're short and the time required to consume them is minimal. A tool kit is similar. It's basically a list of tools that you use for a particular purpose. So if you have an audience of photographers, you could put together a list of your favorite equipment and software for photography. A resource list saves people from having to do research themselves, and it compiles. The most important resource is on a topic in one place. A template is some kind of simple outline that people congrats and apply to their lives by filling in the blanks. Calendars and planners can be a great opportunity. If you want to help people achieve a long term goal, you tell them what to do each day over a certain period of time and they do it. For example, in the health and fitness industry, you could offer meal plans or workout routines as your lead magnet. Spreadsheets are a great way to manipulate data and make live calculations. But ah, lot of people don't know how to program a spreadsheet themselves. You can fill that need by offering a spreadsheet template as a free resource. For example, if you cover personal finance, you could offer a budgeting spreadsheet so people can just download it and input their own numbers to make it work. So I mentioned that shorter resource is tend to outperform longer ones. But if you can write an extended guide or e book that's actionable and rewarding enough, it can be a solid lead magnet. Just make sure you deliver plenty of value and respect people's time. Another way to offer deeper value is by delivering an email course. You could do this with the auto responder feature in your email marketing service just right up a series of emails and queue them up to send every couple of days or so after someone signs up. If you cater to a creative audience, printable XKE can be a great option. Artistic materials, calendars, shopping lists. Any of these things can be delivered as a print friendly. PDF file. Earlier in the course, we talked about conducting original research and sharing the results in a block post. Another twist on that concept would be to share the results in a downloadable PdF In exchange for email addresses, you can summarize your results on your blawg and point people to the free download if they want the full extended report, As we've seen in certain scenarios, audio makes more sense as a format than text or video. It's great for busy entrepreneurs or something like guided meditation. For example, just set up a opt in form and deliver the file as an MP three. Live webinars are an amazing way to build trust with your audience. And they're also a great way to collect email addresses. Have people sign up if they're interested, and then send them more details by email. A super easy but effective way to turn blog's readers into subscribers is by offering a PdF version of your longer blawg posts. For some people, it's just a more convenient way to consume your content. You can do it manually, or use a tool like print friendly dot com to convert your content into a PdF in under 60 seconds. Art and wallpaper. If you do design or photography, you could make some of your work available for free in exchange for an email address. Wallpapers are great as our Facebook and Twitter cover photos. Ah, Photoshopped templates and things like that can also be really effective if you have an audience of creatives. We've repeatedly covered the value of niche communities focused on your industry, and I even mentioned that you may want to create a community of your own. You can also use that idea as a way to grow your list by offering a private community exclusive to people who opt into your email list. This could be something you create and host yourself, or it can be a simple as a Facebook group or slack team. We've also talked about the value of a case study, where you tell the story of a particular customer in the role you played in solving their problem. Another take on that concept is to put the case study behind an opt in form and deliver it by email. The leads you get from that form are all but guaranteed to be highly qualified and far more likely than other groups to buy from you and along the same lines offering a free quote in exchange for contact information will also deliver highly qualified leads that you can follow up with and close. So those are all solid ideas for potential lead magnets. Now it's worth mentioning that when you create a lead magnet, it's important that you give it the time and attention it deserves. The lead magnet sets the tone for your entire relationship with your email subscribers, so it should be something you're really proud off now. As far as delivery, most people deliver lead magnets in one of two ways. The first is to include a download link on the thank you page, which is where you send people as soon as they sign up. The other is to put a download link in the welcome email that's delivered as soon as people confirmed their subscriptions. That's the method I prefer because the download link isn't exposed on a public Web page, so only subscribers can access it. Lead magnets are essential for growing an email list, so start thinking about which ones you may be able to employ for your blawg 70. [Email] Where To Place Opt-In Forms On Your Site: Where exactly should you place your opt informs and lead magnet offers in order to capture as many emails as possible? Let's take a look. If your blood has a sidebar, you should try to utilize that space wisely. The very first thing in your sidebar in most cases should be on opt in form. This is something that's gonna be visible on every page, at least for your desktop visitors, and people expect to see an opt in form there, So if they're looking for it, that'll probably be the first place they check. A lot of bloggers failed to capture leads at the end of their posts, and they're missing a huge opportunity there. If somebody reads all the way to the end of your post there, clearly engaged with your content, so that's a perfect place toe. Ask them to join your list by offering some kind of free resource In exchange. You can also include an opt in form right within your post content itself again. You've already got the reader's attention, so why not throw in a relevant offer and get them on your list? And the longer your content, the more opt informs you can get away with. I would only include one if your post is in the 500 to 1000 word range. But if you've got a monster post with three or 4000 words, you can feel justified with two or three. Opt in offers within the content itself. For best results, your offer should always be a natural extension of the surrounding content. In other words, trying to offer something that's relevant to that post in particular. Here's an easy one. If you have a core lead magnet that you want to promote to your entire audience, your navigation bar is prime real estate. To do just that, use an enticing label and linked to a landing page where people can opt in and pick up your freebie. And finally, don't neglect the about page. Your about page is where people go to learn who you are and what you do. If they're interested enough to do that, they may be interested enough to sign up for your list, so make sure you have at least one opt inform on your about page 71. [Email] High-Profile Opt-In Forms: Okay, so we've covered the kind of standard placements for your opt informs. But there are also some heavier approaches you can use to be a little more proactive about asking people to opt in. For example, one of the best ways to get email sign ups is with what's called a feature box, which is a big area above the content of your website, usually on the home page that tells people exactly what your website is about, with a strong call to action, encouraging them to sign up for your list. It's really powerful when someone lands on your home page because they instantly know what you're all about, and they know exactly what to do next. If they think you could bring them value for a more minimal approach, you can use a plug in like hello Bar to add a dead simple call to action to the very top of your site. This is great for growing your list or really promoting anything to your audience in an unobtrusive but effective way. Next, we have pop ups and I know what you're thinking. Pop ups are annoying, and in many cases I totally agree. But here's the thing they work. Lightbox pop ups are one of the best ways to convert visitors to subscribers. If you're going to use pop ups, though, make sure you offer a free resource that's valuable enough to justify getting up in people's faces. You have to strike a balance between optimizing your conversion rate and optimizing the user experience. There are lots of plug ins out there you can use for pop ups, including Opt in Monster Sumo. Me and Thrive Leads exit intent Pop ups are pop ups that trigger right When a user moves their mouths to leave the page, they're less annoying than a traditional pop up because they don't interrupt people while they're browsing your site. And they can help you capture emails from people who would otherwise leave and maybe never come back. The key to success here is to offer something relevant and enticing enough for someone who was on their way out to spend 10 more seconds typing in their email address. This next one has a different name, depending on who you're talking to. Some call it a slide up form. Others call it a fly in form, but it's basically a little box that slides up from the bottom, usually in the lower right corner of the page, offering the user something and asking for their email address. This is much less annoying than a full size pop up, but it's still pretty effective. 72. [Email] How To Turn Commenters Into Subscribers: If your site has a comments section, you know the people who take the time to leave. Comments are some of your most engaged visitors. So what if you could turn them in the email subscribers? There are a couple of ways to do this. One way is to redirect people to a thank you page right after they leave a comment. And on that page you could offer some kind of free resource if they opt in. If you use WordPress, you can use the comment Redirect Plug in, which automatically redirects first time commenters to a page of your choice. And it's nice because it's only first time commenters, so you won't be constantly harassing people who comment regularly. Another method is to add a check box to the comment form itself, where commenters can choose to join your list right as they post their comments again. If use WordPress. There are plenty of plug ins that do this, including mail chimp for WordPress and newsletter. Sign up 73. [Email] A Counterintuitive Strategy To Increase Your Conversion Rate: Here's a counter intuitive strategy you may wanna try. Usually when you have a pop up or other call to action to get people on your list, you'll have the opt inform embedded right there. But some data shows that it may be better to add another step and have people click a button before the form even shows up. Obviously, they still have to enter their email address, but they don't even see the form until after they've clicked the button. Many marketers have reported increased conversion rates using this approach. The psychology here is this. It's a lot easier to click a button than to fill out a form, so the friction of claiming your free resource is perceived as low. But then the form appears. And even though the friction is higher now, by clicking the button, the visitor made a subconscious commitment to the process, and as a result, they're much more likely to follow through. Very weird, very counterintuitive, but it seems toe work, so you may want to test it out for yourself. 74. [Email] Leveraging Social Proof To Grow Your Email List: We covered social proof earlier in the course, but it's worth reiterating here. Social proof works wonders when you're trying to get people to do anything, whether it's sharing an article, buying a product or opting in to your list. If you already have a sizable lists, say 10,000 subscribers, you can show off that number as a means of social proof. But if you're just starting out, you're not gonna have a huge subscriber base to flaunt. So here's an alternative. Testimonials. Quote someone saying something nice about you or your work bonus points If that person is a prominent figure in your industry, even if you're relatively new to the game, you can get testimonials from influencers by offering them some kind of value first, such as a guest post for their block. But even if you don't have anything from the big guys, something is always better than nothing. Reach out to your most engaged readers and ask for a quote. If someone leaves you a nice comment or review, ask permission to feature it. Social proof will lend credibility to your brand and increase your conversion rates 75. [Email] Nurturing Your List: The Key To Building Lasting Relationships: So let's say you've got an email list and you've got some strategies in place to get more people signed up. What do you do next? A pretty common mistake is thinking of your list as a group of people. You email when you have something to sell, that's a mindset you'll want to avoid as much as possible. Now, don't get me wrong When you do have something to sell. Your email list can and should be your number one sales driver. But that only works if you've spent time nurturing it. You have to continually bring value to the people on your list, with no expectation of return. These air your V, I. P. S. They like your content. They've asked you to send them more stuff, and it's up to you to start building a relationship with them. And good relationships are based on trust. So what does this mean? It means you have to spend a significant amount of time giving before you ever ask for anything. Gary Vaynerchuk has a great book called Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook, which applies a boxing metaphor to the marketing world. Basically, jab, jab, jab, right hook means give give, give, then ask. So you want to give people as much free value as possible before you ever ask for their money or their time or anything else. It's also worth considering that our in boxes are more crowded than ever before. Remember when you first started using email? You probably opened and read every single message, right? I know I did. But today I delete well over 75% of my emails without even opening them. And I actually did an email cleanse recently where I unsubscribed from hundreds of newsletters that weren't bringing value to my life. They were just noise. However, I did stay subscribed to a small handful of lists that always provide disproportionate value. That should be your goal. You have to earn your place in your subscribers in boxes. Specifically, here are a few ideas for what you could send your email list to continually provide value and build trust. First, we have the welcome email, which is the auto responder message that triggers as soon as someone confirms their email address. This is probably where you'll include whatever free resource you promised them, but it's also a good time to introduce yourself and set the expectations for the relationship. So go over what you'll be sending them and when and how often they can expect to hear from you. Exclusive content again. The people on your list deserve to be treated like V. I. P s, so offer them some exclusive content that you don't publish on the Web. It's okay to promote new blawg posts and stuff like that to your list. But if that's all you do, where's the added value? What's the incentive to join your list rather than just visiting your site? Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with someone who only talks about themselves ? Not much of a conversation, right? Well, the same concept applies to your email list. Invite people to hit the reply button and share their thoughts and feedback. You can even add a dedicated auto responder message asking people to tell you about themselves and their challenges. Make it clear that you actually read the responses and you'll start getting real direct feedback from your audience that you can use to tailor future content to them. Unexpected freebies One of the best ways to build rapport with your subscribers is by sending them an unexpected gift from time to time. It could be something that you would normally use as a lead magnet or even something more extensive if you want to go deeper. Either way, it's an amazing way to deliver value and remind people why they signed up in the first place again. Nurturing your list really comes down to providing massive free value to earn your keep. Once you've built up a solid relationship with your subscribers through lots of free value , selling is a breeze. People buy from those they trust in the law of reciprocity tells us they'll be more than willing to give back when the time comes. 76. [Monetization] How To Turn Your Blog Into A Business: So you've got yourself a blawg. You're putting out great content. You're growing your audience and your building une email list so it's time to talk about monetization. But first we have to acknowledge an important truth about blog's. Ah, blawg is not a business in and of itself. Your blawg is the engine that will enable you to reach customers and bring people into your ecosystem. But if you want to generate income, you have to build a really business on top of that engine. There are a number of proven business models out there that you could implement for your blawg. But not all business models are created equal. Some of them are vastly better than others, and what worked in the past may not necessarily work so well today. In fact, things have changed dramatically even in the last five years. This section covers some of the most popular revenue models you can use to build a business around your blawg, including the pros and cons and how to execute each one successfully 77. [Monetization] The Most Common Way To Monetize A Blog (And Why I Don't Recommend It): I wanted to start with advertising because it's probably the most popular revenue model in the blogging world, but that doesn't mean it's the best. In fact, it's really not. Things have changed a lot over the years, and the fact is, advertising does not pay as well as it used to, and in almost all cases it negatively impacts the user experience. And by its very nature, it sends people away from your site, which is not a desirable outcome. With that said, I know advertising is just about the only option for some topics like news, politics, celebrities, things like that, and it can generate revenue for you. So I want to share some advice. There are two categories of advertising for bloggers. Direct and indirect. Direct advertising is where you sell placement directly to accompany an indirect advertising is where you use a middleman like Google AdSense or some other ad network. Indirect advertising is a lot easier to set up because you basically just sign up with an ad network, copy some code under your site and forget about it. Direct advertising is more difficult, but it has the potential to bring in a lot more money. If you want to use an ad network, Google AdSense is the popular option, and it will likely be your best bet. It doesn't hurt to experiment with other platforms, though. I've also had great results from Adverse Ill and Media Dot net, which are both display network similar to AdSense. You can also look into content recommendation, a k a. Native ad networks like rev content and out brain direct ad sales could be a lot more profitable because you're working with brands directly with no middleman to make it work. The first thing you want to do is put together a comprehensive advertising page on your site where interested companies can see your traffic stats, sponsorship options and how to contact you. However, unless you have a lot of traffic and I mean ah lot of traffic, most of your sales won't come from people reaching out to you. You'll have to put on your hustle hat and start cold calling or cold emailing businesses whose target market matches your audience. This is where you have to stop thinking about advertising as a way to monetize your blawg and start thinking about it as you helping a company to reach its marketing goals. If you could make that mindset shift, you'll have a lot more success in the world of advertising and sponsorships. If sales isn't your thing, you might think about working with a commission based sales manager to sell your ad inventory. But I highly recommend doing it yourself at least a few times so you can learn what works and what doesn't and who your ideal sponsors are. Like I said, traditional advertising would not be part of my approach today, but given the right audience and the right niche, it can still be profitable. 78. [Monetization] The Best Way To Monetize A Blog Without A Product Of Your Own: affiliate marketing is quite possibly the best way to monetize a blawg that doesn't have an existing business model. With the proper disclosure and transparency, affiliate marketing could be an honest, lucrative way to simultaneously provide value to your audience and build a business around . You're confident the idea is instead of creating your own product, you promote somebody else's product and earn a commission. When members of your audience by it simple enough right to get started, you would find a reputable product or service that appeals to your target audience, maybe even one you've written about in the past. See if it has an affiliate program, and if it does sign up, you'll be given a unique You are l called an affiliate link or referral link that you can then share on your blogger Whenever you mention that particular product, when people click that link their tracked as a member of your audience and if they end up buying you get paid, and often affiliate programs will give you some kind of discount code to offer your readers so it ends up being a win win win. Everybody's happy, which is why it's one of my favorite business models. Now, of course, it sounds simple in theory, but lots of people experiment with affiliate marketing and never end up making a single dollar. So the question is, how do you actually make it work? Well, if you've been paying attention in this course, you already have a significant advantage because you understand that your success depends on the value you can deliver to your audience. My favorite way to implement affiliate marketing as a business model is this. Find out which of the tools or services that you use in your industry have affiliate programs and sign up for those. Then, as you're writing new content, particularly tutorials and how to guides, recommend the necessary tools and products along the way, just like you would anyway, but linked to them using your affiliate link. That way, when people follow your tutorial and purchase those products, you get paid. Let me give you an example. Let's say you're teaching people how to do something. For example, how to build a website. One service you could promote as an affiliate is Web hosting, because that's something people need in order to accomplish the task. Your teaching so as part of your tutorial on how to build a website. You would give your Web hosting recommendation using your affiliate link. So whenever people click through and buy from that particular Web hosting company, you get a commission. You can include affiliate links in tutorials, product reviews, comparisons lists, really any type of content where it fits in and provide some benefit to the reader when you create content that's inherently valuable on its own and include affiliate links. Naturally, within that content, there's a good chance that content will start bringing in regular search traffic, and as a result, you'll start to see recurring affiliate income. Now, before you start signing up for every affiliate program and covering your blawg with affiliate links, it's important that you approach affiliate marketing ethically. Remember, we want this arrangement to be net positive for everyone involved. What that means is you need to choose your affiliate products carefully. Anything you promote to your audience should be something you genuinely use and endorse yourself. If you only choose products based on the potential payout, you're gonna let your audience down and they're going to remember that you didn't have their best interest at heart On the other hand, if you only recommend products that are reputable and that actually improve people's lives , they're going to remember that as well. And your future recommendations will carry that much more weight. Another thing to consider is that affiliate marketers have an obligation, both ethically and legally, to disclose their affiliate relationships alongside their endorsements. In other words, your audience needs to know that you earn a commission if they buy, so be sure to include that as well. On a technical note, I highly recommend installing a WordPress plug in called thirsty affiliates. It allows you to manage your affiliate links dynamically and easily insert them into your content as you're writing a post. So now you have at least a basic understanding of how affiliate marketing works, and I definitely recommend experimenting with it. The barrier to entry is low, but the potential rewards are high 79. [Monetization] Creating & Selling Your Own Products: UM, or difficult, but potentially more lucrative way to monetize a blawg is by selling a product of your own . This could be a physical product or a digital product. If you have an existing business selling physical products and you're building a block to market them, then you're good to go. That's a really smart strategy, And some of the biggest companies in the world are now using content marketing to their advantage. So you are in very good company. If you're just a blogger looking to create a revenue stream, digital information products may be a good choice. The Internet has disrupted a lot of industries, and education to one of them were no longer totally reliant on colleges and universities to learn new skills, professional or otherwise. There's a huge growing industry of specialized online education, and you're taking an online course right now, so you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you have knowledge or expertise that other people want to attain, you can be part of this revolution. It's never been easier to self publishing e book on the Amazon Kindle store or even a physical book with something like Creates face. Same thing with video courses. If you have the chops and if you're willing to put in the work, your courses confined a home on platforms like you to me or skill share. Or you can even sell him on your own website using a WordPress plug in like course, press or ah, hosting platform, like teachable information products offer an incredible opportunity to build a business around your blawg. You just have to be willing to put in the time and effort that's required to create something people are willing to pay for, depending on your industry and your skill set. There are other digital products you could offer as well, including software as a service mobile, APS website templates, WordPress themes, things of that nature, Whatever it is. Just make sure it's something that your audience actually wants and that adds some kind of value to their lives. No amount of marketing can fix a bad product, so make sure you create something you're proud of once you have a product. This course has already provided the blueprint for getting it into people's hands. It's all about creating epic content, getting people to opt into your list with valuable lead magnets, sending them free exclusive content that's mind blowingly good and then eventually asking for the sale, using all the free value you've given them as leverage. It's not an easy process, but it is a simple process, and it works. 80. [Monetization] How To Generate Long-Term, Recurring Subscription Revenue: membership sites are another popular revenue model that has the potential to bring in recurring and ever increasing revenue for you. A membership site could offer a catalog of courses on exclusive community, some kind of live coaching service or something of that nature, and people pay on a monthly or annual basis for access. I think membership sites could be a great opportunity, but I have to be honest there, a difficult sell. There are so many membership sites out there, and it begs the question. Does the world really need another membership site? If you want to be successful with this model, you have to focus on providing some kind of unique value prop to differentiate yourself. Why should people join? And perhaps more importantly, why should they stick around for the long run? And it may require more upfront work than something like an information product. If you're offering a catalog of courses, for example, you have to first produce those multiple courses. And if you're offering a community, you have to see the community and get some real engagement started as soon as possible. Nobody wants to join a ghost town community, especially if they have to pay for it. Now, if you have your heart set on a membership service, I'm not trying to discourage you. Often the best opportunities are those with the highest barriers to entry. If you're up to the challenge and feel you can bring unique value to the table, I say Go for it. You can use plug ins like membership by W Pmu Dev or Member Press to get the job done. And again, the sales process is very much like selling a product. You publish epic content, funnel people into your list with free resource is provide value, build relationships and then say, Hey, if you want to dive deeper, here's a membership where you can get X, y and Z. 81. [Monetization] Using Your Blog To Market Your Services: We live in a world based on systems where everything has to be scalable and everybody's obsessed with the idea of passive income. But the fact is, selling services and doing unskilled herbal things could potentially be the quickest route to profitability for your blawg. The reason is simple. Client service businesses have very little overhead and generally require no upfront investment. You basically just say you're in business, land your first client and start working and building a service business on top of a blawg is a really smart move because your blog's showcases your expertise and proves that you're the right person for the job. You can offer one on one coaching, consulting, graphic design, photography or any other service that you have the skills to provide. By the way, a lot of people who offer services are afraid of giving away too much with their content. They don't want to reveal their secret sauce or whatever, because they figure people just do it themselves. I say don't worry about that. Give away everything you know for the D. I y crowd, and plenty of people will still be willing to hire you to do it for them or toe hold their hand through the process. Ultimately, the more free information you put out there, the more leverage and credibility you have. 82. The Next Steps: Okay. At this point, we've covered all the essentials of building a successful blawg mindset technology content promotion list, building monetization. You have all the tools you need at your disposal, but now it's up to you to put them into action. You can toss around ideas and make plans all day long, but ultimately, the most important variable of success is your execution. So if you haven't already get started today, get yourself a domain and a hosting account. Set up WordPress. Start putting out great content and promoting it. Make sure you have systems in place to collect emails for your list. And once you've got an audience, you can start to implement one or more of the revenue models we talked about to turn your blawg into a business. As time goes on, I'll be adding more bonus content to this course, and since your already enrolled, you will have full access to all future content. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your feedback as well as any questions you have and what you'd like me to address in future lectures. And finally, I just want to say thank you for spending some time with me. in this course, your attention means the world to me. I really hope it's been valuable and I hope to see you put it all into action and build Amazing Blawg. And by the way, I would love to hear updates on your progress as you move forward. So once again, thank you so much for joining me and I wish you nothing but success.