Website Optimization Time! 9 Must-Have Elements to Convert More Clients

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9 Website Optimization Tips to Convert Customers | Ever feel like your website should be working harder for you? This post is for you! It includes 9 elements every blogger and entrepreneur must have on their website to generate leads and sales 24/7, even while you sleep. Click through to see all the high-converting elements!

9 Steps to Optimize Your Website For More Traffic + Customers | Ever feel like your website should be working harder for you? This post is for you! It includes 9 elements every blogger and entrepreneur must have on their website to generate leads and sales 24/7, even while you sleep. Click through to see all the steps!

Ever wonder how to optimize your website so it does more of the heavy lifting in your business? Say, get out there and bring you some fresh leads + customers already? Or, maybe give the universe a shout-out to your superherones?

I’m so with you on this one! Our websites should work harder. In fact, we want our websites to be the swiss army knives of the machine we’ve been working so hard to build.

The machine that’s going to drive traffic, build our audience and make us profitable.

Today, I’m sharing 9 website optimization tips to help keep that machine running at peak performance. These tips will be especially helpful if your blog biz isn’t quite where you want it to be, or if you feel like you’re doing everything right but something is still a bit off.

You probably have questions about your website, or maybe you’re thinking…

  • I don’t have time
  • I’m done working on my site
  • How can this bring me customers?
  • Is spending time on my site even worth it?

I get it. Another thing to add to the list, right? And YES, optimizing your website for more leads and customers will take time.

Here’s the thing though:

Most people who visit your website are doing a quick fly-by, looking for something specific. Once they find it, they’ll likely peace out unless you give them such a bangin’ experience that they want to stay longer.

The beauty here is that once you optimize your website, you can pretty much set it and forget it. This is because all the heavy lifting will start happening on autopilot. You’ll have a system that builds relationships with complete strangers and a website that delivers leads + customers while you sleep.

Sound good? Here are my website optimization tips:

PART 1 – THE ART OF THINGS + LAYING THE FOUNDATION

1) A Value Proposition

WHERE TO PUT: ON YOUR HOME PAGE

A value whaaa? This is a fancy way of saying let people know that you solve one problem for one specific person. A value prop should be the first statement people see on your homepage and it looks something like this:

I help (who) do (what) so that they can (benefit).

Confused by this? I’ve got tons of value prop variations, plus a template for you in this post. Your goal here is to let your audience know exactly what those 2 “ones” are above and to clearly communicate the value you provide. What do you do? How do you help? Who do you help? 

If you need help with your one person, you can download the customer avatar template I created to help you attract the right customers to your business. Click the image below to download it.

Download the Customer Avatar Worksheet to learn how to optimize a home page with a targeted message that attracts your ideal customer.

I recommend placing your value prop front and center on your homepage, ideally above the fold (which is another jargony way of saying don’t make people scroll for it).

Now, I know coming up with this kind of statement can be tricky, especially if you have a million topics you blog about, and that’s perfectly ok. Just know that if you have a hard time building an audience for your brand, your value prop is likely at fault.

Here’s why:

You need a wrapper for all your interests…some kind of angle that your topics point to so that people know which box to place you in. Plus, having a strong value prop is the best way to check the box on homepage optimization.

Note: When it comes to website optimization tips, people often skip the value prop step and head straight for SEO (step #9 below). This is a huge mistake, in my book. The reason is that after all your hard work driving traffic to your website, if you don’t grab people right away you’ll likely lose them forever. Please, friend, don’t skip this step!

Related: How to Find Your Blog’s Niche and Focus

2) Your Story

WHERE TO PUT: YOUR ABOUT PAGE

Your About page is where you hook people even more on YOU, your business, and why you do what you do.

Don’t hold back here! Your personal history has led you to where you are right now, and that’s the story your peeps want to hear. I call it “the story of you plus them” because what you’re really doing is connecting the dots between where your readers are right now and where you can take them.

Your About page should communicate that you get how your audience feels. What have you experienced that may be similar to what they’re going through right now? How have you overcome your challenges? How do you personally know how they feel? What will change for them AFTER you?

Once you weave your story in a way that answers these questions, you’ll start tapping into how your audience secretly feels and building an audience will become effortless. People will perceive you as having the solution and will naturally want to work with you.

Whatever you do, leave your heart on the table! Don’t hold anything back.

Related: What Should I include on My About Page?

3) Great Design

WHERE TO PUT: EVERYWHERE!

Wondering how to optimize a home page? It starts with knowing how you want people to feel when they visit your website. Energized and excited? Deep and mysterious? Powerful and independent?

This is true for more than just your home page. Details like colors, fonts and graphics have a lot to do with the mood of your entire website, and more importantly, how long people hang around. Your goal is to help readers get lost in your copy, with me? You want them to experience your website with no distracting elements to take their attention away from what you want them to do.

When you think about it, the function of design is to interpret copy. Ask yourself questions like How can I turn that huge block of boring text into an eye-guzzling graphic? What design elements can I add that will make it easy for people to digest my copy?

What you’re aiming for is to create a hierarchy of importance so that people know what to read first, second, and so on. We’re talking about deets like:

  • Easy navigation
  • Clear calls to action (step #6 below)
  • Harmonious colors, fonts, and graphics
  • Use of white space
  • Strategic positioning and scale of elements

Ok, before we move on there’s one more thing that I don’t want to forget:

Whatever you do, when you’re first starting out please don’t spend too much time on this step! You want to get out there as quickly as possible so that you can learn more about your business, and it’s easy to fall into a rabbit-hole with design. I know this is true…it’s happened to me many times.

I recommend using a theme like Divi as a jumping off point. Add your content and change the colors, fonts, and graphics. Then you’re good to go. Easy peasy.

#BOTTOMLINE Yes, design is important, but don’t spend so much time here that you put off other important things like LAUNCHING. 🙂

Related: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out

PART II: REVVIN’ UP THE MACHINE

4) Opt-in forms + freebies

WHERE TO PUT: YOUR HEADER, FOOTER, SIDEBAR, BLOG POSTS

When we talk about how to optimize your website, this one’s a biggie. Opt-in forms and freebies are where you start turbocharging the machine and building an email list while you sleep. What’s not to love about that, right?

I include them on my home page and in as many posts as I can, without interrupting readers of course. If a freebie naturally fits and would help extend a post with even more value, I’ll include it.

I actually recommend including a freebie for as many posts as you can, which sounds like a lot more work than it is. You can start with a few that are related to your blog themes and use the same freebie on numerous posts. The double-whammy here is that the more freebies you create, the more you’ll understand what your audience secretly wants. You can use that intel to frame future products around.

Remember, freebies are a huge part of our content funnel, which I cover in this post. A high-converting freebie is:

  • Targeted – speaks to one specific person and addresses their most pressing pain point.
  • Actionable – is easy for people to digest and implement. Checklists, cheat sheets, templates and short workbooks (less than 10 pages) work well.
  • Simple – covers one simple topic rather than multiple topics. Your goal is to offer the easiest steps for people to get from A to Z.
  • Delivers results – gives people steps they can actually move forward with and see results.
  • Builds trust – establishes your authority and primes people to buy from you in the future.
  • Sparks curiosity – offers enough value to get people excited about future products, without giving away the farm.
  • Provides real value – is something that people would actually consider paying for.

For opt-in forms, I’m in love with Thrive Leads! They have so many options. You can tweak these forms all you want and then save them as templates.

Any type of form you want, Thrive can make it happen. Take a look:

  • Welcome mats – Full page opt-ins similar to Jeff Bullas’ home page. These are supposedly the highest converting. I can’t wait to test.
  • Standard pop-ups – I use these as “exit pop-ups”, where visitors are prompted to opt-in right before they leave.
  • In-content – Clicking on an image or a link triggers a pop-up. I use these for all of my content upgrades.
  • Ribbon forms – Appear as a bar across the top of your website, like the one on Twelveskip’s site.
  • Sidebars – Display on the right side of pages and posts.
  • Footers – Sit at the bottom of your site and prompt people after they read your content.

Can you see how powerful freebies are? I highly recommend purchasing the Thrive Leads’ plugin ($67 one-time fee) and experimenting with each opt-in form.

5) Landing Pages

WHERE TO PUT: THESE ARE CUSTOM PAGES

If we’re really going to make our opt-in forms stand out, we need to give them a dedicated landing page. Here’s why:

All the forms mentioned in step #7 are designed to appear on an existing page or post on your website. They’ll pop up, slide in, slide down, or hang out at the top/bottom of a page. If we really want to shake things up, we’ll put our opt-in form on an entirely separate page, so people can’t help but notice it.

How is a landing page is different from other pages on your website?

Great question! I scratched my head on this one too at first. What makes landing pages different is that they include only 3 things:

  1. Details about your freebie
  2. A call to action (step #6 below)
  3. Your opt-in form

That’s it! The best converting landing pages are all about freebies and nothing else. We’re talking no blog posts, pages, sidebars, or even top navigation. Basically, no ANYTHING that might distract people from signing up for your freebie.

So there you have it! That’s my skinny on landing page best practices. Yours can be short and sweet (an image plus a few bullet points) or long and detailed (more copy, more images, more wow).

Wondering how to make a landing page? I’ve got 2 options for you:

  • LeadPages has a huge library of high-converting templates that you can easily tweak to suit both your freebie and brand. While I like their templates, I find that customizing them takes more work than I want. Plus, the $25 monthly fee is too steep, in my book.
  • Thrive Content Builder is a relatively new plugin that’s been giving LeadPages a run lately. These guys boast a huge template library too (162 and counting) and charge only $67, with a full year of support. That’s a one-time fee and a no-brainer, right?

6) Call-to-Actions

WHERE TO PUT: EVERYWHERE

As people read your content, you want to encourage them to take another step. The way to do that is to use a combination of buttons, links, and copy that calls them to action (hence the term “call-to-actions” or “CTAs”).

CTAs have the smallest amount of copy you’re likely to write, but don’t let that fool you! This is one of those cases where big things definitely come in small packages. Here are a few CTA examples:

  • I’m In!
  • Heck Yes!
  • Hook Me Up!
  • Get Started Here

You’re probably thinking Why are CTAs such a big deal? Can’t I just say “Download” or Buy Now” and that’s it?

It depends. Sometimes that will work and other times not so much. I recommend brainstorming your CTA a bit more. If you hang in there, you’re likely to come up with text for your CTA button and heading that will get people fired up to sign up.

Take a look at Melyssa Griffin‘s website. See how she prompts people to Take Action: Click An Option Below…? It doesn’t get any clearer than that! Follow this example with your call-to-actions and you’ll be buildin’ your machine, quick like.

You want these babies ev’rywhere:

  • On your home page
  • About page
  • Contact page
  • Blog posts
  • Opt-in forms
  • Landing pages
  • Thank you pages
  • Sales pages

Remember, CTAs are a huge part of creating an effective content funnel. People need to be drawn to both the copy and design of your call-to-action. This is the way you’ll be able to capture their attention long enough to guide them through your sign-up process.

Related: How to Build Your Blog Audience (Like You Mean Business)

7) Thank You Page

WHERE TO PUT: THIS IS A CUSTOM PAGE

When people opt-in, you need a way to assure them that their freebie is on its way. That’s where a thank you page comes in. You literally say something like Thanks for signing up! Your freebie is on its way! And leave it at that.

Nope, sorry. In reality, we can’t leave it at that. 🙁

We need to dig into the real potential of thank you pages and help people take the next step. After all, they’ve already raised their hands and said yes, so they’re likely ready to build a relationship, or maybe even purchase a low-cost product. Now we’re talkin’.

This page has some serious lifting to do! First, think about what you want people to do. Then make sure your thank you page includes:

  • A confirmation message
  • Specific instructions on what to do next
  • A clear call-to-action (step #6 above)

Speaking of CTAs again, here are some great call to actions for this page:

  • Ask people to whitelist your email address
  • Share on social media
  • Register for a webinar or event
  • Purchase a low-dollar offer
  • Purchase a related or affiliate product

Whatever you do, please make this page a priority! This is a huge website optimization step. Don’t back-burner it or treat it as an afterthought. Your thank you page doesn’t need to be long and it doesn’t need to be pretty. It just needs to prompt people to take a very specific action.

8) A sales process

What I mean by this is that you need a system to deliver your freebie, prime people for future products, and nurture the relationship you’ve started to build with your subscribers. That’s where automated email marketing comes in.

What you want to do is to create a 2-email sequence (one to deliver the freebie and one to introduce an offer). Now I get that delivering a freebie doesn’t sound like a sales process, but let’s take a closer look, k?

First off, you send an email that delivers your freebie. No brainer, right? You’ll want to tag subscribers with this particular freebie and then you can:

  • Send them weekly updates and blog posts
  • Tell them about a product you’re creating that is related to the freebie and offers tons more value
  • Tell them about a service you provide, again related to the freebie
  • Share an affiliate product that will help them implement an action step in your freebie

Can you see how this is shaping up into a bangin’ sales process?

Now that you know your audience and what they’re trying to achieve, your job is to build a relationship with them and get them excited about buying.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you bombard subscribers with salesy emails, but you get my gist. Setting up an email sequence to deliver your freebie is the first step in building your sales process, and it’s all going to happen on the same platform.

Looking for an email service provider? I recently switched from Infusionsoft to ConvertKit and am loving it. MailChimp is a good option here too.

9) Plugins

WHERE TO PUT: SEE BELOW

Let’s take a look at some plugins that will help turn your website into a sales machine. I’ve already shared Thrive Leads and Thrive Content Builder, which you can purchase at Thrive Themes. Here’s how to use other plugins that will turbocharge your website:

Shareaholic

Put at the bottom of your posts

See the social media buttons at the bottom of this post? Those are share buttons from Shareaholic, which is a free plugin. Woop Woop! Share buttons encourage people to share your posts and send a strong social signal that your content is popular.

You can also place share buttons at the top of your posts or on the left side. I’m excited to try Social Warfare, but right now I’m shying away from their $25 monthly fees.

Contextual Related Posts

Put below your share buttons

A lot of what we’re doing with plugins is encouraging people to click through to other sections of our website. That’s exactly what Contextual Related Posts does best. Once you install this plugin, you can display 3-4 related posts based on the content of your current post. It’s easy to tweak the design too.

Google Analytics

Add to the <head> tag of your website

If you hired a sales person, you wouldn’t cross your fingers and hope for the best. You would track and measure their performance. The same is true with your website. You have to know which pages are most popular so you can optimize them for even more conversions.

Many themes have a clear section for adding Google Analytics, so you may not need this. But in case things get wonky and it’s not as easy as it seems, install this plugin, add your code, and you’re all set.

I recommend logging in to Google Analytics to check your site’s performance at least once a month.

Yoast SEO

Nothing to “put” here. Simply follow the SEO prompts at the bottom of the WordPress edit window.

Popping up in search engines doesn’t happen overnight, but anything worth having is worth waiting for, right? That’s how SEO works. You lay the groundwork, plant your seeds, and then wait for spring.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on SEO lately, and let me just say that it’s a big deal.

Get more traffic? Check.
Get clear on your ideal customers? Check.
Create better content? Check.

If you’re wondering how to make a blog post SEO-friendly and haven’t already installed this plugin yet, I say get on it. What Yoast SEO will do is prompt you with a checklist of things that will help you optimize your blog posts. Once you see a green light (right up there near the Publish button), you’re all set.

While this handy tool doesn’t replace SEO keywords or even Google’s ranking algorithms, it will help you optimize your posts with SEO-friendly content, title, headings, tags, descriptions, images, and more.

Need more SEO tips? I cover the basics of it here. If you want, you can also download the SEO checklist I created so you know how to get your posts ranked on Google. Click the image below to download.

SEO Checklist For Creating An SEO-Friendly Website

Related: 12 Blogger Plugins to Skyrocket Your Blog

Related: 7 Things Every Blogger Should Do After You Hit Publish

There you go! Those are my 9 website optimization tips to help you put your blog on autopilot and generate leads and sales while you sleep. Nite nite.

Social Media Plan For More Traffic And Subscribers (Plus A Free Template)

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Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to help people find your content so you can build your audience! This post includes weekly blog tasks PLUS a social media marketing plan to drive massive traffic. Click through to see all the steps and download the planner!
Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to build your audience and get traffic to your content! This post includes the exact weekly blog tasks plus a downloadable social media marketing plan template. Click through to find out exactly what you should be doing to promote your posts like a pro!

Ready to be visible, so people can find your content and you can sell more products? This post includes a daily and weekly social media plan to help you build a following and drive traffic to your posts.Ok, here we go. Ready for part #2 of the Build Your Blog Audience + Traffic series?

I’ve got a complete social media plan for getting your blog posts found by more people, plus getting more people to sign up for your email list.

In part #1, we talked about some fundamental ways to get more blog traffic and build your audience.

We uncovered how important it is to really, really know your target audience, how to set monthly goals, and some of the things you should be doing every week to put your content out there like you mean business…like you want people to find you.

And in this post, we looked at an overall social media strategy for your business. Things like growing your following, best times to share, analytics, and more.

Today, let’s take a deep dive on specific blogging tasks we should be doing each week to get more social media traffic, k? I want to put content creation and promotion under a microscope so we can explode our reach across all social media platforms.

What I really want is for us to have a blogging workflow that we can follow, one that will help us stay on track and get into a routine of things we do each and every week, over and over again. Like a machine.

Here’s what I’m covering in this post:

  • Researching blog topics
  • Writing posts
  • Search engine optimization
  • Creating images
  • Sharing + promoting
  • Repurposing
  • Scheduling
  • Rinse + repeat 🙂

Ready for it? Let’s create a social media strategy for more traffic.

First, this is what we’re going to be creating:

social media plan templateAnd this is the blog post checklist we’ll use to make sure we get everything done:
blog post checklist
If you want, you can grab my social media plan to start getting more traffic and subscribers. Click the image below to download it.

social media strategy template

ON THE FIRST SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH:

1) Research blog topics

To get the most benefit from this social media plan, you need to stick to a regular blogging schedule. One of the best ways to do that is to have your topics ready to go, so all you have to do is start writing.

Ha! I know, I know, if only it were that easy!!

Seriously though, remember the blog themes we talked about? What you want to do is on the first Sunday of every month, dig into your themes and come up with blog post ideas around them.

You may be thinking Why should I even spend time researching? I already know what I want to say and this will just hold me up!

I get it. Even though it might feel like a waste of time upfront, if you hang in there with me, you’re going to get back your time plus tons of valuable insight. Here’s why:

  • Knowing what you’re going to cover ahead of time means less time struggling with what to write during the week.
  • Your content is going to speak to what your audience really needs vs what you think they need, which is priceless.
  • Researching content is about more than just blog ideas – you’ll see how people spin their blog titles too, which is a biggie for driving traffic.

Have I convinced you yet?

Now that you know what you want to write, it’s time to create your blogging workflow.

Related: 3 Places to Find Your Next 30 Blog Ideas

Related: Why You Need a Social Media Strategy (And How to Create One That Works)

 

MONDAY

2) Write the post

Try to write when you feel most productive, and more importantly, when you can block out time with no interruptions or distractions. What this looks like is no email, no calls, no texts. Time to shut out the world and focus here. Writing is a creative process and you need the space to go all in…

You can even use my Time Blocking Template to help protect your sacred writing time!

In terms of how much time to set aside, it really depends on the length of your posts. I tend to write longer posts that take me about 5-6 hours. You may need more or less time, and that’s perfectly ok.

What you can do, if you like, is to alternate between longer and shorter posts. The first week, maybe you write a longer post. Then the next week, you write a shorter one. Whatever you do, please don’t write less than 1000 words! We want to provide real value for our readers, PLUS give our work a fighting chance to rank on Google.

Good so far?

Oops…almost forgot one thing:

Make sure you format your posts with subheadings and bullet points so they’re easy to read. Use short sentences and even shorter words, e.g. hard vs difficult. You want that when people scan your posts, they get what you’re saying without having to work for it.

You’re doing great! Next, let’s get a jump on Tuesday.

TUESDAY

3) Optimize for search engines

Tuesday is the perfect day to choose your target keyword and add it to your content, tags, and blog title. This way you have a final title for blog and social media images, which we’re going to create on Tuesday too, right after we sprinkle some SEO magic on it.

The reason I recommend optimizing your post AFTER you write it, and not before, is because it’s so important to focus on Step #1 first. The only thing you should be thinking about when you’re writing is how to get your readers from point A to point Z.

Then, after that, we can get jiggy with SEO.

If you’re curious about how best to optimize your posts, this post includes an SEO blog checklist you can download to help you remember all the steps.

Before we move on to images, let’s look at how to select the perfect target keyword. We’ll need Google’s Keyword Planner for this.

I usually select “Search for new keywords related to a phrase, website or category”. Your results will look something like the image below. What you’re looking for are keywords related to your search term that have a decent search volume and low to medium competition.

 

How to use google keyword planner

Once you select your target keyword, follow the steps listed in the SEO blog checklist to add it to your post.

And just in case you have a hard time finding the keyword planner once you log in, it’s hiding out in the “Tools” menu.

4) Create blog and social media images

#2FORTUESDAY We’re doublin’ up on Tuesday, so right after you’re done with step #3, it’s time to create share images.

Canva is a great tool for this. You can create and save branded templates with your logo, colors, fonts, and other brand elements all in there, ready to go.

I like to take my images one step further and use Photoshop. If you’re curious about Photoshop, this tutorial and social media template will help you get started.

Ok, so now you’re probably thinking What social media sites do I need images for, and what size should they be?

I’ve got all of that covered for you right here!

WEDNESDAY

5) Create a content upgrade

High five! We’re jammin’ and it’s only Wednesday. Let’s keep at it.

Content upgrades are extra freebies…things like checklists, cheat sheets, eBooks, worksheets, and templates…that extend on your post with even more value. They’re optional, meaning that you don’t have to create one in order to publish your post and promote it.

Hmm…or do you?

Nope. Changed my mind. You need ’em.

The reason is that this is the Blog Audience + Traffic series. What that means is that we’re building a community…our crew, our tribe. To do that, we need a way to stay in touch with the people who visit our site. The last thing we want is to throw a slammin’ blog party and then have people peace out before the fun starts.

Also, if you remember from part #1 of this series, freebies are a huge piece of our content funnel.

To give you an example of this, I’ve built my list to 4K in the last 3-1/2 months with nothing more than freebies. We’re talking no guest posts, ads, webinars, landing pages…none of that noise! Just straight up opt-in forms and freebies.

Can you see how powerful they are?

Now, I get that freebies take a lot of time to make, so believe me, I’m not recommending that you include one with every post.

Instead, you can alternate each week, the same way we’re alternating between longer and shorter posts (Monday, above). So one week you add a freebie, the next week you skip it, and so on.

If you’re wondering how to create your freebie, Pages, Word, Google Docs, and Canva or all good choices. I’ve been using InDesign forever so that’s what I prefer. Oh, and if you’re interested in learning how to create eBooks with InDesign, please let me know in the comments!

THURSDAY

6) Add the upgrade to your post

This part sounds simple, right? It actually takes a few more steps than you might think. What you’re doing is creating a 2-step opt-in form, where an image or a link triggers a pop-up. So let’s break that down, k?

First, there’s the link or image

I’ve found that a graphic button with a call to action like “Click here to download” works better than a text link. Images grab people’s attention more than links, especially if you’re following the blog SEO checklist and interlinking posts for search engines. All of those links can get lost after a while.

But a big, bold, graphic button? No one’s glazing over that, friend! The other thing to include in your button is an image of your worksheet or checklist. You want to let people see how helpful your freebie is, type thing.

Ok, so what tools should you use?

Great question! See those tools you used on Tuesday to create blog + social media images? You can use the same ones for your call to action button.

Next up, the opt in form

This is the form that pops-up when someone clicks on the button.

I use Thrive Leads because I just loove it so much, but you can use OptinMonster, Leadpages, or SumoMe too. Just remember to connect the form to MailChimp, ConvertKit or any email platform you currently use.

Finally! Write a delivery email

We need a way to send the freebie to new subscribers.

What that looks like is when someone signs up for your freebie, they get a “tag” that triggers an email sequence  (which is just a fancy way of saying “send more than one email”). Here’s an example of a delivery sequence:

  • Your first email will say something like “Thanks so much! Here’s your download.”
  • Then you follow-up a few days later with a reminder “How’s it going with the freebie? If you haven’t downloaded it yet, here’s the link again.”
  • The idea is to schedule these emails ahead of time, so it’s all on autopilot.

Ok, I know you’re probably thinking This is so much stuff, and it all sounds pretty techie!

I hear ya! There are a lot of steps here, which is why I like to think of Thursdays as #TECHTHURSDAY. Setting all of this up definitely takes a different part of your brain than writing or even creating images.

Remember too that once you set up your first sequence, you can duplicate it for the next one. And you only have to connect your service once to the form. Then you’re good to go.

Like anything else, the more freebies you create and add to your posts, the faster it will go. This is another one of those things where, if you hang in there with it, your investment will pay off later on as your audience and community grow and grow.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking If this is a social media plan, why are we spending so much time on blogging tips? What about tips for social media?

I hear ya! Everything we’ve covered so far is about blogging and creating content.

The reason is because content is the glue that makes social media so sticky. You need to focus on blogging from Monday through Thursday so that you have original content to share. That’s where the traffic part comes in! If you hang in there, over the next few days we’ll turn our attention to sharing and promotion. Everything will come together into a bangin’ social media plan soon. Pinky swear.

Real quick before we move on, there’s one more thing to do:

Check your Google Analytics at least once a month. What you’re looking for are the top 5-10 posts that are most popular. These are the ones with serious muscle, the ones driving the most traffic to your site. Make sure you go back and add a freebie to each of these if you haven’t already.

Next up: Time to pounce on social media!

FRIDAY

7) Publish and promote

#TGIF Almost there…just a few days left. You can do this…

First, publish your post

Whatever you do, please proofread your post before you publish it! I’m terrible at this… I’m always finding grammatical errors and typos in my posts months after they go live. Ugh. Sooo frustrating…and the longer the post, the more typos.

Do me one better here, friend. Give your post a once-over before you publish it.

Next, promote your post

This is the most important thing to do next, and I’m going to show you how to do it so that you get maximum visibility and traffic. Let’s look at the blog promotion tasks in 3 stages, done over the next 3 days:

  1. Share on social media, bookmarking sites, and content communities
  2. Turn your post into other types of content to reach even more people
  3. Create and schedule additional updates, tweets, and pins

Some experts, like Derek Halpern, recommend applying the 80/20 rule to blog promotion. This means that you spend 80% of your time promoting, and 20% writing. Honestly, I think my split is more like 100/100 🙂

Can you see why Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are such important days?

Now you’re probably thinking How the heck am I going to do all of this without pulling my hair out?

I get it, I really do! It took me months to figure out a workflow that didn’t leave me feeling flustered. This is another one of those things where you need to hang in there! It’s going to get so much easier as you move through it. First of all, the weekly blogging plan we’re covering today will help you keep a consistent schedule, where you’re doing the same tasks, on the same days, each week.

And once you run through the steps yourself and nail down your best workflow, it’ll be easy to pass the promotion tasks off to a virtual assistant. You will get your weekend back later on. Pinky swear.

 

Here’s the template I use to share my blog posts:

content marketing strategy

You can download the social media planning calendar to share your blog posts too.
social media planning calendar

Ok, with that being said, Friday is all about sharing on social media and bookmarking sites.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • And so many others…

Too much to list in this post… For the full list of sites, I recommend downloading the blog promo worksheet above.

SATURDAY

Repurpose your post

Repurposing your post is a techie way of saying turn it into something else, like a video, quick tip, Slideshare, or podcast. For our purposes today, let’s just focus on turning the post into:

  • A 1-2 minute video
  • Second Pinterest pin
  • Quick tip graphic
  • More tweets and updates

This is a much shorter list, and a lot easier to get your head around, right? Another way to think of it is that at the end of the week you’re going to have these assets for your post:

  • The post itself
  • A video
  • A quick tip graphic

I know that this sounds like a lot!

But really, it goes much quicker than you think. What you can do is use the same quick tip for your graphic and your video. And if you think about it, all you’re really doing is taking what you’ve already “scripted”, selecting a few highlights from it, and turning them into something new. Plus, in my experience, recording video takes sooo much less time than writing a post.

For the video

You can use whatever you have available right now. Let’s not get hung up on techie recording gear, k? Your iPhone or webcam is the perfect starting place. The point here is to simply get into the habit of turning your posts into videos.

Once you’re recording video on the regular, I recommend the Blue Yeti mic to help amplify your audio.

To record the video itself, I started out with QuickTime and now use ScreenFlow, mainly because of the editing features. And my brother has been bangin’ out amazing videos using Camtasia on his PC. All of these are good choices, in my book.

For the quick tip graphic

You got it. Same tools from Tuesday, step #4.

Additional tweets and updates

For each post, I write 15 additional tweets, and 3-4 updates for Facebook and LinkedIn, all linking to the post.

Here’s what those look like:

social media marketing plan template - TwitterI should point out that these tweets and updates are all slightly different. What you don’t want to do is to repeat the same tweet over and over again!

In the next step, we’ll schedule these tweets (plus our new content + graphics) to be shared over the next week. This will give us an initial spike in blog traffic.

Related: How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media

SUNDAY

Schedule updates, tweets, and pins

Woo! You’re really hangin’ in there!

This (almost) last step is actually pretty easy. All we need to do is to queue up our content for sharing.

Can you see how all of your hard work is paying off here? You have more content to share on more platforms, which means more people seeing your post.

More types of content = more platforms = a broader audience.

This is why I love social media scheduling tools so much! Even though you’re building your following on just 1-2 social media sites (as I mention in this post), these tools allow you to “set it and forget it” on the others, so to speak. That’s a win-win, no?

If you’re curious, in this post I share my favorite scheduling tools.

THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

Share to Facebook group promo threads

Almost there! One last thing…

If we’re really going to nail this blog and social media plan, we can’t forget Facebook groups, which can leave your head spinning if you don’t have a system in place.

Hmm…why is that?

I’ve been thinking about this, and the answer is that it really comes down to each group having its own rules, daily prompts, and promo days. The schedules are different enough that it makes them hard to track. You can feel like a scrambled egg trying to keep up with which group has a promo thread each day.

That said, FB is my #2 source of traffic, and I’m sure it must be because of groups. It’s got to be. I only have 400 or so fans. 🙂

So how do you promote your posts through Facebook Groups?

Great question! First of all, if you’re not in groups already, I would spend a few days looking for groups in your niche, reading through their descriptions, checking their rules, and so on.

What you’re looking for are groups with high engagement that have “Promo Wednesdays” type thing, where you can share this week’s post. Even if the group doesn’t allow promotions, you can usually include your link in a thread comment. Of course, you should check the group rules first.

Once you’re in a few groups, I recommend using a spreadsheet to keep track of each group’s promo days. From there, all you need to do is schedule Facebook posts in those threads (aka remember to share on those days).

If you’re curious, here’s what my Facebook promo schedule looks like:

schedule Facebook postsSo there you have it! If you follow these steps every week, you will start doubling and tripling your blog traffic while you build your audience at the same time. Here’s the social media planning template again so you can get started:

social media planning template

How to Build Your Blog Audience (Like You Mean Business)

,
How to Grow Your Blog Audience + Traffic | Ready to get your blog or business found by more people? This post is for you! It includes 4 things every blogger and online entrepreneur should do to get maximum visibility, build your list and create a platform for making money. Plus, it includes a FREE weekly blog planner to help you stay on track. Click through to view it!

How to Build Your Blog Audience Like You Mean Business | Here are 4 things every blogger and entrepreneur should do to get more traffic, build your list, and create a platform for making money with your blog. PLUS, it includes a free weekly blog planner so you know what to do each day to get maximum benefit. Click through to view it!Seems like forever since my last post and I’m having a heck of a time getting back into it, even though it’s been just 2 weeks.

Have you ever experienced that?

Where you fall off your blogging schedule for a bit, and when you try to get back on, you have to force yourself. Somehow it winds up being so much harder than it should be, right?

This struggle is what’s been on my mind lately and today, I’m sharing a blogging workflow to help you (and me!) stick to our blogging schedules like we mean business. This will be part 1 of my Build Your Blog Audience + Traffic series, where I will be digging into ways to improve your visibility and traffic, and ultimately, set the stage for making money with your online business.

Here’s what I’m covering in this post:

  • Knowing who you want to reach
  • Why you should be thinking about content funnels, even if you’re starting out
  • Setting monthly blogging + social media goals
  • Specific things to do each week to build your audience and reach your goals

Ready for it? Let’s dive in.

Step #1) Know who you’re trying to reach

Building your blog audience starts right here. This is such a biggie and worth mentioning again and again, even though you’ve probably heard it a hundred times!

The reason is because knowing your audience is the foundation of your entire business and online presence. And if you have a weak foundation, it’s hard to build up from there, with me?

To really build your blog audience, you have to solve one specific problem for one specific person.

If you want, you can download my Find Your Niche Workbook to help you zero in on your sweet spot – the intersection where your audience hearts what you heart, and your skills and passions allow you to charge premium prices. Just click the image below to grab it.

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

Let’s say you’re all about nutrition and eating a healthy diet, and you want to pass on tips that you’ve learned to others so they can be fit and healthy too. Your goal is to sell nutrition eBooks and products that help people get from zero to fit with ease.

This is a great start, but we’re not quite there yet. “People who want to eat healthy” is too broad a market, especially in a crowded niche like health and fitness. Let’s dig a little deeper.

First of all, are you trying to reach primarily men or women?

In the fitness and health blogosphere, women typically account for about 75% of purchasing decisions, so my vote is to focus on women.

Ok, we’re really getting somewhere here, but we’re still skimming the surface with “Women who want to eat healthy”. Let’s dig deeper and narrow it down even more. To do that, it will help to look at why it’s hard for women to eat healthy.

I’m taking a quick stab here at a few pain points:

  • Truly healthy foods are not easy to find
  • Fast foods, in large portions, are everywhere
  • No time to research healthy foods, so you just eat what’s available
  • Don’t know how much to eat, what to eat and when to eat it
  • You feel like you “deserve” a treat during (and after) a hectic day
  • Bagel Monday’s and Pizza Friday’s at the office are hard to resist

I’m sure there are even more problems we can uncover, but this gets us on the right track. Do you see how by doing this, we can really start connecting your blog biz GOALS to what your target audience NEEDS.

This is where the magic happens, and why knowing your audience is such an important step. After all, how can you build your blog audience if you don’t even know who your audience is, make sense?

If we look at just a few of the pain points listed above, our target audience might start looking like this:

Professional women aged 30-55 who want to eat healthy but struggle with a busy schedule, not knowing the right foods to eat and not enough time to make complicated meals at home.

When you really get this right, you’re going to build your audience and traffic with ease. Promise.

Step #2) Think of blogging as a content funnel

To make this step extra easy, I created the Blog Business Plan Workbook where I show you exactly how to create content that converts into sales. This is just one of the many “foundation” and “advanced” strategies I cover in the workbook to help you build a profitable blog. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about the Blog Business Plan Workbook.

Content funnels are one of those things where even thinking about them can make you feel flustered. You may be thinking What the heck is a content funnel, anyway?

Some people call them sales funnels. I prefer to think of them as content funnels mostly because I cringe at the thought of being salesy. If you’re curious, funnels are how you move people through a process of:

  • Getting to know you
  • Starting to like you
  • Trusting you as an authority
  • And finally, purchasing from you

The way you move people through a funnel is with content, which is why I think content funnels are what we’re really talking about here, more so than sales funnels. And when I say content funnels, I mean all content…blog posts, webinars, videos, podcasts, emails, sales pages…all of it.

See how thinking about it this way marries each blog post to a sales system?

Your content becomes a system of building blocks that are interconnected. When you write a blog post, what you’re really doing is setting the early stages for people to buy. Here’s what that content funnel might look like:

Thinking of blog posts as part of a content funnel will help you create a blog and social media plan that builds your audience and traffic quickly.In other words, a blog post leads to a freebie, which leads to a free course or training, which leads to a paid course or eBook. Can you see how this is all coming together here?

Now in terms of the funnel itself, consistent blogging will help people get to know/like/trust you. So my question for you is:

What would you like your audience to buy from you?

That’s a big question, I know. You’re probably thinking I have no idea what product to create. I really need more traffic right now before I can figure that out!

I get it. This is one of those things where starting with your end game is actually going to help you get traffic and build your blog audience faster. The reason is because you’re going to be laser focused with each post and frame it around your future products, even if right now you’re not sure exactly what those products are!

This means that you want to create content around what your audience most needs, and that content is going to be the “top of your funnel”. Over time, you’ll see which posts resonate the most with your audience and which products to create around them.

Can you see how step #1 helps us create bangin’ content funnels too? Let’s look at some of the pain points from our earlier example:

  • Truly healthy foods are not easy to find
  • Don’t know how much to eat, what to eat and when to eat it
  • Bagel Monday and Pizza Fridays at the office are hard to resist

Here are some blog themes that would be perfect launching pads for future products:

  • Theme #1: Quick, easy recipes
  • Theme #2: The mindset of eating healthy
  • Theme #3: Meal plans and diet guidance

There’s more to sales funnels than this, but for now, just start thinking about each post as having 2 jobs:

  1. To help your audience solve a specific problem
  2. To create a platform for future products and making money

3) Set monthly blog + social media goals

This is another area where starting with the end game will help you focus your priorities each week. From our Blog Profit Plan series, we already know the 4 things we need to focus on each month: content, traffic, subscribers, and profit.

So let’s say this month we want to:

  • Write 6 blog posts (content)
  • Get 35K unique visitors (traffic)
  • Build our list to 4,500 (subscribers)
  • Offer a free course that leads to a paid course (profit)

Your goals may look much different than this, and that’s perfectly ok. Maybe what you really want to do is to get your first 100 subscribers, or even to write your first few blog posts. Or, maybe you have an eBook you’d like to sell.

The point is to be very specific with your goals and know that you can achieve them, based on your schedule and where you’re at in your blog biz journey right now.

If you want, you can download my sample monthly blog plan that shows you the exact steps to getting more traffic to your blog posts and your business. Click the image below to download it.

Download my Blog + Social Media Plan to help you build your blog traffic and audience quickly and with ease!

Next, let’s look at how we’re going to achieve our monthly goals…

Step #4) Create a blogging workflow

If only writing a blog post was as easy as writing the post, know what I mean?

In reality, there are a whole slew of things to do if we’re going to build our blog audience and traffic like we mean business. A single post can easily take the whole week to create when you blog with intention, which of course is what you do!

You have to do things like:

  • Research post ideas
  • Create images
  • Promote the post
  • Create a freebie
  • Write an email delivering the freebie

And if we break that down even more, our list looks more like this:

Weekly Blog + Social Media Plan to get more traffic to your website

And our monthly blog calendar looks like this:Sample Monthly Blog + Social Media PlanWhew! It’s a lot. And all of it works like a machine to help you build the platform for your sales/content funnels we talked about. This is what’s really going to help us build our blog audience and traffic.

Here are the planner and checklist so you can start creating your own traffic machine. This is the same monthly plan that has helped me get 40K visitors and 4K subscribers in 3 months. Click the image below to download.

Download my Blog + Social Media Plan to help you build your blog traffic and audience quickly and with ease!

I came up with this blog plan after months of experimenting and trying to figure out a workflow that was easy to follow each week.

With this planner, you spread out individual blog tasks (and even batch them if you can). Remember, you’ve got more to do than just write a post if you really want to build your blog audience and traffic!

Here’s what “writing a blog post” looks like:

  • Research blog topics
  • Write the post
  • Make it SEO-findable
  • Create blog images
  • Create social media images
  • Create a freebie
  • Add the freebie to your post
  • Integrate the freebie with MailChimp, ConvertKit or other email platform
  • Proofread and publish
  • Share with your subscribers
  • Share on social media and other channels
  • Repurpose as a quick tip graphic
  • Create a second pin for Pinterest
  • Repurpose as a short video
  • Write more tweets and updates
  • Schedule updates, tweets, the video, and quick tip
  • Share to Facebook group promo threads throughout the week

I recommend spreading these tasks out over the week for a few reasons:

First of all, building your blog audience takes time and there are a lot of pieces involved. Trying to cram every piece into just a day or two will leave you feeling frazzled, kinda like you’re falling behind with all of it. Spreading it out will make you feel calm, centered and in control of your blog biz.

The other reason is that when you think about it, all of the tasks listed above are wildly different. It takes a different head to write a post than to create graphics or even a freebie. And it’s a completely different “techie” head for opt-in forms, email integration, sequences, and so on.

We already know how task-shifting can act like a lead weight on your brain. Too much task-shifting inside of any given day will slow you down and make you feel foggy. What we want is to speed things up, right?

So there you have it. That’s a wrap for part #1 of The Build Your Blog Audience + Traffic series.

Next up: part #2, where I’ll drill down on each of the weekly blog tasks and strategies/tools to get it all done.

What’s your blogging workflow? Any tips to add to the list? Let’s hear it!

Download my Blog + Social Media Plan to help you build your blog traffic and audience quickly and with ease!

How to Be Successful Blogging When You Feel Like You’re Failing


How to Be Successful Blogging When Feel Like You’re Failing | Are you spending a lot of time on your blog, but not as far along as you want? Or, maybe you’ve tried blogging before without much success and are afraid to jump back in. If so, I hear ya! This post includes 6 tip to help you turn all that around and build the blog biz of your dreams!

How to Be Successful Blogging When You Feel Like You’re Failing | Are you spending a lot of time on your blog, but not as far along as you want? Or, maybe you’ve tried blogging before without much success and are afraid to jump back in. If so, I hear ya! This post includes 6 tip to help you turn all that around and build the blog biz of your dreams!Hey there! Let me preface this post by saying that this is going to be a little different.

I usually try to give you guys actionable tips…things you can apply in a reasonable time frame that will accelerate your growth and help you be successful blogging and in your business.

Buut, this whole being-an-entrepreneur thing has been on my mind lately, and today I’m sharing a bit of my story, mostly so you’ll understand why it’s been on my mind. My hope is that it will inspire you to never quit, to always keep going, to believe in yourself, and to hold on to that special thing you’ve been put on this earth to do.

Ok, first, a little bit about me…

As a young girl, I saw my dad work his tail off to grow the family business. It was an Air Wick franchise that he ran from our home, which meant our whole family worked hard too. My sister and I learned to do payroll, balance checkbooks, and some other light accounting stuff.

By the time we moved the office to a physical location, I was doing just about everything for the biz…filing, answering phones, handling shipments, inventory, cleaning, delivering, attending trade shows, installing stick-ups, even cleaning up sewage spills (ick!).

It wasn’t easy or glamorous work, but it was a crazy thrill to be a part of it…the brainstorming, the hustling, the troubleshooting, the scrambling, the shifting gears…anything to make it all work.

I’m sure that it’s this experience, at such a young age, that made me fall in love with being an entrepreneur. And it most definitely shaped my worldview, which is:

I believe that we were put on this earth to create, to share, and to realize our true potential. And to never let anyone else tell us how much we should make, what title we should have, or what ceiling is too high.

Now, I did hold a job for a short time after college, but that was really it. When my boss offered me a raise and a promotion, I politely declined because I had seen what my dad had built, and I wanted that too. I wanted a business and lifestyle that I loved, and I was willing to work hard to get it. I’ve been self-employed ever since then.

Throughout my business journey, I have learned a whole lot about what it takes to create a sustainable, scalable business. I’ve learned how to fail at to too (failures are successes in disguise, though, so I say that with a grain of salt).

I’ve had 9 businesses in these industries:

  • Manufacturing
  • Designing
  • Marketing + branding
  • Music
  • Fashion
  • Accessories
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Now blogging 🙂

Ok, so what’s been on my mind with all of this?

I’m so glad you asked! Something struck me the other day that may strike a chord with you too:

It’s one thing to be successful blogging when you’re fresh at it, with no frame of reference or expectations. It’s quite another to be successful blogging when you haven’t seen the growth you want, even after you’ve been at it for years.

Something similar happened to me, not with blogging but with my first business. I started a temporary tattoo business right after I left that one job I had. It turned out to be a total cash machine, almost like printing money. And after that win, I thought everything I touched was golden.

You know what? It took me 7 years to achieve anything even close to that kind of success again. Those were 7 hard years, I tell ya! I was working my butt off, trying to make something click, but nothing really did.

What made it harder was that I had been on top, and then suddenly here I was at the bottom. I felt shame and disappointment in myself. My confidence chipped away with every failure, and I wondered if I even had any good ideas left at all. I started questioning my self-worth as a human being.

When that kind of self-doubt happens, it’s hard to picture yourself succeeding. Failing, or even feeling like you’re failing, makes success look foggy and far away like.

But if you can get push aside the voices in your head (you know, the ones that tell you you can’t do it!), you’ll be able to see things clearly.

You’ll see that what we call failure is actually a straight ticket to success.

Or, as Brian Tracy says:

Failure is an absolute prerequisite for success. You learn to succeed by failing. All successful people know that it doesn’t come easy and they are bound to fail more than they will succeed at anything. While many people give up after failing at something, a successful person will persevere.

So, we’re going to keep on going, k?

You should aim to get as many failures under your belt as you can because the next one could very well be your success. And waaay too many entrepreneurs and bloggers stop right before they achieve success.

Now, maybe you’ve already had a blog or biz that didn’t knock it out of the park the way you thought. Or, maybe you haven’t even started your blog yet because you’re afraid you might fail.

I get that, I really do. Fear can be such a powerful force. But ya know what’s on the other side of fear?

Love. Beauty. Creativity. Abundance.

You just have to forge ahead, friend.

I’ll leave you with a few things I’ve learned along the way. I hope they help you overcome your fears, look failure straight in the eye, and punch the daylights out of it!

1) Create your success mantra

Live it, breathe it, say it, chant it. Every day. You are what you say and think, and mantras are amazingly powerful at resetting your mind. My mantra is “Don’t Quit”, and my favorite time to chant it is when I go for a run. It gets me all fired up and pumped to take on the world!

2) Envision your future self

A former business coach had me record a day in the life of my future self. He told me to play the recording when I first woke up in the morning, and again right before I went to sleep.

The idea is that when you go to sleep dreaming about your future self and reinforce it again as soon as you wake up, you’ll start moving throughout the day “as if” and step into your future self quickly.

This really does work, especially when you combine it with the mantra from Step #1. Little by little, your doubting voices quiet down and your conquer-the-world voice overpowers it.

The trick here is to force yourself to actually listen to it! If you can stick to it for at least a month, you’ll start to feel like you can achieve anything, which of course, you can!

3) Be kind to yourself

This is another one of those things that can be tricky to do, but hugely powerful. It’s so much easier to beat ourselves up than it is to nurture ourselves, no? Let’s ease up already! We did the best we could then, and today’s a new day!

Plus, I’m betting that you know more today than you did yesterday, so you won’t make the same mistake twice, right?

Which leads me to…

4) Evaluate your mistakes

Maybe you picked the wrong blog focus to begin with, or maybe you were never really sure what your blog was about in the first place.

Sometimes you can even quit too soon, right before you’re about to blow up.

Take a look at why you chose your niche and focus, what went wonky, and what you will change next time.

5) Analyze your resources

My biggest flops were a result of jumping in too soon, before I put everything down on paper and really evaluated if I had the resources and expertise to execute on it.

This is why having a business plan is so important!

To make it extra easy for you, I’ve created a Blog Business Plan Workbook you can customize for your biz! Just click the button below to grab it.

Get the Blog Business Plan Workbook and start turning your dream into a profitable online business!For instance, for my clothing line, I was the pattern maker, seamstress, designer, and sales person. And I didn’t even know how to make a dress pattern! I had zero expertise in this area, PLUS those are all entirely different (and huge) jobs.

It’s a formula for failure, but I couldn’t see it at the time. I’m such a hopeless DIY’er that I just kept muddling through!

You have to think long-term and make sure that you have the resources (aka marketing budget, overhead, stamina, etc) to sustain your blog biz until it takes off.

6) Pick the right focus!

Tada! We have a winner. This is the jackpot (and another reason why you need a business plan, in my book!).

If you’ve got a shaky blog topic, you’re going to have a hard time getting it off the ground. You want to build an audience for your blog and to do that, you have to be very clear about who you’re writing for.

Your goal should be to solve one specific problem for one specific person. When you combine that with your knowledge and skills, you have a perfect intersection that’s ripe for success.

Related: How to Attract Your Ideal Customer, Even if You’re Just Starting Out

Buut, when you’re fuzzy about who you’re speaking to or even what your blog is about, it’s hard to know how to steer it in the direction you want, hard to come up with the right products and services, and hard for people to define your brand (aka, they won’t know what box to put you in).

If you want, you can download this workbook to help you get clear on your blog’s niche and focus:

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

 

There you go! I say keep goin’, change what you need to change, and let’s knock it out of the park!

How to Use Photoshop to Create Branded Images For Your Blog and Social Media


Graphics Tutorial: How to Create Branded Social Media Images | Ready to create image templates that make your brand stand out and get noticed? In this Photoshop tutorial I show bloggers and entrepreneurs how to create image templates that will save you time and help you brand your biz. Click through to see all the steps!

Graphics Tutorial: How to Create Branded Social Media Images | Ready to create image templates that make your brand stand out and get noticed? In this tutorial I show bloggers and entrepreneurs how to create image templates that will save you time and brand your biz. Click through to see all the steps!I spend so much time creating images for social media and my blog. It’s a big deal to me that my images reflect my brand and are uniquely ME, and at the same time appealing in a way that makes people want to click.

I admit, sometimes I’m better at this than others! When it’s crunch time and I really need to hit that publish button, there are times when my images fall flat. I know it, and boy does it hurt…

I also know that half of your image has ev’rything to do with the blog title (more on titles here). We can create the most beautiful images the sun has ever seen, and if our titles miss the mark our post is going dark on us. That’s the way it goes, right? Sometimes we hit and sometimes we miss…

But I digress, because today it’s graphics tutorial time! I thought it might be fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at how I use Photoshop to create my blog and social media image templates. Woop woop!

Having social media image templates is one of those things that makes your day-to-day so much more productive. No more worrying about what to share on Instagram at the last minute, k?

Here’s what I’m covering in this graphics tutorial:

  • Template sizes and editing tools
  • Design tips to help your images stand out
  • The Photoshop workspace, tools, and palettes
  • Using Photoshop to create an image template

Now, you’re probably wondering about images sizes and editing tools, so let’s kick it off right there.

1) IMAGE SIZES AND EDITING TOOLS

What size templates do you need?

Great question! This one really got me too at first. Here’s what I’ve come up with that works well for me, and it may work for you too:

  • Twitter + Facebook: 1000 x 500 (I use this image as the Featured Image on my blog post)
  • Instagram: 1080 square
  • Pinterest: 800 x 1200 (this is the first image on my blog) and a second, longer pin

Here’s an example of the image size templates I use:

Graphics tutorial: sizes for blog and social media image templatesI know you’re probably thinking Do I really need 3 or 4 different image templates? I don’t even have time to create one!

Really, you don’t need all of these, but there are a few reasons these work for me. First off, these are the social media platforms I’ve decided to build a following on.  Second, I like changing up my Twitter and Facebook images 🙂 And last, I’ve made it a habit to create 2 pins for every post, so that’s why that extra pin is in there. If you’re curious about that, this post explains why.

So that’s what works for me. What you create is really a matter of preference. You may decide to create templates only for Instagram and Pinterest, then use the same square image for Facebook and Twitter (keep in mind that part of your image will be cut off in the feeds if you do this).

Or, maybe you’ll want to be laser-focused on Pinterest at first. That’s perfectly okay. Actually, better than okay… Pinterest is the bomb for traffic so starting here makes sense, you savvy blogger, you!

Related: Social Media Image Sizes [Profile Pics, Cover Photos & Shared Images]

Do you have to use Photoshop?

Absolutely not! Photoshop is just my preference. I’ve read that you can do amazing things with Canva, especially the paid version. I think Canva will even resize the templates for you. Done, done and done!

The reason I prefer Photoshop is that I’m a graphic designer and have used it for 20 years.  Let’s just say Photoshop and me are BFFs 🙂

If you’re unsure whether to use Canva or Photoshop, I recommend looking into Canva first. Even their free version is jam-packed with design features and starter templates that will make you look like a design pro even if you don’t feel like one yet!

If you’re still curious about Photoshop, here are a few reasons why I love it:

  • Working in layers makes it very easy to tweak any element of your image
  • Endless creativity with images, textures, overlays, and fonts
  • Advanced controls over font spacing and image alignment
  • There are times (like most!) when my image is almost perfect but not quite. I can easily retouch the photo to make it work better
  • Designing is fun, easy, and rewarding!
  • I could go on and on…

Ok, speaking of design, this is just one of those things that we can’t overlook, because it will have a huge impact on your traffic and subscribers. The more successful your content is visually = the more your business will grow. Make sense?

I’ve picked up quite a few design tips through years of trial and error, and I’m going to save you all of that time right now!

2) A FEW QUICK DESIGN TIPS

Color

Bright colors like oranges and reds get more shares, saves and repins. Think light, bright, poppy and you’ll be good. What this means is that any background images you use are open and airy. Whatever you do, don’t go dark! That’s where I started and darker images just don’t grab people’s attention the way that the brighter colors do.

Here’s an example of a dark image:

Graphics tutorial: example of a cluttered and dark pin image

Now I was right on track with the orange color in there, but the dark background pushes it back and makes it hard to notice in feeds. We want the exact opposite effect, so stick with lighter/brighter backgrounds and orange/red accents if you can.

A big bonus here is that people click on red the most, so your images will get more saves, repins and click-throughs.

Related: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out

Balance + Hierarchy

The other thing to pay attention to is the overall balance between elements. This is especially true with background images. Make sure things aren’t bumping into each other and distracting people.

Your overall goal is to make people focus on something and that, friends, is your blog title – not some fancy pants image in the background. Think of it like your text is the star of the show and graphics/images are just supporting actors and actresses.

Now, I get that design can be a delicate balancing act. It seems so much easier than it is, right? For instance, in the pin example above, my text gobbles up the entire pin! Talk about stars and their egos!

What happens when you make your fonts too big like that is that the image gets crowded and noisy. People won’t know what to focus on. Instead, leave some “white space”. What you’re really looking for is that fine line where your text stands out enough to grab people’s attention, but not so much that it ruins the show and clutters up your pin. Make sense?

Aahhh, this is so much better:

Graphics tutorial: Understanding balance and design

You see how this is more open and airy? Now we’re talkin’!

Fonts

It’s just too tempting to see beautiful fonts like these and want to use every single one of them in your image. Let’s resist, friend! This is definitely one of those things where less is more. Of course, you’re going to want to play with fonts, and you should. At some point, though, make sure you narrow down your choices to just 2 or 3.

Everything we’ve just covered here is part of creating a kickin’ brand. You want that when people see your images on different platforms, they instantly recognize them (and you!) because your brand is harmonious and cohesive everywhere.

Related: How to Create a Branding System for Your Blog and Business

Still with me? Great, let’s do this!

3) Photoshop Tools and Palettes

Before you create an image template, you need to understand the Photoshop workspace a bit, specifically the tools palette and layers palette.

First up, the tools palette

These are some of the tools you’ll use most frequently:

Graphics Tutorial: The Photoshop Tools paletteNow, you’re probably wondering what each of these tools does, so let’s get that out of the way right now:

The Move Tool – Pretty obvious, right? This is the tool you can use to move things around on your canvas. So if you’re on a layer and you want to move it but can’t, that’s why!

Marquee – When you want to tweak something on one of your layers, use this tool…

…or, use this one:

Lasso – Works the same as the marquee tool, but you can actually draw your selection area with the lasso. This is great when you want to get very specific and just change a piece of an image, for instance.

Eyedropper – Such an awesome tool! See a color in an image or graphic you want to use? You’re gonna love this. Just drop the eyedropper tool on it and that color will become active.

Eraser – To erase things!

Text – Add text to your canvas. Tip: before you start typing, drag the text tool to create a text box first. This will make resizing text so much easier. Pinky swear.

Shape – Create rectangles, rounded corners, circles and more with this tool. To see the other shapes, just hover over that little triangle in the bottom right corner.

Now that we have our tools covered, let’s start creating!

Over to the layers palette…

The layers palette looks a bit like the image below. I’m using a verrrry old version of Photoshop, so your workspace probably looks different than mine, but everything’s still in the same place, so we’re all good.

Graphics tutorial: Accessing the Photoshop layers paletteTo build your template, you’re going to have 3 different groups of layers. Say whaaa? Stay with me here, I’ll going to clear it all up for you right now. Time to build a template!

4) Finally! Let’s create an image template

For this tutorial, we’re creating a Pinterest template that is 800 x 1200px. The reason I’m focusing on Pinterest is that this is where the bulk of your traffic will come from, so it makes sense to nail that platform first.

Before we dive in, be sure to download this template so you can tweak it with your own amazing design: Photoshop Pin Template.

First, create a new document

Our first step is to create a new document. Make sure you’re working in pixels, at 72 pixel/inch, and the color mode is RGB color. I like to append my file names with the word “template”, like this:

Graphics tutorial: creating a new document in Photoshop for a pin image template.

Now I know that a blank canvas can look intimidating, so let’s fill this bad boy up with some creative genius, k? You’re probably thinking where do I even start? How do I start filling up this *$#@! screen with pieces I can use over and over?

This is where the layers palette comes in. That’s where all the components of your image will live, and each one is “layered” on top of the others. So any element layer #1, for instance, will appear behind layer #2, layer #3, and so on. Think of it like building blocks!

Graphics Tutorial: The Photoshop Layers PaletteFor our template, we need 3 groups of layers. We’re going to have a background (layer group #1), some text (layer group #2), and our logo/branding elements (layer group #3).

Uh, why am I calling them layer groups? Great question! Each element is going to have its own layer, and then those layers will be grouped according to function. You will probably be working with more than one text box, more than one image, and more than one graphic. Groups are a simple way to organize our layers into something that makes sense:

  • Logo/branding
  • Text
  • Background

Before we even create a layer group, though, we need to create our first layer. Let’s start by creating a background.

Next, create a background layer + group

To fill your entire background with a color, select the shape tool, fill it with a color and drag across the canvas. This will automatically create a new layer (if you want to change the color, just double click on the layer, like this:

Graphics tutorial: Adding a background and changing color in PhotoshopNext, select the shape layer from the layers palette. From the top right corner of the layer’s palette, you’ll see a tiny triangle shape. Select that, and then select “New Group from Layers”, like this:

Graphics tutorial: Working with layers and layer groups in PhotoshopWoop woop! See how we’re starting to create our layer groups? I recommend naming the new layer group “bg” or “background”. Now anything we want to add to the background, say an image for example, would go on its own layer inside the background group. This layer group will always be at the bottom of the layers palette. Text, branding and other graphic elements will go on top.

Next up, add text

You can use any text you like, but for the purpose of this post and because we’re talking about blogging here, let’s assume that the text will be your blog title image, cool?

Select the text tool, and drag it across the center of the canvas to create a text box, then start typing. Whatever you do, don’t leave the text tool without adding text to it! You will have a crazy hard time finding that text box if you do 🙂

Graphics tutorial: The Photoshop workspace and text toolNow the fun starts! It’s so much fun to play with different fonts and get creative. You may want to break your text apart into separate text boxes so that you can have more control over spacing, sizing, fonts, etc. That’s totally fine! I do it all the time.

Just remember to create a separate group layer for all text layers, like we did with the background group layer.

I’m going to say this again because it’s a biggie. You really want to find a style where you use 2-3 fonts (I use Gotham, Thirsty Script, and Angelface) and no more than 2 graphic elements. Then you want to use those same fonts and elements on every image you create! I know it’s so tempting to change fonts on every image, but the problem here is that your brand is going to start to look a bit all over the place, and you want to look consistent and cohesive. If you need some font inspiration, this post is a good read.

Related: How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog

I think I want to add another shape behind the text so that it really pops. Something like this…

Graphics tutorial: Putting a background behind text in Photoshop.See how our blank canvas is starting to turn into a masterpiece! So exciting!! But it’s still missing that wow factor, no? Let’s see how we can perk it up.

I’m going to add a background image and make the peach box behind the text slightly transparent, which will completely transform the image.

Graphics Tutorial: adding an image and changing opacity of a box in Photoshop.Phew! We’re almost there. Once you have your template styled the way you want, the only thing left to do is to add your logo and branding.

Add your logo and branding

This is so that people start to recognize your images and brand.

If your logo was created in Illustrator, this part is super easy! Keep both Photoshop and Illustrator open, select your logo and drag it over to Photoshop. It will automatically import as a vector smart object, which means that when you click on the logo layer in Photoshop, your logo will open up in Illustrator to edit it there.

I highly recommend adding your URL next to the logo, like this:

Graphics Tutorial: Adding your branding to the image template in PhotoshopThat’s all there is to it. I hope this graphics tutorial has made you fall in love with Photoshop! There is so much you can do once you become familiar with it. You know when you see something in your mind and just wish you could create it? You can with Photoshop! Anything you can imagine, you can find a way to do it. Now you might think the learning curve is too much, and I hear ya! It does take a little more time to master than Canva, but there’s also sooo much more you can do with it!

Have I convinced you yet? Grab the Photoshop template we created here and start tweaking it with your amazing design (free download, no email required!): Photoshop Pin Template

Let’s recap!

  • Create image templates for Pinterest and Instagram first. If you like you can add a third size for Facebook and Twitter, or use the square Instagram image.
  • Canva and PicMonkey are 2 other photo editors you can use as alternatives to Photoshop. I know Canva comes with preset templates to get you started, but as you’ve seen in this tutorial, turning a blank canvas into a template isn’t as daunting as it seems at first!
  • As you create the image templates, remember that you’re building your brand at the same time. Be intentional with your use of color, fonts, and other design elements. And of course, the star of the show is your blog title or text…
  • The tools and layers palettes are where the magic happens in Photoshop. Layers can be a bit confusing at first. If you hang in there with it, you’ll be on your way to creating masterpieces in no time. Promise. Just think of layers like a stack of bricks, where one is on top of the other. The bricks that are on the top will cover up the other bricks, so you can’t see them as well as the one on top. The same is true with layers. The top-most layer is going to cover that portion of the image beneath it.
  • Work in layer groups with your background as the bottom layer group, text in the middle, and branding on the top. This way your background will always be at the bottom and not covering up another part of the image (if it does, you know that your layers got rearranged somehow!)
  • Always add your logo and any branding elements or submarks to your images so that people will recognize your brand.

As you create your image templates, you may find these posts helpful:

I’m so excited for you guys! I love Photoshop and know you will too. Here’s the link to the template again so you can get started: Photoshop Pin Template.

Are you having fun with it? Let me know if/where you get stumped and I’ll try my best to help!

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: How to Start Making Money in 2017


How to Make Money from Affiliate Marketing | Have you been wanting to try affiliate marketing for your blog, but wonder if it's just too hard or maybe even a waste of time? This post is for you! I’m sharing everything I've learned from the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course to help entrepreneurs and bloggers get started with ease! Click through to see all the course highlights!

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners | Have you been wanting to try affiliate marketing for your blog, but wonder if it's just too hard or maybe even a waste of time? This post is for you! I’m sharing everything I've learned from the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course to help entrepreneurs and bloggers get started with affiliate marketing with ease! Click through to see all the course highlights!Guess what, friends! I cracked the code!

If you remember in our Blog Profit Plan series, I promised to be back with the scoop on affiliate marketing for beginners.

Bump. Here it is!

I just finished this amazing course by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and today I’m sharing what I’ve learned, why I (finally!) decided to buy it, and why I highly recommend it.

Here’s what I’m going to cover in this post:

  • A quick bit about Michelle
  • How affiliate marketing fits into our Blog Profit Plan
  • Why we even need a course for this
  • What I’ve learned from Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

If you don’t already know the basics of affiliate marketing, no worries, let me explain. Affiliate marketing is when you earn money by placing an affiliate link on your website or social media account, and have people purchase through your link. Basically, as an affiliate, you promote a product offered by another business.

Before we dive in, this post includes affiliate links! That’s my disclosure and one of the first things Michelle explains in the course. FTC regulations require you to let people know if you stand to benefit from recommending a product. No biggie here, right? We’re just being transparent and honest!

Ready to do this? Let’s dig in.

First, who is Michelle?

affiliate marketing training course with Michelle Schroeder-GardnerHands-down, Michelle is the go-to authority on affiliate marketing for newbies. She’s been blogging for about 6 years now, and from her income reports, it looks like she’s making about $100K a month from her blog. I call that an expert!

Before I share what I’ve learned from Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, if you’re ready to dive right in, I highly recommend Michelle’s course. It really helped me understand how to approach affiliate marketing the right way, with a full-blown success strategy. Click here to find out more about it!

How does affiliate marketing fit into our Blog Profit Plan?

Seems pretty obvious, right? Money = Profit!

If you missed the Blog Profit Plan series, here’s what we covered:

Hmmm… Should we call this part #4 of the series?

Seriously, you may be thinking about skipping affiliate marketing altogether. Maybe it sounds like it’s too hard or that it will be a waste of time, or that your followers just won’t be interested.

If you ask me, that’s leaving money on the table! And if we’re going to build hugely profitable blogs, we just can’t do that. We have to at least give affiliate marketing a try, right?

As long as we’re truly providing value for our audience, this shouldn’t be an issue. I say focus on creating epic content first, which is what Michelle recommends too, and then find affiliate products and programs that fit your content. Think of it like this: Your content dictates ev’rything.

Here are just a few reasons why I think affiliate marketing fits perfectly into our Blog Profit Plan in 2017 and beyond:

  • Affiliate marketing is an inexpensive way to start earning money from your blog. You don’t even have to create a product yourself.  Woop woop!
  • You can create just one blog post or social media post, and potentially earn money from it years down the line, as long as you maintain it and keep generating traffic to it.
  • You can earn a passive income doing what you already do, while promoting products that you already use and benefit from.
  • Affiliate links are much cleaner than ugly banners and ads. Ugh.
  • You actually don’t even need a website to get started. You can use social media to build your business by promoting affiliate products!
  • Most importantly, you help your readers find quality products that they will love and find useful.

The trick here is to approach how to start affiliate marketing for beginners the correct way, and that is exactly why Michelle’s course is so helpful.

Onward…

Next up, why do we even need a course?

Now I know what you’re thinking. Why do we even need a course, Sandra? Isn’t this stuff we can figure out on our own?

I hear ya! I’m a huge DIYer, so anything I can figure out on my own is where I’m headed first!

Here’s the thing, though. I started poking around for guides and articles on affiliate marketing and just couldn’t find what I needed. It was mostly all fluff and no stuff.

What I really wanted was a complete guide to getting started with affiliate marketing, which is exactly what Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is.

These are the specific questions I wanted answers to:

  • How much traffic do I need?
  • What’s the best way to get started?
  • Which affiliate programs should I use for my niche?
  • How are referral sales tracked?
  • How will I get paid?
  • Which affiliate programs require more/less traffic than others?
  • How can I make more than $500 a month as an affiliate?
  • Which affiliate programs are best for new bloggers?
  • How can I write the perfect affiliate post?
  • How can I get even more traffic to an affiliate post?

Phew! That’s a lot. Michelle covers all of this and more in the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course!

What really made me decide to take Michelle’s course?

Ultimately, I decided to dig into my pockets because I take my blog (and my time) seriously. And I wanted a book-ended strategy, not just a nugget here or there.

Ok, in truth, I probably would have been able to make sense of affiliate marketing without Michelle’s course. It would have taken weeks to find what I needed and make sense of it all, but I think I could have done it.

HOLD UP: Weeks?

Uh, no. Nope. Why would I waste my time when Michelle has made sense of it already with her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course? It’s all there in the title, friends!

This is another one of those things that, when you do it right, you will make back your investment…and more!

Remember, most bloggers make little to no money from affiliate marketing. Michelle, on the other hand, is killin’ it. We’re talkin’ tens of thousands a month!

That’s who we want to learn from, no?

If you’re as fired up about this as I am, click here to find out more about Michelle’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, and let’s both start putting affiliate marketing to work for our Blog Profit Plan, sound good?

What I learned from Michelle’s course as a beginner in affiliate marketing

Wow! There’s a lot. Let me try to break this down:

1) Anyone can start affiliate marketing

You don’t have to wait until you have thousands of followers or page visits. Even if you have a handful of followers or if you are a brand-new blogger, you can still be successful at affiliate marketing. Michelle even shows you which affiliate programs’ website to apply for if you’re new to blogging.

2) There’s a strategy for success

There are certain things you need to do in order to be successful with it, and there’s also a way not to do it, which is what I think most people do. For instance, it’s much better to go narrow and deep with affiliate marketing. This is a case where less is more! Start with a few affiliate programs and immerse yourself in the products; test promotion strategies and channels, get comfortable with them, and then tweak, update, and modify before you move on.

You also want to let your content and your audience dictate your affiliate programs. Don’t just go spamming your posts with 50 different products! Why not create a series from your blog posts first, focusing on content that your readers really love and value, and THEN research products and solutions to offer them?

3) The right way to leverage your blog and social media

There’s a wrong way, a ‘meh’ way, and a golden way to promote your affiliate links. It’s important to know which is which. We’re talking strategic placement, A/B testing landing pages, blog posts, interviews, tutorials, adding direct referral links in social media, and more.

4) How to crush affiliate marketing with Pinterest

Because Pinterest is such a huge component to all of this, Michelle gives you an entire module on how to use Pinterest, in combination with email marketing, to get the highest affiliate sales and conversions.  We already know what a bump Pinterest is for traffic. The strategies included in Michelle’s course take it to a whole other level. Picture this: You create a stunning pin and include a direct link to your affiliate’s product page and that pin goes viral. Or, you direct people to a freebie and follow up with an email sequence that includes your affiliate link. It’s all in there. Promise.

5) Choosing the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners

Think affiliate marketing won’t work for your niche and focus? Think again! Just about every niche is included…new bloggers, parenting, finance/money, travel, crafts, DIY, food and recipes, healthy living, fashion, beauty, wedding, blogging, business…all of them.  No more excuses friend!

Michelle breaks down dozens of affiliates by niche, so you will definitely find programs that are ideal for your blog.

6) How to choose affiliate products

To be successful with affiliate marketing, you have to choose products that will truly appeal to your audience. This seems like a small thing, but is actually a biggie. Sometimes you can think you’re spot on with what your audience wants, when in reality, you could be completely off-the-mark. Michelle walks you through how to research your audience to make sure that the program aligns with your brand message. She also explains why you should only promote products that you actually use and love. The more focused and authentic you are, the better your conversions will be!

7) Tracking, worksheets, and spreadsheets

One of the things I’ve learned with online marketing is that you need planners and spreadsheets in order to reach your goals. You have to be specific with what you want to achieve, who you’ve reached out to, systems to track your affiliate programs, affiliate links, commissions, and more. This is one of the things I love most about Michelle’s course!

8) Why you need disclosures

I mentioned this above and it’s worth a nod here too. Some bloggers include their disclosure in a Privacy Policy page, others add it to the top of every blog post. You can even add it to the end of your posts to make it easy for people to spot.

Oops, one last thing!

I almost forgot to mention my favorite part of the course. Michelle breaks down exactly how she earned six figures from one single blog post! She shows you the strategies she used, including interlinking, cross posting, email sequences, interviews, social media, and more. That alone was worth it! Michelle’s course is a perfect step-by-step affiliate marketing course for beginners.

I’m soooo excited about this, friends, I really am. This is definitely going in our Blog Profit Plan series!

I can’t wait to share our successes. If you’re ready to make money with affiliate marketing but haven’t known where to start (or how to win at it!), I highly recommend Michelle’s course. You will love it!

Here are the details again:

To find out more about Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, the course curriculum, and what you can expect to learn, click here. It’s very easy to follow. If you’re like me, you’ll want to comb through it at least 2x to grab all the juicy nuggets!

Let’s celebrate our successes! How have you made affiliate marketing work for you?

 

7 Things Every Blogger Should Do After You Hit Publish


checklist for a blogHi friends! I don’t know about you, but for the past few weeks all I can think about is how to get more traffic to my blog. I mean, I want it so bad I can’t even see straight!

Does that happen to you too?

You wake up dreaming about traffic, go to sleep thinking about it, and are literally consumed by it during the day? Maybe it’s my OCD, but there’s something about the thought of traffic pouring into my site that makes me feel all warm and snuggly inside.

Today, I want to talk about more ways to get the traffic we’ve been dreaming about. In this post, I’m sharing a short blog checklist of things you should do as soon as your posts go live so that your amazing content is found by as many people as possible.

Before we dive in, I’ve already covered some things to do before you publish (14 to be exact!), so be sure to read that post too.

Now let’s get into some things you should do after you publish.

You may notice that one of the steps (#4 below) is included in both the Before and After Checklist. If you’re curious, it’s because this step is something you want to do both before and after you publish. And if that sounds confusing, don’t worry, it’ll all be crystal clear in a few minutes!

I’m forcing myself to keep this list short, partly because my brain’s a bit woozy today, but mostly because I really want you to have a checklist for a blog that includes simple, actionable steps to take right after your post goes live. I figure if you can count the steps on your fingers, they’ll be easy to remember. Plus, I’m committed to writing a blog post a week (how about you?), so looks like we have to jump in and do this. 🙂

And if you really want a deep dive on this topic, be sure to read this post where I show you over 32 ways to get free traffic to your blog.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Blog Checklist: 7 Things to Do Right After You Publish Your Post

Step 1: Create a second pin

You might be thinking Do I really need to do this?  It took me forever to publish my post with just one pin… Isn’t that enough? There’s no way I have time to create another one!

I’m with you. This is one of those things that is a biggie though, which is why it’s step #1 on our blog to-do list. Trust me, having two pins will make a huge difference in your traffic. I know this for sure because I tested two different pins and one of them was a complete dud, while the other one is my top performing pin of all time! If you’re curious, you can read my case study for that test here.

#MORALOFTHESTORY  Don’t get left with a dud pin! Make sure you have a second pin so you can compare. Once you get into the habit of creating two pins for every post, it’ll go much faster and you won’t even think about it. Promise.

How different should your pins be? Great question! I recommend creating one short one and one longer one that highlights points from your post. My longer-form pins almost always get more traffic (and sign-ups) than the shorter ones. But you still need the shorter one for your blog post, so that readers don’t have to scroll too far to read your epic post.

Easier if I just show you, right? Here are two pins I created for my last post:

social media strategy for a blog

Wanna know how I hide that second longer pin so it doesn’t appear on my post? I picked up a ninja coding tip from Sarah at xosarah.com. Here’s how to hide images on your posts:

  • In WordPress, use the text editor and locate your pin image
  • Once you find it, put this code around it: <div style=”display:none;”><img src=”your image here” /></div>
  • Make sure the first <div> is before <img and the last </div> is right after the />

Now both pins will show up when you save your pin to Pinterest, but the longer one will be hidden on your actual post. Cool stuff, no?

Step 2: Socialize it!

After you create your second pin, it’s time to get social with it. Don’t be shy here! Make sure you share your work everywhere so people can find it.

As soon as the post goes live, I share it a few times the first week like this:

  • The first day
  • A few hours later (for Twitter)
  • The next day
  • A week later
  • Then into SmarterQueue, where it cycles through every month or so.

I’ve already covered how often to share your posts here, so if you’re still feeling your way around a social media strategy, you definitely want give it a read.

I created this Blog Promotion Plan + Checklist to help you plan what types of content to share on social media and when. If you want, click the image below to download it.

blog promotion plan checkllist

One thing that I haven’t covered clearly, I think, is how to create a time-saving blog promo system, so that every time you publish a post you know exactly what to do with it (almost like a daily blog checklist for social media).

Let me take a quick stab at it now and break it down into 2 parts:

  • Part 1: Scheduling Tools
  • Part 2: Manual Sharing

First up, Part 1 (Scheduling Tools)

Your bangin’ system starts with going into your scheduling tools and setting up your posting schedule. Whether you use Buffer, Hootsuite, Edgar, Tailwind, or other is really up to you. You just want to make sure you do that first. This way whenever you add a new post to your queue, you know when and where it’s being shared.

Next, Part 2 (Manual Sharing)

You need a way to track where and when you manually shared each post. All that really means is When did you add it to Hootsuite? When did you share it to Pinterest? What about Tailwind? You get the gist here. You want a system where you can say done, done and done, so you know your post is out there in the socialsphere. This part actually took me a while to figure out! I would lose track of where I shared my posts, and then a week would go by and I’d think Wait a minute, did I schedule to Buffer?

After some trial and error, I came up with this simple tracking spreadsheet:

social media post planningSee those notes there? That’s where I add my post text, so all I have to do is paste it into my tweet/comment/description, etc. Now for Twitter, I create 15-20 tweets to go out the first week. They all have to be slightly different, so I write them out ahead of time in a simple doc, like this:
Tweets to schedule in Buffer and SmarterQueue

Now you may be thinking I know I need scheduling tools, but I’m on a tight budget and really don’t want to pay monthly. I’ve got you covered! You will love this free way to automate and loop your posts using IFTTT and Google Calendar. I’ve tested it and still use it in my other business for Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to watch the video tutorial where I walk you through how to set it up.

Step 3: Share with groups and communities

Almost halfway through our blog checklist. In step #2, we shared to our social media profiles, pages, and scheduling tools. Now it’s time to share your post to groups and communities!

Here’s the thing: you need to take a more personal approach when it comes to sharing posts in groups. Don’t just spam your groups and disappear (especially with Facebook). Get in there and talk to people! Make sure you participate in the weekly promo threads too. It only takes about 15 minutes a day to go through your groups, share your post, like and share posts from other members, and you’re done.

How do you track of all your groups? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a separate spreadsheet I use for Facebook groups:

 schedule for Facebook groupsEach group name on here is a direct link to the group’s page, so it’s super fast and easy!

Step 4: Make it SEO-mazing!

Remember the step that gets repeated in both the before and after checklists? Here it is!

We’ve already used Yoast SEO to target a keyword and write an SEO-friendly blog post before we published, so we should be all good.

Hmmm, or are we?

I highly recommend giving your post another look-see. The reason is that I’ve searched Google for my keyword months after publishing a post, and believe me when I say was out there in the blogosphere. I’m talking waaa-yy out, like nowhere to be found. My keyword has zero competition and I’m on page 14? Nope, that’s not going to work.

So what’s happening here? Why was my post so far down in rankings?

Well, first off, I thought I was using a long-tail keyword but it turns out it was too broad and so, highly competitive. I needed to go back into Yoast and narrow down my keyword so I could give my post a chance to get up there on page #1.

See where I’m going with this? This same thing may happen to you. You might think you’re all set with your keyword, but in reality it needs tweaking (maybe there’s even an easier keyword to target).  seo friendly blog post

This is perfectly ok. Nobody becomes an SEO wizard overnight. It will take some time to get it right and you’ll be learning as you go, k? That’s why I want you to check your keyword twice, once before and once after you publish. Heck, maybe even twice after.

How to #SEO your blog posts: Make sure your keyword is in the title, post, images, and headings.Click To Tweet

You might be thinking, no way…I can’t even get my head around SEO. Now you want me to do it 2 times?

I get it! This is one of those things that once you get it right, it will pay you back double in your investment. Google is going to be an employee for your blog, working hard to bring you leads and customers. I call that worth it!

So right after you hit publish, go back and give your post another once over. Take a look at your keyword, go back to Keyword Planner if you need, check your title, double- and triple-check keywords in your post, your image tags, headings, and so on.

If you want, you can grab the Blog Post SEO Checklist I created to help you boost your posts up to page #1. Click the image below to download.

blog post seo checklist

Related: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Bloggers and Entrepreneurs

Step 5: Repurpose it!

Repurposing your post is a fancy pants way of saying that you turn it into another type of content, like a podcast or video. I like to think of it as repacking one piece of content and making it unique for a new platform and audience.

The reason repurposing is on the blog checklist is that it gives you a chance to reach a broader audience. Anytime you can expose your content to more people, that’s the way to go! It also takes some pressure off when you feel like you just can’t come up with another blog post idea.

This looks like: You write a post and pin to Pinterest, then you record a quick tip video and post it on Facebook and YouTube the next day. 10 people repin your post, 4 people share your video on Facebook, and 7 people share it on YouTube.

See how your reach is snowballing? Are you getting a sense of the greater impact you can have on your audience this way? From one post, you now have 2 different types of content to share on at least 3 different platforms. You can actually share that same video to Instagram and Pinterest too. Woo! That’s what I call smart content…

But wait, there’s more. Your new content will also help you rank higher on Google because you’ll have different content linking back to it.

Have I convinced you yet? Great! Let’s look at some types of content you can create:

  • A video
  • A podcast
  • Infographic – if you followed step #1 you already have this, you multi-tasker, you!
  • Slideshow
  • Quick tip graphic
  • Webinar or hangout
  • Create a challenge
  • A twitter chat – build off of your post idea
  • turn it into an email series (this is great for popular posts)
  • Create a freebie opt-in from it (perfect for popular posts too)
  • Publish it on Medium or LinkedIn Pulse (more like reblogging, but still good)

Bonus: Grab the Social Media Cheat Sheet and Content Calendar so you know what to share and when, plus the best tools to use for each platform.

 social media cheat sheet for bloggers

Don’t overdo it

Okay, so now you know this is something you should be doing, but hold up a sec. Not every post is a good candidate for repurposing. You can overdo it here, especially if you’re reaching the same audience with the same thing over and over again. We don’t want to burn people out. Let’s throw some randomness into the mix so our content doesn’t become formulaic and blah.

So for every post, ask yourself How can I present in a different way for a different impact so people don’t see the same thing in the same way? How can I extend this idea?

And remember, it’s ok to be choosy with what you repurpose. You want to make sure whatever you create, you create it well. You don’t want to hurt your brand!

You probably have some more questions about repurposing, so let me give you some guidance here:

Which posts should be repurposed?

Great question! Popular posts are a good place to start. You know that people love them so it makes sense to reach a broader audience. Another thing to do is go back and look at older posts that you can turn into something else today, kind of bring it back to life in a new way.

When should I share my new content?

You don’t have to share your new content all at once. In fact, why not spread it out? Let people breathe and explore other ideas until they’re ready to come back to it. Maybe you share a slide deck next week, then a video at the end of the month, then an infographic the next month. The more different types of content you have for each post, the more creative you can get with what and where you share. Make sense?

Oh, and I highly recommend investing in some tools to create amazing visual content. This makes such a huge difference, and when you think about it, we’re all becoming publishers these days, so the better your images are, the more traffic you’re gonna get. Pinky swear. It makes a huge difference.

Should I include a link back to my post?

Absolutely! Now you’re thinkin’. You can actually link between all your repurposed content, and this works like SEO fairy dust too. The more links you have back to your post, the better your post will rank on Google. How’s that for making our traffic dreams come true! Gotta love it!

What linking looks like: In YouTube you link back to our post, in your podcast you link back to it, and even in your slideshow you link back to it.

By now you can see how creating multiple pieces of content for your ideas starts to give you a library of things to share, which is something I cover (and tons more!) in this social media strategy post.

Related: How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media

Step 6: Reply to comments

It’s super important to engage with people who read your blog posts! Watch how people respond to a post and make sure you reply to their comments. Let them know that you’re paying attention to them and that you value them.

When people feel like you really want to know their opinion (which of course you do!) it makes them feel important to you, and they are, right? Comments mean that people liked your post enough to invest their time in leaving a comment. That takes effort, friends! Try to deepen and expand on what they’re saying, maybe ask them for a question or for an example. Who knows? Maybe they’ll leave you a second comment!

The other thing you can do is to provide more info in your replies. Or, you can add a poll to your post, which will give you a perfect excuse to reshare it again on social media. I’m thinking something like I’ve added a poll and would love your opinion!  You can even highlight conversations and share them. So if you love Mary’s comment, for example, share it! This way you highlight the community and show that you value these types of conversations.

Step 7: Extend it with future posts

Great blogs take their readers on a journey, which is a fun way to build momentum with your blog post
? Once your post goes live, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do with what you’ve just written to extend or follow up with on the idea.

Even if you’re going off-topic a bit, as long as you have a relevant blog post you can write about it. Your readers may have asked questions (step #6 above). Can you turn those into a post? Psst… This is a quick and easy way to come up with new blog ideas when you get writer’s block!

Sometimes one post naturally triggers another post. Maybe your post gives you a question that you don’t know the answer to, you can follow up with a new post to answer it. Or you can even follow up with some new juicy nugget you’ve learned since writing the blog post, or maybe a similar to the one you mentioned.

And here again, check your analytics to see which posts are most popular! Similar to repurposing in step #6, brainstorm how you can extend on that post, because something in it resonates with people, so here you have a golden opportunity to extend on it, deepen it, and try to even mimic the style of that post.

Step 8: Fooled ya, one last step!

Now I know you may be thinking How do I remember to do all this? It’s all I can do to stay on schedule with writing and publishing my posts!

Once you put a system in place it will be a natural part of your blogging process. You’re not even going to have to think about it. Promise.

All you need to do is set up a blog post checklist (in Google Docs, Excel, or Word) with prompts to help you do these 7 things. And don’t worry. You may not get to all of these steps the minute your post goes live. That’s perfectly okay and nothing to stress about. The best way to approach this is to master one step at a time.

So at first, you might get into the habit of creating a second pin and socializing your posts. That’s a lot right there, no? Soon you’ll see how just focusing on steps #1 and #2 will help you get monster traffic and exposure for your blog. Anything that brings you more traffic is time well spent, in my book! So right there, you’re already increasing your reach and your traffic with those two steps.

Once you’re comfortable, move on to step #3, and so on.

The other thing to do is to keep your blog checklist handy, so that every time you publish a new post, you can just reach for it. I find that when I have those questions right in front of me, even if I don’t get to it right away it’s making me think about it while I’m doing other things. Keeping your list front and center will naturally trigger some of these steps, so you’ll be doing them without even realizing it!

If you missed the first part of this series, the things to do BEFORE you publish your post, you can download that checklist below so you have it on hand for your next post.

blog checklist pdf

How to Make Money With A Blog: The 12-Month Profit Plan


This is part 2 of the Blog Profit Plan Series for bloggers and entrepreneurs who are ready to learn how to make money online. Time to create an action plan so you can reach your goals! Click through to see all the steps!

How to Make Money With A Blog | This is part 2 of the Blog Profit Plan Series for bloggers and entrepreneurs who are ready to make money with your blog. Time to create an action plan so you can reach your goals! Click through to see all the steps!This is part 2 of the Blog Profit Plan Series, where I’m breaking down the steps to turn your blog into a full-time income as quickly as possible. My hope is that this series will help you launch your blog, plan it to be profitable, and clear up any questions you have about how to make money from a blog.

Part 1 was all about business plans (why you need them, how to create them, plus a Blog Business Plan Workbook to help you get started).

Today, we’re all about getting things done. I want to help you create an action plan on steroids so you can execute on your business plan and make money with your blog f’real.

First, I’m going to share the right way to approach making money from your blog. Then we’ll dive into the actual steps to kick your b-plan into action.

Ready for it? Good! First, let’s walk through the blog profit plan mindset so that you can get the most benefit from your action plan.

THE BLOG PROFIT PLAN MINDSET

1) Blog Income Formula

I came across this simple formula just a few weeks ago and am in looove. Seriously, I think I’m going to plaster my apartment with formula post-its. 🙂

Income = Number of Email Subscribers x (.02 x Price of Product)

Pretty powerful stuff, no?

This formula literally gives you the ability to predict your income, estimate how much money you can make blogging, and create a road map for making it happen.

Knowing that an average of 2% of your subscribers will purchase your product (the common range is 1-3%), if you want to make $3K this month and you have a product that is $100, you know you’ll need 1,500 subscribers to make it happen. This assumes that your product is relevant to your readers, which of course it will be.

So the blog income formula tells us what areas to focus on for growth:

  1. Awesome blog and content
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. A product

That means that every goal, task and item in your blog action plan should be around these 4 areas in order to make money with your blog. Ideally, you will address each bucket every month, meaning that you set specific goals that you plan to achieve for each focus area, each month (blog, traffic, subscribers, product). This way you’ll be covering all bases and moving them all forward.

Note: Income from affiliate programs and ads is more complex because there are so many variations in payouts, cookie lifetime, and other details. My Affiliate Marketing for Beginners post will help you get started.

2) Start With 12-Month Goals

Now that we’re clear on our focus areas, let’s create 12-month blog goals. Nothing fancy here, all you need is a simple spreadsheet. Take the 4 buckets and map them out across every month. This will give you a high-level view of your goals and help you plan a time frame to earn money from blogging.

For instance, you might say that by month 4 you want to make $3k, and by month 12 your money goal is $10K. Or, you might say that in month 1 you want to launch your blog, and by month 3 you want to be blogging twice a week. The point is that every focus area has a goal attached to it.

What should you do first? Great question! If you’re feeling stuck on which comes first – the chicken or the egg – the answer is really both.  It may seem like a lot to juggle, but as I explain (Step #3 below), even though you’ll be dipping into all of your buckets each month, some will have a priority focus over others. For instance, if you’re starting out with blogging, in months #1-3 you may have a priority focus on:

  • Building your blog (content)
  • Creating epic content (content)
  • Building a following (traffic)

Now, at the same time you will do things like:

  • Building your list (subscribers)
  • Brainstorming content funnels (subscribers)
  • Researching products (money)

See where I’m going with this?

The difference here is that you’ll be full-steam ahead with your priority focus items, and not so much on the others. Think of it like you’re building a runway for the others to take off, while you’re at peak altitude with the others. Make sense?

If you want, you can grab the Blog Business Plan Workbook I created to help with this step:

Get the Blog Business Plan Workbook and start turning your dream into a profitable online business!

3) Break Those Down into Bite-Sized Steps

Next up: time to break the goals down into smaller chunks. We’re talkin’ 3 months, then 1 month, and then weeks.

What does that really mean? To start, just take a mental snapshot of your priority focus areas for the next 3 months. This works fantabulously well because it’s a small enough time frame where you can feel positive and excited about your action items, rather than stressed and defeated because you start getting ahead of yourself. Been there, done that. At the same time it gives you a bird’s eye view of where you should be putting your focus.

Once you have that, you want to start working on one month at a time. Take one month from your blog goals and break it down into bite-sized steps. What that looks like is you pick a priority focus for each week, and that one priority drives all of your actions.

I generally have a larger priority goal for the month as well. For instance, if I’m rebranding or creating a new product, I want to keep it front and center in my mind, so I’ll make sure it stands out on my calendar.

Each month/week your priority goals should get done first, meaning that when other things come up you turn them down (or shift them around) so you can focus on the things you really need to achieve.

Now that you have the success mindset, let’s look at action steps to creating a profitable blog.

BLOG ACTION PLAN STEPS

1) Choose your niche

I’ve written about the importance of defining your niche and target audience pretty extensively in other posts, so I won’t go into it too much here. Hmmm…or will I?

The thing is this. Finding your blog’s focus is a biggie.

This is a step that every successful business faces, and if you really want to turn your blog into a business, it’s a step you simply can’t skip. I say this with complete confidence and after years working with brands who put so much effort into marketing, and then later realize that they’re missing the mark. I don’t want this to happen to you, so here’s the deal…

You absolutely have to be BFFs with your audience.

What we’re really going for here is to drill down on specifics. First of all, I would start with the basics like age, job title, income level, gender, and so on, then move beyond that to how your audience is feeling, what they’re struggling with, and how you help.

You should be able to answer these questions:

  • How is your audience feeling right now?
  • What are they trying to do but can’t?
  • What’s stopping them?
  • How can you help them?
  • What will change for them after YOU?
  • How will they feel when they’ve overcome this problem?

The more focused you are with your niche, the easier it will be to jumpstart your profits.

Psst…Don’t go crazy over that last bit like I did at first. You definitely want to start with your skills, talent, and passions first. Then look at groups of people who heart what you heart. And finally, give some thought to the types of products you will offer.

Related: How to Choose Your Blog’s Niche and Focus

2) Choose your name

When you’re starting out your name feels like all you have, so you hold on to it and drive yourself a little nutso (at least if you’re me you do!) But, really, your name is a name and that’s it. Other people don’t care what you name your blog. That’s just how it is, friend.

Your brand is so much more than a name, meaning that it’s really everything attached to your name. It’s the way you speak to your audience, your logo, the colors you choose, what you stand for, your mission, your values…all of that exciting brand stuff. 🙂

Now, whether you use your own name or a product name for your biz really depends on which you prefer. I recommend choosing a name that makes you feel 100% authentically YOU, and at the same time encompasses your longer term vision. For instance, if you plan to grow your team beyond just you, a product name might be the way to go. Try to include keywords related to your blog’s focus so that people have an idea what your biz is all about.

Related: How to Choose the Perfect Name for Your Blog

3) Build your blog

Now we’re going to roll up our sleeves and build your blog! I recommend using a self-hosted WordPress site because you’ll have access to functionality that you need to grow your business. We’re talkin’ plugins that will put your biz on autopilot ’round the clock.

Having said that, I know many people love SquareSpace, and there’s definitely a lot to be said for getting your website up quickly, which you can do easily with SquareSpace. WordPress is a bit more techie and will take longer, so if you’re up for the challenge, I say go for it!

Not sure which one to go with? byRegina has a free course that shows you both platforms to help you decide. And if you’re sold on a self-hosted WordPress site, I’m your girl (wink, wink). This post will help you get up and running.

4a) Build a following

Now we’re revvin’ up the traffic engine of the blog income formula (first part, step #1). First things first, let me say when it comes to driving web traffic, social media and content are interrelated. Where one goes, the other must follow, which is why step #4 is broken down into two parts. In case you’re wondering which part to tackle first, I say both, friend. You really can’t have one without the other.

With that said, let’s dive into building your following so that your content gets found by more people, ev’rywhere. From your niche research, you should have a good idea where your audience hangs out. So now we’re going to create profiles on those sites and start building an audience.

Heads up, you’re going to have to spend some time on each social media platform. It might seem like your entire day is devoured by social media at first, but it won’t be forever, I promise! You’ll get your days back soon! Really, you just need to spend enough time to learn the ins and outs, share some content, see which types of content perform best, and most importantly, which sites give you the most bang for your buck.

Now let’s look at the content part…

4b) Create and share content

How frequently should you write new blog posts? I think the real question here is How frequently CAN you  write new posts on the regular? If you can commit to writing a new post once every 2 weeks for now, perfect. That’s your magic number. Over time I recommend ramping up to once or twice a week as you get comfortable with your blog schedule. Whatever you do, please don’t write 6 posts in 2 weeks and then disappear for 3 months! Creating a schedule and then sticking to it is sooo key when it comes to building trust.

One thing that saves me oodles of time is working with themes. I find that my brain works 24/7 behind the scenes when I work this way, so by the time I sit down to write my next post, the words flow freely.

Curious what a theme is? I’m glad you asked! You’re reading a post from my theme right now – The Blog Profit Plan Series. Seriously though, themes are just subtopics where you take readers on a journey and one post feeds naturally into the next. So if you’re a fashion blogger, you might plan a theme around stripes one month and then colors the next.

Oh, and I promised you’d get your days back, right? Once you’re comfortable on your social media platforms, scheduling tools will actually automate your content sharing for you, so you don’t have to do it manually. Who’s a game-changer now? My favorite tools are SmarterQueue and Buffer for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; BoardBooster for Pinterest; and Planoly for Instagram.

If you’re ready to step up your traffic game even more, these two posts will help:

5) Build your subscribers

High five! Your traffic engine is hummin’ and you’re on your way to wrapping up the blog income formula. Time to crank up the subscriber engine! Let me just say there’s no magic pill for building your list. But there are a ton of ways to do it, just like there are a ton of ways to market your business. So nothing to be overwhelmed about here!

Start by adding a freebie (content upgrade) to your posts. This can be anything, really: cheat sheets, Ebooks, printables, planners, checklists…anything that will provide meaningful value for your readers.

To do this, you’ll need a few tools:

You’ll also need an email marketing platform like MailChimp, ConvertKit, or Infusionsoft to create automated emails and campaigns so you can build a relationship with your subscribers while you create products to offer them.

That about brings us to…

6) Create a product

Woot woot! You made it. Almost at the finish line. Let’s tackle this last step, k?

How do you know what products to create? First of all, you can send a survey to your subscribers asking them what their biggest challenge is, and then brainstorm products you can create to help.

You can also look into pre-selling your course. What this looks like is you create an outline of the course idea, then a sales page and a webinar, and if people buy, you know you’ve got a winner! Just be sure that you can actually deliver your course in the time frame you promise, so you won’t lose credibility with people who register for it. If this seems too scary, why not create the first few modules? This way you know you’ll have something to deliver while you’re doing your preselling.

Why not research other popular blogs in your niche? Look at what types of blogs make the most money, how they make money, the types of products they offer. This will give you tons of ideas for your own product.

What if you don’t have a list yet? No worries, just start tracking which posts get the most shares on social media and have the highest page views in analytics. This is a super easy way to get some insight into the content that people are responding to.

What tools should you use to create your course? I break it all down for you in this post.

Should you create an ebook or an ecourse? It’s really up to you. Ebooks take a bit longer than ecourses, but you can always turn your ebook into a course later on.

I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to hear about all your success. As you move through these steps, remember to work in bite-sized chunks and keep the blog income formula plastered to the top of your brain. This will help you earn money from blogging as quickly as possible, because you’ll know exactly what you need to do and in what order.

Always, always, execute on the priority focus areas you set for each month. Don’t go skippin’ steps and getting ahead of yourself. 🙂

Let’s hear it! How do you make money with your blog? What’s working for you right now?

How to Create an Epic Blog Business Plan


How to Create a Business Plan for Your Blog | Ready to build a platform for your blog to be profitable? This blog plan includes a template for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help you turn your blog into a full-time business FAST. Click through to see the sections!

How to Create a Blogging Business Plan | Plus, why you need one and how to rock your blog business by getting all your ideas down on paper and in one place. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate, just a simple road map for where your blog business is going so you know what to do and WHEN to get there faster. Click through to see all the sections.

This is part 1 of a 2-part series called the Blog Profit Plan that is designed to help you propel your business forward. I’m hoping it will be a jumping off point to get from zero to profit as quickly as possible so you can start making a living with your blog.

The way I see it, there are two parts to building a successful business (hence the 2-part series):

Part 1: creating a business plan
Part 2: executing on the plan

In today’s post, I’m going to cover how to create a blog business plan.

This is the perfect starting point, because having a plan for your blog business will give you a platform to make it profitable. Without it, you may find yourself stumbling around with what topics to cover, the value you provide, what your peeps really need, and many other things. Or you may spend too much time in one phase of your biz and forget to set a foundation for the next phase…simply because you’re not aware that said phase exists.

A blog business plan only gets us halfway to the finish line, though, which is why I’m making this a 2-part series.

You don’t really act upon them, which means they’re likely to sit in your laptop, inside Evernote, and that’s it. It’s easy to forget that you even have a business plan in the day to day of running your biz.

What we really need is a blog action plan to help us execute on our business plans.

Suh-weet, now we’re talkin’. B-plan + A-plan = Jackpot!

An action plan is where the money is anyway, no? That’s what’s going to whip our butts into shape and keep us accountable for turning our big dreams into a reality. An action plan is about getting under the hood and getting it done – really, a blueprint for executing on our business plans.

If we pair these two bad boys together, I think we’ll have a winning formula for success.

More on blog action plans in my next post… Today, let’s jump in to creating a blogging business plan.

To help you with this part of the series, I created the Blog Business Plan Workbook so you can get the most benefit from the steps we’re covering today.  Each section is full of prompts that will help you create a road map for your blog biz, identify goals you want to achieve, how you will market your business, and how much money you want to make. Click the image below to grab it.
blog workbook

HOW TO CREATE AN EPIC BLOG BUSINESS PLAN

SECTION 1: BUSINESS SUMMARY

This section is a snapshot of your business, kind of like your business “at-a-glance”. You may want to complete the other sections first, and come back to this after you have everything else together. Here’s what you’ll want to cover in your business summary:

1. Mission Statement

This is your  “Why”. Briefly explain why you created your business, what it is about, and the purpose it serves.

2. Business Goals

Based on where you’re at now, where do you plan to take your business in the future? Don’t be afraid to dream big here! If you can see it, you can do it! Think about the next year and even further down the road, say five years from now. You can mention things like money you’d like to earn from your blog, to new products you’re thinking of, to how often you will blog and the size of your mailing list.

3. Products and Services

What products and services do you have, or will you have? Briefly describe here how you are or will be monetizing your blog.

4. Your Current + Future Growth

This part is inspiring! You may already have a blog or you may be brand new to blogging. Mention any growth you’ve already experienced…anything from number of page views, to social media followers, list size, money you’ve earned, and so on. From here, how will you take your business to the next level?  List specific steps you can take to reach your goals.

Related: 100+ Ways to Market Your Business on a Small Budget

5. Your Financial Goals

Being crystal clear about how much money you want your blog to make will force you to you hold yourself accountable to it. Plus it will help you prioritize what to do each day so you can nail it! List how much money you want to make in the short-term and longer-term.

6.  Your Expenses

Your blog is your business, so even if you’re just starting out, you have expenses. Some of them, like web hosting, will be fixed and recur every month, and others are more flexible, like hiring a VA. Describe the expenses you have today and will have tomorrow.

7. What tasks can (or do) you outsource?

Every business has 3 primary phases: startup, momentum + growth. The way to build your blog through each phase is to spend your time on the things that only you can do and build a team to help you with everything else. Upwork is a great place to start to build your team. List the tasks that you outsource right now and those that you don’t outsource, but should.

8. Business Structure

If you are currently running a blog and accepting money as a blogger, then you obviously need to file taxes on that income. If you are the only employee of your business and choose to keep things simple, you can file as a “sole proprietor”. As you work with more clients and continue to grow you may want to create an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) or incorporate your biz to protect your income and your business from things like lawsuits.

SECTION 2: BRAND SUMMARY

This section is about setting a tone that inspires and attracts readers to your blog and positions you as the go-to authority. You are building a blog, and at the same time, you’re building a brand. It makes sense to look at how you see yourself so that you can teach people how to see you too, and ultimately build consistency and clarity around your blog, because after all, you are your brand, right?

1. What makes you unique?

What sets you apart from others? Remember, your skills are only half of the picture here. We’re really talking about everything that makes you YOU. Include your personal history and experiences, plus any professional skills and knowledge that would make people want to read your blog over others.

2. What’s your one thing?

I know there are so many things that you’re great at, but you don’t want to try to be all things to all people. It’s going to be much easier to build your blog if you occupy one space in people’s minds. So let’s get very specific! What’s the one word you want your brand to stand for? What’s the “one thing” you want readers to seek you out as the go-to authority on?

3. Who’s your person?

We’re going to just keep narrowing things down. Here’s where you look at the target audience for your blog. You may have more than “one person” you want to reach, but let’s make things simple for now and just include your primary customer or reader. Get as specific as you can about things like their age, income, personal and professional situation, and overall goals. If you need help with this, check out the Niche Research section.

4. What’s your brand promise?

This part is about creating your big promise. Most people call this your core message or value proposition. How do you help your one person solve their biggest problem and what does that look like? (P.S. This is what you want front and center on your homepage. Let people see it right away so they know they’re in the right place.)

5. Brand tone and mood

Developing a true personality for your blog will help you stay consistent and harmonious with all of your brand elements. It’s okay to try on different hats at first, but when you find your sweet spot you want to stick with it. The most successful blogs have a unique and distinctive personality.

SECTION 3: BRAND IDENTITY

A huge part of building a business is branding, that’s why we dig into this so much. Your brand summary is not only about your brand identity, it’s how you attract your readers to your blog and deliver your brand promise. This will help you clarify your true purpose and stay on track with your brand mission. You may switch your brand positioning over time, but your overall brand summary should stay the same.  For more on creating your brand identity, check out this post.

1. Fonts and colors

Which fonts and colors describe your blog’s personality? List 1-2 fonts and 2-4 colors you will use for your brand. It’s okay to use the same font family in different weights for headings and body text, and then use a stylized font as a contrast for featured or emphasized text.

Want some inspiration? Check out these font pairings and these color scheme ideas.

2. Types of images

What images and textures will you use for your blog? Dark and edgy? Vibrant and bright? Open and airy?

3. Logo

Your current logo may be perfect already, and then again, it may need work. How well does it communicate your blog’s personality? How can you improve the font to make it better? Will you use other words in your logo, like a tagline? What about an icon?

SECTION 4: COMPETITOR ANALYSIS

As you launch your blog business, it’s important to take a look at what other blogs and brands in your space are doing. This will help you get ideas for how you want to grow and position your business.

1. Who are your competitors?

List 3 competitors you like and 3 competitors you don’t like. Who is in your niche, doing something similar to what you are or will be doing?

2. Analyze their strategy

For the 3 competitors you like, find the common themes or strategies that you can use to frame your own strategy. Do your competitors have products they sell? If so, what types of products and at what prices?  Where do they have a following on social media? How frequently do they post and what types of things do they share?

3. What sets them apart from others?

Take a look at what really makes your favorite brands stand out. What do they excel at? How do they structure their blog, business, and offers? What can you learn from them and integrate into your own strategy?

SECTION 5: NICHE RESEARCH

The more targeted you are with your blog’s niche, the more you’ll be able to attract and connect with your ideal readers. The trick here is to define a niche that’s small enough to be very specific and large enough to make money over the long term. What we’re looking for is that sweet spot – where the combination of your skills and knowledge intersects with what your audience needs, in a way that is unique enough for you to stand out.

Related: How to Choose the Perfect Niche for Your Blog

SECTION 6: SERVICES + PRODUCTS

You should have a good idea from your niche research about products that will help your target audience. Think about different price points you can offer so that people can experience working with you at the level they’re comfortable with. Think about low-cost, high-cost, and even VIP packages. What about discovery or strategy calls, will you offer them?

1. How are your products different from your competitors?

Go back to your competitors and take another look at what they’re promoting. How is your offering different? What can you add to make it extremely valuable for your peeps?

2. How do they help your audience?

Go back to your niche research and think about how your monetization method will impact the lives of your peeps. What will they be able to achieve/do/have/save/grow/build through your products and services?

SECTION 7: BUILDING YOUR AUDIENCE

A huge part of building a blog business is building a community with your readers. Otherwise, you will be developing your products in a vacuum and not get the same results. You can use social media to get your work found by people. From there, your website and mailing list will help you build relationships with your peeps.

1. Your website and mailing list

Your website is the Swiss army knife of your business. If you set it up it right, you can actually have a system that converts complete strangers into subscribers and customers!  Look at areas you can and should improve on your website so you can do that. If you don’t have a site just yet, make a note of the things you will need.

2. Social media

One of the best ways to build your audience is by leveraging the power of social media. Social media is an amazing way to get traffic to your blog, especially when you’re new to all the ins and outs of search engine optimization. As you’re building your following, you’re basically building your own traffic source. Pinterest is a phenomenal way to get traffic, but don’t stop there. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter too. And even others like StumbleUpon and Reddit will help you get traffic. If you want a peak at how I drive traffic to my blog, this post is for you!

Related: 14 Ways to Get Massive Traffic from Pinterest

SECTION 8: YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY

You’re doing so good! You have a strong brand foundation and you’re building your audience. The next step is to dig into the strategy for your blog’s content. You want all of your content to be part of a cohesive system. We’re drilling down on more than just blog posts. Everything you create – articles, cheat sheets, challenges, videos, webinars, courses, and more – should form a system that turns complete strangers into loyal readers and ultimately, excited customers.

1. Specify your high-level goals

Goals can look really impressive on paper, but if you’re too ambitious they can actually work against you! The flip side is that you need to have a specific end game in mind if you really want to skyrocket your blog’s growth (which of course, you do!). Given the time you have each week to work on your blog, what specific milestones do you want to achieve?

2. What strategies will you use to achieve them?

List three things you will do right now to change the future growth of your blog and to achieve your goals.

3. How frequently will you create content?

Specify the frequency (for instance, 2x per month) that you will create these types of content. Only fill in the ones you’ll create in the next 6 months and leave the others blank.

4. Time and resources

Turning your blog into a business takes time, especially when you’re juggling a full-time job or clients on the side. it’s important that you devote enough time to your blog. How many hours each week will you spend writing? It could be blog posts, freebies, workbooks, etc.

5. How will you create content that converts and sells?

Time to take a look at your content as part of a system. Looking at your content from a high-level will help you stay focused when you sit down to write and create products. I suggest working from the end first, meaning that you have (or will have) an Ecourse or service offering. What posts, freebies, free courses, and challenges can you create to build a content funnel for it?

SECTION 9: MARKETING + GROWTH

You made it this far! Who knew planning a business could be so much work? But really, you are putting in the effort right now and I am so excited for you. Finally (finally!) we’re going to talk about your marketing system, because once you create your products you need a system to promote them. The same way that you need to build your audience, you need a way to connect with them and deepen your relationship. A solid marketing system will let you do both, and most of it on autopilot. Let’s dive in.

1. How will you market your business?

Write down the methods you will use to market your products, services, and blog. Think about things like Facebook ads, committing to a full-core Pinterest strategy, and leveraging Facebook (or LinkedIn) groups.

If you’re looking for new ways to market your blog, check out this blog post where I share over 100 ways to market your business on a small budget.

2. What marketing tools will you use?

There are things you need to do after you publish a new blog post so that your work gets found by more people. It can take sooo much time to do these things manually, but alas, you still have to do them! That’s where marketing tools like these come in. They let you automate most of those things you find yourself doing over and over again. Decide which tools you feel comfortable using (or learning).

3. What tasks can (or do) you outsource?

We all have to delegate if we want to grow. There are certain tasks that other people can help you with and then there are things that only you can do (like creating courses!). What tasks that you do over and over again can you outsource to a virtual assistant, blogger, or designer? Think about the things you do every day that if you were freed up, would allow you to focus your time better.

4. How will you promote your blog posts?

Decide which marketing and promotion strategies you feel comfortable with. Will you SEO your posts? What about email sequences and freebies, will you create them? Where and how will you post your updates on social media?

5. How will you grow your blog?

What techniques will you use to continue to grow your brand? Once you’ve been at it for a while (and maybe that’s now!) what marketing and promotion strategies will you use to scale your blog even more? Think about things like monthly webinars, daily posting in Facebook groups, guest posts, creating new products every quarter. What can you add to your offerings to keep your business flourishing?

That’s about everything! Make sure you document your blog business plan somewhere handy, so you can reach for it and reference it as you need. Keep in mind that as your blog starts to take shape, you will need to revise, edit, tweak and modify your plan. I recommend revisiting it every 6 months to make sure you’re on track. The business plan for your blog should always reflect your vision, which is likely to evolve as your blog biz grows and you want to document each shift.

If you want help putting all of these steps into action so you can turn your blog into a biz even faster, the Blog Business Plan Workbook is for you! Each section is full of prompts to help you get clear on specific goals, like how much money you want to make with your blog, PLUS action steps so you know exactly what to focus on right now to turn your dream into a profitable business. Click the image below to learn more.

blog plan template

That’s about it for part 1 of the Blog Profit Plan series. Now you have a blog business plan and a rockin’ success path. Next up, let’s turn this into a heavyweight action plan:

Part 2: The 12-Month Profit Plan to Make Money With Your Blog

How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media (Checklist)

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Wondering how to promote a blog post after you hit publish? Use this blog promo plan + cheat sheet for entrepreneurs and bloggers to get tons of social media traffic to your content. Click through to check out the planner!

How to Market Your Blog Effectively on Social Media | Wondering how to share your blog posts on social media the right way, so you get right in front of your target audience? This blog promotion plan for entrepreneurs and bloggers will help you get incredible amounts of social media traffic. Click through to get started!Do you ever wonder how to promote your blog posts once you hit publish, so that all your hard work writing them pays off – and instead of seeing crickets when you dig in to analytics, you see hundreds and thousands of page visits each day?

Today, I’m sharing a content marketing strategy for social media that will help you:

  • Give new posts an initial spike of social traffic
  • Turn your post into other types of content
  • Recycle older posts so they’re always out there

What this means is that right after you publish a post, you have a plan for how, when, and where you will share it.

One thing I should mention…you don’t have to tackle every social channel listed here.

If Facebook and Instagram are making a difference in your business (or if your audience is likely to hang out here), get into a system for sharing your posts consistently on these channels first. Don’t worry about the others. You can always add them later.

BONUS: I created this Blog Promotion Plan + Checklist to help put what you learn into action.

Check out this Content Promotion Plan + Checklist to help you market your blog posts and get massive social media traffic!

Blog Promotion Plan for Social Media Traffic

Facebook

  • Day 1 – Share the link post
  • Day 3 – Create a video summarizing post
  • Day 7 – Turn a quick tip into an infographic
  • Day 14 – Pose a question with a link to the post
  • Day 31 – Repeat Day 1

Twitter

  • Day 1 – Tweet a link to your post
  • Day 1 (4 hours later) – Change the text and tweet a second link to your post
  • Day 3 – Share a clip of FB video
  • Day 7 – Twitter moment with all tweets related to your blog posts
  • Day 14 – Share another link with an image
  • Day 31 – Repeat Day 1 (use the best tweet)


Pinterest

  • Day 1 – Design image with link + pin to boards
  • Day 3 – Change caption of pin and image and pin it to boards
  • Day 14 – Pin a link to the video
  • Day 31 – Repeat Day 1 (use the most popular pin)


Instagram

  • Day 1 – post image with text overlay
  • Day 3 – Instagram story in video format, introduce blog post content with call to action
  • Day 7 – Post the video clip from Facebook
  • Day 14 – Share the same quick tip from Facebook

Google+

  • Day 1 – Share the link post to Public
  • Day 1 (4 hours later) – Share the post to Communities
  • Day 7 – Share the same quick tip from Facebook
  • Day 31 – Repeat Day 1


LinkedIn

  • Day 1 – Share the link post as an update
  • Day 1 (four hours later) – share to LinkedIn Groups
  • Day 7 – Share the same quick tip from Facebook
  • Day 31 – Repeat Day 1


Youtube

  • Day 1 – Upload your video, include a link back to your blog post
    Add YouTube cards to the video with pertinent links to your blog and website

———————

Whew! That’s a lot.

You’re probably thinking…

I created a blog post, not a video or infographic. Where are these coming from? 

Well, you need to create them to make this blog promotion strategy work effectively. Trust me though, they won’t take long to create, not after you’ve already written your post!

Right after you finish writing, create different types of visual content for it. This will keep your content fresh and interesting, and make scheduling apps happy (because they tend to flag duplicate text).

Here’s what I create for each post:

  • The post itself with a title image
  • 2 pin images
  • 1 Instagram image
  • A video
  • A question
  • A quick tip infographic

Of course, you can work up to this. When I started sharing my posts regularly, I created only a title image. Then I added a single pin image, then two, then multiple tweets, and so on.

I don’t want you to think you need to create all of this at once. Use the blog promotion plan as something to work up to, and as always, start where you are…

If you’re looking for other types of social media content you can share, click the image below to download my Social Media Cheat Sheet + Content Calendar.

A social media cheat sheet for content marketing so you know what to post and when, plus tools to help you automate everything from scheduling, to growth and engagement, and creating images.

What about scheduling tools?

There’s so many content marketing schedule tools to choose from. Here are a few that I like:

For Days 1-14:

  • Hootsuite
  • Buffer
  • Tailwind (Pinterest)
  • Planoly (Instagram)

For Day 31 – and once a month after that:

  • SmarterQueue
  • Recurpost
  • Edgar
  • SocialOomph
  • BoardBooster (Pinterest)
  • Planoly (IG)

A few random thoughts about the tools:

Still wondering how to promote your blog effectively with the scheduling tools? Here are some pointers.

With Hootsuite, it’s easy to schedule specific days/times to post. I love Buffer and use it a lot because of its integration with IFTTT for Buffer). I do wish it were easier to schedule specific content on specific days. Wtih Buffer, you create a daily schedule and content is shared sequentially (meaning that as you add more content, it fills up the time slots). When I have a new post and want to drive an initial burst of traffic to it, there’s a lot of shuffling around to schedule it when I want.

For Pinterest, Tailwind is great – you can shuffle pins and schedule them on any day you want. Same for Planoly and Instagram. I even figured out a way to semi-loop pins using Tailwind.

Recurpost is free for up to 3 channels, so this is definitely worth looking into. BoardBooster is a definite must-have for automating and recycling pins. SmarterQueue is my new fav for automating Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. And then there’s this IFTTT/Google Calendar method I’ve shared with you, which is also free and works like a charm for Twitter and Facebook posts.

Related: 32 Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic

Anything that’s made a huge difference in your traffic? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!