9 Pinterest SEO Secrets Every Blogger Should Know / Want to know how to use Pinterest for Business? This post is for you! It includes a complete Pinterest growth guide with SEO tips and tricks for bloggers. Pinterest fundamentals, Pinterest hacks, and more for bloggers. Click through to see all the steps!In my Blog Profit Plan series, I cover the four buckets to building an online business…

Content –> Traffic –> Subscribers –> Products + Sales

…and how each bucket spills over onto the next until they’re all full and your business is thriving.

Problem is, sometimes the buckets don’t spill over as quickly as you want. And it usually happens right there in the middle…between Traffic and Subscribers.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve been struggling to grow your traffic and email list, you’re not alone, friend! Many entrepreneurs and bloggers struggle to fill those two buckets up.

Luckily, there’s Pinterest. 🙂

Pinterest is a huge source of traffic for those of us who use it. In my experience, it’s the easiest platform to drive traffic. So today, I’m drilling down on all things Pinterest to give you (what I hope is) the ultimate guide to using Pinterest for business.

Here’s what I’ll be covering:

Part One: Pinterest Fundamentals

  • Why use Pinterest for Business?
  • Pinterest SEO Changes in 2018
  • Understand the SmartFeed
  • Set Up Your Account for Traffic

Part Two: Get found on Pinterest 

  • Create a Pinterest Content Strategy
  • Research Keywords
  • Add Keywords Everywhere
  • Pinterest SEO vs Google SEO

Ready to dig in? Let’s do it. ????

 

Part one: Pinterest Fundamentals

Step 1) First, why use Pinterest for business?

Because it’s ripe for the taking, yo! If you’re still thinking that Pinterest is only for fashion tips and recipes, keep reading…

Pinterest is a goldmine for business.

When you get it right, you can explode your traffic in ways that you just can’t with Facebook or Instagram. In fact, Pinterest is very different than FB and IG. For starters, it’s not even a social media site, *gasp.

It’s a SEARCH ENGINE and a SOCIAL BOOKMARKING SITE.

Where people are on Facebook and Instagram to be social, people are on Pinterest to find stuff. They’re searching for ideas of things they can buy/make/do…much like Google. And there are a whopping 200B monthly searches on Pinterest. Whoa.

So when your pins appear for their search queries, they’ll love you for it (and so will Pinterest!).

Pinterest knows that without content creators like you and me, there would be no Pinterest. And they want to help us reach a broad audience by encouraging others to share our pins.

That’s where the social bookmarking component comes in…

Between tribes and group boards, you have a huge opportunity to reach thousands of followers outside of your own.

If you keep all of this in mind, you’ll be able to steer your Pinterest strategy in the right direction.

Step 2) Pinterest SEO Changes in 2018

The Following Tab

When you log in to Pinterest, by default, you’ll see pins from your SmartFeed (step #3 below).

But what if you want more control over the pins in your feed?

Now you can have it with the new Following Tab. Toggle it on to see only pins from the people you follow. It’s right up here in the top menu:

The Pinterest Followers Tab

Looks like this new feature is designed to encourage you to spend more time on Pinterest by seeing only the pins you care about.

Hashtags

Yep. You can use them! And you should. It’s the second time around for Pinterest hashtags, and this time it looks like they’re here to stay.

When you use hashtags, you increase the chance that your new pins will be distributed to relevant hashtags and be seen by more people.

Notice I said *new pins.* Don’t bother going back and adding hashtags to your older pins. The reason is that the hashtag feed is prioritized by freshness. So adding hashtags to older pins won’t help them. Just add them to new pins from here on out, and you’ll be good.

I cover more on hashtags in step #8 below.

Image Sizes

Are infographic pins gone for good?

They could be. Here’s what Sarah says about longer images:

2:3 is recommended (600×900 or 735×1102). “If you deviate much from that, you might see less distribution or your Pins might be cut off in certain parts of the Pinterest app. Given that, we recommend sticking to that 2:3 ratio or lower.”

“Previously we truncated Pins, but now sometimes we just don’t show the Pin at all if it is super long. Even if currently our best Pins are super long, realize that these are still rolling out, and things will appear differently in different places.”

But here’s the thing:

My longer pins drive (waaay) more traffic and engagement than my 2:3 pins. So I’m willing to toss the dice on the longer pins and keep creating them for now. (I create three pins for every post – two are 2:3 and one is 1:2.)

For the full scoop on Pinterest images sizes, read The Ultimate Guide to Creating Pinterest Images that People Click.

Personal boards

Personal boards are where it’s at these days, guys.

In 2018, Pinterest announced changes that give much more weight to personal boards over group boards. This is in response to group board contributors who drop their pins and peace out without repinning and engaging with others. Bleck.

So while Pinterest isn’t doing away with groups altogether, they ARE working to squash the spammy activity. Group boards carry less weight than before and personal boards are super important now. In fact, setting them up correctly is one of the most powerful things you can do to increase traffic.

If you want a ridiculously in-depth, step-by-step guide FULL of practical strategies for ranking your boards and pins in 2019, The Pinterest Traffic Launchpad is your new best friend. Pinterest SEO is just one of the many strategies we implement in the course.

In The Pinterest Traffic Launchpad, you will focus on ninja pinning strategies, so that your pins become a traffic machine that drives people to your blog for months – on autopilot. Click here to learn more.

Step 3) Understand the SmartFeed

Your pins aren’t shown in chronological order like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

In fact, before displaying any of your pins, Pinterest’s SmartFeed algorithm will give them a score based on quality and relevance. After it filters and scores your pins, it will display them in the feed.

What that means is that Pinterest displays “best pins” first rather *newest pins* first.

Pins with higher scores appear higher up in search results and are shown to more people. Pins with lower scores appear further down in the feed and can take a lot longer to show up – IF AT ALL.

Before I get into Pinterest’s filtering criteria, let me back up for a minute and explain the three groups of pins that are displayed in the Smart Feed.

When you log in to Pinterest, the pins you see are:

  • From people you’re following
  • Related to those you’re following
  • Similar to those you’ve shown an interest in

Ever notice how the pins in your feed look like ones you just repinned? Those are coming from your “interest” group.

The SmartFeed Filter at Work

When you share a pin, Pinterest is working behind the scenes to decide when (and if) to show it based on these four criteria:

  1. Domain quality
  2. Pin quality
  3. Pinner quality
  4. Relevance

The graphic below is a visual reference for what’s happening.

Pins are grouped into three categories, then put through the SmartFeed Filter, given a score, and displayed in your feed:

Pinterest's SmartFeed graphic

Here’s what each filter measures:

Domain quality – This is a measure of your overall domain. How many repins, close-ups, comments, and clicks do pins shared from your website receive overall?

Pin quality – A measure of your individual pin. How much engagement does it have?

Pinner quality – A measure of you as a content curator. Are the pins you share from others high quality?

Relevance – A measure of user intent. How relevant is your pin to a user’s search, interests, and search history?

Pinterest uses these checkpoints to ensure that only high quality, relevant pins are being shared by all. The higher your scores in each category, the better chance you’ll have of ranking #1 and reaching a broad audience with your pins.

In a nutshell, you need to be an epic content creator AND curator…create and share pins that are optimized for clicks and search.

A winning Pinterest SEO strategy combines these three elements:

Visibility + Searchability + Great Pin Design = Pinterest SEO Strategy

Sounds pretty easy, right? Actually, there’s a bit more to it.

But first, let’s get your account set up your correctly. I’m going to walk you though the steps right now!

Step 4) Set Up your Account for Traffic

Your Pinterest account, profile, boards, and pins need to be optimized for traffic. If you let Pinterest know right from the start that you’re a content creator, it can index and distribute your pins accurately.

Here’s how to do it.

First, create a business account.

A huge reason people don’t get traffic from Pinterest when they otherwise should is, they’re confusing their personal Pinterest with their business Pinterest – which confuses Pinterest too. ????

Remember, Pinterest is a search engine, and it’s looking for clues about your keywords from the pins you share. It’s not like Instagram, where you can get away with mixing personal and business posts, *kinda.

Instead, treat your Pinterest accounts the way you treat your Facebook profile vs Facebook page. Share personal pins to your personal Pinterest and business pins to your business Pinterest.

Don’t mix the two.

When you create a business account, Pinterest immediately knows that you create content. And it will love you for it! Because without people like you and me creating and sharing our content, Pinterest wouldn’t exist, and it knows it!

Creating a business account is free, and you can sign up for one right here. If you do decide to turn your personal into a business account, just head over to your profile settings and you’ll see an option to switch.

Next up, verify your account.

Once you create a business account, the next step is to verify or “claim” it. You can’t skip over this step because it’s really important!

You’ll get access to in-depth analytics on Pinterest and Tailwind. Plus, claiming your site is one of the first ways you’ll make your domain visible to Pinterest. All you’re really doing here is confirming your website with Pinterest so that it knows it’s you, and that you’re a blogger and content creator.

It’s very easy to verify your website. All you have to do is log in to your profile and go to your settings. Then scroll down to the Claim section:

Verify your website in Pinterest

 

Since my site is already verified, my website has a checkmark next to it, and the “unclaim” button is grayed out. Yours will be red and say “claim,” so just enter your website URL and select the button.

Next up, select “Add HTML tag.” Copy the tag and choose Next.

That tag needs to be added to the <head> section of your website, which sounds scary I know. But there’s an easy way to do it with the Yoast SEO plugin (for WordPress).

Then set up your boards for traffic.

You definitely want to create keyword-rich boards to help Pinterest index your pins.

For every board category (e.g., Travel), create one general and at least three specific, niched-down boards.

Here’s what that looks like:

Create broad and specific Pinterest boards.

Oh, and don’t just throw every keyword you find in there! Try to use them organically in complete sentences. Here’s the description for my social media marketing board:

Using social media marketing to grow your business + blog? Here you’ll find tools to help you do it. Pinning about social media marketing tools, social media strategy templates, social media marketing tips, marketing plans, social media cheat sheets, and more.

It sounds pretty natural, but I have a lot of keywords in there.

Now, I get that sometimes it’ll be easy to add a lot of keywords and sometimes it won’t. You just want to strike a balance between “keyword stuffing” and writing in a natural, organic way. After all, real humans are reading your board descriptions, so they need to make sense.

Note: There’s a lot more to boards than what I cover here…and they’re crazy important for Pinterest SEO today. I cover them in detail in The Pinterest Traffic Launchpad – including how to get Pinterest to “see” them, creating sections vs niche boards, how many you need, how to share your pins to them, and more.

Finally, enable rich pins.

Rich pins have confused a lot of folks, including me. I used to think they were the reason my name and logo started appearing beneath my pin image, but alas, that’s not the case! Your name and logo show up on pins after you verify your domain with Pinterest.

So what are rich pins really for, anyway?

What rich pins do is show the title and meta description of your posts.

Now, as I said before, you won’t see any of this metadata in your feed, only the first few characters of the description you added when you uploaded the pin:

Pinterest SEO | Pin DescriptionWhen someone clicks the pin to the expanded view, that’s when they’ll see the metadata and title:

Pinterest SEO | Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions

What the heck is metadata?

I’m so glad you asked! Sounds like a bunch of garblygook to me. 🙂

Basically, metadata is your meta title and your meta description. To break that down even more, it’s your SEO title and your SEO description. Which means they’re the title and description that show up on Google search results…

They’re also the title and description that Pinterest displays on your pin when you install rich pins on your website.

The big thing with rich pins is, the metadata from your post travels with the pin. When people repin your content, your metadata is repinned with it. If you update the meta description or title of your post, your pins and repins will also change (theoretically, it can take a while to update).

From Pinterest:
Use rich pins wherever possible so your brand and other useful details stay on the Pin as it gets saved.

Now that your account is set up for traffic and you have an overview of the SmartFeed, let’s dig into Pinterest SEO strategies that will help your pins get found.

PART two: GET FOUND ON PINTEREST

Step 5) Create a Pinterest Content Strategy

Want to really (REALLY) make the SmartFeed happy?

Share content your audience loves.

Hah! If only it were that simple…

First, you need to create jaw-dropping pins. Then you need to share them on the regular, e’erday.

And then…

You can’t just drop your pins, cross your fingers, and hope for the best! You have to be strategic about HOW and WHERE you share them so that people find them.

What you really need is a Pinterest content strategy. In the steps below, I’m going to show you exactly what to do.

First, share killer pins.

There’s this visual component that makes Pinterest incredibly powerful as a search engine, maybe even more so than Google. Because, let’s face it, Google search results are pretty meh. All people see are titles and descriptions with no pretty pictures to help them decide if they should click.

But over on Pinterest, whoa, there are tons of beautiful images that visually show people why they should click. Your job as a content creator is to design graphics that make people want to click on YOUR pins instead of others.

What does that mean?

It means you do things like check your pins on mobile (at least 65% of your traffic will come from phones), use bold fonts that are easy to read and use graphics and images that are on-brand and relevant to your post.

I drill down on all things graphic in these posts:

Next, get ready to blog your heart out!

If you’re a blogger, you already create content on the regular. High five!

Many of my students and clients have a hard time with blogging. They hope they can share a few *one-off* pins and still blow up on Pinterest. But, alas, that ain’t how it works, yo.

Blogging should be a core part of your Pinterest strategy.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’ve tried to fool myself on this too!

I spent the better part of last year creating two courses and couldn’t keep up with blogging every week. Instead, I posted once a MONTH.

Now, did I lose ALL traffic?

Let me just say, my pins were like workhorses keepin’ my traffic steady-*ish. So I didn’t lose it all but noticed a drop. My list growth also took a plunge…from ~1,500 subscribers a month to 1,000 or so.

The reason is that pins have a lifespan. Sure, they can last a looong time – six months, a year, even longer – but after people have seen them over and over, the engagement and traffic will drop.

I’ve experienced pin fatigue like this, and I know this is true. When you see the same pin in your feed every time you log in to Pinterest, you glaze over it.

No worries, though. Just know that when you stop blogging and sharing fresh pins, you WILL see diminishing returns at some point. Better to feed the beast. ????

#WORDTOTHEWISE If you’re pressed for time and can’t blog regularly, I recommend trying Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram ads.

Step 6) Research keywords

There are a few ways to research keywords on Pinterest:

  • Pinterest’s Guided Search
  • Topic searches
  • The ads platform

Pinterest Guided Search

When you search for a keyword in the guided search, Pinterest will show you a list of ideas across the top.

For example, let’s say you want to create a board about traveling. Here’s what Pinterest shows:

All those pretty buttons beneath the search bar are suggested keywords. Just so you know, those extra words should be added to your original keyword, like this:

  • Travel Destination
  • Travel Tips
  • Travel Bucket List
  • Travel Packing
  • Travel in the USA
  • Travel Hacks
  • And so on…

Topic Searches

If you enter https://pinterest.com/topics/travel into your browser window, here’s what you’ll get:

At the top, you can see how popular the topic is, and if you scroll down a bit there will be “Topics Related to Travel.” Click through each of these topics to get more title ideas.

Notice how the topics are becoming more specific every time you click through? Beach Travel has about 400K followers vs 70.3 million for the broader topic Travel.

The Pinterest ads platform

The other way to find keywords is to set up an ad account, which really just means placing your credit card on file with Pinterest. Don’t worry! You won’t have to run a campaign. You just need it to access the keyword section.

Once you set up your ad account, click on Create Ad from the top menu and name your campaign.

Then scroll down to the keyword section and add a keyword. Here’s what comes back for “social media”:

The list of keyword ideas is endless!

Researching keywords this way is great because you can create a master list and keep them in a spreadsheet.

Speaking of…

A keyword worksheet will save you A TON of time! You probably pin about similar topics, and it will be waaay easier to optimize new pins if you have keywords on hand and ready to use (especially if you’re sharing six or seven a week).

Psst…The right keyword and hashtag strategy can skyrocket your Pinterest traffic! In The Pinterest Traffic Launchpad, you will become a keyword ninja. Discover little-known ways to find *power traffic* keywords, where to place them, and how to quickly index your boards and pins so that Pinterest knows how to rank them. Learn more about PT Launchpad.

Step 7) Add keywords everywhere

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Once you have keyword lists, add them to your profile, boards, pins, blog posts, meta title, and more so there’s NO way Pinterest will be confused.

Here’s where they should go…

1. Your profile

Add keywords to your business name and the About You section.

I’m not sure how much the keywords truly matter in the About You, but any time Pinterest gives you the opportunity to use keywords, I say use them!

Keywords in your business name can help you get found when users search for people on Pinterest.

Pinterest SEO | Add keywords to your profile

 

2. Personal boards

I like to come up with ten keywords for my personal boards. I may not use them all, but it’s easier to start with more and narrow it down.

Oh, and don’t just throw every keyword you find in there! Try to use them organically in complete sentences. Here’s the description for my social media marketing board:

Using social media marketing to grow your business + blog? Here you’ll find tools to help you do it. Pinning about social media marketing tools, social media strategy templates, social media marketing tips, marketing plans, social media cheat sheets, and more.

It sounds pretty natural, but I have a lot of keywords in there.

Now, I get that sometimes it’ll be easy to add a lot of keywords and sometimes it won’t. You just want to strike a balance between “keyword stuffing” and writing in a natural, organic way. After all, real humans are reading your board descriptions, so they need to make sense.

3. Your pins

Of course, you need keywords in your pins!

Now, you probably share pins about similar topics and will wind up using similar keywords, which is perfectly okay.

Just make sure you don’t use the same exact keywords for every pin – vary it. You should have a list of keywords you use frequently. Go through it and pick new ones for different pins.

Oh, and watch out for keyword stuffing, yo.

Pinterest is likely headed in the direction of Google and may start to penalize pinners who spam their pins with keywords. Use them in sentences that sound organic, like you’ve written them for real people.

Use related keywords too (think “specific” and “broad.”)

For example:

If you blog about Travel and share a “travel itineraries” pin, you might use travel itinerary, backpack vacations, planning your trip on a budget, and best spots in Costa Rica as keywords.

Just so you know, keyword-rich pin descriptions appear at the bottom of a close-up:

Pinterest SEO | adding keywords to pins.

4. Blog titles + meta descriptions

In the image above, the blog title and meta description are pulled directly from your blog post.

The meta description is 140 characters long and appears below your meta title on Google, like this:

Pinterest SEO | meta descriptionIt’s important to add keywords to both places because Pinterest wants to ensure that the content on your pin matches the content on the page it links to.  The more your title and pin description match, the easier it will be for Pinterest to know what your pin is about.

5. Blog posts

I’m not entirely sure how much Pinterest is focusing on keywords in your blog post, but since they matter for Google, it just makes sense that they matter to Pinterest.

Think about it:

When your pin is linked to a landing page with the same keywords, you’re giving Pinterest one more signal that yes, this is the keyword I want to rank for.

Plus, this is another one of those cases where leveling up your Pinterest game can help you get found on Google.  Woop woop!

I cover Google SEO and Pinterest SEO in more detail (step #8 below).

6. Hashtags

Use at least two hashtags for each pin (one broad and one specific).

Broad hashtags will help your new pins get increased distribution when you first share them. Pinterest uses that hashtag to share your pin to the relevant hashtag feed.

Now, because hashtags are like keywords and broad terms are highly competitive, it’s likely that tons of other pins will be distributed along with yours. Which means your broad pin will be pushed down in the feed and people may not see it.

But the purpose of that broad term isn’t to rank in the hashtag feed. It’s to help Pinterest index your pin.

The specific hashtag is the one you’ll likely rank for. Narrower hashtags have less competition and better chances of showing up in relevant searches long term.

Just remember, you need both one of each.

Step 8) Pinterest SEO and Google SEO

I bet you’ve probably wondered at some point or another, Can I use the same SEO strategies for Google and Pinterest?

You are SOO on the right track, friend! I’m a huge fan of having multiple sources of traffic. Algorithms on any platform can change on a dime…and Pinterest is no different. You just never know if your account will be flagged for spam and (mistakenly) suspended. It’s happened to the best of us!

Since we’re already jammin’ on Pinterest SEO, why not work smarter and tackle Google right out of the gate, no?

Many strategies you would use to rank on Pinterest are the same for Google. Plus, as you research and apply keywords to pins and posts, you’ll get into a habit of SEO’ing everything.

Now, there ARE differences between Pinterest and Google SEO…

For starters, to rank on Google you need to write a post that *beats* others on the same topic (think longer, more detailed, better design, etc). But over on Pinterest, you can get by with 500 words if you create a great graphic with a killer headline and use the right keywords in your pin description.

In my Pinterest course, The Pinterest Traffic Bootcamp, I show you exactly how to find “traffic” keywords and create a year’s worth of content with ranking potential on Pinterest AND Google.

For example:

Example of a Pinterest pin ranking in Google Image Search SEO

This infographic is one of my top performing pins on Pinterest:

When you click through to the post, I show the infographic again with a short intro (maybe it’s 700 words).

I’ve been able to drive consistent traffic to the post since I published it over a year ago. In fact, it’s always in my top ten because of that pin. The post itself doesn’t rank on Google, and with only 700 words I don’t expect it too. But you know what?

It ranks on Google Image Search:

Example of a Pinterest pin ranking in Google Image Search SEO

So when it comes to Google and Pinterest SEO, just know that your pins can help you get traffic from Google, both directly from your posts and indirectly through your pins.

Wrapping it up!

Did I answer all your questions about Pinterest SEO? I hope so! Here’s a quick recap of everything we covered:

  • Recent Pinterest changes give you more ways to get found.
  • The SmartFeed uses four criteria to score your pins.
  • Set up a business account so that Pinterest knows you create content.
  • Create a content strategy that you can maintain consistently.
  • Research and add keywords following step #7.
  • Once you’re comfortable with Pinterest SEO, move on to Google SEO.

And remember to share pins that make people want to click, share to group boards and tribes, and SEO the heck out of everything!

More random thoughts and questions

Here are questions that the wonderful members of my Facebook group have asked:

Should you pin manually or use Tailwind?

According to Sarah at Pinterest, Pinterest will not penalize creators who pin via Tailwind.

It’s really a matter of preference.

I recommend that you pin manually for the first two months so that you can get a feel for how Pinterest works and use the platform as your audience does.

Is it better to share to tribes or group boards?

As I mentioned, group boards are getting pretty spammy. But all it takes is one good one, and you can reach hundreds of thousands of people.

Tribes have more accountability than groups because of their share-for-share rules. Having said that, there’s no guarantee that other tribe members will share your pins.

The best thing you can do with tribes and groups is monitor the activity and make sure you’re contributing to ones with high engagement and reciprocity.

What is the SmartLoop?

It’s a Tailwind tool that will save your sanity! Use it to create continuous loops of your pins (similar to the now-defunct campaigns in BoardBooster). Just specify which pins to share and to what boards, then let Tailwind do the pinning for you. It will even allow you to set group board rules and set specific time slots for your pins.

Should you delete pins?

If you mistakenly share the same pin to a personal board, delete it. Otherwise, leave them. You never know when your older pins will suddenly take off and go viral. It can be months and months later.

How do you add keywords to pins?

You add keywords to the pin description, which you can do when you upload the pin to Pinterest or when you edit the *alt text* of the image in your post. There are also plugins like Social Warfare (affiliate link) and Tasty Pins you can use.

Should you use board sections?

If you like them, go ahead and create them. Make sure you add keywords in the sections to give Pinterest more information about the contents. That said, I prefer niching down to sectioning. If you share to the same BROAD board over and over, instead of sectioning it create a few niche-specific boards. You’ll have more distribution options.

Does metadata matter for traffic?

Meta titles affect Google rankings, and I assume they affect Pinterest rankings too. Meta descriptions, on the other hand, aren’t a ranking factor on Pinterest or Google but they can help you get more traffic.

When people view a close-up of your pin, your meta title will appear first. Then your meta description, and THEN the pin description. All of these should make people want to take the next step and click through to your post. If you have a killer title and meta description in there, it helps.

How do you set up rich pins?

There are two steps involved and they’re really simple:

  • First – Add the metadata to your website.
  • Second – Apply for rich pins with Pinterest.

The first step is a 1,2,3. I’m going to show how to do it with Yoast SEO.

Select SEO > Social from the left sidebar in Yoast. Then select the Facebook tab and make sure that Add Open Graph metadata is enabled. It should be by default, but it’s a good idea to check before moving on.

Voila! You’re done. Now your posts are ready to display as article rich pins. The last step is to verify rich pins back in Pinterest, which you can do right here: Rich Pin Validator.

Should you write posts for Google, Pinterest, or both?

Once you master Pinterest SEO, start tackling Google SEO.

When you do, I recommend alternating between Google and Pinterest. Say, one week you write a post for Pinterest. You do keyword research upfront, look at popular pins and create an amazing graphic and killer headline for it – the post is about 800 words.

The next week you go all in on Google…keyword research, epic post, great design, long and detailed…all of it. That post is crazy long, like 3,00 words. (yep)

When you approach SEO this way, you will likely get traffic from Pinterest AND Google. And you won’t have to spend hours and hours writing a 3,000-word post every week. Give yourself a break on the *Pinterest* weeks.

This way you’ll have an SEO strategy for every post.

Can you use the same keyword research tools for Pinterest and Google?

You can. It’s easier to use Pinterest for Pinterest keywords and Google tools (Adwords Keyword Planner, Google Search, KWFinder) for Google keywords.

How many boards should you create?

Great question! As many as you need for your niche and as many as you can share to consistently. Engagement is a biggie. If you have a lot of personal boards with little or no engagement, you run the risk of Pinterest ignoring your pins altogether.

Should I use a keywords worksheet?

I think it’s helpful to brain-dump keywords onto a worksheet. Since you’ll likely be blogging about similar topics, some of the same keywords will pop up again and again…if you have them handy you can save a ton of time.

Next Steps

Pin, pin, pin!

Set up your account, start blogging, create pins, join group boards and tribes, track what you share and when, and don’t forget about Pinterest and Google Analytics. Check them each month, so you know what’s working and what you need to change for consistent results.

I’ve got answers to ALL of your questions about Pinterest SEO in my new mini-course, The Pinterest Traffic Launchpad. Click the image below to learn more about it.

The Pinterest Traffic Launchpad

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#Pinterest Template Guide: Create Pinterest-Friendly Images that Drive Traffic | One of the fastest ways to get traffic from Pinterest is to create Pinterest perfect pins. In this post, I’ve got 6 easy social media design and Pinterest tips that will help you create pins people want to click! Pinterest marketing / Pinterest Fundamentals #PinterestmarketingYou want to know the #1 question people ask me?

How do I get more traffic?

And when I hear that question, what I really hear you saying is How do I get more traffic so that I can build my business?

Now, you may not think of images when it comes to getting more traffic.

Me? Images are the FIRST thing I think of…specifically, Pinterest images.

So today, I’m sharing six Pinterest image tips to help you create pins that boomerang your traffic and get more people to your website.

1) Start with the right image sizes.

When it comes to Pinterest image sizes and dimensions, the image width is a breeze: anything from 600-800px wide will work.

The pin height is where things can get tricky because Pinterest is trying to squash those super long pins that hog up the feed.

First, what hasn’t changed?

The standard Pinterest image size is still a vertical pin at a 2:3 ratio (2x width : 3x height). Here are some examples of these dimensions:

  • 600 x 900px (Pinterest recommends)
  • 735 x 1102px (Canva’s preset size)
  • 800 x 1200px (my preferred size)

Don’t worry if you’re using a design tool with a preset size that’s different. Just make sure the ratio is 2:3.

Next, what HAS changed?

Pinterest likes square pins now. Woop woop! This is one of those changes I’m excited about because it means we can share Instagram posts to Pinterest.

Want to know how?

Tap the three dots at the top right of your Instagram post, then select Share > Copy Link and head over to Pinterest. Choose the board you want, and you’re done.

Share Instagram posts to Pinterest.

#HEADSUP Pinterest will use the first few (130 or so) characters from your comment as the pin description. You may need to modify or optimize the pin description after you share it.

Also, the pin URL will link back to Instagram, which is wonderful if you want to grow your Instagram following and engagement. If you’re like me and share blog posts on Instagram, make sure you redirect the URL to your blog post.

What about infographics?

I say keep using them! My infographic-style pins drive waaay more traffic than my standard pins. The only thing I’m changing moving forward is the height, which leads me too…

Recommended pin sizes

Here are the pin sizes I’m experimenting with right now:

  • Square – 1:1 ratio
  • 800 x 1,200px — 2:3 ratio
  • 800 x 1,600px — 1:2 ratio
  • 800 x 2,160px – 1:2.7 ratio

And here’s what those sizes look like in comparison:

Pinterest image sizes 2018

Just so you know, those last two are arbitrary.

Even though the SmartFeed is working hard to squash longer pins, as I mentioned above, my longer infographics still drive the most traffic to my blog, so I’ll keep creating them.

But I’ll be watching… ????

Note: Pins longer than a 1:2.1 ratio will be cropped in the feed (for a 800px pin, that means 1,680px). What this means is that the bottom of your pin, including your branding and URL, will only show when someone clicks to a close-up.

Want the full scoop on social media images sizes? Read this post.

2) Use color purposefully.

For the most part, yellows, reds, and oranges tend to stand out and get more clicks than blues and greens.

Now, if your brand colors are blue or green, you can still make your pins pop. The trick is to “train” people to click on certain colors, which I cover in depth in this post: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out.

When I started designing pins, I chose dark background colors with white text on top, like this:

find free images for your blog Pinterest images

Once I changed my color palette to peach and cream, my pins performed much better. Looking back, I think those darker pins looked depressing and got lost in the feed.

Same thing happens with blue: it just gets lost.

Not sure which colors to use?

Here’s an idea: Look at pins and boards outside your niche.

Let’s say you’re a fitness coach. Instead of looking at fitness boards, look at travel boards. If you’re a life coach, look at sewing boards.

The reason is that if you look at pins within your industry, you may be drawn to a pin simply because you have an attachment to the title or image.

But if you look at pins that you have ZERO interest in, you can be more objective. For example, these are pins from a parenting board:

Pinterest image colors that stand out

 

Since I’m not interested in this topic, I’m able to separate pin colors from pin titles. The colors in the middle jump out at me, how about you?

Even if your brand colors are green or blue, be creative and find a way to add contrast colors that pop.

Heck, you may even fall in love with those contrast colors and decide to rebrand! If that’s the case, make sure you learn more about The Build My Brand Toolkit. It may be just what you’re looking for!

3) Limit the number of fonts.

Here’s the deal with fonts…

Don’t go crazy with them, choose just two. I recommend a sans-serif font for your main font and one other contrast font.

Pro tip: Use your contrast font strategically.

It’s tempting to want to use every cool font you find, but please don’t! The whole point of fonts is to give readers a visual hierarchy of elements. You want to make sure that they know what to focus on.

Your contrast font should help people make sense of the text.

For example, I created a pin a while back with the title 100 ways to market your business. I used a contrast font for the word “market” because it’s a verb and I wanted people to visualize themselves marketing their business.

Just try not to waste your contrast font on throw-away words like how, and, or in.

Other pro font tips:

  • Make sure your pin is easy to read on mobile devices.
  • Choose simple, bold fonts that stand out.
  • Choose a font family with multiple weights for variety. Open Sans and Roboto are both good choices.
  • Grab my Font Inspiration Kit with over 94 free fonts and font pairings!

 

Psst… I break down all these steps in detail in this video:

4) Use text overlays.

This one’s a biggie. I still see many people posting pins without text overlays, which is a newbie thing to do, so not a big deal. That said, it’s something you want to get out of the habit of doing.

Use a tool like Canva, PicMonkey or Photoshop (step #6 below) to add text to your pins so that people immediately know what they’re about.

Here’s why:

Pinterest is different than Instagram.

Grammers love to get lost in beautiful images that paint a picture and tell a story. For this reason, getting clicks on Instagram largely comes down to the image.

Pinterest is different.

People look for ideas on Pinterest…they either want to know how to do something or where to buy something.

So if you have a “how-to” blog post about growing a garden, make sure you add text to your pin so that people know why they should click. Try to use only words that will make people want to click (if you need to, shorten the title).

Here’s why this matters:

When you create text overlays that are **designed for clicks**, you can lead people to action.

Let’s say I’m a crafty girl and want to make a wreath. I search for “wreath diy” and right there I see this gorgeous pin:

Pin image for a do-it-yourself wreath project.

 

And I like this pin because I’m ready to make a wreath and this one looks stunning. Plus, I know it’s a tutorial and I can picture myself following the steps to create a beautiful wreath.

The more you can tease people with tips or advice like this, the more you can draw them into your content and over to your website. If you get stumped here, ask yourself:

What text would make ME want to click?

If you follow only one step in this post, make it this one! It’s a game-changer.

5) Use images that reflect your brand.

A good image can make the difference between clicks and crickets. There’s no room for so-so on Pinterest.

Make sure your pin image reflects your brand and helps people understand how it fits in with their lives.

For example, let’s say you sell handmade belts.

Instead of putting your belt on a dress form, put it on a live model and be creative. Add accessories and other props so that when people see your Pinterest image, they can’t help but click.

Of course, you don’t have to use images in your pins. If you’re a blogger, coach, or consultant, a simple pin with text and graphics may be all you need.

Whatever you do, make sure the photos you use don’t compete with your text. I used to try to squish my text on the left or right of a photo and get it to fit just right.

Examples of a pin template that's hard to edit.

 

Big waste of time! I finally gave up on this style after I couldn’t find photos that worked well. Plus, it took hours of fudging to make everything fit.

(I also stopped using pics with full-on faces because they get fewer clicks.)

Looking for stock photo sources?

My favorites these days are Thinkstock and Stocksy (both premium); and Pixabay, Unsplash and Picjumbo for free photos. If you want to save some time, head over to thestocks.im. You can find tons of free and paid photo sites, all there in one place.

In terms of style, I’m all about styled stock photos and flatlays these days. I’ve even been experimenting with taking my own styled stock photos!

Pro tip: Check the license when using free images. You want CCO or  CC1 images that don’t require attribution.

Related: 6 Sources of Free Images for Bloggers

Use relevant images

I learned this one the hard way…

One of my first pins had an image of an adorable puppy holding a sign between his teeth. I thought it was SO cute and decided to add this text to the sign:

How to create call to action buttons that get clicked

Oops! Pinterest thought my pin was about pets. With that image, I had no chance of ranking for my target keyword.

Pinterest tries to “see” your pin, so make sure you use images relevant to your brand, pin, or product.

6) Use the right design tools.

Even if you’re not a designer, there are tools to help you create beautiful designs that stand out above the others. A few of my favorites are:

Canva

You can create so much with it…ebooks, call to action buttons, social media graphics…just about anything. Plus, you can edit and publish designs right from the dashboard.

You can even choose from their library of templates, including share images, cover photos, and infographics (that last one is a HUGE plus). When you’re starting a new design, you can select one from your dashboard to use as a template:

Canva custom image designs

 

The best part is, you don’t have to be a designer to create beautiful designs with Canva. Just choose one of their templates, play with colors and text, and upload an image (or choose one from Canva’s huge image library). Save your new design as a pdf, png or jpg – or share it directly to social media.

PicMonkey

I haven’t used PicMonkey much, but from what I’ve seen it has similar editing features, minus the Ebook template.

PicMonkey is known for photo editing. Want to add effects to your photo to make it your own? You can do it! You can even change the color of an image:

PicMonkey Pinterest Image Templates

 

I’ve got a complete PicMonkey tutorial for you here: How to Use Free Styled Stock Photos to Build Your Brand

Photoshop

If you’re ready to design like a pro, Photoshop is your tool.

With Photoshop you can customize photos and images in a way that you can’t with Canva or PicMonkey. You can even make old photos look entirely new using the mask and rubber stamp tools (great for repurposing your stock photos).

For this pin I used four stock photos – one for the top and three for the body:

Custom branded Pinterest template

To create the top image, I spliced, cut, cropped, and rotated the color wheels until I was happy with their placement.

To create the background image, I cloned sections from a stock photo (using the rubber stamp tool) to create a wooden texture. Then I ghosted two other photos on top to add more dimension.

See how creative you can get with Photoshop? You can use the same photos over and over to create pins that are unique and original.

Want to start using Photoshop? I’ve got a killer graphics tutorial for you right here –> How to Use Photoshop to Create Branded Social Media Graphics

That’s a wrap! Let me know how you make out with this guide. I’d love to hear!

by

Have you found gorgeous styled stock photography to use in your blog? Need some inspiration to create branded blogging pictures? You’re in luck! I’ve got an amazing Picmonkey tutorial that shows you how to edit free stock photography to fit your brand so you really stand out on social media. It even includes a free downloadable set of ULTRA beautiful, creative photography you can start using today. stock photo resources / stock photography ideas / feminine stock photosBy Aminta Demadura

Have you ever come across styled stock photos you absolutely love, and then wondered how you could make them fit with your brand?

I wondered the exact same thing.

And as it turns out, adding your own branding to modern stock photos is really easy!

Branding and customizing stock photos is a super important step in creating a unique business that your readers and customers absolutely love. This type of branding helps your followers relate to you, form a connection with you, and in the end, purchase from you.

So it’s important that your visuals represent who you are and what you do.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to create social media graphics that stand out above the rest using styled stock photos (and my favorite tips to customize them and make them your own).

Before we get started, let me show you the original styled stock photo we’ll be working with below:

super high resolution stock photos

If you’re curious, styled stock photos are created with entrepreneurs, bloggers, and business owners in mind. I like to think of them as “startup stock photos.” They’re incredibly handy when you’re starting out and don’t have the time, expertise, or space to take your own photos.

Styled stock photography makes use of props (office supplies, household items, plants, stationery, flowers, mugs, and so on), and can range from flat lays, to mock-ups, close-ups, and still lifes. And with the rise of free feminine styled stock photos, there are new sources popping up every day.

Let’s have some fun and see how you can make this image fit your brand.

1) Use Fun Filters to Brand Your Photos

My favorite free image editor is Picmonkey. If you’re a Canva fan, that’s fine too (I won’t hold it against you!), but I find Picmonkey to be more intuitive, easier to work with, and I love that it comes with SO MANY features.

In the images below, I added a simple filter to each of the photos. Specifically, the Yester-year filter and the HDR filter.

how to create social media graphics free

As you can see, a filter can really change the mood and vibe of a photo, which is perfect if you’re trying to add your own style to a stock photo. Picmonkey has many, many filter and effect options, so spend a little time going through them and find out what works best for your style and the photos you have to work with.

(If Photoshop is more your style, you’re gonna love this tutorial.)

2) Use Effects to Make a Photo Instantly Unique

Have you checked out Picmonkey’s effects yet? If not, you’re seriously missing out. Effects are the fastest way to make bold changes to a photo that really makes it your own. In this image, I used the sunglow effect to add a radiant center with a vintage tint to the original image.

startup stock photos

I love using these types of effects for social media, especially Instagram. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than finding a ton of other accounts using the same feminine stock photos as you in their feeds (hint: It’s not good for branding!)

And if you want to get really wild? Try layering two or three effects and see what you get. Many combinations look really cool together.

Effects are the fastest way to make bold changes to a photo and really make it your own.Click To Tweet

3) Gradient Overlays Are In

Here’s a fun one. If you want a super fast way to add your brand colors to an image in a unique way, try adding a gradient overlay, like this:

free open source stock photos

 

I always hear bloggers complain about how hard it is to find styled stock images that fit their brand colors. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be!

With a little creativity you can take almost any image you love and customize it to suit your brand style. Make the gradient as light or dark as you want to get the right look, and know that if using a lighter photo, it may work best if you’re not going for that Lisa Frank look.

4) Take Horizontal and Vertical Crops of the Image

Depending on how detailed the original image is, you can easily squeeze another 10-20 images from it by cropping it in different parts of the photo:

feminine stock photos

Vertical crops are great for Pinterest and square crops are best for Instagram. You can also take horizontal crops like the one shown above to use in your blog posts and tweets.

On top of that, you can also create header images for Facebook, Twitter, and your blog by taking super wide but short crops of your image. How cool is that?

And if you want even more options beyond just cropping, try flipping, rotating, or changing the angle of your cropped versions.

5) Create Pinterest Pins that Stand Out from the Crowd

If we’re being honest, we all know it takes some amazing looking pins to really “make it” on Pinterest. They need to be bold, beautiful, and easy to read. They need to entice people to click through to your blog.

This is where making some savvy edits to free styled stock images can really help you make attention-grabbing pins.

how to create a pin in Pinterest

In the pin above, you can see that I added a filter to the cropped image to make it a little more artistic. Then I added a transparent white box, my brand fonts, and my logo to complete the pin.

BAM. You’re done.

6) Make Inspirational Graphics to Connect With Your Audience

Inspiring your audience and encouraging them to return to your blog over and over is a big part of any blogger’s job. You need to motivate and inspire your readers to really form that connection, and inspirational graphics can be a great way to do just that.

Thankfully, making inspirational graphics is easy and quick.

In the photo below, I simply added a darkening filter to the vertically cropped image that I extracted from the original. Then, I added a large white script font over the top of the darker areas to create a unique and attractive, inspiring image.

how to use PicMonkey for free

If you aren’t already, I highly recommend you try out this tactic on Pinterest and Instagram. Both platforms are super visual and people loooove inspirational images on them. Give it a shot – I promise you’ll see a little boost in traffic and engagement.

7) Feed the ‘Gram with Some Branded Squares

Does the thought of having to come up with yet another amazing photo for Insta ever give you a little anxiety? Yeah, me too. It takes so many photos to really grow a large Instagram following, and most of us just don’t have the time to plan, shoot, and edit that many photos.

If that’s your predicament, this tip will help. I recommend taking a bunch of square crops from different parts of your original styled stock photo (step #4, above).

Then, make them even more unique by flipping or rotating them in new directions, and adding filters and effects to really amp up the style. There are seriously hundreds of different possibilities you could make here, so spend about 30 minutes tinkering in a free image editor. You’ll be creating your own Instagram styled stock photos in no time!

8) Create Promotional Graphics that Make People Click

Once you have a product for sale, you’ll need to start spreading the word. Promotional graphics (used sparingly) on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts will let your followers discover your new products and will help give you some social cred.

amateur stock photos

 

You can see from the image above that not only did I crop it, I also rotated it to a completely new angle. After that I added a pretty script font on top of an overlay to help promote the sale.

9) Make Twitter Images that Stop the Scroll

If you’ve been on Twitter more than once or twice, you know that tweets with pictures are waaay more noticeable than text-only tweets.

Standing out is an important part of gaining Twitter followers and encouraging your current followers to actually click through and read your blog posts. Images play a huge part in catching the eye and enticing the reader to click through. Not only that, but they also help to establish your brand and your professional image.

Lucky for us, making Twitter images is a cinch. I use Picmonkey’s Hub to save templates for each of my graphic types.

instagram styled stock photos

Once the template is there, all I have to do for each new image is go in and change the text and background image. Three minutes, tops.

Where Will You Go from Here?

Is your brain overflowing with ideas on how to doll up your own free styled stock photos? Once you’ve gone through the editing process a few times, you’ll quickly find that it’s really easy and makes a huge difference to the visual appeal of your business.

I highly recommend creating branded templates for Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter using an editor like Canva or Picmonkey. Templates will save you so much time, and they’ll also help keep your branding on track. Good luck!

Before you go…

Don’t forget to grab your free styled stock photos pack right here! This pack is perfect for blog posts, Pinterest pins, Instagram posts, tweet images, and more. And of course, you can customize the photos as much as you’d like using my digital photo editing tutorial above.

Click the image below for your free high-resolution stock photos download:

free high resolution stock photos download

by

Looking for Tailwind Tribes to join? I’ve got a step by step guide to exploding your Pinterest marketing and traffic with Tailwind Tribes. Tribes are my new secret traffic weapon, and the best way to skyrocket your Pinterest growth. Grab my free printable list of Tailwind tribes for mom bloggers, travel bloggers, food bloggers, DIY/craft bloggers, and more. #pinterestmarketing #pinterest #bloggingforbeginners

Do you use Tailwind tribes for your blog or business?

I started using it when it was still in beta, back when my traffic was tanking, and I was desperate to get it back.

I wanted my pageviews back up, and quick, so I pounced on tribes hard.

At first, I’d stare at the dashboard wondering What the heck do I do? Which tribes should I join? How do I even submit pins, and which ones should I share?

Sound familiar?

If you’re itching to explode your reach through Tailwind tribes but feel a bit stumped with where to start, this post will help. I’m sharing everything I’ve learned to help you get maximum results.

And if you’re curious, tribes did help me recoup some of my lost pageviews. While it didn’t solve my bigger issue (not posting consistently), it sure gave me the bump I needed.

Now, about that bigger issue:

A huge lesson I’ve learned is that there are NO SHORTCUTS!! We absofreakin’lutely must create content on the regular if we want to see steady, organic growth.

You need to create and share content on the regular if you want to see steady, organic growth in your blog or business.Click To Tweet

But I digress, back to tribes. I can’t think of a better time to jump on the bandwagon. If you haven’t already, you’re just in time to join the party. Tribes have seen massive growth in the last few months, and new ones are popping up every day.

More tribes = more reach = more people exposed to your content.

Alrightie, let’s dig in.

Bonus: I created a tribes cheat sheet with a list of the most active tribes for many niches. It includes the activity and visibility of the best performing tribes, plus invitation links, member counts, and rules so you can easily join the ones you want. A complete life-saver! Just click the image below to download.

Use the Tailwind Tribes Cheat Sheet to start driving tons of traffic from Pinterest with Tribes

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

1) First, what is a tribe?

Tribes are a group of professionals who come together to share each other’s pins and give each other a boost in traffic, similar to share-for-share Facebook Groups – with a twist. Tribes are created around specific niches, industries, or interests, which means you’ll have a pool of content to share this is specific to your audience.

When you add your pins to a tribe, other tribe members can view, schedule, and repin it to their boards. This means you have access to the collective audience of your peers and can drive massive traffic to your posts, just by participating.

And you can hand-pick content you want to share with the tribe (and in turn, with your audience). Other tribe members can do the same. You end up with a continuous stream of hand-picked content as everyone contributes.

For example:

Let’s say you join a food tribe.

On Monday morning, you submit your avocado chocolate pudding pin and repin Mary’s eggplant lasagna to your Paleo board. Later that day, Harry, another tribe member, shares your avocado pin to his Delicious Desserts group board. On Tuesday, someone in Harry’s group repins it, which leads to 500 repins and 50 pageviews, just like that.

Can you see the snowball effect happening here? It’s that easy to get more traffic, reach, and repins through tribes.

Now, let’s drill down even more.

If you want, you can watch this video to see tribes in action:

How Do Tailwind Tribes Work?

2) How can tribes help improve your Pinterest rankings?

Now, I bet you’re thinking Curating content is nothing new. Been there done that!

You’re so right! Networking and sharing content is not a new strategy. There are sites like Feedly, Quuu, JustRetweet, Zest (my new favorite), plus engagement pods, share-for-share groups, and more.

Here’s the thing about Pinterest:

Both pin AND domain quality are huge ranking factors. When Pinterest sees you as sharing quality content that adds value, your pins will likely rank higher in search results.

Bottom line, the SmartFeed is watching everything we share, yo. ????

The more pins we can share (both original and curated) with a high number of repins, comments, and clicks, the better chance we have of getting traffic from Pinterest.

That’s where Tailwind tribes come in.

Remember back in the day, how easy it was to keep the SmartFeed happy? When we could tell which pins were popular by the number of repins? With Tribes, we get repin counts back, baby!

3) How much do Tailwind Tribes cost?

Tribes are add-ons (called PowerUps), and you don’t have to pay Tailwind to use them. You can access them directly from your dashboard, even with a free account. The best part is, you can also join tribes for free. #DOUBLEFREE

With Tribes Free, you can join five tribes and share 30 pins a month. And if you’re curious, that’s an aggregate number of pins across all tribes. I didn’t know that at first! Once you’re comfortable, you can power up to Tribes Pro and get access to ten tribes (80 total submissions) for just under $60 a year.

Pricing scales up from there. Here’s a breakdown:

Tailwind Tribes PowerUps Pricing

Ready to join Tailwind and start using tribes? Use the link below to get started:

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

I was so excited about tribes at first that I joined every single one I could find relevant to my niche.

Fast forward months later and it turns out that tribes are much like groups: Not all are created equal, friend.

Whatever you do, take advantage of the Tribes Free and start with five tribes. Track the performance for a month and use that data to weed out the good from the bad. Then power up from there.

4) How are tribes different from Pinterest groups?

Great question! As I mentioned, tribes are similar to groups in that some will perform better than others.

The point of participating in both groups and tribes is to:

  • Curate and share high-quality content
  • Drive traffic to your website and business
  • Stay on the good side of the Pinterest SmartFeed

The difference is that many groups are lame in terms of moderation. Group boards can easily turn into a moshpit of pins, with collaborators who neglect the board and rarely repin content. Because of this, groups have lost a bit of their mojo. There’s only a handful in any niche that will perform well.

Tailwind tribes come with a measure of accountability, so you can get some of that mojo back. What I mean by this is that every tribe member has to “share for share” according to the group rules or risk getting banned.

Why do I say “measure of accountability”?

Because it’s not absolute.

Tribe members don’t have to share your content at all. The only thing they HAVE to do is share pin for pin. They can choose other pins  and ignore your content entirely (which can and does happen!).

That’s why it’s crucial to track the performance of every tribe you join to make sure it’s working for you. More on that in step #6 below.

How do you join the right tribes?

This is a bigger question than you might think!

First of all, it should be a no-brainer to join tribes in your niche. You want the right audiences to see your content.

Next, since we know that some tribes will be rock stars and others will be total duds, joining the right tribes has less to do with finding them and more to do with evaluating them.

Let’s start by finding them.

Psst…You can save a ton of time by downloading this handy cheat sheet of the best-performing tribes in your niche:

Use the Tailwind Tribes Cheat Sheet to start driving tons of traffic from Pinterest with Tribes

5) How do you find the right tribes to join?

You can either join through an invitation or from the Tribes tab within Tailwind.

How to find tribes to join

 

From there, enter a keyword related to your niche.

Enter a keyword to find tribes

6) How do you evaluate tribes?

This is the thing that took me a while to get, and it’s a biggie.

You want to evaluate the quality of tribes in much the same waythat  the SmartFeed evaluates your domain. I recommend evaluating tribes before you join, and then monthly once you’re an active member (step #9 below).

  • Activity – how active are the tribe members?
  • Quality + relevance – are the pins high quality?
  • Rules – how many pins can you submit, what’s the share-for-share ratio?
  • Number of members – how many people have joined?
  • Visibility – what’s the process to join?

Activity

Once you enter a keyword, you’ll see a list of tribes along with the member count and overall activity.

(Activity is tribe-speak for engagement.)

The more bars the better.

From my experience, 3 bars or fewer means the tribe is a dud. You’ll wind up dumping a zillion tribe pins on your boards with little return. More bars, on the other hand, means the tribe has rock-star potential.

Check the tribe activity before you join.

Quality and relevance

On the left side of the search results is a Preview Tribe button (pictured above). Select that to preview the tribe’s members, pins, topics, and visibility.

Before you join, make sure the content is relevant to your audience and appears to be high quality. Some of the tribes I’ve joined have delivered poor results because they covered many different topics. While large tribes can be appealing, your pins can easily get lost in the shuffle if the topics covered are not specific to your audience.

This is where bigger tribes may not mean bigger results. I’ve found the more you niche down with tribes, the more likely your pins will be reshared and repinned.

Tailwind is the best Free Pinterest Scheduler

Tribe rules

Rules cover things like:

  • Maximum pins – the number of pins you can submit daily
  • Reposting – how frequently you can post the same content
  • Pin quality – image orientation and other deets
  • Blog topics – topics covered in the tribe
  • Types of posts – most are blog post only, meaning no pins to affiliates, products, or pages
  • Share ratio – number of tribe pins you have to share for every pin you submit

That last one is the one you want to pay close attention to.

I aim for tribes with a 1:1 share ratio. The reason is that I have enough of my own content to share and prefer to feature my pins more than others.

Now, if you’re just starting a blog and don’t have many original pins yet, a 1:2 or even 1:3 ratio may suit your needs perfectly.

Here’s what those ratios mean:

  • 1:2 = You share two tribe pins for every pin you submit
  • 1:3 = Share three tribe pins for every pin you submit
  • And so on…

Higher ratios mean you’ll have plenty of content to add to your Pinterest boards while you build up a content library of your own. Once you do, you’ll want to drop the ratio back down to 1:1. The reason is that if you create and share high-quality pins (which I’m sure you do!), you’ll likely find that your pins will get the most engagement.

Remember, the SmartFeed’s watchin’. ????

Number of members

These days, I’m all about fewer members. Smaller tribes rock for a number of reasons:

  • Your pins are more likely to be shared because they’ll stand out more.
  • You’ll have less competition.
  • The tribe content will likely be relevant to your audience, which means you won’t have to scroll through ten recipe pins to find one self-help pin.

To be fair, I haven’t formally tracked member size to performance. I just prefer smaller tribes and highly recommend them.

Visibility (aka Access)

This is a fancy word for “how to join the tribe.”

If you’re curious, you can view a tribe’s visibility by selecting that Preview Tribe button I showed you above. Visibility is right there under the description:

Check the visibility settings of tribes so you know how to join.

There are three levels of visibility:

  • Public – This one’s the easiest. You can join without approval.
  • By Request – Send the owner a request to join (which you can bypass with an invitation)
  • Secret – The only way to join is by invitation. Secret tribes are not searchable in Tribes.

There you go! With the five metrics listed above, you can evaluate tribes before you join to see which ones may be a good fit.

On to #7!

Don’t forget to download the Tailwind tribes cheat sheet below.

Use the Tailwind Tribes Cheat Sheet to start driving tons of traffic from Pinterest with Tribes

7) How many tribes should you join?

I’d say between five and ten to start. Again, make sure you track the performance after your first month, and monthly after that.

I joined a ton at first and had loads of fun sharing and submitting, but I sobered up quickly when I saw my boards carpet-bombed with literally hundreds of tribe pins. Say whaa?

A much better approach is to start small, track them all, and scale up from there.

8) How do you share to tribes?

The same way you schedule pins. Find a pin in your Pinterest feed and select the Tailwind logo. Then, instead of entering a board name, scroll down until you see the Add to Tribes button.

How to save Pinterest pins to tribes

Once you select it, you’ll get a pop-up window with a list of tribes. Select the tribes to which you want to submit the pin. Tip: Use those checkboxes on the left to select multiple tribes.

Choose which tribes you want to submit your pin.

If you’ve already submitted the same pin to a tribe, Tailwind will flag it and let you know. Easy peasy.

#PROTIP: If you’re like me, you’re a member of many tribes and active in only a handful (those high-performing ones!). You can zip through this step by keeping a spreadsheet of active tribes so you can easily see which ones to select.

Don’t forget! You still have to go back to Tailwind and manually share from each tribe according to the rules.

Ready to join Tailwind and start using tribes? Use the link below to get started:

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

9) How do you keep track of the pins you share?

Easy! That spreadsheet I mentioned in step #8 doubles as a tribe tracker. Use it to organize your pin and post URLs and keep track of the dates you share each pin.

If you’re curious, here’s what my tracker looks like:

The Tailwind Tribes Tracker by ConversionMinded

The tracker even triples as a reposting scheduler. Boom. You’ll know exactly when to recycle your pins, following the rules of your tribes.

Speaking of tracking, time to drill down on stats…

How do you track a tribe’s performance?

We’ve talked about how to evaluate a tribe before you join it based on the overall activity, rules, members, and so on.

Once you’re an active member, you’ll want to drill down on the tribe’s performance as it relates to your pins.

The way to do that is to create your OWN share ratio. And I’m going to show you how to do that right now!

10) How do you create your own share ratio?

Beneath the rules for each tribe, you’ll see stats for reshares, repins and reach:

Track a tribe's performance of your pins to see if you should continue participating.

Just so you know, those are aggregate numbers across all of your submitted pins.

To calculate a tribe’s performance, divide the number of repins by the number of reshares.

For example:

In the Digital Marketing tribe above, my pins have received 49 repins and 259 reshares. That means the tribe members have shared my pins with their audience 259 times, and I’ve received 49 repins from those reshares.

49 / 259 = .189 or 18.9%

This means that my average number of repins to reshares for this tribe is roughly 19%.

Anything over 10% is a high-performing tribe, in my book, so that’s the yardstick I use to size up other tribes. I either leave or stop contributing to tribes that perform lower.

What should your ratio be? You’ll have to decide based on your tolerance level AND the average performance of your collective tribes. If most of your tribes perform at 5%, you may want to use that as a benchmark for other tribes. Or, maybe you search for tribes with better potential.

That’s a wrap! How about you? Have you used Tailwind Tribes to skyrocket your Pinterest traffic? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Don’t forget to grab the tribes cheat sheet with the most active tribes for each niche. It’s so easy to measure the performance of tribes when you have all your stats in one place.

Use the Tailwind Tribes Cheat Sheet to start driving tons of traffic from Pinterest with Tribes
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How to Write a Blog Post that SellsDo you want more customers?

Want to know how to format your blog posts for more subscribers and sales?

Blogging is a powerful way to build your business when you have a strategy in place that goes beyond putting words on a page and getting people to read them.

Today, I’m sharing how to excel at blogging as a way to grow your audience, increase sales, and convert readers into customers.

BONUS: Before we dig in, I created this high-converting blog post cheat sheet to help you put what you learn into action.

Grab the high-converting blog post cheat sheet!

Step #1: Research blog topics that perform well

The first step to converting more customers through blogging is to write about topics that your audience wants to read.

If you’re struggling with this step, use these tools to discover topics with a high number of social media shares and Google searches.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a powerful content research tool that will help you gather information on what has performed well on social media in any industry. Both paid and free versions are available, and you can use it to discover viral content with a high number of retweets, likes, repins, and shares.

Enter a keyword into the search bar and you’ll see which content has the highest number of shares on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

how to become a blogger with an incredible online community using BuzzSumo.

Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is my first stop when I’m out of blog ideas. It’s a free tool that will show you the important terms people are searching for on Google.

To get started with the keyword planner, enter your keyword. Then, enter your targeting and use the keywords filters to refine your search. I recommend filtering your results for low competition.

You’ll see search results for your original keyword plus a list of related keywords.

blog writing tips using the Google Keyword Planner

When you have all the keywords you want, click Review Plan. On the next screen, click the Keyword tab, choose a date range, and enter a high bid to make sure you see all the results.

Now, you can see the actual monthly search volume in the Impressions column, which will give you an accurate view of how many people are searching for your blog topic. I aim for at least 1,500 searches.

Want to know how to create a blog that people want to read? Use Keyword Planner to find out what people are searching for around your blog topic first.

Facebook Groups

I’m in a number of Facebook Groups related to blogging and entrepreneurship and have discovered interesting blog ideas from questions members ask. When I see a question that has been asked many times, it goes on my worksheet as a potential blog topic.

To get started with Facebook Groups, select Groups on the left-hand side of your dashboard. Then select Discover from the top menu to see a list of suggested groups based on the pages, posts, and groups that you’ve already liked, shared, or joined. You can also use the top search bar to find groups relevant to any keyword or niche.

If you manage your own Facebook group, why not ask your group members what they’re struggling with related to your niche? Then use their answers as inspiration for future blog posts.

Psst…I would love for you join my Facebook group! You’ll have multiple opportunities to promote your business and be part of an inclusive network of encouraging, supportive people.

Quora

Quora is the hub of questions and answers and an excellent way to find out what people are asking around your niche.

To get started with Quora, log in with your Gmail.

Enter terms or keywords related to your niche and you’ll see discussions and questions appear in your feed. Note the questions where you can provide value, look at what others have answered and make notes on how you can improve upon their answers.

#2: Pick the Winning Blog Ideas

It’s time to document your research and decide which blog topics will make it on to your editorial calendar.

I use a simple Google doc spreadsheet to track the topics and questions that seem to be popular:

  • Original blog idea
  • Target keyword
  • Number of monthly shares
  • Number of repins and FB shares
  • Some notes about the problem the topic solves for my audience
  • Some notes about a product the topic idea could lead to: Does it lead to a sales funnel opt-in? Will it help me make more sales?

Use the blog ideas worksheet to create a powerful blog writing format.

The goal at this stage is to narrow down your ideas to those that are both popular with your audience and align with your business goals. There’s no shame in sharing something supervaluable that helps your readers and grows your business. In fact, that’s why you’re blogging in the first place!

Once I’ve picked topics that I think are winners, I’ll make additional notes about content pieces that I think are particularly interesting so that I can start to frame an angle for my own content. For each piece I’ll note the following:

  • Title/headline
  • Blog post URL
  • Some notes about the piece itself: why it’s helpful and what I like about it
  • Any gaps in the content: where I can improve upon it

Step #3: Format your post for easy reading

When I first started blogging, I’d jump right in and start writing. Before I knew it, I’d go rambling on and on and forget the original points I wanted to make.

The solution to this problem is to create an outline to help you stay on track and to give your post an easy-to-follow structure. When people read your blog post, you want them to be able to spot sections that interest them right away.

Follow these steps to format your blog posts:

Make your post highly valuable. Look through your notes and pinpoint where you can provide more value for your readers. Can you make your article more visually descriptive? More detailed? Longer? How will you fill in the gaps in other people’s content? Be sure to aim for more than 1,000 words for each blog post.

Divide your post into smaller chunks. Long paragraphs and blocks of text can make your post seem like hard work and scare people away. Instead, divide your blog content into smaller sections to make it easy for people to spot what they want to read. Use headings, bullets, short paragraphs, and even short words (“hard” vs. “difficult”).

Show people how to do something. Instead of telling people what to do, show them how they can do it. Dive deep and give people easy-to-follow and actionable steps. Include screenshots and other images to help your audience understand what you’re saying.

Step #4: Add a content upgrade with a clear call to action

Now that you’ve set the foundation for your post, it’s time to build your audience and get more subscribers.

Remember that having someone simply read your blog post is not your end goal with blogging. You want your blog content to be the first step in his or her journey to becoming a customer.

That’s where content upgrades come in.

What is a content upgrade?

A content upgrade is bonus content that your readers can receive in exchange for their email address.

Content upgrades are similar to lead magnets in that you encourage people to opt in. What makes them so powerful is their contextual relevance both to your article and to the intent of your readers.

Here’s an example:

In my social media strategy blog post, I include a button that readers can click to download a blueprint so that they can put what they learn into action.

A box will then appear that asks them to opt in to receive the blueprint:

How to write a blog and make money

By using unique content upgrades for every blog post, I’ve been able to build my email list to more than 11,000 subscribers and sell my digital products. In fact, content upgrades are the main focus of my list building right now.

Think of it like this:

Visitors land on your blog post because they have a problem, your post educates them about the solution and your content upgrade helps them take the next step.

Can you see how content upgrades can convert at amazingly high rates?

The way I see it is that the more content upgrades we can create the faster we’ll increase conversions and grow our email list.

Here’s how to create your content upgrade.

You can create any type of content upgrade with Canva. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that you’re offering a free Ebook.

First, create an account with Canva. Next, use the Blog Graphic as a template and resize it to US letter size, which you can do here:

Use Canva to learn how to blog using visual content.

This first page will be your Ebook cover. We’ll create the interior pages later.

To customize your cover design, select a background color from the left-hand menu or choose a free photo through Elements –> Photos.

The free version will give you access to everything you need to create and download your Ebook. If you want access to premium images and vector elements at a discount, the paid subscription starts at $12.95 a month.

To find free images specific to your industry or blog topic, enter a keyword into the search bar. Be prepared to scroll through dozens of premium images that you can purchase for $10 (free accounts) or $1 (paid accounts). Purchasing the image will also remove the Canva watermark.

Blogging for beginners using Canva to increase traffic.

You can also upload stock photos or images from your own library using the Uploads tab.

Once you’ve selected your background image, drag the corner edges, and resize it to fill the canvas. I like to add an overlay to my background to help my title text stand out.

To do this, select Elements –> Shapes and click on the top left square to place the shape onto your canvas. This will automatically position the graphic on top of your background image. You can rearrange the order if you need to by clicking on Arrange in the top menu.

It's easy to arrange your graphic elements and create powerful blog posts examples.

Next, select the text tool, add your title, and choose the styles you want to use. With a paid account, you have the option of saving brand elements, colors, and fonts to streamline your image creation process.

The last thing to add is your logo, which you can do by selecting Uploads –> Logo and uploading a png or jpg version.

Once you’re happy with the cover, it’s time to populate your pages with copy.

Add a new blank page, paste your copy into a text box and customize the design of your interior page.

Create a simple ebook using Canva.

When you’re finished, save your Ebook design and download it twice:

  • as a PDF
  • as a PNG

You’re done!

Now it’s time to add the content upgrade to your post.

We’re back in Canva to create a graphic button that grabs people’s attention and inspires them to click.

Create a new design using any template. Then resize it as a Twitter Post, and upload the PNG of your Ebook cover.

Next, change the background color so that your graphic button stands out in your post. Add lead-in copy and a square shape to use as the background for your call to action copy (“Yes, Please Send!”).

Your new graphic button will look something like this:

how to create a blog

We’re almost there! The last step is to download the button as a PNG and upload it to your WordPress Media Library.

Finally, add the opt-in form.

The opt-in form is what people will see when they click on your button.

Follow these steps to create a leadbox with LeadPages (you can also use Sumo or Thrive Leads for the opt-in form).

Log in to LeadPages, select Leadbox, and give your new leadbox a name. Next, replace the template image with the image of your Ebook cover. Add a heading, and customize the design of your text and button.

Content upgrades are a powerful way to learn how to write a blog and make money.

The standard template includes a phone field, which you can easily remove by selecting the integration button in the left sidebar. While you’re there, make sure you integrate the form with your email marketing service and test that it’s working correctly.

When you’re ready, publish your leadbox, and copy the image link code.

Publish you landing page on your website to increase conversions.

Next, in your blog post, switch to the text editor, and paste the code where you want your graphic button to appear. The last step is to replace the image source in the code (src=”=s0″) with your button image. To do this, copy the URL from the image in your Media Library, and paste it in between the quotation marks.

Call to action example

That’s it! Now when people click on your button, they will see your pop-up and can opt in.

Where should you place your content upgrade?

Ideally, you want to give readers several reminders to download your content upgrade. I recommend placing it directly after your introduction, in the middle of your post, and again at the end of your post.

Remember that the more you scale this process, the more email subscribers you can get. You can even include different content upgrades to give people many different options, assuming that each free offer is relevant to your post.

Once you have ten or more content upgrades, you can combine them into a resource library or welcome pack to give people an even bigger bonus. The benefit to subscribers is that they will have all your free content in one place rather than having to download each free resource individually.

Resource libraries are easier to create than you may think. You can use the WordPress Portfolio Plugin or a similar portfolio plugin. Make sure you password-protect your resource page so that only your most engaged readers have access to it.

Password protect the resources page so that only people who opt in can access.

The free resource library is one of my highest converting opt-ins. I add a CTA button at the top of my homepage and blog pages as well as at the end of every post.

Step #5: Create the Right Type of Offer

While there’s no right or wrong content upgrade, not all content upgrades are equal.

The trick lies in knowing which ones to create. When you offer your readers something that’s a perfect fit for why they visited your website, they’re much more likely to opt in.

The best content upgrades are:

  • Targeted—Speak to one specific audience, addressing their most pressing pain point.
  • Relevant to your post—You’ll see the highest conversion rates when your content upgrades fulfill the intent your readers had when they came to your blog post.
  • Time-saving—Give people the option to save long-form articles for later if they’re too busy to read them right now.
  • Actionable—Provide your readers with easy-to-follow next steps that they can implement to see results right away.
  • Open-ended—Create a path to future products by inspiring curiosity without giving away the farm.
  • High value—It goes without saying that your content upgrade should provide real value. It’s important to reward the people who have opted in to your email list with something that casual readers don’t get. If your content upgrade is something that people would actually consider paying for, you’re on the right track.

What type of content upgrade should you use?

The first step in choosing the right type of offer is to identify a resource that will extend the value of your blog content.

Here’s a list of content upgrades and the types of content they work well with.

Checklists. Checklists are usually one-pagers that are perfect for how-to and long-form articles. You can outline specific steps people need to take to achieve something. For instance, I know that search engine optimization has a lot of moving parts and that my readers, like me, will have a hard time keeping track of them all. So I offer an SEO checklist upgrade that they can keep on hand for every blog post.

Templates. Examples of templates include social media templates, business plan templates…even productivity templates. In many of my posts related to productivity, I offer readers a time-blocking template they can use to schedule their week effectively.

Download my Time Blocking Template to help you increase productivity and get even more stuff done each week!

Cheat sheets and blueprints. Cheat sheets are like a shortcut to the finish line. They work well for detailed articles and give your readers a high-level view of the milestones involved in getting from point A to point Z.

Ebooks. If your blog posts are part of a series or related to a theme that takes readers on a journey, an Ebook is an easy way to create a content upgrade. For instance, I have a three-part Grow Your Audience series where I show readers how to accelerate their online business growth. Because the blog post are related, each one can serve as a separate chapter in an Ebook and lead seamlessly to the next.

Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets provide a level of organization that makes it easy for people to research, brainstorm, plan, or manage systems and processes. I create Google Doc spreadsheets for many of my blog posts related to planning and workflows so that my readers have something to refer back to and share with their team.

Workbooks. Workbooks help your audience go beyond learning a concept and start putting what they learn into action.

The Blog Post as PDF. A straight PDF of your article may be the easiest route to take. With that said, offering long-form blog posts as a PDF (3,000 words and up) can provide great value for readers who are pressed for time and want to read your content later.

That’s a wrap!

If you’re thinking that content upgrades seem like a lot of work, I get it! Creating high-converting content upgrades takes time and effort, but that time is well spent. Content upgrades can have exponential effects on building your email list and should be seen as an investment in acquiring future customers.

From here, it’s all about engaging with your new subscribers, providing value, value, value, and creating sales funnels that lead people to your products and services.

If you’ve taken the steps above and created your free content around topics popular with your audience and the products and services that you offer, leading people to a sale will be a natural, organic process because you’ll know that your audience truly wants your products.

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Want to increase blog traffic? I've got 5 easy-peasy blog traffic tips to do it! Click through to see all the website traffic tips. #bloggingtipsYou know what blogging is like?

Running a marathon.

Every blogger starts at the beginning. And even if we can’t see our exact finish line, one thing’s for sure:

We want to get somewhere beyond our first 100 followers, pageviews and shares. We want to increase blog traffic, quick like.

Pouring your heart and soul into your blog and seeing the same pageviews month after month, or even year after year, can wear on your spirit. And seeing fewer pageviews than the month before can make you feel like throwing in the towel altogether. I’ve experienced this firsthand, and it’s a terrible feeling.

Especially when you’re doing everything right and so want to reach your finish line:

  • You’ve got an awesome blog design
  • You’re blogging on the regular
  • Opt-in forms in all the right places
  • You’re researching keywords like crazy
  • Sharing your posts on social media

Today, I want to help clear things up. I’m sharing five quick wins for getting more traffic to your blog so that you can reach your finish line and fulfill your dreams of building a business that you love.

Psst…Need help building your blog audience and traffic? I answer your most pressing questions about traffic, list building, affiliate marketing, social media and more in my Facebook Group. Join over 600 Superheroes.

1) First, change your blog title.

Ain’t no easy way to say this, guys. Blog titles can make or break your traffic.

Your posts are competing with tons of other brands who, like you, want to get more readers to their blog. In order to grab their attention, your blog titles have to scream Yoohoo, over here! I’m the one you want! Read me!

The easiest way to do that is to turn them into mini value propositions that answer these three questions:

  • What is this post about?
  • Who is it for?
  • How will it help them?

If you can frame your titles around the formula below, you’ll be on the right track:

This post will discuss [what] and will help [who] achieve, feel, or think [how you help].

Here’s an example of a title that answers the first prompt: “5 Travel Apps”

This is a great start but we can’t leave it there. Without knowing the who and the how, there’s not enough juice to make people take action.

Here’s a better example: “5 Amazing Apps That Make Traveling Abroad So Much Easier”

Beautiful. Now we know that the post is targeted at people planning an overseas trip. We also know that after reading the post, travel itineraries will be a breeze.

Click to the click.

2) Check social media profiles on your phone.

Ever wonder how much traffic you get from iPhones and Androids?

Head over to Google Analytics >> Audience and you’ll see: Over 50% of traffic these days comes from mobile.

Whoa.

To be fair, I’m a straight-up desktop girl and often forget to check my social media accounts on my iPhone. But with stats like these, we need to cover all bases. If our blog post images don’t pop, people will keep on scrollin’.

Lucky for us, this one’s an easy solve! Pop open your Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook apps and scroll through your posts. Do they stand out or is the text too small and obscure? If the latter, you’ve got work to do!

3) Design an infographic.

I created my first infographic-style pin months ago, and holy purple cow, the shares on that pin were CRAZY. Waaay more than other pins I’d shared.

It’s still a huge source of traffic and email subscribers. And a big eye-opener for me.

Now I create one for just about every post. Nothing elaborate either – sometimes I’ll use plain text to highlight the steps in a “how to” post. If I have more time, I’ll add fancy icons and graphics.

Sound daunting? I thought so too at first, but you can create infographics pretty quickly using pre-made templates from Canva.

Create infographics with Canva to get more traffic to your blog!

Note: I’ve created both complicated, elaborate graphics and simple, bold graphics. Hands down – simple drives more blog traffic. Make sure people can understand your graphic quickly without having to give it a second read.

The beauty of repurposing content this way is that your infographic can be used over and over again:

  • Submit it to infographic sites
  • Reach out to bloggers and invite them to share it with their audience
  • Embed the code of your infographic in your blog post. When people share on their website, it will link back to your site.

4) Review your keywords.

After you hit publish on a new post, there are still pleeenty of ways you can optimize it for search.

For starters, make sure you review keywords once a month, especially for posts that you really want to perform well.

I don’t know how many times I’ve checked the box on SEO, then later realized that my original keyword was too broad or competitive. Or, I was getting too hung up on an exact target keyword instead of looking at the context of my post.

Think beyond your target keyword.

Nowadays, Google is looking for semantic relevance, which is a fancy pants way of saying “other words in your post to help determine the intent of a search query.”

Whew! Even that’s a mouthful. Let’s bottom-line it:

Semantic relevance is a by-product of writing insanely thorough blog posts. In the process, you will likely include terms that Google will rank you for other than your target keyword.

For instance, I’m targeting the keyword “increase blog traffic” for this post. I imagine that in the future I will rank for long-tail keywords such as “get more readers for my blog” and “increase your blog readers” because I’m including them in a lengthy, well-cited article.

#MORALOFTHESTORY Make your post a comprehensive resource, and there’s a good change you’ll rank for more than one keyword.

Go for quick wins

Some of my posts are on page 8 of Google, sluggishly inching their way up to page 7. And I’m working my buns off to rank them.

Then there are other posts.

Ones I’m NOT paying attention to and not trying to rank. Those posts are on page 2. If I shift my attention to those posts with less competitive keywords, I bet I can get them to page 1 with ease. Here’s an example:

How to get more website traffic with keywords

 

#TAKEAWAY If you review keywords regularly, you can shift gears to posts that are gaining traction and revisit harder-to-rank keywords later on.

5) Link to a high-quality post

You know the saying Who you spend time with the most is who you will become?

In the blogosphere, who you link to is how your posts will rank.

When you include links to high-quality sites in your posts, Google will see your website as being high quality by association and will likely increase your ranking presence.

How do you find high-quality websites?

I’m so glad you asked! Grab a sheet of paper and write down ten popular blogs and websites in your niche. Then head over to Open Site Explorer and enter the URLs for each.

Open Site Explorer is a tool that displays the domain authority of websites, which is a search engine ranking score that predicts how well a website will rank. The scores range from 0-100, with higher numbers indicating higher quality.

Here’s an example:

How to get more website traffic by adding external links to high quality blogs.

 

With a DA score of 87, Social Media Examiner is a craaazy high-quality website. If I link to it in my Social Media Strategy post, there’s a good chance my post will get a boost in rankings.

That’s a wrap, friends. I hope this post was helpful for you. I’ll be turning it into part 1 of my Traffic Series, so stay tuned for more traffic-busting tips!

What’s your best strategy for driving blog traffic? Let’s add it to the list!

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A step-by-step guide and checklist for how to start an online business with no money. It includes my best tips for how to turn your ideas into a side hustle, make money blogging, and make money from home. #bloggingtips #startup #bloggerThis post is the second half of our Start a Business series, where I’m covering how to start a business with no money and only your laptop, an idea, and a workspace.

In the first part of the series, we covered the steps involved in launching. You defined your people, brainstormed future products, and created a working online brand.

Here’s the post again, in case you missed it:

Part 1: How to Start a Successful Blog with No Money (Part 1).

Today, we’re bringing things full circle and closing the loop. I’m drilling down on the two paths that will get us past launch and into the Growth, Hustle and Profit Phases of the DIY-Your-Business Blueprint.

#SIDENOTE This series is a deep dive into the four phases of the DIY-Your-Business Blueprint. I’m peeling back the curtain on each phase and sharing the specific steps to accelerate your growth and get to the next level as quickly as possible.

If you remember, in path #1, your focus is on building a platform BEFORE you launch your product. Here’s the sequence:

  1. Content
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. Product

Path #2 includes the same steps, only we’re switching the order of things and creating a product first and content last. Because the sequence is reversed, we’ll also look at different techniques for driving traffic and building your platform.

To make it extra easy for you, I’ve created a business plan template you can customize for your biz! Just click the image below to grab it.
Grab your Creative Business Plan Template so you can get started mapping out your freedom biz and reaching your goals!

Grab Your Creative Business Plan Template

PLEASE NOTE: In order to be able to edit and customize it yourself, when you’re viewing the template go to File and Make a copy, or you can simply download it as a Word doc or copy and paste it to your favorite program!

Let’s dig into path #1.

Path #1: building your platform first

Step 1: First, Create Content

When you’re starting your own business with no money and building your brand from the ground up, you need to be a content machine. Here’s what you’ll be creating in step #1:

  • Blog posts
  • Free resources
  • Share images
  • Videos

It’s a no-brainer that the foundation of your content will be blog posts, but before you dive in and start writing, let’s look at how we can bridge the gap between free content and your future products or services, right from the beginning.

First: Blog Posts

You know where I’m headed here, right? Even at the earliest stages, you need a strategy for blogging that goes beyond driving traffic.

While you can blog about anything you want, it’s a whole lot smarter to have an end goal for each post. You want to form content funnels that will ultimately lead people to your sales funnels.

If I’m losing you here, don’t worry about sales funnels just yet. We’ll get to those after you create your product (if you’re curious, this post explains them in detail).

My take on content funnels vs sales funnels:

Content funnels: Content on your website (blog posts, images, freebies)
Sales funnels: Content outside your website (webinars, email marketing, etc)

Content funnels initiate the relationship with your crew, and sales funnels seal the deal. This is where those earlier brainstorming sessions will pay off. When it’s time to sell your products, you’ll be one step ahead of the game, you ninja-planner, you. ????

Speaking of planning, how do you map out content funnels?

Great question! First of all, make sure you write blog posts around the products you will (or do) offer.

For instance, my readers are interested in learning more about:

  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Business

These topics (or themes) become content buckets, and I use a simple Google Docs spreadsheet to come up with post ideas and future products for each subtopic.

Here’s what the worksheet looks like:

best business to start with no money

Now, if you’re thinking How can I even think about all of this when I haven’t even created my first post or product? It’s too much!

I get it! Seeing your ideas on paper, before you create them, can be overwhelming. This is one of those times where you don’t have to have everything set up on day #1.

Remember, all we’re doing at this step is making sure that the content you’re about to create aligns with your future goals.

You already have ideas about what products and services you want to offer, which means you have an end goal. Understanding how to start a business with no money means you need to keep that end goal in mind at all times.

A blog post is the first step readers will take on their journey to your end goal. Planning your content like this is crucial to make sure you lead them down the right path.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Here’s what I suggest:

Pick one product idea from your spreadsheet as your focus (meaning that this will be your first product). Change the other product ideas to a light gray font color, so that they’re barely visible and don’t distract you. These are product ideas for later on – down the road. Keeping them on your spreadsheet is just a reminder that any blog posts you write around have a confirmed purpose.

Free Resources

Here’s what our content funnel looks like with free resources (or content upgrades) added into the mix:

how to start an online business with no money

Can you see how free resources bridge the gap between your free content and products or services? Lovin’ it!

Over on our spreadsheet, we need to add another column so that you can figure out what free resources you want to offer for each post and product.

For example, here’s what my spreadsheet looks like now:

starting your own business with no money

Aim to make each free resource:

  • Targeted – Speaks to one specific person and address their most pressing pain point.
  • Easy to Digest – Short and simple enough to implement in one day. Checklists, cheat sheets, and swipe files work well.
  • Simple – Provides the simplest steps to get from A to Z. Covers one topic rather than multiple topics.
  • Actionable – Gives people simple steps they can move forward with and see results.
  • Build trust – Establishes your authority and primes people to buy from you in the future.
  • Spark Curiosity – Offers enough to ignite curiosity without giving away the farm, meaning that they open a door to future products.
  • High value – Provides real value that people would actually consider purchasing.

Let’s say you’re a fitness expert. Maybe you create a blog post about the five superfoods for weight loss. In the post, you include a Five Foods to Never Eat guide that people can download. The free guide will ultimately lead people to your paid 30-day weight loss program. Make sense?

What program should you use to create an Ebook or cheat sheet?

I’m glad you asked! I’ve always been a fan of InDesign. Having said that, the other day I tried Canva and was amazed at how easy it was to create this beautiful Ebook template:

what kind of business should I start?

First, I uploaded a background image to use on the cover. Then I added elements and fonts from Canva’s library. Once I was happy with the cover, I designed a second page to use as a template for all my interior pages:

businesses you can run from home

As you’re working in Canva, your drafts and templates will be saved to the dashboard, so you can always refer back to them and edit. When you’re happy with your Ebook, cheat sheet, or checklist, save it as a JPG or PDF, or share directly to social media.

Related: How to Build Your Blog Audience and Traffic

Share Images

I’ve used Canva, PicMonkey, and RelayThat to create blog post share images. Of these, I’d say Canva and RelayThat are the easiest (RelayThat is lightening fast – this in-depth tutorial will get you started).

Each of the tools has pre-made social media templates, so you don’t have to worry about sizing.

RelayThat

It doesn’t get easier than this! Choose a square (Insta), tall (Pinterest), or wide format (FB and Twitter). If you’re looking for Twitter headers, Facebook covers, and Pinterest board covers, RelayThat’s got templates for those too.

To change the size of your post, click on a new template and RelayThat will automatically update your design. All you have to do is keep on clickin’ until you find a design that makes your heart dance. 🙂

You can also use the “remix” feature to reposition your text on-demand. No more manually shifting elements around, trying to figure out the alignment. Woohoo!

simple business ideas

 

To remove the RelayThat watermark, you’ll need to upgrade from free to pro, which is $25 a month.

#ONMYWISHLIST I’d love to be able to change the dimensions of a given template, which is where Canva comes in…

Canva

Like RelayThat, Canva has pre-made templates for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. What makes Canva so powerful is that you can create custom templates for any size you need.

For example, you may want to extend the length of your pin. Easy peasy. What about that Ebook we created? That was a cinch too.

Speaking of which, we still need to add the Ebook to your blog post. With Canva, you can create a button image to make your Ebook stand out so that people know what to expect when they download it.

Here’s an 800 x 350px button image I made with Canva:

how to make money with no money

 

HEAD’S UP. Facebook and Twitter sizes can vary for the tools listed above. For instance, In RelayThat, a wide post is 1200 x 630px and in Canva, the size is 1024 x 512px. That’s perfectly okay. Just make sure that your Facebook/Twitter images are at least 1000px wide and use a 2:1 ratio.

Here are my recommended share image sizes:

  • Facebook, Twitter: 1000 x 500px (2:1 ratio)
  • Pinterest: 800 x 1200px (or longer)
  • Instagram: 1080 x 1080px

I’ve got the full scoop on social media images sizes here.

#PHOTOSHOPRULES Yessiree! With Photoshop, you can customize your stock images – which is a big deal when it comes to Pinterest.

The reason is that Pinterest can SEE your images (or thinks it can!) and will interpret your pins based on what it sees. When the algorithm comes across two pins using the exact same image, things get a little wonky and Pinterest doesn’t know which one to display. Not cool, friend!

So what’s the workaround?

Use Photoshop to make stock photos undeniably Yours by retouching, splitting, airbrushing, changing colors, and so on.

Ready to get started with Photoshop? Check out this tutorial.

STEP #2: Next Up, Get Traffic

Ahhh, traffic. Me like. ???? My four top traffic sources are Google, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook Groups.

Google

For the past six months, I’ve been focusing HARD on search engine optimization, yo. I know many bloggers rely on social media alone for traffic, but top bloggers like Jeff Bullas and Pauline Cabrera get the bulk of their traffic from Google.

I figure there must be something to it, so SEO it is…

#GOSEO It takes a little while to kick in, but well worth the effort, in my book.

Since I started focusing on search engine optimization, I’m seeing more and more traffic from Google and attribute it to these three things:

  1. On-page SEO
  2. A high number of social media shares
  3. Links back to my posts

#2 and #3 are related. While having a high number of social shares isn’t a direct ranking signal, it does impact SEO indirectly.

Here’s how:

more people sharing = broader audience = more potential backlinks

The other SEO thing I’ve started doing is guest posting and commenting on high-quality blogs. With each guest post, I include a link back to one of my posts, and when possible, I include a free offer in my bio to encourage sign-ups.

Curious about what makes a blog “high quality”? There’s a handy tool called the Moz Domain Authority Checker that will give you the domain authority (DA) for any website.

easy business to start

A high DA is a fancy pants way of saying This website is predicted to rank well on Google. DA’s range from 0 to 100, with higher numbers meaning better quality. When I’m looking for guest post opportunities, I aim for websites with a DA of at least 30.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Bloggers

Pinterest

Creative niches (bloggers, fashion, beauty, weddings, design, DIY, etc.) can get a lot of traffic from Pinterest.

With the right combination of . . .

  • Eye-guzzling graphics
  • Sexy headlines
  • Keywords and hashtags

. . . you can get thousands of repins.

One thing worth mentioning is that my Pinterest page views took a MAJOR nose dive a while back. Out of the blue, just like that, my traffic started tanking.

2.4 million, to 2.3 million, to 2.2 million, all the way down to 1.6 million page views in 6 weeks.

I went crazy trying to figure out what was going on. Want to know what I learned?

Here are some mistakes I was making:

Mistake #1: See the Pinterest share button on the image below?

business ideas

 

Share buttons make it easy for people to repin your post, and believe it or not, they have a lot to do with your traffic.

The mistake I made was to replace my Shareaholic plugin with Social Warfare and forget to activate the share button.

So instead of making my posts easy to share, I was making it harder. Please don’t make this same mistake, friend! Make sure you add share buttons to your posts and images.

Mistake #2: I had a handful of pins that accounted for most of my traffic, until one day they peaked and hit the end of their shelf life, meaning that they weren’t so viral anymore. 🙁

This is really more of a lesson than a mistake . . .

There’s this thing called “post fatigue” – much like ad fatigue – where people get tired of seeing the same images over and over. If you think about it, once people have clicked on your pin, they’re not as likely to click twice.

So what can you do?

Check Google Analytics (Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages) to find the top 15 posts that drive the most traffic to your website.

Once you find them, here’s what you want to do:

  1. Create more pins for those posts. Some bloggers create up to eight pins for each post.
  2. Write more blog posts around the same topics. Posts that get traffic are topics that people want to know more about.

Mistake #3: I was sharing ALL of my pins through BoardBooster and Tailwind, even ones with very few shares and repins.

Out of pure frustration, I tried an experiment where I stopped sharing my “lonely” pins and started sharing ONLY pins that were the life of the party. I also started using Tailwind Tribes, and stopped sharing other people’s content as much.

Voila! My traffic and page views have started coming back, slowly but surely.

Twitter

Twitter is similar to Pinterest, meaning it’s what I call a “high-tolerance posting platform.” You can Tweet. A. Ton.

The reason that Twitter is my #2 source of traffic is because I have a large following and tweet between 30-40 times a day.

Sound like a lot?

Top bloggers post every 15 minutes, just sayin’. In fact, I think that’s the key to success on Twitter:

Make sure you share fresh, new content to balance out your evergreen content.

By evergreen content, I mean posts that are re-shared with a tool like SmarterQueue.

Now, you may be thinking How can I possibly tweet 40x a day? I only have a handful of posts!

I hear ya! As a new blogger, it can be hard to get traction from Twitter. Keep in mind that as your audience grows and you create more content, you’ll see the rewards of your hard work as you increase your posting frequency.

I also pin a tweet to the top of my page, like this one:

what business to start

Because more people see pinned tweets, they tend to get more traffic, retweets, and likes than other tweets. My pinned tweets always direct people to a blog post with a free resource or a landing page with an opt-in.

#ALWAYSBETESTING: One thing I’m going to try is using multiple tweet images for each post. I figure if I vary tweets the same way I vary my pins, people won’t get tired of seeing them over and over. I’ll keep you posted on how it works!

Related: 6 Insider Secrets for Driving Tons of Free Traffic from Twitter

Facebook Groups

I’m a member of ~30 groups and always share my posts on promo days for a nice bump in traffic each month.

Facebook groups are easy to find by viewing Groups in the left sidebar. From there, you can either Discover Groups or enter a keyword and filter the results by groups. Once you’ve found a few, make sure you play nice and make a note of the group rules, so you don’t get banned!

I use a spreadsheet to track promotion days for blog posts, products, freebies, and social media.

Here’s what my spreadsheet looks like:

best businesses to start with no money

 

Psst…I just started a Facebook group and would love, love, love for you to join.

Even though an online business is an easy business to start, building your platform and audience take time and serious effort.

When it comes to social media, you have to be prepared to put in the time every day, especially when you have a small (or no) following. If you’re ready to up your social media game, this post is a good read. I also recommend repurposing blog posts into other types of content so that you can share them on multiple platforms.

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

Step #3: Get Subscribers

Whew! You’re doing great! Totally crushing how to start a business with no money . . .

The next step is to level up your mailing list.

You’re already “gifting” your legendary freebies to readers (step #1 above). Now, it’s time is to set up your email system and create landing pages.

Some good options for email marketing providers are:

  • ConvertKit
  • MailerLite
  • MailChimp

And for landing pages, you can use:

  • The default templates provided by your email service (some offer them, some don’t).
  • LeadPages to build beautiful, high-converting landing pages (that’s an affiliate link).

Email marketing providers

I’ve experimented with a lot of email providers, including Aweber, MailChimp, Infusionsoft, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, and ConvertKit.

Hands down, ConvertKit is my favorite. I’ve even got a full tutorial on how to use ConvertKit to grow your business if you’re ready to get started.

Should you use ConvertKit too?

Great question! I say: Pick the tool that’s easiest for you to use. Ease-of-use was my top reason for choosing ConvertKit (yep, another affiliate link, but hey, I only recommend products that I use in my own business).

As I mentioned, if your email provider has landing page templates, it’s a win-win. We need those landing pages. 🙂

Other than that, make sure you choose one with high deliverability (aka: emails will make it to the inbox). I know both MailChimp and ConvertKit do, not sure about MailerLite. Please share in the comments if you use MailerLite. I’d love to know!

Landing pages

You may be thinking Why do I need landing pages? Can’t I just use a sign-up form in my blog post?

I’m so with you! That’s exactly what I thought. The whole landing page thing had me stumped for a while. I thought landing pages were optional, meaning that I could choose to use them or not.

I had it all wrong. Here’s why we need landing pages:

  • We can drive traffic to our blog posts AND landing pages, which means we have the potential to 2x traffic + sign-ups.
  • By embedding a Facebook pixel on each landing page, we can retarget people who visited the page later on.
  • There’s a chance people might read through the entire post and still not see the freebie. With a landing page, they won’t miss it.

Here’s a landing page I created for my free resource library:

easy startup business

See how there’s ONLY info about my free gift? No buttons, graphics, or text to take your attention away from the call to action. That’s the beauty of landing pages.

There are other ways to grow your list, including:

  • Webinars
  • Giveaways
  • Guest posting
  • YouTube videos
  • Facebook Live

Engage with your subscribers

Before we move on, I want to point out one thing that’s super important:

Try, try, try to email your subscribers once a week (especially important when you have yet to create a product). I know it’s hard, but if you can commit to once a week, you’ll be rewarded with increased sales later on.

The last thing I want is for all your hard work to go down the drain because people don’t hear from you – and then forget who you are.

Here’s the thing:

Some people will sign up for your free resource and peace out. We’ve all done it. It’s going to happen. And it’s perfectly okay.

It’s actually what you want!

When I first started building my list, I’d email my subscribers once a month (I’d tell myself it was only ten days, haha).

Part of the reason is that I’m a numbers junkie. I like to count, and I LOVE to count up.

Every time I’d email my list, I’d get dozens of unsubscribes which would freak me out, in a you’re-messing-with-my-numbers kind of way.

Now I understand that unsubscribes are a healthy way to keep your list clean. After all, if people aren’t interested in you or your business, they won’t open your emails, which means your email open rate will go down. We want that baby UP, UP, UP. With me?

The other reason for my infrequent emails was because I didn’t know what to say…

Sound familiar?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Send an email each week with a link to your latest post, podcast, video, etc. Try to infuse your email with a story to make it interesting.
  • Every other week or so, send an exclusive tip or freebie, just for your subscribers.
  • Use a few emails to interact with people – find out what interests them and what topics they’d like you to cover, and so on. Psst…This is a great way to come up with new product ideas.

Which brings me to…

Step #4: Create a Product

Whew! We’re just about there. You’re doing great.

Once you have 1,000 subscribers, it’s time to create a rough draft version of your product.

This is where we fill up the money bucket. Woo!

Note: When I say “rough draft,” know that this can mean anything from a landing page with information on your service or product plus a place for people to request more information and get a free resource while they wait . . . to a sales page that describes your product and pre-sells it . . . all the way to a full-blown, complete course ready for students.

By now, you should have a good idea of what products people would be interested in based on what they’ve downloaded.

Do they match your earlier brainstorming? If so, high five!

If they don’t match, or if you feel a bit flustered about which product to create, I recommend getting feedback from your subscribers about the challenges they’re facing and the types of products/content they’d like you to cover.

Bryan Harris even recommends emailing a segment of your subscribers your product idea and asking for feedback.

Let’s say you’re a graphic designer and want to create an InDesign course.

Your content funnel from step #1 above might look something like this:

easiest business to start with no money

The people who downloaded 10 Ways to Work Smarter in InDesign have raised their hand and expressed interest in InDesign.

Your next step is to email them some details about your product idea to get their feedback.

You can even ask for pre-orders from subscribers who responded. If you do this, it’s good to know how many pre-orders you’d need to validate your product idea.

What tools to use to create your products?

For courses, I use ScreenFlow to record screencasts (with both a Plantronics headset mic and a SmartLav lavalier mic) and PowerPoint to create my slides.

Then I upload everything to Teachable, which is a hosting platform for courses.

starting a business from home

What I love about Teachable is that all I have to do is focus on creating content. Teachable takes care of payments, enrollments, and other details.

If you decide to create an Ebook or other digital product, I recommend using InDesign for the design and SamCart for e-commerce.

Now, we need to connect your free resource to the product:

Back to the sales funnels I mentioned earlier, yo. Sales funnels are a biggie, and I cover them in more detail in this post.

Wrapping it up

At this stage, it’s time to revisit both your product hypothesis (based on feedback and other insights you’ve picked up) and your brand identity. Refine all of it . . . colors, fonts, social media templates, bio, descriptions, messaging . . . everything.

In the growth stage of your business, your brand is VERY important.

Think of it this way:

Would you rather pull up in a tired old Ford Escort or a brand new Porsche 911? No brainer, right? It’s important to provide people with an amazing ride, and much of that is conveyed through your blog design, tone, and messaging.

The same way that wearing the right clothes helps people define you, your online brand speaks volumes about who you are, what you stand for, and ultimately, why people should take notice.

Psst . . . If you’re ready to brand like a pro, the Build My Brand Toolkit will help you do it. To learn more about Build My Brand, click here.

Have I convinced you to start a business yet? Click the image below to grab the business plan template so you can map out your success path.
Grab your Creative Business Plan Template so you can get started mapping out your freedom biz and reaching your goals!Grab Your Creative Business Plan Template

PLEASE NOTE: In order to be able to edit and customize it yourself, when you’re viewing the template go to File and Make a copy, or you can simply download it as a Word doc or copy and paste it to your favorite program!

In my next post, I’m going to walk you through Path #2. See you there!

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Here's how you can start a successful blog for FREE! Click through to get started! blogging for beginners, become a blogger, blogging tips

Want to start a successful blog? This post is for you! I break down the steps for bloggers and entrepreneurs to start a blog and make money. Click through to learn blogging tips, how to make a blog on WordPress, blogging for beginners, become a blogger.
How to Start a Blog for Free | Step-by-step guide to start a blog that makes money. It includes blogging tips, how to start a successful blog, how to make a blog on WordPress, blogging for beginners tips, and tips on how to become a blogger.

Today, I’m covering how to start a successful blog with no money.

First, let me just say that I love being a blog’trepreneur. I believe it’s one of the most enriching experiences you can have.

There’s such a thrill that comes from being your own boss: You can blog when you want to blog, exercise when you want to exercise, run errands when you want to run errands and create products when you want to create products.

Only you can dictate what you should be working on and when you need to get it done, right?

And when it hits you that you’ve finally (finally!) learned how to start a successful blog, you pinch yourself until it fully sinks in: You can earn an income from anywhere in the world, even from your suitcase, if that’s what you choose.

What an amazing gift…

Still, there are times when you feel lost, like you can’t see your footsteps in front of you.

Being an independent is much different than working in a corporate environment, where you have status meetings, stakeholders, bosses, and deadlines to structure your day.

When you’re a team of one, deadlines can get tossed out the window real quick…

And your freedom feeling can turn into a drowning feeling even quicker.

Let’s get that freedom feeling back, friends!

Today, I’m showing you how to start a successful blog. My goal is to break down the steps and clear up any fuzziness you may have so that you can steer the course of your blog biz with ease.

Let’s assume that you…

…have nothing but a laptop, a few ideas, and skills/passion/knowledge about a number of topics. I’m also going to assume that you have a place from which to work (whether it’s your bedroom, a local café, your kitchen table, or an office) and are looking for:

  • clarity about which idea to run with
  • a clear direction to take you from idea to profit
  • specific milestones to reach
  • guidance on how to build your platform and your brand
  • monetization examples and models

What’s unique about an online business?

Back in the day, starting a business required money. You had to be able to pay for things like employees, a physical location, materials, labor, marketing (trade shows, brochures, print ads), and more.

Today, you only need what you have right now, lucky girl.

The internet has opened up a whole new world where we can leverage our minds and knowledge to build hugely successful online businesses – at little to no cost. We’re in an era of limitless possibilities and endless opportunities thanks to social media, Google, and global markets.

The question is: how do you go about creating products and services around the things you love to do so that you can earn an income from your blog?

I’m going to share my blogging tips with you right now.

But first, if you’re really ready to launch a blog that makes money, make sure you check out my Blog Business Plan Workbook. I cover all the steps you need to go from idea to launch and beyond! Just click the image below to learn more:

Blog Business Plan Workbook by Sandra at ConversionMinded

Let’s dig in…

Step 1: First, choose your niche.

This is a biggie.

First of all, let me say Yes, choosing a niche starts with your passions.

But you can’t leave it there. Starting a business on passion alone might not get you to the finish line. I say this because I’ve started many businesses based only on my passions and have fallen flat on my face. Ouch. 🙁

Here’s the thing:

Passions are beautiful and wonderful things, but how we relate to them can make us feel stuck.

In my case, I’d get so obsessed with my “passion of the moment” that I’d close myself off to other ideas that would have likely been easier to execute and more profitable.

So let’s do this…

Grab a sticky note and jot down a passion statement. Then grab another, and another. By passion statement, I mean statements about your interests, skills, and areas of expertise. Write one broad, open-ended statement on each sticky without getting too specific.

For instance, you might say that you are passionate about helping people improve their overall health. What you wouldn’t want to say just yet is that you are passionate about helping older people prevent diabetes. Before we drill down on deets like these, we need intel on what your people secretly want and need (coming up next!).

Keep writing until your passions are out of your head and on the table in front of you.

Now, look at them objectively and decide which one has the most potential to do two things:

  • Earn a full-time income
  • Attract a wide audience

Boom, there’s your niche. High-five!

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

Step 2: Next up, find your one person

The most successful businesses I’ve launched have filled a specific need in the market.

A need that one person had.

A need that many people had.

We’re talking about target audiences. I prefer not to use this term because I don’t believe we’re shooting at our people with bullets and arrows (which is what I picture when I think “target audience”). Instead, we’re making authentic connections with real humans who have names, faces, interests, struggles, goals, and feelings.

Can you see them standing in front of you right now?

In this step, we’re going to bring them into focus. Here’s how:

First, make some initial assumptions.

Based on your experience and what you know right now, what groups of people might be interested in your topic or need the type of help or training your provide?

If you’re a web designer, you might assume that entrepreneurs just starting their business would be in need of web design and could use your information or talent.

Or, if you’re a fitness instructor, you may have worked offline with women at a local gym to help them get fit and be more active. You may not know specific details about them yet, and that’s perfectly okay. When I launched Conversion Minded, I was unsure about what types of entrepreneurs needed my help and how I could help them.

So I did a little research, which leads me to…

Research, research, research!

It’s time to take your initial assumptions and put them under a microscope.

I started by writing a few blog posts that I knew were off the mark, mainly because I had a vague picture of my people at the time. What helped me, and what may help you, was to research content with a high number of shares on Facebook and Pinterest.

Join Facebook groups relevant to your niche. You may have to hunt around a bit to find groups where members are actively sharing and engaging (vs promotional only). If you join in on the conversations, you’ll learn about your people, the topics that interest them, and how you can help.

Over on Pinterest, there are two ways to research your audience:

First, follow popular bloggers and make a note of any content they share that may be relevant to your people. I recommend documenting your research in a Google Docs sheet so you can always refer back to it.

If you want to step up your Pinterest game, make a note of repin counts. A high number of repins is a good indication that people want to know more about these topics.

Pinterest has recently stopped displaying repins, but you can easily work around it by using Tailwind. Psst…Tailwind is a must-have tool for growing your following, researching content, and driving traffic from Pinterest. If you haven’t already, you can sign up using my affiliate link below.

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

On Tailwind, there are two ways to view repins:

  1. Use the Content Discovery tool
  2. Join tribes

The Content Discovery tool is in beta, but the folks at Tailwind will add it to your account for an additional $4 a month, which is worth it in my book. You’ll see a light bulb in your left dashboard once they do.

starting a business with no money

Aaah, those numbers are a sight for sore eyes!

Tailwind Tribes are much like share-for-share threads in Facebook groups, only you’ll need an invite link to join them. Tribes with open invite links are easy to find (I found a number of them through Google) and look like this one from Stephanie’s Blogging & Entrepreneurship tribe:

get started with Tailwind Tribes

You can also find Tailwind Tribes for your niche by joining these Facebook groups:

Related: 14 Ways to Get Massive Traffic from Pinterest

Step 3: Next, brainstorm products

If you want to learn how to start a successful blog, you have to think about your end goal early on. You’re likely starting to get a picture of how you can help your people at this point. Now, it’s time to brainstorm products and services to bridge the gap between steps #1 and steps #2.

Get ready to fill up the money bucket. Woo!

Think about the general types of products you’d like to offer.

Does it make sense to offer one-on-one coaching? Do you want to package your knowledge up as videos or audio? Maybe you’re more comfortable with creating low-cost Ebooks and guides that require little on-going maintenance and support. Or, you may want to create templates and products and sell them on Etsy or Ebay.

As you work through this step, try not to limit your ideas to one product or monetization method.

There are many ways to make money with your blog, including affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, courses, digital products, coaching, and more.

If you’re a creative (graphic designer, copywriter, interior designer, photographer), you may want to offer freelance services. You can also combine services + products.

For instance, maybe you offer group coaching programs where you walk people through doing something step-by-step and individual coaching to help them implement what they learn. Then, you offer your services to fill in the gaps to help people accelerate their progress.

What products are you comfortable creating?

The product types you choose will largely be based on what you’re comfortable creating and offering. Ebooks and workbooks are relatively easy to create using InDesign or Canva. If you’re comfortable with technology, you can jump right in and create a full-blown course using Teachable and Screenflow (Mac) or Camtasia (PC).

There’s no one-size-fits-all here, friend. If you’re not comfortable offering a certain type of product, don’t do it! When I started Conversion Minded, the one thing I knew was that I didn’t want to work with clients anymore. I’d been freelancing for some years and wanted to scale my business beyond a one-on-one model, so digital products and courses made sense to me.

The same will happen to you: You’ll naturally gravitate to product types that suite your personality and skills. Do you love YouTube? Create a video course! If you’re more comfortable with images and text, creating an Ebook is a great option (this is where I started).

How quickly do you need money?

This is a biggie, and something we can’t overlook…

Products can take a while to create. I just finished creating my first full-blown course after working on it for four months. Woop woop!

Sooo…

If you need to earn an income from your blog, like – yesterday, you may need to offer consulting or coaching services, even if you feel burned out like I did (I freelanced much longer than I wanted because I had to).

If this sounds familiar, don’t sweat it. Work one on one with clients to start, then gradually shift to a one-to-many business model.

How should you price your products?

This one’s a biggie, so I’ll save it for a future post. For now, here are some quick thoughts on pricing:

  • Low-cost Ebooks and digital products: Range from $7–$47. Keep in mind that the higher price points ($35–$47) will allow you to grow your email list and generate a profit using Facebook ads.
  • Group coaching programs: Anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 and up
  • Full-blown courses: Range from $99 to $999 depending on your value proposition and promise. As a general rule of thumb, if your course can deliver specific and measurable results, you can charge higher prices.

Ideally, you’ll offer a variety of products at different price points.

For instance, you may want to create a $47 Ebook and a $167 course around the same topic, another course for $497, and a group coaching program for $2,000.

Some of your peeps will have smaller budgets (raise your hand!) and others will have more to spend. By accommodating both groups of people, you’ll give them more options to choose from and create multiple streams of income.

Related: Create a Killer Facebook Ad Strategy for Your Email List and Products

You can leave your product ideas here or go ahead and launch a working product. If that’s your plan, read through and follow path #2.

Step 4: Create a working online brand

If you don’t already have a website, time to create one!

Nothing fancy, all you need is your bare-minimum brand identity. A simple landing page for a website will do.

You want to create your hub without spending a ton of time perfecting it. The reason is that you’ll likely make a lot of changes in your business over the coming months. We’re not setting anything in stone just yet, k?

For instance, when I launched Conversion Minded I knew my start was going to look much different than my finish. So, I gave myself a deadline of two weeks to create my online brand. Then, once I was crystal clear on my people and the direction I wanted to go in, I rebranded.

#MORALOFTHESTORY If you get sucked into design early on, you’ll have less time to start! Build your brand as quickly as possible. You’re going to have plenty of time to refine it later on. Promise.

What should you include in your brand identity?

Here’s what you need in your brand kit:

  • Logo
  • Social media templates
  • Colors, fonts
  • Website or landing page
  • Watermark
  • Favicon
  • Bio
  • Social media profiles
  • SM descriptions

Now, you’re probably thinking Sandra, you just said to move quickly, and there’s a lot here! How am I supposed to create all of this?

I hear ya! Sometimes things sound so easy ’til you dig in, right? Brand elements are one of those things you need to have in your back pocket. You want then when you’re ready to post on Instagram, you’re not struggling with image sizes, colors, or where to place your logo.

Psst…You can save time and use the done-for-you templates, logos, and graphics in my Build Your Brand Tool Kit. Click here to learn more the Build My Brand Tool Kit. 

The Build My Brand Tool Kit gives you everything you need to brand yourself like a pro! Click here to learn more.

Don’t forget your value proposition! Part of your brand identity process is to create your elevator pitch. Why should people read your blog? What’s your unique angle? Why should they buy your products or services? A value prop will help you get crystal clear on the unique value that only you provide, so that you can communicate it front and center on your website and in your content. I cover how to create value props in this post.

Wrapping it up!

You now have some initial product ideas, a direction for your blog, you know your people, and you have a brand identity and presence. Time to start building your platform, creating products, and building sales funnels.

If you’ve followed the Blog Profit Plan series, you’re familiar with these four buckets:

  • Content
  • Traffic
  • Subscribers
  • Products

These are the buckets you need to fill to accelerate your growth and amplify your profits quickly.

In my next post, we’re going to look at the strategy to filling each bucket in a way that “pours” seamlessly into the next.

Spoiler: There are two paths for bucket-filling:

Path #1: Build a platform first

In path #1, you’re building your brand and platform from the ground up. The sequence looks like this:

  1. Content
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. Product

See how we’re selling products as the last step in this model? That’s because we’re focusing on laying a foundation first.

Path #2: Create a product first

We’re switching things up and creating products first, then building a platform and driving traffic. Here’s the sequence for path #2:

  1. Product
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. Content

Which path is best for you? It depends on:

  • How quickly you need to monetize – if your answer is right away, start with path #2.
  • How well you know your people and what they need – if you need more time to research, go with path #1.

A big mistake I see a lot of people make is to try to take shortcuts.

Nope, shortcuts won’t work.

Here’s why:

Both paths require visibility in the market. First, people need to know that you exist. Then, they need to trust you before they can commit to a purchase.

This means that no matter which path you choose, the core of your growth strategy lies in steps #2 and #3: traffic and subscribers.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. I dive into the specifics of each path in this post:

Part 2: How to Start a Business with No Money, A Laptop, and an Idea

Don’t forget to check out my Blog Business Plan Workbook. I cover all the steps you need to go from idea to launch and beyond! Just click the image below to learn more:

Blog Business Plan Workbook by Sandra at ConversionMinded

I hope this helps you learn how to start a successful blog. See you for part 2!

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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 that 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 superheroness?

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 on YOU, your world view, and why you do what you do.

Don’t hold back! Your personal history has framed who you are and that’s the story your audience needs to hear. I call it The Story of You Plus Them because you’re connecting the dots between where your readers are in their journey 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 tap into how your audience secretly feels. Building an audience will become effortless because people will perceive you as having a solution and will naturally seek you out and want to work with you.

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

When you’re first starting out, please don’t spend too much time on this step. The reason is that it’s easy to fall into a rabbit-hole with design. In the early stage of your business, your goal should be to get out there as quickly as possible so that you can learn more about your audience.

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.

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7-Day Social Media Plan | Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to get visible! This post includes a weekly social media marketing plan to drive massive traffic. Click through to see all the steps and download the social media planner!
Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to build your audience and get traffic! This post includes weekly blog tasks plus a downloadable social media marketing plan template. Click through to get the social media plan template!
7-Day Social Media Plan | This post includes a 7-day social media planner plus social media marketing template so you know exactly what to do to get massive exposure and traffic.

A complete 7-day social media marketing plan plus a monthly social media and blog planner printable! social media tips for business, social media calendar, social media tips #socialmedia #bloggingtips

Need a social media planner to cover the entire week?

This is part #2 of the Build Your Audience + Traffic series, where we’re drilling down on how to drive traffic to your content and convert visitors into subscribers.

In part #1, we talked about fundamental ways to increase traffic and build your audience. We uncovered how important it is to really, really know your target audience, and to set monthly goals so that you know what to aim for.

We also touched on the tasks involved with putting your content out there like you mean business…like you want people to find it.

Today, let’s dive into the HOW.

Specifically:

How can you promote your content effectively on social media?
What things should you be doing each week, and in what order, to maximize your reach?

Time for a 7-day social media plan, yo. What I really want is for you to have a blogging workflow that yields amazing results for all your hard work.

Here are the weekly tasks I’m covering in this post:

  • Sunday: Research blog topics
  • Monday: Write your post
  • Tuesday: SEO your post
  • Wednesday: Create images
  • Thursday: Promote on social media
  • Friday: Repurpose for other platforms
  • Saturday: Add to schedulers
  • Rinse + repeat 🙂

Ready for it? Let’s dig in.

Bonus: I created this 7-day social media plan template to help put what you learn into action.

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 that all you have to do is to start writing.

Remember the blog themes we talked about? On the first Sunday of every month, jot down blog ideas that support your themes. This extra effort upfront will save you loads of time plus give you valuable insight about your audience.

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.

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

MONDAY

2) Write the post

Try to write when you feel most productive and 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 mental space to be 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 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’s tasks.

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 blog promotion worksheet 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 posts - social media planSo there you have it! If you follow these steps every week, you will start doubling and tripling your blog traffic and building a huge audience. Here’s the 7-day social media planning template again so you can get started:

social media strategy template
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