Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Hubcast 99: #Inbound16 Speakers, Blog Optimization, & HubSpot Certification Bling

Welcome back to The Hubcast, folks: A weekly podcast all about HubSpot news, tips, and tricks. Please also note the extensive show notes below, including some new HubSpot video tutorials ...

The post The Hubcast 99: #Inbound16 Speakers, Blog Optimization, & HubSpot Certification Bling appeared first on The Sales Lion by Marcus Sheridan.


How to Accelerate Your Blog’s Growth with a Simple Content Strategy

Be honest for a moment…

When publication day rolls around, do you have a post ready? Or do you frantically scramble at the last minute to figure out what you’re going to write?

When you’re writing guest posts for other blogs, are your topics carefully coordinated and strategic, or scattered and inconsistent?

And what about your efforts to fuel the growth of your blog?

Have you tried several different tactics, such as webinars, Periscoping, and Facebook ads only to see lackluster results?

If so, your blog is suffering from randomness.

Fortunately, there is a cure.

The Certain Cure for Blogging Randomness

No matter how good your instincts are as a blogger, real success comes from careful planning, not a series of in-the-moment decisions.

And that means having a content strategy.

It’s the linchpin that makes everything work together. It’s what helps you build momentum to continue to grow over time.

So what exactly is a content strategy?

Demian Farnworth, chief content writer at Copyblogger, defined it this way:

“a plan for building an audience by publishing, maintaining, and spreading frequent and consistent content that educates, entertains, or inspires to turn strangers into fans and fans into customers.”

Research from Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs shows that those with a documented content strategy consider themselves more effective with their content and social media channels.

But even though the data indicates that a strategy is essential for building a successful blog, the vast majority of bloggers don’t have one. No bueno.

Why Most Bloggers are Allergic to Strategy

Bloggers have an abundance of choices. They have almost no limit to the number of possible tactics that could move the dial on their blog.

But the paradox of choice is that when you have many options available to you, it becomes difficult to choose between them.

Here are a few of the decisions you face when it comes to growing your blog.

First, there’s the medium. Should you only blog? Podcast? Make videos? How about all three?

Then there’s the format. Should your content be long and detailed like the posts here on Smart Blogger? Or should they be short and pithy like Seth Godin’s posts? Or perhaps you should curate the content of others?

And what about frequency? Should you post daily, weekly, or only when you have something truly epic to say?

Then there’s the equally important task of how you drive traffic to your blog.

Here too you have multiple approaches when it comes to figuring out the right plan for you.

The result of having so many options is always the same. You end up paralyzed, anxious, and wasting time.

As a result, your blogging “plan” resembles something like this:

Content Strategy - Image 1

But imagine your results if your plan looked more like this:

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When you compare the two, it’s easy to see which approach will likely yield tangible results, and which will leave you floundering in a sea of randomness.

How to Create a Simple but Effective Content Strategy

When I worked my corporate job, our annual business planning was a long, grueling process over the course of four to six weeks.  The good news is creating a strategy for your blog doesn’t require the same level of pain.

All you have to do is follow a framework that charts a clear path to get you to your goals.

1) Begin with The End in Mind

In his classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote about the importance of getting clear about where you want to go:

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

In building your content strategy, your first choice should be deciding on your objective.

Specifically, you have to get clear about why your blog exists, by defining your ultimate goal.

Smart bloggers blog for a definitive specific reason. What’s yours?

Here’s an example:

“My goal is to build a business that enables me to work from anywhere in the world. Ideally, I’d like to work no more than six hours per day.”

Next, take this “big prize” that you are working toward, and break it down into specific targets you need to achieve to grow your blog along the way. This will help to guide the strategy you create for your content.

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Your milestones will vary depending on where you are in your blogging journey. Here are some common ones:

  • Build an engaged and loyal fan base who share and comment on your posts
  • Reach your first 1,000 email subscribers
  • Consistently earn $5k/month

Your strategy may need to adapt as you hit each important milestone, so it’s a good idea to revisit your content plan after you hit each one.

2) Get to Know Your Audience Inside and Out

Every decision with your blog must begin with your readers. You’ve got to consider their likes, dislikes, and needs, as well as their dreams, desires, fears, and frustrations.

If you’re tempted to ignore this step, assuming you know everything there is to know about your audience, don’t. This is the glue that makes everything work.

Some common, helpful advice for getting to know your ideal readers well is to develop personas. Here’s how blog and business writing coach Henneke describes the relationship you should have with your ideal reader:

“Your ideal reader should become like an imaginary friend. You should know your ideal reader so well that you can start a conversation with her at any time. You know when she shakes her head because you say something she doesn’t agree with. You know what makes her smile or laugh. You know the questions she asks. You know how to charm and flatter her.

When describing your ideal reader, don’t just think about demographics like age, gender, income, education, and family circumstances. Do you know what he dreams of achieving? And what keeps her awake at 3am?”

(To find out more about getting to know your readers better than they know themselves, go here, here, and here.)

Once you’ve got a strong handle on who your audience is, you can use that information to guide your content strategy.

3) Design Your Content Conveyor Belt

Your content plan will serve as a “conveyor belt” to help you move your audience along the various steps in the journey that leads you both to your goals.

Here are the typical stages you need to move your audience through:

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To effectively move your readers from phase to phase, use the knowledge uncovered in the previous stage to answer the following question:

“What keeps my audience stuck in this phase and what do they need from me and my content to move forward?”

Because when you think about everything you publish not simply as “content” but as a catalyst for a specific change, your approach to blogging will shift.

Great content transforms your readers. And that transformation should progress both you and your audience toward your respective goals. That’s why every piece of content you publish needs to have a purpose.

To induce this change, you need to know what issues are dominating your readers’ thoughts, as well as what they need to move to the next step with you. This will help you determine what type of content to give them.

Matching the right content to where your audience is on their journey with you is critical to helping you get results.

Here’s an example of what types of content works for the various stages:

Content Strategy - Image 5

And here’s an example of that playing out in the real world.

In this guest post on The Change Blog, international best-selling author Stephen Guise uniquely addressed a common burning pain of his ideal reader: getting in shape. As a result, he was able to turn thousands of strangers into readers.

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By offering a free chapter of his book on mini-habits, the strategy he wrote about in his guest post, Stephen was able to convert a good number of those new readers into subscribers for his blog.

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Every Tuesday morning when he sends an email to his list, he works to turn those subscribers into loyal fans by continuing  to address topics that interest them.

And some of those fans become customers whenever he releases a new book or reminds them of other books and courses he has available that are in line with their needs.

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4) Determine the Optimal Format for Your Content

When deciding what content to give your audience, you’ll also have to determine the best format.

There are basic choices such as the medium: i.e., text, audio, or video. But there are tons of other considerations too, including length, use of images, and even if your blog post should be a listicle, case study, or tear jerker.

Before you get overwhelmed, take comfort in knowing there’s a simple way to discover which choices are ideal to help you grow your blog.

Let the data decide for you.

Mining the comments you’ve received on content you’ve already published can give you clues about what your audience is most receptive to.

Andrew Warner at Shade of Info published this long-form post. Based upon the gleeful comments he received, his audience is hungry for more content with the same level of detail.

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You could also ask your audience what their preferences are. In this post, Linda Formicelli used a simple survey to figure out if her audience wanted her to branch out into audio and video content.

Content Strategy - Image 12

And in this case study, Andrianes Pinantoan, detailed how Canva used 3rd party data to figure out the ideal post length, type (list post), and even the number of images they should include in every article.

By doing research on their competitors’ most popular posts, using forums to identify new ways to tackle common issues, and capturing insights on what their readers were already sharing, they were able to create a profile of the form their content needed to take if they wanted to grow.

Content Strategy - Image 13

5) Choose the Right Channel for Your Content

As with the format, the objective of each piece of content plays a role in channel selection. If your goal is engagement with your audience, then publishing on your blog or sending an email to your subscribers is the way to go.

If you are trying to reach a new audience, you’ll need to select a channel that lives outside your blog.

Here’s a way to think of which channels are most appropriate for each stage your audience goes through.

Content Strategy - Image 14

Srini Rao, host of the Unmistakeable Creative podcast, publishes blog posts on Medium as a way to get new listeners.

Content Strategy - Image 15

Because creating great content can be so time-consuming, consider publishing different elements into different channels to get as much traction as possible out of the core pieces you produce.

Gary Vaynerchuk swears by this repurposing strategy. From his core content pillars of The #AskGaryVee and Daily Vee shows, he and his team make several pieces of content reach different audiences in different places.

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Jay Baer of Convince and Convert does this as well. Three times a week, Jay publishes a three-minute Jay Today video. And each video becomes eight different pieces of content. It’s part of what they call their “atomizing” strategy.

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6) Build Relationships with Regular Communications

Have you ever met someone, hit it off brilliantly, then failed to stay in contact afterward?

That relationship would have had a chance to develop if one of you had been more intentional about keeping it going.

In growing your blog, you can’t expect your audience to actively build the relationship. It’s up to you to provide consistent communication to maintain the connection with your audience.

The key is to set expectations so they know when to expect to hear from you.

Ben Settle emails his subscribers daily and is very clear in making sure that people considering signing up to his list are aware of how often he will show up in their inbox.

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Even if daily contact seems too much (and it probably will be for most bloggers and audiences), it makes sense to email your subscribers more frequently in the beginning.

Many smart bloggers will automatically add new subscribers to a short welcome sequence before falling into a regular schedule of sending their latest blog content.

Brian Clark sends new subscribers to his Unemployable list a series of three emails as a part of a mini-course, and then transitions into weekly emails.

Content Strategy - Image 19

Once into your normal publishing schedule, the ideal frequency for you and your audience will be determined by a variety of factors, including their preferences, and how much time you need to produce quality content.

Your aim should be to email often enough so that your audience remembers you and is happy to hear from you, but not so much that they are overwhelmed with all your messages.

Danny Iny and his team at Mirasee email their audience six days a week. But for those in their audience who feel like six messages are too much, they give them the option to receive fewer messages.

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And if you’re unsure about what the right frequency is for you, err on the side of publishing less often, and make sure that when you do post, it is the best content you can possibly write on the topic.

Here’s Jon Morrow’s take on this issue:

Content Strategy - Image 22

7) Pick the Perfect Promotion Strategy for Your Content

Another major consideration is how you will get people beyond your subscribers to see your published content.

There are six common ways to do that – you can use one approach or some combination, but each has its pros and cons.

Paid Traffic

If you’ve got money to invest, this can consistently bring qualified leads to your blog. Facebook Ads can be complex to setup but very successful once up and running.


If your content ranks for a relevant term, it can bring a steady stream of traffic from people searching for the topic you write about.

Danny Margulies at Freelance to Win writes about how to make money on Upwork, and he gets plenty of search traffic because he ranks #1 for this term.

Content Strategy - Image 23

However, be careful about selecting SEO as your primary traffic generation strategy, especially as a beginner. Despite the obvious appeal of search traffic, it’s not the best approach for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it altogether.

Here’s more Jon Morrow advice for effectively incorporating SEO into your content strategy:

Content Strategy - Image 24

Influencer Outreach

If you know how to build relationships and connect with influencers, having them share your work is a great way to get introduced to new audiences.

Borrowed Audience

Publishing your content on sites or platforms with significant built-in audiences is a popular way to get more visibility for what you produce. Two common approaches for this strategy are writing guest posts and contributing to 3rd party sites like Slideshare.

Email Subscribers

When you have a critical mass of people in your audience, who are also sharers, they can serve as a valuable army, quickly disseminating the word about your content.

Here’s how Smart Blogger encourages their engaged readers to share their posts:

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Social Media

Social platforms are designed for sharing and connecting. If you establish a following where your audience hangs out, it can be an excellent way to reach new people and get them back to your blog.

About Meditation uses Instagram to find new readers. Here’s how they strategically use individual posts to get people back to their website:

Here’s the post:

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Here’s the call-to-action:

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And here’s the link in the bio that leads readers to a landing page on their website:

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8) Close the Deal with a Call-to-Action that Converts

The last component of your content strategy often seems like a minor detail, but not giving proper attention to this essential element can mean the difference between reaching your goals or not.

It’s all about conversion. Specifically, the content elements that make it clear what next action you want your audience to take, and making it easy for them to do so.

For instance, let’s say your ideal reader comes across a piece of your content on Twitter. They get to your website, read the content, and love it. Once they’re done, they say “that was great” and off they go, never to be seen again.

You did all the hard work to get your ideal reader to your site, but you didn’t have content in place to close the deal. Shame.

To prevent this unfortunate occurrence, make decisions in advance about what specific content you need to convert your audience to the next step in your continuum.

Here are some examples of the conversion choices you could make in each of your audience stages.

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Here’s how Happify uses relevant hashtags to increase discoverability on Instagram.

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To turn readers into subscribers, Primility uses an exit intent pop-up box that appears after someone finishes reading a blog post.

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To turn subscribers into loyal fans, Marie Forleo encourages her audience to leave comments on her videos and gives explicit instructions on how to do it.

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And to help convert loyal and engaged fans into customers, I include a money-back guarantee on my coaching sales page.

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In each instance, the bloggers make it clear and easy for their audience to take the next desired step.

Reject Randomness and Create a Simple Content Strategy

It’s time to admit it.

You invest too much time and energy in your blog to accept a ho-hum response.

But the truth is, randomness is killing your chances of success.

Without a coherent strategy for turning strangers into subscribers (and maybe even customers too), you’ll burn out before reaching your destination.

You don’t have to create a complicated plan—you just need to work out what content will move people from one stage to the next.

So, give your blog a simple content strategy and start getting real results.

Your blog deserves it.

Your audience deserves it.

And you sure as heck deserve it too.

About the Author: Sonia Thompson is a content marketing strategist at TRY Business School, where she helps entrepreneurs create and execute plans that get results. Grab your free 5-part email mini-course on the five essentials you need to effectively implement your blog’s content strategy (including a handy-dandy content strategy worksheet). Access it here.


How Brands and SMBs Are Using Video Marketing [Infographic]

Some 84% of professional marketers and 55% of SMB owners say they have developed or outsourced the creation of at least one video for marketing purposes in the previous 12 months, according to recent research from Animoto. Read the full article at MarketingProfs


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Six B2B Takeaways From Six Great Facebook Ads

Facebook is a powerful social media outlet, even for B2B marketers. But how can you make use of Facebook when organic reach for B2B seems to be declining? The answer, in part, is "pay to play": Facebook advertising. Read the full article at MarketingProfs


The Hubcast 98: Bottom Funnel Blogging, Drift & 1.79 Billion

Welcome back to The Hubcast, folks: A weekly podcast all about HubSpot news, tips, and tricks. Please also note the extensive show notes below, including some new HubSpot video tutorials ...

The post The Hubcast 98: Bottom Funnel Blogging, Drift & 1.79 Billion appeared first on The Sales Lion by Marcus Sheridan.


21 Dumb Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your First E-book

Admit it.

You’ve thought about writing an e-book.

In fact, you’ve already imagined the front cover.

You can see the main title, and underneath, your name.

And when you picture it, you feel a ripple of pride.

An e-book would be a big step up for you as a writer.

Because while blog posts are a great way to express your ideas, you can’t help feeling they’re a little, well, fleeting. Lightweight even.

Whereas an e-book is more substantial. It’s taken more seriously. It has more gravitas.

And having an e-book with your name on the front transforms you from a mere blogger into that more impressive beast – an author.

But how do you become an e-book author without falling victim to the same mistakes that sabotage the attempts of so many other bloggers?

Three Rock-Solid Reasons to Write Your First E-book

Before looking at our list of mistakes, let’s take a quick look at why writing an e-book is not just attractive to many bloggers, but also a smart move.

1) A Valuable E-book is a Powerful Sign-up Incentive for New Subscribers

Does your email list grow s-l-o-w-l-y, with perhaps one or two new subscribers each week … at best?

The truth is that readers are reluctant to hand over their email addresses – even if they love your content. So they may need a little extra nudge to sign up (you could even call it a bribe).

An e-book packed full of valuable content makes a great incentive. If you can offer free information your audience would gladly pay for, you’ll see dramatic improvements in your sign-up rates.

2) A Premium E-book Allows You to Make Some Real Money From Your Blog

When I started blogging, it took me 11 months of writing three to five posts per week to get my first AdSense check for $100.

That’s because in the real world, you need a huge blog to make any real money from advertising.

The following year, I launched an e-book that paid for me to go to the SXSW conference (flights, ticket, hotel and all) … and that e-book continues to sell for me today.

If you’re earning pennies from ads or you haven’t managed to monetize your blog yet, then an e-book could transform your blog from a fun hobby into a real money earner.

3) An Authoritative E-book Positions You as an Expert in Your Field

If you want to build a name for yourself in your field, an e-book is a great way to boost your credibility and authority.

By publishing on Amazon, you can appear literally alongside some of the biggest names in your industry.

In fact, you may find you get more reviews and attention than much better-known authors who are simply less web-savvy.

Why Most E-books Are Embarrassingly Bad

On the surface, writing an e-book seems relatively easy.

Lots of bloggers seem to be doing it, so how hard can it be?

But in reality, most e-books that see the light of day are horrible. Embarrassingly bad.

That’s because your average e-book author doesn’t have a clue about writing a book. And they don’t have any of the support that a traditional author would be given by their publisher.

But producing a quality e-book is almost as hard as publishing a traditional book. The basic tasks are the same. It’s just that you have to do them all yourself.

Which is why avoiding the mistakes that catch most first-time e-book authors is critically important.

Planning Mistakes: How to Doom Your E-book Before You Even Start Writing

Sadly, you can easily cripple your e-book before you’ve even written a word of it. I had two spectacular e-book flops due to the second mistake on this list, and many of the others have cost me valuable time.

So avoid the following dumb mistakes if you don’t want to fall at the first hurdle.

#1: Choosing a Topic You Know Little About

If you want to create a premium e-book , you can be tempted to pick a “hot topic” thinking that’s where the money is.

Likewise, when creating a sign-up bribe, you might think you need to entice readers with the latest information about an emerging topic.

And if you’re publishing on Amazon, it’s easy to think you need to target one of the most popular categories.

But picking a topic like this is a BIG mistake.

If you know little or nothing about your chosen topic, creating an e-book will be a huge amount of work. You’ll have to do a ton of research, interview experts, and perhaps even pay a real guru to get you up to speed.

How to Fix It

Write about something you actually know about – which almost certainly means tying your e-book to your blog’s core topic. You’ll not only save a ton of time on research, you’ll also have a ready-made audience for your writing.

#2: Writing the E-book Your Audience “Needs”

I’ve fallen into this trap myself (twice) and I’ve seen a heck of a lot of other bloggers do the same.

It happens when you realize there’s a topic you know your readers need, and you know you can write the perfect book that will genuinely help them.

Sounds great, but people don’t always know what they need. And your sense of what it is might not be spot-on either.

How to Fix It

Don’t give your readers what you think they need. Give them what they know they want.

How? Run a survey, and ask your readers to choose between three or four e-book topics.

(This is also a good opportunity to find out how much they’d pay, whether they’re beginners or more experienced, and what specific questions they need your help to answer.)

#3: Thinking Like a Writer, Not a Publisher

Planning isn’t just about deciding what you’re going to write and what order you’re going to write it in.

Because when you decide to create an e-book, you’re not just a writer; you’re also a publisher (and marketer).

If you don’t start thinking now about how you’ll sell your book – whether that means selling it for money or just selling the concept to your readers – you’ll run into problems later on.

How to Fix It

Draft your sales page while you’re planning your e-book. Make it sound as attractive and useful as possible (try Jon’s list of power words, and make the reader the hero of the story) … and use that pitch to drive the writing process. This will make your e-book much stronger, and will make your life much easier when you launch it.

#4: Picking Up Your Pen (or Laptop) and Starting to Write

Once your survey results are in, you might be tempted to start writing straight away.

Whoa there.

Jumping into the writing at this point will cause you serious problems within days. You’ll find yourself repeating things, or wasting time exploring ultimately unhelpful tangents.

How to Fix It

Plan your e-book before you start writing.

This means having a clear outline that has, at the very least, a title for each chapter. Yes, that might seem a bit boring, but it will make the writing stage far easier (and more fun).

This doesn’t have to mean opening a blank document and writing a linear outline. Try freeform brainstorming or mind maps or index cards as creative alternatives to help get your ideas flowing.

#5: Trying to Make Your E-book Too Valuable

With your first e-book, it’s easy to think you need to deliver the definitive e-book – the only one your audience will ever need.

If that sounds like a good plan, ask yourself this: “What will I give them next?”

Chances are, you won’t write just one e-book. You might write several in the same series, or you might create a short starter e-book for free, and then write a more advanced one to sell.

Even if your e-book is destined to be your subscriber incentive, if you give your readers everything they’ll ever need, why would they come back to your blog?

How to Fix It

Go back to your survey and determine what aspects your audience cares about the most. Focus on those. If you have lots of extra ideas, great! Keep them in a separate place and use them for your next e-book. Or explore them in a detailed blog post.

If you inadvertently miss something crucial, you’ll find out when you get feedback, and you can add a new section or chapter to address that point.

Writing Mistakes: How to Waste Time, Lose Focus and Give Up

Some bloggers love the writing part of creating an e-book; others find it hard going.

But whatever your feelings about writing, the follow mistakes can seriously curtail your progress … and may even make you give up altogether.

#6: Starting at the Beginning

Although it might be the first chapter in your book, your introduction almost certainly isn’t the place to start writing.

It’s hard to know what to include until you’ve drafted the majority of your book, and you don’t want to get bogged down at this early stage.

If you start with the introduction, you’ll often end up writing far more than you need to. And let’s be honest. No reader relishes the sight of a long introduction – they want to dive into the real content.

How to Fix It

Don’t begin with the introduction; start with your first “proper” chapter. Once you’ve drafted the rest of your book, you’ll know what needs to go in the introduction.

Also, a lot of “introductory” material can go at the back of the book – I strongly recommend having an About the Author page at the back, because it’s a great opportunity to point readers to your website, mailing list, and so on.

#7: Only Writing When You Feel Like It

Although your e-book is probably a high-priority project for you, it can be genuinely tough to carve out the time for working on it regularly.

But if you don’t write consistently, you’ll never build up any momentum. You may write for a few hours to begin with, but then end up taking weeks off … and never getting back to your e-book.

How to Fix It

You don’t have to write thousands of words at a time. One of my clients wrote a short chapter every week, without fail, and finished her e-book within a few months.

Find a consistent time each day, or several times a week, to work on your e-book. You might like to try the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes writing, 5 minute break) to use your time effectively during short writing sessions. Anyone can write for just 25 minutes.

If you know you have a problem with time management, address that now; it’ll pay off for years to come.

#8: Letting Your Inner Editor Take the Lead

If you’re writing regularly and staying focused but making slow progress, then you’re probably trying to edit while you write.

Perhaps you find yourself typing a couple of paragraphs, then changing your mind and deleting them. You might even be stopping every sentence or two to make minor tweaks.

This is a serious drain on your productivity as a writer.

How to Fix It

If you change your mind about a whole paragraph or section, leave it in as is, but jot a note to yourself about it. You may find, on re-reading, that it works perfectly well.

You might find it’s helpful to use a full-screen “no distractions” text editor. I like DarkRoom for this – as it doesn’t have those distracting red and green wiggles that your typical word processor adds when it doesn’t like a word or phrase.

#9: Quitting Just Before it Gets Easy

After you’ve been working on your e-book for weeks, perhaps months, you may find that you’ve not made the progress you’d hoped for.

Whatever the exact cause (illness, workload, etc.), you’ve hit a wall. You aren’t even halfway through the draft, and there’s a long way to go.

When you go through a patch like this, it’s quite tempting to just give up – to cut your losses, and leave that e-book draft abandoned on your computer.

But that would be a huge mistake. Because this is often a sign that things are about to get easier.

How to Fix It

Push yourself to reach the halfway point. Once you’re halfway, natural momentum kicks in, and you’ll speed up as you approach the end.

Be sure to remind yourself of your motivation for starting the e-book in the first place: what’s it going to do for you and your blog? How will it help your readers – the people who you’ve come to know and care about?

Editing Mistakes: How to Wreck a Good First Draft

Although you probably won’t spend as much time editing as you spent writing, this is the point at which your e-book really takes shape.

Editing makes the difference between a book that’s simply “okay” and a book that’s a well-polished, professional representation of you at your best.

The following mistakes will keep your e-book from becoming the masterpiece it deserves to be.

#10: Trying to Keep Up The Momentum

While it’s important to not let your e-book stall after the first draft, you don’t need to rush into editing. Some writers dive straight into the editing phase – but then they struggle to get perspective, and may quickly feel burned out.

How to Fix It

Let your e-book “sit” for at least a couple of days (and preferably a full week) before you begin reviewing and editing. That way, you’ll come to it with fresh eyes and a new perspective – you’ll be able to see what’s already good, and what needs a bit more work.

With a little distance, you’ll be able to see your work from the perspective of a reader, not a writer.

#11: Throwing Your Best Work in the Fire

Many e-book authors start their edit using the same file they used for the draft – for example, MyEbook.doc.

While that’s not always a problem, it’s seriously frustrating if you cut something you later want to put back in.

Worse, if you manage to delete, lose, or somehow corrupt that master file, all your hard work could be gone for good.

How to Fix It

For each new draft, create a new version of your file – MyEbookV2.doc, MyEbookV3.doc and so on. And create regular backups. A simple way is to email yourself a copy of the latest version from time to time.

#12: Reviewing With a Microscope, Not a Telescope

If you start your editing by looking for minor typos, you’ll miss much more significant issues.

By focusing on the micro detail, you may fail to address major problems with your book – like “Chapter 15 is way too short” or “Chapter 7 should come after Chapter 10.” These often require a bit of perspective (see Mistake #10).

How to Fix It

Read through your whole e-book, preferably in .pdf form, on paper, or on your tablet, before you begin editing.

In other words, read it in a format where you can’t easily make small changes as you go along to force yourself to concentrate on the bigger picture.

Make a note of any issues you need to fix, like chapters in the wrong order, repetitive information, tangents that need deleting, and new sections you want to add.

#13: Telling Yourself You Don’t Need an Editor

When you’ve been working away on your own for (probably) several months, seeing mistakes can be tough – from the big picture issues to the small details like missing words or misplaced apostrophes.

But many first-time e-book authors are either too inexperienced to know the value of an editor or figure it’s a luxury they can’t afford.

Even if you’re not in a position to pay for a full edit, that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.

How to Fix It

Consider paying for an editor to review just the first few chapters of your e-book. Many problems the editor identifies will probably occur throughout the e-book and you can fix them yourself once you know what to look for.

Recruit volunteers to help edit: ask your readers, or members of any blogging community you belong to. Be prepared to repay the favor!

#14: Hiring the World’s Worst Proofreader

Once you’ve made any major changes and addressed the suggestions of your editors, your book is almost complete.

But before it’s ready to publish, you’ll need to do at least one complete read-through to catch any remaining typos or errors.

However, you’re probably the worst person to catch those errors.

You’ve likely become so familiar with the content and its layout that you’ll miss typos that will be obvious to someone else.

How to Fix It

If you can afford a professional proofreader, or if you have a talented friend who can help out, brilliant.

If you have to do most or all of your proofreading alone, here’s the secret: don’t proofread your e-book in the same environment that you wrote it. Try changing the font style and size and printing it out, or reading it on a tablet. You’ll be surprised at how errors stand out.

#15: Indulging Your Inner Perfectionist and Procrastinator

Quality matters, but if you’re onto your fifth proofread and you’re spending ten minutes debating whether or not a particular sentence needs a comma, you’re wasting time.

Even books from major publishing houses have mistakes from time to time. You may never have noticed this, because (like every reader) you don’t pause and scrutinize every word.

How to Fix It

Give yourself a deadline for finishing the editing phase, and accept that catching 99 percent of your mistakes is good enough.

Don’t agonize over the possibility that a typo may still be present. Readers aren’t likely to notice, and if someone does point out a particularly glaring mistake after publication, it’s simple to update your e-book.

Publishing Mistakes: How to Make Sure Your E-book’s an Instant Flop

You could create a water-tight plan, write a hugely valuable e-book, and edit it till it shines, yet if you mess up its publication, you won’t get the results you deserve.

But if you avoid the following mistakes, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of e-book success.

#16: Assuming You Know the Best Format for Your E-book Already

Even if you started out with a specific end goal in mind, be sure to review your options once you’ve finished your e-book.

An e-book that started life as a subscriber incentive might in fact make a great premium product, or serve as an authority-building book in the Kindle Store.

But if you don’t at least consider other options, you might miss out on a huge opportunity.

How to Fix It

Depending on the final destination of your e-book, a range of different publishing options are available to consider:

  • If you’re giving your e-book away as an incentive for joining your email list, then .pdf-only is simple and straightforward.
  • If you’re positioning your e-book as a premium product (e.g., at least $10), you can just create a .pdf … but you might also want to offer .epub and .mobi formats. You could also include multimedia bonus material on a password-protected webpage (e.g. audio interviews, short video tutorials).
  • If you’re publishing your e-book on major retailers’ sites, you’ll need a lower price (usually $9.99 or less) and to publish your file in the appropriate format for the store.

And don’t assume that a particular option is right for your e-book just because it’s what you’ve seen other bloggers doing.

#17: Using the First (Yawn-Inducing) Title that Comes to Mind

Just like a blog post title, an e-book title must grab attention. It’s going to be the first (and quite possibly the only) thing your potential e-book reader sees.

When I wrote my first full-length e-book, I planned to title it Writing Blog Content. That’s what it was about, after all! But it’s not exactly sexy.

A wise friend (Charlie Gilkey) jumped onto Skype with me and spent a while hashing out better titles. We eventually went with The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing … a much stronger, more compelling title (and one that led me to write a whole “Blogger’s Guide” series.)

How to Fix It

If you’ve had a working title in mind since the planning stage, now’s the time to figure out whether it’s truly good enough. You might want to ask your blog readers to vote on different titles, to find out which is the most compelling.

The same goes for the headline on your sales page — you’ll probably want to put something a bit more intriguing than just the title of your e-book. Jon’s Headline Hacks report is packed with lots of inspiration and advice.

#18: Designing Your Own Front Cover

Like it or not, everyone judges books by their covers.

Unless you’re a professional designer, creating your own cover is a hugely damaging mistake.

Your e-book will look amateurish, and readers may well be put off from buying it.

This is especially true if you’ll be selling your e-book on Amazon (or other e-retailers’ sites) where most potential readers won’t have any prior knowledge of you.

For plenty of examples of both good and bad covers, take a look at Joel Friedlander’s Monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards.

How to Fix It

If you can afford it, hire a designer. This is a crucial investment, and you’ll likely sell enough extra copies to more than pay for the designer’s work.

But if you really have to create your cover yourself, keep it simple and straightforward, and look at lots of examples of good and bad designs.

#19: Forgetting to Link Back to Your Blog

Your e-book might be a reader’s first contact with you (if they bought it from Amazon for example). And even those who downloaded your e-book from your blog might forget where they got it.

So failing to link your e-book back to your blog is a big mistake. You’re missing an opportunity to drive new subscribers to your main email list or to a separate list that tells your current e-book readers about your next book.

How to Fix It

Include a page at the back of your e-book – after “About the Author” – that lets readers know where to find you online.

Be sure to link to your subscriber landing page, to your next book’s sales page, or anywhere else online you want to send them – e.g., your social media profiles.

Also important is giving your readers an easy way to send you feedback for your book, such as a dedicated email address or a link to a contact page.

And don’t be afraid to link to relevant blog content within the body of the e-book itself.

#20: Completely Ignoring the Power of Social Proof

Even if a reader already knows you, they won’t necessarily trust that your e-book is any good until it has at least one review or testimonial.

(I’ve made this daft mistake myself: I launched the fourth in my Blogger’s Guide series in a rush, just before the birth of my first child. It never sold nearly as well as the others, and I figured that, despite my research, I’d picked a dud topic. Fast forward three years and I realise I’d failed to get a single testimonial up on the sales page. Whoops!)

Whether your e-book is available for purchase or simply a reward for new subscribers, people probably won’t trust its value unless they can see that other people have read it and found it useful.

And if you’re in a niche that’s known for having a few sleazy operators, or one where e-books are rare, then failing to provide social proof is an even bigger mistake.

How to Fix It

Be proactive — send out review copies to bloggers in your niche, and to any of your blog’s readers who’ve commented regularly or emailed you recently. Add positive reviews to your sales page and, if possible, use photos of the reviewers to boost credibility.

And if you can, send out your review copies before you launch your e-book – preferably at least a couple weeks before. This gives people a chance to read your book and get a review ready on or soon after your launch day.

#21: Acting Like Your E-book Isn’t a Big Deal

Many bloggers are uncomfortable marketing their e-books so their “launch” simply involves a new link on their blog and a couple of low-key posts on social media.

But even the best e-book will wither and die without some determined promotion.

And the truth is that if you’re not willing to market your e-book when the hard work of writing it is complete, you’ve basically wasted all that time and effort.

How to Fix It

You’re proud of your new e-book, right? So start acting like it. (If you don’t feel a swell of pride about your work then go back to the writing and editing phases until you do!)

Despite any preconceptions, you can effectively market your blog without coming across like a used car salesman.

Here’s how…

Mix up your promotional messages with lots of useful and interesting content.

If you’re giving people useful information at the same time as promoting your e-book, you’ll feel less like a pushy salesperson.

If your e-book is on Amazon, you can create some buzz by giving it away free for short periods.

If this is your first premium product, make sure you tell your existing list about it and consider offering a discount for existing subscribers.

Write guest posts for popular blogs in your niche, and direct readers to a dedicated landing page for sign-ups or for the sales page for your e-book.

You might even look into ways to do something more interesting and innovative, maybe creating videos, offering special extras, or getting readers involved.

When Will You Make The Leap From Blogger to Author?

Lots of mistakes are lurking out there to trip you up on the path to publishing your first e-book, but the potential rewards are great.

You can get more subscribers for your blog, more authority in your niche and even earn more money from your writing.

And now that you know the most common mistakes, you can avoid them with ease.

But of all the mistakes you can make, one trumps them all.

Not even trying.

Or telling yourself that you’ll write your e-book someday.

But you’re not going to make that mistake, right?

So grab your calendar, take a look at the next week, and choose a day to begin.

Because in just a month or two, you could easily have a finished e-book … one that could supercharge your email list, position you as an expert, or start bringing in a steady income.

When will your e-book journey begin?

About the Author: Ali Luke is author of Publishing E-Books For Dummies, and writes for Zen Optimise. If you’d like more help with the “plan-write-edit” process (not just for e-books!) then check out her free video training, The Writing Process for Bloggers – no opt-in required.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Mad Marketing 98: Why Truly Knowing Your Customer is Everything

    Hey folks, it’s podcast time again! And in this episode of Mad Marketing, we’ll be discussing the following: Thoughts on my new documentary series, #TheBalance, as well as comments from you, the viewers about the show I dive into the time we put into making each episode, what I’ve learned in the process…

The post Mad Marketing 98: Why Truly Knowing Your Customer is Everything appeared first on The Sales Lion by Marcus Sheridan.


Friday, June 10, 2016

#SocialSkim: Instagram Algorithm Goes Live, Plus 11 More Stories in This Week's Roundup

The social giants never stop evolving. Instagram's new algorithm is finally here, and Snapchat just toppled Twitter in daily active users! Also: Facebook's plans to tackle live streaming and gaming at the same time, LinkedIn's new premium insights, and the right social platforms for your objectives. Read the full article at MarketingProfs