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The Time-Strapped Blogger’s Guide to Self-Promotion

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Life isn’t meant to be spent chained to that computer. Every now and then you just have to go out, get some fresh air, and do something with yourself. But if you’re at all serious about the success of your blog, living a life outside of the computer can seem like nothing more than a fanciful dream.


Photo by Jen Dixon

After all, you’re not famous, you’re not some superstar a-list blogger whose readers wait in agonizing anticipation for your every update – and that is exactly why you need to promote yourself. If you do it right, someday you too can reap the benefits of a fanatic readership, but you must first “wax on, wax off.”

Self-promotion is an art, and promoting yourself on a shoe-string time budget is a fine art – but like every other form of art, this too can be learned. Also like every other art form, self-promotion beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, there are a lot of opinions, conflicting opinions, about self-promotion – and not just in the “how”, but even the “where” is up for debate.

I’ve managed to get the opinions of two top shelf professionals – Barbara Ling and Liz Strauss. Both have been in the biz since the late 90’s, and therefore both started before Twitter or even blogging as we know it today existed.

However, they have two very different viewpoints on, and strategies for, self-promotion. In the end, it’s only the opinion of your target audience which truly matters – just keep that in mind as you read their and my educated opinions.

I have assumed nothing – or at least tried to. In order to be efficient and effective at self-promotion, you need to understand the best practices first, then toward the end I provide tools and tips to speed things up on top of the efficiency tips provided in the “best practices” sections.

In other words, this guide is meant to be read top to bottom. Yes, it’s long – but you won’t get nearly as much from it unless you read every last word.

Liz Strauss – The Never a Stranger Approach

Liz StraussLiz Strauss of Successful-Blog.com doesn’t subscribe to the typical approach of self-promotion. Instead, as her tagline says, “you’re only a stranger once.”

Liz actively seeks to develop relationships with her peers and readers. “I’ve never been much of a promoter,” she said, “I made sure I was listed in the right directories and that I commented in conversations that other blogs had that interested me.”

She made a concerted effort to help her readers feel welcome and valued. “I always answered comments and talked directly to the folks who visited. I also started Open Comment Night and talked to a Blogger a Day on the phone for over a year just because I wanted to know who was reading.”

However, this strategy may not be for everyone. Although it is definitely quite effective, you need to take into consideration your personality type. “I’ve found that staying true to who I am, keeping the focus on the people who visit, and always finding new ways and places to meet them where I can offer help are the three things that work best.”

As far as whom to network with and pay attention to, Liz doesn’t subscribe to the typical approach here either. “Everyone thinks that power users and A-list bloggers are the key influencers. I think that only works in short bursts and fades really quickly.” Instead, she focuses her time on people who focus their time on her, and looks for up and comers or people with a cause worth supporting.

“Good blogs were in some ways their own promotion,” Liz said reminiscing on the early days of her blog. “Getting to know the bloggers who wrote them by commenting and responding thoughtfully to what they wrote both made relationships and also attracted people back to your own blog.”

Liz also linked to great posts in her blog and other good blogs through her blog roll. “Some forums were powerful for bringing traffic,” she adds, “and the advent of social bookmarking sites, such as del.icio.us, reddit, and StumbleUpon made a difference.”

One of her most powerful self-promotion tactics – something I consider pure genius – was actually one big accident. Every week Liz gives out “Official SOB” badges to bloggers who “understand that the strength of the blogosphere comes from relationships, interconnectedness, and community,” to quote from her web site – and I’m quite proud to say I’m an Official SOB.

The true power of this badge is the fact it piques a reader’s curiosity – being proud to announce you’re an official SOB is quite a strange thing if you don’t know what it’s all about. That is the genius. The fact “SOB” has such negative connotations, and the fact bloggers are so proud to put the badge on their blog is rocket fuel for a curiosity fire.

The first time I saw an SOB badge, I remember thinking “what is that all about, and how do I get one?!” I’m sure many other bloggers had the exact same thought. There’s something enticingly naughty about the SOB program which makes it simply irresistible.

However, Liz didn’t anticipate the wildfire. “The SOB program started simply as a way to say thank you to folks who supported me from the beginning. I wasn’t clever enough to see the marketing potential.”

When asked what she would do if she only had 10 minutes a day to promote her blog, Liz said she plans to “start doing more interviews and video on sites other than my own. I want to go meet people where they are and answer the questions that they already have.” Her self-promotion time savers are Twitterfeed and Tweetmeme. She said “they make it easier for people to know what’s going on with my blog.”

Barbara Ling – The To The Point Approach

barbara_bgBarbara Ling‘s claim to fame is… being famous. “I started BarbaraLing.com back in 1998… before blogs existed. Thus, my most successful venue for self promotion (which holds true today) was being an acknowledged expert in my field.”

Despite that single fact, her approach to self-promotion is very formulaic. Anyone can duplicate it (so long as you’re willing to dedicate yourself to learning a system), whether you’re a people person or not.

“It takes time and it takes energy…but self-promotion can truly be a lifesaver for your long term future goals and success. Niches come and niches go, but your own personal name brand will always be a viable, desired resource. Take advantage of that.”

Like Liz, Barbara also credits direct links in forums for much of her traffic, but that is where the similarities end. “Gathering an audience of people who retweet and publicize your writings is also useful […] but by far, I’ve learned that you simply cannot count on anyone except yourself to make things happen. Do not go into business expecting someone else to make things easier for you… it has to come straight from your heart instead.”

Barbara also added “you…and only you…are the only resource on which you can truly count 100%. Everyone else is looking after their own Number 1 (ie, themselves)…and your needs might get pushed to the bottom of that list. Define yourself as the destination and the rest will follow.”

Also unlike Liz, Barbara focuses exclusively on the bottom line. “Visitors [and] pageviews,” she said, “mean nothing if they do not eventually convert into a tangible result.” Nevertheless, Barbara said her mentor is what truly helped her succeed. “I was in the right place at the right time with the right product… plus I had a mentor who had an ‘in’ with the right audience as well!”

Of course, reaching the audience is only one part of the equation. “You have to understand that readers want to be intrigued – they want to read a story, they want to be entertained, they want to have their problems solved (ideally with little to no effort as well).” To this end, she makes sure to include “catchy one-liners” in her forum signature while providing valuable responses.

Barbara’s approach is extremely direct and professional. “Then, like today,” she said, “it’s headlines, baby!” The way she phrases her self-promotion leaves very little mystery, saying things like “click here to stop losing leads today” and other distinctly sales-y pitches – but they work, and they work for one important reason. She says you should “always focus on the WIIFM (ie, what’s in it for me?) aspect.”

I told a little fib earlier though – there is one last similarity in Barbara’s approach to Liz’s. Barbara also had an award program before she lost the associated domain. “I ran the ‘Deemed Tops!” Internet recruiting program in which top quality recruiting sites earned that particular badge.”

“It provides a *very* strong long-tail (so long as you don’t lose your domain) because sites generally tend to keep those badges active. Just look at Liz’s SOB badges – they’re all over the place!” (interesting note – at the time Barbara had no idea I was talking to Liz about this as well)

Invaluable time-savers for Barbara include SocialOomph to schedule useful tweets “so I’m always offering excellent resources to my followers.” She has ‘Tweet This Now!’ enabled in her blog, and uses an “extensive setup” in her RSS feed reader to let her know about critical updates.

Her top time saving tool for self-promotion – “an autoresponder, hands down, sideways, and rightside up. If you are not capturing your visitors’ email, you’re not giving yourself an opportunity to brand your services and value on your visitors’ minds.”

In case you’re interested in learning her step-by-step methods for promotion, you should visit IncomeFitness.com. “It describes in detail everything I currently do today to remain highly visible online.” As additional assistance, Barbara has also started a forum at Virtual-Coach.com.

When asked what she would do with 10 minutes a day to double her readership in 2 months, Barbara replied “I’d participate heavily in niche forums (ensuring there was a direct link back to my resources) plus I’d comment heavily on Comment-luv enabled blogs. That returns a deep link back to my site…always a good thing indeed!”

Other Tips on Self-Promotion

self_promotion_success_1243995Photo by Maja

Pre-promote before anything and everything you intend to post-promote.

Twitter! Of course! But tweet with your followers in mind, and leave them space to retweet.

Forums related to your blog are still an excellent form of self-promotion.

Comment, comment, and comment! In case you didn’t know – commenting on related blogs brings in more traffic.

Flattery will get you everywhere – especially when you link to them (note this doesn’t just apply to our site – feel free to target anyone you want).

Other excellent reading include 21 tips to increase blog traffic, how to find out what your readers what, and defining your return on time invested in social media.

Common Mistakes Self-Promoting on Social Networking Sites

missing_the_target_1100296Photo by Jay Lopez

One medium I notice is particularly easy to make a fatal mis-step is Facebook. Take for instance, earlier today I was invited to become a fan of a page – nothing out of the ordinary here. However, the person inviting me to become a fan had the same last name as the surname in the business name. Obvious self-promotion.

That alone would not have been all that big of a deal, but I have no reason to become a fan. They have never spoken to me on a personal or professional level, and I’m pretty sure they’re not even in my friends list. As far as I’m concerned, they are not a trusted – or even known – friend offering a valid recommendation.

Again, those two factors alone I could have overlooked if there were some kind of note with the invitation giving me an enticing reason to become a fan – but there was nothing. Just a bare invite demanding that I investigate their company and find a reason on my own.

Sorry but I’m a busy ‘netizen and don’t care to look into your company without reason. The invite was ignored without a second thought. I didn’t even bother to click on the link to their page to check if there might have been something worthwhile.

So where exactly did this self-promoter go wrong?

They never gave before they asked to receive. I had no idea who they are, but they were asking me to put their face on my profile. If you have the time, at least offer some kind of information currency (like “hey I saw something in the news I thought could benefit you – here’s the link”) before asking a prospect to act on your behalf.

No message or note included in the invite with some kind of teaser or reason to look at their page. This means having something valid to offer – a discount or sale is often a good enough reason. If you don’t have a lot of time to build a relationship, this method is a great alternative solution for the short term.

How else could he have improved the self-promotion?

He could have sent a note along with or ahead of the invite telling me about his promotions and asking me to become a fan. Along with asking me to become a fan, he should include an explanation of what I will get for being a fan, and what will happen to my profile because of it.

In the invite, he could have referenced his message – something like “I sent a message yesterday about the benefits of becoming a fan, and thought I would send an invite to make it easier for you” would have been more than sufficient.

Other Self-Promotion Uglies to Avoid

self_promotion_detour_1118302Photo by Christine Weddle

Don’t try to be flashy or use too many symbols. Most web users have likened anything resembling “salesman’s flair” to banner ads, and likewise tune those out as well. Only users who still look at banner ads will also still look at those flashy promotions begging for attention.

Try to be as inconspicuous as possible in your word choice. Another way of phrasing this is to make sure you choose to promote something which benefits the user. I have a friend who owns a business, and almost all his status updates are along the lines of “if you need my services, don’t forget about my company!” Eventually self-promoters like that get seen as crying wolf, and all their promotions end up ignored – even if the promotion would have otherwise enticed the prospect.

Have a reason outside of “I need more sales.” The basic rule of thumb here is whether your promotion is newsworthy, and newsworthy promotions include sales, discounts, new inventory, especially helpful or important blog posts, and new services. If you don’t think it’s important enough to write a press release, then it’s not important enough to promote, period.

Don’t just use tactics which require the least amount of time invested. Today’s ‘netizens have grown accustomed to a social web, and thus expect a certain level of relationship with the companies whose products and services they use and blogs they read. If all you provide is touch-and-go and never show any vested interest in your customers and readers, then you will eventually lose their interest.

Useful Tips and Tools to Speed Up Your Self-Promotion

Whew! You’re almost done. Last but not least, I’ve assembled some tools and tips to help speed up your self-promotion efforts. Now go get ’em tiger!

Evernote – definitely handy for taking down useful information during your everyday web surf.

RSS feed readers – we all love ’em, now here’s an excellent way to get caught up on that reading list.

Twitterfeed and similar – if you schedule your blog to update when you’re not online, may as well set your microblogging accounts to automatically update too.

SocialOomph, Hootsuite, and similar – managing multiple twitter accounts can be quite the task, but these tools make being in multiple places at once a breeze.

MyBlogLog and BumpZee – both let you track who reads your blog, but it’s really easy to find related blogs (and hence people who are interested in your topic) with BumpZee.

Netvibes – definitely a must-use for any self-promoter who likes to use information currency.

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My name is Foxy, and my job is to sniff out the good guest bloggers from the ones who aren't. This post was written by a contributing author to Blogging Tips. If you would like to learn more about becoming a writer (not one-time guest blogging) for BloggingTips.com, please contact us.

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10 Strategies to Ensure a Strong ROI on Your Email List in 2019

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Even in today’s world of countless digital communication channels, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach current and potential customers. When done correctly, building and maintaining an email list can yield a high return on investment. Do it wrong, though, and you risk alienating subscribers and wasting your time, energy and resources.

So how can you ensure that your email marketing efforts pay off? To find out, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following:

Email lists can be quite a potent tool, but they’re not always worth the investment. What step is crucial for making sure the email list you’re preparing to build will generate a strong return on investment?

Email marketing

Here’s what they advise:

1. Give Subscribers What They Want

Email software programs can be very expensive, especially when you hit 10,000 monthly subscribers. The best way to generate a decent return on investment is by giving subscribers what they want and providing value, whether it’s an exclusive promotion or a great piece of tip-driven content.

Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Creative Development Agency, LLC

2. Build a Funnel

You can get immediate ROI from an email list if you build it with a sales funnel designed to pay for the cost to acquire the email. This funnel walks people through a series of offers that are very valuable to them and allows them to purchase immediately. Then create promotional calendar to give them more value and offers, so they stay on your list and continue to give ROI. – Monica Snyder, Birdsong

3. Use Gated Content

High-quality gated content attracts the right subscribers. You want subscribers who are interested in what you sell, and publishing content valuable to that niche is an excellent way to qualify leads. It can be expensive — good content costs money to create and promote — but you’re far more likely to attract subscribers who convert than with less focused methods of building a list.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

4. Use Triggered Emails

To boost the ROI of your email marketing, use triggered emails. Triggered emails are automatically sent to subscribers when they take a certain action. So, if a customer abandons their shopping cart you can send a triggered email right away to convince them to return to buy. Triggered emails will allow you to message subscribers at the perfect time so they’ll be more likely to take action.

Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

5. Hire a Talented Copy Writer

An email list is only valuable if it generates sales either directly or indirectly for your business. The most effective tool for consistently generating sales via email lists is good copy writing and a deep understanding of the psychology of your subscriber base. A good copy writer will be an expert at this and help you to squeeze every dollar out of your list by keeping open rates high.

Justin Faerman, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine

6. Make It Easy to Sign Up

Have a simple to use, easy to find page where people can sign up for your list on your website. Don’t hide it or make it difficult to find; it should be rather obvious.

Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

7. Segment Your List

Email marketing can generate up to $44 for every $1 spent, which is among the highest ROI you can find in marketing. It’s the one channel where you retain complete control of your brand and core message. So it’s critical that you have a healthy email list, which is organically sourced (no purchased lists!), and segmented so you can send relevant content to specific groups of subscribers.

Ismael Wrixen, FE International

8. Maintain It

Building an email list is imperative, but it can get out of hand very quickly. Many people have more than one email, which might be hard to keep track of. You want to make sure your email list is updated with the most current email of your leads and customers. Also, be sure to remove any duplicates. This can skew your estimates and reports, which can affect your conversions and business strategy.

Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

9. Keep It Small and Niche

We create small email list of very targeted audience, generally based upon the industry, geolocation and job title. This allows us to target them with very specific messages. These email list works out better than larger lists. We have been doing it for the last four years and we have learned that smaller lists have better ROI than larger ones.

Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

10. Build High-Quality Lead Lists

Having the best email drip campaign will not get you the results you need when the messaging does not resonate with your leads. If the lead lists are also low quality, then that will be an issue. Always build highly targeted lead lists based on your ideal customer profile and have them verified by your sales development rep or outsourced SDR team before sending your emails. Once verified, you won’t waste money.

David Henzel, TaskDrive

f you enjoyed this expert round-up article, I recommend you also take a look at our latest how to start a blog article, with advice and tips from over 82 different experts around the world.

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Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing: Which is Better in 2019?

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Out of all businesses, 83% claim digital marketing works for them. When it comes to traditional marketing vs digital marketing, which is better?

People think traditional marketing works better than online marketing. It’s still easier to determine your ROI (return on investment) with digital marketing.

Here’s what you should know about digital marketing vs traditional marketing:

Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing 101

What is traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing uses offline advertising and promotions. This includes television, billboards, telephone calls, and radio. Print ads, direct mail, promotional gifts, and brochures are also popular methods.

Digital marketing happens online. It uses images, videos, and custom content. SEO marketing makes this content easy to find on search engines.

Don’t forget about social media marketing. You control who sees your ads with digital marketing. Digital ads then appear on social media feeds and websites.

Pros of Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing connects with consumers. It exposes your product/service to new audiences.

Traditional advertisements make strong brand impressions.
Consumers remember print ads better. The same goes for commercials.

Brochures are easy. Use free flyer templates to make custom flyers.

Cons of Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing costs more money. After all, you make advertisements using materials.

There’s no interaction with consumers. You also can’t measure engagement.

It’s hard to determine an ROI with traditional vs digital marketing.

Traditional marketing has limited reach. It’s good for reaching local consumers. Digital ads reach people all over the world.

Measuring engagement is easier online. So is reaching target demographics. You can also connect with consumers easier.

Digital Marketing Madness

Digital marketing is taking the world by storm. You reach more people with digital marketing than with traditional market tactics.

With digital marketing, you’re placing your brand into a consumer’s daily life. The majority of people spend time online. Television viewership and magazine readership are declining.

It’s a better option for a smaller budget. Unlike traditional marketing, you pay as you go along with your campaign. There’s less financial risk involved with digital marketing.

It’s easier to attract, identify, and generate leads on social media. Social media campaign metrics tell you exactly how many people engage with your ads. These metrics tell you which ads are most effective and which ones aren’t.

It’s also easier to customize digital ads for specific demographics. Digital ads usually don’t need physical materials. You only need visual content and quality copy to make effective digital ads.

Online marketing lets you engage with consumers easier. You can respond to tweets and other social media posts. This makes consumers feel a more personal connection with your brand.

Consumers can also give you direct feedback about your service/product/ads online.

Embrace The Digital Marketing Trend

Out of all marketers, only 61% believe their marketing strategy works best. In the battle between traditional marketing vs digital marketing, digital marketing is winning.

Only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates. It’s true: traditional marketing also generates leads and conversions. Still, leads and conversions are easier to track with digital marketing.

Boost your business by learning more about social media. Your brand will thank you for it.

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The Top 3 Promotional Items Your Business Should Be Using

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When it comes to promoting your blog or brand, handing out promotional items is one of the most effective ways to do it. People love free stuff. If you give them something useful for free, they’ll love you, too. This also works well for branding yourself as an expert, or showing off your best content and expertise through your blog.

And each time they use your useful product, they see your brand name. This repetition will leave your brand imprinted in their memory.

While there are many ways to purchase company schwag and bags with your brand name on them, some products will have better success than others. For example, if you’ve ever been to an affiliate or marketing conference, just take a look at the tables that are getting all the attention, and people are flocking to for the free gifts.

Making sure you have a great exhibit it also key. Imagine having one like the Avengers Infinity War showcase below?! This would really wow your audience and leave a lasting impression.

So what are the top promo items to give out at the next trade show? Read on to find out.

Runners Up: Pens and Flash Drives

Before we get to the top 3, promo pens and flash drives deserve honorable mention. Both are cheap and extremely useful. And both can be customized in really cool ways.

Though they’ve been around a long time, flash drives have many benefits that are still relevant today. But as useful and appreciated as flash drives are, their use has declined since the introduction of cloud storage technology.

Promo pens are the most common promotional item. There are many creative ways to distribute them even outside the trade show setting. Entire volumes can be written about using promo pens to market your business.

But let’s face it: no one at the trade show will be excited about pens. And even the coolest pen won’t last longer than a year.

Still, promo pens and flash drives (and flash drive pens!) are a decent cheap option. But they’re not the best.

The following items, however, are sure to wow trade show attendees and get lots of use for a long, long time.

1. Mobile Device Chargers With Power Banks

Device chargers are super useful items that your attendees will use every day. These will be very much appreciated. BUT, if you’re not careful, handing out chargers can backfire for a couple reasons.

For one, you can buy these for a dollar. That means your attendees may already have 3 of them. For two, your trade show may have 3 other booths handing out chargers.

If you’re handing out chargers alone, be competitive. Make sure they are the high-quality ones and not the super-cheap kind.

Better yet, one-up everyone at the trade show by handing out fully-charged, portable power banks with your chargers. These babies make your promo chargers immediately useful.

Anyone at the trade show with a dead phone battery can connect to one of your power banks on the spot and get a few more hours of use.

These will be very appreciated. And it’s doubtful anyone has “too many” power banks.

2. Reusable Water Bottles

Why not be super helpful and environmentally-friendly? Thirsty trade show attendees need to stay hydrated. With reusable water bottles, you’re filling a need and reducing plastic waste.

It will do well for your conscience and your image to do good to the environment. And you can set up refill stations so people keep coming back to your booth. Besides, these are a really great item to hand out anywhere, not just at trade shows.

3. T-Shirts

If you’re anything like us, you’ve never turned down a free shirt. Even if it’s not your favorite, you can still use it as pajamas, workout clothes, even drying your car after a wash.

Plus, we apparently don’t throw them out. A study by the Advertising Specialty Institute found that T-shirts are the most-owned promotional item in the U.S.

But if you really want to steal the show, be awesome. That is, get creative and funny and pump out a variety of fun, branded shirts people will actually enjoy.

You can even set up a laptop with a camera and a printer to make personalized photo shirts. You can also allow attendees to use photos from their phone.

These fun shirts will cost the same as the lame ones you were planning to make, anyway. And, as we said, they will be used regardless.

Steal the Trade Show With These Promotional Items

Do you want to waste time and money pushing unpopular promo items nobody wants? Or do you want to show up with the best promotional items at the trade show and wow attendees and competitors alike? The choice is yours, but we really suggest you choose the latter.

Use these top promo products at your next trade show for the win!

Now check out 11 Brand Building Basics For Entrepreneurs.

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