262: How Carolyn Started a Directory to Attract Readers to Her Blog

The post 262: How Carolyn Started a Directory to Attract Readers to Her Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

How One Blogger Created a Directory that Attracts Readers

We continue our Blogging Breakthroughs series with Carolyn Edlund, whose Artsy Shark blog focuses on the business of art.

Carolyn shares the story of how she created a directory to attract readers to her blog instead of having to chase after them. It revolutionized her blog, and helped her build a successful business around it.

Carolyn Edlund created a directory to attract readers to her blog.

Carolyn understands the importance of building strong business relationships and creating win-win situations through collaboration.

Her directory identifies places artists can sell their art online. It also provides solid business information and helps artists gain exposure.

To attract readers for your blog, ask yourself:

  • What do your readers want?
  • What problem can you solve for your readers?
  • What issue can you help your readers overcome?

Based on tips from Carolyn, what kind of magnet do you plan on creating to draw readers to your blog?

Links and Resources for PB 262 – How Carolyn Started a Directory to Attract Readers to Her Blog:


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Darren: Hi there, friends! Welcome to episode 262 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog podcast, events, series of ebooks, and courses, all to help you start an amazing blog that’s going to change the world in some way, make people’s lives better, but also hopefully be profitable for you. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all that we do at problogger.com.

Now this week, I’m actually in Orlando. As this episode goes live, I will be at our Success Incubator Event, and I know some of you will be at that event, I’m looking forward to seeing some of you. And while I’m away, we’re continuing our blogger breakthrough series of content, where we’re featuring stories from listeners of this podcast, and we’re talking about their breakthrough moments.

Now, today’s listener is Carolyn Edlund, who has a great blog called Artsy Shark. You can find it at arstyshark.com. Her blog is about the business of art, and she’s going to tell us a story today that I think will be interesting to many of you. It’s a way of drawing readers into your blog that’s going to stop you from having to chase your readers, but hopefully attract them to your blog, and this has revolutionized her blog and has helped her to build a really successful business around the blog that she has.

You can find show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/262, where you’ll find links to Carolyn’s blog, and also the directory that she’s about to talk about as well, and a book that she mentions, too. At the end of her story, I’ll come back and pull out a few of the golden nuggets that I heard her share, okay? Now, over to Carolyn.

Carolyn: My name is Carolyn Edlund, and I’m the founder of Artsy Shark, which is the blog about the business of art. Before I ever became a blogger, I was a self-employed artist for more than twenty years, with a successful production studio, and subsequently, I was a sales representative for an art publishing company. I had a lot of experience marketing and selling art, and I also led a business networking group where I learned a lot about the importance of building strong business relationships and creating win-win situations where both parties can benefit by collaborating with each other.

I got into blogging sheerly by accident back in 2009, after I took a free course held at a local community college. At that time, I had no idea what I was doing, and I wasn’t quite sure what would happen. I got started by writing some business articles for my blog, based on my experience on marketing and selling. And then, I stumbled on a book called Inbound Marketing, that was written by HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. That book explained how online businesses could attract readers, and attract customers by offering really useful content that would act as a magnet for website traffic.

I also found ProBlogger at that time, where I could see Darren Rowse uses a lot of these strategies and that they really work. So I decided straight away, I needed a way to offer real value to my potential readers, and I also started publishing individual artist features. These are portfolio articles that allowed visual artists to tell their story in their own words and share their artwork with the world.

To this day, I publish artist features regularly on my blog. It’s worked really well because the truth is that, although artists do want to learn how to market and sell their work, what they would really like is to have someone else do it for them. So my business model was built on providing solid business information, but also taking action to help artists gain exposure through my own site. As a blogger, I’m a member of the press, and people love press. I run a call for artists several times every year, attracting submissions from artists all over the world who’d like to be featured on my site, and this has allowed me to publish a blog that presents an amazing variety of art, as well as art business information, and of course, they go hand in hand.

Now, the breakthrough that really exploded my blog traffic happened in 2013. I realized that artists were looking for information on how to sell their art online, but they weren’t sure how or where to do this. And that allowed me to create another magnet on my website to draw traffic. I spent several months researching and compiling a directory of my website of hundreds of places where artists can sell their work online with full descriptions and lengths and so forth, which is a super useful directory, and it’s completely free to use. That directory is a magnet that draws tons of traffic through search, bringing artists who want to learn to market and sell right to my website, which helps them market and sell.

I’ve been able to build a really thriving business using this model by offering e-courses on the business of art, personalized business consulting for artists, and speaking at in-person professional development training events, in collaboration with the Clark Hulings’ Fund for Visual Artists, which is a business partnership that I developed through my network. One of the things that I love best about this method, is that it attracts readers rather than chasing them. From my experience working as a salesperson, I know how challenging it can be to prospect for customers, seeking their attention, trying to get their interest, continuously following up. And by turning that around, and creating magnets for customers, you can pull them in without all of that chase. I’ve been really inspired by seeing how ProBlogger uses this model successfully, and I’m really honored that I’ve been invited to share my story with you here.

Darren: Thanks so much, Carolyn, for sharing your story. You can check out Carolyn’s blog at artsyshark.com, and I have, in today’s show notes, links to the directory that she talks about, and also the inbound marketing book, which I have heard from many of you as ProBlogger listeners have enjoyed that book as well. Couple of things that I love about this story, firstly, that Carolyn is practicing something that I’ve preached many times over about giving your readers exposure on your site, and making your readers famous, actually helping your readers to get profile.

This is something that we’ve done on ProBlogger many times. In fact, this whole series really is about showcasing the listeners of this podcast. I love doing this because it helps your listener, your reader to achieve their goals. And many of your readers will be wanting to showcase what they do in some way, but also enables you, particularly if you do it smartly, to achieve your goals, as well. My goal at ProBlogger is to teach people how to blog better, and so my hope is that by sharing these stories, you’re getting ideas, as well as us serving the person who is actually creating the content as well.

And so, featuring your readers in these creative ways can be really useful. On digital photography school, we allow our readers to post their pictures in comments, and we actually use their comments and pictures from time to time in content, as well. So all of these things can be really great ways of helping your readers to get their profile, but creating really useful content as well.

I also loved the idea of creating magnets on your site, things that will draw and attract readers to your site, rather than you having to go out there and chase readers down. It’s a great concept, and I guess some questions around that, you know, what are your readers wanting? What are they trying to achieve? What problems do they have? How can you help them in some way, by overcoming a need that they have, you know. Creating a directory that is going to solve those problems is one way of doing that. And I’ve seen a number of bloggers create directories for their readers that have done really well.

Now, I don’t know if Carolyn actually charges people to be in her directory, but I have seen bloggers do that, as well. Like, put this directory up, their readers cannot access at all, but I might sell, you know, featured listings, or just charge people to being their directory as well. That might be a creative way of monetizing your blog as well, but even if it’s free, for those to be in it, and those to be reading it, it’s creating a way of drawing people into your site.

In some ways, on ProBlogger, having a job board has been a similar kind of magnet. We know that when people are searching for writing jobs or blogger jobs, that we come up in the search results as a result of having a job board. And some of those people come back across into the rest of ProBlogger. For some of our readers, that’s their first ever experience of ProBlogger, and they get on our list, and they become buyers of our courses, and attending our events, and those types of things as well. How to start a blog course is a magnet, it’s something that we know people are searching the internet “How do I start a blog?” and sometimes we’re on the end of their search results as well. What are people searching for that you can help them with, that is going to attract them into your blog, that is going to solve a problem for them but also get their attention, and hopefully, get them into a process of a relationship with you as well.

Great tips there from Carolyn. Again, check out her blog at artsyshark,com, you can check out some of the artist features that she does, and also you’ll find a link on our show notes today directly into her online directory. So you can check that out and see what it’s like. It’s actually not that hard to create, it’s essentially just a page on her site where she’s created a list of places that people can sell their art. Not that hard, it’s not something that you would need to put a massive amount of investment into, apart from the time to get those resources. Hopefully that provides you with some inspiration today, I’m expecting lots of you to have directories by the end of next week, of those types of things, and if you do, leave us a comment in our Facebook group or in the comments of these show notes as well, today, and I’d love to check out what you do as a result of hearing this story.

Thanks for listening, and check out the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/262 and I’ll chat with you next week when I’ll be, I think, almost back from Orlando. I’ll be back on the day after this podcast goes live, but we’ll have another story for you next week from another one of our listeners that I’m really looking forward to sharing with you.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 262: How Carolyn Started a Directory to Attract Readers to Her Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

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Insane Pagani Huayra BC Supercar at Cars and Coffee

I check out the insane $6 million Pagani Huayra BC super car at this week’s South OC Cars and Coffee. In addition to that work of art, there were tons of other cars to check out as well, like a couple of purple people eater Porsche GT3 RS and the new GT2 RS that set the Lighting Lap record at Virginia International Raceway. Enjoy!

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The Pablo Picasso Approach to Value

There are certain cliches that we’ve come to internalize as a modern society, whether or not they are actually true in all or even most cases. We just assume automatically that every used car salesperson is sneaky and deceptive, straight up lying to your face in order to close the deal. There is the archetype of the starving student, accumulating massive student debt as they eat instant noodles for lunch and binge drink on the weekends. Most of these are unfair, of course, but we’ve come to internalize them.

And for the most part, we’ve come to assume that artists are generally crazy, broke, or more likely than not, both crazy and broke. While we may romanticize the idea of the artist sacrificing for his or her craft, we also assume that most artists are practically destitute, sharing one-bedroom apartments with four other “hippies” or “hipsters.” But a few break through and actually achieve impressive success within their lifetimes.

Three Musicians

Pablo Picasso is one such individual. Even if you know almost nothing about the art world (like me), you’ve surely heard of his name. You know that he was (is!) incredibly famous and he was (is!) very influential in the art world. You probably know him best from his cubism period with distorted images of reality.

What you see here is an oil and collage painting called Three Musicians. This is the version that is a part of the permanent collection at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). There is another version of this painting that looks a little different but has a similar kind of colorful concept; it is on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

It goes without saying that Pablo Picasso was and continues to be a very big deal. But it’s not like he was an overnight success either.

Diner Doodles

I’m currently listening to the audiobook version of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. In it, he recounts a particular story about Pablo Picasso that may or may not be one hundred percent accurate, but it still illustrates a very important point that all of us should take to heart. And yes, this comes well before the Internet became a thing, let alone Internet marketing as a viable business.

So, the tale goes a little something like this. Pablo Picasso is in his later years, having already achieved great fame and fortune from his art. He’s leading a much quieter life, but his creativity continues to yearn for representation and application. And so, he finds himself in some small cafe, sipping away on a coffee or whatever, and he allows his mind to wander as he doodles on a paper napkin.

As he prepares to leave and just before he tosses his napkin into the trash, he’s approached by a woman in the cafe. She expresses her great admiration for his work and asks if it’s okay if she have the napkin with the doodle on it. She says she’d even be willing to pay for it.

Time, Value and Experience

Picasso turns to the woman and tells her that the price for the napkin doodle is $20,000. Remember that this encounter would have taken place about half a century ago. Adjusted for inflation, the asking price would be somewhere around $500,000 in today’s dollars.

Aghast at the asking price, the woman declares that he was just about to throw the napkin into the trash anyhow and it only took him a couple minutes to draw. To this, Picasso replies (and I’m paraphrasing), “No, you’re wrong. It didn’t take me two minutes. It took me over 60 years to draw.”

When we see the final work of a professional, whether that’s a painting, a song, a book or anything else, we only perceive the actual final product. What we don’t see are the years of blood, sweat and tears that it took to get to that point. We don’t see all the failed manuscripts and drafts that no one cared to give a second look. We don’t see all the learning through experience that it took to get to that point.

Know your value. And know that it takes time for you to get to the point where you can, with confidence, ask for half a million dollars for your napkin doodle. The story goes that Picasso then delicately folded up the napkin, put it in his pocket, and walked out of the cafe.

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Spectator to Partner: Turn Your Clients into SEO Allies – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

Are your clients your allies in SEO, or are they passive spectators? Could they even be inadvertently working against you? A better understanding of expectations, goals, and strategy by everyone involved can improve your client relations, provide extra clarity, and reduce the number of times you’re asked to “just SEO a site.” In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins outlines tactics you should know for getting clients and bosses excited about the SEO journey, as well as the risks involved in passivity.

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Video Transcription

Hey, everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. I am Kameron Jenkins, and I’m the SEO Wordsmith here at Moz. Today I’m going to be talking with you about how to turn your clients from spectators, passive spectators to someone who is proactively interested and an ally in your SEO journey.

So if you’ve ever heard someone come to you, maybe it’s a client or maybe you’re in-house and this is your boss saying this, and they say, “Just SEO my site,” then this is definitely for you. A lot of times it can be really hard as an SEO to work on a site if you really aren’t familiar with the business, what that client is doing, what they’re all about, what their goals are. So I’m going to share with you some tactics for getting your clients and your boss excited about SEO and excited about the work that you’re doing and some risks that can happen when you don’t do that.


So let’s dive right in. All right, first we’re going to talk about tactics.

1. Share news

The first tactic is to share news. In the SEO industry, things are changing all the time, so it’s actually a really great tactic to keep yourself informed, but also to share that news with the client. So here’s an example. Google My Business is now experimenting with a new video format for their post feature. So one thing that you can do is say, “Hey, client, I hear that Google is experimenting with this new format. They’re using videos now. Would you like to try it?”

So that’s really cool because it shows them that you’re on top of things. It shows them that you’re the expert and you’re keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry. It also tells them that they’re going to be a part of this new, cutting-edge technology, and that can get them really, really excited about the SEO work you’re doing. So make sure to share news. I think that can be really, really valuable.

2. Outline your work

The next tip is to outline your work. This one seems really simple, but there is so much to say for telling a client what you’re going to do, doing it, and then telling them that you did it. It’s amazing what can happen when you just communicate with a client more. There have been plenty of situations where maybe I did less tangible work for a client one week, but because I talk to them more, they were more inclined to be happy with me and excited about the work I was doing.

It’s also cool because when you tell a client ahead of time what you’re going to do, it gives them time to get excited about, “Ooh, I can’t wait to see what he or she is going to do next.” So that’s a really good tip for getting your clients excited about SEO.

3. Report results

Another thing is to report on your results. So, as SEOs, it can be really easy to say, hey, I added this page or I fixed these things or I updated this.

But if we detach it from the actual results, it doesn’t really matter how much a client likes you or how much your boss likes you, there’s always a risk that they could pull the plug on SEO because they just don’t see the value that’s coming from it. So that’s an unfortunate reality, but there are tons of ways that you can show the value of SEO. One example is, “Hey, client, remember that page that we identified that was ranking on page two. We improved it. We made all of those updates we talked about, and now it’s ranking on page one. So that’s really exciting. We’re seeing a lot of new traffic come from it.I’m wondering, are you seeing new calls, new leads, an uptick in any of those things as a result of that?”

So that’s really good because it shows them what you did, the results from that, and then it kind of connects it to, “Hey, are you seeing any revenue, are you seeing new clients, new customers,” things like that. So they’re more inclined to see that what you’re doing is making a real, tangible impact on actual revenue and their actual business goals.

4. Acknowledge and guide their ideas

This one is really, really important. It can be hard sometimes to marry best practices and customer service. So what I mean by that is there’s one end of the pendulum where you are really focused on best practices. This is right. This is wrong. I know my SEO stuff. So when a client comes to you and they say, “Hey, can we try this?” and you go, “No, that’s not best practices,”it can kind of shut them down. It doesn’t get them involved in the SEO process. In fact, it just kind of makes them recoil and maybe they don’t want to talk to you, and that’s the exact opposite of what we want here. On the other end of that spectrum though, you have clients who say, “Hey, I really want to try this.I saw this article. I’m interested in this thing. Can you do it for my website?”

Maybe it’s not the greatest idea SEO-wise. You’re the SEO expert, and you see that and you go, “Mm, that’s actually kind of scary. I don’t think I want to do that.” But because you’re so focused on pleasing your client, you maybe do it anyway. So that’s the opposite of what we want as well. We want to have a “no, but” mentality. So an example of that could be your client emails in and says, “Hey, I want to try this new thing.”

You go, “Hey, I really like where your head is at. I like that you’re thinking about things this way. I’m so glad you shared this with me. I tried this related thing before, and I think that would be actually a really good idea to employ on your website.” So kind of shifting the conversation, but still bringing them along with you for that journey and guiding them to the correct conclusions. So that’s another way to get them invested without shying them away from the SEO process.


So now that we’ve talked about those tactics, we’re going to move on to the risks. These are things that could happen if you don’t get your clients excited and invested in the SEO journey.

1. SEO becomes a checklist

When you don’t know your client well enough to know what they’re doing in the real world, what they’re all about, the risk becomes you have to kind of just do site health stuff, so fiddling with meta tags, maybe you’re changing some paragraphs around, maybe you’re changing H1s, fixing 404s, things like that, things that are just objectively, “I can make this change, and I know it’s good for site health.”

But it’s not proactive. It’s not actually doing any SEO strategies. It’s just cleanup work. If you just focus on cleanup work, that’s really not an SEO strategy. That’s just making sure your site isn’t broken. As we all know, you need so much more than that to make sure that your client’s site is ranking. So that’s a risk.

If you don’t know your clients, if they’re not talking to you, or they’re not excited about SEO, then really all you’re left to do is fiddle with kind of technical stuff. As good as that can be to do, our jobs are way more fun than that. So communicate with your clients. Get them on board so that you can do proactive stuff and not just fiddling with little stuff.

2. SEO conflicts with business goals

So another risk is that SEO can conflict with business goals.

So say that you’re an SEO. Your client is not talking to you. They’re not really excited about stuff that you’re doing. But you decide to move forward with proactive strategies anyway. So say I’m an SEO, and I identify this keyword. My client has this keyword. This is a related keyword. It can bring in a lot of good traffic. I’ve identified this good opportunity. All of the pages that are ranking on page one, they’re not even that good. I could totally do better. So I’m going to proactively go, I’m going to build this page of content and put it on my client’s site. Then what happens when they see that page of content and they go, “We don’t even do that. We don’t offer that product. We don’t offer that service.”

Oops. So that’s really bad. What can happen is that, yes, you’re being proactive, and that’s great. But if you don’t actually know what your client is doing, because they’re not communicating with you, they’re not really excited, you risk misaligning with their business goals and misrepresenting them. So that’s a definite risk.

3. You miss out on PR opportunities

Another thing, you miss out on PR opportunities. So again, if your client is not talking to you, they’re not excited enough to share what they’re doing in the real world with you, you miss out on news like, “Hey, we’re sponsoring this event,”or, “Hey, I was the featured expert on last night’s news.”

Those are all really, really good things that SEOs look for. We crave that information. We can totally use that to capitalize on it for SEO value. If we’re not getting that from our clients, then we miss out on all those really, really cool PR opportunities. So a definite risk. We want those PR opportunities. We want to be able to use them.

4. Client controls the conversation

Next up, client controls the conversation. That’s a definite risk that can happen. So if a client is not talking to you, a reason could be they don’t really trust you yet. When they don’t trust you, they tend to start to dictate. So maybe our client emails in.

A good example of this is, “Hey, add these 10 backlinks to my website.” Or, “Hey, I need these five pages, and I need them now.” Maybe they’re not even actually bad suggestions. It’s just the fact that the client is asking you to do that. So this is kind of tricky, because you want to communicate with your client. It’s good that they’re emailing in, but they’re the ones at that point that are dictating the strategy. Whereas they should be communicating their vision, so hey, as a business owner, as a website owner, “This is my vision. This is my goal, and this is what I want.”

As the SEO professional, you’re receiving that information and taking it and making it into an SEO strategy that can actually be really, really beneficial for the client. So there’s a huge difference between just being a task monkey and kind of transforming their vision into an SEO strategy that can really, really work for them. So that’s a definite risk that can happen.

Excitement + partnership = better SEO campaigns

There’s a lot of different things that can happen. These are just some examples of tactics that you can use and risks. If you have any examples of things that have worked for you in the past, I would love to hear about them. It’s really good to information share. Success stories where maybe you got your client or your boss really bought into SEO, more so than just, “Hey, I’m spending money on it.”

But, “Hey, I’m your partner in this. I’m your ally, and I’m going to give you all the information because I know that it’s going to be mutually beneficial for us.” So at the end here, excitement, partner, better SEO campaigns. This is going to be I believe a recipe for success to get your clients and your boss on board. Thanks again so much for watching this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and come back next week for another one.

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The Right Questions to Ask When Hiring A SEO Company

Being a full time blogger can be very time consuming, which is why I like to outsource my SEO. This is not always the case, only when I have a full schedule ahead. Over the years, I have learned a lot about outsourcing, and what to look for when choosing the right company to take care of your organic work. These days, with so many updates, Google now targets poor quality links, content, and private blog networks, ultimately banning sites that don’t meet the quality threshold. In short, you have to be very careful when selecting SEO companies in the future, making sure they do a solid job on your blog.

Today, I’d like to go over a few things to look for when hiring an SEO company. I’ll also explore how asking the right questions can help you select a reputable company. I believe with content marketers getting so busy writing in-depth content, it’s hard to find time to build natural links for organic SEO. Please provide your feedback, and input so we can start a debate on this topic.

Let’s jump right in…

  1. What They Provide

Whenever I’m going to hire a company, I skim through their website, looking for special services in what they provide. For example, SEO is more than just building links so it’s important to me to find a company that provides a complete package. What does this mean? For those of you who have never hired an SEO company, it’s important they provide:

Content writing –

Building links has to come from other content so it’s important that they write quality posts to be added to other websites. They must be high quality and relevant because this is important to Google.

Social Media Optimization –

Social media is very important so I want the SEO company to have experience on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. This means being able to use the right #hashtags, post during popular times, have a huge following themselves, etc.

On-Page SEO –

It’s all about relevance so I ensure they know how to tweak my pages to fit specific keywords. The company should skim through, looking for areas for improvement on my website. If they can’t, then they definitely won’t perform off-page…right?

Off-Page SEO –

I would like a breakdown of how their company will build links and at what ratio. Its important links are relevant, but are a variety like URK, EXACT, Phrase, etc.

I can go on about this section, however, let me clarify my point….

Before hiring the SEO company, it’s important that you have a complete breakdown of what they offer in their package.

  1. How Will They Improve Rankings?

I like to get a clear cut explanation about the improvement I can expect to see. It’s important they tell me how they’ll improve my SEO and search rankings. For example,

  • Will I improve page rank?
  • Will I improve domain authority?
  • How long will I see an increase?
  • How long before an increase?

Having answers to these questions is very important because this way, you’ll understand what you’re paying for long-term. It’s very important to ask about links and how the ones they’ve built will improve your rankings over time.

  1. Tracking Results

A solid SEO campaign is nothing without an accurate way to track results. I ask the SEO company upfront how they’ll keep me informed of the changes. I want a clear and accurate way to find changes in SERP rank, content rankings, and domain and page authority. I also want to see how many new links I have pointing to my website, and from what location they are coming from. Next, I’d like to see the work they have performed throughout the month, usually in spreadsheet format.

Two things to keep in mind:

First, never let them track changes internally because they can have a system that is inaccurate. It also gives them control to manipulate the results if they don’t provide what they told you they would. Secondly, it’s important to have control for yourself because if the company you’ve hired doesn’t complete the work, then you’re NOT left hanging, completely lost. In the worst case scenario, you’ll have a complete breakdown, and can continue working if you choose to at a later time. You’ll also have a breakdown to hand over to another company if you’ve hired one instead of continuing on your own.

  1. Look Over Their Portfolio

A reputable SEO company will have a list of clients they’ve worked with in the past, and you can learn a lot the company by viewing their results. You should ask the company if you can contact some of them to find out about the quality of their work. A solid company usually will give you authority to do so because they have nothing to hide except awesome results. For example,

Just like asking an attorney about the cases they’ve won and closed in the past, it’s important to get a good idea of the quality of work performed by the SEO company. As mentioned, I’ve dealt with 4 different companies with all of them being more than happy to share past client information.

  1. Following Google’s Quality Control

Every year, you hear about changes being made to search engines and the algorithm. This means you have to be extra careful when doing organic SEO because what once used to be acceptable may NOT be going forward. If you’re doing the SEO yourself, then you can make tweaks right after researching what changes have been made. However, hiring an SEO company requires a different approach.

First, it’s important to ask them if they follow Google best practices, and how they know what changes have been made. Secondly, it’s important to get a breakdown of the changes so you know they keep up-to-date with the search algorithm. Third, it’s important they have a clear-cut way to ensure the best practices are followed by the entire team. The manager might know about the changes, but they might NOT have a clear way to implement them into their system. I always ask the company how they ensure the right practices are taken throughout their SEO process, and what guarantee they give me if they don’t follow them.

  1. Tool Implementation

These days, it’s NOT uncommon to have SEO companies use tools in their strategy but it’s very important to me that they use the right ones. For example, I don’t want them using tools that automate back-linking or even the content writing because this is NOT following Google’s quality control. To protect myself going forward, I like to get a complete breakdown of the tools they use, and for what. This will allow me to do two things:

First, I can do research on my own understanding of how important the tools are in SEO. It will also give me a chance to determine if the tool should be used or if it’s causing more damage than benefit. Secondly, when I decide to continue the SEO on my own, I’ll know EXACTLY what tools I can rely on going forward to ensure the campaign stays right on track.

Always ask the company for a breakdown of the tools and they should be fully compliant in giving them to you.

  1. The Payment Structure

I’m a true believer that the COST should not be an issue as long as you’re getting quality work done. It’s hard to find good help if you’re NOT willing to pay for it but it’s important that you do understand the payment structure. For example, ask the SEO company the following questions:

  • What do you charge?
  • Is it per month or year?
  • What payment methods do you accept?
  • What is your refund policy?
  • How long does it take to process a refund request?

These are simple, but fundamental questions that should be asked before hiring the company to begin work. It’s hard to determine what a fair price is, however, this comes down to the quality of work and level of package. If, after reviewing previous work, you’re happy with their reputation, then paying more than usual is NOT a bad idea.

From my experience, you can expect to pay on average $1,500-$2,000 for a high quality job.

  1. Contact and Communication

This is something I need to know and the communication MUST be clear and concise from the beginning. Especially when paying for work to be done, it’s important that they are available during the times they tell me. In most cases, communication will be conducted through email, however, local companies will work an on-call basis.

It’s also a good idea to suggest some other communication methods if you feel more comfortable proceeding that way.

  1. Niche Specific Experience

The one thing with SEO is that it can be tailored to all types of niches but it’s still important to find out how much experience they have in your industry. This will help you determine how well they know your industry, and if they know where to focus while progressing.

An easy way to find out about their experience within your niche is to ask about previous clientele or even general questions about your niche. Anyone with experience in every niche should be able to answer questions related to your industry. Even though this doesn’t mean they can’t get the work done, it’s still good to know how much experience they have working within your industry.

  1. Why Should We Hire You?

I left this as the last thing to ask or think about because it’s truly optional but I’ve always asked this question. You’re hiring the company so they should prove to you why they are worth getting your business. This is their time to shine, and tell you about the past and present accomplishments. I like to give the company a chance to go over what they can do for my business that others won’t be able to. This is a good time to see what they can come up with, and pay close attention to red flag answers like:

  • We are cheaper
  • We don’t know
  • Or lengthy delays in answering

It’s a good way to catch them off guard and slip up, which, in the end, gives you a sense of trustworthiness. I guarantee, the way they answer this question will determine if you hire them or NOT.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a few things to keep in mind, I’d like to close with these thoughts…

Even though I’m a true believer that SEO work should be done by you, it’s also a good idea to hire someone if you don’t have the time. Doing it yourself is important because it’s the best way to learn and understand the fundamentals as it applies to organic SEO. However, sometimes, getting others to do the work can be awesome to pick up a few hidden secrets. For example, it was through hiring a company I learned…

  • Do correct on-page SEO
  • Write relevant content
  • Find article websites
  • Build relationships
  • Do strategic social marketing
  • And much more

Keep in mind, you also have the option to do both – work yourself and hire someone to help out. Using this approach will help you get a better grasp when it comes to organic search rankings and optimization. I know hiring someone can be expensive so pay close attention to the price and what you get in your package. The high cost MUST out-weigh the negatives, and you should truly know you’re getting your money’s worth.

In the end, your entire experience should account to results in search engine rankings, authority, profits, and influence.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!//my.leadpages.net/leadbox-781.js

Source: jhonchow

5 Best WordPress Survey Plugins for your Blog

When running a website, it’s important to know what your audience thinks. But how can you do this in a way that’s engaging and interactive?

For WordPress users, the perfect solution is a survey plugin.

Unlike a poll, a survey allows you to answer questions in different formats, such as images and star ratings. It’s a personal way to interact with your audience.

What Are the Benefits of a Survey Plugin?

Surveys are the perfect way to find out what interests your audience. You can use the data from surveys to create content tailored to their specific needs.

A quality survey plugin will be easy to use, provide readily accessible results, and allow you to share and export those results in different formats.

If you’re looking to engage further with your audience, here are the 5 best WordPress survey plugins you can use.

1. WPForms

With an already engaging, popular contact form plugin, WPForms now has a survey and poll add-on provided when you purchase their Pro plan.

It features an easy to use drag and drop form builder, interactive survey reports, and exportable results. Need to print your report to share in person? No problem. The add-on comes with many customizable print styles to choose from so that your reports are pretty to look at while you analyze.

You can answer survey questions using text, images, star ratings, and more. You can also embed your survey anywhere you want in WordPress: post, page, or sidebar widget.

One of its most intriguing features is that you can turn any existing form into a survey at the click of a button, adding to its simplicity.

2. Survey Monkey

Survey Monkey is user-friendly survey plugin with features that include customizable branding, pre-written questions, and 24/7 online or offline accessibility.

The plugin’s dashboard has a friendly user interface and is easy to navigate.

You can ask questions based on categories like demographics, customer feedback, and market research. It also provides survey templates with different questions to choose from.

SurveyMonkey’s paid upgrade allows you to export results in CSV, HTML, and PDF formats. You can also display them as bar graphs, pie charts, and tables, which are all customizable. Share your survey with others via an embed code, direct link, social media, and more.

3. Polldaddy

With the Polldaddy survey plugin, simplicity is key. You get features like a drag and drop question editor, 15 theme options, and 3 pop-up styles.

You can close the survey after a certain date or when a quote is met. Integrate password protection, Captcha protection, or IP restriction to prevent multiple or automated responses.

If you’d like to follow up with survey participants, you can ask them to provide contact information like a name or email. Results can be monitored in real time and responses can be collected through email, social media, or via WordPress.
Polldaddy allows you to export your data in different formats such as PDF or XML and through Google Docs and Excel.

4. Quiz and Survey Master

Simple and easy to use, the free version of Quiz and Survey Master features unlimited surveys and responses, a customizable thank you page, and the ability to email users once the survey is complete.

Answer options include multiple choice, true and false, and number rankings. Results can be sent straight to your email or viewed directly through your WordPress dashboard.

The upgraded version is worth the price if you want to include reporting and analytics, data exportation, and user-friendly survey templates.

5. Surveys by OpinionStage

Created by OpinionStage, this plugin requires you to create an OpinionStage account on their website, which is where you build your survey. If you’re looking for something straight to the point, the free version provides all the basic features you’ll need.

Some features include various survey designs, a WordPress editor button, and an easy-to-use interface. You can display your survey anywhere on your WordPress site.

Customization includes many different color schemes and fonts. You can view your data by the amount of time a visitor has been on the survey, the number of views and leads, and the number of engagements.

Although you need to upgrade to a paid plan to access features such as adding your own logo and advanced customization, the free plan is simple and easy to navigate.

Wrapping Up

Depending on your needs, one of these plugins is guaranteed to aid you in gathering the analytical data and results you’re looking for.

Asking your audience to take part in a survey is a personal, fun, and engaging way of getting to know them better. This will help you in your blogging journey as you tailor the type of content visitors are looking for.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!//my.leadpages.net/leadbox-781.js

Source: jhonchow

How to Improve Your Link Building Outreach Pipeline

Posted by John.Michael123

Link building is probably one of the most challenging pieces of your SEO efforts. Add multiple clients to the mix, and managing the link outreach process gets even tricker. When you’re in the thick of several outreach campaigns, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts and which tactics will bring you the most return on your time and resources.

Three common questions are critical to understand at any point in your link campaign:

  • Do you need more link prospects?
  • Do you need to revise your email templates?
  • Do you need to follow up with prospects?

Without a proven way to analyze these questions, your link building efforts won’t be as efficient as they could be.

We put together a Google Sheets template to help you better manage your link building campaigns. The beauty of this template is that it allows for customization to better fit your workflow. You’ll want to make a copy to get started with your own version.

Our link building workflow

We’ve been able to improve our efficiency via this template by following a simple workflow around acquiring new guest posts on industry-relevant websites. The first step is to actually go out and find prospects that could be potentially interested in a guest blog post. We will then record those opportunities into our template so that we can track our efforts and identify any area that isn’t performing well.

The next step is to make sure to update the status of the prospect when anything changes like sending an outreach email to the prospect or getting a reply from them. It’s critical to keep the spreadsheet as up to date as possible so that we have an accurate picture of our performance.

Once you’ve used this template for enough time and you’ve gathered enough data, you’ll be able to predict how many link prospects you’ll need to find in order to acquire each link based on your own response and conversion rates. This can be useful if you have specific goals around acquiring a certain number of links per month, as you’ll get a better feel for how much prospecting you need to do to meet that link target number.

Using the link outreach template

The main purpose of this template is to give you a systematic way to analyze your outreach process so you can drill down into the biggest opportunities for improvement. There are several key features, starting with the Prospects tab.

The Prospects tab is the only one you will need to manually edit, and it houses all the potential link prospects uncovered in your researched. You’ll want to fill in the cells for your prospect’s website URL;, and you can also add the Domain Authority of the website for outreach prioritization. For the website URL, I typically put in an example of a guest post that was done on that site or just the homepage if I can’t find a better page.

There’s also a corresponding status column, with the following five stages so you can keep track of where each prospect is in the outreach process.

Status 1: Need to Reach Out. Use this for when you initially find a prospect but have not taken any action yet.

Status 2: Email Sent. This is used as soon as you send your first outreach email.

Status 3: Received Response

Status 4: Topic Approved. Select this status after you get a response and your guest post topic has been approved (this may take a few emails). Whenever I see this status, I know to reach out to my content team so they can start writing.

Status 5: Link Acquired. Selecting this status will automatically add the website to your Won Link Opportunities Report.

The final thing to do here is record the date that a particular link was acquired and add the URL where the link resides. Filling in these columns automatically populates the “Won Link Opportunities” report so you can track all of the links you acquire throughout the lifetime of your campaign.

Link building progress reports

This template automatically creates two reports that I share with my clients on a monthly basis. These reports help us dial in our efforts and maximize the performance of our overall link building campaign.

Link Pipeline report

The Link Pipeline report is a snapshot of our overall link outreach campaign. It shows us how many prospects we have in our pipeline and what the conversion/response rates are of each stage of our outreach funnel.

How to analyze the Link Pipeline report

This report allows us to understand where we need to focus our efforts to maximize our campaign’s performance. If there aren’t enough prospects at the top of the funnel, we know that we need to start looking for new link opportunities. If our contact vs. response rate is low, we know we need to test new email copy or email subject lines.

Won Link Opportunities

The Won Link Opportunities report lists out all the websites where a link has been officially landed. This is a great way to keep track of overall progress over time and to gauge performance against your link building goals.

Getting the most out of your link building campaigns

Organization is critical for maximizing your link building efforts and the return on the time you’re spending. By knowing exactly which stage of your link building process is your lowest performing, you can dramatically increase your overall efficiency by targeting those areas that need the most improvement.

Make a copy of the template

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Source: mods2

Your Sales Funnel is a Sieve: Here’s How to Plug the Holes

“They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,    In a Sieve they went to sea: In spite of all their friends could say, On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,    In a Sieve they went to sea! And when the Sieve turned round and round, And every one cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’ They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big, But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!    In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’       Far and few, far and few,          Are the lands where the Jumblies live;       Their
Source: showmoney

6 SEO Myths That Prove We’re All Idiots

Humans will do anything to look smart and competent. Comedians like Jimmy Kimmel feed off of this propensity for hubris. And then we all benefit from it. Try it for yourself sometime. Go up to a random stranger and ask, “Do you think Bill Clinton gets enough credit for ending the Korean War?” (HINT: He wasn’t old enough to be President of the United States during the Korean War.) Ironically, this behavior often exposes our ineptitude. SEOs and bloggers are no different. We want to look like experts so bad we bullshit our way into corners all the time Here
Source: showmoney

Be Creative and Profit From What You Have

Years and years and years ago, far before I had any glimmer of an idea about the possibility of making money online, my dad shared a story with me. I don’t think I was much older than maybe 6 or 7 at the time and I’m not even 100 percent certain the story is even true, but the underlying lesson is something that I’ve really taken to heart… even if it’s not directly applicable to my everyday life now.

The Making of a Businessman

One of the most famous entrepreneurs and “business magnates” that Vancouver has ever produced is Jim Pattison. He was born in Saskatchewan, but he grew up in East Vancouver, just like me and John (though we grew up in different neighborhoods and at different times).

If you’ve ever been to Vancouver, you may have noticed his name plastered all over the city as the owner of the Jim Pattison Group, Canada’s second largest privately held company. It’s got billboards, TV and radio stations, car dealerships, grocery store chains, real estate development, and more. These days, Jim Pattison has an estimated net worth of nearly $7 billion. That’s “billion” with a “B,” making him Canada’s fourth richest person.

He bought his first GM dealership way back in 1961 and has since amassed over 200 companies with diversified investments across multiple countries. “Jimmy” Pattison and his family have done very well for themselves.

A Humble Little Story

For whatever reason, this was one of my dad’s favorite stories. Maybe it’s partly what eventually led him down the path of being a small business owner himself and, by extension, what led me to my freelance writing career today.

So, the story goes that Jimmy Pattison came from a family of rather modest means, so he took it upon himself to make some extra money. As a kid, he’d do things like head out to the local fields and farms to pick berries and fruit during summer, for example. He also took on a newspaper delivery route, among several other gigs and jobs along the way. But he also set out with his own humble small business as a teenager too.

He made the astute observation that buying things in bulk is usually cheaper on a per-unit basis than it is buying smaller amounts. We see this is relatively obvious these days, but not many people actually take entrepreneurial action based on this knowledge. Pattison did. He would buy giant bulk bags of flower seeds and the like, dividing them into much smaller bags that he would then sell door-to-door.

I don’t have the actual numbers, of course, but let’s use today’s dollars to illustrate this using a hypothetical example. Let’s say a massive bag of seed costs $20. From that massive bag, you can make 200 individual portions that you can then sell for $1 each. And let’s say that you can bulk buy 200 little bags for $5. Given this, it means that for a total cost of $25 (the big bag of seed plus the cost of the small bags), you can bring in $200 in revenue, resulting in $175 in net profit. That’s a 700 percent return on investment!

The Real Take Home Lesson

I can never be completely certain why my dad enjoys telling that story so much. Maybe it’s because it’s so inspirational and it shows how a humble kid from East Vancouver can grow up to be a billionaire. Perhaps it’s because Jim Pattison demonstrates that your dreams can become reality if you’re savvy and willing to put in the work.

For me, the biggest lesson here is that you just need to come up with creative ways to work with what you have. As a teenager, there’s no way that Pattison could buy a car dealership. It would be impossible for him to open up any sort of real traditional business, but he saw an opportunity and he was able to capitalize on it. Splitting a big bag of seeds into several smaller bags is hardly a novel idea, but it proved to be profitable and it helped to sow a prosperous path for him to follow.

Oh, I can’t make it big on YouTube. I can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on equipment or hire professionals to produce, direct and edit the videos. But you can start vlogging for $200 or less. So, start there. Just like starting a blog, getting into Internet marketing, publishing an ebook, or whatever other ambitions you may have, use what you have, put your unique spin on it, and go out there to sell some seeds.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!//my.leadpages.net/leadbox-781.js

Source: jhonchow