How To Host A Blog Crawl (spreadsheets! @mentions! organization!)

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If you’re just tuning in, dear reader, this is the last in a three-part series about hosting and coordinating your very own blog crawl. We’ve already covered why you’d want to do such a thing and how to find + woo people to take part in your adventures.

Today? Today, we discussing how one coordinates a jillion contributors, tweets, and guest posts without losing one’s mind. Here are five logistical things to consider while you’re making magic.

1. If your blog crawl is supporting a product launch, make sure your product sales page is live before the blog crawl starts
My blog crawl supported the launch of my Post College Survival Kit ecourse, so my sales page obviously needed to be up and ready when my contributors were posting and linking to me. This also means that I needed a permalink to that page waaaay before things went live. You’ll need to send your contributors a pre-written intro with links (that they can edit) well before the actual blog crawl starts.

Here’s what I sent my contributors:

Here’s an intro for the top of the post:
Notes To My Younger Self is helping spread the word about The Post College Survival Kit. We learned the hard way so you don’t have to! You don’t have to wait till your thirties for a better job, a cuter apartment, financial stability, better relationships + friendships. 

Of course, feel free to edit so it’s in your voice – all that’s really important is that it includes the link ;)

2. Create a big ol’ dorky spreadsheet for yourself
There’s a lot to remember and manage when you’re coordinating a blog crawl with 20+ contributors. I made myself a giant spreadsheet with columns devoted to who I approached, if they responded and how, which week they were scheduled to post, their email/url/twitter handle, and links to their post once it had gone live.

3. Make it easy for your contributors to promote each other’s work
At the end of each week, I’d send my contributors pre-written tweets linking to and promoting each other’s posts. I always made sure to point out that none of this was ‘required’ and they should feel free to write their own tweets and promote each other in a way that felt right. But most of us are busy and if I like you + trust you? I’ll probably be happy to tweet links to the smart, interesting people who are also involved in this project.

4. Ask your contributors to @mention you on social media when their post goes up so you can promote it
It’s hard to get 20 people to email you their blog posts ahead of time. It’s a lot easier to convince them to @mention you when a post goes up.

5. Make an ebook out of the blog crawl posts
Once your blog crawl has wound down, assemble all those amazing posts into a nicely designed ebook and give it to your contributors as a thank you. They can share it with their readers, use it to boost their own newsletter signups (like I did here and here) or just print it out and read it in bed with a glass of wine.

Of course (of course) I made just such a book out of all my contributors’ posts. You can get it (plus three of my most popular little ebooks) when you sign up for the Yes and Yes newsletter. (See what I did there?)

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Whew! Are you completely overwhelmed with information? Convinced that your next launch needs a blog crawl? If you have any blog-crawl related questions burning a hole in your pocket, leave ‘em in the comments!

photo by death to stock photo // cc

Finding The Right People For Your Blog Crawl (and keeping them + your readers happy)

Last week, we solved the mystery of what a blog crawl actually is and why you might want to host one. Today, we’re talking about finding + wooing the right contributors.

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So I’ve sold you on the idea of hosting a blog crawl.
Yes, it’s a bit of an undertaking.
Yes, it’ll increase your readership and traffic by leaps and bounds. And I can tell from all the way over here that you’re not someone who shies away from a little hard work.

The most important ingredient in your blog crawl pizza? All the outrageously awesome contributors, obviously. If no one’s partaking in your blog crawl, it becomes less ‘blog crawl’ more ‘me hopping in one place while my quads start to cramp.’  So let’s talk about how to find the right people for your blog crawl and  keeping them (and your readers) happy.

1. Approach people with whom you already have a relationship
This isn’t the time to email a huge blogger you’ve never talked to before. This is when you email that internet friend you’ve partnered with three other times. Or your designer. Or your client. Or your once-monthly coffee partner. When you’re putting together a blog crawl, you’re simultaneously asking people for a pretty significant favor and introducing them (with your endorsement) to your readers. You don’t want to take a chance on someone who will flake out or write something so deeply unlike you that your readers will question your judgement.

If you’re not sure how to go about befriending people on the internet, here’s a good start.

2. If you’re launching a product, partner with people whose audience would benefit from your product
If you’re blog crawling in promotion of a product launch, you (obviously) want to partner with people whose readership might like said product. My blog crawl was in promotion of The Post College Survival Kit, an ecourse designed to help 20-somethings navigate career, finances, dating, and domestic life after college.  So I left my fashion and food blogger friends out of it.

Before you invite someone to take part in your blog crawl consider their readership’s age, income, interests, and needs. If it doesn’t seem like a match for your product, keep moving.

3. Approach people who have a similarly-sized readership
As previously noted, this isn’t the time to email Jenna Marbles. Huge bloggers are less likely to partake in blog crawls and if you’ve got 6,000 Twitter followers (like me), someone with 38,000 followers isn’t really going to see a huge increase in traffic.

Reach out to people you know to have a readership that’s similar in size to yours. You can also use your blog crawl as an opportunity to point the internet in the direction of small, amazing, unsung bloggers. If you like someone and you know your readers will too, invite them. Period.

4. Make sure your contributors benefit from the blog crawl
Let’s make sure our blog crawls aren’t the internet equivalent of the friend who only calls when she needs a ride.  You can make your blog crawl extra beneficial to your contributors by tweeting each of their posts, sharing their posts in your newsletter, or aggregating their posts into one that you share on your own blog (like I did here).

5. Don’t ask your contributors to stick to a script
If you liked these bloggers enough to ask them to contribute to your crawl, surely you trust them to write their own stuff, yes? If you give them a pre-written intro, encourage them to edit it to fit their own voice. Don’t ‘require’ them to post a ‘badge’ or use graphics that don’t match their branding. Give them a loose outline of what you’re looking for in post (“300-500 words + helpful”) and let them create something that works for them + their readers.

6. Chose the right post topic
This, my friends, is the million dollar baby. When you’re asking your friends to write something for your blog crawl, consider topics that
a) compliments the subject of your blog or the product you’re launching
b) would be interesting/helpful to anyone who reads it – regardless of whose blog they usually read or if they’re the target market for your new product
c) is customizable to match your contributor’s voice/area of expertise

I chose ‘Notes To My Younger Self‘ because it’s something evvvvveryone can relate to and all my contributors could put their own spin on it. Rebecca McLoughlin put an interior decor spin on itBraid Creative put a business spin on it.

Next week, I’m talking about the logistics + nitty gritty of running your blog crawl. Pre-scheduled emails! Spreadsheets! Auto responders!  If you don’t want to miss it, sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send it right to your inbox.

photo via death to stock photo // cc

What the eff is a blog crawl? And should you host one? (Only if you want more traffic + sales + subscribers)

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The first time someone asked me to be part of a blog crawl, my response was probably:
a) That sounds like a lot of work/vaguely annoying.
b) With a name like that, it can’t be good. Pleeeeezzze. My blog can hop, skip, and drop it like it’s hot. We do not ‘crawl’ in this house.

And then I got the eff over myself, took part in Molly Mahar’s ABCs of Self-Love blog crawl, gained heaps of new readers + boosted my mailing list by a bajillion. Which is how, dear readers, I discovered what a blog crawl was.

Merriam Webster style:
Blog crawl (n) 
A tool used to drive traffic from on blog to another. Contributors post on a specific topic, each linking back to a main page and also to each other. Online traffic flows between the main, host site to contributors and from contributor to contributor through blog posts and social media promotion.

If you’ve been following along on Yes and Yes as I’ve launched by latest ecourse The Post College Survival Kit, you’ve probably seen the blog crawl in action.

Is hosting a blog crawl a lot of work? Yes.
Will it pay off? Like, a lot? Also yes.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, here are four reasons you should consider putting together a blog crawl. 

1. It’ll bring you (and your contributors) lots of traffic
This only makes sense, right? When coordinated correctly, everyone involved in the blog crawl promotes each other’s work. That means heaps of talented, lovely people with clever, engaged followers linking to your stuff. Between everyone who took part in my blog crawl, we had a combined Twitter reach of 100,000+! So many exclamation points!

2. It’ll introduce your readers to other awesome people they should know about
When you (carefully, strategically, lovingly) chose the right contributors, you’ll be introducing your readers to hidden gems and new RSS feed favorites. Do you know a new or underappreciated blogger who writes about stuff your readers would love? Are you on a one-person mission to tell everyone about That One Blog? Well, you should obviously invite that blogger to take part.

I can’t speak for the rest of the internet, but I struggle to find blogs I really like and when I do find one? I’m going to read the archives till my eyeballs fall out and send the links to my friends. Really, a blog crawl is just a slightly more civilized version of that. It’s a win/win for everyone involved!

3. It’ll strengthen your relationship with your contributors
I’m a big fan of good karma and spreading good will + traffic all around the internet (one of the reasons behind my most popular weekly post). I will so, so happily lend a hand to any of my contributors. Need another pair of eyes to check out that new ebook? Sure! Just want to commiserate about writer’s block or snarky, anonymous comments? I’m there. And if I’ve got a client who needs what my contributors are selling – I’ll be sure to pass ‘em along.

When you work on a project with anyone, you get to know them a little better and strengthen your friendships. And friendships are what make the world – online and off – go ’round. 

4. If you’re using a blog crawl to launch a product, it’ll increase your sales like whooooaaa
The most obvious benefit to blog crawling? You’ll bring in heaps more traffic, which will bring in heaps more sales. Instead of overwhelming my 6,000 Twitter followers with a million tweets about my product, my friends and contributors built up the buzz between their 100,000 followers. 8,700 + (!!!) people downloaded the free, 27-page sample of The Post College Survival Kit.  I gained 5-15 new Twitter followers every day of the blog crawl and I introduced contributors to my own 11,000+ readers and 4,000+ newsletter subscribers.

More importantly, my readers enjoyed the posts and other bloggers started writing their own ‘Notes To My Younger Self’ posts!

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notes4

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Over the next two weeks I’ll be sharing all the behind the scenes, how-tos, and ‘best practices’ of creating and managing your own blog crawl. If you want to make sure you don’t miss out, sign up for my newsletter and I’ll drop all the goodies right into your inbox.

Have you ever been part of a blog crawl? Or hosted one? What worked? What didn’t?

P.S. Why having a personality on the internet is good for business + How to befriend bloggers

How To Get Booked Out 6 Months Into The Future

Halley Gray is marketing strategist over at Evolve & Succeed. She focuses on getting creative freelancers booked out in advance (plus booming in business). She does this by using a specific combination of science experiments, content strategies and sales techniques. Read more about how getting booked out makes your life more fun.

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Even Batman PJs can’t keep away the crushing fear of debt and unpaid bills.

I tried.

As snazzy as I may have looked, my life was unbearably hard and I was hustling fiercely for very little money.

Once I turned that around (and am now booked out for six months) I was elated. Life was like a great massage, lotto win and high-five rolled into one.

I make custom strategies for my clients (which gets them booked out from 1-8 months over and over again) but there’s definitely a pattern that you can follow too.

So let’s skip the suffering for you and fast-forward to the exhilaration of being booked out in advance.

I’m assuming the following:
* You know what you wanna do (and it’s one thing.) You’re not changing from copywriter to designer to consultant every week.
* You have a pretty and functional website.
* You have worked with clients.
* You want online clients.

Yes? Entre vous!

1. Most people forget that what sells is a human connection. Not direct pitching. Leave out the  “Buy my package because it’s the best!” line but focus instead on “Hey, how’s your website coming along?”

Takeaway: Go find places where people are being people online. FB groups, Google + Communities, Twitter and start talking to them and getting to know them. Extra points if you can find people you really like and want to work with.

2. Instead of talking about what you’re selling, use your blog posts to sell. Answer questions that people have around the product/service, or possible obstacles they have from buying, or your best tips to help them take their first step in the right direction.

Takeaway: Every time you write a post make it valuable to your reader. Don’t withhold information in the hopes that they’ll buy from you that’ll only spook them. Have one crucial nugget (at least) to help them work towards the goal your launch is selling.

3. The crucial factor to anything selling well is the sales page. Have you checked it? Updated it? The sales page is a living organism.

Takeaway: Not sure how to improve your sales page? Ask people you’d like to work with what’s missing and for feedback. That also can result in sales.

4. Set the bar. Figure out how many clients you actually need to get booked out.

Takeaway: Once you have a number making a goal is that much easier. Plus it helps to remind people that you’re in demand and the number of people you can serve is limited. Limited availability whips desire up.

5. Show results. It’s important that you show people behind the curtain. Are your clients getting the results you’re promising? Make sure to also talk about how you’re getting clients and that spots are going. No one knows if you’re getting hired but once they hear that you are? BAM! More clients come walking thru the door.

Takeaway: Tweet it out. Facebook it. Don’t keep your awesome results quiet. People need to hear about that to gain confidence to hire you.

6. Guest post. It might seem like a lot of work but being featured on a peer’s blog? Priceless. It keeps new traffic flowing in and allows you to be the popular kid online.

Takeaway: Invest the time into guest posts. You need new blood coming to your website to keep it healthy.

FAST FOOD STYLE: If you only do one of these do #4. People have been telling me that by having a number to focus on they have been able to get booked out faster and feel less stressed.

How far in advance do you want to be booked out and why?

The One Thing I Should Have Been Doing To My Blog Photos All Along

Doing this will make your photos a million times more pinable!

Because I don’t really use Pinterest (except to make snarky joke boards about over-priced designer clothing) I’ve never paid much attention to the image-based marketing juggernaut. I put 90% of my social media efforts into Twitter and a lot of the things I publish aren’t particularly Pinterest-friendly. I mean, who’s going to pin an interview with a former stripper? Or a list of things that are annoying unless you’re the one doing them?

But I created several of my post series with the express purpose of publishing more Pinterest-worthy content. Pinterest loves fashion (like my Real Life Style Icon series) and food ( like Read // Eat and Kitchen Globetrotter) and pretty, travel-y stuff (Like the Mini Travel Guides).  And then I proceeded to learn nothing about Pinterest.

It’s time for you to learn from my mistakes, friends. Let’s talk about editing the title text of your photos.

Here’s the deal.
When someone hovers over a photo on your blog and clicks that ‘Pin it!’ badge, the description box on Pinterest will auto fill based on the information you’ve provided. Of course, people can edit that info into something clever and helpful, but most of us are lazy and will just click ‘post.’

Which means if you didn’t fill in the title text on your image, someone just pinned a boring, poorly described image from your blog and not many people will feel moved to re-pin.

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And here’s the great part: it’s insaaaanely easy to edit the title text on your photos.

Here’s how to edit these in Blogger:

1. Upload a pretty, Pinterest worthy photo (Here’s how to make images more Pinterest-friendly.)
2. Make sure you’ve saved the photo with an obvious, Google-friendly name. “Girl holding cheese” not “79340_hyl.jpg”
3. Right click on the photo, then click on ‘properties’

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4. In the ‘title text’ box write something engaging and descriptive that would look good under a pin.
5. In the ‘alt text’ box describe the photo, again using obvious, Google-able terms. The alt text is helpful to assistive screen readers. 

changing-title-text-in-blogger

You can edit your title text in WordPress by editing the ‘Image Title Attribute’ under ‘Advanced Options.’

That’s it! Now people are about a million times* more likely to repin that content you worked so hard to create. 

Now excuse me please, I’ve got to go back and edit every post ever.
(Just kidding!)
(mostly.)

What belated blogging epiphanies have you had? Share ‘em in the comments!
*approximate estimation.

P.S. How to get more blog advertisers + keep ‘em happy once you’ve got them and How to make your blog look professional without going broke.

How to deal when people unsubscribe/unfollow/troll your blog

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A few months ago I discovered ads.twitter.com.

In one handy dandy space you can see how all your tweets are faring.
Which ones are the most popular (this one was retweeted 13 times and favorited 9 times)
How many clicks they get (this one only got six)
And, rather horrifyingly, how many people unfollow you.

In case you were wondering, that’s the sound of me developing a complex about the 96 people who have unfollowed me over the last three months. Sure, 467 new people followed me BUT WHY DO THOSE 96 PEOPLE HATE ME? Do they really think tweets about about cranberry moonshine are that offensive?

Ultimately, sharing your life and insights on the internet is going to lead to a good dose of rejection. People will unfollow and unsubscribe. You’ll probably get troll-y comments and you might even get written up on that One Website That Shall Not Be Named where strangers will call you a ‘forever teenager.’

I’ve spent the last six years attempting to develop a (slightly) thicker skin when it comes to internet rejection. Here are five things I’ve been doing to help combat the inevitable crisis of self-esteem that comes with unfollows. 

Know that it’s an unavoidable professional hazard
If you’re a carpenter, you go into your career knowing that at some point, you’re probably going to pinch a finger in something. If you’re a chef, you realize you’ll work nights and weekends. If you’re a social worker, you know you’ll have a engage in a lot of self-care and maybe therapy to counteract the emotionally challenging aspects of your job.

Internetting isn’t any different.

If you’re online, people will leave less-than-lovely comments on your blog. You’ll get lots of ‘Dear Blogger’ emails from P.R. companies. People will unfollow you on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and unsubscribe from your mailing list. You’ll get spammy comments. There are lots of wonderful things that will happen too, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into when you start putting your thoughts online.

Realize that in order to be successful, you’ll probably have to do things that annoy (some) people
I spent a long time approaching sales with a “Hey, I made this thing and it’s over here if you want it and this is the only time we’ll ever talk about it” mentality. Not surprisingly, this lead to very few sales.

It’s totally, 100% possible to promote yourself in non-gross ways. However. You will have to write a sales page. You really should gather testimonials. And you’re going to have to promote your services on social media – multiple times. You’re doing a disservice to yourself and the awesome products you create if you don’t.

I (somewhat controversially) tweet about each of my blog posts three times and I know there are people who think that’s overkill and have unfollowed me because I do that. I tweeted about this post at 8:05 pm (20 clicks), 1:05 pm (36 clicks), and 9:19 am (24 clicks). I’d have missed out on 50 clicks if I’d only tweeted once! It’s a post I’m particularly proud of and I’m glad I gave more people a chance to see it.

Notice when YOU’RE unsubscribing and take note of your feelings
I subscribe to verrrry few newsletters (one that I always open? Paul Jarvis’s).  I’ve joined several and then unsubscribed. When I do that it’s never with a ‘You are useless human and I hate having you in my inbox!’ thought process. It’s usually more of a ‘Ahhh! I feel overwhelmed by my inbox and this is how I’m dealing with it!’ thought process.

I’ll unfollow people on Twitter when their stream is a series of complaints about local bars or they’re just bantering back and forth with their friends. Complaining about the quality of a martini or sharing inside jokes doesn’t make you a bad person by any stretch of the imagination. I just don’t need to follow that.  I try to imagine a similar mindset when people unfollow me. They don’t hate me, they just don’t need to see photos of my cute new shoes.

Separate the constructive criticism from the trolls
When my ’31 Things I’ve Learned in 31 Years‘ post went viral, a lot of strangers happened upon my blog and some of them felt moved to leave unpleasant comments. One told me I wrote like a 14-year old. Another told me that I looked like I was 37. While these comments are deeeeeply annoying
a) they’re not true
b) I don’t know these people – why should I care what they think?

When I mentioned in  a blog post that I’d dressed a Dios de los Muertos girl for Halloween, a reader (articulately, kindly) pointed out that dressing up in the theme of another culture’s religious holiday maybe wasn’t in the best taste, I listened, agreed, and thanked her for her input.

Sometimes you’ll get trolls, sometimes you’ll get thoughtful input from people who know you can do better. It’s important to be able to separate the two.

Keep a ‘smile file
Are you dying from how cheesy that name is? I don’t care, it totally works. Whenever a reader emails me to tell me a specific post really resonated with them or that the Network of Nice helped them meet their new best friend, it goes in the email folder labeled ‘smile file’. When an advertiser tells me their traffic increased by 1200% or sells out a workshop – into the ‘smile file’ it goes.

As humans, we all suffer from negativity bias - the tendency to recall more negative memories than positive ones. With that in mind, I’ve been building up a bunker of kind, supportive emails to help me get through the inevitable unfollows and trolls.

How do you deal with unfollows, unsubscribes, and snarky comments? Share your tips – I’m sure we’d all benefit!

P.S. Why having a personality on the internet will help your business

photo by Holly Victoria Norval // cc

3 Ways to Make Your Images Waaaay More Pinterest-Friendly

Meg Sylvia’s passion is helping bloggers & entrepreneurs self-publish eBooks by providing intuitive planning, contemporary design, and strategic marketing. Interested in growing your business by launching your own e-product? Click here to see how she can help you turn your idea into reality! Follow along on Facebook or Twitter.

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We’ve all heard that Pinterest can be used for increasing traffic to our blogs, but how many of us take the time to create images that are actually Pin-worthy?

Is it worth your time to put in the extra effort, especially if you’re not exactly comfortable with photo editing?

Not only can these photos be used to gain Pinterest traffic, but they can also be used across your other social media channels to increase click-through rates and build a sense of creative consistency across your brand. So, yes! It can definitely be worth the time. Let’s take a look at how simple this can be, and a few of my favorite ways to create images for your blog that are ideal for Pinterest sharing.

First, you have a few options for simple photo editing:

Photoshop.  
The most useful and commonly used photo editing software. If you don’t already have Photoshop, you can purchase it for $10 / month from Adobe.
Outsource.
If you have no desire to design images, outsource! Sites like elance.com and odesk.com offer a multitude of great designers willing to do one-off or contract projects for a fair price.
Free Software.
If you’re interested in creating your own images but don’t want to invest in expensive software, go for free. One of my favorites is called Pixlr.com – essentially a free and intuitive version of Photoshop.

Choose images that are high quality and Pinterest friendly
Vertical images take up more space on the Pinterest feed and since they stand out better than small horizontal images, they tend to gain more Pins. So, our first goal when searching for photos is to choose images that are vertically oriented. Remember however, that you can often crop a horizontal image into a vertical image.

Our next goal is to look for quality photos. I could discover the most helpful and informative blog post on the Internet, but if the image is poor quality, I simply refuse to Pin it. Pinterest snob Maybe, but Pinterest is literally based on interesting images, and images that aren’t visually appealing aren’t going to make the cut!

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(This image is a great example of Pinterest-friendly. Bright, clear photo: check. Vertical formatting: check. Bold, eye-catching, relevant text: check!)

Where can you find these beautiful images? Here’s the resources I use to find high-quality free images:

500px.com (My absolute favorite resource. You’ll want to look under Attribution 3.0 and Share Alike – you can use these as you please for free, as long as you credit back to the artist.)
FreeImages.com 
Morguefile.com
Flickr Creative Commons search
Use your own quality photos!

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2. Create a template to save time and ensure brand consistency
On my blog, I use the same format for all of my long-form articles images, and another template for my series articles. Not only does this make it much quicker for me to create images (I don’t have to think about what fonts to use, how to arrange the text, etc. each time I create a blog post), it creates uniformity that helps trigger my brand in readers’ minds when they see it across a variety of social channels.

Creating a template will be easiest if you are using Photoshop. In order to create the template:

Create a new document at 72 resolution, somewhere around 600px wide by 800px tall.
Place a sample image into the document.
Play around with fonts and layers until you have a setup you like. (I’d suggest carrying fonts and colors from your website branding into the template!)
Save this as a .PSD file, and when you want to create a new image, simply replace the image layer and type the new headline in the text layer.

3. Get creative with conveying a blog post as a graphic

Another way you can create images for high-sharing on Pinterest is to create an infographic or oversized visual of your blog post. These certainly require a bit of graphic design skill and time investment (or a small monetary investment, if you’re going to outsource it,) but these types of images are very popular across Pinterest boards. You don’t need to create brand-new content in order to make these – simply take the content from your blog post and shorten it down into key points.

Some examples of high quality, highly-shared graphics:

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Pinterest can be a useful tool for increasing traffic to your site if you put aside a few extra minutes to create a beautiful image to compliment each of your blog posts.

Your turn! What factors makes you want to Pin an image that others can apply to improve their blogging images?

P.S. Why having a disjointed social media presence is hurting your business and How to be amazing at social media without letting it consume your life.

8 links for bloggers + small businesses that are helpful like WHOA

Advice-for-bloggers

There are so many smart, helpful people writing smart helpful things on the internet! I rounded up some particularly amazing things for you.

Wait, what? Did you know you can track which of your posts get pinned? And how frequently? And by whom?

Co-signed. Stop using Twitter as a Facebook feed. It looks laaaaazy.

Gosh, but I love transparency. Pinch of Yum is a super successful food blogger and each month she and her husband assemble (and publish!) a traffic and income report. Just reading this made me consider several new income streams! Because if she’s making $23,000+ a month it seems like she knows what she’s doing.

More transparency: the reality of many sponsored posts.

5 tips you’d never think of for personalizing stock photos in social media.

More things I didn’t know about! 12 blogger outreach programs you should sign up for – especially if you’re a fashion, design, or food blogger!

In case you need to be reminded how to run a smart, engaging social media campaign.

If you’re a copywriter (or a writer of any sort) you’ll enjoy these 12 writing exercises that will transform your copy.

Have you read/learned/encountered/written anything good lately? Leave links in the comments!

P.S. Work happiness secret: track your efforts, not your accomplishments and 5 ideas for interesting, I-actually-want-to-click-that tweets.

photo by aleksi tappura // cc

8 Things You Can (and Should!) Do When Business Is Slow

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It happens to the best of us. Things are rolling along nicely – new clients! big meetings! money dripping into your account at a sweet and steady pace!  And then allofasudden, nothing but the sound of wind down a long hallway and an owl in the distance. Whoooooo! Whooooo!  Whoooooo are you going to live with when business dries up? 

For the first few days, you treasure the empty inbox. You go to matinees, grab long lunches with friends, and catch up on your Netflix.

But after a few weeks, you start getting a little nervous. Nervous and twitchy and compulsively checking your bank account balance – as though seeing that number is going to help at all.

Dude. Worry not. All of us – every single self-employed human – has gone through dry spells. At the risk of being a total Pollyanna, let’s try to reframe this downtime as an opportunity to get some awesome stuff done.

Here are eight confidence-building, business-netting things you can (and should!) do when business is slow. 

Update your permanent pages
Despite my years as a professional copywriter, I had the same About page for, oh, ever. And my old sales pages? Well, they’re gone now AND THAT IS NOT AN ACCIDENT. I regularly look through and update older, high traffic posts but it’s rare that I look at my own permanent pages – and I bet you’re the same. Seems a bit narcissist to read your own bio on the regs, right?

But other people are constantly reading your About page and Sales pages – my Yes and Yes About page has 50,000+ views! Here’s a 15-part tutorial to help you write better sales pages and here’s a post full of great ‘cheats’ to finish your About page.

Also – you know your About page should end with a call to action, right? Like, you (charmingly) ask them to follow you on social media and/or subscribe to your list? Yeah, I thought you already knew that.

Update and gather testimonials
In a perfect world, you’d have an automated system in place to help you gather testimonials a week or so after you’ve wrapped up with a client. I’m still working out the kinks in mine, but thus far it consists of an email that I schedule for two weeks after we’re finished with a link that takes them to a Google form. The form elicits all sorts of feedback and they let me know if I can use that feedback on my testimonial page.

Not sure what makes a good testimonial?
1. Data! How many more sales? How many more Twitter followers? How many dates? How much money or time saved? We want hard numbers, son.
2. Barriers to purchase that were overcome. “I always thought life coaches were for hippies, but then I hired Nancy.” “$1,500 seemed like a lot of money to invest in my engagement photos, but it was sooooo worth it.”

Contact previous clients and see if they need anything
It’s a million times easier to get repeat business than convert a new customer. Go have a good online stalk of all your previous clients and see if there’s anything you can help with. They’ve been tweeting about a big new project – do they need your help designing the website? She tweeted that they’re expecting a baby – do they need pregnancy photos? Send a sweet, personalized email reaching out and offering to help.

Optimize some of your older, high-traffic posts and re-promote them
Make the post images Pinterest-friendly! Make the posts more readable! Include links to other posts within this post! See if you can use them as guest posts on other sites!

Then re-promote these newly awesome-i-fied posts on your social media channels. Eassssy.

Pitch guest posts or offer yourself up for interviews
When I offered myself up for interviews, I got about 15 takers (!) over a month and a half. That means that heaps of new readers and potential clients heard and read all about me. Nice, right? You can do the same. Find podcasts that regularly feature people in your field and pitch yourself!

You’d also do well to bookmark sites that feature guest posters in your field. Some particularly great ones: Freelancers Union, Oh My Handmade, and  Designsponge’s Biz Ladies column.

Create a different form of your offerings
Can you turn a one-on-one offering into a group offering? Could you turn an e-course into a live workshop? Could you repurpose an old, no-longer-selling-that-well ebook into a series of blog posts? Or guest posts? There are innumerable ways to reinvent your wheel.

Learn that thing you know you should be learning (but have been putting off)
Like, A/B split testing. Or Google Analytics. Or starting a newsletter. Or making videos. Or creating a series of autoresponders.  You knooooow you should be doing these things (and by ‘you’ I also mean ‘me’). Let’s make a pact to finally figure them out. Ready? Go.

Schedule out a bunch of social media updates
I’m a huge fan of promoting other people’s work and I think it’s been a big part of my ‘online success,’ as counterintuitive as that may seem.  I squirrel away great posts and links that I find all over the internet and then schedule out daily ‘Fave Read of The Day’ tweets. (Are we Twitter friends? We should be.)  These pre-scheduled tweets send traffic to lovely people, entertain my Twitter friends, and help me connect with the people I’m promoting.

You can also pre schedule tweets that promote your products and services or link to older, now-optimized posts.

What do you do when business is slow? Leave your tips in the comments!

P.S. If you liked this and don’t want to miss future posts (and you want two free ebooks that’ll help your business), may I be so bold as to suggest that you sign up for my newsletter?

photo by scott robinson // cc

I Made Something New! (Other people liked it. You might, too?)

secret weapon

One of the ‘Executive Decisions’ I made when I started working for myself was that I wanted to keep my clients close and my work personal.

I have absolutely nothing against bloggers who run workshops/mastermind groups/group course but that’s not really my style. My own blog is a bit not-by-the-books (even if there’s a lot of strategy behind it) and when I’ve taken group courses, so much of the advice I received was one-size-fits-all-blogs.

While I appreciate your advice, Other Professional Blogger, I don’t do makeup tutorials so no, I shouldn’t pitch Benefit.
And no, I don’t want to do sponsored Twitter parties.
And no, I don’t want to go to an all-inclusive resort in exchange for 57 hashtagged tweets.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things (they’re all money-makers!) they’re just very much not for me.

But one-on-one consulting is speeeeeendy. If someone knows what they’re doing, their hourly consulting rate usuallystarts at $200. And ad space on high-traffic blogs can start at $900!

I wanted to create something for micro-businesses, bloggers, or shoe-string-budget sites that would pair customized, just-for-you suggestions and strategy with ad space on Yes and Yes at a rate they could actually afford. 

Enter: Secret Weapon.
Price: $250.

Secret Weapon is a built-just-for-you checklist of 15-20 suggestions for your online space paired with traffic-rocketing ad space.

Depending on your goals + products, we can get you
* more sales + better conversions
* readers that stick around
* heaps more newsletter signups
* a bigger, more engaged social media following
* guest posts on big, high-traffic websites
* more retweets, pins, likes

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“I’ve only been had time to implement half of the suggestions Sarah gave me. But with just two months and seven changes, I’ve seen a marked increase in comments (three times as many as this time last year), 140+ new Twitter followers, 460+ new Pinterest followers, and readers are spending 52% more time on my site. My Domain Authority increased from 23 to 27, which from an SEO perspective, is amazing! Her suggestions with a good mix of quick fixes and more long-term enhancements that I know will lead to big things. Sarah gives you a phenomenal amount of insight and traffic for your marketing dollar.”
Erika Sevigny, All Things E

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Interested? Here are the details:

  • Click that ‘Book Now’ to let me know you’re ready for your Secret Weapon
  • Fill in this handy, dandy form with your  URLs, traffic stats, and business goals so I can properly stalk you
  • Within 2 business days, I’ll send you a packet with 15-20 specific-to-you suggestions
  • You spend the next 30(ish) days taking some (or all!) of that advice and polishing your online life till it shines
  • At the beginning of the next month, your 220×100 ad goes into the Yes and Yes sidebar and your images, products, and social media links are included in a sponsor post seen by all of my readers (even the ones reading in RSS feeds)
  • You bask in the glory of new clients, more traffic, and an online space you’re proud of


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“Secret Weapon helped me gain so many Instagram and Pinterest followers! I can pinpoint the sharp increase in Instagram and Pinterest followers to the day I started using Sarah’s suggestions on my blog. I went from gaining a few new followers per week to a couple dozen. And the ad space was great! My data-loving jaw dropped when I looked at site statistics for readers from Yes & Yes: the average (lovely) visitor from Y&Y stayed on my site for 3:22 minutes compared to an average 1:22, the bounce rate was 44% compared to the average 78%, and Y&Y was my second largest traffic source for the month.  Alicia Johnston, Jaybird


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I really hope you’ll let me immerse myself in your online space, help you perfect it, and then introduce you to my readers. I just know that Secret Weapon will totally change your online life!

P.S. If you’re looking for your weekly dose of small business and blogging advice, check out my guest post post Coaching Blueprint about how to create a sane, sustainable editorial calendar!