Bloggers, content creators, marketers, copywriters, business owners, all have something in common: They aspire and strive to create valuable content for their audience.
It’s quality content that will bring your customers closer to you and thus closer to the product or service you’re selling.
But while the every day battle for new ideas rages on, you might find yourself in a routine, a “machined” protocol you follow in order to come up with new content.
Maybe you scan every day your sources for new material that will grant you new ideas, slowly entering a “creative routine” as I’d like to call it.
A creative routine is what we content creators easily fall into if we don’t pay the necessary attention when it comes to the content output process.
When you do the same thing over and over every day it’s unavoidable that your cognitive actions will go on some kind of auto pilot. It’s our brain’s mechanism: it identifies certain actions that we repeat as routine and puts them aside so that you can focus on more important tasks and don’t get exhausted by those less significant actions.
A routine, as Meg Selig of Psychology Today writes, is nothing more than a “series of habits.” We follow them with intentions of making our lives easier, but rarely ever stop to think about how limiting they might be.
Then again, that’s sort of the underlying convenience of routines in general. They allow you to get sh*t done without thinking, simply out of habit. According to Selig, routines allow you to “go on autopilot and still accomplish your goals.”
That’s great and it generally works wonders for our thought processes, but in this specific case guess which actions are labeled as repeated, boring routine actions that need less attention? – The creative process of thinking and creating new content for our businesses!
The most creative, artsy, and free part of our work becomes a repeated marginalized action by the brain itself.
A widely acceptable rule of the online marketing world is: “Be Consistent”: make sure that you stick to your set schedule of content output and no matter what do not break it.
I agree, but what happens when you genuinely don’t have something valuable to say? something interesting to contribute to your selected niche?
The “Be Consistent” tip, while it is considered the golden rule of the online presence, it can drive us into the “Creative Routine”.
Well, at that times I would suggest to take a step back and reconsider your material and your strategy.
A new piece of content which adds nothing of value and it is written only because there is a schedule to be followed, in the best case it will do nothing for your brand and in the worse case it can function in a negative way, turning people away from your business.
You have to avoid falling into this routine by proper preparation. You should work preemptively and always have content and sources ready for your next articles(s).
Check this article which features techniques on how to consistently come up with new content ideas and create a stack of ready-to-go content.
But that alone isn’t enough; after every article you write and the moment before publishing it ask yourself these four short questions:
#1 What is it about?
You wrote an article, that’s great, but what is it about? After reading it, is the reader able to easily pinpoint what it concerns, what issues it raises?
Is the title descriptive of the rest of the content? Avoid misleading titles that have little to do with the actual body of the article.
When your readers finish the article, they need to be sure about what they read. If you leave them with a feeling of uncertainty they will be uncertain of you and your business as well.
So, be specific, don’t mislead and avoid fluffy generalizations.
#2 Who is behind the article?
This might seem obvious, your readers know who you are, but what is your role for this specific article? Not all posts are the same. Maybe you are writing something from the point of view of the expert, the authority in your field providing valuable insight information.
Maybe you are writing a case study and trying to comment and criticize real life examples. Maybe your post is satirical from a relaxed pov and you want to comment on an ongoing situation. Maybe you are writing fiction and so on.
State specific what your role is for every post or at least make it clear through the writing: who you are in relation to what you write.
#3 Who is it for?
As you know you have to be specific when writing about a subject and being specific means that your post wont be for everyone.
You have to appeal to a certain group of people that share something in common, whether that’s a problem, an issue, or an interest. As your brand’s ambassador and community link, you know your audience better than anyone.
Throughout your writing never forget to whom you are appealing to.
#4 Does it add anything of value to the reader?
This is the most important question. You did the research, you wrote the article and it is ready to go out in the world and be read, shared and commented on.
Person starts reading the article, spends X amount of time, person finishes reading your article.
Is the X time spent reading it worth it?
What will people win in value if they spend time reading your post? Are you offering something genuinely useful? Something that solves a problem your audience is facing? Something that is interesting to the people who read it?
You don’t want your articles to be considered a waste of time.
How has your content changed the person engaging with it? How has your content attributes to the solution of a problem?
So, before publishing any new article make sure that you can answer these four questions with confidence. If you find yourself unable or uncertain about any or all the questions, it’s time to go back and rework your post.
Landing pages are extremely important whether you want to promote a new app you are developing, or growing the brand reach of your business.
It’s one of the most effective tools of the modern online marketer and it works, but in order for it to work you need to put a lot of effort and time designing it and constantly re-optimizing it for optimal results.
We could say that a landing page is like living a organism, even though it’s a “static” page typically, ironically it’s the one part of your website that shouldn’t be “static”.
It’s the one part that gets (or at least should get) the most interaction with your audience and convince them that what you are promoting is valuable for them and they need it.
As you know, I love lurking around Reddit and finding valuable case studies, since nothing beats real life examples.
This time I found probably the best case study when it comes to landing page conversion optimization.
Ethan, the co-founder and designer of the upcoming startup Plotguru was kind enough to take the time and write his own experience managing to increase his landing page conversion rate from 9% to 52% (!)
Just, so you know numbers: a 9% conversion rate is decent in the online marketing world, a 52% conversion rate is extremely good and rarely achieved.
So, let’s take a look at Ethan’s journey and what he did to create such an effective landing page. I will quote pieces from the original thread which can be found here and analyze and comment on the steps he took to perfect his landing page.
I’m the designer at a startup I co-founded, so the task to build a landing page falls on my lap. Shit. Here’s what I came up with: http://imgur.com/iQsgNmg. Not so great. This guy was getting us about 9% conversions, which isn’t horrible – until you realize that most of these were friends and family. This wasn’t even convincing them to sign up! Here is where I went wrong:
• App mockup shows nothing that demonstrates how it works.
• Way too much paragraph text
• Heading doesn’t prompt any action
• No real incentive to sign up
• The dark theme is uninviting
The first version of the landing page was this one:
Ethan identified these to be the problems that kept the conversion rate low:
- App mockup shows nothing that demonstrates how it works.
- Way too much paragraph text
- Heading doesn’t prompt any action
- No real incentive to sign up
- The dark theme is uninviting
Ethan was right assessing the first version of his landing page.
First of all the app mockup showed nothing about the app, it contained only the logo and there was no data, no information as to what the app does.
It’s advised the app mockup to demonstrate at least a screenshot of the app in action. A picture is worth a thousand words and in this case it’s worth zero words.
Every inch of the landing page is valuable, you have to make it count, even the negative space is important, which sections are left empty, which sections contain information and how much information.
Negative space allows the user to focus much easier on the focal point.
Furthermore the heading had zero call to action (CTA) functionality. It provided some scarce info as to what the app does and unfortunately it failed at that too, it’s too vague, too generic, the user doesn’t understand what the app does, would you?
Titles are extremely important when it comes to online content. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your title, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece. (Source)
Then we have the body text, which is too much. Landing pages should be simple, to the point, easy to read, comfortable to navigate and the user should be able to “extract” all the necessary information within two seconds.
All this text makes it impossible. Wall of texts are not user friendly and absolutely useless on a landing page.
Last but not least we have the actual email optin field which is located at the bottom of the page lost within the rest of the information.
The optin form should be the main function of the landing page, it’s the king of the page, everything leads to it.
In this version of the page, it’s wrongly positioned at the bottom, the description above it, is uninteresting and it doesn’t serve its purpose properly.
So, Ethan acknowledged all his mistakes and came up with a second version which rewarded him a much nicer 27% conversion rate:
Even though it’s much better and the conversion rate increased from 9% to 27%, it’s still not good enough.
Ethan identified these problems:
Alright, we have a problem. It’s time to start promoting the app, but out current landing page just won’t cut it. Back to the drawing board! Here’s what I came up with the second time around: http://imgur.com/VmHMZbm. Not super pretty, but better than the first one. It’s bigger and friendlier (with a hell of an incentive!), and netted us a conversion rate of about 27%. Here’s where I still went wrong:
• Still too much text! Jesus.
• Somewhat complicated hierarchy of elements
• It looks like Christmas
• Ugly / does not match the simplicity of the app itself.
A lot of things have been changed for the better but there is still room for improvement.
The app mockup now shows what the app does and finally the motto “a picture is worth a thousand words” is applicable!
There is still too much text. You should be able to communicate your message with as few words as possible. You can always follow the Twitter rule: 140 characters max.
While there is less text, still it’s not minimal enough to communicate the message to the user within two seconds. It needs a little trimming.
People lose focus easily so you have to lock their eyes on the target.
“Somewhat complicated hierarchy of the elements”. What does this mean exactly?
Well it’s what we described before. The optin form is the main element of a landing page and as such, it should be the focal point of the landing page itself. Here the optin is still at the bottom and it’s “less” obvious than it should be.
There is also a white line that separates the christmasy color theme which is really distracting.
Read about psychology of color here. You should rarely use such distracting colors and most cases no more than two.
White is your friend, it’s elegant, smart and classy. It makes your website look clean and neat and lets you attract the user’s focus on the preferred element.
As a rule of thumb, use the colors of the app theme and no more than two, otherwise you burden the eyes of your audience and they lose focus.
So, there is one last revision of the landing page:
Let’s quote his views on this version:
Every day, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the landing page. We had recently brought a proper web developer on to the team, and he was itching to get a project going. So I decided to redesign the landing page yet again: http://imgur.com/J4EtjZi. Jackpot! I know it will never be perfect, but this one is pulling in a conversion rate of 52%. Here’s what it’s doing right:
• Dead simple
• Bright & inviting
• CLEAR hierarchy of elements
• Only 1 interactive element above the fold (the sign up box)
• Clear benefit to signing up
• Headline intrigues & challenges the reader
• Reverting back to a simpler phone mockup keeps the page clear of unnecessary text.
This is a an example of a “perfect” landing page. Let’s the the checklist:
- Single color use (same with app theme)
- Title: to the point, precise, establishes your action (watch netflix) – explains the app functionality with one short phrase (answer real-time trivia). The question at the end is the CTA we needed!
- The only text above the optin form is excellent, makes the user want to subscribe, every in app purchase for free? forever? Sign me up yesterday!
- The optin form at last in the center of the page, it’s the main focal point. All the rest data lead there
- The app mockup is not distracting anymore.
- Communicates the app’s message within the first two seconds
We could argue that the app mockup doesn’t showcase the in-app environment anymore but I don’t think it would be a good idea in this version of the landing page.
It would capture the user’s eye and there would be more “interesting” data below the optin form – we don’t want the user to pass over the optin form, we want the user to stop there!
The optin form is the last and only destination of any landing page.
So, even though a rule of thumb is to show an in-app screenshot in the app mockup, in this case it’s not advised, it would do more harm than good.
After the third revision, Ethan managed to create an exceptionally well converting landing page and came to this conclusion:
So what have I learned? Really there is one main takeaway: Don’t try to do too many things with your landing page! Most people are redirected to the page from my various shoutouts and promotions on social media & reddit. So when they visit the site, they already know how the app works, at least in some capacity. I don’t need to teach them again – I need them to sign up. A good hierarchy of elements, simple imagery, and a clear call-to-action with a SOLID incentive is the way to go.
I think that this case study would come in handy to anyone who wants to create a landing page or wants to improve the conversion rate.
Let’s wish Ethan and his startup Plotguru all the best!
I will feature a review of the app as soon as it becomes available to the public, stay tuned!
12 Tests to Increase Your Landing Page Conversion Rate, Starting Today – WordStream
100 Conversion Optimization Case Studies – Kissmetrics
8 Quick Tips to Help Increase Your Landing Page Conversion Rate – Hubspot
Increase Your Conversion Rates With These 7 Landing Page Must-Haves – Etrepreneur
7 Landing Page Call-to-Action Formulas for Higher Conversions – Wishpond Blog
Quality content is what you need to grow your brand, to attract more audience, build trust and create lasting relationships between your business and your customers.
Content marketing has proven to be the moving force for: incoming traffic, generating leads, conversions and eventually revenue.
How can I come up with new ideas for blog posts and content all the time?
Where can I find new, fresh content?
What happens when I run out of new ideas?
What kind of content will engage my audience?
I have been there, you have been there, we all have been there.
So, how easy is it in reality to generate new ideas for content all the time?
Actually if you follow the steps described below, very easy!
I am going to list you every single method I use to be able to generate new pieces of content consistently.
Actually after a few days, you’ll have so many article ideas noted down in your to-do list that will be sufficient for the next few months! (Depending on your preferred content output frequency obviously)
1. Keep Notes
I can’t stress this enough. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, no matter when, no matter how, keep notes of every single idea that goes through your mind throughout your daily.
I can’t tell you how many ideas I have lost due to not noting them down immediately. I learned the hard way that: “I’ll remember it later on” never works, or works very very rarely. You can’t rely on your memory through busy days.
It doesn’t matter how you note your ideas. Thankfully our smartphones are well equipped with several different note taking apps, otherwise use your laptop, a post-it, a plain piece of paper, a napkin, your hand, as long as you note down your idea.
Even a plain bullet point could do wonders later on when you sit down and expand your idea into possible article titles.
Hint: I use wunderlist on my smartphone. It’s an amazing app that lets you take notes in the form of to-do lists fast and easy. Evernote is a great alternative.
2. Create an “Ideas Depot”
Use whatever works best for you: Google docs, dropbox, a simple word document, any specialized app, etc.
You will write all your ideas here with as many details as you feel like.
As I described earlier if you keep notes throughout the day, most likely you will have a couple of ideas noted down by the end of the day. You take those ideas and add them to your “ideas depot” file. Expand them as much as you feel like, add some details that you think are relevant or needed for you to be able to understand better what you meant in the future.
Hint: never delete your “completed” ideas. As you create more and more content, you can always come back to this list and find more content ideas. It will be your daily go-to!
3. Read, Read and Read Some More!
Ok, by that I don’t mean that you should consume yourself reading content and doing nothing else. Obviously, there’s a time for action but there’s also a time for thinking and preparing.
You have picked your niche, you definitely follow some of the industry’s leaders (if you don’t – what are you waiting? do it!). They pump out content on a steady basis for sure. Read those articles, read everything interesting from your niche that you come across.
By reading it’s only natural that questions might arise, or new ideas, agreements, disagreements, objection, etc. – note everything down, this is food for thought!
Furthermore, by consistently reading new articles you become more and more familiar with your niche’s trends and hot topics. You might notice some issues that you didn’t think were noteworthy. You’ll get more familiarized with the content your audience asks and needs.
So, do you like what you read? Maybe you disagree somewhere. That disagreement may become a new article. Maybe something resonates deep with you, that could be another article.
Consuming content, bears ideas and don’t forget that you become more and more proficient in your field.
Hint: I use Feedly which I think is the best content curating tool. You can create your own categories, sort your sources and easily monitor new content every day.
4. Ask your Audience
Sometimes it’s this simple. Have you ever tried directly asking your audience what they would like to read?
At the end of each of your articles, you can add a question in the style of: “Did you find this article interesting? I would love to hear your thought and point of views on the subject”.
This is called a “call to action”(CTA). People like being actively engaged and not just fed content without properly being engaged.
Sometimes they want to be heard and make some noise, they want you to listen to them. Make that happen!
Additionally, you can ask questions through your social media profiles: twitter and facebook are both great platforms for directly asking your audience what they want.
Always monitor users’ replies to your articles and make sure to always answer them, even if it’s just a “Thank you for taking the time to read my article”.
People need to feel valued and even the simplest reply can make the difference.
5. Scan Social Media & Online Communities
Let me explain this a little better: undoubtedly you are part of some online communities, most likely within your niche.
Learn to identify the problems users have. Any of those questions or problems could be your next blog post.
Let’s take Reddit for example, this is a screenshot of the “Top” thread of the past week:
This screenshot is taken from the /r/blogging subreddit. You will have to find active relevant subreddits to your niche and subscribe to them. Then follow the exact same steps described here.
I have noted with a red frame all the topics that could be my next blog post.
The first person asks: “Is it a bad to blog about more than one subject?”. This can easily become an article about blogging subjects, should a blog be about one thing or more?, keep it specific or a broader approach is better?
Heck, even the question itself is a very interesting article on its own, you don’t even need to change the title.
Another person created a thread titled: “Questions about monetizing a blog”. This is pretty much how I wrote my article on how to monetize a website.
I had stumbled upon the same question many times: “What do you think is the best way to monetize my blog?”, “Should I use AdSense or try affiliate marketing?”, “Hey I am new to blogging and I was wondering how could I make some money online?”.
The answer to all these questions is valuable to a large portion of the internet users.
Do the same in the subreddits you are subscribed, you will come up with new ideas every single day!
6. Scan for “Idea Patterns” and Trending Subjects
Search for the “Missing Piece of Content”. What do I mean with “missing piece of content”. It’s a piece of content that is seemingly missing from the general consensus of a trending subject.
Let’s elaborate with an example:
This is a screenshot from my “Tech” category in Feedly. I have created a “Tech” category and I follow all the industry’s leading authorities.
Today’s top subjects are about Tesla Model X, a folding E-Bike and a car powered house.
As you can see the general consensus of today’s trending subjects is: electric car manufacturing, new energy technologies, alternative means of transport.
Take those trends and create your own content. Maybe a piece about new energies and how it affects us throughout our daily routine, or maybe the future of electric cars, the future of new sources of energy.
Write your own point of view. Maybe you disagree, maybe you have something valuable to add, write your commentary regarding everything that’s going on.
As I mentioned earlier keep monitoring new content within your niche and find idea patterns as I described here. By finding idea patterns and identifying the trending subjects, you will be able to create your own content that “fits” within the trending subjects and engage your audience effectively by offering true value.
7. Anything Could be a Blog Post
…and I mean everything!
Imagine that you are completely brand new to blogging and you have no idea what to write about, you are not even sure what you want to blog about.
Your experiences can give birth to valuable content. If you are a complete beginner and you are investing all your time reading and trying to figure out how this “blogging” thing works, it’s very simple: write about that!
Write about the challenges and the difficulties you face while figuring out your next step. Write your complete experience as a beginner. Thousands of people will identify with you.
Many times, people are tired of reading the experts and the authorities.
Sometimes people want to read the average Joe, the complete beginner. It’s easier for them to “feel” someone who is closer to their position if not exactly to the same position.
All the expert advice and guides are great and whatnot but they can become tiresome and “heavy” reading.
Your experiences will provide fresh new content all the way. You go through different phases when you are a beginner, when you advance along the way until you become proficient in your field. It’s a journey, create content for it throughout all the phases!
How To Come up with Great Ideas for Blog Posts, Every Single Time
How to Consistently Come up With Great Post Ideas for Your Blog- Problogger
10 Ways We Come Up With 15+ Blog Post Ideas Each Week – Groovehq
13 Creative Ways to Find Blog Post Ideas – Authority Hacker
9 Tools to Help You Come Up With Content Ideas
What is Branding?
The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
That would be the official definition of branding, but in simple practical everyday examples, how can we describe branding?
Let’s take two people, each one of them owns a smartphone from a different company, the first one owns an Apple iPhone and the second one a Samsung Galaxy device.
When they want to describe their actions that are relevant to their smartphones, they will express themselves most likely differently.
The person owning the Apple iPhone would refer to his or hers phone as “iPhone”. In a phrase like: “I will note it down to my iPhone”. While the other person wont refer to his or hers device as “Galaxy” or “Samsung”. He or sher will state something like: “Ill note it down on my phone”.
So, why would the first person refer to the phone as “iPhone” and the second one with a more generic term?
Well, it’s because of Apple’s exceptionally crafted branding strategy which has managed to connect its product name (iPhone) to the word of the device itself (smartphone or phone, etc.)
When you manage to connect your company or product name with the word for which your product identifies itself, then your branding strategy is impeccable.
It’s not a “phone” anymore, it’s an “iPhone“.
It’s not “searching the internet” anymore, it’s “Googling“.
It’s not “I’ll have a soda” anymore, it’s “I’ll have a Coke“.
It’s not “I’ll wear my sports shoes” anymore, it’s “I’ll wear my Nikes“.
You get the pattern.
Obviously this can apply to a wide range of products and fields. Take a loot at this interesting article by Forbes which lists the world’s most valuable brands. The list contains some of the most recognizable global brands today: Apple, Facebook, Coca Cola, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Toyota, Disney, Nike, etc.
So in essence branding is the method, the actions of which aim to connect a name to a product so that every time a person thinks of a product, the branded name comes to mind.
Branding inserts a mental image in your head, in order for you to associate something an item with the name of a product or a service of a company.
An effective branding strategy gives you an advantage over your competitors, creates a strong image for your product or your service in the market.
Branding is the message that the core values and the culture of a company transmit. It’s also a promise towards your audience, a promise for what to expect from your products and services, what you offer that no one else does, how your product differentiates from another of the same market.
“In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.” – Howard Schultz
But branding goes beyond companies and products; you can brand pretty much anything, especially a person, yourself!
And it’s something you should do. Relationships are build upon people in the end. Personal branding is a strong weapon in your arsenal and most of the times is undervalued and overlooked.
With an effective personal branding strategy you can achieve much more:
- Career Advancements
- Professional Recognition
- Become an “Expert / Authority” in your Field
- Higher Earnings
- More Job Offerings
- Better Job Offerings
- Stronger Business Relationships (Through the company you work for, or yourself)
Granted, personal branding is a higher priority for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners.
If you are an employee of a big firm, you might think that personal branding isn’t for you, what’s the point of branding myself if I work for a large company that’s already well known in it’s field, what’s the purpose?
Well, it can and it will help your sales, your relationships with the people you collaborate with, inside and outside the company, it will boost your customer connections and relationships. People higher in the hierarchy will notice you and depending on the working environment you may receive bonuses, raises, promotions, etc.
So even, if you are just an employee and part of a larger entity, don’t overlook personal branding thinking it’s redundant.
This guide is obviously targeted more towards the “entrepreneurial” spirit but it’s valuable for anyone.
In this guide, I will go over all the important steps and techniques in order for you to create your personal brand. As this guide is meant for everyone, there will be parts that don’t apply to everyone. When you feel that something is completely not suitable or redundant for you, feel free to skip it and apply the suitable techniques.
Find and State your Personal Vision
Companies are described by a mission statement, a target objective. Much like that, a person should also be described by his or hers vision (personal and professional).
What differentiates you from the rest of the people?
What are your core values and qualities?
Actually which do you want to be you values and qualities?
When other people think of you, how do you want to be perceived? What do you want to be the main characteristics of your personal and professional life?
As a first step, you have to decide upon your personal vision, your personal mission statement.
Your personal vision and mission statement is deeply associated with who you are, your values, your qualities, your traits, your personality in general.
You have to define all this one by one.
Find & Prioritize your Values
Values are the moving force of your life. They help you make decisions, they help you set your priorities in life. What contributes to your happiness?
Those are just some examples of different values. Take some time and assess yourself, what are the values that best describe your lifestyle, your life? – Note them down.
Now you have to prioritize them. Assuming my values are: “Family”, “Adaptability” and “Achievement”, which one comes first, which one comes second?
Which one tramps the other in case it’s needed? Would I choose more time with my family instead of allocating more time to achieve my career goals? If yes, the family comes before achievement, otherwise it’s the other way around.
There are no right and wrong answers here. Just take your time, note down all the values you think describe you and rank them.
Obviously you want to focus and feature your positive, values, the ones that make you look better in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Finding and prioritizing your values is not easy.
- Take all the time you need and note down all the values you feel describe you (Use an excel sheet if they are too many, or any other method for that matter.)
- Try to prioritize them. Apart from the obvious ones, you may find it more difficult for some others. Try to compare them 1 v 1 and choose as if you have had to select only one – which would it be?
- Your top 3 values are the most important ones
- Make sure you can communicate your selected values to people you admire and respect
- Do these values make you happy and comfortable with yourself?
In the end finding your values is a way to find your happiness. This method won’t only help you for your personal branding efforts, it’s a great way to find yourself and go a step closer to being genuinely happy and comfortable with yourself.
What makes you smile in the morning when you wake up and what are you looking forward to the rest of the day?
In psychology, trait theory (also called dispositional theory) is an approach to the study of human personality. Trait theorists are primarily interested in the measurement of traits, which can be defined as habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion. According to this perspective, traits are relatively stable over time, differ across individuals (e.g. some people are outgoing whereas others are shy), and influence behavior. – Wikipedia
So, traits are the the patterns you follow in you behavior, emotionally and mentally.
In psychology there are 5 big traits:
- Openness to experience
Here you can see the connections among different personality traits:
Similarities between lower-order factors for psychoticism and the facets of openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness (from Matthews, Deary & Whiteman, 2003)
More information regarding the 5 big personality traits can be found here.
Here is a tool that will help you define your traits based on the big five model.
After you take the test you can see which of the big five traits describe you most and come back to the image above and check for sub-traits to complete your profile assessment.
Passions might be a little easier to identify. It’s the things that you want to do over and over. It’s what you love doing, what you genuinely enjoy, it’s what drives your day, what you are looking forward to all the time.
Don’t mistake passions with values. Usually there are connections but they are different. Being strongly connected to your community is a value but loving playing basketball with your peers every week is a passion.
Your passions + values allow other people to perceive you more clearly.
Apart from your personal passions, you have to identify your professional ones.
Assuming you are a graphics designer: art, design, drawing could be your passions.
If you work in the sports sector then maybe: fitness, working out, healthy nutrition could be some of your passions.
Furthermore, identifying your passions will help you in choosing or adjusting your career and your professional life more effectively. If you can make your passion your job then it’s not a job – you must have heard it. Don’t you agree?
After you note down and prioritize your values, traits and passions you are ready to set your personal vision. In essence your personal vision is the combination of all the aforementioned aspects of your personality. Create your personal vision and apply it to your career life.
Create your Personal Brand
Now you are ready to create your personal brand. The following paragraphs will guide you step by step in order to create and transmit your personal image effectively.
Keep in mind that some steps may not be for everyone since this guide applies to a wide range of people from different career sectors and fields.
If you find something that’s not for you, simply keep reading and use the ones that you feel are more appropriate for yourself.
Your personal vision and statement should be incorporated as much as possible in the following actions described.
Your actions, your appearance, your behavior (in your professional life) must be consistent and in align with your personal vision as set before.
Consistency is the key.
“A company’s logo is its shorthand, a visual cue that tells a story of the brand’s culture, behavior, and values,” – Matthews Hale
A logo is pretty much a shortcut – a mental connection – to a product or a company.
Study reveals that the human brain can achieve the remarkable feat of processing an image seen for just 13 milliseconds.
Undoubtedly visual stimuli are much more effective in communicating messages. 93% of the global communication is nonverbal.
That’s why visual media are the most important medium in the world of today.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to capturing your audience’s attention, you want to take full advantage of every chance to communicate your message. Short attention spans have made lengthy explanations less effective – so how do you keep interest?
Show, don’t tell. – Tom More CEO and Founder of Slidely
Let’s take a simple every day example of why it is much easier to show than describe with words:
What’s working for you? The textual description or the graphic representation of the circle?
Now that we have a general idea of the power of visual media, we can start to understand the importance of the logo.
Your logo is the image of yourself, your company or your product. It has to be able to effectively transmit and communicate your personal vision as described above. It should have a little bit of your passions, values, traits, your personality.
Let’s take an example from the corporate world. A logo of an insurance company most likely will communicate: safety, credibility, dependability.
Interamerican is a worldwide insurance company. Its logo is represented by two squarish shapes interlocked. It looks like they are solid connected together one with the other. Each one can depend on the other and they are both holding tight. They are bold, strong and transmit an image of safety, certainty, and dependability.
Are those values good at describing an insurance company? – Obviously!
I guess interamerican manages to create a feeling of the aforementioned values and subconsciously we connect those values to their products and services.
The same thing applies to personal branding. Since you have completed the first step (creating your personal vision) now you can easily note down some aspects you want your logo to represent.
Are you aggressive and competitive? Make your logo bold, standing out with vibrant deep colors.
Maybe you want to look loyal, safe and trustworthy, make your logo strong, flat, use colors that calm and soothe the human mind.
Use the following infographics to help you decide the colors of your logo:
I would advise you to have your logo professionally done by a graphic designer, but if you absolutely can’t afford it, I’ll link you a couple of services that offer free logo design below.
Hint: a great place to score a great and free logo is /r/freedesign subreddit. I had a couple of logos designed by professionals for free through this subreddit.
Additional material about logos and colors here:
The Psychology of Color: How It Affects the Way We Buy [Infographic] – Hubspot
How to choose a colour scheme for your logo design – Creativebloq
What Your Logo’s Color Says About Your Company (Infographic) – FastCompany
Free online logo design resources:
A website is absolutely necessary whether you are a freelancer, a business owner or pretty much anyone.
If you are just an individual, even a simple 2-3 page website with your CV, bio and photo will suffice.
If you are a freelancer you should include a portfolio to feature your previous work.
79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013.
Creating a website today is really easy and simple and fortunately doesn’t require coding knowledge.
The best platform option for a blog is WordPress. Another popular solution is Blogger by Google.
Use wordpress.com for a completely free experience or the self-hosting wordpress.org which you can fully customize to your hearts content.
I would advise you on getting your personal domain from a service like Godaddy. It’s extremely cheap and having your own name out there is one of the most important things.
While wordpress.com and many other services offer free hosting, I would suggest you utilize wordpress.org and use a hosting service like Bluehost. It’s the hosting service I use and I am extremely satisfied. They have great customer support especially for beginners and hosting can start as low as $3,45 per month. Plus they have a one button installation for WordPress which will untie your hands especially if you are just diving into the website development world.
Assuming you do no run an online business, make sure to include in your website: your bio, CV, an image of yourself (which should be consistent throughout your social media profiles) and a portfolio section where you can showcase your previous work (where applicable).
You can take your online presence a step further by blogging about you and your career. Creating valuable content for your niche is a great way to attract more customers, build authority and generate more sales.
Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business – Hubspot
How Much Is Online Presence Helping Small Business? – Forbes
The Top 10 Benefits Of Blogging On Your Website
Business cards are an undeniably useful tool when it comes to personal branding. Business cards create an extensive network of acquaintances who can later become your customers.
It doesn’t matter if you are just a student or a manager of a multi-million dollar business, you need a personal business card.
Cards go from to hand to hand and you never know whom your card may reach. Exposing as many people as possible to your name and your services can help you build a solid ever growing customer network.
It’s one of the last physical statements of your personal brand. I know that the world of today is mainly digital and most of the networking is being held online but don’t underestimate the power of the old school business card.
In your business card you should include your: name, profession, a tag line (if applicable), your logo (if applicable), contact information (tel. number, email, linkedin profile, etc.)
Make your own business card online:
Resume Objective Statement
Ok, we all know what a resume is and how to create a successful resume should be a post of its own; here I will focus on the objective statement.
This is where you encapsulate you personal vision and upon which your personal branding success depends.
I know that not all hiring managers demand an objective statement but you should include one, unless the nature of the position doesn’t allow it.
What are the most important points when it comes to writing an objective statement?
- Keep it Short: you have to keep it short, try to fit in as few lines as possible the essence of what you want to say. I suggest thinking of it as a tweet (140 characters max.)
- Be Precise: don’t get lost in nonsense, you have to be precise, state exactly what you want and don’t go off the road.
- Try to pre-answer these questions: why are you a good fit for this position, do you have the abilities and requirements that are asked, why do you want to get this job. Obviously that’s really hard to accomplish but you should think with this concept in mind
If I could give you a most sound advice I came to understood after talking with several different hiring managers and after undergoing a few interview, is that you have to show them that you can create value for the company.
Value is the most important aspect of any position. No one cares about your double masters or your PhD if you can’t create value. It’s what they want, what they are looking for.
In your resume, you have to emphasize on how you can add value.
How can you describe value? How can you print it on a paper?
Well, with numbers and proving statements.
Take a look at these statements:
- Created the business plan of the firm and effectively adjusted the marketing strategy which yielded 3x profits within 6 months.
Do you see how value is presented? The answer is the bold parts. Everything before that is just descriptive and introductory and the people who will review your resume wont care a bit about it.
The essence is in those last words. You managed to triple the revenue of your previous job within six months, which means that you can create value which can be measured and proved and you can do this really fast.
So, try to pinpoint things like that in your past work experience and present them the right way.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for: “Search Engine Optimization” and it’s the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines. (Search Engine Land)
So, in practical terms, this means that you have to follow a set of actions in order to make your website appear more frequently and in higher ranks in search engine results (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.).
Supposedly you have a website about dog food. Once someone types in Google “dog food”, the place where your website is displayed in the search results, depends on SEO.
Obviously, you want your website to be on the first page of the search results and as higher as possible (even hopefully at number #1).
While there are many search engines, Google is the “go-to” search engine. The word “Google” has come to mean “search online”; “you don’t believe me? google it”.
In the following image, you can see that Google wins the search war by controlling 67,5% of the US searches in February 2014. It follows pretty much the same pattern in the rest of world.
While Bing and Yahoo searches are not to be ignored, I am going to focus solely on SEO strategy for Google.
If you are interested in Bing or Yahoo specific SEO analysis you can take a look at these two articles for Bing and Yahoo respectively.
Undoubtedly there are numerous SEO guides and tips out there. Unfortunately, most of those guides are incomplete, provide wrong information and may damage your strategy in the end.
The following guide will go over all the ranking factors for Google. The data comes mainly from Google’s official posts, guides, and statements; something that seems to be eluding many people.
Google provides a lot of material regarding its policies about SEO:
There are two types of SEO:
- On Page SEO: refers to all the actions you can perform on your website in order to rank better in search engines
- Off Page SEO: refers to all the actions you perform outside the website environment. (Social Media, Link Building, Social Bookmarking, etc.)
Both are important and play a significant role in search engine ranking.
This is a complete guide on how Google ranks websites.
What you should be looking for On Page and Off Page and what actions you need to do in order to start climbing that Google ladder.
URL and Keywords
The keyword for which you want to rank a page or a post has to appear in the URL regardless of the main domain:
In the example above, the targeted keyword is “monetize”. The website domain is “swiftbranding.com” which doesn’t affect the targeted keyword when your are building your post’s / page’s URL.
Furthermore, it is suggested that the earlier the targeted keyword appears the better for SEO. So if “monetize” were to appear last in the URL, it would “weigh” less.
So you have to make sure that you include your targeted keyword in the URL and it appears preferably early.
Keyword Density and TF-IDF
Back before major Google algorithm updates, marketers used to stuff their posts with the targeted keyword and that would rank the page high in the search results.
That isn’t the case anymore. You can’t simply fill your content with your keyword everywhere and expect results.
The keyword has to appear within your content but don’t overdo it.
TF-IDF stands for Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency. In simple terms, it means how the keyword appears in context.
Hint: Google doesn’t only search for a keyword in a piece of content, it looks for how well it blends and if it is “normal” to the rest of the content.
If you spam the keyword without any contextual sense, Google will penalize your content.
Inbound links refer to links from others that drive traffic towards your website.
So if someone finds your material valuable, they may post a link on their site to your content.
The higher authority the other website has the better for your website. It will help rank your content much faster.
Quality and quantity, both, are important when it comes to inbound links.
BUT: Quality > Quantity
So if a high authority website links to your content; that’s much more valuable than several inbound links on less important websites.
High authority ranks content faster and better.
The aforementioned strategy is the same both for a page and a domain.
You need inbound links both to single pages and to your main domain.
If we take the example I used earlier, the single page would be: /how-to-monetize-your-website and the domain would be: swiftbranding.com/
Hint: Domain authority received by other sites, functions as distributed internal PageRank.
Keyword in Headings & Text Formatting
Keywords in heading tags receive more attention from Google.
- H1: most important
- H2: less important
- H3: less important
Outside the SEO factor, you should use headings inside your text because it makes everything much easier and comfortable to read. As you can see, I have used several headings in this article.
SEO extends to another noticeable formatting as well. Keywords in bold, italics, or other format have a higher importance in Google search.
The closer two targeted keywords are, the better it is. If one word is close to another, it suggests that they are associated.
For example, if you are looking for: “babies clothes” then it’s only natural that the word “babies” should be close to “clothes”.
If one word is on one line and the other in another line or paragraph, then they become more disassociated.
Keep your relevant and associated keywords together or in the closest proximity possible.
Keyword in Image ALT Attribute
When you enter the keyword in the ALT attribute of an image, that helps the search engine, find and identify the image and correlate it to the rest of the content.
Hint: Especially Google Image Search utilizes the ALT attribute to find images.
Domain Name is the Keyword
This was used by Google to help companies and brands connect their name with the keyword. For example: “Toyota” the car manufacturer would identify with: www.toyota.com which is only natural and the keyword would be associated with the domain name itself.
Obviously, you can use that to your advantage if you manage to connect keywords to your main domain.
Search Query Terms Exact Match
As you search for a specific keyword or a phrase, the returned results contain either part of the content on a page or even the exact same phrase if the search query term, match exactly word per word the text on the page.
So, the more terms the search query matches to the content on the page, the higher the score the page receives.
Keywords Place on Page
People read websites usually in an F-shaped pattern.
As you can see the human eye moves from the top left to the right and then down. Similarly to the way we write.
This eye tracking experiment has produced results which are used by every major website out there.
Websites are designed with it in mind, strategically placing promotional material and quality content to the red areas.
But what does it have to do with SEO and Google ranking?
Well, I guess you could say that Google has followed something similar to each SEO policy.
The targeted keywords that appear higher and earlier on a page seem to have higher weight when it comes to SEO.
More Keywords with the same Core
Let’s make this clearer.
Assuming the targeted keyword of page is: “travel”, words like: “traveling”, “travel-agent”, “backpack-traveling’, etc add value to the SEO score.
So words that use the same core (“travel” in our case) as the targeted keyword, benefit our SEO standing.
Hint: This doesn’t affect negatively the keyword density factor as described in the first part of the guide.
External Link Keyword Anchor Text
Anchor text is the visible characters and words that hyperlinks display when linking to another document or location on the web. (What is Anchor Text – Moz)
The targeted keyword of a page or post, has to appear in the anchor text of the link.
Hint: The less terms the anchor text matches, the less SEO weight it carries.
Relevant Niche Sites Links
Links originating from other websites in the same niche as yours, add value to your SEO score.
In order to find the most relevant experts we use a custom keyword-based approach, focusing only on the text that best captures the domain of expertise (the document title, section headings and hyperlink anchor-text). Then, in following links, we boost the score of those targets whose qualifying text best matches the query. Thus, by combining content and connectivity analysis, we are both more comprehensive and more precise. (Source: Web Archive)
Link in Text
When a link appears in contextual text it adds more SEO value than a bare link.
In one technique for improving the quality of a document index, additional terms found near hyperlinks in documents are used to enhance the description of the linked document. The premise of this technique is that web authors tend to described or comment about the content of other web pages in the descriptive text located near the link to the other page. This descriptive text may be used to enhance the quality of the index. (Source)
Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)
In some cases the freshness of a query plays an important role. For example, when it comes to news site, the date and the freshness of an article is a ranking factor. The “fresher” a post is the more SEO value it gets.
Older domains gain a little higher SEO value. That’s why some marketers prefer to by some existing domain from someone who isn’t using it instead of getting a new one.
While new domain might earn a temporary SEO boost, the truth is that you are safer with an older domain that has built some authority.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
While SSL might make your website a tad slower, it’s worth it. Sites that use SSL gain SEO value.
For these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web. (Source)
Fresh Content when Query Deserves Freshness
This is different that what’s described above about QDF.
Some queries benefit more sometimes from newer content.
Hint: Make sure to keep your posts updated, with new versions, new data and information as the time passes by. Don’t forget to check your links and sources and update when needed.
Old Content Boost
Depending on the nature of the content, date plays a different role.
For other queries, the older content benefits more and it is re-ranked as the time goes by.
Outbound links to quality websites and sources are always beneficial and improve page rank.
Media (Images, Videos, Audio)
Using various high quality media in your content, boosts your SEO ranking. Videos especially benefit your site a lot.
Searchmetrics has a pretty good track record of figuring out who lost after one of Google’s Panda Updates. Among the latest victims of this week’s Panda Update 2.5, some unexpected surprises: popular tech blog The Next Web, blog aggregatorTechnorati, and NBC’s The Today Show. Winners include Google’s own YouTube, along with Fox News and several other mainstream news sites. (Source)
Apart from SEO, using various media makes the content smoother and easier for the user to consume.
Walls of text without any image stop people from reading your content.
In April, Google deployed its mobile friendly update (Mobilegeddon). Since then, websites that are mobile friendly (having a mobile version or responsive design) earned a significant boost to their SEO standings. Accordingly websites that forgot to update their website took a hit.
So keep improving your sites for mobile searchers and don’t use the underwhelming mobile update as an excuse not to. If you’re not yet mobile-friendly, make it happen. And if you are mobile friendly,prepare for the next update — because in this new era of SEO, it’s no longer possible to ignore mobile searchers and mobile sites and compete with those who don’t. (Source)
How to Monetize a Website
More and more people are interested in finding ways to make money online.
Making money with a website or a blog isn’t something new, it has been going on for several years now and you could say that it’s becoming a saturated market.
But a website that truly adds value to its users will never be a failure.
As long as you have a solid marketing strategy and consistency in offering valuable content to your users, it will pay off.
Who wouldn’t love being able to work from home, doing something that you are genuinely interested in, while being able to make some money on the side?
Earning online is not a myth and an increasing amount of people is taking a swing at it as we speak.
Embarking on a new career of working and making money online is totally possible today.
It doesn’t matter if you are planning on getting rich, or making some money on the side; monetizing a site is a great way to accomplish it.
In this article, I would like to cover all the available ways to monetize a website or a blog.
Keep in mind that some methods require constant monitoring and hard work, while others are based on a more passive income basis. This doesn’t mean that the first ones will make more money and the second ones less.
After reading this guide, you will have a solid idea on how to monetize a website and be able to select the method that suits you and your work model best.
Adsense is probably the most famous method of making money online with a website. Adsense is a PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising method, which means that every time someone clicks an ad on your website you get some money in exchange – that simple.
After you register for an AdSense account, you receive ad codes that you can place anywhere on your website.
The users that visit your website see ads relevant to their search history and interests.
Note: I suggest you read their TOS and pay close attention to it because Google can just decline your application or ban you from Adsense at any time. Make sure to read and follow their rules.
Suitable for: PPC methods are usually suggested to websites that have high traffic – thousands unique users every day.
You depend on traffic volume, not quality.
That doesn’t mean that a website with low traffic shouldn’t use Adsense or PPC methods.
Not suitable for: websites with users who pay some kind of subscription (premium services, etc.). It’s possible that your users will be annoyed if they are paying a good amount of money and they are exposed to ads all over the website. So, think about it twice before using PPC ads.
If you must absolutely utilize them, keep them to a bare minimum. For example one ad per page in a subtle place.
#2 Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular and widely used methods. You promote products of a third party and if someone buys a product through your link, you get a commission.
In essence, you don’t sell anything on your website. You simply offer links that are custom made and once the user buys something, you get a slice of the pie.
The commission depends on each seller. Some sellers offer small commissions, other can offer up to 70% or 80%.
There are many websites there that function solely as “affiliate marketing” websites. Their purpose is to feature products and reviews of those products in order to make their users buy them.
Affiliate marketing is suitable for product – focused websites. These websites feature product reviews, as well as extensive information and ratings on each product.
It’s a very clever idea because people rarely want to do the market research themselves. it’s boring and it takes time.
A successful affiliate marketing website has already done the market research for the user. That way you can get all the info you need in one place and choose what to buy with minimum effort on your behalf.
Furthermore, affiliate marketing websites usually target a specific niche which suits the owner and isn’t over-saturated. That’s why you should do a careful niche research before going into affiliate marketing.
Hint #1: keep in mind that if you want to make a lot of money through affiliate marketing, objective reviews have to be “somewhat”in the favor of the seller’s product. By badmouthing a certain product or underlining its flaws, you will drive more potential customers away. That said you have to be objective as much as possible in order to establish your website as an authority resource in your niche.
Hint #2: most people use affiliate marketing networks as the ones I have listed below. Sometimes, when you have a specific niche, a direct relationship with a seller will be much more profitable. It will allow you for a higher profit and better products to promote. So, don’t be afraid to cold email a seller within your niche that you think his product is of value. Most likely they will be happy to offer you referral links for your website.
Affiliate marketing networks:
#3 Digital Products
Selling your own digital product is always a viable solution. You don’t have to take a commission or negotiate with anyone about your cut. You sell your own digital product directly on your website.
Ebooks are a great example of a successful digital product you can sell. Online courses is another product that is always in demand and people pay good money for quality content.
Keep in mind though that you have to work hard and create something of value for your customers otherwise you sales will drop to zero. Negative ratings and feedback will stop people from buying your product.
Hint: A landing page or a sales page is highly recommendable. You will convert much much higher with a well-written sales page. Hire a great copywriter and have him make you a proper sales page. It’s absolutely necessary in my opinion and the fee you will have paid him will be offset by the higher sales afterward.
#4 Email Lists
Email lists are for the long run.
Don’t think of it as a method of selling something on the spot.
It takes a lot of time and hard work to build a quality target email list. You have to be consistent and add true value to your subscribers otherwise, everything is lost.
Though email lists you can promote your followers your own digital products (see above) or even other products that you make a commission upon a sale.
Creating a close relationship with your audience is desirable and necessary in order to be able to promote content more than once.
You want people to come back and always check your new promotions.
In order to capture emails and create leads you need a good landing page and a popup optin form. Again make sure to hire a professional to make your landing page because you need it to be as convincing as possible.
Suitable for: blogs and websites that create valuable content consistently. It’s absolutely important to offer true value because that’s the only way to make people enter their email; they have to want more from you, they have to want to read your next blog post or article.
Hint: You can always sell the email list itself to buyers. If you have gathered a good amount of emails from a targeted audience you can sell the list for money to merchants of products and services within the niche (geographically targeted email lists work wonders).
Email Lists Services:
#5 Online Shop
Obviously creating an eCommerce store is the definition of “monetizing my website”.
If you have a brick and mortar store, then opening a digital one to sell your products is a great idea.
It isn’t necessary to be the owner of a physical store. If you can manufacture or buy products from a whole-seller, you can create an online store to sell them.
Where to start: Shopify
With Shopify, you can create an online shop within minutes. It is recommended for beginners and more advanced users. It offers you a full suite of tools in order to set up your own eCommerce website without the need to know any coding. Furthermore, you can set up your own facebook store and manage your promotion through social media.
The aforementioned methods are the most popular ways to monetize your website.
[FLOWCHART] How to Monetize Your Website
101 Ways to Monetize Your Website or Blog
5 Simple Strategies for Monetizing your Content – Quicksprout
33 Ways to Monetize your Website