Promoting your RSS Newsletter

Once you have your RSS Newsletter setup using your chosen provider, it’s time to start promoting it. Instead of just putting a subscribe box in your sidebar, you have the ability to market it in a variety of places on your blog and in social media. So, today let’s take a look at promoting RSS newsletters to help you grow your email list and in turn, increase your blogging income.

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Promoting RSS Newsletters

When using an email provider such as MailChimp, your RSS newsletter gets its own URL. For my newsletter it looks like this: http://eepurl.com/D9mvH

When that link is clicked, it takes the person to the sign up form for my RSS newsletter. From there they follow the steps to sign up, confirm the subscription and then they are taken back to my site to get a free printable and to continue on as they please at my site.

Pretty easy, right?

Okay. So, let’s talk about where to promote your RSS newsletters.

While I was at BlogHer13, I went to a session called Grow Your Email List, Build Relationships and Monetize Your Blog by Laura Fuentes. Kind of a long title for a session but it was super helpful.

In this session, Laura showed her email list growth over the course of her blog as well as where she promotes her RSS newsletter.

First, she includes a link for subscribing at the top of her posts. You can see this is slide 10 of the presentation if you’d like to check it out. I also have a link for subscribing to my newsletter at the top of my posts except I use the plugin WP Greet Box for mine. The message is supposed to look different based on the referring site and it looks like this at the beginning of each post:

WP Greet Box Plugin

The next place I include a subscribe link is at the bottom of my posts. I don’t remember Laura mentioning this in her presentation but I think it’s a good place to promote your RSS Newsletter. If the person has made it to the end of the post and they liked what they read, I want them to be able to subscribe right there without having to scroll back up. You could use a hook to add it to the end of every post or you could manually add the message after you write the post. It’s up to you on what you want to do. Here’s an example of what mine look like at the bottom of my posts:

subscribe link

And finally, I also promote my newsletter at the top of the sidebar. All of your follow/subscribe/connect buttons should be above the fold on your site so that people can easily connect with you. Naturally, this includes a subscribe box for your RSS Newsletter. In slide 11 of Laura’s presentation you can see how she promotes her newsletter in the sidebar. Mine is pretty basic right now but as my list numbers continue to increase, I’ll eventually change it to be more like Laura’s.

newsletter subscribe

Another great example of promoting an RSS Newsletter in the sidebar is on Holly’s site Kids Activities Blog. It’s fun, colorful and hard to miss.

holly newsletter subscribe

 

Moving on from promoting on your blog, the newsletter can also be promoted on your social networks. I have a tab on my Facebook page for signing up for the newsletter. I could also share the subscribe link on Google Plus, Twitter and other social networks to encourage people to signup.

These are just a few ideas for promoting RSS newletters. There are a lot of other options that can be done although I’d like to remind you not to overdo it with the promoting. You don’t want to annoy your readers – maybe skip the pop up boxes.

What is the best place you have found for promoting your RSS newsletter?

More on RSS newsletters

A look into the importance of RSS newsletters
Email newsletter service providers
How to increase blog readers with a RSS newsletter

A few options for email newsletter service providers

Last week I went over a few reasons why you should consider setting up a RSS newsletter for your blog. Today, I’m going to go over a few of the more popular email newsletter service providers.

email newsletter service provider

Email newsletter service providers

MailChimp

MailChimp is free to use for those who have lists of up to 2,000 subscribers. I’ve used it for a few different sites and I like how I can customize the newsletter, see list growth and track clicks. It takes a little bit of time to setup your newsletter but once that’s done, it doesn’t take much to keep it going. They also have a lot of different templates you can use for setting up your newsletter if you don’t want to make one from scratch.

FeedBlitz

FeedBlitz advertises on their site that they are a reliable alternative to FeedBurner. For those of you who know how frustrating FeedBurner can be, this might be the email newsletter service provider for you. It will send your new posts out as an email like FeedBurner used to do and you can track metrics. They offer a free trial for 30-days and after that you have to upgrade or stop using the service. Pricing is based on the number of email subscribers you have.

AWeber

AWeber is another email newsletter service provider that will allow you to send your RSS feed out as a newsletter. It works for any blog platform and you can choose to send individual posts or weekly summaries. They also have options for autoresponders and many email templates to choose from. You can try AWeber for 30 days for $1 and after that you’ll have pay according to the subscriber pricing plans.

There are many other newsletter service providers out there but I picked these three specifically because they have the RSS newsletter option that is useful for bloggers. If there is one that is not on this list that you use and love, let me know in the comments.

A look into the importance of a RSS newsletter for your blog

Today is going to be the first of a few posts on RSS newsletters for blogs. To start off with, I’m going to give you a look at the numbers of growth I’ve experienced with mine over the last month. After that, we’ll talk a little bit about why they are important. Now, if you already have a RSS newsletter for your blog, then you’re off to a really good start. If you don’t, continue reading and hopefully you’ll be convinced by the end of the post that you should make the switch.

rss newsletters for blogs

My journey with subscribers

When I first started my blog of cocktail recipes I went with FeedBurner for my subscribers. I had it set up for RSS and email subscriptions. However,  once rumors started flying FeedBurner was going away I switched my email subscribers to JetPack which is offered with WordPress. It worked just the same as FeedBurner except new posts would be emailed out immediately after hitting publish.

However, after going through the Mom Blog Money Blog online workshop (affiliate link) I started to reevaluate this decision. Especially after Holly wrote about how she increased her blog readers using a RSS newsletter. So, after seeing some stats on list growth at BlogHer 13 I finally made the switch (yes, this was months later but hey – better late than never, right?).

I imported all of my FeedBurner subscribers over to MailChimp and set up a fancy RSS newsletter. I changed the widget in my sidebar so that people could subscribe to the newsletter instead of the old RSS feed. In addition to that, I also have a link at the beginning and end of my posts that people can click on to subscribe.

So, how has this change affected my numbers?

Well in October alone I added 126 new subscribers to my RSS newsletter. That’s better growth than I’ve seen in one month using both FeedBurner and JetPack.

Also I don’t have to worry about FeedBurner going away or doing crazy things with my subscriber counts (we all know how annoying it is to see subscriber numbers bounce up and down with FeedBurner).

Why is an RSS newsletter for blogs important?

But list growth isn’t the only benefit of using an RSS newsletter. I can also customize the email to match my site, highlight certain posts, and I can get sponsors for it which means more income!

All of these things are important for us bloggers. We want to be branded the same across all platforms. We also want control over what our newletters look like. And of course we all want to increase our income.

The next few weeks I’ll go more in depth about RSS newsletters for blogs (setting them up, providers, promoting, etc.) but for now I’d like you to think about switching over to a service like MailChimp if you haven’t already.

Are you using a RSS newsletter for your blog? If so, how’s it going for you? If not, what are you waiting for? 

3 Ways to create new content without search keywords

If you have been paying attention to your stats and Google Analytics over the last month or two, you might have noticed that the number of “not provided” search terms have increased. This is because Google made a big change to search a few weeks ago. They switched all searches to private or secure search. So far, I believe Google is the only search engine to make this change so you might still see some search keywords but nowhere near as many as you used to.

create new content without search keywords

What does this mean for us bloggers? Well… it means that we can no longer rely on those search keywords to create new content to increase traffic. It also means that if people are landing on our sites from keywords that aren’t a good fit and immediately leaving, we can’t make changes to get them to stick around longer.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the end for us bloggers. Nope. There are ways around this and they aren’t too difficult. I promise.

How to create new content without search keywords

Check top posts monthly

When checking your Google Analytics at the end of each month, pay attention to the top ten posts. Use these posts to help you generate new content that’s related. Obviously your readers like this type of content, whatever it might be. While you should always know your top ten posts, it’s a good idea to take a look at what’s popular beyond that. Maybe look out to the top twenty to fifty.

What’s popular on social media?

Keep an eye on what’s popular on social media. What are people liking on Facebook, pining on Pinterest, tweeting on Twitter, etc? Knowing this information will help you create related content that your readers will enjoy (and help your traffic grow).

Ask your readers

This is probably the easiest of them all but the one we will often forget about. If you want to know something, just ask. If you want to know what type of content your readers would like to see more of, ask them! Ask them in your newsletter, on Facebook, on Google Plus, wherever they are – just put the question out there. Their responses will guide you in creating new content without search keywords. Try it.

I know this is a transition for some of us, especially if you’ve been blogging for a long time. But it will be okay and there is life after knowing search keywords.

What tips would you also add to the list? 

Work at Home Time Management Tips

Time management isn't a new topic around here. In fact, Holly did a whole Google Plus Hangout on social media time management tips. It was also discussed a bit in the posts on working smarter not harder and time saving tools. But, I thought it would be good to cover some work at home time management tips. Especially since it's back to school time and our routines are once again changing.

work at home time management tips

Work at Home Time Management Tips

Make a realistic to-do list

I used to have a love/hate relationship with to-do lists. On the one hand, they reminded me of what I had to do. On the other, they made me feel overwhelmed because there was so much on there. This changed once I figured out to make daily to-do lists that were realistic to accomplish. Instead of putting 20 items on my to-do list for Monday, I plan them out through the week. Now, I have a few tasks for Monday, a few for Tuesday, and so on.

So, make daily to-do lists for yourself and don't overload them with tasks you know you can't accomplish in one day.

Set up your own space

If you're working from home, you need a dedicated space to work. This can be a desk, the table, wherever you are comfortable but it needs to be yours so you can spread your stuff out as needed. At least until it's time to eat dinner, then you should probably move your laptop if it's at the dinner table (which may or may not be where mine is right now).

Schedule your social media

I've found one of my biggest time sucks online is when I go to share my new posts on social media. I get distracted by the news feeds and soon I've wasted my time. For my cocktail recipe site, I post 3 to 4 times a day on my Facebook fan page. That's a lot of distracting if I live post all of that. Instead I schedule my updates for 3 to 4 days at a time. Sure, it takes some time up front to find and schedule everything I want to share, but I only do it once or twice a week instead of everyday.

Using your editorial calendar, schedule your social media for your new posts. While you're at it, you can also schedule other updates/links/pictures/etc. you want to share during the week. You might want to also figure out what you can automate for your social media to make it even easier for yourself.

Set up office hours

I never really understood the importance of office hours until I went through the Mom Blog Money Blog course and actually started doing it. While I can't say I'm completely firm in my office hours, I do try to not respond to work related emails in the evenings and I rarely check my email on the weekends. It's definitely allowed me to feel like I was off work, which is something that's hard to feel as a work at home mom (or at least it was for me). It also helps me stay focused during my office hours.

I highly suggest you check out the Mom Blog Money Blog course if you are blogger looking to make money blogging. There is a lot of great information in there that can help increase your traffic and your money. And if you need a little bit of proof, check out this post which has a six month update after taking the course.

What are your best work at home time management tips?

Links for course are affiliate links. 

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Tips for Writing Great Sponsored Posts

While I was at BlogHer13, one of the sessions I attended was called Good to Great: Sponsored Posts. The panelists were Carmen Staicer and Gigi Ross.

writing sponsored posts

As the name suggests, it was all about writing sponsored posts. They touched on everything from deciding if the company is the right fit for your brand to the follow-up you should do after the post goes live.

For those looking to make money blogging, it’s a good idea to diversify your portfolio so that you bring in income from a variety of sources. And of them sources just so happens to be writing sponsored posts.

In this session, not only did they give tips for writing great sponsored posts, they also touched on the differences between sponsored posts and product reviews.

According to Gigi, a product “review is slightly different in that you are to be providing an unbiased commentary about that product. A sponsored campaign, you're writing on behalf of the brand, the brand is retaining you to write about them. So you need to understand that that is a very critical difference between a review and a sponsored post.”

They also talked about defining your value based on your time is worth to you. As Gigi says, you need to figure out “what you're willing to work for, what your feel your time is worth, embrace it, own it, don't let anybody else question you or make you feel bad for accepting something because every single person in this room, their blog is different, their family background is different, their financial situation is different, their goals are different.

Some other tips they shared in the session were:

  • Respect your readers and the company
  • Pay attention to images in your blog post (make it Pinterest-friendly)
  • Read the details from the company
  • SEO your sponsored posts
  • FTC disclosure requirements for sponsored posts. Learn more about how to disclose sponsored posts and add no-follow links.

If you want to get into the market of writing sponsored posts or if you’re already doing them and want to do even better, I highly suggest you go through and read the transcript from this session. I couldn’t find a video for it but there is a little slideshare presentation you can also skim through that's included with the transcripts.

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How to get the link of a status update

When doing product reviews and sponsored posts, the brand or company will usually ask you to also share your post on your social media accounts. Simple enough, right? But they also might want to see your status updates. So, how do you share this with them? By giving them the link of the status update.

link of status updates

Each update you post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and even Instagram, has it's own URL. These are very easy to find so that you can share them when working with brands.

Direct Link for Facebook update

To get the link for a specific Facebook status update, find the update you want the link for. At the very top of that update, right below the name of your page, there is a hyperlinked date or time that indicates how long ago you posted the update.

direct link for facebook update

Click on this hyperlink.

You will now be taken to a new page that for that update. Copy the URL in your browser and that is what you share for your Facebook status update.

For the example I'm showing here, this is the direct link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151837382189292&set=a.303223569291.145476.279910244291&type=1&theater

Direct link for Twitter update

To get the direct link for a Twitter update, go to your profile on Twitter and find the tweet you want the link for. In the top right corner of the tweet, there is a grey hyperlink with either a time of how long ago the tweet was posted or a date.

direct link for tweet

Click on this hyperlink.

You will now be taken to a new page for that tweet. Copy the URL in your browser and that is what you share for your Twitter status update.

For the example I'm showing here, this is the direct link for the tweet: https://twitter.com/mytimeasmom/status/371951021758906368

Direct link for a Google Plus update

To get the direct link for a Google Plus status update, go to your Google Plus profile and find the update you want the link for. The time or the date the post was shared will be a grey hyperlink located right underneath the name of the page/profile.

direct link for google plus

Click on this hyperlink.

You will now be taken to a new page that for that update. Copy the URL in your browser and that is what you share for your Google + status update.

For the example I'm showing here, this is the direct link for the G+ update: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/115873685443714025775/115873685443714025775/posts/TUTHdce4gHa

Direct link for Pinterest pin

To get the direct link for a Pinterest pin, find the pin you want to share and click on it. You will be taken to a new page for that pin. Copy the URL in your browser and that is what you share for your Pinterest pin.

direct link for pinterest

For the example I'm showing here, this is the direct link for the pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/259519997249057537/

Direct link for an Instagram photo

To get the direct link for an Instagram photo, go to Instagram.com on the web and sign in to your profile. Find the photo you want the link for and click on it. You will be taken to a new page for that photo. Copy the URL in your browser and that is what you will share for the Instagram photo.

direct link for instagram photo

For the example I'm showing here, this is the direct link for the photo: http://instagram.com/p/dSskDDI52c/

After you have shared your post on the appropriate sites, grab the necessary URLs following these steps and send them to the PR person or company you are working with. Even if they don't ask for you to share this information, it will make their lives a lot easier so that they don't have to go searching for it. And, it shows that you know what you are doing when it comes to sponsored posts and will make them more willing to work with you in the future (score!).

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What to do after attending a blog conference

You just attended you a blog conference. Maybe even your very first one. You came home with a lot of notes from sessions, business cards from everyone you met and lots of swag. Now what?

Well, now it’s time to get to work so that you can really benefit from the time and money you put into the conference.

what to do after attending a blog conference

What to do after attending a blog conference

Take action

Hopefully the sessions you attended at the blog conference were full of great information. If you’re like me, you hand wrote your notes. Or maybe you are the type of person that types them up. Either way, it’s time to take action on those notes. Whether it’s improving your blog, starting a newsletter (yep, talking to myself on that one), or growing your social media presence, you need to get started.

Go through your notes and make a plan of action. Tackle items one at a time so you’re not so overwhelmed.

Get connected

You met many great people at the blog conference and your bag is full of business cards. Work your way through those cards and start connecting with your fellow bloggers on Twitter, Facebook, their blogs, etc.

If someone you met really stood out to you, email them and say hi. Connections are always a great thing in the blogging world. You might even be able to create a blog tribe with your new connections.

Follow up

At blog conferences such as BlogHer, there are many brands (or PR people) in the expo, in sessions and at private events. If there are some companies you would like to work with, follow up with them. Send them an email and reintroduce yourself and let them know you are interested in working with them. Maybe even send your media kit. You never know what might happen.

Also, don’t forget to remove the conference badge from your site. You don’t need it taking up space after the event.

I know it can be a little difficult to adjust back to real life after attending a blog conference so I hope this helps. If there’s anything you can add to the list of what to do after attending a blog conference, add it in the comments!

SEO for Bloggers Discussion

SEO is one of those things we can always know more about. Especially because every time we think we have it figured out, Google changes something. Awhile back, Holly Homer and Laurie Turk talked about basic SEO for bloggers. As a sort of follow up from that chat, Holly hosted a SEO for Bloggers Discussion.

seo for bloggers

This SEO for bloggers discussion featured a panel of people, all with different levels of SEO knowledge. Contributors included:

SEO for Bloggers

In this hangout, they discussed many things SEO. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Google Keywords Tool and the changes that have been made to it. It’s now Google Keywords Planner and Steve Hammer discusses why this change is a good thing and how to use it. 
  • Search versus social when it comes to online content. Not everything you post will be search friendly but that doesn’t mean it’s not great content. If it’s not a search friendly type of post, try and make it a social friendly post.
  • Internal linking and whether or not you should link to individual posts or category/tag pages. According to Nathan, you should link to individual posts.
  • Themes for SEO and if they make a difference. Nathan suggests deciding on themes based on how fast they are and how easy they are to use. Steve recommends using a responsive site for the mobile benefits.
  • Stop words and whether or not you should include them in your post. The short answer is yes. There is more explanation in the video but basically the answer has to do with exact searches and sounding natural in your writing.
  • Heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc) and whether or not they are important to use in your blog posts.
  • Keywords for your posts and how you should use them when writing your content.

There was a lot of questions, answers and good information about SEO in the hangout. Watch it here and take lots of notes:

To make things easier for you, here are links for some of the sites they talked about:

Hope you enjoyed this SEO for bloggers discussion!

More on SEO

SEO tips for bloggers with RankHammer
SEO plugin for WordPress
Simple SEO tips for bloggers

Social Media Time Management Tips

As most bloggers know, social media can be a real time suck. Since it never shuts down you can really get sucked in and soon find that you’ve accomplished nothing all day but you know everything that’s going on in your Facebook news feed. To help you avoid this, Holly sat down with a few other bloggers to talk about social media time management tips. Just what we all need, right?

social media time management tips

For the hangout, Holly Homer had Megan Sheakoski and Peg Fitzpatrick join her. Megan blogs at Coffee Cups and Crayons and she spends a lot of time on Google Plus. If you missed it, Holly and Megan did a hangout discussing Google Plus blog pages that was very informative. Peg Fitzpatrick can be found online at PegFitzpatrick.com and 12 Most to name just a couple. Peg was also a guest star on one of Holly’s blogpreneur episodes, where they discussed Google Plus and book writing.

Social media time management tips

Focus your efforts

In Day 3 (Automate your social media) of the Mom Blog Money Blog workshop, Laurie Turk suggests focusing on your top two social media sites. In this hangout, these three ladies suggested the same thing. Pick the two social media sites that work best for you and spend the majority of your time there.

They also suggest using the information in your Google Analytics account to help you figure out what sites are driving the most traffic to your blog. This will help you know where to focus your social media efforts.

Schedule it

Holly mentions a plugin called NextScripts that she uses for scheduling her social media for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus. This can be used for scheduling your own content at the same time you are scheduling the posts. This is a really cool plugin to use and is great for social media time management. You can also use HootSuite for scheduling your social media or other tools such as Buffer for scheduling Twitter and Facebook. Peg also suggested DoShare for scheduling Google Plus.

Use a timer

Megan talks about using a timer when she’s working. Since she has kids at home it helps the kids know that she’s working as well as helps her manage her time online. This is also a tip that Laurie gives in the Mom Blog Money Blog workshop. Funny how these social media time management tips are suggested by so many people.

The editorial calendar

As we have talked about many times before, an editorial calendar is so helpful for managing your time online. Going beyond the editorial calendar for your blog, you can also use a calendar to plan and schedule your social media in advance.

In the hangout video, there is discussion around each tip plus so much more information. Watch the video to get it all!

More social media time management tips

Blogging time saving tips
Multiply traffic using blog stats
Work smarter, not harder

What are your best social media time management tips?

Note… there are affiliate links in this post for plugin and the workshop.