Newsletter Services Comparison Blog Hop

So you want to start sending a newsletter to subscribers or you are considering switching to a new service. This week’s blog hop is dedicated to newsletter services comparison.

Bloggers and newsletter services

As bloggers and influencers, we consider ourselves to be small businesses, and for many of us, we have that legal entity on paper (LLC, S Corp, etc.). Over at WPBeginner, they’ve outlined the  Seven Best Email Marketing Services for Small Businesses, 2018 edition.  In their post, they turn the spotlight on:

  1. Constant Contact
  2. Drip
  3. ConvertKit
  4. AWeber
  5. GetResponse
  6. MailChimp
  7. Active Campaign

There are other email newsletter services, but the ones mentioned above are geared toward lead magnets and growing an email list with such online marketing techniques. When asked recently in the BlogPaws Facebook News and Boost Group about email newsletter services, here are some of the comments we received:

Laurren Darr says, “I switched last year from InfusionSoft to ActiveCampaign. It’s been less than half the cost and it’s worked great. One thing I like is that I can make ‘blocks’ that can be used in different newsletters – think an ad for a vendor, etc. that I can just move over in the graphical newsletter generator. I have forms on the websites that automatically add people to the list like most mail programs offer, etc.”

“I use MailChimp free version – I am honestly not very good at it so I just send out my RSS feed. It’s something I hope to focus on more in the future and improve,” says Joely Smith.

Read the entire conversation in the  BlogPaws Facebook News and Boost Group.


The Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

BlogPaws offers year-round interaction, activity, community and more to learn, earn, and connect. Visit and leave comments on other blogs to make some new buddies and maybe some new followers. You can add the button to your post and/or to your blog sidebar, either by cutting and pasting the image or using the HTML code below. Need help? Here it is:

How to Join a Blog Hop – BlogPaws Tutorial Video: Step by step help to get you started:




Image Credit: PEPPERSMINT/Shutterstock

 

The post Newsletter Services Comparison Blog Hop appeared first on BlogPaws.

How to Use Lead Magnets to Grow an Email List

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These are examples of lead magnets: You promise the reader something in exchange for a piece of information (their email address, for example). High-converting lead magnets are those that you can incorporate into blog posts and social media content, and that provide a valuable, tangible ROI (return on investment) for both you and your subscriber.

Last week we talked about how to clean up an email list, and this week we will dive into the do’s and don’ts on how to use lead magnets in order to grow an email list.

How to grow an email list

Getting Started on Lead Magnets

You need an email list service in order to entice subscribers with your lead magnet so that your email list will grow. When I decided to go from blogger to entrepreneur, email strategy was and remains one of the key components to do so. With the recent changes in Facebook’s news feed targeting businesses, growing an email list is more important than ever.

Over at WP Beginner, they’ve outlined the 2018 edition of the best email services for professional bloggers. Which one is best for you depends on your goals, budget, plans, and needs. I’ve been a Mailchimp girl for a long time, but my 2018 blog plans include switching to something more in tune with my goals, so a change is coming for me.

Why Do I Need Lead Magnets

A solid email list is a must have in every professional blogger’s toolbox. Even if you are a hobby blogger or someone who plans to monetize a blog, an email list is comprised of your loyalists. In offering a valuable product via download and delivering on that promise with quality, your email subscribers are the ones who will promote you, return to visit, and spread the word about your awesomeness.

Sponsored posts, ad revenue, and affiliate-related posts rely heavily on pageviews and click throughs. Give your loyalists what they want and it returns to you tenfold. This statement is hard to apply in a day and age of less and less pageviews on Facebook and pay to play on most social media networks.

Asking someone to subscribe to your email list works for friends and family, but this is not a viable long-term sustainability plan for your blog’s success. Lead magnets ensure someone gets a quality product or service in exchange for giving up the holy grail of online marketing: their trusted email address.

Lead Magnets That Deliver

In order to get that highly coveted click through with email address freely given, the lead magnet you offer (“incentive”) needs to deliver. Gone are the days of “get 5 free tips”–100 words later, the person unsubscribes, potentially never to return.

It’s a new generation and everyone is vying for email addresses. Deliver quality that solves a problem or one of these other lead magnets that deliver:

  1. Checklists: 25 Conversations to Have With Your Cat’s Veterinarian or Checklist of Emergency Numbers for Pet Parents.
  2. Cheat Sheets: Everyone loves a hack, so consider delivering a ‘cheat sheet’ to make life easier. For example, Discover Insider Tips to Nail Your Next Job Interview or How to Find a Work From Home Job You Love.
  3. Free Ebooks: I’ve seen authors offer a small chapter from a book and offer it out for free as a lead magnet. You can embed a link into your freebie to entice the reader to purchase your entire book.
  4. Coupon: This is perfect for any professional blogger who sells products or services. “Get 10 percent off your next purchase” – and the means to obtain the code or discount is a name and email address.
  5. Printables: Everyone loves a freebie to hang on their bulletin board or refrigerator. Printables can be an effective tool especially if you offer a series of them. Be certain the printables are in line with your blog mission.

Promoting Lead Magnets

Once you’ve landed on an newsletter/email service and build out your lead magnet(s), the next step is to promote it.

  1. Place the lead magnet as a non-intrusive pop-up on your blog’s homepage. Most lead magnet programs include the option for the pop up not to appear if the visitor is already a subscriber. In doing so, the subscriber is not annoyed every time they visit your blog.
  2. Include the lead magnet in your email signature line. I use the professional version of Wisestamp, which allows me to customize my email signature’s content.
  3. Squeeze it in with a squeeze page.  Wordstream.com defines a squeeze page as, “A landing page designed to capture opt-in email addresses from potential subscribers. The goal of a squeeze page is to convince, cajole, or otherwise ”squeeze” a visitor into providing one of their most sought-after and coveted pieces of personal data: the email address.”
  4. Call to Action in Blog Post: Use your Calls to Action wisely by including a relevant one at the bottom of a blog post that beckons to your link magnet.
  5. Use the sign up button on Facebook and direct readers to your lead magnet in the cover photo.
  6. Make LinkedIn work for you: Add a lead magnet link to your personal profile in the summary area.
  7. Tweet with a purpose using your lead magnet. Experiment with text and images to see which one(s) work best and receive the most engagement and click throughs to actual sign ups.
  8. Business cards with a URL or a QR code on the back are great ways to include lead magnets at networking events and conferences, such as the BlogPaws Conference.

Advanced Lead Magnets

Here are a few more ideas if you’ve been working with lead magnets for a while or want some unique ideas to collect emails without annoying your visitors:

  1. Hold a Contest: Yes, there are folks who unsubscribe afterwards, but you can monitor this with a high quality email service.
  2. Create a Facebook Group and share quality content via lead magnets in the group weekly or monthly.
  3. High Quality Infographics make for a tempting printable. Provide one in exchange for an email address.
  4. Conduct a Free Webinar: Host a 20 minute webinar and collect emails to sign up. You can upsell in the webinar by referring folks to another piece of saleable content that you promote at the end of your webinar. You can also give something away during your free webinar to anyone who signs up for your email list.
  5. Atomize Your Awesomeness: Jay Baer shared that quip at last year’s BlogPaws Conference and it stuck. Develop a video and/or audio version of your content, perhaps with a podcast. Some people like to listen, as evidenced by the present popularity of podcasts. Provide this content as a lead magnet.

How to grow an email list

Lead Magnet Mega Important Tip

Once you acquire a fan, you want to keep them. It might sound like common sense, but keeping a fan is probably harder than acquiring them. If you promise a standout piece of content as a lead magnet, overdeliver. Be certain you do not abuse the emails you are collecting, and most importantly, that you deliver amazingly awesome future content with a plan and purpose.

The worst feeling a professional blogger experiences is that of an unsubscribe pang in the pit of their stomach. I know, I’ve been there. Watch your open rates, unsubscribe rates, and never spam or overshare content to the point that you annoy subscribers. People will always remember how you make them feel, so spread the good vibes.

Don’t Stop Now

Keep the knowledge flowing and make email magic with these blog posts:

How to Clean Up an Email List

How to Grow an Email List

Go Face to Face with the Pros

Learn more! BlogPaws has always been and will always be about and for the bloggers and influencers: Those who want to learn, grow, network, and take their blog to the “next level.” BlogPaws connects brands to bloggers and influencers and those who want to monetize, form relationships, and turn a passion for pets into a way to make money.Get your tickets to BlogPaws’ 10th Conference before they sell out.

Your Turn

Are you using lead magnets? If not, how can we help? If yes, are you successful with them?  Let us know in the comments below. We respond to all comments.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images:  Floral Deco  / Jacob Lund  /Shutterstock.com

The post How to Use Lead Magnets to Grow an Email List appeared first on BlogPaws.

How to Write a Knockout Blog Post

Having an idea for a killer blog post is the easy part. Writing a knockout blog post that touches on all the key elements from content to photography, promotion and inbound/outbound links is the more involved process. It sounds like a no brainer, the process for writing a knockout blog post, right? Even long-time blogging veterans may be surprised to find some tips and pointers to apply to future blog posts or updating older blog content.

How to write a knockout blog post

Pre-Requisite: Know Your Blog Audience

Something that we see time and again in the BlogPaws offices is a well-done post, but it is written to an audience that may not be the one best served by said content. Define your why and know your purpose.

No matter how long you have been blogging, each blog post should be geared to your target audience. If you are a cat blogger who writes about health and wellness, then articles about kitten training, cat litterbox issues, and senior cats and kidney disease are the types of content your audience wants. You know they want this content because you did your research prior to creating the blog.

Sometimes a blog post is geared for a specific portion of your blog’s audience. One of my consistently popular blog posts deals with torn anterior cruciate ligagments in dogs. That post is geared to a dog parent who either thinks their dog ruptured the ligament, indeed the dog is injured, or they want more information and options. Write to THAT audience for THAT post.

LEARN MORE: How to Serve Your Blog Audience

Develop the Content Idea

Our Director of Community Education, Aimee Beltran, suggests this system when developing content for a blog post:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What do I want them to do with the content? (Subscribe, share, etc)
  • How will the content be delivered? Blog post, social media post, video, ebook, etc?

Outline the Blog Post

As a second phase to developing the content idea, next you write an outline. This need not be a laborious process, but I could never do a blog post without some sort of outline.

Outlining helps hone your craft, tightens the focus, and like a map, it guides you to your destination. Some of the sections in my outline for a blog post include:

  • My topic or idea
  • A working headline, which I refine later
  • The problem it solves or addresses.
  • Why my reader should care. I ask myself “who cares” and until I can answer that, I won’t blog.
  • Sources and quotes/experts
  • Outbound and inbound links to include
  • Terms to rank for SEO-wise
  • Images I want to take and/or already have in my files

Your outline can be as simple as a one-page sheet of paper with subheadings on it or as intricate as desired; we all have different learning and planning styles.

Visual Asset Planning

A picture says a thousand words and a video says even more! Know what shots you want before you get the post started so that you can capture exactly the visual message you want to complement your prose. I take close to 2,000 photos a month on my iPhone, no kidding. I take candids of my dog, things we do together, places we visit (from PetSmart to the park, visiting friends), and I dump them onto my computer once a month. From there, I categorize and separate the images into files. I actually have files the likes of:

  • Body shots
  • Face close ups
  • Park
  • Dog with people
  • Sleeping

…and many more.

I do this so that whenever I am writing a blog post, I have an arsenal of photos from which to choose. Quite honestly, I have my own stock photos that I took! I edit the photos I love the most and might use, ditch the blurred ones, and then I clean my phone up, back up my files onto a hard drive and an online photo storage service, and I am good to go.

Videos I plan to embed into a blog post or those in support of my blog post I will use on social are a part of the visual asset planning process. It’s never one and done: If you blog it, use it over and over in a variety of ways. The same holds true for visual and video assets. More about that later.

Keyword Research

This is oh-so-important to your knockout blog post process. Keyword research does NOT mean keyword stuffing. The traditional definition of a “good” keyword is one that has low competition from other sites attempting to rank with traffic from the keyword along with a high number of monthly searches. Finding that balance is the sweet spot for bloggers.

Your goal with a blog post is to create an ultimate resource with both short and longtail keywords. Long tail keywords have long staying power if properly executed in blog post. Why long tail? Longtail keywords are more closely related to the questions your readers are asking/searching for; they are actually easier to rank for; and since they target your specific audience, more relevant traffic is directed to your blog.

Here are three steps for finding juicy keyword nuggets.

Write a blog post

Determine Headline and Subheads: Brainstorm and Then Brainstorm Again

Work primary and secondary keywords into your headline if possible, and apply some time in determining your headline. Our Director of Content, Maggie Marton, says, “No matter how brilliant your writing, or how gorgeous your photography, unless you grab a reader’s attention with a catchy, click-worthy headline, you won’t capture new readers.”

An eye-catching title can make or break a post. Personally, I tend to spend more time developing a worthwhile title than many other things.Regardless of how your post is discovered: From a search engine to a tweet, the first thing a reader will see is that all important “headline” aka the title. Is your title worthy of the content within the post? Does it give the reader a full, enticing glance at what’s to come?

Think about those catchy headlines on glossy magazines as you stand in the supermarket check out line. The titles are designed to lure you in to buy the magazine or tabloid.

Here’s a 3-Step Process to Write Click-Worthy Headlines.

Subheadings break up a post and divide it into sections as this blog post illustrates.

It makes it easier for the reader to use and is another way to hold one’s attention span.

Similarly, bullet points and numbered lists are helpful. Bullet points are useful for stats, benefits, product features, short bits of info, and other data that you want to stand out.

Write

Blogging is not sheer opinion if you want to be considered an expert. I am not an expert in many of the topics on which I blog. I am, however, pretty darned good at finding folks who are experts in their respective fields. I utilize places like HARO (Help a Reporter Out), message boards, groups on Facebook, in-person networking to exchange business cards, industry-oriented mixers, Twitter, and so on.

Experts are out there. You need to find them to add credibility to a blog post. I suggest doing a blog post with opposing views and let your readers decide. Whichever route you take, do your research.

Please please and please check your grammar and spelling: It matters. Read it out loud to make sure that everything makes sense.

A stellar blog post instantly loses its appeal when a run on sentence comes into play and it never stops and the person writing it thinks that I want to stick around because I have nothing better to do than to hear about a great product and how super it is. See how annoying long that was? Don’t do it.

Bring it Home

An abrupt ending leaves the reader scratching their head, so summarize in a nice neat package for them. Re-emphasize your main points, perhaps circle back to your introduction, and give the reader the all-important call to action. A call to action is important at the end of a blog post but also in your social media promotions. A Call to Action is a statement that encourages your readers to take some sort of action.

For example:

  • Subscribe to my newsletter for posts just like this!
  • Add a comment to the bottom of this list and tell me what you think.
  • Follow me on Facebook.

Learn More: Discover how to successfully use a call to action.

Social Media Plan and Promotion

Our own Aimee Beltran says, “Writing blog posts takes a lot of time and hard work. The last thing you want is for nobody to read your posts. That is why you must have a solid promotional plan in place to grow your pageviews and audience. An effective social media marketing plan will help with this.”

Knowing how to promote a blog post and making the time to do so are pivotal to blog post success.

You don’t need to be on every single social media platform, and you don’t have to post everywhere at one time. In fact, the latter is highly frowned upon so as to avoid content saturation. Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, and Co-Schedule allow for timed social media content.

Here are quick ways to promote blog posts (note: It isn’t one and done; be sure to recycle your posts and share social media content throughout the year).

Don’t Stop Now

If you want to start a pet blog and have no idea how to get going so you can use the tactics above, here’s a good place: How to Start a Pet Blog.

Learn how to do keyword research for your next blog post.

If you write it, readers will come, right? Not always, so if you want the readers, then identify them, determine how you will find them , and deliver with a knockout blog post and social sharing plan to enhance its longevity.

Connect Face to Face

Register for the BlogPaws 2018 Conference and invest in you. The BlogPaws 2018 Conference takes place in Kansas City, Missouri, April 18-20.  Join us and get your social media and blogging plans in order!

Bloggers at conference

Your Turn

What’s your process for writing a blog post? Do you have one? Does it resemble the above? Let us know in the comments below. We respond to all comments.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images:  Floral Deco/  GaudiLab /Shutterstock.com

The post How to Write a Knockout Blog Post appeared first on BlogPaws.

How to Clean Up Your Newsletter List

My email list had grown to close to 4,300 subscribers, yet my open rate was faltering. A friend told me, “It’s time to clean up your newsletter list.”

Ack: The thought of cleaning up an email list sent shivers down my spine. I certainly do not want folks to receive my newsletter if they are not opening it, not seeing it, or no longer interested. Some folks sign up for contests or they sign up and never come back for one reason or another. Newsletter and email fatigue is a real phenomenon, folks.

When you know how to clean up your newsletter list, it’s quite refreshing: Out with the old, in with the new, and keep the folks on your subscriber list who genuinely want to be there. What good is a social account or a newsletter subscriber database with 10,000 people if the volume of engagement is mega low?

Sometime around March or April, blogger clean-up posts will invade the Internet. Here at BlogPaws, the start of a New Year, however, is a great time to clean up your email list.

This blog post will provide tips on:

  • Growing an email list
  • Keep your email list clean and scrubbed
  • How to decrease your unsubscribe rate
  • How to stay out of the SPAM pile
  • How to increase your email open rate

Newsletter clean up tips

Growing an Email List

In 2016, I set out to grow my email list and to remove subscribers who no longer belonged on my list for one reason or another. I am happy to report I accomplished both and increased my open rate.

The number one tip for growing an email list is to start with incredibly valuable content. Though it sounds like common sense, without quality content targeted to the right demographic, open rates will be low and engagement even lower. We’re all in a hurry these days, and we have even less time to wade through a long, tedious email. If you promise valuable content that delivers, your subscribers are likely to stick around.

Be conversational in email. Over at Smart Insights, the experts are saying that a conversational tone will ask your users questions, get them thinking and then give them the answer they need – through your CTA directing them to your content that helps/educates them. If your readers can relate to you and feel like you are talking to them instead of over or beneath them, they are likely to stick around.

Add a non-intrusive lightbox form to your site. A lightbox or popup box appears somewhere on your website, perhaps as an overlay, and encourages readers to subscribe to your newsletter. As you know, numbers do not lie, and my numbers are telling me people sign up for my newsletter, open the newsletters, and stay with me! I get quite a few sign-ups to my blog newsletter with this technique, and I am not alone.

Offer a valuable incentive. For many, the days of a one pager in exchange for an email are long gone. People want something of value. The days of giving an email address away for next to nothing are over.

Offer must have valuable content in your newsletter and available ONLY through your newsletter. Remind and promote this offer on your social media channels.

Keeping Your Email List Clean and Scrubbed

Remove non-engaged and inactive users. The first time I did this, I felt like I was pouring weed killer over a bed of roses. It hurts, but you do not want people on your list who truly do not belong there. I am switching newsletter services this year, but when I last did this in the fall, my present newsletter service provided the tools to clean up and scrub my list.

Check with your newsletter provider for the tools in place to help clean up your lists. Before removing any hard-earned subscribers, consider a re-engagement campaign to try and pique their interest. You would include something to recapture their attention and bring them back on board. If this fails, you can either ask them if they want to remain on your list and include a way for them to opt out, or you can simply remove inactive subscribers from your lists.

Manage the bounces: Email lists, like blogs, have a bounce rate, including hard and soft. A soft bounce has to do with a ‘temporary’ deliverables issue, like the server is down or the recipient’s inbox is full. You can retry sending soft bounces. Hard bounces, however, deal with a permanent deliverables problem. For example, an invalid email address will create a hard bounce. Too many bounces can lead to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) blocking your messages. Also, your email newsletter analytics will be affected by bounce rates.

How to Decrease Your Unsubscribe Rate

People need to care about what you have to say. Having 6,000 subscribers means nothing if the content isn’t solving their problems, meeting their needs, or otherwise giving them a reason to stay on that list. What’s the benefit of joining your list? “Join my newsletter now” isn’t a benefit. “Help Your Dogs Live Happier and Healthier” is a benefit to the reader as long as you deliver on it.

Don’t send too many emails: Not only is this annoying, but it comes across as salesy.

Funnel new people into your newsletter and making up for any folks who unsubscribe by using the Facebook call to action button to drive email sign-ups.

If you have a large number of folks who unsubscribe in a short period of time, examine what took place right before that action. Did you send a newsletter out? There must be something about the newsletter or its frequency that led to the unsubscribes. Find out what happened and fix it.

Increase Your Newsletter Open Rate

  1. The subject line must be engaging.
  2. Write valuable content that is quality and targets your demographic.
  3. Send the right email at the right time.
  4. Do not buy email subscribers: You can and will get in very hot water.
  5. Offer subscribers a discount on something with email sign-up. Then send that email right away.
  6. Create a marketing funnel.

How to Stay Out of the SPAM Pile

The folks at Mailchimp have some spot-on tips for keeping out of the SPAM pile, including:

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 became law on January 1, 2004. According to the FTC, if you violate the law, you could be fined $11,000 for each offense—that’s $11,000 for each email address on your list. ISPs around the country have already successfully sued spammers for millions of dollars under this law. If you send commercial email (generally sales or promotional content), you should familiarize yourself with the requirements of CAN-SPAM.

A few key points of the law include:

  • Never use deceptive headers, From names, reply-to addresses, or subject lines.

  • Always provide an unsubscribe link.

  • The unsubscribe link must work for at least 30 days after sending.

  • You must include your physical mailing address.

If someone reports your email newsletter as SPAM, and enough people in turn do so, you will receive an automated warning message in addition to an abuse report being created and sent to your email program and ISP.

Stay out of the SPAM pile. Be clear and transparent.

How to clean up newsletter list

Whitelisting

You might have received emails from a company or bloggers asking you to whitelist your email address so their valuable messages do not end up filtered.  If you are using GMAIL , you might notice a lot of email goes to the “promotions” or junk folder. You want your emails to be whitelisted so they show up in the user’s main tab.

Over at the AWeber Email Service blog, they talk about an easy way to get acquainted with new subscribers and help to get your email address whitelisted. They say:

Reach out to new subscribers with a special question. Two special questions, actually.

Make your first follow-up message the welcome message that includes any links or attachments or information you promised them for signing up. Then follow-up the same day asking the person to let you know if they received the download/information/gift and what they thought about it. This is not only great customer service, but people will reply to let you know, and that whitelists you.

But even better, the next day send another follow-up message and ask a simple question guaranteed to get a great response: What is your biggest problem with ______?

Just fill in the blank with the topic of your business product or service. People love to share their problems, especially with an expert and someone who might be able to help them out.

Each email service has its own tips and recommendations for getting whitelisted, so perform due diligence with your newsletter provider.

Don’t Stop Now

Link to your blog’s signup landing page within your email signature. This is one of the most often overlooked ways to promote a quality email list. On the flip side, I sometimes see an email signature to rival the Gettysburg Address. Keep it short!

Snag more expert tips to grow an email list here

Learn more valuable tips and techniques on social media, influencer marketing, and blogging at the BlogPaws 10th Conference taking place April 18-20, 2018, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Your Turn

Do you have a blog newsletter? How are you capturing emails and continuing to grow your marketing funnel? How can BlogPaws help? Let us know in the comments below.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images: one photo/   Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

The post How to Clean Up Your Newsletter List appeared first on BlogPaws.

The List of Lists Blog Hop

This week’s blog hop is a very popular topic: Lists!!! Lists are one of the best ways to drum up blog traffic IF they are done right.

How to do a blog post of lists

List posts work because the headline pulls you in and grabs your attention. You must learn more about that topic and the headline beckons to you. For example:

  • 10 Ways to Get Your Dog To Drink More Water
  • 7 Ways to Keep Your Cat Healthy
  • 99 Ways to Become a Pet Blogger

Numbers have appeal and your readers will come back for me if you deliver on the attention-grabbing headline. Tell me something, solve a problem, and make the click worth it!

Here are some list ideas for future blog posts to keep your readers happy and your blog growing in 2018 and beyond:

Can You Recognize the 8 Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs?

This type of headline gets your readers involved with “what to watch for” and demonstrates your expertise.


How to Get Your Cat to Love the Vet: Six Easy Steps

The attention grabbing How to is followed with a number of steps: It’s a win win. Be concrete and deliver on your exciting double promise!


Free Download Reveals 20 Secrets to Make Money Blogging

Give your readers a post on making money blogging and then provide a free download with exclusive bonus material if they provide their email. Score!


50 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Vet Bills

You must deliver on this with actionable tips. The 50 number sounds fantastic with a topic that anyone with a pet understands and relates to; communicate to your readers with actionable tips.


Five Types of Pet Parents: Which Style Describes You?

I want to know immediately after reading this. Give your reader categories and let them decide where they fall into them.  In writing “you,” the reader is addressed and the post feels individualized to them.


12 Dog Vocalizations and What They Mean

You immediately establish authority with a stand out title and you also promise to share what those vocalizations mean.


The Curated List Post

This one mines data that already exists and then you put it all together into one lovely blog post. Be certain the information you curate is accurate and know that people love when you give them credit and a backlink in a blog post. They might even share it!


Don’t Forget

Get the Latest in Social Media, Pet Blogging and Pet Influencer Education at the BlogPaws 2018 Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.  If you want the early bird rate before a sell out, claim your BlogPaws 2018 Conference tickets here.

The Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

BlogPaws offers year-round interaction, activity, community and more to learn, earn, and connect. Visit and leave comments on other blogs to make some new buddies and maybe some new followers. You can add the button to your post and/or to your blog sidebar, either by cutting and pasting the image or using the HTML code below. Need help? Here it is:

How to Join a Blog Hop – BlogPaws Tutorial Video: Step by step help to get you started:



Image:   Natalia Rezanovas/ Shutterstock

The post The List of Lists Blog Hop appeared first on BlogPaws.

Advanced Tips To Drive Blog Traffic Using Instagram Stories

There are many creative ways to use Instagram Stories to increase blog traffic, and the Internet is full of recommendations. BlogPaws shared our creative Instagram Stories tips recently, and now to take things to the “next level,” here’s the second of a two-part series. This time around, let’s dive into advanced tips and techniques to drive blog traffic using Instagram Stories as the vehicle.

Using Instagram Stories for blog traffic

Rejoice: Use Older Content in Instagram Stories

It used to be that Instagram Stories only allowed images and videos taken within the past 24 hours on your mobile device. You can now add content to stories from any point in time, so rejoice.

How This Drives Blog Traffic:  The advantage of this is infusing a combo of video and image into Instagram Stories posts.

Insta Hack: Older photos and videos will automatically have a date stamped on their courtesy Instagram. There’s a work around. Just tap it, hold and drag, and put in the bottom of the screen to the trash can icon. You may also want to change the sticker date color and you can do so by tapping on it.

Invite Guests to Instagram Stories Live

This one has set the Insta-world buzzing because you can do live videos with other people without fancy software or confusing apps. Yes, can now invite viewers to be part of your Instagram Live Stories!

Simply start a Live IG Stories broadcast and click the overlapped smiley faces in the bottom right portion of your mobile device once you are live. People who are viewing your live will appear and you can click to invite any of these viewers. A split-screen will appear once they accept the invitation.

Instagram Stories tips

During any live IG Stories broadcast, someone may request to join you in your live video. As you can imagine, you’ll want to be sure to only allow people in whom you know and trust. Otherwise, you can just ignore the request from that viewer to go live with you. When inviting guests into your IG Stories Live, it’s a good idea to ask in advance.

How This Drives Blog Traffic: Provide a clear call to action to your viewers when doing a Live IG Stories broadcast. Tell them to visit your blog post with more on the topic and make it easy for them by providing your blog post URL into the profile section of your Instagram account.

Interactive Poll Stickers for Instagram Stories

People love emojis, stickers, and feeling that their voice is heard. The perfect storm is created with these three elements thanks to the new interactive poll stickers feature for Instagram Stories. Here’s how Instagram describes the interactive poll feature:

Whether you’re trying to plan tomorrow’s outfit, choosing which class to take or figuring out where to go for dinner, now it’s easy to share a two-option poll right in your story. After you’ve taken a photo or video for your story, select the “poll” sticker and place it anywhere you’d like — you can write out your own question and even customize the poll choices.

How This Drives Blog Traffic: You can do this for fun or to get the pulse of your viewers and followers. For example, you can post a video or photo of your cat to Instagram Stories and ask your followers if they want to know more about “cat health” or “cat behavior” in your next blog post. Then, when you write that blog post, thank your followers for the advice, and even cooler: Host an Instagram Live Stories session and talk about the post with a call to action sending followers to your blog post, as detailed above. #winwin

Use Hashtag Stickers With a Purpose

Stickers are used for many different purposes within Instagram and Instagram Stories. Have a purpose to using them and know why you are using them. This is what is meant by “with a purpose;” you only do something if you have a reason for doing so, and that includes hashtags.

Simply tap the sticker that says hashtag on Instagram Stories and customize it with the desired hashtag.

How This Drives Blog Traffic: Other folks can find your story if they are searching that hashtag. It is clickable! So if I use the hashtag “DogHealth” and anyone is looking for doghealth info on Instagram Stories, I will be in that mix!

Insta Hack: If you use certain stickers repeatedly, you can access your favorite stickers by tapping the smiley icon and swipe right. Your recently used stickers will appear. #IKnowRight?

Tag People With a Purpose

When adding text to  Instagram Stories, tag people by clicking typing and start with the @ symbol.  If you follow that person, the icon will pop up. Just tap on it and that person will be tagged in Instagram Stories. This is helpful to help get on the radar of your followers, brands, and more. Just don’t be annoying. At present, you have the ability to tag up to 10 people.

How This Drives Blog Traffic: People who follow you on Instagram Stories are alerted in Instagram Direct Messages, so your friends and followers know you posted an Instagram Live. Maybe one of your followers has a ferret who just won’t eat. You can do an Instagram Stories segment and tag them and share a blog post you wrote to help!

Also, if you tag people who are not following you a notification will appear in their message requests. I get some annoying ones and spammy things, so only tag someone you are certain is okay with being tagged.

Consider Instagram Stories Sharing

If you see an Instagram Stories segment that you like, there’s a way to share the love by sharing other people’s stories. At the bottom right of the Stories screen is a “direct icon,” which resembles a paper airplane, as seen in the image below. Tap that, then tap the friend with whom you want to share the story, write a message, then send.

How to share Instagram Stories

To send a story to a group of folks, tap New Group in the upper right of the share screen, name your group, tap on the check mark icon, then tap send.

If you receive an Instagram Stories alert, it will be within your direct inbox. The story disappears after 24 hours as of this writing, so be sure to view before it’s history.

If you do not want others to share your Instagram Stories, you can turn that feature off within the Instagram Settings menu > Story Settings and toggle Allow Sharing off.

How This Drives Blog Traffic:  By alerting people of your stories, this can be a good traffic builder as long as you are not overtly annoying.

Engage with Other People’s Instagram Stories

At the bottom of Instagram Stories you view, there is a place to write messages. Personally, I love this because everyone loves praise and to be acknowledged. If I see something I like, I let the person know with this feature. You can send text messages or visual reactions. Just tap the camera icon, take a photo or video, snazz up your photo/video if desired with stickers and filters, then send.

How This Drives Blog Traffic:  If you share other people’s stories, this is fostering a sense of giving and puts the ‘social’ in social media.

Comment on Stories with Words or Photos

At the bottom of your friend’s Instagram Stories, you’ll see a place to write a message.It does not have to be a long message, and I often chime in with a few words and/or emojis.  You can also send visual reactions by taping on the camera iconand then taking a photo, Boomerang, video or Rewind. You can decorate your image or video reply with stickers, filters and drawings. Make it jazzy!

Plus, your reply will automatically include a sticker of the Story image you’re replying to. The sticker can be moved and decorated, too. When you’re done, hit Send. Your reply will end up in your friend’s inbox.

Replying only works for people who have comments enabled, though.

Use Instagram Stories for blog traffic

Re-purpose Instagram Stories with a Purpose

I like to save my Instagram Stories and re-purpose them on Facebook or in my private Facebook Group for Cocker Lovers. Not everyone who follows me on Instagram follows me on Facebook and vice versa. There is a cross over, but they can be two completely different audiences. So if you do a blog post, create an Instagram Stories piece around it, save it to your phone. You can choose to save a portion of a story, the entire Instagram Stories segment, or within settings you can adjust so every story is saved.

Go to profile screen, tap the menu. Tap Story Setting under account heading. Slide the Always Save Photos and Videos option under the Camera heading. If you tap the gear icon while on the Instagram Stories screen, you can slide the Always Save Photos and Videos option.

Don’t Stop Now

How Do Instagram Stories Work

How to Develop an Instagram Hashtag Strategy

10 Tips to Create an Instagram Editorial Calendar

Your Turn

Are you using Instagram Stories? How is it working out for you? Anything we can help you with here at BlogPaws? Let us know in the comments and we will respond.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images:   g-stockstudio/forestpathShutterstock.com

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How to Write a Pet Friendly Thanksgiving Blog Post

I am often considered to be “that lady who takes her dog everywhere” in some circles, and nothing could make me more proud.  Having pet friendly holiday traditions is something we look forward to in our family every year. Holiday traditions are meant for the whole family to enjoy, and that family includes your pets, right? As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday with all of its trimmings, do you have a timely blog post planned for your readers?

Here are some ideas to help write a pet friendly Thanksgiving holiday post that will leave your readers wanting a second helping:

How to Write a Pet Friendly Thanksgiving Blog Post

The Give Back

“I want to help but I just don’t know where to start. So many animals need homes.” How often do you hear or see that on social media or IRL (in real life)?! There are things your readers can do. Teach them and better yet, show them.  One person can and does make a difference. Talk about cyber fostering a pet, giving to a favorite charity with food or monetary donations, getting involved with a favorite blog who is hosting a shelter drive, etc. Make an actionable list for your readers.

Pets Over the Rainbow Bridge

Surviving the holiday season after pet loss is indescribable. I know this because I am a member of this group. That first holiday season after a pet dies is very, very raw and emotional, and chances are someone reading your blog feels the same way. If you are grieving a pet, there are things you can do during this holiday season (and year round) to bring a sense of peace to your life. Write a post about the ways to honor a pet who has crossed to the Rainbow Bridge. Provide readers with ways to memorialize their pet no matter how long ago that pet passed on.

Get Involved With The National Dog Show

In true time-honored tradition, NBC will present the popular holiday special, “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina®” on Thanksgiving Day (noon-2 p.m. in all time zones), Nov. 23, following the telecast of NBC’s “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Yours truly represented BlogPaws during an exclusive in-person interview with Mr. David Frei, who co-hosts the annual event with John O’Hurley. You are welcome to embed the video in a blog post about pet friendly things to do on Thanksgiving Day.

You may recall David Frei as emcee of a BlogPaws Conference and now he makes a grand return to the community who embraces him with open arms and paws.

New York Magazine once called David Frei “probably the most famous human in the world of canines.” He is well-known to millions of television viewers as the “Voice of the Westminster Kennel Club” as co-host of USA Network’s annual telecast of the world’s most famous dog show for the past 26 years (since 1990) and as co-host on NBC of The National Dog Show presented by Purina on Thanksgiving Day since its inception in 2002.

A re-airing of the broadcast takes place on Saturday night, November 25th. Check local listings.

For more information, visit: http://www.nationaldogshow.com

Host a Thanksgiving Weekend Casual Meetup

Move over Black Friday, start a new tradition involving your pets. This will take some pre-planning, but perhaps you and a group of your pet-loving friends can come together at a different house each year and spread the cheer, get the pets together, and enjoy some indoor Thanksgiving fun. Show your readers some ideas for pet games and even better, how to be a good canine or feline guest at someone else’s house.

How to Write a Pet Friendly Thanksgiving Blog Post

Retail Therapy

As you peruse the online sales for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, don’t forget the pets. Write a blog post about pet-friendly businesses. Did you know there are a bevy of malls across America that allows dogs (and other well-behaved pets, so call ahead) in many of their stores? Indeed. What yours truly did is plan ahead, found out when Santa was going to have pet-photo night and then did a “three-fer”: We visited the mall, walked in and out of stores together, had Santa photos taken, and then had a wonderful evening driving through lights in the Allentown, Pennsylvania area for Lights in the Parkway.

Arts and Crafts

Are you a blogger who likes to do DIY posts? For those who aren’t out shopping or are trying to escape family squabbles, the Internet is the best place to find pet-friendly projects. Do a Facebook Live and show your followers how to make something and then embed that Facebook Live video into a blog post for more traffic. Wait, there’s more: Include Amazon affiliate links in that blog post to drive traffic to the items needed. This time of year, folks head over to Amazon for small purchases but are likely to buy more things as gifts. It’s a win-win!

People and Pets to Visit

Millions of people and pets are alone this time of year. For those in your area who may not have anyone stopping by, why not take your well-behaved pet to visit? Sometimes visiting a local shelter and asking if you can volunteer is a great way to beat the doldrums. Why keep this idea to yourself? Write a blog post of ways to pay and paw it forward during the holiday season.

Launch Your Holiday Gift Guide(s)

People are shopping now and they will continue shopping in the days and weeks after Christmas to use gift cards they receive as presents. Gift Guides done right are a great way to connect with your readers to help determine content for the coming year. Gift Guides do not have to be products or services; they can be a list of outstanding charities that make an impact. Scroll back through the #BlogPawsChat hashtag from our 11/14/17 chat and learn more about gift guides and how to make them shine. 

Don’t Stop Now

Fall Blog Post Ideas

25 Holiday Blog Post Ideas

Amazon Affiliate How To’s 

Your Turn

It’s your turn. What are you doing with your pets this holiday season? Are you planning any Thanksgiving weekend blog posts? Let us know in the comments below.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own dog blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Image: By Lia KoltyrinaSjale / Shutterstock

 

 

The post How to Write a Pet Friendly Thanksgiving Blog Post appeared first on BlogPaws.

How to Do Keyword Research for Your Next Blog Post

Typing words into a search box is how it starts: Knowing what keywords to use, why to use them, and how to infuse both short and long tail keywords into your next blog post is what this how to is all about. Before you sit down to write your next blog post, here’s what you need to know about keyword research along with the resources to use.

KEYWORD RESEARCH BLOG POST

Getting People to Your Blog

We all want blog traffic and visitors, but the key is in getting the right kind of visitors to your blog. Let’s say you are a cat blogger: Your blog is focused primarily on the health and wellness of felines of all ages. Start your process for overall blog traffic by defining who your ideal visitor is. What is your target reader wanting? Needing? What problems does he or she need solved? What search terms might they use in order to find your blog. This sounds like common sense, but the number of bloggers who skip this step would surprise you.

What is the Meaning of “Good Keyword?”

The traditional definition of a “good” keyword is one that has low competition from other sites attempting to rank with traffic from the keyword along with a high number of monthly searches. Finding that balance is the sweet spot for bloggers. As a blogger, you are competing with bigger brands and bloggers, which is why the battle for high rankings can take years. This matters even more if you are monetizing your blog as an affiliate, for instance, as an Amazon Affiliate.

You must have consistent traffic to your blog to expect to see any sort of monetization result. Being consistent, solving a problem, and being a valued resource to your readers and potential followers are all important elements to gain and maintain blog traffic.

Our friends at DragonSearch say that SEO should not make your fur fall out. SEO and keyword research go hand in hand.

Keyword Resources

Many of the keyword resources that are available are downright confusing. You need not use all of the different tools available; you should know how to use the tools that make sense to you. These include:

Google Keyword Planner

Keyword Planner works to find the keywords that are most relevant to your blog/business.  When used properly, you can infuse lower competition words into your SEO strategy. This is a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the free Google Keyword Tool and sort though the data to find the keywords with the lowest competition and highest average monthly searches on Google:

The super cool part about Google Keyword Planner is its ability to use it for trending words, looking for highly ranked search terms, and to see what your competition looks like in these searches.

Google Suggest

Google Suggest is a great way to see what people are searching for the most.  If your blog is about cat health and wellness, you’ll probably write about cat collar safety at some point. Google Suggest will show you what people search for in relationship to cat collars. See below for a screen shot of what folks are searching for when wanting information on cat collar safety:

ranking key words

Use this opportunity to build some of those terms into your post about cat collar safety.

Wordstream

Again, our friends at DragonSearch recommend the fabulous WordStream tool. You can type in a keyword you have in mind, and the tool will return specific keywords that are strongly associated with what you typed in. Not only are you able to see what people are searching for the most, but it can also give you ideas on content for your site and keywords to include in such content.

Here is an example when using Wordstream to search for the keywords “fish tanks:”

How to do keyword research

Keyword Research Hacks for Bloggers

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty: Tips and hacks to make sure your keyword research time is spent wisely.

  1. In doing keyword research, note what your competition is ranking for with certain keywords that you want to rank for, too. While you want to improve your ranking on them, you need a strategy to make that happen. The BlogPaws blog and Social Learning Community are resplendent in resources for this. Don’t ignore the keyword your competitors are overlooking. This could be a great opportunity for you to dive into these important terms.
  2. Long tail keywords have long staying power if properly executed in blog post. Why long tail? These keywords are more closely related to the questions your readers are asking/searching for; they are actually easier to rank for; and since they target your specific audience, more relevant traffic is directed to your blog. Remember what we said about the “right people” in the first paragraph? Long tail keyword research targets the right people.  More about long tail research below.
  3. Read your blog comments and social media replies for ideas on future blog topics and then infuse the ideas above to target the right keywords to the right audience. You know your audience has problems they want solved and those Easter eggs of information can be found in comments. For example, one of my consistently highest-ranked posts is about how to handle a dog with a ruptured ACL. Apparently, this is a very popular topic as millions of dogs are affected. In my initial research on the topic when my dog was first injured, I realized there was so much information not available to me, the average pet parent. So I wrote the post I wanted to read. My readers asked questions, which turned into another post and an eventual series on the topic.
  4. Normal keywords answer questions, but they are usually too broad to effectively expand on them. If your blog is about dogs, other than the keyword “dog” which is over the top competitive, you need to focus specifically on solving a problem related to dogs. Folks who are trying to find the right dog food for their Pomeranian won’t type “dog” into a search engine. They would, using long-tail phrasing, type something like “What dog food should I feed my Pomeranian?” Knowing how to use the right terms without overstuffing your blog post is crucial to the post’s success and not getting penalized by Google.
  5. Some bloggers like the Moz SEO Toolbar, which is free. The MOZ SEO Toolbar helps you gain more insights into the articles within your search results.
  6. Ubersuggest: This is a free tool I call upon from time to time. Once you input your keywords, check out all your selected Keywords in the right sidebar of the Ubersuggest site and click on get to copy all the Keywords. Once you land on Ubersuggest, a helpful video appears to walk you through.

KEYWORD RESEARCH FOR BLOG POSTS

Don’t Stop Now

SEO Should Not Make Your Fur Fall Out

Jill Caren of 2 Dogs Media wrote a fabulous post with more tips on keyword and SEO ranking, so do not miss it.

3 Steps for Finding Juicy Keyword Nuggets

Your Turn

Do you struggle with keyword research? How’s your blog traffic? Are you using the tools above? Let us know in the comments below.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own dog blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images: Dusan PetkovicPeter Bernik/ Shutterstock

The post How to Do Keyword Research for Your Next Blog Post appeared first on BlogPaws.

Get Your Blog Ready for the Holiday Season NOW

How do you get your blog ready for the holidays? Ah, the age-old question.

The first answer is not a how, but a when. As of early September, the time to get your blog ready for the holiday season is now. As an added bonus, here are hardcore, hands-on tips you can start using right away to make magic on your blog this holiday season. After all, traffic is every blogger’s perfect present!

how to prep a blog for the holidays

Clean It Up: Front End and Back End

1. Be sure your blog looks professional from a front-facing perspective as well as on the ‘back end.‘ Is your blog uncluttered, are links working, are your header and contact information up to date, and just when is the last time that ‘About Me’ page was updated?

Stand out from the crowd and try a unique spin on your About Me page:

Make a List: Sometimes a list that is easily scannable is just the ticket, like this:

10 Things About Maryann Smith

1 In school, the kids used to call me “Star Bright” and I loved that.

2 I never owned a cat until I was 23 and now I am hooked.

3 I played the tuba until my dad told me to take up the clarinet. Now I am a whiz at it.

2. Design Tweak Magic: First impressions are everything and that goes for blog appearance. If I stumble on your blog, you want me sticking around. Like an oil check for a car, here are 7 design tweaks you can do in a weekend.

3. Keep Hackers Away: You can never guarantee that you won’t be hacked, but you can make it harder for hackers to get in. A firewall can protect from intrusions and scan your files for issues. Is your virus scan up to date? Are you changing your passwords? Is your back end running smooth and plug ins are up to date? Read more: Tips for Internet Security: Your Email.

Back Up So You Don’t Crack Up

Backups can be life savers, but many bloggers don’t back up regularly. This is a task I perform at least monthly in addition to my photo backup services.

Here are 3 Steps to Make Your Blog More Secure

Back Up So You Don’t Crack Up

Prep blog for holidays

Images Preparation

You should always add pictures to your blog – but only when it makes sense. Similarly, any image on social media should be clean, clear, and representative of your brand. As an influencer, you are a brand. Now is the time to start taking images, getting deals on props, learning a photo editing software tool, and snagging deals on stock photography where you plan to use it.

Sounds like a lot, right? It is, which is now is the time to prep your blog for the holidays. High-quality images increase the engagement on your post and encourage others to share your content.

Tyler Brown of DragonSearch told BlogPaws, “Our biggest and most important tip – stay away from Google searches! Google images return pictures that best match your search query from thousands of websites. Even though these pictures may fit your search, they don’t belong to Google. Using these pictures interfere with copyright laws, and you don’t want to steal someone’s photo!”

Optimize Blog Images for SEO and Get More Tips

Of course, if free stock photography is more your style, then check out these 3 places to find free stock photos.

Be sure to attribute any photos properly to avoid getting into legal hot water. No one was a takedown notice for the holidays. Be sure to attribute to the right party in the right format. Stock photo sites detail this information.

Is your style your own?  Here’s How to Create a Branding Strategy for Your Pet Blog

Holiday Editorial Calendar

Like Christmas shopping, blog posts can creep up on you without warning and then boom, it’s a frenzy. The holidays are hectic enough without worrying last minute about content. Create an editorial calendar. Truth be told, as much as love Trello, I use little sticky notes in a paper planner for my actual blog post plans. Here’s how we use Trello as a blogging editorial calendar, and you can, too!

Determine if you actually have time to work for brands and take on sponsored content. If so, how much sponsored content is right for you?

Don’t go it alone: The holidays are the perfect time for blogger collaborations. Are you a part of the two BlogPaws Facebook groups? Every Wednesday in the News and Boost Facebook Group, we host a Wants and Needs post. Ask your collaboration questions there!

Think outside the box with editorial content: Are you a DIY blogger? Do you ever blog about pet food? Why not infuse the two concepts into holiday posts?

Sponsored posts and campaigns are not the right place to try something for the first time. Test now. What works for you?

Need holiday theme inspiration? Check out our comprehensive list of holidays to blog about. At the very least, start prepping your blog and get images ready for the various social networks. You can fill in content later. 

Media Kit Mania

If you plan to work with brands, they will likely want to see your media kit. Is your current media kit where you want it to be content and branding wise?

A media kit is your blog’s calling card: a business card or synopsis of your blog in a snapshot. Discover how to make a blogger media kit here.

An Interest in Pinterest

NOW is the time to get those pins ready and get to pinning! Here’s a quick checklist:

  • If you sell products, include a “Pin This” button on them.
  • Know when to Pin: The folks over at Tailwind (scheduling for Pinterest) say that “in a post-Smart Feed world, Pinterest is looking for signals of user engagement in order to rank your Pin…If your content is posted at a time when it’s likely to get in front of the right people when they are most likely to engage with it, you are sending a powerful signal to Pinterest that they should show it now, often, and to more people!” Start looking at your Pinterest analytics and Google Analytics. What’s working? What isn’t? What times are your pins getting the most engagement?
  • Add descriptions to your pins with holiday-related keywords.
  • Create a board on Pinterest specifically for your blog posts. Followers on Pinterest can easily access your posts and you have a place to show brands, advertisers, and others with whom you want to work. When you write a blog post, pin it to your blog’s board on Pinterest along with:
    • The perfect pinnable image for that blog post;
    • An optimized Pin description about the post;
    • A link directly to your blog post when the Pin is clicked;

Get a refresher below or start jumping in, feet first, to these oh-so-Pinnable and helpful Pinterest posts:

Using Pinterest to Drive Traffic

Pinterest Tips for Better Blogging 

How to Use Pinterest for Blog Traffic

Your Turn

What are you doing to prep your blog in time for the holidays?

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own dog blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images:  Floral Deco / ouh_desire / Shutterstock

The post Get Your Blog Ready for the Holiday Season NOW appeared first on BlogPaws.

How to Promote a Giveaway on a Blog

Do you know how to promote a giveaway on a blog to get entries rolling in? Consider this scenario: You just published a giveaway or contest on your blog and are sitting back, waiting for the entries to come pouring in. Crickets! The worst sound a blogger can hear is the sound of silence. BlogPaws to the rescue! Publishing a blog giveaway or blog contest is the fun part; promoting it and making sure the right audience sees it are keys to success.

Here’s how to promote your next blog giveaway or blog contest like a pro:

Promoting a blog giveaway or blog contest

Post to Giveaway Websites

There are contest junkies out there: Folks who visit your site or your giveaway simply to enter the drawing. Many of these folks will fall off, unsubscribe, or only return for the next giveaway. This is a fact of life and part of the giveaway landscape.

That said, here are some giveaway websites to consider for promotion:

Online Sweepstakes: Free. One of the oldest and most frequently used giveaway promotional sites. This site tends to bring in solid traffic for any giveaways I’ve run.

Blog Giveaway Directory: Free and premium versions

Sweeps-Takes: Free.

Just Sweep: Free and premium selections.

Giveaway Promote: Basic listing is $6.

Contest Girl: “If you know of a sweepstakes that I don’t have on my site, please tell me about it.”

Win a Sweepstakes: Free.

Remember: Not all giveaway, sweeps, and contest listing sites are created equal. Read the rules, the terms, and only promote where it makes sense to your content and goals.

Hey, Why Didn’t I Think of That?

StumbleUpon can work in your favor by doing what it does best: Stumbling upon great content and shareable stuff on the Internet. StumbleUpon is free, and if enough people “stumble upon” your content after you submit it, you may get some decent traffic to the giveaway.

Social Shares

If you promote your giveaway one time on social, then entries are likely not to be super high from referral traffic.

Twitter can be your best friend with giveaway promotions. BlogPaws’ Director of Community Education, Felissa Elfenbein, says, “Promote the heck out of it on Twitter with hashtags including #giveaway or #sweeps or #win and get it into chore threads so that it gets retweeted to more eyes that will enter.”

She says not to view the chore thread to be your entries but to get it in front of the people that will enter.

What is a chore thread? If you are a member of the BlogPaws Facebook News and Boost group, you are familiar with chore threads. These are threads or groups that take place daily or weekly wherein members post social media links and everyone partakes and reciprocates.

For example, in the BlogPaws Facebook News and Boost group, Tuesdays are dedicated to Twitter re-tweets. Everyone in that chore thread must retweet the listed tweets.

Pinterest is social media search engine, not a social media platform. With that in mind and the Smart Feed feature, by the time a contest or giveaway gains momentum, it may be over. There are folks who use Pinterest for giveaways, and if you are interested, the folks at Rafflecopter have some solid Pinterest giveaway advice.

Pet blogger and long-time BlogPaws Community member Dawn Miklich has a Facebook group to list Pet Contests and Giveaways you can request to join as a blogger and/or someone who wants to enter giveaways.

How to promote blog giveaway or blog contest

Dedicated Newsletters

Do you have an email newsletter? Promote your giveaway with a section in the newsletter or a dedicated eblast about the giveaway if it is something of value to your subscribers.

Need help growing an email list? CLICK THIS: Expert Tips to Grow an Email List

Virtual Assistance Help: Strength in Numbers

Elfeinbein suggests the help of a virtual assistant (VA) with a giveaway.

“Honestly, if I had a giveaway, I would be paying a VA to list it for me,”  she recommends. “I don’t have that kind of time on my hands at this point.”

If you have a giveaway for a sponsor, such as a sponsored giveaway, hire a VA who will list your giveaway for you in a number of places for a nominal fee. The VA might be listing 25 or more other giveaways for influencers, so your costs are kept down while saving you time to promote in other places.

Linky Sites

The Wordless Wednesday blog hop is one of the longest running linky hops in the pet influencer space, and the original. Linky parties and hops are not exclusive to Wordless Wednesday.

Adding giveaways to linky sites may help with the giveaway traffic. Here’s list of linky sites for giveaways. Remember, not every site or linky hop is right for everyone.

Remember, hosting a blog giveaway is a great way to bring in new readers or build up your social media following. You can’t just set it and forget it. Giveaways are not a crockpot meal: You need to nurture them, promote them, stir and turn the heat up frequently.

Final Thoughts on Giveaways

Determine if your giveaway is legal: “Consideration” is something to keep in mind. If you give something away from a sponsor, prize or money, tread cautiously about how you proceed. If you require participants to like or follow you, the law may deem this “consideration.” Have you ever sent participants to a third party and then instructed them to come back to your blog? You might be treading into “illegal lottery” status. This is not to say you can’t run a giveaway, but understanding what is legal and illegal is imperative. Sara of SavingforSomeday.com shares important blog law posts worth a peek.

One of the many methods influences use to engage fans, draw traffic, and work with pet product and service companies is to host a giveaway or contest. It seems easy enough: You set rules, you post the contest, and you watch as entries roll in.

There are, however, rules and legalities pet bloggers need to know before posting any sort of product or prize contest or giveaway.

Links for More

Don’t stop now. If you are considering hosting a giveaway, there are a lot of things to consider, and BlogPaws has you covered. Check this out: The Mechanics of Hosting a Blog Giveaway.

Your Turn

Do you host giveaways or contests? Are you successful with entries? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own dog blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images: Floral Deco /  garagestock / Shutterstock.com

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