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. 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  /

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

Blog Hop: Social Media Hot Tips for 2018

It’s the year to own your destiny. Heck, if you need even another reason, how about this: YOLO! You only live once, so why not make the next 365 days the best ones to come?  If you are on social media, then here are a bevvy of hot tips for 2018. Buckle up because some of these may surprise you and others, of course, you’ve seen them coming.


Video, Video and More Video

Fact: Forbes says, “Nearly half of businesses are already implementing social videos, with another 26 percent planning to implement in 2018.”

BlogPaws Hot Tip: Know how and why you are producing videos for social media, if they make sense for you, and invest in the right equipment to make them happen. (Note: the investment need not be large scale).  Are you making these social media video mistakes?

Robots Are Taking Over – AI Style

Fact: Artificial intelligence will tell you which media ads in which variation perform the best. Forbes says that users can automate campaigns so that your best-performing posts boost to the biggest audience.

BlogPaws Hot Tip: You will still need to spend on much of social media in order to seek the desired results. Automation is here. Here’s why you should consider Facebook advertising.

The Rise of Instagram Stories

Fact: Instagram Stories will continue its upward ascent across the social media landscape. Consider that an account with 10,000 followers or more can also add links to their stories.

BlogPaws Hot Tip: If you follow this blog or do a search of this blog for “Instagram” or “Instagram Stories,” you will note we were ahead of this trend as it becomes a permanent part of social media domination. Here are some Advanced Tips To Drive Blog Traffic Using Instagram Stories.

Virtual and Augmented Reality Comes to Social Media

Fact: The folks at ImpactBND share, “While augmented reality’s initial impact will be on mobile gaming, it is likely that social media platforms will find more ways to incorporate the new technology as well.”  They share that Facebook, has been working on a project called Spaces that is designed to allow friends to connect in virtual reality.

BlogPaws Hot Tip: This truly gives new meaning to “face to face” and that’s a cue to snag your BlogPaws 2018 Conference ticket now.

Influencer Marketing Plants Its Flag

Fact: According to, “Companies like North Face, Hubspot and Rolex use social media–based influencer marketing strategies to connect with new audiences and improve engagement with existing audiences.”

BlogPaws Hot Tip: BlogPaws has long been ahead of this trends and envisions influencer marketing to finally gain the respect it so rightfully deserves.

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:  garetsworkshop / Shutterstock


The post Blog Hop: Social Media Hot Tips for 2018 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.


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 /

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


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/ /

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

12 Ways to Invest in Your Blog Blog Hop

The first week of 2018 I do not make any huge decisions nor heavy declarations. I like to be different and invest in myself in a way that is unique to me. If you feel the same way, here is a bonus: 12 ways to invest in your blog (one for each month or 12 at once). This first blog hop of 2018 is dedicated to investing in your most important asset: YOU!


  1. Attend the BlogPaws 2018 Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, April 18-20. Not only is this our 10th conference full of surprises, top notch speakers, and brands, but it is also an investment in you and your blog. Nothing beats the face-to-face and nose-to-nose interaction of a BlogPaws Conference. Secure your conference tickets here.
  2. Get active in the BlogPaws Social Learning Community. Growing from our annual pet blogging and social media conference to our member-driven online community, BlogPaws now brings you a professional learning environment. Join us for ongoing training focused on the evolving skills, tools, and techniques needed for your success as a blogger and influencer online.
  3. Search the BlogPaws blog for content to take your blog to the next level. Looking to grow an email list? Start a Facebook Group? Get better at Instagram? Type your query in the search box and have fun learning.
  4. Visit the site daily as we updated content five days of the week (Monday through Friday). If you used a feed like BlogLovin, be sure to add us.
  5. Take the BlogPaws Social Media Challenge: This challenge is designed to help you feel more confident trying new things as we prepare to enter a new year. As we share tips, tricks, and action items, we’ll all learn how to grow our social channels while supporting each other through the Social Learning Community!
  6. Bask in a Year’s Worth of Social Media Improvement Blog Posts: We encourage you to embrace these posts and apply the knowledge from each to your own social media presence and goals.
  7. Write for BlogPaws: We are thrilled to announce that the BlogPaws blog is now accepting pitches for paid contributions. Please read the pitching guidelines carefully first.
  8. Become a member of the BlogPaws Pet Influencer Network.
  9. Join the BlogPaws News and Boost Facebook Group and the BlogPaws Social Learning Community Facebook Group.
  10. Come to #BlogPawsChat every Tuesday of the month except the third Tuesday on Twitter from 8:30 to 9:30 pm EST.
  11. Set notifications on Facebook so that BlogPaws shows up in your news feed. We do live Facebook videos, share exclusive content, updates, social media news, and more.
  12. Head over to the BlogPaws Social Learning Community on Facebook to watch our video series with various social media and blogging experts.

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:  Carl Kerridge

The post 12 Ways to Invest in Your Blog Blog Hop appeared first on BlogPaws.

Last Call for Early Bird BlogPaws 2018 Blog Hop

Fa la la, and a new year is dawning. This final week of 2017 blog hop is dedicated to early bird pricing for the BlogPaws 2018 Conference.

BlogPaws early bird reminder

We know how busy things are during the holiday season, so you may have missed the news that Early Bird pricing for the 10th BlogPaws Conference expires on New Year’s Eve. Don’t miss out, and secure your ticket before the ball drops and the early bird pricing disappears.

Speaker Application Deadline Extension Due to the Holidays: Because we know folks are celebrating, getting ready for and are ensconced in the holidays, we are extending the Speaker Call Out for the BlogPaws 2018 Conference. New Deadline to apply is 11:59 pm EST on 12/31/17. Details and link to apply here.

When the ball drops on New Year’s Eve in New York City, the application process closes. Don’t wait, apply if you want to be considered!!!!

What are the Dates of the Conference? Wednesday, April 18 through Friday, April 20, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri, at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center.

Can I Stay at the Host Hotel? YES! The BlogPaws 2018 Conference takes place at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. NOTE: There are a semi-limited number of hotel rooms left for Tuesday, April 17th, which is fine because the Conference officially kicks off on Wednesday afternoon, April 18th. Opening reception is Wednesday evening, so this gives you plenty of time to drive or fly in! For any assistance with booking dates outside the official BlogPaws hotel block, email

What is the Official Hotel Group Rate Link?  Click for BlogPaws 2018 Hotel Group Rate.

Happy Holidays to you and your pets!

 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:

The post Last Call for Early Bird BlogPaws 2018 Blog Hop appeared first on BlogPaws.

How to Develop a Source Guide for Blog Posts

Any reputable journalist will tell you that when reporting or writing an article, sources are essential. A source guide is one tool in the blogger’s arsenal of must haves, and this post will explain how and why to develop your very own source guide for blog posts.

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 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.

How to develop blog post source guide

Source Guide for Blog Posts

Over the years as a writer, blogger, and in working in the PR/social media/marketing spaces of the pet sector, I’ve amassed a source guide. I happen to lay my source guide out in spreadsheet format in Excel. Whatever format you choose, knowing how to develop a source guide for blog posts will become your second best friend (next to your pets, of course). Here’s a step-by-step plan to make it happen:

Determine The Format

Before you start a collection of names and contact information, decide on its format. These options include, but are not limited to:

  • Google Drive Spreadsheets
  • Excel spreadsheets
  • Twitter Lists: I have several and love them because I can get to know the source, retweet and engage, and add them to my source guide (more about that later).

It’s really a preference and I happen to use both and then back up my data monthly using an online backup service along with a hard drive for extra security.

Learn How to Find Expert Sources for a Blog Post

In her post for BlogPaws, writer Reyna Gobel recommends the following tips (and she should know, as she has appeared on, in Modern Dog, and on

  1. Start by contacting associations.
  2. Don’t be afraid that you’re blog is too small for a professional or association to respond.
  3. Use referrals from other sources.
  4. Pay attention to how study information is gathered and date available.

Read Gobel’s advice article on How to Find Expert Sources for a Blog Post.

Decide When to Source an Expert (or More) For a Blog Post

On this topic, Gobel shares, “When I sit down to write a blog or article, my first or at least second thought is always, “Am I an expert enough to write this article with authority?” If I’m not, how do I find the best source?”

There are many times when you should look for a source or more for your blog post. In doing so, you add an expert flavor, credibility, and facts to the post. Opinion posts are fine but if you are writing about something that is beyond your opinion, consider sources. Gobel says these are three reasons to seek a source:

  1. When you’re dealing with a medical issue.
  2. A statistic that can help your readers feel less alone in their situation.
  3. If you are a subject matter expert, you don’t necessarily need to source someone else.

You can read the entire article on when to source an expert for a blog post.

Using Online Sources for a Blog Post

As a dog health and wellness blogger, I am very familiar with using online sources for my blog posts because I use this tactic frequently. Most of us can agree that not all online sources are credible. “Just because one reads it on the Internet does not make it true,” and all that jazz.

Here are a few considerations when determining whether to use an online source:

  • Is the source credible and well known?
  • What is the background of the source?
  • Is the potential source educated in his or her field of supposed expertise?
  • Does the source provide documentation with links to support their case?
  • What is the date of the material where the potential source appears? (you want current or updated)
  • Is the source someone controversial? (which is fine if that’s what you are seeking)
  • Does the source mention that permission must be granted before being cited? If so, get it.

Source guide for blog

How to Properly Cite Online Sources

This topic can be a complete session at a BlogPaws Conference, and I see online sources improperly cited or not cited when they need to be all the time. For example, let’s say you are writing a blog post and USA Today is a source because you read an article on their site by one of their writers. This is called newsjacking, and since this is a credible source, you must give credit where credit is due, like this:

We recently discovered that USA Today (provide link) predicts that in 2018, ferrets will rule the Internet.

The folks at Hubspot say, “One thing to keep in mind when quoting text from someone else’s website is that many companies have content usage guidelines that will let you know how, or if, they want you to use their content.” Here are the Content Usage Guidelines for Hubspot so you can get a better understanding of what to look for in your sourcing pursuits.

Never copy and paste someone’s else whether in print or online. Always cite your source and cite the source in the correct manner.

What if you found a compelling quote on another blog or in an online resource that you want to include in your own blog post? Quoting the person is crucial and including the link to the page where the quotation appears is a must. The website you quote will get a pingback, you now appear on their radar, and you can even take this one step further. We love Hubspot’s technique in citing online sources:

They write, “…there’s still some internet etiquette that goes along with quoting someone other than just throwing some quotation marks around their statement. Here’s an internet-friendly way to quote someone in your content (taken from an old blog post of ours):”

how to cite on the internet
Notice how they linked out to the source but they also adding icing to the online cake but advising their readers to follow the source on Twitter AND they provided a link to the source’s Twitter account.
I’ve used this technique and it’s a great way to get on the radar of media, too!

How to Connect With a Source

Let’s say the source you want to connect with is more than something you read online. Get on the source’s radar and look them up on Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Facebook. I’ve written to potential sources before and prior to doing so, I start getting to know them and their work. For example, if I know I want a source like Dr. Marty Becker to provide me with a quote for a blog post, I know that I have to get creative.

I met Dr. Becker at a BlogPaws Conference and we did selfies with my dog. I would write Dr. Becker a friendly email, share the photo, lead with reminding him how we met, and ask if he would be so kind as to contribute a quote for an article. Make the email short and sweet and to the point. I receive hundreds of pitches a month and I love when folks are friendly and direct.

Other ways to connect with sources are:

  • Comment on their blog/website
  • Retweet their content
  • Engage with their business page on Facebook
  • Get to know them on LinkedIn
  • Read their articles and get to know them

Tip: Don’t be spammy and artificial. Pitches that start, “I just read your article on dog winter tips and loved it. Hey would publish something on your blog that I wrote?” No, no, and more no. Even though you are looking for sources, the same online etiquette and common sense holds true. Get connected by being connected.

I start looking for sources for blog posts weeks to months in advance. How, you might be wondering, can I do that so far in advance? The beauty of an editorial calendar means I can plan ahead so that I can get sources well in advance of my planned blog content. I use this same technique when writing for other media like magazines and newspapers.

Again, there are many ways to set up an editorial calendar. Here’s how to use Trello as an editorial calendar.

What to Put in Your Content Source Guide

Once you have connected with someone, you should add them to your content source guide. Here’s a snippet of mine to use as an example:

How to find sources for blog


Think of your source guide as your modern day Rolodex. I keep the title of the contact as one of five or six different options. I do this so when I write a blog post on a topic, I can easy sort and then search for someone that makes sense for the post.

In Conclusion

A blog post with credible sources adds many layers to your online portfolio. Sources show that you take your work seriously;  proves that even if you aren’t an expert on a topic, you are willing to put the time in to find someone who is; and credit with pingbacks to the source are always welcomed.

Your Turn

Do you ever use sources in your blog posts? How do you find them? Are you properly citing them? 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:  Flaffy /  Twin Design /

The post How to Develop a Source Guide for Blog Posts 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.

How To Do a Social Media Audit

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means it is also a perfect time to engage in a social media audit of your social properties. Step by step, no matter what time of year you are reading this blog post, this information will serve to look under the rock that is all of your social media properties. Doing so will keep you running smoother, growing stronger, and embracing the social media channels on which  you need to be focused.  By performing a social media audit, you will see where  you are at present on your platforms, review patterns of where you are headed, and also discover what you can improve on in the process.

A social media audit is more than listing platforms and how many followers you have for each; it means going in depth to see where you’ve been and where you are headed. On that note, here’s how to get started:

Social Media Audit

Inventory of Social Media: Where You Are and Where to Go

All of the advice posts and technical articles about social media mean absolutely nothing without a social media plan in place. The first step in doing a social media audit is determining where you are in terms of platforms and where you want to go (platforms you need to be on).

  1. First, audit your brand profiles, links, images, and account/about information across platforms. First impressions are everything, especially on social media. If I landed on your LinkedIn page, for example, is your information up to date? Are all addresses, emails, and “about” sections current and reflective of you and your brand?
  2. Second, change passwords. This is a key element of a social media audit.
  3. Third, determine your brand’s consistency and variations. Our Director of Community Education, Aimee Beltran, writes about how to create a branding strategy for your blog. The same holds true for social media: What works on Pinterest would be different on Twitter. How you “talk” on Facebook varies from personal page to business page.
  4. Fourth, list all the platforms you are on. This can be as simple as a piece of paper, or for the more e-planner types, you can use Trello or Google Drive with a spreadsheet. In Trello, you can set up a column for each platform you are on at present.
  5. Fifth, get to analyzing. This is one of the first things I do when assessing social media platforms with which I engage. The social media audience you have on Facebook is likely to be a bit different on Instagram, so keep that in mind. Factors like interests and demographics of each platform come into play with the analysis process. If you want to reach more women, for example, between the ages of 25 and 45 on your Facebook page, but you are not capturing that demographic at present, determine why.

Community Analytics

Each social media platform you engage on has its own unique community. For the purposes of an audit, look at each channel and determine if you have an upward trend in terms of follower growth.  Keep in mind that someone with a million followers and 2 percent engagement is missing the mark. A smaller and more engaged community is more valuable to brands, your blog, your online influence, and longevity.

Included in analytics is knowing one’s own community by social media platform. Detailed demographic data, such as that provided by Facebook, includes everything from country to gender, age range and even interests. Are you targeting the right audience? If you don’t know this information, ThriveHive has a great article on finding your target audience.

Google Analytics is one of the most robust tools you can use in a social media audit.

Where is your audience and in which time zone? Google Analytics and Facebook Insights are tools to determine this.

Audit Content

Content is the cornerstone of any social media plan. What are you posting and when? Look at the types of content you post on social: video, text, and images. What type of content does well for you? Are videos doing better than images? Are visitors to your social media platforms staying to watch the whole video you post or a quick three seconds?

Timing is everything, as the saying goes. The same holds true in the social media space. What time of day does content perform better for you?

A SWOT analysis comes in handy at this point. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Pet blogger Bryn Nowell, says, “A S.W.O.T. analysis is a tool used to benchmark internally and externally, using the key factors that you, the blogger, view to be important measures of success. The acronym stands for Strengths Weakness Opportunities and Threats. Typically represented in a grid, businesses can visualize the current and potential areas for success and items of concern in a single snapshot.”

Read More: The Importance of Conducting a SWOT Analysis

Social Media Audit

Assess Spend

Are you putting money into boosts, ads, etc on social media? If you spend money on social promotion and boosts, the engagement on the posts should be proportionate to the money you are spending. For example, if you spend $1,000 on a Facebook ad, and it merits a 20 cent per click engagement, that is likely to be a good measurement if it was a targeted ad. However, if the ad merited 50 cents per click, then that ad is probably not working for you. In looking at your ad spends month over month, you can look for patterns of what is and isn’t working.

Data assessment and checking your spend each month will reveal important information for future spends and if the social media advertising is worth it. Keep in mind, the spend might be worth it if you are targeting the right audience with the right type of content at the right time.

Set Goals

Now that you did the assessment, it’s time to implement some goals. Take a peek at your Twitter followers, for example. Look at the number and set a goal for how many followers you want by the follow month at the same time. If you are on SnapChat and have zero use for it, and after performing a demographic study, you decide it isn’t worth your time, then nix it. Not every platform is made for you to be on. You may not LIKE a certain platform, but it might make sense to be on it if your audience is there.

What platforms should you be a part of? It depends on your needs, goals, and where you tribe is: Find that tribe and then pursue them. Here’s how to decide what social media platforms to be on.

Choose the social media platforms you have the time to both develop and maintain. Don’t get involved in a social media channel because everyone else is doing it. I tend to stay with the “pick four and no more” rule of social media (it’s my rule, by the way). Maybe yours is “Pick Five to Stay Alive.” Whatever you decide, stick to it. Pick your beams.

It’s one thing to have a presence on social media. It’s another thing to let said presence become stagnant. Use and maintenance on social media is where the effort resides.

Kick or Keep

Make a record of which types of content and topics work for your audience on each platform and and then get to creating more of the same.

Let’s use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for this example, What is your follower count on each platform each month? Is it increasing? Is the engagement rate on each platform increasing or staying the same? If it is faltering or on a downslide, why? How many posts are you sharing on each platform each week? You want social media to improve on your networks. Keep the platforms you need to be on based on the demographic portion of your audit.

Social Media Planning

You must have a social media plan in place after completing the audit. Couple this with a social media editorial calendar. It sounds like a lot of work, and at first it is, but in keeping track of this monthly, you can get your social media affairs in order.

Here’s How to Use Trello as a Blogging Editorial Calendar, and the same applies to social media.

On Instagram, if you decide to focus there, and most pet influencers should and do, then consider having an Instagram Editorial Calendar in place.  Here are 10 tips to create an Instagram Editorial Calendar.

Training Needs

Once your social media audit is complete, there will be obvious needs in place. Every time I do an assessment of social media platforms, I realize where I:

  • Need more training
  • Areas that need improvement
  • Weaknesses that are identified and need focus

No matter who you are and how long you’ve had a social media presence, there should always be areas where you need improvement. Personally, I want to get better with my email marketing because I know the one community I can always count on are my tried and true subscribers. Email subscribers are hungry for your information, whereas social media platforms can disappear at any time. Are you converting followers from social to email? These are questions to ask yourself, identify needs, and then implement them.

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.

Are you taking advantage of the BlogPaws Social Learning Community?

Three Month Assessment

I personally review social media monthly, and I suggest you do the same. I have a spreadsheet set up on Google Drive, but you might prefer it elsewhere. At the very least, assess your social media platforms every quarter for maximum results and improvement.

Don’t Stop Now

Discover these related topics:

25 Ways to Promote a Blog Post After Publishing

How to Set Blogging Goals for The New Year

How to Make Your Pinterest Images Rock

Your Turn

How often do you perform a social media audit? Where can you use improvement? Share 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:   Lisa A /  GaudiLab /

The post How To Do a Social Media Audit appeared first on BlogPaws.