When all is said and done, the key to your blog’s success or failure is its content. You can drive traffic to your site, but if your content is not engaging with your audience and converting them from traffic into leads, then there is no point in going to all that effort to get the traffic in the first place.
Copywriting and content marketing are two huge areas of expertise that I am only just starting to scratch the surface of myself. But I have set up a system that I’ve been using recently to write my own articles – a ‘cheat sheet’ if you will. It has, in my opinion, served me well so far.
Before I reveal my cheat sheet, the first thing I would recommend you do is compile a list of template headlines. The headline is the most important part of any article. The fact is, if you don’t have an engaging headline, the vast majority of people will not read your content. I will be going into this subject in detail at a later date.
So when you are ready to write an article, the bare minimum you should have is:
- A list of template headlines from which you can draw inspiration, and
- Your article writing cheat sheet.
The cheat sheet should serve to remind you of exactly why you are writing the article, and what goal you are looking to achieve in writing it.
My Cheat Sheet
Fortunately, it is not as complicated as the one in the photo! I will probably add to and refine it in the future, but it serves me well for the time being.
First of all, when I have come up with an idea, I answer three questions before I start work on the article’s content:
- What is the core message of the article?
- What problem am I addressing?
- Is it relevant to my audience?
The next thing I do is come up with a title. I will likely conjure up 3-5 different titles from my template list, then pick the one I like most. I then go back to the three questions I answered and check that my title is still relevant to the article.
Following that, I draft a rough version of the article. I will usually leave it for a few hours, or overnight, and come back to it cold. I find this extremely helpful in producing more focused and coherent content, as often when I come back to an article, I will want to make some pretty large alterations and/or additions.
Once I am finished with the article and have read it aloud to myself to make sure that there are no glaring spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors, I then ask myself the following questions:
- Is my writing entertaining?
- Is it engaging?
- Does it tackle the problem addressed?
- Does it fulfill its promise (that is usually laid out in the headline)?
And that is it! Once I am happy that the answers to the above four questions are all ‘yes’, I am ready to publish!
What Works For You?
As I have already said, this is the method I am using at the moment, and it has in my opinion been working pretty well (you may think otherwise ;)).
But how about you? How do you write your content? Are your methods similar to mine, or do they differ?
Photo courtesy of Jan Kaláb
There is not one successful person in the entire world who has not experienced failure. By that logic, failure is at some point necessary in order to succeed, which turns the commonly-held concept of success on its head.
What many “get rich quick” schemers don’t want you to know is that whilst success can be ‘instant’ in a sense, it is always built upon solid foundations that took years to build.
The Jeffrey Archer School of Success
If you are not familiar with his work, Jeffrey Archer is an English author, former politician, and convicted criminal (I threw that one in there for dramatic effect, but it is true!).
His books have featured in the New York Times bestsellers list, and some have been adapted for television. So you can consider him to have been pretty damn successful in his time.
4 Success Secrets Of Infamous British Author, Jeffrey Archer, says the following:
Archer’s first book — Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less — was rejected by 13 publishers before being accepted. The 14th gave him a £3000 advance.
Archer was an overnight success with his first book – after he had been rejected by 13 other publishers.
Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, which most of you are probably familiar with, was turned down by 26 out of 27 publishers.
I’m sure you’re getting the message now – both of these highly successful people failed time and time again in their efforts before hitting the jackpot.
Failure Will Tear Your Best Laid Plans Apart
If there was only one thing you could prepare yourself for when it came to your online business, it would be failure. That single moment when your “perfect” plan gets torn to pieces by the jaws of reality.
We’ve all been there. The difference between success and failure is simply whether you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again, or hold up the white flag and surrender.
Make no mistake – the harsh reality of failure is extremely tough to overcome. If you have even a chink in your armor of confidence then failure will work its way in. Failure preys on self-doubt.
What failure doesn’t want you to know is that it is just part of the process. That ultimately, it is completely powerless if you employ the assets of time, persistence, and ability.
Failure is Your Strongest Weapon
Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned ~ Mark Twain
Now here’s the real scoop: failure is a good thing. I don’t even want you to think of it as a necessary evil on the path to success (although that is a great attitude to have). You can do even better than that.
Failure is the best teacher I have ever had. Failure is when you realize what you thought would work, doesn’t. Which then means that you should try something else. Often, failure is a huge blazing sign, pointing you in the right direction.
A person who has been taught how to do something well, but has none of the experience as to the trial and error that led to the success, is walking on a tightrope. As I mentioned at the start of this article, true success is built upon solid foundations. The cement in those foundations is failure – our greatest learning tool.
Embrace Failure and You Embrace Success
The moment you relieve yourself of the fear of failure is the moment that success is all but guaranteed. I don’t know when success may come for you, but with such a mindset, it is just a matter of time.
I know that I am going to fail at times. But I embrace and welcome it. And suddenly, it is no longer a frightening prospect. It is an opportunity to learn and increase my chances of long-term success. Can you say the same?
Photo Credit: Brett Jordan
Before I start, I should clarify that this article is written with authority sites in mind. It focuses on building relationships, not backlinks. If you are here looking for SEO advice, then stay tuned for my backlinking strategy, which is coming soon. Be sure to sign up to the newsletter to be updated when it is published.
A lot of you may be rather disinterested in blog commenting. After all, if you are looking to improve your site’s rankings in Google, there are better things that you could be doing. Moreover, for every blog comment you make, you probably only receive one or two direct visitors to your website from the link you leave.
So Why Bother?
I comment on many blogs. I spend a considerable amount of time doing it every week. And I don’t do it for search engine optimization purposes. Nor do I do it because I hope to achieve a heavy flow of traffic directly from the link. So why do I do it?
Because it is the easiest way of striking up a dialogue wih bloggers. Because I want to form relationships. I want to engage with people. If you have an internet marketing blog and I have commented on one or more of your articles (or have contacted you via other means), I am interested in what you have to say, I like your content, and I want to know you better. It is entirely genuine, and I have no ulterior motives.
Exposure To The Right People
When it comes to building authority sites, or really any online property that you want to hang your hat on (as opposed to straight ‘money’ sites such as affiliate and three page Adsense sites), the key to expanding your brand is exposure to the right people. Everything else follows behind that key factor – even Google rankings.
If you engage with the right people and show genuine interest in their content, they will likely reciprocate. And if they are relatively more than you in your niche, you can expect to benefit greatly from the resultant exposure.
A Recipe For Success
In conceptual terms, it is this simple – combine great content with great relationships. Consider the genuine relationship you may form with an A-list blogger over a period of a few months. In time, they will recognise that you produce great content, and will likely look to share it with their followers, without you ever even asking them to. All of a sudden, you may find yourself exposed to 10,000 newsletter readers. Those readers are loyal to the A-list blogger who is telling them that they should definitely check out your blog. This is a recipe for success that you simply cannot buy with backlinks.
Good things will come of those who aim to do nothing more than build positive relationships across the internet. I have an agenda when it comes to Leaving Work Behind – to form friendships with and help as many people as I possibly can. I do nothing in terms of search engine optimization. I do not focus on any ‘artificial’ means of building traffic (such as adding 1,000 people on Twitter in the hope that they will follow me back). My approach is what I would consider entirely organic.
Now I am not saying that you should take the exact same approach for your site. After all, I don’t for my niche site, Modeling For Kids. Whilst I have looked to establish relationships with modeling agencies and talent scouts to a small extent (and will look to do more so as the site’s authority grows), the majority of my efforts have been in search engine optimization. But that alone is not enough if you are looking to build a reputable brand. You need the right people to be aware of you, not just thousands of casual Google searchers.
If You Take Nothing Else From This Article…
I will leave you with what I consider to be a key piece of advice. Care less about increasing traffic – care more about nurturing relationships. The rest will follow.
After exactly 88 days, my hard work paid off! My niche site, Modeling For Kids, has finally made it to #1 in Google for the keyword ‘modeling for kids’! And you know what? I’m not really that excited about it. I am however excited about what it means in conceptual terms for the future success of the site. I will explain why below.
My Niche Site’s Key Statistics
- Site online: 94 days
- Total Visits in last 14 days: 1,933 (138 per day)
- Google ranking for my primary key phrase: #1
- Gross income generated: £26.82 ($44.25)
- Average daily income over last seven days: £1.81 ($2.99)
As you can see, there has been plenty of progress in terms of traffic and earnings. I have earned nearly £2 ($3.30) per day on average over the last seven days, which is obviously very modest, but is a massive increase on previous earnings. After the initial spike caused by my somewhat viral news article discussed in the last update, traffic has settled down to a steady 100-150 visitors per day.
However, despite me now ranking #1 for the keyword ‘modeling for kids’, the traffic increase hasn’t been what I had originally hoped for when I first started out. Why is this?
Broad, Phrase, And Exact Match Keywords
If you are doing any keyword research in Market Samurai, then you owe it to yourself to be fully educated on the differences between broad, phrase and exact match keywords.
Unfortunately, when I was first starting out, I did not fully appreciate the differences. And, as such, I managed to pick a keyword that was estimated to receive just 79 exact match searches per day (as opposed to an almighty 8,088 broad match searches). That in turn meant that, conservatively speaking, I could only expect 33 visits to my site from Google every day when ranking #1 for ‘modeling for kids’. That’s not going to set anyone’s world on fire.
I figured this out quite some time ago, but decided to carry on regardless. Why? Two reasons:
- The exercise was proving hugely valuable to me as a learning experience
- Despite the keyword confusion, I didn’t think my efforts would result in failure
Although the data is still very limited as I have only been at #1 for a few days, I am getting even less than 33 visitors a day via the keyword ‘modeling for kids’. Market Samurai’s estimates are based upon average searches over 12 months, so do not necessarily accurately reflect the number of searches made in the future.
So if I am getting less 33 visitors per day from my main keyword, why do I think that the site could still be a success?
There’s Plenty More To Do
Keywords, that’s why. Lots more keywords. ‘Child modeling’, ‘child models’,’ baby modeling’, ‘baby models’, and many more. I can potentially receive 1,000+ unique visitors every single day if I rank #1 for those keywords. The beauty of creating an authority site is that you can look to rank highly for a number of keywords (rather than a handful), which of course, leads to far more traffic.
As you can see, I am already ranked #5 for ‘child models’, and #6 for ‘child modeling’, despite only having been working on backlinking for those keywords for a week or so. That is the power of having an already quite authoritative and relevant website. It is also interesting to note that quite a few other pages beyond the home page on my website are getting ranked.
Once I have hit the #1 spot for the other two keywords above, I will start working on others. ‘Child modeling’ should be pretty easy, but the top spot on ‘child models’ may be a tough nut to crack – we shall see.
What ranking for ‘modeling for kids’ demonstrated to me was that it was possible to hit the top of Google. And that was hugely valuable for me. Now I have the confidence to aggressively target many more keywords in an effort to build my traffic.
The Power Of Momentum, The Importance Of Focus, And Why They Need To Walk Hand In Hand
There is nothing better in business than the feeling that you are beginning to pick up speed. Once you have that somewhat intangible feeling, it seems like nothing can stop you. I now truly believe that I can make something of this site. I have a hundred and one ideas that I want to implement.
But I need to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. I need to be methodical in my approach, concentrate on one thing at a time, and remain patient.
So whilst I have some pretty exciting monetization strategies beyond simple AdSense, they are all on hold for the time being. My short term focus is on building up a healthy level of traffic. My immediate goal is to hit that magic 1,000 unique visitors per day number, by ranking #1 for the aforementioned keywords.
Once I am at that point, I can divert my focus to monetizing that traffic. When that time comes, you will of course be the first to know as to what my plans are!
Read The Whole Series
I have always had entrepreneurial blood running through my veins. My father has been an entrepreneur since his teens. These days he is a property investor; before that he was in parcel distribution; and before that, believe it or not, he was a stamp auctioneer.
I was packing stamp auction catalogues for £1 an hour at the age of seven. I was doing 10 straight hours of data entry for my father’s parcel distribution company in my teenage years. When I was working through my A Levels at school, I worked 8-16 hours a weekend at my local newsagents. I even had a stint as a landscaper. And during the summer holidays when I was at university, I would be clearing out rat-infested alleys and painting his properties.
The Formula For Success
I was extremely fortunate as a result of my upbringing to gain a sound understanding of what is required, on an foundational level, in order to succeed. All those odd jobs as a kid taught me that you can get paid a wage for doing almost anything, but that is all you will get – a wage. I recognised that in order to make something of yourself, you need to be the one handing out those jobs – like my father has done, and continues to do.
But I could also see that in order to be an entrepreneur, you had to open yourself up to enormous levels of risk. If you had the day job, yes, you may not have earned as much – but your security of earnings was probably far more stable.
One thing I always struggled with when dreaming about making millions was how I would do it. And not only that, how could you do it without exposing yourself to unacceptable levels of risk? If you have read my About Me page, then you will know I have tried a few things in my past – none of which led to any real success. I have dabbled, but nothing has yet stuck.
I always considered the ‘template’ business plan to conceptually be a very simple four step process:
- Find a problem that people want solving
- Solve that problem
- Tell people that you have solved the problem
- Monetize the resulting exposure
Whilst the plan in itself is simple to understand, in reality, the execution is very difficult (otherwise everybody would be doing it).
A Traditional Business Building Model
For instance, consider a bricks and mortar retail business. First of all, you carry out extensive (and expensive) market research in order to ascertain that the market is calling for whatever it is you plan to provide. Then you have to make various long term commitments, such as a lease on a property, rates and taxes, investment in stock, and so on. You open your doors, and hope that your initial projections were conservative enough to keep you afloat.
But we now live in an unprecedented age where you can build an online business, slowly but surely, from the ground up and with minimal exposure to risk. Moreover, you can be rather scientific about your approach. For instance, consider the steps above, with niche sites in mind:
- Find a relatively low competition, high traffic keyword with good monetization prospects
- Build a website full of relevant, quality content that addresses the keyword
- Optimise your onsite SEO and build quality backlinks in order to achieve a high Google ranking
- Monetize the resultant traffic with AdSense, affiliate marketing, product sales, or a combination of the three
No longer do you have to make huge investments on a wing and a prayer. You can commit limited amounts of time and money based upon sensible calculations from real life data in order to make your start. From there, if your idea is a success, you can leverage your business and continue to build your earnings with minimal exposure to risk.
What has always been a problem for would-be entrepreneurs in the past has been the starting point. It is often said that your first £x is the most difficult to make (some say it’s £100,000, others say it’s £1,000,000 – the precise figure isn’t important). We live in an age where that excuse no longer applies.
Over To You
So with us living in such a fortuitous time for entrepreneurs, what are you doing to advance yourself? Or if you feel that you are stuck in a rut and don’t know what to do, what is stopping you?
Photo courtesy of Theen Moy