Leaving Work Behind

Email Marketing Best Practices (My 5 Step Guide to a Successful Campaign)

Written by Tom Ewer on July 15, 2013. 18 Comments
Email Me

Photo Credit: CarbonNYC

The internet marketing world is packed full of catchphrases that tend to annoy me.

One such catchphrase is, “The money is in the list!” It really bugs me; especially because I relate it to those internet marketers who create the kind of contrived email autoresponder series that I hate. When I first launched this blog back in June 2011 I made a promise to myself to not go down that road.

Which brings me to the present day and my email list. In my time I have created three different email autoresponder series (two of which I have scrapped) and ten different lists. At the time of writing I have a total of 3,668 subscribers, which may not be a lot but it is enough to make me a good income.

With that in mind, in this post I want to share with you a five step guide to email marketing best practices — the process I have followed (through trial and error) to establish what I consider to be a successful email list.

There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase a product through one of them I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!

Step 1: Sign Up With AWeber

The first thing you need to do when you have decided to build an email list is to find a service that will handle the technical side of things — I’m afraid that simply sending an email to a hundred people from Gmail is not going to cut it.

And while there are plenty of options out there, I have just one recommendation: AWeber. I have been an AWeber user from the very start and have never regretted it. I have used many of the alternatives (including arguably its biggest competitor, MailChimp) and in my opinion it stands head and shoulder above them all.

You can sign up now and get your first month for just $1. After that it’s $19 per month, but in my opinion that’s a relatively paltry amount of money well spent. Along with web hosting, it’s one of the two things I do not think you should compromise on when it comes to building a successful blog.

Click here to sign up to AWeber now.

Step 2: Create Your List

Once you’re up and running with AWeber you’ll need to create a list. Lists are used to store subscribers’ details, web form designs, the emails sent to those subscribers, and plenty more. You’re going to need one for your first email marketing campaign.

Fortunately, they’re really easy to set up. In the following video I take you through the entire process, skipping all the unnecessary fluff and sticking to what you need to do.

Step 3: Create a Web Form

Once your list is up and running, people need to be able to subscribe to it! And although you can manually add subscribers on a small scale, the real key is in creating a web form that people can use to subscribe themselves.

You can either create a web form that is hosted by AWeber (and that you can link to) or embed one within your blog. In this next video I’ll show you how to create a web form that you can embed on your own blog

Easy, right? You can include the form within posts, pages, and even text widgets show you can include the form in your sidebar and/or footer — all you need to do is copy and paste!

Step 4: Create Your Autoresponder Series

Now we get down to what really matters — the content that you create. The work you do here makes all the difference between a profitable or a “dead” list.

First of all, consider what you want out of your email list. What you shouldn’t primarily be looking for is volume — you want quality. What I mean by this is that a hundred high-quality subscribers is far better than a thousand who have no interest in what you have to say.

Secondly, you need to make a decision up front about what type of email marketer you are going to be. There are (in my opinion) two broad types:

  1. Salesy
  2. Non-salesy

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with being a salesy email marketer — there are a huge number of people out there who are very successful at it. But if your blog is anything like mine (i.e. focused on a personal approach), a salesy autoresponder series will seem out of place.

I advocate a non-salesy approach. While I still make money out of my list, it is very much through a “softly softly” method that focuses on building a relationship with the subscriber first, then promoting products to them second (and when I do, it is in a very non-pushy way).

To give you an idea of what I mean, I’m going to take you through the first email in the Leaving Work Behind autoresponder series (and also show you how to create these autoresponder emails yourself).

If you subscribe to my autoresponder series you will note that I don’t try to sell anything to you for the first few emails. All I try to do is offer tremendous value. When someone subscribes, that should be your cue to build trust, not sell to them.

And when I do recommend something via my autoresponder, it is very much a softly-softly approach. It’s not until email number eight in my series (6 Books You Should Read If You Want to Leave Work Behind) that I actually try to sell anything.

The key question you should ask yourself when creating an autoresponder email in which you intend to promote something that you can make an income off is this: would you still send it if you couldn’t make money from it? The answer to that question is what you should pay attention to.

So my strategy is simple really — offer loads of value and occasionally promote products. There isn’t a great deal more to it than that! I really see my autoresponder series as an extension to the blog and I treat it as such. I’d like to think that a lot of the content I send to my email subscribers is as good as (and sometimes better) than what I publish here on the blog. After all, don’t your most loyal subscribers deserve something a little special?

To be honest, the best way you’ll get a solid idea of my email marketing strategy is to sign up to my list. You can always unsubscribe if you don’t like what I send you!

Step 5: Broadcasts

If you’re anything like me then you’ll want to keep in regular touch with your subscribers via broadcast emails. This is something that many bloggers do not do (they’ll stick solely to their autoresponder series), but I see not doing it as an opportunity lost.

For one reason, consider the opportunity cost in terms of traffic. Monday is almost always the highest traffic day for Leaving Work Behind, because that is the day I send out my weekly broadcast email. I’ll get a few hundred extra people visiting my blog just because of that broadcast email. Furthermore, when I polled my subscribers I discovered that the majority of them wanted this email. A lot of people will sign up to your email list in the expectation that they will receive blog updates, so don’t disappoint them!

In the following video I show you how I created the broadcast email for this week’s update (i.e. the one promoting this particular post).

Any Questions?

So that’s it! By now you know everything you need to know about email marketing best practices (at least, how I do it). But if you have any comments or questions please do not hesitate to leave them below — as always, I love to read and respond to what you have to say!

How to Get More Twitter Followers (A Guide to Tweet Adder 4.0)

Written by Tom Ewer on June 24, 2013. 58 Comments

Tweet AdderTwitter is my social network of choice by a distance — to this day it refers more traffic to this blog than any other source (bar Google).

A great deal of my success with Twitter can be put down to a piece of software called Tweet Adder; something I have raved about here on Leaving Work Behind before. However, a few weeks ago a radical update was introduced that has led many people to believe that it is nowhere near as effective as it once was.

But as far as I am concerned, Tweet Adder is still the best solution for growing your Twitter following. In this post I want to demonstrate that it still has a lot to offer (and give you the opportunity to purchase it at a 20% discount). In fact, I believe that Tweet Adder 4.0 is the best version yet.

If you want to know how to get more Twitter followers, I have all the answers for you in this comprehensive guide. Enjoy!

There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase a product through one of them I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!

A Short History of Tweet Adder

For those of you who haven’t heard of Tweet Adder before, it is a piece of software (available for both Windows and Mac) that features various tools to help you to make the most of your Twitter profile.

It has historically been best known for its automated follow/un-follow feature, which enabled you to grow your Twitter following passively. The process was simple:

  1. You created a list of people to follow and Tweet Adder would automatically follow them via your Twitter account based upon set parameters (e.g. a hundred per day with each follow being separated by a period of three to six minutes).
  2. You set Tweet Adder to un-follow any Twitter user you followed who had not followed you back after a certain number of days.

A certain percentage of people you followed would follow you back and the rest would be un-followed (thus enabling you to follow more people). Un-following is arguably as important as following, as Twitter does not allow you to follow more people than are following you (beyond the first two thousand follows). Plus, following more people than there are people following you just looks plain spammy.

Although Tweet Adder has many more features, its automated follow/un-follow feature was the jewel in the crown and the reason why most people used it. Although the program could be used to spam Twitter users, when used responsibly it provided an opportunity for users to reach more people interested in what they had to offer and provide value to the Twitter community.

In a nutshell, Tweet Adder version 3.x was an elegant and effective solution for people looking to increase their Twitter following and was central to the strategy I used to increase my Twitter following to 10,000 in just one year.

Introducing Tweet Adder 4.0

However, further to a legal settlement with Twitter, Tweet Adder’s functionality was changed drastically for version 4.0. The biggest change was the removal of the automated follow/un-follow feature, which on the face of it seemed like a huge blow for Tweet Adder users.

As someone who has used Tweet Adder for a long time, rather than jump on the “Tweet Adder now sucks” bandwagon I thought I’d put the new version through its paces and see what it had to offer. I was rather pleased with what I found.

Yes — you can no longer automate follows and un-follows with Tweet Adder, but with a few tweaks made to my following strategy, I have been able to match my previous performance with the new version.

Not only that, but Tweet Adder 4.0 has a bunch of exclusive new features that takes its functionality beyond what was previously offered. Although I am going to focus solely on what I consider to be best practice for growing your Twitter following with Tweet Adder in this post, it actually has a whole lot more to offer than what I am going to cover today.

So, if you are interested in growing your Twitter following and are happy to spare just a few minutes per day to do so, read on!

What to Expect From This Guide

When it comes to growing your Twitter following with Tweet Adder, there are two things you need to worry about which are both covered in this guide:

  1. How to Use Tweet Adder
  2. Your Strategy

The first step is pretty straightforward — just about anyone who is familiar with Twitter could pick up Tweet Adder and start using it. Nonetheless, I am going to go through the process in detail so nothing is left to chance.

The real challenge is in figuring out your strategy — who you should follow, how many you should follow/un-follow, and when. If you haven’t used Tweet Adder before then you may have no idea where to start. But I’m here to help on that front — I’ll give you all the information you need so that you can use Tweet Adder safely and productively.

Before We Begin…

Although Tweet Adder is extremely powerful and capable of boosting your Twitter profile’s growth exponentially, it is not a silver bullet solution. In order for it to work you will need to ensure that you have a quality Twitter profile that is actually worth following.

Put simply, there is little point in following people in the hope that they will follow you back if your profile isn’t actually worth following. Your Twitter profile should be well branded, lively and interactional.

Click here to learn more about building a quality Twitter profile.

Setting Up Tweet Adder

Tweet Adder is free to download but you must purchase a registration key in order to use it (click here to find out how you can purchase Tweet Adder with a 20% discount!). Once you have your key you’ll need to activate it in Tweet Adder:

  1. Click on the “Registration” tab
  2. Copy and paste your key into the “Registration #” field
  3. Hit the “Activate Licence Button”

Tweet Adder Registration

Next you’ll need to add your Twitter profile to Tweet Adder:

  1. Click on the “Manage Users” tab
  2. Select your registration code at the bottom of the screen
  3. Type your Twitter username into the field near the bottom of the screen
  4. Click on “Add User”

You will be presented with a screen where you need to enter your Twitter password followed by an authorization code. By entering your password and the code you will be enabling Tweet Adder to access your account, but it will not make any changes unless you tell it to do so.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to go!

How to Build a List of People to Follow

Before you start following people you will need to build a list of Twitter users who are likely to be interested in your profile. If you try to add people whose interests are not relevant to your site, you may find that you are reported as a spammer, which can lead to account suspension. As such, it is extremely important that you build a list of relevant people.

To do this you have six options, which are listed in the sidebar when you click on the “Manage Users” button followed by the name of the Twitter profile you want to work with.

Tweet Adder Follower Options

Each of the options are relatively self-explanatory — they each search for specific data within Twitter to find relevant matches:

The benefits of each search method should be pretty obvious. Personally I am a fan of Profile Data Search and Followers of a User, but whichever option you chose to go with is up to you.

I’ll use the “Followers of a User” feature as an example. If I follow people who follow a Twitter user in my niche, I can expect to follow people with similar interests. All I need to do is enter that person’s Twitter username into the relevant field and hit the Search button:

Search by username

Tweet Adder will search through the entire list of people following that Twitter user page by page (one hundred users per page) until it has (a) gone through the entire list or (b) you hit Stop. Either way, you will end up with a screen like this:

Twitter Profiles

Regardless of which method you use to find Twitter users to follow, you will always end up with a screen like the one above.

You now have four options:

  1. Follow users immediately (one by one)
  2. Discard users (one by one)
  3. Choose to follow users later (one by one)
  4. Choose to follow users later (in bulk)

I recommend that you choose to follow users later, for reasons I’ll reveal when I discuss my strategy.

How to Follow People

On the assumption that you have selected the “Follow Later” option, you will now have a pool of Twitter users that you can follow. Doing so is very simple:

  1. Click on the “Follow Later List”
  2. Next to each user, click either “Follow” or “Discard” (to remove from the list)

At this point you have an option — to follow “indiscriminately” or make a conscious choice as to who you should follow. I’ll discuss the relative merits of each approach when I discuss my strategy, but for the meantime it may be helpful to know that you can alter what is displayed on screen to help you with any decisions you choose to make.

The most useful thing you can do is switch from viewing the last tweet a person made to their profile bio. You can do this by clicking on the drop down box near the top of the screen and clicking on the relevant option:

Twitter profile description

You’ll find that you can click on the “Follow” button repeatedly to follow a number of Twitter users very quickly. Alternatively, you can take your time and follow or discard profiles as you see fit.

How to Un-Follow People

Un-following people is arguably as important as following — without carrying out this vital step, you’ll soon run out of available follows “in the bank” and you won’t be able to follow anyone else.

Much like when it comes to building a list of people to follow, you have multiple options for un-following people based upon various criteria:

Un-follow options

For the most part the options are self-explanatory but some do require clarification:

Some of these options are only useful if you want to take a fine tooth comb to your followings and manually filter out unwanted profiles. Generally I stick with the following methods:

I think that these three options cover most bases — it’ll get rid of people who haven’t followed me, who no longer want to follow me, and who are barely on Twitter anyway. That gives me plenty of room to add new follows — the rest can stay.

Once you have selected an option, un-following people is very similar to following them — just click the “UnFollow” button.

You also have an option to “Whitelist”:

Whitelist

Once someone is on your Whitelist, you can’t un-follow them (unless of course you remove them from your Whitelist).

You will also notice options at the bottom of some methods that will be self-explanatory. For instance, you will have the following options at the bottom of the “Not Following Back” screen:

Un-Follow options

How you set these options is up to you, but I would recommend them as set in the screenshot above.

Bringing It All Together (My Tweet Adder Strategy)

Now you know everything you need to know about using Tweet Adder, let’s talk tactics. I have been using Tweet Adder for a long time now and have honed my strategy down to a fine point. I had to adjust that strategy slightly for the new update, but for the most part it is the same.

In short, the more followers you have the more loose and fast you can be with Tweet Adder. When you’re just getting started you may want to pay more care and attention what you are doing, but once you have the momentum up you can choose to make it a task that takes just five minutes (or less) per day.

With the above in mind, I am going to offer up two strategies below: one for Twitter profiles with less than 1,000 followers and one for Twitter profiles with more than 1,000 followers. I’ll follow those up with some frequently asked questions that are relevant to both strategies.

1. Using Tweet Adder on Small Twitter Profiles

If you have a small Twitter profile then you have two priorities:

  1. Get more followers
  2. Follow people very selectively

The reasoning behind this approach is straightforward:

  1. If you get more followers then you can follow more people.
  2. If you follow people very selectively (i.e. only if you think there is a good chance of them following back) then you’ll get more followers (which means you can follow more people).

Ideally you will be attracting people from outside of Tweet Adder to help you with your cause. It is not within the scope of this post to explain how you can do that, but a few simple ideas are:

  1. Get all of your friends and family to follow you
  2. Add links to Twitter from your blog
  3. Ask your email subscribers to follow you
  4. Ask your followers on other social media networks to follow you

You want to develop as big a “base” as possibile in order to make it easier to develop your following with Tweet Adder. Don’t worry if you can only attract a handful of followers — no matter how small your profile is to start with, you can grow it in time. Please note that I do not recommend that you follow more people than you have following you (for reasons I will discuss later).

When it comes to following people, I recommend Tweet Search as the best option for your circumstances. You want to find and follow people who are talking about your topic right now. This can result in very high conversion rates.

Tweet search

This was a search for “interested in freelance writing”.

You may even want to re-tweet their tweets or send them a personalised tweet after you have followed them to capture their attention.

The un-following procedure is straightforward — I recommend that you utilize the methods I suggest under the How to Un-Follow People heading above. You may want to pad those methods out with the other options (such as people with no profile photo) if you’re getting close to your follow limit and need to find a way to dump some extra follows.

This process may sound quite long-winded but in reality it’s going to take you just a few minutes per day once you get into the flow of it, and there is no better way of building a Twitter profile. Each person you follow and engage with is a potential new reader of your blog — these people are literally waiting for you to find them!

2. Using Tweet Adder on Larger Twitter Profiles

This is the strategy I use — it’s quick and easy and takes no more than a few minutes per day to complete.

The first step is to build a to follow list from the followers of another user (who is of course relevant to your own profile). This is the quickest and easiest way to get your hands on a large number of people in one go. You’ll want to build a list of enough people to last you a week — I clear the list and create a new one (with a new Twitter user) every Monday. This reduces the likelihood of adding a bunch of people who are no longer active on Twitter.

You’ll want a long list of Twitter users in your niche so that you can cycle through them with a long enough gap before you get back around to the first user again. For instance, my list has thirty Twitter profiles on it and is always growing.

Once you have built your list, you should follow and un-follow approximately the same number of people every day. I recommend that you use the same un-follow methods I suggest under the How to Un-Follow People heading above.

How Many People Should You Follow/Un-Follow in a Day?

This is the million dollar question and there is no right answer.

One thing is for certain (in my opinion): you will not get into trouble if you follow and/or un-follow less than a hundred people per day. The following quote is directly from Twitter’s “Following rules and best practices“:

…if you don’t follow or un-follow hundreds of users in a single day, and you aren’t using automated methods of following users, you should be fine.

To me that makes it clear that Twitter are after people following and/or un-following in excess of several hundred people per day. And since Tweet Adder is no longer an automated following/un-following service, there’s nothing to worry about on that front.

So you can use ninety-nine as a benchmark to start with. Having said that, if you have a very small Twitter profile I would recommend that you stick to following less people than follow you — anything more looks spammy and will probably be a turn off to people considering following you. To be honest, there is probably a natural ceiling on the number of people you can follow which is below the number you would be comfortable with anyway.

At the time of writing I have approximately 15,000 Twitter followers and I follow between 300-400 people per day. Back when it was 5,000 I followed around 200 per day. I know people who have followed more but those are the numbers I am comfortable with. At the end of the day it is up to you to decide what you are comfortable with.

We can debate all day about limits that Twitter has, but I believe that if you have a good quality profile and you’re following people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer, the likelihood of your account being compromised is extremely small.

Should You Space Follows/Un-Follows Out?

This again comes down to a perception of risk management.

In a perfect world you would space your follows and un-follows out to make them seem as “natural” as possible, but you don’t want to spend all day on Tweet Adder, do you?

My compromise has been to split my follows into three “sessions” per day in which I follow and un-follow between 200-300 people (in total) per session. I do it when I start work in the morning, before I head off for lunch, and before I finish for the day. Each session typically takes me less than two minutes, so around five minutes per day in total.

How Risky Is Tweet Adder?

It is extremely unlikely that your profile will get banned in the first instance from using Tweet Adder’s follow/un-follow features. It is more likely that you will get suspended, but still unlikely in my opinion.

The evidence I have for this is based upon my own personal experience (having grown four separate profiles using Tweet Adder) and the fact that I have not once had someone email me telling me that they got banned through using Tweet Adder.

If you get suspended then you may want to reconsider your use of Tweet Adder. Until that point I wouldn’t worry about it.

Is  Tweet Adder Still Worth It?

When Tweet Adder was an automated service, most internet marketers waxed lyrical about its capabilities. It was truly brilliant — I know for a fact that my Twitter account would be nowhere near as big as it is without it (for proof of that, check out my Facebook page with its paltry number of fans by comparison).

But for the most part, Tweet Adder is still the same program. In fact, it now has a bunch of new features that make it even more valuable. The fact that you now have to spend an extra five minutes per day on a task that was once automated has been blown way out of proportion by many.

For everyone who has been screaming that Tweet Adder is now useless due its lack of automation, I ask why they can’t find five minutes per day to generate exponential growth of their Twitter account when they’ll spend far more time on other less effective marketing techniques. It makes no sense to me. If they really feel that it is that much of a chore then they could outsource it for pennies.

I still think Tweet Adder is the best solution for building your Twitter profile and one of the best online marketing tools that I’ve ever used. If you want to know how to get more Twitter followers then Tweet Adder is the answer. Quite frankly, if you want to build a bigger Twitter profile and you’ve read this far and still decide not to use it, I think you’re crazy. But I still love you 🙂

Purchase Tweet Adder With a 20% Discount!

In preparation for this post I emailed the developer of Tweet Adder, Jamie, and asked if he would be willing to offer my readers a discount on the software. He very kindly confirmed that he would be delighted to offer a whopping 20% discount!

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Click here to visit the Tweet Adder website
  2. Hit the “Buy Now” button
  3. Select what licence you would like
  4. On the checkout screen enter the coupon code TE20 (without the quotation marks)

With this discount you can pick up Tweet Adder for just $44 — that is a ridiculously small price to pay for the solution to building a huge Twitter following. I just wish similar products were available for every social media network!

Questions and Comments Are Welcomed

I know that I have covered a lot of ground in this post. You may well have questions and/or comments regarding Tweet Adder and/or my strategy, all of which are welcomed in the comments section. Fire away below and I’ll be happy to get back to you!

Purchase Tweet Adder here.

The Best and Most Affordable Web Hosting Service (My Verdict)

Written by Tom Ewer on April 11, 2013. 79 Comments

Tom: Since writing this post I have switched my hosting back to Bluehost. To find out why I now recommend Bluehost, click here!

Web hosting.

Image Credit: mikekorn

I think a lot of people new to blogging underestimate the importance of web hosting. I know I did. I purchased my first hosting package without giving it a great deal of thought beyond “what’s the cheapest service?”

However, I soon found out that the relationship you have with your hosting provider is an extremely important one. They are largely responsible for your website’s load speed and uptime, and if your website is either too slow in loading or not even available, you’re screwed. As such, it pays to spend a little time carefully considering your web hosting provider before taking the leap. It can make all the difference — believe me.

In this post I am going to explain why the web hosting provider you choose is so important and name the provider I recommend (and use) above all others. Whether you are yet to purchase a hosting package or are looking to move from your existing provider, I’ve got the answers here. I’ve also got an exclusive 30% discount for you available at the bottom of this post!

There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase a product through one of them I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!

What I Want You To Avoid

In a nutshell, I hope that this post can help you avoid the mistakes I made in choosing sub-standard hosting providers. You will probably be surprised to find out that some of the mainstream hosting providers are the ones I have had the worst experiences with.

At one time or another I have had hosting packages with BlueHost, HostGator and GoDaddy — all three of which I ended up being extremely dissatisfied with. BlueHost in particular is a company that I would urge you to avoid at all costs. At one point this blog was down for over 24 hours and I got the distinct impression from BlueHost’s “support” team that they simply didn’t care.

But that’s not all. You need to consider overall uptime as well as the load speed of you site. While all low-cost hosting packages run on “shared servers,” the difference in load times can be dramatic between providers (as I discovered when switching to my preferred provider).

But perhaps the most important thing you need from a hosting provider is a rock solid support system. If I have a problem with one of my sites I need to know that I can get on the phone (or instant messenger) to someone who cares about my custom and has the necessary expertise to resolve whatever issue I may be experiencing.

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than being able to trust your hosting provider.

The Issue of Price

Having said all that, I can appreciate that you may be driven somewhat by your wallet. You may be eager to snap up the cheapest hosting package on offer as I was when I first started out.

Well, the good news is this: my recommended hosting provider is comparable in price or cheaper than all of the mainstream “low-end” providers. Quite frankly, I don’t know how they offer such a superior service without charging more.

When it comes to affordable but quality hosting for your site you can experience a win/win scenario — if you know what to look out for. I learned the hard way that there are some pretty poor providers out there, but if you go for the right one then you won’t regret it.

The Best and Most Affordable Web Hosting Service

WesthostThe web hosting company I use for all of my sites (including Leaving Work Behind) is Westhost.

I have been with Westhost for the past year or so and haven’t regretted it for one moment. Not only did they handle the migration from my previous hosting provider at no extra charge, Leaving Work Behind’s load speed increased by 10% immediately after the switch.

But that’s not all — with their Preferred Hosting package (from $5.99 per month) you get a free domain, daily backups and 24/7 support based in America. I have never come across a support team who are so knowledgeable about their product and so eager to help. And for total peace of mind, if you find yourself in any way unhappy with the service they offer a 60 day money back guarantee (although I very much doubt you’d need this).

I love it when I am able to enthuse so openly about a product or company because what they do is just so good. It doesn’t happen very often, but I have nothing but good things to say about Westhost. Whenever I’ve had a problem (even if it’s an issue I have caused with a rogue plugin or something similar), their support team has been on hand within an instant to help resolve the issue for me.

I can vouch for Westhost’s performance for websites that handle up to and over 20,000 visitors per month on their Preferred Hosting package. Not only do I recommend them, I use them — I’m putting my money where my mouth is here. And when Leaving Work Behind does outgrow shared server hosting, I know that I can continue to expand with Westhost (either by choosing an improved hosting package or by upgrading to their cloud server sister company, VPS.net).

Making the Switch

The decision to switch to Westhost was a big one for me. I was terrified that the website migration process would be costly and/or complicated. I was concerned about lengthy downtime or just plain breaking my site by accident.

So when I found out that Westhost offers free site migration with new accounts, a huge weight was lifted off my chest. If I’m honest I was still a little wary about handing my site over to Westhost’s support staff to handle the migration, but they completed the process without a hitch and at no extra cost.

The moral of the story is this — if you are unhappy with your current hosting provider (as I certainly was), switching isn’t the nightmare you may think it is. At least, it certainly isn’t with Westhost. You can probably get a pro-rata refund from your existing provider and make the switch at no extra cost. Then all you’ll have to look forward to is a more reliable hosting service, great features (such as free backups) and brilliant service.

Are You a Westhost User (or Are You Planning On Becoming One)?

I’ve held back on writing up this review for months because I wanted to be absolutely sure that I could recommend Westhost in this manner without hesitation. If you’re familiar with Leaving Work Behind then you’ll know that I am very selective in terms of what I promote, so take it from me that Westhost are the real deal.

If you are planning to make the switch to Westhost then I’d love to answer any questions that you may have in the comments section. Additionally, if you are an existing Westhost customer then I’d love for you to add your thoughts. Fire away!

To get 30% off Westhost, sign up here and use the coupon code LEAVING30 on checkout. Thank you for your support!

How I Attracted 10,000 Twitter Followers in a Year (My 5 Step Process)

Written by Tom Ewer on January 31, 2013. 90 Comments

Flock of birdsJust a couple of days ago the number of people following me on Twitter went past the 10,000 mark. It was a big milestone for me and I was excited to see it happen — not only because it demonstrates that my brand is growing, but also because it represents a great deal of work coming to fruition.

The fact is that I have poured a huge amount of effort into growing my Twitter following. I have conducted a lot of trial and error experiments, more often noting failure rather than success. However, in spite of that I have still been able to build a relatively healthy following in just twelve months. At the time of writing I have 10,255 followers and according to my records I had just 552 at the start of 2012 (so please forgive me for the slight inaccuracy of the post headline ;-)). I am currently attracting several hundred new followers every week.

I have spoken about my Twitter strategies on the blog here before, so this post acts as a complete round-up and addendum — covering the most important aspects of building a following, ignoring the less productive things you can do, and filling in any gaps I have missed to date.

Before We Begin

What you’re about to read is pretty simple and straightforward but it really is all you need to build a considerable following. With that in mind, always remember to keep it simple.

Twitter never needs to be complicated — that’s part of its beauty. If at any stage you are contemplating some kind of advanced strategy that has you confused at the mere thought of it, take the safe and regressive road back to simplicity. You’ll be surprised at the results.

Just one other thing — the following steps are intended to be taken in order. It may be tempting to skip straight to the “empire building” section but the effect of your efforts will be far reduced. You need to demonstrate that you have a lively Twitter account with lots of engagement before you start going for the big win.

Step 1: Have a Great Blog and Brand

To a extent the popularity of your Twitter profile is determined by the strength of your brand — that’s why Lady GaGa has nearly 34 million followers at the time of writing. As such, one of the most important steps to building your Twitter following is to make sure that you’re growing your brand away from Twitter.

I cannot stress the importance of this step enough — although it can be tempting to dismiss it on the basis that you think you have a strong brand, the matter warrants careful consideration. What sets you apart from the crowd? What compels people to actively choose to follow you over any other number of people vying for their attention? You need to have a compelling answer to those questions in order to grow a sizeable blog, and by extension, a big Twitter following.

In reality this should be a bit of a no-brainer as you are no doubt looking to establish your blog anyway — the fact that your hard work in building a brand has a positive effect on your social media outlets should be a more of a bonus than anything else.

Further Reading

Step 2: Share Awesome Links

The activity on Twitter is largely divided up into two groups:

  1. General chit chat: acquaintances, friends and colleagues exchanging brief messages, either socially or professionally.
  2. Link sharing and interaction: a Twitter user finds an interesting article/web page and shares it with his or her followers via a tweet who then may comment and/or share it themselves.

One of the absolute fundamentals of building a popular Twitter profile is to become known as someone who shares valuable and relevant content — i.e. links. If you share too much irrelevant content or simply not enough, people are either going to ignore your tweets (or unfollow you) or be blind to them.

As such you should get into the habit of regularly sharing content. Be selective and focus on quality rather than quantity. Don’t just tweet out links because you think you should — do it because whatever you are sharing is going to be of interest to your followers.

That is one of the main reasons I have over 50 blogs on my RSS reader (and far more when it’s time for another edition of the LWB 100) — I want my Twitter feed to be a valuable resource. I curate and share the best content I find so that my followers don’t have to go looking for it themselves.

BufferThe best tool there is (in my opinion) for sharing links on Twitter is Buffer. It is a tweet-scheduling app, which essentially means that you can write tweets now that will be published later. This is one of the tools that stops Twitter from becoming a huge time suck. I like to combine it with the Tweriod service so that my scheduled tweets go out at the optimum times.

Further Reading:

Step 3: Interact

This is my favorite bit — communicating with your followers. You cannot undervalue the importance of interaction in terms of increasing brand awareness, not to mention the various indirect benefits that can result from you simply putting yourself out there.

When I was focusing really hard on growing my Twitter profile I had one simple rule when it came to interaction: always reply. If someone sent me a message I always replied. To this day I still reply to probably 80% of messages, only not replying to those that are just simple re-tweets, automatically generated, or sent out to multiple people at the same time. Seriously — try me.

I also recommend that you build up a list of people whose radars you want to get on. Be sure to check out your list’s timeline at least once per day and fire off any pearls of wisdom that you can conjure in response to the tweets that you read. Don’t just reply for the sake of replying — you want to create intrigue, not inspire boredom.

Being so active on Twitter may seem overwhelming but it really doesn’t have to be — I probably spend no more than a collective 15-20 minutes per day on Twitter. If you tackle your tweets in two or three blocks of time — rather than constantly throughout the day — it becomes far more manageable.

Further Reading:

Step 4: Start Building Your Twitter Empire

By now you should have a solid brand, a good Twitter profile, and you should have been producing quality content and interacting with your existing follower base for at least a couple of days. In doing so you have laid the foundation for an effective targeted following campaign.

Now this topic deserves a post of itself which is fortunate because I have already written one: How to Get More Twitter Followers. That walks you through my process for taking what is the most important step to growing your Twitter following. I don’t think I would have half of the Twitter followers I have right now without having taken this step — it is integral.

Tweet AdderIf you choose not to take this step then you will probably find that your Twitter profile grows steadily and modestly. However, in order to accelerate your growth you really do need to use Tweet Adder — it was the main reason why I turned from getting a handful of new followers per day to tens and now occasionally hundreds.

Further Reading:

Step 5: Boost Shares and Referral Traffic

The final piece of the puzzle is to use your burgeoning Twitter profile to drive traffic back to your blog. It can be all too easy to forget that doing so is the main purpose of the whole exercise (beyond expanding your network and nurturing relationships), so make sure that you keep your eye on the ball.

First of all, you need to make it easy for people to share your content. With that in mind I have two plugin recommendations:

Digg Digg installs a floating social media share bar on your site so that a visitor always has the option to share. You can see in action right now just to the right of this post — give it a spin and share this post if you’d like!

Meanwhile, Easy Tweet Embed is a plugin that I co-developed which enables you to insert pre-populated tweets within links on your post (like this). I have found that this can boost the number of times your posts are shared by a considerable amount (30% and up). Here’s a brief video showing you how it works:

Beyond that, you need to ensure that you are sharing each new post on your blog effectively. I recommend that you tweet out new posts three times, with each tweet around 7 hours apart. This ensures that your post hits most of the time zones and gets exposed to your followers all over the globe.

You can do this manually with Buffer but the easiest method I’ve found is to use WordTwit Pro — a new favorite WordPress plugin of mine. It’ll set you back a few bucks but is awesome for maximizing the exposure of new posts in Twitter.

Finally, you may want to get your hands on Evergreen Post Tweeter — a free plugin (again, developed by me) that will automatically tweet old posts on your blog according to a set schedule. If you do decide to do this please make sure that you are selective in what old posts you choose to tweet out — make sure that they are still relevant or it will affect your followers’ perception of the quality of your tweets. Furthermore, do not abuse the power of the plugin — I personally recommend that you tweet out no more than a couple of archived posts per day, and only then if you are quite active. The ratio of third party content to your content should be weighted heavily against you.

Further Reading

Rinse and Repeat

That’s it! My complete strategy for getting 10,000 Twitter followers in a year. I referred back to two articles from the LWB archives on a few occasions above so if you want the full picture I recommend that you read them in full too:

You should now be set to build yourself a thriving Twitter profile. If you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section below. Alternatively, if you are a Twitter user and have any tips of your own, please share them below!

Photo Credit: moonjazz

Does Your Online Business Fizzle?

Written by Tom Ewer on January 18, 2013. 60 Comments

FizzleIf you’re a regular reader of Leaving Work Behind then you will know that I’m not into unscrupulous sales tactics. The fact is that I am not much of a salesman — I feel much more confident either creating or talking about something that I think is really good. That way, I can largely just let the product or service do its job.

With the above in mind, if you have any kind of aspiration to build an online presence and subsequently leverage it to make money, you’re going to be interested by what I have to say today. That should cover just about everyone, so read on!

There are affiliate links on this page. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!

18 Months, 2 Blogs, Six Figures

Corbett BarrThere’s this guy I know called Corbett. You may have heard of him.

Going back a few years, he had a site called CorbettBarr.com in which he revealed details of his quasi-nomadic lifestyle. Next he launched Think Traffic — a site you should probably be subscribed to (if you’re not already). Then he launched a product called Start a Blog That Matters — by a distance the best course/guide on blogging that I have ever read. In fact, I used it as inspiration to re-launch this very blog in May 2012.

Corbett has a lot to offer to the likes of us — he was in fact one of the first people I came across when I first decided that I wanted to leave work behind in May 2011 and is featured in my recent With Thanks To… post. His manifesto — 18 Months, 2 Blogs, Six Figures — was pretty revolutionary for me in terms of helping me to understand what is possible in the world of online business and location independence.

So when I found out that he was working on something new — something big — I knew that I had to take a look. I wasn’t disappointed.

Introducing Fizzle

Corbett’s already released some great products; the aforementioned Start a Blog That Matters being one of them. Given the type of guy that he is, it is no surprise that this new project is a huge step above what we have seen previously.

In short, Fizzle is a membership site packed with video tutorials on how to create and develop your own online business. But putting it that dryly doesn’t really do it any justice — I have rarely come across something as well constructed and beautifully polished as Fizzle:

Fizzle

It’s pretty.

The site features a whole bunch of video guides and interviews, with about 20 hours of material online at the moment (and plenty more to come). Here are some of my favorites:

Each topic is broken down into bite-size videos which is a totally inspired move — one of the reasons I am typically not a fan of video is because a sixty-minute clip just seems like such a big commitment. Watch a 5 minute clip here and a 10 minute clip there however…that’s something I can handle.

I’ve only watched perhaps a quarter of what’s on the site so far but I’m completely hooked. That is in no small part down to a certain Mr. Chase Reeves — one-time designer of Think Traffic turned Fizzle presenter/guru. I can’t fault Corbett and Caleb Wojcik for their video style, but Chase manages not only to make the material interesting, he’s also highly engaging and funny to boot.

Chase Reeves

Chase, seen here practicing his overhand finger pointing technique.

Access to the site is just $35 per month and the first month will set you back just $1 — no strings attached! The fact that you could attempt to digest it all within a month for $35 is really quite ridiculous, given that you could easily split the material up into multiple information products, each individually retailing for more than that. Corbett and his team are onto a real winner here.

If this sounds good to you, sign up to Fizzle now!