Tag Archive | "Keys"

Keys to Greatness (or Just Getting More Great Stuff Done)

This week, we have lots of pragmatic advice for you on how to be a happier, more productive person. Because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, this joke has now been permanently rendered un-funny. On Monday, Morgan Dix (he happens to be one of our Certified Content Marketers) revealed what meditation
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The Keys to Launching a Successful Online Course

The Keys to Launching a Successful Online Course

Hey there — welcome back to the Copyblogger Weekly!

We’ve had a lot to say this week about online courses. On Monday, Pamela Wilson talked about some of the surprising ways you can profit from launching your course. On Tuesday, Henneke gave us some specifics on how to write a high-value lesson plan to make your course easier to sell.

And yesterday, I shared my story about my own road to teaching online — a road that definitely included some bumps and curves. (Spoiler alert: it has a happy ending!)

If you’ve been thinking about launching a course but weren’t sure how to get started, Brian Clark is offering a free webinar next week to walk you through some crucial steps.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Brian’s going to cover:

  • Designing the learning experience for your course
  • How to craft your learner profile
  • Identifying the benefits of knowledge (these unlock so many doors)
  • A three-step process for crafting learning objectives

We use these ideas literally every week at Copyblogger and Rainmaker Digital. The webinar will cover very hands-on, practical material that you can start working with right away — to develop an online course that’s an amazing experience for your learners, and an amazing business to support your goals.

To register for the free webinar, simply click here and enter your email address.

Then you’ll receive the special link to register for the webinar. You have to register to attend, and space is limited … so don’t wait.

Hope to see you Wednesday at the webinar, and I’ll catch you next week!

— Sonia Simone

Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital


Here’s that URL, one more time:


Catch up on this week’s content

surprising! what you’ll learn when you build a course4 Surprising Ways You’ll Profit from Building an Online Course

by Pamela Wilson

a step-by-step guide to organizing and delivering your courseHow to Write a High-Value Lesson Plan that Makes Your Course Easy to Sell

by Henneke

a business model and a breakthroughMy Favorite Business Model for a Breakthrough Digital Business

by Sonia Simone

The Season One Recap of StudioPress FMThe Season One Recap of StudioPress FM

by Brian Gardner & Lauren Mancke

Should You Still Start a Podcast? (Ask Yourself These 3 Questions)Should You Still Start a Podcast? (Ask Yourself These 3 Questions)

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor

Orbit Media’s Latest Survey of 1000 BloggersOrbit Media’s Latest Survey of 1000 Bloggers

by Sonia Simone

How #1 Hit Podcast ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ Co-Creator Jeffrey Cranor Writes: Part TwoHow #1 Hit Podcast ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ Co-Creator Jeffrey Cranor Writes: Part Two

by Kelton Reid

Tim Ferriss on Finding and Focusing On What Truly MattersTim Ferriss on Finding and Focusing On What Truly Matters

by Brian Clark

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7 Keys to Creating a Successful WordPress Plugin

wordpress plugin keys to success

If you want to build a software business, there are a lot of advantages to the world of WordPress plugins.

To begin with, you have a built-in audience of committed users. That audience is massive — around a quarter of the planet’s websites use WordPress. And that number is growing every day.

But we all know that “Build it and they will come” is a myth — for software or any other business.

There are tens of thousands of plugins with just a few downloads, and a few successful standouts.

Here’s how to put your awesome plugin in the second category.

#1: Start with the user experience

User experience should drive your code, not vice versa

Successful plugins are built on a foundation of excellent user experience.

WordPress expert and evangelist Chris Lema sees an awful lot of popular plugins.

He had this to say in his article on The one thing many WordPress plugin developers seem to forget:

“… Most developers seemed to think about the user experience only after most of the development of their plugins was complete.” – Chris Lema

His recommendations include:

  • Getting users involved early on — don’t try to design your plugin in a vacuum
  • Measuring the number of clicks to complete each main task — keep tasks as simple as possible
  • Designing the screens and experience before you write your code — experience should drive your code, not vice versa

Sometimes technical folks are tempted to start with the functionality first, then “figure out the user experience part” later. That’s a recipe for expensive mistakes and a less-than-awesome plugin.

#2: Design matters

Successful plugins leverage great design.

Starting with the user experience will get you a good way down this road, but if you aren’t a strongly visual person yourself, make sure you get one involved.

Even if your plugin works perfectly, it only makes it harder to get traction if it’s ugly and visually disorganized or cluttered.

It’s not about eye candy for its own sake — it’s about careful design thinking that reinforces your plugin’s functionality and makes it a pleasure to use.

#3: Serve a real need (or want)

Successful plugins address a real-world user problem or desire.

If you’re not building something WordPress publishers actually want, you’re going to have a tough time.

You may have a highly technical improvement that you’re sure all WordPress publishers should add to their sites. But if it’s solving a problem they don’t care about, you’ll never get any traction.

Get to know lots of WordPress users and you’ll quickly learn what they want from their sites. Great plugins usually make WordPress simpler or more powerful.

Some examples include:

  • More easily customizing the look of the site
  • Improving the site’s SEO
  • Enhancing the audience experience with community-building elements
  • Reducing spam
  • Adding a complex and desirable feature, like a membership site

If your plugin is on the technical side, remember to translate the benefits for non-techie users.

A plugin that “improves origin caching” is great, but make sure you also translate that to: “Makes your site load a lot faster.”

#4: Have skills (or know where to get them)

Successful plugins have rock-solid code.

If you’re new to programming, working on plugins can be a fun and interesting way to get better.

But if you want to create a truly great plugin, you need to pay your dues and become an excellent coder. (And no, this does not happen overnight.)

If that isn’t you yet, you can shortcut this by partnering with an excellent coder. You might supply the vision, the marketing mind, and the business knowledge, and they bring their sweet dev skills.

Solid developers don’t just write great code, they also work within a defined process to make sure they’re releasing a quality product.

“Beyond your standard programming best practices, I think the best thing to do is to test, test, and test. Keep up your code. Have development environments with commonly found themes and plugins. Test against different configurations. If it’s a commonly used theme (like Genesis), make sure it functions as expected and if not, see what needs to be done before releasing it.” – Andrew Norcross, founder of Reaktiv Studios

#5: Carve out your position

Successful plugins stake out clear positioning in the WordPress marketplace.

Just like any other software product or service, your plugin needs to occupy a well-defined position in the market.

You need to be able to communicate in an instant:

  • What your plugin does
  • Who it’s for
  • What specific and remarkable benefit it brings to sites

Keep the simplicity factor above in mind, if your plugin is intended to reach a broader audience than the most tech-savvy users.

#6: Consider working within an ecosystem

Successful plugins are part of a greater ecosystem.

Every WordPress plugin, of course, benefits from the overarching ecosystem of users and developers.

But in an era of so many plugins, many developers niche that down further, coding for a particular framework such as Genesis.

For example, one of Andrew Norcross’s most popular plugins is Genesis Design Palette Pro — that lets users change the look of their Genesis sites with just a click or two, without any coding.

You might think that working within a niche ecosystem would result in fewer users, but often the opposite is the case. You’ll stand out more easily, because you’re crafting more specific solutions to your users’ desires.

#7: Recognize the community

Successful plugin developers respect the WordPress community.

Along with the many benefits of the WordPress ecosystem, there are also community responsibilities.

Here’s how Andrew Norcross put it when I asked him about the importance of nurturing the relationship with the community:

“I firmly believe it means the difference between success and failure, overall. While you can easily make a living cranking out WP code in themes or plugins for clients or agencies, there’s a definite ceiling (in my opinion) with how far you can progress without being at least somewhat active in the community. More importantly, however, having a bad reputation can be a career killer. Many people put personal recommendations above all the marketing they see, and once someone develops a bad rep, it’s really hard to shake it. We’re beyond fortunate that at Reaktiv Studios, we have developed a solid reputation with our clients, in that many of our new leads are referrals from our previous clients.”

– Andrew Norcross, founder of Reaktiv Studios

Want some help with that?


You may have seen Brian Clark mention last week that we have a brand-new course on how to create a successful WordPress-based product or business.

When we added this course to the schedule — even though we have a wealth of in-house WordPress knowledge — we knew we wanted Chris Lema to lead it for us. In addition to being a great teacher, Chris has worked with just about every significant WordPress company on the planet.

His detailed perspective on the WordPress premium market is even broader than ours, and his experience really shows.

Here’s what Chris covers in this brand-new course:

  • Understanding the Size of the WordPress Ecosystem
  • Determining Realistic Market Potential
  • Evaluating the Competition
  • Shaping Your Idea for the Win
  • Scoring Your Ideas for Validity
  • Understanding Estimated Cost and Potential Revenue
  • Building Your PR Channels
  • Finding and Hiring Developers
  • Buying a Product
  • Planning Your Launch

Snag the best price this week

Chris Lema’s course is just one of four in-depth courses in Digital Commerce Academy — with more courses to come, as well as case studies, group coaching calls, “cutting edge” sessions on new techniques, and more.

If you want to launch a digital business or grow the one you have, Digital Commerce Academy is the place to be.

You can get access two ways, both of which offer incredible value — but both of them are about to go away:

  1. Invest $ 395 for a year of full access to everything in Digital Commerce Academy. You remain at that pricing for additional years no matter how much the price rises and no matter how many new courses we add. Cancel any time and never be charged again.
  2. Register for our live Digital Commerce Summit happening October 13-14, 2016 in Denver, Colorado, and get your first year of Academy free. After the first free year, you’re grandfathered in at $ 395 for additional years no matter how much the price rises. Cancel any time and never be charged again.

On May 27, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, the Academy-only price goes up to $ 595, and the free year of Academy bundled with the Summit will be eliminated. As always, we have a hassle-free and no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk to you.

Want more details? Click here to get started.

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3 Keys To Understanding Your SEO Needs

Many businesses know they need search engine optimization, but they don’t know much more beyond that. Columnist Casie Gillette has tips for determining the specifics.

The post 3 Keys To Understanding Your SEO Needs appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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The 7 Keys to List Posts that Are Worth Writing (and Reading)

canvas painting of scattered numbers

A lot of smart writers can’t stand list posts.

What’s a list post? It’s also known as a numbered list post, or a (shudder) listicle, and it’s a post whose headline features a numbered collection of things. This post, for example, is a list post.

There are an awful lot of crummy ones out there. The celebrity sites make frequent use of them (These 17 Celebrities Used to Be Hot, etc.). In fact, all of the CRaP blogs use them liberally.

So it’s natural that a quality-focused content writer (like you) might try to avoid them. But that would be silly. And here’s why:

Smart marketers have always focused on underlying human psychological drivers. And those drivers change very little, if at all.

One of them, for whatever reason, is that we get a tiny bit mesmerized by numbers. When we see a number in a headline, part of our brains gets activated (what persuasion scholar Robert Cialdini calls a Click, Whirr response), and we’re that much more likely to take an action — like, say, clicking on that headline to check out the whole piece.

Take a look at the Popular Posts section to the right of this article. You’ll see lots of numbers.

Now did those posts become popular because they had a number in the headline? No. A number is a nice booster, but it’s not a substitute for strong writing, solid content strategy, or effective promotion.

And that’s the problem with how most people look at list posts. They start with the number in the headline — but that’s not the right place to start. Which leads to my first tip:

# 1. Don’t start with a numbered list

You may have received an assignment from an editor, supervisor, or client to “Write a Listicle on 10 Ways to Do Our Thing.”

Your very first order of business is to go to your favorite writing forum and bemoan the fact that the word listicle is now part of your life. I’m sorry. If we can figure out a way to burn this out of the English language, we will.

But let’s move forward.

Even if this is technically your assignment, the worst way to create a list post is to open your writing tool of choice and put the numbers one through 10 in there, then look for ways to fill them in.

It’s probably the fastest way. But it is not the right way.

You must begin with the itch that needs scratching. There needs to be a seed of a problem, an unanswered question, a fascination to know more.

Those seeds can only come from your audience. The seed of a killer list post for electrical engineers won’t work at all on an audience of Hello Kitty cosplay enthusiasts. (Although there may well be some overlap.)

Pro tip: Some of your best-performing list posts can come from strong, interesting, problem-solving content that you realize, after it’s mostly written, can be lightly re-organized into a numbered list.

#2. Understand what problem you’re solving

All good content starts with the same impulse: to solve a reader problem. (Even if the reader’s problem is boredom, which is the case for pure entertainment sites.)

As the content creator, it’s your job to understand those “itches” of your audience. You have to know what’s worrying them. You have to know what excites them. You have to understand what they’re afraid of, and what they cherish, and what they are unwilling to lose.

Human existence is full of problems to solve. Some of them are simple and some are so complex that they take a lifetime to untangle. Every collection of humans (in other words, every audience) has its own set of problems.

If you want a list of what kind of content to create, build a list of your audience’s problems. Answer those problems in your content, using numbered lists (and any other persuasion technique you learn) when they make sense.

Keep listening for problems, and keep researching more effective ways to resolve those problems. That, more than anything else, is what creates your authority in a topic.

#3. What makes it fascinating?

The cornerstone of good content is usefulness. But usefulness without interest is Wikipedia, and that’s already covered.

Boring content — even if it’s useful, and even if it’s “optimized” by whatever measure you choose — doesn’t succeed. It doesn’t get shared and it doesn’t get read. (Or listened to, or viewed.)

If you consistently put fantastic headlines on mediocre or boring content, all you do is train people that much more quickly to avoid your site.

Luckily for us, relevant problems are inherently interesting. If your target audience is people with celiac disease and you put a recipe for really good gluten-free baguettes in front of them, they’ll find you.

But a good content creator doesn’t stop there. We look for angles. Fascination elements. (You can learn more about fascination in Brian’s podcast interview with Sally Hogshead, published earlier today.)

A strong writing voice will elevate content from “moderately useful” to “must-read.” So will a compelling metaphor that makes the content easier to understand. And storytelling is the big gun — the one that makes your content unforgettable.

This is where the art comes in — and why writers who have the combination of killer and poet are the ones who enjoy the most success. The killer knows what kinds of content to create to move toward certain outcomes. But it’s the poet who creates something worth the audience’s time and attention.

Pro tip: Make time to write purely for pleasure. Screenplays, poetry, fiction — whatever way you like to play with words. Writers who know how to play with language also know how to fascinate.

#4. What’s the strategic goal?

Creating content just to get traffic and make advertisers happy is the hardest way to make a living on the web — and one you should get away from as quickly as you can.

Content marketing is a different game. It doesn’t just attract eyeballs; it exists to support a business — to attract new prospects, and educate and nurture them until they’re ready to buy.

Different types of content serve different purposes. Some content exists to find people who don’t know you yet. Others, to strengthen your relationship with your audience. And some content addresses objections and educates prospects on why you’re the best choice to solve their problem.

Even good writers can have a tendency to throw a bunch of content against the wall and see what sticks. That’s not a smart use of your time. Understand content strategy and why you’re creating every piece of content you write or record.

Pro tip: Take advantage of the excellent free resources that are available on content strategy. We happen to be pretty proud of ours — why not swing by and scoop up our free marketing course and library. Two books by Brian Clark — A Content Marketing Strategy that Works and How to Create Content that Converts — will be especially helpful to you as you work through your content strategy.

You can get the complete marketing library here.

#5. Make it scannable

Once you have something worth reading — that solves a worthwhile problem, is expressed in an interesting way, and has the spark of poetry to make it memorable — you’ll want to wrap it up in a way that’s pleasurable to consume.

Long walls of gray, tiny type are not pleasurable to consume. Neither are videos or audio with awful sound quality.

Sleek presentation and formatting won’t save mediocre content — nothing can do that. (Not even a terrific headline.) But they’ll make good content much more enjoyable for the audience.

Pro tip: Pamela Wilson wrote up an excellent, succinct guide to presenting text content in a way that’s more appealing to your audience — without dumbing it down in any way.

#6. Promotion still matters

Once you have something worth your audience’s time, it’s time to think about promoting it. Content promotion is a big topic — I wrote a whole ebook on it.

In the brief space we have here, I’ll just encourage you to take content promotion seriously. Develop a network of publishers in your topic, cultivate a reputation as someone who creates epic material, and remember that nothing sells itself. Even great content benefits from a bit of a push.

Pro tip: You actually should read my ebook on this; it will help you. It’s called Effective Content Promotion, and it’s also in that free members-only marketing library.

7. What’s the next step for the reader?

The tough part about content is, you’re only as good as your last great post.

So if you do the first six steps perfectly, and end up with a nice audience of fascinated readers who want to know more, you need to have thought through precisely what you want them to do next.

Usually, the right answer is to send them to even more smart, worthwhile content in the form of an email autoresponder.

But your call to action might be different. Your desired action might be to subscribe to a page, to register to vote, to get out and take a walk, to give our kids a hug, or just to click through to some more great content.

The important thing is to decide, before you publish and promote, what that next step for the audience is.

Pro tip: Clear, straightforward calls to action are a hallmark of the professional copywriter. Get very good at them.

What to do next

If there’s any doubt in your mind about what you should do next, let me take care of that for you. Go snag all of our free marketing education. You’ve got a comprehensive library of ebooks, so you can instantly delve into solutions to your most pressing marketing problems. That’s paired with a marketing course, delivered by email, that will keep you sharpening your skills.

Go grab all of the good stuff here.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Heather aka Molly.

About the author

Sonia Simone

Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

The post The 7 Keys to List Posts that Are Worth Writing (and Reading) appeared first on Copyblogger.


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E-commerce Holiday SEO Keyword Optimization: 6 Keys to Success

Many e-commerce sites don’t publish holiday content until November, which is too late for the early birds and for search engines, which can take weeks to add new pages to their index. The remedy to this problem? Start early and plan smart.
Search Engine Watch – Latest

Broadcast your precious moments LIVE to your Facebook friends with Social live. Share your memories instantly by simply activating Social live directly from …
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Video, Journalists & PR: 3 Keys to Local Small Business Marketing #Pubcon

Competing with the big names can be challenging for any SMB. Video can be one of the easiest ways to market your business to local, repeat customers. Also, make the media your friend. And why you should consider releasing press releases on weekends.
Search Engine Watch – Latest

Learn more about some of the updates to your News Feed.
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Youtube: Alicia Keys Sings Happy Birthday To MLK

To celebrate MLK Day today, Alicia Keys took it to YouTube.


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3 Keys to a Strong Online Brand

strengthen your brand

This is a guest blog post written by Louise Sinnerton, social media marketing specialist with PeerIndex.

Personal brands and commercial brands have gone hand-in-hand for a long time.  For well-known figures such as Steven Fry, Margaret Thatcher and Arnold Schwarzenegger there isn’t much of a distinction between the two. In the online sphere, there are thousands of opportunities to tap into people that may be able to help define your brand, strengthen it or broaden its reach. On a personal level that can be very helpful – knowing who will recommend something of top quality – but where brands are concerned it can be extremely lucrative.

Whether they are one and the same or not, personal and commercial brands can make great use of each other.  Jacquelyn Martino and Patrick Wagstrom, researchers from IBM, have been looking at personal branding using social network data and influence scores. Their experiment uses this data to identify the core focus of personal brands, something that can be applied to all brands. Once the core focus has been identified along with the brand networks, brands are able to see how they might be able to extend their reach online.

Within a network, the individuals that are identified as sharing information about a given topic are the people crucial to expanding or solidifying a brand.

3 Ways to Strengthen Your Online Brand

1. Identity – Have a strong brand identity and don’t be afraid of it. Be very specific about who the brand is and what it does, this will engage the right kind of people, who in turn will have the right kind of contacts.

2. Quality Not Quantity – Remember that its not about the number of people that are interested, it is the quality of those people that matter. If you have 1,200 people following you on twitter but none of them retweet you or interact with you online, then they are not valuable to you. It is far better to have a smaller but more valuable reach. This is particularly true when it comes to niche communities and niche markets.

3. You are only as good as those who buy into you – Be aware of who is following you and the things they are saying – as the paper suggests, a brand is made up of the tastes and quirks of the people that buy into it. The people communicating and interacting with the brand are part of the brand identity itself. Some of the people who aren’t part of the brand already – or aren’t buying into it – are potential customers – people who haven’t been targeted yet but could become very involved with the brand.

Image credit: slgckgc

Free Ebook: How to Use Twitter for Business – An Introductory Guide

Free Ebook: How to Use Twitter for Business - An Introductory Guide

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