The blue pill tips

Be less salesy and be more you

Online marketing has been around for years. By now, most internet users can easily discern if a blogger is being sincere or simply after their money. This may occur to you if your blog posts contain more promotions than it has insightful and actionable advice. A change of mindset is needed if you want your audience to perceive you as genuinely passionate about their goals. Rather than just spewing out content, sending emails, and responding to comments, try to commit to the following:

  • Respond to Your Fans via Email — It’s understandable for brands like Backlinko or HubSpot to ignore emails. But for small bloggers, fan emails are unmissable opportunities to build your brand.
  • Post and Share Content that Isn’t About You — When curating content, you’re showing your audience that their needs are more important than your brand image. Keep it up by sharing social media items that aren’t about your brand, including memes and your audience’s posts.
  • Tell Them About Your Life — Every once in a while, consider sharing social media updates about your daily experiences. A spilled cup of coffee, unexpected visitors, impromptu walks — anything that reminds them to appreciate the little things.
  • Arrange Local Meetups — Like I’ve said, I’ve been extra busy lately arranging meetups with members of the Master Blogging Community. This allows me to become not just a blogger and mentor, but a friend building bonds within the community.

Create a swipe file of reusable English words and expressions

I wish I could say that I’ve mastered the English language, but I haven’t. Every so often, I come across an interesting word or expression that I think could spice up my future posts. And when that happens, I quickly pull up my personal swipe file and add a new entry. For copywriters, a swipe file is a list of text-based templates that are proven effective in advertising and sales. My swipe file is a little different since it only contains words and phrases that I can use when writing. If you haven’t yet, I suggest you create your own swipe file now with spreadsheet software like Google Sheets. You only need two columns — one for the word or expression and another for examples.

Keep building on your knowledge

Want to know another great use for a note-taking tool? Storing and organizing information that may come in handy one day. When I was new to blogging, I used Microsoft OneNote to collect and organize marketing concepts that I didn’t understand. I remember listing down terms like “on-page SEO optimization,” “link building,” and “remarketing” — each with links to relevant learning resources. If you’re at a point in your blogging career where you encounter truckloads of confusing words, do what I did. It shouldn’t be hard, and it will definitely help you craft better content and scale your blog in the future. Today, the document I spend the most time with is my swipe file, which I’ll discuss in the next tip.

Capture your ideas with a note-taking tool

Ever think of an amazing topic idea for your next post — only to completely forget about it later that day? This is something that happens to me a few times a day, especially while traveling. And to make sure these ideas don’t fade away from my memory, I jot them down. Sometimes, I use Evernote, which automatically syncs notes between all my devices. Whenever I take a note on my phone, it automatically and immediately becomes accessible on my computer. For grueling research sessions at home, I can easily save information from websites using the “Web Clipper” tool. Of course, I’m not saying that you should pay for Evernote right now just for your note-taking needs. There are free alternatives out there, including the built-in note-taking apps in most operating systems. If you want, you could even use a physical notebook. This is preferable to bloggers who still practice writing down notes by hand.

Make sure your pages are loaded with custom graphics

It’s simply inexcusable for any professional blogger to use royalty-free stock photos as their Facebook cover photo. Granted, generic-looking stock photos may work as temporary placeholders. But if you want to make a strong first impression on social media users, use custom graphics whenever possible. Don’t worry about the cost of hiring a professional graphic designer just yet. Any simple graphic with your brand’s value proposition should do — more than doable with tools like Canva and Visme. Other than your Facebook page’s cover photo, you should also make custom graphics for the following:

  • Instagram posts
  • Pinterest posts
  • Blog featured images when shared on Facebook
  • Twitter cover photo
  • YouTube channel banner art

Run simple contests

While helpful, you don’t really need a tool like Rafflecopter to run social media contests and engage your followers. Creative brands have been utilizing the built-in features of social media websites to run simple giveaways and competitions. If you search for “hashtag contest” on Instagram right now, you’ll see thousands of posts from brands who do this. Some of the mechanics you can combine to run your own contests are:

  • Require a Branded Hashtag — Picking the winners in a hashtag contest is as easy as can be. You simply need to search for the hashtag and let the site pull up posts with loads of engagement.
  • Ask Your Audience to Upload Pictures — A common mechanic in hashtag contests is to ask participants to upload a photo as their entry. Using this in your contest will help you raise brand awareness and earn some user-generated content in the process.
  • Require Participants to Like or Share — If your content prize is tempting enough, you may require participants to like your page, share your post, or both. Including this mechanic in your contest is guaranteed to maximize the value you get out of it.

Stream live videos

Other than share posts, special discounts, and memes, I occasionally stream live videos to my followers. Those are the times when I feel more than just a moderator of the Master Blogging group. Whenever I stream live, I felt like a true member who speaks, listens, and contributes to the community. Social media websites like Facebook make it possible with their live streaming features. While broadcasting the video, viewers can react and post comments in real-time — as if we’re speaking face to face. From the audience’s point of view, live streams heighten the sense of exclusivity and belongingness more than any other content. It also gives them the opportunity to get instant answers to their questions. Apart from hosting live Q&A sessions, you can also stream interviews with influencers. Other ideas include streaming live events, product demonstrations, promotions, and random updates that show your blogging life behind the scenes.

Avoid using long and complicated words

What’s that, you have an impressive vocabulary and impeccable command of the English language? That’s great — but your blog isn’t the place to show off those skills. Save those talents when you’re writing a book. In blogging, it’s always better to use short and simple words that create a pleasurable reading experience. Whenever I feel like I’m using a word that may confuse some readers, I replace it with a simpler synonym. Luckily, most word processors like Google Docs let you find synonyms without leaving the application.

Add a clickable table of contents

If your goal is to improve your content’s scannability, there’s a lot more you can do than just add subheadings. I, for one, commit to creating a clickable table of contents for each and every post. Long-time Master Blogging readers should already know this by now. With a clickable table of contents, readers can conveniently skip ahead to whatever section captures their interest. They no longer need to scan paragraphs upon paragraphs of text to find what they’re looking for. To create a table of contents for your blog post, you can use a WordPress plugin called Table of Contents Plus. It automatically scoops up elements on your content with the “heading” attribute and generates a list with clickable links.

Don’t overthink your introduction

I agree that the introduction is one of the most important parts of an article. Its job is to capture attention, set their expectations straight, and compel your audience to read from start to finish. Sadly, some bloggers tend to overthink their introduction and put their productivity to a grinding halt. I remember being a victim of this as well — wasting several minutes typing, revising, and deleting the introduction. When in doubt, just skip writing the introduction and jump straight into the main body. Trust me, you’ll have an easier time writing it if you have a concrete idea of what your content’s about. If you still don’t know what to write, maybe these tips can help get the ball rolling:

  • Tell a simple story — Try to recall your thought process when you first came up with the content’s topic. You could be experiencing a problem, reading another blog, walking in the park, and so on.
  • Ask a question — Starting off with a question is a great way to have readers put on their thinking caps. It can be aligned with the problems they’re having or the goal they want to achieve.
  • Just get to the point — After asking a question or telling a story, my preferred strategy is to dive right in with the right phrases. Some examples are “without further ado,” “let’s get started,” and “let’s jump into it.”