How to optimize your food blog

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Recipes

I’m not saying that a food blog is about recipes per se, but most of the food blogs I have read at least contain recipes. We have talked about schema.org before. It’s a way to markup your content so search engines recognize very quickly what your page is about. Google, Bing and Yandex have created a Recipe schema especially for websites like yours.

The elements of a Recipe

The Recipe schema contains all kind of specific information about your recipe, varying from cooking time to ingredients. See the full list here. I’d like to point you to a few of these elements that stand out:

  • NutritionInformation: really in-depth information on how healthy your recipe is. I understand that you sometimes just don’t know when it’s a recipe of your own. Some information might help your health-driven audience though.
  • Image: as mentioned earlier, a great image really helps your post. Not just in that it triggers your visitor, but it also works in Google Images and for instance Pinterest. More on social later.

One more thing about nutrition. If you’re serious about adding this to your recipes or other ramblings about food, Google Knowledge Graph helps. It provides some extra information:

Food blogs: Google Knowledge Graph

That entire right side will give you more information about fat and vitamins. Just a tip!

Seasonal posts

“Holidays are coming.” If you have specific food blog posts about Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, please start planning early. If your website needs to start ranking for all your Easter recipes in the week before Easter, you’re too late. Now I know this might be hard, when you’re in your first year of blogging. But especially if you’ve been blogging for a couple of years, it will pay off to promote these recipes from time to time during the year. Easter and Christmas could possibly both include bunnies, right…

You’d be surprised how many people start planning Christmas early. I, for one, would appreciate all of these dishes in September as well. See if you can find seasonal dishes without linking it directly to holidays as well. Categories like ‘for a winter’s evening’ or ‘a rainy day’ might be more suitable for your audience. Last year Jamie Oliver released a book about comfort food. I like that on a stormy day in May as well. I can imagine the number of searches for that go up in September/October though. Google Trends agrees. In Google Trends, you can clearly see that during the summer months, that keyword will give you less traffic. People like BBQs and ice cream during these times.

Bottom line: let Google know you have these post in time. And feel free to repost a Christmas post/recipe around Christmas, by the way. Just make sure you check the content of the post, update if necessary and keep the same link. If you don’t have the link in your URL, simply change the publish date and you’re good to go. It might give that ‘old’ post new visitors.

Your food blog and social media

One out of ten posts on my Facebook timeline is about food or beverages. About cooking or restaurants. On Instagram, people use tags like #yummy, #foodporn, #instafood, #foodpic and multiple variations of #(om)nomnom a lot (don’t you just hate that omnomnom trend? I do). Searching Pinterest for ‘salad‘ will keep you scrolling recipes for hours. If you know me, you’ll understand I obviously searched for ‘burger‘ and just changed the link. Same story.

If you have a food blog, you need to leverage social media. Find out what social media platform your preferred audience is using and start engaging. Pinterest and Instagram seem to work really, really well. But why not leverage sites like allrecipes.com as well? We’ve written about branding before, and sites like that might help you get your name out.

Let’s not forget Youtube. Almost 600,000 subscribers for BarbecueWeb and a whopping 2,500,000+ subscribers for MyCupcakeaddiction! This can only motivate you to start recording videos. Set up your channel, promote it via your website and other social media and see if it works for you. Please note that numbers like that require hard work and a lot of effort. Give it your best shot.

I hope this article will give you some pointers for your own food blog. Feel free to share your own food blog success stories via social media or the comment section below. I’m looking forward to these!

Keep reading: ‘Social Media strategy’ »

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099: Austin Kleon on the Challenges of a Creative Career [Podcast]

Andrew Raynor

When you set out to do creative work for a living, there are unexpected obstacles you face, things like finance and marketing, which can add up to a lot of work that doesn’t necessarily feel creative. So what do you do?

How to Write an Overnight Best-seller in Under a Decade: Interview with Austin Kleon [Podcast]

The question is worth asking: Is getting paid to do what you love really worth the cost?

Often, career experts talk about the grind involved in turning your hobby into a career. But few acknowledge the price you pay after you achieve your goal.

The part we tend to overlook is when you trade your day job for a dream job, it’s still a job.

As a self-proclaimed “writer who draws,” my guest on the podcast knows this better than most. This week on The Portfolio Life, best-selling author Austin Kleon and I talk about the tension between a creative career and the business it takes to support it. Austin has a unique but practical perspective on doing creative work without losing that edge that got you the job in the first place.

Listen in as we discuss juggling the administrative work alongside the creative work and decide for yourself if the leap is one worth taking.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email or RSS, please click here).

Lessons on art and self-promotion

Here are a few quotes from out interview that stuck with me and the lessons I took away from each of them:

1. Writing can be a way to work through your own struggles while helping work through theirs.

“Show Your Work was me actively trying to communicate about self-promotion to people who hate self-promotion, because I hate self-promotion.”

2. Focus first on creating something worth sharing before you worry about how to promote or publish it.

“Most questions about publishing and getting your creative work out into the wild is about self-promotion and marketing… The questions presuppose you have something worth sharing in the first place.”

3. Self-promotion doesn’t have to be selfish. Being generous with what you share is the best way to get your work to spread.

“If I share enough, if I’m interesting enough, and helpful enough to enough people, eventually good things will happen to me.”

Show highlights

In this episode, Austin and I discuss:

  • How reading fuels inspiration
  • Understanding seasons of creative work
  • Being comfortable with fluctuating productivity
  • One question I (Jeff) am embarrassed to answer
  • The importance of allowing margin for “ramp up”
  • What is more valuable than the amount of time you have
  • A common myth we believe about successful authors
  • How to run a business while still getting your creative work done
  • The timeline of Austin’s journey to best-selling author
  • What to do when you feel like a fake
  • Why you may not want to make a living with your art

Quotes and takeaways

  • ”If I had a choice between having a full day vs an hour every day to work, I would pick the hour every day every time.” —Austin Kleon
  • Sometimes you don’t know who you are writing for until someone starts listening.
  • “Look at the world and write the book you think is missing.” —Austin Kleon
  • Some of history’s greatest artists did their best work later in life
  • “Instead of making a living doing what you love, what can you do for a living that means you get to spend the most quality time doing what you like?” —Austin Kleon

Resources

How do you balance administrative and creative work? Why are (or aren’t) you pursuing a creative career? Share in the comments

Andrew Raynor

Today: launch of our Yoast SEO for WordPress training

Andrew Raynor

 

 

As of today it’s possible to become a certified Yoast SEO for WordPress expert! The Yoast SEO for WordPress training is available! In this course, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of our Yoast SEO plugin. Through video tutorials, instructional videos and lots of challenging questions we’ll teach you everything you need to know about the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin. If you buy our Yoast SEO for WordPress training now, it only costs $99 for the first year! After April 6 the price will be $129.

Read more about our Yoast SEO for WordPress training or watch the video in which Joost and Jaro explain all about this great course:

Basic SEO Training

If you want to know more about SEO in general, you should definitely check out our other SEO training. Basic SEO teaches you everything you need to know to optimize your website. And with the launch of our Yoast SEO for WordPress training, we decided to lower the price of our Basic SEO training. For only $199 you will learn all the basics of SEO!

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The Best Way to Not Become a Writer

Andrew Raynor

I’m hosting a free webinar this week on getting published and paid as a writer. Sign up here to learn more about how to write for a living.

The best way to not become a writer is to wish you were one.

not become writer

To think about writing. To dream about it, imagine it, wonder what it would be like to write one day — these are the worst ways to accomplish the things we want to achieve the most. So what’s the best way? Do it.

One thing I learned in writing The Art of Work, my best-selling book that turned one year old last week, was that most people have no idea what their dream is.

Passion? Calling? Purpose? People don’t have a clue. And the very idea that they should know only makes them feel more crippled and ashamed for not having an answer to that age-old “what should I do with my life?” question.

So after interviewing hundreds of people who did find their calling, one trend I noticed was this: You don’t think your way into clarity. Clarity comes with action.

This is true in just about anything from learning how to fall in love to launching your dream career. Life is confusing, and the path towards our purpose is foggy at best.

But things don’t have to stay this way. We can achieve clarity, if we’re willing to act. (For more on this, check out: When Your Calling Seems Vague and Unclear, You’re on the Right Track).

What does this have to do with writing?

Often, I receive emails from writers wanting to know what they should do to start their careers:

  • Should they self-publish or try to get an agent?
  • Genre fiction or literary nonfiction?
  • Mac or PC?

All these questions, though, are the wrong ones to ask right now. People want to know what to write about or when the perfect time to work on your manuscript is. And those issues are virtually pointless when you’re first getting started. I mean, really getting started.

Of course, genre matters. So do your publishing options. Heck, even working with a Mac matters (I’m a bit of an Apple fanatic). Those just aren’t the places you start. Questions like that are what my friend Anthony call “false first steps.” They aren’t where you begin your writing.

Here’s what I tell writers who ask me these questions: The way you become a writer is you write. You practice. You put yourself out there every day. And as you do this, you get rejected and dismissed and frustrated like you never would have imagined. But you also get better. And over time, all that practice starts to matter.

Start here

The best advice I can offer, as controversial as it sounds, is to start by calling yourself a writer. Why is this so important? Because activity follows identity. Some things in life we have to believe before we become them.

This is an act of faith, and in fact, a bit of a mystery to me. Nonetheless, this was the advice best-selling author Steven Pressfield gave me when I was first starting out, it’s haunted me ever since.

In an interview, I asked him when I could call myself a writer, and he said: “You are a writer when you say are. Screw what everyone else thinks. You are when you say you are.”

The next day, I started calling myself a writer. You know what? It worked. I became more confident, and people noticed. That confidence led to competence, and before I knew it, I was this thing I was pretending to be.

Here’s the lesson: if you play a part long enough, you start become that person. So why not choose to play the role you wish you had?

How, exactly, do you become a writer?

Start by owning the title. Then earn it by writing every day. Act as if it’s true and experience the magic of becoming what you always wished you were.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You do it.
  2. You believe it.
  3. You become it.

That first step requires both faith, but the best things always do. It’s a little audacious to do something you aren’t quite sure is true about yourself, but until you take that first step you’ll always wonder if you have what it takes.

Yes, this is a little “woo-woo,” but it also works. I’ve seen it time and time again. What we believe about ourselves actually affects who we become. And what we do influences what we think about ourselves.

So be careful with both the thoughts you entertain and the actions you take. And when self-doubt starts to assail you, don’t forget Mr. Pressfield’s sage words: “Screw what everyone else thinks. You are when you say you are.”

I find this is a daily exercise: declaring to myself, and incidentally to the world, that I really am a writer. In the end, I think it makes me a better one.

Want to learn more about this?

Sign up for my free webinar this week about writing for a living full-time.

Andrew Raynor

5 tips to write readable blog posts!

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Tip 2: Short sentences

Try to write short sentences. We consider sentences containing more than 20 words as lengthy. Try to limit these lengthy sentences. Make sure you only have a few sentences in a blog post that count more than 20 words. Also, make sure a paragraph doesn’t contain more than one long sentence.

Tip 3: Limit difficult words

Limit the use of words that are difficult to read. Remember that reading from a screen is harder for everyone. Words that contain four or more syllables are considered difficult to read. Make sure to limit the use of such difficult words.

Of course, in some cases, your blog post just is about something that is difficult to explain or requires a more advanced vocabulary. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about illustrations. Illustrations is a word containing four syllables and can therefore be seen as a difficult word. Still, I had to use that word (and quite often too). In such cases, make sure your sentences and paragraphs aren’t too long and your readers will still be fine!

Tip 4: Use signal words

A text can be made much more readable with the use of proper signal words (or transition words, same thing). Signal words are words like ‘most important’, ‘because’, ‘thus’, or ‘besides that’. They give direction to your readers. These words give a signal that something is coming up: if you’re summarizing, you’ll use first, second, third etc. If you want to contrast you’ll write same, less, rather, while or either. If you want to conclude, you’ll use hence, consequently or therefore.

Using signal words will be like putting cement between your sentences. The relation between two sentences becomes apparent by the use of signal words. Readers will understand your content much better if you make proper use of these kinds of words.

Tip 5: Mix it up!

For a text to be attractive to a reader, it should be very varied. This means that you should try to mix it up a little! Alternate longer paragraphs and sentences with short ones and attempt to use synonyms if you tend to use a word very often. Some people use the word ‘and’ or ‘too’ very often. Mixing it up with ‘also’ or ‘moreover’ could make a text more attractive and much more readable too.

Conclusion

If you want your readers to read your entire blog post, you should make sure that your text is easy to read. Don’t make a text more difficult than necessary. Avoid long sentences and write clear paragraphs. Tools like Grammarly and Hemingway can help you to write a readable text. At Yoast, we’re currently developing new checks to be added to our content analysis. We aim to include several readability checks as well. That way, you’ll be able to check whether your text is SEO friendly and readable at the same time.

Another way to make sure a text is readable is by choosing the right typography. You shouldn’t use a small font and make sure the spacing between lines is wide enough. I’ll write a post about typography in a few weeks, so stay tuned!

Read more: ‘The site structure of a growing blog’ »

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What I Learned (the Hard Way) About Becoming a Full-time Writer

Andrew Raynor

Note: This week, I’m finishing up a free series on building an audience and writing for a living. Don’t miss it! Watch the first video here.

I used to think becoming a writer was just about writing a lot and waiting for your big break. It’s not.

hard way

It’s probably not a coincidence that Entrepreneur decided to run my article about networks and creative work today. I don’t believe in coincidences — at least, not when writing is concerned.

If you want to get your writing noticed, if you want the world to hear your message, you can’t just sit in a cabin and write all day. There’s more to mastering your craft than that. You have to put yourself, and your work, out there.

For the past week, I’ve been teaching a free series on how to build an online audience, distilling all the lessons I’ve learned from building an audience and going pro with my writing. It’s been fun, but one thing I’ve noticed when you talk about your successes is that people like to invent myths about you.

“You just came out of nowhere!” is something people occasionally say to me. They mean it as a compliment, but I always have to set the record straight.

Bonus: In video #3 of my new teaching series, I give you the exact plan I used to build an audience of 100,000 people in 18 months. Get it here.

I’m not an overnight success

I once heard Steve Pressfield share a lesson about the much sought-after “overnight success” we all dream of, and it immediately resonated. Here’s the story in Steve’s own words:

There’s a story about the Oscar-winning actor Walter Matthau. A younger thespian is bemoaning his own struggle in show biz. “Mr. Matthau, I’m just looking for that one big break!”

In the story Matthau laughs. “Kid,” he says. “It’s not the one big break. It’s the fifty big breaks.”

There are no big breaks, only tiny drips of effort that lead to waves of momentum.

I was able to build an audience of 100,000 people in 18 months because I had spent eight years failing at it. When I learned all the ways to not do it, I finally figured out one way that worked. That’s how you succeed: you fail so many times that you run out of options and the only thing left is success.

But let’s be clear about one thing: Luck is proportionate to your frequency of attempts. It increases with the amount of work you put in.

How I built an audience

In a nutshell, here’s what I did (and what I recommend you do to bring attention to your message):

  1. Focus on voice, not subject. People pay attention to you for how you communicate, not just what you say. This is your “one thing” that makes all other efforts inconsequential. When you hone your voice, you’ll have more flexibility as your interests and style change over time.
  2. Build a platform. This is essential. To paraphrase my friend Michael Hyatt, who literally wrote the book on the subject, you can’t get heard today in this noisy world without building a platform. And forget what you’ve heard. You actually can do this your way.
  3. Be helpful. This is the secret to expanding your reach — focus on others, not yourself. Write a free eBook. Network with people in your field by doing favors for them. Serve your way into influence. It works.
  4. Create something so valuable people will want to pay you for it. This is the final step in the process and must be done last if you want it to be successful. For some, this will be the book you’ve dreamed of writing. For others, it’ll be speaking or an online course. But if you do steps 1-3 well, you will have a line of people waiting to pay you. It’s not a matter of making them, but rather letting them. Value gets its reward.

To learn more about how I did this and have helped thousands of others follow the same process, watch today’s free video (only available for a limited time).

Don’t miss the free series

In this free video, I share the four-step process I used to build my audience but also share a case study of how one author used it quit her job and start writing novels full-time. In it, you’ll learn:

  • Why waiting for a big break is just about the worst thing you can do.
  • How to build a platform that gets you noticed, without having to change who you are.
  • The exact plan I used to pro and have helped thousands of other writers used to accomplish their goals.

Ready to go pro with your writing? Watch today’s third and final video to find out. Be sure to leave a comment on that page, sharing what you’ve learned from this free video series so far!

Click here to check it out.

Andrew Raynor

Building an Audience: Why You Don’t Have to Do It “Their” Way [Podcast]

Andrew Raynor

One of the questions I get every single week, usually from writers, is this: Do I really need a platform? And the answer to that is yes. But not in the way you think.

Building an Audience: Why You Don't Have to Do It "Their" Way

The fear, I think, that many of us struggle with is that in building a “platform,” a place where you can showcase your best work and bring attention to it, that you’re somehow crossing a line, selling out. But that’s just not true.

A platform is people — nothing more, nothing less. It’s how you connect your message to the needs of the world. And if you have something to say or share, it’s essential.

Here’s the thing, though: You don’t have to do this the same way everyone else does. You can build a platform your way. In fact, it’s supremely important that you don’t chase other people’s success or try to give people what you think they want.

Bonus: In video #2 of my new teaching series on how to build an audience, I explain why “You Don’t Have to Do it Their Way.” Check it out here.

You need to find your authentic voice and build an audience around your unique message. Otherwise, you’re simply a hack, pandering to the whims of the masses. And trust me, I’ve done that. It doesn’t work out too well.

How I failed before succeeding

Years ago, I started blogging and did whatever I could to try to get people to read it. I’d change topics, chase trends, swap links with anybody. Whatever I needed to do to get attention, I would do it.

And sometimes, people did notice. The problem, though, was when they did, their attention exposed the fact that I was a fake. I wasn’t getting accolades for who I was. I was playing the celebrity, getting applause for playing a part, trying to be who they wanted me to be.

Let me tell you. It’s no fun winning people’s affection for something you didn’t earn or didn’t want. The worst kind of failure is succeeding at the wrong thing.

Focus on what makes you different, what makes you unique. Be your true self. This is a cliche for a reason. The last thing you want is to showcase to the world a shadow of the real thing.

What happens when we embrace our authentic message

Here’s what happens when you do this, when you start doing more authentic work the way you were meant to do it:

  1. You do better work. When you’re doing work that inspires you, that excites you, you bring an unmatched energy and enthusiasm to that, which ultimately results in higher quality work.
  2. You do more interesting work. It’s one thing to be good. It’s another to do work that is intriguing and captivating, something worth talking about. When you embrace your authentic self and share your message with the world, it is often something people want to talk about.
  3. You attract more of the right kind of people. Trying to reach a mass market is a fool’s errand. The Internet has fractured society into a million tiny niches and markets. The best thing you can do is place your stake in the ground and let people see it. Those who agree with you, and there are always some, will flock to you and follow you for your courage and tenacity. Nobody wants to be pandered to, and you don’t need that many people to make a difference.

The world needs fewer fakers and more people being true to themselves. Maybe that can start with you.

And if you want to learn more about how to find your message and share it, check out my latest video series on building an online audience.

In today’s free video, I share the five basic types of platform personalities that most of the world’s most successful bloggers and communicators have used to get their message out there. In it, you’ll learn:

  • Why some bloggers can just write about their lives and people will care.
  • How certain writers get away with not having to do any research.
  • Which platform type best suits your personality and communication style.

Not sure which platform personality you are? Watch the video to find out. Click here to check it out.

Tribe Writers PLC Video 2

Listen to the audio

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email, please click here)

Andrew Raynor

Yes, There Really Is a Shortcut to Success

Andrew Raynor

The other day, someone commented on a Facebook post of mine in which I promised them a “shortcut” to success. They said, there’s no such thing. That made me wonder.

shortcut

Really? There are no shortcuts in life? Only the hardest working people in the world win? It’s a popular belief, which should be reason enough to question its validity.

But let’s explore this idea.

Let’s say there are no shortcuts and everyone is as successful as they absolutely deserve to be. Does that mean Bill Gates, who makes about $11 billion per year (or $1.3 million per hour!) works 54,000 times harder than the average American worker who earns $50,000 per year? How is that even possible?

Look. We all want to believe hard work pays off. And it does. But at a certain point, you can’t work any harder. You have no more time than anyone else. So what do you do? You have to learn how to work smarter.

And that means learning from someone who’s already been there.

You need a guide

For years as a writer, I struggled to get noticed. I blogged and nobody cared, tried to write books no one would read, and failed to motivate myself to work. I wanted a publisher but didn’t know anyone in the industry and didn’t have any readers to show for my work. I was stuck.

What I needed was someone to show me another path. It didn’t have to be a shortcut. I was just tired of the long road to success  —  because it was leading nowhere  —  desperately wanted to know what was missing.

In any great story, there is a point in the journey when the hero meets an obstacle he cannot overcome. This is the moment when the guide arrives. This is the essence of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey: you cannot succeed without someone wiser to show you the way. Frodo needed Gandalf. Luke needed Obi-wan. And you and I need a mentor.

Sure enough, in my own journey, that’s what happened. I met a handful of people who acted as guides in helping me become an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. My dream became a reality within a matter of 18 months. But this wasn’t because I hustled — it’s because I found a guide.

And you know what? I didn’t work any harder in those 18 months than I did in the previous seven years. But I did work smarter  —  not because I was any smarter, but because someone showed me a better way. I met the right people, connected with the right networks, and practiced my craft in the right way. In other words, I found a shortcut.

But maybe you don’t like thinking of success this way. I certainly don’t. It’s embarrassing to admit I got a little lucky, that I was in the right place at the right time, that it wasn’t just about the hustle. But that’s the truth. And I think we need to acknowledge this reality.

How to find a mentor

How do you find a guide, or in today’s terms, a mentor? It’s not as easy as we’d like. First of all, mentors tend to be busy people. So getting in front of one will take work. People move around so much these days, and so many things, including our careers, are constantly changing. It stands to reason, then, that your mentor will not just be one person, but a team of people.

In my book, The Art of Work, I call this an “accidental apprenticeship.” The idea here is that if you pay attention to your life and the people who are in it, you will find there are those around you right now whom you can learn from. In that sense, the best mentor is the one that’s right in front of you.

Still, you’ll want to be intentional about getting into relationship with this person. So there are a few steps I recommend following that have worked well for me and that I’ve seen others emulate, as well:

Make your first ask a small one. In other words, don’t lead with, “Will you mentor me?” Instead, ask for a few minutes of their time, offer to buy them lunch/coffee/whatever.

Make it all about them. Ask them to tell their story. Ask specific questions about choices they made in their own success journey and why. In other words, flatter them to death. Nobody is immune to this kind of treatment, and it certainly beats the awkward alternative. Come prepared with questions, and try to talk as little as possible. If you show up informed and interested, you will be both engaging and memorable.

Take notes. When you meet with this person, write down everything they say. Honor their wisdom by capturing as much of it as possible. I recommend using a notebook and pen over a phone, just so that it’s clear you’re not checking your email or texting your buddies.

Follow up. This is perhaps the most important and most often overlooked secret to getting into relationship with influencers who can eventually become part of your team of mentors. I meet with a lot of people and even tell them how important this is and still see on average about 80% of people never follow up. What I mean by this is a simple thank-you email for the person’s time, or even better: a copy of the notes you took to show that you really did listen and take to heart their wisdom.

Become a case study. Hands down, this is the best thing you can do to earn the attention of an influencer. And if you do this consistently over time, you will get people interested in mentoring you. Take some piece of advice this person has given you (or published in a book, blog post, etc.) and apply it. Demonstrate that this stuff works and tell the world about it. The reason this works is fairly obvious: you’re making the mentor look good.

Again, this goes back to making it about them. Don’t offer empty flattery; just show that you’re someone worth investing in. Do this enough times, and people will be lining up to give you their time, attention, and ideas. Because the truth is nearly everyone wants to help someone who is going places, so they can feel responsible for that person’s success.

Is this really how it works?

I realize this may come off as manipulative or even sound a little unsavory. So allow me to address a few potential objections:

Objection #1: Don’t influencers just want to help people out of the kindness of their hearts?

Well, maybe. But they’re busy. And so when push comes to shove, they’re going to invest in people with promise, not takers who seem to make everything about themselves. Your best bet is to be remembered as the ambitious person with lots of questions who was eager to learn, not the know-it-all who was more interested in herself than the person with experience.

Objection #2: Are mentors so egotistical that the whole thing has to be about them?

No, they’re probably not all ego. But we all love to feel important and valued once in a while. And when seeking someone’s help or advice, appeal to this side of them, not their more noble generous side. As you earn their trust, you will see more of this side. But in the beginning, assume they are only interested in helping themselves. And make it worth their while. I’m sure many influencers are very kind and generous people. But it’s better to lead with humility than arrogance.

Objection #3: Do I have to be so strategic? Can relationship be an end in itself, and not a means to get something out of people?

Of course, relationship can be an end in itself. But the truth is most of us, whether we admit it or not, want something out of a relationship. And that something could just be love or acceptance or maybe even guidance. Just because you want something from someone doesn’t necessarily cheapen how you approach them.

And in that regard, yes, I do think you have to be strategic. Many of us are extremely busy. So if you don’t make intentional space for people to guide you, then you will likely drift through life, disappointed and disillusioned as you watch others succeed in things you wish you could achieve.

My advice? Don’t be so strategic it stifles the relationship. But be intentional with your time and focus it on those who will give you a return on your investment. I guarantee you this is how your would-be mentors are thinking.

Avoid the scarcity mindset

My friend Mary told me when she was first starting out as a writer, she asked an author out to lunch. “How do you get published?” she asked. The person wouldn’t tell her. She said those were her secrets and that Mary would have to find out for herself.

That day, Mary vowed that if she ever made it as a writer, she’d share everything she learned with other aspiring authors. A few years later, I called her asking for advice, and she made good on her promise.

Shawn Coyne, long-time New York editor, told me a similar story. Back in the day, nobody in publishing shared anything. There were no guidebooks on how to be an editor. He had to figure it out all on his own. Once he did, instead of hoarding his knowledge, he decided to share it in a book, blog, and podcast. And this refusal to succumb to the scarcity mindset changes everything.

When we let go of our perceived scarcity and embrace our actual abundance, it changes so many things:

  • Scarcity kills our creativity. Abundance expands it.
  • Scarcity makes us afraid. Abundance makes us brave.
  • Scarcity pushes people away. Abundance attracts.

It can feel a little risky to embrace this mindset, this idea that there are guides out there who will help you and opportunities for success yet to be uncovered. But it is a much better way to live than to assume the alternative: that everyone is out to get you and there is no way you’ll succeed.

And once you do experience this abundance, you will have an opportunity to help others, which is one of the greatest rewards of success. This is why I feel so responsible for helping other writers make their own journey towards getting published.

Of course, I tell them it will take hard work. But I also teach them the rules of the game and how to improve their chances of success. You can’t just work harder. You have to work smarter. Stop trying to manage your time, as my friend Rory Vaden says, and instead learn how to multiply it. Finding the right guides to help you is an integral part of that process.

The three shortcuts to success

So how does this work? Well, keep in mind that I teach this stuff to hundreds of students at a time over the course of a couple of months, but the following are the main highlights:

Shortcut #1: You can get to where you want faster if you follow in someone else’s footsteps.

Find a guide or mentor you can learn from and emulate, even from afar. This is the difference between those who continuously struggle and those who find a faster way to succeed. Humble yourself and trust that there are those out there who want to help you.

Shortcut #2: Invest in opportunities that grow your capacity.

In other words, don’t waste years trying to figure things out. Instead, sacrifice time and money to accelerate your learning. That might mean taking a course, hiring a coach, or working for free for a certain period of time in exchange for experience.

Shortcut #3: Change your location. When opportunity is sparse, move.

That might mean moving across town to a co-working space where more people are connecting in person. It might mean ponying up to go to that industry conference where all your peers will be. Or it might even mean relocating to a place where there are more people doing what you want to do. The point is geography matters. And chances are there’s an opportunity closer than you realize. You just might have to move towards it before it will come closer to you.

Do these things, and you will see your luck increase. I promise. You can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen — for those mentors to come find you or for opportunities to fall in your lap. Luck, of course does happen on occasion, but it’s better to look for luck than wait for it. Because luck is often hiding in the hard-to-reach places that most people are too timid to approach.

Who knows? Maybe as you scan the horizon for the right opportunities, you just might see a shortcut.

I’m taking all the lessons I’ve learned about how to make a living writing and trying to pay it forward, teaching a free video series this week. It’s everything I’ve learned in the past decade, including how to avoid failure and fast-track your success. I’ll teach what you I did and what I’ve helped thousands of other writers do. You won’t have to waste another second trying stuff that “might” work. And in that sense, I guess you could call it a shortcut. Sign up here to watch the video series (it doesn’t cost a thing!).

Andrew Raynor

Yoast SEO plugin tutorials

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Do you encounter any difficulties configuring your Yoast SEO plugin? Want to know more about all features and settings of the Yoast SEO plugin? We have great news for you! Joost has made a series of Yoast SEO plugin tutorials for every tab on every page of the Yoast SEO configuration pages. A playlist of a total of 33 screencasts is available for free for all of our users!

In these video tutorials, Joost de Valk will explain all the settings of the Yoast SEO plugin in detail. He’ll talk you through all the possibilities the plugin has and explain why you should configure your plugin in a certain way. With every update of Yoast SEO, new screencasts will be released. Check out our extensive playlist! And, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you won’t miss any updates!

Yoast SEO plugin training for WordPress

Yoast SEO for WordPress training

For those of you who want to dive in all the possibilities our plugin has, we have developed a Yoast SEO plugin training. This training will be released on Wednesday the 30th of March. This training consists of these same 33 Yoast SEO plugin tutorials and of 8 in-depth instruction videos in which Joost de Valk gives extra information about all the settings. On top of that, the course comes with a lot of challenging questions, to test whether or not you truly understand the Yoast SEO plugin.

SEO New Hampshire

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The power of our reviews

Andrew Raynor

 

 

We’ve been doing our website reviews for quite some time now. Over the past years, we have reviewed more than 1,700 websites (!) and counting. In this article, I’d like to show you how our reviews can help your website by highlighting some of the recommendations and how the follow-up on that resulted in increased traffic and sales. Bully Max is a very loyal customer of ours, that is using a lot of our products (far more than just the website audits). Let me demonstrate how our reviews have helped them grow their business.

If you order a review for your webshop now, you’ll get $50 off! Just use SHOP2016REVIEW in the checkout. Go optimize your webshop today! »

The website review

It all started when our friends over at Bully Max ordered a website review from us in June 2013. Their website homepage looked something like this (this is a screenshot directly from our review):

Bully Max Dog Supplements Pitbull Food Dog Vitamins 710 7

The website had a lot of potential, with the company being in a clear niche market and having a very passionate team that was willing to go the extra mile. As there is always room for improvement, they asked us to do a website review for them.

Some of the things that just had to be improved

The website had a slider, which we disliked then as much as we do now. Sliders often cause distraction from the main element of your (home)page. This could lead to a very noticeable lack of focus. There was simply too much going on.
At the moment, Bully Max’s homepage looks like this:

Bully Max, official website

Create trust, great call-to-action. Remember that these vitamins for pitbulls are a rather emotional product. We’re talking about your pet here and you only want the best for your pet! Once the website has convinced you about the products, there is a clear call-to-action to go shop for your dog’s vitamins. No doubt about what the visitors should do here. Much improvement when it comes to focus.

Please note that Bully Max shifted the main product area to bullymax.com, where we reviewed the original domain of vitaminsforpitbulls.com. That website still exists, but links to the brand domain for products and more. Activities shifted from one to another website, visibility still increased for the old domain (nice job).

Of course we found more on the initial website. Looking at their product pages, we found the product descriptions were all duplicate. If you own a webshop and you’re selling products that others are selling as well, here’s an invaluable tip: write your own content. No matter how awesome your website is, you just won’t rank for your product descriptions if there are 500 other webshops with an exact copy of that description. Webshop owners often simply use a manufacturer’s description, for instance. This inevitably leads to duplicate content.

As I bet some of you know, we are unforgiving in our review. The final report consisted of almost 6000 words of critique. And Bully Max was ecstatic. They simply understood the value of all that we had to say and got to work. You just got to love customers like that!

The results in ranking

Bully Max considers their website an ongoing work in progress, and have told us multiple times they’re using our reviews almost on a daily basis. So, to us, the results they’re seeing isn’t much of a surprise. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make us proud. I mean, just look at it:

The traffic on their website almost tripled over that period! And that’s just traffic. Look at this Searchmetrics.com visibility chart I took today (vitaminsforpitbulls.com):

SEO visibility for vitaminsforpitbulls.com (chart)

An extra to that is the chart for the new website bullymax.com (launched around the second quarter of 2015):

SEO Visibility for bullymaxcom

The increasing visibility for both websites, and the extra traffic that comes along with that, is the result of hard work on the side of Bully Max. And the willingness to take on our advice and trust what we had to say.

Buy one of our Website reviews »

The Conversion review

Back in 2014, we felt we could share more knowledge about conversion as well. Before releasing the Conversion review, we held a trial among our website review customers. That way, we could perfect our product before making it available to the masses.

Literally within 10 minutes of sending the mail, Bully Max replied that they wanted to buy the Conversion review. They were very eager to try out this new product. We obviously were very happy to have such enthusiastic and hard-working customers for our first Conversion review.

Here’s what their website looked like then, after a number of initial changes they did following our first review:

power of our reviews

Bully Max added loads of content. They did a great job improving the website, and we noticed. As I mentioned earlier, there is always room for improvement, there are always some things that can be better. Their main conversion issue, which was most probably costing them sales, was their website’s responsiveness. Their website was less suited for a mobile device and to be honest, their mobile website just didn’t work at all. And that’s a big flaw, if you consider the fact that almost 50% of their traffic came from mobile.

These days, with Accelerated Mobile Pages being a hot topic, most website owners understand the need for a great mobile/responsive website. That has changed a lot over the past two years. Having said that, we still see our share of websites that are just not optimized (enough) for mobile users. If a theme is responsive, that doesn’t mean all your content is. Videos or images that just don’t scale are rather common. Don’t just believe your web developer created a mobile website, but visit your website from a mobile device from time to time, to check if all of your content nicely scales as well.

As I said, Bully Max continues to improve their website. The current design is already a lot different from the orange and black improvements they made back then, but just look at what their homepage looked like in April of 2014:

vitaminsforpitbulls.com design (April 2014)

What I really like about Bully Max, is that while a design improvement is rather easy to do (switch theme, change some CSS and images, things like that), the Searchmetrics.com chart above shows that Bully Max continued to focus on content as well.

Looking at their long tail keywords, I found that vitaminsforpitbulls.com is ranking very well for specific long tail keywords:

Rankings long tail; keywords - vitaminsforpitbulls.com - Searchmetrics.com table

That just means they kept a lot of focus on (new) content, while continuously testing and improving their design as well. Meanwhile, bullymax.com nails the brand-related keywords:

brand related keywords

The homepage ranks for these keywords, but well, that is just what we mentioned in our post about branding.

The results in sales

Of course we won’t be publishing any hard numbers, but we do have approval to show you some nice percentages (March 2014). Let me show you why BullyMax is so happy with our review:

ecommerce_overview_-_google_analytics_2014-03-11_11-31-49_2014-03-11_11-31-52 2014-03-14 15-40-06 2014-03-14 15-42-58

These are the increases and decreases in percentages. I’m already hearing you say: “but the average order value went down!”. Yes, it did. And that’s the only thing that went down, and not even significantly so. For the non-believers out there: the sales weren’t low to begin with, so these percentages really do mean something.

SEO New Hampshire

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