How One Writer Landed a $220,000 Book Contract Without Being Famous

Andrew Raynor

I am consistently amazed by what many writers think is not possible. For instance, the other day I was talking to someone who wanted to get a book published and start making money writing. But at some point someone told her she couldn’t.

How One Writer Landed a $220,000 Book Contract Without Being Famous

“You won’t make more than a few bucks off your first book,” one author told her.

“That’s not true,” I said.

And then I told her the story of Benjamin Hardy…

The true tale of a blogger gone pro

Recently, I sat down with Ben to capture his story of how, in just 12 short months, he grew his email list to 100,000 readers and was able to land a $220,000 book contract with one of the largest publishers in the world.

Click here to watch the video.

Who was Ben Hardy before he started this journey?

Nobody special (his words, not mine). What he did was nothing new. It’s what every writer who wants to “make it” has to do:

  1. Start a blog
  2. Build an email list
  3. Took themselves seriously

However, what Ben did that was exceptional was the work. So many of us are looking for a quick fix or easy solution. There is none. You have to do the work. This process works if you do.

As you watch the video, pay attention to how Ben executed each step in the 12-step roadmap that I teach in Tribe Writers (Ben and I break down what he did and how you do the same). This really is a proven process.

This week, I’m sharing a few things I don’t want you to miss:

  • Thing 1 (in case you missed it) was the free guide: 12 Steps to Make a Living Writing. Click here to download your copy.
  • Thing 2 (in case you aren’t a big reader) was the video version of the 12-step roadmap. Click here to watch as I walk you through it.
  • Thing 3 is today’s video of how Ben Hardy grew an email list of 100,000 people in 12 months and then got a $220,000 book contract. Click here to watch the case study.

Why am I doing this?

I’m sharing all these resources with you to make one very important point:

It’s possible for you to make a living writing.

You just have to do the work. I can’t motivate you. I can’t make you sit down and write. But I can show you the way to success and hope you take the next step.

If you follow Ben’s example, I am quite certain you’ll see similar results.

Don’t miss Ben Hardy’s amazing story of success. Click here to watch our interview right now.

What is your biggest struggle when it comes to writing? How do your writing efforts match up with your goals? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

Ask Yoast case study: SEO of an online shop

Andrew Raynor

 

 

SEO can be really complicated! How do you start with improving the structure of a site? How do you write amazing and SEO-friendly articles? To help all of you with your SEO strategy, I’m writing a series of Ask Yoast case studies. In these case studies, I’ll take a look at a specific site (the owner knows about it of course :-)), and I’ll give some SEO advice. In this second case study: SEO of an online shop!

Ask Yoast Case studies

Want Marieke to look at the content of your site? Send an email to ask@yoast.com!

Improve the SEO of an online shop!

In this case study, the SEO of an online shop is the central topic. We were given the chance to take a look at the SEO of Knock Knock, independent makers of clever gifts, books, and whatever else they can think up.

The Knock Knock team didn’t have a specific question for us, so we just took a look at their website and give advice on how to improve the SEO

First impression of KnockKnock

I want to buy those notebooks! I want to have those pens! Great fill-out books! I love the products Knock Knock offers. It’s original, it’s fun and I really get some sort of brand-feeling if I browse through their website. Fantastic!

Technically, Knock Knock seems to be a solid site, which is great. Some general SEO quick wins would be: creating alt tags for images and adding meta descriptions to tag pages and on some category pages.

KnockKnock has a lot of potential to become really successful. Maybe they already are! I believe that with certain SEO improvements they could be generating even more traffic than they’re getting right now! 

Want to outrank your competitor and get more sales? Read our Shop SEO eBook! »

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Content content content

My initial thoughts for improvements when I saw this site were: 

“This site screams for a blog! Knock Knock’s products are very original and one-of-a-kind. Writing blog posts about, for instance, how to use these products and why you would need them, won’t be hard at all! Blogging is a great way to promote your stuff and to show to your audience how to use your products. In case of this specific online shop, I’d post lots of photos too.

For SEO reasons, starting a blog is very important too. Knock Knock doesn’t show a lot of content on their site. It’s an online shop with quite some products and, therefore, product pages, but the copy on these pages is quite short. That’ll make it hard to rank high in Google. Blogging, or in other words, publishing fresh content on a regular basis, will definitely improve the SEO of this online shop.

I would advise Knock Knock to start with some solid keyword research. Maybe they’ve already done some research. Which words do they want to be found for? After that, they should start creating some real quality content. I’d love to read blog posts about the origin, benefits or appliance of their products. They do have nice product reviews written by their audience, perhaps these reviews could serve as a starting point for a blog post.

KnockKnock sells products that are quite witty. I’m sure their blog could be entertaining too. Apart from a great SEO strategy, an entertaining blog would also be a kickass marketing strategy!”

After showing the draft of this post to KnockKnock they got back to me telling that they already have a blog! So I had rework my advice a bit… I started with checking out their blog first, where they write about the origin and creators of the products, the use of the products and more fun stuff. Their blog post are very original and entertaining! They also post quite regularly, a couple of times a month.

So now, my main advice is: make your blog more visible on your site! I noticed that we can easily get from your blog to your shop, but the other way around is a lot harder (or perhaps impossible?). I’d suggest to just add the blog in the top navigation of your site. That way, visitors can easily read more about your products, creators and all the nice things you do, apart from creating awesome products!

Read more: ‘5 tips to find inspiration for your blog’ »

Site structure

In case you would be starting a blog from scratch that would be quite hard. On the other hand, if you’re starting a blog, you do have the chance to create an ideal structure for it. Think about the topics you’d like to blog about. These could be the same as the product categories of your online shop, but it also could be different categories. Write a few long, really awesome, articles on each of these categories. These articles will be your cornerstone pages. Make sure to write lots of blog posts about similar topics (but all slightly different and more niche/long tail). And link from all of these articles to your most important cornerstone article. If you start your blog from scratch, make sure to structure it in an excellent way! Read more about this in our ultimate guide to site structure.

Conclusion

If you have an online shop that’s focused on an awesome niche like Knock Knock, your SEO will benefit most from a solid content strategy. Writing lots of texts, articles, posts will have an effect on your rankings. Besides that, it’ll be a great way of marketing your stuff. Combine your blog with an awesome social media strategy and you’ll increase both your rankings and sales!

Keep reading: ‘10 tips for an awesome and SEO friendly blog post’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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Improve local SEO with Google My Business

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Every business owner with a website is looking for ways to get noticed in the search results. Today, there are loads of tactics to rank well as a local business, but there is no silver bullet: as with most SEO issues, this is a combined effort. One of these pieces of the local SEO puzzle is Google My Business, a dashboard for managing listings. But what is it exactly and why is it so important for local SEO?

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

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What is Google My Business?

My Business is Google’s one-stop shop to manage how your business will look and perform in the search engine. It is an essential tool to find out and adjust how your site shows in Maps, the Knowledge Graph, Google+ and organic search results. According to the 2017 edition of Moz’ Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, Google My Business continues to be the biggest driver of local SEO success, with quality links coming in at a close second.

You can manage your business listing by adding NAP details, opening hours, photos et cetera. In addition to that, it is possible to manage the reviews your customers leave behind. As you know, reviews should be a key factor in your local SEO efforts.

How does it work?

Getting started with My Business is easy; you have to make an account and claim your business. After filling in your details, you will get a real-life postcard from Google on the address you’ve specified. This card is the only proof you’re the owner of the business listed at the address.

Once verified, you can fill in all the necessary details and check how your listing is doing. You can even get regular insights to see how many impressions, clicks and subscribers your listing got over a period. It’s a great way of getting a feel for how your business is perceived by Google and customers alike.

Keep in mind that My Business is not the catch-all tool for your local SEO. It has to work in tandem with your on- and off-site SEO efforts. You won’t climb the charts if your profile is inaccurate, but you also won’t reach the top without a well-optimized site and localized content. These things go hand in hand.

Ranking factors

Google My Business uses many factors to determine rankings for businesses. We’ll highlight the three most important ones:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

Relevance

Relevance determines how well your business fits the search intent of the customer. Is your focus identical to what the customer needs or are you a bit opaque about what your business does? Vagueness doesn’t rank. Be as clear as you can be. Keep your focus.

Distance

Distance is a well-known factor for ranking local businesses. You can’t rank in a local search for (dentist New Jersey) when you have located your company in Manhattan. The exact way Google determines which businesses to show in a local search is unknown, and it can be pretty hard to rank in a given area. The other factors play a significant role as well. It helps not just to say you are located in a particular area, but also to show it by creating local-oriented content around your business on your site. Google uses what’s known about the location of the searcher to present the most relevant local businesses.

Prominence

Prominence is all about the activity around your listing; this could be the number of reviews, events, local content et cetera. It also helps if you can get loads of quality links to your site. It is somewhat hard to determine what prominence means exactly, but one thing is sure: no one likes dead profiles. You have to keep it updated with new photos and manage your reviews. As said before, this works in tandem with your site, so make sure both listings align and that you publish local content.

Optimize your Google My Business listing

To start, you need to claim your listing. After that, you can use the following tips to make your My Business account a success. Keep in mind that everything you add must be in line with the information you provide on your site. Inaccurate information kills your listings and could kill your rankings:

  • Claim your listing with your actual business name
  • Choose a category as accurate as possible
  • Provide as much data as you can – your profile has to be 100%
  • Check your phone number
  • Check your opening times – think about holidays!
  • Review your photos – are they accurate and good or can you improve them?
  • Create citations on other sites as well – pick well-regarded business listing or review sites and directories, stay away from spammers
  • Keep your My Business listing in line with your site – and use Schema.org data
  • Above all, keep your data up to date

It’s critical to remember that this is not a set it and forget it type of thing. Things chance, your business changes. Keep everything active, monitor reviews and stay on top of things. It’s frustrating if your listing doesn’t perform as well as you’d like, but keep putting in the hours, and it will work. US businesses can check their listings with this tool by Synup: Google My Business Guidelines Checker.

my business guidelines check

Structured data and Yoast Local SEO

Google increasingly depends on structured data to find out what your site is about and which elements represent what. This is most certainly true for your business information, including the information that My Business uses. Make sure you add the correct structured data to your site. Enhance your NAP details, opening hours, reviews, product information et cetera, with Schema.org data. This will make it much easier for Google to determine the validity of your listing. Several tools can help you with this, including our Yoast Local SEO plugin.

Your local SEO is critical, even with Google My Business

So, you should activate and maintain your My Business account, and make it awesome. But the most of your listings and to get good rankings, you must have your site in order as well. Optimize every part of it. Create local content for your chosen keyword and business location. Acquire quality local backlinks to build up a solid link profile. Ask customers to review your business onsite or on My Business. Make sure your listing is active and attractive. Dead profiles are no good.

Read more: ‘Local ranking factors that help your local business’ SEO’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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The Writer’s Roadmap: 12 Steps to Make a Living Writing

Andrew Raynor

You don’t have to starve as a writer. Click here to watch a free video about the steps you can take to make a living writing.

It never fails. Every week, I overhear a conversation at a coffee shop or get an email that essentially says the same thing:

“Writers don’t make any money.”

The Writer's Roadmap: 12 Steps to Make a Living Writing

I’ve heard teachers and relatives and even authors themselves say this. But is it true? It doesn’t have to be.

Yes, we have all heard the tales of starving artists. But here’s the other side of that story:

You don’t have to starve.

Not today. Not with the countless opportunities that exist to share your message with the world.

You can make a living writing

Every year, I see writers do this. I see them bridge the gap between barely surviving and making a great living. I’ve personally taught hundreds of them each year in my Tribe Writers course and applauded as they’ve seen their dreams come true.

Here’s the deal. I’m tired of this whole “starving writer” thing. It needs to go away. So, recently I documented the process that all professional writers follow to turn pro.

And today, I want to share it with you.

  • If you haven’t gotten a chance to download my new free guide yet, get it right here: 12 Steps to Make a Living Writing.
  • Click here to watch a tutorial as I walk you through the writer’s roadmap and explain the 12 steps in detail.

The myth of the starving artist has dominated our culture for long enough. It’s time to equip writers and creatives with the tools to make a living from their craft.

Are you feeling stuck? These resources will help you. Get started by downloading the guide and watching the free video.

Where do you feel stuck in your writing? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

Ask Yoast: Publishing in another language and SEO

Andrew Raynor

 

 

If you’re creating content for a website, you might want to, occasionally, publish an article in a language different from the language of your other content. However, it’s difficult to rank with one specific article that’s written in a language that differs from the rest. So what should you do to improve the SEO of that article? In this Ask Yoast, I’ll help you out and explain when to optimize your metadata in another language, when to use hreflang and what more you could do to help that article rank!

Justin from VPNgids.nl (VPNguide.nl) emailed us with this question:

“I’ve got a Dutch blog but I want to publish an article in English. What should I do? Should I just add an hreflang tag or something else?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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English article on a Dutch blog

In the video, we explain what options you have to improve the SEO of an article in a language that’s different from your other content:

“In this case, the hreflang tag isn’t even really necessary. The only reason you would use an hreflang is if you had a Dutch version and an English version of the same article. If that’s the case, then you should use hreflang on both articles. In case of a separate article in English, what you should make sure of is that on the English article all the metadata shows that that is an English article and not a Dutch article. Unfortunately this is quite hard to do in WordPress, if you’re not running a multilingual plug-in.

But to be honest, if you’re going to publish in English, maybe you should just make a separate section of your site for it that is completely in English. Adding some more content to it would give you a lot more chance for ranking, than just having one article in English.

Of course you have to start somewhere. So by all means create that English section, start with that one article and then slowly add on to it. It’s always a good idea, if you’re Dutch and your English is good enough, to switch to English. The Dutch language area is only very small and the world is a lot bigger, with a lot of English speakers. So I would really encourage you to start doing stuff in English. Just like we did! I started blogging in English eight years ago, which is why Yoast is so popular now.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘hreflang: the ultimate guide’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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You Don’t Have to Starve (If You Do This)

Andrew Raynor

A friend of mine recently did a survey of a few thousand writers, asking them how much money they make off their writing per month. Do you know what they said? Can you guess? A few thousand bucks a month? A few hundred? Not even close.

You Don't Have to Starve (If You Do This)

According to this study, the average writer makes less than a dollar a month off their writing.

A dollar. A DOLLAR?!!

That’s insane, and in my opinion, unacceptable. Sadly, though, it’s true. Based on my conversations with the hundreds of thousands of writers who read my blog every month, most of them aren’t making money off their writing. Like, none.

Another study I found was done by Writers Digest, and the findings weren’t much better. Out of the 7000 working writers surveyed, over 77% didn’t make more than $1000 a year off their writing.

Look. I know it’s no surprise that writers don’t make a fortune off their work, but a dollar a month?

A thousand dollars a year?

We can do better.

And yet, for every group of Starving Artists out there, we occasionally stumble across an individual who defies the odds and breaks through the glass ceiling of what’s possible. These are those elite few we tend to call “lucky” and “privileged.”

But are they really?

The truth is some writers make very little money and some make a lot of money. In fact, writing may be one of the few jobs where the minimum and maximum earning potential are practically limitless. With other jobs, like law or medicine or even food service, there is some minimum salary to which you are entitled. Not so with writing. That makes this a little risky. But you knew that already. 😉

Fortunately, the converse is also true.

Most doctors and lawyers don’t make much more than the average income for their field, which can be multiple six figures. It’s a nice living, but such professions have their limitations. Those in the creative arts, however, have none. Take J.K. Rowling, for example, billionaire author of the Harry Potter series. Or even Dr. Dre, another billionaire who made his living off his work and the products he was able to create around it.

This may be the most volatile, most exciting profession there is. Now, let me tell you something you didn’t know…

You don’t have to starve.

You can share your ideas and stories with the world and make a living doing so. You can get paid to write for a living. And you don’t have to be a bestselling author or a super-popular blogger to do so.

What you do have to do is pay attention to the way other people have succeeded. You have to follow the path that your predecessors have set before you. You need to give up on the limiting beliefs that you can’t do this and stop thinking you’re special.

You’re not.

You are no different than the millions of aspiring writers who have come before you. Except that you have opportunities and resources than many never did. Hemingway didn’t have a blog. Twain didn’t have Amazon. Austen didn’t have an email list.

This is the best time to be a writer.

And yet, many of us are squandering the opportunities before us. We’re believing a myth — we must starve for our art — that just isn’t true.

It’s time to break out of that way of thinking and create the future you’ve always dreamed for yourself.

Every year, I see hundreds of writers that I know personally bridge the gap between starving and thriving. I’ve watched them do it, documented the process, and I’m going to share it all here. This is what I teach in my program Tribe Writers, and before I begin each class, I always tell the students the same thing:

If you do the work, you’ll see the results.

In other words, this process works if you do. I can’t motivate you. I can’t make you sit down and write. But I can show you the way to success and hope that you take the next step.

So, here’s how this is going to go…

In this brief new book, I am going to outline a process for you. I call it the “12 Steps to Make a Living Writing.” This is what 99% of the writers I know who are succeeding have done, in one form or another. It’s a proven path based on literally thousands of case studies. And if you do the work, you will see the results.

A few quick rules on these steps:

  • You can’t skip a step. Do them in order as best you can. They are designed to work in a progression that creates a sense of momentum so that each step becomes successively easier.
  • In particular, this book is designed to help you get moving in the right direction, but I recommend joining a community to hold you accountable to the process. At the end of the book, I’ll share some resources about how you can keep going.
  • If you get stuck, see the trouble-shooting tips for each step. The level of success you experience may vary, but I have never seen someone do all twelve steps and not get out of the rut they were in, filled with hope for what was made possible. I pray the same is true for you.
Click here to download your free copy of 12 Steps to Make a Living Writing and stop starving.

Are you ready to make a living from your work? What would it mean to you to be able to write for a living? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

Transition words and SEO

Andrew Raynor

 

 

If you’ve been using the readability analysis of Yoast SEO, you’ve probably noticed our check on the use of transition words. You might have been wondering: What are transition words exactly? Why did we include that check in our analysis? Or, to what extent are those words important for SEO? Here, I’ll explain everything about the relationship between transition words and SEO.

What are transition words?

Transition words are words like ‘most importantly’, ‘because’, ‘therefore’, or ‘besides that’. Using transition words well makes your text much more readable, as these words give direction to your readers. Using them is like pouring cement between your sentences: the relation between two sentences becomes apparent by the use of transition words. They send a signal to your readers that something is coming up, and prepare them for the next sentence.

If you’re summarizing a discourse, you probably use words like first, second, third, etc. Your readers will understand you’re summing up things if you use these words. If you want to compare certain matters, you could use words like same, less, rather, while or either. And if you want to conclude your story, you might use words as hence, consequently or therefore.

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Tabel 1: Examples of transition words

Relation Example of transition words
Enumeration first of all, also, another, furthermore, finally
Cause because, so, due to, for the reason that
Comparison/contrast similarly, likewise, rather, while, in contrast
Conclusion as a result, hence, consequently, therefore
Fuzzy signals seems like, maybe, probably, almost
Emphasis above all, most noteworthy, certainly, even more

Using transition words probably is something you’ll do automatically. Everybody uses them. You just need these words to tell your story. However, we noticed that lots of people use too little transition words in their copy. That’ll make a text hard to read, especially if your audience is reading from a screen, which is hard anyway. That’s why we inserted the transition words check into our readability analysis.

Importance of transition words for SEO

So what’s the connection between transition words and SEO? Using more transition words in your copy won’t make your article reach a higher position in the search engines directly. It isn’t that simple. So, sorry about that. That being said, transition words do contribute to SEO in the long run, because they improve the readability and the structure of a text.

Transition words are of great significance for the readability of your text. If you use sufficient transition words, your text will become easier to read. And readability affects your SEO! Read all about that in our post about ranking and readability.

Transition words play a crucial role in structuring your text. This leads to better understanding of your text by your readers. Well-structured text helps to attract readers to your blog and contributes to SEO! Read more about that in our post about ranking and text structure.

Conclusion

You should write original articles: content that people actually like to read! And, on top of that, write readable articles! Always make sure that your articles are nice and easy to read. That’s why transition words are important: to make sure that your articles are a great read. When you’ve managed to do that, start optimizing your post to make it findable as well, without making any concessions to either the originality of your content, or the readability of your post. Good luck!

Read more: ‘SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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How to Start a Blog Even if You Aren’t an Expert

Andrew Raynor

Were you ever on the cusp of hitting publish on a blog post, hand hovering over the mousepad, and suddenly this thought floods your brain:

“What do you have to offer? You aren’t an expert.”

How to Start a Blog Even if You Aren't an Expert

You hesitate. You pull back. You click ‘Delete’ instead.

Has this ever happened to you?

If so, you’ve encountered imposter syndrome, a notorious killer of goals and dreams. Imposter syndrome is the feeling of inadequacy, like you’re not good enough or don’t deserve your situation.

As bloggers, we even let it get the best of us. Sometimes it holds us back from exploring new topics or new styles. Other times it prevents us from simply starting a blog.

For years I let imposter syndrome dictate my blogging journey, until I discovered a method to circumvent it. It’s a method that allows you to create an endless cache of ideas for you and your readers. It opens up for you opportunities typically reserved for ‘experts.’ It even gives you the leeway to enjoy failing.

This process is commonly known as: Learning out loud.

Learning out loud is the method of documenting your journey as you learn something new. Whether it’s learning how to build a side-hustle, or learning how to cook, or learning how to start an urban farm, learning out loud treats your life as an experiment where you get to ask the questions, and seek the answers.

  • What would happen if I tried to lose weight?
  • What would happen if I left my full-time job for my passion?
  • What would happen if I learned how to play the piano?
  • What would happen if I…?

When you start asking questions, and start searching for answers, there’s absolutely no reason to succumb to the power of imposter syndrome, because you aren’t claiming to be the perfect expert. You’re just inviting people along for the journey.

How I learned my way out of a job

Palms sweaty. Mouth dry. I clicked the dialer on Skype.

Ringing… …Connecting

“Hey Declan!” Jeff said on the other end.

“Show time,” I thought.

Two years ago I signed up to interview Jeff Goins about his new book, The Art of Work. I took a half day at work so I could be home for the interview. I had thirty minutes, and I wasn’t about to waste this opportunity.

I knew Jeff had successfully built up his passion to the point where he could leave his full-time job. I wanted to discover his secret.

At the time I was 5 months into my new job at a new company. I left my post-college employer for greener pastures only to find the new pasture was just the same. As a young, ambitious, and creative individual, I felt trapped in corporate America. I wanted out, but I had no idea what to do.

Jeff and I talked for a few minutes, I asked him some standard questions about his book (Why did he write it? What inspired him? etc.). However, after twenty minutes, I couldn’t hold it in. I straight up asked him, “At what point should someone take the leap and go full-time with their passion?”

Jeff paused. Hoping for a specific dollar amount or a clear-cut timeline to help me out, I eagerly waited his response.

“It’s not about taking a leap, it’s about building a bridge. I think what that practically means for you, Declan, is looking for those opportunities to take the next step to get you to where you want to go. Use your current context to practice and prepare for what is to come and actually start building the thing on the side. So when those opportunities come, you’re ready for them.”

Until that moment, my blog was a mishmash of topics with no sense of direction. Use your current context to practice and prepare. What did I want to practice and prepare for? Self-employment. From that moment on, I documented my journey in blog posts, Facebook Lives, a book, podcasts, Instagram, word of mouth and more.

I broadcasted my journey from a full-time job to self-employment because it was the only way I would learn. It was also a way to inspire other young people to go after the life they wanted.

And in June of this year, I’m finally leaving my full-time job, all thanks to learning out loud.

Why learning out loud works

1. Learning out loud supplies you with endless topics to explore

In college my wife (then girlfriend) and I started a cooking blog to help us learn how to cook. We’d find a new recipe, prepare it, take pictures and share the results on our blog. When we first toyed with the idea of starting a cooking blog, my wife questioned whether we would eventually run out of things to write about.

Even though the focus of our blog was simple: two college students exploring the world of the kitchen, we never ran out of ideas because there was always something new to learn. Once you venture down the rabbit hole of learning out loud, you’ll find more and more to write about without steering away from your niche.

2. Learning out loud affords you the luxury to share your failures

The surefire way to build trust and transparency with your readers and give them value is to share your failures. Not in a woe-is-me rant, but in a way that demonstrates your relatability to your readers’ struggles.

For example, if you write a post, 10 Reasons Why I Suck at Cooking Eggs Benedict, your readers will then have 10 reasons how to not suck at cooking Eggs Benedict and avoid the mistakes you made. (True story, my wife and I tried cooking Eggs Benedict and really screwed up. We never published the recipe because we were too embarrassed, lesson learned.)

When you learn out loud, every experience is another data point to share. Some experiences may be embarrassing to share, but remember, if there is a lesson to be learned then it’s worth sharing!

3. Learning out loud is an excuse to push yourself outside of your comfort zone

Did you ever stand at the edge of a pool with a couple friends? Each of you speculating the water’s temperature. One friend dips her toe in the water to test it, but her reading is inconclusive. Instead, you muster up some courage and take the plunge! That’s what learning out loud does for you. It forces you to ‘take the plunge’ so to speak and gauge the water’s temperature yourself.

At the present moment, it would take a lot for me to walk into a ballet class and dance for the first time. It would, however, feel slightly less uncomfortable if I did it to document my journey for a fitness blog focused on overcoming male stereotypes. In other words, when you learn out loud, you have a greater purpose that helps to push you outside of your comfort zone.

5 platforms for a blogger to learn out loud

Building your tribe on another person’s land is not the best strategy. Owning a blog to use as a ‘hub’ to build your tribe is essential for anyone who wants to take learning out loud seriously.

However, people’s attention is shifting, and we have to adapt to meet them where they are today. Without the help of SEO, a new blogger can struggle with finding their tribe. That is unless, they are willing to venture out onto different platforms to document their journey.

Diversifying your digital footprint will attract people back to your blog where you can begin building your tribe.

Here are the 5 platforms you need to try while learning out loud:

  1. Snapchat
  2. Instagram
  3. Quora
  4. Medium
  5. Facebook

Snapchat

With face filters, geo filters, stickers, doodles and more, Snapchat allows you to easily capture to small moments throughout the day. You can share your whimsical and silly side, family life, or behind the scenes of you learning out loud.

People who follow me across multiple platforms know how hard I work on my business and projects. However, I use Snapchat to share the fun moments in my day. I even had someone message me saying they enjoy my “Learning-how-to-Dad” series on Snapchat. Which is funny because I never created a formal series, that’s just my real life they are seeing!

To really make an impact on Snapchat you need to be proficient at three things:

  1. Tell entertaining and engaging stories in short 10 second bursts
  2. Not take yourself seriously
  3. Convey a consistent message

Instagram Stories

I want to specifically call out Instagram Stories, which is a newer feature to Instagram. Stories is similar to Snapchat in that the content disappears after 24 hours. However, there are a few added perks:

  • 15-second clips instead of 10 seconds
  • The ability to ‘tag’ other accounts in the story
  • The ‘Swipe Up’ feature to link to hyperlinks (currently for verified accounts but supposedly will roll out to the general public soon)
  • Uploaded photos look native (unlike Snapchat where it’s obviously an uploaded photo)
  • Easier discoverability
  • Bigger potential for reach
  • Access to a profile page of permanent content
  • The ability to broadcast Live

Whereas, Snapchat is more fun and whimsical, Instagram Stories is more ‘on-brand’ and true to your niche.

Quora

I’m going to be honest, Quora is a platform I’ve recently started to explore after my friend Todd Brison shared how it’s a trove of endless ideas. If you want to learn out loud, Quora is exactly what you need. As a blogger, you can use Quora to test ideas by responding to questions and seeing which ones stick. It’s also a great place to generate ideas for blog posts.

For example, I recently wrote a blog post about lack of motivation. I found this question on Quora and read the top 5 answers. I used those answers to structure my thesis of my post. My assumption being, if these are the top responses, these must be what people want to read. The post has since become my third all time viewed post on Medium.

You can also use Quora to build out your digital footprint. Let’s say for example your goal is to write a book. Hop on Quora, search ‘How to write a book?’ and start answering questions. Use your learning out loud ‘experiment’ to share what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. The more you answer questions in your niche, the more your audience will find you because they are searching for answers too!

Medium

In late 2016 I closed up shop on my second blog to focus entirely on my business and building my following on Medium. This was even before they came out with some new features (more on that in a bit). Medium is the place where ‘bloggers’ become ‘writers.’ It’s the place where great content is discovered and receives the attention it deserves.

I could write an entire series on how to use Medium, but if you are starting out it’s simple: write great content and interact with other writers. That’s your recipe for success.

Medium is ripe for sharing stories of learning from failure. It’s also a great place for learning out loud. Personal development, entrepreneurship, life lessons, and writing dominate the most popular subjects.

For example, I struggled for four months to land my first client for my business. It then took me less than two hours to land my second. Excited to share my ‘success,’ I wrote a quick post about my struggles and encouraged other entrepreneurs to keep pushing forward to land their first client/customer. The post became my most popular post to date and even lead to more clients.

Facebook (with an emphasis on Live)

It may sound ‘old-school’ but Facebook is still the world’s largest platform. However, the ability to ‘Go Live’ on Facebook is still relatively new and is due in part from the greater consumption of video online.

With Facebook Live you can share the raw, organic moments of your day. After I launched my book last year, I did a weekly book study on Facebook Live. It wasn’t scripted, it was me and my readers interacting in real time.

Unlike Snapchat and Instagram Stories, Facebook Live pushes you to entertain and educate your audience for longer periods of time. If your goal is to turn your blog into speaking engagements, Facebook Live is an excellent training ground.

Conclusion

Creating content is hard. Documenting your journey is easy. Don’t waste away those precious experiences because you think they aren’t important. There’s somebody out there waiting to learn from your journey. Teach them.

What are you trying to learn about right now? How can you document your journey and practice in public to reach your audience? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

How to create and use dashboards in Google Analytics

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Google Analytics is a powerful tool. However, it does take quite some time to get used to it, which is why many people are missing out on a lot of functionalities. They simply don’t know some options exists. So today, I’ll explain a feature that I find very useful: Google Analytics dashboards. Here, you’ll read what they are, how to create them and how you could use them. And at the end of this post, there’s a little surprise 😉

What are Google Analytics dashboards?

Dashboards in Google Analytics are central spots where you can collect all kind of similar data. You can even decide for yourself how the data is displayed. Let me show you what a dashboard can look like:

Visitor Insights Dashboard by Yoast

Example of a dashboard in Google Analytics

Since Google Analytics doesn’t really have a logical structure, the ability to put similar things together at the same place is a great benefit. This means you’ll only have to look at a few places for a general overview of how your site’s doing. Once you set up a great dashboard, there’s no need to dig through all sections of Google Analytics. And that saves you a lot of time….and money. ;

How do I get dashboards?

There are two ways of getting your own Google Analytics dashboards. The first is to make them yourself. Here’s a quick video (without sound) explaining how you can add your own dashboards in Google Analytics :

You can simply play around a bit with adding widgets and creating different layouts for your Google Analytics dashboard. Try to think of a subject and add as much info as you like on that subject in that dashboard. And if you don’t like the result, you can easily delete the widget or the entire dashboard. No harm done! In the last part of the video, I also show how you can add segments to your dashboards. Combining a dashboard with a segment, makes your data even more useful!

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Six ways of showing data

There are six ways of representing your data in a dashboard in Google Analytics:

Google Analytics Dashboards Presentations

These six representations of your data will look like this:

Google Analytics Dashboard repesentations of data

6 ways to represent your data

You can even make the pie chart a donut chart and make the bar chart horizontal instead of vertical. You’ll notice some shortcomings with each representation though. The timeline chart can’t show a total number of visits, for instance. The bar chart is great for comparisons, but it won’t show percentages of the total. However, these charts are still very valuable in making a lot of data accessible at a glance.

But you don’t have to do this yourself!

That’s right; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! In fact, the dashboards above are based on Google Analytics Dashboards that we’ve downloaded from other people ourselves. There’s a huge gallery of existing dashboards you can import when you click on the ‘Create’ button. You can adjust these existing dashboards and get them to show the data that you think is most useful. There are two Yoast dashboards we created with a lot of info that I think every website owner should have or at least want.

Visitor Insights by Yoast

Visitor Insights Dashboard by Yoast

Visitor Insights Dashboard by Yoast

This dashboard includes all the data on your visitors that I consider to be important. How many visitors do you get, how many of them are new, where are they coming from, what devices and browser are they using, etc. All of the data here is very useful when you’re curious about your audience (which you should be!).

You can download this dashboard here.

eCommerce Dashboard by Yoast

eCommerce Dashboard by Yoast

eCommerce Dashboard by Yoast

This Google Analytics dashboard includes everything on your sales performance. It’ll give you a quick overview of how much money you’ve made in the selected timeframe, the conversion rate and which acquisition channels and landing pages got you the most money.

I’ve now set the tables to sort by revenue, so the landing pages and referrers that have made the most money will show up on top. However, this should be different if you’re using your Google Analytics, and your dashboards, as a way to spot bottlenecks for your business. In this case, you should sort the top landing pages by the amount of pageviews they’ve had. The more pageviews, the more money it should have made. If there’s a discrepancy, you know which page could use some optimization.

If this is how you use Google Analytics, you’ll probably find that the representation of the tables are the most valuable. All the charts are great for displaying a lot of information quickly, but they aren’t able to show you the worst performing parts of your site. With the tables representation you can sort the data the way you like it, so that gives you a bit more flexibility and more insight.

You can download the eCommerce Dashboard by Yoast here.

Did you learn something today?

Did this post teach you something? Are there any things you’re missing or like to add? Are you already using some pretty cool dashboards and just want to share them? Let us know in the comments!

Read more: ‘Tracking your SEO with Google Analytics’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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How to get local reviews and ratings

Andrew Raynor

 

 

If you’re a well-known local business owner, one of your online goals should be getting more local reviews from your (satisfied) customers. These reviews or ratings help Google in determining the value of your company for their users. If you have a nice amount of four-star and five-star ratings, Google considers you a more valuable result on their search result pages, which contributes to better rankings for your site.

Today, we’ll dig a bit deeper into these local reviews and convince you to ask your customers for reviews.

Google and local reviews

First, let’s see what Google has to say about local reviews. On their review datatype page, they clearly state that Google may display information from aggregate ratings markup in the Google Knowledge Cards with your business’ details.

They state that they’re using the following review snippet guidelines:

  • Ratings and reviews must come directly from the users.
  • There is a difference between these user ratings and critic reviews (human editors that curate or compile ratings information for local businesses). That’s a different ball game.
  • Don’t copy reviews from Yelp or whatever other review site, but collect them from your users directly and display these on your site.

There is a clear focus on genuine reviews. Add name, position, photo and any other relevant, public information on the reviewer. That always helps in showing that your reviews are indeed genuine

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Ask your customers for a review in person

It’s really that simple: ask your customers for a review. Yelp may advise against this, Google promotes it (Source: SEL). I agree with Google on this. A friend of mine is in the coaching business and he asks his customers after finishing the coaching process to leave a review on his Google My Business page. This, plus obviously an optimized site, has helped him achieving a local #1 ranking.

It might feel a bit odd, to ask your customers for a positive review. However, I bet most of your customers will be more than happy to do this for you. It’s a small token of appreciation for your great service, product or your friendly staff. If you believe in your business, and you’re taking extra steps to help your customer, your customer will for sure leave that review for you. Especially in local businesses, where you know your customer and perhaps have been serving him or her for decades, just ask.

Ask your customers for local reviews online

Feel free to ask your customer for a review on your website, for example, right after a purchase. If a customer wanted your product so bad he or she made the purchase, they may be willing to leave a review about their shopping experience as well. Even a simple “How would you rate your experience with our company” could give you that local rating you want.

Twitter

And why not leverage Twitter here? I find Twitter to work pretty decently for local purposes. There’s a separate ‘community’ of tweeps talking to each other on Twitter in our hometown. I’m sure most of them visit local stores. Not just that, but they’ll probably also have an opinion on these stores. And they might just be willing to share that opinion.

Facebook

One of our local shops won a national award and a lot of locals congratulated the owners with this ‘very much deserved’ win on Facebook. How’s that for an opportunity to ask for Facebook reviews? Let me elaborate a bit on the Facebook reviews. These are local reviews as well! The Apple store on Fifth Avenue in NY has over 16,000 reviews already. Most good, some bad:

Local reviews on Facebook

Facebook is an awesome opportunity for any local business to get reviews. Don’t underestimate how many people search for your business on Facebook.

As mentioned in the section about Google and local reviews: “Don’t copy reviews from Yelp or whatever other review sites”. The same goes for these Facebook reviews. It’s very nice to get them, but leave them on Facebook (or use them in your offline print campaign) and get separate local reviews for your website.

Even negative reviews matter. Don’t feel bad when you get one, feel motivated!

Asking for reviews, for instance, right from your (support) email inbox, like in the signature of your email, might feel a bit strange at first. However, it will trigger your brand ambassadors to leave a review, after seeing that signature email after email. And yes, you will get some negative reviews as well from people that are not completely satisfied with your product or service. And you want these.

Negative reviews give you a chance to go beyond yourself in showing how customer-driven you are. They allow you to fix the issue this customer has. After fixing it, ask them to share the solution / their experience with your company, so others can see what you have done to turn that disappointed customer into a satisfied customer.

It’s your job to make your customer happy, and good reviews will follow. Speed up that process by asking your customers for their feedback!

Read more: ‘Local ranking factors that help your local business’ SEO’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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