Friday, February 15, 2019

How to Create a Website in 120 Minutes — Step-by-Step

Quick Sprout
How to Create a Website in 120 Minutes — Step-by-Step
Fri, 15 Feb 2019 17:00:40 +0000

Creating a website used to be a massive project.

And expensive too.

Everything had to be built by hand and businesses needed to work with an online marketing agency that would charge them tens of thousands of dollars to build the site. If you wanted a professional-looking site, that was your only option.

Things have gotten a lot cheaper over the years.

Now it’s possible to get a polished site for less than $100. About $10 to buy the domain, $30–60 for a good template, and $5–10/month to host it. It’ll look so good that people won’t even realize that you built it yourself. It’ll look like some high-flying marketing agency built it for you.

Not only has it gotten cheaper, it’s also gotten a lot easier.

I’ve broken down the 9 simple steps to create your website from scratch. You’ll easily be able to run through these steps over the next 120 minutes.

Step 1: Pick a Name and Find a Domain

These are not two separate steps, unfortunately.

I really wish I could sit down, pick any name that I want for my business, and be able to create the site that I want around that name. Now that the internet is a couple of decades old, we all have to face the reality that most of the good domains have been taken.

Here’s how a naming session always seems to go for me:

In a moment of inspiration, we think of an amazing name. We hold on to this name for months, maybe even years. It’s time to start the business, so we go to purchase the domain. The domain is taken. We try a dozen small variations of our original idea, all taken. No biggie, we thought of one brilliant name, we’ll think of another one. Backup idea #2 = taken. Backup idea #3 = taken. Backup idea #4 = taken. Despair sets in. We start considering names that we don’t actually like, hoping that anything is available. We come up with 2 or 3 options that we don’t like at all. Then we spend a week trying to come up with a name that’s both available and a name that we can live with. Finally, we find one.

Websites have also become so embedded in our day-to-day lives that it’s better to change the name of the business to match an available domain than it is to pick a poor quality domain. Through this process, I almost always end up with a completely different name than I originally intended.

This is why I consider the “naming my business” and “buying the domain” steps for creating a business to be the same step. I try to only lock myself into a name once I have the domain.

We put together an in-depth guide on buying domains here.

The good news is that the rest of these steps are a breeze once you have your domain purchased. It’s the first and hardest step.

Step 2: Register Your Domain

Real quick, let’s sort out the difference between a domain registrar and a web host.

A domain registrar is a company that specializes in buying (registering) domains.

A web host, on the other hand, specializes in running servers that host websites.

Every web host will desperately try to get you to also registrar a domain through them. The reason is that it’s a great upsell for them. They’ve spent most of their resources building out a hosting service, then they offer domain registration as a convenience, increase the price a bit, and collect a nice chunk of extra profit from you.

My philosophy is to buy things from businesses that specialize in that exact thing. Prices will be better and so will quality. That’s why I also use a domain registrar for buying domains and a web host for hosting. I never mix up the two.

We put together a detailed review of domain registrars here.

Step 3: Decide What Kind of Site You Want

Most guides on creating a website will push you into using WordPress. It’s the most popular and flexible website builder. And that’s usually a good recommendation.

But there are a few situations where I recommend different options.

Simple Portfolio or “Business Card” Sites

Many businesses need a simple website that tells people a few things:

Who the business is for What the business does Sometimes a portfolio that shows off some work Contact info

This kind of site gives the basic info for the business, nothing more. If this is what you need, Squarespace is your best option for creating your website. It’s incredibly simple to use and will give you a professional site at a very low price. It’s perfect for small businesses.

Squarespace will try to convince you that they can handle everything. That’s not true.

They’ve created the simplest and easiest website builder out there. Truly, it’s a joy to use.

However, they completely lack all the advanced features that an online business needs. The ecommerce functionality is extremely limited, and I don’t know any serious online marketer that uses Squarespace for a content site. If your business an online business, Squarespace isn’t a legitimate option. You’ll hit the limits of its features too fast.

If you know that you want an ecommerce store from the beginning, start on Shopify and skip Squarespace. And if you know you want a blog or are planning on doing lots of content, start on WordPress.

Squarespace makes the most sense when you just need a clean, professional-looking site that gives some basic info on your business. It’s perfect for small businesses, freelancers, and artists.

Here’s another way to think about it: If you’re building a business that doesn’t live and die on its website, it just needs a website in case anyone looks for it, like a business card, then go with Squarespace. But if you’re website is your business, use one of the more tailored platforms.

Ecommerce Sites

If you’re planning on building an ecommerce store for your site, don’t use WordPress. We have an entire post here on when to use WordPress for ecommerce and when not to. The short story: it rarely makes sense to use WordPress for ecommerce.

The best option, by far, is Shopify. There used to be more competition in the ecommerce tool space but Shopify got too far ahead. Now they’re really the only option and they have an incredible reputation. You won’t regret using them for an ecommerce site.

If you’re going this route, we have a 9-step guide on how to create an ecommerce website. We also have a guide on how to start a store that drives real sales. Both of those guides will get you pointed in the right direction.

Blog Sites

If you want to create a blog with a bunch of content, you need to use WordPress. We have a detailed guide on starting blogs here.

WordPress powers over 30% of the entire internet. So it’s the only real option for starting a blog these days.

What about Joomla or Drupal? Or Typepad?

WordPress left all those other platforms in the dust about a decade ago. They’re not even legitimate options at this point. Pick WordPress — there isn’t a single situation where you’ll regret it.

When I originally started with this online thing, Drupal sites were still pretty common. I partnered up with an engineer friend of mine and we did a lot of freelance work migrating sites from Drupal to WordPress. Even back then, WordPress was a clear winner.

Now when I come across a site on any of these other tools, it’s kind of exciting. It’s like finding an ancient artifact. “This still exists!? How fascinating!”

Don’t use any of these other tools, stick to WordPress.

Everything Else

If you’re not sure or have another vision for your site outside the categories above, use WordPress. It’s the most flexible platform out there. It will do ecommerce, it’ll do simple portfolios, it’ll do massive content sites, it’ll do Fortune 500 marketing sites, it’ll do it all.

You might have to customize it more than other platforms in some situations but you can make WordPress do whatever you want it to. And just about anyone in online marketing knows their way around WordPress so you’ll be able to find plenty of people to help you when the time comes.

Whether you want to build your site by hand or you have an online marketing agency to do it for you, you should still build on top of WordPress. It’ll shortcut a lot of the programming work and give you the ability to edit basic items on your site without having to edit any code. I’ve managed marketing sites of venture-backed tech startups that employed dozens of engineers — we still had our marketing site built on top of WordPress. It’s the standard choice.

Step 4: Get a Host for Your Website

For the rest of this guide, I’m going to assume that you’ve picked WordPress to build your site. If you want an ecommerce site, skip the rest of this guide and follow our guide on creating an ecommerce site.

WordPress is the tool that you’ll use to build your website. But you also need a host that will store your site and make it available to anyone who visits.

We have an entire guide here that goes through all the best web hosts.

Hosting plans usually start around $5/month.

Step 5: Install WordPress

Just about every website host has a 1-click install of WordPress. It’s usually under a section called Tools, Website, Software, or Content Management Systems (CMS). It’ll look something like this:

Install WordPress

If you have trouble finding it, contact support at your host and they’ll be able to walk you through it.

Step 6: Point Your Domain to Your Host

Let’s do a quick recap.

You bought your domain using a domain registrar. You signed up for a hosting plan. You installed WordPress on your host.

Now you’re going to connect all that stuff together by pointing your domain to your host. Then when people go to your domain, they’ll end up on your site.

There are a few technical settings you need to apply. This involves configuring a few nameserver settings on your domain registrar for your domain. Your host will give you the correct settings; you’re looking for their nameserver settings.

If you get stuck, contact your host and they’ll give you all the info you need.

Once you have the nameserver info from your host, go into your domain registrar and configure those settings for the domain that you want to point at your site. Once you’re done, it’ll look something like this:

Create a Website Name Servers

Step 7: Install a WordPress Theme

Think of WordPress as the guts of your site, it’s all the pumping that makes your site work.

WordPress uses themes to determine how your site looks. This makes it really easy to change how your site looks without having to rebuild your site from scratch. Swap out your old theme for a new one and ta-da! Your site will look completely different.

These days, I purchase all my themes from StudioPress.

Heads up, WP Engine bought StudioPress and now includes all the StudioPress themes in its hosting plans. WP Engine is more expensive but it’s perfect for serious bloggers. It’s a great way to save money on your theme if you are planning on building a large site to begin with. WP Engine is our recommended host if you’re looking for the best. The downside is that WP Engine tends to be more expensive than other hosts.

Back to themes, are there other options?

You betcha. ThemeForest has a marketplace of WordPress themes. There are literally tens of thousands of themes to pick from. They’re usually in the $30–60 price range. When looking for theme, I rank them by the most popular or the highest rating. Then I pick one I personally like.

After you’ve purchased a theme, go to the WordPress Theme settings and upload your theme. The Theme settings are under Appearance in the WordPress sidebar menu. You’ll have to click through “Add new” and “Upload Theme” in order to see this option to upload:

Upload WordPress Theme

Go ahead and upload the .zip file you received when you purchased your theme.

After it’s uploaded, you’ll also have to click “activate” on the theme in WordPress to make it go live.

Step 8: Add Content

Now the fun part — it’s time to create the individual pages of your site.

You’ll do this within WordPress.

WordPress has two types of content: pages and posts.

Think of posts as blog posts that are published under a “blog” section of a site. If you’re not planning on having a blog, then you can skip posts entirely.

Pages are the more permanent pages on your website. Like your About or Contact Us pages. When you’re first creating your site, you want to get a batch of pages live so your site feels real.

Every website has a few standard pages you should create:

Homepage – Your WordPress theme usually has settings for this page. Contact Page – Create a new page and install a WordPress form plugin so you can add a form to the page. About page – Tell your story and why you’ve started your business. Product or services pages – For the main services or products that you’re offering, it’s a good idea to create a dedicated page for each. Blog – If you’re building a blog, make sure all your posts get listed here.

This list will get you started. You can always add more later.

Step 9: You’re Done!

At this point, you have a fully functioning site that looks great.

I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of extra configuration you can do to your site: you can add WordPress plugins that upgrade your site, build out a blog, add an email list, grow traffic, the list is endless.

You don’t have to do any of this extra stuff — it’s all optional. It depends on your priorities and goals.

When you’re ready, these guides will walk you through the extra stuff that’s worth considering:

The Best SEO Plugins for WordPress The 5 Best WordPress Cache Plugins The Best Email Marketing Services 5 Easy Steps to Creating a Sitemap For a Website Brand New Blog. No Traffic. Here’s What to Do.

Your Giant Email Marketing Statistics Guide [Infographic]

MarketingProfs Daily
Your Giant Email Marketing Statistics Guide [Infographic]
Thu, 14 Feb 2019 15:00:00 GMT
Email: the rock-solid, time-and-customer-tested, Marketing-approved way to keep your customers coming back for more. And here are the stats to prove it--and help you be a better email marketer. So check out this epic compendium of email-related statistics from 40+ sources. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

How to Change Twitter Handle

Marketing
How to Change Twitter Handle
Fri, 15 Feb 2019 12:00:00 GMT

These days, Twitter is often used as another channel for professional connection -- for instance, if you're a freelance writer, you might use Twitter to gain a following and allow readers to engage with you.

Alternatively, as a business, you likely use Twitter for many of your marketing purposes -- in fact, 75% of B2B businesses use Twitter as a part of their marketing strategy.

But what if your Twitter username, otherwise known as handle, is "crfx14" or "catlover22"? (You know … just as a random example … )

If you feel your Twitter handle doesn't appropriately represent you in 2019, there's an easy fix. Here, we'll show you how to change your Twitter handle, as well as how to change it on Twitter's Mobile App.

Disclaimer: If you change your username, your followers will see a new username next to your profile -- but it won't necessarily affect your existing followers, Direct Messages, or replies. You'll want to alert your followers so they know to Direct Message or reply to your new username.

Click here to access a free Twitter for Businesses kit.

1. Go to "Settings and privacy" from your profile icon drop-down menu.

2. Under Account, click the text box beside "Username" and type a new username in the space. If the username is taken, Twitter will prompt you to make a new one. If the username is available, you'll see a green "Available!" notification.

3. Click "Save changes" at the bottom of the screen.

How to Change Your Twitter Handle on Twitter's Mobile App

1. Within the mobile app, click on your profile icon and then select "Settings and privacy".

2. Click "Account".

3. Click "Username".

4. Under "New", type in a new Twitter handle. If you need help, Twitter provides a list of suggestions for alternative handles.

 
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Content Marketing Gold Rush: How to Unearth Content Gold at Marketing Industry Events

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®
Content Marketing Gold Rush: How to Unearth Content Gold at Marketing Industry Events
Wed, 30 Jan 2019 11:30:11 +0000

The promise of professional growth. The excitement of striking new connections. The anticipation of hearing and learning from industry legends and up-and-comers. The marketing industry conference and event circuit is an absolute gold mine of opportunity. What’s one of our favorite ways to strike-it-rich at any industry event? Panning for content gold. via GIPHY The content marketing gold rush that started roughly a decade ago has content marketers stamping, picking, drilling, and grinding away at content creation so they can break-ground with their audience and fend off the competition. And industry events can be boomtowns, not only allowing you to make the most of your time, budget, and resources—but also ideate, create, amplify, and repurpose compelling content that will resonate with your audiences. How do you uncover golden content nuggets at industry events? Let’s dig in. Before the Rush, Put Your Pre-Prospector’s Hat On Before rushing to golden conference lands, it's critical to pre-prospect your mission to ensure you have the right information, focus, and tools to unearth content opportunities. Some of the actions to take here include: Dig up event-related hashtags so you can keep track of what’s happening before, during, and after the event, as well as engage with speakers and attendees. Pay close attention to specific themes or topics being shared. This can be the start of content ideation. Strike a connection with speakers, presenters, and attendees on social media and start to engage with them. This could not only help you land some new friends before the event, but also lay the foundation for amplifying the event-inspired content you create. Survey the schedule of events and pre-select the digging fields (e.g. keynote addresses and breakout sessions) you want to go to. Pay special attention to sessions that have the most promise for helping you grow as a marketer—not simply create content. If a session has the potential to inspire you, it’s likely that you’ll be able to parlay that into great content for your audience, whether they’re fellow marketers or chief technology officers. Read: 12 Helpful Tips for Effectively Using Social Media at Events Bonus Nugget If you thought content gold could only be found when you’re physically at the event, that’s fools gold. Pre-event content creation is a golden opportunity for any marketer. “Reach out to the conference organizer, sponsors or speakers at the event that represent topics and brands of interest to your community to do pre-conference interviews,” Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO and a seasoned conference speaker and prospector, suggests. “A series of interviews can be branded with a common theme and header image to let readers know there’s a connection to a conference.” The key here? Choosing speakers that align to the topics and brands of interest to your unique community. [bctt tweet="Tip for creating #ContentGold around industry events: Reach out to organizers, sponsors, or speakers that represent topics and brands of interest to your community to do pre-conference interviews. @leeodden" username="toprank"] Once You Arrive, Stake Your Claim You’ve arrived in the land of golden content opportunity. You have your content prospecting plan in place. Now it’s time to sharpen your marketing pickaxe and start digging up the field. This is where you stake your content claim. To break-ground on content mining and creation, we suggest that you: Get to your digging fields early to get a primo spot. This will ensure you can clearly hear and see the presentation, and give you a better photo opportunity. All of this is critical for creating content on the fly. Leverage flakes of speaker and presenter insights to create content gold in real-time. Whether you’re live-blogging or live-tweeting, keep an ear out for inspiring quotes and insights that you can share quickly with your audience. (If you’ve done your pre-prospecting diligence, it should be easy to mention/tag speakers in your social media posts. This will add credibility and make it easier for speakers to engage with and amplify your content.) Participate in Q&A sessions to extract nuggets of insight that can enhance your content. Most speakers try to leave time at the end for audience questions. Use this as an opportunity to ask a specific question that can not only add more depth to your content, but also something that your audience would truly want to know. Read: 10 Conference Hacks to Help You Crush Marketing Event Attendance Bonus Nugget Whether you missed your opportunity to ask a burning question or you’re interested in some one-on-one time with a speaker, take the time before or after their session to introduce yourself. You may just strike gold. “Many speakers will also share their slides with you (if you ask nicely), which can be a fantastic resource for live blogging or taking information back to your team,” Ashley Zeckman, TopRank Marketing’s Senior Director of Digital Strategy, speaker, and seasoned live-blogger, shares. [bctt tweet="Tip for striking #ContentGold at industry events: Many speakers will share their slides with you if you ask nicely, so don’t be shy. @azeckman #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"] Once the Rush is Over, Take Your Content to Repurposing Boomtown Think that content gold isn’t possible after a conference has panned out? Guess again. Gold fever can strike again. How? Repurposing. For starters: Those quotable moments you pushed out via Twitter? Roundup up your favorites and repackage them as a conference wrap-up post. Or leverage one quote that directly speaks to a pain-point, attitude, or question your target audience can identify with, and build almost net-new content around it. That one-on-one question you asked a speaker? Share it out on your social networks and ask for your audience to weigh in, too. (Oh, and then, leverage that UGC for another blog post or two.) Those photos you took? Bring them to life by putting them into a video slideshow and sharing with your network. Those interesting topics or common themes that arose during your networking interactions or learning sessions? Run them through your editorial process to determine whether they’re a fit for your audience, opportunities, and objectives. Read: 12 Ways to Crush the Competition With Content From Events Bonus Nugget Whether you feel a conference produced dust, flakes, or enormous golden content nuggets, don’t underestimate the value of the content that you have gathered. As I recently shared in a post (which coincidentally covered how to repurpose content marketing leftovers … and was inspired by another piece on repurposed content cobbler, which happened to feature one of my favorite conference quotes from Jay Acunzo): “All content—fresh or seemingly expired—has the potential to be carved into something new and fresh.” See. Content gold right there. [bctt tweet="All content—fresh or seemingly expired—has the potential to be carved into something new and fresh. @CaitlinMBurgess #ContentMarketing #ContentGold" username="toprank"] Strike Content Gold at Your Next Event Seasoned content marketing writer or not, industry conferences and events are golden content ideation, creation, amplification, and repurposing opportunities for every marketer. So, as you saddle up for your next conference, remember that content gold awaits you—if you’re willing to claim it. Speaking of conferences? TopRank Marketing’s next stop is B2B Marketing Exchange from Feb. 25-27, 2019 in sunny Scottsdale, AZ. Our own Lee Odden will lead a session on leveraging influencers and interactive content to take B2B content from boring to bold. In addition, myself and Ashley Zeckman will be on-hand to learn, connect, and, of course, create content gold. Will we see you there? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Content Marketing Gold Rush: How to Unearth Content Gold at Marketing Industry Events appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Measure for Success: 7 Secrets of Actionable Content Marketing Dashboards

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®
Measure for Success: 7 Secrets of Actionable Content Marketing Dashboards
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 11:30:08 +0000

Elements of an Actionable Content Marketing Dashboard

Elements of an Actionable Content Marketing Dashboard Hey, content marketers. Imagine this: You’re sitting in a marketing meeting and you hear the following: Our conversions are up 50% year-over-year! Our blog traffic is down. We saw a big spike in traffic this month to our primary service page! Our bounce rate is all over the place. This blog post about “X” had 2,000 page views last month! What are the first thoughts that come to mind? For many, the first thought would likely be: Why? Followed by a: Is that good or bad? And then finally: What do we need to do next? If you’ve ever experienced a similar scenario, you’ve come face-to-face with insight famine. The statements above simply relay data points and lack the insight needed to take any sort of action. And this is why an actionable content marketing dashboard is so incredibly important. When properly set up, an actionable dashboard marries data and insight, helping you quickly see how you’re performing against your benchmarks, goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs), and where you have opportunities to improve results or need to dig deeper. What makes a dashboard actionable? What key data and insight elements should be included? Let’s dig in. What Makes a Marketing Dashboard Actionable? For a content marketing dashboard to be actionable, it has to answer two simple questions: Is what we’re doing working? Why is it (or is it not) working? In order to answer those questions, there are specific metrics to include based on your overall objectives. For example, if your objective is to drive qualified leads for your sales team, you might measure the amount of inquiries that resulted from a piece of content, how many of those inquiries turned into MQLs, then SQLs, then ultimately customers. If you apply those metrics to each piece of content, you’ll quickly see which content is hitting the mark, and what needs to be adjusted. And if your objective varies by topic cluster or funnel stage, you’ll need different sets of KPIs for each. 7 Essential Elements of an Actionable Marketing Dashboard So, how do we answer those two simple questions posed above? There are several key components to consider including in your dashboard: #1 - Content Benchmarks Benchmarks are essential for understanding how different types of content have performed on average over a specific period of time. Your benchmarks can and should be different based on the content type and its objective. For example, a top-of-funnel blog post meant to drive traffic will have a different benchmark than a middle-funnel infographic meant to engage. By keeping these front-and center in your marketing dashboard, you can compare at-a-glance. #2 - Goals More than likely your goals are to beat your benchmarks every single time. But it’s important to document your goals so you can gauge success. By adding your goals to your marketing dashboard, you can quickly determine whether you’re on pace to hit your goal and if you’ve been able to surpass it. And ultimately, keeping that data within your dashboard will help you course-correct where needed and celebrate wins as they occur. #3 - Real-Time KPI Monitoring Depending on your objective for the content you’re creating, there could be any number of KPIs to watch. Automating those reports in a dashboard will help you report to your internal team and leadership in an easily consumable way. For example, if your KPIs are pageviews and asset downloads for a specific campaign, pull those into an executive summary that’s easy to digest with an option to drill down into more specific sources of traffic and conversions. #4 - Traffic Trends While measuring specific pieces of content is helpful to enhance performance, it’s important to keep your eyes on overall performance as well. Knowing whether overall website or blog traffic is trending up or down versus the previous year or month will help you inform the types of content you need to create next. For example, if you notice your organic traffic is trending down month-over-month, you will want to dig into your content report to determine why that is and what needs to be done to repair the situation on a more granular level. #5 - Performance by Topic and Persona If you’re trying to reach a specific persona, or increase visibility around an important topic, segmenting your data within a dashboard can be hugely valuable. You’ll be able to tell if your content is more or less visible for your target, or if your content marketing strategy needs to shift to meet a different type of demand for that topic. #6 - Engagement Metrics All of the traffic in the world won’t mean a thing if would-be customers are bouncing off your site immediately. Make sure you’re monitoring your bounce rate and time-on-page for each post to determine if the content is resonating and adjust as needed. While these are often bucketed as vanity metrics, that doesn’t mean they can’t provide meaningful insight or should be forgotten. #7 - Proof of ROI To be fully actionable, integrate your sales team’s data sources into your dashboard. With the right analytics strategy, you can pull in performance by page or post from visit to sale. This will help you prove the value of your content, and understand which kind of content converts the prospects you’re looking for. As a bonus, your sales team will be able to share that kind of converting content as a follow-up from an initial meeting or as a pre-meeting email with their prospects. Take Action to Spur Action An actionable content marketing dashboard is a pivotal piece to a data-informed content marketing strategy. If your data is accurate and your dashboard is actionable, you’re in the right place to start creating and marketing incredible content that has proven ROI and helps your sales team meet their goals. Talk about a win-win! And before I go, I’d like to leave you with a few rules for measurement mastery: Setting up a custom and integrated dashboard takes time and patience. You may set it up in one way and realize that the KPIs and metrics you have aren’t the ones you need, and that’s okay. Looking at the data in different ways can tell you different parts of the same story. Edits aren’t rework, they’re character development. Don’t be afraid to spend some quality time with your data. As you create the dashboard, it’s important to dig in and manipulate data from different sources to understand how it’s best pulled in to complement the rest of your data set. Sometimes this means changing the way you have forms or tags set up. The more time you spend digging into data up front and understanding the finer points, the better equipped you’ll be to answer questions and provide insights into remaining questions. If you find yourself asking why, look deeper. Sometimes you’ll put all the data together expecting answers, and you’ll encounter more questions. Questions are good, it means the data is telling you something you need to investigate. Don’t be afraid to dig deep, and ask other departments or SMEs for their perspective. Always, always, always annotate. Did you run a really great campaign that showed a spike in traffic or conversions? Make an annotation. Did you lose tracking for a little while? Make an annotation. Did you implement some major website changes, or do a migration? Make an annotation. Those kinds of anomalies in the data seem major at the time, but easily get lost in the day-to-day management of your world. Annotations will save you from having to dig into your notes, emails or previous campaign data every time it pops up in a report. Don’t forget: You can’t achieve goals you don’t set. And you can’t optimize performance without measurement. Your content marketing dashboard can hold you accountable to both and more. Are data challenges holding your content marketing dashboard or other initiatives back? Check out our post covering the five top marketing data and analytics challenges, complete with tips to start solving them.

The post Measure for Success: 7 Secrets of Actionable Content Marketing Dashboards appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

‘Amazon Moments’ tool gives brands new way to build, deliver loyalty campaigns

Marketing Land - Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips
‘Amazon Moments’ tool gives brands new way to build, deliver loyalty campaigns
Fri, 15 Feb 2019 17:49:46 +0000
Marketers will be able to use the self-service API platform to create reward programs that drive user actions across apps and websites. The post ‘Amazon Moments’ tool gives brands new way to build, deliver loyalty campaigns appeared first on Marketing Land.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

How strong is your Amazon ‘health?’

Marketing Land - Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips
How strong is your Amazon ‘health?’
Fri, 15 Feb 2019 18:00:20 +0000
Measuring five core components go a long way in achieving success on Amazon. Here's how. The post How strong is your Amazon ‘health?’ appeared first on Marketing Land.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Digital Marketing News: Ad Buyers Shift Budgets to LinkedIn, Snapchat’s Permanent Snaps, Gen Alpha & Neuromarketing

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®
Digital Marketing News: Ad Buyers Shift Budgets to LinkedIn, Snapchat’s Permanent Snaps, Gen Alpha & Neuromarketing
Fri, 01 Feb 2019 11:30:26 +0000

Digital Marketing News: LinkedIn’s Live Video, CMI’s New Content Marketing Agency Report, Google on SEO, & Reddit’s $3B Valuation

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®
Digital Marketing News: LinkedIn’s Live Video, CMI’s New Content Marketing Agency Report, Google on SEO, & Reddit’s $3B Valuation
Fri, 15 Feb 2019 11:30:22 +0000

Lucidity’s new report shows a successful field test for blockchain-based ad optimization

Marketing Land - Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips
Lucidity’s new report shows a successful field test for blockchain-based ad optimization
Fri, 15 Feb 2019 17:38:15 +0000
The results indicate high levels of fraud and waste in the system, but large lifts for campaigns that optimize for authenticated inventory and providers. The post Lucidity’s new report shows a successful field test for blockchain-based ad optimization appeared first on Marketing Land.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

How to Start a Blog That Makes Money in 12 Easy Steps — The Complete Beginner’s Guide

Quick Sprout
How to Start a Blog That Makes Money in 12 Easy Steps — The Complete Beginner’s Guide
Tue, 05 Feb 2019 20:54:03 +0000

I started my first blog to avoid getting a job.

I’m completely serious.

I was coming to the end of my undergraduate degree in international affairs and the thought of getting a job at the state department or in journalism sounded like a horrible idea.

So I learned how to start a blog and built one on international affairs with the hopes of eventually monetizing it and supporting myself.

That didn’t really work out as planned. Hah.

But it did lead to a career in online marketing and now I do work on blogs to avoid having a real job.

Whether you’re trying to avoid a job entirely or trying to quit your current job, starting a blog is a reliable path to supporting yourself and your family. It takes a lot of work and some time but it is a well-traveled path at this point. It’s not nearly as crazy as it was when I started.

I’m going to walk you through the 12 steps to start a blog, which are particularly useful for beginners who have never done this before.

Before we begin, let’s cover how website technology works. There are a few things you’ll need to sign up for so it’s good to see how they all connect before starting.

First, there’s the domain. This is the URL of the website. Think of it as the address for your business. You’ll need to buy your domain.

Second, the domain registrar. This is the company that you’ll use to buy your domain and hold it for you. They don’t host your site or anything — they just store your domain and point web traffic to your site which will be on your web host.

Third, the web host. This is the company that hosts your site. Your site will be on its servers.

Fourth, the tool to build your site. Very few sites are built by hand using raw HTML and CSS these days. Almost all of them are built using a tool. The tool handles a lot of heavy lifting and makes building a site substantially easier, especially if you have no idea how to code. This is how you’ll configure your site and publish your blog posts. For blogging, these tools are called content management systems (CMS) and the only real option is WordPress. Once you’ve installed WordPress on your host, you’ll be able to start building your site.

To recap, you’ll buy a domain using a domain registrar, install WordPress on your host, then start building your site.

Now let’s dive into the step-by-step process.

Step 1: Pick a Category

The most important decision to make when starting a blog is which category you’re going to write about.

Why pick a category at all? Why not write about anything that interests you?

When it comes to building an audience, increasing traffic, and monetizing your blog, you’ll get a lot further a lot faster if you stick to a specific category.

Think of it like this: Let’s say you stumble on a blog of mine. You find an amazing post about how to turn email subscribers into fully passive income. You love it and subscribe to my email list. Then I send you an email about how to organize your closet. How would you react? Maybe you’d love it if you also really love organization. But most people would be turned off. They want more content about email lists and making passive income.

Jumping categories can be really jarring for any audience. Google also greatly prefers blogs that are focused on a single topic, which will help you with SEO a lot.

Whatever you do, pick a category and stick to it. If you want to try another category, start a new blog.

Here are a few popular categories that always do well:

Personal finance Fitness Online business Investing Productivity Real estate Careers Test prep Freelancing

My recommendation is to pick one of the categories above and niche it down one more time. Personal finance for people making over $100,000 per year is a good example. Or fitness for people over 60 is another.

Categories get tough when they’re super consumer focused and have extremely large audiences. Celebrity blogs are a great example. There’s tons of competition in this space but also very limited money compared to other blogging categories. It’s a brutal combo. All the work without any of the payoff. Recipe blogs are another example of a brutal category. World-class competition and very few ways to monetize. Try to avoid categories like these.

One of my favorite category types is B2B. This includes categories like how to do marketing, build products, HR, customer service, manage a team, or improve your sales skills. The volume in these categories is always lower than the popular categories that I listed above. But the quality of traffic is always incredible. Businesses are always willing to spend more than consumers to solve their problems; they have access to a lot more cash. The downside is that you need to have experience and skills in these areas before being able to blog about them. They’re not nearly as easy to break into.

Hobbies can also do okay, but they’re typically more difficult to monetize. That said, I’ve come across entrepreneurs who have built six and even seven figure businesses in hobby spaces like horse riding or learning the guitar. It’s doable. It’s just more difficult because people aren’t willing to spend as much on their hobbies.

Step 2: Find a Domain

Find a domain that’s somewhat related to the category you picked and is also available for purchase.

I highly recommend you keep searching until you find a domain that’s available. While it is possible to buy a domain from someone who already has it, that’s an advanced option and can get expensive fast.

Low quality domains will usually go for a few thousand dollars. Highly quality domains that are two words can easily go for $10,000 to $50,000. I’ve even been in discussions to purchase domains for over $100,000 and the really hot ones can break seven figures. Not to mention all the hassle that comes from finding the person who owns the domain, negotiating with them, and transferring the domain if you can get an agreement.

Your best bet is to keep going until you find a domain that you like and can purchase directly from a domain registrar for about $10.

NameCheap

We go into lots of detail on which domain registrar to use here. The short answer, use Namecheap. It’s awesome, it’s the best, it’s what I personally use.

We’ve also got some more tips on buying a domain here.

Should you use your personal name as your domain?

If this is your first blog and you’re not completely sure what you want to blog about, I recommend that you use your personal name.

The reason is that changing your domain later will mean that you have to start over from scratch. There are a lot of mistakes in blogging that can be corrected later; having the wrong domain isn’t one of them.

Let’s say you pick a domain like fitnessfordoctors.com. Then after six months, you realize you’d rather be doing personal finance blogging for doctors. You’d need to get a new domain and start over from scratch.

Personal domains are much more flexible — it’s just a name after all. So if you jump categories after a few months, it’s not a big deal. Take down any old content that’s not relevant with your new direction, start posting new content, and you’re good to go.

That said, personal domains have two major downsides:

Scalability – It’s much more difficult to recruit other writers or grow your blog beyond your personal identity later on. Sellability – Personal blogs, even if they’re generating serious cash, are much harder to sell. Prospective buyers want a site that isn’t dependent on a single person.

These are pretty advanced problems to have though. So if this is your first blog, the benefits of using your name as the domain greatly outweigh the costs that only show up down the road.

Step 3: Get a host for your blog

Every site needs a web host. This is the company that stores your site on its servers and makes it available for anyone who visits your site.

We went through all the main hosts for WordPress sites (by far the best tool for blogging) and put together our recommendations here.

While there are a few other choices it really comes down to two options:

Best WordPress Host for Beginners = SiteGround

For your first blog, you want a host that is popular, trusted, easy to use, reliable, and reasonably priced. No need for anything fancy.

SiteGround fits this need perfectly. The best part is that its plans start at $4/month. That’s a steal considering how many positive reviews it gets.

For the vast majority of folks starting blogs, SiteGround is going to be the best bet for hosting their blog.

Best WordPress Host for Advanced Bloggers = WP Engine

In my last few jobs, I managed blogs with hundreds of thousands or millions of visitors per month. They had thousands of posts on them. We always used WP Engine for sites of that size.

WP Engine comes with a lot of extra hosting features for security and scalability. For sites of that size, you end up having to do a lot more maintenance in order to keep the site healthy. WP Engine handles all that stuff for you. Their support team is also world-class. They do a great job.

But there’s a major downside: it’s more expensive. The lowest plans start at $35/month. This is 7X the price of other hosts.

If this is your first blog, I wouldn’t go with WP Engine.

Step 4: Point your domain to your host

Now you have a domain and a host for your site.

The next step is to point your domain to your host so that people end up at your site when they go to the URL of your domain.

Every host has slightly different settings you’ll need to configure at your domain registrar. They definitely have a support doc on with the details on what to do.

Here are the details for our recommended hosts:

SiteGround WP Engine

If you have any trouble with this, contact the support team for your host and they’ll walk you through the exact steps.

Step 5: Install WordPress

You’ll need a content management system (CMS) to build your site and manage your blog posts.

There’s only one option for this: WordPress.

Seriously, it’s not even a decision. Use WordPress.

Years ago, there were a few competitors to WordPress like Joomla, Typepad, or Blogger.

No one uses those anymore.

This is going to sound kind of bad but whenever I hear of someone using one of those old WordPress competitors, I just laugh. It’s hard to take them seriously.

WordPress powers 30% of ALL websites. That’s how popular it is.

Use WordPress for your blog, end of story.

Because of how popular WordPress is, most web hosts offer a one-click install for WordPress. It’s super easy. Log into your web host, find the install WordPress opton, click it, then follow the instructions. This is what you’ll need to do if you signed up for SiteGround.

And if you’ve decided to go with WP Engine, it comes pre-installed since WP Engine is a hosting company for WordPress specifically.

Step 6: Pick a WordPress Theme

WordPress is the foundation of your site. There’s an easy way to change how WordPress looks without having to code anything yourself.

WordPress uses “themes,” little packages of code that can be swapped in and out. Whenever you change your theme, your site will also change. The best part is that your blog post content won’t change. This makes it very easy to evolve your site over time without having to rebuild your entire site from scratch.

For now, you’ll need to pick your first WordPress theme.

The number of themes out there make me dizzy. There are… a lot.

When picking a theme for any of my sites, I go straight to StudioPress. The themes are a bit more expensive at $130. (Most themes go for $20–50.) In my opinion, the higher price is well worth it. StudioPress was purchased by WP Engine and WP Engine now includes all the StudioPress themes as part of its hosting package. It’s a nice freebie if you are already planning on hosting your site with WP Engine.

If you want a wider selection of WordPress themes at standard prices, Themeforest is the most popular WordPress theme marketplace. You’ll find just about anything you want in its selection.

After you purchase your theme, log into your WordPress site, go to the Theme section which is under Appearance in the WordPress sidebar menu. Then follow the instructions for adding the theme. You’ll have to upload the theme files to WordPress and activate the theme from within WordPress. You can find the upload option by going to Themes > Add New, a button towards the top. Then you’ll see this option to upload:

Add WordPress Themes

You’ll be able to manage any themes you’ve uploaded to your WordPress site from your Themes section:

Manage WordPress Themes

Step 7: Install Your WordPress Plugins

Once of the best parts about WordPress is that it’s infinitely customizable. Since it’s open-source, you can change it to do whatever you want.

WordPress plugins are little batches of software you can install within WordPress to get extra functionality. This is how you’ll add a bunch of extra features to your site without having to code anything yourself.

Be careful here and try not to go overboard.

Some bloggers will install dozens or even hundreds of plugins on their site. That can cause a bunch of problems later on. Not only can plugins cause unexpected conflicts with each other, they become a security liability since it’s unlikely that every plugin owner will maintain the plugin over time. They also become a huge headache to manage. When you have that many plugins, you’re never sure which plugin is causing a particular problem.

I like to keep my plugins limited to 5–10 amazing plugins. Here are a few of my favorites:

Akismet – Required for every blog, it automatically filters a ton of comment spam which is a problem for every blogger. This is one of the few plugins that I happily pay to upgrade. Yoast SEO – The most highly recommended SEO plugin, it handles a bunch of SEO tasks automatically for you and also makes on-page SEO tasks a lot easier. Contact Form 7 – The most popular contact form out there. Set up a contact page on your site and then use this plugin to create a contact form that will email you any time someone fills out the form. Super easy. TinyMCE Advanced – A bunch of improvements to the WordPress editor that makes writing in WordPress a lot easier. These days, I usually skip this one. I write all my posts in Google Docs and then format them in WordPress using its default HTML editor. WP Super Cache – A good plugin to speed up your site. MailChimp for WordPress – More on this below. It’s easiest way to connect your WordPress site to a MailChimp account, create an email sign up form, and start collecting email subscribers. WordPress Popular Posts – Easiest way to add a list of your most popular posts to your blog sidebar. The list will update automatically.

There is a plugin for just about anything you could want to do with your WordPress site. Use the plugin page within your WordPress site to search for anything that you need.

Wordpress Plugins

When you’ve found a plugin you want, install and activate it from within WordPress.

Step 8: Install Google Analytics

Google analytics is a free website analytics tool from Google. Even though it’s free, it’s still the best analytics tool out there.

Analytics is just a fancy word for website data.

Yes, analytics can get pretty complicated and overwhelming.

Which is why we’re going to ignore the majority of what’s in Google Analytics for now.

All you need to do is create a Google Analytics account and install it on your blog. There are two reasons for this.

First, Google Analytics stores your data over time. When you’re ready to dive in later, you’ll be thankful that you’ve been collecting data since the beginning.

Second, it’s exhilarating to watch people visit your site in the beginning. I remember the first time Google Analytics recorded a visitor on my first blog. I thought it was a mistake. “Someone visited my site? Really? Why would they do that? Who are they? Did they like it?”

Google Analytics

Seeing those first visitors come in will give you a huge motivation boost. Even if you only check Google Analytics to see your total traffic, it’s well worth the time it takes to set up.

It’s also pretty easy to set up.

Go to Google Analytics and set up your account. Once your account is created, you’ll have a unique JavaScript tracking code for your site. When you copy and paste that snippet of code into your site, Google Analytics will start collecting data for you.

Step 9: Set up your email list

Sooner or later, you’ll hear a stat like this:

“Email marketing has 22X the ROI of any other marketing channel!”

Technically, this is true.

The response from email will always dominate any other channel that you try pushing a campaign to. But you have to acquire those emails in the first — they’ve already been filtered for the most receptive people. In other words, email by its nature is more responsive, so the comparison ROI stats are kind of dumb. They’re stating the obvious.

It’s kind of like going to a strawberry field, picking the best strawberries in the entire field, putting them in a gift basket, then declaring the the gift basket strawberries are 12 times as delicious as normal strawberries. Of course they’re more delicious — you picked the best ones already!

That’s how email lists work. They’re a gift basket of the best strawberries.

Every marketing engine I’ve built for companies has relied on emails at its core.

Think of your email list as a giant laser ray you can focus on any offer you want. Selling consulting? Pitch your list. Publishing a new blog post? Pitch your list. A podcast just interviewed you? Pitch your list.

Of all the marketing channels that have come and gone over the years, nothing compares to the power of a high quality email list.

Even if you’re not sure what to send your email subscribers, that’s okay!

Using MailChimp, you can start collecting emails on your blog so that the list is ready for you as soon as you need. It takes time to build a decent size list so your future self will be extremely grateful if you set it up now.

You only need two things:

A MailChimp account An opt-in to sign up on your sidebar

MailChimp has a free account for up to 2,000 email subscribers, which will cover your blog for awhile.

There’s also a super easy WordPress plugin for MailChimp. Once you install it on your WordPress blog, it’ll connect to your MailChimp account and give you an easy way to add an email signup form to your blog sidebar.

Even a super basic opt-in in your blog sidebar like this is enough to get you started:

Email Optin Example

Don’t even worry about sending any emails yet unless you want to. The main thing is that you’re collecting email subscribers from the beginning. Email lists can be a gold mine once you have a few thousand subscribers, and the money really rolls in once you have 10,000 subscribers and above.

Step 10: Get into your posting groove

Writing blog posts isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. More like a multi-day backpacking trip.

The best bloggers settle into a consistent writing pace they can maintain for a few years. That’s right, years.

Here are a few posting frequency rules of thumb:

At the bare minimum, find a way to post once per week. This needs to be a substantial post, too: 2,000 words at least. I recommend you start here. Serious bloggers will post 2–3 times per week. Larger sites quickly get to 5–7 posts per week. This requires multiple authors. The heavy hitters who push things to the limit will do 25–50 posts per week. No joke, this is for large businesses using content marketing as their primary customer acquisition channel. HubSpot is a classic example of this.

I know writing isn’t easy. After writing blog posts full-time for three months, I always want to throw my MacBook out the window. It’s a grind for all of us. This is why I recommend one post per week. That still gives you the majority of the week to focus on other aspects of your site while also giving you a break from writing blog posts all the time.

A really great post should take you two days to complete. The first day is for research and outlining, along with as much writing as you can complete. The second day is for finishing the writing, proofreading, and publishing the post in WordPress.

Also, push quality as hard as you can. The key to building a site and traffic over time is to write posts that are more valuable than what other people have already published in your category.

Step 11: Build an audience

There’s a super famous article in blogging circles: 1,000 True Fans.

Basically, getting 1,000 true fans means you can fully support yourself. You can quit your job, work from wherever you like, and be in complete control of your life. All from hitting a very reasonable goal of 1,000 true fans.

With blogging, you’ll build your audience of 1,000 true fans slowly and consistently.

As long as you keep it at, you will get there. Typically, it takes a few years.

Here’s what to focus on in order to get there faster:

Always post at least once per week. Never skip a week. Start posting 2–3 times per week if you can. On every post, push on quality as hard as you can. Google the topic and see what other people have done, then ask yourself how you can write something even better. Write stuff that hasn’t been written to death already. Find a new take or perspective on your topics that other people haven’t already covered. Find your voice and be authentic so people can get to know you. This builds connections with your audience faster. A quick hack for this is to pretend that you’re writing your posts to a close friend. To push even harder, get active in other online communities. Post in Facebook groups, subreddits, on Twitter, do podcast interviews, get speaking engagements when you can — anything and everything. Be as helpful as you can be in these communities. For all of your content, constantly ask yourself, “How can I make this as valuable as possible?”

As your blog audience matures you will want to change your traffic strategies as you grow.

Step 12: Monetize your blog

There are really only two ways to monetize a serious blog.

Yup, only two.

Bloggers try a ton of different ideas, maybe about a dozen.

Out of those dozen, only two work at scale.

So what are they?

Affiliates and infoproducts.

Check out this list of of 21 bloggers making money.

Out of the entire list, all but three or four of them make the majority of their revenue from infoproducts, affiliates, or a combination of the two.

How Infoproducts Work

I could write a book on this. For now, we’ll keep it simple. Here’s the model:

Get people to visit your site. On your site, give them a reason to subscribe to your email list. Once they’re an email subscriber, run them through a launch funnel. These are email funnels specifically designed to sell infoproducts. Usually, these are courses that include a bunch of video lessons. Depending on your volume and target market, you’ll convert about 0.5% to 1% of new email subscribers into a customer at a price of $500–$2,000 for your course. At volume, that adds up fast.

Now this sounds too good to be true. While there are a few catches, it’s mostly true. What are the catches?

First, you’ll need to get extremely good at direct-response copy.

Second, it helps to be in the right category. People want money, status, and relationships.

How Affiliates Work

It’s pretty simple: You go about creating as large of an audience as possible. Then, throughout the your content, you recommend products that are helpful to that audience. When your audience clicks through the link of that recommendation, they get a special tracking code. If they end up purchasing, you get a cut of the sale.

The main downside is that only a small percentage of people will ever click through and an even smaller percentage of people will purchase. So it really helps to have a massive amount of traffic in order to make enough money from your blog.

Monetizing a Blog for Beginners

Those are really only the two options? Is there anything else for beginners?

Yes, there is.

While infoproducts and affiliates are the main ways to make serious money, you also need serious traffic in order to make them work. At least if you want them to work well enough to make six figures per year…

And to get that much traffic, you’ll need a lot of time on your blog. As much as I love blogging, getting a new blog off the ground doesn’t rain dollar bills right away.

There is one way to make a lot of money fast. It also will change your life.

Instead of trying to turn your blog into a completely passive money-making machine, go the other direction. Ditch passive and get active.

Start freelancing and consulting.

To make money quickly, this is by far your best option. It’s also the easiest to do.

When I worked at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, our freelancing programs taught thousands of people how to get started freelancing. What always blew me away was how life-changing those first few freelancing gigs are.

I went through that exact change myself. Years ago, I started my personal blog larslofgren.com and got a few freelancing clients doing it. I’ll never forget that first $100 payment sent via PayPal. The amount sounds so small now, but the real impact was knowing that I personally produced that income myself.

Guess how much traffic that personal blog of mine has? Only a few thousand visitors per month, spread across about 20 blog posts.

Anyone can create a blog that size and use it for freelancing lead generation. It’s enough to build a client base that pays you $3,000 to $5,000 per month. That’s enough to quit your job. That’s life-changing.

And it’s a much easier goal to hit than a full-ramped affiliates or infoproducts marketing machine. You always have the option to build that stuff later anyway.

What about all those other monetization methods?

Most of them are a waste of time. The impact on revenue is marginal, it’s a complete distraction. A few are worth doing for marketing and branding. The rest should be ignored entirely. Here’s the list that bloggers always try at some point:

Books – Great for marketing. Adds a ton of credibility to your brand. But you won’t feel the impact on revenue at all. Events – I loathe events with every fiber of my being. All the risk is front-loaded, all contracts get locked up ahead of time, they’re a pain to sell, and you don’t even know if you’ll make any money until right before the event. Even if you do make money, the margins are terrible. For me, these are complete distractions and a huge opportunity cost for the business. Banner ads (Google Ads, formally Adsense, for example) – The last time these made any decent money was around 2003. These days, I’m not even sure it’s possible to get banner ads to cover your hosting bill. I’m only partially joking. Speaking – Done the right way, occasional speaking can be a great brand builder. And while it sounds amazing to get paid $20,000 per speaking gig, it’s not nearly as amazing once you learn most speakers never get paid, it’s takes months worth of work to create a talk that commands that kind of fee, you really need a New York Times Bestseller in order to charge real fees, and you’ll get so sick of hotel rooms after the first year that you’ll never want to travel again. Do speaking gigs when good opportunities come up; don’t build a business on them.

Optimizely lets marketers create ideas and access experiment data through new Slack integration

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Optimizely lets marketers create ideas and access experiment data through new Slack integration
Thu, 14 Feb 2019 19:04:44 +0000
The testing platform's new link with the popular collaboration tool aims to bring Optimizely's capabilities into users' daily workflows. The post Optimizely lets marketers create ideas and access experiment data through new Slack integration appeared first on Marketing Land.

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