Free Image Optimizers

Check out this new list of free image optimizers. This is important because you want to make sure that your website images are as small as possible.

How to Find Trending Ideas

Content marketing is only useful if you can first find trending ideas. Check out this useful list of sites, apps, and tools to help identify trending ideas:

Free Business Name Generators

Sometimes when you are starting a new business or offering a new product, you have a great idea but can’t quite settle on the right name. Check out this list of free business name generators:

The Twitter Hashtag: What is it and How do you use it?

Hashtags are unavoidable. Everyone is using them – on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, even TV.

A hashtag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic. For example, if you type #NationalCoffeeDay (or #nationalCoffeeDay or #nationalcoffeeday, because it’s not case-sensitive) into the Search Twitter box at the top of any Twitter page and hit Enter, you’ll get a list of tweets related to National Coffee Day (September 30th, by the way). What you won’t get are tweets that talk about “coffee” because “coffee” isn’t preceded by the hashtag.

 

Hashtags allow you to create communities of people interested in the same topic by making it easier for them to find and share info related to it.

Where Do Hashtags Come From?

Any user can create one simply by adding it to their own tweet. For example, when a plane went down in the Hudson River a few years ago ago, some Twitter user wrote a post and added #flight1549 to it. I have no idea who this person was, but somebody else would have read it and when he posted something about the incident, added #flight1549 to HIS tweet. For something like this, where tweets would have been flying fast and furiously, it wouldn’t have taken long for this hashtag to go viral and suddenly thousands of people posting about it would have added it to their tweets as well. Then, if you wanted info on the situation, you could do a search on #flight1549 and see everything that people had written about it.

When hashtags first started being used, it was a very organic process that worked simply because of a group mindset that people like to categorize topics and this was one way to make it easier to do so.

Now that they are so common, they really only show up spontaneously if there’s a breaking news item. Otherwise, they’re used to promote, praise, or pan people (#TrumpSucks), brands (#VolkswagenScandal), events (#MNF), and anything else people want to discuss en masse (#Joaquin).

How Do I Create My Own Hashtag?

The first thing you would do is a basic Twitter search to see if a related term already exists. These days, odds are it does. In fact, I’ve been trying to think of something so obscure that one doesn’t exist (#underwaterbasketweaving, anyone?) and haven’t had success yet!

Probably the only reason you would need to create a new one nowadays would be for the group activities category I mentioned above. In that case, since the tag will use up some of your 140-character limit, you want to keep it fairly short, while still making it precise so other people aren’t likely to use it for another purpose. For example, let’s say I wanted to create a virtual book club with my friends scattered around the country. I might create the #gsbookclub hashtag that we would all add to the tweets we’re posting about the books we’re reading.

If you want more than just your friends to use the hashtag, you might want to “announce” it to your followers.

There are two possible issues here. One has to do with whether there’s an issue with the hashtag itself. Twitter’s Help page explains some of the problems you can run into—for example if a hashtag is made up entirely of numbers, Twitter doesn’t make it searchable. However, in most cases, this is NOT the problem.

Instead, the problem is actually with Twitter’s own search feature. This Help article explains some of the factors that may be affecting you as well. For example, maybe you’ve got your page set to Top Results instead of All or maybe your tweets are protected.

How to Promote Your Content in Less Than an Hour a Day

Why Promoting Content is Important

In his post “The 80/20 Rule for Building a Blog Audience” marketer and entrepreneur Derek Halpern notes:

If you spend time writing a piece of content, and that content only gets 1,000 readers, chances are there are one million other people in the world who can benefit from what you wrote.

Why then, would you spend more time creating content when you already have something that your ideal customers can benefit from?

Halpern has an 80/20 content strategy, that is, he spends 20 percent of his time creating it and 80 percent of his time marketing it.

While this is a fantastic strategy if you’re new and need to grow your audience quickly, content marketing experts warn that sticking to this strategy can mean that you’re under-serving your existing audience.

So how can you grow your audience while still focusing on creating massive value for your existing readers and followers?

Here’s a plan: Give yourself quick wins with an automated strategy and a checklist.

Promoting Your Content: 5 Quick Tips

1. Send it to Your Email List (Time taken: 3-5 minutes)

One of the best ways to get immediate traction with your content is to send it to your email list. Your email subscription list is typically comprised of people who have signed up to receive updates from you because they like and trust you or your brand and want to hear from you.

These are the people who are most likely to add high numbers to your social shares, to read your content the moment it’s published, or to forward it to others who may benefit from it.

Your email subscribers are most likely the most engaged of your audience, so it’s always a fantastic idea to share content with them on a regular basis.

2. Schedule it on Social Media over a Period of Weeks (Time taken: 5-10 minutes)

A social media editorial calendar can be a fantastic thing and one most business owners swear by, especially if they run small operations with little help.

When you publish a post or a piece of content, one of the best things that you can do is to spread out the promotion over a period of time using tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.

3. Email Everyone who is mentioned in your post or article (Time taken: 5-10 minutes)

A fantastic way to not only connect with your audience, but to connect with other people in the industry and their audience, is to mention them in your articles and blog posts and then let them know when you’ve done so, in order that they can share with their readers if they so choose.

To find someone’s email address quickly:

  1. Look through their website for a “Contact Me” or “About” page to see if you can find it there.
  2. Try LinkedIn. Often, people who want to be contacted will put their email address up in order to be found.
  3. Google combinations of their name with “@websitedomain.com” (in quotes) to see what comes up. For instance, if you were looking for my email address, you’d be able to find it very quickly by using the search term [Gabe “@connect4consulting.com”]

4. Syndicate Your Content (Time taken: 10-15 minutes)

Building partnerships with larger media organizations is the ideal way to syndicate and share your content. This however, will take lots of time and effort.

While you’re working on building those, don’t forget to utilize the free networks like Medium and LinkedIn that offer you similar syndication opportunities to reach new audiences.

Medium has a great guide to publishing on its platform and the things to keep in mind. Read it here.

And in this fantastic post about publishing to LinkedIn, Noah Kagan lays out the following tips:

  1. Make your titles between 40 and 49 characters long
  2. Make your posts on LinkedIn visual! Add 8 images
  3. Don’t add video or other multimedia assets to your posts
  4. Use “how-to” and list-style headlines
  5. Divide your post into 5 headings in order to attract the greatest number of post views
  6. People like to read long-form content on LinkedIn – 1,900 to 2,000 words long
  7. Don’t get your audience all fired up
  8. Make your content readable for an 11-year-old
  9. Promote your LinkedIn publisher post on other social networks!
  10. LinkedIn likes get you views, shares, and comments
  11. Publish your LinkedIn posts on Thursday

You shouldn’t syndicate every single post. Choose posts that may resonate with unique audiences. It’s a great way to bring interested readers over to your website. I also don’t recommend syndicating new content immediately.

5. Create Quick and Easy Graphics to Share on Social Media (Time taken: 10-15 minutes)

If you’re using images in your posts anyway, a quick and easy win is to share the headline or quote from your post along with an image. If not, you can quickly and easily do so in Canva or many of the other image-creating resources mentioned in this post. We’ve found that it’s incredibly helpful to share images in your social media posts, since according to a 2013 Pew Research Study, nearly half of all Internet users have reposted a photo or video they found online.

This can help you gain traction on image-oriented social sharing networks even if you don’t have much of a presence on them.

Social Media Guru’s Weekly Checklist

Checklists can help you make sure that everything that needs to be accomplished within a given period gets done. As you’ll see below, a social media guru has a lot to do each week to maintain guru status.

Social Media Guru’s Weekly Checklist

Weekly

  • Check your stats
  • Engage with influencers
  • Engage with partners
  • Weekly goals check-in
  • Hold a strategy session
  • Attend events – chats, hangouts, etc.
  • Update your social media ads

Check Your Stats

In terms of what to check when it comes to stats, there are many, many options.

The Buffer blog has a great introduction to social media stats, as well as a weekly social media report you can create for sharing with your boss, client, or team.

This tip from Finola Howard is also really great:

Measure what’s worked. Note your best-performing posts in a spreadsheet or other file so you can reference later as you hone your content.

What makes for a best-performing post? That can be totally up to you, depending on the stats that matter to you.

Engage with Influencers

Influencers are people with either a large following or a verified status or an important role at a significant company. Reach out to those outside your circle, particularly any influencers in your industry or niche.

In the past, I’ve identified a few people who I was wanted to connect with, added them to a Twitter list, then went about the weekly task of checking out their updates and engaging when appropriate. The goal, ultimately, is to build a relationship and connection—and in a lot of cases it works, if given time.

Engage with Partners

Engaging with partners involves staying in frequent connection with your competitors, colleagues, and friends.

Weekly Goals Check-in

Often times, along with checking your stats on a weekly basis, you can quickly peek at how your stats fit with the goals you’ve set for social media. Here’re a couple of ways we do this at Connect4 Consulting:

1. Per-post basis

I know that we’ve got a certain benchmark in mind for a successful post, so I’m able to quickly see if we’ve reached that goal by peeking at the per-post stats (for instance, one benchmark is 200 clicks per tweet).

2. Longer-term goals

At other times, we’ll set a bigger goal to aim for over time, and we’ll use what’s called a waterfall graph to chart our progress.

Credit goes to the team at HubSpot for giving me this cool idea. Here’s how to make a waterfall graph for yourself:

If you’re using Excel, create a table with the following columns:

  • Date: Dedicate a cell to each day in the month.
  • Weekday/Weekend: Label each day as a weekday or weekend day.
  • Daily Actual Visits: Plug in the number of visits you actually get each day.
  • Cumulative Actual Visits: Add that day’s actual visit number to the number of visits you’ve gotten so far that month.
  • Daily Goal Visits: At the beginning of the month, plug in your daily visits goal, depending on whether it’s a weekday or weekend.
  • Cumulative Goal Visits: At the beginning of the month, sum your daily visits goal day over day.

Here’s what it might look like:

daily-traffic-waterfall.png

Each morning, plot your progress by plugging in the actual visit number from the previous day and adding it to the traffic you’ve earned over the month in the “Cumulative Actual Visits” column.

Next, create a graph from this spreadsheet to create your daily leads waterfall graph. First, hide the “Weekday/Weekend” column by right clicking on the column and choosing “Hide.” Then, highlight the rest of your data, including the titles of your rows and columns but excluding the “Total” row that’s at the bottom. Click the “Charts” tab at the top and choose “Line” and then “Marked Line.”

You should see a graph that roughly resembles this one:

daily-traffic-waterfall-excel.png

From there, you can add a title, label the lines, and change other visual elements.

Hold a Strategy Session

It always helps to step back and reflect.

Some cool strategy exercises could be reviewing what went into your social media marketing plan in the first place, i.e. your goals and purpose behind social media. Or answering some of these questions:

  1. What do we hope to achieve with social media?
  2. Are we on the right networks to connect with our audience?
  3. How does our voice/tone convey our brand?
  4. In what ways can we be most helpful to those we serve?

Attend Events

Here’s a huge list of possible chats to participate in:

list of possible places to look:

Update Your Social Media Ads

Depending on the depth of your commitment and involvement in social media ads, this one could easily be a daily to-do item. If you’re running just a few ads, then weekly could be a good frequency to start with. Check and refresh your ads. Keep the ones that are working. Iterate on the ones that aren’t.

Social Media Guru’s Daily Checklist

Sometimes it helps to have a checklist to make sure that everything that needs to be accomplished within a given period gets done. As you’ll see below, a social media guru has a lot to do each day to maintain guru status.

Social Media Guru’s Daily Checklist

Daily

  • Reply to everyone
  • Check your mentions
  • Monitor social media for keywords and phrases
  • Schedule your updates for the next day
  • Check out other social media profiles
  • Curate content to share
  • Advocacy: Make it easy for your team to share
  • Engage with MVPs
  • Follow back those who follow you
  • Connect with one new person

Reply to everyone

If you can reply to everyone who engages with you on social media, you are doing better than 75% of the brands on social media. So first and foremost—and on those days when there’s just tons going on, perhaps the most important to-do item of the day and the one we’d recommend for sure making time for—reply to everyone. Reply as quickly as you can, given all else you have happening.

Check your mentions

This is one layer deeper than replying to everyone who engages with you on social media.There are a few quick and easy spots to visit to find these:

Monitor social media for keywords and phrases

This great list from Bufferapp post on social media monitoring covers many of the basics of what to monitor on social media.

Brand or company monitoring

  • Your name or your brand’s name (e.g., Buffer)
  • Any variations of your brand’s name (e.g., Buffer and bufferapp)
  • Potential misspellings of your brand’s name (e.g., bffr, bufffer)
  • Names of the most active/visible members of your company (e.g., Joel Gascoigne, Leo Widrich)
  • Mentions of specific campaigns you’re running (e.g., #bufferchat, #bufferpodcast)
  • Your catchphrase, slogan or tagline

Industry or topic monitoring

  • Key words or phrases that describe your industry or interest (For example, at Buffer I might want to monitor for key phrases like “social media sharing,” “social media posting” and “social media automation” to start out)
  • Key words or phrases related to or complementary to your industry or interest
  • Frequently used industry hashtags

Schedule your updates for the next day

Here are some best practices. I’d highly encourage you to test and experiment with what works best for you!

  • Post three or more times per day on Twitter
  • Post 2x per day on Facebook
  • Post 1x per day on LinkedIn
  • Post one to two times per day on Instagram
  • Post five or more times per day on Pinterest
  • Post two or more times per day on Google+

Check out other social media profiles

On Twitter, this can be done quite quickly with a daily visit to one or more Twitter lists.

On Facebook, you can add other pages to your Insights reports. To do so:

  1. When logged in as the page admin, click Insights from the top of your Facebook page.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the Insights page, and you’ll see the “Pages to Watch” section.
  3. Click the blue button to Add Pages.

Curate content to share

Part of a social media sharer’s day is likely to include finding fantastic content to share.

Advocacy: make it easy for your team to share

LinkedIn found that employees are 70 percent more likely to click, share, and comment on an update than a typical LinkedIn user.

This brings up the idea of advocacy: Encouraging your team to share your content and advocate for your brand.

In practice, this can be as simply as adding a daily checklist item of emailing the team with a new blog post of yours or recommending a tweet to RT or favorite.

Engage with MVPs

Come up with a list of MVP fans or followers, or key people who regularly evangelize your brand. This could be a list of top users, influential people in your industry, folks you’d love to get to know, etc.

Focusing on brand advocates is a popular way to go here, as you can multiply yourself to a degree by encouraging others to share about you. MailChimp co-founder Ben Chestnut has a great way of explaining and showing this process of flipping the funnel upside down.

Follow back those who follow you

1. Follow everyone!

Return the favor for all those who follow you on social media. This can be quite straightforward on sites like Twitter and Instagram. For other networks, you can add people to circles on Google+, accept all connections to your LinkedIn, and follow a user or an individual board on Pinterest. On Facebook, pages can “like” other pages.

2. Follow those who fit with your focus or niche

Some people and brands choose to follow a bit more strategically by connecting with those who share common interests. With this, you can browse through a new follower’s bio or timeline to see if their social presence meshes with yours and then decided whether or not to return the follow.

Connect with one new person

Connecting with someone new can fall in quite smoothly with re-following, replying, and engaging.

The idea behind this item is to practice making one-to-one connections with the people in your audience, welcoming new followers with a personal message or reaching out to someone you appreciate or admire.

And there are some fun ways to do this quickly and easily: Say hi, share a GIF, or go the extra mile with some surprise and delight.

Big Update to Google Photos Today – You Can Now Share Albums

There’s a big update to Google Photos today. You can now share albums.

The feature allows friends and families to collaborate on photo albums. Google Photos users can subscribe to albums and receive notifications whenever an image is added to the album. You can also send out invites for collaboration, as you can with Google Docs.

Google also added the ability to label people on your albums. These labels can be customized, so you can call your friends and families by nicknames if you prefer.

You can also now finally use Chromecast to cast your photos to your TV. And you can also cast Google’s animated GIFs to your TV.

The features are launching on Android this week, and will arrive on the Web and iOS a while later.

Tools for Improving Readability

If you create user-friendly content, you understand readability. If usability and user-interface is important, then readability should be a top priority.

When your content is readable, it’s easier to consume. If usability and UX is important, then readability should be a top priority. User-friendly content may even improve your search ranking.

Website readability is governed by two components – Writing Style and Typography.

Writing Style Tips for Improving Readability

  • Use section headings to split up long articles
  • Highlight important words and phrases by using bold and italics
  • Use bullet points to make lists easier to read
  • Avoid jargon; use simple words
  • Avoid the passive voice
  • Proof-read your work and use spell check to avoid glaring grammar mistakes

Typography Tips for Improving Readability

  • Choose a main content font that is easy to read on all devices
  • Make sure the font size is large enough
  • Use a dark color font on a light background
  • Don’t use dark backgrounds if you want people to read your content

Online Tools for Improving Readability

The Readability Test Tool

This online tool will check your writing under well-established readability formulas. E.g., the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease and the Automated Readability Index.The Readability Test Tool also furnishes statistics about your text. It shows you the number of complex words and average number of words per sentence in your work. Try to lower these two metrics when you’re editing for readability.

The Readability Test Tool

Grammark

Spelling errors and grammar mistakes make for hard, distracting reading. Grammark can help find grammar and spelling issues. It will also point out wordiness, vague language, and other problem areas.

Grammark

 

Hemingway Editor

This online editor helps you write clearly and concisely. The tool highlights complex sentences and phrases, the use of passive voice, and adverbs. Hemingway Editor gives you a dynamic readability grade as you write. It also displays information such the estimated reading time of your article. In the screenshot below, I pasted an article from the Washington Post. As you can see it scores very low on readability.

Hemingway Editor

Contrast Ratio

Design is a big part of readability and text legibility. Good foreground/background color contrast ratio is key to reading comfort. This is an open source tool for calculating the contrast ratio of two colors. It can help you choose good colors for a pleasant reading experience.

Contrast Ratio Easily calculate color contrast ratios. Passing WCAG was never this easy

 

How to Schedule Your WordPress Blog Posts

If you’re like me, you tend to write in spurts and starts. Not every day is a blogging day, but once I begin blogging I will usually commit a good percentage of the day towards those efforts. This quick tutorial will show you how to schedule your wordpress blog posts so that all four blog posts you create the same day are published on different days.

Why Schedule Your Blog Posts in WordPress?

Each website has a specific time or day for peak traffic. Now if you live in a different timezone than your readers, then it can be a problem. Imagine having your peak time as 3 a.m. Scheduling posts can be very handy for this.

The other situation is if you are going for a vacation, but you don’t want to abandon your blog.

If you schedule your WordPress blog posts, you don’t have to worry about either of these scenarios. This function allows you to stay ahead of yourself by finishing up articles in advance and have them ready. You can prepare for a busy week ahead of time and schedule articles to be published automatically.

How to Schedule Your WordPress Blog Post

Once you are done writing your blog post, before hitting publish, you need to look at the option right above the publish button that reads “Publish immediately”. Click on “Edit”. Set Date and Time and click Schedule.

Follow these easy steps and you can know schedule your WordPress blog posts.