Mailbag: The Psychic Writing Tool Edition

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris /

It’s Tuesday and time for the mailbag.

Whether you are stuck in a cubicle or you’re sitting on the couch eating bon-bons and watching Oprah, it’s time to make your day better.

The Tool of the Week

What if there was a psychic tool that would tell you the exact topics you need to write about?

What if that same tool showed the exact language your customers use, whether more people talked about those topics last month than this month and the exact number of people actively searching for your topics?

Would that be helpful?

How much would you pay for it?

My friend asked me this recently.

My answer? $300 per month.

His answer? It’s free and it’s called Keyword Planner, you idiot!

LOLz.

Check out the free video tutorial in the resource center for a walkthrough of how to use this tool to write killer blog posts.

On to your questions…

Question #1

NO ONE WILL SIGN UP FOR MY EMAIL LIST:

“Your Expanded Guest Post was key to me getting my first post published. The traffic so far is AMAZING. It got picked up on iMore after I tweeted all the folks I linked to in the article.

My previous record in unique users was August with 1038. In the last two days I’ve had 1,628.

However, my conversion rate is way behind — I’ve had 6 sign-ups (.37%) and none of them through the video lead box I made for the post. 

An hour ago I went back and bolded and colored the bonus video sentences to make them stand out more. 

Do you see any other opportunities to turn the conversion around?”

-Deron

 

This is the article that Deron wrote: The Ultimate Guide to Transforming your Old iPhone into a Kid’s Dream iPod Touch.

Deron’s problem is this:

  1. He wrote an incredible article.
  2. He is getting 10x his normal traffic.
  3. No one is opting into his content upgrade.

He wants to know why no one is opting in.

There are 3 things you have to do to make sure that the people who read your article opt in to your email list.

Thing #1: Don’t just bolt your content upgrade to the bottom of the post. Bake it into the post.

Too often I see people writing a killer post then slapping on a content upgrade to the bottom of it. The problem with that approach is less than 50% of the people who start reading your article actually make it to the end.

Avoid this by doing two things.

First, have a hard call to action in the first 400 words of your article.

Deron does a decent job of that.

Deron’s CTA in the first 400 words

He could make this call to action even better by embedding a clickable LeadBox inside of this call to action. By forcing you to go to the end of the post to get the bonus, he will lose more than half of his potential subscribers.

Second, sprinkle soft teases and call to actions throughout the post to amp up your readers’ anticipation and to build curiosity.

Here is an example of that in a recent post I wrote:

Example of how to tease a content upgrade throughout your post

Deron could do this by mentioning the bonus video at the end of a few of his “steps” and making mention of how the information that he just shared would be more specifically covered in the video.

Thing #2: Climax the post into the content upgrade.

Think of your blog post like a movie trailer.

What action is a movie trailer optimized for? Getting you to watch the movie.

That’s exactly how your blog article should be designed. The climax of the article should be the bonus content.

Deron loses momentum at the end of his post by burying his call to action two sections PAST the climax.

Instead of the boring transition and self centered close, Deron’s conclusion should look something like this:

<meat of the post>

And those are the nine steps you need to follow to turn your old iPhone into a kid-friendly iPod touch.

Let’s do a quick review:

  • Step 1: Should it stay or should it go?
  • Step 2: Erasing, clearing and restoring…for the kids!
  • Step 3: Hello…Hola…Salut: Setting up
  • Step 4: Internal security, makin’ it safe for the kids and their parents’ wallets.
  • Step 5:FaceTime with Grammy means StoryTime with Grammy
  • Step 6: Organizing the new playroom
  • Step 7: Room is set up: let’s bring in the games! The educational games, of course, madam.
  • Step 8: Resources for additional app purchases.
  • Step 9: Wrapping it up in plastic

That’s a lot of crap to do, right?

To make it even easier for you, I videoed myself going through all nine steps, so you can just follow along and do exactly what I do.

Watch the free tutorial video by clicking here.

<insert giant picture for them to click on>

Thing #3: Create an incredibly compelling upgrade.

If your content upgrade sucks, there isn’t a lot you can do to make it convert better.

How do you create compelling content upgrades?

At the end of each post, ask yourself these two questions:

Question 1: “How could I SHOW my readers what I just TOLD them?”

For example:

Deron just told his readers every step of the process. A compelling upgrade would be to show himself going through each of the nine steps.

Question 2: “What can I give my readers that would help them implement what they just read?”

Could you give them a checklist, cheat sheet or template to help them?

Wrap-up

Filter every content upgrade you create through these three criteria to ensure it is optimized:

  1. Is your content upgrade incredibly compelling?
  2. Does your post climax at your content upgrade?
  3. Have you baked your content upgrade into your article?

Question #2

WHY DID YOU SWITCH FROM ONTRAPORT TO INFUSIONSOFT:

“So it looks like you’ve switched from Ontraport to Infusionsoft.

Wow!

Seems like a ton of work. Any feedback on why?”

-Lisa

 

For those who haven’t noticed, I’m in the middle of moving email service providers (ESP) once again.

When I first started out, I used MailChimp and quickly found it to be a pain in the butt in handling some of the more advanced strategies I’ve used to build my list.

So back in February I switched to Ontraport. It’s been a great service, but there are four problems that have cropped up over time. These issues led me to pull the trigger on switching to Infusionsoft a few weeks back.

The three reasons I switched to Infusionsoft:

1. More stable platform: Ontraport kept having service issues. From time to time emails that I had scheduled would not go out, autoresponders would not fire off and odd issues would crop up.

Their support team is very accessible, but unfortunately many times they would have no explanation of the issue. I always expect some service disruption but the lack of resolution or advance warning eventually caused me to lose trust in the platform.

2. Huge 3rd-party marketplace: Ontraport is a newer product and as a result has no 3rd party marketplace for plugins. Infusionsoft, on the other hand, has a massive marketplace where you can find 3rd-party solutions to a myriad of potential use case scenarios.

3. Ample supply of affordable contractors: Ontraport’s 3rd-party support community is tiny and expensive. I love being able to give tasks to contractors and have them figure out all of the nitty-gritty details. However, finding someone who charges less than $75 per hour to do this type of work proved impossible.

Ontraport had less than 15 certified contractors and all charge a premium. Nothing against charging a premium: I think that’s great. It just wasn’t the right fit for me. Before switching to Infusionsoft, I put out some feelers for contractors and quickly found a U.S.-based company that charges $35 per hour and came highly recommended.

4. API stability: As you know, I’ve begun working on a new software projects. Unfortunately, Ontraport’s API is a mess. Zapier recently pulled their connection to Ontraport due to instability. Continuing to use Ontraport would have severely hampered me from creating software that I could actually use and would have driven up the development costs. Infusionsoft, on the other hand, has a robust, well-documented API.

Infusionsoft isn’t perfect. In fact, a ton of people hate it.

However, after using it for 2 months, I’ve become a big fan and I find it substantially more stable and easier to figure out.

If you are just starting out, I recommend Mailchimp. Once you’ve advanced to the next level (3,000+ subscribers or $50,000+ revenue) then I recommend switching to Infusionsoft.

Question #3

SHOULD YOU DATE YOUR BLOG POSTS:

“All my blog posts are dated. I set it up that way. Yours are not. 

If I remove the dates (through a WordPress setting), will I damage my Google SEO? I’m always afraid of making changes like that for fear of ticking off Mr. Google.

Thoughts?”

-Jayme 

 

Jayme is talking about this:

She wants to know why I don’t date my posts.

Want the honest answer? I didn’t like the way having dates looked on the blog.

Kind of a lame answer. It’s akin to picking a favorite sports team because “their jerseys look pretty.”

To get a more educated answer to Jayme’s question, I went to my buddy and SEO guru Brian Dean and asked him if removing the dates from my posts would hurt my search engine rankings.

Here is his answer:

My takeaway? I like the look of things without the date on them. Readers can scroll to the comment section to see the publish date if that’s a big deal for them.

I don’t want new readers who find old posts to discount a post because it’s 8 months old. The topics that I write about, for the most part, are not time sensitive.

However, if you write about current events or other time-sensitive news, you might consider putting the dates at the top of your articles.

Tip: To add and remove dates from your posts, use WP Curve. Tutorial on how to use WP Curve.

UPDATE: Videofruit reader Ben has built a WordPress plugin to allow you to easily remove the dates from your posts. It has some pretty cool features. Check it out here.

 

Question #4

WHAT IF SOMEONE STEALS MY WORK:

The blog post you wrote about how to make $1000 in the next 14 days without an idea really struck a chord in me. I’m committed to test it myself.

I plan to do so with this post by Brian Dean. It’s about creating content upgrades for blog posts.

Should I go ahead and create the upgrades for the prospect?

What if they just take the content upgrade that I create, don’t pay me and use it anyway? 

-Thomas

 

Thomas has two questions.

Question #1: Should I go ahead and create the deliverable I’m trying to sell?

Answer: Yes, showing a prospective client what you can do versus telling them about what you could do works much better.

The more specific your proposal is to their exact need, the better your chances of closing the deal. When you are just getting started, make every pitch unique to the prospect you are pitching.

For more details on that, see here.

Question #2: What if they just take the content upgrade that I create, don’t pay me and use it anyway? 

Answer: If you are pitching legit businesses (as you should be), they are not interested in stealing your work.

Every business owner I have ever met has an extremely hard time finding good people to help them grow their business. The last thing they want to do is find someone who is a good fit, highly skilled and then rip them off for $500.

Focus on being extremely good at what you do. Focus on giving.

And avoid hucksters.

What problem keeps tripping you up?

Every week I answer reader’s questions here on the blog

I want to help you too.

Do you have ONE problem that keeps tripping you up over and over again?

If so, leave it in the comment section below and I’ll answer it next week.

  • Pete Bruce

    another great post Coach Saban 🙂

    A question that has been coming up for me is…

    How do you ask people (strangers) if they are having a similar problem as you?

    IE. I want to create a product/service to solve a need I have but also want to see if others have a similar need. Whats the best way to go about this?

    Thanks and keep the mailbags comin’!!!

    • What is your product or service? (saban…lolz)

      • Pete Bruce

        I do a lot of freelance and adhoc work where I have to ask/remind/keep up on people to pay me. I get paid in check or cash so things like paypal aren’t the best for me. I also work with these people face-to-face daily so it can get awkward when I keep asking for my money. I also sometimes forget who I’ve asked and when I’ve asked for money.

        So my product/service would be a new way to ASK people to pay me and keep track of it. Something less formal and dry than an invoice but more professional and organized than me just asking in person. The people/businesses I work with/for also have problems keeping track of when to pay people like me so it would help them too.

        Thanks!

  • Question: I blog about writing tips and literature. But my blog name is my own name and doesn’t feature my own personal, creative writing. Should I change my blog name or export the content elsewhere?

    • Depends on what you want. Do you want to be the guy that’s known for his knowledge of writing, then keep the name. If you want to be known ONLY for your creative writing, move everything else to a different blog.

      That said, I (personally) would keep the name no matter what. You’ll have a bigger chance of getting a decent amount of subscribers when you blog about writing tips. Not to sound like a douche, but people care more about their own writing than yours.

      Once you have a decent amount of subscribers you can introduce your own writing. By then you’ll have the authority and audience to do so effectively. It will increase the chances of your own writing becoming a success because you’ll have an initial (engaged) audience.

      And videofruit is about marketing so the name doesn’t really make sense either. I’d say that, in the end, it’s what you give or teach people that matters, not the name.

      • Thanks robin. It does depend on what I want. From my side of things, I see writers that build as “artists” and those that build as “teachers” and I’m not sure where I fit.

        • A question I’ve been thinking about lately…

          “Am I a teacher or an inventor?” Maybe the answer is…”Both.”

          • Pete Bruce

            I’d say if you have students you’re a teacher 🙂

  • That was humbling and…helpful, thanks for the feedback, Bryan. I have some more work to do…

    • Keep doing your thing Deron. You’re doing a great job.

  • Hi Bryan Great post.I also removed date on my posts because my posting frequency is not consistent.(i am trying to be consistent).but you know if you have a post on your blog page that is like 10 days old then having date is not good

    • That could be the case. However, I follow several very popular blogs that only post once per month.

      • You are right,at the end of the day we have to test what works best.One more thing,i am going to try that CTA in your byline on my blog.let’s see how it goes.Do you get any signups from there?

        • It converts around 0.5%. I’d recommend using it. It adds up over time.

          • Sure i will,i wouldn’t say no to 0.5% more subscribers.

  • Hey Bryan. Great help today. Thanks brother. I’m on the google key word planner site but it’s acting like I have to sign up for Google Adwords. Like create an add or something. Is that right? Should I just set one up without running it? Is that even possible? Not ready to pay for adds yet but wanted to use the KeyWord tool you mentioned in the video. Thanks.

    • You might have to signup for an Adwords account (been a while since I started using it so I don’t remember). But you definitely don’t have to run ads.

      Step 1: Signup for an account
      Step 2: Use the free tool
      Step 3: Never run ads.

      Success!

  • Interesting post Bryan!

    I’m going to be trying something different with the dates on my next iteration of my site – mainly because removing the published date on custom post types also removed it on the blog page (I couldn’t get the action hook quite right:).

    So, I gave it a look and decided it’s cleaner looking.

    But I’m keeping the published date on the single posts, and have also used the date updated before. Since I’ve updated ALL of them in a site redo, I may wait awhile before switching back to date updated, which I like best.

    • You should holler at WPcurve. They could probably do it for you in a snap.

      • Haha, I’ve used WPCurve since the beginning. But there are somethings I like to do myself, and bring them in for the big stuff. Why should they have all the fun:)

  • I love these mailbag posts every week, but I’ve got to come up with a better way to not follow every rabbit trail for 45 minutes. Great stuff.

    Regarding question #3:

    I made a plugin specifically for removing the dates from posts on WordPress blogs.

    In fact, it shows the date for a specified number of days (which you select) and then after that magic number of days elapses, the date disappears from the post.

    It’s my first plugin, so I’m obsessive about updating it and patching it, and so far I’ve earned $22 in donations from it. That breaks down to about .003 cents per hour of development and support.

    I’d love it if you’d check it out. It’s in the official repository at http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-old-post-date-remover/

  • Man you killed it with this one.

  • Eric Silva

    Hey Bryan,

    Great post per usual man.

    Quick Question Pls: Why do you recommend MailChimp instead of Aweber? I know you didn’t compare the two but just curious about your opinion between the two.

    Thanks and keep rocking bro,
    Eric Silva

    • Mailchimp has a much more refined UI, it’s API is substantially easier to use and the free plan is light years ahead of Awebers.

      Also, content upgrades are nearly impossible to setup on Aweber.

  • Grace Draper

    Could you tell me how you set up your tutorials with live screen shots–like the one you did with the Google Keyword Planner (It was excellent)? Do you use an external mic? If so, what do you recommend?