Monday, 19 February 2018

How to Create Infographics in Under an Hour [15 Free Infographic Templates]

Wouldn't it be great if creating infographics was as simple as writing regular ol' text-based blog posts? Unfortunately, the reality is that making visual content like this usually takes a lot more time, effort, and let's face it -- skill -- than the written word. Usually.

But considering the popularity and effectiveness of visual content in marketing today, you can't just afford to throw in the towel.

That's why we decided to take all the pain and suffering out of infographic creation. Seriously -- don't give up just yet. You, too, can create infographics that are totally free, professional-looking, high-quality, and completed in under an hour. I'm going to prove it. First things first:

Download our 15 free infographic templates here.

Then, all you have to do is provide the content to use inside them. Easy as that! In fact, I'm going to show you just how easy it is by taking one of our 15 infographic templates in PowerPoint (pictured above) and creating my own, customized infographic with it. Then, I'll explain exactly what I did so you get a sense of how easy it really is. 

Would you rather watch this tutorial instead of read it? Check out the video below:

Click here to download your free infographic templates.

How to Create Infographics for Free in Under an Hour

Step 1: Collect Your Data/Content, and Choose Your Desired Template

Your first step is to collect the data/content you'll be using to populate your infographic, and choose an infographic template appropriate for representing that data. The important thing is to choose a template that specifically works for the type of data set/content you want to present. As you saw pictured above, you can download our 15 infographic templates in PowerPoint and choose whichever template you'd like. Some of your template options here include a timeline, flowchart, side-by-side comparison, and a data-driven infographic.

You can either collect third-party data or use your own original data. If you use third-party data, just be sure you properly cite your sources -- just like in any other good piece of content.

To keep your infographic uncluttered by a ton of different source URLs, a great way to cite your sources is to include a simple URL at the bottom of your infographic that links to a page on your site. It can also list the individual stats used in your infographic, and their sources -- such as the landing page to the full offer on which you're basing this free infographic.

That way, your infographic looks clean and professional, yet people will still be able to access the sources no matter where the infographic gets shared or embedded. It may also even drive visitors back to your site.

For the sake of time (remember, our mission is to create an infographic in under an hour), I'm going to create an infographic based on a compilation of steps and best practices we've put together in our new guide, How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign in 2018. For this, I'm going to pick the "World's Greatest Timeline" infographic template from our collection of infographic templates, which is helpful for my data set since it outlines each step of the campaign creation process in order.

This template is pictured below, and full of opportunities to customize:

free-infographic-template.png

Step 2: Customize Your Infographic

Obviously, this is the most time-consuming part -- but it's also the most fun! Simply come up with a catchy title, plug in your data/content, and adjust your font sizes and formatting. Feel free to switch up the graphics and colors, too, so they're relevant to your brand and the data you're providing. For other templates, you can use the simple graphs and charts provided by PowerPoint to create things like the bar graph or the pie chart. (Note: Download our free infographic templates for a cheat sheet for using PowerPoint's various features and tools.)

To customize the look of the infographic even more, you might add or change up the colors or font styles.

Finally, I included a link to my source (which can be found here), as well as the HubSpot logo so people know who created the infographic if it gets shared in social media or embedded on other websites -- which is definitely something you want, since one of the main benefits of creating infographics is their shareability.

That's it! This whole thing took me under an hour to put together -- much shorter than it would've taken me if I'd started from scratch (not to mention more professional looking ... and less expensive than hiring a designer). Here it is:

  free-infographic-template-custom.png

Share This Image On Your Site

<p><strong>Please include attribution to blog.hubspot.com with this graphic.</strong><br /><br /><a href='https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/create-infographics-with-free-powerpoint-templates'><img src='https://blog.hubspot.com/hs-fs/hubfs/free-infographic-template-custom.png?t=1519083478566&width=1138&height=3428&name=free-infographic-template-custom.png' alt='free-infographic-template-custom' width='660' border='0' /></a></p>

Step 3: Add an Embed Code and Pinterest Button, and Publish It

The only thing left to do is to publish and promote your awesome new infographic. As I mentioned earlier, we recommend using your blog to publish it (including your list of sources), including a Pinterest button for visitors to easily "pin" your infographic on Pinterest, and create and add an embed code for visitors to share it on their own websites and blogs, as we did above.

download 15 free infographic templates



from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/create-infographics-with-free-powerpoint-templates

How to Know If Your Content Marketing Just Isn’t Working

Content is king.

And content marketing in 2018 remains a brilliant and cost-effective method for engaging with leads and customers, spreading brand awareness, and getting around the increasing use of ad-blockers.

Whether it’s an email newsletter, social media post, or blog on your own or someone else’s website, people want to see your stuff. They accept it. Approve it. Whitelist it. Because it’s the user him or herself clicking on it, there are no concerns of spam complaints, or annoying the recipient, or ending up in the junk folder.

It’s popular, powerful, and for all intents and purposes, perfect. If you’re online in any professional capacity, you’re already using it.

Google “content marketing” and you’ll uncover millions (78,200,000 when I did it just now) of results, everything from definitions to how-to guides to case studies. You can quickly and easily pick up the how, why, when, what, and where of content marketing. Every online marketing personality and business has their own advanced guide or step-by-step guide, allowing anyone to grasp, experiment, and eventually master the subtle art of content marketing.

“Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left.” ~ Seth Godin

Strikingly, the only thing you won’t see much of in those millions upon millions of links is how to know when your content marketing isn’t working.

Because there’s a lot more to successful content marketing than just traffic and clicks, and a hell of a lot more than just likes, shares, and retweets. Those are simply vanity metrics that don’t tell you anything of importance by themselves…although it sure does feel nice to see people are loving your stuff.

Now, vanity metrics can be used to find actionable insight, but that’s the subject of another post on another day. Suffice to say, if you’re gauging the success of your content campaigns on likes and shares alone, you’re doing it wrong and wasting your time and energy.

Instead of focusing on the vanity metric, use it to inform your marketing decisions. Dig deeper. Find the corresponding actionable metric.

Content marketing is an active endeavor, and most of the hard work starts after you hit publish. It’s not about reaching people; it’s about reaching the right people.

How do you know when you’re not doing that?

Look for these five red flags before and during the push.

Content Marketing 101

But before we get to that, let’s review some basics.

If you remember only one thing about content marketing, make it this: write your strategy down. Be explicit, detailed, and clear about goals (use SMART goals and stretch goals if applicable), tactics, channels, and how you’re going to measure success.

What will “success” look like? How will you measure return-on-investment? Make sure you and everyone on your team knows and understands.

How often will your marketing team meet? The most successful meet regularly to evaluate, tweak, and manage as necessary. Your content marketing should not be set-it-and-forget-it.

Target your ideal customers. Segment your audience. A/B test. Monitor your efforts. Create evergreen content. Measure the return-on-investment to maximize your budget. Look at your competitors and industry to see what’s working, what’s not, and what others are and are not doing.

In their 2018 annual report on content marketing, CMI discovered that only 38% of B2C businesses have a documented strategy. That’s appallingly low.

Document your strategy. Do that, and you’re ahead of 62% of the competition.

Diversify your tactics and channels. The same report found that B2C marketers:

  • Use an average of five social media platforms, with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram the top five choices.
  • Use and average of four formats for distribution, with social media, email, blogs, in-person events, and print the five most popular.
  • Use an average of five different types of content, with social media posts, pre-produced videos, illustrations/photos, infographics, and interactive tools like quizzes and calculators rounding out the top five most used.

The tricks and tips and hacks for better content marketing are many. Read some. Read many.

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” ~ Craig Davis, former Chief Creative Officer at J. Walter Thompson

And that brings us back full-circle. Knowing when your content marketing isn’t working is as important as knowing when it is…if not more so.

How can you tell if you’re on the wrong track and heading in the wrong direction?

Watch for (and respond!) to these five signposts along the way.

Signpost #1: The Wrong People Are Signing Up

Consider this hypothetical scenario: you launch an aggressive content campaign, complete with blog and social media posts, videos, and infographics, to promote your new SaaS product launch.

Everything has a rock-solid call-to-action inviting people to a free 7-day trial. They click the CTA button, are transported to a well-crafted landing page, and sign up.

That’s an undeniable content marketing win, right?

Wrong. It could be a win…depending on who is signing up. Numbers alone don’t answer that question. Even if you’re looking at an insane 60% conversion rate, it’s meaningless if those signing up are the wrong people.

So who are the “wrong” people? Anyone that’s not within your target market. They may be interested in your content for a wide variety of reasons – research, curiosity, education – but they’re not necessarily interested in your product or service.

Now, far be it for me to suggest that you shouldn’t ever target outside your market. I’m not, and you should. Sometimes your best customers down the road are the ones you’re not even considering at the moment.

A portion of signups outside your target audience is not only nothing to worry about, but a positive and worthwhile goal.

That said, if 50%, 60%, or 70%+ of your leads are falling outside of those you were targeting – wrong geographic location, industry, background, profession, income level, interests, or whatever – something’s wrong. If the majority of those signing up for your email newsletters, gated content, or free trials are nowhere near your ideal fit, your content marketing isn’t working.

Before you write a single line of blog post or send a single tweet, you need to be crystal-clear on your ideal customer. Get to know him or her. You’ve no doubt heard about the importance of buyer or customer personas. Build and use them to guide your content efforts. Do that, and the likelihood of the “wrong” people coming to your content goes down exponentially.

Why? Because a detailed persona allows you to reverse engineer your content specifically for them: their wants, needs, pain points, values, and more. That’s more than half the battle.

If you’re just starting out, this is a bit more difficult, but not impossible. If you have existing customers and sales data to work with, though, you can zero in on the best of the best. According to Duct Tape Marketing:

  1. Identify your most profitable customers.
  2. Identify those who refer within that group.
  3. Identify the common traits and characteristics within that small group.
  4. Create a customer persona based on that data.

That’s your ideal, most profitable customer. Create content for him or her. Share it on the platforms he or she uses and spends the most time on.

Social platforms typically have built-in capabilities, such as Twitter Analytics audience insights dashboard.

If you’re targeting English-speaking men over the age of 50, and your Analytics report shows most of your visitors are females under the age of 25 and from Italy, all those conversions – sign-ups, downloads, or otherwise – probably aren’t going to amount to much with your bottom line.

The sooner you know that, the sooner you can fix it. If the wrong people are signing up or downloading your lead magnets, you have to change direction. And fast.

Know exactly who you’re targeting, and give them exactly what they want and where they want it. Then monitor to make sure it’s drawing them in.

Signpost #2: Incompatible Backlink Profile

Backlinks are still important for your search engine optimization. In fact, many would argue that they’re the key to your overall SEO success. Quality backlinks from respected sites is a surefire indicator to Google and the rest of the search engine overlords that your content is valuable, useful, and worth a read. It’s a vote of confidence.

And that can translate into a big jump on the SERPs. The closer you are to that coveted top spot, the better the chance someone will click on your link. Increased traffic means increased leads which means increased revenue. Google is happy, the users are happy, and you’re happy.

Backlinks and SEO go hand-in-hand. But backlinks can also tell you if there’s something amiss with your content marketing.

Imagine if your backlink profile – a report on which external sites are linking to your stuff – is populated with websites you wouldn’t expect your target market to visit. Good? Bad?

It depends on your criteria. If those sites are quality sites, those backlinks are still going to give you a healthy SEO boost. That’s good.

However, it may be evidence that your content is not resonating with your ideal customers. And that’s very, very bad. Your content, after all, is how you introduce yourself to them, educated them on your products and services, and persuade them to open their wallets. If it’s missing that mark, you’re failing at the marketing game. It’s the difference between leaving a flyer on hundreds of windshields in a mall parking lot, and hand-delivering to prospects you know would benefit from what you have to offer.

Luckily, generating a backlink profile and conducting a link audit is fast and easy, and there are many tools to assist with it.

To get a basic list, log in to Google Search Console. Click “Search Traffic” on the left-hand menu, and then select “Links to Your Site”. You’ll get a quick n’ dirty report with the total number of links, and the sites who link the most.

Now, you can determine if the sites linking back to your content are within your “demographic”. Some you might recognize by name, others you may have to visit and evaluate.

For a more detailed analysis, you can try a dedicated backlink tool. Some of the best include:

If your target is recent university graduates, and you’re receiving backlinks from retirement agencies, there’s a mismatch. You’re not producing the right content to connect with those just entering the workforce.

If you’ve done your homework, you should have detailed customer personas. You should know not only who they are, but what they need, and where they are. Too many people outside those parameters linking to your content is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not going to generate massive sales and revenue.

The sites linking to you are an indicator of who your content is reaching. If you’re targeting professionals, but most of your links are coming from gossip sites, stop. If you’re after grandparents, but Millennial Now is your biggest external source, halt.

Check your link profile. Ensure most of them are coming from sites your target audience would frequent to increase your exposure with them.

If not, re-evaluate. Switch tracks. Create more of what they want, need, and desire. Align your content with your customer.

Signpost #3: No One Is Sharing

Yes, I did tell you at the beginning of this post that shares and likes are a vanity metric. That’s still true. But do you know what else is true?

Great content gets shared.

If people are reading your content but not sharing it, then you’re not producing quality content and your marketing is failing. Period.

This is especially true with influencers in your niche. If you create enough fantastic content, eventually some influencers in your market will share that content. If they aren’t, that’s trouble.

Think about your own online behavior. When you read or encounter a great blog post, infographic, or video, you share it with your own fans, followers, friends, and family. It’s almost automatic. Every platform has the ability built-in, and third-party tools like Hootsuite and sharing plugins make it effortless and convenient.

We read or watch it, we instinctively share it. You want your content to be shared. You need your content to be shared.

Every time you create something, you want it to go viral. That kind of reach and exposure is the dream. While it may not happen for you, consistent social sharing increases your exposure exponentially. One retweet puts your content in front of a whole new set of eyes. It gets people talking about you and your brand. And the cycle repeats if only one person from that new group shares it again, and so on.

First, you need to track how many shares you’re getting with your existing content.

Tools like Hootsuite can monitor your mentions across social media, Google Alerts can notify you when your tracked keywords and phrases are used, Likealyzer analyzes your Facebook Page, Snaplytics provides data on both Snapchat and Instagram Stories, BuzzSumo shows you how content on your site is doing on social media, Google Analytics can report on how much traffic to your site is coming from social channels (under Acquisition > Social > Overview), SharesCount displays social shares based on individual URLs, and all-in-one management platforms like Sprout Social can monitor most of the major platforms from one dashboard.

If you have no shares, you have some serious work to do. If you have some shares, more is always better. If you’re happy with the shares you’re seeing, you’re selling yourself and your content short.

“It’s not the best content that wins. It’s the best promoted content that wins.” ~Andy Crestodina

More shares, more exposure. More exposure, more leads. More leads, more conversions. So, do everything you can to increase the amount of social sharing you’re already seeing:

  • Produce only incredibly high quality and valuable content. Share nothing but the best you have to offer.
  • Spend more time on your headline than you do on the rest of the piece. Your headline needs to hook them and force them to click, read, or watch.
  • Write on topics that are both relevant and timely. What’s trending in your niche?
  • Try tools like Click-To-Tweet or a scrolling share bar like AddThis to remove friction and allow your readers to share what and when they want.
  • Make it easy to share with conveniently located share buttons at the top and/or side and/or bottom.
  • Ask them to share. Remind them to share.
  • Use compelling visuals.
  • Create evergreen content.

Increasing your social shares should be part of your content marketing strategy regardless of how many you’re currently seeing. Step 1: monitor your shares. Step 2: increase your shares.

None, few, or lots, more is better.

Signpost #4: Your Leads Aren’t Talking About Your Content

This one is reactive. You won’t know until you start generating some quality leads. It requires asking or surveying them about where and how they heard about you, your brand, and your products.

It might be a simple question in your email series or while talking to them on the phone, or a follow-up online survey, or a fill-in field on an opt-in form. “How did you hear about us?” is profitable and relevant data to collect.

The answers should be varied if you’ve diversified your marketing efforts. Some might say it was a referral from a friend, another might mention an online review or recommendation, while others may have clicked a PPC ad, or read a newspaper feature, or googled your targeted keyword.

But some of them will hopefully talk about your content. In a perfect world, they’ll bring it up without any solicitation from you, choosing to mention how much they loved your blog post on X, or how helpful they found your infographic on Y. That’s when you know your content marketing is crushing it.

Great content with great promotion should elicit great (and unsolicited) feedback.

“What you do after you create your content is what truly counts.” ~Gary Vaynerchuk

If none of your leads are talking about your content, that’s a major red flag. If none of them mention “content” when you ask, that’s a neon signpost. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Ask. And if the answer is anything and everything but content, you know you need to head back to the drawing board. Don’t stop whatever is working, of course, but tidy up your content efforts at the same time. It’s just too lucrative a tactic to allow it to fail so miserably.

Ask yourself: what do my ideal customers most need? What do they struggle with? How can I better/simplify/improve their lives?

Answer those questions and more with the content you create, and tongues will be wagging.

Signpost #5: Your Leads Want What You Can’t Do

Lead generation is a major part of any business plan. A steady stream of leads going in at the top of your sales funnel means a steady – albeit smaller – stream of customers and advocates exiting at the bottom.

But all leads are not created equal.

Picture this: the leads that are reaching out to you are asking about things you can’t or don’t do. Once or twice is an anomaly. But if it happens on a regular basis then your content is likely at fault.

Leads asking for something other than what you do is often a symptom of creating content that is not directly tied to the business.

If you’re in the analytics business, you should write about analytics. If you produce quality content on SEO as an extension of that, don’t be surprised if people contact you asking for SEO advice and solutions.

If leads are asking about things you can’t, don’t, or won’t do, you aren’t creating the right content for your business. Content marketing is supposed to introduce you as an expert and authority in your field. It’s supposed to initiate a discussion between you and those in need of what you have or do.

In your content efforts, stick to only those topics and sub-topics that are directly related to your product or service. Write only about those subjects. Talk, share, comment, and engage only in those areas.

Everything else is just noise.

“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” ~Doug Kessler

Conclusion

No traffic. No clicks. No leads. No ROI. Those are a few common reasons your content marketing isn’t working for you. Those are easy to recognize and relatively easy to correct. Jay Baer suggests four categories to fix a broken campaign:

  1. Fix your topic(s).
  2. Fix your amplification and promotion.
  3. Fix your format(s).
  4. Fix your creators.

But content marketing can fail in many less obvious ways. It’s your job to watch, monitor, and manage those silent killers.

The five discussed here are far from exhaustive. The list of potential content assassins is long. You’ve got to stay vigilant.

It is possible to get and stay on the right track heading in the right direction.

Over to you. What other ways have you found your content marketing falling short? What hiccups have you stumbled upon in your marketing? What red flags are you always on the look for?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.



from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/content-marketing-isnt-working/

What Key Marketing Metrics Matter for Your Website?

Synchronizing your website with digital campaigns offers a holistic view of the effect your marketing efforts have on revenue. We talked about the trifecta of these channels on “How to Measure Digital Marketing Metrics and ROI,” but here we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of website metrics specifically. Now, I love me some numbers, but it’s sometimes a little boring to be talking metrics, am I right? Instead, we’re going to approach your website in a way most people got their start in business: a lemonade stand!

This blog will help guide you through some key marketing metrics for planning and nurturing ROI through your website.

Now let’s squeeze some lemons!

Website Visitors = Thirsty People

SpongeBob Giphy

Audience analysis is arguably the most important task informed by your website metrics. These metrics answer the question: “am I reaching my ideal customer?” A quick glance at age, gender, location, and language can tell you if something is up. You don’t have the resources yet to sell your lemonade to someone a couple of towns over. So, focus your efforts on what you can impact now. It’s important to look at devices and tech and interests. Are the majority of your visitors using their phones to look at your website? Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and quick to load. Are you hitting the right age range but not converting? Look at their interests and check if they align with your services or products. These metrics help confirm if your website visitors reflect the buyer persona you created.

Let’s differentiate visitors to visits with users, sessions, and pageviews. Users are unique visitors that have come to your site, which in itself is made up of new visitors and returning visitors who have come for the second time or more. Sessions are the total number of visits to your site while pageviews are the number of pages visited. Let’s say a neighbor visits your lemonade stand (let’s call the stand “My Main Squeeze”) three times and each time debates between four different menu items. On a website that would result in one returning user, three sessions, and 12 page views. How do you determine an engaged user and session? Take a look at the average session duration and pages/session. If most visitors are spending less than five seconds and not visiting other pages, then it’s likely an accidental click or immediate loss of interest, making your other metrics less impressive. That’s the equivalent of people walking past My Main Squeeze without even looking at you or saying hello back. Rude!

Site Content = Menu Items

You have your visitors, now how are you going to retain them? Let’s talk about site content! If you don’t have content your visitors find valuable, then no one is going to stay. Someone might not want regular lemonade but is interested in trying the brownies, sliced fruit, or spicy mango lemonade. Page metrics show you the most viewed pages and average time spent, along with the least viewed pages. By analyzing the behavior flow report, you’ll be able to see how far down into your website they dig and the interactions they make along the way. Take a look at these metrics: session duration, bounce rate, exit rate, and exit pages. These tell you how much time visitors are spending on your site and at which point the pages turn them away. Look at those failing pages and ascertain a reason as to why they are causing your visitors to bounce. Is this page loading too slowly? Does it lack the content the visitor expected? You can find out by looking at search terms and see precisely what they are looking for. Perhaps the content is on your website but not easily accessible. Find the weak spots in your site, test and fix them to keep your visitors engaged.

Acquisition = Bringing in Customers

How did people find My Main Squeeze? Maybe it’s word of mouth, the sign with directions you posted a couple of blocks away, or your choice of location. Find what is bringing you the most traffic and capitalize on it! You can find the answers under the traffic metrics channels, source/medium, and referrals. Channels show you sessions brought on by social media, search engines, email and more. Source/Medium offer the same insight but specific to website or service. Referrals are as you could have guessed: where your website was referred from. Are you running several paid campaigns across these channels that lead to your website? Dig even further with acquisition metrics like search query, AdWords campaigns, and URL parameters to see which campaigns are driving the most results. By looking at this information, you will be able to determine where to focus your digital marketing spend. You might learn that you get more customers from cute signs you put up over sending your little brother with samples down the block. Put up more signs and tell your brother to stop eating the samples and help out with the new rush your signs brought in!

Conversions = Buying Lemonade

Lemonade Stand Raining Cash

With so many metrics to measure on strengthening your website, how does this all apply to selling more lemonade? With a robust, well-rounded website and digital marketing strategy, you’ll have a better chance of converting visitors into customers. Saving the best for last, be sure to set up different goals—such as subscribing to your newsletter, registering for an event, filling out a contact form, or making a purchase—and attribute value for each conversion, be it a transaction or future lead. These metrics measure the end goal of your website: to generate awareness and revenue. As you continue to work on your website, you will see changes in goal completions. What on your website is producing the most value? Explore the funnel visualization and reverse goal path functions and follow the path to the point of consumption. Where did they start, where did they go and how did they end up converting? If something is working, keep doing it and think about how to make it even better! By selling your customers on the brownies, it assists in the sale of lemonade to wash it down. This can also show you if they stopped short of a goal completion—another way to improve the user experience. Did a potential customer stop short of a lemonade purchase because you didn’t have correct change? Keep more change handy! Make the process as smooth as possible to remove time for doubt.

Conclusion

So, what’s the main takeaway from this blog? Finesse your website to squeeze out as many goal completions and conversions as possible. With some good old-fashioned marketing know-how, My Main Squeeze visitors will have a better chance of flowing through the funnel and sipping lemonade. Take a look at the metrics I’ve shared here and start testing. What other metrics and insights do you have in mind when looking at your website? Share them in the comments below!

The post What Key Marketing Metrics Matter for Your Website? appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.



from Marketo Marketing Blog https://blog.marketo.com/2018/02/key-marketing-metrics-matter-website.html

We Read 9 Self-Help Books So You Don’t Have To

This summer, I decided to really give the whole “be-present-in-the-moment” thing a shot.

I wanted to take this seriously, so I decided to check out a couple self-help books dedicated to the idea of “living in the now.”

And here’s the thing: some of the ideas, I could really, really get behind. But others didn't resonate with me as deeply. And that's okay.

Self-help books aren’t meant to be mindlessly devoured and followed diligently, like a cookbook recipe for happiness. You can cherry pick the lessons that fit your life.

Which is why we’ve gone ahead and done the hard work for you. Here, we’ve curated a list of nine self-help books to help you achieve professional and personal growth -- along with our biggest takeaways from each.

1. 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier Youby Brett Blumenthal (2012)

This year, my New Year’s resolution was to be healthy.

Originally, this meant a complete lifestyle overhaul: replacing meals with kale juices, waking up at 5 a.m. for runs, avoiding all contact with sugar, becoming so proficient at SoulCycle that the instructor would ask if I’ve ever considered teaching on the side …

As the month progressed, being aggressively healthy became more about moderation. Occasionally choosing the salad instead of the burger. Drinking more water. Cycling exactly twice a week -- in the back of the class, dripping and (usually) pretty defeated.

My quest for big changes became a search for small ones.

This is the main premise of Blumenthal’s book, which points out that all big changes start with small ones. Becoming a healthier person doesn't come from making one big change. It comes from small changes, like choosing salads instead of burgers, eating a little less sugar, and downsizing your portions.

In her book, Blumenthal challenges you to make one small change each week, targeted at improving your nutrition, fitness, mental well-being, or green living. At the end of each week, she gives you a weekly changes checklist, so you know how to integrate these changes into your lifestyle.

Even though many of Blumenthal’s changes seem small (e.g. take a multivitamin, enjoy time alone), Blumenthal promises that at the end of the year, you will have fully transformed your life: you will be happier, healthier, more confident, more productive, and more positive.

Her book encourages holistic changes -- improving your mental, physical, and spiritual lifestyle, one small, attainable step at a time.

The Big Takeaway: Slow and steady still wins the race. Tackle your health and lifestyle goals one small change at a time. If your New Year's resolution seems overwhelming and unattainable, encourage yourself to focus on one little change per week: get more sleep, practice five-minutes of meditation each morning, or take a daily multivitamin. Then, all you have to do is repeat for 51 more weeks -- easy, right?

2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (2012)

When you woke up this morning, did you do anything remotely different? Did you decide you’d start your morning with a glass of lemon water, even though you usually drink coffee first? Did you sit down to watch an episode of Game of Thrones, even though you always watch Fox News? Did you tie your shoes differently, just for fun?

I’m betting you didn’t do any of these things -- you were probably on autopilot, going through your normal routine without taking the time to weigh your options or consciously make any decisions.

What you do in the morning, what you do throughout the day -- it’s mostly just habit.

In this compelling book, Charles Duhigg examines why habits form, and how we can break them. He examines a range of different scenarios where big decisions were made, from MLK and the American civil rights movement, to the creation of Starbucks, drawing upon scientific research to bolster his claims.

Ultimately, Duhigg explains that our goals can only be met if we change our underlying habits, and we can only change our habits if we understand why they form in the first place.

The Big Takeaway: Your life rests on a firm foundation of habit. If you’re unhappy with any aspect of your life, your biggest opportunity to create lasting change lies in your ability to change your habits. For example, Duhigg wrote about one woman who decided to quit smoking. By breaking this one keystone habit, a chain of events occurred: first, she began jogging more, which eventually changed her eating habits, her sleeping habits, and even her spending habits.

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with your big aspirations, start by changing one habit that inhibits you from reaching that goal, and let new habits drive you from there.

3. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life ... And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven (2017)

In 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven gave a Commencement speech to the University of Texas at Austin. He talked about the ten lessons he learned during six months of Navy Seal training, and how anyone can use those same lessons to change the world. The video of his speech went viral, encouraging McRaven to write a book based on those same principles, as well as additional stories from his naval career. According to McRaven, here are a few ways to change the world:

  1. Make your bed first thing in the morning, which reminds you little things in life matter.
  2. Admit you can't do it alone, and learn to ask for help.
  3. Don’t be afraid of failure or setbacks.
  4. Be your best in the darkest moment, like a SEAL is taught to be his best when he’s under the keel, at the darkest moment of his mission.

The Big Takeaway: The reason many people think they can’t “change the world” is because that sounds unrealistic and grandiose. But McRaven argues that you can change a life -- your own, and other people’s -- through small gestures, little accomplishments, and a sincere inclination to hang onto hope at all costs.

4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey (1989)

Not only has Stephen Covey’s book sold more than 25 million copies, but Time also listed it as one of “The 25 Most Influential Business Management Books.” Bill Clinton even invited Covey to counsel him on the book's principles during his presidency.

25 years after publication, the wisdom behind the seven habits Covey presents still holds true.

While I won’t spoil all these habits, I will say that Covey separates his seven habits into three categories:

  1. Private victory: learning to prioritize your goals, visualize your dreams, and act proactively rather than reactively.
  2. Public victory: learning how to collaborate and compromise, empathize with others, and become a team player and a leader.
  3. Renewal: learning how to use spirituality, meditation, and even service to maintain these lessons over your lifetime.

Covey provides you with the tools to adapt to change, and the power to reach your best professional and personal self.

The Big Takeaway: Covey came up with two terms in his book: “abundance mentality,” which applies to someone who is not competitive when it comes to success and believes success is more attainable with others' involvement; and “scarcity mentality,” which applies to people who think success is only possible if they do it alone.

Covey posits that the most successful people are the “abundance mentality” people: those who are able to celebrate the success of other people, and even share recognition and responsibility for their own successes. So if you want to be successful, don’t be competitive. Instead, learn to use the people around you as resources, delegate responsibility, and work as a team player.

5. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence - and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk (2018)

If nothing else, this book offers some pretty unique arguments next time your dad asks why you don’t have a corporate (read: full-time) job yet.

But honestly, in 2018 the arguments for pursuing a less conventional, more entrepreneurial career are valid: many people have found success by creating their own alternative paths.

But since these paths don’t follow any blueprints, it can be tricky (and scary) to figure out where and how to start.

In his book, four-time New York Times bestselling author Vaynerchuk outlines exactly how to become a successful person without following a corporate path. His book provides useful and tangible advice on how to excel on social media platforms to establish and sustain a powerful personal brand -- no matter who you are. Whether you’re interested in becoming the next YouTube superstar, Instagram influencer, iTunes podcaster, or Spotify musician, his book offers strategic advice drawn from other successful influencers’ real experiences.

The Big Takeaway: This book isn’t a “get-rich-quick” scheme. Instead, it’s a guide that shows you how other people have become successful doing what they love, and how you can, too. It encourages you to dream bigger: whether you’re a plumber (in which case, “your pillar should be Facebook,” writes Vaynerchuk) or a podcaster (like John Lee Dumas, who followed Vaynerchuk’s advice and is now the creator of one of the top-ranked business podcasts on iTunes, which grosses around $200,000 per month). Ultimately, there's a social media platform and strategy for everyone: you just have to find it and put it into action.

6. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936)

I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of this book. It’s one of the best-selling books of all time, and was named number 19 on Time’s list of 100 most influential books.

To be honest, if this was written in 2018 and preached things like, “fundamental techniques in handling people,” “six ways to make people like you,” “how to win people to your way of thinking,” and, “how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment,” I’d think it was a bunch of nonsense.

But, this book was published in 1936. And it’s still listed under Amazon’s best-sellers, 82 years later. So I’m thinking author Dale Carnegie is probably onto something.

Some of the advice is simple: smile, say someone else’s name when talking to her -- and some is more complex, like, “let the other person feel your idea is his or hers,” which might take some practice.

The Big Takeaway: Here’s the gist of why Carnegie’s advice endures -- people like to talk about themselves. Everyone wants to feel special, understood, and appreciated. If you make people feel this way, they like you better. So whether you’re the leader of a big marketing firm or in your first full-time position, learn to listen to the people around you, ask them meaningful questions about themselves, praise them for their good ideas, empathize with their point of view even during an argument, and remain humble. If you make people feel special, they’ll live up to the great reputation you’ve created for them.

7. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown (2017)

To me, the title itself sounded like a contradiction: find a way to belong, and find a way to stand alone? How do those two things fit together?

Brown argues that you can’t have one without the other: you can’t learn how to belong anywhere until you learn who you are and how you should fit. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone … true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity.”

In other words, how can you authentically fit in to a group or community if you’re not being your true self? And how can you be your true self if you don’t learn who you are without the pressures or expectations of your community?

Our culture today doesn’t make “belonging” easy. Brown says that we often strive to be perfect, pleasing, non-confrontational, and, as a result, quiet. We are terrified of braving what she calls “the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism.”

While being quiet might make for less complicated relationships, it also makes for less authentic ones.

The Big Takeaway: The first important lesson is that all of us have an innate need to connect with others (something Brown found in her research). But making connections is hard. Brown suggests reaching out and finding connections with those who are different from you. She also advises searching for truth in these relationships, within yourself and in others. If that sounds a bit too much like yoga-guru-jargon, it really just means being honest about who you are even at the risk of confrontation, and encouraging other people to be honest with you. She recommends learning how to truly listen, ask deeper-level questions, and always be “more curious than defensive.”

8. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson (2016)

Have you ever heard someone say something overly positive -- “It’ll all work out, never give up on your dreams, you are a superstar!” -- and thought to yourself, Sometimes, it doesn’t all just work out … sometimes, life isn’t fair, and I wish we’d all just be honest about that.

You would probably get along pretty well with superstar blogger and author Mark Manson.

I’ll admit, at first, his advice can seem a bit jarring. Growing up in a society in which positivity and having big dreams are encouraged, it was weird to read, “F**k positivity. Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it."

But his book has sold over two million copies, and this rare and unflinching honesty is probably why.

Manson provides research-backed arguments to say we can improve our lives if we learn to accept our limitations, our flaws, and the inherent unfairness of life. We can’t all be superstars. He writes that we will be happier, healthier, and more authentic, if we learn to accept when we’ve failed and re-direct our dreams, rather than inappropriately believing that we should be a winner just because we try.

Although it sounds rather grim, maybe it’s not. Maybe the person who hasn’t become the next Justin Bieber after ten years of effort should reach for a new dream, because likely, the only alternative to that is resentment and frustration, and there’s nothing positive about that.

The Big Takeway: Manson explains -- in his own very elegant way -- that there are only so many things we can “give a f**k about,” and we need to try our best to limit that list. We spread ourselves too thin, which does us a disservice. It makes us miss out on the important things. For instance, I bet you care about having a job you love, and becoming rich. But what if I asked you to choose? Manson says you should choose -- if you want to do something you love, focus all your time, energy, and effort only on that.

9. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero (2013)

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and thought, Is this really the best I can do, and is this really the best life I can lead? If you have, you’ll appreciate Sincero’s journey, which started that same way.

Her book is all about learning how to create the life you desire -- a meaningful, happy, purposeful life, however that looks to you.

As Sincero writes, “You may have heard stories about people who had these major breakthroughs … they found a lump or got their electricity turned off … when suddenly they woke up, transformed. But you don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom to start crawling out of your hole. All you have to do is make the decision.”

If you’re unhappy, Sincero will inspire you to change your life. Plus, she won’t allow for any of your usual excuses, like not having the time (to which Sincero would reply, “you always have the time.”)

Besides delving into how to change your life, Sincero discusses where we learn these excuses (childhood, society), and why we’re sometimes more afraid to go after what we want than just accept failure from the start.

The Big Takeaway: Enough with the excuses. Enough with the “maybe next year” or “that’s for someone else” or “I’m not meant for that kind of (job, relationship, life).” Sincero explains that you have more time than you think, and you need to give yourself that push (“your life depends on it,” Sincero urges). So get started -- not just with the effort, but with the attitude. As many of her readers have praised, Sincero’s book led them to their “destiny” because it created a voice in their heads that told them they deserved to go after that job, that soulmate, or that hobby. And it reminded them how massively important it is to live your most fulfilling and meaningful life -- now.



from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/self-help-books

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Infographic: 14 Ways to Get Backlinks Without Begging

Are you producing lots of great content on a regular basis but still not seeing organic traffic?

The issue may be a lack of external sites linking to you, also known as backlinks. While SEO has evolved over the years, backlinks still remain as one of the most important SEO ranking factors.

What you shouldn’t do is get involved in shady link schemes. This is known as black hat SEO, and it is unethical and ineffective over the long run.

The key to getting backlinks in a sustainable way, without begging for them, is to continually produce high-quality content that people want to link to and share.

So, when you’re thinking of your link building strategies, keep these 14 in mind and try any or all of them. Give each a lot of effort and measure the results appropriately.

Click here if you’d prefer to skip this list and just go straight to the infographic.

1. Original Research

Conducting research and surveys isn’t cheap in time or cost, but outlets like Hubspot and ConversionXL routinely conduct and publish research findings because they generate backlinks.

Hubspot frequently publishes blog posts like this

My friend Brian Dean has also published research-based blog posts:

And has seen a lot of backlinks from the blog post:

If you prefer to not do research yourself or hire a researcher, you can reach out to other companies that conduct research and publish it in PDFs. Ask them for the PDF and if you can write a short blog post that summarizes the findings, or summarizes parts of it, in exchange for a link to their landing page to download the full report. You’ll still get a lot of links and social traffic, even if the data isn’t yours. You’re simply reporting on it.

After all, that’s what all science publications (i.e. ScienceDaily) do everyday. They write reports and summarizations of the latest scientific research, and cite the study in their article.

When your article is ready to go, it may help to put something like this in the headline:

  • New Research
  • New Findings
  • New Data

This way, people browsing on Google or social will see that it’s research-based, and they’ll want to check out your article.

Finally, when you release original data, reach out to some companies you have relationships with that may be interested in sharing your research. You can write to them with a simple request – here’s the research we did, here’s the article of the research, maybe it would come in handy for you at some point in the future.

Bonus points if you create an infographic based on your original research.

2. Create Long-Form Guides

More and more publishers are cutting their word counts short and producing content with few words. You can stand out and get backlinks by creating 10x content and giving it away for free.

This involves finding something useful that people will want to read, examining the competition, and creating something 10x better. You (or a writer you hire) will write about 15,000 words, and split the organization up into different chapters.

I’ve created many of these guides and published them Quick Sprout.

Ramit Sethi produced a guide to personal finance and now he ranks #1 on Google for the query personal finance guide.

Brian Dean wrote a keyword research guide:

Guess where this ranks on Google

I’d recommend you take a look at some of these guides so you can get an idea of the breadth of undertaking for producing a 10x guide.

These 10x guides are expensive (writing and design time) and time-consuming, but they can pay off in the form of backlinks to your site.

3. Interview an Influencer

Influencer marketing is all the rage right now. Most brands want to figure out how to get a big celebrity or athlete to endorse their product. Or better yet, be business partners with them.

But there’s another strategy you can take if you’re interested in getting backlinks. This involves interviewing an influencer to get their knowledge that would help your audience. If you don’t have connections, you’ll have to be good at email outreach and be a skilled people-person.

If you are granted an interview, it’s important to come prepared with thoughtful questions, and have respect for their time. Most influencers probably won’t want to chat for more than 15 minutes, but if you’re a skilled interviewer who asks good questions that should be more than enough time to get valuable information from them.

You can publish your interview either in a video format or via a transcript. If you can, I’d opt for a video if you can make sure it’s high quality. If not, stick with a transcript of the interview.

4. Create an Infographic

Kissmetrics has produced lots of infographics that have brought us a ton of backlinks. We had our own in-house designer create the infographic, but if you don’t have your own designer you can hire one through Upwork.

The most difficult part of the infographic process is brainstorming a topic that’s a good fit for the infographic, then creating the copy and graphs to go in the infographic. A great designer will take a lot of the weight off your shoulders. Just come up with a topic, produce the content, and let the designer work their magic.

Don’t forget to add an embed code at the bottom to make it easy for people to put it on their website. A lot of other sites may just download your infographic and put it on their site. This is why it’s useful to have your logo on the infographic – so even if you don’t get the backlink, you still get your brand some exposure around the web.

5. Create a Quiz

Much like infographics, quizzes are popular and get a lot of shares. If you create on your site, you can add an embed code and get backlinks just like you would do with an infographic.

Your quizzes should be enjoyable for people to take. They don’t have to be a knowledge test. It’s best if you create something that encourages people to look inward and think about themselves. The end result then makes something that’s shareable with others.

This is what Buzzfeed does so well. They create quizzes like, “What Kind of [fill in the blank] Are You?”. People love taking the quizzes and sharing them because it’s about each person.

Try adding quizzes to your marketing strategy and see what results you get!

6. Contact Sites that Link to Defunct Sites

This is known as the Moving Man Method, courtesy of Brian Dean. I’d recommend you check out his full video for a breakdown of this. It’s pretty brilliant and I have to give him the proper credit.

The important thing to keep in mind is to only reach out to high quality sites. Remember that crappy sites that link to you are your problem. You are responsible for who links to you. Remove the crappy sites that are linking to you and you’ll improve your overall backlink profile.

7. Testimonials

Offering a free testimonial is a win-win relationship. The business gets a testimonial and you get your name and company name on their website, along with a link back to your site.

Obviously, when you reach out to these companies, you need to be a customer of their product or service. Don’t contact companies you don’t use and offer a testimonial.

I’ve done this on a lot of different sites and it’s helped to increase my exposure.

Here I am on the homepage of Backlinko:

And here I am with Brian Dean on the Ahrefs homepage:

And on Viewership.com:

I have many more around the web, but how many visits do you think these three sites receive? That’s how much free exposure I’m getting, because I endorse their product and wrote a testimonial.

8. Guest Blogging

This is one of my favorite methods for gaining links and exposure. Guest blogging can be free (if you’re a good writer) or paid if you prefer to hire a ghostwriter. If you haven’t written for other blogs before, I’d recommend hiring a ghostwriter. It will cost between $250-$500 for a quality article with at least 2,000 words.

In the article, you can link to your own content. I’ve done this with my articles in Entrepreneur:

Don’t go overboard and put a dozen links back to your site. Keep it reasonable (maybe 1-3 for every 2000 words) and make sure the owner of the blog is okay with it. If they’re not, you may want to take your content somewhere else. I think it’s a fair tradeoff considering that you’re giving them great free content in exchange for some links and exposure.

Be sure to also use your byline wisely. Keep it sharp and to the point. Tell readers who you are, what you do, and what value you bring. Link to your site. Bonus points if you can link to other parts of your site, like Bnonn does on the Kissmetrics blog:

In his byline, he’s advertising his free course (which brings him leads) and has a link back to his website.

9. Find Unlinked Mentions

If you’re well known, you’ll have hundreds or even thousands of sites that mention your company or name but don’t link to you. Using this method, you find those high-quality sites that aren’t linking.

For example, if I write about Copyblogger or mention one of their blog posts but don’t link to it, they can reach out to me in a helpful way and suggest I add in a link to their site or blog post. I’m already mentioning them; so adding the link is only helpful to readers.

Credit to Brian Dean for this tactic – he calls it link reclamation.

10. Public Relations For Page Rank

Having good relationships with journalists and news outlets is great for public relations and backlinks. But you shouldn’t cold email a journalist and ask them to promote your company. That won’t work and will only make you look bad.

Use Help a Reporter Out, but don’t rely on it. You need to make an active effort to make relationships with journalists and help them out when they need it. All good relationships rely on reciprocity.

Some of you may have a unique story or angle that a news outlet would like to cover. That’s how I got coverage on CNN:

I knew they wouldn’t want to hear about my business, but rather that I live in hotels. I did get links to my businesses from this article, and it brought a lot of referral traffic.

So as you build those relationships, you’ll eventually start getting mentions in outlets and publications. This can do wonders for your exposure and your “link juice”.

11. Use Outreach Efforts When You Write a Post

When you write a blog post, you’ll probably be linking to other companies and articles. When you do that, you should make an effort to contact the people that run those companies or write those articles and tell that them that you mentioned them on your blog post. They may share it social media or mention you in a future article. Remember – trust the laws of reciprocity.

When you reach out, it’s important to not ask for a backlink. That will make you look desperate, and no one wants to look desperate. Just simply reach out and tell them that you liked their article/post or company so much that you wanted to share it on your blog post. Then share the link to your blog post. That’s all you have to do.

Finally, don’t write a blog post that has hundreds of links. If you do that and reach out to each one you linked to, it will make you look bad because you’re giving out a bunch of links in order to ask for a link back. Keep the number of links on your blog posts reasonable, and tell bloggers and companies when you write about them. Then, trust the laws of reciprocity.

12. Quality on Quality Blogs

This can be one of the best ways to gain exposure. You’ll also get backlinks if the comments are not a nofollow.

The priority when writing a comment is to make sure it’s thoughtful, relevant, and adds to the discussion. Writing, “great post, keep it up” isn’t thoughtful or relevant and it doesn’t add to the discussion. When someone reads your comment, it should be clear that you actually read the blog post or article and have something unique to add to it. Your comments should be like the blog posts you write – high quality, thoughtful, and useful.

The WordPress commenting plugin Commentluv uses dofollow comment URLs by default. I’d recommend searching for these blogs, subscribing to them, reading them as they come out, and making comments shortly after they’re published.

You can also link to your blog in the comment:

13. Request Your Company or Article Be Added to a Resource Page or Listicle

It’s important to only do this if you really think that what you want to link to would improve the article. I get a lot of requests from bloggers asking for links. I ignore all of them because none of them make sense for my blog. I can see that they don’t want to make any of my articles better, they just a backlink.

Check out the script Brian Dean has for you in his mega-guide.

14. Create a List of Your Own

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, list-based posts get a lot of traffic.

Unfortunately, I think that a lot of marketers and content creators view them as a shortcut. They’ve been brainwashed by viewing the listicles that are in slideshow form, thinking that if they just brainstorm a few things to put on their list, and add a sentence or two to each one, that their job is done. You shouldn’t make it that easy on yourself.

Other marketers will go overboard and make their list so long (i.e. 150+ items) that no one will read it all. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this if you can make manage to make each item useful. Don’t add things to your list that don’t make sense just so you can have a bigger number.

Keep in mind, as with everything, quality over quantity. (Ideally you have both quality and quantity). You’re better off keeping your list at the right amount and making more quality list-based posts instead of putting all your energy into one post.

The Infographic

Want to display this infographic on your site?

Simply copy and paste the code below into the html of your website to display the infographic presented above:



Conclusion

Building backlinks on quality sites isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be. It takes creativity, hustle, and good people skills.

But all the work is worth it. I’ve been in content marketing for years and I still find that backlinks are crucial to ranking higher in Google.

I hope you’ll examine these 14 tactics, find some that work for you, put in meaningful effort in each, and measure the results. Then let me know how they work for you.

What methods have you found useful and effective to get backlinks without begging for them?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.



from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/generate-backlinks-without-begging/