The Freelancers Show 088 - Blogging with Leslie Samuel

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The Freelancers interview Leslie Samuel of the Become A Blogger Blog and The Learning With Leslie Podcast.

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[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at bluebox.net.] [You're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? The upcoming book, Next Level Freelance, will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. The book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients, and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. Extras include: 9 interviews with freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. Check it out today at nextlevelfreelance.com!] [This episode is sponsored by Planscope. Planscope is a project management and collaboration net built for freelancers in the way they work with clients. It makes it easy to price out new estimates and once you’re underway and help answer the question, these get done on time and under budget. I’ve been using Planscope to do my estimates and manage my projects and I really, really like it. It makes it really easy to keep things in order, and understand when things will get done. You can go check it out at Planscope.io.] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 88 of The Freelancers’ Show! This week on our panel, we have Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hello! CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Good day! CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hey! CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. We have a special guest this week, and that’s Leslie Samuel. LESLIE: Hello there! CHUCK: I don’t know if you remember this, Leslie, but we met at New Media Expo this year. LESLIE: I knew I know your face from somewhere! CHUCK: Yup. LESLIE: Awesome! Yes, we did! CHUCK: Yeah, you were the guy walking around wearing a big smile. LESLIE: [Laughs] Yeah, that happens kind of naturally for some reason. CHUCK: Well, it’s a good thing and it makes people want to be around you, so don’t stop. LESLIE: Thank you! CHUCK: Do you want to introduce yourself really quickly? LESLIE: Sure! My name is Leslie Samuel. I am a blogger, a podcaster, I teach in my real life – well, I guess it’s all my real life – I teach at a university, I’m a professor in Doctor of Physical Therapy programs, so I teach neuroscience, anatomy, and pathophysiology. That’s what I do offline. Online, I blog about biology, and I blog about blogging, and then I teach people how to blog, and all that fun stuff. CHUCK: Yeah, I remember you talking about that at the New Media Expo; it was really interesting. How did you get into blogging? LESLIE: How did I get into blogging? I was teaching at a high school – after my master’s degree, I wanted to go on for a PhD, but I was doing so much research, and I hated the research that I was doing so I kind of give up on this whole PhD thing and teaching at a university, which is what I wanted to do. So I started teaching at a high school, and when I was teaching at the high school, I started looking for some ways to make some money online, and I found out about…I found some ways of making money so I started to do those, and then I started to think about teaching other people to do it, and I found out about blogging. That way, I was trying to find a way that I could create content, put it online, and have people find me. So I went through a few courses; I started my first blog teaching people how to make money. And then I thought to myself, “Man! If I could take these same principles and apply it to biology (which is something that I’m also passionate about), I think it can go far!” So I started a biology blog and the rest, as they say, is history. I first found out about it because I wanted to find a way to get myself out there online, teaching people how to build the side business, and then it evolved from there. CHUCK: Isn’t that how you wound up getting your teaching job, just to do blog? LESLIE: Yeah, because I started my biology blog because after teaching at high school level for a while, I started feeling that urge. I was like, “Man! I really wish I was teaching that at a university,” but I didn’t have a PhD so I decided that I would teach the same content, but I would do it online. And I started that biology blog, and that blog opened up the doors for me to be able to now teach at a university. So it’s kind of cool how it came full circle. CHUCK: Yeah, I remember hearing that story at New Media Expo and just thinking, “Wow! That’s pretty amazing.” Because they’re usually pretty strict about you having a PhD and all of the other qualifications they want you to have to teach at a university. LESLIE: Oh, yeah, they’re definitely pretty strict with that, which is why everything that happened, it was kind of amazing to me because I never expected that to happen in the way that it did because you’d think, “I have to go on and get the education.” There’s nothing wrong with the education, well, depending on the education, but this is a totally non-traditional route that I went, and it worked out in my benefit because it actually made me standout from everyone else that applied, like 30 something people that applied who have PhDs and DPTs and all of that stuff that I didn’t have. But I had this online stuff that when they saw it, they were just amazed. So yeah, it kind of set me apart. CHUCK: I know this guy that’s working on a PhD, what advice would you have for him? [Laughter] LESLIE: I’m actually working on one right now… [Laughter] LESLIE: Because they required me to go on for a PhD; fortunately, they’re sponsoring it. But if I were to give you a word of advice, man, that would be – REUVEN: Run! Run for the hills! [Laughter] LESLIE: I’m trying to hold that back. I’m not trying to say that, but you figure out what your priorities are. And based on your priorities, take the type of actions that you need to take to accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish. That’s as big as I can get [laughs]. CHUCK: That’s good advice. I was just trying to realize where Reuven – REUVEN: Wow! You are diplomatic. CHUCK: [Laughs] LESLIE: Well, in [unclear], they trained me well [laughs]. CHUCK: [Chuckles] There you go. So, how do you write a blog so good that they can’t ignore you? LESLIE: First of all, you got to be different. I see a lot of bloggers that they see what other bloggers are doing, so they say, “I’m going to do that, and I’m going to be just as successful!” Not quite. You need to think of ‘what can set you apart from everybody else’. And that’s the first thing that I thought about when I was starting my biology blog. What I did is, I went out and I just went to as many biology blogs that I could find to see what they were all doing and why there were successful with what they were doing. And I noticed that for the most part, it was the bunch of articles, it was a bunch of research, information, and all these different types of things. And I thought to myself, “Man, I don’t see any blogs out there where anyone is creating really short videos explaining complicated topics in very simple terms – one topic at a time. Just 3-5 minutes, and just making it really simple.” So that’s exactly what I did, and that’s one of the reasons why it took off the way it did. The first month, I think I had, I don’t remember how many, a few thousand unique visitors. The second month, I had it somewhere around 4,000 and then it just continued up and up. And then this last month, I had something like 64,000. Because I decided to do something that other people weren’t doing, that really helped to set me apart. CHUCK: I do want to step in there a little bit. You can do the same thing that somebody is else is doing, but do it in a different market. For example, my mom is a math teacher in high school, so she could go do the same thing with math. But then again, it’s unique because in the math market, there’s nobody else doing that. LESLIE: Exactly. So, it’s unique. CHUCK: Yup. LESLIE: It’s unique for her market. There are a lot of people making short videos explaining concepts, but there was no one that I saw doing it for biology, so it was unique to that niche. CHUCK: Yep. Yeah, it makes total sense. Are there certain approaches that you take to your content that make it more approachable? LESLIE: Yes. [Laughs] Yes. I tried very hard to be myself. It can be tricky sometimes because I remember when I first started making my videos, I learned from – I don’t know if you know Gideon Shalwick, but he was one of my mentors; he still is one of my mentors, but now, he’s one of my partners – I learned from him how to create good online videos. If you go back and you start to look at some of my videos that I made initially, it almost sounded like Gideon Shalwick with a little bit of a Caribbean accent because I was using the exact same format that he was using. As I figured out my voice, I started to let more of myself be shown in my videos. I think that has been extremely significant and extremely important because some people are going to like me. Some people are just going to hate what I do, and that’s fine. But those that really like who I am are really going to resonate with the content that I’m creating. I think that’s one key to creating great content – putting yourself in that content. CHUCK: That’s amazing, honestly. I do want to ask, do you feel like it’s very different from – you are blogging about biology and things; hoping they make your career better and things like that – do you think it’s that different from what we’re doing where we may be blogging to actually attract clients or customers? LESLIE: No! For me, you’re blogging because you’re trying to create a platform where you can reach others. Whether that has to do with biology, whether it has to do with blogging, whether it has to do with freelancing, getting clients whatever, you’re creating content to get exposure. At least, that’s one part of why you’re creating content. For me, I take it further. I look at it as creating content to inspire others and even change the world. I have a huge vision when it comes to what blogging can do. But really, you’re building a platform. If you have products or services that you want to get out there and let people know about, you got to need a platform whether that platform is your blog or the platform is the work that you’ve been doing offline, whatever the case might be, you want to have a platform. I think blogging is a great way to do it. CHUCK: I guess the next question is: Is there a formula that you follow? You’ve been doing this for a while and you’ve been fairly successful at it, so is there an overall approach that you follow for blogging? Or, is it mainly just ‘create good content’ and make it engaging? LESLIE: It has to do with creating good content and making it engaging. But then, there’s a key element that’s still missing. You can create the content and it can be engaging, it can be awesome, and nobody can find out about it; nobody if it’s just your blog. That’s a very common story that I hear. “I’m creating this content, I’ve been doing it for x number of hours or days or months or years, and I’m not getting people to my blog.” That’s the second part of the equation: You have to create the content, but then you have to get it out there. And there are number of different ways that you can get it out there; we can talk a little bit about that. But in terms of a formula that I follow, I don’t know that it’s one specific formula because honestly, I’m trying new things all the time. I’m trying to see what’s working, what’s not working. And if I am doing something for a while and I figured out it’s not working, then I stop. Or, some of the things that I’ve done, I’ve tried it out; it looked like it wasn’t working so I stopped doing it. And now, when I look back at the analytics, I’m seeing that that is now a significant source of my traffic. So there’s a lot that I’m learning in this process, and I’d like to share the things that I’m learning. CHUCK: Got you. I want to talk about promoting your blog post here in a minute, but the thing that I always struggle with is: Is this blog post good enough? I write it up, and I’m like, “Is it engaging enough? Was I approachable enough? Do I have things that make people chuckle in there or whatever?” I’m always worried that what I put out isn’t of high enough quality. LESLIE: I have a solution for that. The solution for that is: Stop worrying about that. [Laughter] LESLIE: It sounds strange, but really and truly, it is: Stop worrying about that. Because this is the way I look at it, you’re going to create content. You can try to figure out in advanced, “If I make this kind of joke, people are going to chuckle at this point, and it’s going to be awesome, and then millions of people are going to go into my blog.” You can hypothesize as much as you want. But really and truly, the only thing that matters where that’s concerned is what happens once you publish it. So the way I like to look at it is, I put the content out there and I see what the response is. Overtime, I’m going to see, “Hey, people really liked it when I did XYZ, so the next time I make a post, I’ll do XYZ again!” So it’s more of a “put it out there, see what the response is, see what people resonate with, see what people don’t resonate with” and then let that guide you as you’re creating that content as opposed to trying to figure everything out in advanced. I have stuff out there on the internet that I’m not necessarily very proud of. But it’s out there, it’s content, and I learned from that content. I have videos out there teaching complex things in biology where I say things that are wrong. I don’t take those things out because that’s life; sometimes we say things that are wrong. Sometimes, we’d make a joke and people don’t laugh, and we learned from that joke, “Okay, I’m not going to tell that joke the next time I’m at a cocktail party,” or whatever. So instead of trying to figure all of that out in advanced, put it out there and learn from what responses you get to these things that you put out there. REUVEN: I’m curious as to what you said that you write your blog post and you put it out there and then you see what the response is, how are you measuring the response? What sorts of metrics are more important or less important? Is it number of actual comments that you get? Is it the number of visitors? The number of retweets? How do you measure it? LESLIE: For me personally, I look at the engagement on that post. So I’m looking at tweets, I’m looking at likes, I’m looking at comments. I love when people get engaged in my comments. A lot of people create content and they put it out there to get shared a lot, but there’s not much engagement, like back and forth engagement, and they are okay with that. It’s up to you to decide exactly what’s important for you. I know some very successful bloggers that don’t care about comments. Me, I care about comments because it tells me that you enjoyed this email that you wanted to interact with it at a different level. So, comments are huge for me. I look at that, I look at shares, and those are the main things that I look at. Of course, I can look at how many people visited that blog post. Now, I’m doing a thing where my blog that if you sign up for this, you get an email letting you know what content is posted on the blog anytime something is posted. I can look at those emails, look at the titles and see, “Okay, when I talk about Facebook, I’m getting a lot more engagement. Evidently, people want to learn more about Facebook.” Or, when I talk about building an email list – and is this something that I’m actively doing right now – I’m looking at how people are responding to the emails that go out automatically. And based on that, it tells me what titles are effective, it tells me what content people want to find out more about, and that helps me to guide what I do. CHUCK: That’s actually pretty interesting. For me, it’s the same thing; I want people to engage. I’ll admit, I’m an engineer; I look at big numbers related to my site, it makes me feel good. LESLIE: Yeah. CHUCK: But ultimately, yeah, that’s really what I’m after. I think for the most part, for most freelancers, you want that engagement. You want to be able to build a relationship with people that will eventually lead to something worthwhile. So it could just be that you made a friend, or it could be that you made a relationship with somebody who knows somebody that need your particular service. Or, you build a relationship with somebody who will actually hire you. But all of those things, for me, come out of relationships. They don’t come out of tick marks in my analytics. LESLIE: Exactly. Just as a practical example, last week, I wrote a blog post “My Top 50 Mostly Free Apps I Use to Manage My Digital Life”. I’m looking at the status right now, and I’m seeing that that has significantly more opens than emails that I sent out in the previous month. But then, I also looked and I see that it had significantly more shares and I saw that it had, on the day that I posted that, I got many more visits than the last 2 months. That tells me something about what people are looking for. And I’ve been thinking, what other types of post can I create that are similar to this that will help me to replicate that minor success. That information, to me, is valuable. REUVEN: I’m also curious, you obviously spend a lot of time blogging, but I’m thinking of me where I’m trying to start a blog or restart a blog, and I’ve got all these ideas that I’ve even put drafts, some of them being a sentence long, some of them being 2 paragraphs long, into the blogging software, and I keep saying, “Well, hopefully, I’ll find the time in order to actually flash it out and make it a real article.” Now, I realized that “I will find a time”, at some point, is a great way to procrastinate. I’m just wondering, how much time do you think people should spend blogging per day or per week in order to really build up a brand? LESLIE: Man! That’s an interesting question because I think it’s going to vary depending on what you are trying to accomplish. And it depends on what stage you are in your business. I think in the beginning, it’s going to take a lot of hustle. I think it’s going to take a lot of hustle out throughout the process, but especially in the beginning. I’ve been on both extremes. I’ve been on the extreme where every single moment that I had where I was not working, I was working, but on my online stuff. And that didn’t go over too well; of course, that didn’t go over too well with my family, it didn’t go over too well with my health, and all that kind of stuff. I’m neglecting important things in my life. And then I’ve been to the point where I say, “You know what, forget this blogging stuff. I’m not doing it anymore.” I find that the key is consistency. Consistency will mean something different for use than it does for me. It means something different for me today than it meant for me 4 months ago; 4 months ago, my consistency was posting 1 podcast episode a week, and that was it. Now, my consistency is posting the one podcast episode and making sure that I have 2 other articles to go that week. With that, I’m spending more time, I have guest writers, and all of those types of things so balancing it today is different from balancing it few months ago. So for you, the important thing for you to do is realistically decide how often do I want to post, and how often do I want to post in order to get the type of engagement that I’m trying to get. If once a week is enough for you, great! I know some people that do it once every other week, and they are doing it successfully, but they’re spending a significant amount of time promoting the content that they’re creating. For me, I think anywhere between 1 and 3 times a week, that works for building up a blog. When I built my biology blog, I wanted to give it a jumpstart so I did 3-5 posts a week. But the key is, you want people to reach to the point where they can say, “I can come to Leslie’s blog Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and there will be a new post at 9 o’clock a.m.” You want people to know what to expect and when to expect it, whether it’s 3 times a week or once a week. And that’s a decision that you have to make, and it’s also a decision that you can test. You can try once a week, you can try 3 times a week, you can see how that goes, and then modify as you move forward. I guess what I’m saying is this: No one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but it is a good question and an important question for you to answer, for everyone to answer on individual basis. CHUCK: Related to that, when I went to New Media Expo, Bill Belew, I went to his talk and he was saying that for the first 3-6 months, I think, you ought to be posting every day, and that’s just to build up content for SEO and other searchability purposes so that you have a lot of content there that people can come and find. Do you generally agree with that? Or, does it still boil down to what works for you and your schedule? LESLIE: [Chuckles] I hesitate to say that that’s the way it has to be because there’s so many examples of people that have done it in a totally different way. What we love to do is come up with simple formulas that we can apply to everyone. Quite frankly, I don’t find that works very well. I like the concept that he is promoting there and for me, that concept was significant because, think about it just mathematically, if every post on your blog brings 10 visits a day, if you have 10 posts on your blog, you have 100 visits a day. But if you have 100 posts on your blog, you’ll have 1000 visits a day. That is significant. So there is something to be set for creating that repository of content that can be indexed in the search engines and that can get people coming to your site and engaging with the content that you have there. There are definitely is something to be set for that, but I always emphasize the fact that you need to test and see what’s going to work best for you. So I promote get as much content out there as possible, but test also to see what’s going to work best for your schedule. You might not be able to post every day. And if you’re not able to post every day, don’t kill yourself trying to post every day. Figure out how often you can post and what you need to do to get your content out there. REUVEN: Uhm-hmm. CHUCK: Awesome. So how long do you usually spend writing any given blog post? LESLIE: That varies from 30 minutes to 3 hours for a blog post, depending on the blog post. If it’s one that I’m doing significantly more research on, then it can take me a little longer than that. Generally speaking, I do more podcast episodes than I do written content now just because I find it easier to talk. I don’t have to do as much prep, I can just do an outline, and I can start to talk. And because I’m knowledgeable about the information that I’m teaching, it makes it easier for me to do. I love to teach so it’s natural for me to do that, it’s easy for me to make videos and that kind of stuff. Now, it wasn’t as easy when I first started. So it just depends on the type of content that I create. With my podcast episode, I usually do about 20 minutes to half hour of prep, and then I record my podcast episodes. And because I have a nice studio set up here, I don’t do any editing after. I record it all as is, I put in my music, and all that kind of stuff as I’m recording it. When I’m done, I just export it, tag it, and upload it then it’s ready to go. CHUCK: Makes sense. Alright, let’s get into promoting your blog post. What’s your approach generally to doing that? LESLIE: Promoting a blog post, I’ve done so many different things when it comes to promotion. I guess the most effective way to talk about that is just to use the example of my biology blog. When I started my biology blog, I made a decision that YouTube was going to be my main strategy for getting traffic to my blog. So, I invested my time heavily and making sure I understood YouTube and what I needed to do to increase engagement there, and then to bring people from there back to my blog. I use YouTube a lot. With YouTube, I just made sure that my titles were very descriptive. You will never see a title from me like Video 1 because that means absolutely nothing to anyone that’s searching for content. So I was descriptive with my titles, I had a link back to my site in my description, and then at the end of my videos, I had a very clear call-to-action: If you want more biology resources and other things to help make biology fun, you can hit on that lead to the blog at Interactive-Biology.com. That was enough to get me that initial exposure, that initial boost in traffic because people go to YouTube and they search there and they find the content that they are looking for. A lot of people are searching for the content that I’m creating so the more videos I put out, the more traffic comes back to my site. That’s one of the main things that I focused on when I was starting. But then beyond that, once I had a decent amount of content on my blog, I started connecting with other bloggers who were blogging about similar topics. In doing that, it wasn’t a I’m sending you an email, “Hey, I have this great website that I want you to check out, you can share it with your audience,” I don’t know how many of those emails I get on a regular basis, and I never respond positively to any of them. Because quite frankly, if you spend a bunch of time and energy to build your blog traffic, you don’t want to just give it away to people you don’t even know, you don’t trust, or anything of that sort. So when I approached those bloggers, it was more of me approaching them with things I can do to help them and to help their audience. That led to nurturing of relationships that ended up sending me a ton of traffic to my blog, and that really helped to take it to the next level. I can talk about a bunch of different strategies that I use. Let’s see…Some of the other things that I do for getting traffic, I’m trying to get, for social media besides YouTube of course, I focus on Facebook because you have 1.2 billion people there, and most likely, people are going to be there that are looking for your content. So I created a Facebook page, and with that Facebook page, I increased my engagement there and I try to get people to come over there and engage with me, not just on my blog, but also on Facebook since they’re already spending time there, and I can share content with them there, I can nurture relationships with my audience there, and that has been a good source of traffic for me, too. CHUCK: If your audience isn’t on Facebook or at least you don’t think they’re on Facebook, do you suggest that people go other places? Or, are these people usually on Facebook and you’re just not paying attention or aware? LESLIE: If your audience isn’t on Facebook, it’s most likely because they’re dead. [Laughter] LESLIE: Everybody is on Facebook! My mother and father, they’re on Facebook. Grandfathers and grandmothers, they’re all in – everybody is on Facebook – 1.2 billion people. I’m sure you can find people there that are interested in what you have to talk about. That’s 1 in every 6 people in the world! Your audience is on Facebook. CHUCK: [Laughs] REUVEN: [Laughs] LESLIE: Or, the social network you can use. For example, if you have a more tech savvy audience, you might find a lot of them on Google+ and there’s a significant amount of engagement with the tech savvy crowd on Google+ and you might decide that that’s the channel that you want to use. Of course, people are on Twitter, too. I’m no expert in Twitter; I’ve chosen intentionally to focus on Facebook because to me, it’s the path of least resistance. I say that because you have so many people there. And with so many people there, you’re bound to find people that are interested in your content if you do it the right way. I’m not talking about going on Facebook and say, “Hey, visit my blog! I have the best tips on how to start a blog!” No. I’m talking about nurturing relationships. I’m talking about engaging with your audience and your potential audience beyond just the topic that you are doing at your blog, and using that to drive traffic to your blog. CHUCK: That’s pretty cool! LESLIE: Another thing that I do that is extremely significant, I believe that if you’re blogging, I believe that if you have a website, the most important asset that you can build is your email list because, once again, it allows you to nurture relationships with your audience. People check their emails regularly. So if you can build an email list – and that’s one of the things that I knew I wanted to focus on from the very beginning – you have an instant source of traffic right there. If have an engaged list, which is what you’re trying to have hopefully, when you post something that is new, that is relevant to your audience, you can send them an email and let them know about this new, awesome post that is on your blog, and they’re going to quake on it because they’re engaged and they’re looking forward to what you have to offer, and they’re going to come back to your blog. That’s almost like instant traffic. You send an email. People click on the link, they come to your blog, and hopefully, they engage with it. That has been significant for me. I haven’t looked at my email list in a while because of how busy I’ve been. But I think the last time I checked – I’m actually logging in there right now – in my biology blog, I have over 18,776 people subscribed right now. That’s a lot of people! If I post something new, which I haven’t done in a while and shame on me, I’ve been too busy, but if I send out an email now saying, “Hey, I just posted these new biology videos. You’re going to love it!” I’m going to get a few thousand people coming to check it out! That, to me, is significant. It’s something that has invested in over the last few years. And now, I have a source of traffic at my disposal. REUVEN: That seems to be I think one of the important points in getting out of what you’re saying that yes, it takes time and yes, it takes work, no surprise there. But if I invest the time now, then overtime, people who are interested in what I’m saying are going to find me. And not only as I get to be interesting, but it’s then going to give me an audience of people who are maybe interested, I think just sort of commercially now, interested in my service and interested in getting my advice, interested in working with me. But it’s not something that happens from one day to the next; it happens overtime as you build your reputation or your audience. LESLIE: Exactly! Think about it this way: let’s say you have 10,000 people on your list. So you have 10,000 people on your list and you just launched a product, and that product is extremely targeted to your audience, or a service, whatever the case might be, and you send it to that list. Let’s say 1% of the people decided to take you up on that offer, and let’s say that offer is worth $100, or (let’s even be a little more conservative) let’s say it’s the $50 offer. If 1% of the people taking upon that offer, you just made $5,000. That’s not terrible! But, one of the things I hate is when people talk about these things like, “You just send out an email and make $5,000!” I don’t want anyone to get that from what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, if you put in the work overtime to build that list of people that are engaged – and that does take a whole lot of work, I don’t care what anyone tells you – you now have an asset that you can monetize. You can monetize it strategically and make a significant amount of money whether it is a service that you’re promoting or if it’s a product that you’re creating, whatever the case might be, it’s about building up that audience so that you can have your disposal. CHUCK: That’s pretty awesome, and I really like it. So when you build up the email list, and this is something that I run into trying to figure out before, do you email people and let them know that there’s a new blog post up? Or, do you email people with other content that’s not necessarily on your blog? LESLIE: Well, it depends. You test it out, you see what works for you, I’m always going to come back to that. But then, I’ll tell you what I’ve done: I’ve done both. Right now, on BecomeABlogger.com, you can subscribe to get notified whenever there’s a new post. When you do that, you also get access to a course that I created. That’s something that I just started doing in August. Before that, what I had done is, once you sign up, you go into a follow up sequence. And in that follow up sequence, it’s all about me nurturing this relationship. How do you nurture a relationship? You’re not going to nurture a relationship by going up to a lady and say, “Hey, I like you. I want to go on a date with you. Can I have your money?” That’s just not going to work. You want to get to know them. You want to give them some value. You want to take them, or maybe just hang out with them with their friends. And then from there, you take it to the next level. You just hang out with her alone, you guys go out on a date, you go out on a few dates, you talk about life, you talk about your past, you talk about your present, your future, and all these types of things. Eventually, now, you guys are attached, and she wants to be around you, you want to be around her, and there’s a mutual understanding that this is going to be a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s the same thing with building your email list. When you’re building your email list, what I did is, depending on what you signed up for, if you signed up to learn about blogging, then you’re going to go into a follow up sequence where once a week, I might send you an email automatically because I set this up beforehand that’s giving you tips that you can apply. And the way I like to do it is like this: I like to send you something valuable. For example, I might talk about the benefits of telling stories, and what it does to increase engagement and how people can start to see themselves in a story. I can expound on that, and then at the end, I could say something like (and this is how I did it), I can say something like, “Want to see how I’ve implemented this? Check out this blog post?” and I have the link there, you click on that link, you come to my blog post. So number 1, I gave you value. Number 2, I expanded on that value by bringing you to a blog post that give you even more value. Number 3, I just got traffic back to my website, which is exactly what I want. Now, notice I haven’t spoken about selling. Where that’s concerned? Selling is a part of the process, but people are going to be more likely to buy from you after they know you, they like you, they trust you, they see what you have to offer, you’ve been giving them so much value that they feel as if they want to give you value in return. And then, if you’re someone that’s teaching people about all of the best ways to use a digital SLR and they’re learning so much from you and then they see that eventually you come out with a course that’s teaching them all of the essentials that they need to know, are they going to buy from you or they’re going to buy from someone else? Of course, they’re going to buy from you because you’ve given them so much; they believe that you have something of value, they know that you have something of value because they’ve been getting value from you, and they’re going to be much more likely to purchase from you. CHUCK: That’s awesome. Do you use WordPress for your blogging? Or, do you use something else? LESLIE: Yes, I use WordPress. I don’t venture into anything else. I’ve toyed around with Tumblr, too, but for all my blogs, I use WordPress. CHUCK: We have a WordPress expert here on the show. LESLIE: Cool! ERIC: Being very silent, but yes. [Laughter] REUVEN: Silent approval. CHUCK: Let’s just say that I’m setting up a brand new blog, and upon your and a lot of other people’s recommendation, I decided to go with WordPress. How do you recommend to people get it set up? LESLIE: I recommend that you get it set up quickly [laughs]. CHUCK: [Laughs] LESLIE: How do I recommend that people get it set up? There’s a few minor things. You install WordPress. One of the things you’d definitely want to do is to change the permalink settings, and you can find that in your admin area, so that it doesn’t show your URL as BecomeABlogger.com/p?=12825-2 or whatever the case might be. I like to look at it this way: you want to give Google as much information as you can possibly give them about what content is on your site. And part of that is also the permalink settings. So instead of going to that /p?= whatever the case might be, I would prefer it to say something like BecomeABlogger.com/HowToStartABlog or How-To-Start-A-Blog because Google can now read that and get some more information as to what’s on that page, and that’s always very beneficial. Besides that, it all depends on what you’re trying to do with that blog. For me, permalink settings, there are few plugins that I use that I put on pretty much every blog for search engine optimization and those types of things. Actually, now, I’ve moved away from those plugins because a number of premium themes have really good search engine optimization features so I just use that. Another thing you definitely want to do is install Google Analytics because you want to be able to track what is working, and Google Analytics tells you a lot about the traffic that’s coming to your blog, where is it coming from, how long had it spending on there, what pages are they gravitating to, all of those types of things. I think that’s extremely important for you to have. And not that you have to check them every day, but you want to have that information for when you need to make some crucial decisions, and I think that’s important. CHUCK: Awesome. Are there particular places that you like to send people to get themes? Or, it doesn’t really matter? LESLIE: I usually recommend site like WooThemes. I look at themes to I like their stuff. I prefer the premium themes personally. However, you can get started with a free theme especially you’re just getting, you might be on a tight budget that the WordPress theme is not going to make or break you. And you can get many themes for free that are really nice. I personally like to have themes that are supported by developers that I trust. So I go with WooThemes, I go with Elegant Themes, and that’s who I usually recommend to people. CHUCK: Awesome. Alright, well, I don’t want to keep you past 6 o’clock so we’re going to go ahead and do the picks. We’re going to make Curtis go first, though, with the picks. CURTIS: Excellent. I’m going to pick 3 WordPress plugins that I love, or there’s 2 plugins and 1 host that I use quite regularly. The first one is the “Yoast SEO” plugin, which is a great job of SEO and anything that doesn’t have it. The second one would be “VaultPress” and that is a paid service, but it backs up your site ongoing as you add stuff or as you add images; it’ll back it up all site automatically. And my favorite host is “WP Engine” because it’s just fast and easy. It has a great staging, for the developers, it has a great staging and live environment setup to really just to make that super easy for your setup. CHUCK: Awesome. Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: My pick today, it’s a tool I’ve been using for a little while. We have Fitbit stuff here so we have the Fitbit tracker, but we also have the scale. It’s a free service called “TrendWeight” that basically takes the data from the scale and uses some smoothing algorithms and stuff instead of you’re up a pound one day, down 3 the next day, up a pound in half the day after – it actually figures out the long term like where you’ve been at instead of it just being really spiky. So if you’ve read or heard of the Hacker’s Diet, it’s kind of based off of that. But it’s a free service, it’s pretty neat. Another pick, I’ll basically agree with recommending “WooThemes”. I use WooThemes on all my sites. It’s as if you’re using like a multisite WordPress. It’s really easy. You’ll just install one theme, and it’s kind of have the same look and feel across multiple sites with maybe a banner change in maybe a couple different colors, but you’ll have the same settings in each one. So, they’re pretty good. I’ve been using it for years. CHUCK: Awesome. Reuven, what are your picks? REUVEN: Alright, I’ve got 4 picks for today. The first thing is the “Zopim” chat widget. I know this has been very popular lately and last year to put on websites, it put all widget on your site, and if people want to contact you, they can. And truth be told, both time when I go to someone else’s site, I just ignore that. But it has happened that people come to my site and they see that I’m available and they chat with me. And just 3 or 4 days ago, someone whose searching came to my site, wants to know if anyone was there, I started chatting with him, it looks like I’ve got a major new client that way. So just to base on that, I can recommend that you have such a widget on your site, and I’ve been pretty happy with Vopim or however you’re suppose to pronounce it, and their free version. LESLIE: How do you spell it? REUVEN: It’s Z-O-P-I-M. LESLIE: Got you. REUVEN: I have no idea why they named it that way. LESLIE: [Laughs] REUVEN: I think they’re based in Singapore, but I don’t think that really explains the name. [Chuckles] But the domain was available, so they grabbed it [chuckles]. I’ve also got another client who I told today that I was going to be firing, firing your client, and tomorrow, I’m going to meet with them and hand over all of the stuff that was done and not done, and hopefully not all too much. So, I’ve been searching around for good advice on what to do and how to do it, and I found an article on “Why (not just why, but how) You Should Fire Your Worst Client”. I did a little bit of work today and integrated Twitter into a site, so I realized that I’m one of the last people in the world not to be integrating Twitter and working with it for within my applications, but it was so ridiculously easy. So the “Twitter Gem for Ruby” is definitely a great way to go. And there was this amazing podcast in NPR for a while called All Things Politics, that it was called. Anyway, it was cancelled about 2 or 3 weeks after I discovered that. Ken Rudin, who was doing it, is now back and he is doing the “Political Junkie” podcast. So for all of you folks who love American politics and follow that instead of any more mainstream sport, Political Junkie is great, and fun, and interesting, and just waiting for people listen. Those are my picks. CHUCK: Awesome. I guess I’ll go next. On my blogs, I’ve been using the commenting system “LiveFyre”. I think I mentioned them on a past show, might have been in another show, but they’re really good. If you @ tag somebody, it will actually tweet them among other things and let them know on Twitter, Facebook, and things like that, and it’s kind of cool. So, you can actually reply to people and it’ll notify them that you replied. Another tool that I’ve been using to build my list and things like that is “OfficeAutoPilot”, not cheap, but very powerful. There are a lot of features that go with it, so I’m going to recommend them. I’m still getting everything set up there, but they actually have their sales team do setup calls with you and help you set up all of your processes and stuff. I’m really enjoying that. And then it does like the intelligent routing so that if people open an email or respond to an email or click on a link in an email or things like that, then they can actually go into different pipelines and you can actually manage where people wind up and what the next response will be to them depending on what they do. So far, it’s looking pretty cool, and I’m really excited to see where I wind up at with them. Anyway, I’m definitely playing with that. And it integrates where things like lead pages and stuff like that. I’m pretty happy with them so far. Those are my picks. Leslie, what are your picks? LESLIE: My picks would be, number 1, the “Lift” app. That’s iOS app, but you can use it online. That does a really good job at helping you to accomplish your goals. It’s not just a To-Do list, it’s actually like a community-driven ecosystem, and I really love the way they have it setup. They have specific coaching plans; they created a coaching plan to help you become a better blogger in 30 days. I’ve just been amazed at the response and how many people are actually following through on this stuff that they never followed through before. We had one person, because they were following through, they got featured on Lifehacker. There’s other people that have been trying to accomplish things for the last few years, and they started with the plan, and in the first few days, they were able to accomplish them. So the Lift app is definitely one that I recommend. If you are trying to check out that coaching plan, you just go to BecomeABlogger.com/Lift, and it’ll have the details of that coaching plan. And it’s free, so that’s always good. That would be my first pick. My second pick, I love “Basecamp”. I use Basecamp for managing my business, managing my team because I work with some virtual assistants, and it’s just a centralized location for me to add tasks for them to do, for them to add task for me to do, for us to discuss things, and that works very well for what I’m doing with my online business. Those would be my two picks. CHUCK: Awesome. It’s been terrific to talk to you again, and I really appreciate you taking the time to come on the show. If people want to go listen to your podcast, or read your blog, or anything like that, what are the best ways for them to do that? LESLIE: The best ways to do that, it would just be to go to BecomeABlogger.com. That has everything linked up there and you can check it out. Of course, you can connect to with me on Facebook or Twitter, but all of that information is right there on the blog at BecomeABlogger.com. And thank you, guys, so much for having me on the show. This was fun! CHUCK: Alright! Well, thank you very much! We’ll wrap up the show. We’ll catch you all next week!

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