18 Unusual Habits of Extremely Creative People

18 Unusual Habits of Extremely Creative People

18 Unusual Habits of Extremely Creative People

Are you continuously trying to create new social media posts, Instagram photos, blog posts, articles, press releases, and promotional strategies? Have you paid attention to your creative process when creating these things?

When you have an idea, you’re driven by an inner force. Creative people get into their own world, and we don’t know what happens in their heads. What we do know, however, is that creativity means nothing without persistence and effort. Plus, some habits. Creatives have specific habits that help them turn creativity into a daily routine.

Here are 18 habits of creative people. They can inspire you to do things differently and find a way to keep the creative process going.

1. Me time

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” – Aldous Huxley

When you want to understand your ideas and get deep into your mind to test them, you’ll naturally gravitate towards solitude. Does this mean you have to be an introvert to be as creative as you possibly could? No. Extroverts can be just as creative as introverts. The key to success is in the balance.

Creatives need both socializing and solitude at different times. They depend on the surroundings if they want to get better ideas, but they also need their me time to reconsider their own opinions and dig deep into their creative hub.

2. Risk

An idea may seem silly at the beginning. When you first tell it to someone, they may laugh at you. Do you think that Jack Dorsey and his team had it easy when they got the idea of Twitter? Of course not! It was new. It was risky. Fortunately, they took the risk.

risk-for-habits-of-creative-people

Image  Source

3. Collaboration

Maybe a painter could work alone, but even they need to get inspired by other people. There’s no great novelist who didn’t rely on an editor and publisher. Jack Dorsey didn’t create Twitter alone. For a modern creative business, you need to get an outside perspective, which might shift or support ideas.

4. Preparation

If you thought that the most creative people could start creating in a matter of seconds after getting an idea, you were wrong. Dan Pearce, a resume writer at Careers Booster, explains that a creative project needs systematic work.

“When we have an idea, we have to find the existing thoughts and patterns that led to it. When I write a new project, I have to connect the dots in my own mind, and then connect them with the ideas of the client. That process takes time and effort. Most of all, it takes planning to bring everything together,” – he says.

5. Conservation of ideas

Sometimes you get an idea in the middle of the night. You think: “this is great; I should start doing something about it.” In the morning, you start your usual day and continue with the current project. Later, you’ll be left only with the impression of your idea. You know you had something, but you lost a particular element that was very important: the excitement.

That’s why creative people write down their ideas. Every single one of them. Have you seen Dostoevsky’s notes and doodles? The writer used to write down all ideas before transforming them into the novels we still read and love.

6. Movement

Yes, it’s a habit. Haruki Murakami, one of the most appreciated and inventive novelists of our time, commits to an intense running schedule. This is what he said in an interview for the Paris Review, when asked about the structure of a typical workday:

“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4 a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9 p.m.”

You need physical strength to carry the burden of creativity. When an idea tortures you, you’ll spend many hours and days working on it. Just like Murakami, you need a habit that brings you to a healthy, energized body.

7. Routine

“I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism,” – Murakami continued in the same interview. “I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”

Routines are not as bad as we think they are. They are not killing our creativity; they are supporting it.

8. Flexibility

Creativity is not a 9-to-5 job. Let’s take Murakami’s routine as an example again. Did you notice something unusual there? He wakes up at 4 a.m. and works in the very early morning. He probably experimented a bit and found that his mind works best in that chunk of the day.

Analyze your own circadian rhythm to find out how you function in different parts of the night and day. Then, follow the lead and create when you’re most inspired.

flexibility-for-habits-of-creative-people

Image Source

9. Wondering

“People love Facebook. Hmm, I wonder why. I wonder how I could use their love for social media to create something new for them.” Do you see the point in this mental concept? Curiosity is what drives ideas.

Creative people have a habit of intense conversations with themselves. They wonder, and they try to find the answers within.

10. Observing

The world is your greatest inspiration. Marcel Proust’s incredible memory was triggered by a madeleine. “I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me.”

This was no ordinary cake. Nothing is ordinary in this world! A single ray of light can inspire you to create something beautiful; you just need to notice it. Observe!

observing-for-habits-of-creative-people
Image Source

11. Reflection

Whenever you see something interesting, you should wonder if you could apply it to what you’re doing. If you’re in the marketing niche, you can get inspired by novels, paintings, nature… anything. Reflect on your impressions and think how you can accumulate new ideas from them. Then, write those ideas down.

12. Daydreaming

What’s creation without imagination? Routines are good, and commitment is even better. But, sometimes you need to unleash your mind, so you can observe how it works when you don’t control it. You may find beautiful ideas hidden in there.

daydreaming-for-habits-of-creative-people

Image Source

13. Embracing obstacles

Have you heard about posttraumatic growth? All people suffer, but some of them find ways to express the experience from trauma through beautiful creations.

Posttraumatic growth is characterized by greater personal strength and identification of new possibilities. When you’re at a low point in your life, try to find those new possibilities. Turn the struggles into a foundation for growth.

14. Traveling

Hemingway used to live in different countries throughout his life. He needed to meet different people and explore their culture and drinks, lots of drinks.

Traveling opens your viewpoint. It makes you see, explore, experience, wonder! That’s what creativity is all about, isn’t it?

15. Accepting Failure

Resilience is an important personal strength that keeps creatives going. The creative process often comes with repeated failures. You need to test different approaches, and many of them will be total failures. Then, you’ll find the one that works.

16. Self-expression

What is creativity, anyway? It’s a form of self-expression. Take Allen Ginsberg’s tip: “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”

You get opportunities to express your unique ideas, desires, and character through every single project you work on. Use it!

17. Losing track of time

Have you had a creative moment so great that you couldn’t sleep, eat, or do anything else for days? You lost track of time and simply followed the flow. Yes, creativity can do that to you. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi gave an inspiring TED talk on that flow.

“There’s this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though, difficult, and sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger. And once the conditions are present, what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.”

18. Mindfulness

We don’t know exactly when meditation originated, but we can assume that people had that ability and need to work with their own minds since… forever. Today, we have scientific proof that meditation helps us learn and remember, but it also makes us introspective and self-aware. Do you notice the connection with creativity?

A great number of Fortune 500 companies, including Apple and Google, offer mindfulness and meditation classes for their employees. Why? Because meditation supports the creative process. It brings you to a place where you’re alone with your thoughts, and you can finally understand yourself. The process of such achievement is long and needs hard work. That’s why you need to turn this into a habit.

mindfulness-for-habits-of-creative-people

Image Source

Wrap

Creativity is a blessing, but it can also become a torture if you don’t know how to express it. When you adopt certain habits, you’ll be able to support the process and find the best way to bring it to action. Hopefully, adopting the habits of creative people from this article will lead you to a better, more creative state of being and working.

Guest Author: Eva Wislow is a writer and career advisor from Pittsburgh. She is focusing on helping people discover their true calling and achieve their most ambitious career goals. Connect with Eva on Twitter.

The post 18 Unusual Habits of Extremely Creative People appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.

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Developing a Near Me Strategy for Local; Not?

Developing  a Near Me Strategy for Local; Not?

Yesterday, David Mihm highlighted an article in his Tidings Newsletter about a dentist that had legally changed his last name from Draper to Better so that he could change his practice name to Better Dental and rank better. Matt Marko pointed out the “shortsightedness in his leaving the obvious opening for Dr. Best”.

That elicited a tweet from Matt Lacuesta (H/T to Tony Gricar) highlighting a signage company located in Denver that had changed its name AND its signage to Custom Signs Near Me:

I guess that this customer sign shop has read about the ever increasing number of near me searches and why developing a ‘Near Me’ strategy has become critical. Strategy, smategy. Why think when you can act?

Next up: Starbucks will justifiably rename: Coffee Shop Near Me.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.

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White Hat Link Building Tactics In 2017

White Hat Link Building Tactics In 2017

ethical-link-building

Despite Penguin wreaking destruction on sites with shady backlink profiles, the humble hyperlink remains one of the most fundamental elements of any digital marketing campaign. In this guest post for Search Engine People, I want to look at seven whitehat link building tactics for 2017. Whilst there are literally dozens more specific tips I could come up with, I think these broadly cover the wider trends taking place in SEO and content marketing.

First though, let’s take a quick look at why building links is still important in 2017 and put the concept of link building in context.

Why Links Still Count In 2017

The term ‘link building’ is often seen as a dirty word by digital marketers. Indeed, for many small businesses that’ve got their fingers burnt working with dodgy SEO agencies, the idea of any strategy that sounds remotely like its gaming Google’s algorithm can incite fear and dread. And let’s be honest, these fears are somewhat justified when it comes to link building as it has, as a tactic, historically been associated with black hat SEO.

And yet the idea that links and building them is bad per se is paradoxical, as links continue to remain the strongest offsite ranking signal to Google. What needs to change instead is the idea amongst SEOs, and by association the businesses and brands they sell their services to, that there is a quick and easy way to build them.

A Word On Penguin

Since September 2016, Google’s Penguin update, which saw so many sites culled from the SERPs when it was introduced in 2012, now runs in real-time within Google’s core search algorithm. The result is that poor link building will get you (or your client) slapped with a penalty a lot quicker than before (although on the flip side it also means penalty recovery is far quicker too). For those SEOs still using black hat methods to build links, this means far less manoeuvrability when it comes to churn and burn strategies that equate to quick wins and inevitable penalties kicked into the long grass.

What does all this mean for link building in 2017? Well the upshot is that Penguin continues to put pressure on SEOs to do things the right way but the window in which to avoid a Penguin penalty just got a lot smaller. In 2017, when all is said and done, there simply is no quick and easy way to build a ton of powerful links and get away with it. If you want to do link building that’s future proof then the pressure’s on to manage client expectations and play the long game.

So without further ado, let’s look at some of link building tactics to bear in mind for 2017, along with a couple of methods that you really need to leave in the past.

1. Using PBN’s As A Link Building Tactic Is Dead

The ability to rank sites using private blog networks (PBNs) is a dead tactic now. A couple of years ago this grey-hat method had legs, but the risks involved in scaling this kind of activity, along with the time and money investment in sourcing and purchasing high quality domains, link building on PBNs just isn’t worth the effort. For more on this, check out Nathan Gotch’s comprehensive article on PBNs.

2. Invest Time In Relationship Building

With the options for easily scalable worthwhile link building growing ever smaller, the real value methods are now found in building real relationships with authority sites and domains. Yes, there is more effort involved but the payoff from having strong relationships with sites with big readerships and strong social followings is far greater. It’s better to get one link from a DA70 site than 4 from poor quality DA30 blogs in other words, because the chances a webpage on a DA70 site garnering links naturally is so much higher. When you scale this up, it’s pretty easy to see why the real value lies in targeting high authority domains.

3. Focus On Site Relevancy

Site relevancy has always been overlooked in favour of high domain or page metrics, but this remains a short sighted approach to link building. Targeting relevant sites is not only a safer means of building links but high relevancy on a mid DA site will always trump a site with medium or very little relevancy but a high DA. Majestic’s Trust Flow is a powerful tool for crunching large numbers of sites based on relevancy.

4. Research Your Customers

A more powerful, if not as scalable, means of identifying and targeting relevant sites is to really understand your customers, the problems they face, the content they read and where they like to hang out online. Creating marketing personas, based on your ‘perfect customer’, will also help you create more relevant content, as well as target more relevant sites. Whilst it’s tempting to rely on tools, a lot of the time this manual and nuanced approach is a far more effective strategy.

4. Find Alternatives To Page Rank

Despite not having updated it for years, Google’s PageRank scores officially went dark in April 2016. This has left any SEOs who still insist on using them as a metric forced to find alternatives. If you haven’t long ago abandoned PageRank (and if not, why not?), 2017 needs to be the year where you finally ditch any reference to it as a signal of site authority and adopt a more relevant and regularly updated metric from Moz, Majestic or Ahrefs.

5. Get Intelligent With You Anchor Text Distribution

Anchor text is a major relevancy signal when it comes to passing Google juice, but it’s also a potential honey trap for anyone tempted to try and exploit it. Unnatural anchor text distribution can prevent you ranking well but it can also land you a penalty. Try to spread your keywords across a range of longer tail anchor text links and don’t forget to keep an eye on the ratio of these links to branded or naked link anchors. Exact match anchor text shouldn’t really get higher than 1%.

6. Create Quality Content

The benefits of creating regular high quality content has been discussed on marketing sites up and down the net so many times, I’m almost embarrassed to have to say it in 2017. Let’s put it bluntly then: If you’re still creating content for search engines and not for people you’re link building strategy will fail. Period. And yet, old habits still die hard. Of course, it’s always tempting to get content on the cheap but the direct correlation between quality and SEO results is becoming too significant to ignore. So ditch the crap copywriter and invest some time money in producing some genuinely well researched polished content.

7. Don’t Ignore Social Media

Ok social media is not a strong ranking signal to Google and it’s unlikely that will change in 2017. That being said, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are now so intrinsic to the way we discover and share content across the web, you’d be bonkers not to factor social it into your link building strategy, at some level. Although the SEO payoff may not be direct, promoting your content to a follower base who will in turn encourage shares and links to your content is now a solid link building strategy you simply cannot afford to ignore.

Conclusion

As has always been the case with link building there will always be a temptation to use black or grey hat tactics. One general trend we’ve seen over the last few years, arguably since Penguin and Panda rocked the SEO community, is Google’s determination to clamp down on quick win methods of artificially boosting site authority. My advice is to steer well clear of black hat tactics and to remain extremely cautious and suspicious of any tactic that has a hint of grey about it.

Yes, whitehat link building does take longer to come to fruition and yes there is a lot more investment required early on before you see results. But there is genuine payoff in the medium to long term and a robust backlink profile will stand the test of time.

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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain Dedication (CC0) Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com

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Google to Improve AMP Ads Through Partnerships with Cloudflare and TripleLift by @MattGSouthern

Google to Improve AMP Ads Through Partnerships with Cloudflare and TripleLift by @MattGSouthern

AdAge reports that Google has partnered with Cloudflare and TripleLift to deliver instant loading ads on Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). Cloudflare has developed a tool called Firebolt for delivering ads as fast as AMPs can load, while TripleLift is a native ad network which is now adding AMP support.

New Firebolt technology will be integrated with AMP for Ads, where ads must be verified by an authorized service before being delivered to users. In addition to being able to load ads three times faster, Cloudflare’s Firebolt is also built with security in mind.

According to the CEO at Cloudflare, Matthew Prince, Firebolt can cut ad loading times from 2.2 seconds to 700 milliseconds. This is already being seen in practice though an integration with TripleLift, where Firebolt-based ads are being delivered on properties owned by Time Inc.

The decision to partner with Cloudflare, a company which may be relatively unknown to the average digital advertiser, was based on the growing concern to rid the web of ads which contain malware and spread viruses.

Cloudflare’s CEO tells AdAge:

”We really got pulled into this space because we desperately care about encrypting everything on the web. Ad networks have little control over serving malware and we turned to encryption to help solve that problem.”

The decision to partner with TripleLift could be based on the company’s initial success with delivering AMP ads. Time Inc. properties using TripleLift to deliver AMP ads have seen a 13% increase in impressions, with a similar increase in CTRs and eCPMs.

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9 Digital Marketing Tools You Can’t Live Without by @SEOBrock

9 Digital Marketing Tools You Can’t Live Without by @SEOBrock

Neither author nor SEJ has any affiliation with any of the tools mentioned within this post. 

To help you kick off 2017 right and reach your marketing goals this year, I’ve put together a list of must-have digital marketing tools that simplify and enhance work life, day in and day out. From Google Analytics to Mention and Copyscape, let our favorites be yours!

Google Analytics: Know Your Audience

What we see a lot in new clients who explore digital marketing for the first time is that they don’t know where to start when it comes to utilizing their data. With endless ways for customers to interact with your brand in the modern era — everywhere from in-store to tablets to smart watches — it can become a challenge to piece together a complete picture of your audience. Yet that full understanding of your audience is key to make the right marketing moves. That’s where Google Analytics comes in. As a digital marketing agency, three of our most used functions are:

Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is measured as the number of visitors that come to your site and only view one page before they leave again without completing an action. Bounce rates can gauge if your website is visually appealing, has good content and good user experience, and is easy to navigate if visitors are looking for certain info. While all businesses should take advantage of small adjustments to lower bounce rate, if your bounce rate is significantly above 40%, it’s time to audit your site and figure out what is driving visitors away. Sometimes simple common sense will give you the answer, or maybe you need user testing to identify the issue.

Conversion Rate: This is very straightforward. It reflects the number of visitors who perform a specific action on a page that converts into a lead for you. Why is this important? If you have an action you want users to perform (buy something, book something, download an item, or fill out a form), the conversion rate tells you how effective each of your pages is in leading users to complete that action.

One of our clients, for example, works with a complex eight-step booking system on their website. We’ve implemented Google Analytics and can now tell exactly how often potential bookings don’t get completed and in which step of the process users drop off. That’s crucial information and helps us optimize the process to see higher conversion rates and to craft the best customer experience possible.

Plus, especially with consumers shopping more online, the effectiveness of your website is a vital KPI for e-commerce businesses. These statistics by Custora E-commerce Pulse visualize the potential loss of sales for online businesses with low website conversion rates:

Ecommerce Mobile Orders

Channels: Where are your visitors coming from? Is it organic search traffic? Referral? Paid? This helps businesses gauge your marketing efforts. For example, if you are running radio ads, you may see a spike in direct traffic because you mention your website at the end of the ad. If you’re investing in SEO, you will see movement — hopefully an increase — in your organic search traffic. If you’re running a Facebook contest, you’d hope to see more visits from social. The breakdown in channels basically helps businesses see which marketing efforts are driving the most eyeballs to their site. By engaging other metrics like bounce rate and conversion rate, you will find out if your website is what users want to see.

Google Analytics

MailChimp: Power Up Your Email Campaigns

Constant Contact used to be the go-to service for newsletters until MailChimp came along. MailChimp makes crafting newsletters fun — our designers love it. It’s a fantastic email marketing tool that lets you create, send, and track HTML email campaigns with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop user interface.

From an SEO perspective, we love that it has powerful reporting features and comes with integrations that give its functionality that extra bit of oomph: WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Magento, Salesforce, ZenDesk, Shopify, WooCommerce, Mandrill, Eventbrite, Unbounce, Squarespace, Drupal, Slack, and Google Analytics — just to mention a few. One click and the recipient can share your content on Twitter, helping you increase your exposure!

In terms of understanding your audience and giving them what they want, Mailchimp’s A/B testing feature is gold. It allows you to design two entirely different emails — or just two different subject lines — and send option A to one-half of your subscribers and option B to another while tracking opening rates for both. That way, you collect valuable information about what speaks to your audience and learn how to craft amazing content that drives up your opening rates in the future and ultimately helps increase your page conversions. Since email is still the driving force behind e-commerce purchases this November, you’ll want to definitely up your game to make every email count.

That way, you collect valuable information about what speaks to your audience and learn how to craft amazing content that drives up your opening rates in the future and ultimately helps increase your page conversions. Since email is still the driving force behind e-commerce purchases this November, you’ll want to definitely up your game to make every email count.

MailChimp Conversions
With MailChimp’s aggressive approach to bad delivery practices and its anti-spam policies, you’ll be in good hands. MailChimp also ranks at the top of the list when it comes to delivery success rate:MailChimp

Canva: An Editorial Team’s Best Friend

Canva

Canva for Work has been a great tool for our SEO, editorial, and social teams. We’ve created a template that can easily be used by anyone on the team and is aligned with our brand standards. When working with clients, it is important that the designs used for their social shares are in line with their visual standards and not ours. Thanks to Canva’s template feature, we can create those templates for any of our clients and have a stunning post or blog image done in no time — with no design training required. It saves a lot of time and the flexibility you have within the tool makes it fun to work with.

Mention: Let’s Give ‘Em Something to Talk About

Mention is a media monitoring and tracking tool that helps you monitor virtually all mentions of your brand online. Mention helps you get the most out of your online promotional efforts by allowing you to track and stay informed of every instance of your brand name online (including web and all major social media). Mention also allows you to stay informed on relevant topical discussions in your industry through keyword tracking, which offers the opportunity for your brand to enter the online discussion in real-time and build brand awareness within relevant audiences.

When you set up Mention, you will create alerts for words and topics you would like to track. These alerts will include your brand name and could also include relevant keywords you would like to track in your industry. The great thing about Mention is that they offer in-depth search refinement functions so you can exclude irrelevant instances of your keywords and you are only notified of the most relevant mentions. Mention will send you daily emails with your results for quick and convenient tracking. Average mentions per day and which sources you are receiving those mentions from also conveniently gets tracked, therefore visualizing your increase or decrease:

Mention

SEMrush: Do You Want to Be Found?

SEMrush is an online software that digital marketers and online businesses use to collect valuable information about their online presence. We use it to analyze traffic and keywords statistics plus research keywords for our clients. SEMrush allows you to observe the success of your online marketing efforts but also track your competitors, which is great.

This powerful software has grown to allow you to observe backlinks, display advertising stats, video and display ad research, and sample ads. All of this is provided in one scan and can be exported using their reporting capabilities.

SEMRush

So why are we addicted to SEMrush? This program has grown and developed to be a one-stop shop for all our clients’ online marketing needs. Whether we need to know what keywords a client is ranking for or if we want to start targeting certain ones on a website, SEMrush can show how difficult it will be to rank and if we’ve already had success in this. Track your progress in a saved project and generate reports also allows you to display progress in a visual manner and to you and to other stakeholders. All of this can help marketers and businesses make decisions without having to use six tools on the web.

Copyscape: Because You Don’t Want to Get Kicked Off Google

No matter what your profession is, plagiarism is always something you’d want to avoid. From an SEO perspective, however, this really is a life or death matter. The worst potential consequence of plagiarism is the risk of being deindexed by Google. If your page is deindexed, it will be completely invisible in search engines and the only way to access the page is via a direct link to the URL. In addition to the offending page being deindexed, your entire site could be deindexed if the problem is deemed widespread or severe enough. For most businesses, this is a death knell. There are also potential legal consequences and negative ramifications in terms of brand reputation and trust, especially if the entity you have stolen from has the means or interest to strike back. When working on new website content, blogs, email campaigns, and Google ads, we always run every piece of content through a plagiarism check. Our service of choice here: Copyscape. It lets us run a full scan on websites and helps optimize our SEO to the max.

CopyScape

Grammarly: Double Check Every Word You Write

Grammarly makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to ten times more mistakes than the good old word processor. Just copy, paste, and fix your errors. This is an absolute favorite for our content writers and social media specialists. It’s great because it does much more than just correcting your spelling and grammar mistakes. It makes word suggestions to help you enhance your vocabulary usage and provides citation suggestions to address plagiarism which is very helpful to optimize web content for our clients.

Grammarly

Another great flexible detail we love is its adjustable writing style. The tool allows you to choose from editing styles for students, business professionals, bloggers, ESL, medical professionals, technical writers and more — which is great if you’re a blogger or work with a wide range of clients like we do. Plus, once you’ve installed the Grammarly extension, its automated proofreading feature works pretty much everywhere on the web.

MailTester: Spam-proof Your Emails

According to email spam stats published on Hubspot, marketing emails are responsible for about 70% of spamming complaints. Yikes. And those can get expensive! Due to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, you could be fined with up to $11,000 for each spam email that goes out of your account. Obviously, that’s something you might want to avoid but also from a business perspective, having your email campaigns end up in somebody’s spam box isn’t the goal. You’ve worked on it for hours, came up with a great offer and interesting content for your customers, and are hoping to see conversions spike after you hit “send.” MailChimp already provides a ton of useful tips to help you craft the most efficient and spam-safe email possible but to make extra sure that your campaign is worth everyone’s while, another test is always good.

You’ve worked on it for hours, came up with a great offer and interesting content for your customers, and are hoping to see conversions spike after you hit “send.” MailChimp already provides a ton of useful tips to help you craft the most efficient and spam-safe email possible but to make extra sure that your campaign is worth everyone’s while, another test is always good.

Mail-Tester

Toggl: Make the Most of Your Day

According to Brandfolder, 65% of our workday is spent talking to clients, colleagues, or business partners. A business with 100 employees spends an average of 3.4 hours each day clarifying poor communication. Apparently, we also spend about one-quarter of each day reading emails and responding to them. Or looking for stuff.

Toggl

Our team uses Toggl to track the use of our time each day and optimize it to be our most productive selves. It’s not just great to identify your daily time wasters but especially when working with clients, the easy one-click time track feature is super convenient to never lose a minute.

What’s your favorite digital marketing tool? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

Image Credits

Featured Image: GaudiLab via DepositPhotos.com
All screenshots taken January 2017

Neither author nor SEJ has any affiliation with any of the tools mentioned within this post. 

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35 White Hat Link Earning Ideas

35 White Hat Link Earning Ideas

35 White Hat Link Earning Ideas was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

35 creative link earning ideas

High-quality backlinks are a website’s friend; they help establish a positive reputation about your brand and business to customers and search engines.

When you have organic inbound links pointing to your website from another website, search engines will bump up the E-A-T factor (Expertise, Authority, Trust) and ranking gains will follow.

Of course, this is barring a variety of possible negative consequences of paid or manipulative links that can hold a site back. (If you know the pain of Google penalties, you might find SEO penalty services of use.)

The problem is that not all backlinks are the result of real business relationships. But that’s also the key!

Search engines value backlinks only when they’re the authentic results of your marketing strategies and not because you opened your wallet and bought them. To cover this base, do not buy links. In any form. If you’re still interested in more traditional methods and the “dos and don’ts,” check out our link building tutorial for more information.

Think of links as the natural byproduct of happy customers and impressed industry affiliations that are attracted to the efforts or achievements of an individual or organization. We use the term “link magnet” to describe a campaign to attract links as a result of doing something outstanding or offering something exceptional. Like metal attracted to a magnet, people will naturally share and link back to your content or campaign by sheer power of its attraction factor.

Below is a list of 35 natural and safe (white hat) link earning ideas that have the potential to produce quality backlinks that support a healthy website and are an honest reflection of your reputable brand.

Reward Loyalty

Brand loyalty is a powerful emotion to capitalize on. Any kind of giveaway or discount for repeat or long-term customers is going to have a positive impact.

If you have a customer that repeatedly buys a product from you, then you have a loyal customer who might write about you. Maintaining loyalty is where the work is.

One way to build loyalty is to reward a loyal customer with a discount on something that they regularly purchase or is related to something they’ve purchased.

Send them a free T-shirt, which sounds basic and boring, but it’s free advertising for you and the customer feels appreciated. At the very least he/she will think the company is trying to be nice, even if it is a simple gift like a key chain or a sticker with a handwritten note.

man with box

A T-shirt or key chain can go a long way toward inspiring a customer to make a public shout out.

Non-Profit Partnership

If you give a small percentage of your profits to a charity or host a fundraiser in the name of a charity, you automatically become a “good guy” in the public eye.

This is a pretty basic concept and it’s great for building brand awareness/opinion. It can also be the tipping point on the scale when a potential customer is choosing between two products.

If your competitor isn’t making the same charitable contributions and the customer is aware of your good will, they’re more likely to choose your product or service because of the positive intent of the company.

At the same time, people love to read “nice guy” stories and many forms of charitable work, are likely to draw in some visitors and links.

Other online publications will want to suck up a bit of the potential traffic too, which will lead them to create content that highlights the partnership or fundraiser in order to drive traffic on their own site.

Be authentic with this approach, however, as consumers can smell a scam a mile away. Choose a charity carefully and one that reflects your consumers wishes. Maybe even ask your consumers to tell you which charity to support each year.

Publish Research

Solving a problem or proposing a solution to an industry-wide problem is a little easier said than done, but it’s sure to have a large impact and can be approached in terms of conducting research. Conducting research doesn’t have to be an overly complicated process; often times it onlyl requires a small investment in terms of time or money.

After funding research or producing a survey, the information may be best presented in an infographic or video. The intended results of this strategy can affect both sides of the equation because it can relate to customers and competitors alike, even if the competitor is a much larger player.

Larger companies talk about new information because it drives traffic and if it’s your information they reference, then some of that traffic will inevitably lead to you and help you establish authority in the industry.

The information you present could also be the deciding factor for an undecided customer.

Event Swag

Specific products or giveaways that can only be obtained at or during an event is sometimes called swag (stuff we all get). Event swag builds hype around a seemingly limited product.

Similar to the exclusivity tactic, people like to have something that’s considered limited or a collectible within the industry. This can be accomplished by simply modifying an existing product or you can take it a step further and design a whole new product that fits the event exclusively.

people in chairs

Be the one giving away the coolest stuff at a live event. People will tweet about it.

Referral Rewards

This strategy is just as useful today as it has been in the past. If someone recommends a friend buy from you, you kick them back a percentage of the proceeds (or something to that effect).

The idea is to entice a customer or visitor to influence others in the hopes that they will get a small prize, which could be a discount on a product, reduced rate on a subscription, etc.

The motivation of this tactic revolves around the ‘prize’ aspect, and the mere fact that a visitor could receive something for very little effort will generate some buzz with a variety of online publications.

This all depends on how generous you are, so keep in mind that giving someone a 1% discount isn’t going to go very far.

Web Tools

Designing and creating a useful web tool is easier said than done, but the end results can be bright green grassy hills full of positive content, enthusiastic social media, and consistent traffic.

There are two factors to keep in mind when contemplating whether you have a golden idea or not: 1) Will this tool be used more than once by a single users/website and 2) How long does it take to function in comparison to other similar web tools.

Industry Standards

This tactic can be very useful for inserting your company brand into a larger conversation and it’s a two-part strategy.

The first part revolves around developing an objective way to measure or judge a product, service, company or experience.

Then, you can publish content that shares your findings after the tests have been completed.

The idea is that by creating a standard measure that your industry adopts as indisputably useful, you’ll connect your brand to an industry standard for performance and/or quality. You might also generate content that is based off of the comparisons and conclusions you can draw from the standard in action. One example of an industry standard is the SEO Code of Ethics that Bruce Clay developed for a nascent SEO industry in 2000.

Industry Recognized Metric or Score

Creating a score or metric for measuring an aspect of your industry or style of business can be a very useful tool to have. Examples are Majestic’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow scores, or Moz’s Domain Authority score.

These are two metrics that are used across the search engine optimization industry and the brand names are built in.

It really doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to building brand awareness, content development, and everyday exposure.

Live Talks

Going on stage isn’t easy for most people, but public speakers that know their craft can leave a lasting impact on others, much like how a good movie can leave you thinking well after you’ve left the theater.

Many people who attend speeches or conferences like to liveblog, share bits of information on social media, etc., and all of this can help build up your brand and spread the word about your business or a topic that is exclusive to your business, product, or service.

spotlights

Jump in the spotlight from time to time. Your public speaking presentation can net online coverage.

Articles & Blog Posts

Correctly utilizing your established base should be the first place you start when you try to earn links or build a link magnet, so target your current audience. You can probably assume they’re interested in what you have to say or sell because they’re already on your site.

Leveraging your strengths is key unless you have a lot of time or money to waste, which most people don’t.

Publishing insightful articles or blog posts that prove a point, highlight a useful service, or provide real actionable content are one of the more effective ways to generate links to your site.

Exclusive Promotions

Everyone wants to be part of a group and that’s your advantage. Any marketing strategy that lends itself to a visitor’s inner curiosity will draw in that visitor.

An example would be a service/group/product that requires an invite, similar to the way a test group works for a video game or product in early development. The exclusivity factor is what kick starts the other websites to start creating and sharing content.

Other online magazines and blogs will use this same insight to their advantage to generate content and most likely link back to you for their visitors.

Social Media Interactions

Social media is a generally misunderstood tool for companies. In order to establish a worthwhile social media presence, you have a put in the work of providing excellent customer service and otherwise entertaining and delighting followers. The resulting benefit is marketing momentum.

Social media platforms are a tool that provide a direct line for personal interactions, but they won’t do the interactions for you; give AI and chat bots a few more years.

A brand known for being friendly and helpful has invested a great deal in positive interactions with visitors or customers. The best case scenario is a positive experience that goes viral. Yes, viral-level popularity is challenging, but don’t let that stop you from aiming high. Content goes viral as a result of a combination of offer, statement, audience, timing and more.

Of course, if it were easy, everyone would repeat the steps to make a viral hit over and over at will. Instead, you have to think outside of the box with your approach. Don’t be afraid to give something away. People love to share good experiences or things they’ve received.

smiling woman

Commit to giving your followers a warm and fuzzy feeling through your social media.

Comparison Articles/Blog Posts/Studies

Writing an article or blog post that compares and contrasts your company with other companies in the same context can be a useful way to insert yourself into a larger conversation. This is a great tactic for increasing brand authority, or at the very least for increasing awareness of your brand.

If the content is compelling and makes a valid argument or sheds light on a specific point, the companies mentioned in the article or blog post are more likely to respond or mention you in similar content they publish.

Publish Surveys

Similar to publishing research, publishing a survey is a good way to provide insight and useful data for your visitors.

This can also help build a conversation that your competitors will jump in on, ideally larger, more authoritative competitors.

The main goal of the survey is to produce information that is actionable and not just something that makes you think for a second.

If you can produce a survey that steers a customer one way or the other, you can be sure your competitors will notice, and may even syndicate that same information; at the very least the news sources of that industry will pick it up.

Limited-Time Offers

Offer a product or service for a limited time or to a finite number of customers. The objective here is to take advantage of the scarcity principle; if a product or service is only around for a limited time it becomes a must-have item in many people’s minds, regardless of the actual need.

You can find countless examples of this in a wide variety of industries from selling cars and mattresses, to fast-food eateries and online retail.

laptop with countdown time

An offer available for a limited time has added value worth sharing.

Seasonal Products

Seasonal products fall into the same realm as limited-time offers, but there are a couple of other variables that are key.

Most people love to be part of a group or system and making them feel like they’re part of the holiday season is no different.

Designing seasonal products or offerings are great way to stir up a conversation that surrounds your brand.

Scholarships

Offering a scholarship to a person(s) is a great way to build a conversation around your brand. The size of the scholarship doesn’t necessarily matter, it’s the intent and thought behind it.

Your company is giving away money to someone who could put it toward an educational use. So just like partnering with a charity, your good will could be the deciding factor for a potential customer. Not to mention the possible content that will be built around it on competitors websites, which is just another bonus for your brand authority.

Let’s be honest here, however: offering something meaningful will carry more weight than offering something paltry. It’s a balance between your budget and expected returns. When playing in this space, don’t be cheap, as that can hurt your brand.

Sponsorships and Donations

Sponsoring a program, product, event, contest, club, etc., is a great way to get your brand’s name on the board and insert yourself into a larger conversation.

Similar to a sponsorship or charity partnership, donations can be a one-time payout that kick-starts a conversation.

The key here is to target the right charity at the right time. What we mean by that is, if it’s during the holiday season and you make a large donation to a foundation, odds are you’re not the only one. However, if you make the donation in the “off-season,” you’re more likely to draw attention to your brand by being one of the only companies making donations at the time.

The charity or foundation you donate to can play a big role, too, but be careful not to choose one that has had some bad press in its recent past. Make sure you do your homework here so you’re not donating to a charity with some negative baggage.

Look for trending opportunities, such as new charities with lots of buzz or those with social media support from celebrities and the general population. Then determine if attaching yourself to that charity will resonate with your customer base.

teddy bear and girl

Sponsoring or donating to a good cause gains positive attention that your customers will remember.

Branded Contests

Contests can be an easy and affordable way to stir up some chatter in your industry or local community and having your brand attached to that chatter is usually a good thing.

The central idea is hosting a contest that gets people talking and gives back to someone in community that’s involved. This is likely to generate content when other websites advertise your contest (to build their own traffic, not sponsored ads about the contest) and the story of the contest and winner will generate it’s own content, too.

People love to share information or things they think other people don’t have. The more scenarios you generate that follow this model, the more content will be produced online and it’ll all focus around your brand or business (links included).

A perfect example of this is a Facebook Contest. You can ask that participants write a bit of content or submit a photo that revolves around some contest framework. Make the rules of entry something simple enough that anyone can get involved, but require enough creativity that entry presents an initial investment by the participant and drives them to get involved.

Internships

Internships aren’t typically a great marketing strategy, but you can shape the end-game of an internship so it’s more enticing, thus building a larger conversation around the position.

A full-time job, one-time involvement, part-time job, etc., anything that drives more interest to the opportunity, will help drive content that points to your website, company or product.

Infographics

Not too long ago, infographics were all the rage in the marketing and content community, and while their use has died off, their usefulness hasn’t.

Infographics still remain one of the best ways to digest large amounts of data in a clear and concise manner. Using colorful, high-contrast, attractive imagery and themes, and legitimately interesting data can still lead to a spike in traffic, sales and brand awareness.

No shortcuts here, though, as the goal is to be genuinely useful. Shortcuts on data, or confusion when reading an infographic can lead to this tactic backfiring.

Influencer Interviews

Interviewing big players in your industry is a great way to drive some new visitors to your website.

Anyone who makes a point to follow your big-name competitor, for example, is going to want to read what they have to say during an interview.

It’s a good assumption that those same users will more than likely wind up reading or listening to such interview content on your website.

microphone and mix board

It’s easier than ever to interview celebrities and influencers thanks to the internet.

Conferences

This isn’t always the easiest strategy to implement, but when a conference is hosted correctly it sticks in the collective mind of the community like going to a good party would. Sponsoring a successful conference is almost as good for building brand recognition/awareness and authority.

Any company that hosts or sponsors a well-received conference will come off as a major player in the industry and a trustworthy brand, not to mention the word-of-mouth conversations and blog posts that will be written shortly after it concludes.

Webinars

An online seminar is arguably a better use of a company’s marketing budget and resources due to the lack of travel, overhead costs, etc. for the people attending. This means more people can attend via a web presence and you have the same potential for building brand awareness and kick starting content development.

Similar to a conference, however, a well-produced webinar can result in a lot of follow-on blog posts and conversations.

Awards

Hosting an awards ceremony or simply giving an award out yourself is a great way to build an ever-growing presence.

Any recognized award tends to be the hallmark of someone’s career, or at the very least, is a great talking point, and if your brand name is attached to that award … enough said.

dog with bowtie

Celebrate your industry at its best with an award. Award recipients and industry colleagues will share.

Whitepapers

Publishing a whitepaper can be a time-consuming task given the detail and research they usually go into. However, they can be just as popular as infographics and they don’t require any graphic design skills.

Simply producing factual content with granular details can be more than enough to entice an industry expert to talk about it and share it.

Local Directories

Getting listed on a local directory is still something every website is going to want to accomplish.

Websites like Yext, Yelp, Yellowpages, etc., are still considered trusted sites with good reputations.

Directory spam is still nothing you want to even dip your toes into, but legitimate local directories are a safe bet for getting your name out there and building up some brand awareness.

In this same camp, look to local Chambers of Commerce and Better Business Bureau listings.

Evergreen Content

Developing and publishing evergreen content is an old strategy and remains just as effective as ever.

Any form of content that can provide a copious amount of valuable information for a topic that doesn’t change very often, will most likely be considered good evergreen content (until someone else out does it).

This form of content is considered some of the best you can develop, specifically because evergreen content is known to stick around for a while in the SERPs. So it stands to reason that the longer your content is visible to users, the more it will be read, shared, referenced, etc.

evergreen forest

Evergreen content stands the test of time and proves to be your most trafficked content over the years.

Wiki-page

Anyone can build a wiki-page, but the key purpose of these pages are purely informational. Any form of marketing or linking to transactional pages is considered spam in a wiki site.

The best way to take advantage of this strategy is to create a contextual link that relates to the founder of the company or website or to use a URL from your site as a reference link.

Video Tutorials & Reviews

Any kind of how-to, video walk-through, or product review is a great source for driving content and generating traffic. However, the real payout here is building an engaged following that does the all the sharing and syndication for you.

For example, if you run a blog around iPhones and the newest IOS is released with a bug and you’re aware of a quick fix that hasn’t hit the public yet, then sharing that quick fix could start a following full of people that will turn to you when another similar problem arises.

This theory is true for reviews as well. If you’re known to go into great detail and really dive into a product or service’s ins and outs you’ll most likely become a trusted source of information over time.

This will only cause potential customers to be more likely to buy something from you, provided it relates to the topic in which you’re a perceived expert.

Newsletters

A regular newsletter is still a valuable method for marketing or starting up a conversation. The problem most companies have is, just as in social media, they don’t remember to follow up with their readers.

Unless your newsletter is meant to sell a product (which is just an ad) you’re going to be presenting information and anyone who wants to interact with the company about said information, will more than likely search for some form of response.

It’s always a good idea to have an actual person to talk to rather than a FAQ page. How often do you hear stories of great interactions people had on the Frequently Asked Questions pages they encounter?

newspaper and briefcase

People subscribed to newsletters have agreed to ongoing communications with a company they value.

User Experience Attraction (Web 2.0)

Using user experience to your advantage has become an increasingly common route for many companies and it’s proven to be quite successful.

A catchy logo or theme that draws more attention than your competitor (in a good way and all things being relatively equal) will make visitors more likely to return to your website, as well as share positive opinions about your brand.

You can improve a user’s experience by choosing correct colors, contrasts and sleek designs, logos, buttons, etc., that don’t confuse people. All of this will help to influence a user when they land on your website.

AMA or Live Online Q&A

Providing a live experience (like an Ask Me Anything AMA session) is one of the best ways to start a conversation and build brand trust in your industry.

Being able to talk to people and answer spontaneous questions in front of an audience (this could be just one person) will give your visitors some perspective on you and your company.

People have an uncanny knack for being able to tell when others are lying or don’t know what they’re talking about, which is why any live event or presentation can be disastrous.

However, if you do know what you’re talking about and you’re able to impress your audience, then the likelihood of them using your service, buying your product, or signing up for your subscription goes up significantly.

E-book

Just like a white paper, an e-book tends to be a static form of material that is easy to share and is usually considered a more detailed and in-depth version of a blog post or article.

E-books have a benefit of requiring less maintenance and upkeep, such as responses to comments and answers to questions in blog comments. E-books have the desired effect of building brand name, enticing visitors to share content, visit (or return to) your website, and lead to possible sales.

"do more" on computer screen

Present in-depth research and unique analysis in an easy-to-share e-book format.

Crowdfund Support

Promoting a crowd funded event, product, idea, etc., helps to establish good will among your visitors and potential customers.

Crowdfunding isn’t thought of as a traditional form of marketing, but supporting a crowdfunded effort is like supporting a community fundraiser and can be surprisingly effective when it comes to building brand trust and content development/sharing.

The more positive signals you’re able to build and publically connect with, the more likely customers are to remain loyal and share the content your company produces.

By supporting a crowdfunded effort, you show a commitment to giving back to the community, and your customers will feel better about giving to you.

The Benefits of Link Magnets

In an effort to gain quality links, websites often lose sight of the bigger picture: backlinks are byproducts of real connections and relationships.

Without compromising search engine guidelines, take the time to implement smart, and strategic link earning ideas that will naturally attract quality links to your site.

Get started with link building by choosing a few of the ideas above and prioritizing them and scheduling them for production. Then have fun getting creative.

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