Halfway to My Goal! A Writing Experiment Update

This post is to give you a little update on my August writing experiment, and let you know what lessons I’ve learned so far.

Backstory: For those who are just tuning in, I set a goal to write 30,000 words during the month of August, and I’ve been updating my community as I pursue my goal.

Here’s the update, according to the numbers from today (August 21st, 2015):

  • So far this month, I’ve written 23,072 words.
  • I’ve spent a little under 15 hours writing those words.
  • My average writing speed is 1550 words per hour.

I feel pretty pleased with my progress, and I’m delighted to say that I haven’t missed a single day of writing this month.

I’ve written approximately 1,000 words a day for 21 days straight, and I have no plans to quit any time soon. I feel pretty confident I’ll be able to hit my goal of 30,000 words.

Halfway to the Goal! A Writing Experiment Update

Here’s what I’ve noticed during the first half of this experiment:

1. I definitely write significantly better (and have more fun writing) when I don’t procrastinate. If I wait until 11:00 PM to get my writing done (especially if completing the writing is the only thing standing between me and getting some sleep), it’s certainly not much fun to open my computer and try to crank out a thousand words.

I’ve noticed the quality of the writing suffers when I write late at night, too — probably because I’m just pounding out words in order to get to the goal.

If I write earlier in the day when I’m more energized and inspired, it’s a heck of a lot more fun to write, and I create better quality pieces.

2. I’ve decided it’s okay to occasionally write for fun, instead of always creating blog posts, content for my classes, or writing assignments.

A few days ago, I wrote for 20 minutes on the topic of “Snow,” and I had a great time with it. The essay I ended up writing certainly isn’t literature, and it’s not usable as a blog post, but there are a couple of good lines in it.

I’ve decided to let myself have a few lighter, creative breaks during this month — especially when I’m not in the mood to write and have to give myself a little extra push to start typing.

3. I’m getting faster. I have noticed that the “Words Per Hour” number on my writing log spreadsheet is increasing each day, so I believe all this practice is paying off!

4. I like to write, but during this challenge, sometimes I just have to force myself to get the words done. I made a deal with myself that I would write every day this month – and I am honoring that – but it’s not always fun.There are days when I wish I could do something else with that writing time.

We’re at the tail end of summer break for my kiddo, and there are times when I feel like my work time is at a real premium. Sometimes it feels a little wasteful to use my working time to write one more blog post, when I’ve already got six others in the hopper that need to be edited and published on the site.

5. Which brings me to my next point: I’ve discovered that editing, polishing and publishing a blog post takes a long time. I never realized how much time I spend tweaking and publishing my posts. It’s taking me a long time to go through that whole process for the posts I’ve written during this challenge. Right now, I have a backlog of posts I’ve written this month that need to be edited and published, so I need to build time into my work schedule to do that.

6. Writing every day is incredibly satisfying. I feel like I really accomplish something every day. If I add 1,000 words (or more!) to my writing log each night, I feel satisfied. I love seeing my total number of words creep closer to 30,000, day by day. Even if I don’t do anything with the rest of my day other than put out fires or battle my email inbox, I know at least I’ve completed my words. And that’s pretty great.

Need a Writing Guide? Try the Free Write Fling

A few of you have asked whether I will be doing a 30-day writing challenge for my audience at some point. I’m considering it, but in the meantime, I want to give you a fantastic resource if you’d like to jump into guided writing practice.

Cynthia Morris, a creativity and writing coach, runs a program called the Free Write Fling several times a year, and it’s wonderful. The goal is for everyone in the program to write a little bit every day, and Cynthia sends you daily writing reminders and encouragement during the month of the program.

Cynthia’s next Free Write Fling is happening in October, and you can find out more here.

Want to know what I think so far?

Look for a post from me at the end of this month to wrap up the experiment and give you my final conclusions. But right now, at the midpoint in my experiment, I can say this:

Writing every day is tough. It is satisfying. And it is worth it.

6 Valuable Lessons from Writing a Controversial Blog Post

In early June, I wrote a blog post voicing a strong (and somewhat controversial) opinion about Facebook Pages. The post was called Please, Please Don’t Ask Me to Like Your Facebook Page, and it was probably the most opinionated piece I’ve ever published.

I published it because I wanted to teach you, my faithful reader, that one commonly-accepted way to accrue more Facebook fans might actually backfire on you and cause more harm than good.

I used the post to give you some alternative suggestions for getting more Likes on your Facebook page.

I also had another (smaller) motive. Since I had never written a controversial post before – not on my own site, and not on any of the other industry sites I write for — I was curious to see what would happen if I wrote a mildly inflammatory post.

I wondered how much traffic it might attract, whether the post would get shared, and if I would get angry comments from people who disagreed with me.

6 Lessons from Writing a Controversial Post

I didn’t write the post specifically to experiment, and I didn’t manufacture an opinion on Facebook pages just to write the piece. I simply picked a strong opinion I already had, wrote a useful post about it, then kept a careful eye on the results.

Here’s what I learned from my editorial experiment:

1. I did get some negative comments, and I lived through it.

Out of 24 comments on the post, 2 were critical. I was called angry, petty and mean-spirited. I have to admit, that stung a little.

It helped me to think about the fact that the angry commenters were peeved about the opinion I voiced — not necessarily at me personally. I tried not to feel too hurt by it, particularly because these comments weren’t left by people I personally know.

I’ve also heard from other online marketing experts that it’s actually good when people start to criticize you and your opinions, because it means you’ve reached a certain critical mass with your content. Once you grow to a certain point, they say, some criticism is inevitable.

The good news is that the other 22 comments were all supportive. Those commenters agreed with me, thanked me for bringing up the issue, and said they thought the highly critical comments I received were unreasonable. I

Interestingly, a number of commenters said they had always wondered if that method of asking for Facebook fans was a good idea, and they thanked me for addressing the issue so directly.

Lesson learned: The negative comments hurt a little, but I recovered (with the help of the positive commenters and the rest of my audience) and will live to blog another day!

2. Traffic SOARED on the day I published the controversial post.

I attracted three times more traffic on the day I published this Facebook post than ANY OTHER DAY IN 2015.

That means you can take the top traffic day on my blog for all of the previous days in 2015, then TRIPLE that number, and that’s the traffic I received on the day I published this post.

Lesson learned: Whether we want to admit it or not, controversy sells. You will likely get more traffic if you are willing to express a strong opinion and publish it.

Yes, this is a strategy that can get old quickly. I’m not recommending you publish controversial posts just for the traffic, or that every one of your posts needs to be a rabble-rouser.

But if you’ve got a post you’ve been considering publishing, and you’ve been holding back because you’re afraid of offending people, you may want to take a chance and put it out there.

3. Social media shares also increased for the controversial post.

The Facebook post has been shared over 100 times, which is higher than normal for a post published on my own site.

It’s tough to say whether people shared the post because they agreed with my post, or because they were annoyed by it. Either way, they shared it – so that’s good news for my traffic stats.

Lesson learned: People are more than willing to share controversial posts on social media, so it’s likely you will see more shares when you write a strong opinion piece.

4. Headlines matter.

I didn’t add a truly inflammation headline to this post. I could’ve called the piece, “The #1 Way to Annoy the Crap Out of Your Facebook Friends,” or something similar.

A headline like that would potentially whip people into a frenzy, but I downplayed it a bit and chose a slightly mellower headline. That may have hurt by traffic, but that’s okay. It was a trade off for me.

Lesson learned: You have to decide whether you want to use an inflammatory headline or not. I was willing to try this post without it, to see what kind of results I could get.

Who knows? I might re-publish this post in a couple of years with a different headline, and see if the results are any different.

5. My opt-out rate for that post was no higher than normal.

I send all of my blog posts out to my email list. I use a little teaser emails, which hints at the content of the post and includes a link back to my site.

One of my biggest fears about publishing a controversial post was that I was going to lose a lost of my subscribers.

My list is large enough that I always get some folks who unsubscribe (every time I send out a post). That’s true whether I’m sending out something that is heavily promotional, or if I’m sending new content.

The good news about this controversial post is that my unsubscribe rate was no higher than any of the previous four times I had sent out a newsletter or a new blog post. My fears of a massive exodus from my list were largely unfounded.

Lesson learned: Even I write a controversial post that causes some heated discussion in the comments, I’m not likely to lose a ton of subscribers. This may not be true for EVERY topic, but it was for this Facebook post.

6. Get a friend, colleague or editor to read the post before you publish it.

In the future, when I’m considering publishing something that might be a bit contentious, I will plan on having a friend or colleague read the piece before I hit “publish”.

I wrote and published my controversial post late at night, and sent the email to my list about the post the following morning (very early).

I didn’t have a second pair of eyes to read it and let me know if I had gone too far. In retrospective, that was pretty dumb. It’s always (ALWAYS) a good idea to have someone read your posts, just to make sure you’re coming across the way you intend, and not overdoing it. This is true with any post, but it’s even more crucial with a controversial post.

Leasson learned: If you’re thinking about writing something that’s going to raise some hackles, plan far enough in advance that you can have a friend, colleague, significant other or editor read it before you click that “Publish” button.

Was It Worth It To Write a Controversial Post?

In a nutshell – yes. A million times yes.

If you have a strong opinion and you’re wondering if it’s a good idea to take a chance and publish a controversial post, I think you should give it a shot and see what happens.

Again, I’m not saying you should manufacture controversy or publish something simply to make waves.

But in my (very limited) experience with taking a chance on publishing a post that might piss people off, I think it’s absolutely worth it. I got a HUGE traffic spike on the day I published the post, and that rush of visitors continued for the next 4-5 days. We also generated some fascinating discussion in the comments, and that discussion is now part of the permanent content on my post.

Got a post you’re considering writing? Maybe you’d like to express frustration about something, or you’d like to give your readers some advice that is outside the normal recommendations in your industry.

If you’ve got a controversial idea in mind for your blog, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

And next time I feel like mouthing of about something on the blog, I’ll let you know how it goes. :)

How a Writing Experiment Is Going to Help Me Take Over the World

For the month of August, I’m taking on a gigantic challenge.

This month, I am going to write 30,000 words.

That might sound a little bit insane to you. It does to me, too.

My mentor, Jon Morrow, is a big fan of intensive writing practice as a way to becoming a faster, more productive writer. He says writing every day will not only lead to better writing and massive content creation, it will actually help you come up with better ideas. Ideas for things like blog posts, podcasts, videos, products, and business ventures.

When I first heard Jon was challenging his students to write 1,000 words every single day – including all holidays and weekends – I thought to myself:

“If I could write 30,000 words every month, I could take over the world.”

How I'm Going to Write 30,000 Words This Month

What could you do with 30,000 words?

Imagine what you could do if you wrote 30,000 words every month.

Want to know what you could create with your 30,000 words? Let me give you some context:

  • My book was 37,000 words when I gave the first draft to my publisher in April 2012. Eventually it got whittled down a bit, to around 33,00 words, but I did actually write 37,000 words for the first draft.
  • Most of the posts I write for my own blog are approximately 1,000 words.
  • When I write posts for Copyblogger, those posts is around 1,500 words.
  • I create free reports and handouts to give away as email subscriber incentives, and each of those documents is 3,000+ words.

That means in one month, if I meet my goal of 30,000 words, I could:

  • Nearly complete another book, or
  • Write 20-30 blog posts, or
  • Create 10 additional incentives to give away on my site.

What Gets Measured, Gets Managed

If I’m going to meet my goal of 30,000 words this August, I have to keep track of exact how much I’m writing and how long it takes me to write every day. So I created a simple Excel spreadsheet to track my progress. Here’s what I’m tracking on this document:

  • How many words I’ve written daily
  • How long it took me to write those words
  • What I wrote during that time period
  • Running totals for the day and for the month
  • How many words I still need to write to reach my 30,000 word goal

Here’s what my spreadsheet looks like right now:

What It Looks Like to Write 30,000 Words in One Month

The rules for my grand writing adventure

Here are some things I’m doing to make sure I meet my goal:

  • I’m trying to write approximately 1,000 words every day. I will either write 1,000 words in one big session, or write my words during several smaller sessions during the day. But I have promised myself that I’m not going to sleep each night until I write 1,000 words.
  • I’m keeping a running list of possible blog post topics. I’ve created a document called, “Post Ideas”, and within that document I have separate columns for things like upcoming guest post opportunities, paid writing gigs (including my writing for Copyblogger), and blog post ideas for my own site. I’m doing this to insure I never run out of stuff to write. If I complete one post in the middle of a writing session, I just fire up a new Word document and start my next post.
  • I’m not counting editing time in my overall word count, unless I’m adding a large and substantial section to a piece I’m editing.
  • If I have to do substantial writing for an email campaign to send to my list – as I often do during webinars or product launches — I am counting those words.
  • I’ve promised myself that if I miss a day or fall short, I will make up for it on the one of the subsequent days.
  • I’m trying really hard not to take a day off, and write no matter what is going on professionally or personally. I don’t know if that will work, especially with my health limitations, but I will let you know in my follow-up posts.
  • I almost always listen to music when I write. It keeps me motivated and gives my brain something to do when I’m writing. Pop music works particularly well for me. It’s like letting myself have a cookie while I’m doing my homework.

Look for more updates as I write myself into a stupor ☺

Later this month, I’ll let you know how the experiment is progressing. Yes, I’m planning on including screenshots of my writing logs – it will keep me accountable!

At the end of this month, I’ll also give you a “lessons learned” post to wrap up the experiment. I’ll also let you know what how much (or little) I accomplished during my heavy-duty writing month, and whether I plan on continuing to write at that volume.

If I’m talking to myself, chewing on pencil erasers or not able to form full sentences by the end of the month, I’ll let you know. If it was a super-productive month and I can’t wait to keep going, I’ll tell you that, too.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your own writing practices. How do you stay motivated to write? Do you track how much you’re writing?

If you wrote 30,000 words, do you feel (like me) that you could take over the world?

Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

How to Motivate Yourself To Do Just About Anything

I was talking to my friend Anne Samoilov the other day. She told me she’s trying to get a finish a webinar presentation, and asked me if I had any tips for getting it done quickly.

“When do you need to have it completed?” I asked.

“Pretty much…yesterday,” she said.

I told her I have a technique that really works well for me, but warned her that it might seem a little extreme.

How to Motivate Yourself to Do Just About AnythingShe seemed game, so I filled her in.

My best method to get things done – especially things that might be tedious, like webinar presentations, blog posts or other content creation – was to set an insane deadline, then make sure it’s too painful for me to do anything except meet that deadline.

If I’m creating a webinar, here’s how that process works for me:

  1. I think of an idea for a webinar.
  2. I create a title and some quick bullet points, then create a simple sign up page for the webinar.
  3. I start promoting the webinar and getting people to sign up for the event. I usually start promoting 5-6 days before a live webinar.
  4. I create the slides, show up for the webinar, and do the presentation.

This technique works astounding well for me, and here’s why:

  • I know I will never create a presentation (and the slides to go with it) if I don’t give myself a short timeline to do it. So I set a date and start promoting the event to my audience and my social networks, thereby holding my feet to the virtual fire.
  • Once people start signing up – once it is guaranteed there will be people who log in for the webinar who will expect me to show up and share my expertise – I have no choice put to create the presentation and prepare for the talk.

This technique has worked for me for guest blog posts, course creation, live speaking events, and all kinds of other huge projects.

I even used this technique to write my book (Pinfluence: The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest) in just under six weeks. My publisher set that deadline back in 2012, when we were rushing to get the book out the door before any other publisher launched a book on Pinterest marketing.

I met the book deadline, even though it seemed insane at the time. Now I know it’s absolutely possible to do incredible things when I set outrageous goals and don’t give myself any time to screw around, procrastinate, give in to resistance, or give up.

One of my coaches, Pamela Slim, even commented on my ability to keep cranking away on my business, so matter what else was going on. “Beth, you SHIP stuff,” she said — which I took as a huge compliment.

Do I create perfect stuff every time I use this technique? Absolutely not. But as my mentor Jon Morrow says, “Awesomeness is an iterative process.”

I’m a big fan of creating something and getting it out the door, then making it a little bit better with each successive draft. I would rather do that than never create anything at all.

The time this technique crashed and burned

You might be wondering if this technique has ever backfired on me.

In short – yes.

Occasionally, setting insane deadlines and promoting unfinished content has led to the occasional rush job.

During one particular launch, I ended up having to pull an all-nighter to complete a sales page and meet the deadline I set for myself. That one was just poor planning on my part. I just flat-out did not leave myself enough time to complete the project.

I won’t lie to you. Pulling an all-nighter sucked. It’s a lot less fun at 40 years old than it was when I was a 20-year-old college student (and it was never that much fun, even then!)

But I’ve only had this technique bite me in the butt (in a major way) ONCE, in all the time I’ve been using this process. In almost all the other cases, I shipped content and products I never would’ve created otherwise.

One all-nighter for three years of productivity? I’ll take it.

How to try Beth’s “feet-to-the-fire” creation method

So if you’re struggling to create something and you really just need to get it done and shipped, here’s what I recommend:

  • Set a deadline that is far enough out to get the work done.
  • Subtract a few days from that original deadline (or more, if you’ve estimated really conservatively). If you’ve estimated it will take you a month to create a presentation, shave off a week. If you assume it’s going to take you a year to finish a book, set a deadline of eight months.
  • Publicize the product, webinar, presentation or launch you’re creating.
  • Once you’ve got your deadline, put your head down and get started. Work your butt off until the thing is done.
  • Take a rest break, then set another deadline and do it again.

Remember, you must make it PAINFUL for you to miss the deadline or not be prepared. If there’s no consequence, it won’t motivate you to finish.

If you’re hosting a webinar, create a sign-up page for the event and start getting people to sign up. If it’s a book, line up your editor and tell her to start charging you by the day if you miss your deadline.

If you need this approach, try it

Here’s the thing: If you’re a planner and you always leave yourself plenty of time to start and finish projects, you probably don’t need to try this technique.

If you’ve read this post, and any part of you is thinking, “I would never procrastinate on a big project, and I would never feel comfortable promoting something that isn’t finished yet,” this is probably isn’t the right technique for you.

But if you’re like me and you’d never get anything done without a deadline, try this technique to complete a project you’d really like to finish and get out the door.

Wondering which project to choose? If someone asks you about your timeline and asks you when you’d like to get a particular project done, and your answer is “yesterday,” that’s the right one.

So pick a project and give it a try.

You must just be amazed at the magic you can create when you set ridiculous goals – and meet them.

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Do Wildly Useful Blogging Research Using BuzzSumo

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Do Wildly Useful Blogging Research Using BuzzSumo

Want to know the fastest, easiest way to discover the most popular content in your blogging niche? Do you want to find out exactly who is sharing that content online?

You could do research on Twitter or Facebook, but sometimes it’s difficult to figure out exactly what you’re looking for (and if the results you’re getting are actually accurate).

That’s why I recommend using BuzzSumo to do your blogging research.

BuzzSumo is an online tool that can help you with three major things:

  1. Content Research: Search for the most popular content on any particular topic.
  2. Influencer Research: Find out which influencers, popular bloggers and journalists are sharing the most content related to your topic.
  3. Research on your Competition: Discover which of your competitors’ blog posts are gaining traction online.

Here’s a tutorial on how to use BuzzSumo to conduct useful research in these three areas.

Content Research: Looking for most popular content on a topic

Start by going to BuzzSumo.com. Type your blog topic into the search bar across the top of the screen, the click the “Go” button.

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Do Blogging Research Using BuzzSumo

I searched for the phrase “email marketing” for this example, but you can also search for a single word.

When you see your page of search results from BuzzSumo, you can also filter those results using the options on the left side of your screen.

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Do Blogging Research Using BuzzSumo

I filtered out everything except Articles and Guest Posts, and got these results for my search term. What BuzzSumo is showing here is a list of the 10 most-shared articles on email marketing (click on the image to see a larger view):

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Do Blogging Research Using BuzzSumo

Here’s how to use this information: You can use this information to identify subjects that have broad appeal, based on how many times they have been shared on social sites.

These topics can help you fill in your editorial calendar, pitch winning ideas for guest posts, get ideas for social media content, and keep on top of trends in your industry.

Influencer Research: Find people who have shared content on your topic.

Once you’ve done your initial search, click the “Influencers” tab to see people who have frequently shared blog post and articles about your topic.

BuzzSumo3a

If you want to know more about the kinds of links that influencer has shared, you can dig deeper by clicking the “View Links Shared” button next to each person’s name.

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Do Blogging Research Using BuzzSumo

Here’s how to use this information: One of the best things you can do to promote your blog posts is ask influencers and popular bloggers to share your content for you.

BuzzSumo’s “Influencer” search lets you find influential people who have shared content on your topic (and even gives you the direct links to their blogs and Twitter profiles, too).

To find out more about how to conduct a successful blogger outreach campaign, read this great article on BoostBlogTraffic.com.

Competitor Research: Find out which blog posts on your competitors’ sites are most popular

You can also enter a domain name into BuzzSumo’s search box, to do a little (legal) spying on your competition.

When I did a search for “contentmarketinginstitute.com,” I got these results:

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Do Blogging Research Using BuzzSumo

Here’s how to use this information: It’s important to know what your colleagues and competitors are doing (and what content is gaining traction with your target audience).

This information can help you build your editorial calendar, come up with ideas for new products and services, and gain a better understanding of what kinds of content your target audience needs.

Pay special attention to the headlines of these popular blog posts — if you mine this data regularly and intelligently, you can seriously increase your chances of picking blog post headlines that go viral!

You can also run a search on your own site, and find out which of your blog posts have been shared most often. ☺

Adding BuzzSumo to Your Online Marketing Research Toolbox

BuzzSumo is a “freemium” tool, which means you can use some of their services for free, then get access to more options and tools if you pay a monthly fee.

And just to let you know, BuzzSumo will prompt you to create a (free) login and password once you’ve done a few initial searches. When you’ve got your free account set up, you can do as many searches as you want.

BuzzSumo’s data isn’t 100% accurate all the time. When I ran searches for my BethHayden.com site, I did notice some discrepancies between BuzzSumo’s social sharing data and the counts I’m seeing on my WordPress social sharing plugin.

What’s important is that you look for overall trends in the data. What kinds of headlines and topics are working well for your audience (and which ones aren’t gaining much traction)? Which influencers are most likely to share the kind of posts you write on your blog?

BuzzSumo can give you loads of helpful information, and it’s absolutely worth taking it for test drive. Try it today, and let me know what kind of helpful information you find for your own online marketing journey!

 

Please, Please Don’t Ask Me to Like Your Facebook Page.

Please Don't Ask Me to Like Your Facebook Page - Here's Why
WantsYoutoLike2

Last week, I received four automated email invitations asking me to Like someone’s Page on Facebook. These invitations came straight into my email inbox, and I deleted all of them immediately.

The 200 invitations I got before that? They all got deleted, too.

Want to know how many Pages I have “Liked” because someone sent out an email blast from Facebook, asking me to Like it?

Zero.

That’s right. I never Like a Facebook Page when someone invites me to do so via an email blast.

It’s not that I don’t use Facebook. I’m on Facebook every day – sometimes multiple times a day.

And it’s not that I don’t Like Pages on Facebook, either. Right now, I follow tons of businesses, authors, bands and public figures and I love getting their updates in my Facebook feed.

So if I’m not Liking Pages when I get invited via email, how and why do I start following them?

Usually, I either:

  • Discover a Page on someone’s blog or website, because I’m already reading their content and want to connect with them via social media
  • Start following a Page because someone else has shared that Page’s content within Facebook. I follow the update or link within Facebook, get to the Page, and Like it.

I follow businesses and individuals on Facebook because I appreciate the content, information and offers on those Pages – not because someone blasted out a huge invitation to thousands of their personal friends and I happened to receive it in the middle of my work day.

So those constant emails I get from people who want more Likes, who send out emails begging for Facebook attention? They get ignored.

In the last few months, I have been invited to Like Pages for sandwich shops, restaurants and bars that are thousands of miles from where I live. I’ve been invited to Like Pages for businesses and causes that are completely irrelevant to my interests. People who are hosting live, in-person events (in other countries!) have asked me to Like their event Pages when there is no possible way I can attend.

These invitations annoy me. Really annoy me.

Want me to be brutally honest?

I’m actually less likely to Like someone’s Page – even if I find it organically and I’m interested in the Page’s content — if they have invited me to Like the Page via automated Facebook email blast.

Is that mean? Maybe. But it’s the truth. And if I feel that way, I can guarantee there are a whole lot of other people who feel exactly the same way.

Facebook makes it stupidly easy to annoy the crap out of your friends and family

When you own or manage a Facebook Page, you get the option to “invite” people to Like your Page.

When you’re on your Page on Facebook, you can just click on the three dots next to the “Share” button to get a dropdown menu that looks like this:

FacebookLikeInvitationArrow

When you click on “Invite Friends”, Facebook lets you select from a list of all your personal Facebook profile friends – the people who are connected to you as an individual – and send them an email invitation asking them to Like your Page.

It looks easy, right? It looks like it would totally work, right? And it’s SO SIMPLE.

But I’m asking you to resist the urge to do this.

You will annoy your friends, you will look desperate, and the number of new Likes you get will be negligible at best.

What You Should Do Instead of Inviting Friends to Like Your Page

If you want to gather some new Likes without bugging your Facebook friends, here are some other options for getting them:

  • Put an update on your (personal) Facebook profile that says, “I’m putting business updates and other content about [YOUR TOPIC] on my Facebook Page. If you’d like to follow me there, click here to connect with me,” and include a link to your Page.
  • Add a link to your Facebook page to the bottom of your blog posts or email broadcasts.
  • Buy Facebook ads (there are specific ad types that help you attract Likes for your Page).

Need more ideas? Read this great article from HubSpot, How to Get More Likes on Your Facebook Page. NOTE: Yes, this article does tell you to send invitations to existing contacts. Ignore that, but use the rest of their advice! :)

Where to Go From Here

What if you’ve already invited all your Facebook contacts to Like your Page? That’s okay. It’s not the end of the world, and I promise you’re not going to social media marketing hell for doing it.

Just know that going forward, there are faster and more effective ways to grow your Facebook presence. There are ways of getting more Likes by using smart (organic) online marketing tactics, or by paying for Facebook advertising.

Just promise me that from this point on, you’ll keep your mitts off that “Invite Friends” button.

On Mothers, Courage, and Defeating Old Stories

On Mothers, Courage, and Defeating Old Stories

It was 1998. I was 23 years old, and I was staring at an airport gate at the Baltimore Washington International Airport. I had my carry-on bag, trashy magazines, and salty snacks. I was ready to travel.

But there was a problem.

A gigantic plane, headed to Boulder, Colorado, was boarding 15 feet from me – and I was too scared to get on it.

Let me back up a little.

How exactly did I end up at this airport, on this particular day, with a ticket to Boulder in my hot little hands?

Post-graduation blues

I graduated from Penn State in December 1997, and spent the first six months after graduation trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life. I continued living in the Penn State area after graduation, and I cobbled together a weird, directionless post-graduation existence.

I started training to be a restaurant manager, and quit after a month. I did administrative work at the Materials Science department at the University, and waitressed at a 1950’s-style diner to pay the rent.

I considered graduate school, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to study or if it would actually help me decide on a career.

During this time, I suffered from massive insomnia, so I became friends with a guy who made doughnuts in the middle of the night at a local bakery. I hung out in the shop at 2 AM, trying to figure things out, while he kneaded and fried the dough.

I was wracked with paralyzing indecision, and smelled of pastries and diner grease all the time.

After a few months, I was exhausted, worn down and sick of myself.

Then an idea for a new direction came from an unexpected source.

A friend of mine (who had graduated from Penn State a few years before) called from Boulder, Colorado. He was attending the University of Colorado as a graduate student in engineering, and wanted to catch up.

I told him I felt stuck and wasn’t sure what my next move should be. I was tired of State College but didn’t want to move back to my hometown, either.

“Well,” he said. “Boulder is pretty great. If you’re not sure what you want to do next, why don’t you figure it out here?”

I hesitated. Move across the country, alone? Really?

But he urged me to think about it. A few weeks later, he even bought me a plane ticket to fly out and visit him, so I scope out his shiny city.

Falling in love with a new plan

I left the doughnut baker and the diner job for a few days, and flew to Boulder. It only took me a few days to fall in love with Colorado and decide I wanted to make the move.

It was nutty. It was impulsive. And it was just crazy enough to work.

At this point it was July 1998, and I knew I needed to:

  • Find a job in Boulder
  • Give away or sell most of my belongings from my State College apartment
  • Buy a plane ticket to Boulder
  • Get on the plane and start my new life

In the meantime, though, I had some family obligations. My older sister was getting married in Pennsylvania in September, and I was the maid of honor. So I had to build my moving itinerary around the wedding date, too.

The plan – unbelievably – actually came together that August. I landed a job at a school in Boulder, sold or gave away most of my stuff, got fitted for my bridesmaid dress, and geared up for the big move.

So on the night of September 12th, the night of my sister’s wedding, everything was ready to go. I would celebrate with my family, then fly to Boulder the next morning.

I smiled for photos and supported my sister that night, and tried not to think about how I was turning my life upside down by moving across the country. I danced and bonded with extended family and pushed aside my uncertainty.

After the wedding, I went home and packed up my last minute stuff. I stayed up all night getting ready to go, and tried to mentally prepare myself to take the biggest leap of my young life.

The gate is open – but I’m paralyzed by cold feet

By 10 AM the next morning, my parents are I were standing at the gate at the airport, and I was a mess.

The gate agent made the announcement for me to board the plane, and mom and dad looked at me expectantly.

And instead of bravely skipping down the hallway to my seat, I stood there in tears, my feet rooted firmly in place. I was freaking out and completely falling apart.

“I can’t do it, Mom.” I choked out. “I’m too scared.”

Thank God for my mom, who has always had an outstanding ability to read people’s emotions and come up with the perfect thing to say or do to help. She recognized my meltdown for what it really was – a symptom of total exhaustion and overwhelm.

And she didn’t give me a way out.

She didn’t say, “No problem, kiddo – let’s just get in the car and drive home, and you can just live with us.”

She didn’t give me permission to give up on my dream and let the fear win.

She simply handed me a tissue, said, “You want to do this, remember?” and reminded me WHY I wanted to get on the plane and go to Boulder. Then she steered me over to the gate, hugged me, took me by the shoulders and pointed me toward the entrance to the walkway.

Her confidence buoyed my spirits and gave me some much-needed perspective. If Mom believed I could do it – and that I was doing the right thing – then I could believe it too.

I took a deep breath, handed my ticket to the gate agent and walked down the bridge to my new life.

So why am I telling you this story?

I’m telling you because this little vignette is a core part of my personal narrative. And it also held me back in my business for a long, long time.

Here’s what I made up about this story:

For many years, I believed that my courage was limited. I believed I could be brave when I was in the planning stages of doing something big, but my bravery was always going to fail me at the last minute.

When the time came to pull the trigger, I thought I would always chicken out.

Because of that conclusion, I avoided taking chances. I said no a lot, and declined opportunities to do high-profile speeches, because I was afraid I would back out at the last minute when my courage inevitably failed.

It took me YEARS to realize that this little airport story – the tale of one exhausted morning in Baltimore when I got cold feet before taking a HUGE step in my life –doesn’t mean I was a coward.

It doesn’t mean I’m not strong or brave. It means that I’m human. And it means I need support and encouragement – just like everyone else.

Because the fact is – I did get on the plane that day. I did move to Boulder. And I’ve been living here quite happily for 16 years.

I’ve been brave and tough at other times over the years, too. Being a single mom takes courage. So does negotiating a huge contract with a big client. So does quitting my corporate job to write a book.

Now when I look over the entire arc of my personal narrative, I can see that I can be brave — even when it’s hard, and even when I’m scared. My conclusion was wrong, and it was interfering with my business decisions.

Here’s why that’s important for you as a business owner –

You probably have a story like this from your past that means something BIG to you. You might have come to a conclusion about what that story means for you as a person, and as a business owner.

And it’s possible your conclusion is completely wrong. Or it was right at the time, but it’s not right anymore.

We all make up interpretations about our past stories. We believe our stories dictate how confident, strong, charming, organized, or financially responsible we are.

And all that stuff we make up can seriously get in our way when we’re trying to run our businesses.

When you think back over your past, are there stories you believe are really, totally, 100% true about who you are and what your skills are? Journal about one of those stories, then write down your old interpretation about what happened (and what it means about who you are).

Then ask yourself – is it possible that interpretation isn’t 100% true? Is it possible that the story doesn’t mean what you think?

Is it possible you’ve changed since then? Do you have more current stories from your life that actually contradict those old conclusions?

Perhaps you’ve actually been charming, financially responsible and intuitive for years, and you haven’t been willing or able to acknowledge it. Or even if the story has been true so far, maybe you’re ready to move past that conclusion and get rid of some bad habits from your past. You might be ready to make that big change.

Journal about those thoughts, and keep pondering these questions over the next few days or weeks.

Our past doesn’t own us

Here’s what you need to remember — your past doesn’t have to continue to dictate who you are and what you can do in this world. Your old stories don’t have to limit what you do and how big you dream.

It may be time to let go of those old legends, or at least shift the stories you tell yourself about those legends.

Sometimes a story is really just that – a story. And you control whether you want to believe that story or not.

It’s completely up to you.

How to Add Pinterest Descriptions to Your Images

Are you using Pinterest to try to drive traffic back to your website or blog?

Then you definitely want your content comes up in the Pinterest search results when pinners are looking for new stuff to pin.

One of the best ways to get found in the Pinterest search results is to include keyword-rich descriptions for all of your Pinterest pins. The description is just the little caption area underneath each pin, where you can add some text about what’s in the picture.

Here’s an example of a pin on Pinterest. The pin description is indicated by the red arrow.

Pinterest Pin with Description Highlighted

Let’s take a look at an example.

If I want to pin an image from Brian Clark’s new blog, Further.net, I’ll use my trusty PinIt bookmarklet for my browser.

I’ll choose an image from Brian’s most recent post, How to Transform Yourself (Without Disrupting Your Life). Then, from within the bookmarklet pop-up box, I’ll choose a board on which to pin the image.

Then, I’ll see a box like the one below. I can edit or change the pin description in the area indicated by the red arrow.

Furthernet

Here’s what’s interesting, though – it your visitors use the PinIt bookmarklet to pin images from your site, they are probably not going to bother to edit the description that auto-populates in that area. They’re just going to pick a board, click “Pin It” and move on to the next shiny object they see online.

Here’s why that is important for you -

If you want to get traffic for Pinterest, you must optimize your images for Pinterest, and add pre-populated pin descriptions that are search engine friendly. Since most pinners don’t usually change or add pin descriptions when they pin your images, it’s highly likely the original description will stay with that pin as it gets re-pinned to various boards all over Pinterest. So you want to get it right — right from the start.

And as it turns out, there’s a quick and easy way for you to optimize every image on your site for Pinterest by pre-populating that “description” field.

Here’s a quick little video that describes the process of how to add descriptions to your images when you’re using WordPress.org. The process will be really similar on other blogging platforms.

If you want to see a larger version of this video, click here.

This is one of those quick little tips for Pinterest that might come in handy in you’re using Pinterest to drive traffic back to your blog.

I’d love to hear how YOU use Pinterest (personally or professionally)! Tell me in the comments below what you like to do with Pinterest, and feel free to share a link to one of your favorite boards. It can be one of your boards, or someone else’s!

The Top 5 Reasons You’re Probably Terrified of Hosting Your Own Webinars

The Top 5 Reasons You're Probably Terrified of Hosting Your Own Webinars

Note: This post is part of my 4-part series answering the biggest questions people have about webinars. You can read the first three posts here:

What the Heck is a Webinar?
Why Webinars Might Be the Best Thing You’ll Ever Do for Your Business
41 Ways to Build Your List, Bond with Your Readers and Make More Money Using Webinars

And get information on my upcoming program, Mighty Webinars, which can help you create, promote and run your own profitable, ethical webinars.


You look at other experts in your industry, hosting wildly successful webinars that bring in hundreds of participants and thousands in sales.

And you know that hosting webinars could help you build your list, increase your online authority and make more money for your business.

But when you think about hosting our own webinar, are you actually….terrified?

If so, you’re not alone.

Lots of people find webinars intimidating.

It’s no wonder, really. Webinars seem really technical and they’re highly visible. And as with all live events, sometimes things go wrong on webinars.

But in many ways, webinars are actually simpler than you think.

So let’s get all those fears right out in the open. Let’s talk about the main reasons people are scared about webinars, and then we’ll get a little dose of reality.

By the time we’re done, we’ll blast right through your fears and get you ready to host your own profitable, ethical webinars.

Fear #1: You think you actually have to be on camera during a webinar.

A lot of folks believe that when you run a webinar, you actually need to be in front of the camera, presenting your material. And that can feel really scary!

Fear of being in front of the camera is one of the biggest concerns that keeps people from creating their own YouTube videos, as well.

REALITY CHECK: You don’t actually need to be in front of the camera to host a webinar.

I’ve hosted lots and lots of webinars over to the last few years, and not once did I appear on camera in front of my live audience.

To be honest, just the thought of having to do that gives the willies, too.

During my webinars, I usually show slides, use live examples from the web, or do a combination of both. The webinar software I use does have webcam capability, so if I wanted to appear in front of the camera, I could. I’ve seen other webinar host do that very successfully.

But that’s not really the way I want to do my webinars, so I choose not to. Haven’t heard any complaints yet, either.

Fear #2: Webinars have a lot of moving pieces.

When you’re running a webinar, you’re presenting an audio component (your voice, presenting the topic) and a visual component (your slides, or a demo of whatever you’re doing on your desktop).

That can feel like a lot of moving parts to manage.

REALITY CHECK: The software you’ll use to run webinars is a little tricky at first – but a lot of things are tricky when you’re a beginner.

But with just a little bit of practice, using your webinar platform gets easier and more fun.

And because webinar software is sophisticated, there are ton of things you can do with it. You can show a demonstration, create a discussion, take a survey, or do something completely original – and the webinar software will support it.

With a bit of help (in the form of a good teacher or smart tutorials from your software company) you can master the moving parts of hosting webinars, and learn to run fabulous, professional online events.

You can also run practice webinars with family and friends (I did, at the beginning) so you can learn in a low-pressure environment.

Fear #3: You think you have to run webinars on your own, and you’re going to get overwhelmed.

You might be scared that you’re going to have to troubleshoot participants’ audio or video problems while you’re trying to present your webinar material.

No one likes to feel like they’re flying without a net, so this fear makes perfect sense. But you don’t need to run your webinar as a solo act.

REALITY CHECK: You can manage small webinars completely on your own. Then as you gain traction and bring in additional participants, you can call for back up.

It is 100% fine (even recommended) to bring in an extra person to help you with your webinar. You can ask a friend to sit in on the session and help you field questions and issues, or hire a virtual assistant to help you host the session.

You may even want to hire a professional webinar moderator at some point (yes, there are people who do this for a living – Roger Courville is an kick-butt webinar moderator).

Fear #4: You are afraid something is going to go wrong.

There are a myriad of ways things can go wrong on a webinar. Here are things I have experienced personally on my webinars:

  1. Audio problems prevented my audience from hearing my co-presenter, who played a major role in presenting the information during the event.
  2. Something went wrong with the webinar software and prevented people from logging in at the beginning of the event.
  3. I neglected to upgrade my webinar software (so I could include more participants in the event) so 20 people couldn’t log in to the webinar and got an error saying they were locked out.
  4. I messed up the link to my sales page, so people couldn’t buy the product I was selling on my webinar.
  5. I lost my voice right before a big webinar.
  6. A half-crazed puppy barked, cried, whined and nibbled on my hands during my presentation (yes, this actually happened).

REALITY CHECK: Things go wrong during webinars.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever run a perfect webinar.

The good news is that as you get more experienced, you get better at recovering from problems as they crop up. I recovered from every single one of the problems I experienced above.

As you get more experienced, you also develop your own personal pre-webinar checklist to run through before your event that nips many problems in the bud (including psychotic puppies – I figured that one out).

Also, most webinars problems are considerably more noticeable to you than they will be to your audience. Problems seem huge to you, but your audience might not event notice (or care).

So take a deep breath. If a problem comes up, you can figure it out — and it’s not going to be as disastrous as you think.

Fear #5: You don’t know where to start.

The main reason people think webinars are scary is that they just don’t know where to begin.

They see their friends, colleagues and competitors using webinars to grow their relationships, establish authority, grow their lists, and make money, but they think to themselves, “Where do I even START?”

REALITY CHECK: You can totally just pick a webinar software platform (I have used GotoWebinar for years, and I love them) and learn as you go.

All you really need to run your first webinar is a healthy dose of courage and a webinar platform.

But if you’d like a little help, I’ve got a class happening in March that might be a good fit for you. It’s called Mighty Webinars, and it’s a step-by-step program that will walk you through the exact steps you need to take to run successful webinars. Click here to get more information.

How to Get Past Your Biggest Webinar Fears and Go for Broke

Thinking about doing your own webinar? I highly encourage you to try it. Not only has doing webinars made me a better presenter over the years, but it’s also made me more fearless in general.

Once you’ve had a live audience witness your 3-month-old puppy having a epic meltdown while you’re trying to flip slides and explain Pinterest, everything else feels a little easier. It’s pretty hard to rattle me now.

The nice thing about webinars is that you can start small – just sign up for an account with a webinar tool like GotoWebinar (or use Google Hangouts) and create an event for you and a couple of friends. You can play around with the interface and get more comfortable with presenting using a webinar format.

The most important thing to remember is that your webinars don’t need to be perfect. Webinars and live presentations can be a little messy sometimes, and that’s okay – they’re supposed to be. The “messy” is part of the fun.

If you embrace the imperfection and jump in with both feet, you’ll be running webinars in front of hundreds of rabid fans before you know it – and you’ll see major benefits in your business, too.

A whole world of possibilities is open to you when you master the world of webinars.

So give ‘em a shot today. What’s stopping you?

Mighty Webinars is Here!

The Mighty Webinars program is now open for registration! In this new program, you’ll learn everything you need to know to create, promote and run successful webinars.

Get more information on this exciting new program right here.

41 Ways to Build Your List, Bond with Your Readers and Make More Money Using Webinars

This post is part of my 4-part series answering the biggest questions people have about webinars. You can read the first two posts here:
What the Heck is a Webinar?
Why Webinars Might Be the Best Thing You’ll Ever Do for Your Business

Webinars are hot stuff these days. Everywhere you turn, you’re probably seeing invitations for free webinars, Google Hangouts, and live online summits.

But you’re having trouble picturing how webinars could actually help your business.

If you’re a coach, consultant, author, therapist, blogger, or other small business owner, you need practical, real ways to use webinars to:

  • Grow your list
  • Get your message out to the world
  • Increase your authority in your niche
  • Connect with your audience members
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Sell products and services

If you’re getting stuck when you sit down to brainstorm ways to use webinars, today’s post is going to be a HUGE kick-start for you.

So, without further ado, here’s the definitive list of 41 specific and practical ways you can use webinars to grow your list, connect with your audience, and make money:

How to Webinars to Market Your Business and Grow Your Email List

1. Make your webinar slides into visual badges for Pinterest and Facebook. Visual marketing is HUGE right now, so if you’ve got great slides, make them into cool, shareable graphics you can use on social media.

2. Pull quotes from you and your webinar co-presenters and make them into attractive quote badges. People LOVE quotes, so make sure you take inspiring and interesting quotes from your webinars and make them into promotional materials for social media.

3. Offer free, open, pitch-free Q&A sessions as a promotional tool for your business. Once a month, hold an open Q&A webinar where you just show up and answer as many questions as you can in an hour. People need to sign up (via email) to get the webinar login details, so this is a great list-building strategy.

4. Use webinars (either live or automated) as a way to entice people to sign up when you’re running Facebook or other online advertisements. Studies have shown that Facebook Ads will be considerably more effective if you drive your advertising traffic toward a free incentive (like a free report or webinar).

5. Create online summits or virtual conferences using webinars. You can attract tons of subscribers by hosting an online summit (which is really just an extended webinar where you invite special guests to come in and speak to your audience). Your special guests will often help you promote the event, so you can potentially reach thousands of additional potential subscribers.

6. Turn webinar presentations into slide decks to publish on SlideShare. SlideShare is one of the world’s most underutilized sources of traffic. You can easily turn your webinar slides into slide decks to share on SlideShare.

7. Approach experts in your niche (or other influencers with similar communities to yours) to do webinars for their audiences. You’ll get in front of their audiences when they send out promotional emails for the webinars. Depending on the arrangement you have with your co-presenter, you can often add the your webinar participants to your email list. Make sure you’re clear on the arrangement with your co-presenter before you do your webinar.

8. Ask another expert to do a live webinar for YOUR audience. Having new and interesting guests on your webinars will often draw significantly more webinar participants.

9. Upload some of your webinars to YouTube and include links back to your site and your email opt-in page. You can give away some of your content on YouTube or Vimeo – just make sure you always include strong calls to action, to prompt people to sign up for your list.

10. Create a pinboard on Pinterest that features all of your recorded webinars (or invitations to join your live ones). Video content is allowed on Pinterest boards, but hardly anyone uses it – so be one of the unique pinners who includes video, and pin the webinars you upload to YouTube on your Pinterest boards.

11. Turn your webinar content into free videos to give away during launches. You can record any webinar, no matter what platform you’re using, and use it as a free giveaway next time you run a launch.

How to Use Webinars to Connect with Your Readers, Prospects and Customers

12. Build authority by doing regular webinars (either promotional or pitch-free). The more high-quality content you give away, the more authority and respect you’ll build.

13. Listen to your participants’ feedback and questions during your webinars – the feedback you get will probably be more candid and honest than what you could gather during a formal survey of your audience.

14. Get ideas for new blog posts, podcast episodes, products and services. Take your audience questions and feedback and turn them into ideas for new content for your business. If you see particular questions come up over and over again, you might consider creating a special product or service to address that need.

15. See who your true fans are. I have two people who show up for every single webinar I host. If they’re not on a webinar, it probably means they are bleeding from the head. These people also happen to be two of my very best clients. If people shows up for your live training webinars over and over again, that means they are VERY warm leads for you, and it’s probably a good idea to touch base with them to find out how you can help them.

16. Ask questions during webinar sign-up. You can often customize the sign-up forms for your webinars, so you can ask specific questions in those fields. Is there something about your audience you really want to know? Create a question on your sign-up form and ask them. One tried-and-true question that works in all situations is, “What is your biggest problem with [YOUR TOPIC]?”

17. Create unstoppable sales copy by discovering your potential customer’s objections. When you’re selling products, one of your main jobs is to get people over the objections that come up for them during your sales process. You’re probably going to see certain objections or issues coming up over and over again during your webinars, and you can use those exact phrases to create powerfully compelling, persuasive sales copy.

18. Utilize the “Meet and Greet”. Before the webinar officially starts, you can chat with your audience, ask them questions, and warm them up a bit before you start your presentation. I like to ask people where they’re calling from, and what they’re looking to learn on the webinar. It’s also a great way to show people how use the chat or question box on your webinar software.

19. Create a bond by telling stories. Webinars are an intimate form of communication, whether you’re using them as a promotional tool or to deliver paid content. You can intensify that bond (and keep people engaged) by telling stories on your webinars. At the beginning of promotional webinars, it’s always a good idea to tell people a little bit about who you are and what your story is, to help them understand you and trust you. You can also use case studies, testimonials or example stories during your regular presentation to keep people interested and engaged.

20. Host customer-only webinars to provide new information about current products, or give special sneak peeks of upcoming additions to your product line. Offering special programs like this builds customer confidence and helps your clients learn to use your products better, which increases their chances of becoming repeat customers (or staying with your continuity or membership program).

21. Pull back the curtain and offer your webinar participants a glimpse at what happens behind-the-scenes in your business or industry. Giving people a look at what goes on behind closed doors lets people know your story and makes them feel like they’re part of a special, insider community.

22. Offer the content from your webinars as a regular audio or video podcast. Podcasts are hot right now, and they can be fantastic marketing tools. You can take your webinar content and offer it as a regular podcast.

23. Use webinars during your onboarding process. You can host a live monthly webinar for new clients, where you can tell people what they can expect from working with you and let them ask questions.

24. Offer webinars as content upgrades. Need free giveaways and incentives for your website? Live and recorded webinars make great free “bribes” on your blog. At the end of a blog post, you can include a button your readers can click to sign up for a targeted webinar that is relevant to the content they just finished reading.

How to Use Webinars to Make Money in Your Business

25. Host free promotional webinars that include a pitch for your product or service. We talked about this in yesterday’s post, Why Webinars Might Be the Best Thing You’ll Ever Do For Your Business. Promotional webinars are a phenomenally effective marketing tool, when used correctly. Just make sure not to make the entire webinar a giant sales pitch – respect your audience, and give away top-quality content, then offer a relevant and targeted sales pitch at the end.

26. Include webinar Q&A sessions or other discussions as part of a membership site. If you’ve got a continuity program or ongoing membership site, you can include live weekly or monthly Q&A webinars with you or other experts as part of the paid program. Copyblogger Media’s Authority membership program features weekly Q&A sessions with a rotating cast of influential experts, and it’s a huge selling point for this (paid) online community.

27. Use a webinar to create digital products to sell (like ebooks, recorded workshops, and video series). Package up a webinar (or series of webinars) as a product. If you’re not sure how to create a product for your business, this is a quick and easy way to get started.

28. Run a short or long-term mastermind or coaching group from a webinar platform. You can gather your mastermind together in a regular webinar discussion group. Two of my business coaches, Pam Slim and Tommi Wolfe, both use GotoWebinar to gather their mastermind members together in one virtual place, even when those members are scattered all over the world!

29. Get sponsors for your regular webinars, especially when you start attracting large audiences. Once you reach a certain attendance level, you can actively recruit sponsors for your webinar and make money directly from sponsored ads or announcements during your event.

30. Market affiliate products on your webinars. I recently attended a outstanding webinar, hosted by Anne Samoilov, where she invited an expert from LeadPages to talk about optimizing your website for maximum subscriber sign-ups. During the webinar, the presenter gave tons of ideas for turning your visitors into subscribers (with LeadPages or without) and at the end of the webinar there was a sales pitch for LeadPages. Anne received an affiliate commission for all the sales they made during the webinar.

31. Need bonuses for your online products? You’ve seen all those online programs that have a big list of “bonus” content you can get for buying the product. You can easily use recorded or live webinars as those bonuses when you’re launching your paid products or programs. Bonus note – you can use some webinars as bonuses for multiple products, as long as they are a good fit for that content!

32. Use an automated webinar service (like Stealth Seminars and Evergreen Business Systems) to sell products during automated webinars. Amy Porterfield and Michael Hyatt both run very high quality  automated, pre-recorded webinars that feature great content and include a pitch at the end. Automated webinars can turn into a source of ongoing, passive income if they’re done well and you promote them regularly. You simply record your webinar once, upload it, and make sales on an ongoing basis.

33. Become a webinar moderator or manager. If you love running webinars, help other people do it! Hire yourself out as a regular webinar community manager or moderator.

34. Host a live webinar during a product launch, offering some sort of special deal on your product or program. When you’re doing a product launch, you need to do everything you can to draw attention to your launch. Launch-week webinars can be a great way to give people an introduction to your teaching style, give them free content, and sell products or programs.

35. Remember those online summits we mentioned during #3, above? You can give away your seminar content for free if people attend live, and also offer them a package of all the recordings of the presentations for a reasonable fre. Photographer Catherine Just ran a popular summit for several years called The SoulFull Summit, and sold recordings using this model.

36. Use your webcam to teach a paid class in which you need to demonstrate something live – like cooking, flower arrangement, bike repair or archery. You can keep the camera on you during the webinar, and teach anything you want!

37. Use webinars to conduct live makeovers or critiques of things like wardrobes (if you’re a personal stylist), websites (if you’re a designer) or rooms in houses (if you’re a professional organizer).

38. Use webinars to help you promote your live events and conferences. If you’ve got an in-person event or conference coming up, you can host webinars with your conference speakers to increase buzz and make more ticket sales.

39. Make money with your co-presented webinars. Remember those joint ventures we mentioned in #7 and #8, above? You can also sell products on those webinars, and split the profits with your co-presenter.

40. Launch your book with a webinar. Offer a special webinar during your book launch week, and do a virtual reading. Offer giveaways and prizes to build buzz and encourage people to attend and invite their friends.

41. Offer a weekly webinar to sell membership or continuity programs. Podcasting expert John Lee Dumas offers a free webinar-based workshop every week for anyone interested in started a podcast, and makes sales of his Podcaster’s Paradise program every time he does it.

Webinars are a highly effective (and fun!) content marketing tool

Businesses in all kinds of industries and niches (including B2B and B2C businesses) are discovering that webinars are an effective way to build relationships with their prospects and market their products and services.

I’ve just showed you over 40 creative and fun ideas to integrate webinars into your business model.

Want to know what to do now? Block out 30 minutes, set a timer, and sit down with a blank sheet of paper. Then make a list of all the ways you can use webinars to build your list and make YOUR business more profitable in 2015. If you get stuck, return to this post and look for more inspiration.

Once you’ve got a list of webinar ideas for your business, pick one. Choose an idea that you’re excited about. You don’t have to start at the top, with the most ambitious webinar idea on the list, either. Start simple.

After you’ve chosen an idea, run with it. Get it scheduled some time in the next two weeks. Set a date and start promoting your new webinar. You can use tools like GotoWebinar or Google Hangouts to run your first webinar event.

And above all – have fun with it! Webinars are a great way to talk with your audience, so enjoy your first event, even if you only get one participant.

I started with one attendee at my first webinar, and now I regularly get over 400 participants every time I do a webinar event.

Your job with webinars is to start small, and grow!

Your readers, clients and customers will thank you for it – and so will your bottom line.

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41 Ways to Use Webinars to Market Your Business