[Infographic] A Fail-Proof Formula for Popular Posts

Writing popular posts is not dumb luck.

You might think that posts go viral due to luck, but that’s not the case.

You might think that only posts written by big sites and well-known writers go viral. But that’s not true.

You might think you need to be a great writer to create a popular post, but that’s not correct either.

Here’s the truth… you can write posts that are likely to go viral just as well as anyone else. You just have to know how.

You see, there’s a secret to writing posts that go viral.

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It takes hard work, research and strategy. Not sexy is it?

It’s probably not what you wanted to hear. You probably wanted to hear that there was a magic code or a trick or something.

Maybe you wanted me to tell you there was a Viral Blog Post Fairy and I could give you her mobile number. It’s always nice to think that we just need a little fairy dust to make our dreams come true.

But here’s the good news. Anyone can do this. Anyone can write a popular post.

And what’s more, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

You see, there’s a formula for writing viral blog posts, and I’m going to share it with you.

Start Writing Popular Posts

So know you know the formula you have a choice.

You keep doing what you’re doing – waiting for the Viral Blog Post Fairy to strike.

Or you can use this formula and start making your own luck.

So what’s it going to be?

This article first appeared on Smallville.

5 Shortcuts to Create Amazing Images for Social Media

Depressing, isn’t it?

The amount of time and energy that goes into social media. It’s an amazing, powerful tool that can generate a ton of leads and revenue.

But it can be time consuming and daunting.

You can’t afford to ignore it. If you’re in business, social media is a must and here are two reasons why:

84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy the products of brands they follow online

So how do you have a social media presence without taking all day, or spending a fortune on experts or virtual assistants?

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The answer is you take shortcuts.

I’m a big fan of using technology to do things faster and more efficiently. Why have a dog and bark yourself (as the saying goes)?

Technological tools are cheap (often free), can be used to automate regular tasks and create awesome social media images.

Here’s five tools that virtually create social media images for you:

Quotes Cover

This tool is super simple and easy to use, but what I really love are their ‘done for you’ images. If you have no time -or no inclination – to create something you can just download image quotes from the site.

The quotes gallery offers a big range of simple, funky quotes you can download. And the quote of the day link gives you a new photo quote each day, like the one below.

All the images are unbranded, so they don’t contain a logo or watermark. This means that you can use them as they are, or pull them into a tool like Canva (more on that later) to overlay your own logo.

Recite

Grab an inspirational quote and drop it into Recite, then select the format you prefer. It’s that easy.

There are loads of different style options and the image quality is high.

Changed your mind? Just change the format. Too easy.

Designfeed

Here’s a great tool that literally creates designs for you. DesignFeed is still in beta but it’s free to sign up and it’s super easy to use. I highly recommend it.

Drop in the text you want and DesignFeed will offer you a range of different styles and formats. You can choose what format you prefer – Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter or Pinterest – and it will generate images optimised for the platform).

You can even choose where the system pulls the free images from – they’re all creative commons so there’s no problem with licensing – or you can use your own photos.

And if you like a design but want to tweak it, you can.

Pablo

Pablo is free and provided by the social media scheduling tool, Buffer. It has a simple, easy to use interface but still produces great images.

You can do a certain amount of tweaking, and add your own logo easily.

Canva

Canva gives you full control over your designs, and a great range of templates. You can create Facebook covers, shareable images and infographics.

A lot of design tools that allow tons of control start off with a blank canvas, but this is where Canva is different. You simply grab one of their templates and tweak.

Change the text, or the photo, or anything else you like. This makes it a great tool for beginners as well as more experienced designers.

Canva also has a great design school where you can learn how to design consistently stunning images.

Create Amazing Images for Social Media

Small Businesses can create fantastic shareable images quickly and easily using these tools. Meaning you can compete with larger organisations who spend a fortune on designers.

With these great shortcuts, you’ll be creating fabulous, highly shareable images in no time.

This article first appeared on Smallville.

How to Steal Killer Blog Ideas (Without Being Caught)

Challenging, isn’t it?

A blog is a great tool for building a business, but there’s one problem. You have to come up with high quality, engaging content.

Regularly.

And starting a new post always means looking at a blank page. Which seems to suck the ideas right out of you.

Anything that initially appeared brilliant and inspired suddenly seems trivial and inconsequential. Or worse. You have no idea what to write.

But here’s a secret that no one will tell you. You don’t have to think up great ideas – they’re right in front of you.

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You just have to steal them. And you can steal killer blog ideas without getting caught.

Here's how.​

Great Artists Steal

Shakespeare stole his plots from Greek and Roman plays. George Orwell got the story of Nineteen Eighty Four from an obscure Russian novel.

Even the band U2 created their unique sound by trying to copy others.

Great writers steal – they just don’t plagiarise – and that’s the key difference.

Plagiarising is copying. It’s taking someone else’s words and pretending they’re your own unique composition.

Not cool.

But stealing ideas and making them your own? That’s a great way of creating popular blog posts.

Cool Tools for Theft

Popular blogs are a wealth of information if you know where to look, and you can mine them for ideas.

Let’s say you run a small marketing agency and you’re looking for ideas to write about on your blog. You know that three popular blogs in your field are Kissmetrics, Hubspot and Duct Tape Marketing.

So you head over to Buzzsumo or Socialcrawlytics (both free tools) and put in the URL for Duct Tape Marketing.

This shows that the top five posts on that site, over the last year were:

Top 4 Content Marketing MetricsChecklist for Perfect Blog PostEmail Marketing Best Practices for Lead Generation5 Easy Steps to Nailing a SalePeople Buy Stories Before They Buy Stuff

This gives us useful insights, but remember that we don’t want to copy or plagiarise. So how do we use this information?

Clever Ways to Compose

The simplest way to use this material is to take it at face value and write something similar – but not the same. So, you might write something about measuring content marketing, or create a cheat sheet for writing the perfect blog post.

If you go a little deeper you could extend the article ideas. So, you might take the article about nailing a sale and extend it by writing something about repeat customers, or how to keep customers for life.

You could also read the content marketing metrics article and then come up with another batch of tools for measuring content marketing. Do this for each of the articles, and you’ve stolen five great blog ideas!

But we can do better than that.

Smart Writing Ideas

The smartest way to use this information is to look at the underlying issues of the top posts. The way I read it, these are:

How to create killer content (articles two, three and five)How to generate paying customers (articles three and four)Smart marketing strategies (articles one and three)

Writing your own articles about underlying issues gives you great ideas for content that’s likely to be popular with your own audience. And that’s just by looking at five posts on one site.

Imagine how many ideas you could generate if you reviewed two or three sites? Your content calendar would fill up fast, without you having to come up with any ideas at all.

And what’s more, the content you create this way is already proven to be popular.

You can spend hours brainstorming blog ideas only to have your content fall flat.

Or you can do a little research and generate content the smart way – by stealing.

The choice is yours. I can’t wait to see what you choose.

This article first appeared on Smallville.

How to Take Care of Social Media in No Time at All

Social media – the words are enough to strike terror into the hearts of many Small Business owners.

Experts say we should be posting multiple times a day on social media, depending on the platform. That is if we want optimal results and good engagement.

Three times a day on Twitter, five times a day on Pinterest and twice a day on Facebook. That doesn’t include posting on Instagram and LinkedIn.How’s a Small Business supposed to cope?

By cheating, that’s how. And you cheat by automating at least some of your social media activities.

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There’s no substitute for being online and engaging with your audience, but you don’t have to be there for every post.

Here’s how to automate your social media activity.

Distribute Your Blog Like Magic

Send your blog posts out to social media automatically, the moment they go live. You can use a plugin if you use WordPress, or a tool like Zapier (more on that later).

Different plugins have different features and abilities so it’s worth taking a moment to check out what you’re after.

If your blog has lots of images, and you’re on Pinterest, the Pinterest Automatic Pin WordPress Plugin is essential. Whilst the plugin only does one thing, it does it well.

When your post goes live all the images are automatically pinned to your Pinterest account.

If you have a lot of evergreen content on your site Revive Old Post is indispensable.

Resharing old content boosts social engagement and ensures your audience sees your work, as they often miss it the first time around.

Revive Old Post sends new posts out to your social media accounts automatically, the moment the post goes live. But it also allows you to set up a schedule to share your old posts.

Use One Platform to Feed Another

Tools like Zapier and IFTTT (which stands for If This Then That) connect apps. Basically, an action in one place can result in an action in another place.

Let me give you an example.Say you’re posting on Instagram two or three times a day. You can use either of Zapier or IFTTT to automatically share your Instagram pictures as native Twitter photos at the same time.

Or to put your Instagram photos on a Pinterest board, or to share them on Facebook.Both tools have a bunch of ‘Zaps’ or ‘recipes’ and it’s a simple matter of choosing the ones you want and following the prompts.

Load Things Up In Advance

Load up all your social media activity once a week – or once a month – using a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite.

You can load up almost anything – articles, links, photos or videos – or just type in a comment.

Each tool has different features, so you may prefer one over the other but they both allow you to pre-load and schedule your social media posts.

They also allow you to choose your own times, create a schedule or let the system decide the best time for the content to go out.

Find and Post Popular Content

Post Planner is a tool that’s a little bit like Buffer and Hootsuite, but it has one major difference.

It helps you find content that is ‘scientifically proven’ to boost engagement, skyrocket reach and drive more traffic to your site.

It shows you the top performing content for your niche or topic and ranks it by virality, and allows you to post to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

You can also add content from Instagram although – like many social media automation tools – you can’t post to Instagram using Post Planner.

Save Time on Social Media

So now you know how to cheat at social media you can be everywhere at once without lifting a finger.It’s how the big guys do it, and you can do it too.

So get out there and get automating.You’ll save yourself hours and boost your social engagement. What are you waiting for?

This article first appeared on Smallville.