Author Archives: Jimmie Lanley

How I Got Ten Thousand Followers on Google Plus jimmielanley.com
How I Got 10,000 Followers on Google Plus

A blogging friend recently asked my advice for using Google Plus. She prefaced her question with, “Since you have over 10,000 followers.”

Well, I did pass 10,000 followers in May 2013 and in June Ramsay Tolpin, The Blog Tyrant, used some of my tips in his article 29 Essential Tips from the Tip Google Plus Geeks. But to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how I did it. I certainly did not set out to gain five digits worth of spots in different people’s circles.

I merely enjoy Google Plus (Google+, G+).

My guess is that what gained me 10,000 followers was simply using Google Plus regularly with the the best practices I share here. (For reference, I joined G+ in August 2011. So it took me 21 months to cross the 10K mark.)

Make it Easy to Use

You are not going to use a platform that you forget about. So when you decide to invest in Google+, make it easy on yourself. Place a visible bookmark in your browser. Place it right beside those networks that you already have the habit of checking so that G+ becomes part of your daily social media routine.

Install the +1 extension (Chrome/Firefox) so that you can easily tell Google what kinds of content you like. Use it liberally. Remember, you can +1 an article or blog post without sharing it. I can’t help but think that every article you +1 works to indicate the kind of person you are in the eyes of Google. I like to +1 excellent articles in the niches that I want Google to consider me an expert in. But I +1 any kind of valuable content. I don’t want to appear like a robot. So recipes and craft ideas are mingled with more professional areas.

Put the G+ app on your smart phone, and use it. Check in each morning or night; scroll through and find a few things to +1. And be sure to comment. Just stalking is not enough. You need to interact so that people find you. When you +1 something, your tiny icon does show up, but when you comment, you get far more exposure in terms of screen space and hopefully  your well-chosen words cause people to want to follow you.

If you are a heavy Google user, you will see your notifications throughout the day. I use both Gmail and Google Drive, so I am constantly reminded of G+ with the red notification icon in the top right-hand corner. When I see the red number, I remember to check in, +1 comments people leave on my shares, and interact in communities.

Hashtags

As soon as I learned you can use hashtags on G+, I implemented them very deliberately, especially a few key hashtags in my niche I want to be associated with. Hashtags are searchable; click one to see. I want Google to know that I’m an authority in a couple of key areas, so I use those hashtags repeatedly. I also want others to be able to find me via those hashtags.

Now G+ is automatically adding relevant hashtags to your posts. But you can still add your own.

Periodically, I check what is being posted with my favorite hashtags by clicking on it or using the search function. I typically find new people to follow and new content to enjoy when I do that.

Circling

I do not automatically circle back. I have lots of people circle me. And to be honest, I have no idea who most of those 10,000 people are. (I often wonder how they even find me!) Many of them probably are not very active G+ users. And the vast majority do not interact on my posted content. You can see the notification screeenshot from my iPhone app below, that I have a wide variety of people circling me. I don’t have anything in common with these people, so I don’t circle them back.

followers

In general, I don’t care who circles me. Sometime I spy a creep that I need to block, but for the most part, I let strangers alone. If they want to follow my public content, it is no problem for me. I do not, however, circle them in return unless they have a common interest and appear to have valuable or interesting content.

One of my goals on G+ is to have the most comprehensive circle of homeschool moms. So anytime I find one, I add her to my circle no matter what kind of content she posts or how active she is. Then I periodically share that circle with others (adding myself to it first). Sharing this circle sets me up as an expert in my niche. I have curated a large pool of homeschool moms on Google +, and people appreciate being able to locate them through my circle.

I do not circle people without avatars or without any About information. I often look at their latest posts to see if they interest me. If I think there is potential, I circle, knowing if the content begins to annoy me, I can uncircle or move to a more relevant circle later.

Unlike other social platforms, on G+ people do not know when you have uncircled or which circle you have placed them in. Therefore, you have no pressure to circle people just to reciprocate. I keep my own G+ stream limited to things I really enjoy. The fact that I keep my G+ experience narrowed to the fields I enjoy reading about is probably why I like it so much.

Commenting

I am liberal with +1-ing content on G+ that I like. But I also try to leave comments (with hashtags where appropriate). I am not commenting only for SEO benefit although I know that is a perk to being on G+. I truly have something to say and want to interact. Being genuine is always the key to success on any social media platform.

If someone shares a post I like, I am more likely to comment on G+ than on the original article even if the person sharing it is the author. I find it more convenient for one, and I like the fact that I am building my reputation on G+and possibly finding new people to circle as they see and interact with my comment.

Commenting on G+ makes you more visible and gains more followers. Plus it’s more enjoyable to discuss great content than to mull it over by myself.

Your Google Plus Frustrations

It seems that many of my peers and clients find Google Plus mysterious. They want to have a presence there, but they don’t know how or even exactly why they should. I’d love to know what questions you have about Google Plus. I’ve created a very short survey to get your feedback. Knowing your thoughts about Google Plus will help me write blog posts to help you.

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Three Things to Do Before You Set Up an Affiliate Program

An affiliate program is an effective way to get the word out about your product with very little financial investment. In many cases, the banner ads and buttons you set up for affiliates can take the place of any paid ad campaigns that you might be considering.

Bloggers are often happy to promote your products if they know they can earn a small commission. On your part, you can be assured that only the most effective promoters are being paid. No more ad space money down the drain due to ad blindness. Skilled affiliates will know how to integrate text links and banners into their content for maximum exposure, so your work is minimal. Once you set up your affiliate software, it is fairly easy to manage long-term.

In working with clients to establish brand new affiliate programs, I’ve learned a few things along the way that help make the process smoother and also make sure you get the most benefit from the investment.

1. Get Your Social Media Ducks in a Row

Before you enlist the help of bloggers, you need to set up accounts with optimized profiles on social media platforms. Here is a checklist.

  • Twitter account
  • Facebook page (with vanity URL)
  • Google+ page
  • Pinterest account
  • links to all these social media accounts on your company website

Why do these things matter? If you are visible on the major social media platforms, the blogger affiliates will mention you there and tag you so that you are notified.

That has two big perks. Potential customers may begin following you because of those mentions. And secondly, when you are mentioned, you will see who is talking about you and what they are saying. You then know which affiliates are making the most noise on your behalf and can encourage and thank them.

Another reason to have all this lined up is because of giveaways. Many bloggers use widgets such as Giveaway Tools or Rafflecopter to manage their giveaways. Besides the required comment for entry, they can set up extra entries for additional actions such as following on Twitter, liking on Facebook, signing up for a newsletter, etc. You are getting more exposure on different social media platforms with no extra work on your part. Once those platforms are set up, your affiliates will know what to do.

Don’t attempt to start an affiliate program without first setting up all your social media accounts. This is social media 101. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you have these ready.

2. Make Graphics for Your Affiliates

Make being an affiliate as easy as it can be by creating a variety of beautiful ads and banners in a different sizes. If affiliates sign up and there are no banners to use, they may be disappointed and forget to return once you have uploaded them. Trying to play catch up in the middle of an affiliate launch is not fun.

Although a 250 or 125 pixel square may be common, there are dozens of potential graphics shapes and sizes. Avoid garish color combinations and font that is too small to read.

3. Prepare to Be Generous

As you launch your affiliate program, especially if your product is relatively unknown, you should be willing to give affiliates free samples of your products.  Yes, free samples!

You have an outstanding product, right? It’s so outstanding that once that blogger gets it into her hands, she won’t be able to resist sharing it with other on her blog. So get it into her hands. Don’t expect to recruit affiliates to a brand new program without being willing to share free products.

Generosity is a must for marketing. Stingy marketing doesn’t work.

Be as generous as you can with your commission percentage. A 10% commission is paltry on low-priced items. Go for at least 20%. Even better is 30%. If your product is digital, you can probably offer a 40-50% commission and still make plenty of money. You are not losing money to pay affiliates. You are making sales that you would not have otherwise made.

Besides free samples, offer your favorite affiliates more freebies as giveaways for their readers. Free products, services, or gift certificates are all options. But have a plan before you begin.

  • What will you offer? How many?
  • Who will you offer it to? What criteria will you use in choosing?
  • How will you inform the affiliate?
  • How will the prize be awarded?

When choosing to be generous, don’t worry over people who might take advantage of you. Yes, there will be a small minority of people who say yes to receiving free products and then  never promote you. Some people are unreliable and others encounter traumatic events that put blogging on the back burner of life. Yes, there will be some people who write about your product and them promptly re-sell it to make a buck. Getting upset about a few misuses of your promotion program is not worth the stress you are creating for yourself. Let it go. Be generous. Trust that generosity wins in the long-run.

Social media is a multi-faceted animal, and every element works together to provide exponential results. Your affiliate program is just one part of your entire marketing plan. Using it strategically with these three pre-requisites in mind will generate the maximum benefit for your bottom line.

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The Most Critical Elements of a Sales Landing Page

Writing an ebook takes a great deal of work. I have written three so far, and I know the temptation to be done with the project by not investing in a well thought out landing page. That decision would be foolish, of course. All your efforts will be wasted if you don’t take the time to create an effective landing page.

In fact, schedule as much time for this step as you did for the writing and editing of the ebook. It is that important. The best ebook on the planet will never get sold without a landing page that reaches the right audience.

Product Image

Perception is everything. Invest in a quality image to represent what you are selling.

If you are selling ebooks, be sure to create a 3D graphic that looks like a book or your cover on an iPad. Even if you can’t hire a designer, there are very affordable tools such as My eCover Maker that give quality results.

No Links Except to Buy

Make sure your landing page has no other links besides the link to make the transaction. Remove your sidebar; it is a recipe for distraction. If you add testimonials on your landing page, do not link to the happy customer’s site. The bottom line is that you want your reader focused on a single action — purchasing your product.

Put at least two buy buttons on the page — at top and at bottom, or more specifically above and below the fold.

Be sure to include the price somewhere close to the button. It is deceptive to make people add your product to their shopping carts to discover the price.

Answer Objections

Remove all potential obstacles to the purchase by addressing them on your landing page. Think through the buying decision like a customer and list what might keep someone from making the transaction.

  • Is your product pricey? Be sure to explain all the value that is included.
  • Is your product targeting newbies? Be sure to emphasize that it is easy to understand and does not require any pre-requisite knowledge.
  • Is your product in a saturated niche? Be sure to explain exactly how it is different and superior to all the other similar products.

One obstacle to purchase is the fear of wasting money. This is easy to remove with a money back guarantee if the buyer is not satisfied. Normally such a guarantee has a limit of 30, 60, or 90 days. Don’t add too much fine print to your guarantee and always honor it even when you suspect you are being hoodwinked.

Removing that obstacle from genuine customers is worth the risk of being cheated for a few copies of an ebook.

Use Keywords

Yes, keywords are important for SEO. But here I mean use the words that speak to the audience you want to sell to. Use terms that they would use in speech and in search engines. Speak their language. This is the only way to reach them.

Increase Pleasure and Remove Pain

Have you ever heard that when selling you should address benefits not features? That is a hard distinction for many of us to make as writers. Instead of wracking my brain to distinguish the two, I prefer to think in terms of pleasure and pain.

We all want more pleasure and less pain. So how does your product make that happen? Does it remove any of these painful stressors?

  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • chaos
  • indecision

Does it provide any of these pleasant benefits?

  • assurance
  • happiness
  • laughter
  • courage

Those emotional triggers of avoiding pain and finding pleasure are what move us to buy. Explain the features of what you are selling. But speak to the heart and the head to move sales.

Selling Details

Be crystal clear whether your product is a digital download (and what format it comes in) or a physical product. Say it multiple times in different ways. You will be shocked at how many people buy an ebook and expect a package to come to their door.

Explain briefly how the product will be delivered, for example, immediately after purchase, you will receive an email with a link to download the PDF.

Reassure the buyer that the exchange of money is safe. All it takes is a couple of strategically placed words, for example, immediately after your secure purchase, you will receive an email with a link to download the PDF.

Optional But Still Powerful

Testimonials or quotes about your product can help reassure potential customers. Make sure they are written in natural language and don’t sound salesy.

Use names and photos to lend credibility to your testimonials, but remember not to link out to the testimonial givers.

How This Post Came to Be

My blogging friend who is launching a new ebook series asked me what the most critical parts of a landing page are. Instead of emailing her an answer or calling her on the phone, I chose to answer her with a blog post.

There is a lesson in that story. Most everything is a potential blog post, especially questions you get about your niche. Maximize your time by answering questions publicly in a way that furthers your brand and your authority.

If you have questions about landing pages, leave me a comment here. I’ll try to address it in a reply or with another blog post.

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Why Giving Things Away is Good Marketing

When you are approached to donate your product or service to an online event or giveaway, do you feel reluctant? Do you worry that you are being taken advantage of or devaluing yourself?

You should not worry at all. In fact, giving things away is a powerful tool for marketing — generous marketing.

The fear of generous marketing is based on a false assumption that your potential customer base is very small. You may think that if you give away your ebook to hundreds of people that you will not have anyone left to purchase it! This is wrong.   The real problem is not the small number of potential customers; the challenge is in reaching people with your message.

Generous marketing spreads the word about your product widely and with power.

Benefit 1: SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

When you give things away for online promotions, giveaways, launches, and celebrations, you receive links back to your product landing pages. Backlinks are a valuable factor in your search engine rankings.

Some people pay big bucks for these kinds of backlinks, and you have people offering them to you in exchange for your goods. Say yes.

Benefit 2:  Advertising Expense

You can deduct the retail cost of the item you donate as an advertising expense. If you are giving copies of a digital product that is already created and costs you nothing to deliver to the winner, you are coming out nicely in terms of financial gain.

Over the course of a year, the added value of the digital downloads that you offer for free can add up to a hefty deduction from your taxable income.

Benefit 3: Reaping What You Sow

It is a truth of the universe that “the amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Being generous is always the right thing to do. And giving away your product has so many added benefits, that it’s foolish not to share.

If you engage in stingy marketing, you will get stingy results. Freely giving is the key to freely receiving.

Benefit 4: Building Authority

When you are appearing on many different sites and with many different communities as an ebook author or a specialist in your field, you are developing your personal brand. Over time, people will come to recognize your name and associate you with

It Didn’t Work for Me

Maybe you were once generous and didn’t see an immediate uptick in sales. You considered it a failure and resolved never to be taken advantage of again.

Give generosity a second chance. These kinds of marketing efforts do take time. With repeated participation in giveaways, you will build a backlink structure that suddenly snowballs into strong SEO. You will be reaching different audiences with each project. And those tough customers who need to hear about you multiple times before signing into their Paypal account to make a purchase will have a chance to see your name multiple times across many platforms.

If generous marketing didn’t work before, ask yourself some tough questions.

1. Is my product excellent? Is it worth sharing and talking about? No amount of marketing can sell a second-rate product.

2. Is my participation in giveaways being leveraged strategically to get the most benefit? Are you using your exposure in the giveaway to promote specific actions such as newsletter sign-ups, site click-throughs, or social media followings?

I have a good friend who uses her ebook not only as a way to generate income but also to kick start her new speaking career. Included in the pages of valuable ebook content is an outline of her speaking topics and how to contact her. When she gives away that ebook, she is not only positioning herself as an expert in her niche, but she is also marketing herself for potential speaking engagements. Smart!

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