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Authenticity Is Your Best Content StrategyCreating quality content is the foundation for all content marketing strategies. Your visitors won’t know which marketing gurus you follow or what strategies you use – they just want amazing, fresh content.

Content marketing is like creating a restaurant for people who know they’re hungry, but don’t know what they want. Your job is to get them to look at your website and say, “This is what I want!”

In order to get people to look at your website, you need to get people to click on your link. Most marketers refer to this action as “driving traffic,” although that paints an overly simplistic picture.

If you’re like most internet marketers, you’ve been taught that traffic is everything and without traffic, your site will die. So, before getting into authenticity as a content strategy, let’s quickly dissect the traffic myth because frankly, traffic isn’t everything. You need to unlearn this myth before you can understand authenticity.

Don’t drive traffic like cattle

According to Wiktionary, a cattle drive is “the process of transporting a herd of bovine animals by compelling them to walk across a significant distance of countryside.” The animals don’t know where they’re being led or why; they’re just following the rest of the herd.

If you’re driving traffic to your site that isn’t converting, you may as well be driving cattle. You’re just moving people from one website to another; they don’t know where they’re going.

A low conversion rate means the people you’re targeting aren’t interested in what you’re selling. You’re probably targeting mass numbers of people in the wrong demographics using non-buying keywords. They probably clicked on your link because of a clever ad, and when they arrived at your site, they just bounced.

Stop thinking of your visitors as “traffic”.

Referring to your visitors as “traffic” makes them seem like a crowd of insignificant people who are only numbers and stats to you. You may not know your visitors personally, but thinking of them this way makes it easier for you to say, “Oh well, there’s plenty of fish in the sea” when your efforts to “drive traffic” fail to convert. You perpetuate the cycle of driving mass amounts of traffic, hoping for a few sales.

Authenticity as a content marketing strategy

If the marketing guru you’re learning from doesn’t focus on authenticity, you’re wasting your money. With millions of websites sharing the same type of content, only those with unique voices become a success. A unique voice doesn’t come from a checklist; it comes from authenticity.

What is authenticity?

Authenticity is being true to your passion in a way that benefits the people you’re trying to reach. It’s having no ulterior motives in what you do, even in business. If you’re going to start a business to make money, but you market your product to people as if you’re in business to help them, that’s being inauthentic.

When you’re honest and your intentions match the way you market your product, that’s authenticity and that’s what people want. Nobody wants to read a blog about how to make money online unless the content is original, unique, and authentic.

Success in a saturated niche

Achieving success in a saturated niche is possible when you’re authentic. How many review websites are out there? Yet, Tim Schmidt does it differently. He makes a great point about the lack of useful reviews. Schmidt says, “I’ve never found a go-to source for information. Somewhere I could read REAL reviews of products that people actually used. In specific, products I buy. Sure, Amazon is a decent place to read reviews, but there is just zero VOICE out there and you don’t know who is behind the product reviews many times.”

Schmidt offers something you can’t find on Amazon – authenticity. In addition to reviewing the product with video demonstrations, he provides enough background information for visitors to discern who is reviewing the product.

Similarly, Dave Asprey created an internet empire around coffee by adding his authentic flare to the heavily saturated niche. Sure, his brand name “Bullet Proof Coffee” is catchy, but that’s not why it took off.

Asprey used his passion for improving biology (also known as “biohacking”) to inspire the world to change the way they drink their morning coffee. He wasn’t trying to get rich by dominating the market; he used the market to help people transform their lives.

It’s not that traffic isn’t important, it just shouldn’t be your priority. Authenticity should be your number one priority. Once you’ve found your authenticity, your visitors will have a reason to buy from you.

8 Tips for Finally Making Money with Your Fashion BlogA blog is a lot of fun at the beginning, but if you’re not making money, it’s hard to sustain. Most blogs have the potential for monetization as long as you have the right strategies working for you. If you’re tired of making pennies from your fashion blog, here are some things you might consider:

1. Sign Up for Ad Networks

One of the most popular ways to monetize a blog is through advertisements on your website. When your site visitors click or interact with an ad in a certain way, you make money.

You could sell ad space independently, but it’s easier to sign up with established advertising networks. Some of the best include:

  • Google AdSense
  • Chitka
  • Lijit
  • BlogAds
  • PropellerAds
  • Infolinks

Do your research on each of these networks to find the best deal. Some ad networks will perform better than others. Some will also cost more with fewer benefits, so look for one that offers equally advantageous gains.

2. Let Others Handle the Revenue

If you love taking photographs, experiencing the latest trends, and sharing with others more than you like worrying about the money, you can hand that portion over to someone else. Companies like the Income Store, buy existing sites and turn them into revenue-generating machines. You could also have them build you a revenue-generating website from scratch that you maintain total control over.

3. Sell Products or Services

You probably have a variety of product ideas or services to offer the general public. You might start your own clothing line or boutique. You could also sell your fashion consultant services. You’ve probably become pretty good at photography since the start of your blog, and could sell that as well.

Selling products and services through your blog will require a lot more work than passive income, but if that’s a challenge that excites you, you’ll enjoy high profits from your efforts.

4. Join Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs allow you to earn commission from certain products that you recommend. They might be from other bloggers in your sphere or from major companies. All you have to do is mention the product with a link to the site, and you’ll earn commission every time someone makes a purchase using your link.

Like ad networks, affiliate linking strategies can be done on your own, but they’re more likely to yield success through affiliate programs. Here’s a list that’s tailored towards a fashion blogger’s repertoire.

  • LinkShare
  • Rewards Style
  • ShareASale
  • ShopSense
  • Commission Junction
  • Ebay Enterprise
  • Kontera
  • Clickbank

Again, make sure that you’re getting the most advantageous deal. Some of these sites may offer better rewards than others, so do a little research first.

5. Use Instagram

Instagram is one of the most valuable social sites for fashion bloggers. According to Harper’s Bazaar, designer brands spend more than $1 billion a year sponsoring Instagram posts. You can get in on some of that action by implementing excellent Instagram marketing strategies.

There are many strategies for becoming well known on Instagram, including negotiating exclusives with advertisers, working with agents, and using influencers. But the most important strategy involves regularly posting to your Instagram account and increasing your following. From there, you’ll develop media attention that will naturally lead to increased readership and revenue.

6. Write Reviews

Just like companies will pay for affiliate links, they’ll also pay for positive product reviews. Network with other bloggers, fashion designers, and other industry product developers to try products and review them on your blog.

The goal here is to be genuine in what you write. Don’t endorse products you don’t approve of. Readers will be able to tell that you’re not passionate about the product, and your blog will lose credibility.

7. Hold Seminars and Classes

As an expert in the fashion niche, you’re qualified to teach classes and hold seminars for a small fee. Other bloggers in your niche, devoted followers, and those truly invested in the fashion realm will be your target audience here. You can leave an excellent impression on your constituents, as well as put a little more cash in your pocket.

8. Befriend Fashion Agencies and Brands

If you’ve developed a strong following, the next step is reaching out to fashion agencies and clothing brands. This is one of the most exciting parts of monetizing your blog, since it will give you a chance to connect with some of your favorite brands.

Ask to be added to brands’ media lists and reach out to smaller, up-and-coming clothing brands that will appreciate a little extra PR. Brands will pay good money to use your blog for word-of-mouth marketing.

Despite what you’ve been told, you can create a highly monetizing blog out of a hobby. If fashion is your life, it’s time to quit your day job and make this your money making method.

5 Tips for Using Your Blog as a Key Marketing Tool Everyone talks about the power of blogging for promoting conversions, increasing your brand awareness, and raising SEO rankings. However, simply writing and publishing a few blog posts a week won’t be enough to give your business a much-needed advantage. Here are five ways to make your blog work for you:

1. Set Clear Goals

Yes, a basic blog will assist your search rankings in some small way, and can provide some information to consumers who were already planning to do business with you. But if you don’t have a goal in mind, you’ll leave potential on the table.

Decide what your blog can offer. Do you want higher organic search rankings? Do you want higher sales? Do you want to resonate with your audience and develop a greater following?

Your goals will define your content and web presence. After you’ve established your primary goal (and maybe a couple of secondary backup plans), create an action guide, including a schedule of events. You’ll find that this online platform is far more effective with a plan in mind.

2. Create an Effective Blog Structure

Although you want your blog to mesh well with your website, treat it like a separate entity. It’s not a half-hearted addition to your current website; instead, it’s a useful resource that can singlehandedly raise sales and attract loyal customers.

First, consider the design. Is it easy to read? Does it have good navigation? Are the pages optimized for SEO? If you aren’t sure how to improve your blog’s design, consider getting an hourly consultation with a web designer.

Next, pay attention to the voice and style of the articles published. It should be based on your target audience. If the audience is a younger consumer audience, a more upbeat, conversational tone is in order. A B2B audience might require a more professional tone.

Then, have a standard structure for the blogs you post. At the very least, a blog post should be at least 300 words, use eighth-grade level writing (for B2C companies), use short sentences and paragraphs, and be clearly defined in sections. If you’re after higher search rankings, your on-site blog posts should be at least 1,000 words in length.

Finally, establish your publication schedule. According to Hubspot research, companies that published blog posts 16 or more times per month had 3.5 times the traffic of those who posted four times or less in a month. Make a schedule to post at least a couple of times per week for best results.

3. Brush Up on SEO

Know how to get the most from SEO. A regularly updated blog has 434 percent more indexed pages to help your rankings. SEO leads also have a 14.6 percent higher close rate than outbound leads like direct mail or print advertising. If you use your blog to raise your SEO rankings, you’re more likely to get found by actual customers, not just idle visitors.

There are many factors that go into good SEO, but two of the most important are keyword research and link building. Explore the best-performing keywords in your industry, and make them a part of your blog.

Then, work on a backlinking strategy. The best way to get backlinks is publishing links on third-party sites. Establishing publication relationships with third-party sites is difficult, so it’s best to use an SEO company or content creation organization that focuses on backlink building.

4. Write Promotional Blog Posts

Once you’ve defined your goals, set up your blog structure, and learned more about SEO, your blog can promote your products and services. A promotional blog post will explain the benefits of using your specific product or service in your location (if applicable).

For example, look at this blog post from a law office in Milwaukee. First of all, it sticks to a good structure, as it’s designed to rank for certain keywords like “motorcycle accident” “Milwaukee lawyer,” and “personal injury attorney.”

But more than that, it explains the value of hiring a personal injury attorney. The SEO keywords and structure of the post get a consumer on the page; then their explanation of motorcycle accident injuries and a person’s rights create a solid connection between consumer and business.

5. Use Multimedia

It should be common knowledge today that blogs need visuals to perform well, but many small business blogs are only composed of text. Blogs with images get 94 percent more views than those without. What’s more, blog posts featuring videos will attract three times as many inbound links.

An essential part of your blog structure should involve multimedia. In some cases, your videos and infographics will enhance your blog posts, and in others, they’ll replace them entirely. Just make sure multimedia is a key part of your marketing strategy.

Doing so will set you up for greater connections with your customers. Go where your customers are, and be the kind of knowledge resource they need. When you carve your blog in such a fashion, you’ll identify your clientele and use this medium to speak directly to them.

7 Technology Hacks to Improve Content CollaborationContent marketing is an area that demands input from multiple people. Depending on the size of your organization, you’ll likely have multiple creators, you’ll have strategists whose goals are to come up with the best direction and ideas, and you’ll have analysts dedicated to measuring results. Your success depends on these people being able to collaborate with each other, freely and efficiently, to exchange ideas, stay up-to-date, and ultimately, produce the best results.

Many software platforms and other technologies offer convenient ways to enable better collaboration—but if you want to get the most out of them, you’ll need to put them to use creatively.

Top Technology Hacks

When selecting and implementing your content collaboration tech, try using these hacks to improve your results:

  1. Diversify your software choices. Many businesses choose to keep their technological assets narrow in scope; they choose a single software partner and seek their products for all their collaboration, communication, and organization needs. There are some advantages to this approach, but you’ll get more for your money if you opt for a multi-vendor approach, with a more diverse set of products and services. This allows you to capitalize on specialty software from multiple sources, maximizing your potential return and giving you more flexible choices for adoption.
  2. Collect feedback from staff. This may seem like an obvious step, but many new content collaborators miss it. Obviously, you’ll want to improve productivity and performance, but bottom-line statistics (such as the number of messages exchanged or the number of tasks completed) can’t tell you much about how useful a product feels, or what shortcomings it might have. For that, you’ll need to interview your staff, and collect as much detailed feedback as possible to inform your future choices.
  3. Institute clear protocols for communication. It may seem silly to set up rules for how to talk and message each other, but most collaboration platforms only come with basic instructions on how the platform can be used; they don’t come with recommended protocols for when to take certain actions, or how messages should be organized. You’ll need to be proactive and outline these expectations proactively; also, don’t worry about getting something wrong. You can always change your protocols later.
  4. Rely on multiple mediums. Even if you find what appears to be the ideal platform for content collaboration, resist the urge to make it your only communication medium. Different mediums offer different advantages, so you’ll always need to have a range of different options on standby. Make sure you have chat apps, message apps, voice, and video options, as well as options within your task management platform(s).
  5. Have clear decision makers in charge of tech use. Rather than making every tech choice a group decision, designate one person the sole decider and representative authority on tech-related issues. This will eliminate the “design by committee” problem, encouraging faster decisions, and will also imbue one person with more expertise on the subject, to make higher-level and more informed choices.
  6. Specify areas of expertise. While you’re at it, try to designate your team’s responsibilities as clearly and specifically as possible. Instead of having three “content developers,” give each content developer on your team a specific area of expertise, and certain parameters for how to interact with the rest of the team. This doesn’t mean you need to establish a strict hierarchy, but you should help eliminate some problems with redundancy and confusion about who’s responsible for what.
  7. Improve efficiency through monitoring and assessments. Finally, keep a close eye on how your team performs while your new tech products are in use, both subjectively and objectively. Keep asking your staff how they feel about their performance, and try to spot communication issues before they become too problematic. Remember, new technology is always rolling out, so if a platform isn’t cutting it, you should probably eliminate it and find something new to replace it. There’s always room for an upgrade.

Is It the Product or the People?

Certain platforms will claim to boost your productivity, or enable specific types of collaboration that weren’t previously possible. Adding them to your repertoire can help you see better results; but ultimately, it’s the people on your team who will determine what gains you can make from this adoption. The type of technologies you use in content collaboration matter, but how your people use them is even more important.

Is Social Media Optimization Replacing SEO? How To Do It RightThanks to Google’s elimination of exact phrase matching and implementation of search personalization, SEO rules have changed. Websites can no longer compete against each other for first page rankings because results are no longer standardized.

However, don’t toss out SEO just yet. Keyword optimization is still important, but Google relies on latent semantic indexing (LSI) more than individual keywords to determine the value of a page.

LSI in a nutshell

Rather than looking only for keywords and phrases, Google’s algorithm identifies whether the content is relevant to a user’s search by looking for phrases related to their search terms. When it comes to being found in the search engines, context, not content, is king.

Although important, SEO is no longer a guaranteed strategy to bring you relevant leads. However, social media optimization is. By understanding it, you can leverage it.

Social media optimization doesn’t increase SERP ranking

SMO is not a technique to boost your website’s ranking in the SERPs. In fact, it’s completely unrelated. Social media optimization is a method of efficiently engaging your target market through social platforms.

The goal of SMO is to make your content easily shareable across social media platforms. It’s important because many websites get more traffic from social media than they do from Google. For example, this chart shows how Comedy Central, Forever 21, Etsy, and other websites receive more traffic from social networks than from Google.

Social media optimization is designed to drive qualified traffic

The user experience of a website determines its value, not its technical structure alone. SMO is a long-term strategy that develops trust and authority through an active social presence. The more value people derive from your content, the more they’ll engage with you and share your content with friends.

As of February 2017, nearly 50% of webpages were viewed from a mobile device. Remember that the goal of SMO is to make your content shareable, so pay close attention to how your content appears to mobile users. Here are a couple of tips:

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Just because your WordPress theme says it’s “mobile ready” doesn’t mean it looks good on a mobile device. It takes skill to build good mobile layouts. Look for yourself to make sure your site looks professional on a mobile screen. Make sure your pages have appropriate share buttons so mobile visitors can share your page without having to dig through their Facebook newsfeed to rediscover your post.
  • Create a Google My Business listing. Instead of typing out your phone number and hours on social media each time you’re hosting an event or a large sale, link to your Google My Business listing instead. Once on your listing, mobile users can click on your phone number to call, or click on “directions” to get driving directions.

    It’s not a stretch to say having a Google My Business listing contributes to safer driving. Although nobody should be looking up directions while driving, providing directions with a single click does reduce the amount of driver distraction.

    A December 2014 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that “in 2013, 21,132 passenger vehicle occupants were killed and 2,046,000 were injured in traffic collisions on U.S. roadways.” Many of these incidents were due to distracted driving.

Don’t get swindled by impossible ranking promises

Anyone who promises you a first page ranking on Google using any method is suspicious. Due to search personalization for every user, that promise is impossible to fulfill. The results one person sees on the first page will not be exactly what others see, even for the same search phrase.

It’s easy to manipulate results to make it look like this promise has been fulfilled.

When you’re trying to generate traffic, you want to put your site in front of people who haven’t been to your website. That’s what a solid, long-term SMO plan is for.

Google doesn’t use social signals to rank your website

A few years ago, rumor had it that Google was using social signals to rank webpages. The idea was the more your links were shared, the higher they ranked in the SERPs. Some SEO companies added this to their list of services, and people paid thousands of dollars to have their website URLs tweeted and posted across Facebook.

In 2014, Matt Cutts published a video dispelling this myth. According to Cutts, Google doesn’t use social signals because they’re often blocked from crawling social sites. Also, social media content is subject to constant change, which cripples their ability to rank objectively.

Although social signals aren’t used directly to rank your website, Cutts emphasizes the importance of using SMO to be ranked as an authority in your industry. Being seen as an authority is the secret to getting more traffic from social media than search engines.