A Quick Way to Improve Your Writing Skills and Create Better Content

SPECIAL NOTE: A couple of weeks back, I did a live class on search engine optimization (SEO) for bloggers. The class was incredibly popular, and since then I’ve had tons of requests from people who couldn’t attend the live workshop, but still want a way to access the class.

Well, there’s good news – now you can get the “What Bloggers Need to Know About SEO” master class for just $37. Click here to get the details. When you buy this class, you can immediately access the recording of the class along with an informative handout and the slides from the presentation. Here’s the link one more time.

BigPencilGirlWant a quick way to improve your writing? Here’s a practical tip.

I want you to take 15 minutes and read this article from the blog BoostBlogTraffic.com. It’s called “297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power.

As an online content creator, you may be looking for ways to improve your writing skills. But it’s surprisingly hard to do that without hiring an editor for every piece you write.

So the question is — if you’re already a good writer, how can you become a great one?

If you’re struggling with this issue, this blog post might provide a real breakthrough for you. The post’s author, Shane Arthur, is one of the best copyeditors I’ve ever known – he can take an article, cut out all the unnecessary words, and turn it into a finely tuned piece of extraordinary content. He can find fluff in places I would never even think to look. But if you don’t have Shane to edit your writing, how can you tighten up your own email content, sales pages, and blog posts? He tells you exactly how with this “297 Flabby Words” post — and you’re going to be amazed by his insights.

After you’ve read the post in its entirety, print it out and hang it above your desk. Next time you’ve completed a piece of writing and you’re ready to edit, look over Shane’s list of “flabby” words and hunt for them in your own writing. Then ruthlessly cut them. I practically guarantee you will find a whole bunch of words you can cut – and it’s going to make your writing so much clearer and easier to understand.

After you do this a couple of times, you’re going to notice that you tend to overuse certain words or phrases again and again. When you spot those words, put them on your own personal “Flabby Words” list. Then put that list right next to Shane’s blog post, on the wall above your desk.

Here’s my own personal “Flabby Words” list:

  • Just
  • In order to
  • So (especially to start sentences)
  • That
  • Exactly
  • Really
  • And (especially to start sentences)

What’s on your personal “fluff” words list? Or do you have other ways of cutting out the fat and making your writing tighter? Tell us about it in the comments.

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How to Make Sure You Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas Again

If you’re like most business owners, you’ve struggled with your blog at some point.

If you have a blog, you’ve probably thought, “I need to create a blog post today — and I have no idea what to write!” Or if you don’t have a blog yet, you may have been told you need to create one, but you’ve shrugged away the idea because you can’t figure out what you would write about.

Perhaps you’ve thought, “My business is boring. They’re nothing I could write about that would be sexy or interesting.”

If you’ve struggled with your blog (and writing blog content), I’ve got a great solution for you. It’s simple and relatively easy to implement.

But let me back up a bit. At the conference this week, I attended a session with Marcus Sheridan of River Pools and Spas. During his riveting talk (which was one of the best speeches I’ve ever seen), Marcus gave the audience a powerful blogging tip. He called it “The Golden Rule of Content Marketing.”

And the rule was — “They ask, you answer.”

When he started a blog for his pool business, Marcus took a simple, powerful approach — he decided to answer all the questions that his customers were asking about fiberglass pools. Not exactly sexy, right?

But his approach really, really worked. He answered questions like, “How much do fiberglass pools cost?” and “What are the problems with fiberglass pools?” that no one else was answering online.

Marcus wrote blog posts on each of his customers’ questions (in fact he just turned each question into the headline of a post) and received THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of visitors and leads from his articles.

People linked to his posts and emailed them to friends and family members, and Marcus brought in an avalanche of search engine traffic to his posts.

During his presentation, he shared how much revenue he brought in from some of his simple articles, and the numbers were astounding. One blog post alone brought over $250,000 in revenue.

Sounds simple, right? I’ll bet you can easily think of at LEAST ten questions your customers have asked you in the last six months — and I’ll also bet you can think of answers to those questions that you can easily turn into blog posts.

The Golden Rule – “They ask, you answer.”

No, it’s not sexy. But this Golden Rule helps you create useful content that your readers and prospects will absolutely love. It increases your credibility, and vastly increases the likelihood that your reader will buy from you.

Because here’s the secret no one talks about in my field — the more pages on your site your customers read, the more likely they are to buy from you. If a customer reads 30 pages of your content (meaning, 30 blog posts) they have an 80% buy rate.

Let that sink in for a second. If one of your prospects reads 30 of your blog posts or articles, 80% of them will purchase something from you. And of course, it kind of goes without saying that the best your content is, the better that buy rate will be.

Your assignment for this week: What kinds of questions can you answer for your audience? Write your questions down, and start writing today.

And if you haven’t started a blog yet, that is step one — talk to your web guru about adding a WordPress blog to your site.

Then start answering those customer questions. I guarantee, if you answer those questions in a compelling way, you will thank me (and Marcus Sheridan) in six months.

For more information on Marcus and his simple, accessible approach to content marketing, read this New York Times article and listen to this excellent interview.

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How Tamara Suttle Took Her Business to the Next Level

I first met Tamara Suttle in 2006, when I was teaching a group class called “Basics of Blogging.” Tamara is a therapist and marketing coach and consultant for therapist and coaches. After the class, Tamara became one of my consulting clients, and we worked together to build her very first WordPress site, AllThingsPrivatePractice.com. I coached her on how to use WordPress to publish useful and interesting blog posts, and taught her how to drive traffic to her blog, engage with her audience, and provide huge value for her readers.

I was really impressed with Tamara’s drive and motivation — she worked very hard to build her new blog into a thriving online community for therapists and coaches. Over the last few years, she has become a masterful blogger, even though she still refers to herself as a “technophobe”, and her site has become an incredible resources for therapist and coaches looking to build their practices and network with other like-minded professionals.

A few years after starting her blog, Tamara signed up for Twitter, and she came back to me for some additional coaching. I talked her through the process of learning how to tweet and using Twitter to connect with other therapists and referral sources for her business. She dove into tweeting with enthusiasm, and started building her community there, as well.

Then a few years later, she learned how to use Pinterest. Let’s just say that Pinterest and Tamara were a match made in heaven. She loves sharing interesting things on her pinboards, and people love to see the great images and resources she pins for therapists and coaches.

Tamara’s work has paid off. She now has almost 2,000 Twitter followers, and 2,500 followers on Pinterest.

Tamara is one of my Star Clients. She has worked incredibly hard to set up an very successful online marketing machine for her business. She not only gets invited to speak at industry events, but her private practice AND her coaching business are both thriving. Last month, she even launched a new blogging class for therapists, which has also been a huge success!

I’m absolutely thrilled that Tamara took the information I taught her about social media and online marketing, and turned it into a marketing machines for her business. I am unbelievably proud of her, and I am thrilled to be her coach!

If you’d like to learn more about how to set up a successful online marketing system, and see results like Tamara’s, consider making an investment in your business by signing up for my VIP Coaching Program. Registration ends Monday, April 8th at midnight, Eastern Standard Time.

Get all the details right here.

“Beth Hayden is the best investment that I have made in my business in the last 30 years.”

Beth taught me everything I know about social media. She was able to teach me – this tech-challenged professional counselor who had no real interest in all-things-tech – and she has turned me into a really effective social media fiend!

Thanks to Beth, I can not only maintain my own website, blog on a regular basis, tweet and stay active on LinkedIn. And, this web presence has truly caused my business to mushroom in growth! Best of all – this is all REALLY FUN!

Beth Hayden is responsible for all of this! She was able to chunk the information down into tiny, palatable, bite-size pieces that were not-too-scary for this tech-phobic psychotherapist.

I can’t say enough good things about the value and products that you receive from Beth! She helped me take my business to the next level; and it can take yours there, too.
–Tamara Suttle, AllThingsPrivatePractice.com

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How to Automatically Publish Your Blog to Facebook — and Why You Should Do It Manually Instead

The question I get almost every day is “How do I import my blog into Facebook, so my blog posts automatically get published to my Facebook profile?”

Facebook used to offer an easy way to import blogs using Facebook Notes, but they discontinued that feature, leaving bloggers struggling for an easy way to import their posts to their profiles and Pages.

Enter NetworkedBlogs – a Facebook app you can use to import your blog into a Facebook profile or Page.

Here’s a great video from Facebook expert Andrea Vahl that explains how to import your blog into the NetworkedBlogs app and then syndicate it to your Facebook profile or Page. The video is a few years old, but the process is essentially the same – don’t get freaked out if some of the steps look a little different. Just keep calm and carry on.

Okay, now that I’ve told you HOW to import your blog into Facebook, I’m going to tell you why you shouldn’t actually DO it.

All evidence points to the fact that Facebook is fiddling around with things in their system, and that it has ways of hiding some content from you, while highlighting other content. Facebook is making (somewhat arbitrary) judgments for you about what content it wants you to see. These judgements seem to be based on who and what you’re engaging with when you’re logged into Facebook.

What that means for us as publishers is that we need to do everything we can to counteract Facebook’s hijinks and make sure that our posts and updates are still reaching the people we are trying to reach.

The bottom line is this – while you CAN automatically import your blog into Facebook so your posts get published automatically, you shouldn’t actually do it.

Instead, you should manually link to each of your blog posts from a status update. It doesn’t take very long – 30 seconds, max – to write a Facebook status update and paste a link to your new blog post into that update.

The reason you want to add links manually — instead of relying on NetworkedBlogs (or any other tool) — is that when you import your blog (and your posts get published to Facebook automatically) your blog posts get shared and Liked less often. A LOT less often. That means less traffic for you. Here’s an article that shows you the research to back up my advice.

So it’s up to you – you can use an automated tool, or not. I definitely choose not to. I manually publish a link to each new blog post – and that’s what I recommend my clients do, too. I think I get more traffic and more engagement because I choose to do this.

Here’s my advice – You need to make a decision that works for you and your business. You should either install NetworkedBlogs in your Facebook profile and import your blog to your profile or page, OR you should add a task to the checklist of things you do every time you publish a new post that says “Publish a link to my new blog post to my Facebook page”.

What are thoughts on this issue? Has anyone experienced a dip in traffic when they publish blog posts to Facebook with a third party app?

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How I Got a Book Deal, Part Three

How I Got a Book Deal, Part 3

Note: This is a series of posts about how I signed a deal with Wiley and Sons for a book on Pinterest marketing. Click here to see the navigation page for the rest of the series.

I was in the middle of my workday on Wednesday, February 22nd when I got an email note via my website contact form.  Here’s what the email said:

Hello, Beth.

I am a business book editor and would love to talk about a publishing idea I have. I just read your piece on CopyBlogger for how to market your business on Pinterest. Good stuff!! There is a HUGE market ready to hear what you have to say on this.

Let’s talk!

The note was signed by an editor at Wiley. This is the kind of note that bloggers dream about getting from publishers, so I had to read it several times (and look up the editor online to see if she was legit) before I let myself believe that this wasn’t just a nasty trick that someone was playing on me.

After doing a little research on Wiley (and realizing that Wiley has published virtually ALL of my favorite social media books (by authors like Scott Stratten, David Meerman Scott, Ann Handley and Joel Comm) I spent about fifteen minutes privately freaking out about the fact that a publisher had contact me.

After I spent another couple of minutes getting my major delusions of grandeur and daydreams of best-selling book glory out of system, I took a couple of deep breaths and called the editor back.

The editor was wonderful on the phone. She was clearly very excited about the idea of publishing a book on Pinterest marketing, and thought there could be a huge market for a book on the topic. She told me she had seen my guest post on Copyblogger and really enjoyed it, then asked me if I thought I would have enough material for a book on Pinterest marketing. I said yes.

She then asked me if I could write a book proposal by the following Monday morning. Internally, I groaned, knowing that book proposals are notoriously hard to write and that they are typically incredibly labor intensive.

But when an editor from Wiley is on the phone, and she asks you for a proposal, and she thinks you might be able to write a book that could really sell really well, YOU SAY YES.

So I smiled and said “Absolutely! No problem!” We exchanged a few more pleasantries and hung up the phone.

Over the course of the next few days, I also found out from Wiley that they really needed me to write the Pinterest book in six weeks.

When they asked me if that was possible, I had a moment where I consciously thought to myself, “Say yes, then figure out how to do it.” I called my friend Lori Wostl, who is the person in my life who supports me when I want to do truly insane and awesome things, and asked “I am insane for wanting to agree to this?”

She said, “Yes. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it!”

We talked logistics. We talked time management. We talked about quitting my day job. And in the end, we came up with a workable plan for getting the book done. So I told Wiley that I thought I could do the work in six weeks.

Then I started working on the proposal. Because of family and work obligations (I was still working 30 hours a week at a day job at this point) I had to wait until the weekend to really be able to dig into the writing. And man, did I work hard that weekend. My butt didn’t leave my chair (except to eat and sleep) for three solid days.

My agent, Kristina Holmes, was invaluable in helping me write the proposal. The story of how I retained Kristina as my agent is another epic tale, but I’ll save that one for another day. Kristina read every word of my proposal – many of them several times – and gave me great advice on what publishers look for in a book proposal and how to present myself and my platform in the best possible light.

By Monday morning, I was exhausted, but I felt like we had put together a decent proposal. I took a deep breath and sent it to the Wiley editor, saying a little prayer in my head to the publishing gods as I hit “send.”

After sweating it and dealing with very negative self-talk for several hours, I heard back from the editor and heard that she was happy with the proposal. Then she told me she was going to take my proposal into a weekly meeting that she had on Tuesday afternoon. I got the feeling this was a meeting where people pitching new ideas. I also got the feeling this was a meeting that was kind of a Big Deal.

I won’t deny it – Tuesday was hell. I went back and forth between thinking that my life was about to change and thinking that I was a crap writer who was going to fail utterly at everything I tried to do in my life.

All I could do was wait until the good folks in Hoboken, New Jersey decided my fate.

There’s still time to join my Blog Traffic School! Get all the details here.

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How I Got a Book Deal: Series Navigation

In May and June 2012, I wrote a series of posts about how I got a book deal with Wiley and Sons for a book on Pinterest marketing. If you’d like to read the whole series, please follow these links:

Part One: Learning the Ropes of Guest Posting

Part Two: The Copyblogger Guest Post That Changed My Life

Part Three: Wiley Comes Calling, and the Proposal

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What I Learned About Content Marketing From Buying Snow Tires

Snowy Road - What My Snow Tires Taught Me About Content Marketing

I have lived in Colorado for thirteen years. And every year for the past twelve winters, I have hated driving in the snow. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, where the Department of Transportation dutifully brings out the snow plows when the white stuff starts falling. In PA, the roads are consistently and quickly cleared. I never learned to love driving in the snow in Pennsylvania, but I tolerated it. I trusted that the plows would be there for me and make the roads safer and that I could get from point to point without putting my neck on the line.

When I moved to Colorado, I was completely shocked when I experienced my first major Boulder snowfall (we often get 6-12 inches of snow at a time.) During that first snowstorm, nary a snow plow could found on the roads of Boulder and the surrounding areas. And because no one was out clearing or treating the roads, the driving conditions were horrendous – huge slushy snow piles, slick ice patches, cars sliding all over the place. It was terrifying. I was also completely confused.

I asked a friend why Colorado cities don’t plow, and she told me that the Colorado snow melts so fast that it doesn’t make financial sense to clear it – if you just wait a day, it’s gone anyway! So why bother to pay for plows?

“But people have to drive in it while the snow is on the roads!” I argued. “What about the people who have to get around on the day of a big storm, and can’t just wait until the snow melts to get where they need to go?”

My friend shrugged. “Drive an SUV,” she said. “Or get snow tires.”

I privately rebelled. Studded snow tires cost an average of $400 for a small car, even more for larger vehicles. I wasn’t paying that much for tires just to compensate for Boulder and the Colorado Department of Transportation shirking their responsibilities. I would tough it out in my little car with good all-weather tires, and hope for the best. Colorado snow be damned.

I suffered through twelve – count ‘em, TWELVE – Colorado winters, stubbornly refusing to invest in snow tires and cursing CDOT (and the weather gods) every time it snowed.

I started to suffer from terrible anxiety every time I had to drive in the snow. I would avoid it at all costs, and when I did have to drive during a storm, my hands would shake. I would curse and cry and freeze up and generally fall apart (note: not the best state of mind when trying to drive on icy roads.)

The Final Straw

In December 2011, I had made a plan to drive up to a mountain town to meet a friend. When I was halfway up the mountain, the forecasted snow flurries changed to several inches of icy snow, creating slick and dangerous road conditions. I got stuck four times, my car completely unable to get traction on the snow. I finally turned around, realizing I just had to give up on reaching my destination that night.

The next day, I complaining to a friend about my horrible night getting stuck in the snow, and she confronted me about my snow tire avoidance. She told me having snow tires wasn’t a luxury in Colorado – it was a necessity. “Listening to you complain about getting stuck in the snow when you don’t have good snow tires is like hearing you complain that you’re cold in a sub-zero day when you’re not wearing a coat. Enough is enough. Get yourself some snow tires.

With gritted teeth, I did so, the next day. I paid a ridiculous amount for top-of-the-line studded snow tires. I was mad, but finally willing to just bite the bullet and do it.

The next time it snowed, I started my engine with suspicion in my heart. “How can these tires possibly be worth it? They won’t make that much of a difference,” I said to myself. “I wasted my money.”

I wasn’t even five minutes away from my house when I realized that my snow tires had changed my life.

With my new tires, I didn’t slide or skid. I didn’t fishtail around corners. I didn’t need to worry that I couldn’t stop at the bottom of a hill or start again after stopping at a red light. I could just….drive. My anxiety disappeared completely, and my entire relationship with snow (and Colorado) transformed. I actually LIKED the snow and could recognize how beautiful and peaceful it was. It was incredible.

What I Learned from My Snow Tires

What’s the lesson in this? What do snow tires have to do with content marketing?

Whatever it is that you are resisting – starting a blog, beginning your Facebook business page, starting an email list, buying a new tool for your business – ask yourself WHY you are resisting. Are you scared? Stubborn? Unconvinced? Resisting just for the sake of resisting? All of the above?

There are content marketing strategies and tools that can completely transform your business. If you are dragging your feet about using them, investing in them, or putting them into practice, do whatever you need to do to get past your resistance.

Start that blog. Put up that Facebook Page. Buy that new software that will save you hours and hours of wasted time. Sign up with a business coach.

Get past your pattern of denying yourself something that can make a huge different in your business and your life.

Once you get started, you’ll likely love the result and ask yourself why you waited so long. I know I did.

So take it from me – survivor of many a Colorado winter. Not doing something – when you are resisting just for the sake of resisting – causes far more suffering than just biting the bullet and doing it. Because once you get started, it will be like sledding down a steep hill – exhilarating, enjoyable, and totally worth it.

Thoughts on this article? Stories about getting past resistance that you’d love to share? Leave your comments below!

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Are You Afraid of the Big Bad Blog (Comment)?: An Introduction to Comment Etiquette

Gray WolfNOTE: This is a guest post from Stephanie Adams, MA, LPC of Beginnings Counseling and Consulting.

Have you ever seen a blog comment that just made you cringe? Maybe it was spelled poorly. Or it might have been so absurdly off-topic that you felt sorry for the writer. Or perhaps – heavens! – it was just plain rude.

If you’re like me, you’ve seen bad blog comments before. Additionally, you may have reacted like I did, by backing off from interacting with the blog world for a while. If other people thought (incorrectly) that their comments were appropriate, what if I were to make similar mistakes? How embarrassing!

That simply won’t do!

Fear not, gentle readers. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines of the blog world! Blog commenting etiquette is simpler than you might think! Ultimately, it’s about courtesy and friendliness. With that in mind, I’ve listed some Do’s and Don’ts for you below to help you bring both to your blog communication.


  • DO read the blog post before you comment, and make sure you understand it. I can’t count how many times I was glad I did another quick read-through before clicking “Post Comment.”
  • DO read the comments already posted before you write yours, to make sure other people haven’t already said the same thing. Is there an echo in here?
  • DO list your website if the comment box has a space for it, but DON’T put it in the body of your message, which can make it look spammy and self-serving. Okay, so that’s technically a “don’t.”
  • DO contribute useful information, which means not repeating and rephrasing the same things. It’s repetitive and redundant.
  • DO ask questions if you have them. It keeps the conversation going, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
  • DO have a photo as your avatar whenever possible. It keeps it personal! It’s not absolutely necessary that it be blue and speak Naavi.
  • DO reply to a blog comment back to you as soon as you see it, or it’s likely you will forget. Plus, people will be so impressed by how involved you are! Tip: check the box that says “Notify me of follow up comments via email.”
  • DO be complimentary – the blogger worked hard to produce this article for you!
  • DO comment back on comments others make on your own blog. Good opener: Thanks for your comment! Bad opener: O lowly blog reader, congratulations on reading my post.
  • DO comply with any posted rules, like no foul language.
  • DO politely and privately contact the blogger if you have a concern about the content or integrity of their post. This leads in to my one and ONLY (OFFICIAL) DON’T, and it’s a big one.


  • Don’t argue with people in comments – your commentary will be publicly available on the web for a long, long time. Want someone looking you up for a job someday to see ranting and raving? No! It’s not cool, and it defeats the whole point of commenting on blogs, which is to have a conversation. Once people start being rude, it stops being a conversation, and becomes a fight.

I base these particular recommendations on my experiences reading blog comments and commenting myself. But keep in mind that if you just focus on maintaining a genuine connection with others, you’re already halfway to your goal.

After all, you write comments because you want to exchange ideas with the blogger. You want to contribute to the conversation – and conversation is based on connection! By using thoughtful, connection-focused commenting etiquette, it becomes much more likely that people will listen to you, allowing you to continue contributing and conversing!

As a professional counselor by trade, I have learned that when someone makes the relationship the priority, everyone wins. So with blog commenting, and with life in general, focus on connection. Other people will feel valued, and you will find yourself feeling more confident in your comment savvy. Then you don’t have to be afraid of the Big Bad Blog Comment…or of anything else!

Stephanie Ann Adams, MA, LPC is the co-author of “The Beginning Counselor’s Survival Guide: The New Counselor’s Plan for Success from Practicum to Licensure” (available now in paperback and e-book) and the owner of Beginnings Counseling & Consulting, where she provides counselor innovation consulting and life counseling for emerging adults.

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The Fastest Way to Get Flat-Out Rejected for a Guest Blogging Gig

Rubber Stamp that Says "Denied"Recently, a woman wrote to me and offered to do a guest post on my blog. She introduced herself and told me a little bit about what she was up to in the world. Her niche had nothing to do with blogging or social media, but that wasn’t necessarily a deal breaker for me, so I kept reading.

She told me she’d like to guest post on my site, and gave me a link to her website.  Then she asked, “Can you please send me some topics that you would like me to use for a guest post?”


A few days later, I got another request. This woman wrote a very similar short intro, then asked me if I would consider publishing her guest post on my blog. Then she gave me a great idea for a post topic, and even told me why she thought the post would be a good fit for my site. It was clear she had done her homework and really thought out the details of her request.

Which potential guest blogger do you think I said yes to?

That’s right – I said yes to the one who approached me with an idea.

If you want to do guest posts, don’t expect the host blogger do the work and give you topics to write about. Prepare a couple of great post ideas, and send those with your inquiry.  Make it clear that you know the blog really well, and that you know what will (and will NOT) be good material for the website.

The key to getting guest blogging gigs is having awesome ideas for blog posts.

Yes, I think it’s important to build relationships with the bloggers you’re trying to approach. I think it’s also incredibly important to practice writing as much as possible so that you become the best writer you can be.

But I also think that a popular blogger is going to be a lot more excited to consider your blog post if you have an awesome idea.

Here’s what I suggest:

  • Do your homework. Read the blog inside and out, so you have a really good grasp on the subject matter, the tone, and the kinds of posts that do well on the site (look for lots of retweets and comments for proof of popularity.)
  • Then make your pitch. Keep it really short.
  • Use your first paragraph to introduce yourself and tell them a LITTLE bit about you. Then say “I’d like to write a guest post for [your awesome, popular blog]. Here are some possible posts I could write…
  • Then list your possible topics. Give ’em a maximum of five ideas – you don’t want to overwhelm the blogger.

Hopefully you’ll hear back from the host blogger quickly, and she’ll say “Yes! I’m totally interested in your post about Hamsters During the French Revolution. Please send me the post by X date, and if it’s a good fit for us, we’ll publish it.”

If not, well…then you need to go back to the drawing board. But if you keep reading that blog and keep sending in original, well-targeted post topics, sooner or later you are going to get a yes.

Need ideas for posts? Trying downloading the utterly awesome Copyblogger headline hacks report and pick through its foolproof headline formulas.  Start your list of post ideas, then keep adding to it.

Want to try it? Send a short guest post pitch to a blogger you’d love to write for. Make sure to keep your note short and sweet, and only pitch IDEAS. Don’t send a whole blog post. Make your ideas great, and make sure they fit the topic of the blog.

Then tell us about it in the comments, or share your story on the Blogging with Beth Facebook page.

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How a Tomato Changed My Life

For months, I had struggled with getting stuff done. I tried task lists, different systems for organizing my inbox, playing soothing music while I worked, and reading various books on productivity.

But the to-do list kept getting bigger and my desire to complete anything on the list kept getting smaller.

Then I discovered a little productivity tool that changed my life. It’s a little timer in the shape of a tomato.

I originally heard about working with the tomato timer by reading a post on the awesome travel blog Married with Luggage, written by Betsy and Warren Talbot. The post is called On Kitchen Timers, Writing, and Discipline. In her post, Betsy talks about how she started using a simple productivity solution called the Pomodoro Technique, and how this simple idea was helping her stay focused on her writing.

After doing a little reading on what this Pomodoro business was all about, I was curious to try it. Here are the basics:

1. Get yourself a kitchen timer. The man who originally coined the term “Pomodoro Technique” used a cool timer shaped like a tomato (thus the name – “Pomodoro” is the Italian word for tomato.) You can use any ordinary kitchen timer.

2. Pick one task on your to-do list. Best items to pick are the ones you’ve been putting off for a while.

3. Set the timer for 25 minutes.

4. Work on the task – and ONLY that task – until the timer goes off. If the phone rings, ignore it. If your cell phone dings with a new text message, don’t deviate from your work. Work until the timer goes off, no exceptions.

5. When the timer dings, take a short break (about 5 minutes) to do something else. Dance around the room, grab a drink, read a quick article.

6. After you complete four Pomodoros, take a longer break.

That’s it! The Pomodoro technique is a no-excuses way to plow through your to-do list and get a ton of work done. There’s something freeing about knowing that you only need to focus on the task at hand for 25 minutes. We can do anything for 25 minutes, right?

I’ve used this technique for:

  • Household chores
  • Writing blog posts
  • Processing my inbox
  • Internet research
  • Limiting (and maximizing) my social media time
  • Paying bills
  • Brainstorming of all kinds (guest blog post ideas, new products, presentations)

Apparently there’s a lot more to the technique if you really want to dive into it further. You can check out the Pomodoro technique website for more information. If you’d like to buy an adorable timer shaped like a tomato, you can get one from Amazon.

If you’re having trouble getting things done, and find yourself distracted by all the bells, whistles, ringing and alerts of our technological world, try a little tomato timer. It might just change your life.

Update: Don’t forget to check out the description of Betsy and Warren’s upcoming book, Dream.Save.Do! And thanks to Betsy for giving us a link to a cool online Pomodoro timer (see her comment below for link!)

This post is part of the October Word Carnival on productivity. Check it out for more great advice on being productive!

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