There are hundreds of millions of blogs on the internet which makes standing out in the blogosphere hard.
With an ever increasing number of bloggers vying for consumers attention, what does it take to stand out above the crowd and be heard? Kristi Hines seems to know how, but then again she should.
Aside from her own content Kristi has written over 400 blog posts for others in several different markets, on topics as far reaching as finance and search engine optimisation. Her content has appeared on more than 60 popular websites which gives her an advantage over others.
On this episode we ask Kristi Hines to reveal how to do blogging effectively. The type of ‘effectively’ that’s resulted in over three hundred thousand social media shares and one hundred fifty thousand Google search clicks for Kristi to date. Listen in and learn how she does it, so you can implement her learnings in to your own blog content.
Kristi Hines is a freelance writer who has worked with many well-known companies like American Express, Capital One and Freshbooks. She has been writing about social media, search engine optimization, web analytics and online marketing since 2009 and her blog Kikolani has been recognised as a Top 10 Social Media Blog.
When Kristi started freelance writing, she wrote first for Sprout Social, KISSmetrics and Unbounce to name a few. Her freelance writing portfolio contains more than 400 posts which have been shared more than 300K times on social media and received over 150K clicks from search engines.
If you want great quality content that actually works, Krisit Hines is a person to go to.
A QUICK PREVIEW OF THE PODCAST:
Here are some of the highlights from episode 62 of the Traffic Jam Podcast…
- The Key Elements of A Blog Post.
- Finding the Right Topics.
- Tools of the Trade.
- Kristi’s Most Famous Blog.
- Blog Formats That Work.
- Content Layout.
- The Visual Element.
- The Best Content Length.
- Headlines That Get Clicked.
- Content Promotion.
If you enjoy this episode of Traffic Jam, please share it using the social media buttons you see on this page, or click to tweet this Kristi Hines quote from the show:
You can also get Kristi’s quote as exclusive illustrated artwork along with more special episode bonuses: Click Here To Download.
To see the full transcript of this episode in-page click show/hide transcript:
Show / Hide Transcript
Hey what’s up listener? Welcome back to Traffic Jam! This is show#62 of the podcast that helps you get more traffic to your website and make more sales. I’m your host James Reynolds and what an awesome show we’ve got lined up for you today.
In just a moment from now we are going to be talking all about how to do blogging with Kristi Hines but before I introduce Kristi and get to the interview itself, there’s a couple of things I’d like you to do. The first is hop on over to iTunes or Stitcher radio and give a rating and review for Traffic Jam. Giving a review really is the number one way you can show support for the show and help get this content out to more people. Plus, when you leave a review, I am more than likely to read it out on a future show so a great way for you to get some exposure for yourself as well so I’d love for you to do that. The second thing I’d like you to do is head on over to the episode page for Traffic Jam#62 which is at TrafficJamCast.com/62 and download the special bonuses that come with this episode.
Aside from a special MP3 download for the show, full transcript of the show today, we’ve also put together a special resource guide with several tools that will help you create content topic ideas for your blog post far more quickly and easily than trying to muster them up yourself. So head on over there now to get that – TrafficJamCast.com/62 then let’s move on with the show.
Allow me to introduce today’s guest. Her name is Kristi Hines and she’s a freelance writer and professional blogger who writes on topics such as content marketing, search engine optimization, social media, and web analytics. Her work has appeared in more than 60 online publications including Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, and Social Media Examiner. Kristi is the writer of the likes of Kissmetrics, Sprout social and Unbounced quality content that gets results. Her freelance portfolio contains more than 400 blog posts that have generated over 300 thousand social shares and over 150 thousand clicks from Google search visitors each month.
Today we’ll be tapping in to Kristi’s knowledge to understand what it really takes to write blog post that generate more traffic and exposure. So let’s welcome now on to Traffic Jam Kristi Hines from KristiHines.com.
James: Hey there listeners! Welcome back to the interview section of Traffic Jam. Today we are joined by the very experienced blogger Kristi Hines. Kristi, how are you doing today?
Kristi: Doing good! How are you?
James: I’m awesome and super excited to have you on the show. Definitely looking forward to tapping in to your experience today. Let’s begin, let’s talk about what makes effective content because you’ve been blogging a lot both at www.kristihines.com and www.kikolani.com but you have also written well over 400 blog posts for others in several other different markets and on topics as far reaching as finance and search engine optimization. So let’s begin by tapping in to some of that experience. What would you say are some of the key elements of a blog post that kind of remain regardless of topic and regardless of market? What are the mainstays of every content?
Kristi: The mainstay is basically knowing your audience like knowing who you want to attract to your business website and creating content that is going to be of interest to them. And so I always like to suggest maybe survey the people that want to come to you and say what kind of things are you interested in and do some research to see, because there are not a lot of unique ideas are out there and a lot of topics are being covered because there are millions of blogs and everything out there. So I would suggest people kind of research people who have already talked about certain topics, see what’s the best mix for those and make sure you include yours and make sure that yours has that unique element.
James: Nice! Do you use any particular process to do that? Some things that we found effective here is using tools like Buzz Sumo for instance to kind of see which pieces of content have gained social traction and then to try and understand what topics or elements of those pieces of content have really kind of generated rapport and struck home with readers. Do you use any tools in the process like that to really zero in on those effective topics that might be?
Kristi: I do use Buzz Sumo, that’s been a recent favorite of mine for finding out which posts are most socially engaging and I also look at what topics ranks the first page of search results for keywords because sometimes they are not the same posts. And you kind of want to get a good idea if somebody is looking at Buzz Search, will you be able to get your post in to that first page and make sure it is unique enough so I kind of use both.
James: Yeah, it’s this simple but effective trick right? Google themselves are looking at all those signals as to what makes a piece of content actually a good piece of content and needless to say, those pieces of content that make it up there in the first page, they must be doing something pretty well.
Kristi: Exactly! Social media gets you the traffic immediately but in the long run search engine traffic is what you are going to have so definitely that is where you want to end up – that first page.
James: Absolutely! And some other things that have worked kind of nicely for us from an SEO standpoint and looking at what pieces of pillar content that really work is actually just then is going to the biggest sites and the most well-known people in the market and seeing which pieces of their content perform best and perhaps use tools like AHRefs or some of these search engine optimization links and analysis tools to effectively see which pieces of content which content gets linked to most and that has also been a good process for us for sure.
Kristi: Yeah! One of the tools I use is cognitive SEO and the reason I like it is instead of just looking at an excel table it actually gives you these little dots and if you see a big dot it means that it’s got a lot of links. You can kind of drill down to it and see the links so it kind of helps you visually identify the content that gets the most SEO action.
James: Yeah, nice stuff! What’s your best-ever performing piece of content and what made that so successful?
Kristi: I don’t know overall but in the past year I know I have done a series of Google analytics post for Social Media Examiner and those have done really well and I think one of the big reasons is that Google Analytics themselves tweeted it – like when that platform tweets and it has like hundreds of thousands of followers so it just got tons of traffic and a ton of social engagement.
James: Yeah. That’s nice and that’s a fantastic tip in itself. If you can create a piece of content that includes or is around someone who’s on a social cloud on a good following , it can get them engaged on the content and also helping with distribution, it makes life a little bit easier, right?
Kristi: Exactly! You just have to notify them too because sometimes they are not checking the entire web for content so sometimes you have to be like, hey, we mentioned you in this post and that definitely goes a long way.
James: Yeah absolutely! Let’s extend conversation around that topic, what types of posts are working really well because one that gain is used a lot by bloggers the world over is list post or expert round ups which would be kind of along the lines of what we just mentioned. Is there any kind of structures or formats on the posts that you yourself are finding the most success with?
Kristi: Usually list post, like the more number you can put into the type the better. If you have a hundred sources or whatever, people think it’s interesting and they read it and they are like, oh, wow it’s got a hundred things it must cover everything and then they start sharing. That obviously works very well. How to posts usually do very well too because if somebody is looking for a specific piece of advice that’s the kind of title they are going to click on.
James: Yeah, definitely! A past guest who came on talking about guest posting and a particular method that he was using was Brian Harris and he says how to posts are just the way forward for him. He pretty much writes nothing else and that is because while people are searching for it and secondly it is inherently useful. If you can show somebody how to do something and that in itself is extremely valuable and gains a lot of traction so I can see why that would work.
Kristi: Exactly! Especially with online marketing people, everybody asks questions and titles and search and sees how to do this then that’s what’s going to get clicked on.
James: Yeah totally! So how about laying out the content? I am sure for a how to post that would be extremely important having a mix of actual instructions and then perhaps screenshots and diagrams to show people how to do something. How much attention do you put in to actual lay outs of posts versus the writing itself?
Kristi: It is really important to start those types of posts to let people know exactly what they are going to get out of it like within the first paragraph or two because somebody like you can write how to posts like two thousand to three thousand words long and you want people to know immediately that this is the result that you are going to get by the end of it. so you definitely start out with that and then you want to get a clear headers all the way to it just like generic step one, here’s how you do this and step two here’s how you do this, that way if there is somebody who knows most of everything, they can kind of skip through the instruction and get what they really want to get to. Even if they find just one section useful, they are going to probably share it with people because they know that it is complete in like everything. And screenshots are definitely important. If you have a how to post without screenshot for something that is like on the computer then people are just going to leave because they can’t really visualize the information. I have people telling me that they love my post just because the screenshot directed them exactly to where they needed to go.
James: Yeah, absolutely! And I think visual content is extremely important. The information is important in itself but when you can also illustrate that and engage people a lot more often with imagery. It really makes that well rounded post effective, right?
Kristi: It does. And even if you think about things away from a computer like a recipe, if you’re not a good cook, sometimes you just want to see a picture of the step that is going on so you can be like oh, this is what I am doing so it just makes it easier actually to do.
James: Yeah totally. Well my girlfriend will vouch for that, she was never much of a cook until she found instructional how to’s on YouTube and can actually see it being made. I think that element is extremely important. And I guess it also appeals to different modalities. Some people are kind of naturally more visually led and other people like the written word and text so you have to make sure that you have all people covered in one post.
Kristi: Exactly, yeah. I like writing but at the same time I really like to have that visual reference if somebody is talking about this and here’s where to go to do it or here’s how to do it. It definitely helps.
James: Now content length is certainly a huge case for longer content performing better, generally it does perform a lot better than short form content and I think generally there has been studies that longer content generates more social shares as well on average. In your opinion, is there an ideal word count or range that we should aim for? Perhaps one that you typically aim for for yourself?
Kristi: For the bare minimum, for people who are like just looking for content it’s just like 600 words but for people who are like do really well like ad search and social, definitely like 1500 to 2000 words is definitely a good range. I think it’s SERP IQ did a study on this and they said that most content that did on the first page is usually like 1500 and up on word count and I think Buzz Sumo did a study and said that the most viral posts are like 2000 – 3000 words.
James: Yeah, and I guess that probably in itself is a suggestion that just because it is longer it is more valuable, I think it’s probably just a substance factor especially when it comes to social sharing. Someone will look at that and go yeah, this looks more valuable maybe I am going to be more inclined to share it with my own audience.
Kristi: Yeah, I still go with a theory with a lot of people probably don’t read what they figure for that long it covers everything.
James: Yeah, I am sure that’s the case. I have been guilty sharing that stuff, reading it probably a quarter of the way through and realizing it is pretty good stuff but maybe not having time to go through and read the whole lot and sharing it out there on social media. You didn’t hear it here by the way but I’ve done it a few times.
Kristi: Yeah, Neil Patel does a really good job and he has these things like huge guides and he breaks them in to little sections and I look at them and I’m like ten thousand words, these are all the topics it covers, it’s good.
James: Yeah absolutely! And it coming out, knowing that it’s going to be someone from Neil Patel I know it is going to be good stuff anyway so you probably don’t need to read too far, huh? So what sort of formulas have you got for headlines? Because that, probably as we all know or at least any of the Traffic Jam listeners would know is extremely important for driving traffic and getting people actually in to any content itself. Do you have any formulas for writing headlines that our listeners might be able to follow?
Kristi: There’s actually a lot of tools out there if you just do a search for like headline generator or title generator or blog topic generator. There are tools where you put in a keyword and it will give you headlines that kind of work with that keyword and I kind of used a lot of those to generate hundreds of different headlines in that way I can just have quickly go through and say, that’s a good one and I squeeze it to the topic.
James: And would you agree with the approach that perhaps you should be spending more time on the headline than the content itself? Several people kind of vouch for that that really is the key critical point of a piece of content and getting that right should be where all the attention is or is that taking it a bit too far?
Kristi: I think if you are writing a 1500- 2000 word post you are probably going to be taking more time on the post than the headline but I think there is the up worthy strategy where they re-write the headline 25 times and out of that you get like a couple that are really good. And you can kind of use those to test social media like which ones gets the most clicks and things like that so it is nice to get a couple of ideas, try them out, see which ones are the most popular.
James: Yeah, definitely. And looking at the overall concept of blogging, I guess I have two questions around, first one, should everyone be blogging? And the second one will be, can everyone blog? Is writing easily learnable and can someone become an effective blogger even if they are totally adverse to writing a single word anyway?
Kristi: I think it kind of depends on your kind of industry. Most businesses have a blog because there is going to be somebody who is interested in some form of information either about their product or about their industry as a whole so I mean there is definitely room for just about everybody to blog out there. As far as writing being easy, it’s not always the easiest thing for people to do but there are ways to kind of get around it; being a freelance writer, there are a lot of people who come to me because they are like, I have this great idea, here are the points I want to cover, I just don’t have the time to actually sit down and that’s when they hire outsource out basically to do it. And there’s also people who speak a lot easier than they can write so they actually just like talk about their idea and then just have somebody transcribe it so there’s lots of different ways to get your ideas in to written content without having to write it. If you enjoy writing, if you have time to write obviously it is a great thing to do but if you don’t there are ways to get around that and get the blogging going too.
James: Well you are obviously someone who enjoys writing so if there are people out there who would be interested to engage a writer like you, how would that process work? What would you need to know to write a piece of content that would be effective for a business?
Kristi: Typically what I ask people, I ask them if there is any topic that they are interested in putting out in their blogs because there are some people who really just have these great ideas and just don’t have the time to actually put them out on the screen and everything. And I also ask people who their competitors are and I go look at their blogs to see the kind of topics that they are covering because that can be a great insight whether things are going to be popular with your target audience or not. Sometimes you’ll find out your competitors are really writing for other people in the same industry and really, your focus is to write for your customers so there is a lot of insight you can get just from that kind of research.
James: Just before we wrap up, let’s turn our attention to promoting our own content. We’ve gone to the process of writing a blog post, we’ve written a topic that we know are going to engage, we’ve got it laid out correctly, we’ve published it on our site, what are the steps after? What do we do next in order to get that piece of content out to the widest and most relevant audience?
Kristi: Definitely social media promotion like you would have promoted to all your channel and everything. People think that’s probably overkill but at the same time there are just people who like to be on Facebook and they just like to be on Twitter and if you’re not posting to all of those channels you’re going to miss those people who have like their preferred networks. So social media, if you have the budget you can do the advertising. It is always good to do that too. You just want to make sure that you target the audience really well. You don’t want to be just like oh I want to be telling this to people I don’t care who they are but some people do that and it’s not exactly the best approach like you want to kind of use all the advertising targeting options to like find your ideal custom audience to make sure they’re the ones seeing your ideal content and if you have an email list, definitely send it out to them and if you don’t have an email list start one that way you have people to kind of promote it to like get it directly to their inbox instead of using Facebook reach to get to them and everything. And I have also found discussion marketing really works well so if you kind of set up a Google alert for people talking about a specific topic like if you can find people that are asking questions about it and you can like cover the discussion and be like, well, here’s the answer to your question if you want I have a blog post about it. That kind of thing works really well too.
James: Yeah, nice. That can be very effective and actually going back to mentioning the tool that I included at the start of this recording, Buzz Sumo, that’s quite a good way to also see who’s been involved in conversations around other pieces of content, perhaps similar to your own and it is actually quite nice sometimes give a people a heads up and say, hey, I know you are interested in this type of content, I have just created a better post or an even better guide on it, perhaps do you want to check it out and it might seem quite sort of interruptive but actually it gets a very good response because you know those people are interested in the topic that you are presenting them with so try that, or try not, depending on your position but I have also found that to work well.
Kristi: Yeah that is really good but just don’t go overboard on it. You don’t want to be that person who’s Twitter stream have like a hundred tweets like @thisperson check this out, @thisperson check this out.
James: Absolutely! And certainly be targeted around that, it’s certainly not a blanket approach and I am sure you as I, have been turned off by people who blatantly have been spamming content @me or @you with just a direct approach. I think if you can enter that conversation appropriately with something that is extremely relevant then it can be effective. I know that you’ve got a course coming out quite soon at www.contentpromotionplan.com, without divulging the entire course content, what are some of the biggest content lessons you’ll be sharing in that course?
Kristi: The main goal is to help people generate traffic and engagement for their content because it doesn’t really matter what your content goals are if you’re not getting traffic to your content, you’re never going to achieve them. So basically you’re just going to go through all the different steps I use to promote my own content through email, social media, discussions and other different strategies.
James: Awesome. We’ll make sure that the link to that site is included in the show notes. I know you are not quite ready for the re-launch just yet but it will be included there so our listeners can keep a watchful eye as soon as it is ready and available. So aside from that I am sure that we’d like people to know that they can find you at www.kristihines.com, where else can our listeners find you out there on the web?
Kristi: My Twitter is @kikolani.
James: Awesome! We’ll make sure that all of the links to Kristi’s websites, social profiles, and some of the resources mentioned in today’s show are included within the show notes of episode#62 which you the listener get to by going to TrafficJamCast.com/62. Thank you so much for coming on Kristi! Thoroughly enjoyed today’s conversation, all that remains is for me to thank you and hopefully sometime in the future we can hook up once again.
Kristi: That sounds great. Thanks for inviting me to be on your show.
James: Thanks Kristi!
So there you go that was Kristi Hines from kristihines.com. Remember to accompany every episode of Traffic Jam comes a special episode bonus. To get your hands on this show’s bonus go to TrafficJamCast.com/62 where you’ll find a special resource guide with several tools that will help make your job of coming up with content ideas for your blog post that much easier. So head on over there now, go to TrafficJamCast.com/62, grab the bonus and also join in on the discussion for this episode. In the coming week, if you’ve not done so already, remember to subscribe to Traffic Jam via iTunes or Stitcher and you do that by going to TrafficJamCast.com/iTunes and TrafficJamCast.com/Stitcher.
Now we end this week’s show with a Traffic Jam of course chosen by our guest today. Kristi Hines has gone for a track chosen by Lindsay Sterling, it is a violin track and it is called Round Table Rival. So enjoy the song to play out the show and I’ll see you back here real soon!
- Kristi on Twitter
- Content Promotion Plan – Course
- How To Generate Dozens Of Blog Content Ideas – Blog Post
The Traffic Jam is a musical jam chosen by our guest Kristi Hines has chosen Roundtable Rival from American violinist, dancer and composer Lindsey Stirling.
Stirling’s professional career started in 2010 when she joined America’s Got Talent and finished as a quarter finalist. She has been making waves since then.
HERE’S WHAT TO DO NOW:
For content to be effective, it first needs to be read. In order to get your content read, you need an interesting topic and a compelling headline.
However, we all know that coming up with topic ideas, more so headlines, can be a tedious task.
Well, what if there were tools that could do it all for you? What if there were several tools and all of them free?
This has to be your lucky day!
As a special bonus for this episode I’ve created this resource guide:
Kristi Hines’ Top 5 (Free) Headline Generator Tools For Content Marketers
Using these tools will help you come up with topics for your blog posts, with little effort and a small amount of clicks.
You can get the guide containing links to all of these tools immediately below. Go ahead and click download now.