If you've ever gone to a trade show and come home with a suitcase full of squishy balls, highlighter pens, and t-shirts that you'll never wear, you know the power of the freebie. And when that freebie is actually useful and valuable, the power is even greater. That's why by giving away a valuable piece of quality content on your blog or website, you can not only demonstrate your expert status in a very tangible manner; you can also lure people to your site and encourage them to become part of your community.
Of course, as with any marketing tactic, there are some do's and don'ts to be aware of:
DO create something of quality. Giving away junk – unedited PLR, a flimsy report full of errors, or other disposable content – won't win you any fans. You don't have to write a 100-page report, or a series of 20, one-hour videos; but whatever you do create should be VALUABLE. The information you provide should stand alone in its own right, but it should also make people want more from you.
DO think outside the box. “The short report” is a common giveaway for online businesses, and they can be very useful. But what about a series of short videos, or a special audio interview? A top-ten list or a template of some sort? A blueprint or a mind map? An iPhone app or a free consultation? A set of inspirational stories? Get creative: The more unique your offer, the more attention it will gain.
DON'T deliver before opt-in. Your goal, when people visit your website, is to capture their information so you can continue to communicate with them even after they leave. Typically, this means getting them to opt-in to your email list. Don't give away the goods before you've gotten, at a minimum, their email.
DO follow up. The delivery of your freebie should be just the first step in an autoresponder series to keep your visitors interested and engaged. Feed them into a series of email messages, newsletters, etc., to keep them coming back for more.
DO encourage them to spread the word. Ask new subscribers if they know of anyone else who might be interested in your freebie, or encourage them to forward the giveaway so others can enjoy it. Your goal is to get that freebie into as many hands as possible, drawing attention back to your site.
DO reuse the content you create. If you record a series of videos, turn them into a special report to distribute to your affiliates, or break apart a short report into articles or blog posts. Never let any content you create do single-duty; make it work over and over again for you!
If you offer a unique, high-quality freebie, and let people know how they can get a copy, your work will speak for itself. You may even find that your content goes viral and becomes the next “must-have” giveaway, driving tons of qualified traffic to your site. 


Blog carnivals might bring to mind lion tamers, elephants, and pink popcorn balls, but in actuality, they're pretty tame. In a nutshell (a peanut shell, of course!), a blog carnival is a group of blog postings on a particular theme. Numerous website owners and bloggers post content on that topic at a particular time – usually the same day of the week – and include links to each other's posts, or to the blog carnival host. It's an easy and fun way to share traffic and develop relationships with like-minded bloggers and business owners.
Hosting Your Own. It's very simple to organize your own blog carnival; you simply pick a day and theme, and publicize it through your normal social media channels, inviting others to take part and explaining the concept to them. Sometimes the themes are very narrow (“30-Minute Recipes” or “Social Media Horror Stories”) or broad. You can make your carnival open (anyone can participate) or closed (only people you invite can join in). Typically, participants include a link at the bottom of their post, linking back to the hosting blog so readers can find the rest of the posts in the carnival.
When hosting a blog carnival, you may want to use a free linking tool such as LinkyTools (http://www.linkytools.com/) or MrLinky (http://www.misterlinky.net/) that will allow participants to easily add themselves and their posts to your carnival link list. If your blog carnival goes well, you might choose to make it a regular event, occurring every first Monday of the month, or even more frequently. If it becomes a regular event, you might consider creating a blog button that participants can add to their site for more visibility.
Joining in the Fun. If you'd rather test out a few carnivals before you start hosting, you can find lists of carnivals by topic on a number of sites such as BlogCarnival.com. Or google “blog carnival YOUR NICHE,” such as, “blog carnival parenting,” for a list of individual carnival opportunities. To be a good participant and get the biggest results from your efforts, here are a few tips:
1.    Stick to the guidelines. Read the theme and deadline information carefully to make sure you're meeting all the requirements, including the links you must include at the bottom of your post. Participants can be rejected from carnivals, and you don't want to spend a few hours creating a perfect blog post, only to find you didn't follow the directions!
2.    Think about your title. Some blog carnivals have dozens of submissions, and you want yours to stand out. Usually, the list of participants includes only your blog name and post name, so an evocative, descriptive title will get you more readers.
3.    Do your best work. Your carnival submission may be the one and only time some visitors may be introduced to you, so show your stuff. Don't toss off a half-baked post unless you want half-baked results. First impressions count!
4.    Thank the organizer. Carnival hosts are not paid, so go out of your way to thank them for their work. A simple email telling them you appreciate their efforts will go a long way towards developing a good relationship with them – which may result in a different partnership further down the road!


What do The Who, Kenny Chesney, Green Day, Cher and the Stones do when they want to sell more albums? They go on tour. And what should savvy internet business owners do when they want to generate more traffic to their sites? You got it: Go on tour – a blog tour, that is.
Guest blogging, whereby you write a post for someone else's blog to gain exposure to their audience, has been around since blogs first emerged.
Basically, here's the scoop: Line up a number of blogs at which you'll be hosting, advertise your appearances, and knock their socks off with your wit and wisdom (concert t-shirts are optional).
Here's what you need to do:
1. Set a schedule. Start out by determining your timeframe. Blog tours take a while to put together, so I recommend planning out at least a few months. At this stage, also figure out your goal – do you want to hit ten blogs, one a week, for ten weeks? Or do you want to blog every day for two weeks? I don't necessarily recommend starting out with a 15-week blog tour right off the bat, so take on something that seems do-able for you.
2. Target your appearances. When it comes to guest blogging, bigger is better. Aim for the largest blogs in your industry or niche, or those with a complementary product or service. Start with the “big dogs;” you can always lower your sites later and fill in with smaller, less-well-known blogs.
3. Approach targets. Email is a great way to approach bloggers you aren't personally connected with. If you can get a referral or introduction from a mutual friend, all the better. Create a short message to explain the tour, let them know how you can help them, and what types of topics might be a great overlap of your expertise with their audience. Don't forget to include details like when the tour is taking place (you might give the “big dogs” their choice of several dates), and why you think you're a great match for their blog. Remember, they're trusting you to “babysit” their blog – they're going to want to know it's in good hands!
4. Promote the event. Once you have your list of tour stops, create a master calendar and post it on your blog. Start talking about the event (including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), and ask your hosts to do the same. Each stop on the tour, update your tour page with links to your posts so people can find your new posts easily. Keep tweeting, updating your email list followers, and in general building excitement and momentum!
5. Follow through. The worst mistake you can make on your blog tour is to flake out. If a blog owner plans for you to blog for a day or a week and then you don't follow through, you're going to have an unhappy colleague to deal with. It's much better to underschedule and give yourself some breathing room, than to overcommit and be unable to fulfill your commitments.
Blog tours do require a good bit of upfront planning and coordination, but the efforts are well worth it. When done correctly, blog tours can expose you to thousands of new readers and potential customers, all of whom are more inclined to be open to you and your message because it's coming endorsed by a blogger they already know and trust. Even Keith Richards and Jerry Garcia would like that kind of clout!


If you want to get noticed by someone on their blog, ask them a question – publicly.
Sneaky? Perhaps, but it works – if done the right way.
While this is a method that I've seen started on mom blogs, I haven't seen it take root much elsewhere.
So, what IS a cross blog conversation? It's just what it sounds like.
Blogger 1:
  •  Writes a blog post on his own blog to initiate the conversation.
  •  Then asks a question of Blogger #2.
Blogger 2: 
  •  Writes a blog post on her own blog that links to question #1
  •  Answers the question.
  •  Then asks a question of blogger #1.
Blogger 1:
  •  Writes a blog post on her own blog that links to question #2
  •  Answers the question.
  • Then asks a question of blogger #2.
It can go on as long as you want.
The advantages of this kind of traffic method are:
  • Links from a relevant, authority blog.
  • It's fun and easy to generate content because you're simply responding to your friend.
  • You're being “called out” so it's hard to put it off without feeling like a dolt.
The drawbacks of this kind of traffic method are:
  • You're being “called out” publicly. 😉
  • You may not like the question that is asked of you.
So, how do you get started?
1. Make a List of Bloggers that You'd like to Connect With.
Blogs should be at least a year old and updated at least fairly regularly. You'll also want them to have a Google Page Rank of at least 2 (unless you personally know the person and it's a new blog).

2. Contact Two of the Blog Owners to See if They'd Be Interested in Participating.
If you know the blog owners, this is the polite thing to do. 

Of course, if you want to go guerilla marketing, you can post and hope the other person feels obligated to respond. However, I wouldn't recommend it unless you were pretty confident that the other person will respond favorably.

3. If the Blog Owner Agrees, then Post First.
Do the honor of posting first, to make it easier on the blog owner to reciprocate.

4. Continue the Cross Blog Conversation as Long as It is Fun and Feels Natural.

Other tips:

  • Be sure to promote the blog posts to keep your partner motivated to continue.
  • Keep an eye on the comments that are being posted on both blogs and connect with those readers.


Humans are visual animals, and as we become more isolated in our work habits, our desire to see each other becomes even more important. Witness the stratospheric growth of YouTube.com – people around the globe are watching over 2 BILLION videos a day. Are any of them yours? If not, they should be!
Many online entrepreneurs are moving away from strictly text-based websites and incorporating additional media, most notably, video. Adding video to your blog is a great way to increase the connection visitors feel with you, grow the trust factor with your audience, and communicate in a personal manner. People are more likely to do business with people whom they know, like and trust – and video helps with all three elements.
Here are some tips for using video on your blog to increase your traffic, and, also, how to use video to promote your blog:
1. Keep it on-topic.
It's easy to get chatty with video, but make sure that you're providing value in whatever content you give to your audience. If your video is three minutes long, make sure each minute is valuable or you will lose your viewers.
2. Keep it brief.
With video, compared to text, it's more difficult for your audience to scan the whole thing and skim forward and back. There's nothing worse than asking your viewers to sit through a twenty-minute video, promising them great content, and then hit “the good stuff” in minute 19. Instead, be brief and to the point (it also saves on bandwidth). Under five minutes is the bar to aim for; 2-3 minutes is even better.
3. Post it everywhere AND on your blog.
Use video on sites like Vimeo.com, YouTube.com, Facebook, and any other video sites you can find (tubemogul.com is a great service that will automatically distribute your videos for you). When you post to video sharing sites, use key words, and provide a link back to your website so viewers can find you easily.
4. Know your audience.
Not every audience is ready to move from text to 100 percent video. If a large percentage of your audience is outside the US, they may still be working on dial-up. Or if your audience is mothers or fathers who are cruising the Internet at night after the kids are asleep, or business people who are poking around while they're in the office, they may need to keep their online work stealth.
5. Optimize it for your blog.
You don't need fancy cameras anymore. Your iPhone video, a Flip camera, or other sub-$100 digital camera will do just fine. HD (high-definition) cameras are becoming more affordable, but are not necessary. The key is to test different quality levels to find a good balance between file size and viewability.
6. Don't forget the audio.
If your audio is unintelligible, it won't matter if your videos are great because your viewers won't stick around to know. Even if you are demonstrating something highly visual, keep up the conversation, narrating what you're doing. That way you are appealing to audio as well as video learners.
7. Model yourself on the stars.
Watch some popular video users, such as Gary Vaynerchuk (http://tv.winelibrary.com/) and Carrie Wilkerson (http://barefootexecutive.tv/). See what they do well, and adapt it for your market and personality.
After a quick break-in period, I think you'll find that video is a fun and exciting way to take your website content to a new level. Your audience will love it, too!


With over 3 million regular Twitter.com users and over 50 million tweets sent each day, the Twitterverse is the place to see and be seen. So why not leverage that power to bring attention to your online business by hosting a Twitter chat? Exchanging tweets with your audience is like holding a really interesting conversation in the middle of a crowded coffee shop; everyone around can't help but wonder what's going on.
Here's how to hold a Twitter chat that will draw attention:
1. Pick a time.
Twitter is busiest during weekdays, from late morning to late afternoon. If you post during these peak hours, you have a greater chance of garnering more eyeballs, but you also have more competition than you would if you were tweeting at, say, 3 AM on a Sunday. My advice is to forget about picking a peak Twitter time, and instead pick a time that is most convenient for your readers. You're going to have trouble getting much attention if only three people attend your chat, so aim for a critical mass of participants rather than trying to pick a “perfect” time.
2. Choose a topic.
Which is more appealing: “Come to my Twitter chat today at 4!” or “Come share ideas on how to leverage social media to grow your client base!” No brainer. Pick an interesting topic and people will go out of their way to get there. (It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Pick a topic that's at least tangentially related to your target market.)
3. Publicize it.
Plan your chat far enough in advance (a week or so) that you can start talking it up. You also want to give readers an opportunity to create a Twitter account and learn the basics before your chat, if they're not already die-hard tweeters.
4. Have a giveaway or prize.
Prizes and giveaways always draw attention. You can make it as simple as, “Stop in to our Twitter chat where I'll give out my number one secret to getting booked for your next photography gig,” or as complicated as a drawing for a year's worth of photo developing. (Note: Give the prize away at the end of your chat, rather than the beginning, to ensure that people stick around.)
5. Have a hashtag.
Hashtags, or the “#” symbol, are the way Twitter users can track topics and conversations. Create an appropriate hashtag so your chat participants can identify each other.
Tip: Keep it short enough that it won't take up an unreasonable portion of your allotted 140 characters, but long enough that it's unique. Share the hashtag with participants ahead of time so they can track the conversation.
6. Capture leads.
Have a way to add chat participants to your list. At a minimum, make sure to follow all participants on Twitter. You could ask attendees to sign up for a dedicated email list to be entered in a drawing, or to receive a special report you've created for the occasion.
Making your next Twitter chat the “in” place to be on Twitter.com is a lot easier than getting an invitation to the popular table in the high school cafeteria. In fact, all it takes is a little bit of planning and a lot of publicity.