10 FREE WordPress Plugins that Every New Site Absolutely Needs

So, you have decided to start your online journey with self-hosted WordPress, eh? And one of the reasons why you chose WordPress as your platform of choice is because somebody may have told you how amazing plugins are! You are new, you are excited, and you are ready to get started! But where do you even start? In this blog post, I will tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about WordPress Plugins! And not only, I will even give you 10 plugins that you must have when you are just starting out.

If you are just starting out with self-hosted WordPress, you must have heard how awesome WordPress plugins are. In this post, I give you ten such plugins that you absolutely need when you're just starting out.

What are WordPress Plugins?

Plugins are functions. In layperson’s language, plugins do things. WordPress is a piece of software written in PHP language, and so are plugins. Therefore, they seamlessly integrate with one another making it easy for a user to get a lot of different functionalities without having to code it themselves (because others, thankfully, have already written these functionalities for us, and packaged them into “plugins”). To use a plugin, all we have to do is click a button to install it, then click another button to activate it. As simple as that.

A Little More About Plugins

OK, so I made it sound a little too simple there. But I am assuming you are a WordPress newbie, so I do not want you to have information overload. But, if you are now ready for a little more, here’s what would be helpful to know. While activating a plugin is what you need to do to get it to work in most cases, sometimes, however, for certain more complex plugins, you will need to do what we call a “setup”. You will need to set up a plugin a certain way so it performs in a certain manner. Usually, they are fairly intuitive and easy to figure out. But if you’re having issues, Google is your buddy! Worst case scenario, you may have to pay a techy virtual assistant (VA) to set it up for you.

Issues One Must be Aware of

Like all good things in life, too much of it can have an adverse effect. Take chocolate mousse for example. Or Ben & Jerry’s Totally Baked. I’d eat them all day, every day, had they not been so terrifically bad for my health.

The same goes with plugins. They are so easy! Click! Install. Click! Activate. BOOM! But the problem, my dear readers, is that the more plugins you have on your site, the more “load” your site has to carry. Which means more potential for your site to get bogged down by a lot of different files being parsed at the same time from different locations. This essentially makes your website… SLLLOOWWW!!!

WordPress practically runs on plugins, so it will be dumb to not take advantage of these nifty little, oh-so-handy, pieces of software. But just keep it somewhere in the corner of your brain that too much of it is likely not very good for you. I’d say, if you are reaching close to running as many as 20 plugins, it’s time to back off and take a hard look at how you are using these plugins.

When Possible, Use Codes On Your Theme

Try not to use a plugin for every simple task. Often times, you will find that you can hire a developer to write a simple piece of function for you and add it to your functions.php file or maybe your header or footer files. This lessens the need for a separate plugin and takes some of the load off of your website. If you are able to hire a developer to do so, please consider it!

To give you an example, I often see people using a plugin for adding Google Analytics codes. It’s a simple piece of code that goes into the header.php file of your WordPress themes files, right underneath the <head> tag. There is absolutely no need for a separate plugin to add this piece of code! Just do it manually!

Granted, sometimes it’s “easier” to add a plugin than find the header file, and also, if you’re not code-savvy, you run into the issue where if you change your theme, you lose the adjustments you may have made to your previous themes to get certain functionalities. That’s why, whenever possible, try to get a developer in your team or hire a tech VA, or something, as opposed to trying to DIY. It may sound cheap, but you will suffer in the long run, take my word for that!

The WordPress Plugins You DO NOT Need

I promised to give you a list of 10 plugins that you absolutely need. But before I go there, allow me to inform you of the plugins that you DO NOT need!

If you install WordPress using the nifty little one-click button provided by your host, chances are, some absolutely-not-necessary-at-all plugins will be installed along with your core files. Two such plugins are Hello Dolly and Jetpack. Believe me, you DO NOT NEED EITHER OF THEM!

Hello Dolly is useless, delete it ASAP.

Now Jetpack… well, the problem with Jetpack is that it’s unnecessarily bulky. Most of the things you get with Jetpack are useless. The only things I ever enjoyed with jetpack are Social sharing buttons, and the monitor option that lets you know when your site is down.

Akismet is also a plugin that comes pre-installed with most WordPress easy installations, and here’s the catch. I love this plugin because it does what it’s supposed to do. It filters your comments and gets rid of spammy content, making your life a bit easier. The catch though is that if you are making money in any way from your blog/website (which you should be), then you’ll need to get the paid version. If you want to pay them, great! Keep it! But if you want to go the absolutely FREE route especially when you’re just starting out and money is tight, I’ve listed a really good plugin below that’s absolutely free, and does it job.

There are leaner and better plugins for social sharing. And unless you use a crappy host, you can do without the site monitoring. So yeah, get rid of it pronto!

Basically, whichever plugins come pre-installed with your WordPress, delete them. The only exception being Akismet.

And now with that, let’s take a look at our 10 mus have plugins, shall we?

10 Must Have, FREE, WordPress Plugins When You Are Just Starting Out

1. Anti-Spam

Bots are in abundance in the online space and you WILL get spam comments; I guarantee that. Unless you have a spam detector, you’ll be cleaning up the mess yourself, and that can be a time waster if not plain annoying. For any WordPress user, a plugin that polices the comments and filters the good from the bad is essential. Get this plugin pronto!

2. Wordfence Security

A couple of weeks ago, this lady reached out to me, tired and exasperated, and… a bit panicky. She paid me a lofty amount that very day for doing the following: Retrieve her hacked site, get her access back, and then secure her site from further ill-intended, malicious, good-for-nothings. I wasn’t the one who set up her website, but once I was able to log in to her back-end, I realized that she had absolutely no protection whatsoever! No security plugin, no file scanning software, nada!

Granted, a security plugin cannot always protect you, but it’s still something! And more often than not, this security plugin WILL save your ass from being hacked. So yeah, if you think hacking happens to other people only, na-uh. You’re being complacent now! Get Wordfence Security, it’s a great plugin that will protect your site, at least in most cases. Unless you have a really crafty hacker after you for whatever reason, this plugin should be enough for your website’s protection.

Alternately, you can use iThemes Security plugin, which I have also used in the past. They are both pretty good, so you should be fine either way.

3. UpDraft Plus

UpDraft Plus is a great plugin that automatically backs up your website content as well as the database. A good host should also keep a backup for you, and if not, this should be a paid option. If you can afford it, I highly recommend getting an automatic backup plan with your host. But you see, I’m the sort of person who likes to have at least 4 different copy of things… thus my recommendation of UpDraft Plus.

This plugin comes in handy even if you do have a backup plan with your host. For example, say you need to update your WordPress core files or some plugins. This is not the norm, but sometimes, an updated software can crash your site if things do not go well. And well, performance issues are a thing, so f you have a local backup, it’s simple enough to restore your website to an earlier version without having to log on to your cPanel and restore from there.

4. Yoast

I love this plugin! It makes life (and SEO) so much easier! Where should I even start with this? You see, setting up Yoast can take a minute or two, but it is not hard at all, so don’t panic! But once you’ve set it up, life will be easy, and you must trust me!

Yoast is an SEO policing plugin; which means, while it doesn’t actually optimize your website for search engines for you (sorry pal, you’ve gotta do the actual work here), it does help you by letting you know whether your page or post content is search engine optimized. Follow the directions set forth by Yoast, and you are golden (provided you are doing your own keyword research and all… because Yoast does not do that for you!)

Not only content SEO, but you can use Yoast to set up metadata for your website, which is also very handy. This means you can inject metadata without having to go to your theme’s header.php file. There is also a social card option available that you can use to set different graphics for different social media platform, right from your WordPress dashboard!

Yoast also generates a sitemap for you that you can submit to Google’s search console. So yeah, just FYI, you do not need a separate plugin to create a sitemap for you. (I have seen people do that! Have Yoast and also a separate sitemap generator. Completely redundant, hence unnecessary.)

5. WP Smush

WP Smush is an image optimizer plugin; basically, it gets rid of unnecessary data from your image files, compresses it, resizes it, and makes the file much smaller. Images are one of the primary reasons for slow websites. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you have an image optimizer in place.

My suggestion to you is that you optimize the image even before you bring it to your WordPress folders. Resize it, compress it. And THEN run it again through WP Smush, and by then, I’m sure you’re good to go.

6. WP-Optimize

I love this plugin! This plugin cleans up your database with just a click; really! Check all the boxes available inside the settings of this plugin, click Optimize, and it will clean up all the hidden things that are stored in WordPress but completely unnecessarily bogging up your back-end. Get this plugin and run it at least once a month and you will be doing your site a favor for a long time to come!

7. Sassy Social Share

Now, at this point, I am assuming you have gotten rid of Jetpack, yes? In that case, you now need a social share plugin! There are quite a few out there, and some of them are even free! Personally, I like this one quite a lot as it is pretty lightweight, comes in different variations of share options (sticky, floating, etc.), and you can play around and pick and choose which posts/pages you want them to appear.

I like this because often I want to have share options enabled for certain pages, but not for other pages. This plugin makes it easy without having to actually mess around with CSS. By far this is my favorite free social share plugin.

8. Media Cleaner

Media Cleaner gets rid of all media files that are not being used on your site. I don’t know about you, but I often play with different images and files, and the result is a lot of unused, unwanted file. UNless I am manually deleting these files as I go, they tend to sort of pile up, if you will. With time, with all the images and other media files, it becomes close to impossible to tell which ones are being linked somewhere on the website, and which ones are just idly sitting there.

Enter Media Cleaner! One click and problem solved. It does a quick sweep of your site, figures out which files are not being used, and then deletes them! Poof! Gone!

9. Contact Form 7

There are plenty of contact form type plugins out there, but Contact Form 7 is by far my favorite. It is intuitive, easy to figure out and use with a short-code, and seamlessly integrates with some industry leading newsletter services. Meaning, you can use Contact Form 7 to create sign up forms, and link them to newsletter subscription services. The best thing about this is the ability to customize the forms to look just the way you want, with simple CSS.

10. WP Super Cache

Last but not the least, WP Super Cache, a caching plugin. Tremendously helpful to keep your site loading fast! There are a few other caching plugins out there, but by far I have found the WP Super Cache to be the easiest to use that does the job as well!

Well, that’s about it, guys! To start off, this is a pretty good list to run with if you have a brand new WordPress based website or blog.

Now, feel free to let me know in the comments which plugins are YOU using? Are you using any of the ones I mentioned here? Thanks for reading, and if you’ve found this blog post to be of any help to you, consider supporting me by purchasing something from my shop. 🙂

If you are just starting out with self-hosted WordPress, you must have heard how awesome WordPress plugins are. In this post, I give you ten such plugins that you absolutely need when you're just starting out.

How to Write a Killer Title That Will Make Your Post Go Viral (Free Workbook Inside)

Let’s talk about blog post titles, shall we? Now, can anyone tell me why it is SO VERY IMPORTANT to write GREAT blog post titles? I mean, without a REALLY GOOD title, a blog post is simply not good enough in my book, no matter how much value you add to the body of the post itself.

In this blog post I tell you ALL the SECRETS you will ever need to know about creating a catchy blog post title that gets your readers clicking and reading!

More and more people these days just read headlines and post titles. We are all into skimming rather than reading the entire content, whether it is a book, a news article, or a blog post. And that is exactly why it is absolutely necessary that we write catchy blog post titles if we want people to even click on the titles to read the entire post.

In a sea of similar content on Google, a great blog post title is absolutely necessary if you want to attract your ideal readers to your post. Don’t believe me? Try this out for yourself! Practically anything you search for on Google returns a TON of results. So, how do you make sure your title is better than other post titles? It’s a skill that any blogger should put some effort into learning.

It is totally possible to learn to write creative and catchy blog post titles with a few tricks. Namely, structure of a post title, keywords, and catchphrases (or words). In this post, I break down all of these and show you a few tricks to mastering the structure and keyword research, along with a few tricks to using catchphrases or catchwords.

After reading this post you should have learned how to:

  • research relevant keywords.
  • structure titles for maximum impact.
  • incorporate catchwords and catchphrases.

The First Step is to Come up with the Right Keywords for Your Blog Post

Personally, I use four different methods to try and come up with proper keywords.

  • Google keyword planner
  • Ubersuggest.io
  • Good old Google Search
  • Pinterest Search

One of the best ways to make sure your post is shown to the right people is by using long tail keywords. A long tail keyword is basically a phrase that is at least 2 or more words long. For example, “recipe” can be a keyword, but “vegan quinoa salad recipe” is a long tail keyword, and is a much better option to use.

When someone is looking for a very specific recipe, for examples, a vegan quinoa salad recipe, using the long tail keywords to specify what your post is about will make it much easier for Google to index your content and show it to the right people. Now, I can go on and on about long tail keywords, but this post is not about that. Instead, here is an article by Neil Patel about the very thing, and you’ll find it extremely informative if you are looking to get well versed in long tail keywords.

Now, how does one find these keywords?

One of the Methods is by Using Google’s Keyword Planner

If you are a newbie blogger and do not have a ton of traffic, you want to pick keywords very carefully. I will get to that shortly, but first, let me show you how to work the keyword planner tool:

When you go to Google Keyword Planner, it takes you to a screen that is, to be fair, kinda vague. You have to first sign in (I am assuming you have a Google account already, if not, create one here.) After you sign in, you go to this blah page that’s really not very helpful. So here I have an image for you!

As you see below, in this gray and white blah page, you will need to spot that tiny wrench icon towards top-right. Click on it, then you see a bunch of other options opening up as a drop down. On the left-most column, as is seen in the image, there is keyword planner. Click on that, and that’s when you get to the actual planner tool, shown in image 2.

keyword planner tool landing page.
Image 1: Find the wrench icon!
Google keyword Planner, search window.
Image 2: get searching

At this stage, click on the first item— “search for keywords using a phrase, website, or category”. When the next window opens, as shown in Image 3, type your keywords or phrases, and then click on the blue button that says “get ideas”.

Google Keyword Planner: Type search query!
Image 3: Get searching some more!

Once you click that button, you get to the results page as shown in image 4. Here is where the magic happens. You see search volume (the number listed next to relevant search items), and the competition for each of these search items, marked as “low”, “medium” or “high”. As a newbie blogger, you should try to avoid high competition items. Those are usually used by websites that have been around for a while and are already very established. So if you and a really established and highly ranked blog, both used a highly competitive keyword, naturally, Google will show the higher ranked website results first.

Your goal should be to choose a low or medium competition keyword that is also searched for a good number of times. Let’s take a look at the examples we see in image 4, shall we?

Google Keyword Planner: Choose the right keywords.
Image 4: Choosing the right keyword.

Here we searched for Vegan Quinoa because, let’s say, you want to share a vegan quinoa salad recipe. Let’s look at all the options we have now. Let’s discard options that have a high search competition. Instead, let u see how to get the best keywords out of all the medium and low competition keywords. The first and the second items are searched a lot (100K – 1 Million), AND has a low search competition. We want to keet those in mind. Quinoa Salad Recipe also does pretty well.

Now let’s look at the second to last item: vegan quinoa salad! That’s what you are going to write about! But you see, compared to the others we have chosen, the search volume for this one is not that high. Only 1K – 10K. Now that’s not too bad! Imagine if 1K people searched for vegan Quinoa Salad every day, and landed on your recipe! Wouldn’t that be cool? At least for newbie blogger that’s not too shabby at all.

So, maybe we use vegan quinoa salad in our header, and use the rest a few times in the body of your post! That could totally work!

Takeaway: Choose a relevant, long tail (2 or more words) keyword that is low or medium competition, yet, has a relatively decent number of searches. Find that sweet spot between the two.

You can also Use Ubersuggest.io to Find Keywords

Ubersuggest.io is a nifty tool, and at times I like this over Google Keyword Planner. However, it doesn’t show you competition vs. search volume, so there’s that. This is a fairly intuitive platform. When you go to ubersuggest.io, you simply enter your own keywords to see which keywords are trending. It will give you a TON of results; the first block of items being the most searched for. Pick any of them (as it so happens, searching for vegan quinoa gives us vegan quinoa salad) that is most relevant to what you are posting about, and pick “Expand this keyword” from the drop-down.

And BOOM! You see even more keywords specific to that query. As you see on Image 6, after we expanded “vegan quinoa salad”, we get a ton more ideas and these are super long-tail keywords, as in super niche!

Ubersuggest.io search results for keywords.
Image 5: Search for keywords on ubersuggest.io
Expanded search results for a keyword on Ubersuggest.io
Image 6: Ubersuggest.io expanded search items.

As you can see, you can expand even further if you want. How specific you want to be kind of depends on you and the kind of content your blog post will have.

Good old Google Search

This is a trick I only recently stole from someone (Thanks, Neville Medhora of kopywritingkourse.com!) It’s actually a pretty nifty trick and often will give you some amazing ideas for keywords!

You go to google.com and enter your own keywords, and for consistency, let’s pick, once again, “vegan quinoa”. As soon as you start typing, you will start seeing suggested search queries. That’s pretty good in itself, but let’s stick to just “quinoa salad” and hit search. We land on Google’s usual search result page.

Now check this out! Scroll down all the way to the bottom of the page, and you will see a ton of relevant search queries. Open a document or spreadsheet, and copy-paste all these search items on your doc/spreadsheet. Now pick the most relevant on these keywords, and click on it. Scroll down all the way to the bottom again, and repeat copy-paste. Do this a few times, and by now you will start to see some patterns.

Often you will see some repeat results, which is fine, and if it is relevant to what you are posting, then you may want to use this set of keywords!

Screen capture of Google Search Results page (very bottom) for relevant keywords.
Image 7: Google relevant search queries at the bottom of every search result page.

Using Pinterest for Finding Keywords

Now, if I haven’t driven this point down already, for a millionth time already, PINTEREST IS A SEARCH ENGINE, NOT A SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM! Excuse all caps. I just really want you to internalize this fact. Now, all search engines depend on keywords to find relevant items. And if you have a blog or business, you should already be using Pinterest. If not, well, what are you waiting for? Get to it now!

Relevant post: How to Effectively Use Pinterest to Increase Blog Traffic (Free Workbook Inside)

Now, finding keywords on Pinterest is super easy! Just like you did on Google, start by typing your own keywords and see what automatic search queries Pinterest shows. If you find on that is relevant to what your post is about, you’ve got your keywords!

Pinterest search
Image 8: Pinterest search

Important note on finding keywords: I have given you 4 distinct methods to finding keywords. usually one or two of these methods will suffice. You can choose whichever you like to work with the best and master that platform really well.

How to Structure Titles for Maximum Impact

I have two methods for you, and I suggest you use BOTH OF THEM to come up with your blog post titles. But before I get to them, here’s something you should know. A blog post is not an essay, it’s something that solves problems. Therefore, your blog post titles should always tell the reader what kind of problem you are solving. I have written an extensive post on this before, and you can check it out here if you want (I advise it!), but I will give you the gist of it.

A blog post title should not be, for example, “How we are affecting the environment by trashing old clothes.” That’s a fancy title for an essay. We are not writing an essay here. We are here to solve a very specific problem that readers have. Readers who are perhaps concerned about the growing shift in climate and are looking to reduce waste. What kind of blog post (and title) will help them?

Since we are talking about solving problems, how about this for a starter? “What to do with old clothes?” We have the skeleton of the title with this, but it’s not perfect. It’s not catchy enough for Google to pay you any attention, much less the readers! So, what do we do from here?

Structure Your Blog Post Title after other, More Popular Titles

Once again, I have to thank Neville Medhora for this nifty little trick!

Neville has a pretty elaborate tutorial on how to accomplish this, however, I have come up with a very slightly shorter version that works for me when I am formulating my own post titles.

I use Quora and Google Search (Neville suggest using Reddit and Digg also, but I find them a bit too tedious.)

Let’s start with Google. Just like in the previous section, we start by typing our generic title on the search bar and see what Google shows on the next page. The results are like this:

Google Search Result for Popular Posts on the topic of what to do with old clothes.
Image 9: Google Search Result for Popular Posts

Now, let’s start by copying and then pasting some of these titles into a separate document. Scroll all the way down and click on a relevant search result item. repeat the process of copying and pasting relevant titles.

Now, go to Quora and search your generic title. When you get the results, do what you did with Google search results. Copy and paste some of the relevant and most popular (the items that are shown in the first page are always the most popular, so these are all good examples to follow) titles on your document.

Now, look at these various titles and try to emulate them in a way that goes with your topic and content. Do not copy the entire title word for word, but try to copy the structure of these popular titles.

Use CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to Structure Your Post Title

CoSchedule is not only one of my most favorite social media scheduling tool and has a stellar blog full of value, but it also has this nifty little app that analyzes your blog post title and gives it a score. It’s called CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. The higher the score the better your post title! basically, if you get CoSchedule to give your title a green colored mark, you are good to go. be warned though, CoSchedule doesn’t look at your keywords, only the structure. So, do not skip the keyword research step in this whole tutorial.

Let’s say that you wish to specifically write about what one can do with old clothes instead of trashing them. Let’s also say that after much investigation of coming up with keywords and good post titles on Google and Quora, we have this title: “What Can You Do with Old Clothes instead of Trashing Them?

This title gets a whopping 67 points. It’s not too bad, but it’s not green, so not the greatest either. The structure seems fine, and similar articles are trending on Google and Quora, but why stop here if you can make it better?

Let’s see what CoSchedule Headline Analyzer has to say about your title:

Score: 67 (yellow)
Common words: 54% (too many common words)
A bit too wordy (not that big of a deal, but something to keep in mind for the time being, since it’s saying the title has a good number of characters!)

So, at this point, what do you think we can do to improve the title?

Pro-tip: Remember this well! Blog posts that start with “How to”, or “X-number of ways” tend to do better than other titles.

So, instead of starting the title with “What can you do with…”, how about, “How to Get Rid of Old Clothes instead of Trashing Them?”

Analyzer now gives a score of 69! Still yellow, but it’s already improved quite a bit! Let’s look at the stats now:

Common words: 18% (Yoohoo!)
Uncommon words: 9%
Emotional words: 18%
Power words: 0
Still a good number of characters but a tad too many words. (Usually, I tend to overlook this bit unless my title is WAYYY too long.)

So, can we make it still better?

I really cannot think of anything better. Can you? If you do, feel free to share in the comments!

I couldn’t get it to be green, but a 69 ain’t that bad, so I’m happy with this title for the time being.

Incorporate Catchwords and Catchphrases

Now, this bit is all about trial and error and a ton of practice. As you try to get better at writing blog post titles, you will see various patterns come up in your search for keywords or when you are trying to emulate popular post titles. The CoSchedule headline Analyzer also helps by providing stats such as common words, power words, emotional words, etc. Pay attention to these words and see which ones do better. For example, when I was formulating the title for this very blog post, I got a pretty high score (73) because I had 45% emotional words/phrases, such as: “killer”, “you need to know”.

Anyhow, that’s all I have for today. It’s been a very long post, but I have a good feeling that if you follow along, you will end up with a killer title! It may seem like a lot of effort for just a title, but remember, you hook a potential reader with a great title! Do not underestimate it! Also, as you practice, you will get better at it, and the time it takes to come up with a stellar blog post title will go down eventually.

Finally, here’s a nifty little workbook for formulating the best possible title for your blog post. If you have any question for me, feel free to leave them in the comments section!

Click here for the free workbook!

In this blog post I tell you ALL the SECRETS you will ever need to know about creating a catchy blog post title that gets your readers clicking and reading!

In this blog post I tell you ALL the SECRETS you will ever need to know about creating a catchy blog post title that gets your readers clicking and reading!

Why and How to Create a Killer Opt-in Freebie (Free Editable Samples Inside)

I want to talk to you about opt-in freebies. Now, if you are wondering what they are and why you need them, keep reading. If you know what they are but not sure why you need them, keep reading. If you know why you need them, but not sure what kind of freebie you can offer, keep reading. And finally, if you know all of that, but not sure how to make them… yeah you got that. Keep reading, because I have TWO absolutely FREE editable Canva templates for your opt-in freebie that you can edit and play around with as you wish!

A detailed tutorial on all things Opt-in Freebies. Inside, you'll find why you need an opt-in freebie, and how to create one, along with 2 free samples freebie templates created with Canva that you can edit as you wish!

Why do You Need an Opt-in Freebie

If you are a blogger, or you own an online business, you need an audience. Because without an audience you’ve really got nothing going no matter how amazing your blog posts are, however much value you are providing. If you do not have an audience, no one is receiving any value in the first place. And that is why every blogger or online business owner needs to invest some effort into building an audience.

Imagine that you publish an amazing post full of value for your audience. Or you decide to create a course teaching something you know people will benefit from. Or maybe you are going to write a book! All of these things require you to get the word out to your ideal audience. But who is this ideal audience?

That’s where your email list comes in. In this day and age, there are social media outlets and we can get a few thousand followers fairly easily. However, an email list is a bit of a different story. There is no follow-for-follow for an email list. Every single subscriber needs to give you their email address voluntarily. That’s no small feat if you think about it.

So, for these people to willingly give you their email list, you need to lure them in with a whole lot of VALUE! Yes, an email list opt-in freebie is essentially free value you are giving your audience for allowing you into their inbox.

Types of Opt-in Freebie You can Offer Your Subscribers

The most common types of opt-in freebies come in the form of:

  • pdf checklists
  • pdf workbooks
  • ebooks
  • pdf of a how-to tutorial

There are other formats, like email challenges, video tutorials, and webinars for example. However, let me just focus on the pdf’s in today’s post as they are the easiest to create, with the least amount of time and effort. And they are also my favorites!

But now you may be asking yourself, “pdf is all nice and good, but what DO I have on my pdf?”

See, when I first decided to focus on building my email list, the content of the opt-in freebie is what stumped me. I should create a checklist/workbook, but a checklist/workbook of what?

Let’s brainstorm now for a bit, shall we? Usually, the content of your freebie should be in line with what you are selling. If you are selling a service or a course, your freebie should be something that helps those potential buyers. For example: let’s assume you are selling a course on hand-lettering. Then, how about a pdf that teaches your potential students the difference between different fonts, and a list of tools a hand-letterer can use. Now, I am not making this up. One of my favorite influencers and online business owners, Sean McCabe, did this exact thing. His landmark course is a hand-lettering course (with a focus on making a living doing hand-lettering), and his opt-in freebie was what I described above.

You see, you cannot be picky about giving out information. You won’t be giving out everything of course, but if it were possible to give out EVERYTHING you’ve got in just a few pages of pdf, then what you have to offer is probably not worth selling anyway. Give as much as you can. because that’s the best way to get people’s trust in you. And you know, trust = sales!

How to Create an Opt-in Freebie

Personally, I use one of two programs to create my freebies: Adobe InDesign and Canva. If I am creating more complex documents, like multi-page tutorials and such, I use Adobe InDesign. However, for simpler things like checklists and workbooks, I opt for Canva. It’s just a personal preference, and you can use whichever software you feel comfortable with.

Using Canva to Create Checklists and Workbooks

For the sake of brevity, I will go over freebies you can create with Canva. Usually, I start with Canva’s pre-made template “US Letter”. Canva is fairly intuitive and very easy to learn. Since this is not a Canva tutorial post, I won’t go into all the details of how different features work, but as I said, it’s very easy to learn!

To create checkboxes and writeable/typable areas, go to Elements from the toolbox on the left, and then click on Shapes, and choose a square shape. You can change the size by dragging a corner or one of the sides of the square. All the square or rectangular boxes I have in my samples are done the same way. If you have multiple boxes of the same size, you can copy and paste as many times as you wish and simply drag them to wherever you wish to place them.

Creating Fillable PDF with PDFescape

One fun thing that you can do with your checklists and workbooks is to make them fillable. As in, when someone downloads your pdf, they will be able to check the checkboxes or type in the fillable areas right on the pdf itself. There is a native feature in Adobe InDesign to do it, but if you are using Canva to create your freebies, then you will have to use an external service to make them fillable. My personal favorite third-party program is PDFescape.

It’s really easy to create fillable areas with PDFescape. Simply upload your document, and when you do, it directly takes you to the editable window. Once there, click on Form Field, as shown in the image below. Based on whether you are creating checkboxes or textboxes, choose the appropriate option from the drop-down. Once you do, click and hold your mouse on one corner of the box you wish to make fillable, and drag, while holding the mouse, to the diagonally opposite corner. Release the mouse and you’ll have a fillable section. Once you have done so for all the fillable sections, download the PDF by clicking on the green double-arrows on the left, as shown in the image below.

Document on PDFescape

And now, here’s a little gift for you! TWO Canva templates you can use to create your VERY OWN freebie! Feel free to edit them, play with them so you can get comfy with making them. Just make sure to create a copy of the design BEFORE you start making changes! To create a copy, go to File > Make a copy. It’s important that you make a copy and make changes ONLY to the copy you create, and NOT the original file. Otherwise, it will change the original for everyone! Don’t want that, now do we?

Template 1 | Template 2

That’s it guys, that’s how you create an opt-in freebie! Please share what kind of freebies you are planning to make, or ask if you have any question in the comments section below.

A detailed tutorial on all things Opt-in Freebies. Inside, you'll find why you need an opt-in freebie, and how to create one, along with 2 free samples freebie templates created with Canva that you can edit as you wish!

Not sure what opt-in freebies are, why you need them, or how to even make them? I've got you covered! In this post, learn all you need to know about opt-in freebies. + 2 FREE Canva templates included!
Skyrocket your email list incentives! Use Opt-in Freebies to lure your ideal clients to subscribe to your list and become your tribe members! In this blog post, you'll learn everything you need to know about creating opt-in freebies as incentives for joining your list.

How to Effectively Use Pinterest to Increase Blog Traffic (Free Workbook Inside)

Unless you have been living under a rock, you should know by now that one of the best ways to increase blog traffic or capture leads is by using Pinterest the right way. Pinterest is an extremely powerful tool that can totally change your blogging game. However, it does require a little know-how for maximum benefit. In this post, I will walk you through setting up Pinterest the right way. Then I’ll finish with tips for continuing usage for maximum traffic to your website!

Pinterest, used the right way, can be your number one source of increased blog traffic, lead capture, and sales! Read this post to learn how to properly set up Pinterest, and use it for directing traffic to your website! #pinterest #blog

First, What is Pinterest and What do We Need to Know?

Pinterest is a visual search engine

Visual —> You need to make sure the graphics you create are top notch! Statistic shows that vertically aligned graphics tend to do well on Pinterest; as in, they get more re-pins and clicks.

Search Engine —> Most people understand the “visual” part, but the “search engine” portion seems to get lost on them. When you hear “search engine”, what do you think of? SEO? Yes! Exactly. And what are two most crucial parts of SEO? 1. Keywords, and 2. Strategic placement of keywords. Pinterest SEO is no different. You need to optimize your Pinterest account, boards, and each individual pin with strategically placed keywords.

In today’s post, I will walk you through the “search engine” optimization part. If you wish to learn more about creating visually striking pin graphics, please read this post.

A Brief Refresher on Keywords

Keywords are where it’s at! Whether you are optimizing your blog post for Google or your pin for Pinterest, you need to spend some time researching the optimum keywords. Finding keywords for Pinterest is not that difficult. Start by typing a word in the Pinterest search bar, and you will see the most searched phrases pop up. If your particular topic related words are not showing after typing the first word, type the second word.

For example, may be you have a vegan quinoa salad recipe. On Pinterest search bar if you type “vegan”, you see the following:

Pinterest search result for the word vegan

Now, it’s pretty good. But try typing “quinoa” next to “vegan”, and this is what Pinterest suggests.

Pinterest search result for vegan quinoa

Right, there, we have what we need. See the first result is “vegan quinoa recipes”, and the fourth one is “vegan quinoa salad”. If possible, use both of these somewhere in your pin description… but more on that later.

Setting up Pinterest Account the Right Way

The way Pinterest presents your pins is significantly different based on how you set up your account. Same goes for the tools you have access to.

First, make sure when you set up your account you have chosen Business Account. It’s totally free and absolutely worth it. A business account will have analytics data for you to track your growth. You can also see which pins are doing well, and based on that you can make critical business decisions.

If however, you forgot to choose the business option when creating your account, no worries! You can convert your regular account to business account anytime. Just head over to this link and follow prompts.

The next thing to do is to enable rich pins for anything that’s pinned from your website. A rich pin shows up way nicer than a non-rich pin. To enable rich pins, go to this link, and type your website URL. Click on “validate”, and that should work. If for some reason you get an error, the screen should list why you are getting the said error. Fix the issues, and try validating again.

Below is a comparison of a rich pin and a non-rich pin. See how the rick pin has a defines title, and just looks much better. A rich pin is simply a better quality pin.

Screenshot of a non-rich pin.
Not a rich pin. No title at the bottom of pin.
A rich pin.
A Rich pin with bold title at the bottom of the pin.

Write a Compelling Profile Name and About Section

The profile name on your Pinterest account should tell everyone who you are and what’s your Pinterest account is about, not just your or your business name. For example, my favorite influencer and business coach, Melyssa Griffin’s Pinterest profile name is: Melyssa Griffin | Entrepreneur + Blogging Tips. This tells the visitor right away who she is and what she does.

The about section is also very important, and sort of like an extension to your profile name. My own bio reads: “I’m a web designer, developer, copywriter. Get my free guide to setting up your first WordPress site here: https://uhwit.com/subscribe-resource-library/“.

See, I told people what I do, as well as added a link to my email list opt-in because I want to capture as many leads as possible.

Also, when you add your website URL while setting up your bio, it’s best to verify your website with Pinterest. Do not skip this step.

Now, add a photo of yourself or a business logo. A clear photo of yourself is a good idea as it helps people relate to you better when they can see your face. I’m always iffy about sharing (or even taking) my photos… so I have my logo on my Pinterest account. That’s an option, but pros will tell you to use your own photo. Your choice!

Create at least 8-10 Boards Relevant to Your Niche

Guys, really, be professional! If you have a food blog, have food related boards. Do not have an interior design board out of nowhere. Unless of course your blog/business is about both food AND interior design. If you do have these irrelevant boards, make them secret boards so that only you are able to view the contents.

Make sure each board has a unique description. Here’s where you should add a few keywords. For example, if you have a board that’s specifically for vegan salad recipes, make sure to mention that.

Placement is also important. Make the very first board your content specific board only. For example, if you have a blog, make sure the first board only has your blog posts. The rest of the boards can have a combination of your content and others’ content as long as they are relevant.

Here’s what my Pinterest profile looks like when viewed as boards:

Uhwit Pinterest Boards

As you can see, the very first board is for my own content only, followed by the things I mostly talk about: WordPress, SEO, Pinterest, Blogging, Online Business and so on.

When you are setting up your boards for the first time, try to fill them up as soon as possible. Make sure each board has at least 30-40 pins when you are starting off. If you do not have your own content, that’s fine. But make sure the rest of the boards are filled up.

Now Let’s get Pinning!

Whenever you are pinning, make sure each individual pin has a keyword rich description. Click on a pin and then click on the edit button on top left. Fill out the description box. Also, when creating the pin graphics, try to make them consistent, so as it follows a consistent branding.

Pro-tip: When you add pinnable graphics to your blog post, make sure to add a keyword rich alt tag. Pinterest automatically pulls alt tag description and fills the pin description box with it. Saves time, and it’s also good for regular search engine optimization (Google, for example).

The key to growing your Pinterest is to pin a lot. Like, A LOT! Try to pin at least 100 items every single day! The general rule of thumb is to add 20% your own content and 80% relevant content by other folks. Initially, especially if you’re a new blogger, you may not have enough content and that’s OK. But as your content grows, try to get to the 2:8 ratio.

If you find it difficult to set aside time to manually pin, then you should definitely check out Tailwind or BoardBooster. Both of these auto pin schedulers are great for the busy blogger/entrepreneur as they run on autopilot. Save some time every week to schedule pins, and let the program take care of the rest for the entire week.

Whether you are manually pinning or using a scheduling app, make sure you are pinning a lot and consistently. That’s one of the key factors to growing audience and traffic.

Try and Join a Few Group Boards in Your Niche

One of the best ways to get traffic is by pinning on group boards. Try to find a few in your niche. Then ask to be joined. Do not spam these group boards, and adhere to the rules. Re-pin other group members’ pins to your boards when relevant. Pin your content to group boards regularly.

Click here to get the free workbook!

Well, that’s all for now. This should get you started in the right direction. Just make sure to set aside some dedicated time. Block out 30 minutes on the calendar every day (or a couple of hours once a week if you are using a scheduling app) when you will sit down and pin!

Want me to help you turn your Pinterest from boring to BOMBSHELL?
Click here.

Happy Pinning! Feel free to ask if you have any questions. Leave your questions in the comment section so that the other readers can benefit from your questions.

Pinterest, used the right way, can be your number one source of increased blog traffic, lead capture, and sales! Read this post to learn how to properly set up Pinterest, and use it for directing traffic to your website! #pinterest #blog

Pinterest, used the right way, can be your number one source of increased blog traffic, lead capture, and sales! Read this post to learn how to properly set up Pinterest, and use it for directing traffic to your website! #pinterest #blog

Increase Organic Traffic to your Blog with These 5 SEO Practices

Hey guys! It’s been a while since my last blog post, I know, I know! But well, I’ve been busy, and being busy is always a good sign in this line of work… so, no complaints 🙂 But well, I do love to share with you all that I know, so I promise to get back into a regular blogging schedule. And to jump start, today I am going to share 5 very simple Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips with you that will guarantee increased traffic to your blog, provided you implement them consistently.

Check out this post for 5 SEO practices you can diligently and consistently implement to your blog posts for generating and increasing organic traffic.

First of All, Who is This Post for?

This is for beginner bloggers. Meaning, I will share a mix of things to do that will impact your blog’s SEO in the long run. The key is to practice them diligently and consistently.

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization refers to methods one can implement on their website that help generate, and subsequently increase, quality organic traffic.

Why should You Care About SEO?

As mentioned above, quality traffic depends on your SEO. You see, Google processes approximately 40,000 search queries in a second. That’s a LOT of search queries! People are always looking for answers. The purpose of SEO is to make sure your content is found and deemed appropriate by Google to show on relevant search query results. The higher your content shows up on Google Search Results, the better chances you have of someone clicking on your link.

Now, let’s get to the SEO practices, shall we?

1. Content is Key to Scoring Big with Google

First and foremost, before you start worrying about SEO tips and tricks, you need to internalize one thing. GREAT CONTENT. Your goal is not only for Google to show your content in the first page and at the very top, but also to get people to keep coming back to your website. You need return customers, is what I am saying. And for that to happen, you need quality content that is helpful to people looking for similar content.

A few Tips for Writing Great Content:

  1. The topic of your content is always important when it comes to getting increased traffic. If you want people to read what you have to say, you want to write about things that people want to read about. Research your target market and come up with a solid plan regarding your audience’s pain points, then write about those pain points.
  2. Write short paragraphs and use headers and subheaders to break up sections. A blog post is different from an article or an essay. You want to make your content easy to read, and shorter paragraphs with clear headings do the trick.
  3. Include relevant images to add visual appeal. Not too many, just one or two images are sufficient, unless the post requires more images.
  4. Have a clear structure: an introduction outlining the purpose of the post, a body that is clear to understand, and a conclusion that summarizes.
  5. Add a call to action to your posts. One example is to ask your audience a question that they can answer in the comments. This opens up a dialogue and interactions.

2. Proper Placement of Relevant Keywords

Keywords are how Google find content. If you are writing about the benefits of a vegan diet, make sure you use the term vegan diet a few times on your blog post, where relevant (more on this below). Placement is also key. Here are some strategic placements you should be aware of.

Strategic Fields for Keyword Placement:

  1. Page or Post Title: Your keyword should be in your page or post title. One of the ways search engines decide the relevance of content to searched items is by looking at content title. Therefore, make sure your title has the main keyword(s).
  2. URL: The URL of your page or post should also have the keywords. It is another key factor when it comes to how search engines decide how relevant your content is to search terms. Avoid numbers in your post or page url. If you are using WordPress, you can easily change your permalink to have the following structure: mysite.com/post-title
  3. Headers: It is useful to break up your page or post content into sections preceded by headers and/or subheaders. Typically these are H1 or H2 tags. It is also a good practice to place your keywords in these headers, but only if they are relevant.
  4. Body: Again, depending on relevancy, your keywords should appear several times inside your page or post content. Do not just add text for the sake of adding keywords; remember, quality content comes before SEO strategy. Use keywords when your content naturally calls for it.
  5. Image titles and alt description: Search engines also look at image titles and alt descriptions to decide relevancy. Make sure to add your keywords in these fields.
  6. Meta Description: The meta description is the short description that appears underneath the search items. Keywords in meta descriptions may not directly affect search engine ranking, however, as a user, I always tend to click on links that have the searched terms inside this description. It’s more for the benefit of the end user than search engine algorithms. But it’s a good practice none the less.

The image below show the top two search results for the phrase “vegan diet”. Notice the keyword in the title, URL and meta description in both cases.

Google Search Result for vegan diet show these two links at the very top of the page. Notice the key terms in the title, URL, and meta descriptions.

3. Using Long Tail Keywords when Relevant

Long tail keywords are keywords that have 2 or more words (often at least 3 words or more). Long tail keywords are especially beneficial since they target a very niche audience. This ensures higher ranking in search queries when the the exact phrase is searched for. You can use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest to see which key phrases are searched often.

4. Utilize the Comment Section for Creating a Cmmunity

If you can get people to start a dialogue in the comments, it’s one of the best ways to get repeat visitors. As mentioned above, you should always try to end a blog post with a call to action. One way to do so is to ask a question relevant to the blog post, and prompt your readers to leave their responses in the comments. When people do leave a comment, try to respond to these comments in a meaningful way. Also, a good strategy is to visit the commenters’ websites and may be leave a comment or two in their posts as well. This back and forth interaction does not necessarily directly affect search engine ranking, but can be helpful in generating quality traffic.

5. Internal and External Links

Relevancy is again key to this practice. Do not just add a link for the sake of adding a link. However, whenever the relevancy calls for it, try to add either or both internal and external links to your content. Internal links are those that link to some other content on your website. Perhaps an older blog post that has relevancy to the current post, for example. External links are those that go to a different websites which relate to and aid your content.

Well, these are a few ways to get your content out the door the right way. Keep on repeating these tips, and over time you will see an increase in your traffic. I see “over time” because SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to keep doing the things I mention here over and over, and depending on how well you do them, you will see result. CONSISTENCY IS KEY! There’s more to these of course, but for the sake of brevity I will end this post here. If you have any question regarding any of the points I mentioned, please ask them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

In this post I share with you 5 SEO tips that if implemented diligently and consistently, will increase organic traffic to your blog.
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