From A Branch Holly. Holly helps online business owners know exactly what tasks to focus on in their business so they can achieve complete freedom over their time, without working 24/7.

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You’re writing blog posts, putting them out there – but nobody is listening. So what do you do?

The most important thing to remember when it comes to getting more blog followers or increasing your traffic is to know your audience and create content for them.

And I know a lot of you are just getting your blogs up and running which also means you don’t want to be spending a lot of money on this either.

Blog followers aren’t really like social media followers. Social media posts get engagement right in an instant. As soon as you post an update you’re getting likes, comments and shares.

With your blog traffic and followers, it’s more of a long term game. And you need to learn how to play that game the right way.

In order to do that you need to create content around keywords that people are actually searching for, so you can be found by your target audience.

And to do that, I’m going to teach you a simple six-step strategy.


I know some bloggers prefer to be spontaneous, but I truly believe that you have to have this down if you want to get the right followers and traffic coming to your blog.

So here are a few things to remember when it comes to your content strategy.

You want to keep people on your website for as long as possible and internal linking is the best way to do that. If you’ve got a new blog post and you want it to do well, you can go back to all your old blog posts and add a link to your new blog post within those where relevant.

This will keep people on your site for longer which will increase your traffic, followers and authority.

For every blog post you create you should pick a focus keyword for it. Now you want to aim for a long-tail keyword. So let’s say you’re a food blogger.

You could just write a blog post on how to cook. Or, you could write a blog post on how to cook vegan. Or you could go even deeper and write a blog post on how to cook vegan meals, or how to cook vegan for beginners.

The more specific you are the better.

It’s like anything. If you talk about a trending top or a hot product or a big influencer,  you’re going to get more views and followers because more people are going to be talking about it.

You could do a blog post on “how to blog like such-a-person” and mention an influencer. If you let them know you’ve created this, it’s pretty likely they’re gonna share it.


There are lots of people in every niche who are blogging and I know that can feel intimidating. So how can you stand out?

You use your own experience and your own expertise.

What I want you to do is create a list of all the blogs you know that are in your niche.

Then check them out on social media and see:

  • What content people are interacting with
  • What content people aren’t interacting with as much
  • What you can add and how you can make it better


One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your blog posts is doing a really long introduction. People have come to your blog post for a reason. They want to be inspired, entertained or educated.

Focus on getting to that as soon as possible with your content so people actually read your whole post.

A great formula to follow is: situation – problem – result.

Start off by outlining a situation and hooking your readers into that so they can relate to it.

Then you go onto enhance the problem that’s being caused in this situation.

And finally, you show your reader the result that they could get if they read your blog post. What are they going to get out of this specific post?

So for example, if I was writing a blog post on this topic (how to get more blog followers), it would look like this:

  • Situation: we all want more blog followers
  • Problem: there’s so much noise out there that it’s hard to stand out
  • Result: by the end of this blog post, you’ll have the exact process to get more blog followers

Include all those things into your introduction and then get into the meat of your content.


What I mean by interlinking your blog posts is making sure that when you look at your editorial calendar, you can see how all your blog posts link together.

So you write a blog post on how to get more blog followers. Then you write another post on how to increase your SEO strategy and write another post on how to increase your traffic.

They all interlink and cross-promote with each other.

If you do that and link to your other blog posts within a specific post? It increases your sessions, pageviews, and it also increases time on your site.

So think about how you can cross-promote and make sure your blog posts flow from one to another.


You need to find the right “thing” to contribute to. Luckily, there are so many blogs, websites, and publications out there that will allow you to share your voice.

I’d also focus on making connections rather than trying to sell yourself.

For instance, I have a digital magazine called Blogging Breakthrough that is purely run by contributors. But the people that contribute haven’t just come out of the blue. They’re people that have built up a connection with me and who have reached out to me on social media before. That really works.

And make it easy for the person you want to contribute too. Don’t just email them and ask a general question. Tell them what you’ve got in mind for your blog post so the person doesn’t have any option but to say yes.


This is going to be key if you want more blog followers, because nobody is going to see your blog posts unless you actually promote them.

On the day that you publish a post on your blog you want to share it:

  • Multiple times on Twitter
  • On your Instagram feed
  • In your Instagram Story
  • To Facebook
  • In Facebook groups where there’s a promo thread
  • Wherever you can on Pinterest

This will boost the views on your content, generate more engagement on each of your social platforms and drive more traffic to your site as a whole.

And then what you want to do is KEEP sharing it. The average lifespan of a tweet is only 18 minutes. You need to share it the next day, the next week, the next month and so on.


4 Mistakes Every New Writer Makes (and How to Avoid Them)

Jeff Goins is a bestselling author, podcaster, blogger, marketer and a speaker.

As a writer, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. After five books, more than a thousand blog posts, and over a decade of blogging, I still mess up. And making mistakes is a good thing, because it means I’m still writing.

If you’re not messing up, then you’re not doing your work. You’re not pushing yourself to the utter limits and testing what you’re capable of. You’re just playing it safe.

Furthermore, most mistakes don’t matter as much as we think they do. A typo here or there doesn’t break a career. A blog post that falls flat isn’t the end. Even a book that doesn’t sell is more of a speed bump than a stop sign.If you want to make sure your blog posts don’t fall flat, I encourage you to use Don’t Hit Publish. It’s a free tool we created to tell you when your blog posts are good enough to publish. Click here check it out.

But there are four mistakes I see new writers making over and over again, and these mistakes actually can end a career. What’s worse, they’re completely voluntary. Writers choose to make them, often unknowingly, and then their career suffers.

So here are four don’ts every new writer does — and what to do instead.

1: Don’t choose a niche

Writers are often told to choose a niche before they start. The advice is to pick a thing you’re interested in, know a lot about, and can teach to others. This isn’t terrible advice. But it’s incomplete.

Because here’s the thing about choosing a niche: eventually, it’s going to bore you. You might love wedding planning or philosophy today, but your interests will change as you further chase mastery.

And one day, you will want to write about other things.

This happens to all of us, even the masters:

  • Edgar Allen Poe wrote first about youth before pivoting to the macabre.
  • Roald Dahl wrote a celebrated wartime story before deciding he was actually a children’s author.
  • Ernest Hemingway wrote poems and short stories before penning his first novel.

What would our libraries and English classes look like if these writers had stuck to their original niches?

The danger of choosing any one niche is that when your day of boredom comes (and it will), you will find yourself with a frustrated audience. If they’re there to read your posts on pet training, they will drift away when you start writing science fiction. If you’ve built a tribe around the topic of global travel, you risk a mass exodus when you pivot to online marketing.

Fortunately, there’s a way around this limiting advice to choose a niche.

What to do instead: Choose a worldview.

A worldview is the state of mind you write from. It is not topic-based at all, but perspective-based. It asks that you share how you see the world, and how you and your readers can join forces to either celebrate that world or change it.

A worldview allows you the freedom to chase what fascinates you, write about it from your unique vantage point, and connect with your readers in an enduring way. It allows you to find a connection with your audience that goes much deeper than any one topic.

In the last few years on this blog, I’ve written a lot about writing. But that’s not my only topic. I’ve also written about losing friends, hosting conferences, and productivity. I’ve written about my family, business, and health. What I’ve learned is that when I write from my worldview, the topic doesn’t matter as much as I think it does. The same is true for you.

So how do you find your worldview? It’s a simple formula, actually. Fill in the blanks in this sentence:

Every [BLANK] should [BLANK].

The first blank is where you define your audience (in my case, it’s creative people). Whom do you want to write for? Who is your audience, your tribe? Whom do you want to serve?

The second blank is where you fill in what that audience can expect from you – your expertise, insight, or area of focus. For me, it’s resources and guidance about finding the attention your work deserves.

In my case, the complete sentence reads, “Every creative should care enough about their work to help it spread.” Yours will be different. Here are some examples:

  • “Every parent should teach their kids to cook” is a worldview that gives both freedom and structure to a food writer.
  • “Every entrepreneur should build a personal brand” is a worldview my friend Chris Ducker has used to write books, host conferences, and build a tribe of over a million people.

Whatever it is, your worldview should be broad enough to include all the topics you want to write about, but focused enough to attract only the right readers.

Action step: Fill in the above statement to define your worldview.

2: Don’t hide your talent

Recently, my friend Jon Acuff tweeted,

“Authors, if someone says you talk about your book too much, ask them if they show up for their job Monday-Friday too.”

I love that.

As writers, we must acknowledge our job description. We are not so lucky as to just write masterpieces and then wash our hands of them. In fact, that’s never been the case for creatives throughout history. We sometimes think those who came before us had it easier than we do. They didn’t.

It is part of your job to promote and share your work so that others can find it. Because more than a million books are published worldwide every year, yours will get lost if you don’t do the work of being an author. I’m not talking about the writing. That’s a given. I’m talking about regularly sharing your work. Too few writers do this, and too many suffer as a result.

What to do instead: Establish your platform.

Establishing your platform is new writer code for “build an email list.” You can do this for free starting today, and I hope you will. Email is still the most powerful way to communicate online. I get more “mileage” out of my newsletter than any other platform I have — including my blog. If I send a link, people click it. If I ask a question, people answer.

Your email list is your dedicated group of readers and followers who will be more engaged with your worldview than any other group. They are the ones you’ll turn to when you have questions, want to connect, and are ready to start offering your work for sale.

It is part of your job to promote and share your work so that others can find it.

That’s exactly what happened for my friend Stephanie Halligan, whose email list was still very small and new when she pitched her first motivational cartoon print for sale a few years ago. She didn’t expect anything, but she was wrong. Stephanie made her first sale in just 24 hours, and she’s been making a living with her creativity ever since.

You can do this, too.

To start building an email list, you need only three things:

  1. A good email service. There are free and paid options available for people at every budget level. A great one that a lot of my friends are using lately is ConvertKit.
  2. An awesome signup form. You’ll find walk-through tutorials right in your email service to help with this. Your signup form needs to be obvious and not hideously ugly. If your website doesn’t have a clear opt-in form, I promise that you’re missing out on a lot of potential new readers.
  3. An incentive. You need to give people a compelling reason to give you their email address. This can be an eBook, a video, or a free MP3 download —whatever will help your readers. It’s an “ethical bribe” that allows you to reward subscribers with something other than just your content.

Action step: Pick an email service provider, create a signup form, and develop an incentive.

3: Don’t wait for people to come to you

Once you’ve defined your worldview and started an email list, you’re only partway there. Many writers think they’ve arrived by this stage, then wonder why their work isn’t getting the attention they think it should. They send out sporadic emails to a list of family and friends, and never bother to learn about the broader opportunities available to them.


Because it’s easier to settle for good enough.

This third step involves real, hard work, and it doesn’t always feel creative the way we think our lives as writers should. Sometimes, we’d rather settle for whatever humble success we have than risk it all for the chance to help more people.

What to do instead: Expand your reach.

Expanding your reach starts with finding a tribe that needs a leader. Perhaps your audience of food writers needs someone to write honestly about cooking for seniors. Maybe the readers of your thriller series want to read more about your creative process.

You’ll find the first members of your tribe by following step 2 above, but the truth is that’s much too passive to be sustainable. You cannot just “build it and they will come.” You have to build it and then go find the tribe that needs it.

There are a variety of ways to do this. The good news is that tribes tend to hang out together, both in person and online. When you find a few, it’ll get easier to find more.

Action step: Start guest posting.

Guest posting is still the most powerful way to get your words in front of new audiences. And if you have an email list with some kind of lead magnet (an incentive for joining your list), you can link back to that,  driving traffic to your website and converting those visitors into committed readers.

4: Don’t call yourself an aspiring writer

So you’ve found your worldview. You’ve established your home base and outposts to share your message and draw people in. You’ve learned how to choose and use tools to expand your reach, and you’ve served your way into guest posting opportunities and relationships with influencers. If you’re like many authors, you’re about to make the most critical mistake of all. You’re about to assume you’re done.

Honestly, it never ends, this cycle of serving, building relationships, and growing as a writer. And that’s a good thing. It means you’ve earned the right to do this work for one more day. That’s all success really is.

It’s easy to settle for good enough.

Author Steven Pressfield says you have to turn pro in your mind first. At Tribe Conference this year, his editor, Shawn Coyne, went on to explain that being a professional writer has nothing to do with external markers of success, but everything to do with how you define yourself. If you’re committed to mastering this craft and doing the work every day, you’re a pro. If you get up to write again after a day of rejection and failure, you’re a pro. And that’s all there is to it.

My friend Tim Grahl was up on stage with Shawn at the time. A successful marketer and author in his own right, even Tim struggled with this at first. Are we really pros if we have nothing to show for it? he countered. What does it matter if I say I’m a pro but can’t write a story that works?

Shawn was adamant in enforcing a point that even I have written about extensively: action follows identity. You’ll never be more than an amateur if that’s all you ever call yourself.

What to do instead: Go pro.

All writers have an endgame in mind. At least, they do if they’re smart. You want to publish a message that matters. And you can do that only if you’re committed to the work.

Decide you are more than a hobbyist. Commit to calling yourself a professional writer, then take the necessary steps to prove you are one. Seek out the resources you need to master your craft and promote your work. If you stop now, all your work will be wasted.

Action step: Decide you are a pro. Do it right now. Write it down, and say it out loud. You are when you say you are.

Educate yourself about finding your tribe, building a platform, and mastering your craft. I may be biased, but I think this site is a pretty good (and free!) resource for all that information.

Make friends with the business side of creativity. Money is a part of life. And there’s nothing wrong with getting paid for your words. In fact, building a business around your writing is the only sustainable way to keep doing it. When your art solves a problem in the world, you bring value. You can offer a course or an event. A book or an experience. Something people will pay for. And when you do this, you have peace of mind and the freedom to be even more generous.

So get creating.

If you’ve made any of these mistakes, it’s not too late to course correct. You can get the attention your work deserves if you immerse yourself in the action steps throughout this post.


Reasons to Get Your Own ISBN for your book (with an audio version)

Shawn Robinson describes himself as “A writer, a husband, a father, a Christian, a hiker (or at least I was till some recent health problems), a lover of coffee, a biker (not the cool kind, but the kind that rides around on an old motorcycle and has a blast) and someone who enjoys watching movies with my sons and playing cards with my wife.”
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In the first part of this blog, we explored some of the basics of ISBNs. In this blog, I want to explore why I would recommend you get your own, personal ISBN (as opposed to going without one or using a freely provided one by a printer/distributor/publisher). Later, we’ll look at where you get an ISBN and how to get one in Canada.

Today, I’m going to talk about why you should consider having your own ISBN, but I realize I’m going to be ruffling a few feathers here for self-publishers. ISBNs aren’t cheap. Self-publishers are often trying to do what they do with a limited budget so… to suggest spending loads of cash on an ISBN when there is a free option being offered can be upsetting.

If you are growing upset as you read this, just skip the blog. This is not a life-or-death issue. You can use the one offered by Createspace or KDP without causing the sky to fall. The goal of this blog is not to say that if you do not use your own ISBN, you are wrong. It’s more to say, “this might be something to consider for the future.”

A lot of companies will offer to provide you with a free ISBN. Createspace and KDP (for Amazon) both do this. If you are trying to cut costs, this may sound very tempting. However, it may not always be the best move.

Full Disclosure

Okay, just let me take a moment for full disclosure. I’m Canadian. Some of you already know what that means in regards to ISBNs. For those who don’t, it means that ISBNs are free for me. Canada provides free ISBNs for Canadian authors. I don’t know why, but they do. I like it. It’s cool.

I share that because I’m going to argue that you would be better to have your own ISBN, but some of you will feel I’m not able to properly argue this point since it’s free for me and not for the vast majority of authors on the planet. All I can say is, free or not, there are some distinct advantages to having your own ISBN.

Reasons to have your own, personal ISBN

(as opposed to one assigned to you through a Vanity Press or Createspace or elsewhere)


Your ISBN is assigned to your publishing company/imprint. That means that if you set yourself up with Createspace or a Vanity Press (I wouldn’t recommend using a Vanity Press in most situations) and use their ISBN, the imprint will point to them, not to you. That means they are listed as the publisher. Perhaps this is vain, but part of self-publishing is ownership and control of the whole thing, right? 


Okay, so… control. Think of it this way. The ISBN points to the publisher. This means that if you use an assigned ISBN from another company (rather than getting your own), they are the publisher. Orders for the book go to the publisher which means that if an order comes through for your book, they get the order. This is a small problem if you are dealing with few books and want them to oversee all this, but if you are looking for distribution around the world and want a bit more control, then you have a bit of a problem.

Let’s say you decide you want to print your book at an off-set printer. Since you are not the publisher, you cannot print it using their ISBN without their permission. I have no idea what it would take to get Createspace to give permission for something like that. You can certainly print it with a different ISBN (it’s your book, remember), but not their ISBN. Often people will self-publish because they want to maintain a lot of control over their work. Using an assigned ISBN from another publisher means you do all the work, but technically, they are the publisher.

This also technically gives them control over certain information. For instance, they can change the metadata for your book. This can be the short and long description of the book, the categories it fits in and more. The publisher of a book actually has a fair amount of that kind of control. However, it is not likely they will do this at all. You shouldn’t have to fear that this is a likely scenario, but the option is available to them.

Different distributors

Alright, what you likely want to do is get your book out there through as many avenues as possible. Ingram, for instance, is the big distributor/printer. You might even find that Ingram prints some of your books being sold through Amazon (I just received one of my books from Amazon the other day that was printed by Ingram. Strange, eh?).

A huge percentage of books are printed and distributed by Ingram. Most people have never heard of Ingram, but Ingram is absolutely huge. When I upload my books to Ingram, since they are a distributor, they start distributing my books around the world. Suddenly they show up on Chapters, Kobo, Foyles, Book Depository, Abebooks and just about everywhere else. Look up an online bookstore that sells print and ebooks, if you’re curious. I have only really made use of Amazon and Ingram for distribution. If you do a search for “Arestana” on just about any online store, if it’s Amazon, it’s through Amazon. If it’s there and the company is not Amazon, Ingram has likely put it up there.

You can’t put your book up on Ingram or other places if you don’t have your own ISBN–unless you get another ISBN or go without one (ebooks). Since ISBNs are the way to track your book sales, multiple ISBNs for the same book aren’t always the best move. 

NOTE: I’ll be blogging about Ingram soon.  They are an excellent company to work with and very much worth your while to use.  While they can cost you money, I have used them a fair amount and never paid a single setup fee.  I’ll share how when I blog on it.

The Future

So… imagine a world without Amazon. I don’t mean without the race of women from whom we get Wonder Woman. I will admit, I enjoyed the newest Wonder Woman movie, and it would be too bad to be without it. When I mention “Amazon,” I also don’t mean the rainforest. I don’t like the idea of not having the Amazon Rainforest.
I’m sorry, I’m getting off track.

Imagine a world without Amazon… the online book retailer. You published your book with Amazon and used their ISBN for your print book and their ASIN for your ebook. Unfortunately, they went out of business during the intergalactic civil war of 2027. Since then (it’s now 2043), no one can access your book.

Now, there are parts of what I said above that are unrealistic, but the fact remains that big businesses do not last forever, and your ISBN is the identification number that is tied to you and your book. If you use an identification number tied to a business that could go under (because remember, a free ISBN belongs to them), you risk your book not being available for purchase.  This is an even bigger concern if you are using a Vanity Publisher (again, I would not recommend it).  They could easily disappear and you will have to start over on the publishing front.

Yes, you could always assign it your own ISBN after 2027, if you’d like. It’s not as if the intergalactic civil war changed Bowker. It turns out in this future, Bowker actually funded the war from the revenue gained through selling ISBNs to self-publishers–so they are as strong as ever.

But imaginary futures set aside, the reality is if you use a free ISBN from a company, they have the capacity to go under, and that version of your book becomes unavailable.

So, these are some reasons to get your own ISBN.

Some of you are thinking, “I see what you’re saying, but that still doesn’t convince me I need to shell out the money for an ISBN.”

Fair enough. Go with the free one. It’s not the end of the world to use the free one. There is just a little more control and a little bit more freedom if you own your own ISBN. If you can afford to buy ISBNs in bulk, that’s the way to go (the quantity discounts are huge).

In Part 3 of this blog, we’ll take a look at where to get an ISBN as well as a little bit about the cost. In Part 4, we’ll explore getting an ISBN in Canada. Since Canada gives free ISBNs, I’ll talk through what that process looks like.
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