What is one way for you to grow your community, connect with fans, and get your message out to the masses? Starting a YouTube (or similar) channel.

Now, I don’t have a channel so I didn’t feel I would be the best person to share information on how to start a channel — especially a super niche channel with the aim to further your blog/brand.

I did a quick interview with Paul from The Outdoor Adventure to get a better idea on how to best start a YouTube channel. His channel is an extension of his website and is a way to educate others.

3 Tips for Starting a YouTube Channel - Campfire Chic

Paul, your site, The Outdoor Adventure, is full of information and gear reviews. What inspired you to share all this outdoor information with others?

I guess there were two reasons: a need to document our family adventures and a desire to share what I was learning.

I was in South America with our young family on a long-term missionary stint (four years). I was in some amazing countries and even though we didn’t get have a lot of free time, family and friends wanted to hear how we were doing. I am not a letter writer, so a blog was a great alternative to share those adventures and what we were learning.

As the work was volunteer based, money was a big factor. We love to adventure, but I wasn’t earning any money, so anything I could make myself meant that our family didn’t have to dig into savings. What I couldn’t make, and therefore had to buy, had to be a good purchase. Those careful purchases and DIY projects started making their way into those early blog posts.

The Outdoor Adventure Family Photo - Campfire Chic

One way you share information with your audience is through your YouTube channel. It is very well-organized and you have quite a followership! What 3 pieces of advice would you give to bloggers looking to start a YouTube channel?

You’ve caught me at a pivotal moment in my video production. I’ve done a lot of reading recently on how to improve my videos. I have a lot of videos on youtube… many that I can’t watch any more myself. Seriously. I cringe through them. And that’s the biggest tip really.

Plan your shots and take the time to set them up. On the way to the trail, at home, or even while you’re hiking you should be planning shots. If a ground shot of you walking over the camera is better, take the time and do it. If you need a close up of a product in action, plan it out.If you think your shot would look really cool if you put the tripod on a cliff above the trail, then take the time to do it (oh, and always carry a tripod).

Take out the boring bits. Make your biggest critic watch your video… and listen to them. My wife is my biggest critic. She has always said, “make it shorter”, or “that shot is too long.” NO ONE wants to watch a boring video, not even your relatives. I typically use less than 25% of the footage I take… as low as 5% if I don’t plan the video before hand. So, get a critic and get them to be merciless with your finished video. If you, or your family can’t even sit through the video, then no-one else will… and they certainly won’t share it with their friends.

Make sure the audio is good. That can mean everything from buying a better mic, doing a voice over or cutting the audio and replacing it with music. There’s a reason that GOPro videos have songs playing and the internal audio turned off. If you need to talk, and the audio is bad on your camera is bad, try recording voice overs at home. If you don’t need to talk, don’t. Rely on music to make it more interesting. Try taking a video you’ve done and swapping the audio with a song from soundcloud.com. You’ll be amazed how much better it is.

What is the one piece non-essential of equipment/gear you never leave home without?

Probably my video camera (attached to my tripod). My wife rolls her eyes when I walk to the car with them, but that’s just the way I roll.

How can readers connect with you online?

I’m most active on twitter, but you can find me on Facebook, and of course through my website, and YouTube channel

Want a taste of Paul’s videos? Here are three to check out:

 

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Favorite WordPress Plugins - Campfire Chic

 

After moving over from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site, I received a few inquires about my favorite WordPress plugins.

Plugins are are tools that extend the functionality of WordPress sites…and self-hosted WordPress sites have access to many plugins. If you want to do something with your website, there is probably a plugin to make it happen!

I selected three of the plugins I currently use on a daily basis that I think will be of the most help to Campfire Chic readers. If you are not currently on a self-hosted WordPress, you can still get ideas for aspects you can add to your site to support your goals.

 

Hello Bar

HelloBar - My favorite WP plugins

I shared information on Hello Bar ages ago and I’m still a fan – a huge fan. Instead of needing to scour through the html of my site to change out my Hello Bar, the plugin makes the process so much easier! I just copy the code from my Hello Bar account and then paste the code into my plugin! Easy-peasy.

 

 

Editorial Calendar

Editorial Calendar

This is the newest addition to my plugin collection and I’m already hooked. I love planning ahead…but I hated how I couldn’t visualize my posts in the default “all posts”. Enter Editorial Calendar! It seamlessly fits into my Posts section of my dashboard and allows me to very clearly see what I have scheduled and drafted. As you can see, as I’m writing this post, I have some catching up to do if I want to stay on my blogging schedule! It’s not pretty, but it does fit in with the rest of the dashboard that I will probably forget that it’s a plugin and freak out when I go to the 30 Days of Lists dashboard in a few days and not see the calendar option. No setup needed, making this a quick and painless addition to your toolkit!

Flare

Flare - Favorite WP Plugins

There are so many options of social media plugins that I had a hard time figuring out which one would fit in with the design of Campfire Chic without looking like it’s a plugin. I know that makes no sense, but it totally does! I wanted something I could easily customize and edit to better fit in with the overall look and feel of the Campfire Chic site. Enter Flare. Flare is from the same folks behind Hello Bar and Slide Deck (another awesome tool) and allows me to select between several options in regard to shape, size, color (hex codes are accepted!), platforms, placement, and more. It’s a fantastic little tool that I totally love. As you can see, in the image above, I have my Flare plugin only show up as a reader goes through an individual blog post and only after s/he scrolls down the article a bit – again, I wanted these to look seamless and not take away from the main article…but still be eye-catching enough to encourage readers to share content.

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Improve your twitter interactions

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Twitter – I use it to connect with readers, stay up-to-date on geek culture, and to stay in touch with friends and family.

But what if you are using Twitter and not getting responses from others? You’re posing questions, asking for help, or maybe sharing links to your products but not getting any hits…if you are using Twitter as a way to market your brand (or become Twitter-famous), you need to make your interactions on Twitter count.

Today’s tips go beyond the usual tips: retweet others, don’t overshare, and make your account public. Those are good tips, but let’s take it a step further.

 

3 ways to increase your Twitter interactions

 

Think of Twitter as a conversation not a sounding board

You know the kind of account I’m thinking of…the person who tweets 20 times a day (not necessarily a bad thing!), but it is only self-promotion, statements, and more self-promotion. No linking to others, no responding to mentions, no retweets. Just somebody essentially pushing things into the Twitterverse hoping things take off – and sometimes they do! But let’s be honest, with what you have in mind (an empire, dammit!) you don’t want to be this account. 

Why? Well, why the hell not? Do you like to be around that guy at work who seems to live off of one-upping everybody else? “Oh, you only got 5 hours of sleep? Well I got 4.5! You bought your coffee from a local shop for $15??? Well I got mine from Costco for $10 and it’ll last me forreevvvveerrr!!” Sorry, this one hit too close to home. The point is, don’t be that guy. Be the person people hope to run into at the water cooler — has a good story to share, waits for others to share their stories, asks questions…interacts! People want attention and want to pay it in return so if you’re just out to take all the attentionz, get out of here.

Respond to questions others pose

You don’t like it when a question you pose goes unanswered, so why would you let somebody you follow experience the same thing? See a question in your feed? Respond to it! If you don’t know the answer, obviously this may not be the time to respond, but if you do know the answer or have some sort of opinion, connect!

Why? I think I’ve used this before, but here it goes…All this social media stuff is a lot like getting letters in the mail. You can sit at your mailbox for ages waiting for somebody to write to you, or you can spend that time sending out letters to others. The same is true here…why should others interact with you if you’re not willing to start that conversation?

Follow up

The problem with fast-paced social media is just that…it’s fast paced! We have short attention spans when it comes to things on our feeds and sometimes follow too many accounts to keep track of what is going on, but you know what? You gotta do it. If you see some big news from somebody in your feed, make a note to follow up with that person in a few days! For example: If you see somebody post about getting the keys to their first house, be sure to tweet them in a few days to see how the move is going! Or check in with people you know who are going through finals at school or applying to a new job. Those people will be surprised and will most likely respond to your message pretty quickly. Again, be genuine!

Why? That’s how connections work. If you see that somebody tweeted about buying your recent ebook, follow up to see how they like the book…and maybe see if they’d be willing to submit a testimonial/review once they’re done! The person moving across the country may investigate you a bit more and see what an awesome writer you are and request a guest blog post from you while they’re busy moving! Or maybe that brand who sees you connection and influencing others contacts you for a partnership.

What other tips would you include to increase or improve Twitter interactions?

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Blogging self-paced ecourse

 

Last month, I announced an opportunity for Campfire Chic readers to get 9 months of FREE blogging tips from Amy of Lemon and Raspberry. Yes, NINE MONTHS OF FREE TIPS. Can’t beat that with a stick.

Hundreds of people have signed up for Amy’s blogging tips and I want to tell you a little bit more about this whole thing in hopes that you sign up as well.

Amy is launching an AMAZING self-paced blogging course in July. I say AMAZING because I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the course and spent plenty of time pestering Amy about everything from the course content and navigation to the resources she’s including and exclusive interviews.

Now, if Amy has 9 months of weekly blogging tips to send out, imagine what she has planned for this course! Amazing. Seriously. You can read the breakdown of the syllabus when you sign up for the free weekly emails, I won’t go into it here.

Two awesome things about this course:

Awesome thing number one - I contributed an interview that’s a little bit different than the others because it wasn’t done via Skype! I drove all the way to Amy’s house, poured myself out of my car, went for a walk around her neighborhood, and sat down for over an hour with her talking about building a blogging community.

You can hear my voice (which sounds totally weird to me), see how long my hair is (for now!) and get my #1 tip for building a community in the video below

 

Awesome thing number two –  if you sign up for the 9 months of free blogging tips, you will get a promotional code to get Amy’s BUILD self-paced course for half price. Yes, email subscribers will get 50% at the time of the launch, which is just another incredible reason to get on the mailing list!

 

To review: Free blogging tips, a mega discount for Amy’s upcoming ecourse, and more from me on building community.

Get on the BUILD mailing list now.

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5 Things to Triple Check Before Sending Out Your Next Newsletter

 

Learn from my mistakes:
Triple-check your newsletter
before hitting publish.

You know what? I made a pretty dumb mistake with my latest newsletter…I didn’t triple check it. I have my cool people-will-totally-open-this-email subject line swapped with my Mail-Chimp-dashboard-friendly title. I lost more subscribers and had fewer opens than in the previous four months.

 

Let me tell you, if I was a bigger company or trying to sell something in the last newsletter, it would’ve been a terrible campaign. But because I use my newsletter to connect with readers I just feel like I did a poor job of reaching out…the newsletter landed in my inbox Tuesday morning and all I thought was, “what the hell is this???” and my heart sank.

 

Newsletter Subject Line - Things to Triple Check Before Hitting Send by Campfire Chic

 

If I wasn’t willing to open MY OWN EMAIL why would anybody else open it. Seriously. So I want to say ‘thank you’ to those of you who did end up opening the newsletter…you’re a better person than me.

 

5 Things to Triple Check Before
Sending Out Your Next Newsletter

 

Subject Line

The subject line is so so so very important. It really is. Think about all the junk mail that comes into your inbox on a daily basis…how do you decide to open something? Based on the subject line, most likely. The same goes for blog post titles, but we’ve talked about that plenty of times in the past. Don’t make my mistake: The subject line is the first line of your copy and what is the one thing you need to remember about good copy? The each sentence is designed to get the reader to continue reading. A crap-tastic subject line of “Campfire Chic Newsletter” doesn’t quite have the same impact as “Are you ready to take some brave steps? // Campfire Chic May 2013 Newsletter“.

 

 

Call to Action

Why are you emailing people and taking up space in their inbox if you don’t have some sort of call to action? It’s like calling me in the middle of the newest episode of Mad Men and not having anything to talk about. It just doesn’t make sense. Your call to action is a verb…what do you want your subscribers to DO? Do you want them to read through, get inspired, and buy your ebook? Do you want them to see that you have cool things planned for the next month and they should advertise on your site? Or maybe you want them to help you boost your Facebook page and throw a “like” your way. Whatever it is, make sure you have one and make sure it is pretty evident.

 

Invitation to Connect

Like I said…you’re taking up space in somebody’s inbox. That’s kind of personal, you know? They’re allowing you to queue up next to emails from their grandmothers, offers to connect via LinkedIn, and the blogs to which they subscribe via email. You’re lucky to be included, let’s be honest. So why not connect with your subscribers more? They took the time to subscribe to your newsletter, why not give some of that time back? You know the basic ways of getting people to connect with you: follow me on Twitter! etc. So why not be different than your counterparts and ask your subscribers to respond to a question you pose via email? I subscribe to an awesome newsletter that starts out with a short ancedote and then the author tells readers what he’s drinking and asks us to hit reply and let him know what we’re drinking that morning. It’s something that makes me feel like I know him more than if he was just some guy sending out a newsletter. Connect: you won’t regret it.

 

Take Away

Okay, so we’ve checked the subject line, the call to action, and asked tried to connect with readers in a different way. What’s next? Oh yeah, what do your subscribers get out of your newsletter? You’re taking up space in their inboxes, you are trying to sell them something, and you’re wanting to know what they drink…but what are they actually getting out of reading what you have to say? A take away is something that your reader gains from opening your email…exclusive content (interviews, tutorials, reviews), discounts on products or services, and even homework count as take aways.

 

Spelling

I’m not going to include grammar in this section because I’m sure I have a hanging preposition or split infinitive floating around in here someplace. But at the very least, check your spelling on some common words: your name (my phone thinks my name is Jam)…your brand…and the word ‘newsletter’ because I type it as newslelerr a lot when I’m typing quickly. Just do a quick scan.
 
What other tips would you add to this list?

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