4 Ways to Research Your Ideal Customer

4 Ways to Research Your Ideal Customer

Why does a customer buy from you? If you can discover this golden reason, the journey from Stranger to Customer will be much easier to follow. In this article, I’ll share with you 4 ways you can research your ideal customer, to improve your ability to sell to them. First, let me ask you a question:

What do you know about your customer?

  • What’s bothering them?
  • How do they make decisions?
  • Where do they go for help?
  • What makes them decide to buy?

If you know the answers to these questions, you can guide people into doing business with you. If you don’t know…you’re guessing.

Here’s how you can cut the guesswork:

  1. Competition research
  2. Go to their forums
  3. Make Facebook Audiences to build your list
  4. Survey your customers

Are you selling, or are you marketing?

There is a difference between sales and marketing. Sales is when you convince one person in front of you to buy something from you, right now. Marketing is when you convince groups of people to buy from you, anytime.

The lines can blur between sales and marketing, which causes confusion about what you actually…do. Marketing often adds urgency, with a limited time offer, and makes it more of a sale. Making a sale, research tells us, can take 7 or more touches before the close, so it can seem to take the same amount of time as marketing. But they work in two distinctly different ways:

Sales is one-to-one, and Marketing is one-to-many.

The best marketers are good salespeople, and good salespeople are also good marketers. Find the best marketers and salespeople in your field, and you can discover what’s working, by doing what they do.

Next time, I’ll help you do some research one-to-one. Today, we’re going to research one-to-many.

Competition Research

Henry Ford had a tremendously difficult job to do. He introduced the first mass-produced automobile to the American market. “If I had asked people what they wanted,” he said, “they would have said faster horses.”

Creating a brand-new market is daring, perilous, and complicated. Don’t build a new market from scratch, unless you have successfully entered a saturated market a few times. For most entrepreneurs, you want competition in your field.

Competitors help you to identify trends, generate ideas, and harvest customer research. In most cases, you should be able to find someone who is already doing what you do, and doing it well.

If you are not pioneering a new market, and you can find 3-5 rock stars in your industry, pay attention to what they are doing. Follow them on social media. Subscribe to their newsletters. Read their content.

Take notes.

The most effective strategies I’ve implemented in my digital marketing agency are adapted from other experts. I pay close attention to people who are better than me (like her and like her and like him and like her), because they are investing time and money and resources into researching what works.

If these people do something clever, the result of six months of customer research, I adapt their tactics for my own business. The best part is, I don’t have to spend six months figuring it out.

Big Caveat: Don’t just cut and paste from your competition. It’s dishonorable, illegal, and lazy.

If you learn the difference between repurposing work and copying work, you gain a big advantage. You can model the successful systems of your predecessors – but be careful not to cut too many corners. Do the work.

As Kaleigh Moore says on the Shopify blog, “Keeping an eye on your competitors helps you anticipate shifts in the market, spot new trends and successful tactics, and stay on the cutting edge of what’s working within your niche.” They even have a competitive analysis template here

Once you know what your competition is doing, go to your customers.

Go to their forums

Reddit and Quora are treasure troves of newbie information. These forums don’t have a lot of spammy sales pitches, because the forum architecture naturally discourages them (thanks to upvotes and downvotes). This raises authentic content to the top of the feed, making it more likely that people will read posts relating to the topic at hand.

What does this means for you, doing your customer research? You can go into one of these forums, and search around on keywords related to your topic. What you will find are a bunch of newbies, all asking basic questions that you are uniquely qualified to answer.

This is valuable for two reasons:

  • First, you can answer these questions and make some connections.
  • Second (and more importantly), you learn how your prospects phrase their problems.

You can amplify the effectiveness of your marketing copy by using the phrases your customer uses to talk about their problems.

As James Mulvey says on the Hootsuite blog, “Reddit can help you observe what people really think about your industry and products, reveal what frustrates customers, and help you create marketing campaigns and content that kill those pains.” 

The comment threads on forum posts can be a goldmine of information for you. You can eavesdrop on people who are trying to solve the problems that you can solve, all laid out in a threaded conversation, on a free website.

When you read through these conversations you will see how they interact with their problem. They will talk about the types of solutions they try, and where they encounter obstacles. You can read the solutions that other people offer, and see how they react. You can make note of what works for them, and what makes them lose interest.

Forum research opens your customers’ minds up like a book. This gives you a deep understanding of how they are currently searching for answers.

Make Facebook Audiences to Build Your List

Facebook allows anyone with a minor amount of technical aptitude to create a ‘Lookalike Audience.’ Use their sophisticated demographic and behavioural data algorithms. You don’t have to be a social engineer, all you need is a list of your current customers.

Do you have a spreadsheet of customers? Does it have enough contact information (name, email address, zip code, and so on) that Facebook can identify their user profiles? If so, then you can enter one of the most sophisticated marketing research games in the world.

All you need to do is create a Facebook ad campaign. Upload your .csv of customer data, and Facebook can create a Lookalike Audience. This is a group of people who have similar interests, similar activity, and similar data collected about themselves.

Using this Lookalike Audience is limited to the Facebook platform – you can’t export these lookalikes and start cold calling them. But you can advertise to them.

As AJ Agrawal says on the Forbes blog, “I highly suggest running a series of low-budget campaigns to see which ads and messages work best. Only increase the budget once you find one with a low acquisition cost.” 

What messages make these kinds of people respond? Learning from your Lookalike Audience helps you hone your Ideal customer avatar template.

If you already have a working Sales Funnel, then you can advertise a Lead Magnet to these folks, and start filling your pipeline. If not, you can still use a Lookalike Audience for customer research, through surveys.

By asking similar people a series of survey questions, you gain valuable marketing intelligence. You can use this to sell to them in the future.

Survey Your Customers

Ryan Levesque is a master of customer research. He has worked with a Deep Dive Survey for years, and his book “Ask” is a wealth of information. He describes how (and why) asking good questions on surveys will lead you to copy that makes high-converting headlines.

Whenever he is entering a new market, Ryan will offer an incentive for people to take a detailed survey. The first question, all by itself – before he asks for their name, or email address, or any contact info – he asks, “What’s the #1 challenge you’re dealing with in relation to _____?”

He puts this question first because – it’s the most important question. If the user leaves the survey before completing all the questions, at the very least, he gets the answer here.

The responses to these questions are framed in the customers’ language, using the terms they use, and the way they think about their problem.

These specific phrases can become marketing copy, so when similar Customer Avatars see a headline with that specific phrase, they think, “This was made for me! I’ve got to get this.”

Remember, the ultimate goal of any piece of marketing is to make someone say: “Shut up and take my money!” If you can create that reaction, your marketing is a success.

Ryan uses many sophisticated techniques to gather customer intelligence. If you are planning to do a survey campaign, I highly recommend reading his book, Ask.

Setting up complicated surveys does take a lot of work. While it can reward you with qualitative data, the technical complexity to gather it might not be worth it.

That’s why many businesses prefer the old-fashioned, tried-and-true method. Gather customer research by interviewing customers one-on-one. I’ll talk about that in an upcoming article – subscribe to my newsletter to get notified when it’s ready.

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

The awards for this contest, the Best Email Subject Lines of 2018, is totally biased and skewed. To even be considered for this award, you have to:

  1. Publish a newsletter regularly, to which
  2. I happen to be subscribed, and
  3. One or more of your subject lines has to make me go, ‘Wow!’

Last year I did a round-up of the 170 best email subject lines from 2017. Now that we’ve faced another New Year, I clicked the same Gmail label in my inbox to pull up a list of all the best emails that got my attention in 2018.

Email Subject Line Contest Judging Criteria

  • 3rd place – You show up in this list. Sometime, in 2018, you sent me an email with a subject line that made me say, ‘Wow, that’s good.’
  • 2nd place – You show up in this list more than once.
  • 1st place – You show up in this list more than anyone else.

Again, this is a highly subjective list, and it’s skewed towards digital marketers and salespeople (since they are the content creators I like to follow the most, and they are usually the best at writing subject lines that make you want to open the email) and the joy of having your own award show is that you get to award them however you please, so without further ado, here is…

3RD PLACE – Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

I kept this secret way too long – Mira Kelly

I never wanted to be an entrepreneur – Stu McLaren


Can we talk about getting you leads? – Dan Faber

Announcing major new services for your site. – Jetpack

How I Generated 800 Booked Calls With A Four Page Website – James Kemp

So, stop me if you’ve heard this one – Joseph Michael

How to get 10 paying Clients Now – Ted McGrath

New for you. The Mozart Pack is now ready. – Divi Den

The bad advice I followed at the start of my business – Melyssa Griffin

Full-time author within 12 months (how she did it) – Nick Stephenson

Question – Holden Qigong

did you miss it? – Jill Knouse

You are guest speaking on TED in 3 days (you’re ready, right?) – Dominika

Write me back if you want one of 7 test drives – Amber McCue

I know Keto is hot. Here’s a simple way to do it. – Pedram Shojai

Surprise! Unlock a Free Membership Upgrade When You Join Today – Trusted Housesitters

[pdf download] Get paid to share your message – Ben Kniffen

Why I love it when my clients are afraid – Laura Simms

Steal this sales email – Shenee Howard

You won’t believe who just joined the Naturopathic CE Faculty! – Naturopathic CE

I recorded a video for you – Fab Mancini

“That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard” – Vishen Lakhiani

You’ve acquired FIFTY PERCENT OFF 😉 It’s confirmed, CAELAN – Expedia

Can we put your name in the raffle? – Danny Iny

Day Six – “ABANDON SHIP!” (and other launch lies your brain tells you) – Kyla Roma

[Explosion noises] – Digg

Don’t buy this course! Guerilla Publishing is NOT for you if… – Derek Murphy

Your “Start Here ” Page – Pat Flynn

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN – Susan Peirce Thompson

Now I’m obsessed. – Nick Stephenson

Changes – SARK

do you believe me yet?- Cory Huff

Announcement : Introducing Unstoppable with Kerwin Rae – Kerwin Rae

You have a $603 credit – Michelle Shaeffer

The Productivity Hack That’s Made Me Millions – Bob Allen

Can I give you $1000? Two people are going to win…might as well be you. – Kelly Poelker

You’ve always wondered ….Now you can find out for yourself – Team Tony Robbins

The ultimate list building short-cut (PDF DOWNLOAD Inside) – Navid Moazzez

BOOM! This is how you make money from a tiny list – Meera Kothand

Something BIG is coming – Steph Crowder

Write better emails TODAY-Here’s how – Derek Halpern

You’re not in yet 🙂 last chance today! – Aaron Morin

Can you come as my guest? (VIP invite) – John Assaraf

did you hear the news? – Dustin W. Stout

Why do customers really buy? – Donald Miller

Did you see this? – Andrea Leda

10x your book revenue without selling another book – Ty Ward

Get my best speaker training tips! Here’s how… – Sage Lavine

do you need a raise? – Lisa Sasevich

The hardest decision I’ve made in my business this year. – Caleb Wojcik

Make Your Website a Well-Oiled Machine – Pia Larson

While some of these subject lines look like they were addressed to me personally, or seem to be a personal request, I can assure you, they are not. Some of these were so good because they insinuated a personal connection so well, but these were really all mass emails.

The email subject lines in this list – these are examples of really good mass emails.

2ND PLACE – Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

These authors showed up multiple times in my inbox this year, and more than once I said, ‘Hey, that’s a really good subject line.’

Wendy Weiss

Wendy Weiss, the Queen of Cold Calling

Wendy Weiss runs a sales training and coaching consultancy, with an expertise in new business development.

Wendy’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Your message = your money
  • This will be your last chance

Eben Pagan headshot

Eben Pagan, Entrepreneur & Teacher

Eben Pagan teaches advanced strategies to grow your business to the 6 and 7 figure per year level.

Eben’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Email me back
  • Did you still want this?

Jon Morrow, 7-Figure Blogger

Jon Morrow gives cutting edge advice about blogging to smart bloggers.

Jon’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • [Blog Launch Tookit] Please don’t pay full price for this
  • [FLASH SALE] The Ultimate Training Library for Beginning Bloggers

Benji Bruce headshot

Benji Bruce, Motivational Keynote Speaker

Benji Bruce shows an audience how to create a psychological advantage so they stay sharp and stay ahead.

Benji’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Send me your pitch
  • Cancel my membership

John Lee Dumas headshot

John Lee Dumas, Podcaster

John Lee Dumas hosts the daily business podcast EOFire for the Fire Nation.

John’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Secrets to selling from pages, stages, and webinars
  • Get ready to learn Facebook Ads!

Alan McKenna, Business Strategist

Alan McKenna is a sales & marketing strategist with over 20 years experience in turning companies around and exploding their growth

Alan’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Can I send you $3000?
  • Wednesday March 21st-Add to your calendar
  • I changed the date of the meeting

David Siteman Garland headshot

David Siteman Garland, Online Course Creator

David Siteman Garland helps experts create and sell online courses.

David’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • (super time sensitive) Create Awesome Online Course is open
  • The biggest mistake I made in my business (plus deadline)

1st Place – Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

Marisa Murgatroyd headshot

Marisa Murgatroyd, Brand Builder and Marketing Strategist

Marisa Murgatroyd provides done-for-you branding, website design, and training on becoming the most bold, colorful, vibrant expression of who you are online.

Marisa also has one of the best platforms on the internet, IMHO. She’s got crystal-clear messaging, top-notch website design, excellent sales funnels and creates a TON of content. So it’s no big surprise that she showed up in this (highly subjective) list a total of NINE times.

Marisa’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  1. Can we work together on your business?
  2. I hit 7-figures because I did this…
  3. what Luke Skywalker can do for your business
  4. this common product creation mistake can lead to zero sales
  5. this is not a trick question
  6. I’ve got an idea for you!
  7. {true story} How I hit zero….
  8. 2 inconvenient fact that should disqualify me as a coach
  9. {urgent} change of plans….

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

Follow Caelan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Youtube.

The Stellar Email Template

The Stellar Email Template

The best autoresponder sequences have a lot of shared characteristics. After subscribing to hundreds (maybe thousands) of email newsletters over the past decade, I’ve become adept at noticing what works, what the best people are using, and what steps are used by everyone. Here’s a standard email template you can use for a follow-up autoresponder sequence, one that you can use with just about any email newsletter signup autoresponder: 

  1. You Are Confirmed
  2. Let’s Connect
  3. Here’s My Services
  4. Survey To Segment You Into A Group
  5. Here’s Some Good Education
  6. Book a Call
  7. Referrals

If I’m working with a new client who doesn’t yet have any content on their blog, this is the outline that I use to set up their email autoresponder. I make a copy of my Stellar Email Template, spend an hour or two writing some good copy, and then migrate the content into their ESP. In an afternoon, you can have a completely custom email newsletter autoresponder sequence all set up and ready to go, using this template.

Get the Stellar Email Template

Note: this template can be used for an entire sales funnel, and it also includes copy templates for thank you pages, confirmation emails, and more. Some of the pre-written email autoresponder templates in this doc may not apply to you or your business. But if you want to flesh out your email autoresponder sequence with CTAs to follow you on social media, book a call, or buy your services, there are templates for those emails in this document as well. Delete the ones that are not relevant, and add sections if you want to promote more blog posts.

This easy, step-by-step process outlined above can give you a brand new email autoresponder sequence with just a couple hours of attention. Passively nurturing your sales funnel is definitely worth this investment of your time; successful bloggers and entrepreneurs are always tweaking and optimizing their onboarding autoresponder sequence.

Can I send autoresponders and newsletters at the same time?

Personally, I have no problem with this overlap, in the emails that I send or that I receive. I like to leave a long interval between email autoresponder messages (unless it is a 5-day or a 30-day course, which often needs to be every day) so any email newsletters sent will likely be in between the delivery of the autoresponder.

Besides, many times, your new subscriber cannot tell the difference between an immediate newsletter and a pre-scheduled autoresponder.

There are ways that you can exclude someone from your newsletter sends until the autoresponder sequence has completed – the specific method of doing so depends on your email service provider – but generally, I don’t bother with that unless the newsletter would really interrupt the flow of the autoresponder sequence.

If you ever wonder, “How are others doing this well?” You can just collect some examples to find out.

How To Collect Autoresponder Email Examples

The best autoresponder email examples are only a subscription away. I’m sure you follow some people who are good at email. (If you don’t, there are a number of them quoted in this article.) Go subscribe to a bunch of their email newsletters, and if you like, use a filter to automatically tag their emails as they arrive. In a few weeks, you can search your inbox for this tag, and you will have dozens of the best autoresponder email examples to review.

Pat Flynn’s autoresponder sequence examples

Autoresponder Series #1: The Bait and Hook
Autoresponder Series #2: The Ground and Pound
Autoresponder Series #3: The Pat Flynn

“The real magic of my approach is two-fold,” says the mastermind behind Smart Passive Income. “I’m establishing credibility and building relationships in a non-evasive manner, which keeps people on my list and opening emails. This obviously helps increase the open rate and responsiveness of my broadcast emails; and some of the content emails get people back onto another platform where opportunities for affiliate sales and product sales exist.”

Pat Flynn is one of the best in the business. If you want to make money online, I recommend you subscribe to his newsletter, just to watch what he does, and how he does it. Read his article explaining these 3 Autoresponder Series here.

Best welcome autoresponder email examples


Dan Wang collected 13 of the best Welcome emails on the web, and laid them out in a nice visual progression. Give this article a scan so you can see how some other successful email autoresponders are doing their thing.

Other talented email marketers that I follow include:

Subscribe to their newsletters and take notes. And download the Stellar Email Template to work on your own.

About The Author

Caelan Huntress helps people sell their stuff online. As a website designer, sales strategist, copywriter, and digital marketer, he works with entrepreneurs, coaches, authors and public speakers to bring them more calls, more clients, and more customers.

The Easiest Email Autoresponder Sequence for Bloggers

The Easiest Email Autoresponder Sequence for Bloggers

If you have been blogging, then you already have an easy email autoresponder sequence that is 85% done. Writing email newsletter autoresponders doesn’t have to take a long time; you can repurpose your best blog posts, using the 10-step system in this article. Before I describe the step-by-step process for converting your best blog posts into email autoresponders, let’s take a second and remind ourselves why email autoresponders are so effective.

Email autoresponders convert strangers into customers, automatically.

You’re facing a problem, and you’ve met someone who is solving that problem. They offer you a solution: it’s an intriguing lead magnet, giving a step-by-step solution to your problem, and you only have to subscribe to their newsletter to get access. Shyly, you hand over your first name and email address, and your relationship begins.

Over the next few weeks, this person courts you. They send you interesting and useful emails, that seem like they were written just for you. Over time, you begin to know this person. Then you like them, because they are funny, and engaging, and real. Finally, you trust them, and when they ask you to buy something, you agree.

This is what an email autoresponder sequence is supposed to do.

“Autoresponders allow you to build ‘know, like and trust’ before you ask for the sale. That way, you can convert more customers, and you can do it without being overly ‘salesy’ or pushy.”
– Mary Fernandez

Research tells us that it can take up to 7 touches to close a sale. So don’t try to sell your services right away in your confirmation message – treat this new relationship like a courtship.

Butter them up. Demonstrate your expertise. Tell some stories. Share some photos of you and your life. Give them time to get to know you for a few weeks, and then, when they are interested, ask them to buy something.

What is an email autoresponder, and how does it work?

“Autoresponders are the hardest-working, unsung heroes of content marketing. They’re a series of emails you write once and set up to send out at pre-set intervals to anyone who asks for them.”

Beth Hayden

Simply put, an email autoresponder is a series of pre-written email messages. They are sent at specific intervals after someone subscribes.

You can think of email autoresponders as evergreen newsletters – rather than sending them out once a month, or every Friday, email autoresponders are sent in a predetermined sequence after subscription.


The Secrets of Great Autoresponder Messages

  • The best autoresponder emails are repurposed from your best content.
  • They can be short, or long, but they typically only ask the reader to take 1 action.
  • Use a testimonial or a PS at the end.

“The very first email you send to a new subscriber sets the tone for how they see you for the rest of their time with you – so you want to get this one right. It’s also the single best email for getting them to look at specific pages of your site, like popular posts or product pages.”
Naomi Dunford

How do you write the best email autoresponder, without creating tons of new content? Simple. Don’t start from scratch. Use your blog.

Your blog is a pre-written autoresponder series waiting to happen

Every time you write a blog post, you have a free email autoresponder message.

This is a piece of content that your future email subscribers would be happy to read, if it’s on-topic and relevant. Chances are, they are not going to subscribe to your newsletter, and THEN go read every blog post you’ve ever written. The likelihood of doubling up here is very low, and the likelihood of presenting useful and interesting information is very high.

“An email autoresponder easily makes use of the blog content you’ve already created. Most readers haven’t read everything you’ve written, nor have they read it in sequential order. Your email autoresponder groups related topics together and packages it neatly for the convenience of your readers, delivering it right to them.

You don’t have to create new content in order to make this happen. You can use what you’ve already written for your blog.”

Julie Neidlinger

You can pick your own favorite blog posts, and decide manually; or, you can follow the data. The blog posts that are most successful on your blog are typically the ones that will make the best autoresponder emails.

10-Step Blog-To-Autoresponder Email Series Writing System

  1. Go to Google Analytics, and find your most popular posts.
  2. Create a card for the title of each post in Trello, and link to the article on the card.
  3. Drag and drop the subjects until they make a sensible progression.
  4. Scrape a couple paragraphs from each post, and paste the content onto the card.
  5. Create a copy of the Stellar Email Template in Google Docs (linked below)
  6. Paste the content from the Trello cards into the template.
  7. Edit the copy in Google Docs. Add connectors, like ‘I’ll tell you all about X next week,’ and ‘Remember last week, when I talked about X?”
  8. Add a CTA (Call-to-Action) to each message. Sometimes, this is just a link to read the full blog post, but it may be ‘book a call with me’ or ‘reply’ or ‘buy this product.’ Make sure there is only 1 CTA.
  9. Migrate the content from Google Docs to the email autoresponder delivery platform.
  10. Subscribe with a testing email, to review the results.

This final step is critical. There are so many moving pieces in any autoresponder email series, it is inevitable you will find things to tweak and edit only by being on the receiving end.

Setup an email address [email protected]. Subscribe to your own newsletter. Make note of what you find, what needs to change, and what can be better.

About The Author

Caelan Huntress helps people sell their stuff online. As a website designer, sales strategist, copywriter, and digital marketer, he works with entrepreneurs, coaches, authors and public speakers to bring them more calls, more clients, and more customers.

Get the Stellar Email Template

(Fill-in-the-blank email autoresponder series)

What Does Gutenberg Change In WordPress?

What Does Gutenberg Change In WordPress?

If you are looking to learn about Gutenberg in advance of the WordPress 5.0 release date, the best thing you can do is install the Gutenberg Ramp Plugin and give it a try for yourself. There are plenty of WordPress Gutenberg tutorials out there, but until WP 5.0 drops, we don’t really know what the effects will be. But so far, it seems to be mostly positive.

“For most casual users, it will, after some growing pains, bring a more flexible content creation experience.

Non-developers will be able to intuitively craft more complex layouts with extra elements like buttons, content embeds, and lots more. And that will, hopefully, help WordPress to continue to grow.”

Colin Newcomer on CodeinWP

WordPress Gutenberg Introduction

The new editor is clean, sleek, and simple. As I said in my first-ever Gutenberg post on my personal blog, “If Medium and the WordPress WYSIWYG had a baby, it would be named Gutenberg.” It’s a much more intuitive user interface that will enable newer bloggers to create content easily and fluidly.

“Gutenberg is an obvious reaction to competitors of WordPress; the writing experience of Medium, the quick and easy site builds using Wix and Squarespace.”

Iain Poulson on Delicious Brains

Gutenberg was revealed in mid-2017 by Matt Mullenweg during an interview with Om Malik, and ever since then, there has been a lot of anticipation for this new editor. Because WordPress is open source, none of this has been secret, and friendly geeks have been investigating the ins and outs of the software as it develops. Some of the links below have detailed tutorials on how to use Gutenberg for your WordPress website, with some tutorials in text, some in video, and a few in gifs.

How do I install Gutenberg on my website?

First off, let’s determine whether or not you have WordPress 5.0 or not.

How to install Gutenberg on your WordPress 5.0 Website

Step 1: Install WordPress.

That’s it. The WordPress core will have Gutenberg standard on every WordPress installation.

How to install Gutenberg on your WordPress 4.X site

  • Go to Plugins → Add New
  • Search for “Gutenberg” (I used Gutenberg Ramp plugin, it worked fine)
  • Click Install Now
  • Wait – Install Now button will change to Activate
  • Click Activate

Installing Gutenberg early will give you the chance to see what it does with your website; if things will break, if things will go smoothly, or if it’s way above your head.

Gutenberg FAQ

What will Gutenberg change in my WordPress site?

After WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg will change the Post Editor (and Page Editor) that you use to create new posts and pages. All the remaining WordPress functionality will be unchanged.

Can I use my page builder with Gutenberg?

Yes and no. Yes, on the website, but no, not on the page.

Yes, you can use a page builder on a WordPress 5.0 website that uses Gutenberg as the core editor. No, you cannot use the Gutenberg editor and your Page Builder editor on the same page.

This website is built in the Divi theme, and uses the Visual Builder as the page builder for many pages (and even some posts). If I compose a post in Gutenberg, and then try to transition that post to the Visual Builder, it used to remove all coding in the easiest way possible: it will delete all the content in the post.

I tried a Gutenberg-to-Visual Builder conversion, and it refused to convert, I couldn’t even access the Visual Builder. But it did preserve the Visual Builder shortcodes.

wordpress gutenberg tutorials screenshot

I tried a Visual Builder-to-Gutenberg conversion, and this is what the screen looks like when you try to go to the Classic Editor:

wordpress gutenberg tutorials classic editor

If you try to return to Default Editor, or get to Gutenberg, you’ll lose it all:

gutenberg tutorials divi builder visual builder

Will Gutenberg change my eCommerce Store?

Since Products are a Custom Post Type, they will not (currently) be able to use Gutenberg without extra enhancement.

However, since I use WooCommerce on as the shopping cart on this website, I did see a neat little notice on here after I installed Gutenberg:

gutenberg tutorials woocommerce integratione

I did this to get one of my basic page-builder functions in Gutenberg, and it is something I can already do with WooCommerce shortcodes, but this is what a Product Block looks like in Gutenberg:

Can I keep the old version of WordPress instead of using Gutenberg?

I am quite sure there will be a plugin to attempt doing that, as there is always a plugin to handle any feature the user base wants; but since the old Tiny MCE editor is embedded in the core, it would take quite a hefty piece of code to transition it back.

If you really need to keep the old editor and refuse to use Gutenberg, your best bet is to stick with WordPress 4.9 and manually install any security updates, keeping your website increasingly obsolete. I’m sure this will be an appealing option for many to begin with, but I suspect that most people will upgrade in due course. 

How hard is it to learn Gutenberg?

Try one of the Gutenberg tutorials linked in this post, you’ll see how easy it is. Like any learning curve, though, it depends on your aptitude and your interest.

Writing a blog post in Gutenberg won’t be much different than writing a blog post in Medium, but it will have a lot of the core WordPress functionality and integration. Getting all of the new features to sync up will take a little study, but it’s not very difficult. I’ve found it to be very user-friendly – read the first post I wrote in Gutenberg, with glitches, here: https://caelanhuntress.com/2018/08/12/gutenberg-is-coming-to-wordpress/

How long does it take to learn Gutenberg?

It’s not long. After 3-4 posts, a novice blogger should have the hang of it; experienced bloggers will only need 1-2 blog posts to pick up all the differences.

Are there Gutenberg tutorials?

One of the best Gutenberg tutorials I’ve found is the WP Engine Gutenberg for Beginners tutorial.  – This comprehensive tutorial is full of gifs and is very useful.

If you like video, the Yoast team put out a great video series of Gutenberg tutorials for free on YouTube:

Will my old WordPress posts be affected by Gutenberg blocks?
Will Gutenberg affect the SEO of my WordPress website?

What’s New: Gutenberg Blocks

The Blocks are the most fundamental change to the editor. The Gutenberg tutorials linked above go into them in some detail.

Users of Medium will recognize the interface intuitively; but because it’s WordPress, you have much more flexibility and control than with a typical Medium post.

When you pop the hood and look at the the code, the Blocks code is pretty simple. It looks like this:

<!– wp:core/text –> <!– /wp:core/text –> makes a text block. Everything within those bracket pairs can be moved around, drag-and-drop, within the Gutenberg editor.

“Previously, your content lived inside one big HTML file and for every enhancement there had to be something new: shortcodes, custom post types, embeds, widgets and the like. All with their quirky interfaces and weird behavior. Now, you can build your content precisely like you make a LEGO set: all from one box, following a standardized and straightforward set of instructions.”

–  Edwin Toonen on Yoast

This sounds great, on the surface, if you’re starting from scratch. But what if you have an older website?

If you use a lot of shortcodes in your theme, this could present some problems.

“Currently, shortcodes cannot be executed in text columns or paragraph blocks. They must be placed in the shortcode block in order to work. This can cause some problems if your shortcodes produce inline content like the year or an inline call to action.”

– Nathan Ingram on iThemes

Gutenberg Glitches

These are the glitches I noticed while composing my first post in Gutenberg:

  • Making links doesn’t always work. The Link editor doesn’t always take my text, and I often can’t add a link easily.
  • Sometimes when I mean to backspace a word, it deletes the entire text block.
  • There is no undo when this happens; the text block I am working on is just gone.
  • The Fixed Background option to make images parallax often masks the image entirely in the editor
  • Sometimes deleting blocks is problematic, and I have to convert to HTML and manually kill it in the code
  • The images don’t display in the Editor the way they do in preview

An easy caveat: I created this post using the Gutenberg Ramp plugin, on a WordPress core that is still made to support previous versions of WordPress. This is also the early stages of rollout, and I made this post without reading any Gutenberg tutorials, so I am quite sure these glitches will improve over time.

Others have noticed some glitches and hazards too:

“Doesn’t support responsive columns yet. We really hope this is coming. A lot of times this is a reason people install visual builder plugins or shortcode plugins, is to get the column feature alone. It is definitely time for columns to be in core!”

– Brian Jackson on Kinsta

“Backward compatibility is going to be a primary concern for most developers. It will destroy current plugins and themes, especially ones that require integration with TinyMCE.”

– Manish Dudharejia

Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility

“Since announcing the database on March 1st, 70 people have been granted testing status. However, of 5000 total plugins, we’re still at 4139 untested plugins. No companies have stepped up to contribute a significant amount of person-hours.”

– Daniel Bachhuber on his blog

Of the 861 tested plugins that Daniel tested in April of 2018:

  • 219 (25.44%) are compatible.
  • 518 (60.16%) are likely compatible.
  • 25 (2.9%) are likely not compatible.
  • 39 (4.53%) are not compatible.
  • 60 (6.97%) are in “testing”, which means someone started test and abandoned the process.

That’s a decent spread, and the numbers may have improved. But as Igor notes below, this could cause big difficulties for Custom Post Types:

“If your plugin has a custom post type, then you may want to disable Gutenberg for that particular post type. To disable Gutenberg for your custom post type, you can just change your post type configuration.”

– Igor Benić on Tuts Plus

When will Gutenberg be a part of my WordPress website?

The answer to that question is very personal.

When WordPress 5.0 is released, every WordPress website that upgrades is going to have Gutenberg installed as its core editor by default. If you want it earlier, you can install a plugin, as described above. If you don’t want to upgrade to 5.0, you can probably coast on WordPress 4.9 for a number of months without facing any serious issues.

So, you will have Gutenberg on your WordPress website when you want it. Get ready, because it’s coming. Read some Gutenberg tutorials, or better yet, give it a spin.

If you want to talk about what Gutenberg could do to your WordPress website, schedule a consultation.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can be done well, or done badly. No matter how good you’re doing, it could be really easy for you, or really hard. The easiest way to make sure your social media marketing is both easy and good is to follow the advice of people who have mastered the mediums.

6 Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips

#1 – Say something valuable.

Seth Godin talks about ‘the trap of social media noise.’ Just because we can say things in so many places, to so many people, it doesn’t mean we should.

“Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that’s worth owning and an audience that cares.”

– Seth Godin

#2 – Don’t spread too thin.

Every account you set up will cost you, in time, energy, and mental overhead. Ask yourself which accounts are really necessary, and if you should skip one, then do it.

Ashley Kemper wrote a comprehensive overview at Marketing Land comparing each social media platform, with specific guidelines on when these different platforms make sense. Her recommendations are very detailed, so read her article if you have any questions about a specific platform. Her guidelines were:

  • Use Facebook if you want to reach a massive audience with a diverse array of content types.
  • Use Twitter if you have frequent updates or content with a “timeliness” factor.
  • Use YouTube if your business could benefit from product demos, testimonials, or putting a human face to your brand.
  • Use Google+ if you have a physical location and want to appear in local search results.
  • Use LinkedIn if you are in a B2B space, or you want to speak to a more professionally-oriented audience.
  • Use Pinterest if you want to target a female audience and have great visual content.
  • Use Instagram if you can create interesting visual content on a regular basis.
  • Use Foursquare if you have a brick-and-mortar location.

Read her article for more depth on each platform, if you’re not sure whether or not one of them is a good match for you.

#3 – Variety is the spice of social media.

Posting the same thing, all the time, isn’t giong to keep your audience engaged or interested. On the 8Days blog, Jimdo recommends a 70-20-10 formula.

“Don’t be overly promotional: Nobody likes someone who just talks about themselves all the time. 70% of your content should add value for your followers (such as sharing blog posts, coupons, etc.), 20% should be sharing other people’s content (posts from other businesses or highlighting customers), and only 10% should be directly promoting your business (such as “come by our store we have a new shipment of handbags!”).”

Social Media Marketing Formula:

  • 70% adding value
  • 20% sharing other people’s content
  • 10% direct promotion

For every promotional tweet you write, prepare to publish 10x that much content that is for connection and relationship-building.

#4 – Show Them The Wizard Behind the Curtain

Social media marketing is your opportunity to be seen by your audience, really seen. They don’t want to see your products; they want to see you, working at your craft. Share the stories of what it’s like to do what you do.

Ramsay at Blog Tyrant recommends being open on social media to create customer loyalty:

“Social media is a fantastic way to break down the barriers of facelessness. By showing your potential customers the people behind the business you are giving yourself a chance to be different from all the other competition. They will become loyal to you.”

– Ramsay

#5 – Get Popular To Get Seen

Popularity snowballs. The more that people like you, the more they like you, and it’s not just momentum; it’s math.

On the Buffer blog, Alfred Lua gives 10 social media tips, and describes the importance of popularity:

“Social media platform algorithms, such as those on Facebook and Instagram, are prioritizing posts with higher engagement on their feeds due to the belief that users will be more interested in seeing highly engaging content.”

– Alfred Lua

Collect likes, retweets, and shares, and you will rank higher ion the algorithm of social media platforms, and get seen more often.

#6 – Stay Authentic

Most people can sniff a sell-out, and it stinks. A genuine, long-term relationship can be completely derailed by staying in sales mode all the time.

Everybody needs to sell. It is, most often, why we get on a soapbox in the first place. But the only way to keep authenticity is by staying authentic, regularly.

As Timothy Skyes says in 8 Tips On How To Grow Your Social Media on Enterepreneur.com:

“You need to find that balance between popularity and business. You need to have a little bit of both and mix the more fun side that wants popularity with the serious and informative side that boosts the reputation of your business.”

– Timothy Sykes


Social Media Setup – Done For You, or DIY

If you need to get your new brand up and running on social media, you can hire Stellar Platforms to do it for you, or you can buy our DIY kit for a tenth of the price, and do it yourself.