How to use trello to generate targeted blog posts

Blogging is a great way to generate traffic to a new site or even increase traffic to an existing site...

Here is how to structure your blog using trello to maximize the attraction of visitors at all levels of interest.

You Need Structure

Blogging can get a bit out of control...

Because you can write about anything, most people do and end up creating an unfocused collection of articles that really doesn't translate into sales or new leads.

What you need is a simple structure to help you attract the audience you want exactly at the moment they are most interested and actively searching for you...

By using the structure below, it can help attract people at different levels of interest and teach them more of what they want.

The Example: Cooking Blog

Let's say I wanted to start a new cooking blog, with so much to cover, where would I start?

Using Trello, the first thing I would do is create lists, starting with the very basic concepts and moving from left to right getting into more advanced topics.

I would start with Safety and Sanitary posts, Knife Skills, on to Sauces then Simple Recipes...

Blogging Beginner to Advanced

The idea is to cover topics from beginners to advanced, from left to right, gradually increasing in complexity and progressing your readers to mastery...

I can use this also as the main navigation for my blog...

Visitors reading from left to right could self identify and choose where they feel their current skill set and interest match up...

Nobody really thinks of themselves as beginners, most everyone wants to try the advanced stuff but most people fall somewhere in the middle...

What To Write ???

Now that I have a few main topics, remember I can always add more, I can begin to fill in each main topic with blog post ideas...

Using a tool like Trello enables you to quickly capture ideas and re-arrange them, prioritize, collaborate, keep notes, attach files and so much more...

Planning Blog Posts

Really take time here and write down as many ideas on a main topic as possible...

If you get stuck, do searches for your main topic and find related blogs who have covered similar topics for ideas...

Looking at the example above, I was able to create twelve blog post ideas rather quickly, here is why...

1.) It's much easier to come up with three ideas per topic, instead of just twelve ideas.

2.) I can easily multiply the blog posts ideas by adding a new main topic and thinking of three more ideas for each one...

Now I have more blog post ideas than I have time to write!!!

Build your Post with Research and Notes

Trello enables you to label, upload, create checklist and so much more than I could possibly cover in this post...

You can create lists of items you want to make sure you write about...

You can also create notes and save links to references you have found online...

Trello really helps you build up a strong base for a great blog post, keeping everything centralized and easily accessible...

Trello Blog Post Details

Extra Credit: Scheduling Posts

If you are using WordPress for your blogging, you can try a free plugin called WordPress Editorial Calendar...

Once you feel that you have built a solid blog post and it is ready to be written, you can begin to fill in your Editorial Calendar in WordPress to help keep you organized...

Editorial Plugin

Now you know what to write and when it's due!

Free Resources

I am sharing the example Cooking Blog trello board for you to get ideas for your own board...

I strongly encourage you to start your own free trello account...

If you have a WordPress blog then try the WordPress Editorial Calendar, it's free and it can help keep you organized!

If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments below!


How I fixed broken Twitter Card images generated from my WordPress posts

Why are my Twitter Card images not showing?

I looked everywhere, in the plugin, meta tags, api documents, until...

I found the one file to fix that was keeping my images from showing up in my Twitter Cards.

Twitter Card Validator

The first thing you need to know about is the Twitter Card Validator.

You have to make sure you site is white listed, mine was and that was not the problem, but it may be the first thing you should check!

All you do is put in a url from one of your WordPress blog posts to preview what your auto-generated Twitter Card will look like.

Twitter Card Validator - White Listed

Here is what my Twitter Card looked like, notice NO IMAGE!!! ARRRRGGG!!!

Twitter Card Validator - No Image

Making Sure Settings Are Correct

Using Yoast's WordPress SEO plugin, under the social settings I made sure I checked the "Add Twitter card meta data" checkbox and saved my changes.

Yoast SEO Twitter Card

Then I doubled checked that the meta tags are actually getting rendered in the head tag...

I thought that maybe I found the problem, maybe it was the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin using a meta tag with an extra ":src" on it?

Yoast Twitter Card Meta

Note: Twitter specifically says to use "twitter:image" mentioned in their Card Type docs, took a screenshot, see below...

Twitter Card Meta

So I tested using several different posts ( Twitter caches results once fetched for 7 days )...

In the /wp-content/plugins/wordpress-seo/frontend/class-twitter.php file starting on line 383, the code below contains a function called image_output...

Made the change, but still not getting images on my Twitter Cards...

The Fix... Damn Robots.txt !!!

The second part of the answer came when I stumbled across Twitter URL Crawling & Caching page.

Turns out I created a ROBOTS.TXT file a loooooong time ago and it blocks all crawlers from indexing just about everything except posts and pages...

That's a problem because Twitter wants to crawl and cache the image it is going to use in the Twitter Card for 7 days...

So I had to add special rules for "Twitterbot" to allow it to access the default WordPress uploads folder where all my images exist.

The first three lines did the trick, I am able to still block all other crawlers with the rules that appear below the first three lines.

User-agent: Twitterbot
Disallow: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/*

User-agent: *
Disallow: /wp-admin*
Disallow: /wp-login.php
Disallow: /wp-content*
Disallow: /*/feed
Disallow: /*/trackback
Disallow: /*?
Disallow: /*.js$
Disallow: /*.inc$
Disallow: /*.css$
Disallow: /category/
Disallow: /page/
Disallow: /pages/
Disallow: /feed/
Disallow: /feed
Disallow: /tag/
Disallow: /archives/

We Have Images!!!

With the ROBOTS.TXT file update, I am now able to generate Twitter Cards that contain images!

Summary Card

Twitter Card Validator - Summary

Summary Large Image Card

Twitter Card Validator - Summary Large Image

I still left the patch to the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin in my file to follow Twitter guidelines and will fire off an email to the Yoast development team.

For the record I did test with and without the plugin patch after the ROBOTS.txt file update and Twitter Card images showed in both instances.

Hope this helps!

htaccess rewrite rules for Laravel / Lumen and WordPress

Do you want to get Lumen or Laravel to play nice with WordPress?

I did too...

Below is how I got them to work together with just a few lines in the .htaccess files...

NOTE: The code below is assuming you are installing WordPress in a blog sub-directory for example and have lumen or laravel installed in the root directory.

Modify Laravel or Lumen .htaccess

Your lumen or laravel .htaccess file should contain this one additional line... I know right? Just one line...

Modify WordPress .htaccess

Your WordPress .htaccess file should contain the following two lines, like this...


That's about it, I was able to setup with a WordPress install in a /blog sub-directory, FeedSumo is powered by Lumen.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please post them below!

Profitably survey your email list using HotJar

Every now and again, it's good to check in on the email list and ask them what they want more of...

I have been using a great service called HotJar to handle survey's for me, plus they do so much more...

  • Heatmaps
  • Recordings
  • Funnel Metrics
  • Form Analytics
  • Polls
  • Surveys

They have awesome support and all of these services are offered at a great price.

Mind Mapping "The Plan"

Let's take care of two things...

1.) Ask Them What They Want! ( how else will I know, if I don't ask? )

2.) Give An Unexpected Gift / Special Offer ( your customers deserve it! )

The best way I have found to know what your list is interested in most, is simply by asking them.

Plus, since they are going through all the trouble of opening your email and answering your survey, I find that an un-announced, special gift or offer on the "thank you" page really makes a difference.

Here is what the overall plan looks like:

HotJar Survey Plan

Setting Up The HotJar Survey

I like keeping things super simple...

I ask TWO, yep, just TWO questions...

1.) I need more in depth ______________ ( training, examples, tutorials) in: ( Multiple Choice )

2.) What ______________ ( training, examples, tutorials ) do you want or need right now?: ( Long Text Answer )

At first glance, both questions look to be exactly the same, but they are not!

The first locks in the allowed responses to certain topics I have picked, I do enable a fourth "Other" option because every once in a while someone fills a new area of interest that may take me in a new direction.

The second question enables the person filling out the survey to share in their own words what they need specifically. This gives me a ton of insight into the level of the content I need to be creating for subscribers right now and what I should be creating further down the road.

Here is how the first question is setup in HotJar, notice the first question is required!

HotJar Survey - First Question

The second question is optional, but I find that it provides the most insight!

HotJar Survey - Question Two

Last but not least is the Thank You page that gives the special bonus or offer...

HotJar Survey - Thank You Setup

You can now preview your survey and it should look like this:

HotJar Survey - Form

Your Thank You page should look like this, I offered a free month, you can do that or give a free download, the point is, provide unexpected value!

Hotjar Survey - Thank You

The Email Template

Below is an example email I sent linking directly to the survey...

Subject: Quick Question....

Do you have two seconds?

We would like your response to just two questions in our annual survey...

I have included a Special Invite for you, made immediately available
after you answer just two questions.

Use this survey link please:

Will just take two seconds ( just two questions...)

Talk to you soon,
Cesar Serna

P.S. Reminder that a "Special Invite" will be made
available to you instantly, once you answer the two questions.

The Results...

The email was sent to 5,002 subscribers...

The survey received 459 SUPER VALUABLE responses... ( about 9% )

Which led to 48 signups ( about 10% of responders, or about 1% of total sent )

That totaled to about $1,392.00 increase in potential Monthly Recurring Revenue... ( some subscribed for the free 30 day trial and canceled... it happens! )

Take Aways...

1.) With the survey results, I can now determine what exactly subscribers need right now and begin to plan what needs to get done in the next week, month, quarter and year.

2.) Just because it's a survey doesn't mean you can't make an offer.

If you don't have an offer, or you are still building trust with your list, give them an unannounced bonus, gift, download, video or all of the above.

Don't let subscribers leave without giving them something of value for their time.

Hope this helps, let me know if you have any questions by posting in the comments below.


How To Find Your Audience On Twitter

Tweet, tweet, tweet... but no results...

How do I find my audience on twitter?

Just a bunch of people randomly posting their thoughts...

Wait... Interesting...

A lot of talking, but who's listening?

If you are, then you or your business could benefit, dare I even say, even profit?

Why you should love to listen to tweets!

Because very few people are listening to other's specific pain points or successes...

"What do you mean?" you say, "I stare at my screen and see a bunch of stuff fly by all day!"...

Yes, I get it, you "think" you are listening, even participating by posting, but you really are not doing nothing more than adding to the pile of tweets cluttering the net...

Be "THAT" Person or Business who provides value

Here are few simple steps to help you get started:

1.) Be Specific - Know who you are targeting, the more exact you are with the people on twitter you are trying to reach the better. Take time to pinpoint the exact trait, question or pain point of the people you want to help.

2.) Be Consistent - You want results? Don't quit, even when you will inevitably be rejected or hazed, be consistent with providing value. Sure your strategy may need to be adjusted from time to time, that's not what I am talking about, if you are going to build an audience who will trust you and accept you as an authority, you are going to have to prove, OVER TIME, that you are worthy of that trust!

3.) Be Congruent - Keep the promises you make, the value you provide must be congruent with the need/pain the user expressed.

Example: Finding The Haters!!!

Let's identify the avatar!

WHO: Developers
WHAT: That hate using Crystal Reports
WHY: Because it's not doing what they want

One of the projects I work on is a training site for "Crystal Reports"...

Being a developer, I know how frustrating software can be...

Developers who use Crystal Reports find themselves at some point saying "I hate Crystal Reports"...

So I do a twitter search for "I hate Crystal Reports", notice I used quotes, this way I get an exact phrase match!


The results are AWESOME!!! There are some really frustrated developers working with Crystal Reports, take a look below...


Ok, Now What?

Now that we have confirmed a consistent stream of pain exist, we can begin to look for a Consistent Pain Point...

What is a Consistent Pain Point?

Outside of pure hatred in the example above, I continue to read through the list and take note of people that are complaining about something consistently. I am looking for items about formula creation, accounting reports, lack of documentation on a topic...

The Consistent Pain Point could be anything were a certain amount of people need you to help provide a solution or clarity for their pain...

Provide Value

By now you have found a Consistent Pain Point and can either help solve it or you need to get to work on creating a solution to help these people out...

Here are examples of solutions:

+ Free trial for training
+ Free Cheat Sheet
+ Free consulting call
+ Free blog post that shows the solution

You getting the picture?

But you say, "I don't have all this stuff, it's a lot of work, I don't know how"...

Fine, I give you two options, the first is "GET TO WORK ON IT", you stand to benefit from creating the course, video or content, because now you have created value that you can continue to provide others with time and again...

Still too busy? Ok, fine... Then go on the net and find a solution that someone else actually worked hard to make and didn't make excuses about even though they are much busier than you... Sting a bit, yeah, it was meant to...

Look, it's cool to link to other resources, ultimately, if you want to build your own brand or business, you want people coming to you, so get to work on creating value to earn trust and authority.

Here Are Examples

Great companies don't become great, they are great when they start.

Evernote - @evernote

Evernote is something I started using this year, so I tweeted about just using it, not a big deal right? Guess who was listening? How do you think that makes me feel about using their software?


Lenny and Larry - @lennyandlarrys

These cookies are out of this world, they have protein and are satisfying after a work out. So of course I decided to send out a simple tweet... Guess who was listening? They didn't respond, but instead favorited and retweeted me to their followers and leveraged social currency to boost their brand, trust and authority...




Follow these steps:

1.) Find people who love/hate/need and give them greater value than they expected.

2.) If you don't have the resources, create them else risk giving trust and authority away to another brand.

3.) Start now, great companies listen to their people from the start, they treat them like gold, you should too!

Hope this helps you, and if you have any questions or comments, post them below!!

Who is Cesar Serna?

Located in Southern California, I am a WordPress developer, iOS Game Developer and on rare occasion a Flamenco guitarist.