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Find It Friday: Content Creation Ideas For Your Business

It is ‘Find It Friday’ time again and this week as I was asked for some blog post topic suggestions for an electrical shop, I thought I’d share the thought processes with you as it may help to prevent ‘bloggers block‘ or it may persuade you to grasp the nettle and seize the day by starting your blog with some good content creation ideas.

Image of Henry Hoover from here

As I mentioned in a previous post, you must decide on your aims/goals/objectives for your blog. For example, the aims for an electrical shop might include:

  • to increase footfall and sales to the shop (bricks and mortar)
  • to increase online sales
  • to increase enquiries so the sales team can then convert them into sales
  • to demonstrate our expertise
  • to showcase new products
  • to demonstrate our high levels of customer service
  • to improve profile and increase brand awareness.

It is then a good idea to sit down with a couple of people and brainstorm for topic ideas. It is best if these people are a mixture of  people in the company and those who might be your typical customer.

Topic Ideas for an Electrical Shop

  • Review new products e.g. the latest dyson type product
  • Review products that would be good gifts, particularly in the run up to Christmas
  • Focus on your different target markets and write accordingly. For example, write a post aimed at a parent buying a first camera for a child and provide information on cameras in three different price brackets. You could also write a more technical post for the target market looking for a good SLR camera.
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of particular products, e.g. a bagless vacuum cleaner. Be honest regarding this as customers may leave their own opinion in the comments and they will trust you if you point out any disadvantages too.
  • Pay attention to the questions that customers ask and turn them into blog posts. For example, many people may be asking about the Saorview  so you could explain the alternatives in a number of blog posts.
  • You could ask a complementary business, such as a beautician, to advise on health and beauty products that are for sale in your electrical shop.
  • Use celebrities  and celebrity magazines.  If a celebrity is photographed using or endorsing a particular product, include that photograph in your blog post.

That is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of ideas. A couple of hours in a  brainstorming session should provide you with enough topics for your blog for months to come. The next step is to include efficient calls to action that ensure your post deliver on sales and I’ll be writing about that next week.

If you are nervous of starting a blog or are wondering where your next blog post ideas will come from, contact us to avail of an appointment where we can help you to create a strategy for your blog going forward.

Is Starting A Blog On Your Bucket List?

Do you have a bucket list? Do you have a list of things you want to achieve or complete? Perhaps you want to write a book or start a blog?  According to a Sunday Times article I read a few weeks ago, the top things on most people’s bucket lists were losing weight, writing a book and to stop procrastinating. I was amused by the procrastinating one as after all, if you bite the bullet and grasp the nettle regarding your bucket list, that would eliminate the procrastination.

how to blog

So many people feel they have a ‘book within them’ and yet it stays on their to-do list. I now notice so many people saying to me that they want to start a blog, or want to add a blog to their website or they want to improve their use of the various social media platforms. Are you one of these people?  I am, with regard to the book. I sometimes wonder if I use blogging as an excuse, after all, if I stopped blogging, I’d then have time to write the book – wouldn’t I??

As explained by Owen Fitzpatrick at the recent Charisma Bootcamp I attended, that negative voice inside our head can sound very convincing, very strong and very credible as it tells us we are rubbish. ‘Ha ha‘ it says ‘do you really think you can write a book, keep up a blog, write material that people will read, do you really think so? Of course you can’t …‘ and so on and that is the voice that we tend to listen to as we give in to self doubt and allow ourselves to procrastinate while our ambitions stay on our bucket list.

How do we increase our confidence? Become more charismatic? Build up our self esteem?

If you can ridicule something, you take away its credibility so ridicule that negative voice and you take away its power.  How do you do that?  You take that negative phrase that is inside your head stopping you achieve your goal and you mimic it in a really silly voice, even make silly faces at it in the mirror. At the Charisma Bootcamp, we had to do this in pairs and while it is actually a lot harder than it sounds, it really does work.  You really have to mimic that negative phrase again and again but in a silly tone and the next time that negative phrase comes into your head, it won’t sound convincing – instead it will sound ridiculous as you’ll hear it in your silly voice.  It sounds simple, it takes a bit of time to work on it but it really does work.

So go on, if starting a blog is on your bucket list, take that sentence ‘What, you! You can’t start a blog!’ and say it again and again aloud and in a silly squeaky voice and watch the negativity disappear.  And watch your determination and self confidence grow as you start to plan your blog and draw up your aims and objectives as you get started.

Remember, Marie and I offer an hour’s consultation for free so if starting a blog or improving your blog is on your bucket list, do give us a call and we’ll give you a hand at achieving that goal and improving your business too.

Find It Friday – Ten Tips for Effective Blogging

I was recently asked for blogging tips by a photographer who had set up a blog separate to his website.  Although his photographs are incredible, his blogging could be much more effective to generate more traffic and increase conversions. As the tips could be used for almost any blogger, I thought I’d share them here with you.

Blogging Tips for Effective Blogging

Aims of Photography Blog

I started by asking why he was blogging, what was he trying to sell and what did he want to achieve, particularly as the blog wasn’t integrated into the website.

  1. To sell limited edition photograph prints
  2. To sell workshops and photography tour places
  3. To show his expertise – both as a photographer and as a teacher

Blogging Tips for Effective Blogging

  1. To use the Google keyword research tool to ensure the blog is well optimised.
  2. To use chosen keywords occasionally throughout the blog post but particularly in the first and last paragraphs.
  3. To use appropriate tags and categories.
  4. To name the photograph with a keyword (rather than it being named IMG87609y40.jpg
  5. To include a title, alt title and description in the upload process of the photograph
  6. To include a call to action to the relevant page on the website in order to increase traffic to the website and increase conversions. This is particularly important when the blog isn’t integrated into the website – readers need to know you have a website so they can visit it.
  7. Include at least one image on every blog post – to provide variety, visual interest and hook the reader.
  8. Don’t forget to change the standard phrasing in the top right of the free blogs, the standard text is usually something like ‘just another wordpress blog’.  Change it to a description of your blog and include at least one keyword. You can change it in the settings area of your dashboard.
  9. Create a popular topic that you can post about weekly – this means that some readers will check it out regularly (such as this Find It Friday post) and include tips that show your expertise. In the case of the photography blog, it could be ‘Tuesday’s Photography Tips’ and the topic could be an explanation on how to edit in Photoshop, use Instagram or tips on how to take particular photographs – remembering to include a call to action to a photography class or workshop. Foto Friday tends to be a popular slot on photography blogs.
  10. Don’t forget to create an ‘About Me’ page and include a photograph – this helps readers to engage with you when they can see your appearance.

Do get in touch if you would like us to analyse your blog and suggest improvements for more effective blogging, we can do that by meeting up with you or we can do so online.

How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?

How many words should be in the ideal blog post? How long should a blog post be? These are questions I’m frequently asked and while the temptation is there to say ‘How long is a piece of string?’ or ‘As long as it needs to be’, that isn’t particularly helpful. Do you find yourself looking at what you’ve written and wondering if it is too concise or too wordy?

Remember it can be harder to write a short post than a long one but for the reader, the more the post is to the point, the easier to extract the information required.  I admit I tend to be somewhat wordy and being asked to submit an article that is 100 or 200 words long is always a challenge – I’d much prefer to write 500 words!

When I am creating content for a client’s blog, I tend to tell them that the average word length of each post will be 400 words. That doesn’t mean that I try to add on another hundred words to a post that is 300 words or cut down a 600 word post.  The post is as long or as short as it need to be but I have found that 400 words works well as an average.

Lists or ‘How to’ blog posts work well as short posts and help to condense the information. However, if you need to go into detail to explain something, then detailed paragraphs might be required under each sub-heading.

Long posts require techniques to keep the reader interested.  Remember, people don’t read blog posts, they tend to scan them so asking them to sit down and really engage with a long post can be a big ask. There fore, the content has to be strong and compelling. If your posts are usually 250-600 words and you’ve written a mammoth 1500-2500 post, then informing your regular readers of its length will prepare them and they won’t abandon it after 800 words. You can be jovial and suggest they pour themselves a cup of tea before they get started, for example. If they like your content, they will bookmark it to read later if they don’t have the time at that moment.

How To Keep Attention in Longer Posts:

  • Use the headline and the first paragraph to entice them to read more and to answer the question ‘What is in it for me?’. What information will you provide that they need?
  • Use subheadings to break up the text into relevant sections
  • Use images to give the eyes something visual to rest on for a moment. Images will also hook the reader to keep going.
  • Break up the text by highlighting important words or phrases
What is your experience from reading blog posts? Do you prefer long or short posts? My posts this week have varied considerably in length with the Public Speaking post being very long. I could have edited it considerably but deliberately left it with a more chatty, conversational tone as I wanted to impart the atmosphere of the event and the quality of the speakers I had observed.
Incidentally – this post has 519 words and the Public Speaking one totals at 1972 words  🙂
Image: Free Digital Photos

Your Aims for Writing your Business Blog

Why write a blog for your business? Why are you thinking of starting a blog? Why have you started one? Is it because you enjoy writing? Or is it because you want to increase brand awareness and sales?

Every blogger should think about their aims and objectives regarding their blog.  Then, individual posts will each have their individual aims which means your writing will be much more focused as will your call to action.

If starting a new blog, it can be less daunting when you actually write down your aims and then think of topics and titles to fit those aims.

For example, with this Write on Track blog, Marie and I have aims for it which include:

  1. To increase brand awareness, to make more people aware of Write on Track
  2. To explain what we offer by showing  a taster e.g. blogging advice
  3. To show our passion for our subject area and our area of business
  4. To use it as a communication tool with potential customers
  5. To demonstrate our expertise, our knowledge and our personalities
  6. To enjoy blogging

With my Garrendenny Lane blog, my aims  include:

  1. Showcasing new products
  2. Taking part in a blogging community of those interested in interior design
  3. To improve the optimisation of my site
  4. To increase traffic
  5. To increase sales and brand awareness
  6. To show my areas of knowledge and expertise
  7. To enjoy it

Even though my Irish Farmerette blog is mostly a personal blog, I have aims for it too which include

  1. Serving as a historical record of Irish dairy farming for future generations
  2. Providing enjoyment for those who like to read about Irish farming
  3. Community – Using the blog to get to know other farmers using social media
  4. Promote how Irish beef, lamb and other foods are produced
  5. To enjoy recording my life as an Irish farmerette

If you make a list for the aims for your own blog, staying focused on those aims in the writing of individual posts becomes much easier, particularly if you try to include at least one objective in each blog post.

Have you written down the aims for your business blog? If not, let aside ten minutes and write them down now.  If you have any queries about business blogging, do get in touch with Marie or I.

Write on Track through to finals of 2012 Social Media Awards

Social Media Awards 2012 - Finalist badge

We are thrilled to have made it through the shortlist to be in the finals of this year’s Social Media Awards, which takes place on 17th May, at the Mansion House, Dublin. 

As Lorna wrote recently:

When you work hard at something and take pride in it, it is wonderful to have it recognised.

If you haven’t already done so, take some time to read Lorna’s post on the benefits of applying for awards in terms of press coverage.

As I spoke about at our recent launch, aiming for an award is a great way to up your blogging game and gives you a goal to focus on. This is a good time to remind you of the upcoming Blog Awards Ireland, nominations for which will be starting next month. Check out this slideshare of my talk which guides you through the process of doing a SWOT analysis of your blog and steps you can take to ensure your blog is nominee ready for any upcoming awards.

Tale of Two Blogs & A Comparison Of Their Statistics

Last September, I set up two new blogs partly because I wanted to show new bloggers the traffic they could expect to a new blog. I’d already been blogging for four years and it was impossible for me to tell new bloggers what to expect.

Irish Farmerette Blog

Irish farmeretteOne blog Irish Farmerette is a personal blog, friends will read it and more and more farming bloggers are finding it. I’m not using the keyword analysis tool to try to drive more traffic to it but I have noticed that food based blog posts tend to be very popular as there are many searches for ‘brown bread’ and ‘clotted cream’ – 2 of the perhaps 4 recipes that I have posted. Irish Farmerette gets comments on most of the blog posts because I am part of a community of friends and farmers with this blog.

Wallpaper Review Blog

Wallpaper Review BlogThe other blog Wallpaper Review was an experiment. I am not publicising it anywhere nor commenting on other blogs using it as the link. I am simply using the keyword analysis tool to find popular search terms that include wallpaper (but of course, exclude wallpaper as in for a computer screen). Wallpaper Review gets very very few comments because it is not part of a community simply because I don’t have time to post on other blogs.

I recounted my findings in January, both of them being live for over 3 months.

Both are 7 months old now and noticing the other day that I had 65 blog posts on each, I thought it was an opportune time to do a comparison again.  In the early days of Wallpaper Review, I was posting 4 or 5 times a week. To be honest, if I post once a week now, I’m doing well. I’m breaking all the rules re consistency by ensuring that I even post on the same day each week. The only ‘rule’ I’m following is to continue using the keyword analysis tool.  I generally post on Irish Farmerette once or twice a week. I would write a post 4 or 5 times a week if I had the time as I thoroughly enjoy it.

What are the results?

Blog Traffic Statistics for Irish Farmerette

Blog Traffic Statistics for Irish Farmerette

As you’ll notice with the statistics for the personal blog, Irish Farmerette, above, the traffic to date is 6,351 views with the average being about 50. That tends to be about 100 on the day I post, and then recedes to about 30 per day on other days. That 30 per day would mostly come from search engine traffic.  If I posted more regularly, the average would increase as I get more traffic on the days I post. The ‘busiest day’ spike of 230 relates to a recording on the Countrywide radio show on a Saturday morning when I was interviewed by Suzanne Campbell.

Blog Traffic Statistics for Wallpaper Review

Blog Statistics for Wallpaper Review

What is interesting about this comparison now too is that I’ve been posting on both blogs about once a week recently. As you can see, the total traffic to date on Wallpaper Review (as seen above) is double that of Irish Farmerette with 12,465 in total. The busiest day was the end of January with 124 although other days have come close to it. The average here is 80 per day.  There is a slight spike on the days I post but it is limited, hence the organic traffic from Google tends to be fairly constant.

Tips For Improving The Traffic To Your Blog

What does this suggest that you should do in order to maximise the traffic and the engagement on your blog?

  • Use the Keyword Analysis Tool to ensure your blog is optimised.
  • Comment on other blogs and become part of a community.
  • Write interesting content that is focused.
  • Use good images to engage readers.
  • Create links to your blog (crosslinks and backlinks including links from facebook and twitter)
  • Mention your blog in your email signature
  • Have compelling headlines and first paragraphs
  • Use effective subheadings
  • Use the All In One SEO tool (not available  on blogs which is what both of these are).
  • Use bullets points/numbering at times to make information more succinct and easier to absorb

I’m not saying that the traffic on either of these blogs is anything to write home about and I do feel that if Wallpaper Review was an actual business blog and I was publicising it more through commenting on other blogs, linking from twitter and facebook, including it in an email signature and mentioning it in any press coverage, that the blog traffic would be much higher but as an experiment, it is interesting.

By the way, regarding sales from Wallpaper Review. It isn’t a business blog as such but I do write about wallpaper that I stock in my online shop and will provide a link to the relevant page. Sales so far have been in the region of €1000. It is hard to track some sales as people may order samples from coming through from the Wallpaper Review blog but come straight to the GL shop to buy their wallpaper. I notice a lot of my traffic comes from the States and of course, this is because it is a wordpress hosted blog, which is then hosted in the States.  It’s not necessarily negative as I’ve got some sales from the States as a result.

If you are looking at your own statistics today and you’re disappointed with them, I hope you find this post and others useful in terms of helping you to write down a strategy for your blog. If you would like some help, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We teach courses on blogging and social media, we offer one to one mentoring and we will also teach people in small groups too. What is working well is that 3 or 4 friends decide they want to learn more about social media and they are all about the same level in terms of their knowledge and they come for a half day teaching session that is tailored for their learning objectives.

Blogging for Success: Interview 2 – Margaret of Oldfarm

Blogging For Success Series – Interview 2

This week, as part of our ‘Blogging for Success’ series, we are interviewing Margaret from Oldfarm, a small family business that is selling their pork very successfully through their social media platforms. I recently visited Margaret and her husband Alfie  and we ‘swopped’ some pork for goat meat and I really can vouch for their pork – I had never tasted rashers that were so delicious.

Oldfarm  free range Pork Rashers

How long have you been selling pork for?

We started in a small way in 2008 just killing a couple of pigs and selling on to family and friends, but when we were both let go from our jobs in mid-2009, it was time to look at the business in a more serious way.

 What social media tools are you using to increase brand awareness?

LinkedIn:  I participate in various forums there. Not necessarily about pork, but about social media and low cost marketing.

Twitter:  This has become our best medium this year for spreading brand awareness!  Last year it was approx. 60% Facebook and the rest taken up by Twitter/word of mouth but this year the switch has gone completely the opposite way!  I operate the Oldefarm twitter account, and Alfie, my partner, has a separate account (@pigoftheday).  He feels he can be unPC and can take a more controversial stance being somewhat removed from the business account.

Facebook: I was a reluctant convert to Facebook (the whole privacy thing, but I only post what I am happy to be public with), but have found it a very useful tool for our business.  We have followers on Facebook and an almost completely different set of followers on Twitter, so you have to keep them both going!

Pinterest:  I am still playing about with this… yes, we have some followers but I need to start spending more time on it.

YouTube:  We have a YouTube channel set up, but Alfie needs to start practising using the video!

Oldfarm Pigs

As your blog topics tend to be very varied which is, of course, part of its delight, do you have any examples where your blog posts resulted in increased sales or free press coverage?

 I don’t think any of my blog posts have resulted in direct sales.  However, there are a few that come to mind that definitely increased awareness of us.

One post was on social media and how we use it to promote the business … this post was obviously very popular with Social Media companies who used it as a case study for their clients … and we did have an increase of Twitter followers from that.

Similarly, when I wrote the post about our nasty abattoir experience there was a huge response on the blog itself and an upsurge of ‘likes’ on the Facebook page and followers on the blog and on Twitter.

Whether this will lead to sales?  I would like to think that it will probably do so.  I have found that people can be a fan/follower for months before they finally decide to order.  One man was a fan and regular commenter on our Facebook page for 18 months before he placed his first order!  It is a game of wait and see!

We have been extremely lucky with free media coverage.  It was through one of our fans on Facebook that I got to appear on TV AM and promote the business.  And we have also had a lot of newspaper coverage and magazine articles through contacts we have made via  both Twitter accounts.  We are both avid ‘networkers’ at all times and this has helped enormously with the media coverage.

OldFarm Blog - A Year in Redwood 

What tends to be the most popular topic for your blog posts?

 Gosh!  I write about so many different things that happen here, that anger or annoy me.  And then I post recipes too!

However, prompted by your question I’ve looked back at the statistics and the most popular are the ‘home’ posts.  The posts about what’s going on, or not going on, in our lives.

I should check those statistics more often!

Your blog isn’t integrated into your website, do you think this has an effect (either way) on brand awareness/ sales?

 Interesting, Lorna, that you should ask this question right now!  I am at the moment getting quotes to integrate the two!

The blog originally started as more of a ‘personal’ diary of our life here, but it has become more and more part of the business [well our life is the business now in an holistic sort of way], so I think the time has come to integrate the blog into the website.

It is very confusing at a network meeting, or any forum, introducing yourself as being from Oldfarm  and then saying but my blog is A Year in Redwood.   I reckon it makes it harder for people to remember either name.

So combining the two is a work in progress at the moment hopefully a short one!

OldFarm Pigs

As a successful small business that is using social media to spread the word, do you have any tips to share with any SMEs thinking of investing time in social media?

 Don’t become obsessive about the numbers!  You can look at other brands and their facebook and twitter fanbase is huge …… BUT….. are they getting orders for their efforts?  I would safely say that approximately 10% of our Twitter and Facebook followers have actually ordered from us.  That is 120 people that we would not have met otherwise.  If we can make them regular customers then we are better off.  Remember that “Social media” should be just that Social, sales come from knowing and trusting people.

Be patient!  People will watch, comment, chat…. and finally, something will trigger them to order.  You cannot rush it.

Be Yourself!   I was once told that I was ‘off message’ by a Marketing Consultant because I was posting about stuff other than the pork (he felt I shouldn’t even be posting photos of the pigs!).  However, I have found that people want to see other things.  They want to know about our ‘lives’.  I have had American followers tell me they live their ideal life through us!  I know they are in America and we don’t export pork to America (yet!) but perhaps they have friends or cousins in Ireland who are watching!

I’d like to thank Margaret for partaking in our ‘Blogging for Success’ series and sharing her experiences with us. What becomes apparent is that it is not only important to show your expertise via your social media channels but also your personality and your passion as they will often become your most popular posts. Your blog can act as the core to your other social media platforms and Margaret has recognised that Oldfarm has, in some instances, different followers on twitter to facebook but the goal is to increase brand awareness and if people want to find out more, they can do on her website, blog or even the old-fashioned way, of picking up the telephone.

If you have been blogging successfully for your business and have tips to share with our readers, we’d love if you could get in touch with Marie or I.

‘What Blogging Does For Greenside Up’ – Interview with Dee Sewell

I recently wrote a post showing how blogging had helped me to gain significant press coverage for my online shop, amongst other benefits and as there are so many business people  out there using  social media effectively to create more brand awareness and increase sales, I’ve decided to share some of them with you by means of interviews. First up is Dee Sewell of Greenside Up, Dee teaches people how to grow their own vegetables in gardens of any size – from containers to community gardens.

How long have you been blogging for Greenside Up?

I started blogging in June 2009 (about a week after we had broadband installed and a few weeks after I launched my business). Initially I used the Blogger platform as it was the first one I came across and was easy to get started.
                Why did you start blogging?
At the beginning it was to give my business some credibility. Nobody else was going out to teaching people how to grow vegetables in their own gardens so I had to ‘sell’ the idea. Anybody can say they know how to do something in adverts but through my blog potential customers could see that I was growing vegetables and cooking them for my friends and family.
 Can you provide examples of how your blog a) improved brand awareness and b) actually brought you definite business.
In a sense, blogging is now my main form of marketing. By linking it through facebook, twitter, pinterest, google & linkedIn people are aware of my brand and what I do. Because I update it regularly with topical subjects, when I’m teaching I can often point people to posts that I’ve written which would be too much to cover in a regular class. I’m also able to link relevant articles in monthly newsletters to customers – past and present – which helps with the customer care aspect of my business. Because customers feel looked after, they talk to their friends and make recommendations. Word of mouth is now my main source of work.

My monthly workshops at Kilgraney House & Herb Gardens are as a result of my blog. I attended a very enjoyable open day there last year and spoke to the owners about the possibility of running a day course there. When I returned home I wrote a post about the open day which the owners read and enjoyed. I was delighted when they contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to run a series of courses. When the workshops were advertised and people were booking in they were asked how they found out about them. Some of the attendees mentioned they’d been following my blog and decided to attend the workshops because they enjoyed reading it and wanted to learn more.
Do you think your website would work as well without your blog (bearing in mind your excellent use of other social media platforms)?
No! As I mentioned I started blogging using the Blogger platform but also had a separate website which was managed by a third party. Because I didn’t have ‘control’ over my website I found myself updating the blog much more frequently. People found this confusing – they didn’t know the difference between my blog and website and I found I was duplicating things – I became confused so the public and search engines must have been even more so! My website page views were much less than my blog, probably because I wasn’t updating it as often.

Because of the confusion about a month ago I made the decision to switch from Blogger, ditch my old website and move to which would allow me to host a website with an integrated blog. Everything is now under the same ‘roof’ with no more confusion. I can make any changes I want to my website and because I blog on average twice a week, the search engines can see that my website is being updated on a regular basis. I’m thrilled with my new website and haven’t regretted changing over at all.
              Was the changeover easy?
Because I went to I needed help as it’s a bit more technical than I’m familiar with. The first few posts from 2009 didn’t transfer over, but apart from that the transition has been fairly smooth. My page views have only dipped slightly which indicates that the vast majority of my readers have found the blog’s new home and it’s still early days.
I know from reading your blog that you really enjoy writing it. What do you find the most enjoyable part of writing a blog?
You’re spot on Lorna – I love to write! At the beginning I wrote my blog even when I thought there was nobody reading it and I guess you could say it’s my main hobby now.

I like the fact that people try out the recipes I post (the courgette cake recipe has the most page views of all my posts and lots of people are discussing and trying out the latest Dandelion Honey recipe). It’s rewarding when you hear that that others find the posts useful. Today is a good example as I was able to tell a class about a recent post I’d written on dealing with Slugs organically and when I arrived home, found it had been a twitter topic too and could forward the link on there.
Lately I’ve become much more interested in the photography aspect of it too, trying to include more close ups and interesting photos. Lastly it helps to keep me on track and informed. Some of my topics need some serious research – for instance I was reading about genetically modified food for a couple of weeks before I wrote the GM post – so the blog helps to keep me informed and improves upon my own education.
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations to make to any business or personal bloggers starting out?
I’ve picked up some fabulous tips at the monthly KLCK meetings but the one I use religiously now is to write down any ideas for potential blog posts, however mad they might seem at the time. I have a list in my diary of future posts – I had two more ideas today and if I don’t write them down now I know that I’ll have forgotten them by the morning.
I hope you enjoyed the interview and that you have picked up some tips from Dee’s experiences of blogging for her business. Do check out Dee’s website and blog.  Do let us know if you have found blogging to be a useful tool in your business and if you would like to learn how to blog more effectively or even just get started, do ask a question in the comments or get in touch with Marie or I.

Top Tips – Getting Free PR From Your Blog

How can your blog work more effectively to generate more credibility, more brand awareness and more sales for your business? Yes, we all know blogging delivers in terms of improving your website’s search engine optimisation and thereby, improving the ranking for your website. However, blogging can also improve your brand awareness by providing you with free press coverage in various magazines and newspapers.

I’ll start off by providing you with a couple of examples of how blogging  helped me to achieve considerable PR with my online business and how your blogs can have a synergy between them which means that one blog can improve the recognition and scope of another blog.

My Garrendenny Lane blog was less than a month old back in early 2008 when I received a telephone call from a journalist writing for a national weekly newspaper supplement (Irish Country Living of Irish Farmers Journal).  Initially she was wondering if I could provide her with some of my photographs but during the course of our conversation, she realised that I was married to a dairy farmer and within 3 weeks, she had visited to interview me and the photographer had called and I was featured in a full page spread.  That call came because an influential interiors blog at the time had placed me on her ‘Favourite Blogs’ list and the journalist followed the link.  It was my first piece of free press coverage.

Sending out a press release giving news of a new exclusive wallpaper supplier resulted in press coverage in a number of Interiors magazines but perhaps more importantly, it meant that I could now build a relationship with these journalists, sending them information of new products that I was stocking, products that were not available elsewhere in Ireland and as a result, many of my products were featured in various Interiors magazines and weekend newspaper supplements.

Journalists are constantly looking for news angles for stories hence, try to phrase your blog topics or blog pages in such a way that they will find the answers to the questions they are asking.  I recently delivered a talk on my use of social media to a business group in Wexford and during the course of my presentation, I mentioned my three blogs.  Last week, I received a phone call from a journalist at the event, she had visited my Irish Farmerette blog and read my page ‘Why Farmers Should Blog’ and felt it fitted into an article she is writing for the international edition of the New York Times and rang me for a telephone interview.  That page could have been written for any business type but I had moulded it to suit my personal blog and it spelt out something I felt strongly about which happened to suit the angle for this journalist’s article.

10 Tips – How To Get Free PR Via Your Blog

  1. Write about newsworthy topics.
  2. Think ahead – what events will be covered in the news in the coming weeks? Do you have a story that can be manipulated to tie in with a newsworthy story or event – write about it in your blog.
  3. Report on important events so that you become the go-to blogger for that particular event. This will strengthen your credibility as an expert in that area and you will be contacted for your opinion.
  4. Posit interesting angles on topics.
  5. Be slightly controversial.
  6. Write about a product that you are stocking that is exclusive or not readily available within your area.
  7. Promote your blog post on other social media channels – you never know which journalists might be following you.
  8. Identify questions that customers and journalists may ask and answer them within your blog posts.
  9. Use good images, particularly if your product/service is visual.
  10. Ensure your contact information is easy to find.

5 Tips For More Press Coverage

  1. Remember to thank them. Just as everyone does, journalists appreciate being thanked and they will be more likely to remember you and use you again.
  2. By sharing links to the press coverage, the journalist will know you are also working to ensure their piece is read by a large audience and is successful.
  3. Maintaining a good relationship with even one or two journalists will mean that they will refer you to others.
  4. Following journalists on twitter and engaging in conversation with them will get you noticed. However, ensure your replies or comments are meaningful and never overdo it.
  5. Be helpful.  Journalists are often working to a tight deadline and need everything within a short space of time so by providing them with high resolution images or quotations quickly usually transfers into a higher likelihood of being included in their feature.

Has a journalist contacted you after finding your blog? I’d love to hear more stories of how blogs generated free press coverage.

Image: Free Digital Photos

If you are struggling to think of newsworthy topics for your blog, why not book a ‘blog consultation‘ with Marie or I where we can help you come up with a blogging strategy for the coming months.