Find It Friday! How To Be An Outstanding Guest Blogger
Welcome to Find It Friday in which we help you find the answers to your how to blog questions.
I got an e-mail this week from a reader who is happy to have his question shared on Find It Friday.
I have been asked to write a guest blog on an aspect of my business which the blog owner feels would be of interest to her readers. How do you suggest I make the most of this opportunity?
As anyone who has attended my talks will know, I am a big fan of guest blogging. It benefits both the blog owner and the guest blogger, introducing both to a whole new readership.
Here are my top 5 tips for guest blogging
1. Do your research
Read the archived posts of the blog owner. Make sure the tone and language of your post fits the character of the blog. Which posts get the most comments? What resonates best with readers?
2. Pull out all the stops to make your post top-notch
This is your chance to shine, so really make this the best piece of writing you can. Check your facts, credit your sources, and link to external references and sites.
3. Provide an author bio
Write the basic facts that readers will want – don’t overdo it, just enough to make it interesting and relevant.
4. Don’t be self-serving
There is nothing guaranteed to put a reader off than something that is obviously written as a sales pitch for your product or service. You will get the opportunity to link to your business in your author bio and trust me, if your content is good enough, people will check you out, just so long as they don’t feel as if they are being aggressively sold to.
5. Follow through
The last step, but this, in my opinion, is the one that separates the mediocre guest blogger from the finest. When I invite guest bloggers to write for me, the outstanding ones are those who show they care enough to follow through by responding to comments, promoting via social networks, connecting with commentators online, and even expanding the discussion, as happened on one of my other blogs this week, by starting a twitter chat around the topic.
Over To You!
Do you invite guest bloggers to contribute to your blog? Or have you contributed as a guest blogger to other blogs? How did it work out for you?
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.
Find It Friday! Your Blogging Questions Answered
Welcome to Find It Friday in which we help you find the answers to your blogging questions.
With the summer upon us (although living in Ireland it is hard to believe it is summer) you may find yourself taking some time out for a vacation. But, what does this mean for your blog and your social media efforts? Can you afford to take a break from them?
We are cheating a little with today’s Find It Friday, but only because Beatrice Whelan has already answered this question so well on the Sage Ireland blog. From using apps, to delegating and scheduling posts and tweets, you will find lots of great tips and advice for managing your social media while you enjoy a well deserved break.
Do you have a question on how to blog effectively?
Leave a comment below and we will be happy to help you find the answer.
Find It Friday – Ten Tips for Effective Blogging
I was recently asked for blogging tips by a photographer who had set up a wordpress.com 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.
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.
- To sell limited edition photograph prints
- To sell workshops and photography tour places
- To show his expertise – both as a photographer and as a teacher
Blogging Tips for Effective Blogging
- To use the Google keyword research tool to ensure the blog is well optimised.
- To use chosen keywords occasionally throughout the blog post but particularly in the first and last paragraphs.
- To use appropriate tags and categories.
- To name the photograph with a keyword (rather than it being named IMG87609y40.jpg
- To include a title, alt title and description in the upload process of the photograph
- 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.
- Include at least one image on every blog post – to provide variety, visual interest and hook the reader.
- Don’t forget to change the standard phrasing in the top right of the free wordpress.com 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.
- 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.
- 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
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:
- To increase brand awareness, to make more people aware of Write on Track
- To explain what we offer by showing a taster e.g. blogging advice
- To show our passion for our subject area and our area of business
- To use it as a communication tool with potential customers
- To demonstrate our expertise, our knowledge and our personalities
- To enjoy blogging
With my Garrendenny Lane blog, my aims include:
- Showcasing new products
- Taking part in a blogging community of those interested in interior design
- To improve the optimisation of my site
- To increase traffic
- To increase sales and brand awareness
- To show my areas of knowledge and expertise
- To enjoy it
Even though my Irish Farmerette blog is mostly a personal blog, I have aims for it too which include
- Serving as a historical record of Irish dairy farming for future generations
- Providing enjoyment for those who like to read about Irish farming
- Community – Using the blog to get to know other farmers using social media
- Promote how Irish beef, lamb and other foods are produced
- 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.
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
One 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
The 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?
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.
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 wordpress.com 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.
‘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?
Can you provide examples of how your blog a) improved brand awareness and b) actually brought you definite business.
Do you think your website would work as well without your blog (bearing in mind your excellent use of other social media platforms)?
I know from reading your blog that you really enjoy writing it. What do you find the most enjoyable part of writing a blog?
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations to make to any business or personal bloggers starting out?