Archive | For Beginners RSS for this section

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. 

The Question

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?

The Answer

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. 

The Question

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?

The Answer

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.

Read Beatrice’s advice here

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 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.

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.

Find It Friday! Your Blogging Questions Answered

Welcome to  Find It Friday in which we help you find the answers to your how to blog questions. 

The Question

This week we caught up with Christina Giliberti of CG Online Marketing to ask her what one piece of advice she would give us for search engine optimization (SEO) for blogging.

Here’s what she had to say:

The Answer

Just one? Oh that’s hard….blogging by nature is fantastic for SEO as search engines love sites with fresh, changeable content.

I would write blogs in association with your chosen keywords, keep the title catchy and containing one of those keywords, then add H2* tags throughout, again adding your keyword.

So, if I was writing a post on SEO – Title: SEO Game Changers

  • H2 tag 1: SEO updates from Google
  • H2 tag 2: Top SEO Tips, and so on.

My piece of advice is then – optimise your post, BUT also keep it as natural and flowing as possible. If I had a euro for each site or post I’ve seen that over-optimised with clunky text, I would be a millionairess.

If you are using a platform like WordPress, then you can easily add a plugin to enter meta information per post (

If you really want to ‘win’ in SEO AND provide additional value to readers, use keywords within your post to link to similar posts. So if you’re discussing the merits of Adwords and happen to mention keywords, AND you have written a blog post about keywords, link the term ‘keywords’ to this blog.

*The H tags are heading tags that format your text into headings. H1 is the most prominent (largest), H2 the second, and so forth.  Search engines look to these tags for relevant meaning for SEO (H1 being the topic, H2 – the subtopics, and H3s subtopics of H2s).


Do you have a question on how to blog effectively?

If you have a question on blogging you would like us to answer, then leave a comment below, or contact us via our Facebook page.

‘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.

Find It Friday: How to create an infographic for your blog

Welcome to  Find It Friday in which we help you find the answers to your how to blog questions. 

I gave a presentation to the KLCK Bloggers Network monthly meeting this week on how to get your blog  on the right track for success. During the course of my talk, I mentioned the growing popularity of infographics (particularly popular on Pinterest) and recommended incorporating infographics on your blog or website. I said I would devote this week’s Find It Friday slot to answering the whys and hows of infographics.

But first…

What is an infographic?

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge (see below for an example).

Why are infographics so popular?

With so many online messages competing for our attention, eye-catching graphics are one  way of grabbing your reader’s attention. People want their information quicker and using visuals are an excellent way to do this.  Infographics can help your audience absorb information at a glance and they are ideal for sharing across multiple social media platforms.  In a recent post on incorporating infographics in your social media campaign, Justin Beegel wrote:

Infographics are also a proven way to jump-start the “viral” process online. One person sees an infographic and tells his friend, who tells another friend, who tells another.Infographics are simply much more likely to be spread across Twitter, on Facebook, and on blogs than traditional forms of content creation.


What should you put in your infographic?

The same rule applies to creating your infographic, as it does to all your social media marketing – tell not sell! By that I mean, your infographic should not be a blatant advertisement for your product, service, or brand, but be on a topic which is of value and interest to your readers. Make it credible, make it relevant, make it topical, make it eye-catching and you are more likely to see your infographic go viral.

Tips for great infographics

  • Fascinating facts and statistics related to your area of expertise.
  • Reference your facts in the infographic.
  • Consider design elements – read The Anatomy of An Infographic
  • Keep your design consistent with your branding (colours, logo, etc)
  • Include your URL and company name so people can find out who created it.

How to create your infographic

If you really want to do it right, and are serious about using infographics to market your brand,  you need to hand it over to the experts and hire an infographic designer. But, if you just want to have some fun with it, there are tools which promise to make it easy for even the novice designer to create arresting infographics.

7 easy ways to create infographics


2. Many Eyes


4. vizify

5. creately

6. wordle

7. hohli

Over To You!

Are you tempted to create your own infographic? We’d love to see the results if you do, so please share your creations with us when you have created them.

If you are on Pinterest, check out my Social Media Infographics Board.