“We do not have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is – HOW WELL WE DO IT”. – Erik Qualman.
It is swiftly becoming the situation that using social media is no longer a choice for businesses. Just because you may not use facebook or pinterest does not mean that your potential customers are not using them. It is now a case of HOW WELL you use social media.
How well social media works for your business depends on how well you use it though. Don’t expect it to be an overnight success – social media is about building relationships, growing trust, building the blocks of brand awareness. It is important that you measure your social media activities and results so you can evaluate, make changes, concentrate on what is working well, explore new methods. Social media is constantly changing too – this makes it interesting and exciting, however, for many business people who are already busy running their business, these changes can put them off, can make it seem too difficult and too time consuming.
I decided to write this post to offer a snapshot of what we at Write on Track can do for you, to get your business on track effectively with social media.
Outsourcing your Social Media:
You are busy doing what you do best – running your business. If social media is not something you are interested in or feel you have the time to dedicate to it, then outsourcing your social media can be the answer.
Outsourcing your Blogging – Let us write your blog posts
We love blogging! We both write a number of blogs (for ourselves and for clients) and I’m also the co-founder of Blog Awards Ireland. We can write your blog posts for you and the following list is what we tend to provide for clients (although they can be tailored specifically for your business):
- Average of 400 words per post
- Optimised by using highly searched keywords
- Photographs that are re-sized and named for SEO purposes (also for Pinterest)
- Call to action within the post
- Strong headlines
We can write blog posts for your business in a tone that suits your style, so you can concentrate on other aspects of your business. All we need to do is set up an initial meeting with you and then we’ll communicate with you on an occasional basis by email. We will monitor and evaluate periodically and discuss findings and any suggested changes with you.
It can be difficult to start writing a blog – often due to a lack of confidence, bloggers block, not quite sure how to structure it or how to include a call to action. These are common stumbling blocks that we can help you to overcome.
We can arrange for any of the following:
- Blogging training in a small group
- One-to-one training
- Help you set up your blog
- Monitor your blogging by providing feedback on drafts
Additional Social Media
We can also take care of your other social media for you or offer training in the following:
We can do as little or as much as you would like us too. We can assure you of confidentiality, our trustworthiness, our flexibility and our ability to work independently, compile data, undertake research, organise information and above all, write well in an appropriate style for your business.
You can see the various packages we offer too. Do contact us if you would like to enquire about any of our training or if you would like to outsource your social media to us.
We love talking about social media just as much as we enjoy writing blog posts and being active on all the social media platforms. We’ve both presented at various conferences and for networking groups. Do contact us if you would like to engage either of us as a speaker for an upcoming conference or a networking group.
Photo: Cearbhuil Studios
Welcome to Find It Friday in which we help you find the answers to your blogging questions.
This week’s question may seem a bit techie..but bear with us..it is an important element of how your blog ranks in Google and enhances your reader experience.
I noticed that my blog took a while to load when I opened it up to show a friend on his computer recently. He said that speed difference will affect my Google ranking. Is he right and if so, how fast should a page load and what can I do to make it load faster?
Yes, he is right. Google uses site speed (i.e. how quickly a website responds to web requests) as part of their search ranking algorithms.
Here is what Google has to say:
Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there.
Blog expert, Heidi Cohen recommends that your pages should load in under two seconds and at most three. After checking the speed, determine which elements slow your page down. Google has a list of free tools that you can use to evaluate the speed of your site at code.google.com/speed.
Final word from Google…
While site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. (However) We encourage you to start looking at your site’s speed (the tools above provide a great starting point) — not only to improve your ranking in search engines, but also to improve everyone’s experience on the Internet.
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.
I’ve been blogging for Garrendenny Lane for almost five years and I know I would probably cringe if I were to dare to look back at my first posts, particularly as they were for a business blog rather than a personal one. However, one learns from mistakes or (more advisably) from reading about someone else’s errors so here goes!
Reading Heidi Cohen’s post on her reflections after two years of blogging inspired this post too so many thanks to Heidi (and her excellent blog)
Having just written a post over at Blog Awards Ireland entitled ‘How Blogging Helped Lorna Sixsmith Beat The Recession‘ outlining how blogging brought in sales for one business and became the formation of another, it seems a good time to reflect on what I’ve learnt from 4.5 years of blogging.
I also love seeing businesses grow from small beginnings, particularly if they used blogging successfully to help them grow and recently featured Hunters Lodge Living as an example in my guest blog at Tweak Your Biz. Blogging can bring your business increased sales and it can also help in more unexpected ways too.
What I have learnt from 5 Years of Blogging:
- Connections – Write about ten posts first and then start to connect with other bloggers. Find a few blogs to read regularly and write interesting comments to engage with them. Drop them an email to introduce yourself and tell them about your blog. They may have time to check out your blog and say ‘hi’. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t – emails can become buried in those inboxes!
- Blogroll – Add complementary blogs to your blogroll. You will find interesting blogs to read on the blogrolls of other blogs in your subject area and this way, you may become part of existing communities.
- Photographs – always include at least one photograph. Apart from breaking up the wall of text, they provide visual interest. Try not to use stock photographs all the time as they become boring and unoriginal. Get your camera out and take photos you might be able to use. If using someone else’s photographs, always attribute them as the source.
- Calls to Action – I received many queries via phone calls during the first six months of my blog’s existence. These calls came because people had found my blog but weren’t sure if I sold the product I had blogged about or where they could get it. Initially I thought the blog was working extremely well as people were calling but then the penny dropped! I needed a call to action so that people would know where they could purchase the product and/or what services I offered.
- Goals and Objectives – Every so often (once every six months), review the goals for your blog and rewrite your objectives. For example, one of the goals for this blog is to promote the blogging training and work we provide to businesses. One of my objectives then is to ensure that readers know we can teach people how to blog effectively and that they can outsource their blogging to us. Hence, I need to show my expertise by writing about blogging in an knowledgeable and informed method, including a call to action.
- A Store of Topics – Keep a record of your ideas in one place. Keep them in evernote, a diary, a notebook, started as a draft in your dashboard – it doesn’t matter where but keep a list of your ideas. Even if you seem to have more ideas than you’ll have time ever to write, I promise that there will come the day where blogger’s block strikes and you will so grateful that you have a list to choose from.
- Jumble it up – Don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit. We often do a ‘Find it Friday’ post on this blog whereby people email us questions and we answer them in a blog post but if the questions don’t arrive, we just write a different post.
- Community – try to become part of even one community – be it another business community or one that is more suited to your subject area e.g. interiors. Comment on their blogs and strike up a friendship on twitter or facebook. Don’t become disheartened if you don’t get many comments compared to others – that takes time and it also needs you to take the time to comment on other blogs.
- Other Social Media – when I started blogging in early 2008, I only had the blog to contend with whereas now bloggers are expected to spread their content amongst linked in, twitter, pinterest, facebook, google +, stumbleupon and more. If it all seems too much, just choose one or two. Measure the results and see if it is working. If not, add another platform and measure again. Don’t let them bog you down – use what you have time for and what you find works for your business.
- Spelling and Grammar – I tend to type quite quickly and although my spelling is quite good, typos do occur. I also skim read very quickly (I actually find it hard to read slowly) which means I sometimes miss typos. Get someone else to check your work if you need to – offer to check theirs if they check yours.
If you are debating starting a blog for your business, don’t delay – do it! Businesses that blog get more business and leads than those who don’t! Get help to set one up or with the writing. Remember we offer one to one training as well as teaching courses so do get in touch with Marie or I if you’d like to know more.
We have both mentioned the benefits of blogging in the past which include improved SEO, increase brand awareness and as a method to gain free press coverage.
I also find that things seem to happen in threes and I’ve recently been interviewed for three different publications – partly as a result of my blog for my other business at Garrendenny Lane. On Monday, a journalist from the Irish Times phoned me asking if I would take part in an article on ‘mumpreneurs’ / mums working from home. She had heard of me from someone who said I was the first person came to her mind! Hopefully that will be out next Monday or the following week. I was also contacted regarding an article in a similar theme for a business banking publication. Some time ago, I was contacted for an interview for the Digital Hub website and am delighted to say that it was just been published and I’m the first in their ‘Winning with Web’ series. In the interview, I explain the benefits of blogging as I have experienced them.
The Digital Hub are looking for other businesses to take part in this series so if your business is registered in Ireland and has survived, grown, expanded and/or transformed because of your use of the web, then do get in contact with them.
We see blogging as being the core of any social media presence and one of the services we offer is we can take care of your blog, from writing your posts and spreading your wisdom across other social media channels to creating a social media strategy for you to work towards. Running a business is time-consuming and many people feel that adding social media to their to-do list is just one thing to many. Outsourcing your social media leaves you time to get on with running your business. Blogging will get your business noticed, it’s not going to happen overnight necessarily, it does take time but a quality blog will reap rewards, attention and sales. Do contact us if you feel the time is right to outsource your social media.
Ten Tips for Great Blogging to ensure your blog is found, is read, is returned to, is acted upon, is shared and benefits from interaction.
1. Punctuation, Grammar, Spelling – Writing a blog post should undergo similar practices to writing a book – planning, preparation, writing, editing, spell checking, reading it aloud and only then, do you hit publish. I have to admit that I am guilty of not proofreading properly sometimes, just doing a quick skim read and then wondering why I missed an occasional typo. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are just as important in a blog post as they are in a book, in a published article or in an examination. Use the spell checker, use a thesaurus and/or dictionary and if you feel your punctuation or grammar could be improved, read it aloud or ask a friend or colleague to do so.
2. Quality Pictures – Try to include good photographs in your blog posts. Every blog post should have a minimum of one photograph, partly to create visual interest and to break up the text and partly to serve as a photograph to pin on Pinterest, thereby serving as a link to your blog post.
If you use a photograph that does not belong to you, credit the source. not yours, then credit them. Try to use your own original photography if you can. The photograph above was a simple one I took of our windmill on my iphone. I used it as I wanted a fairly plain background to place the text against.With so many people having smart phones now, it is much easier to snap a quick photograph if you see something suitable when you are out and about.
3. Blog regularly – Try to blog fairly regularly. If you post 3 or 4 times a week, then schedule some posts if you are going to be away or if you have a busy week coming up. Try to have a regular topic once or twice a week, e.g. Tuesday’s Tip or Fabric Friday.
4. Personality – whether your blog is a personal or business blog, your readers should be able to get to know you by reading your blog. This doesn’t mean that you have to include details of your social life or your family life in every blog post if it is a business blog but let your readers get a sense of the person behind the business and the blog by incorporating a sentence or two of your life into a percentage of your blog posts.
5. Share on social networks – There are so many social networks available now that it is important to share your blog post there too. Don’t rely on your blog being found on its SEO alone, help potential readers find it by sharing it on all or some of the following social media platforms: pinterest, twitter, facebook, google +, and linked in. Remember your aim is to get more traffic to your website and use your blog as the core of your social media – to bring traffic from the other networks back to your blog and hence to your website.
6. Interaction – It can be very hard to get comments on your own blog (unless you are a guru) if you don’t comment on other blogs. I know it is difficult to find the time and I don’t comment on as many other blogs as I should. However, I often interact with the blog writer on facebook or twitter instead. It is also important to respond to those who write a comment on your blog, not necessarily every commentator but occasional ones. Enjoy the conversation and become part of a community by using your blog in this way.
7. Knowledgeable – if you don’t know enough about the subject you are writing about and you are leaving gaps, there is a high likelihood this will either be pointed out by someone in the comments or some won’t return to your blog again. If you don’t know enough, do some more research before you hit ‘publish’. Ensure your content is unique too – if you have taken information from another website or blog, credit that source.
8. Be Compelling – A blog is not a text book so make it as interesting as you can – in terms of layout, using images or diagrams to break up the text if it is long, and be as entertaining and informative as the subject matter allows.
9. Join blogging groups – Joining an offline blogging group will further your relationships with other bloggers, increasing support for your blog. It will also help to iron our any problems you may have as you can get answers to your questions. I always come away buzzing from our KLCK bloggers network meetings. Blogging groups can be online too – I’ve noticed a Dublin Bloggers group set up on facebook recently and there are bound to be hundreds more too – either in terms of geographical area or in subject area.
10. Ease of Navigation – Remember that a reader may come to your blog initially via a post you wrote a year ago. Can they find related posts easily? Are your posts categorised? If they want to contact you, is your ‘contact us’ page set up? Can they see a picture of you in the About Us page or in the sidebar? Can they access your most recent post easily? Ease of navigation is important as readers may wish to read more posts in that subject area or just to read more of the wonderful content you have written. Remember to include a call to action too – readers need to know what you want them to do and how they can benefit more from your service or products.
Blogging is a great tool and if used well, can result in incredible returns – both in terms of building your profile, monetary rewards and personal benefits.
Have I left out any tips? Do you have any to add?
Do like our facebook page for the latest updates from both of us at Write on Track.
Do you want your website to be referenced on the first page of google? Do you want people to be able to find your online presence easily and quickly?
Why blog? Why spend time writing blog posts? How will a blog benefit my business? To what extent will a blog help my business?
If you have a website, you want people to be able to find it easily and ideally, you’d like it to be on the first page of google. However, unless you are prepared to pay for google advertisements, your website will not necessarily feature on the first page throughout good website optimisation alone. An effective blog is invaluable in improving your SEO to the extent of achieving the top of page one.
When I started blogging in early 2008, there were two blogs that I became aware of very quickly. Why? Because everyone (in related fields) was talking about their success, they were Irish success stories in blogging, they were featured in the traditional media of magazines and newspapers and because they were written by people with lovely personalities that shone through their blogs. They were also on the first page of google for related searches. One was Homebug, an interior design based blog who listed my blog in her ‘favourite blog’ section, sending me traffic (usually about 10-20 visits per day and valuable SEO juice. (Homebug ended about two years ago hence I can’t link to it).
The other is Murphy’s Icecream, the blog was started in 2006 and blog posts include their pride in Kerry, what’s going on in their shops in Kerry and Dublin, icecream recipes, videos and all things Irish-related. Apart from strengthening their brand and reinforcing their quality product, their blog means that when I think of Dingle, I think of Murphy’s icecream and I know I’m not the only person who wants to taste their icecream because of their blog.
If you search for ‘icecream’ in google.ie, their blog at Icecream Ireland is at the top of the page and their website at Murphy’s Icecream is number 4. Kieran Murphy is an enthusiastic blogger with a passion for his product and it shows. As a result, his business ranks extremely highly for a popular keyword.
If your business focuses on different varieties of a single product, e.g. T-shirts, wallpaper, vacuum cleaners, mortgage advice – whatever it may be, the challenge is there to try to get to the first page of google but it is a challenge that can be achieved.
How will your blog achieve a position on the first page of google?
Google likes regularly updated content and it likes seeing 2 or 3 main keywords being used throughout a blog post, especially in the first and last paragraphs, in the tags and in the category headings. (Yes, Google has become personified!)
Read our post on how to use the google keyword research tool to ensure you know you are using the right keywords and how to use them appropriately.
Getting to the first page of google will, of course, depend on the competition for the keywords you want to use. You can find out what the competition is by going to google search and typing in the keyword you want to use in quotation marks and then you will see how many other posts or websites are using that keyword.
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, “buy wallpaper online” is a keyphrase that I have used to optimise my Garrendenny Lane blog and website and as you can see above, it appears in 511,000 searches. Hence, I’m pleased that it usually turns up around the middle of the first page for that search term. Your success will depend on the competition but it is still possible to reach that top spot on google organically (through search rather than having to pay for it) via your blog.
Hence, you really need to establish your main keywords, ensure your website is optimised for those keywords and use them properly in your blog posts.
The Value of Backlinks
Another advantage of blogging is that people will link to good blog posts from their website or blog and if they do so using the keyword within the backlink / hyperlink, all the better.
Coincidentally, that happened to this blog yesterday. I am an advocate of using twitter at conferences for a number of reasons and have devoted some posts to the subject. I wrote another post on the topic the other day and referenced my inspiration as @TeecycleTim , author of an article in a Toastmasters magazine that came through my door a few days ago. Having tweeted him to acknowledge my source (and including it in the blog post), he retweeted it, and one of his followers, Herbert Lowe, saw it and devoted a whole post to my various blog posts on tweeting at conferences, using valuable keywords in each backlink. What the results will be remains to be seen but it all adds to valuable SEO juice.
Having a website that is not updated frequently is almost like a rowing boat without oars, it will float around without reaching any destination and may not be found by its target audience. Having an effective blog will pay dividends and remember, you can monitor the results too (more on monitoring your social media usage coming up soon).
If you would like help to create and maintain an effective blog for your website, do get in touch with Marie or I.
We write a lot here on Write On Track about the business benefits of having your own blog. We firmly believe that blogging is a fantastic way to profile your expertise, increase traffic to your website, humanize your brand, and sell your products or service. It’s worked for us and it can work for you too.
But today, we want to take you on a little side track from our main business blogging route. We want to share some of what we have learned about the hidden benefits of blogging – the side benefits that we may not write about often, but which nevertheless have given our business an added boost. We hope that by sharing these with you, it will encourage you to see even more benefits in starting your own business blog.
1. Blogging has made us more disciplined and organized
In the words of writer PD James “Don’t just plan to write—write.” Sitting at our computers and writing blog posts every day has given us a disciplined approach to writing and helped us to become more organized in our thoughts. It is true that you learn best by doing. Trust us! The more you write, the easier it becomes!
2. Blogging has helped us develop our own unique writing style
Our writing styles have evolved over the years and blogging has helped us find our own unique voice. Your writing voice is not something you create; it is something you find, and it can take time. We now know what works for us and how best to connect with our readers. We write about the topics we are most passionate about and leave others to cover those we aren’t quite so attuned to. Here’s what writer Jeff Goins has to say about finding your voice:
The bottom line is that finding your voice is the key to getting dedicated followers and fans and that it’s the only sustainable way to write. If you’re not being yourself, you’ll eventually burn out. A writing voice on your blog will strengthen your brand and give you focus. Furthermore, it will create a lasting impression with your readers, allowing you to better fulfill the long-term goals of your website in a more sustainable way.
3. Blogging has taught us how to research and evaluate information
We all think we know how to search online, but when you blog, you really learn how to hone your research skills. We want to provide you with the most up do date accurate information and the latest relevant findings, and in order to do that, we need to know how to gather the information, evaluate our online sources, synthesize the information and bring that information to you in an easy to digest and usable format.
4. Blogging has made us more creative thinkers
Blogging makes us think – a lot! It has made our minds sharper and our thinking more lateral and creative. As an added benefit, blogging has been shown to increase memory function. We are able to juggle many different things at once and have become expert multitaskers. We are always alert to new ideas and solutions to our business challenges. We definitely think more outside the box these days.
5. Blogging has brought us great networking opportunities
Through blogging we have become networked to a supportive community of like-minded people. This network has given us great tips and advice, valuable feedback and even provided us with new business contacts and work.
6. Blogging has brought us personal fulfillment
We continue to blog because we love it. We wouldn’t keep doing it if we weren’t passionate bloggers. It has brought us both great personal fulfillment as a means of self-expression and given us a sense of accomplishment and purpose in our lives.
7. Blogging has led us to unexpected places
You never know where blogging will lead you. When we both started out on our respective blogging journeys, we never imagined that our paths would cross in the blogosphere and bring us together to form a successful business partnership. Consider what Chris Brogan has to say on the opportunities blogging can bring to you:
Every time you post, you build an opportunity. It might be for making business. It might be for sharing thought leadership. It might be the chance to build some new relationships. Mechanically, it might just be another attempt to gain better organic ranking from Google. But each post is an opportunity.
So, there you have our 7 hidden benefits of blogging. We are, as you can tell, passionate about the benefits of blogging – not just for business, but for life. Give it a try and you too may be amazed at where the blogging journey may take you.
True or False? WordPress is only for blogs
False. While WordPress may be primarily known as a blogging platform, you can use it to create a website too. We used it to create a simple design for our Write On Track website, and while we chose to incorporate a blog into the design, the fact is that you can create a stand-alone website with no blog if you prefer (although we always recommend incorporating a blog for fresh content and SEO).
Contact us to find out more about how we can help you create a simple, easy to manage website using WordPress.