Thursday’s Blogging Tip #4
Today’s blogging tip is to remember that your potential customers are not telepathic, they need to be asked/told what you want them to do. At the end of each business blog post, you must make a simple request – be it to follow you on twitter, become a fan on facebook, leave a comment or direct them to where they might purchase the product you have written about.
Comparison of the most popular blogging platforms (infographic)
Back in February, Lorna wrote a post outlining the pros and cons of two of the most popular blogging platforms – WordPress and Blogger. Today, we bring you an infographic with some interesting statistics, comparing some of the leading blog platforms out there.
NB: WordPress DOES have a preview button, an oversight on this infographic.
Pinterest: SEO Benefits of Naming Photographs
You have probably heard of the SEO benefits of naming your photographs properly for your blog or website. With the increased use of Pinterest, it makes even more sense to name your photographs effectively.
If you hover your mouse over a photograph, the name of the photograph appears. All too often, the name of the photograph is something like 04578373.jpg or IMG9873.jpg. Google cannot read images, hence each one of your pictures should have a name that includes your keyword. For example, If you wish to sell your recipe book, your photograph of brown bread should be named brown bread recipe. Every photograph should have a relevant name and yes, it does take time to rename them.
It is also a good idea to name the photograph in the title and ‘alt tag’ part of uploading your photograph to your blog. (See our post on how to upload a photograph to your blog) The Alternate Tag is the keyphrase that displays when someone hovers over the photo.
There are now other benefits to naming your photographs properly. More and more people are using pinterest, they are either pinning photographs by having the ‘pin it’ button on the top of their screen or they can use the ‘pin it’ button on your blog post if you have installed a plugin (see my ‘pin it’ button at the top of each Garrendenny Lane blog post).
When they pin your photograph, the name you gave that photograph in your Alt Tag will show up in the description for the pin – this means that unless the pinner changes it, your keyword within your description will remain with the photograph. If you have used a well optimised keyword, it should show up in searches and receive repins and hence, drive more traffic back to your website.
If the pinner has their account linked to twitter or chooses to tweet the pin, that description will also be tweeted with the link. I’ve noticed that most people tend to leave the description, adding their own opinion to it such as ‘Love this’ or ‘ perfect for my child’s bedroom’ etc.
Remember that the description doesn’t just have to be factual, it can be a compelling description too.
We are planning to teach various courses on pinterest in the autumn so do let us know if you’d be interested and we’ll post up the details once we have the dates. I will be presenting on the topic of pinterest at our next KLCK bloggers network meeting in Kilkenny on 9th July if you would like to come along.
A Blogging Primer By Chris Brogan
We are shamelessly co-opting this primer from Chris Brogan as an endorsement for what we write, teach, and blog about on Write On Track each week.
Chris has outlined 21 points (read the entire list here) and we have adapted the following 12 key points to highlight in today’s post.
- Get a blog (Check out our post on WordPress Vs Blogger)
- Pick an area of focus, but one that has broad sides.
- Start writing (See How To Find A Hot Topic For Your Blog)
- Start by planning to publish 1 post a week (Read How Often Should You Blog)
- Make the posts more than 100 words and less than 1000 words most days.
- Delete the sentences that don’t matter.
- Realize that posts that are helpful to others get shared more than posts that are merely interesting.
- Never write a “sorry I haven’t written” post. Ever.
- Posts that just comment on other people’s posts and sum things up aren’t all that interesting.
- Do NOT get hung up on the tech. Get hung up on passion.
- Pictures are a great place to start a post idea (How To Add An Image To Your WordPress Blog)
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?
The 7 Best ‘Calls To Action’
If you are a business blogger, one of the reasons you are blogging is likely to be because you wish to increase your sales or your brand awareness. You will want your readers to take an action that will bring you revenue in the future.
However, your readers are not telepathic and will need to be told exactly what you want them to do. It might be as simple as liking your facebook page or following you on twitter or you might want them to contact you for a quote or that they might purchase one of the items you described in your blog post.
Examples of Calls to Action
- Invite interaction by asking for a comment: “Have you used any of the tools from Statigram? If you have or if you try them out as a result of reading this post I’d love your feedback. Let’s talk in the comments section“. – Spiderworking
- News of Sales or Special Offers with a sense of urgency: “The good news is our sale of Joseph Joseph starts today! Yes, right now! So head over there and snap up a bargain as once they’re gone, they’ll be gone”. – Garrendenny Lane Interiors
- Ask people for a response by asking them to sign up to more updates and information if they liked it and make it easy for them by including the links: – “Did you like this article? Sign up for our RSS, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter” – Tweak Your Biz
- Ask for shares – e.g. ‘If you liked this post, I’d be very grateful if you shared it on facebook or twitter’.
- Tell your readers what value they will get from your product and where they can purchase it: “If you would like to read our book which incorporates the thinking behind our business plan, you can purchase a paperback or an ebook of The Cheese Mall online. We’ve been getting great feedback so I hope you find it useful too“. – The Cheese Mall
- A call to action can also act to tempt them to return for more information so tell them what’s coming up soon: “Next week I will be featuring an interview with Cara, who in addition to being the author of this wonderful book……” Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer
- Encourage interaction and community-building: e.g. “I am really entering in the vein of “it’s the taking part that counts” and an opportunity to meet new lovely quilting peeps and see what everyone is up to. So please do leave a comment and let me know where I can see what you are up to too!” – Blueberry Park
Points to Note
- Notice that these examples have only one or two requests within each call to action – keep them simple and don’t leave too many requests, questions or commands.
- Do not use ‘click here’ – try to include the actual name of the product in your clickable link.
- Avoid jargon and keep it simple.
- Don’t make your call to action overly long. Under 160 characters would be plenty (I’ve included more details in some of the extracts above so you can grasp the full context).
- Use a friendly tone.
I hope these examples will help you in creating your own calls to action for your own blog posts. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment box.
Image: Free Digital Photos
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.
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.