15 Questions To Ask Before You Publish Your Next Blog Post
Here’s a brilliant infographic from ProBlogger which neatly outlines the questions you should be asking before you hit publish on your next blog post. We recommend you print it out or keep it on your desktop and refer to it each time you finish a blog post to keep you right on track with your blogging.
Click this link to view a larger version of this infographic.
10 Lessons from 5 Years of Blogging
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.
Why Your Blog Links Should Open in a New Window
Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you click a link on a website or within a blog that the original source (e.g the blog) sometimes disappears and you are then faced with a decision to either return to the source or to read the new link, perhaps click a link in that, become distracted and never return to the original blog as it disappears, lost, into cyber space?
Do you prefer when you click a link in a blog post and it opens in a new tab /window? I do. It means that the original post stays open in one window, the new link is also open and if I do become distracted, both of them will stay open for me to return to later. (Yes, I have to admit that I can have up to 20 tabs open on my browser by 5pm any day!)
If you find that you’re like me and end up with multiple articles to read during a spare hour, do try out Pocket which is a handy little bookmarker – you can read all about it on the Spiderworking blog.
How to add a hyperlink that opens in a new window:
Click on the text that you wish to incorporate into the link and highlight it. Just as I have done above with ‘spiderworking blog’, and then click the hyperlink button above (as shown in the image below)
A box opens and you paste in the url of the new link, add a descriptor:
And this is the important bit – tick the box which says ‘open in a new window/tab‘ and then click ‘add link’.
Ensure you do this and you’ll never lose a reader again.
Any questions? Do ask in the comment box below.
10 Tips For Great Blogging
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?
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The 7 Hidden Benefits Of Blogging
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.
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.
Thursday’s 15 Second Blogging Tip
Always put your photo on your blog / website – use a professional photo where you are smiling and looking friendly.
Thursday’s Tip To Prevent Bloggers Block
Here’s Thursday’s Blogging Tip – designed to prevent any Bloggers Block!
Between being a busy day, having problems with broadband and having technical difficulties, it will be next week before I’ll produce a video with titles but I’ll get there!
Thursday’s Tip for Successful Blogging
Here at Write on Track, I am grasping the nettle, throwing down the gauntlet and seizing the day! Well, that might sound a little dramatic for a 15 second video each week but for someone who doesn’t enjoy being videoed, it is a big deal!
Two weeks ago, I attended a workshop as part of KLCK Bloggers network and Amanda from Spiderworking gave an excellent practical teaching slot. Each participant created a 15 second video including a tip in their business area.
My challenge to myself (and Marie) is that we will produce a very very short video for every Thursday providing one tip in each video for successful blogging. I hope you enjoy them and find them useful 🙂