Blogging Archive

What Is Blogging? > Blogging

Posted November 1, 2016 By Callie

Blog is short for Weblog and it started out as a sort of online journal or diary where writers could share daily updates with their readers. Today though, we think of blogs more as content management systems. Tools like WordPress make it easy to create, expand, and update a website. Blogging makes creating web pages as easy as writing emails.

The more important question is how can you use a blog to grow your online business, and do you really need one if you already have an online store, or even a physical store with an online presence. The answer to both questions is yes. How you go about using your blog to grow your business is what we’ll briefly go over in the remainder of this article.

You can use your blog to connect with your target audience. This could include existing customers, people who are on the fence on buying from you, and even new people who are finding you for the first time through your blog. Your blog is a great place to share your expertise and introduce the products and services you have to offer.

Your blog is also a great place to show your customers how to best use the products they’ve purchased from you. This will result in greater customer satisfaction, more return business, and lots of positive word of mouth advertising. Helping your customers consume your products is always a good idea and your blog is the perfect venue.

Since blogs are very search engine and social media friendly, it’s easy to grow your reach and find new prospects through your blog. In other words, it’s easy for you and your readers to share your content. As you write and publish your posts and grow your blog, some of the things you’ve been writing will start to show up in search engine results, and new readers will find you. Let’s say you’re selling a gadget that helps people work out in their living rooms during commercial breaks. To support your product and to help your customers make the most of their exercise gadget, you write a series of blog posts about working out during commercial breaks. Other people searching for easy exercise ideas at home, or more specifically ways to move more while watching TV, will come across your blog posts and learn about you, your product, and how it can help them reach their fitness goals.

Since blogs make it easy to share that same content on social media, they may then end up sharing your post on Facebook with their friends or in groups they are members of. That one piece of content on your blog can end up reaching quite a few new customers, while also supporting and helping anyone that’s already bought from you. That’s pretty powerful stuff, isn’t it?

Is Blogging Dead? > Blogging

Posted October 31, 2016 By Callie

Every few months I read an article or hear an interview where someone proclaims that blogging is dead. And every month I come across blogging success stories. Add to that the fact that my students and I keep seeing great results with business blogging, along with thousands of other bloggers, so I think we can put that myth to rest.

Is blogging changing? Of course it is. Like anything to do with the Internet and technology in general, it changes. Often it becomes easier and more user friendly. Yes, search engines are making it harder to rank web pages intentionally, but that’s their job. Put out great content on a regular basis that serves your audience and makes them want to share it and you’ll do well, no matter what changes come down the road.

Most importantly, ignore those claims that certain marketing techniques or methods are dead. Email marketing isn’t dead and neither is blogging. Spammy little short cuts people used to take and get away with are dead, but the basic strategies are sound and will stay around for ages. When you think about it, blogging is nothing more than sharing content on web pages. Blogging software simply makes it a lot easier to do.

During the first decade or two of the Internet, people, including savvy marketers, were sharing content. It was just a lot harder. You had to learn HTML, build a website or pay someone big bucks to design one for you, and then either hand code your articles to add them, or use a clunky website editor. Then blogging came along.

It levelled the playing field and made it easy for anyone to share their content on the web. In the beginning weblogs or blogs were digital journals of sorts. Do you remember the TV show Doogie Howser MD? He would end his day by recording what happened in a journal form on his computer. Put that out on the Internet and you have a pretty good idea what the first blogs were and what blogging software was designed for.

While it is certainly still used by some people in that way, blogging software these days has evolved into a CMS, a content management system. That’s nothing more than a fancy term for something that easily manages your website and lets you make changes and additions on the fly.

Don’t listen to rumours that blogging is dead. It is changing, and continuing to be an effective way to market your business. Give it a try and see for yourself.

Would you like to know the big secret to successfully marketing your business with your blog? It’s blogging regularly. Publishing fresh blog posts several times a week, or even daily will have an extremely beneficial impact on your business overall. It will accomplish several different things. Since search engines like websites that are updated regularly, adding fresh content every few days can help you get more free search engine traffic. Readers also appreciate new content and they will get in the habit of visiting your site regularly to check out the new posts. It also shows potential customers that you’re there, actively working on your business and sharing quality content with them. That creates a lot of trust.

Let’s talk about some simple little things you can do to get in the habit of blogging on a regular basis. Like with any habit, it takes some practice and discipline before this new practice becomes an ingrained habit. One of the best things you can do is to create a blogging planner. Start by deciding how often you want to blog. It’s best to take it slow and not try to do too much in the beginning. For example, start by committing to one new blog post per week instead of planning on blogging daily. Start slow and work yourself up to a level of posting you’re comfortable sustaining in the months to come.

As you start to blog more regularly, you’ll get faster at it and it will become easier. That’s another reason why you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many posts per week to begin with. Once you’ve decided on how often you want to blog, get out a calendar, grab a notebook, or open a spreadsheet and start making up your blogging schedule. In addition to noting what days you want to publish a blog post on, it’s also helpful to come up with the topics for each post.

After that it’s a matter of sitting down and writing the blog posts, editing them as needed and of course publishing them on the days you decided on in your planner.

Another good way to get in the habit of blogging regularly is to set aside a little time each day, ideally at the same time that you work on your blog. For example, you could block off 30 minutes each morning that you dedicate to working on your blog. While you may not be publishing a post every day, you’re getting in the habit of working on it each day. Spend the first day coming up with a topic and drafting a rough outline. Take the next day to write the content, another day editing and improving your post, and finally adding some graphics and formatting and publishing the post. Breaking your tasks up will make it less overwhelming.

Last but not least, spend a little extra time one day coming up with a list of future blog post ideas. This will be a great resource for those days when you can’t think of anything to write about. Don’t let “writer’s block” keep you from sticking to your blogging schedule.

If you’re feeling really ambitious and have a little extra time on your hands, write a few extra blog posts and save them as drafts. They will come in handy during those times when you get super busy with other aspects of your business, or you’re dealing with a family emergency. The posts will be there waiting to be published and you can stick to your blogging schedule no matter what happens.

Stick to your schedule and it won’t take you long to get into the habit of blogging regularly. Your business and your readers will thank you for this new profitable habit.

How Long Should My Blog Posts Be? > Blogging

Posted October 30, 2016 By Callie

Here’s a question I hear from new bloggers a lot. “How long should these blog posts be? How many words do I need to write to make sure they rank well, are read, and get lots of engagement”? While you’ll find so called and often self-proclaimed blogging gurus throw numbers from 200 to 4,000 words around, the honest answer is that it depends. There is no magic number that gives you the best results. Instead the length of each of your blog posts varies on the topic, your readers, and what you’re trying to accomplish.

As a general rule of thumb, you want to use a variety of word counts and make  your posts long enough to get your point across without getting too wordy, and worst of all boring. You don’t want to bore your readers and lose their interest before you’ve made your point. In other words, make the content as long as it needs to be, focusing on quality over quantity. When you do that, the final word count of your post doesn’t matter much.

Sometimes that may mean that you write a post that’s short and sweet. Maybe you’re sharing a helpful image or video that only needs a sentence or two of text. That’s perfectly fine. Other times, you may sit down to write what I like to call an “epic post”. These are long, thorough posts on a particular topic that cover a lot of information in detail. These posts can easily end up being several thousand words long. The idea is to increase your authority both with your readers and with the search engines. Having long blog posts every now and then can be very helpful. Not only does it give search engines a lot of content to process and rank, readers also love these long, content-rich posts and are more likely to share them on social media.

The important thing to keep in mind is that there is no magic number. Create content in a variety of formats and lengths. Switch it up and follow a long “epic post” with several shorter ones. Make it helpful and easy to consume no matter what format and post length you decide on. Much more important than word count is that the content is good, serves your readers, and that you publish new blog posts regularly. Do that, and you will do well on this new blogging adventure.

A blog is a great tool that can help you in all areas of your business. The simple act of regularly sharing great content can do wonders for your bottom line. Best of all, it’s easy and pretty fun to do. It’s also one of the least expensive marketing methods. Once your blog is setup, it’s simply a matter of sitting down and writing a new article or post every few days.

Let’s look at some of the ways blogging can help you grow your business, make the sale, and keep your customers happy.

Growing Your Reach

A blog can help you reach more prospects and customers. Consumers search the internet each and every day for solutions to their problems, answers to their questions, or to be entertained. If your content hits on one of these three areas, you can grab their attention, bring them to your site, and introduce them to your brand and your products. This can help bring in quite a few new customers each month.

Gaining Your Audience’s Trust

I don’t have to tell you that it takes a level of trust before someone buys from you, particularly online. You can start to gain your audience’s trust from day one by blogging. Show them that you know what you’re talking about, and don’t be afraid to share some personal stories and anecdotes as well. Give your readers a chance to get to know, like, and trust you and it won’t take long for them to turn into happy customers.

Highlighting the Benefits Of Your Products

There are only so many words you can fit into a product description on a sales page before it gets too long and boring. Plus you never know who actually reads those pages word for word and notices all the cool things your products can do. Why not use your blog to highlight various aspects and benefits of each of your products?

Not only will your loyal readers benefit from this, but each benefit-rich post is also great “food for the search engines”. Imagine you’re a consumer searching the web for the solution to a problem and you come across a post that highlights the benefit of a product that happens to be exactly what you’re looking for. That’s more powerful and convincing than any sales letter or product description you can write.

Closing The Sale

Along the same lines, your blog posts can help you close the sale. Your product description may get readers and prospects interested in your product, but leave them on the fence. Use your blog to show them the product. Take and share some videos or pictures of you or other customers using the product. Ask customers to share their success stories, or simply show them different ways your product can work. Follow it up with a strong call to action to buy and you’ll be closing sales with your blog posts.

Customer Retention and Customer Service

Happy customers will come back to buy from you again and again, and they can also be your best advocates, recommending you to their own circle of influence. It’s important to keep them happy and make sure they know how to use and make the most of what they’ve bought.

Use your blog to show them how to use your product and answer frequently asked questions there. Make videos or write picture-rich tutorial posts that walk them through each step of the way. Keep your customers happy, take care of them, and they will in turn help grow your business.

Easy Ways To Brainstorm Blog Post Ideas > Blogging

Posted October 30, 2016 By Callie

There’s nothing worse than sitting in front of a blank screen with no idea of what you should blog about today. Whenever that happens, it’s time for a little brainstorming to come up with fresh blog post ideas. Here are a few different options for doing just that.

A Simple Brainstorm

The easiest thing to do is a simple brainstorm. Get out a piece of paper and a pen, open a word document, or log into your blogging software and start coming up with ideas for future blog posts. Start writing down anything that comes to mind. Don’t feel obligated to write every single post. Don’t judge the ideas that are coming into your head, just write them down. You can edit, change, and cull later. By doing this, you can come up with an impressive list in just a few minutes. As you go back to edit later, or grab ideas for blog posts for the week, those initial blog post ideas may even spark others that you can add to the mix.

Start With Categories – Brainstorming With Intent

One of my favorite ways to brainstorm blog post ideas is to start with categories. Look at each of the categories you have set up for your blog. Then come up with at least 10 ideas for blog posts for each main category. It can be a bit of a challenge at times, but it is well worth it.

Not only do you come up with another extensive list of blog post ideas, you also know that they are very targeted and that you will end up with content that’s balanced across all topics that are covered on your site.

What Does Your Audience Say – Getting Brainstorming Help

Now let’s talk about getting some help from your target audience. They are an endless source of inspiration when it comes to blog post ideas.

Pay attention to the emails you get from your existing readers, the comments they make on your blog, and any interaction you have with them on social media. They ask great questions that make the perfect starting point for a blog post.

You can even head to forums and other sites where your ideal customers congregate and take a look at the things they are talking about. Read through it and jot down ideas for future blog posts as you look through those pages and posts.

In addition, it’s also helpful to write down blog post ideas as you come up with them. Keep a small notebook that you carry around with you, start a file or document on your phone, or just send yourself an email if you’re in a pinch, so you have a record of your idea and can come back to it when you’re getting ready to blog.

One of the most important blogging skills you can pick up is writing with intent. This means that you think about what you want your blog post to accomplish before you sit down to write it. Think of it as starting with the end in mind. Let’s run through an example to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about.

Let’s say your goal for this week is to grow your email subscriber list. As a result, you want to write a blog post that entices readers to join your list. With that goal in mind, it’s time to brainstorm some blog post ideas that will help you accomplish this.

If you’re short on time and need a quick blog post, you could simply pick some helpful content you’ve shared with your email subscribers. Maybe you shared a helpful tip with them last week. Copy and paste the relevant information into a new blog post draft, add an introduction and you’re almost done. Toward the end of the post explain that this is one of the many helpful tips you share with your subscribers on a regular basis. Invite them to join your list and add a signup box right at the end of your blog post.

If you have a little more time on your hands, you can try something a little more elaborate. Come up with a topic that’s easily broken up into two parts. This article for example could easily be split up into two parts. The first part is the quick blog post idea I shared above. The second part is this more advanced strategy that will hopefully generate even better results – in this case more subscribers. You share the first part in a blog post and then briefly mention the second strategy without giving too much away. In order to get the second, more powerful strategy, they have to sign up for your list. You can even make this time sensitive to encourage them to join your list right away. You can do this by letting your blog readers know that you’ll share the second part in an email this coming Wednesday and that they should sign up now if they don’t want to miss it.

Do you see how this works? You start with the end in mind (in this example, growing your list) and create content based around that goal. That’s all there is to blogging with intent. It won’t take you any longer to write your blog posts, but they will have a much bigger impact on your overall business. Give it a try for a few weeks and see if you’re getting results with blogging intentionally.

3 Tips For Writing Engaging Blog Posts > Blogging

Posted October 29, 2016 By Callie

The key to making a blog work for your business, and improve your bottom line is to write engaging blog posts that pull the reader in and makes them think and take action. Here are three tips to help you do just that. Implement them on a regular basis and watch engagement grow. It’s that engagement that you need to build a deeper relationship with your audience. Not only will your readers be more willing to buy from you, you’ll also be pleasantly surprised at how much you’re learning about your target audience in the process. That will help you with all your other marketing efforts.

Tip #1 – Start With What Your Target Audience Is Looking For

Do a little research before you start to sit down and plan or write your blog posts for the week. You want to write content that your target audience is interested in and looking for. Do some keyword research, take a look at forums and social media sites where your ideal customers congregate or simply listen to your existing readers, subscribers, and customers. What kinds of questions do they ask? What problems do they try to overcome? Pay attention to your market and come up with content topics that will serve your audience.

Tip #2 – Use Different Media and Make It Easy To Read And Scan

Next, you want to make sure your content is easy to read. Keep your topic on point, your paragraphs short and include plenty of headlines, bullets, bold lettering, and other formatting to make it easy to scan the content. The attention span of an online reader is short. Keep that in mind as you write and do what you can to make sure your content flows.

Adding images, video, and various media can help keep things interesting and visually appealing. It will also appeal to people who prefer different types of content. Pick whatever media works well for your content and your audience. Sometimes that means mostly text. Sometimes that may be a collection of images, and sometimes it will be a short video. Content that fits the topic and is easy to consume will get you the most interaction and engagement.

Tip #3 – Ask Questions and Encourage Readers To Leave Comments

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask for the engagement. Encourage your readers to leave a comment with their input and ideas. Ask them questions and also encourage them to ask questions of you. Reply to comments and make your blog posts true dialogues instead of articles that you type on your computer and have your audience read. Take advantage of blogging technology and use your posts as conversation starters. Open that dialogue and build a deeper relationship with your customer base.

You’ve written your latest blog post and you’re about to hit publish. Before you do, make sure you do these three things. Using this article as a check list of sorts will help you make sure you get the most out of each blog post you write.
Does Your Post Have A Purpose?

Hopefully you’ve given this some thought long before you sat down to write your post. Even so, it’s good to double check and make sure your post has a purpose and that your writing helps you reach whatever goal you’ve set yourself. Maybe you wrote the post to showcase your expertise. Maybe you wrote it to entice readers to sign up for your list or buy one of your products. Maybe you wrote it to start a conversation with your target audience. No matter what the purpose, make sure your content supports it well.

Edit For Easy Readability

Next give it a light edit and make sure your content is easy to read. Fix any long, run-on sentences. It’s also helpful to make sure you’re writing at a level that’s easy to read and understand for your target audience. What level you write at will depend on your readers and the types of customers you want to attract. There are plenty of websites out there that let you scan and check what grade level you’re writing at. You can even paste your post into Microsoft Word and do a check for spelling and grammar. When the check is done, MS Word will give you the option to display reading level information. This will include the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

How Does It Look? – Formatting And The Likes

Reading online is a little harder on the eyes than reading something on paper. It helps to have short sentences, short paragraphs and lots of formatting like lists, bolding, and subheadings that break up the text.

This also helps with scanning a post, as do images that give the reader an idea of what the post is about. Why is this important? Because we can’t possibly read everything we come across. In this day and age we’re surrounded by lots and lots of information and there is no way we can consume and read it all. Instead, we scan a lot of text and then decide what we want to read and what we will skip. Making it easy to scan your content will make it easier for readers to decide if your post is worth reading.

You’ve done you’re writing, editing, and put the finishing touches on your blog post. It’s finally published and live. Before you call it a day and pat yourself on the back for a job well done, there are a few more things you should do to ensure that your post is read. In other words, you need to promote it a bit and then spend some time interacting with your readers. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you should do each time you hit publish on your blog post to make sure it gets the exposure you’re looking for.

Promote Your Post On Social Media
Start by sharing your new post on social media. Post it to your Facebook page and invite readers to check it out and of course share it themselves. If you can get some likes, comments, and shares early on, chances are good that quite a few of your followers will see the post. If you’re really lucky, it may go viral and give you quite a bit of exposure.

Of course you don’t want to stop there. Go through your list of social media accounts and post anywhere appropriate. Tweet a link to your blog post and share images in your posts on Instagram and Pinterest. Post a link on Reddit or share it on Stumbleupon. Use any and all social media accounts that you’re active on to get the ball rolling. The more buzz you can create, the higher your chances that readers will start to promote your post for you as well.

Email Your Subscribers About The New Post

Next you want to make sure you share your new content with your email subscribers. Send them a quick note, or work a link to your blog into your latest mailings and newsletters. Invite your email subscribers to read your post and comment. Start a conversation with them and grow engagement.

I find it also helps to let subscribers know that they are welcome to share the blog post with others who may be interested in the topic. It’s surprising how many people don’t realize it is perfectly fine (and encouraged) to share free content with others.

Keep An Eye On Comments

Last but not least, you want to keep an eye on comments as they come in. Check in a few times per day after you first publish a post so you can reply to comments in a timely manner. This will encourage conversations and more commenting down the road. And that of course fosters the conversation and engagement you’re looking for in your blog.