Archives for October 2010

13 Business Blogging Dos and Don’ts For Creating Relationships

There are thousands of blogging dos and don’ts. This list is specifically for business bloggers and is focused on dos and don’ts that help build relationships with your visitors.

Dos

1. (An obvious one.) Do have an opt in and an RSS feed so people can follow you or choose to hear from you again. Even better, offer something for free when they subscribe. I suggest having both of these. Some may just want to subscribe to your RSS, so offer both.

2. Do put Archives & Categories in the sidebar or footer. Many times when visitors come to your blog they want to know what else you blog about. Give them easy ways to browse so that you can engage them and keep them there longer.

3. Do define your area of specialty so people know exactly what you do. If your tag line is too general, you won’t capture your audience’s attention. Be specific. It pays.

4. Do create banners/ads for your own products/services. This tells people what your business offers. Products you sell are your business. Featuring other people’s products suggests that they are the expert, not you.

5. Do highlight other places you’ve blogged at. This reinforces your expertise and builds relationships with other bloggers.

6. Do invite guest bloggers to post. This also helps build relationships with other bloggers and shows visitors that you are part of a bigger community and that it’s not just you (solo-preneur). It’s a bonus to show different points of view and get free content.

7. Do show social proof (ie: number of subscribers, testimonials). Showing social proof lets people know what others think of you.

8. Do reply to every comment and use plugins to notify commenters of responses. One plugin for this is called “Comment Reply Notification.”

Don’ts

9. Don’t have ads for other people’s stuff if you are selling your own. You’re basically telling your potential clients to go somewhere else. Of course, if you’re not selling anything yet, then creating something to sell should be a priority and until that day, using affiliate products is fine. But not for long 🙂

10. Don’t stop and start. Keep it consistent. Create an editorial calendar and schedule posts ahead of time. Inconsistent posting is like not calling a friend for a year and expecting your friendship to remain the same.

11. Don’t make it difficult for visitors to get your free stuff. Make it easy to download or view videos. Having optins that are only available to subscribers makes your readers jump through hoops. Most of them will give up rather than subscribing. Let them decide to subscribe after they decide they enjoy your offers.

12. Don’t sell in an email. This is slightly off topic, but emails and blogging shouldn’t be about selling. That’s what landing pages/sales pages are for. Definitely link to those pages from a blog post, but don’t try to sell right in the middle of your blog.

13. Don’t be anonymous. Have a great “about” page that shows people who you are and or what your business is all about. Be unique and original. No one likes boring.

There you go. Now start developing relationships with people that come into your virtual world.

Succeeding On A Tack!

It seems to me that our comfort levels are our worst enemy. Once achieved, it’s like hull speed on a boat – you can’t go any faster. It is at this point that our brands stand still. You become so complacent that you catch yourself avoiding challenges rather than embracing them. Life on the edge keeps you sharp and opens doors that might not normally be in your path.

Have you ever had lunch with a peer entrepreneur and listened to them tell you that they’re in a good place right now. They’ve got their duck in a row. “I’m good.” But are they really? They could be just playing the business version of “duck and cover.” It sounds good for the moment, but in reality there’s no logic in it and chance are it will be bad for your brand.

For me, getting too comfortable scares me. I could get to like it. How are you with comfort? My highest achievements have always come from challenging myself outside of my comfort zone.
The personal pat on the back, once having conquered something that initially frightened me is so rewarding. They typically spin into additional business as well.

Find your tack, it hurts less than you think.

The Power of Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization

If you have been closely observing the development in marketing in the corporate world, then you have probably noticed that most companies are now venturing to online transactions. Internet marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) have been transforming online businesses into profitable enterprises. Modern buyers are now depending on the power of the internet when looking for anything that they can think of. True enough, a business almost does not exist in the eyes of a digital consumer when it cannot be found online.

But how exactly does Internet marketing combined with SEO techniques become effective and successful?

Internet marketing may sound straightforward basically because it applies the same strategies as those of traditional marketing. The only difference is that while conventional advertising involves the TV, radio and print, Internet marketing is applied online.

This type of marketing may require a business owner to solicit the services of an experienced marketer since the technicalities behind it can be very daunting but good percentage of income is often highly guaranteed. Budget-wise, internet marketing is proven to be a very cost-effective way through which you can rake in a huge amount of profit. When compared to print advertising, this is a cheaper and more flexible way to bring in the required traffic. Also, if tapped effectively, it is capable of expanding your market in ways you can never imagine. Your business can break geographical barriers since it can be virtually reached from any corner of the world by any potential customer with access to the internet.

In addition, internet marketing efficiently allows you to mint money on a continuous basis. The fact that your exposure on the web stays for longer periods of time is enough proof that you will never run out of prospective clients.

In a nutshell, Internet marketing is a business promotion approach done purely over the web. It may often be as simple as having a company website or online shop. But if we are to analyze deeply, relying on internet marketing alone may not do the trick. And this is where Search Engine Optimization comes in.

Search engines are known to be the traffic and sales generators online. It is where all potential customers will put their queries on when they need or want something. A mere website cannot appear on the search engine results pages if it is not optimized well. Therefore, one would need to consider Search Engine Optimization. While Internet marketing takes care of the website functionality, design, advertisements and visitor interaction, search engine optimization handles lead generation.

SEO is proven to be quite helpful and effective in increasing traffic to your site, which translates to a higher ranking. Higher site ranking consequently gives more income opportunities. Understand very well that when people are looking for information, they often resort to the first ten pages of search engine results such as in Google. And using proper Google SEO guarantees you a place at least in the first three.

Clearly, one cannot just have a website that would not invite potential customers into a business. Internet marketing along with proper execution of SEO plans should be applied to any business if online success is to be achieved. Before you can have money flowing into your bank accounts, you need to know how to attract customers to your site. You do not want just anyone from the street to come to you ? What you would want is a prospective buyer.

The New Brand Advantage

In a lot of ways starting a business and giving birth to a new brand can be an exciting process. No one knows who you are yet, so they have nothing to build an opinion on. On the other hand, since there is no formal introduction yet, everything about you is essentially rumour at this stage. A good place to start your brand is PR. Having a basic introductory website, and a weekly update to media, will help build interest and keep your information factual.

Any contact with suppliers and potential customers should alway be cordial. How you treat any contact at this initial stage, could set the tone of your new brand. Determine how you would like to be perceived and then strategize as to how you might influence this. Developing a positioning strategy that makes you the leader or the best at something will give your new brand resonance with your market. The worst thing you could do, is “follow the leader.” In doing this your brand offers nothing to the marketplace. Why bother existing at all? Every decision you make should assist in differentiating your new brand.

In discovering your difference, your launch can be exciting. You could be on your way to building a remarkable brand. Dream big! Don’t strive to be one of the best – strive to be the best. Just delivering good customer service isn’t enough – deliver the best service. Discover ways to over-deliver. Never forget that every thing you do affects the success of your brand. Don’t take designing your brand image lightly. An amateur attempt just reflects back on you. I’ve known some small businesses who took more interest in their decor than their brand image. Ultimately this shows in their success or lack there of.

Your brand is in your hands. Ignore it and the competition will step up to define you.

Make your Mailing List Work Harder

Email has been a boon to marketing efforts for many years now, and that continues to be true even with all of the alternatives available today. Businesses report returns on investment of more than $40 for each dollar spent in this marketing channel, and business owners say that email is second only to SEO in converting visitors into buyers. Building and growing your subscribers on your mailing list consistently will encourage greater business success. Use an opt-in list, which requires new subscribers to verify via email that they want to receive information from you about your products or services.

Autoresponders

The use of autoresponders can automate most of the process when you add new subscribers to your mailing list. Repeat visitors to your website have a conversion rate (which means they make a purchase) ten times higher than their initial visit. Obviously, following up with first-time visitors to your site is one of the best ways to encourage those repeat visits, and higher sales, and doing so at regular intervals keeps your site at the top of their mind. Autoresponder features can be set to send out any sort of information you like to your subscribers, whenever you want it sent. Thank you notes for purchases, information on new products, newsletters, and happy birthday greetings can all be set up for the system to remember and complete.

Email Campaigns

A professional look and feel to all of your communications is essential, no matter what size your business is now. Email marketing companies can provide great templates for you to fill with your messages, but do make sure your spelling and grammar are perfect. Build a simple ‘newsletter’ to send out to your mailing list at regular intervals every few weeks, with easy reading your priority. Keep your sentences short and paragraphs concise, and write compelling content to give them value. Find out what information your subscribers want, and give it to them in your newsletters!

Tracking

Use an email marketing company that provides easy tracking systems so you’ll know how effective your email campaigns are. This should provide, at a minimum, statistics on how many subscribers opened your email, and your click through (purchase or action) rate. It is especially important to monitor the newest subscribers and perhaps give them some personal attention if needed.

Email marketing can result in brand loyalty, a great reputation, and increased sales, if done properly. Short, simple subject lines, the right message and compelling content will encourage opening rates above the average of 20 to 30%, and result in higher sales. Continually ‘tweaking’ your message for broader appeal will encourage higher rates as well.

So You Think You Can’t Write

One thing is sure: You didn’t get into business to be a writer. English composition was not one of your best subjects. Writing is for, well, writers. You know, those eccentric, artistic types you could never figure out. Certainly not you.

And then you went into marketing on the Internet and realized, to your surprise and disappointment, that the Internet is made up of images and… words!

Before you know it, you find yourself having to write more than you care to–blog posts, squeeze pages, emails to customers, and even silly little tweets.

Why Even Non-Writers Can Write For The Web

Fortunately, for you and other non-writers, writing for the web is different than the kind of writing we all learned in school.

The web is more conversational. It’s informal, personable, and casual. Depending on the market you’re targeting, they may not even care that your grammar isn’t perfect.

Plus, written pieces on the web tend to be short. Internet users are always in a hurry and have short attention spans. They don’t like having to scroll through thousands of words. (An exception is the long-form sales page, which you shouldn’t write yourself anyway, unless you’re a trained copywriter.)

In other words, here’s the good news for you: The Interwebs isn’t Mr. Collins’ English class!

How to Write When You’re Not A Writer

Below are some tips to make writing for the web easier, even for non-writers like you:

1. Brainstorm with a mindmap

In composition class, we learned how to make an outline before writing something. But outlines are linear and don’t always work with everyone.

If you’ve tried using outlines but haven’t had much luck, maybe mindmaps are more your thing. A mindmap is a good tool for brainstorming topics, as well as for fleshing out the different parts of a topic.

For example, this blog post started out in the form of this mindmap (click to enlarge):

You can find free and paid mindmapping software (I used Freemind for the mindmap above. I’ve also been experimenting with Xmind).

Or you could do it the old-fashioned way: take a blank sheet of paper and different-colored pens, and map away. Whatever works for you.

2. Write without thinking; edit without feeling.

Most of the time, we don’t get anything written, because our brain is always editing what we write. So you type a couple of sentences, erase the last one. Type another sentence, delete everything and start again.

No wonder you’re not getting done! Just write. Write in white heat, without thinking about the words that just flowed from your computer keyword.

And then, when you think you’re finished, take a break. Go for a walk. Grab a cup of coffee (and a cupcake, you deserve it). If you have time, sleep on it.

Then go back to your first draft and edit it. Edit without feeling. Don’t get attached to your writing, even if you think it was so moving it could be worthy to be part of a novel. Be ruthless; cut out unnecessary words. Rewrite parts that are unclear.

And always, always favor clarity for witty.

3. Follow proven templates.

Nowadays, you’ll find templates for everything from emails to blog posts, to articles, to squeeze pages and even sales pages.

If writing is particularly challenging, why sweat it? Take one of those templates and use them. Nobody said you had to reinvent the wheel.

4. Don’t start from scratch.

Ever heard of private label rights content? Those are written pieces of content that you buy and gain certain rights to. For example, you have the right to edit them or use them as it, and put your name as the author.

Now, if you really want to claim authorship of a PLR piece, then go ahead and rework it. Reorganize the different parts into a structure that makes better sense to you. Rewrite every single sentence. Add in your own sentences and even entire paragraphs. Remove parts you feel aren’t necessary. Combine different PLR pieces together.

In other words, make it your own. Sometimes, it’s much easier to write when you’re not staring at a blank piece of paper of computer screen. If that’s the case for you, then maybe PLR is the answer.

5. Don’t write!

Well if you really can’t write, then don’t! Instead, you could always record an audio or video instead.

You could even legally, with permission, use other people’s video and embed them on your own blog or site. Of course, read the terms of use of the source before doing this.

Video sharing sites like YouTube allow you to embed other people’s video into your own site.

That said, you will have to write at least a couple of paragraphs that tell what the video is about. The main purpose of this is to provide “food” for the search engines.

You see, search engines are not able to crawl audio and video content (yet). So you need to have some text on your site to let the search engine ‘bots know what the video/audio is all about. But it’s much shorter than writing an entire blog post.

6. Let other people do the writing or talking.

Another way to create content without having to write too much is by interviewing others. The easiest way to do this is by sending your guest a list of questions.

Then all you have to do is publish their answers on your blog. You can even ask them to write their own bio.

You can do interviews through phone or Skype to create audio or video content.

No More Excuses

If you’ve read this far, I hope you realize that you’ve run out of excuses. Even if you are “not a writer,” you can still get your stuff out there and share your brilliance with  the world.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to writing? Did any of the tips above address those challenges? Or do you have additional tips for other non-writers? Please share in the comments below.

Oh and, guess what? As long as you’re writing, then you’re a writer!

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