December 22, 2014

How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years

Posted by: of Stephan on 05/14/13

I left my blog dormant for a few years, but I’m finally back in the saddle! I drafted up a post entitled “How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years” because it seemed fitting. Here are my main points to get you started:

1. Jump in and write something. No apologies. Or a lengthy explanation or justification for being off the grid.

2. Get some tools or processes in place that will make it as painless as possible to post. Like Dragon – which incidentally is available as an iPhone/iPad app.

3. Hire a virtual assistant if that will help you. (More on using VA’s in a future post).

4. Roll out a site redesign at the same time to let everybody know you’re reengaged and committed.

5. Don’t try to get all your readers all caught up on your life all in one post. You’ve got plenty of fodder for many blog posts – so save it for later.

6. Finally, silence the perfectionist in you. I have this bad habit of pouring over my blog posts – my articles even more so – trying to make them perfect. I put a dozen hours or more into articles on search engine land. That’s crazy. That’s not good use of your time. Much better to freeze all those great ideas and insights stuck in your head – share them with the world. It’s okay if the sentence structure isn’t always on the mark. It’s a blog post for Pete’s sake.

Business Blogging for Realtors

With the decimated housing market fueling the Great Recession, savvy realtors have realized they needed to “up their game” with their online marketing in order to keep food on the table for their families. Where did they turn? Why, blogging of course, among other things.

I had an opportunity recently to sit down with one such forward-thinking realtor-blogger, Jamie Miller. She’s actually a former employee of my former company Netconcepts, and she’s the agent for this beautiful property in Madison Wisconsin (yes, it’s my home). I asked her to share some pointers for realtors who want to get into blogging. Here are Jamie’s tips:

  • Use your blog’s name to target geographic locations. I named my blog Madison Wisconsin Living.
  • Also consider optimizing your blog around condo communities, like Miami Condo Lifestyle does, to target Google searchers. Individual posts can be condos for sale within their respective communities.
  • Post all your property listings to your blog, and have a separate property listings category. This provides an excellent source of regular content for readers and the search engines.
  • Don’t remove properties once they’ve sold. Simply update the listings with the word “Sold” — it’s a great way to communicate to prospective clients how many properties you’ve sold.
  • Develop an authoritative voice in your local market for all things home sales. For instance, The Boston Real Estate Blog publishes local real estate news and stats.
  • Leverage your blogging content into Social Media sites, such as your Facebook pages or Twitter profiles. It takes time to source and author content for blogging, this content should be shared across additional marketing channels in order to get the most bang for the buck and maintain message consistency.
  • Don’t forget to also incorporate typical Real Estate Website features and functionality into your blog, such as Featured properties to highlight the agents own properties for sale, a Property Search that pulls from a MLS (multiple listing service), and informational pages on buying and selling homes. For example, My Westside LA has great posting categories that feature content targeted to buyers and sellers.
  • If you’re a blogging newbie, it’s really easy to get started. Simply purchase a domain or use an existing domain you own (don’t just use a subdomain of wordpress.com or blogspot.com), purchase a hosting package (Ed. note: Bluehost is the one I use), and perform the famous “5 minute WordPress install” (actually it’s more like 5 seconds!)
  • There are some great, cost-effective real estate-specific themes for WordPress you can choose from, including RealEstateThemes.com, Agent Press, and Villa Grande. Or, just Google for “wordpress real estate themes“.
  • Install the following WordPress plugins: SEO Title Tag, Breadcrumb navigation, Google Analytics, and WPtouch iPhone Theme.
  • Before you start writing, first outline your content plan for the blog. The plan can include things like new listings, local real estate news, tips on home selling, etc.

12 Tips for Marketing New Blogs

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 06/16/10

Plenty of new B2C and B2B blogs are launched every day and the sheer volume of content makes standing out increasingly difficult. My personal experience as a B2B Marketing pro, is that blogs can be one of the most effective ways create connections with prospects and customers through useful content. However, that content will go unnoticed unless you promote it. To that end, here are 12 tips for marketing a new blog.

  1. Add A Link – If it’s a company blog, or if it’s attached to another site, add a link to the blog from the main navigation on the parent website.
  2. Create A Badge – On the main website, add a badge to the homepage, or sidebar, that promotes the blog. Images are a good way to catch a visitor’s attention.
  3. Email – Add a link to the blog in your email signature.
  4. Newsletter – Announce the blog in the company newsletter.
  5. Network – Announce the blog to your Twitter followers, Facebook fans, Linked in connections and any other social networks that you are apart of.
  6. Press Release – If you feel that the blog is important enough to support a press release, put one out.
  7. Submit – Submit the blog to blog & feed directories.
  8. Share – Share your blog with co-workers, friends and others in your network. You never know when they might promote it for you.
  9. Link – One way to get other bloggers to notice you is to link to them. Summarize someone else’s long blog post, expand upon someones shorter post, or just write your thoughts on a topic that someone else wrote about and link back to the original post.
  10. Give Away – If it’s a product blog, run a promotion on the blog giving away one of your products. Sometimes the value that can come out of giving something away can be more beneficial than all the items above.
  11. Guest Post – If there are other blogs in your industry, ask around and see if they’d allow you to guest post for them. In return, you’d get a link back to your blog in your profile, or post, on their site.
  12. Ask – Tap into the social networks within the industry you’re trying to reach and ask them what they’re interested in. Here’s an example of a post that did just that on Twitter for this blog. Show interest in the interest of your audience and they’ll pay more attention and share your content.

Of course, there’s no substitute for good content, so even the best blog marketing tactics will be fruitless unless those visitors find something useful AND the blog publisher has made it easy to share that content. This is a simple, yet effective formula at the center of our blog marketing services.

What tips and tactics have you found to be effective for promoting a new blog?

How Interactive is Your Blog? Measure It!

One of the coolest things about business blogging is the social interaction and community that is built when readers leave meaningful comments. Like a good story, a post elicits a response from the reader. As your community develops, the value of your brand increases. But this warm and fuzzy feeling that people get about your brand as they interact with you on your blog can be hard to measure and quantify. That’s where blog interaction metrics come in.

Building a blog to one or more interaction metrics can help you focus on what’s important – brand engagement.

Do you measure a successful post by the number of readers, bookmarks added to del.ic.ious, diggs, comments, number or quality of backlinks, or a combination of all the above? Some metrics have a place in your blog marketing scorecard, like number of comments. And some do not, like number of trackbacks (unless you like counting spammers — and that you could do all day!). Because the last thing you need is just more data for the sake of data.

Avinash Kaushik came up with some really nifty blog success metrics that really resonate with me. I bet they’ll resonate with you too. They are:

  • Raw author contribution (posts per month and words per post)
  • Audience growth (onsite & offsite, visitors and unique visitors)
  • “Conversion” rate (comments per post)
  • Citations (blog inlinks, Technorati rank)
  • Ripple Index (# of unique blogs linking to your blog)
  • Cost (time, hardware/software technology, opportunity cost
  • Benefit / ROI (comparative vs. direct vs. “non-traditional” vs. unquantifiable)

As you start measuring the above and then gauging the success of what you’re doing on your blog based on these metrics, you can tie your activities back to something more meaningful than just the “hits” you’re generating.

If you want to learn more about metrics, I encourage you to watch the archived recording of a “Website Metrics and ROI” webinar that Avinash and I presented last year. No registration required. Just click and watch (or download). It’s 100 minutes of the two of us talking about our favorite metrics — not just for blogging, but also email marketing, web marketing, search marketing, and more. And if you just want to scan over our Powerpoint slides before you invest 100 minutes of your time (and I don’t blame you — time is precious!), here’s the PPT file. Enjoy!

FeedBurner Blog Metrics

What blog metrics do you value most? How do your readers interact with you? Do you have any particular reporting tools you recommend? Your interactivity is welcome and invited.

ECO-SAFE Business Blogging

Posted by: of BizGrowthNews on 06/16/08

Have you ever come across a business blog and have wanted to print out a blog post but find that there is no print icon on the blog page?

I always think that we need to make it as easy as possible for people to access our content from our business blog so one of the things I did some time ago on my main blog was to add some plugins so that people could then print a blog article and also email articles to others.

However I recently came across a service that enables us to guide people to alternatives to print pages yet still makes your content accessible to readers and enables you to virally market your blog to others with a tell a friend functon – and it’s free!

The ECO-SAFE Merit Badge can be added to your website and offers the opportunity to website and blog visitors to:

  • send themselves or other an email of the blog article
  • send themselves or others a PDF of the blog article
  • download a PDF of the blog article.

Why not add the ECO-SAFE Merit Badge to your business blog? That way you are being kind to the environment and enabling others to share your great content with potential readers and potential clients.

Oh I almost forgot to let you know, you can also register for free iTunes music of your choice when you add the ECO-SAFE Merit Badge to you blog or website.

Five More Reasons You Need to Start Blogging Today

Posted by: of BSETC on 05/10/08

Back in December of 2007, I decided that I wanted to try something new and fresh with my website. I was also getting tired of the standard websites with their uniform look and I didn’t really feel like I was getting any benefit from it. So, I did a bit of research and decided that I wanted to try a blogging platform and after a bit more research, I chose WordPress.

Before I fully converted to the blog, I was receiving approximately 900 unique visitors each month.

  • By January, one month after I converted, I was receiving 1300 unique visitors.
  • By February it had grown to 2500 unique visitors
  • In March, it had grown to 4000 unique visitors in the month.

That is four times the traffic I started with!

So, let’s look at the top five reasons why you need a blog (in my biased opinion, WordPress is the way to go so I will reference WP throughout this post but you could use any blogging platform to achieve these same benefits…):

1. Blogs are User-Friendly and Very Easy to Use

The upside to having blog software as opposed to a website is that it is very user-friendly. The blog uses a GUI, or a graphic-user interface, which means that that everything that you may need to do is laid out in simple to understand graphics. The blogging software also conforms to the standards of most other software programs. For example, the graphic icons you see in Microsoft Office programs are very similar to the graphics you’ll see inside of your blog.

The reason that this is so important is that YOU can update your OWN website and you don’t need to pay high prices in web design fees to do so! There is no messing around with HTML code, you can avoid having a dull, lifeless site that people only visit occasionally and instead, you can update it yourself and give people a reason to return again and again and again.

The other upside to this is that when you want something changed quickly, you can do so. You no longer have to wait on a web designer or a virtual assistant, you can just pop in to the dashboard and update the page you need to make changes to and click save and boom – you’re done!

Making regular posts is also easy to do. In a few, short clicks and then some keystrokes for the body of your post, you can have fresh, new content on your blog immediately. If you’re feeling particularly creative one day, you can write a series of posts and save them all to post on future dates. For me, I will write eight or nine blog entries at a time and save them to post one or two days apart. This is also useful if you are going on vacation. In February, my husband and I went to the Dominican for a vacation and before I left, I wrote blog entries to cover the week I was gone and just posted them in advance. On the days that I specified, my blog entries showed up on the blog!

2. Blogs Are Easy to Navigate

All blogs follow a fairly standard style of formatting and navigation. Although each template may look different, they all contain the same standard elements. When I visit a blog, I always know where to go to see Recent Posts. I also know that on the majority of blogs, I will be able to find a place to subscribe to the blogs feed. A feed is simply a syndication of your blog entries. That syndicated text is then sent out to your blog visitors feed readers and is sent out to the search engines, etc. This is part of the reason that blogging is so powerful in getting people to your site.

Have you ever visited a website where every menu has been different and each sidebar contained different text depending on where you were on the website? Those types of websites are confusing and they don’t lead the website visitor where they should be going. With blogging software, it remains standard and is always updating itself. When you make a change on one sidebar, it automatically updates on every other sidebar which eliminates any sort of confusion for your website visitors.

A great book I want to recommend is Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think.� Even if you don’t design websites, you want to read this book. A lot of the reasons that I love blogs are outlined in his usability section. He references making websites more functional by following his principles but what is so great is that a blog already conforms to many of his standards.

3. People Can Subscribe to Your Blog and Stay Current

Now, I want to explain what RSS is first. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. What it is is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts. People who are into blogging will use your RSS feed to do a few things:

  • They may subscribe to receive a daily digest of new content. Think of how powerful this is in terms of keeping you in touch with your target market. If someone receives constant, updated messages from you, you are always in their line of sight and they will see what you are up to, new products or services you are launching and how much knowledge you have on your chosen subject.
  • They may also add you to their feed reader. I have a program that I use called Feed Demon and this software program tracks all of the blogs I am interested in by capturing and updating the feed that comes from the blog. Each day I can open up this software program and have an instant summary of every blog I have subscribed to and I can review what it is people are talking about. This allows me to stay current without having a thousand bookmarks in my internet browser or trying to remember which blogs I liked to read. The same is true for your visitors. They want a quick, easy way to be reminded that you exist and that you are posting things that they want to know about.

Normal sites don’t do this for you unless you are putting out a monthly ezine that contains all of your business updates. By having the blog, you can nearly cut out the monthly ezine and just let the blog do the work for you!

4. Search Engines Love Them and They Are Content Managers

In fact, it’s so easy to build content on your blog that I have actually created info-products based on content I had blogged about over the past year. Info-products become simple to do because you aren’t creating fresh, new content each and every time. What you blog about could become an article which could turn into an e-book. Blogging gets you into the habit of writing and creating which then allows you to easily and effortlessly create info-products.

Your visitors will also love this because when they show up on your site looking for assistance in your chosen profession, they can find a whole archive of great content. Most of my blogging clients will archive their past newsletters or e-zines on their blogs so that their clients can read past issues without having to download PDFs or visit thirteen or fourteen different web pages.

Search engines love blogs for a number of reasons. Number one, they love the fact that fresh, new content is being posted all of the time. Even if you are only updating it once a week, you will still see the benefits from it. Each and every time you post something to your blog, the search engines are automatically pinged and if you have pinging software installed, which is free and simple to use, it’ll automatically ping the different services that should be pinged.

Number two, search engines love hyperlinks and trackbacks. Hyperlinks are links to other people’s websites, blog entries, audio files, etc. and track backs are special links from someone else’s blog entry that let the other person know you’ve blogged about him or her. It also posts YOUR entry on their site for other people to read. This is how blogging also becomes so viral.

5. They Become an Active Networking Source for Your Business

For me, I have met a number of brand new people through my blog. Some of these people became clients, others were just frequent readers that became friends and others asked me to collaborate with them on special projects. By having a blog, you can become a place where people visit to learn about what it is you are writing about but also so that they can meet you, get to know you and someday work with you. You can build a community and allow other people to meet through you which then allows people to talk about you and get your name out there.

If you think of standard networking, you think of people showing up to an event for about an hour, rushing through the crowds trying to get business cards and then leaving the event and never really having a true feeling of connection. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. Blogging gives your interested parties a place to come to learn about you. They can start to see how you both would benefit from knowing each other and they will be more apt to approach you over time. This is a much more effective way to network and you don’t need to worry about your business card being thrown in the trash.

Another way that it becomes a networking tool is when you reach out to other people’s blogs. Once you start blogging, you will quickly realize that the whole world is blogging and there are many great things to be read. By visiting other people’s blogs and leaving comments on their posts, you will do two things: one, you will introduce yourself in a non-threatening or non-imposing way to someone you may not have wanted to just e-mail in the past and two, by showing that you have interest in that subject on their blog, you’ll gain interested visitors who share similar interests.

Erin Blaskie is the owner of Business Services ETC, The VA Coach and VA Matchmaker.  She services internet marketers, coaches, speakers and solopreneurs with their everyday operational needs which frees up their time to focus on the big picture.  She can be found at www.erinblaskie.com.

Using Your Feed Reader to Generate More Traffic and New Business

Posted by: of BSETC on 05/7/08

Feed readers are tools that keep track of the blogs you have interest in. You may use your feed reader to keep track of competitor’s blogs or blogs that will notify you of trends or important news. Whichever blogs you choose to add, there are some great ways that you can make use of that blog traffic.

Here are some of the ways that to generate traffic to your blog.

Build a Network

When you’re reading other people’s blogs, you’ll develop a network of like-minded individuals and people who share similar interests. You can also meet people to provide your products and services to and you’ll find people who have products and services that you need.

The beauty of creating a network this way is that the more you are on other people’s blogs and commenting on their posts, the more traffic you will receive. The thing to remember is that people love to have visitors on their site and they want to know who those people are. If you’re commenting on posts they have written, you can bet that they are going to appreciate that and check out your site as well.

Do This!

Register a feed reader account at a website like Newsgator (www.newsgator.com) or Blog Lines (www.bloglines.com) and add some feeds from your favorite blogs. Now, spend about 1 to 2 hours per week reading your blog feeds and comment on posts that you feel you can provide valuable feedback on.

Create Links Back to Your Site

By commenting on other people’s blogs, you’re creating a search engine ranking fiesta and all roads lead back to you! Page rank is determined by a number of things but one of those things is how many incoming links you have to your website. The more links, the higher you rank.

One thing to keep in mind though is that a simple comment is not going to give you much back in terms of valuable traffic and notoriety. When posting comments and creating these links back to your site, you want to be sure there is some substance in your comments.

Another way to create links back to your site is to write great blog entries that people will want to post onto their blogs. In the world of blogging, people ‘copy’ content all of the time and link back to the original author. This allows you to have a viral marketing source and you won’t need to do anything to generate this traffic.

One last way to create links back to your site is to add your favorite bloggers to your “Blog Roll� and request that they add you to theirs. If you have a lot of colleagues, friends or family who also own blogs, ask them to also add you to their “Blog Rolls.� All of these incoming links will increase your traffic AND your page rank.

Do This!

Right now, go to your blog and create a “Blog Roll� if you don’t have one already. Add your favorite bloggers to this list. Next, ask your friends, family and colleagues to add you to their links list on their blogs. Make sure that whatever you do in terms of links, it is reciprocal so that both parties benefit.

There are many ways to generate traffic but those are just a couple of the ways to utilize the RSS feed reader tool that you have to stay in the line of sight of your potential customers (and ideal clients).

Erin Blaskie is the owner of Business Services ETC, The VA Coach and VA Matchmaker. She services internet marketers, coaches, speakers and solopreneurs with their everyday operational needs which frees up their time to focus on the big picture. She can be found at www.erinblaskie.com.

Business Blog Interview

The other day Mike Sigers of Simplenomics interviewed me for his Hot Seat radio show about the benefits of a blog for businesses. The segment ran about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Hmmm…that didn’t work. I’ll have to ask Stephan about that. Well, you can download the show here.

Passion’s the key ingredient in successful blogging

Not getting as much marketing power out of your blog as you’d hoped? The rules for successful blogging are the same whether you’re writing for personal or business reasons. First of all, you have to write about what you love or what you’re passionate about. When you write about what you are passionate about, readers will feel it too, and the entire process of writing will be more enjoyable as well. If you’re running out of topics or your blogging feels like a chore, then you should find a new angle on your work — one that you’re passionate about. Hopefully you love your work and your job, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find things that are fun to write about, but sometimes it’s better that you concentrate on a specific aspect of your work that you’re particularly interested in.

If you have no passion for what you are writing about, why are you writing at all? Your entries will come across as boring or flat and you will not gain the readership your writing skills deserve. When you write about what you love, it is a lot easier to sound like an expert in your field. If you are not sure what you are passionate about, take the time to figure it out. You owe it to yourself, and your potential readers, to know and write about what makes you get out of bed in the morning. If your goal is to make money with a blog, write about what you love and the money (or sales) will follow… You will have more readers and will write better posts. Great content brings traffic/conversions and when you write about something you love it is difficult to write poorly.

What’s it like to read your favorite blogs? I’d have to say my all-time favorite blogger from a writing perspective is Fake Steve Jobs. Sure, he’s not even real, but he “keeps it real.” Every post is witty, and I love his creative use of language and his invented words (e.g. MicroTards, Freetards). The blog provides a little window into Steve Jobs’ psyche. Well okay, maybe not, since it’s actually being written by a Forbes magazine journo, but wouldn’t it be cool if it were the real Steve Jobs?

FSJ may not be the real Apple CEO, but Jonathan Schwartz definitely is the real CEO of Sun Microsystems, and his blog is an excellent example of great blogging. Jonathan posts about Sun projects that he finds exciting, and technology trends that he has an interest in. As a top-level industry insider, Jonathan makes you feel like you’re getting a unique perspective on information technology.

In the past I’ve held up science teacher Steve Spangler’s blog as an excellent example of business blogging, as well. Steve’s blog helps establish his expertise and showcase his brilliance, which keeps him busy in his various adventures. If you like science and haven’t visited Steve’s site yet, you’re missing out.

What are some of your favorite examples of passionate business or marketing blogs?

The Dangers of Anonymous Blogging

BusinessWeek reports on anonymous blogging gone bad in a recent article Busting a Rogue Blogger.

Yes, there’s controversy in the sexy world of patent litigation, as Troll Tracker–formerly anonymous, now outed as Rick Frenkel–a blogger who writes on patent trolling, was outed as a Cisco employee. Why is this relevant? Because Frenkel was blogging about the very issues that Cisco was in court over.

Apparently Cisco didn’t know that they employed the Troll Tracker, but Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler cited the blog as an “independent source of information” while lobbying for changes in patent laws that would be beneficial to Cisco.

Death threats, bounties on the Troll Tracker’s identity, and litigation followed.

Cisco has since established some blogging policies, but they probably won’t help them in court. Even if these policies had been in place before Frankel started blogging anonymously, they probably wouldn’t save them from litigation.

Perhaps it’s time to start to develop your own business blogging policies for employees? What policies do you currently have in place?

Business Blogs Can Bring You Killer PR

When talking to people about the benefits of business blogs I often mention “establishing your credibility.” This goes hand-in-hand with “getting killer PR.”

Let’s face it, journalists are having to do more with less, so they’re more and more likely to turn to Google and other search engines to track down “experts” in a given field.

As you continue to build your blog over time, creating great content in a specific niche, Google’s more likely to return your blog as a result when a journalist starts researching a column or article. I’ve never hired a PR firm, and I work out of the top right corner of the US us locals call “Maine”, but I’ve gotten quotes in Inc., BusinessWeek Small Biz, and other periodicals and the local evening news because of our Web marketing blog.

In the Independent Street blog over at WSJ.com, Kelly Spors writes on How to Get Killer PR and gives five important tips. Just add “Write a Business Blog” as number six and you’re well on your way.

Bloggers, What’s Your Hook?

Whether you’re just starting out in the blogosphere or you write for an established blog, you’ll need an angle to set your blog apart from the rest. Ideally, this theme will carry through all your posts, injecting the blog with a unique style and personality (e.g. snarky, witty, professorial, egotistical to the point of humorous, self-deprecating, nihilistic, voyeuristic). Your angle could also be in the way you present your content, too. For example, you might offer video blog posts that are extreme close-ups or you might include hand-drawn illustrations with your posts.

An angle helps make your blog remarkable, which is a laudable goal for any marketer. In his book “Purple Cow,” marketing guru Seth Godin stated that being “remarkable” doesn’t mean you (or your blog) needs to be the best, it means that you need to “be worth remarking about.” Seth also said that the opposite of “remarkable” is “very good.” In other words, having a “very good” blog just doesn’t cut it — not when there are hundreds of millions of other blogs out there too.

Another way of thinking about a “hook” or an “angle” is to think about your blog as “link bait.” Link bait is content that is so funny, so interesting, and so useful that it becomes irresistible to other bloggers and site owners to link to and “remark” on. Nick Wilson revealed 5 “hooks” in his landmark post on link baiting:

  1. humor hook
  2. news hook
  3. contrarian hook
  4. resource hook, and
  5. attack hook

Link bait can take the form of Top 10 lists, humorous videos uploaded to YouTube, checklists, cartoons, tools, widgets and blog plugins — to name a few.

One business blog that I think really nailed this concept is Sparkle Like the Stars, a blog owned by jewelry retailer ice.com. The blog is snarky, irreverent, fun, voyeuristic, trendy and useful — all at the same time! This blog’s hook is paying off, in the form of a loyal following.

We, at Netconcepts, decided to follow in the footsteps of Sparkle Like the Stars to create a blog about shoes we affectionately named, “The Shoe Paparazzi.” The idea behind it was to fuse footwear with the “sport” of celebrity watching in order to capture and keep readers’ interest. At this point it’s still just an experiment, a pet project of Netconcepts that wasn’t commissioned by a client, but is something we hope can be used in the future to prove the case for the “celebrity watching hook” as a viable angle for online retailers.

As far as blogs go, I’m not 100% certain we’ve hit that right hook/angle yet to build that loyal following every blogger dreams of. I put it to you, my fellow bloggers, do you think our Shoe Paparazzi experiment is link-worthy? What’s your blog’s hook, and how’s that working out for you? Talk back via comments.

Do You Need a Blogging Regimen?

As a certified Business Blog Consultant–I’m still awaiting the paperwork, but I’ve been assured it’s on it’s way–I work with a number of businesses on their blog and other Web marketing strategies. Being a blog consultant is tricky; much of our work is up front.

We often design a blog, set it up on either WordPress or TypePad, strategize with the client, identify influential bloggers in their industries, and show them how to work the software.

Often, that’s where our work ends. Some of our clients blog regularly and see the expected, positive results and return on their investment. Others, unfortunately, put up one or two posts and begin the shame spiral of neglect.

Although I’ll sometimes nag a client who’s blog is whithering on the vine, there’s not much I can do–short of ghost blogging–to get their blog back in shape.

Which is why I wrote Jumpstart Your Blog: A Business Blogging Workout Regimen. The article reviews some blogging basics along with the amount of time new bloggers should spent on each activity.

I’m not sure if this is a salvo against abandoned blogs, a wake-up call to companies that have neglected their blog, or a reality check to people who are thinking about a blog but don’t realize the time and passion that needs to be committed to a successful business blog…I guess I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

If you do have a new or lapsed blog, perhaps all you need is a workout strategy. What do you do when it’s been a while since your last blog post?

Is Blogging Recession Proof?

There are two groups of people who apparently make hay during  a recession: journalists and Web marketers.

I’m not sure if this recession is different than previous ones, or if I’m just more aware this time around, but it seems to me that every business magazine and marketer is talking up the recession.

Business magazines run cover stories like “You Can Beat the Bad Economy.” (BusinessWeek Small Biz). Marketers talk about how to sell, market or profit from a recession in ezines, blogs, teleclasses and seminars. (I should know, I’m talking to a fellow marketer about doing a teleseminar on this very subject.)

There is one truism to a recession: market more. Yes, while everyone runs for cover, this is the time for you to ramp up your sales and marketing efforts.  One of the most cost-effective ways businesses can do this is through a blog. And, as every one else scales back on marketing, it makes your life so much easier.

Even with falling advertising costs, your blog still costs less; basically a few dollars a month in hosting fees. And, with a falling economy, there’s plenty of topics to discuss. A quick search of Technorati includes such posts as:

Hmm…maybe that last one hints that even bloggers aren’t immune to the recession…especially those who are reliant on Google Adsense to make a profit.

The Process of Starting a Corporate Blog

Posted by: of Made for Marketing on 02/25/08

Do you really need a process for starting a blog? Well, not if you’re a small, one-person business and you’re the only person to answer to. However, if yours is a multi-million (or billion) dollar enterprise that needs multiple layers of approval, then the following first in a three-part series on the process of setting up a corporate blog will benefit you.

This comes from a post at MarketingProfs, so here are the highlights. For the full post and original material, read on over here.

There are three phases to the corporate blog process. 1) Investigate, 2) Create, 3) Activate. This post deals only with the investgate phase, which follows these steps:
1. Determine Goals for Your Corporate Blog
You need to to determine why you’re doing this, get baseline measurements in place and create a vision for success. See the mindmap below for more detail.

2. Assess Your Market for Blog Viability
Not every company should blog. You need to understand what kind of conversation is taking place in your market and if you can easily enter the conversation with your blog strategy. You also need to look internally to make sure that this fits with your corporate culture.

3. Map to Overall Marketing/Communications Strategy
This is critical. The blog should not be an appendage or bolt-on to your marketing. If you’re going to do it right, it needs to be integrated into the rest of your messaging and conversation.

4. Risk Profile Assessment
Ask yourself a few questions to determine how ready you are to engage in the market conversation. You’ll have sooner or later, but here are a few things to look out for before you leap.
- Have you ever personally used social media and what’s your comfort level?
- What is your company’s tolerance for risk (e.g., initiating new or untested marketing tactics, launching bold corporate initiatives, etc.)?
- How does your company normally react to negative commentary from the media?

For more, read the MarketingProfs post: What’s the Process for Starting a Corporate Blog? How Long Does It Take? [Part 1 of 3].

Weblog (Blog) Implementation Process Roadmap

Measuring Business Blogging Success

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 10/10/07

It’s easy to start a blog. Not so easy to be successful. But what is success? Especially for a business blog?   Some of the measurable outcomes from business blogging include:

  • Media attention
  • Speaking requests
  • Customer loyalty
  • Inbound links to the blog
  • Search engine ranking for the corporate site
  • Corporate website traffic
  • Leads/sales initiated
  • Volume of blog traffic
  • Technorati and other credible rankings
  • Search engine ranking for the blog
  • Increased company visibility within the industry
  • Increased media coverage
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Increased sales leads/revenue/new customers

And there are more depending on the purpose of the blog, whether it’s to create thought leadership, announce new products, offer SEO friendly content for a troublesome CMS or ecommerce platform, generate leads, support media relations initiatives or simply serve as a sounding board for ideas.  The true measure of success for a business blog is entirely predicated on its purpose.

Once defined, implemented and measurements are put in place, any business can create a successful blog. It’s simply a matter of time, resources and a willingness to try until “what works” reveals itself.   Here’s a more detailed exploration of this idea as well as a long list of considerations that companies need to be aware of when starting a company blog. If you’re into checklists, then be sure to read Stephan’s “Essential Checklist for Starting a Blog“.

Teen Blogger Says “No” to Mowing the Lawn

Recently, at the BlogHer conference in Chicago, my 16-year-old daughter Chloe gave her first conference presentation on “professional blogging.” Chloe got to share her story about “making money while she sleeps,” based off of the popular virtual pets site, Neopets.

Watch some of the highlights from Chloe’s panel at BlogHer:

At 15, Chloe, like many teenagers, was looking for a way to make money. She had decided that she didn’t want to mow lawns in the neighborhood, babysit, or flip burgers–instead she hoped to turn her love for Neopets into dollars, by simply making a few, smart SEO decisions using keyword research tools like Google Suggest and WordTracker, and find trusted sources to build links for her blog. With the success of her blog, Chloe attempted to integrate Google ads, but wasn’t able to because of WordPress.com’s restrictive terms of service that forbids the use of AdSense or other third-party ads. Not long afterward, Chloe moved her entire blog to the domain neopets fanatic.com, which is currently ranking #4 for “neopets” out of 6.2 million results. (I’m so proud of her!!) Currently, her blog produces $20 to $30 per day in AdSense revenue, which totals an average of $700-900 per month for only a few hours worth of work on the site. If Chloe were working a minimum wage job at McDonalds, she’d have to work 25 to 30 hours per week to make that amount of money!

Chloe’s story should not be an unusual one. Anyone can turn SEO common “sense” into “cents,” by using the knowledge and the tools that are available.

Increase your blog comments using incentives

Incentives work. Our whole economy is powered by incentives — as one of my favorite business books Freakonomics reveals.

Incentives work in the blogosphere too. Commentors will respond to incentives. Motivate your readers to comment with the following WordPress plugins (hat tip to Blogtalks.net):

  • Show Top Commentators — to publicly recognize and name your top commentors on your blog
  • Link Love — to motivate your commentors to post comments, because they’ll get links and PageRank from you. Most blog platforms automatically nofollow the links in comments, so that no PageRank is transferred. This WordPress plugin removes the nofollow, so that your commentors will gain an SEO benefit from their comments. Just make sure that your blog is pristinely clean of comment spam. You don’t want to inadvertently link to what Google calls “bad neighborhoods.”
  • Comment Relish — to send Thank You notes to your new commentors. The plugin ensures that you don’t send regular commentors repeated thank you emails. So don’t worry, you want be inadvertently barraging your commentors with an onslaught of spam.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Blogging from a Legal Standpoint

Too many articles about the legal ramifications of corporate blogs focus entirely on the negative side of blogs. This makes sense; corporate lawyers are hired with the intent of keeping the company safe and limiting risk. Marketing, extending your brand, and keeping employees and customers happy are someone else’s responsibilities.

However, As Blogging Grows, So Do Its Do’s and Don’ts, over at Law.com’s Legal Technology is a much more even-handed approach. (In fact, its do’s outnumber its don’ts about 2-to-1.)

There’s advice for public companies (do be mindful of security laws…risks associated with…making material misstatements that could manipulate the stock price and expose the company to liability for securities fraud under Rule 10b-5), companies with trade secrets, and just about anyone else.

The article can be summarized by the final quote:

The key to sticking with the “Do’s” is remembering that corporate blogging is like any other business communication that represents the company: Honesty and common sense go a long way to keeping the company (and its blog) on the right side of the law.

Jumpstart Traffic to Your Blog with these Web 2.0 Steps

I stumbled upon this post about 5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Website [or blog] over at College Startup.

It leans heavily on Web 2.0 sites like Reddit and Digg and some upstart called Netscape. However, if you’re looking to reach a new audience this post has the links you’ll need to try out.

I took the author’s advice and posted Top-Level Domain Survey (or what to do when your .com is taken) to his number one recommendation and got about 30 hits in 30 minutes from the source. Not bad for 2 minutes of work. (Not including the hour or so I put into creating the survey and blogging about it.)

YMMV depending on your audience, post and title.

 

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