August 28, 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.

Content Curation in B2B Marketing

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 06/29/10

Content Curation in B2B MarketingMany of the B2B companies that publish corporate blogs have long realized the value of publishing useful content in the form of white papers, case studies, webinars, newsletters and other types of educational content.

Business buyers typically seek additional information and resources for information on business products and services. In the growing content marketing field, some companies choose a pure creation strategy (often using blogging platforms for publishing) and find it to be a challenge.

Within the field of content marketing, content curation blends a mix of new content with the filtering and management of useful information streams from blogs and other RSS resources. The curation of useful content for B2B marketing serves as a productive and manageable solution for providing prospective customers a steady stream of useful information from trusted sources.  Pure content creation is demanding. Pure automation of content aggregation doesn’t foster interaction. For B2B marketers, content curation provides the best of both worlds.

To make more sense out of the notion of content curation, here are some useful thought leader definitions of the topic and insight into where curation might fit within a digital marketing program:

Joe Pulizzi – Founder Junta42 and Content Marketing Institute, Co-Author of Get Content, Get Customers.

Content curation is editing on steroids.

As more content floods through all aspects of the web (as well as print and online), we’ll need more brands stepping up to make sense of what we really should be paying attention to. Content curation is as important in the content marketing toolbox as is creation. We need both…and curation doesn’t work without creation (much like Google trying to save the newspapers because they need great news to survive, but that is for another story). For some brands, curation may be enough. You can’t find the resources to develop the most valuable, most compelling content in your industry? Then just tap into your network that does, and package that content to present you as the trusted industry leader. It’s still a needed service, just a bit different from creation.

Where it will go, no one knows…but I’ve heard from smarter people than me that content curation is the future (even present) of media. I’d rather say curation and creation go together like Macaroni & Cheese…a splendid combination.

Pawan Deshpande – CEO, HiveFire, Makers of Curata

Content curation is the cure for a broken content marketing strategy. Content marketing is about a brand producing valuable content, and prospects being educated with that content. It’s valuable, it works and it’s not going away.

But the only problem is that day by day, it’s less effective as everyone produces more and more content. Brands are increasingly competing to get their content noticed. At the same time, prospects are increasingly spending more time searching for relevant content.

Content curation has emerged as a new and powerful way for marketers to seamlessly sift through the flood of content available to prospects. Like the owner of a high-end art gallery, you have to sift through the information from across the web and “curate” it to ensure that it is relevant to the customer. You will be navigating your prospects through this sea of content by leading them to the most relevant important information.

It’s already happened in the consumer world: Sites like Digg (social curation) which have little or no original content have become key resources for information. Similarly we are seeing leading businesses take a similar approach to become the experts for their respective areas.

Paul Gillin – Consultant and Author of The New Influencers and Secrets of Social Media Marketing

I define content curation as the process of assembling, summarizing and categorizing and interpreting information from multiple sources in a context that is relevant to a particular audience. I think this discipline will be absolutely essential to content marketing in the future because of changes in the media landscape.

Marketers can build trust with their constituencies by providing focused curation in areas that matter to their constituents. Original content will always have value, but curation is coming to have nearly equal value.  The key is to stake out unique topic areas and to become the most trusted source in those areas. You don’t need a lot of money to do this. You just need to know the subject matter very well.

So it seems that not only do companies need to enter the world of publishing, but undertake the role of digital librarian as well. I cannot imagine the need for original blogging going away anytime soon. But I can see blogging complemented and even facilitated by the incorporation of curated feeds (excerpts) from other blogs and information sources. Citation and links benefit the sources and the collection of useful information benefits the readers.  Satisfied readers can turn into interested prospects and satisfied customers.

Take the Business Blogging and SEO Survey

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 01/14/10

Blog SEO Survey Blogs serve many purposes for companies and individuals alike. As easy to use content management systems, blog software enables companies that are “content challenged” a mechanism to create content for subscribing customers and search engines.

While many companies start blogs with SEO in mind, there are many overzealous claims and exaggerated expectations about what works and what doesn’t.

At MarketingBlog.com we’re currently running a poll with business bloggers to better understand the perceived SEO impact of business blogging and would greatly appreciate 1-2 minutes of your participation: http://bit.ly/6Lr4Xb

Responses will be aggregated early next week and an executive summary will be published here on Business Blog Consulting. Full results will also be available in a Business Blogging and SEO Report.

If you’re a business blogger, please take and share the survey.

To make it easy to share the survey on Twitter, Facebook or FriendFeed, here’s a bit of text to copy/paste:

Take the Biz Blogging and SEO survey: http://bit.ly/6Lr4Xb

Why Blogger Is No Good For Business Blogging

Posted by: of BizGrowthNews on 10/12/08

I was recently running a workshop about Word of Mouse Marketing using social media from blogging to microblogging, podcasting to video casting and it was heartening to see that about 8 per cent of the 140 attendees were blogging about their business.

However I then became disheartened as most of those blogs had been developed on a platform such as Blogger or WordPress.com.

If anyone tells you that business blogging is not a significant investment of your time, they clearly are not a business blogger developing online content and implementing a link building strategy to bring traffic to their business blog.

Don’t get me wrong, blogging is a terrific online marketing strategy if executed effectively. I could think of no other way that I would have attracted as many leads to my business so cost effectively without a business blog.

However if you are going to invest in business blogging, be good to yourself… don’t have all those wonderful incoming links to your great content go to a blog that is not hosted by you.

You might think this is something that only happens for small businesses – it’s not!

From well established businesses using WordPress.com to Marketing Directors of major companies who should know more about branding than most, using a blog that is detracting from their personal brand online as they are using Blogger, many companies are using free hosted and poorly branded business blogs.

Online personal branding coaches look to encourage people to use Typepad.com as a blog platform – whilst it’s a great blogging platform that I use and recommend and it’s especially helpful if you want a low tech solution for a personal career portfolio, if you also have a website, a Typepad blog is not going to help you with your link building and search engine optimisation strategy for your main website which is becoming even more critical as few people now move beyond page 1 of Google when searching and researching online. What do they do if they can not find what they are looking for online on the first page of their search? They change the words they are using to search with of course.

Investing a little and money in implementing a business blog that is hosted on your website not only makes you look like you take business blogging seriously as part of your online marketing strategy, it also means that every link to your great content is a link to your website.

That way you will be sure to benefit even more from your online content strategy buildng links to your business blog.

UPDATE 29 DECEMBER 2008

Thanks everyone for the contribution to the discussion.

I recently had a discussion with a PR expert who advised me about a WordPress.com site they had set up for their client who wanted to try blogging but was unsure about whether it was something that they would continue in the medium to long term. The plan was then to import the content into a blog hosted on their website if they determined that blogging was for them.

If this is a way to encourage companies to blog (alternative approaches could include hosting a blog internally, having a project related blog or password protecting your business blog in the early days as you get into your stride) then it’s certainly worth considering – but make sure that you define the trial period on the hosted platform.

Hosting your own content for the reasons outlined in the comments and ensuring that your blog reflects your brand and corporate identiy and tone of voice is important.

And remember if you are still not convinced by the debate in the comments to this article about the benefits of hosting your own blog and you decide to continue to use one of the hosted free platforms or low cost platforms available, take the time to map your own domain name to the blog (as an example here is the guidance form Typepad on domain mapping).

Your business blog is an extension of your online identity and brand. So don’t let your business blog be bland!

Learning From Business Blogging Mistakes

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 07/7/08

With as many right things you can do with a blog to make it successful, there are nearly as many things you can do wrong. Below are 3 common mistakes companies make with corporate blogs, why they make them and what you can do to avoid them.

Mistake Number One: Not Setting Goals
Many business blogs are started without specific goals. Blog software is typically so easy to install and setup that the number of new blogs has been overwhelming, making it difficult for any one blog to stand out.

Identifying the purpose of the blog is as important as researching similar blogs and the communities they are involved with. The networks of users associated with blogs similar in purpose and content to your own should match the blog’s target audience.

Mistake Number Two: Not Keeping Control
Since many companies start blogs as an experiment, they often are not taken as seriously. As a result, third party blog hosting platform and url are often used such as companyname.blogspot.com, companyname.wordpress.com or companyname.typepad.com.

Why shouldn’t you host your blog using a third party domain name? First, you have no control. If you want to change blogging platforms, there is typically no reasonable way to redirect traffic from the old blog to the new address in a search engine friendly way.
Mistake Number Three: Not Sourcing Content
The excitement and promise from starting a corporate blog can often become a case of overenthusiasm when it comes to writing content. Most people are hard pressed to write good emails, let alone 400 word blog posts. Writing original content every day or at least a few times a week can become near impossible if plans are not made editorially and for sourcing content within the organization.

Obviously there are many more mistakes companies make with corporate blogs ranging from not optimizing blog templates and posts to inconsistent posting to a lack of metrics. We’ll save those for another “Business Blog Mistakes” post version 2.0. Companies that want to avoid making business blogging mistakes can hire a blog consultant like the folks at TopRank or any of the contributors listed in the left side bar of Business Blog Consulting.

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.

 

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