Category Archives: blogging

9 Steps To Successfully Market Your Self Published Book

Use these 9 steps to promote your book, sell more copies and land a publisher.
Use these 9 steps to promote your book, sell more copies and land a publisher.

9 Steps To Successfully Market Your Self Published Book. Lots of people write and self-publish their own books. In the age of electronic publishing, nobody even needs paper never mind ink anymore. But the challenges for authors remains the same and that is this; how to get people be aware of and eventually read their books. Of course there are no guarantees but these 9 steps will certainly not hurt.

  1. Build awareness. You need to build recognition for yourself and your book(s). Think of this as your brand. The best place to start is locally. If you can start to garner recognition in your own backyard you have a chance of garnering some more nationally. Join a local book club and offer to share readings from your work. The same approach can be used with libraries by offering to give a talk about the book. You will not get paid but you can start to build a following.
  2.  Write a blog. Writers need to write and this is a way to share your insights with an audience. Blogging platforms are easy to come by and not expensive. The one you are reading is a good example.
  3.  If you do not have a twitter account and Facebook page devoted to your writing then start both. The key to success with social media and blogs is to contribute to them regularly.
  4. Make friends with local booksellers. I know the book store is becoming a thing of the past but given where you live there are bound to be some.Once they know you, see if you can do signings, or bring the talk you gave the library and the book club and give it again at the book store.
  5. Find a charity (like a local animal shelter) and arrange a book sale with 100% of the proceeds donated to the charity. It’s another way to start building that recognition as not just a good writer but a socially responsible one too.
  6. Contact the local schools and see if you can base a writing workshop for teachers with the book as the center piece. Schools are strapped for resources and the fresh insight a published author can deliver will be worthwhile and appreciated.
  7. Submit your work to publishers. I do not have to tell you that self-published writers have the most difficult time getting any traction. But to be taken seriously you will have to eventually get published. Yes, you will be turned down a bunch of times. But you only need one ‘yes’.
  8. For signings, workshops, charity events etc. write and send press releases to the local media. Be sure to include a photo of yourself and the book cover along with how to contact you for comment.
  9. Take the publicity you gain from number 8 and post it to your web site. Publicity from a third party will boost your credibility in the eyes of potential customers and publishers.

For anyone who acts on all nine of these or even a few, let me hear from you and how you did.

Texas Needs A Law Against Texting While Driving

I’ve lived in two other states and this our second time to be in Texas. My wife and I were born here and my great great grandfather was a Texas Ranger. I’m no newcomer or Yankee. That we allow texting while driving is beyond me. Last May the Texas legislature failed to pass a law against this and Texas is one of just six states in the U.S. to not have at least a statewide ban on texting behind the wheel. (Texas bans younger drivers from any cellphone use while driving, along with barring all drivers from texting or hand-held cellphone use in school zones.)

Why does Texas need a law against texting while driving? Easy. We have a lot of people who own cars in the state who simply lack the good sense not to text while driving. That’s why.Ban Texting.jpg

Anyone who believes their personal freedom is at stake over such a law cannot be taken seriously and are the reason the rest of us need to be protected. Don’t wear a seatbelt? No problem, I don’t care. You’ll grab serious air flying through the windshield and will not harm anyone other than yourself. Not going to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle? Hey we need organ donors now more than ever. But when you text while driving you put others at risk. Kill yourself through ignorance and arrogance if you like, but leave the rest of us to die quietly of natural causes.

Landing Pages Help Convert Prospects

Landing Pages Help Convert Prospects. 85639a_92fb3a3f32074e52a022bbed5df76e32

Landing pages.
Landing pages are a way for prospects to find and contact you, instead of the other way around.

This topic is a little involved, so please be patient. All of my readers are not seasoned marketers or public relations people. Many are just starting out and this, like most of my blog posts are written with them in mind.

The reason for a business of any type or size to be active on the web is to recruit more customers. If you run a political campaign, more donors and ultimately voters are the goal. For a non-profit charity, you want to recruit more contributors. Regardless of the enterprise, you need customers.

Awareness or Action

I get amused at marketers and promoters who say the goal of their campaign is to “raise awareness”. Let’s say that I am the chief marketer for the local Burger King franchise and my goal is to raise awareness of my restaurant. People driving past the Burger King and having seen my ads will be aware of the fact that we sell hamburgers.

By the measure of my stated goal, I’ve succeeded. But unless those same passersby come in and buy something, my employees and me will be in search of a new situation because we failed to ask for the order, literally. Awareness of our product is not enough, someone will have to take action, come inside and buy something. Awareness is only part of the challenge for marketers, getting someone to take action is the next and most important and that is where the “landing page” comes in. A landing page requires the one who lands to do something.

The Landing Page Simply Defined

Simply stated, a landing page is a web page that stands alone as it is made for a single purpose. A landing page is the first step for self-qualification of new customers as the person who comes to the landing page, wants to learn more about how you can help them accomplish their goals. For you, that purpose is to expand your mailing list and further introduce yourself and your capabilities to a prospect. You can also connect with them later with more promotional opportunities. For the moment, just collect some very basic information from them. Ask for a name and e-mail address. In exchange, the visitor will receive a free brochure, white paper, coupon, e-book or something else of value. For

There are several different types of landing pages. My personal favorite are the ones like the ones described above, that allow the visitor who lands there the opportunity to download a brochure, position paper, newsletter or some other data at no charge. E-books are also good. But like I said, the only thing to ask for in exchange is the name and e-mail address of the person who wants to download, possibly the company name but no more. The more personal data required, the more likely your prospect is to bail. So ask for the minimum. In exchange, the prospect receives something free, but also valuable.

What To Offer

You now have something of value, a lead. Not only a lead, but one where the individual freely self-nominated himself. Better still, you attract a certain type of prospective customer based on what you offer. To stay with our Burger King example, you could offer a percent off coupon, or buy one get one free, introduce a new type of burger, remind prospects that Chicken Fries are back, etc.

The downloaded item in this instance compels the prospect to go inside the restaurant and buy something. So more than aware, he/she is now a customer. You can use this concept for any type of business. If you are a hair stylist, offer free coloring, if you own a driving range, offer a free bucket of balls. If you are in the chemical manufacturing industry, offer a sample of your new product or free consultation. The landing page is your catalyst for a longer conversation with a prospective customer.

Of course not all landing pages were created equal. And that leads (no pun intended) to the next thing for you to learn, testing.

Test Your Landing Pages

Use two different pages to see which one draws the best results. Known as A/B testing, the value proposition and free download typically remains the same. The layout and design of the landing page(s) is what differs. Try out different colors, photos, headlines, amount of text, and whatever else you can think of to test. I know there is a temptation to always use the color schemes and design that you like. That is not wrong all by itself, but remember that you are not a prospect. Be as dispassionate as you are able to be. The goal is to attract new prospects, not be “right”. Here is an example or two.

Not The Power Of Rational Decision Making

I quoted a job for redoing a series of brochures and signage for a company. The owner really liked purple and so everything was purple. The type and print, was all done in purple. The frames around photos were purple and he used gradients of, you guessed it, purple, on his brochures and other materials. It was like a purple nightmare.

I suggested he make his materials more reader friendly by using black type on white backgrounds and reserve purple as a highlight and way to add contrast. I further suggested A/B testing, just to make sure that we were on the right track and he would see that the more professionally designed materials would lead to more customers over the power of all that purple. After all, the numbers never lie. Just follow the data and he would of course make a rational choice, right? Not right. My suggestions were ignored and I did not get the job. I feel badly for the poor guy though, somewhere sobbing into a big purple pillow, on the road to ruin. Here is another example.

I was working in a very challenging place where one of the marketing staff members had worked there for 16 years. Let’s call her “Stacie”. She had no marketing education or experience other than what she had always done at this place and was left to pretty much whatever she wanted. Getting a new boss (me) was not welcomed. Neither was the idea of doing anything differently.

I thought that a way to persuade her to a different point of view was to test her ideas against some others. Stacie would then see that there was a different and even better way to do things and rationally decide to change. You can guess the end. Instead of embracing the better way of doing things, all she did was get mad and cling to her ideas with more fervor. Don’t be like Stacie or purple man. Be open to new ideas and test them to see if in addition to being different they might also be better.

Non-Computer People’s Ten Additional SEO Steps

Technical shit happens.
SEO is evolving and the bigger your site, the more work you will have to do to make sure that search engines can find you.

Non-Computer People’s Ten Additional SEO Steps. No posting I’ve done got the reaction that my “SEO for Non-Computer People” did. So I thought give the people what they want, more SEO. While I’m not a web or computer beginner by any stretch, I am also not an expert by any stretch either. More often than not its both trial and error that help me stumble forward with new web, software or hardware applications. SEO was different, at least for me. It was not intuitive, there were no patterns to copy, and since I work alone, no one to ask.

Throw money at the problem? Sure. I was contacted by plenty of people who promised to get me on the front page of Google, but that sounded unrealistic. I was born at night but not last night. So when I decided to get serious about blogging and consulting it was time to learn more about this topic.

Why does this matter so much? Because in an era when so many of us “transition” from good jobs at nice companies to single practitioner status we have to be able to compete with others who do know how to do this. And since so many of us make this transition after we turned 50, we did not grow up learning and doing the way younger people did. (Was that transition after the age of 50 for so many of us just a coincidence?)

  1. Will Google find my content if I do not submit my site to Google? Google says they will, but I think you should submit it to them anyway and here is why. My experience is that unless you do submit your site to Google you will not be able to use Google analytics. Since Google is the 800 pound gorilla on line, follow their directions. If you are using Word Press, there is a Google Analytics capability on your dashboard. Go there and it will ask you to paste a line of code into it. To get that line of code you need to go to Google Analytics, set up your account and enter the information for your web site. To do that, you will have to have submitte your site to Google. Full confession, this took me hours to sort out. But once I did, it was learned forever.
  2. What is “robot.txt” file and why should you care. According to Google Webmaster, a robot.txt is “a file at the root of your site that indicates those parts of your site you don’t want accessed by search engine crawlers. The file uses the Robots Exclusion Standard, which is a protocol with a small set of commands that can be used to indicate access to your site by section and by specific kinds of web crawlers (such as mobile crawlers vs desktop crawlers).” So in other words, if you have something on your site that you do not want seen, use this function. Google also has a way for you to test which URLs Google can and cannot access on your website, try using the txt Tester. Of course you will have to register.
  3. Links or content? The landscape of SEO has changed. I read that link and key word building were once a very important part of SEO. Accordingly, on line marketers were investing in that. But now, linking is not the numbers game it once was. Yes, you should include links that are meaningful to your content in your posts and articles. But if you have only the resources to focus on links or content, focus on content.
  4. Meta tags, and meta key words? Before the changes in process by Google, web programmers could jam a bunch of keywords onto to a site and trick the search engine into ranking it higher than it actually warranted. That will not work any more. So what does matter for META?
  5. META descriptions. META descriptions do not impact where your site is listed or ranked, but they do influence people searching for information. The META description is the opportunity to make your site stand out. If you are going to invest your time in SEO for your sitework on the META description.
  6. But I hate this, shouldn’t I just hire someone? You can hire someone who is technically adept but will he (yes it will be a “he”) know your topic like you? Probably not. My opinion is that with any media content site, do the content first. As fast as you are writing about and sharing your expertise, the wizards at Google are figuring out ways to make the SEO process better. And by better I mean a fair system of ranking based on what is there and not based on clever programming designed to game the system.
  7. Key word optimization is king/queen of SEO. Key words are important, no doubt. But like I said earlier, stuffing keywords onto your site will no longer do. Instead of counting and ranking sites by the number of words that shows up, Google is learning how to understand the intent behind those words, ergo, content.
  8. So put your key words in your headline. Write your headline with the keywords in it that are relevant to your content. Google hates it when you try to trick it and will actually punish those who try to cheat the system. It’s not nice to fool mother nature, but far worse to mess with Google. Speaking for myself, I am not qualified to try and game the people at Google. Sincere authorship of something you want to share that will help your fellow citizens is the best way forward for all of us.
  9. Present the most important concepts first. The people you are really working to optimize the site for are the readers. Like we say in journalism, don’t bury the lead. Put your best ideas first.
  10. Please don’t say it’s easy or that I missed something obvious. If it was obvious, I would have listed it. No one was born knowing this. But in the era of outsourced workers who have to compete for work on line, getting your head around the how to’s of some basic SEO skills is a good idea.

Write Good Headlines Nine Ways Recruit More Readers

Write Good Headlines Nine Ways. It’s true for advertisers, news writers and bloggers. No matter how brilliant the body of your piece may be if it does not have a headline that grabs attention and persuades people to read it, you might as well be writing with invisible ink. The headline of your blog post, article or news release is like the front door of your house. Your “front door” should compel readers to “come inside” and read because it’s more interesting and beneficial here than it is somewhere else.

Write Good Headlines Nine Ways. Without a decent headline there is no chance any of the rest of your article will be read.
Without a decent headline there is no chance any of the rest of your article will be read.

I’ve read where some writers wait until they are completely finished with an article or post to start on the headline. If that works for the more experienced writers, then great. But if you are just starting out you need some direction, hints, or a kind of a process at least to get started. Here is what I do.

  1. Write a draft title first. Once I settled on the topic to write about a title goes at the top of the page. The draft title for this post is “What’s In A Headline And How To Write Good Ones”. Now look at the top of the page and see how much the title changed or did not change after writing and editing. A draft or working title like this anchors you and your thinking. I know after penning the draft title, hey, I’m writing about how to write a good headline, so think about that. On the other hand of my 1st headline was too broad, it would be hard to focus. If the draft was just “headlines” it would be tougher to figure out the specifics of why this mattered.
  2. Do not overpromise. If you write a headline that says something like “5 guaranteed ways to find customers without even getting out of your chair” you will attract readers. Unfortunately they will only come to visit your blog a single time because you overpromised and under-delivered. Trust is difficult to win on your best day. It is easy to lose, and once trust is lost, it’s gone. Don’t just write “click bait” but instead give your readers real value. Start the relationship with a reasonable, accurate headline.
  3. Be Accurate. This is along the same theme as number 2. Save hyperbole and creative exaggeration for your script-writing project. There are plenty of ways to use language creatively and honor your honesty value.
  4. What is the value proposition? Why or how will the reader benefit from reading your piece? Tell them and be specific. “Raid Kills Bugs Dead” tells you exactly what Raid will do and in very few words. Brilliant.
  5. Use interesting language. Or use combinations of words that do not ordinarily occur together. Strong phrases like “why we hate to eat our vegetables”, “how I earned the label genius”, “local sports team delivers ass kicking” or “kick ass” are acceptable, at least in some forums. If you have a doubt about whether or not a word like “ass” is acceptable or not, it probably is not. I have no issue using it here, but would not use when I write about performances by the symphony orchestra that I play in. “Brazosport Symphony’s Mozart Kicks Major Ass” is more than a little out of place.
  6. Don’t be boring or lazy. I read newspaper headlines that use hackneyed phrases and descriptions. “Pet Fashion Show Goes To The Dogs” is one I saw recently. Yawn. This headline writer was just going through the motions, barely. He had decided that the newspaper industry was dead and his performance could do little to save it. What About, “Pet Fashion Model Shakes, Licks Itself Then Raises Thousands.” Regardless of which you believe is best, the one that gets the readers is best. And mine was the best. Just sayin’.
  7. Numbers and lists. People are drawn to lists and numbers in headlines. I better have a really interesting post to write a headline that does not have a number in it because my experience and that of other bloggers is that without them, you will draw fewer readers.
  8. Shorter is better. When writing headlines, be brief. If you can write a tweet that fits their character constraint, you can do it with a headline too.
  9. Ask friends or co-workers their opinions. Brainstorm with them about what the best headline is. Two heads are always better and three is better still. Your good friends will tell you the truth about a headline. If they will alert you to spinach in your teeth, or toilet paper on your shoe they will help you with a headline. Good friends want you to be successful. If you have them, consider yourself lucky. If you work alone, maybe it’s time to make some friends?

Five Things: Investigate Before Paying for Awards

Five Things: Investigate Before Paying for Awards. I have a client who was contacted by a trade magazine about being named to an industrial top 20 list of promising companies like his. Sounds good, right? Everyone likes recognition, especially the positive kind and especially when it will be published in a widely read, respected trade journal. What’s not to like?

The catch was that there was a $3,000.00 “sponsorship” charge associated with this award. When I heard that, my eyebrows went straight up and found myself instinctively clutching my wallet. But being fair minded investigated further, wanting to give everyone involved the benefit of the doubt.

For the sake of protecting the innocent and not getting sued, I have changed all of the details about this story. Here are the things to investigate before paying for an award from a trade magazine or anyone else.

  1. Check the magazines’ circulation numbers. For this particular book, Vocus listed their circulation at 0. That does not necessarily mean that there are no readers; it means they did not report the number of readers to any audit company. Serious trade magazines have their readership numbers audited by an outside 3rd party, like BPA. That way they can justify their ad rates and communicate to advertisers that prospective customers see their ads. Be wary of any trade magazine that does not have an audit statement or lists of subscribers or readers.
  2. How often is the magazine published? 12 is the most often and sometimes there are 24 issues of most magazines. And they supplement with on line issues and podcasts, fine. In this case, the magazines’ web site said they publish “every other month” (which for trade publication is a red flag all by itself) but found other reviews that said they publish 12 issues a year and another that said they published 23. One review said they always publish an issue at the start of the month, but could not say when or if they published one at mid-month. Trade publications run by adults not only publish regularly but they also have an editorial calendar. If you the magazine approaching you does not have an editorial calendar and can’t keep up with the number they intend to publish, run away.
  3. The absence of a significant social media profile. Checking the twitter page for this magazine, I found there were 93 tweets and 613 followers. Another trade magazine that covered the same topic/industry had by contrast has 28,400 tweets and over 120,000 followers. The absence of a significant social media footprint is a bad sign. News sources (like trade magazines) publish news and use twitter to alert those interested about it because it is important or at least noteworthy. My own twitter account has more tweets than this. Beware. And look at the twitter accounts of others who were similarly approached about the same awards.
  4. How many other top 10/20/30 lists do they publish? For this particular trade book, I found 3 dozen top whatever lists. When you are 1 among several hundred others, it does not put you in unique company.
  5. Do your homework. For companies or individuals, it is very hard to hide on line. It is your responsibility to perform due diligence. Some of the clues about “offers” like this are not as obvious as others. No one did anything illegal as far as I can tell. But you have to feel that the overall dubiousness of the award and its price tag are worth noting.

In this case, all the clues were not obvious and that is the real shame. It annoys me considerably to know that honest people are tricked into things like this simply because they do not know the right questions to ask. Now they do. So if someone wants to give you an award and presents you with an invoice, just politely say “no thanks” and move on to the next real opportunity. There are plenty of them and you have lots of interesting things to say.

 

Easy WordPress SEO For Non Computer People

If you are like me you want to be able to use your blog and/or web presence to promote yourself, your products and services. The only challenge is that you do not have any background or experience with computers, writing code or anything technical to accomplish this. Yes, you can type and send e-mail and post on Face Book but that’s pretty much it. You can spell “SEO” which is short for Search Engine Optimization, and you know that whatever it is you need some. Welcome to my world.

SEO tactics even people who are not computer programmers can do.
SEO tactics even people who are not computer programmers can do.

The goal for optimizing your blog is to make it stand out or at least easy to find. That is what SEO does and why it is important.

Since I use WordPress like over 50 million other people, this article is directed for us. I have read that WordPress is reasonably well optimized but there are still some things that a novice can do.

  1. Keep posting. Writing and posting something interesting and unique as often as you are able to is the best way to get noticed.
  2. Use more images. I am not very good at this, particularly since there are so few images that help communicate “blogging” or “marketing”. But if your blog is about horses, plumbing or go-carts you have a better or at least more reasonable chance of taking or finding good photos.
  3. Give your photos a good name. And by photos I mean image files. Google uses images to calculate relevance. So if your photo is of a red go-cart, name the file “red go cart”.
  4. Exchange backlinks. Backlinks are also known as incoming links, inlinks or inward links. The number of inbound links is significant as it signals how important or popular your site it. Avoid the temptation to use “linkspam”, just putting links to your site everywhere regardless of the context. It’s not the way to attract the right audience. Link farms are another scheme for artificially boosting SEO and page ranks. As programmers become better at seeing which links are the most relevant, the likelihood that you will be punished or even banned by the search engines increases. Honesty is the best policy and hard work is its own reward. You will be rewarded by working hard to write and post something new every day or more if you are able.
  5. Use short permalinks and keywords. A permalink is the URL address for individual posts in your blog. The first 4 words in a link are the ones that are most important. So if your website address is http://wordpress.yourname/websitename/host/112, etc. shorten it. The address for this blog is mediandpublicrelations.com. Simple is good.
  6. Highlight important words, titles and subtitles of an article or important sentences. Use the <strong> command too, but don’t overdue it.
  7. Avoid the use of Flash. It is like invisible ink to search engines.
  8. Plug Ins. Say hello to easy. Use one of the dozens that WordPress makes available like Yoast. There are others you can buy. I’m going to try out 1clickwpseo and see what it does. I will let you know.

Content is king and queen. There are over 200 search criteria for Google alone including things like how old your site it, meta description and use of tags, how active your blog or site is, etc. Follow the instructions o WordPress and get the most out of what is already available and don’t sweat it too much or grow impatient and try “black hat” shortcuts. Keep writing, podcasting and posting. The audience will find you and so will all the Googlebots

Ten Reasons/Ways Using The Web For Business Promotion

Ten Reasons/Ways Using The Web For Business Promotion. Content Marketing and Public Relations are complimentary parts of your overall marketing efforts.
Content Marketing and Public Relations are complimentary parts of your overall marketing efforts.

Ten Reasons/Ways Using The Web For Business Promotion. I recently had a conversation with a local merchant who did not believe that his business would benefit from a web site. He did not have one and had no plans to start. According to him, his was a local concern and “everyone knows about us.” He was not interested in selling to people outside of his local area. He did not have the skills to set up a web site, and was not keen to hire anyone to do it for him. Granted, he did have an established trade and an excellent location. He also had a good reputation and made a good living. Of course it was his choice to have a web site or not, and who am I to insist that he get one?

What might I say to him that would be helpful?

  1. Would you like to have more money? There is only one right answer. Of course you would. And if you have a good bit of money already, couldn’t you use more?
  2. Everyone does not know you. And even if at some point “everyone” had passed by or even went inside the building, they need reminding about who you are and what you do and how “everyone” could benefit from doing business with you. Smart promoters promote all the time. The reason I can sing the “Classic Chevrolet” radio jingle is because I hear it all the time. Frequency of exposure to your business, cause or candidacy is a key to success. There was a kind of smugness associated with the remark about how “everyone” knew him that put me off. It reminded me of my time in the specialty chemical manufacturing business when I heard the same thing from a product manager. He did not see any benefit to running advertisements in trade magazines and insisted that “everyone knows who we are”. After the first ad ran and there were over 1,100 inquiries, the discussion about how everyone knew us ceased.
  3. The web is a reference tool. In the old days, people went to the Yellow Pages or the local newspaper to do research on local products and services. Now, they go to Google. A local merchant or professional can go to Google Maps, click the link that says, “put your business on Google Maps” and be a couple of clicks away from literally putting your business on the map. Yahoo and Bing also have similar capability. Don’t ignore them. Now that you have established a web presence, you can do a few other things.
  4. Claim credit for the good you do. Plenty of local merchants perform acts of charity. They do not do it for reputation building or credit, but simply because they are generous people who want to give back. Commendable! But there is nothing wrong with asking the local charity, which mentioned you on their web site, and asking for a link back to your site. It does not cost anything. And if you feel embarrassed about taking credit, get over it. Your competitors are doing it and they are taking money away from you and your family and your employees. It’s marketing for goodness sakes.
  5. Ask for reviews. You have regular customers who come inside and buy things all the time. Ask them to go on line and write a review. This is much like “word of mouth” but the reach goes far beyond the circle of acquaintance your customer has.
  6. List your memberships. If you are a member of the local chamber of commerce, say so and list a link back to their web page. And while you are at it, make sure they have a link to your new web site on their page!
  7. Put your web address on your business card. Some people might think this goes without saying. Does it? Can I see your card? Just checking.
  8. Start a social network for your business. What is it about local merchants who are reluctant to post on Twitter or have a Face Book page for a business? I marvel at the reticence of so many people to tell others about what they do, never mind how much their neighbors will benefit. I patronize locally owned businesses because these folks are my neighbors. I often pay more because I prefer to support local merchants. I’ve got nothing against national chains, but there is something about the small businessman or woman that makes this country great. Give others like me the chance to hand over our money by promoting yourself via social media.
  9. Share your expertise. Another reason to spend time with local business owners is their expertise. I knew a couple of guys who owned a small fishing equipment shop. They were avid anglers and knew everything there was to know about fishing inside and out. People who had bought their equipment somewhere else would come to them for advise. Eventually, they went out of business. Not because of a lack of know how, but because they did not promote their know-how as part of their unique abilities. The web is the place to do this.
  10. Write and post a short story about how you helped someone. You do not have to name anyone by name, just describe the circumstances and how you were able to lend assistance. Write and post enough of these and pretty soon you have a blog.

So if you are a local merchant in a traditional “brick and mortar” building don’t dismiss the web as a place to be seen. Like I said earlier, your competitors are all on line and they are taking money away from you and your children.

 

Start A Blog To Share Information Freely And Often

Start A Blog To Share Information Freely And Often.

Start A Blog To Share Information Freely And Often
Start A Blog To Share Information Freely And Often. Like owning your own media outlet because you do.

Why should you start a blog? Easy. The more information you can share about you, your company and what it can offer, the more you are seen as an expert. Expertise will command share of mind. And when your blog readers need some of what you have to offer, they will call you. A blog is a way to gain trust and trust is a sure pathway to more customers.

In the not too distant past, blogs and bloggers were granted the same credibility as talk radio callers. No more. Blogs provide information and news to professionals, entrepreneurs, devotees and hobbyists of the even the most narrow interests. You can even get paid to write a blog! Did anyone ever get paid to call a talk show? Doubtful.

Beyond mere opinion and blather, the blog is now an important communications tool. Blogs contribute to public relations, SEO and content marketing efforts. A blog is a way for individuals with expertise to communicate directly to others who are interested and can benefit from their knowledge. Reading a blog is free. There may be blogs that require a subscription, sure. But for me, the best bloggers are the ones who share information with their followers freely and often. The more expertise you can share freely the more credibility you will have. And there is the rub.

Not everyone will share the view that information and know-how need to be shared at no cost. After all, what if the competition reads this? Our competitors will know what we know, won’t they?

Relax. Your competitors already know what you know. They have and have always had a folder marked “competitive information” and no doubt you have one with the same exact title. You cannot deprive your competitors of knowledge about you, your business, products or services. They have a friend who works for your customer who gave them your letter, brochure, presentation, or offer letter. One of the office staff went to your web site and requested a sample, called your help line, and read every word of the FAQ. They went to your presentation at the tradeshow and sat at the table where all your employees were clustered and listened to every word. Keep a secret? Not likely.

When you try and keep your secrets, the people you deprive of your knowledge are those who could potentially become customers. This will seem counterintuitive to some. After all, if we build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to our door, right? Maybe and I don’t know but probably not.

I really dislike the “better mousetrap” analogy. If you build a better mousetrap and refuse to promote it, the only beings that learn about it are the mice that live(d) near where you live. Lacking promotion in the form of a blog about better ways to eliminate them, other luckier mice will continue to live free, tease cats, and snack on cheese. One might even develop super powers.

When I started writing this blog and posting it in places where it would get noticed, I made a commitment. I decided to treat blogging like I would any commitment. I was going to devote time and effort to it. I was going to treat my blog like a job and was going to share everything I knew about promoting businesses, causes and candidates as often as I was able. The returns to me are remarkable. Every bit of effort contributed to this blog is returned 10 times over.

So have no fear of blogging or giving freely. The returns are amazing.

Seven Ways To Leverage News For Blogs

Blogs are the basis of many content marketing strategies.
Blogs are the basis of many content marketing strategies.

Seven Ways To Leverage News For Blogs. One of the reasons people feel intimidated by blogging is because they’re afraid of running out of new topics to write about. Even if you only planned to post once a week, you’d still have to come up with fifty-two ideas. Intimidating? Probably, at least it is for me. And do not think that you can take a bunch of news articles, plunk them on your site and call it a blog. But there is plenty you can do with that news to populate your blog.

Yes, there is likely news about your area of interest that others will be interested in seeing. News is good. I’m not talking about scooping the wire services or breaking a story. More like taking news from the world of whatever you write about and injecting your insight. The first blog to register about an issue will get linked, bring traffic, and get you labeled a “thought leader” along with recognition for how good your site it.

I wrote a post on my blog The Collectors Show (www.collectorsshow.net) about how a well known actor had lost a fortune collecting Beany Babies. There was an 8 minute video about him and I included a link to that in my post. My site traffic exploded one day and I could not figure out why. I found that my blog about Beanies had been posted on a Reddit site about Beanies and the world was making its way to my blog. Cool!

But why should they read wire copy on your blog? The reason for people to come to your blog is to read what you have to say. Because what really matters about your blog is you. With that in mind, here are a few tips:

  1. Be original. Instead of reposting news, add your opinion about it. No one is interested in “reconstituted” news but will be interested in seeing what you think, questions you have and what the moral of the story is as told through your eyes.
  2. Don’t just copy. Similar to being original, but with a few more specifics. It makes me mad to see when someone lifts my copy, puts it on their site and calls it their own. You would be similarly annoyed. But, if you want to use someone else’s material, use quotes and attribution. Instead of ripping someone off and making them mad, they will feel flattered that you thought enough of them to use and cite them.
  3. Find a news story about your area and blog about it. Tell the readers why you chose this topic, why it is important, a point of view or opinion from you that others could potentially benefit from or even disagree with. Advancing discourse and exchanging ideas are a big reason to blog. If you do not know enough about something to have opinions that draw attention, you should reconsider the idea of blogging.
  4. Be timely. According to my hero, David Meerman Scott, reacting quickly to breaking news in your blog or twitter may earn you the rewards of “a bonanza of media attention” which will also make you more credible, attract more readers etc.
  5. Be a news junkie. Listen to news stations and channels, interviews, podcasts and NPR. Read a daily newspaper. And get into feeds. Lots and lots of feeds. RSS feeds enable you to scan headlines from sources you would likely not come across in the course of a regular day.
  6. “Dig” a little deeper. To find the hidden, unique, cool, hip and trending use social bookmark sites like Digg. Social bookmarking is a service which allows individuals to share sites that they’ve bookmarked. Similar to services like Google Alerts, the key here is the keyword list you generate, as the right list will generate the right kind of news and sites that people are tagging and bookmarking. While many social bookmarking sites double as “news” sites, given how they popularize and list the top sites that have been bookmarked, just like Technorati, you can search for keywords, and follow the result in your feed reader. Unlike Technorati, however, it tracks more than blogs. And unlike Google Alerts, however, it tracks more than just the news. People will bookmark anything. Pictures, video, articles, corporate websites, frequently asked questions, and much more besides. Using a social bookmarking tool to help you discover “stuff” really broadens your search, but you’ll also be able to find a great many hidden gems, particularly if use your keywords intelligently.
  7. Don’t give up. Some days after I have read and listened to a whole lot of stuff with nothing obvious for me to write about something will come to mind. I think that is the definition of creativity. Your brain is working on sifting, collating, editing and reformatting information even when you are not aware of it. Trust your brain. It knows more than it’s saying. At least at the moment.

After all of this remember that the most important part of your blog is you.