9 Tips for New Bloggers

 

 

8 tips for new bloggersWelcome to the wonderful world of blogging! Blogs are a means of expressing yourself, sharing your knowledge, introducing yourself to the blogging community as well as being active on the social sites. It seems as if almost everyone has a blog these days and trying to develop readership and a community around the blog is not a build it and they will come. Any experienced blogger will let you in on that secret where it takes a lot of work and patience to grow your blog. However, the growth along the way is very rewarding with the people that you meet, the customers that you serve, the mentoring and the ability to develop a strong voice and acceptance in the blogging community makes the journey that much more satisfying.

8 Tips for New Bloggers

1.Define Purpose. The purpose of your blog defines why you are here and what you hope to accomplish. Whether you are blogging to drive business, personal or for your employer, the purpose needs to be established so that you are clear what you are doing here. It helps to provide direction as well as guidance as you enter a very structured but yet supportive community.

2. Establish Goals. The goals can vary as they do not have to only be goals that are only obtained via measurement tools. Establishing goals such as a consistent schedule, creating an editorial calendar, writing ahead are all goals that, if they are feasible for you and also ones that are attainable should be created. In blogging, there are some peaks and valleys and having some albeit small accomplishments are helpful to keep you focused on the reasons why you are blogging.

3. Select Platform, Theme and Create Identity. There are many platforms out there that all serve the same purpose of housing the blog but, they are all cater to their own user base. While some allow for further customization than others, make it your own with a piece of you reflected. A blog that is well designed, laid out creates a friendly atmosphere that welcomes readers and allows them to focus in on the content but yet provides them with an experience that is unique to you and the blog.

4. Describe Blog. Readers coming to your blog need to know what the blog is about so that they know what to expect. Your industry, topic as well as perspective/writing style need to be memorable. People do not automatically subscribe to a blog when they first land on it. They have to know what is in it for them to keep coming back and making the decision to subscribe. It is so inviting to stray from your core topic, industry to drive traffic, however these are borrowed eyes and not necessarily the ones that you are targeting. Create an about page that answers why they need to come back for each article and be a part of your blogging community.

5. Define Audience. Who are you writing to/for? It is nice to think that you want everyone to read the articles and while we want to believe this, there has to be a set targeted group that you are looking to introduce the blog to. For some it is the small business owner, a restaurant owner, a consultant, bloggers who need a customized platform or broader with SEO tips. Broad is not always best strengths in numbers does not always apply here. Starting with seeking a small audience that is more focused and growing it from there has worked for many.

6. Create a Workable Schedule and Stick with It. As a new blogger, if you commit to writing to every day, do so. If this is to aggressive, then select specific days that you will blog and if you add in extra days great but, do not stray from the schedule. When you are just starting and not blogging every day, you may test certain days to see when the audience is focused and most receptive to determine the best days for you to blog. Remember, they are not waiting for your post to appear, but, when it does appear, they notice.

7. Schedule Time to Build A Community. This is off the blog. Be active online through reading other blogs, commenting but also managing your profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. When you are active and people start seeing you sharing their work, that you are a real person and not bot like, they take notice. In the 3 years that I have been active on Twitter, the past year has afforded an opportunity to explore different interests, gain authority within different communities and earn the support of many well established bloggers.

8. Be Grateful, Humble, and Thankful. This one cannot be stressed enough. It is not always easy to respond to every tweet of an article, every comment right away or visit every blog that links to your articles however, even if “late” take the time to thank for retweets, mentions, visiting the profiles of new people who have shared, commented, etc. We see a lot where people are complaining that people are not responsive to them but the reality is that they are not always responsive to their own community. A thank you goes a long way and starts a conversation. Be proud of what you write but remember to focus on the people and not the numbers in the traffic.

9. Seek  Help When Struggling. We all struggle in blogging. It seems flawless so many of the times with the popular bloggers however, everyone struggles. Remember that. When you have it the wall, feel you have nothing to write (which is really an excuse for feeling the thoughts you have are not worthy of the attention you want) tap into your resources of your community (the importance of building a strong and solid group of people around you is evident here) as they have been there, could be there right now but will be able to lend a hand to get you back on track and give you the confidence you need to get the fingers dancing once again.

We all were new. I am only 2 years blogging at this point and I still consider myself new. We all struggle, we all want to be at the top of our game and have drones of people flock to our blog each day. That is not unique to you but how you get there is. There is a person behind each article and let person be expressed in the blog by reinforcing your strengths and building upon your weaknesses. People will read and subscribe to a blog that is useful to them and at the same time is from someone is going all in and gives 100% effort to the online community.

What do you have to add that has worked for you?

photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

When You Smile Does Everyone Smile Back?

 

 

do people smile back We would like to hope that this is true, but we know it is not. Smiling back is in real life what we can see it but in the digital world it is a bit convoluted as we cannot really see them so we await the feedback. The feedback is in a retweet, a Like, a +1, a  Stumble, a LinkedIn share, a link on their blog to elaborate upon article that we have posted or a comment. We can think that is a smile back but yet is it really? Ok we have to look at the comments a bit and see if it is singing our praise or the pick up of the article to see if it is positive but yet is every, outside of those, a smile back?

Building Relationships Online

Building relationships online is just a click away. How many of our connections do we reach out to daily, weekly or even monthly? Some we see each week at a chat or multiple times during the week in other chats so we can say we are reaching out to them regularly. Outside of their Twitter handle, how many of them do we know something about? Do we know what they do for a living? Some we do but many we do not. How many of them have we spoken to outside of the chat?  Building an online community for some is really nothing more than adding some followers. Build it and they will come as people will always reach out to us and of course when we  tweet or post a status update, people will come in drones to respond.

This we know is not true as we have to be welcoming to them and talk to them in a way that makes them want to respond back. When we think about it, building an online community is really not more than adding some followers but sustaining them is a different story. How often have you checked to see if those that you are following are following you back? It can be a bit discouraging as when you find out that some that you really thought would be following you back are just not. But, then again, how often have you reached out to them and talked to them, commented on their blog, and supported their efforts?  In other words, given an opportunity for them to get to know you? This does not guarantee a relationship but it is a start.

Sustaining Online Relationships

When we think about sustaining online relationships, we have to step back a bit to ensure that there was actually a relationship to sustain. How do we define a relationship? In person it is different than online as we are able to see them but yet how often do we get together with our friends? Online we have an opportunity to reach out day after day and but yet we just do not. Sure, we retweet their articles and tell everyone how awesome they are but outside of that is this really defining a relationship? How can someone get to know us if all we are doing is pretty much acting automated? We sustain relationships by going outside the “supporting of their efforts” with clicking the share buttons and commenting on their blog. We sustain relationships by treating them as friends. Friends do not let friends tweet to the open air without responding. As funny as that sounds, it is true.

Ways to Get People to Smile Back

Not everyone is going to be your friend online. You really do not want that as then we all would be alike and that gets awfully boring. The trainwrecks or crazy bitches have definitely proven to provide entertainment and some sensational conversations. Those we need to watch from afar. However, there are those that we do believe that we would like to build a relationship with and get to know better. How? What can we do that is so different than others that makes then take notice of us and see if we fit into their social circle and lives?

1. Avoid AutoDMs. I cannot say this enough. I get so many autoDM’s that push me to their website or Facebook page that I cannot delete fast enough. I have not met anyone who likes an autoDM.

2. Introduce Connections to One Another. This is not something that we see all that often but it is definitely something that should be done more often. If you are friends with someone why not introduce them to others that you are friends with? Are you hoarding your friends and keeping them to yourself?

3. Reach Out Just Because. How many times has someone just reached out just to say Hi or ask a question just because? Ok some are creepy but the other ones are a bit of a shock that it makes us think about ourselves and how we reach out to people. Being responsive is easy, initiating is not as easy.

4. Invite to Online Events. Again, not something we see very often however, how often have you invited your followers/friends to chats or other online events such as a webinar, podcast or a UStream? We see the warnings to followers that participating in chats will be taking place, but how many times have you been invited by or invited someone to something that you are taking part in?

5. Take the Conversation Offline. This is one that is a big step. Generally we set up a phone call or a Skype when we need something or have something to talk about. I get that people are busy but taking a few minutes to talk one on one is so powerful. You learn so much and strengthen the relationship. Not everyone is as receptive as others as time is never on our side but then again, we make time for what is important to us and what matters. People matter.

These are just a few ways to get people to smile back. We have the tools of connectivity at our fingertips but yet we get so wrapped up in learning how to use the tools that we forget the most important thing – people. There is a live person behind every single Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or forum.

photo credit: kevindooley

Last Call

 

 

last callLast call, the two most dreaded words that are such a mood kill when we are out with our friends pushing the envelope on sacrificing sleep for a good time and that extra drink (or two). We are having fun and the drinks are flowing and then we hear it, and panic sets in. What? Already? The sudden fill of emotions that go through our heads and whether we were going to have more, suddenly we are. The urgency has been created as if you do not take advantage of this moment, it will be gone. We cannot recreate that night as it is now ending and is a thing of the past. So, we heed the calling and indulge. Last call is so powerful but yet we never really take that to heart.

Moments in Time

I admit, I am a bit on edge. I am a chock-full of emotions as my son has his kindergarten graduation presentation today. I know thatkindergarten so many before me have gone through this and so many after me will but its personal to me. My lil boy who just 6 years ago was this little peanut that was wiggling and giggling just about every minute he was awake is now losing teeth and entering a new phase in life where he is committing to an education and will be going on a journey through each grade. For me, it is that moment of clarity that goes far beyond that last drink. It is that moment after last call where we are being kicked out that we start reflecting on the fun we had that night. I find myself looking back on this year and his innocence on that first day of school where he stood so proud to be in school. He could not wait to get his hands on that classroom and learn. If you follow me, you know that his kindergarten is only half day for all of 2.5 hrs which has been a big change has his preschool was 5 hrs so as it seemed like we were moving backwards, we moved so far forward this past school year that I still shake my head in amazement.

Moving Forward

After we absorb those 2 words of Last Call, we think what is next? Where do we go from here? In the immediate it is who is buying? Then in that immediate future it is waiting for the ride home or heading to the diner to fill up on greasy food to try and counteract the affects of the alcohol the next morning. What happens in the distant future, like the next day? Sometimes we feel like shit and depending upon how much we indulged, are dead in the bed. We hate ourselves then but when we are doing it, we have no real thoughts of that intense hate we feel as it was fun and after a few drinks, we have the “f- it, why not” feeling. Ever have that with a blog post or a comment that you leave? Sure, we all have.

Last Call

Last call is all about creating urgency. In advertising, we create urgency constantly. Infomercials take the crown on this as “if you buy in the next few minutes we will double your order” or we see on the home shopping networks with the deal of they day. In online we see the introductory offer. Urgency. Be a part of the few that get in while it is good. The urgency is more than buying now, it is being a  part of the select few that are getting the deal. In our advertising are we creating the urgency for them to get the deal or better said, we creating the emotional attachment where they the need exceeds the want? We buy from need. The need is scalable as we need soap, shampoo, food, clothing, shelter but yet the brands that we purchase deepen that need. In the grand scheme of things, we do not need a Dooney and Burke purse but yet we “need” it. Image and emotional attachment to success.

Last Call in Blogging

Is there such a thing? Something to think about as we create the content, post it and want people to feel that urgency to come and read it. We ponder headlines as we know the headline will get it clicked on but the content has to pay off. It does sometimes and others it bombs and is dead in the bed. Bringing it back to my emotional state coupled with my experience in advertising and marketing and such a focus on human behavior and experiences therein, we cannot deny that there is a last call in all of us. The push and pull as we write and push our content while all the while pull from others to stimulate our brain to gather new ideas.

Sometimes I think that bloggers are their own species as we live everywhere but yet nowhere. We are generating and creating content that is sometimes feels similar to billboard adverting or late night tv ads that generally are the “bonus” in a tv buy (a/k/a a freebie on an off channel to fill a spot but to the advertiser equates to exposure) where we are waiting for the people to see it flash by but yet take a minute and click (and then of course share this treasure they have found). The offering for a blog is be a part of an online community that is building or is built already and this connection is building acceptance in the online world. If we all are retweeting the big guys we are immediately associated and batting for the same team (in this case the same team of acceptance).

In the end, blogging is a form of advertising as are our websites and Twitter, LinkedIn and any other platform. We are putting ourselves out there to be seen and entice. Our offer is almost secondary as they have to see us/it first. We have to create the last call urgency to get them to notice and then react. We have to have them rush to the bar regardless if they wanted that last drink or not. It is asking them to come back with some non verbal cues through writing to and for them that makes them walk away wanting more. Isn’t that what urgency is all about? After we buy and have it in our hands, we may love it but yet the urgency is gone and we move on to new urgency. Kinda depressing but yet invigorating.

Each day I am grateful for every reader, every comment, every tweet, LinkedIn, Facebook and Stumbleupon share but mostly I am grateful for the platform that all of you have afforded to me that allows me to give a little piece of me. I may never be the smartest, use the power big words, or have the greatest impact but yet I will be the most determined as I am a behaviorist at heart (did I just make up a title? OY!)

photo credit: erocka

How We Merchandise

 

 

pepsi merchandisingMerchandising is what we do to sell. Retailers strategically place products in certain areas to draw our attention to them for us to buy. In grocery stores, we see sensational displays for items that are seasonal and/or impulse buys. We know it is no secret that the chips, salsa and beer are front and center the week before the Superbowl or the candy bars at the register, as, when placed properly, we will be stimulated to buy. We grab them many times not even realizing that we are now taking them home to consume. We are develop the want that is far beyond the need.

Merchandising In Our Communities

Merchandising is so very broad as we can think of so many of the displays that we see but we forget about how merchandising is allcommunity lifestyle around us. The townships, cities, neighborhoods that we live in all merchandise. They are packaging and selling a lifestyle that includes lower crime rates, a superior school system, a concentrated business district and of course the stigma that is associated with living there while others are touting the young family with the “starter homes” and the parks and recreation for which the family can grow and move to a bigger home. Certainly not what comes to mind when we think of merchandising.

How We Merchandise

Bringing this closer to “home” in designing our websites and blogs, we are merchandising. How well? Not always as well as we can. It seems like every day something is changing and trying to keep up is not easy. Too many times we are quick to jump on board without taking a moment or two to think about how this change will affect our goals. We saw this play out this past week with Twitter’s new button and Google’s +1. The new Twitter button is not that big of a change as if you have had the Twitter follow on your site, not much thought is put into this change (unless you are like me and the Twitter follow is written into the skin) but the +1 does involve some more thought but are we thinking in terms of how by adding this button will enhance the experience of the readers and ultimately help us attain our goals? I know I really was not thinking about it at all until Jason Keath of Social Fresh brought it to my attention and made me stop drowning in the social buttons and go back to the basics. How will these buttons help Kherize5 and the visitors of the site?

In building our websites and our blogs, we search for the platform and theme that will be the most functional for us and our needs. We think about the audience secondary as if we are just starting, there is no audience. We are basing our audience on who we want them to be but never become them. Is our site what they want and expect from us? How much research do we do before we create the site and hit publish for that first blog? If you are like me, a lot. As someone who spends countless hours studying behavior and how people react to the marketing messages, this comes easy. However, that research is reflected in the client work but not always in this site. Why? We know it is their work first and then at the bottom of the list is our site. Not very credible is it?

How To Merchandise Your Website

Merchandising your website is incorporating some simple changes that when we think about them make a lot of sense. If you have not yet familiarized yourself with Derek Halpern and his blog Social Triggers, I strongly suggest that you do. I have been a reader and follower of Derek for quite some time and while not everything that he suggests is proper for this site, there is a whole lot that is. Recently I tuned into two of his Conversion Strategies videos where he  analyzes a website and suggests some changes. Both of these have been such eye openers as WOW how under-performing this site really is. This video is roughly 25 minutes so if you do not have the time right now, do yourself a favor and bookmark this and return later on. You will be glad that you did. A few of the highlights include two of the simplest changes that are that OH, moment.

1. About Page. The about page is our page, the page where we share the inside story about us. While this is true, it is only half true. What is missing here is the WIIFM. Why should people who you want to convert read that page? What is in it for them? What can they learn? A great example, which Derek talks about is copyblogger.com. We know the success that Brian has and while we know he can pretty much put up anything, he is not going to have throwaway page. An about us page that does not give visitors the WIIFM is a throwaway page.

2. Resources. The resources is a big one! I did not realize it  until I watched that segment 3x and then reached out to Derek for more information. Watching the video once it was like ok, I think I know what you mean until I was sitting here rubbing my eyes completely confused and abandoned ship. Derek directed me to this cornerstone content article which did connect the wires upstairs and though mapping this out, I got it. The recent articles is great but is every recent article your best performing or helpful and useful to your niche insofar as they would read them, trust your abilities and be compelled to hit the contact button to hire/inquire for more information or hit the “buy now” for your ebook that you have for sale as much as they would if you created a widget that contains targeted articles as Resources? This builds your credibility.

These are just 2 little nuggets that you can take away and think about while you prepare to watch the video. It is how we merchandise our site. Our home page that draw them in and tells them what they can expect from our site, the pop up slide over subscription to our newsletter, our about us page – all are out big displays that we want our target to pay attention to. There is opportunity on each of these pages to capture them and then guide them through the other pages on your site. The menu navigation is always just there and does not really vary site to site but your displays, they need to get visitors converted to subscribers and buyers. It all starts with merchandising.

How are you merchandising?

Pepsi display photo credit: Ecstatic Mark

Playground photo credit: stevendepolo