Blogging

Some people love and embrace blogging, whereas others find it boring, tedious and only do it because they think they should. I can happily say I now love blogging and it’s fast becoming a very big part of my business success.

There are over 200 million blogs online, so how do you make yours stand out and get noticed? It’s not just about writing a good blog, but about promoting it correctly too.

I wanted to share with you some mistakes people (myself included) have often made when blogging.

Poor Headline
A lot of people don’t think too much about the headline and often call it something that is very generic and not at all eye-catching. Your headline needs to be noticeable, not only on your blog but also when you’re promoting it through other channels too, such as Twitter. With Twitter you only have a few characters to engage people and make them click-through a link to your blog. People are under the impression that headlines starting “5 things you didn’t know….” or “5 top mistakes made…..” are now outdated and no longer work but truth is they are the ones people are noticing and reading, people want to check they aren’t making mistakes!

Too Long
When I say to clients “create a blog with good content” they often mistake that for length. Your blog doesn’t have to be long and include every point made on the subject. Select the main points you want to include and write about them. If it is a long blog then break wording down using pictures, bullet point and sub headings so it makes it easy for the reader to follow and keeps them engaged. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words and will improve the look of your blog post.

Too Short
Just as lengthy blogs can be a mistake so can very short blogs. Ever clicked on a link with a fantastic heading only to find a couple of paragraphs that don’t really contain any information and you wonder what the point was? The last thing you want to do is annoy your readers! Your blogs need substance which will help your readers engage with you and come back consistently to see what other subjects you’re covering.

Writing About The Wrong Topics
This is definitely one mistake I’ve been guilty of this in the past. I’ve gone off topic and then wondered why my stats had dropped. Write about the topics your readers want to see, pay attention to blog comments and your own blog statistics to see which ones people have engaged with most. Research other bloggers in your industry and see what they are writing about, this will help you to decide if your going in the right direction. By keeping your audience in mind you will gain focus.

Not Blogging Often Enough
Blogging is much easier if you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it this mistake is particularly easy to fall into. Is it one of those things you know you should do regularly but you find it slipping further and further down your ‘To do List’? Blogging isn’t always easy but don’t see it as a chore, see it as a commitment to regularly update your blog. Chose regular intervals that suit you and your business, plan them into your diary and don’t procrastinate over it, just do it. It’s like all tasks, if you commit to it regularly it becomes easier.

I hope you found this useful, please leave me your feedback in the comments section.

I’ve launched a series of blogging services to help individuals and businesses with their blogging needs – Find Out More…

If you are running a blog, advertising has to be one of the most common ways to start monetising your site.  There are many ways you can bring advertising onto your blog, but the main thing to avoid is alienating your current readers/followers.  Before you start going all out with advertising all over your site, bear in mind that any ads should be introduced slowly.  It is also ethical to state somewhere on your website that you have affiliate links, reviews etc. for which you will be paid for or given free product.  Here are the most popular ways to start making money from your blog:

Box and Banner Ads
There are various WordPress plugins that can help you manage 125×125 box ads/banner advertising and many blog templates are already geared towards advertising.  The main thing with this is don’t overdo it!  You probably want to start with 2 or 3 ad boxes so your readers don’t feel annoyed when you suddenly start bringing advertising boxes on your blog.  Ideally have them present from early on so your readers know what to expect.  No-one wants to see empty ‘Advertise Here’ boxes everywhere, so it is well worth offering an associate a ‘free’ ad until you start to get some interest.  As your site grows, you can start to bring in more sidebar ads, but again take it slowly.  Have in mind the maximum amount of box and banner ads your site can realistically show as you don’t want them to completely overwhelm and take over your site –  this will put existing readers off and new readers won’t hang around on ad-heavy sites.

Affiliate Advertising
Affiliate marketing is a marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates (that would be you as a blogger) for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. You might write a blog post about an affiliate product and offer advertising on your site which links to your personal affiliate link.  Many affiliate marketers provide you with articles, blogs and and ad banners which you can add to your site, therefore saving you the time and hassle of creating them yourself.  You are then paid when someone purchases the advertised product (usually between 10 and 60% of the value of the product).

Text Link Ads
Text link ads are based on specific wording within the posts of a blog. Text Link Ads are unique because they are static html links that can drive targeted traffic and help your link popularity.  This is a top factor in organic search engine rankings.  The downside of text link ads is their subtlety.  Readers may well click through link ads not realising they are paid for ads.  It is recommended that if you do have affiliate links/text ads on your site then you make it clear in your website disclaimer so your readers don’t feel they are getting ‘duped’.

Contextual Ads
Contextual ads are usually delivered based on the content of the page or post where they are being displayed. The ads shown on the page/post should be relevant to the content thereby increasing the likelihood that the reader will click on the ad. Google AdSense is a good example of a contextual advertising program. Contextual ads are typically pay per click ads.

Reviews
Reviews are an indirect form of advertising on blogs. A company contacts a blog owner directly requesting them to write a review about a product/service appropriate to their readers. The blog owner will usually get to keep the reviewed product, or in some cases they are paid to write the review so this is another income stream, albeit irregular.

Pricing
Ensure you have a clear pricing plan for your ads and stick to it. Have a page dedicated to your advertising and PR. To get some ideas of what to charge, visit your competitors blogs and see what they are charging.  Remember though that anyone paying for an advert on your blog will want to see some return, so you need to be able to provide your visitor statistics.  It is worth reading the following blog post on www.entrepreneurs-journey.com too, as this provides a ‘advertising formula’ on charging for ads on your blog (there are some exceptions so ensure you read these too).  There are a few ways you can ‘price’ advertising as follows:

1. Flat/Set Rates. The advertiser pays a fixed price to have an advert on your site  for a set period of time. This is the ideal method for those who host smaller blogs and also with advertisers because it is the simplest model.  As a blog owner you need to present your statistics such as page views and unique visitors along with your pricing structure.  Rates depend on your site traffic, the location of the ad (banner ads are usually a much higher cost than sidebar ads for example), whether the ad is present on all pages, and the duration the ad (monthly/weekly/annual).

2. CPA (cost per action, lead or purchase). The advertiser is charged every time a visitor purchases a product or makes a transaction. These ‘conversions’ are reported to the advertiser. Blog owners can either have a set price for each conversion, or in some cases the advertisers choose their price. As an example, a lead to take out a mortgage can cost £60 or more so this means the advertiser will pay you £60 when a visitor phones or asks about a mortgage after looking at or clicking the ad on your website.

3. CPC (cost per click). The advertiser is charged each time a visitor clicks on their advert.  Clicks can be priced from as low as £0.01p to more than £15 per click. Usually it is the blog owner who sets the price but occasionally the advertiser will.  There is a flaw with this method which is click fraud, whereby clicks are made deliberately to increase the advertising cost. It is well worth using an ad server with click fraud prevention to offer protection and reassure your advertisers if you are using CPC.

4. CPM (cost per mille/thousand impressions). The advertiser is charged per thousand impressions. It is one of the more popular model among medium/large websites. At a £5 CPM, 10000 visitors a month with an average of 5 ad views each will earn £250. CPM is a particularly appropriate model when a blog/website has more than 500,000 impressions per month.

The key is to be patient…you aren’t likely to see return in the short term but as you gain credibility and your site visitors increase, it is possible you can make money through advertising – good luck!

Useful Links
About Google AdSense: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdSense
Blogging News and Tips: www.problogger.net
Amazon Affiliates: affiliate-program.amazon.co.uk

Video blogging , also called ‘Vlogging’, has a lot of advantages over traditional text blogs so it’s no surprise that more and more bloggers are giving it a go.

Video blogs effectively grab the attention of Internet users; people are more likely to become excited about the dynamic content of a video blog rather than a written posting with lots of long sentences and no images. The more enthusiastic viewers are about a vlog on a website (through social sharing and the like) the more traffic the site will get. But it’s not all good, there are some cons to Vlogging too!  

Pros

  1. Very popular and current
  2. Better conversion rates
  3. More personal interaction with readers
  4. It’s free to make Vlogs – you can use YouTube, Windows Movie Maker, Vimeo and Animoto
  5. Encourages more hits to your website

Cons

  1. Server space can be a problem with self-hosted websites
  2. Can be time consuming creating the videos
  3. Potential slow loading times
  4. Bandwidth issues if you have a large number of blog followers

Whether you opt to Vlog or not depends on what kind of subject matter you want to cover, and how much time you can devote to video blogging. Before you decide to make your video blog consider if there is an easier way for you to get your message across. Preparation is key, so ensure you have notes in case you stumble and make sure you practise! You want to sound natural and clear so your audience can understand you and relate to you.

 

I was delighted to have been asked to review Joanne’s new booklet – Blogging For Business.  As an avid blogger myself, both on www.workformums.co.uk and www.suzannahscards.co.uk, I know how effective blogging for business can be, but am also mindful of the fact it can be very overwhelming when you first start your blogging journey – how do you set up a blog, what do you write about and how do you keep it all going?  

The booklet itself has 24 pages and is A5 size.  There are 12 titles which include subjects such as ‘SEO Tips’, ‘Making Money’ and ‘How to promote your guest blog posts’.  The colour scheme is red, purple and green which fits in with the theme of Joanne’s website so I thought that was a nice touch (great for brand awareness too).

I like the fact it explains the platforms that you can use to set up a blog as quite often this can be the hardest place to start.  The booklet takes your through the processes of why to blog, writing posts and promoting your blogs in in a cohesive and fluent way. It is a guide book so don’t expect it to go into any depth about the technicalities i.e. WordPress set up and use.

Pros

  • Great writing style – Joanne is easy to relate too
  • Colourful and engaging
  • Covers the all important SEO and social media promotion
  • Real life examples of people who blog and why they do so

Cons

  • I would have preferred the main titles to be in the same font and size/colour for consistency
  • Lots of adverts which I found a bit distracting (some are relevant to website design/hosting and blogging so may be useful)

All in all this is a really useful booklet and would suit not only those who are just starting to think about blogging, but also those who have been blogging for a while and need a boost or to re-focus on their blogging – I will definitely use it myself when I feel I am losing my blogging mojo!

Blogging For Business costs £5 (including postage) and can be bought on www.joannedewberry.co.uk 

Exclusive Offer! Work For Mums readers can buy Blogging For Business for just £3.50!

Please purchase using this special link: www.paypal.com

Would you like to be in with a chance of winning Blogging For Business by Joanne Dewberry?  
 
It is free to enter – all you need to do is input your name and email address!
 
 
Competition Terms and Conditions
 
  • To enter the free competition enter your name and address at the following link http://app.getresponse.com/survey.html?survey_id=11382
  • To complete your entry you need to opt in to Work For Mums mailing list – we promise not to spam you or pass your email address to third parties
  • Start date of the competition is Friday 15th June 2012
  • Closing date is Tuesday 3rd July 2012
  • The winner will be notified by email and will be announced on Work For Mums website on Wednesday 4th July 2012
  • The guide will be sent in the post to the winner
  • There is no cash alternative
  • One entry per email address
  • This competition is open to UK residents aged 18 and over 
  • The prize is 1 copy of the Blogging For Business booklet written by Joanne Dewberry
  • Internet access is required to enter
  • All members of Work For Mums mailing list will be numbered and the winner will be decided by using Random Number Generator: http://www.random.org 
  • The promoter of this competition is Work For Mums, Office 13, 3-4 Vaughan Parade, Torquay, Devon TQ2 6JJ

 

First of all, what is a Gravatar?! It’s a globally recognized avatar of course…

And what’s an Avatar?
An avatar is the graphical representation of yourself, or of your alter ego/character.  Your gravatar is linked to your email address (more than one if required)  and follows you from site to site.  When you comment on a blog or post in a forum, your gravatar will appear next to your post.

Why have one?

  • It saves you time uploading your image every time you register with a site or comment on a blog
  • Familiarity – people who you talk to online on a regular basis will recognise you instantly
  • Identity – it can help you build awareness for your business if appropriate

It will automatically link to any of your registrations on WordPress sites, which is handy if you are setting up your profile on a forum or creating a business listing.

Here is a guide for you to set up your gravatar:

Go to gravatar.com:

  1. Click ‘Get your Gravatar today’, or if you already have a WordPress account you can log in bottom left of the screen
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Click the link in your confirmation email
  4. Create a username and password
  5. Add your required gravatar image and click next (you can view and crop your image on the next screen)
  6. Rate your gravatar (preferably as G if you are using it for business related purposes)
  7. You can now manage your gravatars from your account, adding more as required
  8. Now you can add comments on posts and forums and providing you are logged in using your email address, your gravatar will appear
  9. If you have any problems please log-in to Gravatar.com and go to FAQ’s

Good luck!

Tags and Keywords are words and phrases that are used by search engines such as Google and Bing to index content on the Internet.  By adding relevant tags and keywords to your blogs and website pages, you will improve your chance of being ‘found’ when people type search terms into Google.  This means that you will be higher up on the search results than someone who hasn’t added tags and keywords.  

An example of how to use tags and keywords

This is a jobs listing for a Greetings Cards direct selling company:

Like to work from home? With flexible hours that fit around your lifestyle? Phoenix Trading publishes a superb range of exclusive greetings cards, invitation packs, charity Christmas cards and gift wrap that sells for up to 50% less than shop prices. The company is expanding fast and needs friendly and ambitious people who would like to run their own direct-selling business marketing the range at events and to friends, family, local businesses, schools & playgroups… No sales experience is required – these products sell themselves! To find out more about becoming an Independent Phoenix Trader, please get in touch for a free, no obligation information pack.  If you would like to get started straight away, you can join online today!  It costs £30 to join and you also have the option to purchase discounted stock.

Now put yourself in the position of an internet searcher.  What would you type into Google if you were looking for a work from home opportunity selling cards?  

People often think they can only enter single keywords, but you can add phrases too. When entering tags, separate words and phrases by a comma, as below.

Here are a few suggestions for tags for the above listing:

sell cards from home, join phoenix trading, work from home, jobs for mums, jobs with flexible hours, cards business

You can include place names into tags/keywords phrases too. Adding tags and keywords to content on websites is just a small element of what is known as SEO (search engine optimisation). 

Tips for Tagging!

  • Don’t add too many tags.  For blog posts between 5 and 10 tags is optimum
  • Make sure they are relevant to your content
  • Target your tags.  Think about what people will type into search engines and try to work around targeted keywords and phrases
  • Use proper names and spellings 

If you have a WordPress Blog take a look at my Top Ten Plug-Ins:

  1. Contact Form 7  – A simple contact form ideal for your ‘Contact Me’ page
  2. fbLikeButton – Allows you to configure and display the FaceBook Like Button before and/or after each post and/or page
  3. Fast Tube – Fast and easy way to insert videos from YouTube right into your WordPress blog posts.
  4. Mail Chimp – If you use MailChimp for your newsletter campaigns, the MailChimp plugin allows you to quickly and easily add a signup form for your MailChimp list
  5. Redirection – Manage all your 301 redirects and monitor 404 errors
  6. WP Customer Reviews – WP Customer Reviews allows your customers and visitors to leave reviews or testimonials of your services. Reviews are Microformat enabled (hReview).
  7. Subscribe2 – Notifies an email list when new blogs/entries are posted.
  8. WP Colorful Tag Cloud – A colorful tag cloud easily customizable using the user-friendly administration/settings interface.
  9. WP Tweet Button – The WordPress implementation of the official Twitter Tweet Button.
  10. Askimet – Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam.

There are so many more plug in’s available for WordPress so it is well worth doing some research into which ones will work best for you.  Always go for plug in’s that have a 4 or 5 star rating, check when it was released and read the reviews!

Please feel free to share your favourite plug-ins too!

Blogs started out as informal, personal journals but have become increasingly popular across all sorts of topics.  Many companies have also seen the potential of blogging for their business, be it as a way to connect to their customer base, or to attract new customers using SEO techniques on their blogs to increase their presence online.   These tips are aimed at people who are already blogging but want to improve their skills to maximise the impact of their blog and give it more credibility.

  • What makes your blog stand out from the rest? Have a look at other blogs in your market.  What do you like about them?  Or dislike about them?
  • Advertising on your blog.  If you have advertising on your blog don’t let this distract from the content.  Put your blog followers and readers first.  
  • Reader interaction.  Always allow and actively encourage comments on your blog.  This will engage your readers and hopefully they will keep coming back to your blog once you have established that personal connection.  Of course you may occasionally get some negative comments but take any criticism on the chin and learn from it.
  • Back links. Encourage links to your blog to increase your profile, but ensure they are appropriate and relevant.
  • Blog length.  Remember your aren’t writing a novel.  There are no particular rules about the amount of characters to use in a single blog post, as it does depend on the readership and content, but try to keep it concise.
  • Blog frequency.  Again there are no particular rules, but I would suggest once or twice a week is a good amount.  Too few blogs will mean your readers may lose interest, too many blog posts can be over-whelming for your readers and they may not read the content.  It is also worth offering teasers of future posts to encourage readers to return.
  • Make it pretty! Use relevant images where you can to break up the text and make your blog look more interesting.
  • Post tags.  Don’t over tag blog posts.  Use tags/keywords that are relevant to the post.
  • Blog promotion.  Use social media to encourage people to visit and interact with your blog but try not to spam your friends/followers.
  • Own your blog.  Remember to write as you would talk.  People like to know there is a real person writing the stuff they are reading and your personality can really come across in your blog, even if it is used for business purposes.  Just keep to the topic, check your spelling and grammar and proof read the published post.
  • Be mindful of your reputation.  With personal blogs you can pretty much write about what you like, but as with social media it’s best not to blog when you are stressed, tired or drunk! Keep in mind the legal implications of confidentiality, slander and defamation.  If you are blogging for business, it’s probably better to keep your blogs factual and informative.  You can still inject your personality but write objectively and keep any strong personal opinions to yourself.
  • Have fun.  Enjoy writing your blogs and don’t see it as a chore.  If you aren’t in the mood just leave it and come back when you are.
  • You will find your ‘blog style’  and writing improves as the amount of blog posts you have written increases, so it’s well worth re-visiting old posts after six months or so and updating them if needed
I hope you have found these tips useful! If you have any that you would like to add please do comment 🙂
Coming soon: My Top Ten WordPress Plug-ins.

 

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