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I’ve spent as much time talking clients out of starting a blog as I’ve spent talking them into a blog. If you hate to write (or can’t pay someone else to do it), can’t find the time to write, or don’t think you have anything to say, save yourself the heartache and don’t start a blog. But! If you want to get clients from the internet and are willing to write (or pay someone to do it), blogging is a great way to get people into your sales funnel.
The following is a down-and-dirty quick way to decide if blogging is for you and your business.
Benefits of a Blog:
- It’s a lot easier to add a new blog post than it is a new web page. With a little training, a non-technical person can add a blog post but you need a programmer to add a web page.
- A blog is a great way to build relationships online.
- A blog is a great way to keep in touch with clients and prospects.
- Because readers can comment on what you’ve written, you can create a dialogue with readers. (Depending on how you set up a blog, you can moderate comments before they are viewable to others.)
- A blog is a great way to become a recognized expert in your industry and to the media.
- People can find your business in ways they otherwise wouldn’t be able to find you. (i.e. blog directories, mentions in other blogs, social media sites like Digg or Technorati)Blogging Options:
The first decision that needs to be made about a blog is figuring out where it will “live.” A blog (like a website) needs to be hosted on a server. There are two ways to do this:
Use a service like https://www.blogger.com/
where the blog lives on their server.
Host your blog on the same server as your website.
(The following gaping space is brought to you by Google.)
|Here are the benefits and drawbacks of each:|
| ||Using a Service||Hosting Your Own|
Can be set up in a few minutes
|It does nothing for your own website’s rankings|
To get it to look like the other pages on your site, you need to have someone create a custom template
|Drawbacks||Can drastically improve your website’s rankings|
Looks more professional than using a service
Can make it look like the other pages on your website
|Need to have someone set it up for you|
May need to have a slightly more expensive hosting plan
Which option should I choose?
- Use a service if money is really tight or you’re not sure you will keep up with it, go with a service. You can always go with hosting your own later. BUT, it’s kind of pain to move your old blog posts to a new blog.
- Host your own if improving your rankings and looking professional are important.
How the eMarketing Strategist Can Help:
- Explain how all this works in plain English.
- Help figure out what features you need.
- Give you pointers on what can be done to help improve your blog’s rankings.
- Coordinate with the programmer to minimize programming expenses.
- Give you pointers on how to increase readership and comments.
- Submit the blog to blog directories.
I can’t take it anymore. I have to weigh in on Twitter. I thought the “trying to figure out how to make money from it” hype was bad when blogs came along but that had nothing on Twitter.
If your only goal is to “figure out how to make money from it”, please do us all a favor and cancel your Twitter account. You’re not going to make money from Twitter. I don’t care what the self styled internet marketing Gurus are telling you. You might - and that’s a big might - make money because of relationships you’ve nurtured on Twitter but that’s it.
There is no 1:1 relationship between Twitter and your income. And I think that’s a good thing. The internet was originally designed as a way to share information and despite the best efforts of the Gurus, it’s still primarily a way to share information. If sharing of information leads to business, great. But it starts with sharing information!
I only follow people who provide quality information. My time is valuable to me and I’m sure you’re time is valuable to you. It’s one of the few things in life we can’t make more of or get back once it’s gone.
My Twitter Red Flags…
You follow more people than follow you.
It tells me you think Twitter is a numbers game and you expect that if you follow someone they will follow you. I’m sure there are self proclaimed internet marketing gurus who think it’s some great secret they’re sharing when they tell their minions “You can get TONS of traffic (they love the phrase “tons of traffic”) by following everyone you can find because they will follow you back. If they don’t, un-follow them.”
You measure your Twitter success by the number of followers you have.
Me, I graduated from high school. Not just literally but emotionally. Having 9000 followers on Twitter won’t make me feel more confident about the success of my business. Having quality relationships with people I respect and trust makes me feel better about the success of my business.
All your Tweets all start with @friendsname.
If your Twitter stream consists primarily of replies, it tells me you use Twitter as an instant messaging service. I actually take the time to read tweets and I really don’t care to follow your disjointed personal conversations. Sometimes replying to a Tweet can be interesting but please, try to include the rest of us in the conversation.
Most of your Tweets are back to your own content.
Really? You think you’re the only one with something interesting to say? Oh I get it! You’re using Twitter as a “traffic generator.” (Smells like the Gurus again!) You know. You can also get traffic by sharing other people’s content. Not only does it make you look well informed, it makes you look generous. And it makes you interesting.
Phew. Okay. I feel better now.
A link can be worth £100 ($139) or it can be worth 1p (1¢).
I came across the following question on LinkedIn today and thought it perfectly illustrated the question “What is a link worth?”Here’s the question:
I'm doing some work with a client who has used a linkbuilding service to help with their SEO in the past but at £100 per month it wasn't exactly cheap! Can anyone recommend someone they've used for this service who delivers results but doesn't charge silly fees?Here’s My Answer:
Depending on the types of links this service gets, £100 can be a great deal or a waste of money.
One link can be worth £100 if your most desirable key phrase is in the anchor text and the link is on a blog or website your target market reads with a page rank of 4 or more. This kind of link can both help your rankings for the key phrase in the anchor text AND get real live human visitors interested in your product to your website. Win! Win!
On the other hand, 100 links to the URL in totally obscure directories is a waste of money because they won't help rankings at all and won't get in front of anyone. Lose! Lose! (Except if you own the directory.)So, The question should be “What links did they get you?”
If this service gets even one high quality link a month, it’s worth it. Links on websites and blogs with a high page rank that include your anchor text and can be expected to drive traffic require a lot of research and leg work to get. They don’t happen on accident.
If the link service gives you a list of 10 directories you’ve never heard of that they submitted the site to this month, you might as well use those pound notes to wipe your arse!
Labels: backlinks, linking
A simple 140 character message is an excellent way to stay front-of-mind with all the people you are connected to. And maybe you haven’t noticed but Twitter isn’t the only micro-blogging platform out there. Many other social networking sites including LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook and even Flickr have a micro-blogging feature too.
The primary benefit of micro-blogging is that when you update your status, it shows up on the home page of all the people you are connected to. If done right, there is no better way to say to your network “Give me your attention! Now I’m going to share something interesting with you.”
Here's what the micro-blogging feature looks like on my LinkedIn home page:
Here's what the micro-blogging feature looks like on Facebook:
Posting updates on each of your social networking profiles would turn a 3 minute task into a 20 minute task. For many things we do in a day, 20 minutes isn’t a lot of time but when you’re trying to fit social networking into an already jam packed schedule, 20 minutes is too long. On the other hand, 3 minutes is doable and you’re much more likely to do it if it only takes a few minutes.
Personally, I don’t follow people who use Twitter to tell me where they are in the airport, conduct private conversations or to blatantly promote their products. I follow people who provide valuable information and as such, I also try to provide value. I consume a lot of media in a day and I really like to share the helpful and interesting stuff I come across in the course of my travels on the internet. So, most of my Tweets include a link I want to share with people.
To make sure what I’m sharing gets in front of the most people possible, I have developed a micro-blogging process that enables me to send my Tweet out to all my networks in 3 minutes AND tells me how many people clicked on the link in my Tweet. Here’s what I do.
When I find a link I want to share, I:
1. Go to http://www.budurl.com/
and get a custom link.
2. Go to >www.HelloTxt.com
and post my Tweet with my BudURL link.
3. Sometime later, go back to www.BudURL.com and see how many people clicked on the link.
There are a couple of things you need to know about these websites to make this process work. First, when you create your http://www.hellotxt.com/
account, you will need to enter your login info for all the social networking sites you want to update. This can take 20 to 30 minutes but it will save you much more time than that over the long haul. Second, to get the click data, you will need to pay http://www.budurl.com/
$4 a month. They do have a trial offer, if you want to check it out for a while first.
Not only does this process tell me what people are interested in, it’s also made me a better writer. Sure, you have to be concise to fit an idea and link in 140 characters or less. But I’ve also found that I think about how to word my Tweet so people will want to click on the link. This short daily exercise of asking myself “How can I make this compelling to the reader?” is great practice for all the other writing I do in a day.
The process I describe takes about 30 minutes to set up and costs $4 a month but in my experience it has been well worth it! I’m sure my Tweets reach a wider audience and I know more about their value than people just using Twitter.
Labels: micro-blogging, social networking, Tweets, Twitter
The Natives Revolt
It seems like every one I talk to is fed up. For years they’ve been hearing about the latest “must do” to do to get clients from the internet and they’ve tried it. First, it was email. Gotta have email. Then it was a website. Gotta have a website. Then it was search engine optimization. Gotta get your website to rank well. Then it was a newsletter. Gotta keep in touch with a newsletter.
Then came blogs and people hit the wall. All the experts said you had to write a blog post at least twice a week which is no small time investment. When these experts couldn’t tell people exactly how blogging would lead to paying clients, many business owners said, “Wait a minute! I’m not drinking the cool-aid on this one.”
By the time social networking came along, the villagers had their pitchforks out and were ready to riot. When I talk to clients about using LinkedIn, Facebook, Biznik and Twitter, the most common reaction is, “No more! I can’t add one more thing to my daily to do list!” Social networking proponents aren’t doing themselves any favors either. The hundreds of articles written about how to use social networking to build your business assume you have the time - or will make the time - to do it. But that’s the problem. No one has any more time!
Keeping It all in One Place with iGoogle
In this day and age of constant information, value doesn’t come from providing information; value comes from filtering information and showing people how it’s valuable to them. But in order to do that, you have to sort through a lot of raw information first.
I don’t think you need to spend more time reading and researching to provide value. You just need to organize your sources of information better by putting your news sites, social networking sties, blog feeds, twitter account and everything else in one place. I use iGoogle —a customizable version of Google— to do that.
I’ve customized my Google home page so that I can:
- Follow people on Twitter and even add my own Tweets
- Monitor what my connections are doing on Facebook
- Stay on top of news headlines with the New York Times, CNN and the BBC
- Read the latest blog posts from all the blog feeds I have subscribed to
- Read and respond to LinkedIn Questions about internet marketing
- Search Wikipedia
- Keep track of my To Do List
- And even follow the phase of the moon
Each morning when I fire up my computer, I open a browser window. I have iGoogle set as my default home page and I see all this stuff first thing. Since I’m on the internet throughout the day, it’s really easy for me to keep an eye on my various accounts. I know many social networking experts say you should set aside time for social networking and blogging but I like to do it when inspiration hits. If I see something that sparks an idea that will take more than a few minutes to write up, I’ll make note of it and take care of it when I’ve got some time later to dedicate to it.
It’s really easy to set up and customize your iGoogle home page; you just need to have a Google account. If you use Google for email or run Google Analytics on your website, you already have a Google account. You can either sign in or create and account by clicking on the “Sign In” link in the upper right hand corner of the Google home page.
Once you’ve signed in, you can browse through and add gadgets (aka widgets) to your iGoogle home page by clicking on the “Add Stuff” link under the search box and to the right. Fortunately, there is a search box in the upper right hand corner so if you do a search on “Twitter”, it will pull up all the Twitter related gadgets you can chose from. You move things around so they’re in the order that works for you and you can even change how everything looks by selecting from one of the dozens of themes available.
A word of warning. These gadgets are not created by Google and they can “break” from time to time. Since there are typically several in each category, I recommend trying out different ones to see which work the best. I also don’t recommend adding too many because you can only fit so many above the fold and can lose track of the ones you have to scroll to see.Feeling Adventurous? Try Flock.
I’m assuming most readers are using Internet Explorer and a few might even be using Mozilla. (Please for give me Mac/Safari users.) There is a great new browser called Flock (http://www.flock.com/
) which is designed around the needs of social networking and social media. I’ve been playing with it for about six months now and I still don’t think I’ve figured out most of what it can do.
While with iGoogle you put all the gadgets on one page, Flock has separate pages for separate functions. For example, you can customize Flock browser so Twitter is on one page, your news feeds on another and your web mail on another. This enables you to monitor more accounts at more depth in one place. The combinations are practically endless and they are adding new features all the time.
While you can do a lot more with browser like Flock, you’ve got to pay close attention when installing it. If you’re not careful, you can inadvertently make it your default browser or disable features from other browsers and toolbars. It makes sense. Microsoft and Google don’t want to lose market share by making it easy for you to use another browser or search service. But don’t worry too much. If things get messed up, you can always uninstall it and start over.
Sure, there’s a learning curve with any of these options and time to set up the accounts and get them all talking to each other but it’s worth it. In just a few days, you’ll be doing a better job at staying on top of your social media and social networking. You might even feel like you’re in control of it instead of it being in control of you!
Labels: blog feeds, iGoogle, organizing information, social networking, Twitter
These are all article I wish I’d written but definitely don’t have the hundreds of hours necessary to do it. Take the time to read them and you will know a lot about internet marketing.12 Different Types of Links and How To Get Them
by Todd Malicoat
“What is a backlink?” is one of the top five most frequently asked questions I get from clients and colleagues. My short answer is that a backlink is a link from another website or blog to your website. It’s like a vote of popularity for your website and backlinks are a crucial but often ignored aspect of improving your website’s rankings. There are many types of backlinks and although this article is a few years old, it’s still a great explanation of the types of links you can get to your website. Hopefully it will help “backlinks” go from something that seems beyond your control to something you can put on your To Do List.Comprehensive Guide to Key word Research, Selection & Organization
by Stony DeGeter
I firmly believe that key phrase research and selection is the foundation of - not just an SEO campaign - an effective overall internet marketing campaign. Fail to target phrases or target the wrong ones and you will wind up wasting many hours and lots of dollars. While I don’t agree with everything Stony says, if you read all 12 of these articles, you will know just about everything you need to know about finding, selecting and prioritizing the right key phrases.The First Three Questions
by Joe Hage
The most challenging part of my job is getting clients to dig deep and go beyond describing “What I Do” and getting them to describe “These are the results I provide and the benefits of hiring me.” Joe’s article helps me help my clients start thinking about their business in a new way. I suggest you read it, write about it and incorporate your thoughts into you website copy. It will definitely help improve the conversion rate of your website.What Makes a Good Blog?
by Merlin Mann
Most of the time when I see yet another “What Makes a Good Blog (Post)” article, I want to gouge out my eyeballs. This version actually has important stuff you should know by a guy who’s in a position to know.50 Resources for Getting the Most Out of Google Analytics
This list of Google Analytics resources includes everything you ever wanted to know about Google Analytics from tutorials for beginners, to tips and tricks and tools and hacks for advanced users.Blogger Outreach
by Matt Dickman
Contacting bloggers who might be willing to write about your product or service is a great low cost way to attract clients and build your expert-factor online. If you’ve ever read The Bad Pitch Blog
, you know even seasoned PR people make stupid mistakes when it comes to pitching to bloggers. If you follow the advice in this blog post, you will go along way to preventing any accidental foot-in-mouth learning experiences.
Labels: articles, best of, blog posts, internet marketing