From Blogging To Books - The Surprising Story Of An Irish Farmerette
How Lorna Sixsmith Turned Her Blog Into A Successful Series of Books

When Lorna Sixsmith started ‘Irish Farmerette’ she thought of it as a personal blog. Somewhere she could share her farming life and advocate for farming and Irish food. She’d also always wanted to write a book. It took a blog post about marrying a farmer, a trip to Wales and a crowdfunding campaign to bring the two together.

Listen below to hear the story of how Lorna turned her blog into a writing career:



 

How did Lorna turn a personal blog into a book?

In September 2012 Lorna hit publish on a blog post that would change her life. She didn’t know it at the time but her post ‘Advice to those considering marrying a farmer‘ would go viral and spur her to finally start on that book she’d been meaning to write.

It didn’t take her long to write the first 10,000 words but she put it on the back burner. Would people really want to read it? Could she get a publisher? If she self-published would she end up with hundreds of copies stacked in the attic like so many others?

Then she went to Wales. It wasn’t a holiday, she was attending a conference and one of the speakers introduced her to the concept of Crowdfunding.

We all know about crowdfunding in 2016. Many of us will have invested in quirky and unusual projects, some of us will have given a dig out to our friends, a few of us may even have run our own campaigns.

Back in 2013 it wasn’t as widespread but Lorna decided that it might be a good way to publish her book. If successful it would guarantee sales in advance. On her return from Wales she discovered that her viral post had hit 50,000 views in a week. All her ducks were in a row, it was time to take the plunge.

Between June of 2013 and Christmas of the same year, she crowdfunded her book, wrote it and published it in time to appear in stockings.

I shot the video for her campaign.

Why such a tight deadline?

Lorna loves deadlines. If she doesn’t have them things don’t happen. Her first deadline was very tight, she had just 3 months to deliver her book for Christmas as she’d promised her crowdfunding investors. The second and upcoming third book have an easier. To me, 1o months is still an insane schedule but it ensures she has the book ready in time for biggest farming event in Ireland the ‘National Ploughing Championships’. This isn’t just a competition for ploughing but a massive trade fair/country show, the perfect place for her to get press coverage.

Is blogging a good gateway to writing a book?

Lorna had struggled to get started with her blog. Her first plan was to write fiction, instead of assisting she found blogging was a form of procrastination. It was good practice for getting into the habit of blogging but it wasn’t until she chose non-fiction that it started to pay off.

The first book  ‘Would You Marry a Farmer’ could be written in sections. If she got writers block she’d just tell herself it was a blog post, write 1,5000 words and come back to it for editing.

Getting press coverage

It’s not enough to just write a book, particularly when you self-publish. You need to promote it too. Press coverage is hard to get when you start from nowhere but Lorna found that blogging helped with this too.

She’d been told media wouldn’t be interested in her crowdfunding campaign until she had completed it. So instead of sending press releases she started to update her blog once a week, sharing how the campaign was going. These blog posts attracted the attention of a journalist in one of Ireland’s biggest newspapers ‘The Irish Independent’ who wrote a feature on her in the paper.

Lorna continues to get press coverage, in fact, she’s become a minor celebrity in Ireland when it comes to farming, appearing on current affairs and light entertainment television shows.

She now writes a column for ‘The Scottish Farmer’ a job she got partly because the editor was able to check out her blog and style in advance.

Having a niche

There are other farming bloggers in Ireland but Irish Farmerette stands out. Lorna started it partly as a therapeutic exercise. She shares moments from her farming life but she tries to find humour in even the biggest disasters on the farm. It’s a warts and all blog about farming.

Where should someone who wants to write a book start with blogging?

  1. It helps you grow your following and your audience. When people read your blog and get to know what your writing is like they are more likely to buy. They’ll also follow you on social media and chat to you there.
  2. Write in the same style that they will be writing for the book. It will attract the right readers. If you want to write historical fiction write about history and stories around the era that your book is set in. If it’s going to be a humorous blog the content of the blog has to be funny.
  3. Your blog is a trailer, a sample of what your book will be.

To see what other writers are blogging Lorna recommends the Alli (Alliance Of Independent Authors) blog and I’m a big fan of Charles Stross’s blog.

If you could start your blog fresh again today what would you do differently?

I always like to ask people this. For Lorna, it’s pretty simple. She’d like to have started with www.lornasixsmith.com instead of IrishFarmerette. Although she owns both domains and both point at her blog the term ‘farmerette’ has been a bit controversial. Some see it as being demeaning.

Find out more about Lorna’s journey, life on the farm and her books here.

 

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Blogging for writers. How one Irish Farmer turned her blog into a career
Blogging for writers. How one Irish Farmer turned her blog into a career
Is being nice online the key to business success?
Is being nice online the key to business success?

This post probably reveals my inner hippy.

There’s a lot of negativity online. I’ve met so many people who use Twitter less or say they won’t use it at all because it’s a ‘toxic’ space. It’s not always like that.

It can be hard to be nice online. It’s easy to slip into a negative frame of mind, particularly when you see other’s doing it. Instead, step back, call yourself to order and look at how you can be nice.

Watch below to hear my thoughts on being nice online:

 

At BLOGGERCONF in Dublin this weekend Rosemary Mac Cabe told us a story.

She started work at a new magazine and her new editor told her she had to stop being mean on Twitter. Rosemary had always been assertive on Twitter and hadn’t thought she was being nasty. The comment from her editor made her take a step back.

Rosemary’s message to us was:

“Saying you are authentic or honest doesn’t give you a free pass to being nasty”

rosemary mac cabe on being nice
Wise words from Rosemary Mac Cabe at BLOGGERCONF

Rosemary wasn’t the only person talking about being nice. Sinéad Burke who writes the amazing Minnie Mélange blog was one of the most thought-provoking speakers of the day. One of her keys to success was:

“Be curious and be kind”

Sinéad Burke aka Minnie Mélange
Sinéad Burke, just one of the many inspirational and practical speakers at BLOGGERCONF

Before you stop reading, this isn’t just a post about inspirational posts. Being nice online is also good for your social media marketing. Feeling positive towards someone is often the first step to a healthy business relationship.

Think about it, do you approach grumpy people with caution or as a challenge? Do you sometimes think it will be too much work to keep the relationship going? This happens in real life but it’s far harder to break off a person to person relationship that it is a digital one.

But don’t’ take my word for it. Take a look at the statistics and examples in this post on the Buffer blog.

I’ve not always been a ray of sunshine. I was once surprised when I met someone who told me I was much nicer in real life than online. At first, I put it down to my English straightforwardness but later I realised that although I wasn’t proactively nasty I wasn’t proactively friendly and positive either. I’ve changed my mindset and since I’ve started forcing myself to be nice I’ve felt happier in myself and my relationships online and off have improved.

So next time you feel your blood boil, the next time you feel like dismissing an email or tweet, the next time you hit the reply button think about how you can be nice.

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

“365

 

Is being nice online the key to business success?
Is being nice online the key to business success?
decrease bounce rate on your blog
What can you do about your bounce rate?

Do you want to keep your blog readers on your site for longer? Are you shocked by your bounce rate? How can you decrease your bounce rate? What is bounce rate anyway?

There’s something that’s been bugging me for a while. My bounce rate, it’s very high and that’s not a good thing. It’s time I did something about it.

Listen below to find out what you can do to decrease your bounce rate



If you haven’t heard the term before, bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors that come to a site and leave after viewing just one page. The lower your bounce rate the better.

Bloggers often have a high bounce rate and it’s not always a bad thing. The very nature of a blog encourages people to come in, read the latest post and leave but as business bloggers, we need more. We need people to hang around and take action. We want them to buy our stuff, fill in our forms, trust us and that’s why I’m going to work on my bounce rate.

To find out what your bounce rate is you’ll need to log in to your analytics programme. I use Google analytics. The good news for me is that it is decreasing. I’m 2% down on the same period last year. People are also staying on my site longer so even if they are leaving after one view at least they are consuming some of the content on my site.

My 2% decrease is encouraging but it’s not good enough. If you want to achieve a solid decrease you’ll need to set yourself a goal. I’m going for a 10% decrease in 6 months. Setting the goal is the easy bit, working out how to achieve it is harder.

I asked people on social media, I read a whole bunch of stuff and I took a deep dive into my Google analytics. Here are 14 tips that I’ve collated that should help decrease bounce rates.

1. Add ‘Read more…’ to the blog home page

This was suggested by Rebecca Kelly from ThatSoBee on Facebook.

Sometimes you’ll visit a blog page, like my own, and you are able to read the posts in full. You can keep scrolling and reading. On other blogs this page will show a short introduction paragraph followed by ‘read more’. To read the entire post visitors will have to click through to the actual post.

Although the bounce rate from my blog home page is relatively low I could decrease it further by using this ‘read more’ layout.

2. Avoid click bait headlines

Are you over promising with your headlines? Take another look, if you are you’ll need to change. When people are enticed into a site by a headline they have an expectation of what will be at the other end. If it’s not what they expect they’ll leave straight away.

You’ve probably been the victim of click bait before. If you’ve ever clicked a ‘You’ll never guess what happened next’ style headline you’ll be aware of the disappointment that awaits you after you click.

Not only will people leave your site quickly but they’ll be less likely to click a link from you again.

3. Leave StumbleUpon alone

I talked about this in detail in a recent vlog. StumbleUpon does not deliver good quality readers, most will skip straight on by without waiting for you page to load.

4. Use internal linking

Catherine Drea from Foxglove Lane and Eva Burg from the TheHealthyTart both recommend internal linking.

This is something I try to do each time I blog. Make sure you are linking to at least one of your previous blog posts in the text of your blog. This will drive readers on to new posts on your site and keep them interested.

You can see I’ve linked to a previous post on StumbleUpon above.

5. Use a related post plugin

Related Post plugins add a selection of your blog posts to the bottom of posts. I’ve been using one for a while but haven’t seen a noticeable change in bounce rate as a result.

I’m trying something new with this plugin. Instead of letting it decide which posts people may be interested in I’ve been hand-picking what will appear. Time will tell if this works better.

6. Find out what people are searching for

Use your Google analytics and Google search console to find out what people search for both to find your site and to search your site for content.

This genius suggestion came from Darragh Doyle on Facebook. Finding your most popular posts and including those in your related posts or internal links is bound to attract more people to read on.

7. Create a sneeze page

I was inspired by the ProBlogger podcast to create a sneeze page at the end of last year. A sneeze page is a bit like the roundup posts we covered in episode 26 except that instead of linking out of your website you are linking people to useful resources within your site.

Here’s one I created to showcase my popular Facebook competition posts. It does have a low bounce rate and I reckon if I give it a better title it will gather more traffic.

8. Create a ‘Start Here’ page

This is another tip I’m stealing from ProBlogger. The ‘Start here’ page on their site asks a simple question.

‘What do you need help with’

I clicked on ‘Start a blog’ which brought me to a page full of posts related to that topic.

Not only will people use these pages to browse more content but you can also link to these within your related posts.

9. User experience

Sarah Eggers sent me a bundle of user experience tips via Twitter. It’s so easy to get user experience wrong, you may be able to identify some issues yourself but it’s only when you see how others use your site that you discover the real problems.

I’d recommend watching a friend navigate your blog, this will give you a great insight into what needs to be changed.

Sarah gave me a few key things to look at:

  • Font size – Does your font size work for each device it will be viewed on?
  • Make it easy to scan content. It’s a good idea to break up long content with short paragraphs, sub-headings and photographs
  • Change chunky paragraphs into bulleted lists so they are easier to digest.

10. Say no to pop up windows

Yes I know I said they work. They do, but they can also give readers a poor experience. If you really, really must add a pop-up find one that will only appear when it guages readers are about to leave the site.

11. Open links in new window

 

If you are linking to other sites make sure that those links open in a new window. Otherwise people click them and leave your site behind.

12. Is your site mobile friendly?

You’re probably tired of hearing this by now, but your site must be mobile friendly. Even though only 21% of my traffic comes from mobile I’m still obsessed with giving those people a good experience.

Check your site out on your own phone, on other phones and tablets. Is the text readable, is it easy to read without pinching and zooming with your fingers? If not you need to look at a redesign. People won’t hang around if they have to put too much work into reading.

13. Ebooks and downloads

Kate McQuillan from Pet Sitters Ireland is an old friend of this podcast. I interviewed her about her business blog earlier this year. She recommends using eBooks and downloads to your site. This is a great idea, if someone reads your blog and sees added value in a download you’re not only reducing your bounce rate but you’re also grabbing that important email address.

14. Update your bouncy posts

This is where I have the most work to do. A look through my analytics shows me some posts that have a higher than average bounce rate.

These posts fall into two categories:

  1. Posts with a large bounce rate but a long dwell time. People may be leaving immediately but at least they are reading. For these posts I just need to identify a link, download or related post that will encourage them to read on.
  2. Posts with a large bounce rate that people leave really quickly. These posts will need more work. Once I’ve identified them in my Google analytics I need to ask myself a few questions:
    • Is the post up to date?
    • Does the post have any internal links?
    • Is the headline relevant to the content?
    • Is it well written, does it add value to my readers?
    • Should I just unpublish it or rewrite it comletely?

 


Challenge

This weeks blogging challenge is to take a look at your analytics, identify bouncy posts and see how you can implement the tips above to decrease bounce rate. Don’t forget to keep a regular note of your bounce rate so that you can see if your efforts are paying off.

Do you believe in Karma? If so I highly recommend that you go over to iTunes or Stitcher and leave a review on this podcast, you never know what wonderful things might happen in return.

If you’ve been following my challenges or if you have done something on your blog that has worked well I’d love to hear about it. You can leave me a comment below, tweet me @spiderworking or snap me @spiderworking.

 

Improve your blog. Follow my weekly blogging challenges as I try to create a better blog. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe on Stitcher

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decrease bounce rate
14 tips for decreasing the bounce rate on your website or blog.
extended 140 character tweets
Could you soon have more space for your tweets ?

BassDrummerEd believes that “limitation makes you be creative”

Last week I was at the Thinking Digital conference in Newcastle, BassDrummerEd was there showing us how he had pushed the limits of his drumming. His stuff was incredible.

It made me think about two of my favourite social networks Twitter and Snapchat. Both have limits and both are networks I enjoy and love. Part of the reason I enjoy them so much is the limitations they impose. For Twitter, it’s the 140 character limit, for Snapchat the 10-second video limit and the restriction on uploading photos to your story.

Twitter character counts may be changing – Watch for more

Twitter was originally limited to 140 characters as it was a text messaging service. Back when it was launched the maximum length of an SMS text message was 160 characters. 140 characters allowed for the text of the tweet and the username.

Although we’re no longer limited by SMS size, 140 has become the differentiator for Twitter. It’s part of the brand and it forces users to be concise and creative to get their point over in a short space of time.

limitation inspires creativity
Wisdom from @BassDrummerEd at the recent Thinking Digital conference

Earlier this year there was a rumour that Twitter were to extend their 140 characters to 10,000. I wasn’t a fan. Luckily they seem to have abandoned the 10,000 character limit.

The latest rumour suggests they are going to introduce stealthy, longer tweets. An article in Bloomburg, as yet unconfirmed by Twitter claims that soon the characters taken up by links and photos will no longer count towards the 140 limit.

This isn’t a surprising update. We can already extend tweets beyond 140 characters with tagging and quote tweet, this is just an extension.

If the rumour is true we’ll be able to use the full 140 characters for the text of our tweet and add links and photos after. This makes sense, at the moment if you add a photo and a link to your Tweet you’re left with just 94 characters for your tweet. Visual content has become a crucial part of the Twitter experience but it seems a shame to loose part of our prose to it.

For once I’m not annoyed, I think I’m OK with this character extension, it leaves the limitation in place, it still forces creativity but it allows us to expand the meaning of our tweets with images and text.

What do you think, is this a good thing or is it just one step on the slippery slope towards the 10,000 character tweet?

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

“365

 

You'll Soon be able to tweet all of your 140 characters every time
Are Twitter about to let us tweet longer?
6 steps to writing better blog roundup posts
Blog roundup posts make quick and valuable content for your blog.

Blog roundup posts sometimes known as link posts or curated posts are easy to write and can help you grow your audience. Creating them is straight forward once you have a system in place. 

Are you like me? Do you go through phases when content almost writes itself then at other times when you just can’t make it happen?

This is one very annoying form of bloggers block. I’m not going to share all my tips today but there is one kind of post that is easier to write at times like this. The blog roundup post.

 

Today we’re going to focus on one blog post type. It’s a blog post that I used to write frequently, the roundup, curated or link post.

Listen below to find out how to write a successful roundup post



What is a blog roundup or link post?

These are posts that showcase other people’s content. That’s what makes them so great for filling the days when no original content comes your way. You don’t have to wait for a dry period to start writing them. You can mix a weekly or monthly roundup into your blogging schedule.

When you write a blog roundup you become a content curator rather than a content creator.

Museum curators don’t create original content but they do add meaning by bringing artifacts together in exhibitions.

When we create a curated link post we are doing the same thing. We’re selecting the best links, the best websites, the best content and showing it off to our visitors.

Let’s look at how Boris, our interior design shop owner might use them. Firstly he starts by looking at topics or themes that will attract his target reader.

Perhaps he’d choose:

  • Modern Design
  • Interior design on a shoestring
  • The best upcycling websites
  • Five posts that will make you think differently about art deco

Each of these topics will attract segments of his target reader.

What are the benefits of roundup posts?

We’ve established that blog roundup posts are easier to write than original content. By writing just a few lines about each link he shares Boris is cutting down on writing time. The posts he is linking to are a springboard for our thoughts and opinions. But this isn’t the only benefit.

Boris already stays on top of Interior Design trends. He reads trade papers, blogs and online articles. For his roundups, he just picks the best stuff. His target market will love that he’s pointing them towards useful resources.

When Boris finishes his link post he shares it on his social media channels. He tags the publications and writers featured when he does this.

When these people see they are featured some of these people will share it with their online audience. If he’s linking to the right people, their audiences will be his audience so he’ll be reaching more of his target readers.

He’s also buying good will with the writers. Many of these will be influential to his target market, these are good friends to make.

6 Steps to writing a blog roundup post

Step 1 – Theme

Boris had very definite themes for his link posts but this is just one approach. When I used to write ‘The Social 7’ curation posts on my own blog I didn’t stick to a theme. Instead, I created a newsy post with a mixture of social media news, short and in-depth post. I imagined my target reader sitting on a couch at the weekend reading my selection.

You might not always need a theme but you should have a plan. If, like me, you choose a mixture of content, decide on the right balance for your reader.  For example, I would aim for 1 news post, 1 infographic, 1 video, 2 short pieces and 2 long reads.

Step 2 –  Find content

I spend at least an hour a day consuming content. In the mornings, I check in with my favourite social media blogs using Feedly. During the day, I discover content on Twitter and Facebook. When I’m driving I listen to podcasts.

I bookmark the stuff I like with Pocket or Facebook Save. I also use a recipe I created with IFTTT and Delicious to bookmark content to a Google spreadsheet. Find out how I set this up here.

Step 3 – Review

Look back at the links you’ve saved. It’s the ones you remember reading straight away that you should pick. Did any of them give you an ‘aha moment’? Which ones fit into the slots in your content plan? These are the keepers.

I’ve always regretted specifying that I’d share 7 links in my roundup posts. Sometimes it was a struggle to fill all 7 slots. When I resurrect my roundup posts I won’t be putting a limit or goal on the number of links I need to find.

Step 4 – Summarise

Now you are on to the writing. Read through the posts you have selected. What made them curation worthy? Do you agree with what the article? Does it pose any questions? Tell people what you found interesting and why they should read more.

Step 5 – Add the link

Your roundup post is a collection of links that you have curated. Remember you aren’t cutting and pasting from other posts. You are telling people why they should read more, putting your twist on it and then linking to the post. Don’t forget the link. Before you publish click each one to make sure it works and sends people to the right place.

Step 6 – Promote

Like every post you write you should add this to your social media promotion schedule. But this time, you’ll be able to get far more traction by tagging the people and publications you have featured.

Find the Twitter handles, Facebook and LinkedIn pages not just of the publications but of the writers themselves. Send out at least one tweet, one Facebook post, one LinkedIn post, on Pinterest post tagging them.

Challenge

You’ll be expecting this one. My challenge to you this week is to write a blog roundup post. Follow the steps above and let me know how you get on.

If you create something as a result, I’d love to see it so leave me a comment below, Tweet me @spiderworking or snap me @spiderworking

If you enjoy this podcast please leave me a review on iTunes or Stitcher or let me know about your blog in the comments below.

 

Improve your blog. Follow my weekly blogging challenges as I try to create a better blog. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe on Stitcher

“Improve

6 steps to writing better blog roundup posts
Blog roundup posts make quick and valuable content for your blog.

 

binmans guide to marketing book review
April Book Club – The Binman’s Guide To Marketing – Oisin Browne

I remember a few years ago The City Bin Co. exploded into my consciousness. I’m not sure why. Was it a radio ad? TV? something else? All I know is that I knew that City Bins had red wheelie bins rather than the standard, green or grey. There marketing was working, if I’d been in an area they served I’d have wanted a red bin and I’d think of them every time I saw one.

Oisin Browne, the author of  ‘The Binman’s Guide To Marketing’* started his career in refuse working as a binman in his brother’s business, The City Bin Company, now he works as part of the sales, marketing, and innovation team there. In this book, he shares his top marketing ideas.

It’s the second in a planned series of books by Oisin, the first was ‘The Binman’s Guide To Selling’ and ‘The Binman’s Guide To Customer Service’ is in the works.

As someone who is self-taught in marketing, I’m always on the look out for more information and a better understanding of the marketing process. Digital marketing and traditional marketing go hand in hand yet so many who work on the digital side are like me and have no formal education in the area. It was with the aim of plugging my knowledge gap that I picked up a copy of this book.

The main body of the binman’s guide consists of 100 marketing ideas. Each with an outline of the idea, how to implement it, tips and a digital nugget.

Most of these come from Oisin himself but he has also invited guest authors to contribute. These tips give anyone new to marketing a good overview of the different techniques you can use.

oisin browne quote
Wise words from Oisin Browne – Author of ‘The Binman’s Guide To Marketing’

The 100 ideas are complimented at the end by expert interviews with marketing professionals including those from small businesses and large corporations.

For me the main value of this book is the marketing ideas. If you are going to read it I recommend doing so with a pen and paper next to you, not all tips will fit all businesses but there will be something in there for every business owner. Choose the ones that will work for you, make a note and go away and work on them.

I would have liked a bit more, I tend to read business books for two reasons. 1. To get inspiration and 2. To learn. The binman’s guide sat somewhere between these two. Although I got lots of ideas I’d have loved a website I could go to and download extras and templates so I could easily put the ideas into action. I’d also liked to have known more about Oisin, he hints at his involvement with The City Bin Co but it’s not until the end that I discovered it was his brother’s company.

All in all, this is a handy guide and one you should have on your bookshelf for reference. There are ideas there that you will go back to and ideas you’ll want to put into action straight away.

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

“365

*Affiliate link – I get a small cut of the sale if you buy using this link.

The Binman's Guide To Marketing
A Marketing Cheat Sheet For Business – Read The Binman’s Guide To Marketing
Blogging is hard work. Is it worth it
Blogging is hard work. Is it worth it?

Is blogging becoming hard work? This was a question I was asked recently by Mandy Mortimer on Snapchat and it’s one worth thinking about.

When I first started blogging there weren’t many of us out there. Blogging hadn’t become an industry or something people considered an income stream. Yes, there were people making money from blogging but most people I knew did it for the love of it, to share snippets of their lives.

The blogging landscape has changed. I blog to promote my business but many more are blogging with the goal of making an income. Blogging has become more accessible and that means more people are doing it. But blogging is hard work, it always has been but there are benefits too.

Blogging is hard work but is it worth it? Watch below to find out what I think:

There have been some big changes for bloggers recently:

1. Google started cracking down on review and sponsored posts.

When you post a link to a site in your blog post you are telling Google that it’s a source of good information. The number of links a site or page gets is one signal that tells Google if a site is authoritative.

However, Google doesn’t want people to game the search results by either by sponsoring content or offering free product to review. As a result, Google has clamped down on review posts, asking bloggers to use ‘nofollow’ links in these articles.

Find out more about this new policy here.

2. Google introduced AMP short for ‘Assisted Mobile Pages’.

These are stripped down versions of the pages and posts on your website that will load really fast o mobile. Because they load fast they will appear higher in search results.

That’s sounds good doesn’t it? Before you decide to enable them there are a few things to consider. In order to produce fast loading pages, stuff needs to be stripped out. This includes ads, banners, social sharing buttons, comments and sign-up forms.

After listening to Michael Stelzner’s podcast on the topic I’m still unsure when I’ll take the plunge.

3. Facebook introduced Instant articles.

Similar to AMP these will load super fast but the content will live within the architecture of Facebook rather than your site.

This means that people will not be visiting your site but just a version of your post on Facebook. Will this have an adverse effect on conversions?

Find out more about Facebook Instant Articles here.

The answer then is yes, blogging is becoming hard work but is that a bad thing?

Mark Schaefer coined the term ‘Content Shock’. As content has become easier to create there is more of it out there. We have to fight to be seen. If blogging becomes harder, if we have to think harder about the choices and decisions we make that can only be a good thing for those who work hard.

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

“365

Blogging is hard work. Is it worth it
Blogging is hard work. Is it worth it?
repurposing content
Are You Repurposing Your Blog Content?

How can you reach more people with your content? How can you ensure more people consume it? Can you get more value from the content you create? You can when you repurpose your content.

You’ve written a great blog post, you poured your heart and soul into it, you researched, you edited, you SEOd the hell out of it.  You post it to social media and that’s it, it’s gone in a flash.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can give your posts extra life and reach more people when you repurpose your content. I’m going to show you 10 ways that you can repurpose both blog posts and other content you may create for your business.

Listen below and discover how to repurpose your blog content and reach a wider audience:



What does repurposing mean?

Niti Shah describes repurposing In a post on the Hubspot blog as:

“When you repurpose a piece of content […] you’re doing one of two things (or both): changing the format of the content, and/or changing the target audience for the content.”

Essentially it’s taking one piece of content and turning it into something else.

Why?

One thing I’ve learned as a trainer is that different people learn in different ways and the same is true for content. Some people prefer to read, others want visual content, some will like to listen to a podcast or watch a video. Repurposing helps you reach all these people and provide them with content that works for them.

10 ways to repurpose content

There are tonnes of ways you can repurpose your content both on and offline. Here’s my top 10.

1. Convert your professional presentations into blog posts

If you create presentations for work, if you speak at events use this content as the basis of blog posts. Select key images and points from your presentation and write them up in a post.

If you are speaking at an event, aim to have these published by the time you walk off stage, this means you can point people at your post and engage with them immediately.

2. Convert your blog posts into SlideShare content

Slideshare is the YouTube of powerpoint presentations. I used to use it to share the slides from workshops but I found that there was little value for the reader in this. My slides don’t make sense alone, they need to be accompanied by me.

Now I condense presentation to a few slides, each one telling a story on its own, without the need of a voice over or presenter.

Look at your blog posts, is there one, like the one you are reading now that could be broken down into images and short snippets of text? If so try creating a PowerPoint of it and upload it to Slideshare.

A good Slideshare post will drive a lot of views. For example in 2012, I presented to the local chamber of commerce. The topic was digital trends to look out for in 2013

I created a blog post from my speech and put the images and concepts together into a presentation for SlideShare.

To date, the SlideShare has had almost 2,000 views and the blog post just 365.

3. Convert quotes from your blogs into shareable images

Quotes make highly shareable content. I grab quotes from books, podcasts and blog posts and share them weekly alongside an image on Facebook and Instagram. It’s always a bonus when I can create these from my own content.

Here’s one I created from my recent podcast recording with Ian Cleary.

Ian cleary quote
Quotes make highly shareable images.

Once you have a bank of quote images you can put them together into a SlideShare post or even a video. Which brings me on to topic number 4.

4. Convert your SlideShare or quote photos into a video

Create a video from images you have created or taken. This can be a great way to tell a story, perhaps you could take photos of people at work in your business or a day at a conference.

You could also pull together the quote images you created above into a video.

I use Flipagram on my mobile to create slideshow videos from photos on my phone. Here’s one I made on a recent trip to the Sage headquarters in Newcastle.

Facebook business pages let you create short videos from images now too. You can add up to 7 and it’ll make a slideshow of them for you.

facebook slideshow video
You can create a slideshow video using up to 7 images on Facebook.

5. Create a podcast of your blog posts

I am a big fan of the CopyBlogger blog, a while ago they started adding more podcast content to the site. I do love podcasts but I’d still be disappointed when I arrived on the site not expecting a podcast. There wasn’t much reading material to accompany the audio so I’d leave.

When I started podcasting I didn’t want to disappoint my readers so I’ve always tried to include value in the show notes. Over time, the length of the show notes has increased to almost full blog length.

So I’m repurposing my podcasts as blog posts but you can do the reverse. Choose a blog post and record an audio version of it. Create a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or SoundCloud and you’ll be reaching a larger audience straight away. You’ll also be giving your readers more options and more ways to consume your content.

6. Create a PDF of your blog post for downloading

I’ve seen Ian Cleary of RazorSocial do this on his blog. Not only is it a great way to get people who like a physical object to read your posts but it gives you the opportunity to get them into your sales funnel by asking for an email address.

7. Create videos from tutorials

Tutorials are often the most popular posts on my blog. Text isn’t always the easiest way of explaining how to do something. You can take photos of each step, add them to your post and you can create a video showing how it is done.

I find offering both a written and photographic tutorial alongside a video works best. Once you have the video you can upload it to YouTube, Facebook and embed it in your site.

8. Turn a SnapChat story into a video

Your Snapchat story may disappear within 24 hours but sometimes those stories are worth keeping and sharing beyond your SnapChat audience. If you create something that you want to keep, download your story from the day, edit it and create a video for YouTube or Facebook from it.

Here’s one I created from a snapstory about EdBallsDay.

9. Create an infographic covering key points from your blog

If you’ve done a lot of research for a post, if you’ve discovered lots of statistics or conducted a survey you can turn it into an Infographic.

Pull out the key statistics and learnings and use a tool like Piktochart to pull them together into a graphic.

10. Create an ebook from a collection of blog posts

If you have a series of popular blog posts on a specific topic consider pulling them together and creating an eBook. This will help you gain new subscribers.

I just picked up Beacon, a WordPress plugin for creating eBooks from blog posts. I’m planning an eBook on Facebook competitions. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Challenge

This weeks challenge is to:

  1. Find 3 blog posts that you can repurpose
  2. Use the techniques above to create a new piece of content from them.

If you create something as a result I’d love to see it so leave me a comment below, Tweet me @spiderworking or snap me @spiderworking

If you enjoy this podcast please leave me a review on iTunes or Stitcher or let me know about your blog in the comments below.

Improve your blog. Follow my weekly blogging challenges as I try to create a better blog. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe on Stitcher

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10 Ways To Reach More People With Repurposed Content
10 Ways To Reach More People With Repurposed Content
the problem with stumbleupon
Is traffic from StumbleUpon just vanity traffic? And if so what’s wrong with that?

StumbleUpon can be a great tool for driving traffic to your blog or website, the problem is it doesn’t stay long.

We talk about vanity stats a lot in social media marketing. You’ll find people all over the internet ready to rap your knuckles at the mere mention of the amount of followers or Likes you have. Yes, vanity stats are in most cases just that, we look at them and we feel good even though they offer no real value alone.

What’s the problem with StumbleUpon? Watch below To find out

I know all about vanity stats and I try and steer away from them but every now and then I’m dragged back in. This happened to me recently with StumbleUpon. I stopped posting links to my blog posts on social bookmarking site StumbleUpon years ago but somehow I fell off the wagon. As soon as I caught myself at it I stopped but it wasn’t until I looked at my Google analytics that I really remembered why.

If you haven’t used StumbleUpon as a visitor before I’d encourage you to do so. You’ll find lots of amazing content there. When you see something you like you may stop and browse for a moment but in most cases you stumble on to the next link, and the next, and the next. And that’s the problem.

Traffic arriving on my site from StumbleUpon was staying for 0.001 seconds. Long enough for them to glance at the page and click the stumble button. It was also bouncy, they arrived and left without a look at anywhere else on my site.

It’s easy to manufacture high statistics for your site with StumbleUpon but don’t get hooked on it. The real traffic is the traffic that builds loyalty and sells. It’s worth taking a bit of time to look at your Google analytics, look at not just which sites drive the most traffic but how long people stay on your site when they arrive. Is it long enough to read your content? Do they look at more than one page?

Looking at my own stats I notice that Facebook is not just the biggest referrer, but the average time spent on pages from people who visit from Facebook is far higher than any other network. It’s clear I should be spending more time on Facebook, nurturing the community there and less time on sites like StumbleUpon.

So I pledge to avoid StumbleUpon, no matter how tempting it is to submit my links. Will you too?

 

Master Social Media one day at a time with the We Teach Social Kindle book I co-authored.

“365

 

the problem with stumbleupon
StumbleUpon can drive lots of traffic to your blog or website. What could possibly be wrong with that?
blogging inspiration
How to find blogging inspiration

Do you struggle to find content ideas for your website? Do you sit with your fingers over the keyboard waiting for blogging inspiration?

“But what will I blog about?”

This is a question I’ve been asked many times by business owners embarking on blogging. It can be hard to come up with ideas and to keep that idea stream going. Where should we look for blogging inspiration?

Listen below and discover 10 techniques you can use to find blogging inspiration:



1. Read blogs

To write well you have to read and it’s no different for bloggers. Finding and reading blogs every week should be a big part of your strategy.

Here are a few places you can discover new blogs to read:

  1. Google – Search Google for blogs related to any topic. Just add the word ‘blog’ to your searches and you’ll find the top blogs relating to the topic you are searching.
  2. BlogSearchEngine.org – I’ve only just found this site but it’s a great resource. It’s powered by Google custom search. When I used it it didn’t just bring up blog results but also posts outlining the top blogs in my industry. If you do give this a try, let me know how it works for you.
  3. Google Alerts – Google alerts will send you daily emails relating to search terms you give it. When I started blogging about social media I set up alerts for ‘social media Ireland’, ‘Twitter’, ‘LinkedIn’ and ‘Facebook’. It helped me find great blogs to subscribe to and still throws up some interesting articles. Google alerts works best when you pair it with an RSS reader. More on how to do that here.

2. Keep an ideas book

You know you get THE BEST ideas in the middle of the night, when you are out or when you are in the shower. It’s important not to let these slip away. Keep an idea diary or book close by and jot down the ideas as they come to you.

I’ve been keeping my ‘little book of ideas’ ever since I interviewed Eamonn O’Brien for this podcast.

little book of ideas
My litle book of ideas

It doesn’t have to be a physical notebook, I also use Evernote and the voice recorder on my phone.

3. Time out

One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is time. If you are anything like me you have a jam packed schedule and a bursting to do list every day. However busy you are taking time out, real time out with no plan, no to-do list can really help the creative juices flow.

It’s no accident that we get the best ideas when we’re in the shower or in bed, that’s when our mind wanders. So schedule some blank space in your life where you can just relax and think about whatever comes your way. You’ll find that you have better ideas as a result.

4. Planning

Schedule planning time for your blog. It will always take longer to come up with ideas if you sit in front of the computer the day you want to publish and wait for inspiration. Instead, set a time once a week or once a month where you can really brainstorm ideas and fill in your content schedule.

5. Google

I mentioned Google earlier and Sandra talked about using Google autocomplete when I interviewed her in episode 23.

I’ve found this the simplest way to come up with ideas for my blog posts. Start typing your topic into the Google search bar and it will show you suggested searches.

Choose one of those suggestions and scroll to the bottom of the search results. You’ll find more inspiration here in the form of related searches.

Here’s a search I did for Wedding flowers. Any florist would find a wealth of ideas from these results.

google autocomplete
Use Google autocomplete for inspiration

 

google autocomplete
find ideas with Google related searches

6. Twitter

Us Twitter search to find out what questions people are asking about your industry or blog topics.

For example, I typed ‘anyone know blog ?’ into Twitter search and found a whole bunch of people looking for blogging help.

twitter search
Use Twitter to find out what people are talking about relating to your business.

7. Quora

Quora is a website full of questions. Users submit questions they want the answers to and others provide answers.

Here’s what I found when I searched the topic ‘blog’

quora
Find out what questions people have relating to your business with Quora

8. Ask questions

Use your social media channels to ask questions, find out what people are interested in, what annoys them, what challenges they face. I find that I get into at least two long conversations on Twitter a week using this technique and I use these as inspiration for Facebook Live and my blog posts.

9. Answer questions

What questions do your customers and social media audiences ask? Keep a note of queries from phone calls and emails and ask people on social media to share their questions with you.

I’ve found that posts I’ve written as a result of answering questions will get lots of traffic, if someone is asking me directly there are probably lots of people searching Google and social networks for the same answer.

10. BuzzSumo

You can use BuzzSumo to discover the top shared articles relating to any topic. If the results you get are a little broad you can narrow your search to results that include your topic in the headline.

buzzsumo search
Use BuzzSumo to find out what topics are popular.

This is a great way to find out what areas of your business are popular online.

Challenge

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve given you a challenge.

This week I want you to try the techniques above a come up with 20 content ideas for your blog.

Don’t stop at the idea either, come up with headlines and rough outlines before slotting them into your content schedule.

A massive thank you to everyone who has left comments or reviews on my Podcast. If you enjoy this podcast please leave me a review on iTunes or Stitcher or let me know about your blog in the comments below.

 

Improve your blog. Follow my weekly blogging challenges as I try to create a better blog. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe on Stitcher

“Improve

blogging inspiration
Use these 10 techniques to inspire your blog posts.