10 Reasons You Should Be Blogging For Your Business
Are You Blogging For Your Business? Here are 10 Reasons You Should Be

[Estimated reading time: 6 Minutes]

Is blogging for your business really worth it? What are the advantages of blogging? 

A few weeks we discussed the downsides of blogging for business. We talked about the time it took, content shock, your peers thinking you are mad and more.

But it’s not all bad news. In fact, it’s mostly good news. There are many advantages of blogging and they outweigh the disadvantages by far.

Listen below to discover 10 advantages of blogging for your business:



1. SEO – Search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation is tough and it’s getting tougher. There is such an abundance of content on the Internet that ranking for even long tail keywords is an art. If you are trying to appear on page one of search engines and you don’t have a blog you’re going to find it even harder.

When you blog you are regularly adding content to your website that can be optimised for keywords related to your business. You have more opportunity to rank for more search terms than a site without a blog.

If like me you’ve been neglecting SEO there’s no time like the present to start. Start with Google Keyword Planner and make a list of keywords you need to target with your post.

I recommend using the Yoast plugin to ensure you are optimising your posts for the keywords you choose to target.

2. Build trust

What sort of link are you most likely to click the first time you encounter a business on social media?

1. A product post encouraging you to buy
2. A link to download an ebook in return for you email address
3. A link to an interesting article relating to something that interests you
4. The homepage of their website

I’d hazard a guess that most people would choose number 3. Why? Because there’s no commitment, but you are getting something valuable in return for your click.

People are cautious of doing business with people they haven’t encountered before. You need to build trust before they buy. Blogging is the ideal way to start building this trust.

Remember it’s the value that is important. If your blog isn’t offering anything entertaining, educational or helpful it’s going to be harder to attract readers.

3. Establish expertise

I love it when a customers get in touch and tell me they had a look at my blog and decided that I knew what I’m talking about. It proves to me that my blogging is working.

Consider it from a customers point of view. Static websites may tell people that they know what they are talking about ‘We have 20 years experience in the industry’ but your blog shows them you know your stuff.

4. Brand building

There’s been an upsurge of larger companies blogging. One of my favourites is the Ryan Air blog.

Up until recently, the Ryan Air brand was about cheap flights and bad customer service. They didn’t use social media and relied on traditional media and controversy to sell flights. Michael O’Leary famously said

“Are we going to say sorry for our lack of customer service? Absolutely not.”

Then everything changed, they rebranded and have shifted 180 degrees on customer service. One big signal of this change is their blog ‘Into the blue’, a resource for anyone travelling to the destinations the airline serves.

Look at your blog, does it represent the core values of your business? Are you helpful? An expert? A news provider? A go-to resource? Does it represent your business as a brand?

If you are clear with your strategy you’ll find that you will attract more of the right customers that will begin to build affinity with your business.

5. FAQ’s

Do you have a frequently asked questions page on your site? These are a great resource for your customer but instead of just including a few sterile lines answering you customers most common questions why not expand these into blog posts?

This has many advantages:

1. When customers get in touch via email or online you can direct them to your post to answer the question. This not only gives them the answer but it drives them back to your site where they can buy, book or browse some more.

2. You’ll feel more comfortable answering customer queries face to face or on the phone as you will have spent time working out the best way to answer the question for your blog.

3. You will get found in search for similar queries. If people are asking the question by email and phone they are also asking search engines.

If you have a FAQ page on your site go take a look at it, are there longer blog posts you can write for each section? Do you have posts that cover those topics already that you can link to?

6. Educating your audience

This blogging advantage was suggested by Elaine Rogers VA.

Jargon is confusing and each industry has its own set. For me it’s SEO, WCA, PPC and so on. These terms may seem familiar to me but for customers, they can seem confusing.

Where do we go when we want to know what a phrase or acronym means? Search engines. Some of my top blog posts have been describing terms like ‘CPM’ & ‘Meta-Data’.

Google have given us a new tools that can help us rank at the top of search results when we provide this information. Structured data and rich snippets.

Have you searched on Google for the meaning of a phrase recently? You’ll often find that the top slot is given over to a ‘rich snippet’ from a website. It will stand out from the rest of the results and display the full answer on the page.

Here’s what I see when I search for ‘What is CPM’. Google is prioritising a snippet from a site that gives the precise answer.

structured data example
Structured data can help your posts rank at the top of Google searches

This doesn’t happen automatically, you have to do some work on the back-end of your site. I’ll be covering this in a future episode of this podcast but if you want to get started straight away here’s a guide from Google.

7. Extending your reach

Social media is a great source of word of mouth marketing.

Before the internet became interactive we had to ask our friends for recommendations either directly or in small groups. We still ask our friends but the size of our audience has changed. When customers are pleased with our services they’ll tell their friends on Facebook or recommend us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Blogging gives them the opportunity to talk about us even more. You can’t expect your customers to tell their friends how great you are every week but you can give them fresh content to share once a week.

According to Nielson “Eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family”

If you can get customers talking about you, they are extending your reach and helping you build trusted relationships.

8. Additional income

Of course, the main focus of you blog has to be making sales for your business but you can also make a bit of extra money on the side from your blog.

I run a few affiliate schemes on my blog, always to trusted services. The money I make from these goes towards paying my hosting and website costs for the year.

Tread carefully when you monetise your blogs. You don’t want to lose a reader’s trust in exchange for a few extra bucks. If you do run affiliates ensure you are 100% happy to endorse the product. If you chose to run ads make sure they are a good fit for your customers.

9. Researching and upskilling

Thanks to Naomi from Dr Howe’s Science Wows for this one.

This is one of the biggest advantages of blogging for me. My need to share interesting information with my readers on a weekly basis has meant that I’ve had to keep learning and upskilling.

Blogging for my business has made me watch webinars, try new things, go to conferences, read books. I’m better at what I do as a result. This benefit of blogging isn’t about the reader at all, it’s not about website traffic or customers it’s about self-growth.

10. Improves your writing

Both Marie Ennis O’Connor and Eleanor Goold Hiscox championed this.

Writing a blog post once a week or once a month will improve your writing. Just by committing to writing once a week my skills are improving and that means it’s not just my blog posts that are improving, it’s my emails, my social media posts, my quotations, everything.

Bonus – Reaching people not on social

It’s unusual to find someone who doesn’t use some form of social media but they are out there. The same way there were always families that chose not to have a TV when I was a child there are those who have decided not to use social media.

I have a friend like this, although he refuses to use social media sites he still relies on Google to find the information he uses.

This friend has a very distinctive name. If I search for him online I find that he’s quite an active blog commenter. Don’t’ leave those who don’t use social media out, leave commenting open on your blog so you can connect with them there and attract them with your content.


I had a much longer list of blogging advantages but I’ve distilled it down for this post. What else should I have included? What am I missing. Leave me a comment and let me know.

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.

 

Join the free community for Small Business Bloggers On Facebook, meet other bloggers, share and learn.

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10 Reasons You Should Be Blogging For Your Business
10 Reasons You Should Be Blogging For Your Business
Are you making this mistake in your customer communications
Are you making this mistake in your customer communications?

When you communicate with your customers are you making a big mistake? It’s a mistake I’ve made time and time again and I’m sure you have too.

Luckily someone enlightened me and I’ve put a stop to the habit.

Watch below to find out what that bad customer communication habit was:

 

The mistake I’ve made is to start my emails, my social media posts with:

“We are delighted to announce”

If you haven’t actually sent an email like this I’m sure you’ve received one.

What’s so wrong with this phrase?

Let’s look at it, what does it tell us?

It tells us that the person sending the email is excited. Do we care? Perhaps if it’s someone we have a real personal connection to but in most cases no we don’t.

The ideal way to open your communications, even when you are delighted or excited is to let them know what is in it for them.

Forget about your own emotion and think about what the benefit of your announcement is for your customer. Are you launching something that is going to help them solve a problem? Will you make their lives better in some way? Will they learn from the information you have to share?

So rip up that first draft of your email and start again. Stand in the shoes of your customer and look at your new innovation, service from their point of view. How can you make them excited about it? How can you make them think that it was worthwhile opening the email?

Now you know the secret you will see ‘We are delighted to announce’ everywhere. In emails you receive, in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts. And now you can smile, comfortable in the knowledge that this is a habit you’ve kicked.

 

Join the free community for Small Business Bloggers On Facebook, meet other bloggers, share and learn.

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Are you making this mistake when communicating with customers
Are you making this mistake when communicating with customers
reader-survey-for-your-blog
Are you creating content that your audience wants to read? Create a reader survey for your blog and find out.

[Estimated reading time: 6 minutes]

Do you really know what your readers need? Have you asked them? Are you writing content that solves their problems? The easiest way to find out is to create a reader survey for your blog.

I hit a bit of a dry patch recently with my blogging, my ideas just dried up overnight. My content schedule needed filling but I was out of ideas. It didn’t last long thankfully and it prompted me to knock one item off my to-do list. The survey.

I’d been planning a reader survey all year. I started by reading ‘Ask’ by Ryan Levesque, a book about creating surveys. Although it’s quite hardcore and I doubt I’d follow the whole process there were some key tips I gained from it that helped me frame my questions and analyse the results.

I’m going to share the process that I followed and some of my results with you today.

If you have 3 minutes you can complete the survey I created here.

Listen below to find out how to create a reader survey for your blog:



Planning your reader survey

Why are you running a survey?

The purpose of this reader survey is to discover what you can write about that will attract your ideal reader.

Imagine you have a problem, you are surfing the net looking for the answer. Perhaps you search on Google, Facebook, Twitter and then… finally you find the answer you were looking for.

How does that make you feel? What do you want to do with that information? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest you feel happy and relieved to find the answer. You might also share it on your social networks as you know your friends would like to know the answer too.

That’s what you should be aiming for with your blog reader survey, you are looking to help your readers with their biggest problems, to answer their questions in full so that you become a cherished resource and your readers will want to spread the word.

That’s why your survey should start with this question:

What is the biggest ____ challenge you face. For me, that became ‘What is the biggest blogging challenge you face. Every question after this one is there to qualify the reader, to know if they fit into your target market.

It’s important that it is the first question you ask. It’s the one you really need the answer to so don’t risk readers starting the survey with easy questions and then abandoning it when they get to the important one.

Now that you know the answer to the big question you need to find out who is answering.

Who do you want to reach with your content? Who are your ideal customers and readers?

I have three categories:

1. Small business bloggers
2. Non-business bloggers
3. Small business owners who don’t blog yet

Identify different segments of your readers and make that list the basis of your next question. Knowing which answers belong to which set of customers will mean you can create more specific and relevant content for them.

What other information would it be useful for you to know about your readers?

I felt it would be valuable to know:

1. How often do they blog?
2. What stage of their blogging journey are they at?

This will help me pitch my content correctly. There is no point creating complex content if most of my readers are just starting out.

Your Turn

Compose 2 -3 questions that:

1. Segment your respondents into different types of reader.
2. Can help you gauge the level of interest or expertise they already have.

Now you have your key questions look at what other information it would be useful for you to have. These will be optional questions, you don’t want to put respondents off by asking them too much.

These are the 3 that I added:

1. Link to your blog
2. Your name
3. Email (if you want to get blog tips to your inbox)

So far 80% of respondents have willingly handed over this information.

Creating your survey

Once I had my questions it only took me 10 minutes to create the initial survey on Survey Monkey. However, I didn’t just create one survey. I created 5 to start with and have added a few since.

Why? Because the only way I could see which promotion techniques were working and find out which type of respondants were the best fit was to have a different version for each place I wanted to collect responses from.

This is another trick I picked up from ‘Ask’.

These are the first 5 survey’s I created:

1. For Facebook groups
2. For Facebook ads
3. For my newsletter
4. For Twitter
5. For LinkedIn

Promoting your reader survey

My goal for the first run of the survey is to get 100 responses. Decide on your own goal, be realistic, if you want to get 1000 responses it’s going to mean a lot more promotion and budget to reach it.

100 should work for most of us, it should give us a good idea of the common problems our readers face.

How do you promote it?

I’ve used 4 methods so far:

1. Shared in Facebook groups that I’m active in
2. Shared on Twitter and LinkedIn
3. Shared with my email lists
4. Used Facebook advertising to reach my website visitors

Facebook groups

If you haven’t joined Facebook groups relevant to your target customer yet go do it now. It’s easy to find them, just type a word relating to your customers in the search bar and click ‘groups’ from the search results page.

find facebook groups
How to find Facebook groups related to your customers.

I’d recommend becoming an active participant in the group before you post your link. Some groups have strict rules, others have specific threads for surveys and promotions. If in doubt check with the admin.

When you post your link you’ll need to write some compelling copy to maximise the number of responses you get. Think about how you can word it so that people feel there is benefit for them.

This is the text that performed the best for me:

I’m working on creating better content for bloggers that really addresses the problems and issues they have.

I’ve a short survey (7 questions) and I’d be delighted if you could complete it. I have asked for contact info but it’s not required to add that if you’d prefer to be anonymous.

Hopefully, this will help me write better stuff and help all bloggers with the problems they really have.
Thanks a mill in advance

You’ll need to create different variations of this text for different social networks. A shorter version for Twitter, a more professionally worded version for LinkedIn.

Facebook has been my top referrer so far. 52% of my responses came from the groups. You might find similar results if you are active in LinkedIn groups. I found I was less successful when I broadcast my survey on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Facebook Ads

I kept my add budget reasonably low to see if I could get responses from them. I created 3 versions of my ad with 3 images and targeted website visitors who had an interest in blogging.

Although I got quite a few click-throughs I didn’t get many responses. Facebook ads only accounted for 7% of my responses.

Mailing list

I sent out 3 emails to my list:

1. To everyone on my list asking for responses, I used similar language to the Facebook posts.

2. A reminder to everyone who opened or clicked the first email.

3. The first email again but with a different headline sent to those who didn’t open the first one.

The result was encouraging, 35% of respondents came from the list, most were hyper-relevant.

Analyse your survey results

When collating and analysing the survey responses start with question 2. This is the question that qualified people by the type of customer they were.

Start with your most important customer type and look at their responses to the big question. You’ll probably find that most answers will fall into three or four topics. This gives you topics you should focus on in your blog.

For me those topics could be :

1. Time
2. Inspiration
3. Getting readers

Put each answer you got into one of your topic categories. There will always be a few that don’t fit so keep a final topic for ‘miscellaneous’.

Now you know your key topics brainstorm each one, tease out each idea and break it into blog posts you can write about each. When you work with others a brainstorming session will help. If you work alone like me try Mind Mapping.

Finally

This process should have given you a heap of content ideas that will service your ideal readers. But there is something else you can do with this information.

Now you know the specific challenges your readers face, and now they have given you permission to add them to your email list consider creating specific content for them.

For example, if I could identify a large segment of respondents who wanted to know more about getting started with their blog I could make sure the emails they got from me addressed those issues.

For those who are struggling to be consistent, I could send tips on finding content and managing a content schedule.


Blogging Challenge:

This week’s challenge is to create your own survey following the steps above. Let me know how you get on, I’d be interested to hear what promotion techniques work best for you and if you got a good pool of content ideas from it.

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.

 

Join the free community for Small Business Bloggers On Facebook, meet other bloggers, share and learn.

“Small

 

How to create a reader survey for your blog
Are you creating content that your audience wants to read? Create a reader survey for your blog and find out.
how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people
From the 30’s To The Digital Age? – How To Win Friends And Influence People

A book written in the 30’s about how to get your own way… that’s bound to be evil isn’t it?

A slightly dogeared copy of Dale Carnegie’s ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’ * has been knocking around my house for a few years, we’d purchased it as an oddity and although I’d thought of picking it up a few times I’d always gone for something a bit more modern.

What finally made me open it? One day it seemed everyone was talking about it. I’d written a post about how it was better to be nice online and someone pointed me towards the book, Ted Rubin mentioned it in a podcast I listened to and it popped up in some articles I read.

Perhaps it’s not an evil book after all?

Running your own business in the 21st century is hard, we are told that we should be no nonsense, put our foot down, say it like it is. Good advice? Perhaps, you need a certain amount of resilience to survive but are we forgetting to be nice.

Essentially that’s what this book is about. It’s about how to deal with people and get the best from them. It’s not about manipulation as I imagined, it’s just about treating other human beings in a way that enhances their lives rather than causing them annoyance, shame or upset.

So yes we need to be strong and resilient but sometimes the best way to be those things is to be decent to people.

Key takeaways

Be nice

Nice is such an insipid word but being nice could well be the key to success. When you are nice, friendly, helpful, go out of your way to add value to your relationships, people will reciprocate. Have you ever met someone with a permanent smile on their face? You can’t help but feel warm towards them.

Make people feel important

According to the author people need to feel important, their ego needs to know that they have a place in your world. Something as simple as remembering someone’s name, and using it can make all the difference to your relationship with them.

Hug your haters

There will be those who take exception to you in life and some of these people can get in the way of you progression. Instead of increasing the friction go on a charm offensive, make that person feel important and you will begin to modify their impression of you.

Walk in their shoes

When you find yourself in conflict with someone try looking at the situation from their point of view. Identify what it is that is triggering the conflict and tell them you understand. When they see that you understand your point of view they will be more receptive towards yours.

Ask others for advice

It’s very arrogant of us to walk around believing we know everything. It’s always a good idea to widen your point of view and find out what others think. Not only will they respect you for listening to their ideas but they could become powerful allies in the future if you act on their advice.


Most of this stuff will sound obvious to you, many of us have been practicing these techniques with out being aware that we were. Knowing about them, being told they work will remind us to do it more.

I was surprised at this book. It is a book about being nice but what’s strange is that although it was written in the 30s, it’s also a book that sits neatly into the internet world.

If you have managed social media for your business or someone else, you will know that sometimes it’s hard to deal with negativity, whether it’s a complaint, a snide comment or just someone having a bad day. A good community manager delights in being nice, polite in the face of attacks and this ‘How to win friends…’ is a good primer for this.

Whether it’s a sales meeting, a disagreement with a friend or dealing with 100’s of consumers online, following Mr Carnegie’s formula will mean you will be happier and so will those you are dealing with.

One note, if you do read this book I recommend getting a recent, updated edition. Although it’s quaint to see examples of letters rather than emails some of the content is outdated, particularly if you are female. You have to remember that this is a book written in the 30s, a time when it was almost unimaginable that a wife wouldn’t be a home maker who’s interests, apparently, stretched to wanting a fur coat.

*Affiliate link, I get a small cut of sales if you buy using this link

Join the free community for Small Business Bloggers On Facebook, meet other bloggers, share and learn.

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How To Win Friends And Influence People
From the 30’s To The Digital Age?
It's Time To Review Your LinkedIn Professional Headline
It’s Time To Review Your LinkedIn Professional Headline

When is the last time you looked at your LinkedIn profile? When is the last time you updated it? There are three sections on your LinkedIn profile that are important to get right. These three sections travel around LinkedIn, whenever you send an invite, comment on a post or appear in search results these are what people will see.

They are:

1. Your photograph
2. Your name
3. Your professional headline

And it’s your professional headline I want to talk about today.

Watch For LinkedIn Professional Headline Tips

Last week I was in a conversation with Claire By Reverie on Twitter about the rubbish we put in our professional headline. She had taken offence to the word ‘consultant’, a word that appears in my own bio.

But the problem isn’t the word, it’s the use of it. When I search on LinkedIn or when I get an invite I often see people describe themselves as CEO or Owner, it tells me nothing about them and means I am less likely to connect. Consultant is another one-word headline that doesn’t really describe you, it’s becoming an over used word.

You only have 120 characters, including spaces and punctuation to sell yourself so use them wisely.

5 things to consider when writing your professional headline:

1. It should be descriptive of the job you do
2. You should include keywords you would like to get found for on LinkedIn and Google
3. Include the name of your business or the oraganisation you work for if it’s important to you
4. Avoid buzz words
5. Make it appealing to the kind of customers you want

Take a look at yours now, does it represent you accurately? Will it encourage others to connect with you?

If not, now is the time to change it.

Finding inspiration

The best way to find inspiration is to look at other profiles. Do a search for some of your industry keywords and look at the headlines from the people you find.

linkedin bio search results
Find inspiration by searching for other people within your industry.

How to update your professional headline

LinkedIn automatically takes your professional headline from your current job description. But you can edit this.

On your profile page, hover your mouse over your headline (underneath your name). Click inside the box to update it.

update linkedin professional profile
Edit your professional headline at the top of your profile page

Your Turn

What’s the worst headline you’ve seen on LinkedIn? Have you composed an interesting one for yourself? I’d love to hear about them.

 

Join the free community for Small Business Bloggers On Facebook, meet other bloggers, share and learn.

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It's Time To Review Your LinkedIn Professional Headline
It’s Time To Review Your LinkedIn Professional Headline
Every Word Is A Power Word If You Use It Well
Every Word Is A Power Word If You Use It Well

[Estimated reading time: 4 Minutes]

I’d been reading about these words that sounded magic. ‘Power Words’ would make people click, buy, enquire, convert. I was skeptical, I looked at the many lists of power words available online. ‘Free’ ‘Amazing’ ‘Mind Blowing’. None of these sounded like they’d make me do something, in fact, if you tried to sell me something with the term ‘Mind-Blowing’ I’d probably run in the other direction.

Time to consult an expert.

Eleanor Goold is a copywriter, her day is filled with words and she’s written some pretty interesting articles on the way we use them. So I tracked her down and asked her about power words. Are they really magical?

Listen below to find out what Eleanor thinks of Power Words



What is a power word?

A power triggers an emotional response in the reader. From a business perspective, it should encourage the reader to take action, to buy something, to click or to share.

Power words aren’t just used in business, we find them in fiction too, they encourage us to keep reading.

Eleanor believes that all words can be power words, it’s the art of putting the right words together at the right time for your specific audience. Sticking to lists of words is limiting yourself and your vocabulary.

Every year LinkedIn publishes a list of overused words. They may have started as power words but over time their power has diminished.

And that’s one of the problems with the lists of power words. The more we use them the less powerful they become. Words like ‘clarity’ and ‘passionate’ have been diminished in value

Remember who you are writing for

When you are writing it’s not about making yourself look intelligent, this can make the reader sound like they are dumb. Writing is about properly communicating with your audience. Make sure you are using words they are familiar with and understand.

How can you best identify the language that’s right for your audience?

Finding the right language for your target reader is all about research. Research your target audience, find them online and you will discover the language they know and understand. For example, I might use the term SEO in my posts because you, my audience should understand it but if I’m speaking to the guy next door he’d be utterly confused.

The secret to power words

A Samurai sword is only effective in the hands of a master, the scalpel is only effective in the hands of the surgeon. To really understand the art of persuasive writing you have to get to know the words that you’re using and become a master of them.

Read widely and identify words that appeal to you. Make a list and then look them up, try to understand not just the meaning but the genesis of the words. For example, the word ‘spelling’ comes from the same place as ‘magic spell’. Words are magical!

Understanding the context of a word gives it more power in your hands.

And beware of using power words without understanding them. Eleanor compares this to keyword stuffing. If you just try and elbow power words into your copy it will dilute the efficacy of what you are doing.

 

“Words are powerful because they form our reality and how we interpret the world.”

Where should someone start looking at their writing to see if it’s powerful?

  • Use a thesaurus and see if there is another way to say something. For example instead of saying something is ‘beautiful’ try ‘stunning’ it sounds so much more powerful.
  • Read widely, you’ll find words that may have fallen out of your own usage. By reading widely you have a good understanding of vocabulary.
  • When you read be analytical, work out why you like the posts and books you read. Study the words you use and they will become your friends.

Always be expanding, not closing your vocabulary. Don’t forget the simple words. The most famous marketing slogan is ‘just do it’ none of the words in this phrase are powerful but together they have power.

Words alone aren’t always powerful, it’s the context of the words. Think of a great orator reading a speech, their charisma, tone of voice, body language transforms the words they say. It’s the same with your writing, the words you use can transform or change the meaning.

For example, use contrast:

‘It might be a little thing that makes a big difference’

It’s the contrast between little and big that makes that phrase powerful.

The words you choose can change the message:

“I’m a bit peckish”
“I’m absolutely ravenous”

Power comes from:

  1. The writer
  2. The context
  3. Being concise

The only way to be a better writer is read widely, look at other people’s copy. Read more and write more to become a better writer.

How do you curate your own power words?

Hand writing can help you remember stuff. When you put pen to paper you are more likely to remember it.
So a physical notebook of words can work better than a digital notebook.

Write down phrases that capture you. It could be the opening line of a book or something you hear on TV. The news and the phrases our politicians use can be particularly powerful. Always be on the lookout for phrases and words you can collate.

Where to find Eleanor online:

Eleanor’s copywriting business site:  Kreativ Forditas
Her personal blog which is always crammed with fun content.
Free guide to Mastering the Art of Persuasion

Here is the link to that post on weasel words I mention in the podcast.


Challenge

There’s no time like the present, this week’s challenge is to collect 10 power words of your own and start trying to understand them better. Do as Eleanor suggested and research the root and history of the words.

You can pick words and phrases from blog posts, books, TV, the news and don’t forget the words of our politicians.

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.

 

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Every Word Is A Power Word If You Use It Well
Every Word Is A Power Word If You Use It Well

 

 

inspirefest dublin 2016
Inspirefest lived up to it’s name, it was exciting, inspiring and a little bit scary

When I was a teenager, even a bit older, I was very concerned about the effect of technology on privacy. We had discussed and imagined payment systems that would magically take money at the click of a button or a touch of a credit card (unusually we hadn’t imagined mobile phones).

I had problems with this, if all our payments came from a card they could be tracked and that info could be handed to the government, it all seemed very 1984. To this day cash is my preferred method of payment but I have to admit I sometimes find it easier to touch my card to a screen than rifle around in my purse for change.

Although my friends and I had imagined payments in the future we hadn’t anticipated the world wide web. The younger me would probably be horrified how much privacy I’m willing to give away in exchange for information. I’d also be horrified at the middle-class woman I’d become who has no problem tapping my credit card on a device to pay for stuff.

So last week when I attended InspireFest half of me was in shock at the possible future, the other half of me was pretty convinced that I’d soon happily be handing over more of me in exchange for innovation.

Collaborative economy

Robin Chase Zipcars Inspirefest
Robin Chase from Zipcars talked about how excess capacity could be the answer to climate change.

Robin Chase the founder of Zipcar hosted one of the most interesting panels of the day. She spoke enthusiastically about how the collaborative economy (or excess capacity as she called it) could change the world.

I like the concept of excess capacity. I use Airbnb when I travel although I’m not sure if this is excess capacity. I suspect that many of the flats I’ve stayed in were bought for the purpose of renting on Airbnb, that’s almost like being a hotel isn’t it?

I also use Dublin bikes at least once a week and had the pleasure of using Boston’s bike scheme when I was visiting last year. I would use Zipcar rather than own a car if they were available in my part of the world.

My problem with this tech is that it does, by necessity track me. Airbnb can tell you about my recent holidays, who I went with and if I’m a good guest. I bet it even has an algorithm somewhere trying to anticipate my next stay.

Dublin bikes know I’m in Dublin, they know when I check in and out of the bike stations and they know which ones I use most frequently. With all this info it surprises me they aren’t able to distribute bikes so there are more spaces when you arrive and more availability when you leave. That would be a worthy sacrifice of my privacy.

If you dive further into the collaborative economy you can imagine there is a pretty comprehensive picture being built about you and your movements. What happens if those companies merge or if a government agency requests information on you?

I’m not sure it’s scarier than social media but until that panel discussion I hadn’t thought about it much. Perhaps I should have.

The fear didn’t end there…

Mark Curtis fjord
Mark Curtis helped us imagine a fantastic future whilst scaring us about what Google could do.

Mark Curtis from fjord talked about the wonders of virtual reality, his story of painting in 4D VR was mind-blowing, He talked about pulling the brush towards himself creating a line of paint in the air that he could walk around.

“You wonder what Picasso would have done with this.”

I love this, I love to think about what we can do, what can we create with the new tools we’ve been given. Although Mark was inspiring, one moment that stood out was his description of going to the pub using Google maps.

On the way to meet friends Google maps told him not just how long it would take to reach the pub but it also buzzed to inform him it would be closed when he got there. Pretty cool huh… but, then he imagined a time in the near future when Google would be able to recommend another local pub that ‘did better beer anyway’.

This rang alarm bells and reminded me of the paranoid teen I used to be. If we allow Google to ‘suggest’ and control our lives like this we’ll become even more entrenched in our bubbles.

We already create bubbles around us full of our own reality. In my bubble people in the UK were sure to remain in Europe in the recent referendum. Imagine my shock when I woke to the news that the country had voted to leave. The Facebook algorithm had a part to play too, it’s programmed to show me more content it thinks I will like, even if this is confirming my Brexit bias.

Technology and human nature make it hard to break out of our bubbles. If Google, Facebook or any other company has enough control over our movement and our preferences, our bubbles will get smaller. We’ll only go to pubs that sell the beer we like, we’ll shop in stores that reflect our ‘individuality’ but never see beyond a small scope of what individuality means.

I don’t want my bubble to get smaller, I want to start punching holes in it.

Let’s not forget about the banks

There are bank branches now that have free wifi, coffee and no pressure to buy. They are designed to be a cool place to hang out. In fact one of the finance panel at Inspirefest had inadvertently wandered into one thinking it was a coffee shop. This amuses me, I’ve been struggling to close a bank account recently. Perhaps if they got the little things right I’d trust them more and be open to this new approach. At the moment I’d just like the basics.

This post sounds very anti-tech but I love technology. I know I couldn’t function as well as I do without it. The teen just nags at the back of my mind telling me to be careful.

The good news

There were many wonderful stories during the day that showed how tech has really enhanced our lives.

Lisa Helen shared her ‘smart needle’ innovation that she compared to a parking assist for anaesthetics. Donal Holland showed us how soft robots that are saving lives. And Mary Carty from Outbox Incubator introduced us to the female innovators of the future.

Mary Carty Outbox Incubator
Mary Carty showed us a future that is full of intelligent women.

The teenage me might be disgusted with the information I’ve willingly given away, but I’m happy with my choices so far. In 20 years time perhaps I’ll look back at the 40 something me and wonder what I was so worried about. I really hope so.

 

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inspirefest dublin 2016
Inspirefest lived up to it’s name, it was exciting, inspiring and a little bit scary

twitter-dashboard-thumb

Last week Twitter did something that astounded me. They released a new feature that I don’t hate. Twitter Dashboard is a tool aimed at small business that rearranges the way you view Twitter.

When you sign up for Twitter Dashboard you are asked for your website address and some interests. Twitter customises your feed with this info. You’ll get a bundle of tweets including your username, shares of your website and tweets with hashtags related to your business.

As far as I can tell this dashboard feed has nothing to do with who you follow but serves up tweets that you should find useful or interesting. And you know what? I did find them interesting.

It also brings some previously difficult to reach features into one place including scheduling (at last) and analytics.

I’ve used Dashboard for almost a week now (on and off) and I’ve pulled together some of the things I think work well and some that need to improve.

Watch below to find out what’s good and bad about Twitter Dashboard

3 Good things about Twitter Dashboard

1. Scheduling

I, like most small business owners use third-party tools like Hootsuite, AgoraPulse or Buffer to schedule my tweets. Scheduling has become a crucial part of my Twitter strategy and it’s always seemed bizarre that Twitter made it so hard. If you have signed up for an ad account you can schedule from there but it’s clunky and hard to access. We now have scheduling just one click away on our Twitter Dashboard.

2. Curating

Because my new home feed is no longer reliant on who I follow but what I’m interested in, I’m finding and reading loads of great content. This is for me the main benefit of Dashboard, I’ve discovered lots of new blogs to follow and it’s spiced up my rather stale collection of content sources.

3. Analytics

Like scheduling, analytics has been available for some time. What’s different here is that it’s one click away on your Dashboard, no need to go to a different site. It’s nice to have stats on tap although I have to be careful not to waste time constantly checking them.

3 Not so good things about Twitter Dashboard

1. Monitoring

I was encouraged when I set up my account that it wanted my website address. I expected to be able to easily access tweets that included links to my site. Unfortunately, these tweets may be there but they get lost in the feed full of curated content on the topics I chose. It would be nice to have a button I could click to see just the website mentions. I won’t be giving up my monitoring tools anytime soon.

2. No Twitter lists

I enjoy following a diverse and large volume of people on Twitter. It means there is always something new to look at, but I rely on Twitter lists to stay on top of the most important people in my feed.

Dashboard doesn’t have the ability to access lists. This missing feature alone would stop me adopting it full time.

3. No Mobile In Ireland

When I read Twitter’s announcement I was excited to see there was a mobile version. As someone who travels at least 2 days a week it’s important for me to access my Twitter tools on the go. Unfortunately, when I tried to download the app I discovered that it wasn’t yet available in Ireland.

Conclusion

My initial reaction to Twitter Dashboard was positive. It’s been a while since they’ve created something user-friendly and I can only hope that a more streamlined Twitter advertising interface is on its way to compliment it. However, Dashboard seems incomplete, like it’s a rushed out half solution. I don’t think third-party tools need worry just yet but they should keep their eyes open if Twitter start to add more features.

What do you think? Have you tried Twitter Dashboard? What are your thoughts?

 

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Should You Switch To Twitter Dashboard?
Should You Switch To Twitter Dashboard?

find-time-to-blog

[Estimated reading time: 6 minutes]

How do you find the time to blog? This is a question I get asked frequently. People assume because I work in digital marketing that I have more time to create content and to a certain extent that’s true. But, like all small business owners, I still have a tightly packed schedule and blogging is just one of the things I have to do in a week.

At least once a year I hit a blip. It can last for weeks, sometimes months. At these times I struggle to fill the pages of my blog. Sometimes I let it lapse for weeks, sometimes even a month. It’s my goal to avoid this happening.

The first thing I need to do is identify why all of a sudden I can’t find the time to blog. Usually, it’s down to two factors:

  1. I run out of inspiration – I could have had 100 ideas last week but this week they all seem bad. This is my mind working against me. It wants to do something else so it starts lying to me. It starts telling me my ideas are bad and that I can’t write.
  2. I begin to wonder if it’s worth it, is this really a good way to spend my work time? I’ll be doing a whole show on this in the coming months.

When these two doubts set in I find excuses not to blog. I find it hard to find the time even though I’ve managed to keep to a strict blogging schedule on a far busier schedule in the past.

If you can relate to this, either for your established blog or if you are struggling to get started this week’s podcast is for you:

Listen below and discover tricks that will help you find time to blog:



Set your goals

The truth is there actually isn’t enough time to do everything we want or need to. As a small business owner, you have a bundle of responsibilities. From sales and marketing to bookkeeping and cleaning. You also need to nurture your non-work relationships with friends and family. We have a tough job balancing it all.

If you are going to be a successful and consistent business blogger you need to ask yourself why you are doing it? You need to find your own motivation. You may have started because a web designer or mentor told you to but this isn’t enough to sustain your interest. You’ll need to define your business goals and how your blog can help you achieve them.

Here are a few suggestions, do you:

  1. Want to become well known in your field?
  2. Want to get your website ranking better on Google and other search engines?
  3. Want more press coverage?
  4. Attract new customers to your website?

There are many other goals you can set. Spend a bit of time defining them and what achieving them would look like. Now you have your motivation.

Monitor your time

We all have to do lists but if that’s the only way we are managing our time we’ll fail to get some tasks done. I do manage to blog consistently but other items do get pushed down the list.

If we want to find time to blog we need to assess how we are currently using our time.

To monitor, start with your to-do list. Map out your tasks for the day and assign each the amount of time you think it will take.

Now to the right of your list add a column. When you complete a task write in this column how long it actually took and write down any distractions. Did the task take longer because there was a phone call? Because you were surfing Facebook? Be honest, this timesheet is just for you to understand how you are using time. If you did spend 10 minutes in a Facebook loop record it.

Weekly schedule

After a week or two of keeping your time sheet you’ll have a good idea of how long tasks actually take. The next step is to map out your week into chunks. Allocate days and times for specific jobs.

For example, I have allocated Monday morning for content creation and Friday for creation and inspiration. By sticking to these times I’m allowing more time during the week to work with clients.

You now know how long it will take to write your blog posts so you just need to find a chunk of time every week to do it. When that day and time arrives make sure you switch off your phone, push notifications and be sure not to make any appointments.

Write something every day

You may have allocated a time for your blog but that shouldn’t be the only time during the week you think about writing. You are probably already writing every day. I’m sure you send at least one email, quote or proposal?

If you want to write faster and better look at every email you write, could it be improved? Is your message clear? Will the recipient be interested enough to read it?

If inspiration strikes during the week don’t put it off because it’s not your allocated time. Scribble it down in a notebook or in the notes application on your phone.

Take time out

If you are struggling to write do something else for a bit. Sometimes putting your mind into a different space will inspire new ideas.

Earlier this week I was working on a big presentation. It had taken me much longer to put together than anticipated and I just couldn’t seem to get it right. Eventually, I decided I needed to get some sleep so I left it and went to bed.

What happened next will be familiar to a lot of you. As soon as my head hit the pillow I found the solution. I knew exactly how to change the presentation from OK to good. I switched on the lights, made a few notes and slept like a baby. It was only because I’d stopped thinking about the problem that I’d found the solution.

Set a timer

If you find yourself going off schedule, or if you have exceptionally busy days use a timer to keep you on track. I’ve found this helpful in the past. I look at the time I’ve allocated, set my timer and work like the clappers to get the job done before the bells chime.

There’s something about working against the clock that keeps me motivated.

Finding the right frame of mind

I’m sure you’re familiar with the sensation you feel when you don’t want to do something. You feel drained, uninspired and everything seems to be sinking towards your toes. Working when you feel like this is painful.

Here are a few things you can try to conquer that sensation:

  1. Vigorous exercise – I like to cycle but when there’s bad weather a dance around the room to my favourite Hot Chip tune does the trick. If you can get your heart pumping you’ll feel ready to take on the world afterwards.
  2. Music – I often forget the power of music, I know not everyone can work with music in the background but for some reason, loud dance music can boost my productivity. Perhaps I should move my office into a night club.
  3. Remember your successes – Look back to something you achieved in the past because of the effort you put in.  Maybe you ran a mile, baked something cool, learned a new skill. Think about how that made you feel. If you can remember that good sensation you’ll want to feel it again and getting that blog post done could be the thing that triggers it.

Content Schedule

The worst thing you can do is sit in front of your computer and expect a blog post to happen. Instead, plan your next months worth of content (at least) now. Come up with titles and outlines for these posts and add them to a calendar or diary.

Now when you sit down to write the hard work is done, all you have to do is type.

Measure

If you aren’t measuring your progress towards those goals you might end up in the situation I mentioned at the beginning of this post. You will find yourself wondering if you are actually achieving anything with your blog.

The metrics you measure will depend on the goals you set at the beginning. Measuring them on a regular basis, I do it once a week, will help you understand the effect your blogging is having. You’ll also be able to identify what’s not working and adjust your strategy.


Challenge

There is one thing you can do straight away to help you find more time for blogging and that’s monitor your time.

Start working on your to-do list now, write down the amount of time you think each task will take and keep notes on how long it actually took and what stops you getting it done in time.

This time next week, when you listen to this podcast, look at your time sheets and start working on a weekly plan.

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.

 

Join the free community for Small Business Bloggers On Facebook, meet other bloggers, share and learn.

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How Do You Find Time To Blog When Your Schedule Is Ridiculously Busy?
Is finding time to blog the biggest problem facing small business bloggers?

 

facebook page promotion ads
I love Facebook Like ads but there could be another way

I’ve always been a big fan of Facebook page promotion ads, these are the ads that encourage people to Like a page. They allow us to build an audience of people who have an interest in what we do. Depending on the page and your audience these ads can be really good value for money.

When I create ad campaigns for clients I’ll usually hold back some of the budget for Page Like ads. It’s good to be constantly growing your audience and Like ads offer the perfect solution for building a targeted following. And because you’ve got the right people liking your page you’ll see better results on both your organic content and boosted posts in the future.

This works well for my clients but if you are on a limited budget it might be worth spending it elsewhere.

Watch below to find out why:

Page promotion or ‘Like ads’ serve one purpose, they get people to Like your page. Yes, people may go on to investigate further but that’s not a natural progression.

Other ad types can get you more.

When I set up a campaign I create two ad sets.

  1. Targeting Page Likers. Although this audience is more likely to interact with my ads it may be too small to squander the whole budget on.
  2. Targeting non-page Likers by interest. It’s this ad set that brings me additional collateral. When people see these sponsored posts in their feeds they are not only prompted to take the desired action (an interaction, website click, conversion etc) but they are also encouraged to Like the page.
like page
Those who don’t already Like your page see this option

Looking at my ad reports I can see that some of my clients are getting a whole bunch of likes from these ads essentially for free.

What’s next?

I may have made a good argument but I don’t recommend you eliminate Page Promotion ads altogether. If you have a small audience you’ll need them to help build your Likes.

If you have a sizable audience and a low budget it’s worth experimenting. You won’t get as many Likes as you do with Page Promotion ads but you may find spending your budget elsewhere helps your business objectives as well as getting you a few new likers on the side.

 

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page promotion ads
Should you abandon Page Promotion Ads? Maybe…