5 Reasons Why Online Video Rocks
5 Reasons Why Online Video Rocks

It’s the fear, the gear and the excuses we make to ourselves. That’s what Ian Anderson Gray told my friend Eamonn O’brien when he asked him why businesses struggle to do video.

When I started making videos it was just something I thought I should do. I didn’t think twice about getting in front of the camera and it’s never been something I regretted. Did I make mistakes? Of course? Are my videos always perfect? No, some have been terrible. But I’ve learned from every single one and I’m so glad I started.

I know it’s not that easy for everyone. If the fear and the gear are getting in the way it’s time to have a good talk with yourself. You need to be using video, here’s why:

5 Reasons Why Online Video Rocks

1. People get to know you

Who do you deal with in your bank? Do you know? I do, in fact I chose my bank because of the people in the branch. I know they’ll bend over backwards to help me. Even if the institution itself is faceless it’s the people I deal with on a day to day basis that matter.

That’s not an isolated example, time and again I’ve made decisions on who I’ll do business with because I get on with and trust the person I have to deal with.

Video is one of the best ways of letting people get to know you. They see your face, they hear the tone of your voice, they can look you in the eye. As long as you are sharing valuable information you’ll start forming a relationship with your viewers that beats text and even photographs.

Even better, with live video you can talk to people in real time. It’s the next best thing to meeting people one to one.

2. Show the workings of your business

I’ve become obsessed with those TV programmes that show you behind the scenes in a business. We’ve met the people and the processes behind the London Underground, food factories, Greggs The Bakers amongst others.

These shows are always fascinating, they peel back the shiny marketing layer and show us what goes on inside.

You can replicate this with your online video. Who are the people you work with? What does their job involve? What does your office, factory, kitchen look like? Show people with your videos.

3. Good for spreading the word

If we want to reach new customers we need to get the right people sharing our content. To make that happen we have to know what sort of content our ideal audience will value and make sure they see it. If we get it right our video will resonate with people and they’ll share.

I’m often surprised by the videos of mine that do best. On YouTube it’s always the tutorials and it seems that this is common.

Social video tool Animoto recently did a study on social video marketing and the results were eye-opening.

They discovered that people will:

  • “Like” Behind-the-Scenes Videos,
  • “Like and Share” Funny videos
  • “Share” Educational Videos
  • “Like and Share” emotional videos.

With that in mind we should be aiming to create helpful and emotional content. Take your how to video and mix in you and your personality or a behind the scenes view and you could be on to a winner.

4. Brand lift

Does sound like one of those terrible marketing terms? According to Viget Brand lift is

“…an increase in interaction with a brand as a result of an advertising campaign, and is primarily used to identify a positive shift in customer awareness and perception.”

It’s people getting to know about you and your business. As long as those people are potential customers or advocates that’s got to be good news.

Video helps with that as well. Neilson conducted a study on Facebook video ads measuring:

  • Ad recall – people remembering the ad
  • Brand awarnesss – people remembering the business
  • Purchase Intent – people intending to buy from the business

All three rose with video ads. If it works for ads it can work organically too. So if you want people to remember you and buy from you video could be the best solution, for Facebook at least.

5. Your competitors are doing it

If you’re not doing video yet and your competitors are you could be losing valuable ground. Look at all the advantages they could be getting that you’re not.

If you find they’ve beaten you to it don’t worry. Look at ways you can do it differently and better.

Now you know why you should do video, pack up those excuses, pull out your phone and give it a go.

Still unconvinced? I asked some small business owners and experts to tell me why video is a good fit for business:


Are you tired of people telling you that you should be doing video online? You've seen the stats, video works but how can you create it quickly and cheaply? Come to my Go Do Video Workshop in London: Learn how to boost your online visibility with video content



5 Reasons Why Online Video Rocks
5 Reasons Why Online Video Rocks






Podcasting The Surprisingly Effective Content You Can Create For Your Business An Interview With Colin Gray
Podcasting The Surprisingly Effective Content You Can Create For Your Business
An Interview With Colin Gray

There’s one type of content that you should be creating that will deliver better results, sales and conversions than your blog alone. Podcasts. Or that’s what this week’s guest claims. 

Colin Gray started podcasting when he was teaching at Edinburgh Napier University. The series he recorded as a course for lecturers back then formed the first series of his first public podcast many years later.

Now Colin, The Podcast Blog produces four podcasts and has an academy, teaching others how to start, build and grow their podcasts.

I asked Colin to join me on the Blogcentric podcast and share some of his wisdom.

He tells us:

  • How to get started with almost no equipment
  • How to save time creating podcasts
  • What’s so great about podcasting
  • How to get listeners

Listen To The Interview


Tell me a bit about the Podcast Host

The Podcast Host is a site I started in 2011 to share what I was learning about podcasting at the time. I’d got into podcasting because I was teaching it at University.  I’m really proud of the resource it’s become. It offers support for everything about equipment right up to monetising, promoting and making your podcast successful.

You have four podcasts. You must spend most of your time writing?

I suppose it’s a hazard of the job, being a podcast teacher. We run our podcasts as seasons which makes life a lot easier.

Right now I’m in the middle of a ‘Podcraft’ season, we just finished up recording the first season of ‘The Numbers Game‘ which is on a break now.

UK Business Start Up‘ is a once a year season because it’s really heavily produced. ‘Mountain Bikes Apart‘ is just something I like talking about.

We do it in an as an efficient way as possible.

Now you’re going to have to share those efficient ways with me

Seasons is the first tip. We save a lot of time by planning out a season at a time.

We’re on season eight of Podcraft and it’s a listener question series. We started by collecting together ten-twelve questions, we put them in a planning document and spend about an hour coming up with outline bullet point answers to those questions. Then we batch record three or four episodes at a time.

I and my co-host Matthew sit down for two or three hours in the first week of the month. We go through the plan, we record for an hour or and that gives us four episodes. We edit them in a batch too which saves time. That process gives us content for an entire month.

We can do four episodes of Podcraft in less than a day, maybe four or five hours in total.

Do you think having a co-host helps the discipline of batching?

Having a co-host does help in a number of ways.

It helps you stay regular. For the mountain biking show I’ve got a co-host who’s based down south (Colin is based in Scotland), he’s racing a lot and out of the country a lot so we have to arrange our recording sessions really far in advance. We have a date in the diary every two weeks to record two episodes.

There have definitely been times when I’ve come into the office and seen that appointment in the diary and I’ve thought, there’s so much to do, if only I could move it, but I can’t. I go ahead with it. Having that person that’s always relying on you and having the schedule ahead of time always helps you stay committed.

I find that for solo shows I tend to plan more, I map out the episode and go into more detail.  When I’m with a co-host it’s just like having a chat. It’s a lot more dynamic.

What should we look for in a co-host?

It’s a commitment. You have to find someone who is in it for the long term, who will be reliable and will show up every week and that you’re going to get on with.

The best podcasts are the ones where the hosts have chemistry.

What was your first podcast?

My first podcast was a precursor to Podcraft.

I ran a course on podcasting for two weeks for lecturers at Napier University. The lecturers would sign up and for a two week (ten day course). Each day they’d get an episode that would tell them something about podcasting, something about how it could be used in teaching and over the duration of the course it would show them how to get their first episode started.

It was ten episodes on its own with that purpose in mind. I ran that course three or four times and I refined it each time. That was what got me into teaching podcasting and that formed the first series of Podcraft.

It was that that got me into podcast seasons. When you think about it a season is just a course. You choose a subject you want to teach, you break it down into episodes and then you deliver it as a sequence of lessons that tie into each other.

If someone wants to start a podcast, what are the basics that they need?

The best thing about podcasting is that it’s so easy to get started, you need virtually nothing.

People always worry about microphones. The great thing is you can get good quality audio from your smartphone.

Pick up your phone and look at the apps. Almost certainly you’ll have a voice recorder app. Open that app up and put the phone up to your ear as if you are making a phone call. Speak into that voice recorder and that will be really good quality audio.

To record a solo episode that’s all you need to do. Pull out your phone, hold it up to your ear and just talk through your script for ten minutes. It’s a great way to start.

What’s the benefit of podcasting?

One of the biggest struggles business owners have is standing out, being found, being discovered. Podcasting is great for that because it showcases your personality. It’s engagement, it’s connection, it helps you connect one-to-one with your listeners and that builds trust.

You’ll get found more because you’ll appear on search engines like iTunes, Stitcher, Tune in Radio. Once they find you they’ll subscribe to your show, they’ll listen to episodes, they’ll get to know your personality.

Listeners will either connect with you or they won’t. If they don’t like you that’s great, your qualifying them, they’re not the kind of people you want to work with anyway. If they do like you because of the personality, the transparency, the honesty, that’s what builds that trust.

The thing that really accelerates that trust is attention. You could argue that YouTube does the same thing. YouTube shows your personality too.

The problem with YouTube is attention. You’re lucky if you get three or four minutes of attention before people switch to something else. With podcasting it’s a side medium, it’s something you do in your wasted time. People listen for hours at a time.

They’re mowing the lawn, driving the car, on the bus. They want entertainment because they are doing a rote task. You get their attention for longer. Get that attention and you get the trust that it can build. Suddenly you have this medium where your audience becoming absolute raving fans. These are the people who will buy what you do and they’ll rave about it to the rest of the world.

Is there any trick to getting your podcast out there and getting more downloads?

Don’t be disappointed with download numbers if they’re not in the tens of thousands. The power of podcasting is that because it is such an engaging medium you get really good conversions.

For example, looking at our numbers. Our website gets around two and a half thousand visitors a day. Podcraft gets around one thousand listeners per episode, so that’s way less than the website.

However when people visit the website they come in, read an article and then jump out again. They’re just there to get something.  A few of those people will be fans of the site and keep coming back.

With a podcast, because of the nature of it, because people are coming back, subscribing, getting episodes week in, week out, they’re getting to know you. They’re not getting that through the website.

We get far more actions and conversions from the one thousand podcast listeners than all the people who visit our website.

Even if you have two or three hundred downloads you could get half of that audience to buy your product because they know and trust you so much.

There’s no secret sauce to growing your listeners. I’ll tell you the same things as everyone else.

  • Be regular, put your show out every single week.
  • Do what you say you are going to do. If you say you are going to do a series of twelve and you’re going to do it weekly then deliver on that.
  • Make good content, make the effort. If you do an interview and you think it sucks, don’t put it out. Have pride in what you are putting out there and know that every single thing you are doing is the best it can be.
  • Do interview swaps. Get on other people’s shows and get them on your shows so you’re swapping audiences.
  • Competitions have worked really well for us in the past. Ask people to leave you an honest review (Don’t say five-star because you can’t incentivise five-star reviews) and pick a winner from the reviews left in the last week and give them a prize. It’s a good way of building an audience because you get the reviews, which pushes you up the rankings. If you share the competition around it gets you a bit of extra hype as well.

What’s the best way to do show notes? A blog post, a transcription or just links and highlights?

I listen to a lot of podcasts but I rarely look at the show notes but it’s still  a good thing to do for your listeners. I know I sometimes go to show notes to look up resources mentioned in an episode.

For me, show notes are about the search. Tt’s putting the content out there in a way that people can find it.

For Podcraft the latest episode we did was answering a question about finding your voice. That is a question people are also typing into Google.

If we had really bare show notes they will never show up in search results because it doesn’t have any weighty content. If I do a transcription (or a blog post) I’m going to be mentioning the keyword ‘how to find your voice’ in the text. Suddenly Google realises what that content is about and delivers it to people in search results.

Getting found and getting people onto your podcast is one of the primary purposes of show notes for me.

The secondary purpose of show notes for your existing customer is that they can revisit stuff several months down the line.

For example, we’ve been revamping a lot of our old content recently and Pat Flynn did an episode about that on Smart Passive Income. It was a long time ago but I’ve referenced his show notes a number of times. I don’t want to go back and listen again but I want to skim through the pertinent points.

I think writing a proper blog post that covers the same topic, gives all the same points, teaches the same thing, that is designed to be read is a more effective way of doing show notes.

What player do you recommend with your site?

  • On The Podcast Host we just use Blubrry PowerPress.
  • The Soundcloud player is pretty sexy even if their podcast hosting isn’t ideal in many ways.
  • Simple Podcast Press is a really nice player with lots of options. It looks good and you can add things like an email capture, social follows and more.

Finally, what microphone are you using right now? You sound great.

  • I’m currently using the Shure SM28
  • Plugged into my Yamaha MG10 mixer
  • Going into our Zoom H5 recorder
  • Recording via Skype on a Mac mini

Find Colin online

Colin is a podcaster, a writer and a speaker, and teaches new media skills at ThePodcastHost.com. He and his team run a network of shows, from Podcraft to Mountain Bikes Apart, and teach how to Podcast inside their Academy‘s courses and live support.  Outside work, you can usually find him on the nearest mountain biking trail, or vainly attempting to wrangle his kids on an ill-fated camping trip.


This week’s challenge is to follow Colin’s advice:

Pull out your smartphone, find the voice recorder, hold it up to your ear and record a short solo podcast.

Share your results with me below


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



Podcasting The Surprisingly Effective Content You Can Create For Your Business - An Interview With Colin Gray
Podcasting The Surprisingly Effective Content You Can Create For Your Business – An Interview With Colin Gray



Mobile Video Tools That Make It Easier To Confront The Camera
Mobile Video Tools That Make It Easier To Confront The Camera

Does getting in front of the camera terrify you?

We make excuses to avoid doing it. Video content is complicated right? You need equipment, you need to be comfortable in front of the camera, you need to know what you’re doing.

But the reality is, we’re scared and we’re allowing that fear to hold us back.

Video isn’t hard. The mobile phone in our pocket is a powerful video camera and editor. People today are making quality video on their phone that would have taken days if not weeks to make on the equipment I used in college.

All you need is a smartphone and the confidence to start creating. And that’s what this post is all about. We’ll look at 3 tools that will slowly help you smother your fears.

So whip out your phone, free up a bit of space so you can download new apps and I’ll show you some tools you can use to help you feel more comfortable in front of camera.

3 Tools To Help You Confront Your Fear Of The Camera

1 Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Stories

The easiest way to get comfortable with short video is to use the function within story tools. Each video you add to your story is a ‘shot’ in a longer story.

When I started doing Live video I was terrified, there was something about that live, un-editable me that was scary. I used Snapchat to get comfortable. I figured if I could shoot a 10-second video of myself, eventually I’d feel brave enough to hit the ‘Live’ button on Facebook. It worked.

So give it a go, tell Snapchat what you’ve got planned for the day or about something you watched on TV last night. Don’t worry about what you look like or sound like, it will be gone in 24 hours and if you can conquer Snapchat you’ll be able to conquer all online video.

Story tools like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook stories are also a place to practice visual storytelling. Think of it like a blog post. What is the one thing you want people to learn from you? Look for visual ways of teaching that thing.

Here are some stories I made when I was experimenting with Snapchat:

Use Snapchat and other Story tools to practice video structure

2. VineCamera iOS and Android

Do you remember Vine? I was mad for it, a cool little social network where you could share six-second, multi-shot video clips.

The cool thing about Vine was its interface. You just hold your finger on the screen for as long as you want to record and remove it when you are done. Similar to how Snapchat and Instagram stories work today.

Vine was bought by Twitter and then closed down in 2016. You can still view some of the fun videos that were shared on Vine for inspiration.

Although Vine the social network has gone the tool survives. You can use VineCamera to create short videos and easily share them to Twitter. This is a great way to practice putting shots together to tell a story, it also forces you to keep it concise. Videos can still only be a maximum of 6 seconds long.

3. Flipagram

If you’re not quite brave enough for video yet start with photographs. Flipagram is a tool that lets you create video from a selection of photographs.

Just because you are using photos it doesn’t mean you should forget storytelling. Try telling a day in the life or the chronology of an event you attend.

Here’s one I made at a Sage Business Expert meetup back in 2015:

4. Live

Are you feeling brave now? Then hit the Live button on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube and talk to your audience. After you’ve done it once you’ll want to do it again (probably).

The key to good video content

The key to good video content is the same as any content you create online. Forget about the tech and think about what value you can share with your audience? What can you give them that will help them learn or better themselves? If you know what you can teach them the video will make itself.

Your Turn

All of these tools are easy to use, so you’ve no excuse pick them up and shot yourself a video, it could be the beginning of something.


Are you tired of people telling you that you should be doing video online? You've seen the stats, video works but how can you create it quickly and cheaply? Come to my Go Do Video Workshop in London: Learn how to boost your online visibility with video content



Mobile Video Tools That Make It Easier To Confront The Camera
Mobile Video Tools That Make It Easier To Confront The Camera


The Lazy Marketers Guide To Keyword Research
The Lazy Marketers Guide To Keyword Research

How can you get more people to read your blog posts? Almost every day I see that question pop up in a blogging group or on Twitter and it’s a hard one to answer.

It used to be easier. When I started blogging there wasn’t that much competition out there. I lucked out and a few posts ranked on Google driving a huge chunk of traffic to my site. Those posts and a few others still rank well (I may have updated them over time) and as a result, it’s search that drives the most traffic to my site. Facebook, Twitter and other social channels are a long way behind.

Yet I’m lazy about SEO and I know I’m not alone. It’s silly really, a bit of time spent doing simple things like researching keywords could be just what you need to get those blog readers.

Keyword research?

According to Webcertain

“A Keyword is a word or phrase – typically a phrase of two or three words – which has been identified as one which potential customers use when they are searching the internet.”

As you can see from the quote Keywords can be more than one word long. In fact, they are going to have to be more than one word long in today’s age of Content Shock.

In the early days of internet marketing, it may have been possible to rank on page one for the term ‘Cats’ but it’s going to be harder now.

I just searched ‘Cats’ on Google and got 851 million results. It’s going to be hard to rank on page 1 for that search term.

Even if you did you’d need to think about the searchers intent. Were they searching ‘Cats’ because they wanted to avail of your cat-related product or service or were they the internet marketer like me who wanted to see how many results they’d get?

According to MOZ simple terms like ‘Cats’ or in their example ‘Shoes’ account for

“…less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. The remaining 70% lie in what’s called the “long tail” of search”

So we need to be more cunning with our keywords, we need to both anticipate what our audience will be searching for and ensure that there isn’t too much competition for those keywords.

Find the right keywords, optimise your blog posts for them and you will start to see more readers come to your site from search. More importantly, if you get your keywords right you’ll attract the right readers, the people who will become your customers and advocates in the future.

Finding keywords

Now we know why we want to use keywords we need to think about how we can find the right ones for our site.

Keyword Planner

Googles own Keyword Planner used to be the go-to tool for marketers but things have changed. In 2016 Google started withholding information about search volume from us. This is key information. When we are targeting a keyword we need to know how many people are actually searching for it. The number of searches is the search volume. Without knowing that we’re SEOing in the dark.

If you want to see that keyword volume data on Keyword planner you have to run an AdWords campaign. For many of us that will be beyond our budget.

I’ve been using a cool tool as an alternative.

Keywords Everywhere

This is a browser extension that works with Chrome and Firefox. It shows you search volumes for anything you search on Google.

See search volume on each search you make with Keywords Everywhere
See search volume on each search you make with Keywords Everywhere

If you scroll to the bottom of a search results page you’ll get the same data for related searches.

View search volumes for related searches at the bottom of each search results page
View search volumes for related searches at the bottom of each search results page

Even better, it adds a column to Keyword Planner with search volumes.

Restore Google Keyword Planner search volume with Keywords Everywhere
Restore Google Keyword Planner search volume with Keywords Everywhere

It’s almost perfect, you can filter results by region but this is limited. There’s no option to limit searches to Ireland we have to make do with UK results.


Keyword planner and keywords everywhere are useful tools for finding data on keywords but how do we discover those long tail keywords we talked about earlier?

One way is to find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for. If they have a lower DA (domain authority) than you there’s a good chance you could beat them in search results.

DA is a score calculated by MOZ that estimates how likely you are to appear in search rankings. The higher your score the better.

Spyfu can help you identify your competitors and find the keywords they rank for.

Start with your own site, add your URL to Spyfu. The data it gives you is fascinating. It shows you what you rank for, the history of your rankings for that keyword and it gives you a list of competitors.

Spyfu shows you data about the keywords you and your competitors rank for
Spyfu shows you data about the keywords you and your competitors rank for

I found the section on posts that have either dropped off the first page or that are almost ranking on search engines the most interesting. It’s worth making a list of these to add to your update schedule. Just a little bit of work could push them up onto page 1.

Spyfu gives you a list of competitors but you should also add your own to the list. Because I rank well for posts relating to Facebook competitions Spyfu gave me competitors who also ranked well for those terms. I am also interested in ranking for blog-related topics. To do this I’ll need to find competitors in this field too.

Once you have the list you can investigate each one using Spyfu. You’ll see exactly the same data for them as you did for your own site.

Jot down a list of keywords from these competitors that you can target.


This is a magic tool, enter a single keyword and it will suggest a tonne of keyword suggestions. You’ll have to upgrade to get search volumes or other data but it’s reasonably inexpensive. If you are on a budget you could buy a months worth of access and max out on keyword research.

Even without the search volumes you’ll find longer tail keywords here that you won’t find elsewhere.

What should you do with the keywords?

If you play with these three tools long enough you’ll find yourself with a long list of keywords. At the very least you should have found inspiration for a few blog posts. But if you want a chance of ranking you’re going to have to build your post around the keywords.

The first thing to note is that you can create a group of keywords to target within one post. You may be targeting one core keyword but you can add related search terms.

I did a search for ‘Cats’ on Kparser and identified a number of keywords related to meowing that could be combined into an interesting post. If you want to rank for ‘Cat meowing’ using these related keywords will help and you’ll also get the benefit of ranking for the longer tail keywords too.

These are the keywords I identified on just page one of the search results:

  • Cats meowing at each other
  • Cats meowing for food
  • Cats meowing angry
  • Cats meowing talking
Kparser gives you lots or related and long tail keywords
Kparser gives you lots or related and long tail keywords

The perfect post to encompass these keywords would be ‘What does my cat’s meowing mean?’

When you write the post ensure you use each of those terms in the post and if you are a WordPress user the Yoast plugin will help you ensure you are using your core keyword ‘cat meowing’ enough.

If you have a cat related blog, go write it, tell me if you see any results.

How long does it take to rank for keywords?

According to a study from ahrefs, it can take between 61 to 182 days to rank but only 5.7% of new pages will rank within the first year. So SEO and keyword research isn’t a quick fix, it’s something that will mature over time.

The lazy marketer

I am the lazy marketer.

I know I avoid keywords, sometimes because I’m lazy and at other times because the post I want to write, that I know my audience will want to read isn’t SEO friendly.

The second reason is valid, but it’s also an excuse. It’s easy to abandon keyword research completely. I do need to be spending more time working on my SEO and more specifically my keywords.

Are you the same? Let’s commit to a less lazy approach in the future.


Are you up for a challenge? Here’s how to put the info above into action.

  • Use the three free tools above to identify keywords that you could rank on search engines for.
  • Find related terms for those keywords
  • Construct a blog post based on those keywords.
  • Wait!

Let me know how you get on.


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



The Lazy Marketers Guide To Keyword Research
The Lazy Marketers Guide To Keyword Research
Could Your Facebook Videos Be Doing Better? - Tools N Tips
Could Your Facebook Videos Be Doing Better? – Tools N Tips

Facebook video, it’s one of those things that we marketers have been talking about, constantly, in 2017. Video is definitely the thing this year.

The problem is it’s not always as easy as we think. We create the videos, it takes a lot of time and sometimes they don’t perform as well as we expect.

It’s frustrating. I shared a video from another business on my page recently and the reach and engagement were huge. I looked at the video, why did it work? Why didn’t my own videos do that well?

Time to investigate

How to get more from Facebook Video

Square video rules

Mari Smith talked about square video at Social Media Summit earlier this year. She pointed to research from Buffer and Animoto showing that square formatted video gets between 80 and 100 percent more engagement on Facebook. I decided to give it a go.

I took my standard, landscape formatted video for YouTube, and looked into ways to squarify it. I settled on a simple solution. The Instasize app available for iOS and Android allows you to add a square background to any image. It has a library of backgrounds and wallpapers but you can also choose a photo from your camera roll. I created a selection of backgrounds for videos and sent them to my phone, this allowed me to brand my content.

See the results here.

Vertical video

As you may know, I’m not a fan of vertical video. At least I wasn’t until Snapchat came along. Once I’d started using it I realised that some videos did work better in the portrait format. Vertical video is here.

If your Facebook audience uses their mobile to view your content (and most will) Vertical video could be a good choice. When they hit the play button the video expands to fill the screen. A great way to retain their attention.


This is something I’ve been doing for a while now and I did see a bump in my views when I did. Subtitles are important on Facebook, according to Digiday, 85% of video on Facebook is watched with the sound off.

This is very different to YouTube where 96% watch with the sound on.

Why the difference? We treat Facebook and YouTube differently. When we go to YouTube we go there specifically to watch a video. On Facebook we’re scrolling, passing time. A video might catch our eye but if we press play and unleash the sound we’ll be broadcasting to everyone around us.

So if we want to capture the attention of the Facebook audience we need to give them a taster of what is in the video. If we want them to keep watching we’re going to have to accept that they’ll be watching it with the sound off. We need to subtitle.

Facebook make subtitling easy. You can auto-caption videos you upload.

Here’s a quick tutorial showing you how:

You will need to edit the auto-generated captions. Facebook doesn’t always understand what you’re saying.

For cooler captions, if you are an iPhone user give the Apple Clips app a go. It will caption your videos either in real time as you record or will add them once you’ve finished recording. As a bonus the videos are square shaped, perfect for sharing on Facebook.

Go live

I love live video, I enjoy my weekly show but it’s not always been easy for me. Even after years of recording video of myself, I found it hard to go live for the first time on Facebook. There’s something about that raw, live moment that is scary.

If you can overcome the nerves give it a shot. Live video gets great reach, it’s the best way to connect directly to your viewers and according to Facebook people will watch a live broadcast (whilst live) 3x longer than a non-live video.

Find out more about going live on Facebook here.

These tips will help your video reach more people and get more engagement. The videos I have shared that got the most engagement were square, were subtitled and although they weren’t live I’ve seen from my own experience that Live video works exceptionally well for engagement and relationship building.

Do you have and tricks you use to get more from your Facebook video? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas so I can give them a try.


Are you tired of people telling you that you should be doing video online? You've seen the stats, video works but how can you create it quickly and cheaply? Come to my Go Do Video Workshop in London: Learn how to boost your online visibility with video content



Could Your Facebook Videos Be Doing Better? - Tools N Tips
Could Your Facebook Videos Be Doing Better? – Tools N Tips
Unlocking The Mysteries Of PR With Janet Murray
Unlocking The Mysteries Of PR With Janet Murray

What is PR? How can we use our blogs and social media to get us PR? How do you pitch ideas to journalists?

PR is one of those terms that can seem mysterious and weird to those of us who are used to marketing our businesses online. It seems big, alien and intimidating. The idea of talking to journalists is often a scary one.

Janet Murray is a PR expert who simplifies the whole thing. I’ve been reading her book ‘Your Press Release Is Breaking My Heart’ and it’s wonderful. I feel like I know exactly what I should be doing now.

And because Janet makes it sound so easy I asked her to join me on the podcast and share some of her pearls of wisdom. I learned loads and I’m sure you will too.

Listen to the full Interview with PR expert Janet Murray:


Janet is a PR expert who’s never worked in PR. Her background is in journalism she’s been writing for national newspapers for the last 16 years. She’s also made lots of appearances on radio and TV.

Early in her career, she noticed that she was getting terrible pitches and press releases from people. Some of these were being sent by PR agencies. Small business owners were paying PR companies to send them.

Janet decided she could help. She started running masterclasses. She’d get people from PR companies and large organisations to come along and teach them how to pitch to journalists.

These masterclasses turned into bigger conferences. She was also doing consultancy work. That’s when she started her blog, answering the questions her customers had, in the hope of getting more consultancy contracts.

She found she liked the content marketing and helping small business owners so she pivoted her business to work more with them.

Her job is to help small businesses owners to tell their stories in the media.

There’s a membership community
A book (affiliate link)
A podcast
A blog

Is it better to do PR yourself than hire a PR agency?

There’s a lot of value in doing it yourself to start with. As a small business owner, the first step is to get your head around what PR actually means.

When you do it yourself to start off with, you understand what’s involved. Who you want to get in front of and why. This helps you make a more qualified decision about outsourcing.

The other thing is many journalists don’t like doing business with PR companies. They’d much rather be talking to you.

What is PR?

The first thing I noticed when I started working with small business owners was that they were trying to get into the national newspapers but they weren’t actually creating regular content on their own sites. They weren’t blogging, they weren’t using email marketing. This meant that the impact of any press they got was minimised.

That’s why I say that PR is anything you are doing to promote your business to generate leads and sales.

That’s generally four things:

  1. Creating content on your website
  2. Email marketing
  3. Social media
  4. Press

The bit I specialise in is dealing with journalists.

How can I take a really interesting piece of content I have and pitch it to a journalist?

The first thing to say it not to start with the content you are already creating.

Start with the publications you want to get featured in. Don’t start with the story that you want to tell. The story that most business owners want to tell is ‘My business is amazing’. The bottom line is that journalists just aren’t interested in that kind of thing.

Each editor for a publication will have an audience and a fixed idea of the type of content they want to run for that audience.

Ask yourself what you want to get out of the press coverage you get. It will usually come back to more sales. Then you need to ask, who do I need to get in front of to make this happen? What do these people read, watch and listen to? It’s these publications you should be aiming for.

“It’s all very well to show your mum you are featured in Marie Claire but it might not have any impact on your business”

In the beginning there are some simple things you can do to get press coverage that don’t involve pitching to journalists.

1. Follow the #journorequests hashtag of Twitter

This is journalists looking for help with stories.

Sometimes with these you need to think creatively. It may be hard to relate it directly to your business but think of it like a relationship you are building with a journalist. If you help them out with this story when you do have a story to share you’ve kicked the door open.

2. Sign up to media inquiry services

These send you emails with requests from journalists looking for help with stories.

Here are a few:






Do you have to be a journalist to put a request out on those channels or can you do it as a blogger?

Yes, you can use them as a blogger. Sometimes the people who subscribe to them complain a bit that they get too many requests from bloggers. If you are doing that you need to show the values of your blog, so share any stats you’ve got about how many people visit your website etc.

How would you define an awful pitch?

It seems like an obvious thing but most people don’t’ read the publication that they’re pitching to. And I don’t just mean read.

I get my clients to do a ‘flat plan’. I get them to dissect the publication and write down what they see on every single page. When you do that you start to see patterns. You start to see things like ‘they have an interview with a business owner every Friday on the back page’. You’ll start to see opportunities.

The second thing is the email subject header. That is really important. I did a couple of weeks cover at the Guardian recently and I just got so many emails. I couldn’t open them all. So you look at the subject line and make a decision about whether you want to open it.

A common mistake I see is people trying to be mysterious. Label up your email so start it with ‘Story idea’ or ‘Pitch’ and then be very clear about what is in the email.

For example, if you were having a surfing fashion event you may be tempted to write a clever headline like ‘local business surfing the wave of fashion’ a busy journalist would have no idea what you were talking about.

Instead be clear so something like ‘local shop has surfing fashion show’ would work better.

Get your story into the first line of the email. Lots of people will start with three of four paragraphs about themselves. Remember the journalist isn’t interested in you, they’re interested in the story and if it’s right for their audience.

Don’t bother with a press release unless you have an amazing story that you think all the press will be interested in. A short email is absolutely fine.

What makes a good story?

I recommend to people that they put their story to the Facebook test. Try sharing your stories on your personal Facebook page first, what sort of reaction does it get? This can be the sign of whether a story idea is good or not.

Sometimes it’s the interest stories, the stories around the edge of your business that will spark the best reactions and the best stories.

Here’s Janet’s article about wearing the same clothes every day that sparked conversation in my Facebook group.

I’ve got a handout that I get my clients to work through. It’s a Venn diagram. In the middle, it’s got your business and round the edge of it, it’s got all kinds of things that intersect with your business, things like relationships, family, friends, work.

I’ve had coverage about the ‘she shed’ that I work from in the back of my garden, about miscarriage. Look for the stories that you might chat to your friends about. I appreciate that can be a bit uncomfortable that’s why I suggest starting with the small stuff, building relationships with journalists and then move on to this stuff.

Do you have a system for drawing the line about how personal you get and how much you reveal?

It all depends on what is comfortable for you. With the miscarriage stuff, I’ve done a few pieces. I feel like in sharing that content I’m helping other people.

If you are just doing it for the press that’s when you are going to make mistakes. If you’re helping other people you are doing OK. If you do get any flack you can normally handle it.

Is there something that we should be doing to make our blogs and our websites more PR friendly?

It’s less about your website and more about Twitter and your social media profiles. Journalists are actively looking on Twitter for people like you and me to talk to and they’re looking for experts.

Taking Boris as an example. Boris who owns an interior design shop selling couches, chairs, rugs etc.

If there is a story doing the rounds about say Princess Kate spending a lot on interior design. Everyone is talking about interior design all of a sudden. Journalists will be active on Twitter looking for people to talk to for that story.

Have your Twitter profile optimised so it’s very clear what you do. Make sure you’re regularly sharing content on that topic so there’s no question that you are an expert and also having a phone number on there so they can get hold of you at any hour of the day or night.

If the journalist or researcher is wanting to book someone for radio or TV then ideally they want to see a bit of film of you talking to check you’re alright.

I see a lot of small business owners wasting a lot of time and money on press packs. All you need is a Dropbox with some high-res images in and a couple of biographies.

Find Janet online:

Website: janetmurray.co.uk

Twitter: @jan_murray

Instagram: @janmurrayuk

Facebook group: Soulful PR Facebook Community


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Unlocking The Mysteries Of PR With Janet Murray
Unlocking The Mysteries Of PR With Janet Murray
Getting Your Geek On About Measurement Will Inspire You To Blog Better
Getting Your Geek On About Measurement Will Inspire You To Blog Better

Creating content takes time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time. How do you know that time isn’t wasted? You gotta measure.

Today we’re going to talk about blog measurement. Measurement has been a journey for me. When I first started blogging all I looked at were the numbers. How many people visited my site, what posts did they look at?

As a marketing beginner this is common and in some ways seeing my stats rise from week to week kept me going. It wasn’t long before I wanted to know more.

When I launched Spiderworking I went all in with Google Analytics. It’s a vast tool and there are parts of it I still don’t understand fully but it’s helped me learn about my audience and if I’m hitting the mark with my content.

Listen below to find out how to measure blogging success

Blog measurement and the ‘Circle Of Trust’

I’m going to talk you through the metrics you need to measure for your blog at each stage of the ‘Circle Of Trust.

If you missed my previous post on ‘The Circle Of Trust’ you may wonder what I’m talking about. It’s the basis of a content plan that ensures you are nurturing your audience at each stage of the customer journey.

The five stages of the ‘Circle of Trust’ are:

Tune In
Tell Others

Build a content plan based on The Circle Of T.R.U.S.T
Build a content plan based on The Circle Of T.R.U.S.T

For each stage of the circle there are different metrics you can measure to know if you are being successful.

Tune In

Tune in content brings new people to your business. You’re creating posts that will attract them. It doesn’t have to be content strictly related to your business. We’re creating targeted content that will appeal to your ideal audience.

It’s about audience building

But it’s not just the size of the audience, it’s the relevance of that audience. Do they fit into your target market?

Metrics to measure include:

  • Relevant people reached
  • Audience growth

You also need to note:

  • Top posts for reach

Using Google Analytics you can see who is visiting your site. It’s always a relief for me to discover that most people come to my blog from the US, UK and Ireland. That’s my target audience.

To find this information click the ‘Audience’ tab on your Analytics dashboard. Here you will find data about your site visitors.

  • Where do they live?
  • How old are they?
  • Are they male or female?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What browser do they use when visiting your site?
  • What mobile devices do they use?
Find out more about your readers in the Google Analytics dashboard
Find out more about your readers in the Google Analytics dashboard

This is fascinating data and you can get lost in time combing through it.

For more information you can add a ‘secondary dimension’ to your report. This breaks down the visitor information further.

Click the ‘secondary dimension’ menu at the top of the report page and select a category to add.

Adding a secondary dimension to your data
Adding a secondary dimension to your data

For example. I looked at my users per location and then added a secondary dimension for ‘In market segment’ which tells me a little bit more about the types of products these people are likely to buy.

I can see that a lot of visitors come from the UK and are interested in hotels and travel. I have a similar audience in Ireland.

Top posts for reach

If we want to attract new people to our blog it’s important that our content is getting shared.

BuzzSumo is a fabulous tool for defining the content on your site with the most shares.

Just go to the site. Sign up for a free account and plugin your website address. It finds the posts with the most overall shares.

Use BuzzSumo to find your top shared content
Use BuzzSumo to find your top shared content

Now you have identified your top Tune In content analyse it. Is it the right sort of content to attract new people to your site/ Is there content similar to it that you could create?


Tune in content doesn’t have to be about your business, it can be about topics that interest your audience. Relate content is more specifically about you and your industry. It’s not sales content but it’s content that educates your audience a little more.

Metrics include:

  • Relevant audience growth
  • Relevant engagement growth

You’ll also want to note

  • Top posts for engagement

Just like in the Tune In phase, we need to keep an eye on our audience. Particularly the people who visit our ‘Relate’ posts.

For many years I had a popular post that ranked well on Google, it was a Relate style post answering a common issue my clients had. Unfortunately, the info was soon out of date. Although it got massive traction most of the traffic came from people outside my target market.

Look closely at your posts that fall into the Relate category. Are they attracting a good chunk of your target market? If not, can you edit and rewrite those posts so they have more appeal?

If they do work you should reshare them regularly knowing they’ll start to nurture your audience. As well as sharing them on social media look at the places where you have an existing audience. Your Facebook group, your email list. Could you add them to an email nurture sequence?

Relevant engagement growth

It’s all very well people visiting your blog but are people engaging as a result? Engagement means someone is paying attention. An engagement could be a like or comment on social media, a comment on your blog, someone phoning or emailing you as a result of reading, it’s always lovely when this happens.

Facebook Insights

Facebook is particularly good and giving you information about your engagement.

In Insights you can see demographic information about the people who engage with your posts. You’ll find this in the ‘People’ tab under ‘Engaged’.

Find out more about your engaged audience in Google Analytics
Find out more about your engaged audience in Google Analytics

You can also download a CSV of your Facebook insights at post level.

Download Facebook Insights to filter your data
Download Facebook Insights to filter your data

I like to highlight my own blog post shares from the spreadsheet so I can focus on the engagement on just these posts.

Highlight your own blog posts in the report so you can analyse them
Highlight your own blog posts in the report so you can analyse them

Using this information you can discover which posts get the most traction on Facebook and try and work out why. Is it the image? The headline? The text you wrote to accompany the post?

Tracking social visitors in Google Analytics

When people click your links on social media what do they do? Are they valuable readers? To find out access the ‘Social’ tab on your Analytics dashboard, under ‘Aquisition’.

Now select ‘Network referrals’ to see the traffic you are getting from each network

Add a secondary dimension relating to your users and you’ll have some idea of how many of these are relevant

Which social networks are driving the most relevant traffic?
Which social networks are driving the most relevant traffic?


This is one of the easier sections to measure. Uptake is when someone makes a small commitment to you. They might download a freebie (like my blog post checklist), sign up to your mailing list, make an enquiry through your site.

Metrics include:

  • Email subscribers
  • Enquiry forms filled
  • Traffic to key website pages
  • eBook/lead incentive downloads

Also note:

  • Top posts for driving traffic to your sign up forms.

The easiest way to measure these activities via Google Analytics is to set up a goal.

To set up a goal you will need a unique thank you page for each goal.

For example, if you have a downloadable freebie you should set up a thank you page that people are sent to once they’ve requested the download.

Grab the link to this thank you page, you’ll need that to set up the goal.

Now in Google Analytics click the ‘Admin’ wheel at the bottom left-hand side of the page.

Select goals and create a new goal

Set up goals in Google Analytics
Set up goals in Google Analytics

It’s when you get to ‘Goal details’ that you add your thank you page link as the ‘Destination’. You can also add other pages in the step towards reaching the goal.

For example, I want people to reach the landing page for my download before they go to the thank you page. This creates a funnel within Google Analytics.

Set up a goal for each type of enquiry form, download or email subscribe you have. You’ll then be able to view these goals within Google Analytics. There will be goal results columns at the end of each page you access.

You can also get more info on your goals in the ‘Conversions’ menu. This shows completed goals and tracks the path visitors took to reach them.

I really like the funnel visualisation view. if you set up multiple steps in your goal creation it will show you how many followed that path.

This is great for measuring the success of Uptake posts. If you wrote about your lead incentive or offered it as a content upgrade you will see how many people downloaded as a result of that post.

In the example below you can see that in the past day 1 person signed up for the download, one left without signing up and one arrived at the thank you page direct (that means they filled in the form on my pop up).

View the funnel view of your goal
View the funnel view of your goal

This is great for measuring the success of Uptake posts. If you wrote about your lead incentive or offered it as a content upgrade you will see how many people downloaded as a result of that post.


It’s handy to see how people arrived at your thank you page so you can see which methods are working best and which content is driving readers to subscribe.


This is the stage where people actually buy from you, you need to make content here as helpful to someone who is about to click the buy button as possible.

Metrics to measure:

  • Number of sales
  • Revenue per sale

Also note:

  • Top posts for driving sales

Just like the Uptake stage, this can be measured by setting goals in Google Analytics. You can assign a monetary amount to each goal so you can easily analyse the return on investment.

If you are an eCommerce business you can integrate your commerce platform with analytics for reporting.

It’s also a good idea to create tracking codes when you share to social media. This will help you identify which posts and ads on which social channels are delivering the most revenue. (This is also useful for the Uptake phase).

Tracking code is a little bit of text that you add to the end of your links when you share them that makes them unique. So you can have multiple versions of the same link pointing to the same page. Each one can be identified in Google Analytics by the code at the end of it.

If you search for URL Builder you’ll find tracking code generators. I use the ‘Google Analytics URL Builder’ plugin for Chrome which streamlines the process.

I’m not going to go into too much detail here as I’ve written about it before.

When you add tracking to your links you will reveal more data. Instead of just seeing a mass of traffic from Facebook, you’ll be able to identify which links you shared on what pages, groups or ads are driving that Facebook traffic.

You’ll find information from your tracking links in the Campaigns section of your Google Analytics dashboard.

Campaigns in Google analytics and how it links to goals
Campaigns in Google analytics and how it links to goals

Tell others

This is the phase where you encourage customers and the advocates you’ve grown to share your content. The type of content that fits here is case studies, user generated content, reviews.

Metrics include:

  • Shares of key blog posts
  • Reviews

Once again you can use BuzzSumo to find your shared content. You can also track the shares of your key ‘Tell Others’ content manually using your sharing widget.

Make a note of the Tell All content that is performing the best and look at how you can replicate it.

Your Challenge

Now you understand the metrics you need to measure you need to create a measurement plan.

I have a geeky spreadsheet that I complete once a week, on a Tuesday, first thing. This helps me measure trends in my metrics and improve what I’m creating as a result.

It’s important that you set yourself a date for regular measurement. This should be at least once a month but I’d advise you do it more frequently.

I use Excel spreadsheets for this but you could use an alternative. Google sheets may be a better option if you are working as part of a team.

Add each metric you want to measure as a column heading and don’t forget to add the date that you collect the data.

Measuring your blog content this way is motivating. You can identify what’s working and what’s not and you’ll find yourself writing with the end result in mind. My blog has come on leaps and bounds since I started my measurement plan and it always gives me food for thought.


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Getting Your Geek On About Measurement Will Inspire You To Blog Better
Getting Your Geek On About Measurement Will Inspire You To Blog Better
Should You Hire Someone To Manage Your Facebook Ads For You? The Pros And Cons
Should You Hire Someone To Manage Your Facebook Ads For You? The Pros And Cons

Facebook ads are relatively simple to set up but sometimes hiring a specialist to manage them can be an advantage. Their expertise could take your flagging campaigns and make them work.

Before you decide if you need help with your Facebook advertising campaigns weigh up the pros and cons

Should you hire a Facebook ads specialist?

Pro #1 – Eliminate Stress

I hire an accountant to do my tax returns and handle my finances. I hire him because doing my own taxes would stress me out. It’s such a long tax form, so many details need to be added and if I get it wrong there are fines.

By hiring a professional I can sleep at night. Hiring a Facebook ads specialist (like me) is the same. Someone who knows the ins and outs of ads will work out the best way to spend your money for the best results.

You don’t have to worry that you might be making mistakes or wasting money, your Facebook ads manager will be on the case.

Con #1 – Additional costs

You’re probably already spending money on your Facebook ads. Hiring someone to manage them for you is going to cost you extra.

If you have a low budget this can hurt. Your ad manager could be getting you results but you’ll need to figure in the cost of hiring them against the value you are getting from your ads.

How much are you prepared to spend per customer? Per lead? Know this and you will be better armed to decide if you can afford to outsource this job.

Do Facebook ads make you tear your hair out? Let us manage your Facebook ads for you. We'll save you time and improve results. Get A Quote Now.


Pro #2 – Keeping up with changes

Facebook is always evolving. They are constantly adding new features and tweaking old ones. All this makes for a better ads but it’s hard to keep up.

A Facebook ad specialist spends a large chunk of their week running campaigns. They will be first to know if there has been an update, change or new feature and will be able to advise which will work best for you.

Con #2 – It removes the learning process

When I asked my Facebook group what they thought the disadvantages of hiring someone to run your ads were, one person pointed out that they enjoyed learning about things. Outsourcing would rob her of the opportunity to learn.

I’m a compulsive learner too and I can understand why this would be a problem. On the other hand, I have no wish to learn about accounting! If you want to learn ads from the ground up, hiring a professional may not be the way to go.

Pro #3 – Time saver

No matter what industry we are in small business owners have one thing in common. We are time poor. We wear lots of hats and balancing our day between client work, admin and marketing can be a challenge.

Setting up and managing Facebook ads may not be the best way to spend your time, hiring someone to do it for you leaves you time free to invest in other areas of your business.

Con #3 – Is it safe?

When you hire any professional you need to trust them. If you are going to hire a Facebook ads specialist you will be giving them access to your Facebook page, all the data that is collected from it, your Facebook ad account and you’ll be giving them permission to run ads using your account.

Could handing over the keys like this be risky? Will they be tempted to pass that data on to others? Could they use your ad account to run ads on their own pages?

Just like hiring any professional you need to choose someone you can trust. You can look for a referral from someone else, get to know them online or off or ask for references from their past customers just like you might when you hire an accountant.

Pro #4 – Reporting

Getting your head around Facebook reports is a challenging job. Even when you navigate the reports dashboard it’s hard to interpret the data. Should you be excited you got so many video views? How can you tell if people actually took action on your ads?

A good ad manager will give you a detailed report showing you the key statistics on what’s working and what’s not.

Con #4 – Not knowing how it works

Every year when the accountant sends me my finished accounts I go through them in detail. I want to understand the return that we are sending in and know that everything is in order. Even though I’ve hired him to do this job for me I feel I should know the basics.

When you hand over control of your ads it can feel the same. Not knowing or understanding what’s going on can make us nervous or uncomfortable.

If you find yourself feeling this way about your ads once you have hired someone, get in touch. Ask them to show you around the ad reporting so you can better understand what’s going on. We’re here to help!


Are you tired of people telling you that you should be doing video online? You've seen the stats, video works but how can you create it quickly and cheaply? Come to my Go Do Video Workshop in London: Learn how to boost your online visibility with video content



Is It A Good Idea To Get A Specialist To Manage Your Facebook Ads For You
Is It A Good Idea To Get A Specialist To Manage Your Facebook Ads For You?




6 Things I Learned About Blogging From Ann Handley
6 Things I Learned About Blogging From Ann Handley

This time last year I didn’t know who Ann Handley was.


What do you mean you don’t either?

In fairness, my friends may have been mentioning her name for a while but it took time to sink in.

I met her at Social Media Marketing World, I bought her book and now I’m a fan.

6 Things I learned from Ann Handley

As a blogger I’m always looking to hone my writing skills and that’s exactly what Ann has helped me with, both through her book and through her conference presentation.

I thought this podcast would be a good way to share some of her wisdom with you. So here goes:

1. Come up with 5 ideas a day

I jotted this down on my things to do list at Social Media Marketing World but even as I did I knew it would be a tough one.

Have I done it? I’m not there yet, but I will get there. I’ve had an ideas diary since I interviewed Eamonn O’Brien back in episode 3. All I needed to do was jack up my idea productivity.

Luckily, I don’t have to pull those ideas from anywhere. Ann recommends lots of places to look.

My current favourite is to search Google for a specific search term followed by the word ‘research’ or ‘study’. It only takes a minute or so and you’ll get a bundle of ideas.

See below for the search results for ‘small business marketing study’.

Search for a phrase including the word 'Study' or 'Research'
Search for a phrase including the word ‘Study’ or ‘Research’

It’s also important to give yourself some blank space. With so many distractions it’s hard to find a few spare minutes but find them and you’ll be surprised what will happen.

Where do you gather those ideas?

You may have noticed I’m a bit of a Mark Schaefer fan, but I found myself cringing reading one of his posts recently. It turns out that his process for collating ideas is to start a new draft post in WordPress, for every idea.

Oh my, the idea of it, all that clutter on my blog!

This just goes to show that different methods work for different people. The WordPress system works for Mark, I prefer tools like Evernote and most recently Trello.

What really matters is that you have a single space to collect your ideas. If you do and if you expand on the idea as much as you can when you have it you’ll never be short of blog content.

2. Write The Ugly Frist draft

I’m a re-drafter. I’ve re-written and redesigned this post over and over again and I’m only on point two. I’m trying, really trying to get into the Ugly Frist Draft but it’s harder than I thought.

Ann’s Ugly First Draft means throwing your words onto the page, don’t correct spelling errors, don’t redraft as you write. Just get it out of your system. The editing will come later. (See point 5).

3. Keep asking ‘So What’

The first idea you have about something is the same first idea everyone will have about it. You’re going to need to try harder if you want to get your message out.

Ann’s advice is to keep asking “So What”

Below is a passage from her book ‘Everybody Writes’ outlining the process of how you get from the features of your product to the benefits.

The 'So What' method
The ‘So What’ method

This is one piece of advice I’ve managed to put into action already. I’ve been putting my clients through their paces asking them… “So what”

4. Don’t get all fancy with your words

George Orwell wanted his books to be accessible to everyone. So he used simple language. He used simple words but when you read them you don’t feel like he’s talking down to you, his words just make the text and the ideas easier to grasp.

Ann advocates for the same. There are lots of tools that will give you a reading level score. Hemingway is one I use frequently. But one that Ann mentioned in her Social Media Marketing World talk was Upgoer Five.

It challenges you to write using only the ten hundred most used words in the English language. (Note it says ten hundred not a thousand – thousand isn’t one of the allowed words).

I cut and pasted my first draft of this post into it. Let’s just say I’ve got some work to do.

Upgoer five challenges you to write using just the 10 hundred most popular words in the English language
Upgoer five challenges you to write using just the 10 hundred most popular words in the English language

5. Edit

I’ve been a premature publisher too many times. You really should give yourself time between your draft and your editing.

Even an hour away from your words will help.

Ann recommends three edits:

  1. Chainsaw – This is the first pass. Ask yourself if each paragraph deserves to be there.
  2. Surgical – You’ve sliced paragraphs out of your text. The next job is to get more intricate. Study each word, each sentence. Do they all belong, do they need to be there? If not cut them away.
  3. Voice – Does it fit your brand voice? Does it sound like it’s unmistakably you?

According to Ann’s SMMW speech, your voice should be:

Recognisable, communicate who you are, why you do what you do and what you are like to deal with.

6. ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy’

Nothing to do with blogging but… am I the only one who didn’t know that the real lyrics to Purple Haze were ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky’?

Your Challenge

Don’t take my word for it. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Ann’s book ‘Everybody Writes’ (affiliate link). You’ll find far more than six amazing tips there.


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



6 Things I've learned from Ann Handley
6 Things I’ve learned from Ann Handley
Andrew and Pete tell us what to avoid on Twitter
Andrew and Pete tell us what to avoid on Twitter

I’m pretty sure I’ve made every Twitter mistake in the book. Luckily I got most of them out of the way before I had too many followers. No one noticed, at least I hope they didn’t.

But it seems my Twitter mistakes may not be behind me after all.

I spoke to Andrew & Pete about some of the biggest Twitter faux pas and got some great tips on how you can get more from the network.

Twitter Mistakes That I Make (Apparently)

1. Tread carefully with Crowdfire

Crowdfire is a great tool for managing your Twitter followers. You can purge inactive accounts, find people to follow and more. But it’s the automation that puts people off.

It’s tempting when you find a tool like this to use the ‘auto DM’ function to send messages to new followers.

The problem is:

  • They’re annoying
  • Unless you pay to get rid of it, your DM will include ‘sent via Crowdfire’ at the end

As Andrew & Pete said:

“What’s worse than an un-personalised automated DM? An un-personalised automated DM with “sent via Crowdfire” at the end. You haven’t even bothered to pay for this app that’s going to send me this un-personalised DM.”

2. Don’t tell the world how unpopular you are

It’s easy to get obsessed with numbers. There are numerous tools out there that will tell you how many followers you’ve gained or lost in the last week.

You may not be aware of it but some of these apps could be sending sneaky automated DM’s into your newsfeed telling people just how unpopular you are.

This happened to me once, I was mortified.

Imagine if someone visits your profile, will they be encouraged to follow you if they see a tweet at the top of your timeline telling people how many unfollows and follows you’ve had?

Check your timeline, is there an app sneakily sending out these updates? If there is it’s time to ditch it.

3. Don’t get tag happy

I know you’ve spent hours on that blog post or video but resist! Don’t be tempted to upload a photo with your blog post and tag the world and its sister in the image.

Yes, you might get a couple of retweets but you’ll annoy everyone else.

Instead, use Andrew & Pete’s “Sneak & Tag Collab”. When you include an example in your blog post, video or content tag them when you share. But only them.

They’ll be chuffed you included them and will be more likely to share.

4. Do thank people but don’t automate

Genuinely thanking people, when you aren’t just doing it because there’s something in it for you is a good way to build relationships. But, don’t be tempted to automate this. Be creative with your thank you posts.

Pete suggests replying with a personalised Twitter message. This will make the recipient feel special.

Andrew & Pete have recently created a series of Gifs that they use to respond to tweets. Find out more and how to create your own Gif channel in their article for Social Media Examiner.

Andrew & Pete’s top tip for doing it right?

“Be proactive, reach out to people and form a relationship by asking questions.

A lot of our clients say they don’t have time for Twitter or social media so they use tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, Edgar, MissingLettr to automate.

Our point of view is that instead of automating, take the time you spend scheduling and just speak to people on Twitter for an hour a week. You’ll get far more from the one-to-one interaction than scheduling automated content.”

What about you?

What Twitter mistakes have you made? What really gets your goat?

Follow Andrew & Pete:


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Andrew and Pete Tell Us How Not to Do Twitter
Andrew and Pete Tell Us How Not to Do Twitter