Archives For blogging

When potential readers stumble upon your blog how does it draw them in?

Do your readers fall down a rabbit hole, getting pulled into a world where they delightedly spending hours wandering through your trail of content. Or are they greeted with a cacophony of messages each seeking a different goal?

Tough question?

I am mulling over starting a separate blog, for a project I am working on. Knowing, the second time around, how much commitment, discipline and dedication it takes to support a blog, I am spending a lot more time considering what value it can bring and how to create a space that draws readers in once they stumble across my blog.

So I started by looking around at what is already out there that I like and soon enough noticed a pattern. There are 3 traits that separate the blogs that draw me in and keep me coming back, from those that don’t. Looking at what I read from day-to-day, I believe It is the same for any industry whether your focus is on a product or service, or just building your personal brand.

After reading this list, look at some of your favorite blogs and see if they predominantly have any one of these traits.

1. The Escape

Your blog cab be a destination. A place where people go for renewal, inspiration or to see things in a different light. For example this can be fashion blogs showcasing fresh outfits, beautiful homes or breathtaking adventures.

Creating an escape allows your reader to see things in green colored shades as opposed to maybe their pink or purple colored ones.

It gives them courage to try something different in their own lives. People love to escape for entertainment as well (just look at how many hours not just on blogs but browsing Pinterest; watching TV shows, or movies; or engrossed in a good story) so being funny, eloquent and having an original point of view on things can create an escape from their minds which is valuable and memorable.

The allure of the escape is often seen in highly visual blogs. When I was considering starting a style blog one of the pieces of feedback I received was sometimes the respondent didn’t even like when the blogger wrote a post, “Just show me the pictures!” My guess is because without words, readers are free to make up their own narratives on what they see, making it a more personal escape.

If you are in a field that is traditionally seen as unexciting, find ways to share stories or images centered around your topic that get you fired up, that motivate and encourage you. For business-to-business blogs this can be in the form of case studies that allow other people to see how companies in their respective industry tackle a similar problem. I use case studies because it allows story telling as well, which s essential to creating an escape.

2. Sharing knowledge

If there is a topic there is an authority figure; someone who has done the research and the work, or is up to the minute on latest information around a topic.
Attracting readers to blog

Sharing knowledge is not just for showing people how to do X, it can also be through providing resources, sharing handy lists or providing analysis. Some part of your day is spent absorbing knowledge whether its learning what is going on in your locale or industry, tackling a problem, or learning a new skill.

Your readers are looking to for guidance, and an authority in the subject to tell them what to think.

3. Offering empathy

We are wired to connect. Places that give us comfort and make us feel like we are in good company with someone who we can trust will always stand out. Successful blogs focused around creating a community are written in a way that is direct and personal. After all you can’t create a connection with your reader if you are guarded and they do not know much about you. Being open is key. Sharing and trusting your readers creates a stronger connection than any free limited time offer ever could.

Think I’m missing something? Add to this conversation by sharing your thoughts or examples of blogs you think are remarkable.

Image credit Samantha Marx

Yes you can start a blog.

How to get started bloggingA post a day keeps the therapist away.

You should write. Whatever it is, you want to write. You are probably an expert in something, even if it is on observing austral relations from your backyard, trust me, I follow a guy who does just that.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every man I meet is my superior in some way.”

If we met you’d probably be my superior in mechanics of taking care of a car, staying healthy and active, handling difficult conversations, reading, managing finances to name a few.

There are plenty of blogs out there and maybe you are thinking you’d like to start one too. Great! Here are some tips I’ve picked up from others.

7 Tips to get you started in blogging

1. Think small (as in niche)

Few and far in between are blogs about everything under the sun. Focus on 3 small things that will make you more motivated to write, and to keep writing. If it’s a topic you are not confident in but are keenly studying then write some posts on it, I guarantee that there are people a lot less knowledgeable as you, and besides you are a fascinating creature with such keen and interesting insights dah-ling!

2. Figure out how much writing you can handle

I’d love to spin-off a post every hour but there are other things I’ve got to focus on. And that’s ok. Getting a good grip on how much you can write and communicating that is awesome because you are not over-promising your readers if you have any (and while we are on that, it’s ok to not have as many for a while you need to build a structure that they can wander through first).

3. Don’t look to blogging to make money

Because you’ll be disappointed. Look to blogging as a way to build an audience, but not as a way to build income, at least not immediately. It could happen, it’s not impossible, but making money usually comes with having tons of readers who either want to click on your affiliate links or actually buy something from you. Getting to that point is a slow process, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

4. Don’t get caught up in all the wrong things

I am into marketing like a lot. One of my favorite thought leaders is Seth Godin, seriously I will read or listen to anything by him. In one podcast he talks about how people want to start a business and focus on all the wrong things like getting the right logo, how many features to pack into their website, getting their paperwork for setting up a business through, figuring out the logistics of how to ship and track things and how all these things keep them from what they actually should be doing –building an audience of people actually interested their product or service. At the end of the day, it’s not really the trademark or legal paperwork that will bring in the money. Those are all problems you can solve with time, resourcefulness or money. But marketing your idea and building an audience that takes guts, time and a bit of sticking your neck out there.

When it comes to blogging, I think, don’t focus on how awesome and amazing your blog should look how many features it should have, and whether you will have a mailing list to go along side it.

Just start writing, because honestly if it’s good, with time people will pay attention. All those other thing you can tack on as time goes on. But if you wait until everything is perfect, then you’re just delaying the real work/fun.

5. Listen and respond to your audience

Be open to wherever this blogging thing will take you. Write posts that your readers show they enjoy, and write in a human way. Connecting with people in real life is awesome; if you can create that kind of spark online with your readers then you’ve got something special.

6. Be original

How are you different from other blogs?

This is hard. But really look at it as a way of setting yourself apart, what’s your thing?

Are you going to sprout off data about stuff in a field where everyone is just sprouting opinions? Are you going to have your own spin by creating colorful illustrations about your life and fashion? Are you going to run an “Ask me anything” type blog loaded with pictures and short posts on health and beauty? You don’t have to figure it out from the first post, but with time refine until you are comfortable with it. I’m still soul-searching for mine.

7. Promote

Hey it’s your content so it’s worth promoting so that other people actually you know, see it? Promote from day one. Get in the habit, build your audience slowly, and when you hit say a 100 posts go back and promote posts that your readers loved. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ways of promoting content really it’s all fun don’t take it too seriously.

Try these to get started:

  • Tweet your posts out to your audience or to people/companies you profile
  • Mention it in groups or social networks
  • Write guest posts

While we are on it, I love checking out other blogs in my spare time, so what do you write about?

Quaker Oatmeal Picture

I share a last name with a famous brand of oatmeal, and my initials DQ are also the initials for Dairy Queen a chain famous for its calorific deserts found in America (particularly the Midwest).

Maybe it’s because I’m a little vain sometimes I Google myself just to see what is out there. I don’t know about you but I sometimes like to Google people I come across (you’d be amazed at what you find) and recent events in my personal life have made me wish I had started this habit earlier. When I started this blog, I barely came up on page 2 near the bottom; page 1 was other websites posting stuff that involved me, a parrot forum (Yes, I was bewildered too) and the aforementioned oatmeal brand.

This bothered me a little because I wanted to come up for my name, and better yet I wanted to have a say in what results were placed at the top of Google. I believed that in a search for my name, the researcher would for sure find me more interesting than the oatmeal brand.

Like it or not, everyone is increasingly having their own digital footprint. Whether it’s your social media profile, a random article you submitted on a site, a government record of land or marriage license, or even a random news article that comes up. Traces of things you touch are filtering through to the online world which as we know lasts a lot longer than human memory, and thanks to increasingly more efficient search engine results, can be pulled up instantaneously.

Why you should build your online brand

The other day Google placed me on top of my LinkedIn profile. Which is a personal an accomplishment for me because I think it has more authority in general than I do. But therein lies a great reason to start your own web space in my opinion.

As more and more things are posted online wouldn’t it be great that the first results when someone looks you up are your own? Think of it in any part of your life, from job interviews, to potential romantic partners to even applications to rent

or potentially get a new roommate. It is increasingly important to show some sort of credibility online and if you cannot control what others post at least you can control what you put out there.

The thing that surprises me is my generation is not always out there on LinkedIn or Google+ or blogging, or Tumblr or Quora. And that is a –OK, but in a world that is increasingly digital with instant searches and now Google Glass shouldn’t we extend the time we put into creating great first impression in the real world to our persona online?

There is always something you are an expert in, whether it’s crocheting, sticking to a fitness program, healthy lifestyle choices, ideas to beat kids boredom or pursuing a dream of travelling, why not share it. Not because you have to but because if someone Googled your name wouldn’t you want the first thing that comes up to be about something you are passionate about? Wouldn’t you want to give them a great first impression both online and off?

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About the writer: Daisy Quaker is an Internet marketing consultant. She loves helping small businesses grow through marketing and by telling their unique stories online. She writes about various Internet marketing tactics and strategies on this blog sporadically. She loves meeting new people, say hi to her on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Blogging Lessons from Street Performers

Blogging is an art that can be learned and perfected. Street performing or “busking” is also an art, you either entertain or amuse passers-by or you don’t make money.  In both situations people are busy with their everyday lives and probably on the way to one thing or another and there you are trying to catch their attention. One is tougher than the other but I will let you decide.

It’s not that hard to get started in busking because, after all, anybody can hit the streets and put on a show. It’s not that hard to start a blog neither. What separates the successful buskers and bloggers from everyone else s they perfect their craft.

So here are 10 Lessons Bloggers can learn from the hardest job in showbiz –street performing:

1. Put together a great act

In busking this happens even before you get out on the streets to perform you figure out your act and practice, practice, practice. In blogging these goes on before you have the material on your blog by figuring out what to write, what is already out there on your topic of interest and what people are really interested in. It ranges from doing Google searches, listening in on forums or even the most popular blog posts on successful blogs or websites. What do the people want? And how can you deliver in a way that is unique?

2. Find a place to perform

The ideal busking spot (or pitch) is a fairly quiet place with plenty of foot traffic, for bloggers it is your means of spreading out your content. What spot has the most foot traffic than the internet after all? Will you focus on growing an audience through a blog, or e-mailing list? How will you get yourself on social media sites, what will your purpose be? Think carefully about where you place your content from your blog name, to its look and feel. Street performers need to find a pitch that suits their act, bloggers need to find a medium that can help them scale and grow their audience.

3. Gather a crowd

Just like in blogging, in street performing, “the art of getting people to notice you – the build—is fine art in itself” The basics to attracting attention might be promoting your blog on social media, and content. But consider off the beaten track methods like commenting on forums frequented by your target audience, or reaching out and doing guest posts for different websites or publications, all with the intent of drawing them back to your blog, and once there, encouraging them to sign up for mailing lists or subscribing to your blog.

4. Keep your crowd interested

Ideally you will find a niche, street performers usually figure out whether they will do music, dance or magic early on. The goal here is once you focus on one thing, you can improve with each post. Find creative ways to share your story. Street performers try to make each new tricks more amazing than the last, so build a content plan that starts off with relatively simple posts and gets into progressively harder posts as your audience grows. These can be your cornerstone subjects; if your blog is about Arts and Crafts what basics do people need to learn before you get into otherwise difficult projects? E.g. setting up a craft space, where to get supplies, safety concerns, DIY Hacks, quick fixes to common DIY problems. Think of it as creating a beginners class, so that even after hundreds of posts, people can still come back to the basics on how to get started, or your cornerstone categories.

5. Interact with your audience

In the beginning comments may be few and far in between, get in the habit of replying to every comment. Go out of your way to interact with your audience whether on your blog or other channels. If you send out e-mails encourage feedback or replies and respond in turn, it will go a long way to creating that connection with your content.

6. Build audience participation into your act

In busking audience participation makes the crowd happy. You may not have cute kids help with your blogging content, but encouraging guest posts, or even feedback in the comments or minimal effort feedback like reader polls can add the feeling of others paying attention to your content.

7. Sell merchandise

Blogging Lessons From Street Performers
Maybe you are blogging as hobby, or as just a way to let out steam, but consider ways that can help your audience and earn something from your blog –even if it’s just pocket change. Take a step back and look at your blog as more than just an outlet for your thoughts. Once you have built an audience figure out what you want to sell. Seth Godin advocates that bloggers or content marketers should build an audience before they start selling products. Look to make your reader’s lives easier, they will reward you with their loyalty.

8. Keep track of your results

How many site views a day, do you get more traffic on certain days than others? Or what about certain topics? How do people arrive at your site, where are they coming from, what do they click on? Start early by keeping a record of all the blog posts you’ve written it can even be in something simple like an excel spreadsheet. The better you can track your results, the better you can get at fine-tuning your performance.

9. Learn everyday with every post

It’s not enough to learn from which posts do not receive any feedback. Sign up for creative and related email lists and read what others are writing about. Inspiration comes from many sources. This post for example was inspired by an old post on the PureDriven blog (an internet marketing company I work for). Pay attention to what works, but also what inspires. If after several attempts you are audience is not buying into your ideas, then change it up.

10. Keep at it

Street performers do not expect overnight success, neither should your blog. If you plan on generating some money from it then take it seriously and put your efforts into building your audience. Don’t think of selling to them right away, but establishing a connection and trust. Join other support groups to motivate you, print and keep this PDF poster somewhere visible. The rewards may not be immediate, but whatever you do keep writing.

All the great bloggers started out in the same place,, by writing and building their audience one reader at a time. Anybody can start a blog and build a big audience, but if you have a great show you could join the ranks of successful bloggers who turn their passion of writing into a career or side business. If you can entertain, inform or educate people on a continuous basis you can gain exposure and build your brand or business.

So after reading through all these tips and seeing the parallels which act is harder busking? Or blogging?

Credits:
Reference: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Money-Busking-(Street-Performing)

Image Credit: Flickr-Bondidwhat and Rrrrobie

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About the writerDaisy Quaker is an Internet marketing consultant. She loves helping small businesses grow through marketing and by telling their unique stories online. She writes about various Internet marketing tactics and strategies. Connect with her on TwitterGoogle+ or LinkedIn.

 

Image of ingredients for cookingEvery marketing plan is like its own recipe to concoct the perfect dish, an audience that’s ready to eat it all up. If used correctly, your blog can help make your marketing plan a killer dish.

Using your blog for marketing research

Your blog gives you a great opportunity to study what your readers are doing beyond just how many site visits you receive in a day.

A review of the analytics can help figure out what your reader’s need before they even state it. Marketing surveys are notoriously flawed because there is often a disconnect between what the person thinks they do, and what they actually do when they are not being judged. Your blog gives you the opportunity to study what your readers are doing in their own element.

Things like where ae they coming from, or what do they exit to, can shed some insight into their behaviour. What posts or pages do readers check out the most. What do they share or email the most, what do they not respond to. This can help tailor your posts to meet their needs, and answer your own question: what problems do your readers face, and how can you help?

Using your blog for marketing your ideas

Be careful, because it’s not about you, it’s about your readers. By making your posts useful and relevant to them you can lead them to trust you as a resource and have them primed to buy what you sell.

Avoid self-praising posts, show don’t tell your audience why you are useful to their lives. Think of your site traffic or online visitors as window-shoppers, if they see enough on display to entice them into the store, then they will give you their trust by opting into your mailing list, and allow you to talk to them further, pulling them into making a buy.

But remember, it’s not about you, it’s about your usefulness to your customers and audience.

Using your blog for customer service

On a podcast the other day I heard about how the Hilton concierge service once helped save the life of one man’s dog, by telling them a good vet to take the dog via Twitter.

That’s remarkable. The guy was not even a customer nor did he direct the question to the Hilton hotel, but it’s a service he will most likely never forget, and will share with his friends and family. That is  a proactive marketing and customer service approach, your blog can do it too.

By reaching out to people posting questions or tweets with a solution that does not include an immediate buy, you can help them develop a good impression of your brand and some goodwill towards your business. If it’s exceptional enough perhaps they’ll spread the great experience they had, spreading the goodwill about your business, and their personal stamp of approval. That’s something no amount of advertising can buy.

Business have been built on blogging by understanding their audience. Starting your blog off with some good advice, building trust, an establishing a great reputation can take you further than any advertising campaign ever could. Blogging could be that secret ingredient to your special marketing sauce.

Image credit: Flickr-Mrs Magic

This post is part of a series that will get published on Content Marketing or Blogging, follow me via Twitter or E-mail to receive your fresh copy of helpful small business online marketing strategies.

Daisy Quaker is an internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy, connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.