8 Reasons to Write Your Own Blog Posts

I know, I know. You’re not a writer. You’re busy. You just don’t have the time. It’s easier and more efficient to hire a freelance writer to write blog posts for your business.

Look, we all have busy lives. If your inbox looks anything like mine it is inundated with emails of things that needed to be done yesterday. And each time you complete a task two more come in. I get it. You’re busy.

Studies show that a blog increases website traffic and lead flow. This could be one of the most important pages on your website. So my question to you is: why trust anyone else with it?

Here are 8 reasons you should take the time to write your own blog posts:

  1. No one knows your business better than you. You live, eat and breathe your business. There is just no one outside your company that knows your brand, knows your product or knows your business better than you. So who better to write about it?
  2. It saves money. By writing your own posts, you save money on hiring a freelance writer (said the freelance writer – doh).
  3. It saves time. I know that sounds counter intuitive seeing as most business owners or managers claim they “don’t have time” to be writing blog posts. But your posts don’t have to be long. They shouldn’t take you more than ½ hour or so to write. Which is the time it might take to walk to Starbucks for a latte on a busy morning. And if you’re writing them yourself, you’re saving time in iterations going back and forth with someone else.
  4. It’s fun. Once you start, I think you’ll find that it’s a great creative outlet for you and can be fun to explore. Plus its a great place to offer your opinions and share insights with your peers.
  5. You don’t actually even have to write. It’s as easy as using your iPhone to take a video of yourself, or someone from your business, speaking about a certain topic or discussion. C’mon you know you want to.
  6. You might learn something. Writing inspires inquiry.
  7. Your visitors are savvy. People know when they are being fooled. They know what is authentic and what isn’t. If you know your business and industry as well as I think you do, no one can talk about it better than you and your visitors will read that.
  8. Your competitors are doing it. Need I say more?

Here are some great sites to help start the creative juices flowing:

Copyblogger – blogging tips
The Daily Post – blog post ideas

Is your business using the SEO Pyramid?

Trends are showing that businesses are cutting back on their marketing budgets this year. This of course comes as no surprise given the state of the economy. But it has left some small business owners in the dark when it comes to where to put their marketing dollars and how best to spend their budgets. Let’s face it there are an endless supply of online marketing tools out there. The question is, which one’s should you choose and where do you start?

While searching online for a visual to show to one of my clients, I came across the following SEO Pyramid and I thought it was a great visual to help pave the way to greater online visibility.

seo-pyramid-large4

Basically, to more efficiently market your business online, the following rules should be in place (and they are in order of importance):

  1. You have compelling web content
  2. Your content and page elements are optimized
  3. You’ve created and are maintaining a linking campaign
  4. You business is visible in the social media space

Compelling web content – First and foremost, your site must have compelling and relevant content; useful content that will attract and retain visitors and offer them something they can link to. You want your visitors to buy your product or service and come back for more. So give them something to come back to.

Optimize your content and page elements – Your web content should be keyword rich. Establish a list of keywords that people search on to find your product or service and include these in your content. They must be relevant to each page so don’t go overboard. These keywords should be weaved into not only your web content but all your page elements (i.e. title tags, meta tags, H1 tags, etc.) as well.

Linking campaign in place – Spend some time finding relevant sites to link to and from.  The more relevant sites that are linking to you the more likely the search engines are going to find you.

Social media plan– Once everything else is in place, build your business page or group in a social network that speaks directly to your audience. Start a conversation and start networking. Also, don’t underestimate the value of a blog. Yes, it takes time to upkeep but it’s well worth it in the end. Not only does it give your business a personality, it augments your SEO strategy. Get out there, get networking. It’s free!

And finally, BE PATIENT! Gaining visibility online takes time. Keep at it and be patient. And remember you get out of it what you put in.

Good luck!

Promoting your blog

wordpressIn November 2008 there were 1,463,666 active blogs on WordPress alone and 17,433,783 active posts, according to the WordPress November Wrap-up. And who knows how many more blogs and posts were created on the gazillion other blogging sites out there. With those numbers I think it is completely amazing that people find my blog at all.

If you’re wondering how best to promote your blog and stand out among the 1.5 million + other blogs out there, here are some suggestions:

  • First and foremost you need to offer unique content that is valuable to your reader. This will keep them coming back, linking to your post or passing it along to friends.
  • If you have more than one blog, link them to each other. If someone is interested in a particular topic and they find one blog and like your writing, they’re likely to check out what else you have written about.
  • If you have profiles in your social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, etc., be sure to have links to both your website and your blog in all your profiles. You can also stream your blog into some of these sites so that when updating, you are updating profiles on all your social networks instantaneously.
  • You must read other blogs and make comments. See what other bloggers are talking about and offer intelligent information, opinions and comments. Remember, you’re trying to build your network.
  • Utilize Twitter. It’s a micro-blogging site and a great way to make contacts, find people who are interested in the same thing you are, read their blogs and offer your knowledge to them. This gets your name out there and people interested in what you have to offer.
  • Utilize one of the many blogging networks such as BlogCatalog. This is a great way to manage all your blogs in one spot and build your blogging community.

There are many ways to promote your blog and make it stand out among the millions. Try different ways to see what works best for you. Just remember the most important thing about blog writing is content. So make it worth while.

Good luck!

Creating a social media marketing plan

Social media marketing is simple, it’s viral marketing or what I call ‘online PR.’ The goal is to get people talking about your product. Sound easy? It can be. Businesses, especially small ones, should be utilizing social media to help create word of mouth and to promote their product organically. Yet, how does a businesses with limited resources best utilize this medium?

As you probably know, there are many social networks out there and more popping up each day. So which ones should you choose? This year 37% of adult Internet population and 70% of teens were using social networks at least once a month. By the year 2011, those numbers will rise to 1⁄2 of the adult online population and 85% of teens, according to eMarketer.com. With the rise of social media networks still climbing I thought its imperative to have a presence online. The two biggest social networking sites I suggested to use are Facebook and MySpace.

Facebook
In the Burlington, Vermont area alone, there are almost 29,000 people currently using Facebook.

Here are some ways to utilize this social network:

  • Create and maintain a Facebook profile and invite friends to join it. Find people who are interested in activities that relate to your product. Using Facebook is a great way to get the word out instantaneously when you have news or events, etc., to report.
  • Create and maintain a specific group that is proactive in encouraging people to participate. Some ways to do that include the following:
  • Post and encourage the posting of daily photos
  • Create a contest for best photo. The winner gets their photo posted on the main website and/or some sort of discount for visiting your business.
  • Post any events that are happening relating to your product.
  • Offer a discount for group members on a given day to print out from Facebook and redeem at our business.
  • There is a place within the networks tab to post local events. Utilize this to post any special events or happenings and encourage people to visit.
  • Surf discussion topics throughout the network and post comments to help gain some presence and legitimacy.

MySpace
Among the top 20 social networking sites, MySpace is visited 82% of the time, according to Hitwise. Create a presence in MySpace.

  • Create and maintain a user profile
  • Find and invite friends to join
  • Post daily photos
  • Post any special events and send out flyers to all friends on the network/friends list.
  • Create and maintain a blog within MySpace to talk about current events and other things going on related to your busines, etc.

BLOGGING
Another inexpensive tool for businesses to take advantage of is Blogging. According to eMarketer, 61% of the blog readers are over the age of 30, and 75% make more than $45,000 a year. And according to Perseus, 92% of bloggers are under the age of 30. This covers a lot of ground. Companies need to create a presence among the blogosphere by initiating the following but be careful with this one. Create a blog only if you can maintain it.

  • Create and maintain a blog with high quality content that bloggers will want to link to.
  • Syndicate it with an RSS feed or email sign-up
  • Link it to your website and vice versa as well as the newly created MySpace profile and Facebook
  • Link it to related websites and ask them to link back
  • Reach out to other blogs and establish relationships with bloggers who blog about topics related to your industry
  • Monitor the blogosphere and comment where appropriate
  • Create a picture slide show and update it frequently

A blog compliments your website and will help promote your product in an informal and organic way. This can be used in place of a newsletter as visitors can sign up for email announcements and RSS feeds that go directly to their computers giving information to a targeted group interested in your product.

When it comes to social media some companies may be afraid of losing some control by encouraging consumers to talk about their product instead of controlling their own message. However, the use of social media can work twofold for you; 1. With limited resources it’s an inexpensive way to create a buzz in the marketplace and, 2. you can find out directly how consumers view your product and respond and adjust accordingly.

Utilizing social networking sites and blogs will help create a buzz and will compliment marketing efforts without gobbling up your budget. It also creates a more grassroots campaign and encourages your customers to talk about your product. The cost really only includes the resources of someone dedicated to your online visibility. And your return could far outweigh that cost.