Does Your Site Suffer from “Content Mullet” Syndrome?

Remember the mullet? That late 70’s – 80’ish hairstyle that all allegedly cool dudes (and hot chicks) once sported? You know,`a la those hair-tossing rock ‘n roll bands and tough leathered chicks of the time (circa Styx, Journey, Pat Benatar, etc.)?

Well, in this week’s Web-writing video, Heather takes the notorious mullet into another dimension altogether, asking: does your site suffer from “content mullet” syndrome?

Beginning with what a “content mullet” is, Heather walks us through recognizing the signs and symptoms of content mullet syndrome, easy and organic remedies for the malady, and a preventative prescription to guard against relapse…

The content may have looked great…once upon a time…

So what is a “content mullet”?

It’s much like the mullet hairstyle: it might have looked great once upon a time, in its time – meaning it was in, it was fashionable, it was hip – but when you look at it now, it looks a little dated (in the kindest words).

Translating that to your website, your content mullet might have worked very well for you once upon a time, but now it’s marked by:

  • Outdated articles
  • Outdated sales pages
  • Conference/event pages that haven’t been updated
  • Press pages and links that haven’t been updated

These all represent great opportunities for content marketing, and they are all very important to the conversions process.

It may not seem like a big deal…but it sends a message…

You may be inclined to shrug off this out-dated content warning, thinking yeah, yeah, I’ll do something about such-and-so page eventually…but keep in mind that:

  • People notice and wonder what’s going on.
  • This is especially true if your competition is kicking out new, fresh content.

If your website appears to be out-of-touch and its content neglected, your prospect is liable to click back to one of your competitors’ sites – you know, the one with the newest and most relevant information beckoning her and thereby underscoring its relative credibility. (Not to mention that your competitors’ sites are most likely out-ranking yours’ on the SERPs, with Google’s preference for sites with fresh content.)

The key is to take care of business – fast!

Again, this presents an opportunity for you to at once revitalize your site and market your content. And it is something that is relatively easy to evaluate and fix.

All you need to do is:

  • Comb through your site and make a list of outdated pages.

This is going to take a little bit of time if you have a larger site. But check things like your blog posts, press release and conference pages, and any articles to see what the opportunities are. Go through that list and then:

Tip: If one of the outdated pages on your list is a sales page, you probably will want to prioritize it because it will help you make money! Then you can work on the other pages as you go along.

  • Consider if you need to develop a new process.

For example, it is so common for companies to send out press releases and then forget to upload them to their site. If that sounds like something that’s afflicting your business, then make it a point of the process that once the press release is sent out, it goes online as well.

Tip: Just inserting such key points into your content marketing process is a simple way to keep everyone involved informed of when to automatically update any given web page.

  • Moving forward, review your content once a quarter.

Now you’ve ditched the mullet for a far more trendy and attractive  look, make it a policy to review your content at least once a quarter.

An ongoing, quarterly inventory of your content is a smart way to keep on top of the newest content creation and marketing opportunities that will keep your website competitive.

Besides that, it ensures that you regularly discover new ways to tweak your content, update pages, and do anything else that will keep your website fresh and new, and give your readers the best possible content you can deliver!

Thanks for tuning in! Do you have a question for Heather? Great! Zip it on over to her [at] heather@seocopywriting.com or tweet it to her @heatherlloyd. And be sure to check back next week, as your question may well be answered. See you then!

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photo credit to IndiePics!/Valarie Apperson/Talamantes

3 (More) Business Blogging Tips for Beginners

Greetings! As you might have guessed, today’s how-to video builds on last week’s “3 business blogging tips for beginners.”

While thinking about that post, Heather realized that there were definitely more than just those three blogging tips to share, and so she created three more to do with the realities of time management and scheduling, as well as the question of sales vs. blog writing.

So if you are one of those folks who resolved to do more blogging for their business this year, tune in as Heather shares three more business blogging tips for beginners (and for those who may be a tad rusty)…

Original 3 business blogging tips: a recap

Last week, Heather discussed these three business blogging tips:

  • Brainstorm a list of possible topics
  • Loosen up!
  • Work with an editor

This week’s video focuses on the gritty realities of business blogging, starting with…

Tip #1: Be realistic

This first tip is focused around the time that you have to blog – realistically.

  • How much time do you have to blog?

A lot of people start off with the goal of writing a blog post every single work day, or maybe even churning out a couple of posts a day. They may think I have a lot in my head that I want to say…so yeah, that’s reasonable…

  • The challenge is that life gets in the way – and business gets in the way – of these ambitious blogging goals.

While you might have all these great ideas swirling about in your head, by the time that you’re able to actually sit down and write, you may well find that you really don’t have that much time to create a quality blog post… So think about how much time you really have to blog.

  • Think quality over quantity.

If it turns out that you can only create one blog post a week right now, that’s okay!

One really good, quality blog post a week is far better than five so-so blog posts a week, cranked out at the 11th hour just for the sake of creating something. Think quality over quantity.

  • Can other people help you?

Another thing to consider is if there are other folks within your company that can help you with writing blog posts.

This one can be tricky – because these other folks would need to be accountable for their blog posts, making blog writing an additional part of their normal responsibilities.

But if you have other people available within your business that could be good writers and have topic ideas, definitely see if you can bring them on board to help!

Tip #2: Schedule your blog posts

This tip addresses time management, and the editorial calendar.

  • Set deadlines and put them in your calendar.

This means: know exactly what you’re going to write, when.

Last week, we discussed brainstorming ideas for possible blog post topics – this is where you put those ideas on paper and say, “Okay, I’m blogging twice a week, and for Wednesday’s posts I’m going to talk about X.”

In the writing world, we call this an editorial calendar. It is a visual tool that allows you to look at a given week and know exactly what you’re going to be writing, and know exactly when you need to publish the post online.

  • Give yourself a lot of writing time.

If you’re just getting into blogging, be gentle with yourself: it may take a long time to write a blog post and again, that’s okay!  Even for professional writers, it can take a very long time to write a quality blog post.

  • So make sure you give yourself that gift of time. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself by thinking, “I have 30 minutes…I can kick out the post really fast.” Even an experienced writer might choke in such a situation.

Prevent that last-minute deadline stress and give yourself a lot of writing time before the deadline.

  • Be faithful to your blogging schedule.

Consider your blog post schedule and deadlines with the same weighty level of seriousness you’d give to your clients’ deadlines, or those of the IRS. Make a commitment to keep to your blogging schedule and honor your editorial calendar.

Tip #3: It’s OK to link to your products/services – just don’t overdo it.

This final tip concerns the writing itself.

  • Blog writing and sales writing are different – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some soft promotion.

Rather than thinking of your blog post as a sales medium – where you talk about all the wonderful things you can do or provide for the reader – instead come up with a general, informational article.  Think of a topic that would address customer questions, or would otherwise be useful to your readers.

  • If it makes sense to link to a product/service in your post – go for it.

You can easily direct traffic into your website’s inner product/service pages with links from your blog post, if it flows naturally and makes sense to do so. Such soft promotion is okay – just don’t overdo it.

  • You can always put a sales “blurb” at the bottom of every post, too.

You don’t have to get heavy-handed with the sales writing. You can simply place a sales “blurb” at the end of each informational blog post, such as: “Would you like to learn more about our emergency plumbing services? Feel free to contact us at X.”

  • Using a sales blurb provides you an opportunity to include a little bit of call-to-action, while ensuring that the integrity of your blog post stays intact.

photo credit: mrbill (Bill Bradford)

3 Business Blogging Tips for Beginners

Welcome back! Today’s video offers three actionable business blogging tips for beginners, as well as for those of you who may be a bit “rusty.”’

Heather thought business blogging would be a timely topic, as many business owners resolved to either start blogging or do more of it this New Year. They’ve seen the stat’s showing how blogging can increase leads, boost conversions, and drive more traffic to their site – and they want a piece of that!

And while that’s a wonderful goal, it can be a challenging one for beginners. So tune in as Heather shows you the ropes and shares bonus tips to help reduce the “frustration factor” of getting started…

Tip #1: Make a list of possible blog topic ideas

One of the big mistakes all online writers make – even those who are experienced bloggers – is to assume that the blog topic will come to them once they sit down to write.

Unfortunately, the blogging muse rarely strikes so spontaneously.

It’s easy to feel pulled in a million different directions, so what happens is the deadline you’ve set creeps closer and closer and you panic – realizing you have no idea what to write about.

Here are some starting points to help you plan your topics and avoid the blog deadline panic:

  • What questions do customers ask?
  • Can you offer any DIY (do-it-yourself) tips?
  • What are some “hot topics” in your industry?
  • Research other blogs in your space. What are they talking about?
  • Looking for local customers? Can you tie a local issue back to your business?
  • Is there a list of blog posts/sites that you love?

These are just brainstorming ideas. You don’t have to worry about creating a formal framework or outline at this point – just put your ideas down on paper.

  • Tip: Don’t copy posts from another blog. Link to it instead – and discuss why you think the blog post is a good one.

Besides the obvious copyright violation issue, copying from another blog doesn’t showcase your expertise. So if there is a blog post that you really love, link to it and tell your readers why they should check it out.

Discussing and linking to another post is a far more valuable strategy for positioning you as an expert, as opposed to randomly pulling resources from other sites and having no original content of your own.

Tip #2: Loosen up!

If you’re new to blogging and online writing, it can feel really weird to start. You may flash back to high school or college, conjuring teachers and professors and that red pen inking up your work. You may second-guess every word you write.

  • You’re not in high school English class anymore.

Relax. You’re not writing some sort of “paper” for grading. Try to write as you would talk – it will help the copy flow more easily and naturally.

  • Write with personality! A good writing style can make the most technical subjects approachable and fun to read about.

This is especially true when writing about a technical subject. Your writing doesn’t have to be dry and boring, even if the topic may seem so. Infuse it with personality and it will be far more readable and enjoyable!

Tip #3: Work with an editor

This is a really important tip for everyone, no matter how experienced they may be.

  • Typos happen.

Have an editor to check your writing for typos, grammatical errors, and to ensure that your message is coming through as you intended.

It’s so easy for all of us to get too close to our own stuff that we miss these nitty things. So if you start uploading unedited blog posts to your site, with typos, bad grammar, or rambling, unfocused copy, it just makes your company look bad. And you don’t want to do that.

Also, having an editor is one of the easiest ways you can reduce the stress of writing – just knowing you have a second set of eyes that will catch those common writing errors.

  • If your editor also knows SEO copywriting, he/she can help your post get better search rankings.

A bonus is to have an editor trained in SEO copywriting best practices. Then you have an ally who can not only edit your copy, but also optimize it for search engines to achieve better rankings and drive more traffic to your blog.

photo thanks to Jhayne: Foxtongue

Ann Smarty Shares 8 Steps to Landing Guest Posts

Guest Author, Ann Smarty

Ah, guest posting. While blogs were once a fringe activity similar to writing a journal, they now represent a great bulk of much of the average freelance writer’s work. If you own a blog yourself you have probably written guest posts before, or written them for someone else. If you are a writer you will probably regularly look for chances to expand your visibility by searching out chances to get involved with various high-profile sites.

But if your application process is specifically aimed at getting approved for a post you are doing it wrong! Your focus is not in the right place and it might be costing you your chances. Instead, use these eight tips to help you land the spot every time.

Tip #1 – Focus On What THEY Need, Not What YOU Want

You have a great idea for a post about how iPhone apps can be used to increase market visibility, and you know just the blog to pitch the piece to. Having read their blog many times before, you remember a similar piece done just a few weeks ago. So you eagerly shoot off an email along with the headline idea, confident that this post you want to write will be well received. A few days later you get a big, fat no.

What happened?

Really, it should be obvious: a similar piece was already written on the topic a short time before. Therefore, it is not needed. However much you wanted to write it they have no demand, and so you won’t land the spot. You should have taken that into account before offering your services, and shown that you were aware of what they needed.

Not only will it give them a chance at using something they require during that time, but it will show that you are a regular reader. It will also put off a professional and competent air, and that means everything in a business where any blogger is taking a chance when they hire a guest poster. Add that to the fact that you come off as considerate and you have a recipe for a good working relationship.

Tip #2 – Watch Your Tone

I have lost track of the times when I had read a pitch that sounded like the person was doing me a favor. “I am an excellent writer, highly skilled, and I have this post idea I know you and your readers will love! Let me know when it is up, please.” This is a line taken directly from a pitch I received just a few days ago. I saved it in order to show you an example of a quick way to be turned down.

Not only was he talking himself up immediately, but he assumed that I was just going to put it up on my blog. He didn’t ask, he didn’t give me a chance to read it first, he just made the aggressive move of telling me to let him know when it was published. What a jerk! Would you go to a job interview and end it by asking your potential boss when you start?

He may have thought he sounded confident, but he just came off as arrogant. Plus, the post wasn’t anywhere near the quality I demand of my guest posters.

On the other hand, sounding too submissive is also a turn off. I have gotten emails from people begging to write for me, or asking for links. It is annoying and I tend to just ignore them outright.

Tip #3 – Don’t Be Intimidated…You Are Equal

When dealing with one of the “Blogerati” and celebrity writers that have taken over the Internet with their popular sites, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. These are successful people who have gained actual status in cyberspace, which is not that easy to do. With such a huge wash of blogs out there, they managed to claw their way to the top. They are the Perez Hilton’s and Jason Chen’s, and you might feel intimidated.

But remember, they were just like you once. They are regular people who are running a business and know what it is like to just start out. They had to work to get there, and they are usually pretty nice people. Remain friendly and natural, and acknowledge their success without fawning over it. These are writers, not rock stars.

Tip #4 – Have a Good Sense of Humor

I go through endless guest blog requests a month. So many that they tend to swim in front of my eyes and leave my brain the moment I read them. It takes something special to really catch my attention, and humor is a big factor. If you can make me laugh then I will remember your email forever. You will also be much more likely to get on my list of published bloggers, because it shows me you can add that humor to your writing.

That doesn’t mean you should make everything into a joke. But show me you can turn a couple of things into that direction and you are golden.

Tip #5 – Research, Research, Research

One of the most aggravating things I see is someone applying to guest post without any knowledge of my blog. Honestly, you would think that they would take a little bit of time to get to know me and what it is I do. Maybe read a few posts, check the FAQ page, read updates on projects. Anything. But so many completely ignore this part and instead offer unrelated posts or at times when the last thing I need is more content.

Before you shoot off that eager email, take some time to study the site. Look at what it is all about and what has been going on recently. Check posts to see what kind of topics get the most response. See if there is anything from the past you could properly update that got a lot of attention but hasn’t been covered in awhile. Research the blog, not just the post!

Tip #6 – Introduce Yourself Without Writing a Biography

Of course the blogger want to know a little bit about you: where are you from, what are you interested in, what do you do? Basic questions that any survey would probably ask, mainly to get an idea of who you are and what you will be able to write about.

But notice how I said a little bit. No one wants to read a biography about you, not an introductory email. Offer up a few small facts about yourself and leave it at that. Anything else should be specifically about your work experience, and even then only a few choice bits you are especially proud of.

Tip #7 – Show What You Got

When I was first starting up I would always offer a small list of three links that showed off online work I was really proud of. These were my “samples”, and it was usually on those samples alone that I got work. They showed that I could write well and covered a broad range of topics.

Remember when you are linking your own samples not to do too many. Three is usually any ideal amount, as it is enough to show consistency. You should also try and link to at least one related to the topic you are applying to post about. Though that isn’t actually mandatory.

Tip #8 – Drop a Few Names

Yeah, it sound like a cheesy move. But dropping the names of a couple of blogs along with your pitch can really help to show that reliable sources have published you in the past. Of course, you don’t want to do too many of these. Just name off two or three places that have hired you in the past. You can attach those to links for your samples as well.

Land The Post Every Time!

See, it isn’t that hard. These are some common sense rules that are nevertheless violated on an alarmingly regular basis. If you keep these tips in mind you will be sure to greatly improve your chances to getting that guest post of your dreams.

Ann Smarty is the SEO consultant and professional blogger at SEOsmarty.com. She is also the owner of MyBlogGuest.com, the free community designed to connect guest authors to blog owners. If you are serious about your guest blogging strategy, join us for free!

 

Does your copy suck the life out of your conversions?

What’s scarier than zombies, witches and vampires combined?

Bad sales copy that sucks the life out of your conversions.

You may say, “Well, our sales copy is performing OK – I check our analytics.” And that’s good. But I want to teach you how to transform your “good” sale copy into “great” – and turn your sales up to a Spinal Tap 11.

And all it’s going to take is a little bit of time.

It’s easy to develop a blind spot around our sites. Although we may see it every day, we probably aren’t looking at it very closely. Spending some time reviewing your site can uncover a huge list of opportunities – and help you decide what to tweak.

So let’s get started!

For the purposes of this initial review, focus on your top sales pages first. Then, you can repeat the exercise around other site sections (for instance, your blog or resource pages.)

First, you’ll want to read your copy as if you were a prospect.  Ask yourself:

  • Does the copy adequately explain what you do? If you were talking to someone in person, would you provide the same information in the same way?
  • Is it so stuffed with keyphrases that it detracts from the flow?
  • What if your prospects have questions? Is it easy for them to contact you?
  • Does the content address common prospect questions (Note: If you keep hearing the same questions from prospects after they’ve read the content, the answer to this would be “no.”)
  • Does the copy pop off the page? Or is it so-so?
  • Is your sales copy the same as other sites (this is especially important if you’ve been using content provided by the manufacturer.
  • Are the benefits still important to your prospects? Or, are your prospects responding to different benefit statements now?
  • Does your content even have benefit statements? 😉

Next, you’ll want to go through the ordering process as if you were a prospect. Here are some things to consider:

  • How easy is it to take the next conversion step (usually making a purchase, or contacting someone for more information?) Do you have to hunt for a “contact us” or “order now” button?
  • When you place an order or make contact, is there a confirmation email or page? What does it say? Does it manage expectations (when the order will ship and/or when you will contact the prospect.)
  • Does your follow-up information help or hurt your brand? Is it written well, or was the copy quickly thrown together?  (Here’s more information on why your marketing collateral is so important.)

Finally, it’s time to look at your page from an SEO perspective:

  • Is the content optimized for keyphrases? Or was it written without them?
  • If your copy does include keyphrases, when is the last time you conducted keyphrase research? A keyphrase focus that was applicable one or two years ago may not be applicable today.
  • Does the copy read like it was overoptimized? If you’re not sure, try reading your copy out loud. If it sounds like “keyphrase, keyphrase, keyphrase,” your answer is “yes.”
  • How are your pages ranking in Google currently?
  • Do your pages have original, keyphrase-rich Titles? Consider if you need to rewrite them for better positions and click-through.
  • How are your meta descriptions (this is a HUGE opportunity for many sites.)

If you’re feeling stuck, see if another team member can review your content and make suggestions. Or, if your internal team is “too close” to the content, consider hiring an expert consultant to help. An SEO content consultant can quickly point out your successes and challenges – and then your team can make all the necessary tweaks. It may cost your company a little bit of cash, but the results (and the improved sales) will be well, well worth it!

Photo gratitude goes to mollystevens

Blogger’s Block? Time Crunch? 5 Easy Ways to Reuse Your Blog Posts

Crunched for time? Uninspired? Suffering blogger’s block?

Or maybe you just need to take a break. Maybe even – dare you say it – a vacation?

You’re not alone.  Many bloggers struggle with the occupational hazard of being chained to creating exceptional content on a regular basis – even if their muse, time, and sanity are suffering.

So, in today’s video blog, Heather shares five easy – note, easy – ways you can reuse your hard-labored, older blog posts to produce new, fresh content!

Interested? Thought so. Tune in as Heather delineates five specific ways you can repurpose your older blog posts, so you can take some well-deserved time off and recharge your blogging mojo!

Heather was inspired by a recent post by Chris Brogan on just this topic, in which he discussed how recycling blog posts wasn’t only good for you, but also good for your readers in that they appreciate seeing older blog posts presented in a new way.

So here are five ideas to help you make that happen:

1. Group Similar Content Together in a Guide-Like Format

  • The advantage? You’ve created a fantastic resource, and the post is easy to write!

The example that Chris Brogan used was that he could include all of his blog posts on Google+ and voila – have a complete guide to Google+ : it would do very well in the blogosphere and be easy for him to pull together.  All he’d have to do is write the introduction, include the links, and he’d be good to go!

  • Create a download-ready PDF: As an aside, you can also do the same thing –but rather than putting it online as a guide, you could create a PDF for your readers to download as a way of lead generation.

So there are a lot of ways you can play with grouping content together, if you have the type of content that lends itself to a guide-like, themed format.

2. Look at Your Analytics

  • Share your top 5 or 10 most popular blog posts

When you’re just stuck, look at your analytics and consider writing a blog post around the five or ten most popular posts of the quarter or year.  You see these types of posts a lot near year’s end.

3. Look for Similarities Among Your Posts

  • List the posts with the most comments, the most controversial, or even the most “under appreciated”…

You might not be looking at a guide necessarily, but you can play with ways that your posts may lend themselves to grouping, and you can have a lot of fun with it!

4. Look for Differences: Do You Have a New Perspective?

  • Include snippets from your “old” blog post and discuss your new opinion

If you work in an industry that’s moving quickly, chances are that your mind has blown a number of times!  So the perspective you shared a couple of years ago – or, in some industries, even six months ago – may have shifted somewhat.

This is a great opportunity to share with your readers your new take on a given subject from your older post.  You can include snippets from your older blog post and then indicate your change in thinking about the topic.

This would make for a more personal post, and one your readers most likely would appreciate.

5. Use Past Blog Posts to Inspire Video Content

  • Ask yourself:  “Can I take something from an older blog post and create a video around it?”

Chances are, you most certainly can! This is something a lot of folks forget to consider. It is so, so easy to think that you need to hammer out a new, exceptional and wonderful blog post every day/week/what have you, when you can repurpose content from an older post into a video post.

So instead of looking at how much you need to write, consider recycling an older blog post into a video. You can use your past blog posts to inspire video content!  You can simply take a snippet from just one point of a blog post then use that to create brand new video content.

You can still have a blog post wrapper around the video, of course. But also consider that video reaches people in a different way, and it’s yet another way for folks to find in Google.

photo courtesy flickr: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You a Bad Guest Blogger?

Who doesn’t love guest blogging? You get to write about what you love. You can reach brand-spankin’ new readers. The exposure can’t be beat. 🙂 Not to mention, being asked to guest blog is an incredible honor. Someone is telling you, “I love your stuff so much that I want to share it with my readers.” What a huge compliment!

But you know how some folks take a compliment and throw it back in your face? There are some “bad bloggers” who (perhaps inadvertently) do the same thing. Because of their blogging missteps, they make themselves look bad, drive editors insane and cause all sorts of extra work (assuming the post runs at all.)

Here are 5 of the most common “bad guest blogger” types…

    1. The “My Muse took me in a different direction” guest blogger. It’s true that a writer’s Muse can be extremely fickle. One second, a post idea will sound absolutely fabulous. The next minute – not so much. It’s OK to be Muse-driven – but it’s not OK to switch gears and turn in a whole ‘nother post than what you discussed with the editor. Once you’ve decided on a post topic, you need to stick with that decision. Going in a different direction may seem like you’re “writing in the flow,” but the blog editor will see it as “changing your mind and messing up her editorial calendar.”
    2. The “nobody’s perfect” guest blogger.  Sure, we all make mistakes. Typos happen. But “making a mistake” doesn’t mean “turning in a blog post full of grammatical errors, disconnected thoughts and funky typos, costing the editor one hour of her life cleaning it up.” Just because you’re blogging for exposure doesn’t mean that you can turn in so-so work. If you know that your writing style can be a tad..challenging…hire an editor to check your work before you send it out. Or if you don’t have time to write a really good guest post, wait until you have the ability to focus and do it right. Besides, what would happen if the editor posted your article –  uncorrected –  just to teach you a lesson.  I wouldn’t take that chance…
    3. The “look at me” guest blogger. Don’t be too sexy for your own blog post. Like the slimy guy at the singles bar, every word this blogger writes is geared to gain attention…to his own stuff. There’s rarely a shred of useful information. Instead, it’s all about him – how smart he is. Who he knows. Other fantastic posts he’s written. The sad thing is that nobody really cares – and pushing a “look at me” post screams “I don’t have anything worth reading.” Here’s a tip – if your bio is longer than your blog post, you’re a “look at me” guest blogger. Dial it down, dude.
    4. The “share the love” guest blogger. This person thinks, “I’ve written such a fantastic blog post. Why shouldn’t I syndicate it everywhere I can, as soon as I can.” Yeah, that’s a bad idea. According to the super-smart Ann Smarty in her article, What Guest Posting Is Not: Getting It Right, “DON’T do it. You’ll just screw the relationships with powerful bloggers and influencers in your niche and achieve nothing.”
    5. The “deadline, what deadline” guest blogger.  This is the scariest type of blogger. This person promises “Yes, I’ll have your post by noon on Friday.” When noon on Friday rolls around, this same blogger is surprised that the blog editor is upset that there’s no post – and a big hole in her editorial calendar. If you’ve promised a blog post by X, treat it like you would treat a client gig and don’t miss the deadline. Remember, the industry is small – and people do talk. Missing deadlines is a sure way to mess up a valuable connection.

It’s easy to be a great guest blogger. Turn in your blog posts on time (or early, if you really want to impress an editor.) Slice the self-promotion. Write a fantastic article. With just a little work, I guarantee that you’ll have more guest posts that you can handle – and editors will love working with you.

5 steps to building a powerful SEO copywriting business network with LinkedIn

Guest Author, Pam Foster

After 2-3 years of trying several different social networks for my SEO copywriting business, I had a breakthrough in the past 6 months where most of my biggest web projects came from one source: LinkedIn.

I’ve come to realize that my LinkedIn connections have been more fruitful for my business, BY FAR, than any other marketing method I’ve tried. Here’s why I believe it’s a terrific resource for you too:

  • Your LinkedIn connections are truly business-focused connections.
    People are using LinkedIn primarily for business conversations, sharing business tips, finding business contacts and opportunities, and asking questions about business success. I have not found this to be true with the other social media.
  • LinkedIn connections are often from companies with decent marketing budgets.
    The clients who reached out to me via LinkedIn were mainly from companies looking for a skilled SEO Copywriter to help improve an existing website or launch a new site. This work was in their marketing budget for the year and they were ready to go. They were happy to find me and were willing to pay my fees for quality SEO Copywriting. The same can happen for you too.
  • Linked connections represent all types of opportunities for your business. Over the last couple of years, I’ve connected with more than 600 people I know personally from my career and my school days. I have connections with former colleagues, associates I met through business groups, college classmates and friends, high school friends, graphic designers, web developers, ad agency people I’ve met, fellow copywriters, industry leaders like Heather, and many, many other types of people. Any one of them can be a great source of referrals or business. You never know!

It’s not just me that’s having better luck with LinkedIn than some other social networks when it comes to finding business clients. HubSpot’s 2011 State of Inbound Marketing report shows that, “the effectiveness of particular social media channels varies according to the type of business.”

In a survey of over 600 professionals, they found that “LinkedIn is clearly more effective (than Facebook) for B2B businesses.

So why not try it and see for yourself? It’s incredibly easy and it’s FREE. Try these 5 ways to dive in and create a powerful network for your business, all from the comfort of home:

1. Create an optimized profile of yourself.

For example, include the phrase “SEO copywriter” in your SUMMARY and in the description of current business. Include all past work you’ve done as a virtual resume under EXPERIENCE, but be sure to showcase the work you’ve done that’s relevant for today’s potential clients. You don’t need to do it all at once, but eventually you’ll want to create a robust profile with relevant content in each prompted section.

2. Start connecting with the most obvious folks on your list.

This will include current employers (if you’re still working at a company), current colleagues, past colleagues, college friends, local business folks you know… anyone who comes to mind. You might make a big list on paper and then search for those people in LinkedIn’s SEARCH area. When you send a request to connect, always add a little personal note to say “hi” and let the person know what you’re doing. Here’s an example, “Hey Bob! Great to see you here. Just letting you know I’m now a Certified SEO Copywriter focusing on improving website performance for clients. Perhaps you know someone who could use my help? In the meantime, I’d love to add you to my LinkedIn Connections. What are you up to these days? Cheers, Pam”

3. Continue connecting with “People you may know.”

As you begin building a network of connections from all your past jobs, etc., LinkedIn feeds you a list of people who you may know based on your new connections. This list is a goldmine, so make the most of it!  You’ll find people you completely forgot about or you haven’t seen in years. With a quick invitation to connect, you suddenly strike up a new relationship that could lead to a great referral or project. I check out the “People you may know” at least once a week and send out at least 10 invitations each time. It adds up quickly.

4. Join Groups that are relevant to your business.

If your SEO copywriting work is for a particular niche market (which I highly recommend), join groups in that market. For example, I’m focused on the pet industry, so I’ve joined Pet Business groups and Veterinary groups. Joining groups helps you keep track of questions and topics that are important to your specific market, and when it makes sense, chime in on a discussion (without promoting your business of course, because no-one likes spammy participants).

5. Be an amazing contributor.

Whenever you can, use the “Share an update” box on your home page to post helpful tips, links, ideas, questions, answers, sources, industry news, etc. that your connections may find helpful. Try not to be overly promotional. Just be helpful. That’s the simple rule of thumb for all your social media efforts. And don’t forget to use relevant keywords in your posts! This helps potential clients find you in LinkedIn search.

Bonus tip: Ask for recommendations and give recommendations.

LinkedIn makes it very easy to reach out to folks and ask for a personal recommendation of your work. By clicking on the Recommendations button, you can send a simple request via email. Be sure to add a personal message and offer to return the favor. Not everyone will stop and write a recommendation, but it’s great when some people do take the time. I’ve accumulated a nice list of testimonials through this feature.

This gives you a solid start on making the most of LinkedIn. There are many other ways you can make the most of this free resource once you get your foundation going.

Keep linking and good luck!

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Author, The Web Copywriter’s Clear Path to Profits
SuccessWorks Certified SEO Copywriter and Sr. Content Marketing Consultant
ContentClear Marketing and PetCopywriter.com


 

The Dark Side of Facebook Fan Pages

Picture this: I’m working away in a cramped London hotel room. I’m there for SES London, along with many other of my geeky SEO friends.

Suddenly, I get a Facebook fan page request from a person who shall remain nameless.

And then I got another. And another. All from the same person.

At the end of the deluge, this person had sent out about eight “become a fan” requests (it could have been more, actually,) all within five minutes.

A few minutes later, I head downstairs for dinner. One person checks his iPhone and groans about all the “become a fan” requests. Another person checks his email and makes the same comment. We compare notes and realize, yup, these requests were:

  1. All from the same person, who was…
  2. In our industry, so he was probably…
  3. Setting up Facebook fan pages for his clients (most of which were local to this man, and therefore, we had never even heard of the companies)  and…
  4. Sending out bulk “become a fan” email requests to everyone in his Facebook network on behalf of his clients. You know, the companies that none of his Facebook friends had ever heard of.

Within five minutes, this person was “unfriended” by five people. Probably more – I’m sure we weren’t the only folks in his network to feel this way.

Folks, I am all for Facebook fan pages.  I think they offer businesses a fantastic way to reach customers and engage in a two-way dialogue. Heck, even I have a SEO copywriting Facebook page.

But when it comes to promoting your fan page (or your client’s), please, please use some common sense. Sending out client fan requests to everyone on your friend network is just plain irritating. How could I have any kind of “connection” to a company that’s across the U.S. from me? How is that targeted? It reflects poorly upon the marketer and poorly upon the company.

If you’re cringing a bit because you’ve done the same thing, I know you meant well. You really did.  I’m sure the guy who sent out all the Facebook notifications meant well.  I’m sure he wanted to build up his client’s fan network and show some initial success.  The thought was nice. But there are other ways to reach that goal.

So, before you send out “bulk-fan” notifications, ask yourself:

1. Does my friend have any connection to the company that I’m promoting? If you’re promoting your own company, it may be appropriate to email more folks within your network (although Kenny Hyder says no in this funny and spot-on post.) But if you know that your friend lives in California, and you’re asking them to become a fan of a small, local Vermont-based business, you probably aren’t going to get much play.

2. Do I have a page that’s worthy of fandom? If it’s a brand-new fan page without much interaction, consider bulking up your content before trolling for fans. Otherwise, you’re asking folks to fan (otherwise known as “recommend”) a page that’s not even ready for prime-time.

3. How would I feel if I received this fan request? Just because people can easily ignore a request doesn’t mean that you should make them spend the time to do so. If you’re on the fence, don’t send it.

Friends don’t let friends send spammy Facebook spam requests, m-kay? Think about it.