I Learned I Can Be A Mess At BlogHer

I attended the BlogHer ’14 conference a few weeks ago in San Jose, CA. The line up of speakers was amazing: Kerry Washington, Arianna Huffington, Guy Kawasaki, Beth Kanter, Jenny Lawson of The Bloggess, Barb Dywad of Engadget, Demetria Lucas, Tig Nataro, Danae Ringelmann from IndieGogo, Lindsey Shepard of Goldieblox, danah boyd, and Kara Swisher to name a few. I wanted to share with you my biggest takeaway. (see my photo album)

We all suffer from pain

It’s inflicted from the very moment we are removed from our mother and must cope with that terrible feeling. It repeats at frequencies that are unique to each of us. It never ends and we endure or perish. Continue reading

Blogger – Not Paid to Advertise

**Reminder**
I am not sponsored by any company. I am paid no royalties for the recommendations that I make. I am not paid to advertise anything. I use the tools I mention, have tested them, like them, and want you to know about them in case they make your life or work easier.#kerryapproved

Some bloggers are paid to advertise products and they are legally bound to disclose this information. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that if someone is paid for online endorsements, that they must state that fact. (Think paid advertisements in the newspaper or magazine that show in tiny font that they are paid.)

I’ve got your back and would never play with your trust.
-Kerry

Blog Content Exercise | How to Plan a Year Ahead

My client did her homework and is on track.

My client did her homework and is on track for the next year.

Did you know that much of the traffic to your website comes through your blog? It’s true. Business blogging is a necessity to attract visitors. You are probably thinking, “I don’t know what to write about.” I wrote a blog about good writing subjects called “15 Easy Blog Post Topics” and it’s one of my most popular (the subject matter never gets old). But I’m going to run you through the exercise I do with my clients that will map out for you what you’ll be writing about for the next year.

  • Make sure you have 30 minutes to 1 hour of uninterrupted time. I promise that you won’t need that long but you need your brain to relax into this exercise.
  • Print out 15 Easy Blog Post Topics, have it nearby, or open it in another browser window so you can refer to it.
  • Start with a blank piece of paper, in document software such as Word, or in Excel. On the left hand side of the page, write the months May 2013 through April 2014 (I say this because I’m writing this blog in April 2013, adjust accordingly). See my Sample Editorial Calendar for an example that you can download.
  • We are going to write a topic, subject, theme, or title (use any word that works for you) for each month for the next twelve. The reason I’m telling you to start next month is because I don’t want you to feel stressed about writing immediately. You need to have time to think about what you are going to write before it’s due.
  • Here are some examples: I just got a great testimonial from a client. I’ll write “Testimonial from John Q. Public” on any of the months (don’t worry about what subject goes where yet) or I could write “History of my company” (why I do what I do). It’s a creative writing process, just keep writing subjects.
  • When you’re done with the twelve subjects, take a look at their placement on the calendar. I like to do easy ones like the seasonally appropriate, “It’s January! What are your marketing or social media goals for the upcoming year?” or holiday specific because those belong on the calendar in predictable places. Then adjust the rest of your content to make sense, whether it’s sequential or if it’s specific to your business seasons. Tax accountants are aware of what people need to do to prep for taxes and that content is necessary to publish January-March. Wedding professionals are giving tips to their brides and grooms nine months before their weddings and their high season is June-August.
  • Now visit your appointment calendar. Think about whether you write better in the morning, mid-day, or evening. What day of the week is the quietest in your office? Set an appointment on your calendar to write. Writing a blog can take 1-2 hours for writing, editing, research, photo placement, search engine optimization, and social media sharing. After a couple months, you will have to evaluate your success or lack thereof. If  you find you don’t write, ask yourself why? Have you not scheduled it? Are you placing it on the wrong day or time? Ask yourself probing questions and you will get the answers. If you are sticking to your plan and things are going well, you can increase your output to twice per month then once a week. It’s rare that people are able to blog multiple times per week unless it’s their only job. This step is about setting up your expectations for realistic goals.
  • BONUS STEP: You can do this now or when you are ready to write. Use Google’s AdWords: Keyword Tool to ascertain which words you will be putting in your blog are highly trafficked (hard to stand out in a crowded room) or those that have very little competition. I HIGHLY recommend you watch this short video that not only teaches you how to use it and what the terms mean. Remember, your visitors come to your site/blog based on the keywords you use!

You are all setup to write! Writing down and assigning those twelve subjects usually takes about 15 minutes. How did you do?

How To Get Started In Reputation Management

What is the importance of your online reputation? In a 2010 study by Microsoft and Cross Tab Market Research, 70% of U.S. recruiters have rejected candidates based on their online reputation though only 7% of Americans believe their online reputation affects their job search.

So you’ve decided it’s time to get proactive in your Reputation Management. How do you start?

  1. See where you stand. You will need to monitor what is already being said about you so you know what other people are already able to learn about you and your brand. Do a vanity search for your name, business name, or known as names. See Tools for Monitoring Your Reputation.
  2. Own your own domain. Buy your name, variations, and business name(s) if you can. You can have them point where you want. I own KerryRego.com and it points to this site. Go to GoDaddy or other domain purchasing service and buy it. They generally run anywhere from $3-$10 per year with a price break if you buy multiple years or domains at a time. If you are planning on using it to create content rather than simply owning it, purchase more than one year at a time. Search engines can see that and know that you are in business for the long haul and it’s a ranking factor that pushes you up higher in search results. TRUE STORY: I have a friend that is a Broadway performer and she didn’t buy her own domain before someone else did. When one does a search for her name a XXX performer comes up before her. OWN YOUR OWN NAME.
  3. Post original content. Don’t be passive, be proactive! Get yourself a blog (some are free) like Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr. Decide on a focus and start writing. Determine how frequently you will write and put it on your calendar. The more frequently you publish to your blog, the better. Each new post is a new page on the web for search engines to catalogue and each is a new search result. Search engines want fresh results and each time you post that exactly what you are providing. Don’t know what to write about? I wrote a blog called 15 Easy Blog Post Topics (sounds silly but it’s a totally normal to not know what to write about and everyone wants to know) that will help you get started and / or plan your approach. Blogs don’t need to be long! Actually, if they are short, they are more likely to be read. Shoot for 500 words or so as you begin
  4. Use additional social media tools. I know this is surprising but when I started using social media many many years ago, my goal wasn’t to dominate the search results associated with my name. Back then social media wasn’t even a factor in search. The beauty of using tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Slideshare, About.me, YouTube, Google+, Flickr, Pinterest, Yelp, Quora, Foursquare etc. (see my Social Media Tools List) is that they provide the fresh and relevant search results search engines salivate over. Your clients or those that are searching for you spend much of their time on social media so it makes sense to be found there as well.
  5. Set up a schedule for monitoring your name or brand. I do this monthly when I close my books. I set up a simple Excel spreadsheet to track the accounts, log in information, and any results I find or followup I want to do. If you are an individual you can do this on the first of the month, quarterly, or simply when you think of it. I do recommend setting up some kind of a reminder to make sure you do this fairly regularly.
While you can’t make negative search results associated with your name completely disappear, you can displace those results with what you’d like the world to know. Though we’ve never had complete control over what is said about us, we DO have some control over how we are viewed on the web. Stop sitting back in your chair. Sit forward, put your hands on the keyboard, and craft the message you want them to see.

Read more blogs by Kerry Rego Consulting on Reputation Management: http://bit.ly/krcrepmng

Write Your Blogs Yourself, Your Audience Will Know the Difference

Typewriter keys by Joseph HartI submitted a proposal to a recruiting firm recently and one of the core management team members asked if I write content and I wanted to share with you my answer to her question:

“I don’t write content for my clients or arrange for a content writer. I train staff and management to write what they know. My belief is that you know your clients and market better than anyone. You can pay a content writer to write blogs about your industry but it rings hollow and the reader detects that quickly. Content filling isn’t the goal, it’s addressing the true communication need. Everyone tells me that they aren’t a good writer but it’s really about what you have to say, having someone to edit (if needed), and discipline of a schedule for writing. A few paragraphs once a week (once you’re practiced, you tend to write much more). Among a core staff, everyone can take one or two week’s worth of writing. It can absolutely be achieved in house. Your audience will appreciate the personalization and your bottom line will reflect it in savings. The benefit is that they are truly your words and you can speak them verbally to back up what you’ve written. You can’t do this well if someone has written it for you.

I do believe that investing in high level copy writing, graphic design, layout, and printing is appropriate for big pieces like your website, printed materials and the like but blogs should come from you. That’s my opinion.”

If you receive email subscriptions or read RSS feeds at any length, you, as a reader, can detect when it’s a business owner or team member that is writing or if they are purchasing or outsourcing their copy. Someone called me their “Official BS Detector” yesterday (I need a tshirt printed with that title!) but I know we all have that ability, we just don’t trust ourselves. We know BS when we see it. Give your audience the real thing. They will appreciate it.

[Image via Stock.xchng

15 Easy Blog Post Topics

Blog. Done!Blogging is one of the best ways you can communicate the culture, values, and story of your company. Yet, it’s the one tool that seems to be the most difficult for organizations to commit to doing. Most don’t think they can create enough content. It is daunting, no doubt about it. But here is a great starter list to help reduce the fear of undertaking a blog for your business.

I like to start my clients off with one blog per month. Twelve subjects per year? Easy. Once you have the hang of it, up it to two per month, and when you’re ready you can tackle once per week. Take turns with someone else on your team or staff to lighten the load. Blogs should be shorter than you think so it’s not the thesis of your college days. Many marketers recommend blogging every day or three times per week. If you are just starting out, expecting that this is a pace you can do is simply setting yourself up for disappointment. One per month is achievable and you can quickly add to your routine if it’s working for you. Create a twelve month calendar and assign subjects to months that are appropriate for your business. Persistence is key!

  1. Seasons, weather, and holidays. How is your business effected by the seasons? If you are a tax accountant, first quarter looks very different for you and your clients than the rest of the year. Clothing retailers adjust their offerings based on the season. What are your seasons? Also, each day, week, and month celebrate something. If today is National Peanut Day and you sell peanut butter, talk about it!
  2. Busy time and quiet time. Your communications are quite different when things are slow as opposed to when they are busy. What product or service would you like to sell more of during the slow season?
  3. Industry related events. Most industries have annual conventions and educational events. When you return after attending one of these functions, what have you learned that you can share with your customers?
  4. Education. Every industry has it’s changes and you are an expert in your field. What changes in your industry do your customers need to be educated about?
  5. Employee features. You probably don’t do it alone. Highlight the great team you have that helps you provide great products and service. Your team will get a boost in their morale due to recognition and your customers will learn more about the faces and families behind the product they are getting from you. It becomes personal.
  6. Vendors and partners. The vendors you work with are great for a reason, tell us about it! Talk about why you choose to work with them. Those partners will be grateful for the free press and it will solidify your relationship.
  7. Case study and/or client success story. Seeing how you’ve helped others will help your reader identify and apply the story of success to themselves.
  8. Testimonials and interviews. Get client testimonials (especially when they are really happy!) and let their words to the talking. Video testimonials are the best. Talk to industry experts, your best customer, vendors, thought leaders. It takes content out of it’s normal context and provides a new way to talk about your subject matter.
  9. Product release. What new product are you proud to be releasing? Give us some excitement by building it up. Let us know why you created it, what the demand was, how we can get it, and when it’ll be ready.
  10. Hot topics. If there is something exciting and dramatic going on with your industry or if it’s in the news right now, weigh in with your opinion or break it down for the audience if the subject matter is confusing.
  11. History and story of your company. Why did you start your business? What is important to you? People want to like the people they do business with and want to do business with people they like. Give them something to go on. They will tell your story for you when they recommend you to their friends.
  12. Differentiate yourself from your competition. What makes you different? What is the benefit that your customer will get using your services? You can take this opportunity to clarify if there is any confusion about who does what. This is also very important to be able to express in all marketing scenarios.
  13. Identify obstacles and solutions. These are the ones that you know like the backs of your hands. The problems they will encounter and the solutions that will help them overcome. Walk yourself through the typical client conversation, what problems do they experience?
  14. Survey. Take a survey of your clients or prospects and release the information as a dataset. Tell them if you were surprised what you learned, what the community thinks, or what was reiterated.
  15. Frequently Asked Questions. These are the 10 or so questions that everyone asks you. You answer them all the time. Since people continue to ask, you should continue to answer. These never get old. The trick is to express the question and answer in new ways.

What was the best blog you ever read or wrote? Tell me in the comments.

You Don’t Like the Way You Look on Camera, Shoot the Video Anyway

Click on pic for my latest video blog

I just watched this great video by Tentblogger about closing the gap and bringing authenticity to blogging via video. It inspired me to write this to tell you my experiences with videoblogging. Why not make a video, you say? I’m an early riser. Writing at 5am makes more sense than shooting video. I also don’t look my best at this hour.

I’ve shot about 15 videos and have some excerpts of presentations I’ve given all uploaded to my YouTube channel. My variations of equipment and accompanying experiences are as follows:

I have a video feature on my digital Casio Exilim camera which uses a .avi extension. I don’t have the editing ability to work with this extension so I’m limited to one take. I’m a retired actress and model so my ability to get a soundbyte right quickly is beneficial in this process. I generally get it done in three takes. The first is to gets “the blabs” out. You know where you ramble and don’t make your point. The second is for when I simply stumble over my words, say “Ack”, and stick my tongue out at the camera. The third is the money shot. No editing necessary. Done.

I have video on my iPhone. I still have the 3G so I don’t have the forward facing camera. This is a tough one to hold and get the angle right. Also, I have a powerful voice so blasting out the sound on the mic is normal. I have to whisper to use this one. Obviously it’s not my favorite choice.

I bought a Flip HD video camera which I thought was going to be the answer to everything. Except for two things. I now have to edit the footage. Ugh! I don’t think I can express how little I like to edit video. And second, I have these huge digital files I don’t really need or want but can’t bear to throw away. Needless to say, I almost never use the Flip anymore. UPDATE: This camera has since been put out to pasture. Not surprised.

I do have a camera on my laptop that I should test out. Again, I do much of my creative work at an ungodly hour and when I accidently start this feature on my laptop (pretty common occurrence) the unexpected view of myself so early scares even me. Maybe I should make an appointment with my better groomed self to test out this feature.

My last issue is that I’m growing my hair out. The short pixie cut is venturing into the “shaggy muppet” phase. I need to get over my reticence to document the outgrowth. If I can get over it, please be kind to this muppet when watching my latest video blog.

I take the Tentblogger challenge and will increase my video output. You want to know why? I made a video about a year ago that I really like and I think describes what I’m about pretty well. I’ve gotten a tremendous response from this video and will continue to feature it on my site. I’ve had clients hire me after watching it because they feel like they know me and can relate to who I am. I have clients all over the world that I’ve never met but it doesn’t matter because they feel comfortable with me though we’ve never been in the same room.

A picture is worth a thousand words. For your business and reputation, a video can be priceless.

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