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

12 months of blog content

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 your blog content 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?

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

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. Coming up with a list of blog post topics is a great idea and here is a 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! Continue reading

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