- by Alyson Shane
Even if you've been consistently creating great blog content for a while, these days it can be virtually impossible to grow your blog readership without creating profiles on various social media sites and engaging with people on those platforms.
However, just because you have a Twitter account doesn't mean that you're using it to it's full potential. In fact, you might be unknowingly committing some serious social media faux-pas and turning potential readers away from your website!
Below are a few quick and simple steps that you can take to make sure that you're getting the most out of Twitter and bringing new readers to your blog on a consistent basis:
1. Sending Automated Direct Messages
There are a lot of instances where automation can save you a ton of time, but automated direct messages aren't a place where you should be investing your energy. The reason is this: sending an automated, direct message tells people that you don't think that they're worth your time to engage with.
If you send every new follower an automated direct message that says something like "Hey! Thanks for the follow, why don't you check out my blog at [yourbloghere].com!" you might think that you're being polite and conversational, but what you're actually doing is spamming them with your content. They've chosen to follow you for a reason (a funny tweet, mutual followers, something you wrote, etc) and an impersonal direct message says to them "I don't care enough to tweet at you directly in public, but please go support my work anyway."
If you want to say hello to every new follower (and that's totally fine!) then make a point to do so publicly, positively, and keep your self-promotion for other tweets.
2. Auto-Following Back
Contrary to what many Twitter users think, your Following vs Follower ratio doesn't have to be the same, and it's not rude to not follow someone who recently followed you if their profile and tweets don't match up with the sort of content you want to see and engage with on your feed.
For example, if you're a fashion blogger it might not be beneficial for you to fill your feed with tweets about NASCAR and pro-wrestling (that is, unless you're a fashion maven who is also into NASCAR and pro-wrestling, in which case, keep doing your thing!)
You can easily grow your audience by tailoring the people that you follow and interact with to fit your blogging goals.
Twitter isn't a competition, and the person following the most people doesn't win at social media - in fact, what it likely does is dilute their ability to engage with others and have real, meaningful conversations. Only follow back if you mean it.
3. Never Engaging with Your Followers
The most important thing to remember when using Twitter is that it is a social network first and foremost. This means that you have to interact with, share content from, and ask questions to the people you follow. Simply tweeting out into the void isn't going to bring anyone to your website; you have to engage with people and give them a reason to click through to your content.
On the flip side, a major downside to having a lot of Twitter followers is that it's virtually impossible to interact with every one of your followers. The best solution is to create lists and add your favourite Twitter users to them so that you can easily stay up-to-date with what they're tweeting.
4. Only Talking About Yourself
This is the worst mistake that bloggers (and anyone, really) can make on any social platform, but Twitter makes this habit much more obvious because your timeline looks so condensed on your page.
For instance, if I visit a person's Twitter profile and all I see are a series of tweets that are essentially "thought bubbles" (eg: "I love Big Macs!" "Today was going great until I got splashed by that bus," "nobody ever visits my blog") with no interaction with anyone else I'm not going to follow them because they're obviously not contributing to a larger community - they're just using Twitter as a soapbox.
Do not use Twitter as a soapbox. It's a social tool and is insanely effective for growing your audience and expanding your readership when used effectively, and that means spending the time to get to know the people in your online community - ask questions, share interesting posts, congratulate people on their successes!
5. Tagging People in Your Tweets
When you post a tweet with a link to a new blog post, it's only okay to tag someone in the body of your tweet if they are involved with the post somehow. For example, if you reviwed an album you can tag the artist in the tweet, or if you interviewed someone you can tag them to let them know you've posted their interview.
If you're simply tweeting at your followers and other random people about your content it's more likely that they will unfollow you than click through to your post. This is because you aren't providing them with a reason why they should click through to read, you're simply tagging them with the expectation that a simple mention is enough to pique their interest.
The trick to get people to read is to build your audience by engaging with your Twitter followers on a consistent basis and showing them why they should care about your blog. Your Tweets should show people that you're a super cool, funny and interesting person (because you are, obviously), and because your blog is a larger extension of that persona people will naturally want to see more of what you have to say than what you can express in 140 characters.
To Sum It All Up
You can't force people to start caring about what you have to say, but by engaging with them and showing them that you're an interesting, caring individual they will naturally make the jump from being Twitter followers to blog readers and even newsletter subscribers.
This will take time and a fair bit of effort, but in addition to new hits to your site you will also be developing a larger network of interesting people who you can engage with to help you grow and succeed in your endeavours.
Do you have anything to add to this list? Have you ever had a bad experience on Twitter? I'd love to hear about it!
- by Alyson Shane
One of the best ways to make your business stand out online is by blogging regularly. It helps establish you as a thought leader in your industry, gives you a way to share things relevant to your audience or client base, provides valuable SEO content, and gives you tons of information to add to a newsletter (if you don't have one, see why you should here.)
However, for someone who has never blogged before it can be a daunting task to tackle head-on, which is why I've broken things down into five easy steps. Let's get started!
1. Define your blogging goals
Ask yourself: what do I expect to get out of blogging for my business? If you can't answer that question, take a look at a few common blogging goals below:
- Establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Ideally people will read your blog and see that you know what you're talking about, which in turn makes them trust your business.
- Create unique share-able content for social media. If all you do is share information about sales and products then people will stop paying attention pretty quickly, because people want to feel like you're doing more than just selling a product or service at them.
- Improve your Search Engine Optimization rankings. Instead of ranking for keywords relevant to your business. products or services, you can rank for the topics that your audience or customers are interested in as well.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when setting your blogging goals is how they align with the kind of content your audience and customers want to read. By posting interesting, relevant content you'll guarantee a growing group of dedicated readers.
2. Do your research
Before you hit 'publish' on your first post, take some time to see what your competitors are blogging about. The topics they discuss, their tone (formal or informal), and the style of posts (video, text-based, infographic, etc) give you a better understanding of what your audience expects, and if you should be blogging at all.
Once you've identified a few competitor'd blogs, spend some time looking into things like post frequency, which topics they discuss, who writes them, and how much engagement they receive.
3. Choose a blogging platform
The software you choose will depend on a variety of factors, such as how much time you want to spend setting up your blog, how customized you want it to be, how much functionality you want, and whether you want to integrate it into your existing website (spoiler alert: you do. Don't drive traffic away from your main website if you can help it!)
The best thing to do is to have your entire site hosted on a blogging platform such as WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, SquareSpace, or Blogger. With the exception of Medium you can change the design (or theme) for your blog to any of the offered themed, or you can tweak the existing templates, if you're savvy like that. This allows you to have all of your business' info in one place.
I would also recommend using your own domain name instead of the free URL generated by the platforms (eg: the WordPress site will read "www.yoursitehere.com" instead of "www.yoursitehere.wordpress.com." Paying for a domain is cheap (mine is $7/mth) and is incredibly more pforessional-looking, so if you're serious about your website and your blog, make sure that you buy a domain and point it to the hosted site.
The upside to hosted solutions is that you don't have to maintain the website itself, though it does limit your customization.
4. Decide which topics to cover
If you've spent some time defining your goals and doing your research, then you should have a pretty good idea as to what kinds of topics to cover for your business blog.
Still stuck? Follow these steps for some additional inspiration:
- Think broadly about your topics. Don't worry about specific post titles - think about the kinds of topics that would interest people involved in your industry. Eg: if you work in content marketing, write about topics like social media.
- Break these larger, broader ideas down into subcategories. For social media this could look like: link building, SEO tips, making the most of different social platforms, etc.
- Once you have these subcategories you can start doing research into keywords and popular topics. One of the best ways to do this is to use GoogleAdwords Keyword Planner, which will give you up to 800 related keyword phrases for each of your subcategories.
A word of warning: don't blog about things that you don't understand! If you think you want to blog about a particular topic, do your research first. Read extensively about your desired topics and then start writing.
5. Plan, plan, plan!
One of the most important steps is to plan out a posting schedule. An abandoned, empty blog is worse than no blog at all, so based on your competitor's blogs, figure out how often you should be posting new content (daily, weekly, etc) and if this is something that you can manage on your own. If not, consider getting an employee to handle researching and publishing your content for you, or hiring a ghostwriter who will write on your behalf.
Once you know who will be writing and how often, outline your blogging goals in a specific manner so you know what milestones you want to achieve and when. Some examples include 10,000 visitors per month, a 6% conversation rate from readers to customers, or to increase search visibility from 15 keywords to 75 keywords. Ultimately, these goals are up to you.
Make sure to also outline a process for coming up with topic ideas and turning those topics into written, edited and published content. You don't need to include exact dates and times per-se, but something like "publish a blog post every Friday" can be sufficient.
The process of creating this sort of content plan is called creating an Event Calendar, which is a key factor in making sure that you always have fresh, interesting content to post on your blog and share across social media.
By this point you've thought about what sort of blog you need to have, how you're going to host it, what sorts of topics you're going to discuss, and who will be writing your content for you.
While these aren't always easy steps to implement, they are crucial to make sure to you start blogging the right way, and that your blog doesn't fizzle up and die after a few posts. By planning in advance and doing your research, and can make sure that your blog will bring you the results that you want for years to come.
Do you have any tips for starting a business blog? I'd love to hear them!
- by Alyson Shane
Chris Brogan wrote a post the other day about not quitting blogging, which I loved.
He didn't mention older blogging platforms like GeoCities and Livejournal, likely because he didn't used them but it made me think back to my early "web logging" days and discovering that I could chronicle my life online.
I purged my Livejournal years ago, thankfully, but a quick google search brought me back to many of my old high school friend's still-intact LiveJournals.
It was weird, seeing those memories from over a decade ago all in one place. Now we have a plethora of ways that we share information: Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, SnapChat... to name just a few. Now we're scattered all over the internet.
The best way that we had to share information at that time was huge, text-heavy posts or quizzes.
It was weird, going back through people's memories and noticing that they all started to drop off around the same time (2007-2008). Except me. I kept blogging, largely fueled by my friend Kira and my recent discovery of the best blog of all time, the busblog.
Back then, though, my blogging sucked.
I had no voice and no way to distinguish myself from blogging powerhouses whose lifestyle blogs I creeped to no end other than I hadn't yet figured out how to do what they did, yet.
But I kept at it because a writer will write even when nobody reads - and for a long time (longer than I'd care to admit) nobody wrote a damn word.
But part of the secret to blogging success is to not give up. I've had comment dry spells, I've been trolled to no end, I've written trash and masterpieces and been called out and praised for all of it. It's been a magnificent ride.
Andrew Sullivan said in one of my favourite pieces from The Atlantic that the blogosphere is a giant conversation, which is true, though I'd argue that everyone posting anything online these days is a participant - this isn't exclusive to the blogging community.
We're all shouting out into the void, linking and commenting and sharing in an attempt to make our own voices heard. He also said:
"[to blog] is to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm’s length, open it to scrutiny, allow it to float in the ether for a while, and to let others... pivot you toward relative truth."
Yet, just last week, Andrew Sullivan stopped blogging.
One of the biggest proponents of blogging shuttered his blog and gave up.
Which left me wondering: if Andrew Sullvian quit, if all my old friends quit, if blogs die and are left abandoned every day... why do I keep doing it?
Because, as Tony said in a recent post: this is the best time to blog.
The fakers, the half-assers are dropping like flies and the ones of us who are here for the substance and the experience of sharing get to reap the benefits of an audience who are more interested, more engaged, who and will quite happily pivot us towards that relative truth that we all seek.
Blogging is scary. Blogging is beautiful. Blogging is how writers, like me, explore ourselves.
Before the internet we had to scribble in diaries or publish 'zines or write in to newspapers or journals or magazines or publish books hoping that someone somewhere would find them and fall in love with our words and our hearts, which we poured out through pens just as much as I type them out to you, now.
I was lucky enough to be born into a time when my words can exist digitally.
My digital words, like those of my old friends, like those of Andrew Sullivan, can reach untold numbers of people. We can shape each other's realities through what we say online with words that never fade, never get lost, and that's amazing.
How could I ever stop, knowing that truth?
- by Alyson Shane
(Taken today, on day 3, of the project. I love these lights in West Broadway)
I know it's a "trendy" thing to do, but hear me out:
I'm also a writer. A writer who wants to write more in 2015 (and always!).
I used to write heaps. When I was a student I posted almost every day about stuff I saw, was doing, had done, you name it.
In the age of "business-based blogging" I'm seeing so much less of that style of sharing and storing memories.
Remember when we used to do that?
I mean, there are still some bloggers who do.
But me? I haven't as much, recently, but that changes today.
As part of my #project365 endeavour I'm also going to blog more frequently. I'm talking 5+ times a week, including a weekly #project365 post which will wrap-up the week and highlight some of my favourite moments.
About life, love, adventures, random thoughts, the silly stuff I find online. Whatever.
I want you guys to see every side of me.
Here goes, hope you enjoy the ride!
yr girl Shaner
- by Alyson Shane
Specifically regarding the look and feel of my website.
The last year has been an incredible time for growth, reflection and opportunities (see more about those feelings here) and it's about time that my website grew up a bit, as well.
Now it's got a clean, streamlined feel.
It's easy to navigate and focuses on more than just my blog
(because, hey, I do freelance work too!)
And it's a better reflection of me as a person and as a professional.
I'm so excited to be able to share this with you guys, and I'd love to hear what you think about the new design!
Also, biggest props to John and Rae of The Campfire Union for their help making this thing look sharp as eff -you guys are amazing! xox
- by admin
Yesterday I had one of the most interesting, challenging and unique days of my work experience so far: I sat down with the team at my office and participated in planning a year-long marketing strategy.
This was the first time that I was tasked with developing a long-term strategy for a client/employer, and while I'm thrilled to say that I rose to the occasion, preparing for it also ate up a ton of my free time and focus over the last little while. Beyond doing my community management and copywriting freelance stuff I barely had the time to get together with friends or have a night in to unwind.
I was drained for weeks.
So it was natural for me to expect that after 8 hours of planning, discussing, and planning some more, and finally setting a date for a follow-up meeting (yikes) that I would be feeling just as run-down and at a total lack for words as I've felt over the past little while.
Except I didn't. I felt great. And, for the first time in what feels like forever, I actually have words spilling from my fingertips so fast that I can barely keep up with them.
(which any writer will tell you is the best feeling imaginable)
As I sipped my wine in my bath yesterday, I started thinking about why this might have happened, and I realized that (gasp, shock, awe) my 9-5 actually cured me
It made me think outside of my comfort zone.
I work in a real estate office by day and since I've started we've been working on getting a total stylistic overhaul in place, as well as developing a long-term social media and content marketing plan. Because of the nature of the business (fast-paced, really intense) I had to really plan out a lot of moves in advance and focus on areas such as direct mail marketing in addition to the online stuff that I'm used to, so it really forced me to think outside of my comfort zone and make changes to what I normally think of "business as usual" tactics for marketing.
It forced me to focus.
#RealTalk time: these past 6 months have been a total whirlwind. I left a lover, fell head over heels with a charming-as-hell slice of a man, attended two festivals, camped, grew a garden, cycled all over the city, and moved house, all while working my regular 9-5 and managing my freelance clients. Needless to say it's been a bit crazy, and while I don't think I let my work slip in any way, I certainly felt pretty scattered and focusing on planning 2015 really helped me get centered and start pulling the pieces of myself back together.
It made my defend and discuss, and sometimes reconsider my decisions.
Most realtors brand themselves in a very similar fashion (if they brand themselves at all) and it was an interesting challenge to have to explain why things like blogging and Facebook engagement are worthwhile investments to someone who, while understanding that they are important, don't quite grasp the why of it. Something like content marketing seems like a given for me, but having to go in-depth as to why and how they would benefit the business, as well as presenting a long-term strategy which was challenged from multiple angles made me really have to think over why I wanted to shape our brand in a particular way. It was great practice, since I haven't had to do that for a while, and the feedback was immensely helpful in making sure that I was making the best possible decisions.
It made me work out more.
Sounds silly, but bear with me here: honestly, there were days where, after being at the office and doing freelance stuff at home, my brain felt so jumbled with stats and ideas and words that I just needed to get out, and I've started hitting the gym again on a regular basis. I write heaps more when I work out regularly (is there something about the treadmill that gets the creative juices flowing? Who knows.) and definitely feel significantly more inspired after hitting the gym after a day at the office.
It forced me to do a ton of research.
This is pretty self-explanatory: when you spend a bunch of time looking at, listening to, or discussing stuff that you love (in my case: copywriting, content management, social media, all that good stuff) it's hard not to want to start implementing all of the things you've learned right the f now. As a result I literally have a backlog of things that I want to blog about and share here, and it feels ah-maz-ing.
It reminded me that I'm totally capable.
We all have times when we start to feel down about ourselves, and while I was preparing for this huge meeting I had my fair share of "oh my god can I even get this together in a way that makes sense?!" moments. So when it call came together, smoothly and efficiently, it felt like this huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt relief wash over me and I remembered that, heck yeah, I can totally rock this!
It made me want to take on more freelance work.
This kinda relates to the above point. After yesterday's meeting I felt totally inspired to get out there and do more of what I just finished doing -there's nothing like the feeling of successfully planning and implementing a huge project, is there? Anyway, now I'm ravenous for more clients! Not because I'm in this huge hurry to ditch my 9-5 -not at all!- But being able to explore new ideas and help this business grow makes me want to help other clients as well.
So (shameless plug) if you or anyone else know you know are looking for some copywriting or community management help, hit me up and let's chat!
It feels SO GOOD to be cured of my blogging blues!
What do you do to cure yours when you're feeling uninspired? I'd love to know!
- by adminaka the New Media Manitoba Blogger's Conference
aka that panel I spoke at on the Friday night with the James Hope Howard, Liz Hover, and Colin Fast aka @policyfrog.
It was also MC'd by my buddy Kenton Larsen -hello!
We fielded the usual questions -where we can be found online, our thoughts on the future of blogging, etc
(Liz got into a heated debate with one of the audience members as you can see in the photo)
Overall it went pretty well.
The crowd was fantastic & engaged and I feel like we covered some really interesting and relevant topics.
I just wish we'd had more time -panels always start to get good right towards the end, don't they? That's when everyone gets fired up!
I had to jet to a million other things that night so I couldn't stick around, but I managed to make it to the daytime event the next day in time to catch Liz's interview with The Bloggess, who was even more charming and clever in person than on her blog which I didn't think was possible.
I sat with my homie James and we took dumb photos. Obviously.
It was really cool & inspiring to see local people talk about their experiences and share their stories, and to put faces to so many avatars and profiles that I've creeped online for so long. It was a fantastic day and I feel so honoured to have been asked to be a part of it!
Biggest thanks go out to Alison Kirkland from the Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba, Kathy Driscoll of New Media Manitoba, and of course the dear Kenton Larsen for having me!
xox yr Shaner
- by adminOnce upon a time I was a stupid kid and my friend Kira who used to blog over at the now-defuct 'manicidiosyncratic' showed me this thing called 'blogging'.
It wasn't the pussy LiveJournal shit I'd done in high school which was boring paragraphs no pictures and no reason for anyone else to give a shit.
This was a bustling community of interesting people who had long-distance internet friendships and connected through the stuff they published online.
she told me about the best blog out there, the busblog and the dude who wrote it, Tony Pierce
and she said "if you read any blog read the busblog" so I did.
I still do. Every damn day.
Probably because out of all the blogs out there the busblog is the only blog that, I think, still keeps it real.
It's still kinda raw and gritty and though it's not as debauched as it used to it it's still a damn good read every time.
It inspires me to keep writing this pos every once and a while.
Recently I was told that I should start shaping my blog to be more professional and less about my life and my thoughts and that scared me a bit. This slice of the internet is who I am and I had a crisis of confidence of sorts and I said to Tyrone
"what do I do? I have a career now but I don't want to just stop being who I am online" and he said
(no word of a lie)
"what would Tony Pierce do?"
which is why I'm still writing to you in the way that I've (almost) always written to you.
So happy birthday busblog. Thanks for making blogging cool and for keeping it that way.
Biggest hearts to you, Tony. Always.
xox yr girl Shaner
- by admin
one of my profs asked today if anyone has a blog and I was the only one who put up my hand. this is the third time that's happened this year and I'm developing a bit of a complex about it because when I do everyones heads turn and they look at me like I'm this antiquated freak.
who do I think I am? why am I putting my thoughts on the Internet?
one girl asked me if I got paid to do it and I said if she meant was that how I made my living, no, and she said well then what's the point? and that bothered me.
I remember back when it was cool to blog, back when everyone had one and I was just starting to get into them because I had shitty dial-up until like '06 because I lived at my parents house and as a result doing basically anything was a huge hassle. I found out about it because my friend kira wrote a blog at manicidosyncratic.blogspot.com that she used to be obsessed with that isn't around anymore.
I started a blog because I envied how easily she seemed to talk about everything in her life. she just put it out there, boom. typed and hit 'publish' and maybe regretted it but the blog never saw that. she had connections with these equally interesting, thoughtful and crazy writers all who she communicated with all the time. she had public fights and falling-outs and flame wars and it was amazing to watch, this brilliant and beautiful girl that I knew making her mark on the blogosphere.
do we still call it that?
nobody in any of my 'communications' classes knew what it was.
that worries me.
especially because most of the blogs that I used to read that I considered to be "good blogs" have just become vehicles for promoting crap that they probably would never use in real life if someone wasn't paying them for it. I'm not saying I don't think it's okay to blog about a product you like, or an experience you were lucky enough to have comped but if that's all a blog is -just a place to advertise stuff without any actual heart, soul or thought that otherwise goes into it- is that still a blog?
or is it just a commercial with a blogger's face slapped onto it?
I think that's what has ruined blogging. nobody wants to share their lives or be frank or sad or angry or drunk or fucked up anymore because there's the possibility of getting a blinged-out necklace or a car for the weekend or a trip somewhere if you just sell your soul & your integrity off to the highest bidder a post at a time. heaven forbid that there's an actual person underneath all that jargon with something real to say.
which is what we used to want to see.
which I think is why a lot of blogs -the good blogs- have died out. been privatized or shut down because the people who give a shit about writing feel like there's no point in putting it out there because if so-and-so is going to an MTV party once a week who wants to hear about what I did on the weekend or what I thought about a movie or whatever.
I think that's why people who don't write blogs don't know about blogging except for the Jenna Marbles' of the world (which is mostly vlogging but that's a different story) which is a damn shame because it's these everyday people that should be blogging in the first place. it's their experiences that make blogging important and interesting, not what the same six people did at the same party which they all attended every weekend for the past year.
maybe it's because I came late to the party, but blogging means something different for me. which is why I still do it.
which is why I wish you did, too.
but with the attention people pay to blogs these days, I doubt you even finished reading this.
- by admin
start over or stop blogging.