15 steps that guarantee to get your new blog post noticed [Infographic]

There’s nothing more despondent than spending a lot of time writing a fabulous new blog post, publishing it, and then having hardly anyone read it. Here’s how this scenario can be amended:

How to get your new blog post seen by a larger audience

And here’s some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers to help them get their posts noticed!

1. Get writing

You’ve got to write a new blog post first, of course! As usual I could bang on about the need to find an excellent subject people want to read, creating or researching information that could make their lives better, composing an incredible headline your readers just can’t ignore, bla bla bla, but all this really should be reserved for another post.

2. Publish it

Once everything has been written (I originally wrote ‘said’ – hmmm), and your new blog post has been thoroughly checked and read out loud (actually this is a good exercise, as this shows up any anomalies and awkward phrases which may stilt the flow), it’s time to hit the publish button. But before you do so, is this the right time?

Consider when your readers will be more likely to be around to read it. Consider also the search engine spiders who may be lying in wait for your post ready to index it. Consider how to train these humans and robots to expect your posts at a certain time. The answer is to publish regularly at a designated moment (hour, day or whatever) and they will soon cotton on!

3. RSS trigger

RSS is such a time-saver, especially for busy entrepreneurs, who think they haven’t the time to faff about pasting in their new blog post URL everywhere. Surely there’s nothing wrong with RSS kicking in and publishing a link to your new blog post on your chosen social media platforms? And at least it’s also sending an email to your blog’s subscribers to keep them happy.

4. Let’s get personal

But the process of publicising your new blog post should not stop there. Social media is, after all, social, and this means personal interaction. RSS is an automatic function that has nothing personal associated with it. The post’s URL will just be dumped, unadorned and neglected, as a link in your social media profiles with nothing to draw attention to it.

5. Get your hands dirty

There’s nothing for it, you’re going to have to physically do something yourself to help publicise your new blog post.

Let’s hope you’ve managed to accrue lots of good and faithful followers on your social media profiles, as this is where they become useful, and you need to start being proactive. It’s time to start being sociable! Learn how they think, what they like to write about, what triggers a discussion, what rocks their boat. Fading flowers in the corner need not apply here.

6. Where do they hang out?

Suss out which social media platforms contain which kind of readers. This also includes understanding the mindset of those who use these platforms. You will need to be able to adapt your publicity message according to the kind of person who may be reading it. Your new blog post may be suitable for them, but the way of attracting readers needs to be diverse and appropriate.

Each new blog post may not be suitable for every social media platform. Don’t think you need to plaster its URL everywhere. Targeted publicity and promotion will be far more cost effective (this includes your time) and will be less inclined to annoy your potential audience with irrelevant material.

7. Descriptions required

As I said earlier, a new blog post URL link sitting on its own in a status update is much more likely to be ignored. Why should anyone click on it when there’s nothing to explain what it contains? It could be anything, not to mention spam or worse. Even if the post’s title placed in front of it, that’s still not much of an incentive, unless, of course, that title is incredibly compelling.

So a short description accompanying your new blog post URL can be extremely helpful to the potential reader. It’s like being properly introduced at a party, there’s a good reason to take things further. Once the content of the post is properly understood, then a decision can be made whether to click on the URL link to read the post.

8. Attract their attention

People read and scan the web at lightning speed. Therefore something is needed to arrest this practice and force their eyes to stop and take notice. And usually this is done through such a headline that springs out of all the dross and hits them between the eyes.

You need to work out what kind of headline would trigger such a response. Usually this matches a desire or a need. It promises a solution to a problem. It provokes an agreement or disapproval. It matches what the reader is thinking or working on at that moment. It provides the necessary information they are looking for. And it needs to be relevant to the environment it is placed in and the target audience it is meant to reach.

9. The more the merrier

Your social media profiles are the only place where you could publicise your new blog post. Most of the main platforms have groups and communities which normally welcome interaction and the sharing of new material. If some of them are a bit iffy about the latter, then this needs to be adapted to make it less obvious. Definitely dumping blog URLs will not be tolerated here.

Your newly practiced skill at writing an introductory description and attention grabbing headline to accompany your your post’s URL link will certainly come into force here. And this is also a great place to practice perfecting it too.

10. Start a discussion

Part of being sociable is talking to each other. The other is creating a discussion where everyone can join in. Take advantage of the group’s capabilities as a forum and initiate a debate based around the subject matter of your new blog post. Then sneak in your blog’s URL link within your responses, but not so blindingly obvious to turn the other participators off, or point them towards its location in your discussion statement.

This is a great way of not offending the group’s mediators who don’t tolerate basic sharing of blog post material. It will also be an opportunity for you to expand and showcase your knowledge around the subject, as long as you are tolerant of other people’s opinions and responses along the way.

11. Remember to respond

Comments arising from discussions or as a result of finding and reading new blog post material within social media are a bonus. They should not be ignored, instead they should be celebrated. Perpetuate these actions by responding and engaging as much as you can to others who take the trouble to have their say, even to the point of a ping-pong conversation. This will generate more interest, because people naturally gravitate towards action and popularity.

Creating such a favourable response to your discussion (and also post’s material) should be a brilliant way of drawing attention to yourself. If people agree or like what you say, they will feel more compelled to visit your blog and read what else you have written on other subjects through your posts. And this may even result in comments on them too, not to mention more sharing on their social media profiles (triggered by a suitable call to action, of course)!

12. Did you choose Twitter?

Twitter isn’t like the other social media platforms. Because it moves at such a rapid rate, constantly updating with new material, your new blog post URL link will soon get lost as it moves down the stream. Therefore it requires more than just one update a day. In fact several. And each update needs to be different from the previous one (not even Twitter tolerates repetition).

13. Set up a scheduling strategy

There are lots of different platforms and applications available to help you schedule your tweets over the day. These could be regularly spaced apart, or concentrated within specific times when your target audience may be more likely online, such as during their commute to work, in a coffee break, lunchtime, in the playground when collecting the kids from school, on the way home from work on the train, or unwinding at the end of the day. There are applications that could work out these times for you too.

Remember each tweet needs to different. This does require a bit more copywriting effort, but since tweets aren’t very long, it’s mostly the captivating statement that accompanies the new blog post URL link that needs to change. Think about your target market and what would make your tweet stand out above the rest. You have less than a second to make an impact, even if your followers have listed you in one of their streams.

14. Reduce your URL

Since each tweet is only 140 characters, it may be advisable to make your new blog post URL into a tinyurl to save space (reducing it to just 28 characters or less). But this is not the only reason. Twitter and the scheduling platforms won’t allow you to repeat a URL during the day, so it is necessary to adapt your post’s URL link into multiple alternatives to overcome this problem.

15. Rinse and repeat

Publicising your new blog post during only one day won’t be as effective as if you promoted it over a series of days (weeks or months). This would give you much more of a chance to expose it to a bigger audience who may not have been around the first time the URL link was available.

But be aware of how often you can repeat promoting your blog post, especially when it ceases to be new any more. The description, discussion, interaction and engagement criteria still stand, preferably in a different guise for variety. And how many times in particular platforms also needs consideration. Twitter requires many exposures a day, whereas Facebook perhaps once a week. Don’t annoy your audience by being unaware how many times they will get to see your URL link, especially if it hasn’t had time to naturally expend its time out in the open.

Now it’s your turn

Quite a daunting task, I know. Start with one or two social media platforms and perfect your methods. See what triggers the best responses from your followers and readers. If it works, do more of it. If you can, analyse why it worked and see if you can improve upon it. But above all, be consistent, or all your previous hard work will be for nought.

Don’t think you can easily farm this out to a VA, unless you know she or he has the superb copywriting abilities to vary and adapt each publicity exposure suitable for the social media platform you’re aiming at. Not to mention the kind of audience you are striving to attract. And of course there is the interaction and engagement, which really ought to come from you, and would work better if you had written the discussion statement or attractive headline in the first place.

And, of course, here’s my call to action: please leave your comments in the box below, or on social media if you have found this post there, and please remember to share this post on your own social media profiles. Many thanks!

If you assume older web users will never catch up, think on!

During my research about older web users, I came across this fabulous infographic from the blog post 10 Reasons Grandpa Is Cooler Than You and I just had to share it!

Older web users: 10 Reasons Grandpa is Cooler Than You

What I love about this infographic are the myths it clears up. Go to the original post to view it more clearly, especially if you need reading glasses like me.

Older web users are embracing the internet in the most wonderful of ways. Retirees are actually booking their holidays online rather than merely posting pictures to drool over on Pinterest. There’s no need to scoff at “loads of love”, Grandpa will not only know the correct meaning of LOL and probably use it too with a twinkle in his eye!

Once they’ve got the grandchildren to programme their TV, older web users will be streaming their films, especially the old and better ones, left right and centre. After all, there’s only crap on the telly at the moment. My Dad watches his sexy Italian films with subtitles to brush up on his Italian – of course.

Both social and technical

Facebook is becoming more of a haven for older web users, driving the younger set out. They use it purely socially, meeting the approval of Facebook, with nobody being horrid or abusive, or showing inappropriate pictures (except ones their children find embarrassing). Many have found old friends they have lost touch with, and some have even started up new relationships!

Once they’ve sat down and read through the manual, older web users love using their smart phones and tablets. They take the time to explore the different apps and what they do, and this patience is also used to thoroughly understand what can be achieved from a web-based programme to the enth degree, using it to its fullest extent, and probably finding out much more than their grandchildren.

Grandpa may take an age to text, especially with fat finger syndrome, but at least it is readable, and probably more succinct in conveying his message. Texting is also more applicable as his hearing-aid may not be compatible with his smartphone to take calls. It certainly beats CB radio or paging.

Are there such things as older web users?

Whatever your age, you can learn how to write and keep a blog like all the other proficient older web users. It just needs a different style of teaching: slower paced, more patience, and with gentle and meaningful repetition. Such as a highly visual, step-by-step, before-and-after, screen-shot based e-course that makes no assumptions of prior knowledge and uses ordinary, everyday language to explain all that jargon and what not.

Blogging is a great way of expressing yourself online. It is essentially like writing a diary on on the web. In it you can write whatever you want, from recording your day to day activities (like Housewife 49) to putting together your first book (plenty of writers have re-used their blog posts this way).

A blog is not necessarily an extremely technical thing, if you don’t want it to be. Once everything has been set up, logging in is as easy as activating your computer. Some older web users have massed extensive followers without even trying, because what they have written has triggered a response at the right time. Other bloggers happily tap away to themselves with only next door’s cat as an audience.

Click here if you want to know more about my beginner blogging e-courses. Otherwise sign up to my newsletter from the sidebar, or below my biography, to keep in touch. I’m working on plenty of new ventures this year to help bloggers become more successful, either technically, literally or to gain more knowledge and understanding.

Magic Moment: Connecting to Google

Even if you’re still a little worried about connecting to Google, it is not something you should ignore, especially if your blog is a WordPress.com one.

So I’ve done a little bit of delving to bring up an action you should have implemented, if you want your blog to be seen more by the search engines.

First, go to the Dashboard, and look for Settings in the left hand sidebar, and click on the Sharing tab:

Google Plus Button in Settings Sharing

And you will see the big red Google+ sign in button. Click on it to sign into Google, if you’re not already in:

Login to your Google account

Next WordPress will start the process of connecting to Google. Check everything is in order in the menu below:

Connecting WordPress to Google

And if you approve, click the Accept button.

If successful, you will see your avatar from your Google account, and confirmation that you are connected.

WordPress successfully connected to your Google account

The result will show at the bottom of your posts:

Google connection shows at bottom of posts.

Now, to enhance the process of connecting to Google even better, why not go back to Settings > Sharing, and update the Publicize option so your posts are automatically published in your Google+ profile:

Connect Publicize option to Google

Since you’re already logged into your Google account, there are only a few acceptance formalities to go through and it’s done!

Taking your blog and connecting to Google, and also publishing your posts on your profile, will make a big difference to how you are noticed within the search engines.

Likes on Comments

Now, scanning a little further down the Settings > Sharing page, I came across this new feature!

Activate the Comments Like feature

Which I immediately checked to activate it. I definitely want people to be able to approve any comments I get on my posts. This is the result:

Like option on comments

And when clicked on (especially by you) it transforms into this:

Comment shown as liked

And if there are multiple likes, you can even get to see who has been so kind:

Showing multiple comment likes
Courtesy of WordPress.com

Brilliant! This acknowledgement feature may deter people from leaving a proper comment by lazily just clicking ‘like’ for any previous comments, but it might well reduce unintentional spam by those who can’t think of anything decent to say.

(At the time of publishing this post, I could not find an equivalent plugin for WordPress.org, except some that allowed readers to either approve or disapprove a post, page or comment. This shows as a green thumb up or a red thumb down, which is not quite the same thing.)

And all this extra interaction, combined with connecting to Google, may well attract the search engines to your favour, so what have you got to lose?

Personal and practical reasons for moving to WordPress.org by CassieFairy

Moving from one WordPress to another

Guest post: Cassiefairy.com‘s experiences of moving to WordPress.org

Earlier this year, I became a self-hosted blog.

I’d been a lifelong WordPress.com user and had run a number of websites and blogs through the platform, but a couple of issues a few months ago led me to consider taking the plunge and moving to a self-hosted WordPress.org installation.

I did a lot of research into the differences between the two versions and it seemed like moving to WordPress.org was the best way for me to make progress in my blogging career. I wanted to share my experiences with you in case you too are considering making the switch, because I learnt a lot during the process and there may be things affected that you haven’t yet considered – I certainly got a few surprises along the way!

What did I start off with?

Well, I’d been using WordPress.com for just under 3 years, as a blogging tool to promote my own fancy dress shop business. I liked how user-friendly the dashboard was compared to other sites I’d used in the past, and I felt like a complete internet-whizz using this software because I could do a lot of my own editing, formatting and site-building without needing outside help.

I saw my blog grow in readership over the years and when I finished my Masters degree I had more time to dedicate to writing, so I started blogging every day. This quickly increased my readership and Cassiefairy.com became a very busy place indeed.

I wanted to monetize my blog

I soon discovered that blogs could be monetized through affiliate links, banner ads and hosted content, but at the time using WordPress for any kind of advertising was completely prohibited. When I purchased my own Cassiefairy.com domain through WordPress.com this allowed me to start earning from WordAds.

These are already on every WordPress.com blog (unless you’ve paid for a no-ads upgrade) so I thought I might as well use the adverts to earn a little money for myself, but I found that I only made a few pounds per month through using WordAds and still couldn’t become an affiliate and earn commission that way like other bloggers did.

I lived in fear that my blog might be taken away from me at any time if I put a link (I’m talking about just a straightforward unpaid natural link) into my posts in case WordPress.com ‘thought’ I was making a profit from it.

I was turning stuff down

I found that I was turning down offers from media agencies and brands because of the restrictions in the WordPress.com terms and conditions and I knew I needed to make a change so that I could keep the blog running as my full-time job.

Interestingly enough, it was a link on my blog that forced me to make the switch earlier this year. I posted a link within one of my blog posts, and through a friend I found out that once my blog post has been published, the link had become an affiliate link for the benefit for WordPress.com. I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t making any money as an affiliate, but WordPress.com had been redirecting my links so that they could earn from my audience!

The only way to avoid this was by buying a no-ads upgrade.  I later found out that the T&Cs had changed since I first signed up over 3 years ago and affiliate links were now permitted, but I was so incensed that WordPress.com had been skimming my links for their own gain that I decided it was finally time to move.

I decided to transfer over

I was a little grumpy that I needed to pay WordPress.com in order to move through a ‘Guided Transfer’, but that was simply because I am so un-techy that I knew I wouldn’t be able install WordPress.org at my chosen self-hosting server and I was terrified that I would lose 3 years-worth of content, all my settings and blog design. So I paid for the Guided Transfer service and it was quite straightforward – they told me when the transfer would start so that I didn’t use my blog while it was being moved, and they emailed me again once the transfer had been completed.

The Guided Transfer team were available for me to email with any questions over the coming 2 weeks, but each time I asked for assistance or why something unusual had happened, they did get back to me, but without a real answer, nor did they provide any further technical help.

Their replies were along the lines of ‘this is probably what it is…’, ‘here’s is a link to a help page…’, ‘it looks okay from my end…’, ‘you’ll need to do that yourself…’, ‘see how you get on…’, ‘refer that question to your host…’ etc. So I felt both supported by them being available to ask my questions to, but completely on my own in terms of fixing problems myself at the same time.

I’m happy I’ve made the move

Once I started using WordPress.org I was really happy that I’d made the move. Everything was the same in terms of blogging and using the dashboard, and I found that installing plugins wasn’t as difficult or scary as I’d imagined.

The only worrying thing is that WordPress.org doesn’t back up your posts, so it’s a good idea to do so yourself and I’ve been very vigilant with keeping copies of my work. Touch wood, nothing has gone wrong with my self-hosted installation so far, and I’ve found out there are many benefits of being self-hosted (along with a few cons!), so here’s what has been good and bad about the move in my experience:

1. Why I chose DreamHost

I chose DreamHost due to their promise of 100% uptime, yet I’ve already had a total of about 6 minutes downtime this year – but it always seems to be in the middle of the night and I really can’t complain about the service the rest of the time. They have a very helpful support team who always answer any of my questions within hours.

2. What’s happened to my readers

I was told by WordPress.com that I wouldn’t lose my readership as a result of the transfer, but I later discovered that around a third of my readers were finding my blog through tags in the WordPress.com ‘Reader’, and now that I’m self-hosted my tags are no longer included in the Reader app, so I can’t be found by new readers through a keyword search. My blog is still listed on the Reader for my existing followers to read, but they can’t comment through the Reader app anymore, so I’ve found that the number of comments I’m getting has gone down too.

3. I can do competitions

I can now use Rafflecopter for my blog competitions, whereas the widget couldn’t be implemented on WordPress.com. This makes it much easier for me to run giveaways and keep track of entries. I can now work with brands who want to offer prizes to my audience and I’ve found that running giveaways brings in more readers. My follower stats have greatly increased thanks to including more entry options through Rafflecopter such as ‘Follow @Cassiefairy on Twitter’ or ‘Like Cassiefairy’s Facebook page’ for competitions.

4. I can use adverts

I can put any number of banners or adverts in my sidebars or blog posts. This was prohibited through WordPress.com, but now I am free to advertise in this way if I want to. At the moment, I’m resisting adding a lot of banner adverts and only have a couple of sponsors with whom I have a long-standing relationship, but it’s good to have the freedom to be able to do this.

5. My domain name is free

I don’t need to pay WordPress.com for my domain name and mapping every year, because it is now hosted for free at DreamHost for the lifetime of my hosting plan, so as long as I keep paying for hosting, it will be free forever.

6. Freedom with other domains

I can also point other domains that I own towards my blog, such as tuesdayshoesday.co.uk and piedayfriday.co.uk to tie in with my regular blog features.

7. Much more server storage

I don’t have any storage limits for files, photos, videos etc. With WordPress.com I was approaching the maximum storage limit and would have needed to buy the extra storage upgrade. In the past I’d been limiting my photo uploads to two images per post in order to save space, but now I can post as many photos or videos as I like without worrying about storage space.

8. Plenty of support

When I need to make my own technical changes, there are plenty of support forums and DIY tutorials for WordPress.org and I can get extra help through DreamHost. Even so, I am still worried that one little change would bring my whole website down and I wouldn’t be able to get it back again!

9. Affiliates are weclome

I am free to add affiliate links and work with any brands or marketing agencies, but at the moment I’m still only sharing links to products I actually like, things that I have bought myself and products that I am mentioning in my blog posts anyway rather than creating articles with the intention of ‘selling’ products through affiliate links.

10. Personalised emails

I can have any number of personalised email addresses – mine is now cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk – through DreamHost.

11. Installing plugins

I’ve been able to add an Instagram plugin so that I can add a widget on my sidebar for my photos, which looks great. I could never get an Instagram widget on my WordPress.com site.

12. Additional revenue

I can install content feeds such as ContentClick and make a few pence per click referral – this can only be used through WordPress.org and not Wordpress.com. This service was working well, but I found that it interfered with ‘something’ on my blog and occasionally the site wouldn’t load at all due to an error with ContentClick, so I have removed it until I have the time to investigate it properly. So far nothing has gone wrong since I uninstalled the plugin.

Yes, I’m pleased!

All in all, it’s been a positive move for me. I am pleased with the freedom that comes with being self-hosted now that I don’t need to adhere to WordPress.com’s strict terms and conditions, but I still worry occasionally that I will ‘break’ my website and not know how to fix it!

My apprehension is getting better over time, as each change I successfully make surprises me and is always easier than I’d imagined. I hope it will continue to be a good solution for my future blogging and that I’ll continue to find more and more reasons to be self-hosted.

CassieFairy.com moves to WordPress.orgAbout the author: Cassiefairy blogs about everything she does and anything that inspires her; popular culture, film, art, fashion, recipes, craft and design. Read more about her in cassiefairy.com.

 

How can these bluggers change the world?

A group of bluggers

Yes, I have spelled it right, bluggers.

I got this word from this blog post: http://www.josandelson.com/heir-raising/the-bluggers/ which, true to how most portmanteau words are born, arose from a Blog Club, or Blug. If you’re interested, the author of the above post is the third from the right – and I’m the one in blue! The other bluggers also write in the blog CountryWives.co.uk, who often meet in this beautiful garden.

So I have joined a new Blug. And these bluggers are no ordinary bloggers, we have come together with a common aim, and age. Pictured above is part of the vanguard of a new platform that is being created called Post40Bloggers.com, in which bloggers who are aged 40 or over can use a space that is specifically created for them.

Why post 40?

We needed somewhere that represented similar bloggers, a collective world of like-minded people, a group who have participated in the same learning curve and have been exposed to the same inhibitions while trying to cope.

Our kids have grown up in a world of internet, websites, mobile devices, etc, whereas for us computers were these fantastic huge things that only highly technical people knew how to operate. Later we progressed onto word-processors instead of typewriters, which meant we could make a mistake which could be deleted and it wasn’t the end of the world! Eventually as we embraced laptops and tablets, we watched as things around us were adapted and ‘improved’ to make things easier, faster, more possible, the unbelievable believable…

OK, a lot of 40+ bloggers may have grown up with computers and stuff (I only started to use them in 1985), but it isn’t second nature to us. Our offspring may live and breathe technology, but I’m sure they have evolved and developed because of the age they live in: the joke that it’s the 5-year-old who programmes the X-box or whatever still holds true.

What is 40+?

Bloggers over 40 have a different mindset to those who are younger. They find the technological process a bit harder to grasp, but in doing so they tend to ask more questions. These may be seen as irrelevant or superfluous by the younger set, but the older user has a more cautious nature, borne out of past experience from a world where everything wasn’t so easy or instantaneous at a touch of a button, information wasn’t so readily to hand, and everything progressed at a much slower pace.

The older blogger is more likely to think before doing anything. They will envisage security issues, they want to know why something works as it does, they want to understand the processes involved and relate them to how they think, how they have experienced from their life in the past. This means they have less spontaneous intuitive responses, they don’t immediately ‘get’ a function or a new icon, they find it harder to search for an alternative way if it suddenly appears different to what they are used to.

Why these bluggers?

My headline was not meant to be misleading – these bluggers could change the world for the 40+ blogger! So much on the net is becoming increasingly more technical, ever rapidly evolving and changing as new facilities or platforms are developed, new concepts of communicating or connecting are created, and a new way of life is expected of everyone.

And the older blogger adapts wonderfully! Although we embrace these changes at a slower pace, we make full use of them at the limited capacity we choose or select, whichever fits into our existing lives. We wait patiently until new technology becomes glitch free, we watch and learn from the youngsters as they try it out and explore its capabilities, and then we take the bits we want and use them to the fullest extent.

Once this new platform, Post40Bloggers.com, is ready, 40+ bloggers could find out more from these bluggers if they chose to join. Here will be an environment of like-minded people, where they can ask a question without feeling stupid, where issues they can relate to are discussed, where subject matters that appeal to them are blogged about, where things are explained using appropriate language that everyone can understand.

You’re welcome – if you’re the right age!

Please don’t feel we are creating an exclusive clique, we’re just providing a service to a group that may find things heavy going or feel left out. There are a lot of bloggers out there who are over 40. They may not be blogging to make money or to promote a business, they may just enjoy writing, want to connect to others on the web, feel a need to express themselves on an online platform rather than through traditional pen and paper.

If you’ve yet to reach the magic milestone, don’t despair! Make contact via the website to join if your birthday isn’t far off. There may be strict entry requirements, but really this platform has been created by these post 40 bluggers for other post 40 bloggers, who understand how you think and know what you want. And it’s easy to join, first tweet “I’m in. #post40bloggers” and then leave your email details via the Post40Bloggers.com website.

The secret of using social media to attract more blog subscriptions

Social media and blogsI really enjoy a good discussion about social media on Twitter.

Last month I wrote a tweet that asked: “Do you think people are lazy because they prefer to comment on social media rather than under the blog post?” It had been one of many I had placed into my Twitter schedule to try and promote my post about “Where should readers comment, blog or social media?” and it aroused the interest of Thom Scott who felt compelled to respond.

The best thing about this discussion is that it developed into multiple threads at the same time. Thom’s overzealous reaction to what I had tweeted meant he answered in several tweets, sometimes not even waiting until I had commented on the first one he had put out. This was brilliant fast moving engagement, but it did need a platform like TweetDeck to keep an eye on where each thread was going, or I would never been able to keep up!

Here is a selection of our conversation:

Creating a community

What Thom means by this is that social networking should be a social activity. This means cultivating a relationship with your regular tweeters (or Facebookers or wherever you maybe) to form a sort of community of like-minded ideas, subjects, blog niches or lifestyles.

Commenting on social media rather than back at the blog is more fluid, less formal, encourages freer responses and lowers inhibitions, especially when it comes to thinking what to write. Somehow it’s reassuring that these comments won’t be preserved for ever, but will be enjoyed and embraced at that moment in time, the communication will be received and appreciated, and will generate further replies that may not be forthcoming on a blog.

Creating a community on social media does mean finding and forming a proper friendship with a smaller amount of people, because if you are connected to several hundred or even thousands of people on Twitter, there is no way you could communicate with them all the time. Even though Twitter is very ethereal, it’s beneficial to gather together a regular crowd you know will read your tweets, as much as you will read theirs, by collecting them within a list or stream and monitoring their contributions throughout the day.

A trusted source

Twitter is a mode for social media conversations, which need sifting through to find something worthwhile to note, read and act upon. Therefore to survive and cut through the noise, you need to make sure your contributions stand out and deliver value, provide something people can really sink their teeth into, both enjoy and appreciate, and want to read more.

Thom says not to become just one of the voices they like. It’s very nice to be popular on social media, to get lots of retweets, favourites and comments, but you could be doing this for a long time and gain no more than a happy, healthy community. Although there’s nothing wrong with this, without call to actions, valuable destinations from your links and worthwhile incentives to get more readers to your blog, all this albeit pleasurable activity could be no more than a time drain.

Your newly made community needs to be made aware of your status. Being as social as possible, you need to be viewed as a ‘trusted source’ for excellent information, so whenever you promote your latest post by tweeting a link, accompanied by an enticing promotional introduction, this will create the promise, generated by successful past experience, that delivers something good to read on the other side.

How unmissable is it?

If you continue to deliver value, people will learn to expect this, and if your posts provide information that changes your readers’ lives, they will want more. By promoting yourself as the ‘go-to’ person for a particular subject, making your posts freely available via social media will enable your readers and potential new readers to find and access them.

It’s easy for your readers to miss a promotional tweet delivering the latest blog post, even if you regularly publish at a prescribed time (although that would greatly help the search engines as well as your readers), and realistically you can’t expect every one of your Twitter followers to put you on a list so they can watch out for whenever you post. Building up to the event with preliminary tweets may help, but won’t safeguard everybody to be waiting on tender hooks for when you click that publish button (even famous bloggers don’t always have that privilege).

The answer is to encourage subscriptions to your blog. Research into which service is best for you, and be aware this can be done even through your newsletter subscription, as some automate a regular email listing the latest posts. This may be preferential for some readers to receive a catch up reminder at a regular time rather than each subscription announcement cluttering up their inboxes whenever a new post is published.

Make them feel special

To get your readers to subscribe you need more than just publishing great stuff on a regular basis. Wherever these incentives and prizes are placed, both on social media with links to entice readers to click and find out more, or on the blog where there is a captive audience, will depend on what is available and whether it appeals or not.

Some offer e-books or white papers, some promote fabulous outcomes as the result of their knowledge, but only the best bloggers in the world need only say ‘Sign up to my newsletter’ accompanied by the relevant fields to fill in. The more successful and wide reaching a blogger is, the more luck they will have in attracting subscribers.

Give them a reason to stay

Your community shouldn’t be confined to only on social media. A blog is a great place to culture such a gathering of like-minded people, bloggers and others who are interested in what you write. But to retain your newly-gained followers and keep them sweet, it’s necessary to treat them well and continue giving them what they want, accompanied with prizes of value.

Social media is fluid, a blog is steadfast and dependable. You shouldn’t make it like a fortress, but like an open house where people can come and go, invite new friends and engage with whatever is going on. I know this already happens in social media, and perhaps it’s a bit easier to do this there, so add in the applications and plugins that allow social media commentaries to appear on your blog near the comments section. This will bring Facebook or Google+ into your blog, amalgamating each of them, blurring the edges and creating a more sociable atmosphere.

Your blogging community has the freedom to contribute wherever they want. This is good, but they need to be incentivised to stick with you. Don’t lose new friends by not providing excellent material that makes a difference to them. Keep up the interest with prizes, membership stages with different levels and goals to strive for. It’s a full time job to maintain a popular and well visited blog, so maybe get in help with guest bloggers or collaborators to keep the interest factor going.

How to use your visitors

Once you’ve gained your community, it’s time to make use of them. Thom has revealed a simple chain of events that your readers could pass through during their time with you. It needn’t be formal, as it works best when done organically, and its success will depend on what you give them and how they respond to it depending upon their needs and aspirations.

Relationships within social media, which also includes in blogs, makes all your effort worthwhile. There’s nothing like having a sense of belonging, being part of the crowd, so cultivate this scenario and look after your tribe. It does need a lot of prompting, reminding and regular contributions, as a lead that goes cold can be very difficult to resuscitate, but with a good fire and plenty of nourishment, the world will open to all sorts of possibilities.

The sacrifice of scarcity

This is an interesting concept. Should bloggers promote all their posts on social media? It’s a bit like the 80/20 rule, share 80% of your stuff for free or virtually free, but retain 20% for which you can charge big prices.

I can see where Thom is coming from. If you want to encourage more blog subscriptions, don’t give everything away. But his concept of people scanning down every Twitter stream to find old posts is a bit far fetched. You will need the correct platforms, patience and perseverance, and a determination and thirsty desire to read every previous post by that particular blogger, plus a tenacious capacity to lie in wait for each new post whenever it is syndicated to social media.

I don’t think this will happen. Social media is a phenomenon of now, very rarely to people bother with the past, and the future hasn’t happened yet! If you do get a stalker that wants to moderate everything you’ve done, as long as they aren’t a nuisance or hindrance, good luck to them. And it can be quite flattering, with a boost to your self-esteem, something we all need to incentivise us to produce more content!

Let me know what you think…

Secrets of a Killer Blog Post: Content

Here’s a guest infographic for you about content being the secret of a killer blog post:

Secrets of a Killer Blog Post: Content

Source: WhoIsHostingThis.com

Choosing a topic

Although it’s a good idea to write about what you know, otherwise your post won’t be any good or display any kind of authority, it’s also important to be aware of what your audience wants to read. You may have a load of subjects you think your audience ought to know, but do they really want to read it? If you go ahead and write about it anyway, unless you have presented your content in such a way it is irresistible to your readers and they can’t get enough of it, never mind if your post is absolutely wonderful and packed full of good and worthwhile content, it will probably be a flop.

The answer is to think how your audience does. What do they want to know? Remember they don’t know what the solutions are, they only know their problems. Find out what these are and then manipulate the answers to contain the information you want to share with them. The content provided needs to be dressed up so that your readers are satisfied that their problems are being addressed, and will fully benefit from learning the solutions in the answer you give them.

Original and curated content

Curated content is not a cop-out. It’s a good thing to research into what other blogs say about certain subjects and gather the information they have shared. The bad thing is to actively copy this content into your own post, as plagiarism is not tolerated by both readers and search engines alike. The answer is to analyse what you have gleaned, think about it and regurgitate it into your own words, preferably adapting it with your own slant on it into the bargain.

Creating original content is hard work (hence why curated content can help you). Originality comes more easily to those who have taken the time to stop and think about their subject, weighed up the pros and cons, and formed their own opinions about it. Writing original content will appear to be less stilted and cumbersome than curated, for unless you are a skilled copywriter who is used to gleaning and compiling a piece of prose from information presented before them, directly re-transcribing someone else’s stuff into your own is not an easy task.

Curation is great for getting a much broader scene about a subject. Writing your original point of view about it broadens it even more. If you are able to extend your expertise by putting across what you think, based on personal experience, observation and reasoning on a particular subject, it will set you apart from your competitors who haven’t bothered to take on that valuable thinking time.

Be mindful of small details

Of course spelling and grammar are important. Neglecting them will ruin your reputation and make your post less appealing to read. I’ve often been turned off by a badly written post, not only because of the mistakes above, but because of poor sentence construction and lack of good practice. Now I’m not going to get on my high horse and say that all writers need to have a grade A in writing, but there are plenty of published posts that show no evidence of being read through properly in order to be edited, as sometimes that’s all it takes. And I won’t get into a strop about a comma being in the wrong place, but content with incomplete sentences, awkward and misconstrued meanings or a turn of phrase badly put together doesn’t give a good impression to your readers.

Be aware of your blog’s style. Are you conversational, controversial, opinionated, observational, knowledgeable or whatever? Whatever you do, decide upon one or two (as long as they don’t conflict) and stick to them. Chopping and changing how you deliver your content will only confuse your audience. This doesn’t mean you should only write words; using other media (images, audio, video, etc) are a great way to maintain the interest of your readers. But be aware of what kind of blog you are creating, because that is what your audience expects, and if you fail to deliver this kind of content they will disappointedly leave in droves.

Be consistent

Some bloggers say that consistency in presentation is a powerful mechanism, and certainly this is the case of when it comes to recognition. Readers like to feel reassured that they have arrived at the same place, and to read content that fulfils their expectations for quality, expertise and entertainment values. Therefore you must strike a happy medium between only posting content that provides the standards your audience wants to see, and having enough available to do so on a regular editorial structure.

Of course this is much easier if there is more than one author. Collective blogs have the convenience of being able to post frequently and consistently, as every editor should know their timetable and the quality they are asked to provide. A sole writer will find it more difficult to maintain a regular content schedule, even with an editorial calendar, so in this case make sure quality overrides quantity. Don’t just publish any old rubbish to satisfy the system, posting a brilliant post late is much better than slotting in one that is below par.

How blogversation makes comments portable

Last week I was extremely pleased to be able to interview Suzan St Maur, a proficient and celebrated blogger who is also following the subject of blog comments with me on the net, and who first introduced the concept of blogversation. Obviously this needed to be properly explained, so we got together on Skype and had this discussion. I start everything off:

Tell me all about blogversation.

“A colleague of mine, a good friend locally, always said: ‘Don’t just post on Facebook or LinkedIn ‘Here’s my new blog, read it’, because that doesn’t give people any idea what’s in it for them if they do read it.‘ So I began to write a lead about my blogs in social media to basically say what the blog was about and what was in it for the reader. But the danger of doing this was that people would start discussing the issue right there and then, without going to your blog to read the full story.”

Do you mean discussing on social media where they saw it?

“Yes, that’s right. Well, I thought that’s interesting, because it’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly with Google Plus, you have this plugin where you get all the comments about a topic that you promoted on Google Plus can be transferred automatically onto your own blog.”

Which you’ve already got installed, haven’t you?

“Yes, and it’s brilliant, because it really gets the conversation going, and I don’t know if you have been on my site today, but I’ve used this as a follow up to an article that I had recently published, which was actually a guest post, it was a conversation I had with somebody on LinkedIn about that article. I asked the guy’s permission, obviously, and he said yes, sure, go ahead, so that’s another example of blogversation, if you like, the way the conversation started on my site and moved over to LinkedIn, and onto Google Plus, and has come back to my site again.”

So you took the conversation from LinkedIn and Google Plus, and you wrote a follow up post using that information?

“The discussion I had with this chap was on LinkedIn was pretty much self explanatory, so I wrote an introductory paragraph and cut and paste the discussion I’d had with this chap, after I asked his permission to do it first. I linked to his site and his business, so any appropriate extra publicity goes his way.”

So was this a separate post or a continuation of the original post?

“Well, it was kind of an offshoot from the original post, which was about how to write business proposals, and we started talking about the inappropriateness of some companies who submit business proposals or repitch for stuff without having been asked to do it yet. That’s quite a good example, as there was a lot of discussion on LinkedIn, and then the author who wrote the original post joined in on Google Plus to discuss the same issues. So that’s why I thought ‘it’s not just blogging, it’s not just social media, it’s blogversation’ – conversation that moves around, from blog to social media and back again, because at the end of the day you want to get people back onto your blog, particularly if you’ve got a commercial site – it’s quite important to keep them there so they know about your business as well as the blog. But there are ways of doing this, and you find that this cut and pasting idea is one of them, and I’ve done it two or three times now. Most people, when you ask their permission, are quite happy for it to be shared, particularly if the original discussion has been on a public platform and it’s in the public domain anyway.”

So you’re recycling comments from elsewhere, which otherwise would be a wasted opportunity on content that’s generated purely by interaction, and lost if it’s not brought back to the original source which it actually refers to.

“Yes, that’s right, and obviously some of the comments you get on Facebook or Google Plus are not really worth bringing back, but if you get a really good discussion going, as happens quite often, then it seems a shame that it has to stay on LinkedIn or Google Plus without the benefit of sharing it on the blog for new readers, who don’t necessarily visit on the same groups in LinkedIn.”

So why do you think it’s easier for people to comment on social media than on the blog?

“It’s because people’s fingers are very lazy. They see something and rather than click through to your site and read it all, very often they will start thinking and talking about it there and then. You don’t want to stop them commenting, wherever they comment, it doesn’t really matter, as long as they engage with you and on what you’re saying, but the problem was in the past that people would do that, which effectively would be lost because you couldn’t share it with people going back to read your blog. But now there’s this tool on Google Plus and I’ll be interested to see if the others will follow suit.”

Facebook has already done one.

“Has it? Well you can imbed posts from Facebook onto your site, but you can also do it from Google Plus and Twitter, apparently.”

There’s actually a plugin I saw on another blog that gives the option of either commenting in the comment box, or you can also do it on Google Plus or Facebook, and wherever you do it, it shows up underneath the post. It’s called the Comments Evolved plugin. So blogversation, what are you doing with it right now?

“I’m taking the concept about how to write blogversational comments on other people’s blogs, so they work across social media as well as in an individual blog, so there is that portability – it’s introducing portabilty into blog commenting really.”

I like that, portability! So because there is this trend to comment elsewhere, it doesn’t matter, you can still take it and put it back with the original.

“With the commenter’s permission, obviously. You can’t just lift it – well, I don’t suppose many people would object if the original comment they make is in the public domain, they can’t really object, but it’s kind of nice to say ‘Look, do you mind?’.”

It’s all part of relationship building anyway, isn’t it?

“Yes, exactly. But as long as it’s given in a business context, you give people a link to their website when you use their comment; it’s all grist to the mill.”

We then changed the subject to the big blogs like Copyblogger that had announced they were closing the comment facilities and moving to social media. 

What do you think about the big blogs closing their comments?

“It was that that made me think about blogversation, as it was them who were encouraging their readers to go and talk about their stuff somewhere else, weren’t they?”

The reason why they said this is because they had a huge amount of spam.

“Yes, but there are very sophisticated spam filters available, so I don’t quite buy that. They may have had other reasons as well, I think one or two other people felt the same way, that they won’t being totally honest about their real reasons.”

Another reason they were saying is that they were having better discussions on social media than they had in their blog comments.

“I think that’s true – if you look on my site today, that discussion I had with that guy on LinkedIn, would I have had a discussion like that on the blog? – I don’t know. Whether I like it or not, people are going to spend more time looking around on LinkedIn than on my blog.”

Do you think it’s much easier to have a quick fire conversation on social media than it would be on a blog? Is the response quicker?

“Yes, it’s quicker from that point of view, because if people are given a choice of spending half an hour on my blog, or half an hour on LinkedIn, you can guess what they’re going to do. It’s about creating social media discussions that are portable, preferably back to your own blog. But I wonder why Copyblogger don’t bring their comments back, but perhaps they don’t need to with their traffic.”

No, they’ve already got masses of traffic anyway.

“So maybe they are more interested in encouraging people to talk more about their posts elsewhere than on their site. Perhaps they thought they were getting more readers overall by gaining discussions out in cyberspace rather than on their blog.”

So to recap, blogversation is a discussion about a specific blog post on social media rather than on the blog, and these comments are then republished with the original post, to continue the conversation in situ and connect it with its source. There are various blog plugins available to automatically syndicate this practice, but if the conversation happens in a platform that has yet to be connected to blogs, the content has to be physically transported.

As Suzan pointed out earlier, blogversation is not just blogging or social networking commenting, it’s a conversation happening in a different environment, and requires connecting back to its source for future reference and the enjoyment of other readers who many not frequent those particular social media outlets. With the problems of content duplication aggravating the search engines, syndicating this procedure is the most appropriate procedure, but clever editing could overcome this if necessary. 

Let me know what you think of blogversation in relation to blog comments, both Suzan and I would be most interested.

How to write great comments that will get your blog noticed

Getting people to write great comments on your blog can be an uphill struggle, but that’s no excuse why you can’t set an example by writing your own great comments on other blogs! Here’s some points to consider:

How to write great comments that will get your blog noticed

And here’s some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this infographic with your readers to help them write great comments!

Introduction

It’s not second nature to think of including the blogger’s name at the beginning of the comment, but if you do it will show you have taken the trouble to find out who the author is. Keep it brief and simple to avoid unnecessary sincerity, otherwise it can get a bit creepy – include the name naturally somewhere within the first paragraph. The same thing applies when responding to your own commenters on your blog, thank them with their name at the beginning of your reply.

Acknowledgement

During that first sentence, it would be also wise to confirm the post’s subject in a single sentence, summarised into your own words. This proves you have read the post and have taken the trouble to understand it thoroughly – a necessary requisite for you to write great comments that are intelligent and balanced. You’d be surprised how many people skim read posts so rapidly they miss the main point entirely, so that their responses are inadequate, inappropriate and irrelevant.

Confirmation

It would be wise to validate the post’s subject as useful information, even if you are going to add to it, or even oppose it with an alternative suggestion. The author has taken time to write this post, and may have researched into its content, so don’t undermine it by saturating it with your knowledge or belittling it with your point of view. You don’t need to go overboard doing this, a simple acknowledgement will suffice.

Relevance

A comment needs to be succinct and focused, therefore keeping strictly to the subject matter at hand. Don’t go off at a tangent, especially if your preferred topic is totally different to the post’s content. Do not write too much, since this is not your blog; when you write great comments they should not be longer than the post they are contributing to. Keep to the main point introduced by the author, and remember to be as relevant as possible within your reply.

Assistance

Not many commenters offer helpful suggestions or advice within their feedback. They are quick to criticise, offer observations, acknowledge a point well made or provide ingratiating praise, but rarely do they build on the information given within the post. Another tip for you to write great comments is to offer examples that clarify the advice given, enhanced by referring to a personal experience or a favourable outcome, and these work best as a story or in a scenario the reader can relate to.

Justification

You don’t have to agree with what the author says in their post, but if you must express an opposition to the subject or content provided, it’s much better presented in a nice and helpful format rather than a tirade of criticism or derision. It’s also useful for other readers if you can offer a full and valid justification to your disagreement, complete with examples or references that clarify your point of view. Be insightful with your responses so others can learn or defend themselves accordingly.

Politeness

It’s always worth being nice when you write great comments, not only to give a good impression, but to set the scene for other commenters. Showing respect through politeness is more likely to result in your comment passing through moderation to publication, and receiving a positive and constructive reply from the author or other readers. You will gain nothing by submitting a contribution full of harsh or insulting words, except that you’ve got your grievance off your chest; this will help no-one else and undermines the tone of the host blog.

Passionate

The kind of words you use will encourage and excite people into reading your comment, therefore it’s worth considering which examples will help them to recognise the passion and enthusiasm you have towards your mission or cause. Readers will relish a well-written and positive response, and this positivity will certainly be infectious enough to result in similar contributions from others. If this leads onto more engagement and discussion within the comment section, it can only benefit everyone.

Education

Nobody likes reading bad prose, and this also extends to when you write great comments. Concentrate on producing good spelling, grammar and sentence syntax to ensure your contribution passes through moderation, as a sloppy and inferior comment not only places you in a bad light, but lowers the tone of the host blog and the comments it could attract. This practice may arise from mobile devices where thumb-work and predictive text may be to blame, but that’s no excuse for a bit of proof-reading and editing before publishing.

Conversation

When you write great comments, think how your readers will respond. Don’t produce feedback that’s so aloof nobody responds to it, use language that would encourage a discussion, stimulate a debate or result in a flurry of approvals, confirmations or even opposing responses. Being controversial, providing value through useful tips, extending the conversation and contributing helpful and constructive comments will focus other readers to check out your blog as well as stimulate an appropriate response.

Consideration

It’s really worth taking the time to thoroughly read the post, consider your options and formulate your point of view so that it is constructive and helpful towards continuing the conversation or extending the content. A well thought out contribution will result in a much better comment, something that is useful and adds to the post and provides a good impression for others to follow. Don’t fall into the trap of rattling out a quick series of comments just to satisfy your SEO requirements, really think about the implications and follow ups your comment could create.

Conclusion

Don’t leave your comment hanging in mid air. You wouldn’t do that in a post, so the same criterion should apply when you write great comments. Structure your response quickly and concisely towards a natural close, drawing it back to a wider context to leave the way open for other commenters to contribute. As well as encouraging more comments from others, the points you raise may invite the author to visit your blog to read what you write and comment in return, thus resulting in a positive and useful blogging relationship.

Some of the comments I’ve had from other posts have questioned the function of leaving such responses as outlined above. Many comments are usually quickly composed affairs, resulting from the natural impulse to ‘have your say’, and these do have their time and place. But if you have an ulterior motive of creating awareness about you and what you do, spreading knowledge to benefit others, helping others out of kindness, forming new blogging relationships or even gaining more traffic back to your blog, the practice of when you write great comments is more likely to result in a positive and responsible outcome.

Magic Moment: how to publish a podcast in a post

Talking about bloggingIf you don’t want to write, publish a podcast instead!

I have come across many bloggers who are too scared to write, or moan that they can’t find the time, or find the process of writing laborious, confusing or infuriating.

But instead of writing them off (sorry, pun!), I ask them: “Do you like speaking instead?” or “Is it easier to say what you want rather than writing it down?”

The answer is invariably yes, which means these bloggers should publish a podcast blog. If you have the gift of the gab, a natural tendency and facility to speak, combined with a wonderful accent (I once came across a hypnotherapist with a Scottish burr, and recommended she should publish a podcast instead of a written post, and as a result her business skyrocketed), then let’s get you talking!

Another lady came to me and said that since she had severely broken her arm, typing had been very difficult, and she hadn’t been able to update her blog. She was a coach and a public speaker, so it seemed to me very natural that she should continue via podcasts. After all, her broken arm hadn’t affected the way she spoke.

I introduced her to Audacity (downloadable free from the internet) and she experimented with creating mp3s. When she was happy with a small collection, she asked me how to put them onto her blog. It’s actually very easy once you know how, so below is a Slideshare presentation to show you:

I’ve often been asked to speak on MarlowFM radio, as I know some of the presenters there. The programmes are usually recorded, and one episode resulted in the mp3 being sent to me. Through Audacity I broke up the recording (deleting the music bits because I don’t have the required licence to publish them) and created mini-podcasts. Here is the one I used in the Slideshare above:

Writing as a conversation

 

Oh, dear, I hate listening to myself! But if you don’t mind the sound of your voice, it’s a great idea to publish a podcast blog. It’s much quicker and easier, and if you go wrong, well never mind, delete it and start again! As with writing, practise makes perfect, and experimentation makes things more exciting, both for you and your audience.

This is a wonderful alternative to the written blog, using free facilities available from the web, as well as your imagination, exuberance and enthusiasm, not to mention your expertise and knowledge. So why not give it a go? And let me know by sending me the URL of your newly published podcast post so I can listen and comment too!