eBook Review: How To Write A Brilliant Blog

I love promoting useful and relevant products and services that clients have created. Carole Seawert has done just that in her new eBook “How To Write A Brilliant Blog“.

While I focus on the technical side of blogging, the important side is always the content and the eBook concentrates on how to turn your blog posts from average to excellent. It’s more of an eCourse than and eBook as it is 20 chapters in five sections, but is self-paced with no webinars or deadlines to be pressured by.

Section one is about Getting started where Carole takes you through the basics of why to blog, how to chose your target audience and actually what you will be blogging about! Section two offers great tips and checklists for your writing and helps provide structure for you. The next sections deal with the writing process, avoiding distractions and how to keep going in the lean times, finished off with building your audience and a list of useful resources.

The eBook is a working resource which you can print off and has actionable sections and exercises for you to fill in and refer back to that will help you with all aspects of producing worthwhile content for your blog or website.

How to Write a Brilliant Blog is nearly 60 pages of beautifully designed and immediately practical information.

Genuinely one of the best resources on writing for your blog that I’ve seen, you can find further details here.

Your Blogging Plan for 2013: Plan For Blogging Success

This is a guest post written by Angela Booth. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

The year’s end is a great time to take stock of your blog. What’s working for you this year? What do you need to do more of?

Once you’ve reviewed your activities for this year, focus on creating a plan for blogging activities in 2013. Once you’ve created plan, you’ll feel more confident, because you’re building your success.

Here’s how to get started.
1. Revisit Your Dreams for Your Blog: What’s Changed?

Cast your mind back to the days when you were planning your blog. You had goals: to promote your business, to sell affiliate products, or perhaps to create a personal blog.

While those goals may not have changed, your methods for achieving them may have. The Web changes every year. Things which once worked well — methods of getting traffic for example — may no longer work as well as they did.

Perhaps your own emphasis has changed. For example, if you started the year blogging for your business, perhaps you’re now emphasizing Twitter, or Facebook.

2. Identify Your Audience’s Needs in 2013

Your blog has an audience. Think about what will be important for them in the new year. Think about your business too, and how you can align your business’s goals with that of your audience.

3. Identify Sources of Blogging Income

Everyone blogs for a reason. It’s time to think about income sources in 2013. Make a list of what brought income in 2012, and decide to continue those sources if they work for you, or to find new income sources.

Most bloggers spend a lot of time checking out income sources, or trying to get advertisers.

4. Choose Keywords and Topics

If you keep an eye on keywords, you know that they’re constantly changing, in every industry. A search term which brought great traffic no longer does. New terms have become popular.

Keyword tools are historical. This means that there’s no guarantee that they will send you traffic just because they once did.

Rather than studying tools, study news sources, and social media sites like Twitter to make your keyword lists. Spend some time brainstorming too. You may well find that they keywords you brainstorm out-perform keywords from a tool.

5. Brainstorm Blog Titles for January

By the time you’ve completed the four steps above, you should have a good idea of which blog topics you want to emphasize in January.

Keeping your keywords in mind, brainstorm some blog post topics and titles for January and February.

With your blogging plan in hand, you’re well on the way to a profitable 2013. Happy New Year!

About the author

Angela Booth is a copywriter and blogging enthusiast. Contact her via @angee on Twitter if you need writing or blogging help. Alternatively, visit her Creativity Factory Blog, where she’s starting a new series: “Make Writing Easy” for writers and non-writers too.

Steps for Success in Online Marketing for WordPress

This is a guest post written by Olga Ione. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

Marketing online is the only way that companies today are going to be able to compete. Most people are online daily, and you need to be able to reach those people who would be your prospective customers and clients. When you have a good strategy, you will be able to do just that. The following steps are going to get you started in the right direction with your marketing.

Creating the Plan

The first step is to start writing down your marketing plan that you will be able to follow. You will need to know your goals and objectives, and you have to know who your ideal customer is going to be. Only when you know what the customer wants and expects will you be able to market to them successfully. You should have a plan that will cover many different aspects of online marketing, such as blogging, working with social media, and even the PPC ads. You will also want to make sure that you are spending special attention to search engine optimization.

Developing the Perfect Site

Having a high quality website is going to be essential for your business. One of the fastest, simplest, and most cost effective methods of getting a great site is with the WordPress platform. WordPress themes come in many different styles, and you will find that many of them are going to be very easy to customize. When you do customize your themes, you will be able to make them look and work just the way you need.

You want to have a site that offers a professional appearance as well as easy navigation. The site should also be search engine friendly and easy to update. You also have to consider the mobile market. Make sure that the theme you use is mobile friendly, or that you have a developer who will be able to ensure that your site looks great in all of the mobile devices on the market today.

Converting Traffic to Leads

Once you start to generate more traffic, you have to be able to turn those visitors into actual customers. You will need to have a call to action on your site that shows them why they need the product or service that you are offering. You will also need to make sure that you are engaging the customer and that you treat the customer well in all interactions. Once you have customers and leads, you have to make sure that you nurture your relationship with them. Provide them with special offers and start a smart email marketing campaign that targets them without trying to oversell and enter the realm of the annoying.

Consider Outsourcing

Something that you might want to do, as well, is to think about outsourcing some of your marketing needs. If you are trying to come up with off page content for your site, then it could be a good idea to hire some outside help. You could always work with someone for writing content for your site and for other sites, and have other freelancers work to help with marketing and social media. If you do not have the employees to take care of all of these different aspects regularly, then you might find that outsourcing is a good option.

Once you have your plan in place, you will want to give it a bit of time to see how well it works. When you start measuring your success. Which areas worked as well as you had hoped, and which need improvement? Did the PPC ads come through, or was blogging the real winner for you? Knowing these things will make tweaking your online marketing easier.

About author

Olga Ionel is a creative writer at ThemeFuse.com – a top provider of WordPress themes. She is passionate about studying online marketing industry and sharing informative tips.

How To Get Your First Blog Visitors

This is a guest post by Sam who is a blogger and a contributing writer for Quick Sprout. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

Every new blogger starts out at the same place: with a website, a dream and no traffic. Most blog failures occur before a single visitor views the website, so although this can be a time of experimentation, it’s also a time of urgency. Getting over that most difficult hump and drawing in your first visitors through Google can take months, but you can build your readership much more quickly by taking things into your own hands and spreading the word yourself.

Focus on Quality

When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to publish a hundred different posts on bland, keyword-targeted subjects meant to bring in search engine traffic. Unfortunately, if your website is new you are probably doing yourself more harm than good. Google places a certain priority on the age of a website, meaning you’re unlikely to rank highly for any keyword for at least a month. In the meantime, you’ll have a blog that’s dry, boring and clearly commercialized.

Because of this, the first few weeks after a blog goes live should be spent attracting visitors by word of mouth. Many readers hesitate to subscribe to a new blog because so many shut down a month or two after starting up. In order to combat this, your blog needs to be jam-packed with exciting, fresh content that will have others dying to share it. Post regularly, but not so often that you burn yourself out. As time goes on, you’ll settle into the blogging schedule and voice that works for you.

What is good content? Nobody wants to read an encyclopedia entry on every little topic in your niche. If they did, they’d read an encyclopedia. Blogging is a platform for expressing yourself and helping others. Even a business blog will have a personal style and tone to it. Write like you care about the subject, which you should, and are personally interested in it, and readers will pick up on your enthusiasm.

Get Involved in the Community

Once your blog has several good posts ready to share, it’s time to find some readers! The best place to start is on blogs similar to your own. These blogs have readers that are interested in your niche, and bloggers generally encourage discussion and sharing in their comment sections. Leaving your name and URL in a comment will alert readers to your blog’s presence, and you’re sure to get a few curious clicks.

Remember, it’s a lot easier to pick up a bad reputation than it is to earn a good one. Always leave full, relevant responses to blog posts, and take the time to read others. Planting a link is only one benefit of interacting with the community, and getting involved in discussions can help you establish yourself as a dedicated and knowledgeable blogger.

There are other ways to get your blog out there, most notably social media websites. Services such as StumbleUpon can bring sharp spikes of traffic, but are usually poor for driving in a dedicated readership. Twitter, on the other hand, can be a valuable tool if used properly. You may want to start a new account for the blog, or share it on an established Twitter account. Don’t just tweet a URL to your latest posts; instead, spend time responding to tweets and following others. Facebook automatically shares blog updates to interested friends and family, who can in turn share it with their circle of contacts. However, you should focus most of your efforts on targeted readers, which can be difficult to accomplish on a social website like Facebook.

If you write quality content and successfully draw in a small group of returning readers, your blog will be well on its way to success. You can’t expect to have 500 blog visitors in your first month, but with patience and dedication there’s no limit to what you can achieve with nothing more than the internet, a computer and your own wits.

About the author: Sam is a blogger and a contributing writer for Quick Sprout, one of the leading marketing agencies. He takes a particular interest in topics pertaining to social media trends and SEO techniques.

How To Generate More Traffic To Your Site, For Free

In everyday life, the last thing we want on the roads is more traffic. It slows up the commuter journey, leaving us frustrated and tetchy before even arriving at work. It causes road rage, overcrowding of freeways, and stops us from getting to where we need to be on time. Online, however, traffic becomes something incredibly positive and essential for the health of our business.

As business bloggers, traffic is the ultimate goal through which we measure the success of our online venture. Without traffic, our blogs are relegated to the lonely ether of the uninhabited World Wide Web, hiding sulkily in an unseen corner. Traffic means visitors. Visitors mean sales. Sales mean revenue. It’s safe to say that the more traffic we get online, the happier and more successful we will be with what we do. When it comes to generating the maximum amount of traffic, it’s impossible to have too much footfall through your site.

With so many sites available online for every single industry, it’s getting increasingly difficult to attract a consistent audience. Blogging is one of the most competitive ways to make an income as everyone has interests and passions that translate well to this type of communication. From topiary to train spotting, aardvark grooming to zoology, there is a blog out there that is focused upon gaining a wide readership through the regular posting of articles. That’s not to say it isn’t possible to get traffic to your site, it simply means that it is more challenging than it has ever been before to attract customers to your online presence, and then keep them there once they’ve arrived.

A secondary factor reducing traffic to sites is our expectations of instant gratification. The longer the World Wide Web is out there, the more we have increased our expectations of it. Customers no longer want to patiently wade through reams of information in the same way as they would approach a newspaper or magazine. When they browse online they want their requests answered instantly, their queries resolved in seconds, and the ability to navigate through a site quickly and efficiently. We have less patience as the Web has become more streamlined, and cumbersome navigation is a sure-fire way of deterring customers from visiting you again, and retaining the traffic that you generate.

There are loads of organizations out there who offer all kinds of deals to direct traffic to your site. While the benefits are pretty self-evident, it doesn’t do any harm to outline the rationale behind having a strategic approach to increasing visitor numbers. The law of averages dictates that the more people visiting your site, the more likely it is that you will make sales. Getting your products and services out there in front of as many people as possible gives you the best possible opportunities for selling.

The problem with signing up a company to “buy” you traffic is . . . it doesn’t work. You may get people who are conned into coming to your site through links, or adverts that mislead visitors into stopping by, but these are not potential customers. The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure that not only does your online traffic increase, but it is generated by real, viable customers who are coming to you because they are actively seeking the services or products that you provide.

Luckily, there are lots of different ways to encourage people to come and visit your site. One of the best ways to open up communication channels and spread the word about your products and services is to take up regular blogging. By writing keyword-rich articles, you can invite the principal search engines to enhance your ranking, thus attracting visitors who are searching for exactly what you provide. The more content you add to your site each day, the more opportunities you will have of being picked up by search engines.

A good RSS service such as FeedBurner provides a really good-looking feed for your readers if they’re into that, and has the added advantage of providing you with accurate subscriber statistics to enable you to track your progress. It also gives people the option to sign up to email updates when you post new content.

A software package such as Google Analytics lets you take a look at the keywords that people searched on before they arrived at your site. It also allows you to check out what are the most popular articles that people view on your site, helping you to fine tune your own content production strategy. When you start to get more people visiting your site, give them a reason to stay involved, such as offering a free product.

If you’re looking for ways to increase traffic through WordPress, try the Subscribe to Comments plugin; if someone leaves a comment, the plugin notifies them when another visitor comments on the same post. In addition, mobile plugins like WPtouch can make your site instantly mobile-friendly, enabling people to use their smartphone to view your site.

Finally, incorporating a range of social bookmarking icons for sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and others on your site, can help new users to find you and encourage them to share your content with other people. Sociable, ShareThis, and AddThis allow you to make the most of your traffic by establishing an ongoing relationship and generating new, targeted traffic to your site.

What Do Your Friends And Associates Say About You?

Which of the following two scenarios best describe you?

1) I have an awesome bunch of friends, they are really supportive in everything I do. When I am down they pick me up and encourage me, when I am up they congratulate and celebrate with me, when I need advice they question and challenge me so I can help make up my own informed decision.

2) I have some good friends I guess. Sure, we talk about work a bit but they have a totally different view on things to me, they don’t really understand and sometimes don’t really seem interested. I have asked for their advice before but they don’t seem to get where I am coming from and don’t seem able to help me at all, but hey, they are my friends after all.
In the quest for personal or business success have you ever felt like you’ve outgrown some of your friends?

If the second scenario is you then unfortunately you probably already have. Ever heard the phrase ‘success breeds success’? Well, this is very true in the friends and company you keep.

There are people who are on the same wavelength as you who you feel great being around, the stories you share are enlightening and engaging.

Questions you ask or help you require are greeted with real, sincere interest and you come away from the conversation with real benefit and sense of relief and pride you can talk to these people about things that are important to you.

Our friends are there to help us, support us, encourage us and stimulate us but there comes a time when those people who have been there to do that for you before are suddenly not capable of providing that assistance anymore.

It is not your fault, it is not their fault, it is just that life moves at such a pace that sometimes you outgrow your current batch of friends and your needs become greater than they can give you.

Whatever success path you are currently on here are a few tips to make sure you are making friends and associates in the right circles:

Who do you most admire?

Whether you are striving for business or personal success, who is the person or people you most look up to and admire? Once you have the person in your mind, ask yourself where does he or she hang out?

Where do they go to meet their friends? Is it a leisure club, a sporting club, a business club? Wherever it is if they go then there will be people of similar stature and mind… go join them.

Try a training course

Is there anyone else out in the world on the same success journey as you? The answer to that question is YES, you just have to find them. In your pursuit of success have you ever thought about enrolling on a training or development course in an area that you feel would progress you forward in either business or personally?

On that course there will be people like you, looking for people like you. It is an awesome place to meet like-minded people and begin new friendships that will be mutually beneficial.

They say that you can ‘choose your friends but you can’t choose your family’ and that is a very good thing because as you go along your success journey you need to have the people in your life that will positively influence you to continue your path so take time out to think about what your friends and associates say about you now, and what you are going to do about it!

Here’s what some people say about me.

Choosing Ideal Web Hosting

It’s as easy to stumble across a hosting package these days as it is to purchase a loaf of bread. It seems that wherever you look you are besieged with offers from various hosting organizations, from your email inbox to the back of your favorite magazine. While this means a lot of healthy competition, it can make it difficult to know to which company you ought to be entrusting your firm’s website.

Whenever we buy software or sign up to something online, it seems that a hosting offer comes along with it as a matter of course.
server rack
According to Intac, as of March 2010, there were almost 24,000 hosting companies in the US alone, and this figure is set to increase as more and more firms recognize the value in providing a secure, safe, and customer-focused service to their clients.

There are more hosting companies in the US than any other country, the most used being Wild West Domains with a market share of 35.8 percent. The company is part of the Go Daddy Group, providing an easy platform for turnkey domain registrars to become an operation and use the Go Daddy system for registration and support.

However, the most popular company is not necessarily the best; it could be that a firm has a savvy marketing strategy which means that it gets taken up more readily because it is accessible to people, or simply that it has a great network of affiliates pushing the service to generate revenue.

Choosing your ideal Web host comes down to a number of factors including, what you are looking for, what you are prepared to pay, and what kind of service you need in addition to your basic hosting package.

A Myriad of Options

One of the first things that may strike you in any promotional package is mention of the word “Unlimited” bandwidth, or disk space. However good this may sound, there probably are some limits to the amount of space you get allocated within your chosen package, and it’s well worth taking a moment to check out what your allocation will be when you sign up.

If you are looking to put a basic site live to represent your company in a simple way, then the chances are good that you will be satisfied with what you are provided. However, more complex sites are obviously going to require a great deal of bandwidth to perform more technical tasks and it’s worth working out what your requirements are before you commit to a hosting package.

Web hosting providers have costs associated with providing an allocated amount of space. That cost is then passed on to you through the Web hosting plan. The amount of bandwidth you use up can depend on a number of factors, such as the number of visitors that you receive and the size of files that you are providing to them (graphics, video and so on). Your considerations when choosing your host need to take into account the volume and intensity of your incoming traffic.

Checking the Criteria

One of the key factors when picking your ideal hosting company needs to be a consideration of the kind of customer service support they offer. Check the terms carefully to make sure you don’t get stung by a hefty bill when you call up to get something fixed. I normally choose companies that offer text chats or toll-free telephone support, to keep costs to a minimum. Text chats are ideal for US hosting companies, but if you’re based outside of the US, consider the terms of service that they offer.

I usually use well-known hosts including HostGator, Bluehost, and DreamHost, as they have great customer service and tend to honor their commitment to the client. When you select a well-known company, you minimize the risk of selecting an organization that could go under or be unable to provide a consistent service.

The highest quality support from your host company comes through 24/7 services. This means you won’t get passed around a frustrating call center system, and you can choose times to phone that reduce the risk of being stuck in queues or put on hold.

Again, check the terms of your company to ensure you get the best possible support deal included in your packages. In addition, it’s worth checking what support is on offer for the particular applications (such as WordPress) that you will be using.

Picking a shared hosting package is a good idea when you first start out, but check the pricing options for virtual private servers and dedicated servers. It’s easier to upgrade with this type of service, and you may find that your needs grow in line with the success of your business. If you already have a hosting company and want to change, pick a company that will handle the switch, saving you time, effort, and money.

Personal Recommendations

Nothing beats recommendations when it comes to picking your hosting package. While many companies use affiliate schemes to generate sales, the best form of recommendation comes from friends and family who are already using the service. Most people have a tale to tell about a poor hosting company, so gather data and make an informed decision.

Ultimately, choosing your ideal service for hosting comes down to your individual needs, what you can find out from people who have already signed up to specific organizations, and the type of service you are specifically looking for.

I personally use and recommend HostGator as their support and customer service is second to none, especially for the price. Of course good hosting is more than good customer service, but for small businesses they’re hard to beat.

The Planning Trap – Part 2 of 2

Part 1 of the planning trap covered why it is essential to plan, why taking a day out to focus on planning is important, what looking backwards before looking forwards can do for you and why it is great to start with a big goal.

Dividing a big goal into manageable chunks

Once you have your big goal you can divide it into more manageable periods of time. A three year goal can seem a long time away and it can often be a struggle to associate day-to-day activities now to what will happen in three years time.
Question Mark

In order to make it more real it needs to be chunked into 90 day segments. A quarterly plan allows periodic activity towards the major goal with enough flexibility and control to move in different directions and react to circumstances along that road to the big goal. 90 days in turn can be chunked down further into a weekly plan. 90 days is 13 weeks therefore 13 individual weekly plans will meet the 90 day objectives which will in turn be directly related to hitting the three year goal.

The major advantage to going to the level of creating a weekly plan is you can neurologically associate day-to-day activities moving you closer and closer to the big goal. Suddenly that goal which seemed so far away is getting closer by everything you do each and every day. You can see it, feel it and taste it! Remember that three years is just 12 quarters and approximately 156 weeks, not long when you chunk it down.

Plan the next dates in advance

The key to ensuring one quarterly plan turns into 12 quarterly plans is setting the dates in advance. It would be very easy to do one plan, give yourself a round of applause, get back in to day-to-day life and forget planning ever happened.

Continued success comes from regular planning sessions and creating the habit of taking that day out every quarter. It is only one day every 13 weeks and it can provide such a great buzz of excitement and energy afterwards it’s an absolute must for all successful businesses.

Once you have it, share it

As soon as you have the plan in written format, then the next most important step to make it a reality is to share it with people. If you keep your plan to yourself then it is you versus the plan, if you share it then many people can help you achieve it. They can offer help by providing you with accountability by asking you how you are getting on and the more people you have on your side versus the plan the more likely you are to achieve it.

This isn’t something you must do by yourself. Share it with fellow directors, employees, family, friends, the next door neighbour, anyone who you think can help you in whatever way to make it happen. Taken seriously, the planning trap can be overcome and it is a critical ingredient to making your business a sustained success.

The Planning Trap – Part 1 of 2

Ever heard the phrase ‘if you fail to plan you plan to fail’?

That is one of many clichés that people use when describing the importance of planning in business. Planning is the most logical and forward thinking activity anyone in business, whether an owner or employee, can do to achieve success, however it is often one of the activities that gets over looked. Planning is often replaced by ‘just getting on with it’ and very often the results can show that ‘just getting on with it’ can be a very expensive mistake.
The successful people see planning as defining the road to success. By taking the time out of day-to-day life and focusing on what needs to be put in place to create that road to success provides vitality, energy, enthusiasm and direction to achieve the goal. Look at sports teams as an example.

Before each season begins the coaches and key personnel will get together, discuss the aims for the season, decide on who needs to be recruited to achieve success, which positions require strengthening and what they are going to do during the season to give themselves the best possible chance of success.

During the season they measure their success against their season goals and adjust anything that needs to be adjusted along the way. The planning at the starts creates the road to success. Here are some awesome tips to make planning easier for you, whether you are a business owner, an employee or a new sports coach…

Begin by taking a day out

First and most important step is to plan the day you are going to plan. Take a day totally out of your usual working environment so you avoid distractions, interruptions and anything that might take you off task. A new venue will help to give the freedom and clarity to think clearly about what you want to lie ahead without worrying about what you are missing in the office.

It will take a whole day so make sure you give it thought. A hotel out of town, a meeting room in a neutral office you could hire, a friend’s house would be great too. It needs to be neutral and can give you thinking time.

Look back before looking forward

The start of every good planning day begins with a look behind at what just happened. If it is your first planning day then the looking back should be over the last 12 months minimum. What did you do well? What did you do not so well? How many of the things you wanted to happen happened? How did you deal with the things that you weren’t expecting to happen? Where were you expecting to be by now? How close to that point are you?

Those questions are vitally important to learn from the past and make the future even better. It can sometimes be very difficult to look into the past but it can be the difference between success and failure moving forward.

Start with the big goal

In order to define your road to success you need to first identify what is at the end of the road. It is essential to have big, long term to be heading towards. At this stage you don’t need to be able to fully define how to get there but you need to know where you are going.

Thinking back to the sports team, they would target a certain position to achieve at the end of the season. Where is it to be number 1 team in their respective league or simply to consolidate their place in the league above the demotion line, it is a goal and a focus.

If you are in business, what do you want your business to look like in three years time? Do you have a goal you want to achieve? Do you want to only work part time in three years time? That’s where your planning day needs to start, defining a long term goal. If you have never planned before then let this be the main focus of the day.

Whether you’ve been in business 20 days or 20 years it’s never too late to set a big, long term goal. Every major successful business in the world today started out with a big goal.

Microsoft, Ford, Apple all had a day when in their infancy a goal was made and a plan was hatched. Use their great examples to do it for yourself.

The Art of Storytelling as a Marketing Tool

This is a guest post by Mitch O’Conner is an online marketer and writer. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

The other day while at the bookstore, I came across a large crowd gathered around a man at table. Some were seated, others standing. The man was reading out loud a book about business. Through vocal animation and the way he poised such questions like “How do I get more fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter?” or “Am I selling the only widget or service that nobody seems to care about?” in a non-timid way, the crowd and even myself, were drawn in by this man reading about business.

But why? Simple. It was the way he told the story. Granted, reading about business facts sometimes isn’t very interesting, but it’s a type of literature that isn’t read in the right context. And a piece of literature can be read with passion and be interesting; it’s up to the storyteller on how to read it and a well-told story sticks in the mind of the listener. So how does storytelling benefit today’s small business owner? Would you believe that the art of storytelling as a marketing tool is actually well worth a second look?

The connection between storytelling and social media

Pen and paperThe magical connection that occurs during marketing and storytelling is the emotional bond that the consumer forges with the brand. Peter Guber, as quoted on Simon Mainwaring’s “We First” blog calls this the realization of the goal to transport your mission. Of course, getting to uncork the emotions of the audience in the first place is a hit or miss proposition. It takes practice, diligence and the commitment to keep at it consistently, learn from mistakes and improve upon success.

Learn to use storytelling in every piece of content you write, with some exceptions. For example, if you need to write an article on wireless Internet, you could create it very straightforward with the “nitty-gritty” information like the web developer did on this wireless Internet site. This works for the tech crowd that’s really just interested in the numbers. However, you might also decide to couple the “specs” content with some stories about how customers made the switch to your promoted company.

When the consumer makes a buying decision from the heart, rather than from the head, the effective marketer has succeeded in getting the emotional buy-in. It results in a stronger sense of brand loyalty, the rationalizing of a purchase that might involve more money than initially budgeted and also the willingness to work with a company on resolving a problem — rather than taking it to task with the Better Business Bureau.

Unfortunately, getting the emotional buy-in and active involvement in the woven tale is not always easy. As highlighted by Cloud Ave, passive observation has become an ingrained trait of character. Thus, the skilled entrepreneurial storyteller must make a concerted effort to engage the social networker in such a manner as to elicit a response. It is not necessary for the response to trigger an immediate click of the “buy now” button. Instead, getting the would-be consumer to “like” a product’s page or interact on the Facebook brand profile with a bit of helpful advice or a recollection is just as useful.

Citing Pew research, it still holds true that the 18 to 29 demographic is most heavily represented, but the 65 and over group is starting to make itself known. As of May 2010, about 26 percent were involved in social networking and the trend is growing steadily.

How to write a compelling story

Now that you recognize the importance of using storytelling as a marketing tool, you’re probably wondering what it will take to write a compelling narrative from the ground up. Fish Networks explains that a gripping story is a clever mix of a curious visual and an accompanying text that explains it. The initial written hook takes the form of a question: pose a question that makes the consumer wonder what the answer might be.

Much like a song the social media user cannot get out of his head, there will be an overwhelming need to discover the answer to the question. On the way to delivering the response, the clever marketer ensures that a lot of the brand information and product facts come through in even short text. College Grad suggests the interjection of personality, flair and interest. It sounds easier said than done, but really there is just one small trick to successful storytelling for marketing: put yourself into the shoes of the consumer.

What would you like to know about the product you sell or one like it? What would be the main reason for not buying it? What stands out the most about the item? From this intellectual exercise, take it up a notch and surmise the emotional component. Why would you worry about making a sound buying decision? Is it because you might feel taken advantage of? Do you worry about wasting money in a tough economy? Do you think that the widget is too big or odd and might make you seem un-cool in the eyes of others?

Storytelling as a marketing tool refutes feelings-based objections with intellectual data. This mix is an unbeatable combination that the small business owner can use to a marketing advantage. The goal is to elicit an emotional reaction in the social networker; the tools are the product facts, figures and stats. Who knew that entrepreneurs could now also be storytellers?

About the Author: Mitch O’Conner is an online marketer and writer. When he’s not busy testing sites, generating traffic or writing content, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, playing games and camping.