Spring Cleaning Your Blog

Have you unnoticed when the season changes, your thoughts immediately turn to having a clear out of everything? We are drawn to sorting through cupboards, cleaning everything thoroughly, and having garage sales to reduce the amount of things we seem to have collected over the winter months. Carpets cry out to be cleaned, wardrobes beg for a sort-out to move from one season to the next, and we’re seized with the drive to get everything cleared as the weather improves.

Just as we spring clean our house, we also need to make sure we apply the same kind of rigor to our blogs. Blogs are friendly beasts – they rumble on without us happily, bringing new custom and working for us while we focus on other things. Because they are so amiable, we can often overlook the fact that they need a bit of a helping hand from time to time, to make sure they are working at optimum.
Cleaning supplies
Blogs are a bit like a well-behaved dog. We only really take notice of their inner workings when something goes wrong. We give our dogs flea treatment if they scratch, walk them every day and give them affection, but it’s only when something changes – for example if they go off their food, or seem upset, that we take them to the vet for a check-up. Blogs are the same – we do certain tasks with them each day (answering comments and posting up articles), but we don’t consider the platform unless a glitch makes us sit up and take notice that all is not as it should be.

Your blog benefits from a bit of a spring clean every now and then. Basics such as emptying your spam folder can free up your site to run more effectively, and using an image re-sizer can make sure that your pictures don’t take up valuable loading time. When new software comes out on your blog platform, it’s worth spring cleaning and uploading the latest technology to benefit from the changes and enhancements that your service provider has developed. Another great spring cleaning exercise you can do is to consider a re-brand, waking your site up and giving you a good reason to contact your clients, get feedback and re-launch with a new look and feel.

So, the next time you’re taken over by the urge to clean the house and get the garden set up ready for summer, why not make the most of the feeling and apply the same kind of energies to your blog? It will thank you for it, making life easier, running more effectively and staying clean, neat and organized.

I’ll Be At Blog World Expo 2011 This Friday!

Just a quick one to tell you all I will be at Blog World Expo in Los Angeles on Friday this week (4th November). Due to other commitments I can no longer make the Saturday, but I will be there as long as I can be on Friday.

Save 20% when you register for Blog World Expo in Los Angeles, Nov. 3-5, 2011.

For those who don’t know, Blog World Expo is a large conference with over 275 speakers talking about new media, blogging, websites, social media, mobile apps, and all that good stuff. This year two clients are speaking at the event, and I’m excited to see what’s new on the exhibitor floor where I’ll spend most of my time.

If you want to go, there is still time – go to Blog World Expo (affiliate link) and enter code BWELA20 to get you 20% off.

However if you can’t physically be there there do have a BlogWorldExpo Virtual Ticket where you can enjoy the proceedings in the comfort of your own home. You can also see who is speaking at Blog World Expo here.

If you’re going to be there, I’ll be wearing my BTG t-shirt if I remember so you can’t miss me 🙂

The Top Tips For Finding Blogging Happiness

It’s tough, being a blogger. It’s hard because we have to commit to publishing a certain amount of material each week, keep ahead of key trends, and have faith that what we are doing is really helping us to enhance our business success and generate more revenue by supporting our customers. If you’re currently in a blogging rut, follow these tips to help you get back to blogging happiness and keep your online marketing strategy on track.
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  • Choose subjects to blog about that you feel passionate about and you’ll find easy to write about with knowledge and enthusiasm
  • Build blogging in to your daily routine, in the same way as you brush your teeth each day or load the dishwasher – this makes it easier to stick to regular posts
  • Invite people to comment on your posts regularly, so you know you’re on the right track with what you are writing about
  • Keep up to date with all your feedback, answering comments and thanking people for responding to your posts
  • If you ever feel disheartened about your blogging prowess, look back to the metrics from when you first started out and compare them with your current results
  • Ask people you like and respect to guest blog to ease the burden of ongoing blog publishing, and introduce new perspectives and topics to your site
  • Tweet your posts so more people can access what you have written and your message gets circulated for more comments, and new readers
  • Try out new styles of communicating through your blog, like podcasting and video blogging (vlogging)
  • Revamp your site for a quick fix of freshness, having fun with choosing new themes and layouts
  • Consider outsourcing some of your writing from time to time if other pressures are getting in the way of your blog writing responsibilities
  • Check out new technologies – plugins and widgets – designed to make your blogging life easier and enhance your metrics and benchmarking
  • Gain access to a great image resource site so you can experiment with different types of graphics – I use http://sxc.hu or http://www.morguefile.com for royalty-free images
  • Consider blogging a series – twelve posts all geared towards a single help topic, which you could then go on to produce as a product such as an e-book or download giveaway
  • Learn new angles to blog about by researching your industry online, reading up on the latest developments, and sparking off a wealth of new ideas to write about
  • Take time out. Everyone needs a break sometimes, so manage your postings, publish them in draft and stick them on a timer so you can go on vacation, have a long weekend or settle down to catch up on all that television you’ve been missing because of work!

Client Spotlight: Find Things To Do In Quirky San Francisco

Randy Schroeder is a long time client of mine who runs a few websites, including Quirky San Francisco.

Quirky San Francisco

My purpose is to help people find things to do in San Francisco that are not the same old thing. There’s so much to do here, other than Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz.

It’s so odd to go to those tourist areas and see hoards of people buying cheap souvenirs they’re just forget about 5 minutes after they get home. They miss the best things this area has to offer and I like helping to point them out.

Randy has a couple of great eBooks too. A free one called “Best 10 FREE Things to do in San Francisco” is available by signing up for his newsletter on the right hand side of his site.

His other eBook is for sale, called Bike The Golden Gate, it’s a unique step-by-step bicycle adventure that guides you from downtown San Francisco, along the bay, across the Golden Gate Bridge, down into Sausalito and a relaxing ferry ride back to San Francisco.

Quirky San Francisco has lots of posts about things to do in SF, whether for free or paid and places for great photo opportunities. His resources list even includes a music playlist to enjoy on your trip!

He also has nice things to say about me:

Joel has been the one person I can count on to keep my site working correctly. He’s amazing – responsible, easy to work with, responsive, fast, smart and affordable. What more could I ask for?

Thanks Randy! If you live or are planning a trip to San Francisco, be sure to check out Quirky San Francisco.

Going The Extra Mile – How To Give Your Readers Outstanding Customer Service

I love it when I see or receive an example of awesome customer service, just as much as I really dislike being on the receiving end of bad customer service. Today, I was lucky enough to come across a great example of someone willing to go the extra mile just to make their customer happy.

A shopping trip to the mall was going as expected, when I came across a guy offering free shoe shine trials. I had a bit of free time so I thought I’d give it a go. Now, I’m normally very skeptical about free trials and I’m always looking for the catch, but this guy shined my shoes brilliantly, made great conversation during the time I was in the chair, and to cap it off he gave me a $10 voucher for his shoe and sneaker store in the mall to use whenever I next needed a new pair of shoes.
Shopping mall
Within fifteen minutes he had secured a new customer, and boosted his business, while I came out of it feeling great about our transaction. Bringing together a great service, a great personality and a great offer, he demonstrated just how simple it is to attract new custom, no matter what trade you are operating in.

That got me thinking about how we can offer great service to our customers online. Here are some top tips.

Under promise and over deliver

This is a classic way of ensuring clients comes back to you again and again. Clients are always really impressed when they get a better than expected response. If you put a time limit on when you will respond back to them, can you regularly beat that by 50%?

Ask questions and listen to the answers

Often the most difficult, but certainly the most beneficial, question you can ask your customers is ‘How can we improve our product/service to you?’ The fear is all the negative things that they might say… and I mean MIGHT say. In reality, customers love to feel that their opinion is valued. If you get feedback good or bad, listen and act on it, they will make going the extra mile easy for you because they’ll tell you how!

Thank your clients for their business

The most grateful act you can do is to personally thank your clients for the business they have placed with you. Whether that is through a web order, a postal order or a face-to-face order, the best thing you can do is to sincerely say ‘Thank You’. A card, an email, a letter all give a personal touch that leave your customers feeling like they are valued and – guess what… they’ll come back to you again and again.

Reward your customers for their loyalty

Loyal customers are the most precious thing in the world. I read somewhere once that it is six times more expensive to get new customers than it is to keep your existing clients. If you give great service and great value for money, then your clients will keep coming back. Another great strategy for ensuring they keep coming back is to reward their loyalty. A voucher each quarter, money off next time they shop with you, a free gift when they purchase in a certain period of time are all great ideas. What would be suitable for your business?

Going the extra mile with your customers means you will create a customer base that will stay with you and not go elsewhere. Valuing your customers is an essential step to maintaining and developing your business.

Client Spotlight: Saving Money with More With Less Today

Lori started her frugal blog called More With Less Today in January 2009 to help fill the void of the “empty-nest”. I’ll let Lori take up the story:

I have always been a bargain shopper, a coupon user, and hated to pay full price for anything. Back in the day was everyone was living large, my friends used to mock me and call me a cheapskate. Now they ask me for advice!
More With Less Today
I had so many sources to share but did not have any technical knowledge at all. I began following Yaro Starak’s site www.entreprenuers-journey.com to try and learn how to put a blog together. I quickly learned that I didn’t know enough to succeed and I just wanted to blog. I didn’t really care about how to set up a blog.

I emailed Yaro and asked him to refer me to someone who could help me and he put me in touch with Joel. That was almost 3 years ago and I still use Joel almost monthly. He has patiently helped me with with revisions and redesigns to my site as I learn more about what works and what I want my site to look like.

That leaves me free to grow my site and I now have over 50,000 new readers each month. I just added two categories that I am excited to share with my readers. The first is a grocery coupon database where you can type in the brand name of a product, for example “Yoplait” and be directed to all the Yoplait coupons available today. The database will tell you where to find them if they are in a Sunday newspaper supplement or magazine, or if they are printable, you can print them right from my blog.

The second category is called “Today’s Good Deed” which highlights easy and inexpensive ways to bless and help others with our surplus and also features companies doing good things so we can support them with our dollars. For example, with Yoplait, you can enter codes from pink container lids and 10 cents from every lid code will go directly to Breast Cancer Research.

I hope you will stop by for a visit. I want to help busy people save more money on the things they need so that they have more money for the people they love!

Thank you Joel for your continued support. I could not have done this without you!

I wouldn’t be here without clients like you too Lori! Thanks for sharing your story. Lori’s site has great money saving tips and constantly updated coupons, so take a look.

The Top Ten Tips for Blogging Success

I’m often asked what the main elements of great blogging best practice are, and what new bloggers can do to really make the most of their online business to generate more traffic and increase revenue. In truth, there are a number of things that we need to do to keep our blogs flourishing and successful, and it can sometimes seem as if there is so much to learn, and so many activities to do that we’ll never get to the bottom of the winning formula for blogging success. However, the following tips are the main things I can think of that will really enhance your blog, supporting you to be a success.

1. Update your content regularly

Search engines like content that is fresh, newly-published, and has a high turnaround, as the latest content on the web is the most successful in terms of being highlighted through the search engines. Because of this, keep your blog updated with at least three new posts a week to make the most of the possibilities of the web.

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2. Watch your competitors

A really good way of making sure your blog is right on the money in terms of quality content and customer-focused activity is by keeping an eye on what pioneers in your industry are doing. Use the people you most admire as the yardstick for working out where to go next with your blog, and check out your key competitors regularly to make sure you stay ahead of your game.

3. Be good to your customers

Your customers are the reason why you blog, so make sure they are always your top priority. Answer comments quickly, respond well to queries and questions, and stay ahead of what your customers need at all times to have a well-read, flourishing and happy blog.

4. Keep your blog well maintained

Blogs are a bit like gardens – turn your back for too long, and they become a little unkempt and need a spruce up. The busier your blog is, the more work there is to keep it maintained. Keeping on top of comments, posting regularly and making sure your blog is tidy and well looked after are all really important for ease of loading and customer satisfaction online.

5. Use your customers to work out what should be on your blog

It’s sometimes easy to fall in to the trap of writing for ourselves rather than our customers, but this can easily lead to a fall in traffic as people find that they aren’t getting what they came for when they visit your site. Use your customers to establish what’s needed in terms of content, and cater for their requirements. When people get in touch with queries, use these as headings for new posts, letting your customers tell you what they want to know, and giving it to them.

6. Keep your blog easy to navigate

The best blogs are simple to use, and make it easy to see content and get to what we need quickly and efficiently. As our attention spans grow increasingly shorter, make sure you cater for customers by keeping everything within easy reach for them.

7. Link in to social media

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and all the other platforms for social networking are all there to support you to be a great blogger. Make the most of what is available by linking in to these powerhouses of free advertising, letting them work on your behalf to optimize your blog and raise awareness of who you are and what you do.

8. Make your content easy to read, and accessible

Great content is the cornerstone of good blogging practices, and if your site is full of mistakes, or tough to read, people won’t come back. On the other hand, lively fresh content will keep your readers loyal and satisfied, encouraging returns to your site to see what you have been up to, and what your latest post is telling your customers about.

9. Make the most of SEO opportunities

WordPress has a wealth of support in place for search engine optimisation, so make sure you give it a helping hand to get the main search engines to find and feature your content. The ‘All in one SEO pack’ is the very minimal you should be doing to enhance your blog content, using well researched keywords and backlinks to drive traffic to your site.

10. Be an active voice on your blog

Blogging success depends on customer interaction and a visible and strong presence at all times. When someone is actively engaged in their blogging business it shows through passionate writing, prompt responses to customers and a general impression of professionalism and enthusiasm. Stay present and involved with your blog, and you’ll succeed as your knowledge, passion and love of your business shine through.

Another Reason To Blog

Websites with 401 to 1,000 pages get SIX times more leads than those with 51 to 100 pages.

Websites with 401 to 1,000 pages get NINE times more visitors than those with 51 to 100 pages.

Websites with greater than 1,000 pages get EIGHT times more leads than those with 51 to 100 pages.

Pretty cool huh? An easy way to create pages is to create blog posts that provide value and are relevant to your target audience. There are even more stats f you think 400 Pages is out of your reach.

Websites with 31 to 40 pages get SEVEN times more leads than websites with 1 to 5 landing pages.

Websites with greater than 40 pages get 12 times more leads than those with 1 to 5 landing pages.

I saw this a while ago and forgot where it came from but wrote it down. Looking it up it comes from Hubspot’s Lead Generation Lessons From 4,000 Businesses.

Procrastination: The Evil Nemesis Of Blogging

Have you heard the old adage, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today? It may be something which our grandparents mumbled at us when they saw our bedrooms could do with a tidy up, but it remains as true today as it did generations ago. When we put things off and procrastinate instead of getting down to work, a host of negative things happen which can sap our enthusiasm and leave our sites out of date, our admin piling up, and our work/life balance looking decidedly… unbalanced.

Continue reading Procrastination: The Evil Nemesis Of Blogging

Effective Time Management For Bloggers

Where does the time go? We wake up on a Monday morning, all fired up with our goals firmly in mind for the week, and get to work. The next thing we know, it’s Friday night, we’re logging off, and the entire week seems to have disappeared in a puff of smoke, before we even have time to sit up and consider what has taken place.

Time can often seem flexible and unreliable – on some occasions it shoots past without so much as dropping in to say hello. Other times, it drags on and on, leaving us wishing away the minutes and seconds. This makes our time difficult to manage, as it can be unpredictable, unreliable and downright slippery! So, how do we free up time – the one thing, it is said, that money can’t buy – and make sure we get the most out of each hour of the day?

The main thing that helps me stay organized and stay ahead of time flying past is having a great routine – I get up at the same time each day, and go to my office at home. I then log on, do all of the administration which needs to be completed each day, and work for a while to plan anything else I need to get done today The rest of the day is then split in to sizeable chunks of time, so I know what I need to be doing at any given point. Having a time schedule supports people to keep on top of what needs to be done, and puts a little self-imposed pressure on the task of working from home, by galvanizing us in to action and preventing us from getting sidetracked by other things.

A routine is like any other habit – do it often enough, and your mind and body will get in to the swing of it until it becomes second nature. Of course, there are always going to be things which crop up unexpectedly, such as an urgent request for a customer, visits from people, or other time-sappers, but it’s possible to actually legitimize these by allocating a certain amount of each day for ad hoc requests or unexpected intrusions.

When we work in a corporate environment, our time is usually managed for us. We have an expected time to arrive each working day, and we are obliged to log on to our systems and be alert, productive and ready to go by a certain hour each morning. Lunch times are scheduled in – usually unpaid – pushing us in to taking a break at a specific section of each day, before returning for the afternoon to apply ourselves again.

However frustrating this may seem when we are actually in that environment, it is a system which has been used successfully for years, and one which we can just as effectively apply to our own day when we work for ourselves.

There are other great ways to manage time well – order your list of priorities each day to make sure the most urgent tasks get done first. If there are some things on your list which you can’t face, consider outsourcing them to other people who can do a better, quicker, more effective job on them than you may be able to.

Similarly, don’t be tempted to put off the tough things just because you don’t feel like facing them – the joy of effective time management is that you will find you have the capacity to take on even the hardest, most laborious jobs without flinching away from them, when you have a clear, ordered routine for your day.

I’m not saying that it is simple to become so effective at time management that you can do your work in one morning, and enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure. However, a few simple steps such as those above can bring some discipline in to your blogging business, freeing you up for more enjoyable tasks, and taking some pressure away from your working week.