The Pitfalls Of Early Adoption

Anyone who works in the fields of marketing or technology will have come across the term ‘Early Adopter’ at some point in their career. An early adopter is someone who seizes on a new idea or gadget, hell bent on being the first person or company to present it to their customers. On a personal level, early adopters can be those people who queue up outside the flagship Apple store for the latest iPad or phone, or hover nervously around online auctions desperate to get their hands on the latest games console or model of car.

Early adopters are a blessing for everyone else out there. They seize on the newest model of gadget or latest trend in the ideas market, and religiously review their new find with the enthusiasm of a kid at Christmas. Because of these fabulous people, the more cautious among us can sit back and wait, watching the reviews come in, before making a decision about what we want to purchase, or the ideas we want to take on board for our business.
Old Phone
There is something fantastic about being one of the first in line to try a new concept or piece of technology. You get to talk about it to your colleagues and customers, add your voice to the review blogosphere, and try out all the features of the new concept before they are made widely available.

However, in business, early adoption is not the best idea. Admittedly, a new concept can be a real draw for your customers, when they see you are right at the forefront of your game. Bit what happens when you begin to use a new idea or piece of software, only to realize it is in Beta stage and is so full of glitches it can’t function properly? This is the downside of taking on new ideas too quickly – you are effectively being used as a guinea pig, testing out the idea or gadget for the manufacturer or inventor, without giving it a chance to bed down and be refined.

In business, one of the best things you can do is sit still and watch the market, as the story of your new concept or gadget unfolds. Think of the glitches people found with the iPhone, which wouldn’t ever get a good reception at first unless it was held in a certain way, or the uproar that accompanies each new release of Microsoft software, as people see that the product is riddled with flaws that make us susceptible to hackers and viruses.

As business owners, we have a responsibility to ‘look before we leap’ – this means keeping a very close eye on new developments, but being wary before we jump in and purchase them for ourselves and our customers. The next time you are tempted to spend a few hundred dollars on the latest trend to sweep the market, sit back a while and let other people find all the flaws for you!

Making Your Blog Mobile Friendly

With mobile phones becoming more and more popular as a tool to access the internet, here are some killer tips to make sure your blog is mobile friendly.

Make signing up easy

I can’t count the number of times I have found a blog that really interests me and then have spent ages trying to find the RSS feed button – or in some cases haven’t found one at all. When you are setting up your blog, make sure the RSS feed button is right at the top of the page – or as near to the top as you can place it. If you place it at the bottom of the page, you will get fewer subscribers and probably no mobile ones at all. There has to be a really good reason for someone visiting your blog, via a mobile phone, to scroll all the way to the bottom of your list of posts.

Get shorty

Once a mobile user has found your feed button, the next problem they will face is your feed URL. Many blogs will place lots of data, or even a description of your blog, in the URL. This means that the URL can run to fifty or more characters, which is not a great sight to be greeted with. The best way to overcome this is to use a URL shortener to make your feed URLs short and easy to work with. Many online sites offer free URL shortening applications, WordPress 3.0 has one built in for it’s own posts, or a free plugin like Pretty Link can help.

Bigger isn’t always better

When writing a post, especially a post aimed at mobile users, use bold snappy headlines and keep your paragraphs short. If you have ever tried to view a blog with a mobile phone you will understand what I mean. Many bloggers will use one main heading and then paste a single block of text into their post. This is so frustrating when viewed on a mobile because it is easy to lose your place in all that text. With bold headers and short paragraphs, even if you scroll too far or get distracted, it is easy to find your place again.

Picture this

It is always good practice to host your pictures and buttons yourself (or on an account you own, like Amazon S3) and not to rely on third-party services. The simple reason for this is, although it might not affect page loading when you are on your home computer or laptop, it really slows things down when using a mobile phone. Another good tip when using pictures is to limit not only their size but also their dimensions. Anything above approximately 100kb is just too big for mobile phones to handle at the moment and an image that is too wide, or to long, will really cause problems for you when scrolling.

Keep yourself mobile

Finally, subscribe to your own mobile content. Many bloggers forget this simple step and it is the easiest and quickest way to see whether your blog looks good on a mobile phone. If you are signed up to your own feed, you can make tweaks and changes quickly, before visitors have the chance to see your feed.

Use a Mobile plugin

There are a couple of plugins that you can use to transform your site into a mobile friendly version. WPtouch is one and WordPress Mobile Edition another. Both are good but do transform the look o your site completely but optimize it for mobile devices.

Getting Yourself Into The Blogging Habit

Habits are formed by association, when you repeat something often enough the brain recognizes it as a pattern and that pattern becomes associated with something either pleasurable or negative. As we get older this becomes harder for the brain to accept, so we need to help it along!

Keeping your blog as a positive thing on your task list

Try associating writing your blog with a pleasurable part of your day, maybe you have a cup of your favorite coffee and a couple of biscuits while you write. By a pleasant association you are more likely to enjoy the experience every day. If sitting down and writing becomes connected with a negative experience or feeling you are less likely to want to form that habit. If writing it feels like a chore then you aren’t going to want to sit down and write it!

Build it into your routine. Choose a time of day to write your blog that best suits you and your finest creative brain. Some people work well early in the morning, some in the evening. They don’t take long to update, try allowing yourself some time in your life to write uninterrupted; by allowing yourself some time it does become an integral part of your day. I find the first light of day an inspiration and love listening to the silence of the day before the hustle and bustle starts properly.

Making your environment work for your blogging

It’s also a good idea to make sure working conditions are good for you. Let your friends and family know this is the time that you will be writing your posts and you’d appreciate it if they gave you some peace and quiet for a while. It’s impossible to think when the kids want you to sort out an argument, you’re wanted on the phone or one of the other many reasons our lives are never our own. Shut the door; give yourself some space to think.

Forming the habit of writing it is going to take time, it’s not going to happen overnight, just as a good following won’t. Psychologists recommend doing an activity everyday for 30 days for something to become a habit.

…And that is good advice for a blogger. In order for a blog to work it needs to be updated regularly, every day to start with. Your followers are looking for good and original posts from you regularly. Although you shouldn’t post things just for the sake of a post, that kind of content is less likely to wow than one you actually have something to say in.

Maybe you can’t get to your PC to write sometimes. We all end up with other overriding commitments sometimes. If this happens, try taking a notebook or a voice recorder with you so you can brainstorm at convenient times, when inspiration strikes. Lots of us have this facility on our phones these days – I find both methods useful when I’m out and about, to record ideas that pop into my head.

Keeping the blogging habit alive and well

When it comes to blogging commitments, focus on the positive, not the negative. Rather than dwelling on the posts you forgot to publish, concentrate on tomorrow’s post and make sure that gets done. In order for something to become a habit, you need to think of it in a positive light. If you start concentrating on the negative you will condition your brain to associate blogging with stress, performance anxiety and boredom. Remember we do this for the pleasure, not because it causes us pain!

All habits take a while to form, so give yourself time to get used to your new routine. Keep light-hearted about your blog, and use it as a platform to promote you and your business without feeling overwhelmed by the obligations which regular blogging brings.

Improving Your Blog Stickiness

It’s relatively easy to get your blog set up and start updating it with great articles. It’s also straightforward to market it, let people know it is out there, and do what you can to encourage people to come and visit your site. With the right tools and support, you can get a great blog up and running in a small space of time.

What can prove to be a little more difficult is getting people to stick around. We’ve all visited new blogs and checked them out, and then clicked away from them, never to return again.

So. What is the ‘stickiness’ factor, and how do you make sure you have it on your blog? Here are a few ideas…

The soap opera technique

Do you ever watch soap operas? Some people live by them. They have an ongoing story to tell, and they retain maximum ‘stickiness’ in a number of ways. These include:

  • Running plot lines that don’t ever truly conclude (ever watched Lost?!).
  • Leaving you hanging with unanswered questions.
  • Dealing with relevant topics that people can identify with.
  • Letting you get to know the characters, so you care about how they’re getting on.

All these factors can apply equally well to blogging, and you can take inspiration from soap techniques for your own writing. By using open writing styles, you can make sure that people come back to your blog regularly to see how you’re getting on, and develop relationships with people that mean they are eager to get your next installment!

Keep abreast of leading-edge developments in your field

If you can tap in to news as it breaks in your industry, you stand a good chance of retaining your readership for good. Make your blog the first port of call for updates and information, and people will come back again and again, using you as a primary resource for finding things out. The best way to do this is to look online for relevant RSS feeds and subscribe to them, then comment on useful or interesting things which apply to your field of expertise.

Try providing useful widgets

If you make your blog useful, the likelihood is people will come back to the site as a matter of course, as part of their daily routine. Widgets such as weather updates, news items on a particular subject, or essential information such as share prices, promotions or offers (depending upon your area of industry) can be a great – and easy – way of making your blog site indispensable to your readers. Make it easy for people to bookmark you, and then make them want to visit you time and again.

Remind people through other means to visit your blog

Sometimes, we forget about even the best things in life. Have you ever discovered a great new recipe for a meal, only to kind of forget about it again? Blogs can be like that. Even the best ones can slip the net if people aren’t given a reminder to go back and check in with them. Keep your blog at the forefront of your readers’ minds, by linking to it from your other resources. Make it a prominent part of your company web site, and try sending out monthly e-mail newsletters that link people straight back to your blog. Make it even easier for people to return, by offering a prompt to add your blog to their ‘Favorites’ list.

Harness the power of storytelling

Storytelling is a skill which every single person responds to. Structure your blog posts with a clear beginning, a great middle and a decisive ending. These techniques tap in to our inherent response to stories which has been developed in us since we were children. By making your posts clear, well-structured and readable, you’ll give people a sense of ease when they read your posts, and encourage them to return to your site for another dose of storytelling, every day. As busy adults, we don’t often get the chance to take time out and lose ourselves in a great story. Your blog can be one of the places where people pop in to tune out for a while!

Build up long-term online relationships

This is the most simple, and most effective, way of building your readership and making your blog stickier than a fly caught in treacle (mmmm…). If people who visit feel that they are getting to know you, and you are reliable when it comes to providing help and support, they’ll come to view you as a valued colleague and friend. This is achieved by:

  • Making regular (and I mean REGULAR) updates on your blog.
  • Answering all comments and queries quickly and efficiently.
  • Being helpful, supportive and proactive when it comes to dealing with comments.
  • Visiting other blogs, and offering them the readership that you yourself are seeking to gain.

…Simple!

If you have a ‘sticky’ blog, get in touch in the comments and share your expertise with me!

Blogging For Small Businesses – What Should We Write About?

OK. You’ve set your blog up. You understand that it’s a great tool for telling people about your business. You’re on board with the technical side of things and know how to maintain your new site.

There’s another problem. What the heck do you write about? How do you know what your customers are looking for, and what subjects will bring people back again and again to your site? Here are my thoughts:

Write about what you know
You set up your blog for a reason – to share your expertise and knowledge with other people. Therefore, it makes sense to stick to subjects you are really familiar with. A gardening blog isn’t going to have articles about cooking, and a technical blog isn’t going to be discussing the intricacies of crochet skills. Your main aim is to enhance your customer proposition by speaking knowledgeably about subjects related to your business, so do that. If the thought of writing about a particular subject terrifies you, the chances are it’s not the right subject in the first place!

Bring in current research and ideas

Every industry is constantly evolving, as people discover new tools, processes and innovations to improve it. Regardless of whether you are blogging about networking or needlework, there are going to be resources online that cover the front line when it comes to your particular subjects. Do some careful online research to find out the lowdown on your industry specialism, and keep your readers updated with news and new ideas.

Ask your customers
The best way to find out the kind of thing your readers want to see on your blog is to ask them! Why not elicit feedback from your existing users, and get ideas from people you network with? This has a double purpose, as it also lets people know about your blog, and invites people to take an active interest in it.

Let your hits do the talking
Some days we get loads of comments and views on our blogs, and other days it can feel as if your writing has disappeared in a puff of smoke. Get to know what works and what doesn’t for your entries. If an entry on knitting generates four thousand views, and an update on casseroles gives you one, you’re not going to blog about Hotpot, right? Work out the right topics to please your readers… and stick to them.

Look at other successful blogs for ideas
We all have ‘favorite’ blogs that we log in to religiously each day to get updates, learn something new or keep in touch with some of the great writers out there. Take a look at some of the most successful blogs on the web at the moment, and work out what they may have, that you don’t. That way, you can learn from the experts, and have fun finding new blogs at the same time!

Take inspiration from your day-to-day experiences
Every day, something will happen to you in your job or at home that can be thought about, and put to good use. Whether you are writing for other small businesses or the general public, your experiences can be really valuable to blog about. We like to hear about what other people have been up to, and there are very few events that can’t be turned in to a great story for your blog, and be used to promote your business.

What do you reckon? Let me know the kind of things you think small businesses should focus on when writing their blog updates…

How To Keep Motivated To Write Your Blog

I write for a number of different blogs, and getting motivated to write can sometimes be a chore or the motivational is not there.

So why do we do it?

We all know that a successful blog depends on a number of factors. For a site to succeed it needs to be informative, engaging, and most importantly, updated regularly. There’s nothing worse than going to a blog you like, only to discover there’s been no activity for a few weeks. It makes us feel let down, as if the person behind the blog has given up on it and can’t find the interest to maintain it. We leave, and don’t bother going back.

It’s all very well knowing this, but the fact remains that updating your blog can be a trial sometimes. After a hard day at work the last thing we sometimes feel like doing is posting up a sparkly message. It’s easy to allow a blog to get stale, but this is fatal for business.

So, how do we find the motivation to keep going? Here are a few ideas…

Think of your audience

It can really help the blogging process if you take some time to consider who you are writing for. Somewhere, someone right now is reading your blog. What do you want to do for them? Whether your goal is to inspire, teach, share or just talk to your online audience, it’s worth remembering that your blog is actually being read, and enjoyed, by people. Don’t let your fans down by forgetting to update!

Encourage feedback and open up communications channels
Nothing creates motivation for the humble blogger like being acknowledged. Whether you are getting praise or criticism, either form of feedback will provide you with motivation to carry on. Just knowing that your words are having an impact will give you a kick start to update more regularly. Invite people to comment on what you’ve said, and engage in dialogue with them – it’s one of the most rewarding things we can do as bloggers.

Blog on subjects close to your heart
What really gets you going? What are you passionate about? Are there any subjects which you really enjoy learning about, and sharing what you have learned? Keep your blogging lively and enthusiastic by choosing subjects you care about. Your passion will shine through in your words.

Keep remembering why you started blogging in the first place
If things are becoming a little stale on your blog, it’s worth going back to the beginning and remembering what prompted you to start writing in the first place. Was it to promote your business? Speak passionately about something that interests you? Help people? Whatever your initial motivation was, it won’t be hard to get it back once you start thinking about what your objectives are. Sometimes, we just need a reminder about what we want to achieve, before we can find the motivation to get out there and do it.

Build blogging in to your daily routine
Blogging can be a bit like cleaning your teeth and making the bed – you don’t always feel like doing it, but it always gets done. Because it has to. Instead of thinking of writing updates as a chore, it’s worth incorporating it in to your daily schedule, alongside all the other things you usually do. If you can look after yourself and your home, you can look after your blog in exactly the same way.

Visit other people for inspiration
One of the principal motivators for writers is seeing the way other people approach it. Have you ever watched a good film, and been inspired to be creative, or read a book that got you to thinking how you could do something similar? Reading other bloggers can provide you with new ideas and get the creative juices flowing. Who knows – you may be inspiring someone with your writing, right now!

What techniques do you use to keep your blog up to date? Let me know!

How To Sell An Ebook Online

Do you know how to sell an ebook online? Many beginners to WordPress and ebooks are confused about the options for selling an ebook, or any other digital product, with WordPress. Thankfully there are a few options that can get you up and running quickly and easily.

I have a new free mini-site called Get Your Ebook Online that will quickly show you most of the options out there and how easy it can be.

SIX videos cover all your options to sell online:

* Paypal only – Why this is quick and easy to setup, but is NOT the best option.
* Paypal and AWeber – Why you should integrate the two for automatic product delivery.
* WP E-Commerce plugin – Is the free version all you need to sell online and how easy is it to use?
* Ecwid – A new and easy shopping cart solution that I’ve come across that can be setup in minutes to sell online!
* E-junkie – Why paying a monthly fee to sell your ebooks online could be a good option for you.
* ClickBank – The pros and cons of using Clickbank to sell your ebook.

Simply enter your name and email to the right and confirm your subscription to get the videos emailed to you right away.

There is no upsell, there are no affiliate links and there is nothing to buy from me. Simply six videos that will show beginners the options for getting their ebook or digital product online. All I ask in return is your email address over at Get Your Ebook Online.

The videos are completely non-technical overviews of how to sell an ebook on your site, and I will hopefully be adding to the videos when new options come up, I already have PayDotCom on my list of avenues to explore, but if you know any more or have any questions please leave them below.