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First Seven Steps To Small Business Blogging

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 18, 2014
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I once read a post by Marcus Sheridan on his 11-Step Plan to Launching a Successful Business Blog. I thought it was well written but didn’t think it applied to most small business owners who, like me, are either a one person shop or fewer than 5 employees. Therefore, I decided to put my own little plan together because, well, I’ve got 5 blogs (for now…), and most of them are doing pretty well.

Jeremy Wariner
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1. Write 5 to 10 posts ahead of time – This first helps you to see if you can write blog posts, but it also gives you some early content that you can do something with and not have to worry about writing that second or third post too soon.

2. Set up your blog on your own domain – This is the most crucial thing for having your blog help your website because search engines love new content and, if you post often enough, they’ll love your site and keep coming back for more, which helps your website rank higher.

3. Set up your theme – This is important for three reasons. One, you’ll want to determine how many columns you want for your theme (2 – 5), colors, fonts, etc. Two, you can always change your theme later on, but if you’ve added anything special to the theme you’ll have to remember to add it to your new theme, which many people forget about. And three, you’ll need to be careful if it comes with its own images; trust me on this one. By the way, something I try to do is have the blog theme look as much like my websites as possible for consistency; it’s something to think about.

4. Set up some protections – You’re going to want to look at a few things here before you get started. One, you want to make sure you have a back-up plugin so you can save your content in case something goes wrong with your blog. You’re going to want to set up your spam filter and possibly have a spybot plugin as well. You’re going to want to add a firewall to hide your ISP from invaders, and you’re going to want to add a plugin to keep people from having unlimited access in trying to crack your passwords. Finally, you might want to add a copyright plugin so that you have proof that something is yours first in case someone tries to scrap, aka steal it and claim it as their own.

5. Set up your feed & distribution system – As Twitter has started phasing things out plugins might not be the best way to work on getting the word out about your blog. You might also need to worry about the feeds you create so people can subscribe to your blog as my favorite feed program, Feedburner, might be gone within the year (Google bought it & is now not supporting it all that much). I don’t have a recommendation for feeds at this moment but a website called Twitterfeed seems to be working well in sending my blog posts to Twitter when they go live.

6. Create your posts, post-dating most of them – This covers #1 because most blogging software allows you to post-date articles. So, if you have 10 articles and space them apart every 3 or 4 days, you have ready made content that will go the first month to a month and a half on a regular basis, and this gets your blog established as one that will have continual content, and eases your mind for a while because you don’t have to worry about sitting down and having to write something new. And if you do, just post date that one as well.

7. Send the link to the first post to almost everyone you know – This is a one time thing unless your friends and business associates are a tolerant bunch. When I created my second blog, I sent the first post to everyone I knew so they could decide if it was for them or not. Promotion can get dicey at a certain point, but initially you want to let everyone know you’ve got a blog. By having some consistent posts early on, those people who do check it out will know that you’re not a one trick pony and that you’re serious about continuing to blog.

Can you do these things? Of course you can!
 

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Why Do You Blog?

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 7, 2014
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Why do you blog? You know, I’ve kind of broached this subject in the past but I came at it from different directions. First, in 2008 I asked the question Why Do You Write Your Blog, which was based on a couple of articles I’d read on the subject of using one’s blog to make money. The second, in 2010, was part of my Sunday Question blog series asking specifically Why Do You Blog, and in this case I was asking people what they were hoping to get out of their blogs, whether it was business or pleasure.

06-08-10 And With Heart Shaped Bruises And Late Night Kisses
Βethan via Compfight

Goodness, it’s been 4 years since I talked about this subject? Time to broach it again, but I’ll tell you why I’m doing it this time. If you’ve noticed, over the past couple of weeks I’ve put up some posts here that relate to business blogging. Although I talk about blogging often, specifically talking about blogging for business isn’t something I’ve spent lots of time on. Sure, I’ve talked on the subject of trying to make money blogging and why it’s more difficult than people think but that’s not quite the same topic.

In this vein, it’s talking about having some kind of business and using blogging to either help promote the business in some fashion, show expertise or actually using the blog as the business, not specifically a make money blog but making connections so you can sell product or services.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I use my main business blog as a way to show my expertise on certain subjects and, hopefully, to get clients of some kind from it. I haven’t talked as much about this blog and how I work on using it for business but truthfully, one speaking engagement I got locally came mainly because of this blog. Nah, I didn’t get paid, and I didn’t even get a nibble for business, but it was still fun being seen in a professional light by some folks in my area, since more often than not I work out of town or my clients are out of town.

Over the next few months, I expect to have more articles on this blog about business blogging in the vein I was talking about above. However, I know that there are a lot of people who don’t see that type of thing as the reason for why they write their blogs. So, I’m throwing the question out there, asking what I asked in 2010 and seeing if some of the responses are different.

See, I think it’s an important question more for you than for me. The one thing I get asked over and over is how do I come up with so many ideas to write about, especially after I passed 1,500 posts back in March. One reason is because I have a passion for the topics I write about. The other reason is because I do market some of my writing services, I charge a pretty nice dollar, and I like to be able to show someone just how proficient I’ve been in my own space, and then possibly point them to other spaces. In the end, even though this is my “fun” blog, it’s also my portfolio of diverse topics; wouldn’t you agree?

This should be fun; let’s see what you have for me. :-)
 

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Personality – Gauging Between Too Much And Too Little

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 4, 2014
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If you’re going to be a blogger you need to know what you’re up against.

There are over 225 million blogs in the world and it’s growing exponentially every year. The best thing about it is that there are a lot of people who decide they’re tired of blogging and bail out of the game. The worst thing about it is that you still end up with a lot of people you have to compete with for attention.

Steampunk author Anna-Marie York at Conbust
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I’ve always said that blogs must do one of 3 things: entertain, educate or inform. This is what leads people to determine what kind of blog they want to write.

It doesn’t lead people towards figuring out how to write though. I’m of the opinion that how you write is probably more important long term than what you write unless you happen to be part of a blogging conglomerate. In those cases someone else is always available to pick up what you can’t deliver.

To be a compelling blogger, you must add some personality to what you write. At least 50% of the time you’d better be throwing in some personality, and I mean something good. Hopefully you’ll be personable more often than that but if it’s not your normal style then you need to figure out how to develop it.

At the same time, you can’t go overboard. By that, I mean you can’t be so transparent that people know everything about your personal life, especially if you’re looking to show yourself as an authority. Truth be told, there are some people who use blogging as a diary, which is actually how it started out a couple of decades ago, and that’s fine if all you want is someone psychoanalyzing you every day. But if every post you write is you complaining about your boyfriend/girlfriend, your job, drinking too much, etc, people will get bored and leave; then you’ll have more to complain about.

How do you strike a personality balance? I was hoping you’d ask. I’m going to give you 9 ways you can be personable in your writing; I thought about doing 10 but 3 is my favorite number and that’s too few, and 9 is three 3′s, which I like a lot, thus you’re getting 9. You don’t have to do all of these every time by the way; I thought I’d mention that so you don’t look schizophrenic later on when you’re writing and want to blame me for it. With that said, here we go:

1. Humor.

Gene at Javier's 161
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People love to laugh and if you can even make them smile they’ll like you. No one except my friend Charles Gulotta is supposed to make you laugh with every single article written, but when you can throw in a line or allude to something funny while telling your tale it helps to break the ice and helps people identify with you.

2. Honesty.

Just because I said you shouldn’t tell everyone everything doesn’t mean you should lie to people either. We all know that probably 98% of the people who write “make money” blogs are lying about or misrepresenting their success. It’s not easy making sustainable money just by blogging; I think I know 2 people personally who make money only by blogging. Everyone else does something else to help supplement their income.

This doesn’t mean you can’t write about it, or can’t recommend products that have helped you make some money online or off. It does mean that if you’ve purchased an online travel business and you’re now trying to recruit me by showing me a $27,000 earnings check and yet you won’t pick up the check for lunch that I’m calling you a fraud and probably never talking to you again. That happened by the way; how many of you have had someone do something similar? Did you like it? That’s why honesty is better than faking it.

3. Language.

The fact is there are times when what you write about can be pretty dull. I knew someone who tried to only write about Twitter some years ago. After a month every article looked the same; ugh. The problem was this person only had one style of writing and only so many things to talk about; at least that’s how it seemed. On this blog I’ve written about or mentioned Twitter in nearly 300 articles; how many times do you think I’ve said the same exact thing about it?

One can easily alter language by coming at articles in different fashions. Sometimes you can tell a story, whether about yourself or someone else. You can give some technical details if you’re adept at that type of thing. You can write commentary posts, giving your opinion about something. You can try to find new words instead of “cool” or “fascinating”, and trust me you can only use the word “very” so many times before you start looking like a 5th grader. Change things up every once in awhile; look like a rock star.

4. Allusions.

An allusion means you’ve come up with a fancy phrase to try to compare or talk about something in a more amusing way. You can write “reading that post was horrid” or you can write “reading that post was like eating garbage out of the trash can of a fly.” I almost wrote “gag a maggot” but that’s an old phrase that someone else came up with; what I wrote first was original (it had better be).

Picture 20

Sometimes it pays to be less straightforward with your language and give it a bit of flair, and allusions are the easiest way to go. Truthfully, they’re the one thing you can steal from someone else without retribution; that is unless I wrote it.

5. Mention something about you.

You know how I said don’t tell everything about yourself? That part is true, but there are things you can tell about yourself sometimes while trying to make a point about something.

For instance, I happen to be diabetic. I’ve talked here and there about the issue, my ups and downs and different things I’ve tried or gone through. I don’t wear it as a badge of honor but it’s something I can talk about because it’s real, and by talking about it I feel I help others come out of the shame of being diagnosed at some point (everyone feels shame initially, as if they did something wrong, which isn’t always the case) and offer hope, as well as a bit of humor and honesty, on the topic.

This part leads into my next point.

6. Creativity.

I’m thinking someone is going to say something like “but I write about artificial grass; how do I fit something about myself into a topic like that?” Hey, if I could fit in something personal while talking about the topic of forensic loan analysis, you can do it about almost anything.

Why are you writing about whatever it is you write about? Do you hope to write for a long time? The easiest way to be creative is to add some things you’ve done or things that have happened to you or someone you know into your writing, no matter what it is.

I write about many things, yet I’ve added in my own tales about chess, poker, learning how to play the piano, Cling Wrap, living in Japan, on and on, into all of my topics. When you write and add in some of your own experiences, your writing takes on a personal feel, your words are different, and people can feel the emotions, funny or sad. When people identify with you… well, you know.

7. Name drop.

By that, I don’t only mean mentioning the names of famous people like Vanessa Williams, Derrick Coleman, Wilt Chamberlain or Rick Fox (okay, yes, I’ve met or talked to all of those people). I don’t mean Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki or Ken Evoy (I’ve had online conversations of some type with all of them).

If you’re a true blogger it means you’ve visited other blogs and read other posts. If you’re a true blogger you’ve had people stop by your blog and leave comments, and you’ve responded to them & checked their stuff out as well. Sometimes when you’re writing, you might recall something from one of the many blogs you’ve read or something someone you’ve read has said.

Shakara Ledard at http://ontheinside.info
Thomas Collardeau
via Compfight

Mention them, link back to their blogs, and tell your tale. I name drop often; it helps them get some attention and it helps me as well because it gives me more to write about whenever I need something new. People love seeing their names in print in other places; we all like a bit of acknowledgment. When you give selflessly, you get back way more; trust me on this one.

8. The “Mom” Factor.

Although things seem much different than back in the day when I was younger, one of the best filters in the world is whether or not you’d be comfortable in sharing what you’re writing with your mother. I don’t only mean bad language; I mean other things about your life.

I know a lot of people who have had to defend something they wrote on a blog post because someone they know read it and mentioned it to their mother in passing. Mom’s hate being shamed, and even if it was about you, they always take on your shame, whether you have any or not.

I have multiple blogs, and there’s not a single thing on any of them that I wouldn’t mind my mother seeing, and I’ve tackled some interesting topics. I’d say the same about my dad but he’s no longer with us. For some people, maybe you’re more worried about what your dad might say. The same advice people give you when it comes to sharing too much, too many salacious pictures and too much detail that someone could find out about you later on applies to your blog; some things are better kept to yourself.

Right now I’m betting you’re either saying “wow, I didn’t think he could get 9 of these” or you’re saying “finally, he’s at #9″. This is the most important one; you ready?

9. Love.

That looks strange doesn’t it? In the book The Power by Rhonda Byrnes of The Secret fame, she talks a lot about the topic of “love”. In her opinion, everything you do that’s positive is based on love; not romantic love necessarily but love in general.

If you think about it she’s absolutely right. Why do you do the things you enjoy? Why do you crave certain foods, like certain types of movies, hang out in certain places more than others, talk to specific people more than other people? All those things make you feel good right? Why do you feel good? Because you love doing them.

If you love what you do, your personality will always show. If you’re doing something only because it might help you get something that you haven’t fully defined as success, you probably don’t love it or even like it a little bit.

Nothing says you have to by the way. Mike Rowe tells the story of a guy who does this nasty little job with hogs that no one else likes to do, which has made him a rich man. It wasn’t ever his wish, he hates it a lot, but he likes the money, which allows him to do other things.

You’re thinking “where’s the love there”? The love is in being rich, being able to travel, being able to buy things he likes. He’s willing to sacrifice some things for his business to help fund the other parts of his life.

That works for him because what he’s doing is pretty much a solitary thing though; blogging isn’t a solitary thing. If you don’t love blogging it will show, and people will stay away. Then what will you do, other than probably quit? If you write about what you know and love, who you know and love, where you know and love, your personality will flow and people will love it. Either that or think you’re weird, and trust me, many people love weird also.

Don’t be a robot; be yourself, be relaxed, and love what you write about. If you follow the things I mentioned above, you’ll be great; heck, if I’d only follow them I might be great as well. :-)
 

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Why CEOs Should Blog

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 31, 2014
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Thomas Quinn is the former CEO of Community General Hospital in Syracuse, NY. For 4 years he had a personal blog where he talked about community developments his hospital was a part of, highlighted positive things employees and physicians did, and talked about philosophical and health care issues such as compassion.

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When he was needed the most was the final year he was CEO, which was also the final year that the hospital was a standalone, before it merged with University Hospital in the same city. While many hospital executives might have tried to keep news quiet for fear of what the community might think about them, Quinn was front and center in talking about what was going on with the merger, with the unions, about the employees and how they were trying to save all jobs, and of course with his personal thoughts about why the hospital needed to move in this direction.

When the merger was complete he wrote his final post and moved on, but many people who followed his blog thanked him for keeping them in the loop; communities with hospitals feel a very close connection to them

While there have been some reports of more corporate CEOs stepping away from blogging, it’s interesting to see the names of people who are either continuing blogging or are just getting started. On August 1st 2012 the President and CEO of CLIA Cruise Lines, Christine Duffy, announced that she had started a new blog in June so that she could stay connected with customers, travel agents and others in the industry who she felt would be interested in the plans her company had and share some of the events that have taken place. You can imagine the openness of what she has to share and how people who visit her blog would feel both a connection to her and the company.

She’s not alone in the belief that CEOs can bring a different perspective, especially in today’s world where many people believe top executives in many companies are heartless monsters who only care about how much money they and their companies can make. Some of those names include: Bill Marriott, Marriott International; Mike Critelli, Pitney Bowes; Mark Cuban, Landmark Theaters and the Dallas Mavericks; and John Mackey, Whole Foods.

CEO blogs are very popular, especially for big name companies. They drive traffic to the blog, which means traffic to the site. The more traffic the site gets, the better it ranks in search engines, and thus it achieves search engine optimization principles by content, which is the way search engines want to see it. All it takes is a little bit of time and effort, and it’s free. Right now, your voice would be unique, and you’ll get a jump on your competitors.

You’ve probably heard how popular the TV show Undercover Boss is; CEOs that blog are in that category. I’m in that category as well. You can’t afford to pass it up.

By the way, this isn’t just for CEOs. Those of you hoping to get business or publicity of any type via social media should be blogging. Most of you who visit here are doing that; I just wanted to clarify it.
 

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5 Reasons Blogging Helps Your Website’s SEO

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 28, 2014
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One of the biggest recommendations many SEO specialists offer to their clients is to add a blog to their website. That’s because it offers great SEO benefits if done right, as well as helps your potential customers see you as an expert in your field. You might not always have someone tell you the reasons why it works, so here are 5 reasons that blogging helps your website’s SEO.

1. Search engines like new content.

Oh no, here come the Bloggers
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Search engines send bots out through the internet looking to see if your website has made any changes in awhile. If there’s none for a long time, they stop sending the bots and your web presence declines. With some kind of consistent content, even if you only write once or twice a month, your website keeps some kind of relevance.

2. You get to reinforce your expertise in what you do.

No matter what your industry is or if you sell products, being able to write about either on a consistent basis helps the search engines definitely show everyone what you’re about. Sometimes all it takes is having more niched content than the next person to help you stand above the crowd.

3. You have multiple opportunities for internal linking.

Something you don’t hear a lot of SEO specialists talking about is linking to your own content, whether it’s other blog posts or pages on your website. One of the best optimized sites on the internet is the W3C Organization, which has almost no external links but internal links like you wouldn’t believe. Not only does it help your SEO but it encourages your visitors to check out other pages of your website.

4. It’s easier to gear your content towards multiple keyword phrases.

With just a website you can only cover so many keywords and keyword phrases unless you have hundreds of pages. By adding a blog you can write multiple posts with multiple keywords and phrases that helps you compete with all of your competitors.

5. If others like your content, they’ll share it.

They could share it on their own blogs or through social media, which not only drives more visitors to your site but ends up creating backlinks to your site without your having to do anything except have exceptional content on your blog. It’s always great with others promote you because they think you’re content is awesome.

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