Category Archives: Blogging

Freedom Of Speech And Controversy On Your Business Blog

In the past I briefly talked about the controversy surrounding Chik-Fil-A. I’ve talked about controversy and having to deal with it often. I figured this was as good a time as any to talk about freedom of speech and controversy as it pertains to business blogs as opposed to general blogging.

Pitbull or Victim?
cobalt123 via Compfight

When businesses are thinking about being controversial, they shouldn’t be thinking about being controversial on social issues such as politics or religion. Those types of things can take away from the reason you created the blog and your business as well.

Unless those issues are what your blog is about, it’s best to stay away from them; at least on your business blog. If you feel the need to express your opinion about other things, it’s best to create a personal blog, whether you use your real name or not, and go that route.

However, negating the benefits of going against the grain, which is what controversy is all about, as it pertains to your business, means you’ve giving up an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. For instance, on this blog, I’ve taken some contrary views to the norm as it pertains to backlinks. All that does is set me apart from others who do some of the same type of work I do and starts a discussion point. In a way, it also establishes me as a free thinker, someone who sees things from a different perspective, and potentially helps me get clients who have some thoughts that lean my way.

Using another example, let’s say that I do kitchen remodeling. Most people in that industry recommend granite counter tops because they’re sturdy and pretty, and they come in multiple colors. If I wanted to be like the majority, I’d also advocate granite counter tops.

However, I’ve seen a few people that advocate slate counter tops, saying they’re also sturdy, easier to clean, won’t stain and that you can even cut on them without worrying that you’re going to cut them up. So, maybe someone else starts writing about the benefits of using slate instead. It goes against the norm, but you can bet that someone out there doesn’t like granite and likes reading something where an expert in the field has a much different opinion. And let’s face it, even those that advocate using granite can’t say slate is horrible, even if it wouldn’t be their first option.

Now, I don’t know whether slate is popular or not; I’m just using this as an example of how it might be controversial within the remodeling industry because everyone else goes in a different direction. As long as it’s related to business, controversy could end up being a good thing. Now, if you were advocating paper counter tops, that wouldn’t be controversial; it would be crazy, and you’ll never work. So you have to pick your options based on your own business.

Final point. Freedom of speech means that everyone can say anything they want to, no matter what or where it is. It also means that others can disagree with you however and wherever they feel as well. Hopefully it only stays at a verbal level but that’s the thing about some controversial topics. You’re probably never going to have two social media consultants coming to blows over whether Twitter is better than Facebook, but social issues are a much different animal. That’s why it’s best to avoid those topics where your business is concerned.

So, have you started blogging yet? Come on, be controversial, say something!
 

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Blog Writing 101

I’ve written a lot of posts about blogging on my other blog, including some tutorial stuff, so if you want more than what I’m going to talk about in this post you can check those things out here. I find it incredible how many people I run into that, when I start talking about blogging, they start having palpitations. Did almost everyone really have that much trouble writing papers in school?

Catbert and the company blogger
Niall Kennedy
via Compfight

Writing is as easy or as hard as one decides it should be. Earlier this evening I was reading someone else’s blog post where the guy said he spends 6 to 8 hours writing each blog post. Most of mine takes between 10 & 15 minutes, depending on how much I write and how much internal linking or image adding I do. Most people I talk to say it takes them between 30 minutes to 2 hours to write blog posts.

Remember story writing when you were in school? The teacher told you that every story has to have a beginning, middle and end. Any time you start thinking about writing a blog post, the beginning and the end should write themselves for you most of the time. If you start with a certain point, that’s going to be one paragraph. Unless you write a list post your closing paragraph will be kind of a reiteration of what your opening premise for your post was, with a few things thrown in from the middle.

That should take care of anywhere from 50 to 100 words for you, maybe more. Since the recommendation is to try to write at least 250 words (300 or more is better) you’re already 20 – 40% of the way there.

What should your middle be? It can obviously be almost anything but what are you prepared to do? If you don’t consider yourself all that prolific then let me help you.

Let’s use baseball for this exercise. Let’s say you wanted to write something about the Boston Red Sox and their chances for winning their division in 2014. You don’t know everything about the team but you know enough to be dangerous.

In your opening paragraph you indicated you were going to talk about the Red Sox in 2014, so in your second paragraph you could start by mentioning how the team did in 2013, which included winning the World Series (yes, I’m a Red Sox fan). You could mention the immediate offseason hopes and dreams and how it all collapsed quickly (oh yeah, that’s how this season is ending; sigh…).

Then you could talk about players the team still has, how David Ortiz might fare in his final season, and so on. You could mention any new players coming into the fold and how good or bad they played the previous season.

Finally you could talk about whether you believe they improved, went backwards, or stayed the same. You could mention how you they didn’t so enough to catch the Yankees, or how management seemed to have given up on the team early by sending off its two best pitchers.

With your first paragraph pretty much done and your middle complete, your last paragraph could be a quick summary, something like “The 2014 Red Sox lost their momentum from last year’s World Series victories but looks like a contender heading into the next season. With unbridled enthusiasm and some great young players coming up it should be an exciting season next year.” That was 41 quick words, and I could have said more.

Blogging doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s not necessary to hit a home run, if you will, with every single post. Blogging isn’t meant to be a series of white papers; it’s meant to be a series of thoughts that not only help you show whatever expertise you have, but to help your main website, if your blog is attached to it, with its SEO properties. You can do this; trust me.
 

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Why Your Business Needs A Blog

I’ve always said that I created my first blog to help highlight my business. Before I go any further, if you’re interested in learning more about blogging in general I’m going to recommend you check out this post on Better Blogging, the second half of that post, then check out my blogging tips. If you’re not a better blogger after all of that then you’ll never learn the game. 🙂

Oklahoma Blogger
Wesley Fryer via Compfight

Plain and simple, for almost every business a blog will help enhance visibility and show people what you know. Sure, there are some services like snow plowing where having a blog might be a waste of time, but even landscape businesses could benefit greatly from having a blog.

Here are some facts about business blogging.

Statistics have shown that businesses with blogs get anywhere from 85% to 100% more leads than businesses without blogs. Those same statistics show that they’ll get nearly 50% more leads from other businesses than sites without blogs.

You have two stats. Now let’s look at the reasons.

One, the more new content the more opportunities you have to increase your website’s presence, hence the higher you’ll rank on search engines.

Two, when people can learn what you do from you, they’re more likely to work with you.

Three, when people like what you have to say and how you say it, they’re more comfortable with you and people like working with someone they’re comfortable with.

Four, you can branch out into many areas which gives you a lot to talk about. For instance, I know someone who wrote for a website that installed artificial grass. What she did was highlight famous places around the world that used artificial grass, and every once in awhile threw in something about the different types.

Five, as I mentioned above, you can hire someone else to write for you if you’re not a great writer. Of course this isn’t preferable for most of us but since I write for a couple other blogs it’s fair to point it out.

Six, it keeps you visible with your clientele.

I think that’s enough, though there are other reasons. At least consider it, but also consider this. Don’t start a blog that you don’t think you can maintain for at least a few years. Nothing looks worse than a blog that’s never updated, and that could hurt you as much as having the blog could have helped you.
 

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First Seven Steps To Small Business Blogging

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.

Phil McElhinney via Compfight

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?

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. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell