Archives for February 2012

The Importance of Credibility in the Blogging Community

Be real, practice transparency, and add some personality to your blog

A guest post by Caeden M MacGregor

Social Network Brand Credibility ScaleIf you’re trying to monetize your blog, or blogs, using affiliate campaigns, one of the most important things you need to consider is your blogging credibility. I know, if you’re just starting out you’re probably asking, “What credibility?” I did the same when I first started blogging. However, you’re already aware that blogging is a numbers game (traffic) and in order to build traffic and see a return on those affiliate campaigns you must establish yourself as a credible source in the blogging community. Let’s start with your niche…even in a niche you still have competition…some of which may have scammed many of the same target users that you are trying to persuade to your blog. And because the internet is overflowing with scams and poor quality website, gaining credibility as a blogger should be your number one concern—once you establish that the traffic and return on your affiliate campaign will come naturally.

Why is credibility so important for bloggers?

No sane internet shopper will purchase a product from a blogger that they don’t trust and have never heard tell of. To establish credibility, and the full shopping carts that come with it, you must first be seen as an expert in your niche. For example, if your blog is a health and fitness blog, you should have knowledge of personal training, be certified as a fitness instructor, or at least be an avid fitness enthusiast who has achieved admirable goals with their own personal fitness levels. Once your audience trusts that you know what you’re talking about—they will be more willing and trusting to buy from an expert. Makes sense doesn’t it?

How can you build credibility as a blogger?

Now that you understand why credibility is so important, the question is, “How can I build credibility as a blogger?” Establishing yourself as an expert in your niche is not a terribly difficult process, but it will take a lot of effort. It’s certainly not an overnight process. Realistically it can take anywhere from several months to years—depending on just how niche your blog topic.

The following 3 steps will help you establish credibility as a blogger:

1. Be real

How would you feel buying online from a faceless, nameless blogger with no contact information? If it were me, there is no way I’m punching in the credit card digits on your site. However, you can easily remedy the lack of personality on your blog by creating an “about” featuring some information about your expertise and achievements in your niche, maybe a humorous anecdote about you as a person, and include your contact details. Think of your “about” page as your blogger bio and be sure to include a real photo of yourself.

2. Practice transparency

That means be honest with your target audience because they can smell a rat. If you are making money from an affiliate campaign—tell them about it—but also note that you are providing honest, unbiased feedback on the products that you feature on your site. If you don’t like a product, be honest. If you like a product, tell them exactly what value the product has. And if you are selling products be sure to have used them yourself or have knowledge about them personally before marketing them on your website.

3. If you don’t know call on other credible sources

Partnering with another credible source will strengthen your credibility as a blogger. Think of it this way, if you are asked a question by a reader and don’t know the answer, bring in an expert in that field. You can feature an “expert interview” or even ask the professional to provide a “guest post” on the subject. This will not only show your readers that you are honest when you don’t know something, but still willing to go the distance to find out for them—it will also surround you by other experts and help you gain more knowledge about your niche topic.

About The Author

Caeden M MacGregor is a staff writer for Prestige Marketing, a Vancouver SEO company specializing in organic and paid search marketing. Caeden has written for numerous blogs on a variety of topics ranging from guest blogging to landing page optimization.

Like this post? Don’t forget to check out the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, and kickstart your Business Blog in just 30 days!

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Pin-etiquette: Important rules for Pinterest

As you know Pinterest drives more traffic than You Tube, LinkedIn and G+ according to an analysis by Shareaholic, so it makes sense to go and get a Pinterest account and get pinning.

In this post, we are going to explore Pin-Etiquette and how to join an already established community.

Pinterest opened it’s doors in March 2010, and is is currently still in it’s beta phase. This means that it’s still developing and things can and do change.

The community is established, it’s light hearted, fun and 73% female. Given that women influence $5 billion dollars worth of spend in the US alone, it’s a great place to be to raise product and brand awareness. Of course, where the women are, the men will follow. The savvy male marketers understand that to be on the radar of women means their products reach their ideal customers in a far more powerful way – by word of mouth.

Back to Pin-etiquette.

  • Pin your images from the original source, don’t pin from Google images.
  • Pin images to the correct boards – it’s ok to have plenty of boards of diverse topics.
  • It’s ok to re-pin other pins to your boards, but check where the image comes from. If the pin is from Google.com the chances are that image is not attributed correctly.
  • Thank people for re-pinning – it’s up to you if you do this. Remember you become a trusted member of the community faster and liked for your good manners – which is a good thing
  • It’s ok to have a product in the gifts section.
  • It’s ok to have affiliate links to things that you love – like books via Amazon or other amazing products BUT

Have a balance of boards, not every board should be filled with self serving products pins or affiliate linked. Pinterest advise you that the site is for content curation and sharing rather than promoting.

What is not allowed on Pinterest?

  • Nudity or hateful content isn’t allowed and you are advised to flag up content that contains this.
  • Comments that are not respectful.

Not too many rules and it’s all common sense so far 🙂

What do you do when you find an incorrectly sourced / attributed pin?

Leave a comment for the person who owns the pin, they can then see if they can take action and get it correctly attributed. Word your comment carefully – remember the be respectful guidelines. Many of the pinners have been there for some time and being respectful will win them over – you’ll make interesting new contacts.

What if there are multiple pins attributing to different sources?

Find the original source and re-pin that one. Where possible re-pin the original sources rather than a blog post or Google image. Most bloggers will credit the image to the creator or photographer, click that link and pin that image. If there is no link or image credit, the image could belong directly to the blog’s owner so it’s ok to pin.

As you can see, it’s hard to abide by the pin etiquette and drive traffic back to your blog or website using other peoples images and creations. In the 30 day Pinterest challenge we look at ways of gaining unique, pinnable images that you can use. Grab a pre-sales copy for just £4

Sarah

 

 

 

Tips For Landing A Guest Post Every Time

P writing blue

A guest post by Ann Smarty of MyBlogGuest.com

Ah, guest posting. While blogs were once a fringe activity similar to writing a journal, they now represent a great bulk of much of the average freelance writer’s work. If you own a blog yourself you have probably written guest posts before, or written them for someone else. If you are a writer you will probably regularly look for chances to expand your visibility by searching out chances to get involved with various high-profile sites.

But if your application process is specifically aimed at getting approved for a post you are doing it wrong! Your focus is not in the right place and it might be costing you your chances. Instead, use these ten tips to help you land the spot every time.

Tip #1 – Focus On What THEY Need, Not What YOU Want

You have a great idea for a post about how iPhone apps can be used to increase market visibility, and you know just the blog to pitch the piece to. Having read their blog many times before, you remember a similar piece done just a few weeks ago. So you eagerly shoot off an email along with the headline idea, confident that this post you want to write will be well received. A few days later you get a big, fat no.

What happened?

Really, it should be obvious: a similar piece was already written on the topic a short time before. Therefore, it is needed. However much you wanted to write it they have no demand, and so you won’t land the spot. You should have taken that into account before offering your services, and shown that you were aware of what they needed.

Not only will it give them a chance at using something they require during that time, but it will show that you are a regular reader. It will also put off a professional and competent air, and that means everything in a business where any blogger is taking a chance when they hire a guest poster. Add that to the fact that you come off as considerate and you have a recipe for a good working relationship.

Tip #2 – Be Personable and Friendly, Not Cold and Calculated

There is nothing I hate more than an overly formal, cold sounding pitch letter. I am looking for someone approachable that my readers can really relate to, and who can have a sense of humor with a dash of cutting sarcasm to go along with their informative posts. In other words, I want a real human being who I can talk to and who I know those who visit my blog will like. Not some robot who knows how to use fifteen ten-syllable words in a single sentence. I have a thesaurus built into my OpenOffice for that, thanks.

The second you open yourself up by applying as a guest poster, make sure some of your personality comes through. You can remain professional without sounding toneless, and be proper without being cold. The friendlier you sound, the more likely you will be to catch their interest. Otherwise it sounds like you are reading from a pre-made letter. Who wants that?

Tip #3 – Watch Your Tone

I have lost track of the times when I had read a pitch that sounded like the person was doing me a favor. “I am an excellent writer, highly skilled, and I have this post idea I know you and your readers will love! Let me know when it is up, please.” This is a line taken directly from a pitch I received just a few days ago. I saved it in order to show you an example of a quick way to be turned down.

Not only was he talking himself up immediately, but he assumed that I was just going to put it up on my blog. He didn’t ask, he didn’t give me a chance to read it first, he just made the aggressive move of telling me to let him know when it was published. What a jerk! Would you go to a job interview and end it by asking your potential boss when you start?

He may have thought he sounded confident, but he just came off as arrogant. Plus, the post wasn’t anywhere near the quality I demand of my guest posters.

On the other hand, sounding too submissive is also a turn off. I have gotten emails from people begging to write for me, or asking for links. It is annoying and I tend to just ignore them outright.

Tip #4 – Don’t Be Intimidated…You Are Equal

When dealing with one of the “Blogerati” and celebrity writers that have taken over the Internet with their popular sites, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. These are successful people who have gained actual status in cyberspace, which is not that easy to do. With such a huge wash of blogs out there, they managed to claw their way to the top. They are the Perez Hilton’s and Jason Chen’s, and you might feel intimidated.

But remember, they were just like you once. They are regular people who are running a business and know what it is like to just start out. They had to work to get there, and they are usually pretty nice people. Remain friendly and natural, and acknowledge their success without fawning over it. These are writers, not rock stars.

Tip #5 – Have a Good Sense of Humor

I go through endless guest blog requests a month. So many that they tend to swim in front of my eyes and leave my brain the moment I read them. It takes something special to really catch my attention, and humor is a big factor. If you can make me laugh then I will remember your email forever. You will also be much more likely to get on my list of published bloggers, because it shows me you can add that humor to your writing.

That doesn’t mean you should make everything into a joke. But show me you can turn a couple of things into that direction and you are golden.

Tip #6 – Research, Research, Research

One of the most aggravating things I see is someone applying to guest post without any knowledge of my blog. Honestly, you would think that they would take a little bit of time to get to know me and what it is I do. Maybe read a few posts, check the FAQ page, read updates on projects. Anything.

But so many completely ignore this part and instead offer unrelated posts or at times when the last thing I need is more content.

Before you shoot off that eager email, take some time to study the site. Look at what it is all about and what has been going on recently. Check posts to see what kind of topics get the most response. See if there is anything from the past you could properly update that got a lot of attention but hasn’t been covered in awhile. Research the blog, not just the post!

Tip #7 – Compliment The Blog, But Don’t Overdo It

“Oh my God, I can’t believe how amazing your blog is! I read it every day and you are the best in the whole of cyber space. Seriously, everyone else is horrible in comparison to you. Someone asked me the other day who my hero was and I totally said it was you!”

A little much? Yeah, I thought so too.

Throwing a compliment or two to show why you want to write for a particular blog is a great idea.

Be specific about what it is you like, and maybe reference a post you especially enjoyed. Show that you appreciate the site because not only will it offer a little flattery to the owner, but it is will show you both know and will care about the blog before you begin writing for it.

Just don’t go too far. It isn’t about brown-nosing, after all. Plus, most can tell the difference between real and fake flattery.

Tip #8 – Introduce Yourself Without Writing a Biography

Of course the blogger want to know a little bit about you: where are you from, what are you interested in, what do you do? Basic questions that any survey would probably ask, mainly to get an idea of who you are and what you will be able to write about.

But notice how I said a little bit. No one wants to read a biography about you, not an introductory email. Offer up a few small facts about yourself and leave it at that. Anything else should be specifically about your work experience, and even then only a few choice bits you are especially proud of.

Tip #9 – Show What You Got

When I was first starting up I would always offer a small list of three links that showed off online work I was really proud of. These were my “samples”, and it was usually on those samples alone that I got work. They showed that I could write well and covered a broad range of topics.

Remember when you are linking your own samples not to do too many. Three is usually any ideal amount, as it is enough to show consistency. You should also try and link to at least one related to the topic you are applying to post about. Though that isn’t actually mandatory.

Tip #10 – Drop a Few Names

Yeah, it sound like a cheesy move. But dropping the names of a couple of blogs along with your pitch can really help to show that reliable sources have published you in the past. Of course, you don’t want to do too many of these. Just name off two or three places that have hired you in the past. You can attach those to links for your samples as well.

Land The Post Every Time!

See, it isn’t that hard. These are some common sense rules that are nevertheless violated on an alarmingly regular basis. If you keep these tips in mind you will be sure to greatly improve your chances to getting that guest post of your dreams.

Find out more on guest blogging at MyBlogGuest.com

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Pinterest being taken over by marketers? Don’t make me laugh…

English: Red Pinterest logo

Image via Wikipedia

I’m miffed…

I’m actually more than miffed, but I try to keep the swearing to a minimum on this blog.

So, Dan Perez thinks that Pinterest is being bastardized (his swearing not mine) by marketers?

A  few points to note…

  • Those mom and pop businesses you follow who post links to their Etsy crochet projects? They’re marketing
  • The post you just posted up that is bringing traffic to your site? That’s marketing
  • Those recipes you’re clicking on? That’s marketing
  • Did you pin that post on Pinterest? Umm that’s marketing…

You want to see pictures of fluffy kittens? That’s cool, yay you, there are plenty of boards for that.

The simple fact is that you only follow the people you’re interested in, and even beyond that, you don’t have to follow all of their boards!

Want to know the recipes I’m keeping for future access? I have a board for that.

Fancy finding out the nail designs I’d like to have? Yep. I have a board for that too.

Funny quotes I’ve found (and no none of them are my own) – funnily enough i have a board for that too.

Gardening, home ideas, kid’s stuff and more – I have boards for it all.

And people like you are liking, commenting on and repinning my social boards every day.

Don’t like my promotional boards? The one for Google+ for business? The one for Blogging help? The one about SEO? That’s cool. THEN DON’T FOLLOW THEM!

See, the great thing about Pinterest is that not only can you follow the people you like, you can choose only to follow the boards of theirs that are of interest to you.

So you don’t have to see the social media infographics. You don’t have to see the self promotion.  You can look at my board about hair, or home ideas, or stuff I want for my daughter.

Or you can post a ranty blog about Pinterest that will get you loads of traffic, and pretend it’s not marketing.

Your call.

Like this post? Don’t forget to check out the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, and kickstart your blogging in just 30 days!

MARKETING ALERT!!

Like this post? Don’t forget to check out the 30 Day Pinterest Challenge, and kickstart your Pinterest traffic in just 30 days!

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Your Small Business: Level Up

A guest post by @hfitzy34

English: MBA Master Business Administration

Image via Wikipedia

There are an awful lot of people out there, business owners or otherwise, who spend way too much time moaning about how their lack of education is keeping them from achieving their dreams.

Whether this dilemma applies to you, or someone you know, it’s the kind of incessant whining that might warrant a good slap in the face or kick in the pants. To make matters even more frustrating, many of these moaners are the very same people who can be found sitting in front of their computers after a long hard day at work chatting up old friends on Facebook and re-tweeting their favorite celebrity news on Twitter.

What’s missing from this picture can be summed up in a single word: potential.

Potential, as in the framed undergrad degree hanging on the wall in the background, or the wasted, unproductive hours spent on social media. Now is the time to put your potential into motion and display the satisfied glow of accomplishment that’s shared by all people who return to school later in life to complete their education.

And, these days, it’s easier than ever to tap into your potential by taking advantage of online education opportunities. If there’s time left over for Facebooking after a twelve-hour day spent running your small business, there’s time to enroll in an online MBA program and learn how to make those Facebook hours count for your business’ growth.

Need some more reasons thrown at you as to why fulfilling your educational potential through online learning is probably the best idea ever? Here, catch.

Gain the edge over your competition. How many of your direct competitors are MBA graduates? If you equip yourself with the additional skills and knowledge that come with earning your MBA, you’ll blow the competition out of the water. Figuratively speaking,
of course.

Keep your noodle sharp. Let’s face it; it’s easy to let your brain fall into a rut. And even though that may suit some people, if you’re running a business with dreams of actually succeeding long term, you have to train yourself to think outside the box. Continuing your education through online learning is a lot like sharpening your brain or doing mental pushups. It can only help.

Get caught up with new methods and technologies. If the last time you were in a classroom there was a guy named Carter in the White House, it’s highly probable that you’ll benefit greatly by completing your education. Doing so will go far in catching you up to modern practices in your specific business and could open up doors of opportunity you never even knew existed.

Take advantage of convenience. All other benefits aside, the primary factor that’s driven a lot of people to gravitate toward online learning opportunities is the convenience of not having to go to a physical campus to get their studying done. Nowadays, anyone with a computer and a reasonably fast Internet connection can earn their degree online.

Using What You’ve Learned 

Just don’t make the mistake of quitting your Facebook and Twitter practices once you’ve leveled up by getting your MBA. Studies show that knowing your way around the various social media platforms is critical to growing your business and building a community of followers who will come to you instead of that aforementioned, dastardly competition the next time they need your services.

Social media is proving to be incredibly powerful marketing tool, and it’s not a fad that’s planning on going away anytime soon. So keep those Tweeting skills sharp. Combine your newly honed mind along with your ever-increasing social media skills. As long as you can stay away from wasting precious time playing Farmville and Mafia Wars, you’ll be fine.

Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter: @hfitzy34

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How do I Improve my Google Plus Profile?

A sneak peek! I twisted Sarah’s arm and she’s giving us a quick look inside the 30 Day Google+ Challenge. Enjoy!

You’ve got your Google Plus account, adjusted your privacy settings and set up your Circles. What do you do next?

It’s now time to take a look at your Google Plus Profile. G+ profiles show up in searches and it helps people decide what circle they add you too. It’s important to get your G+ profile right. Your profile shows when someone presses the “about” tab on your profile.

Let’s take a look at my friend Steven’s profile. Imagine you’ve never met him or heard of him before.

click to enlarge image

If you had just discovered Steven’s profile, you’d be hooked enough to add him to a circle.

  • Add images. Make your profile pic a pic of you. The 5 images across the top can be images that describe you, your work or things that you find important.
  • Add links to make it easier for the reader to understand who you are and what you do.
  • Remember it’s ok to brag / boast about something. Put something memorable in this section.
  • It’s okay to leave things out. If you don’t want to mention what schools, colleges and universities you went to, that’s ok. If you add them it can reassure people that you are “educated” in what you do – it can add to your credibility.
  • Add links to your other social profiles so people can follow you on those sites.
  • Remember to add links to your websites and blogs

The more hooks you have in your G+ profile the more likely you are to be added to a Circle that’s listened too. The secret is to get the right balance of business and personal. I work to the rule if I wouldn’t want my mum to read it it, then I don’t write it.

Depending on your privacy settings you can see what type of content you share in your circles. For me this is a big indicator of where to place a person. If it’s things that I find interesting then it’s easy to place them. If I see they share other people’s content I can see that they are getting around and may share interesting things even if I don’t like their recent shares.

If I see a logo as a profile pic and a heap of self promotional tripe then I don’t add the person to anything. I move on to find someone else of interest.

Take a good hard look at your G+ profile.

Would you follow you?

Sarah

If you haven’t already grab a copy of the 30 Day Google+ Challenge here

Grab it pre-sale asap

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Don’t bother with Google Plus

If you have been off visiting another planet, buried deep in the snow or only read mainstream newspapers I’ll forgive you for not hearing and knowing about Google Plus. Anywhere else, and you have no excuse 😉

Google Plus is a terrific tool for small businesses everywhere and if you get to grips with it you will reap the rewards.

It takes a bit of work, if you don’t like work stop reading now and go and play with your kittens or something. There’s no such things as a free lunch and Google isn’t handing you one right now either.

A little effort, spread over 30 days and you’ll see terrific results.

Grab it pre-sale asap

1. Go and get a Google Plus account. Right now.

2. Create a circle and call it “just for me”. Drop the URL of this post into that circle. You know where to find this article now, so come back often.

3. Add a G+ button to your website and blog 

4. Ask some friends to Plus a page. Make note of the pages usual traffic and see how much better it does once it’s been plussed. A week is all it takes to see better results.

5. Getting into it? Need some more tools? Take a look at this post  – 13 tools for smarter Google Plus action.

6. If you need more info on how to start Google plus; Chris Brogan has some screencasts on how how to change your privacy settings.

7. Anson Alexander has a great post on how to use your Circles.

8. Sharing good content with relevant circles is essential to growing your relationships. Need  a Google Plus bookmarklet – handy for sites and pages you wish to share and they don’t have a g+ button.

9. Upload some images to your profile. People are visual and having a profile image and several images across the top of you profile means you have put some effort into being on Google Plus. You are more likely to be added to circles if people can see what you look like. Personally I never add a logo to a circle to me it’s an indication that all I am going to get from that person is self promotional rubbish.

Of course if you don’t want better search traction, better engagement experience and more customers then don’t bother with Google Plus. Carry on as you are and let your competition get ahead of the game.

Sarah

Want to make the most of Google+? Sarah is the author of The 30 Day Google+ Challenge, available to prebuy now at just £4

 

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PR – the art and science of manipulating the media?

Public relations, the dark art of spin, snake charming – call it what you like, it has traditionally been seen as the art and science of manipulating the media – or perhaps inspiring them. Either way it was all about grabbing the headlines and dominating the airwaves and more recently cyberspace.

However high profile PR was, make no mistake it was the glamorous servant of the marketing department… But the internet has changed everything and the rules are now very, very different.

The advent of social media now means you can engage directly with clients and prospects and no longer have to rely upon the headlines to reach an audience. Indeed the converse it true, that audience no longer relies on the traditional media for news or to make known if they are unhappy with a service.

In a nutshell, now everything is PR – every interaction with the public, online or offline has the potential to impact on your image, so it is all now public relations!

This new 30 Day PR Challenge will help you through the minefield of PR and aid you in getting the exposure your company deserves!

Written by Nigel Morgan @nigel_morgan of Morgan PR, it’s an essential challenge for any business.

Prebuy your copy today for just £4 – tomorrow it will double in price!

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