How do YOU get inspiration for blog posts?

(This blog post was originally written in 2011 so some of the information is out of date, but the principles are still valid)

wordpress-premiumthemesIt’s interesting to see the reactions when I tell people that I write upwards of 20 blogs per day – not for myself, but for clients.

Some think it’s not possible, some think it’s crazy, and others think ‘ghost blogging’ is wrong.

Now I’m not going to go into the rights and wrongs of ghost blogging, because it’s a whole other post, but I’m going to tell you how I manage to write so many blogs, and where I get my inspiration from.

Firstly, let me tell you the kind of people I write blogs for – it’s pretty varied:

  • a handbag website
  • a kiddie’s clothes website
  • a cosmetic surgeon
  • a hotel
  • an accountant
  • a company specialising in interactive voting
  • 3 web designers
  • an SEO and Adwords company
  • a wedding organiser
  • a fireworks company
  • a security marking company

This is not counting writing for my own blog, for Birds on the Blog and for guest slots in other places. It all adds up to a lot of blogs!

So how do I do it?

Firstly it helps that I’m a pretty fast typist – and the words come out of my head and onto the keyboard pretty quickly, so most blog posts take very little time to write, once I have the idea.

How do I get the ideas?

Inspiration strikes in the strangest of places – for example I thought of this blog post while sitting on the pation drinking a cup of tea and watching my chickens :)

I get blog ideas all the time, from things I chat about with friends and family, from watching the TV, from reading and more. Whenever I get an idea I jot it down either in a notepad file on my PC, or a ‘real life’ notepad in my office. If i’m out and about I’ll put it into my iPhone.

If I’m actively looking for blog ideas then I’ll start by reading the online newspapers:

Yep, even the tabloids – always great fodder for lifestyle type blogs.

I’ll look through the papers and see if anything takes my fancy, or if a news story is related to an industry one of my clients is in.

Then I’ll look through industry type sites, depending on which industry I’m writing for.

Then I’ll do a Google search for the keyphrases my client is focusing on to see if I can pick anything up from there.

Usually by now I have 2 or 3 ideas.

Write the headline

Once I have the idea for the post I start thinking about headlines. Is it going to be a ‘top tips’ kind of post? Or maybe a ‘answer the question’ type? Or just a simple opinion piece on the latest related news item?

Once the headline is written then the blog pretty much writes itself – thankfully!

400 words later and either the post is posted, or scheduled in WordPress, or it’s winging its way to my client for approval. All that’s left for me to do is source pictures, and promote the post if necessary.

I’m lucky that I enjoy writing blogs, and can write in different styles, to suit each client – and I’m lucky that I find writing 20+ blog posts a day a pretty fun task :)

How do you decide what to write about?

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

 

Stuck for blogging ideas?

blogging

 

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

How calls to action work on Social Media

A while ago  I wrote about having a call to action in all blog posts, yet it’s still the number one piece of advice I give out to all mentoring clients.

So it was nice to come across this handy infographic from Dan Zarella showing how a decent call to action can affect all aspects of your social media marketing.

See below how:

  • ASKING people to comment on blogs gets you more comments
  • ASKING people to retweet your Tweets gets you more retweets
  • ASKING people to share on Facebook gets you more shares

Comm0n sense really, but so many people forget their call to action and are missing out on valuable eyeballs because of it.

Your challenge today is to use a call to action in every aspect of your social media marketing, and report in the comments below as to how well it worked for you!

social-calls

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

7 Things You Can Do To Make Your Content Social Media Friendly

socmedfpWhen marketing your website online through social media channels you need to do things a certain way. It’s a bit like redecorating your house; you could do it quickly and as cheaply as possible. But will it look good, and will it last?
In this article we’ll cover 7 things you can do to make your website content social media friendly. If you follow all the steps listed below you should stand a great chance of scoring highly with social media sites as well as effective search engine optimisation.

Let’s get started:

1. Include a picture
If you’re going to bookmark your blog or content, but it doesn’t have an associated picture with it, it’s not as attention grabbing. Think about it; when you’re on a social website and you see a picture next to text; you’re drawn to it.

2. Title tag
If you bookmark your content to a social site; your pages title tag is often used as the title. If your website has the title “My Amazing Blog | Updating daily with super cool content” it’s not going to grab the attention of others. Give each page on your website a unique and grabbing title.

3. Social media buttons
They’re so simple to install and most blogs come with them pre-installed! The buttons next to a blog that allow users to instantly add your website to their favourite social media sites are a great way to help your visitors help your online marketing.

4. Allow comments
Many website owners disable commenting on their blog posts. However, it makes your site interactive. It allows your visitors to talk to you personally. Even more so; it adds more unique content to your website. By enabling comments on your website you might get more people returning to check if their comments have been replied to.

5. Controversial comments
If you do enable comments, do you allow the negative ones? Not everyone is going to agree with what you say and debate sparks interest. If people disagree or even get angry over your content, allow others to read. You’ll soon have many comments and conversations going on.

6. Title for tweets
If you’re tweeting your updates; make sure your titles aren’t too long. Twitter has a 140 character limit on its tweets so just keep an eye out for titles that are too long. Sometimes you can still have an effective, attention grabbing title but without the length.

7. Easy to read
With modern communication channels such as Twitter and FaceBook people don’t always have enough time to read a long article. By making some of your content short but sweet you may engage more readers

If you can implement all of the above tips into your website or blog you’ll be well on your way to social media friendly content. You can expect to see more visitors to your website and an increased client database too.

Need more advice? Check out my Social Media Marketing Mentoring from just £25 a month!

 

5 Reasons Your WordPress Blog Should Be Self Hosted

I’m a HUGE fan of WordPress for websites and blogging, as anyone that reads here regularly will know.

But did you know that there is a difference between having your blog hosted by WordPress themselves, and hosting it on your own hosting (known as self hosting)? If you didn’t, don’t worry, a lot of people don’t.

To clarify, if your blog site has an address something like http://yourcompanyname.wordpress.com or http://yourcompanyname.blogspot.com then it’s hosted by either WordPress or Blogger / Blogspot.

If your blog has an address something like www.yourcompany.com/blog then the chances are it’s self hosted (although hat’s not always the case, drop me a line if you’re not sure and want to check).

So, read on to find out just 5 reasons (there are many more) why you should be self hosting your WordPress blog if you’re serious about your business blogging.

You’ll have more credibility

It used to be that if you had an @aol.com email address or a geocities domain name, you were seen pretty much as ‘second class’. And the newer version of that seems to be having a WordPress.com or Blogspot.com domain name for your blog.

It’s pretty simple – do you want people to see that your blog is a part of your business, or are you happy with them thinking you’re ‘playing’ at it?

I know and you know that there are some great blogs out there that AREN’T self hosted – but if you want to be taken seriously in 2012 then your blogsite needs to be either a part of your main site or have it’s own domain and be hosted on its own web space.

Are you serious about your blog?

You’ll get better search engine positions

A simple fact of life is that free blog sites just don’t do as well in the search engines. Quite odd really, especially as you consider that Blogger is owned by Google! But that’s how it is.

Add to this the fact that you can get some great SEO plugins for self hosted WordPress and it’s a no brainer.

Do you want your potential customers to find you when they search on Google?

You’ll have control

OK, it’s unlikely to happen, but what would you do if WordPress decided to take down your blog? Or remove your blog posts? Or jus remove access to them for a while?

While you’re hosting your blog on a freebie site, you’re at their mercy – your content belongs to them and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Self host, and YOU’RE in control – you can back up your posts, move them where you like, and run pretty much no risk of your account being closed down and your hard work wiped out.

Would you like to be more in control of your content?

You’ll have a better choice of themes

There’s a massive range of themes on WordPress.com, but let’s face it, how often have you seen the same themes being used time and time again by different industries? With self hosted WordPress you can have a hue choice of themes, from an out of the box standard one to one that matches or complements your own website.

Do you want to stand out by looking different to everyone else?

You’ll have better plugins

I alluded to this earlier with the mention of SEO plugins, but there are a whole array of plugins that you can use on self hosted WordPress but not on the free hosted version.

From Social Media plugins to sharing plugins to commenting plugins to analytics plug ins and beyond – if you’re serious about your blog you need quite a few of these plugins.

Are you serious about your blog?

In short, self hosted WordPress is the way to go if you want to look professional, have more control, have flexibility and make the most of your blog – what’s stopping you going self hosted today?

Like this post? Check out our Wacky WordPress offer to take you from free hosted to self hosted at a drastically knockdown price!

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Promoting your Website: Stand and deliver – your money or your time…

highwaymanThese days, if you have a product or service to sell, you need to own a website. But there’s no point in having a website if people don’t visit it and if they’re not finding you online, then you aren’t going to make any money. Yet, there’s millions to be made out there for those smart enough to effectively promote their website. So, what should you do?

The key to successfully promoting your website comes down to a very simple choice. Do you have the time and/or the money to promote your website? If you want to promote your website, you must find either the time or the money to make a success of marketing.

If you have no money, then you need to find the time to do the work for yourself. If you have the money, then you can save yourself the time by investing in the work of experience Internet marketing professionals. Of course this in turn produces more money, so it’s a worthwhile investment in the end.

Quite simply, if you really don’t have the money, then you need to find the time to do the job yourself. You need to find the time to do the job of promoting your website, the time to learn about how to promote your website, learn through doing, learn from your mistakes (no matter how costly) and learn the best ways of promoting the site, which may take considerable time.

The trouble is that whilst you can always make more money, you can never make more time. Can you afford to squander your time in trial and error activities? Meanwhile the competition marches on ahead of you. If you aren’t willing to invest money in the future of your organisation by effectively promoting your website, then you’ll have to do all of the work yourself. The trouble is that if you don’t have the skills, you may do more harm than good.

But what if you simply don’t have the time?

Then it’s time that you reconsidered your budget and placed the responsibility for the promotion of your website in the hands of someone else. For some people, that might be an existing member of your staff, or if you don’t have anyone with the prerequisite experience and expertise, it may be that you look for an external professional, an expert in website promotion that will stop you from wasting your time and also help save you money.

If you don’t have the budget for it, then you’re going to have to find it. These days, more and more people are turning to the Internet for a product or service just like yours. If you don’t have adequate marketing in place, they just won’t find you and your competitor will reaps all the benefits of marketing in the Internet Age.

So what should you do? Well, it’s not rocket science. If you don’t have the time to promote your website, then call in an expert. To find out more visit www.nikkipilkington.com or email Nikki on nikkipilk@gmail.com

Get the 30 Day Blogging Challenge for free!

bloggingchallengeLooking to make more of blogging in 2014? Then the 30 Day Blogging Challenge is for you – and for the next few days it’s FREE on Amazon!

Find out:

 

  • How to write headlines that do well in search engines
  • What to blog every day for 30 days
  • How to vary your blogs and increase your audience
  • How to increase comments and interaction on your blog
  • Why adding a picture to your blogs is vital
  • How to make your blogs look better
  • How to track which blogs are doing the best
  • How a call to action can increase take-up by 65%
  • Why guest blogging is vital
  • How to use tags
  • and more!

This vital guide gives you a great grounding in blogging if you’re a newbie, and some great ideas if you’ve been blogging for a while – and it’s FREE on Amazon right now!

What are people saying about the 30 Day Blogging Challenge?

Here are just some of our Amazon reviews:

I signed up for Nikki’s blogging challenge a while back because I was a little frustrated at the lack of movement I was getting in any of my social media efforts, and was aware that I was writing easily, but with little direction.

Her challenges are brilliant – if you’re a person who needs to be nagged then getting one tiny task a day is perfect. They’re like mini-homework-bites – you have only one task to do; you are told exactly what that is, so for example it might say “Today you are going to choose one of your products/services and blog about why it would benefit someone”. She always gives a few examples, some hints, some important things to remember, and is available for help if you get really stuck.

Alternatively, if you actually like to sit down and study, then you can get her Challenges in book format. What is really clever, in particular about her Facebook, Twitter, and most certainly her SEO Challenges, is that they build over time – so whilst you can dip in and out (and I do every time I write a blog post, so I keep it fresh, stay disciplined and don’t fall back into bad habits) you are also building on solid foundations – many tasks build on previous tasks. She also helps not only with content and context, but the technical stuff too – such as how to add Facebook comments to your blog, or to do important search streams in your Twitter account. She also gives you tips on good apps/online resources out there we should be using to help achieve our social media goals.


I’ve been blogging for over 4 years. I have 3 blogs. BUT Nikki’s reputation was such that I checked out her book.
If only I’d had the benefit of her advice when i started.
But even now there are some wonderful nuggets and ideas. She explains things in a very simple to follow way and has inspired me to try out many of her ideas.
Highly recommended!


Nicky Pilkington’s #30Day Challenges are the best available about professional use of social media. The first I did was ’30 Day Blogging Challenge’ which not only got me writing substantially but with purpose for my catering company, MoreSouth. It was not just informative but interactive and social. I furthered my own skills and got to know many other business bloggers.


The 30 Day Blogging Challenge helped me at a time when I was flagging. Constantly worried about content or ideas for fresh blogs, I turned to Nikki’s challenge and found myself inspired. I would seriously recommend this to newbie bloggers or those that have found their established blogs have gone “stale”.
Thanks Nikki.

But don’t take their word for it – go get the book for free now! (And don’t forget to leave your own review!

 

Online reputation management: what to do if your reputation takes a beating online

(This article originally appeared at Mad.co.uk)

Sad face

Sad face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s every business’s worst internet nightmare: you head over to Google, tap in your company name to see how your web presence is coming along, and there in prominent position is something far from positive about your brand. Deserved or not, this entry could be damaging your business with every passing second.

Depending on the context, there are four main options available to you when faced with the threat of brand trashing: address it, remove it, bury it, prevent it.

Address it

Let’s look at bad mouthing. The power of the internet means that you can’t possibly control what people write about you – but your reputation can be made as much by how you respond to criticism as by the criticism itself.

When you stumble across a bad review, your first action should be to assess the comments as objectively as possible. Ask yourself, “Is this true? Have we done something to warrant this review?”

It’s all too easy to jump in and post a reply that’s defensive and perhaps even aggressive, but answering badly can just make you look worse. Instead, keep emotion out of it and aim to post a considered reply that answers the criticism calmly and factually.

If the review is warranted, it’s best to admit to any wrongdoing and say what you’re doing to fix the problem. This shows that you value your customers’ opinions and that you’re willing to correct your mistake. It’s then vital to follow up on any promises you have made.

It’s important to respond publicly, so even if you can’t give the full details, something as simple as, “Thanks for your comment, I’ve emailed you to find out more” could show that you’re working to address it and stop criticism spiralling further.

If you manage to resolve the problem at the root of the bad review, you can then post an update, and even encourage the original complainant to do so too.

Remove it

If a review or comment on a public forum is completely untrue, you can contact the site owner with an explanation and ask for it to be removed. However this will usually be down to their discretion so won’t work in every instance.

Sometimes, even deleted mentions can remain present in search results in the ‘cache’ – a sort of snap shot of how the page looked the last time the search engine checked. In such instances, you can submit a request that the search engine update their records (using Google’s webpage removal request tool or Bing’s support request form, choosing the ‘Content Removal Request’ option).

In the social media sphere, if you find someone pretending to represent your brand, sites such as Facebook or Twitter will usually respond quickly to remove imposters. Simply report the profile with evidence that it’s false.

If someone sets up a website with claims to be part of your brand, however, things aren’t quite so simple. If they won’t take it down on request, you next need to decide whether it’s worthwhile fighting it legally. In some cases, it might be that the fraudulent site has very little search engine visibility, so is only a minor threat that can be managed using a technique called ‘burying’.

Bury it

If a reviewer or site owner simply refuses to remove their content, no matter how unfair or untrue, you might wish to bury it. This involves ensuring that when your company name is searched for, mainly good things come up.

Let’s say your last client has said on GetSatisfaction that your service is rubbish. That review is here to stay and you don’t want other potential clients seeing it, so the objective is to dominate at least the first ten search results with positive things about your brand, effectively driving any bad mentions off the front page.

Social media profiles like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as directory listings such as FreeIndex and BT Tradespace are perfect for this. Make sure those profiles are well populated with regularly updated content to keep them at the top of the search engines.

Prevent it

As with anything, prevention is better than cure. Don’t wait until you’re faced with a negative mention to start ensuring good things appear when people search for your brand.

It’s wise to buy up all likely domain name permutations of your brand (particularly your own country’s domain, plus .com), and sites like http://knowem.com/ or http://namechk.com/ will help you similarly reserve your brand name on social media sites.

Next, make sure anyone responsible for speaking on behalf of your brand online understands what they can and can’t say as company representatives.

Finally, have your response procedure planned out in advance, so you know exactly how you will deal with any problems well before they arise. If things do go wrong, be ready to answer criticism, keep emotion out of it, request removals where possible, and bury anything unfair that remains.

Need some help with bad publicity online? I am the owner/founder of NikkiPilkington.com, a 20 year old  internet marketing company based in the UK and France – drop me a line at nikkipilk@gmail.com and see if I can help!

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Ways to keep your Blog updated over the Christmas period

You’ve worked hard all year on your blog, and your comments, visitors and Google traffic is reflecting that graft. But let’s face it, it’s Christmas week and you might not feel like blogging with a bellyful of mince pies, or nipping down in between basting the turkey and boiling the gravy to pop in a quick post or two. And then there’s that odd week between Christmas and New Year when no-one’s quite sure what to do…

So is your blog going to be a barren wasteland over the Christmas period? Will your readers think you’ve given up on them? Will Google wonder where you’ve gone?

Not if I can help it – here are 5 ways you can keep your blog updated over Christmastime, leaving you free to enjoy your family and forget about work for once.

1 – Schedule, schedule schedule

You’ve got a few days yet, so get writing! You’ve probably got some half written posts sitting around that you’ve either not finished or not used yet, so finish them off and then use the scheduling facility in WordPress to post them for you. Your blog posts will appear as if by magic, and you don’t have to lift a finger!

Install the editorial calendar plugin and you’ll be able to see at a glance which days you have or need posts for, and move them around with ease.

2- Grab some guest posts

A great last minute standby, guest posts could keep you going over the festive season. As long as you make sure they’re relevant and of interest to your readers, they could save you wondering about your blog while the sprouts are burning to the bottom of the pan!

Ask your Twitter and Facebook followers if they have any blog posts lying around they’d like you to feature, or maybe they could write you something in the next couple of days? No takers? Then pop along to the fab MyBlogGuest where they have a whole host of bloggers with content to spare – you could find a great source of guest blogs well into 2012!

3 – Create some round up posts

Round up posts are great for filling space, and for only taking a little time to set up. If you’re on WordPress, install the Instant Weekly Round Up plugin – it allows you to pick and choose the categories you want to include from your old blog posts, move them around, and delete the ones you don’t want to show. For only a couple of minutes work you could have a great post ready to go, purely from all the work you’ve put in this year.

4 – Reschedule some older posts

Not everyone will have seen your post the first time around, so why not spend some time going through your archives and reschedule and reuse some of your older posts? Maybe ones that didn’t generate the traffic you thought they would, or haven’t had as many comments as you would have liked, or even really popular ones you think people would be interested in seeing again.

Different to a round up post, this is a reposting of a whole blog post. In WordPress simply change the post from ‘published’ to ‘scheduled’ and you could get a whole new audience.

While you’re scheduling you may even see bits of the post you want to elaborate on or change, or there may be an update you can add – a great way to use old content in a new way.

5 – Get someone else to do it for you

(Come on, you knew this was coming, right? 😉 )

It’s not too late to hand your blog over to someone else for a couple of weeks and give yourself a complete break.

A fresh eye, some new ideas, and more importantly some great content to ensure that your blog isn’t forgotten over Christmas.

Whether it’s your trusty VA or someone like me who gives small business blogging management, you can rest assured your blog is in good hands and isn’t going to languish. An added bonus is that I’ll give you a swift kick in the New Year to either get back on the blogging horse, or decide that you’re happier leaving it to someone else.

OK Nikki, if I decide to use you, what’s it going to cost?

Depending on your blog industry, the amount of blogs you need over the Christmas period, and how long you need me for, it could cost as little as £50 per blog site for me to write blog posts, upload them, optimise them and promote them while you’re pulling your Christmas crackers with your kids.

But, as always, places will be limited (to 5 in this instance) – I’ve got to have time to cook my own Christmas Pudding and those parsnips aren’t going to maple glaze themselves!

Interested?

Drop me a line to nikkipilk@gmail.com and let’s chat.

So there we are – 5 ways to keep your blog going over Christmas with the minimum of effort and hopefully the maximum of results.

Enjoy your turkey!

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

4 Things You Can Do To Speed-Up Your WordPress Site

This is a guest post by Camille McClane, a motivated freelance writer and online entrepreneur living in Southern California

camileLoad time is somewhat of an issue for a lot of WordPress site admins.

While the platform itself is incredibly powerful and comprehensive in terms of the options afforded to the user, WordPress sites often take too long to load for a variety of reasons. Too many plugins, heavy-duty comment engines and poorly designed themes or templates can all contribute.

While the reasons for those lengthy load times will vary, the result is often the same.

What suffers the most with a slow load time is the user experience. While the difference between three and four seconds might be forgivable, 15 to 20 seconds will mean that a user could ultimately lose interest and patience with your site.

If your site is loading slowly enough, it’s basically timing out in the eyes of those who are trying to use it.

Wordpress1

Those people will bounce (meaning they’ll click out of your site and fail to browse to a second page) and many of them will never come back to your site again, at least not on purpose.

Additionally,Google places ranking penalties on slow loading sites. While those penalties are relatively small and affect only a small percentage of websites, it’s something to keep in mind, as you don’t want to needlessly downgrade your own website.

But how can we improve this? How can we speed up our WordPress site?

There are a few areas where WordPress speed gets hung up, so the best way to keep things running smoothly is to focus on getting those areas right the first time.

1. Use a solid framework

WordPress offers a ton of customization options and plenty of different themes to choose from. That being said, theGenesis Framework is one of the better choices and is specifically designed for speed.

It’ll cost you some money to use, but it’s worth the investment. Usually a solid framework is going to run you between $50 and $80, most of which include updates and upgrades. While there are plenty of free WordPress themes, buying a framework insures that you’ll have optimized and correctly written code, which can increase your page’s speed tremendously on its own.

2. Don’t use too many plugins

Plugins are one of WordPress’ most attractive and unique features, and there are even some that help you in terms of speed, likeW3 Total Cache.

While plugins can be very effective in helping you to manage your site, it can significantly increase the time it takes to load for your visitors. As a designer or admin, a good rule-of-thumb is to keep plugins to 10 or less. Rarely will you actually need any more than that.

3. Good hosting service

Hosting isn’t exactly the fun part of using WordPress, but a self-hosted WordPress site will suffer if you choose a poor hosting service, mainly because you take a hit in terms of speed, storage space and service.

Keep in mind that “self-hosting” means you still have to pay for a hosting service, though you’re the one uploading the files and content, while maintaining the rights to your site.

Look for something with unlimited space and bandwidth at less than $10 a month, which is the typical market value for website hosting. Anything more would be overpaying.TigerTech is a decent option in terms of price, speed and storage space.

4. Caching

It’s a bit technically involved to properly configure caching on your WordPress site, though the plugin I mentioned earlier (W3 Total Cache) is a workable solution. It essentially creates a temporary storage for your web documents (usually HTML and any images), which will reduce bandwidth being used and increase the loading speed of your page.

Your best bet here is to enlist the help of a friend or professional who knows the ins-and-outs of the process.

Testing your Loading Speed

There are a lot of tools online that can test your site’s load time, likePingdom or WebPageTest.org.

Check your speed before and after you implement some of these solutions. If you notice that your site is improving, dig a little deeper into each topic and take further steps to optimize your website.

It’s worth the investment of time if you get on Google’s good side and avoid frustrated viewers.

camile

Today’s guest writer is Camille McClane, a motivated freelance writer and online entrepreneur living in Southern California. As a writer for BlogWranglers, she understands the importance of having an effective WordPress site and how its loading speed can greatly affect user experience. What have you done to speed up your own site? Share your comments below!

Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Real Time Analytics Google