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(This blog post was originally written in 2011 so some of the information is out of date, but the principles are still valid)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



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

Can you keep a secret? It seems that Black Sabbath fans can’t…

sabbath-2-50(Before we go any further, let it be said that I am a big Sabbath fan, and this is more of a post about the capabilities of Social Media than about the band or their fans.)

On Friday 4th July, Black Sabbath will play Hyde Park with their British Summer Time Black Sabbath Time gig.

Tickets cost from around £69 (what happened to the days when I could go and see them for a mere tenner? Am I THAT old?)

However, in a deal with the event organisers, employees of that company could buy tickets for a massively discounted £2.50. Everyone was told, undr pain of death, that the link for the £2.50 tickets was to be kept private and not given to anyone outside of the organisation.

It’s 2014, Social Media is more popular than ever – can you guess what happened next?

Of course, the link was leaked.

Twitter went mad:



Facebook, Reddit, Google+ and other social networks followed suit. Before long the link had been forwarded thousands of times and thousands of fans were snapping up those £2.50 tickets. And who can blame them? A fiver for a couple to see Sabbath. Faith No More, Soundgarden, Motorhead and more heavy metal legends?

Some wondered whether it was legit, but most people were happy to possibly lose £5 against the chance of a great offer.

How did Hyde Park events react?

To my mind, in the best way they could – they agreed to honour the orders. A post on their Facebook page states:

Hi All, A staff ticket offer was leaked earlier today and some members of the general public were able to purchase reduced price tickets to certain Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park concerts. That offer has now been stopped.

“If you were lucky enough to purchase a ticket from this offer rest assured that your ticket remains valid.”

 What a brilliant response! Had they refused to honour the tickets, social media would have gone into overdrive, slating them and spreading the word.
By agreeing to sell the tickets at the price on the link they’ve gained respect and loyalty, and people are tweeting and posting positive things. Look out for when the tickets actually start arriving – I bet Hyde Park hashtags will be trending in no time.
They’ve turned a possible PR disaster into a PR win – kudos to them!

Where did it go wrong?

Well, let’s face it, in this day and age, a publicly accessible link such as that was not going to stay a secret for long, was it?

It only takes one employee to send the link to a friend, and before long it has snowballed exponentially. From one little tweet, millions of people can be reached through retweets and posts on other social networks.

I’m shocked that Hyde Park didn’t at the very least password protect the link – it wouldn’t have been bomb proof, but it would probably have saved them a few thousand pounds (although let’s not feel too sorry for them, I’m sure they’ll still make millions from merchandise, drinks / food and usual price tickets, plus of course sponsorship so they’re not going to feel this too badly.)

It seems to me that someone or some people just didn’t think – or of course, this could be a very clever PR ploy to gain positive PR 😉

What can we learn from it?

A number of things:

  • If you don’t want it shared, don’t make it publicly accessible – protect it or put it on a company intranet.
  • You can’t control Social Media – once it’s out there you’ve lost control of it.
  • How you react can be the difference between positive and negative feedback – reputation management is key.
  • Your author was offline in meetings that day and missed out on her £2.50 tickets – RATS! 😉

Did you get cheap tickets? Let us know when they arrive in the comments below!

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!



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Guaranteed front page Google positions – when is a guarantee not a guarantee?


one (Photo credit: andrechinn)

The word GUARANTEE is one of the most powerful words used in marketing and sales. The idea generated by the word is that a customer or client will absolutely receive or achieve something as a result of the product or service.

In the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) business, many potential clients are offered such guarantees. The most common guarantee is that the SEO company can provide the client with hitting the ‘Guaranteed Front Page of Google’. Businesses that attain these positions on Google will often take the Lion’s share of business, so of course, all businesses want to grab and keep those positions.

This leads to SEO companies making grandiose claims about how they can help your company to achieve those positions.

However, let’s make something abundantly clear from the start.

No one can guarantee you the Number ONE ranking position on Google.

You should be wary of any SEO company that claims they can provide you with the coveted #1 spot on Google. You should be especially cautious of anyone that contends that they have a relationship with Google or can get priority treatment by Google for your submission to the rankings. No one gets priority.

Google themselves say: “Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google.”

When you’re offered a guarantee, it usually comes in one of the following guises:

ONE: GUARANTEED Front Page on Google – the offer is usually a way that less than scrupulous companies offer a flat fee for Google AdWords. After huge set up fees, that only gives you Google coverage for a couple of months, you’ll find you could have done it all yourself cheaper. If you need AdWords, use them but don’t fall for a false guarantee.

TWO: Guaranteed Front Page Google Listings – Sounds great, but they don’t specify a search term. Out of the key words and phrases that you want to be front page on Google for, you’ll find you’re guaranteed front page for ‘Blue Widgets with Red Dots in North East Clacton’. No one searches for that, but the guarantee has been fulfilled and you’ll never see your money again.

THREE: Guarantee Front Page Google List Or Your Money Back – Sounds good, but try getting your money back when you don’t see your site on the front page! The company will send you a screenshot proving your site held the front page Google listing but in reality it was for one day and never happened again.

FOUR: Replacement Traffic Guarantee – ‘If we don’t get you a front page Google position, then we’ll buy enough AdWords for you to get the level of traffic you need.’ Sounds tempting but why not just buy AdWords yourself? If their service can’t provide what you need, why would you want them to use Adwords to do it? Even with Google AdWords, no one can guarantee the traffic you will receive. The SEO company needs to make money, but the traffic they’ll send you through AdWords will most likely be less than you could have gotten yourself for less money!

FIVE: Google Front Page Or No Charge – this could very well be tantamount to a scam because this company could well use every black hat (dodgy, underhanded, unacceptable to Google) trick in the book in order to get you to the Front Page. In the end, Google will punish your site, and the damage is done. They will charge huge monthly fees if they do get you listed (albeit briefly) and try to tie you in for as long as possible.

The moral of the tale? Read the small print, make sure you know exactly WHAT is being guaranteed, and above all; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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10 online marketing myths (or: A little marketing knowledge is a dangerous thing)

(This article originally appeared on )

It’s very common for a business’s first foray into internet marketing to be a low cost DIY job, but this approach can carry risks.

Here are ten of the most common misconceptions about internet marketing, and what you need to know to ensure you don’t fall foul of a DIY disaster.

“It’s all about traffic”

Having loads of visitors to your site is a great ego boost, but if those visitors disappear again straight away, it’s pointless. The real measure of a site’s success is in the business it generates. Having 20 people visit your

Danger Ahead

Danger Ahead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

site and buy your goods or make an enquiry is clearly better than having 2,000 visitors that do nothing.

Intelligent web marketing is targeted to attract the right visitors, not just any visitors.

“A good website will attract visitors”

If you think you can pour resources into getting the perfect design and words on your new site, and then sit back and watch the visitors stream in, you’re about to be sorely disappointed. Getting a new site off the ground is hard work, no matter how fantastic it looks at the outset. Visitors will not appear out of the blue. You will need to work hard to promote you site, and not just once.

“Search engine marketing is all about meta tags”

If you are striving to appear at the top of search engine results for key related phrases, you might think that meta tags – the bits of code that offer search engines information about your page contents – are the answer. Not so. Seeding these tags with keywords and phrases is now only a small part of the mix. Some search engines consider them, especially the METAdescription and TITLE tag and they can show in results, but Google now ignores METAkeywords tags altogether for the purposes of ranking.

“Once I’m at the top of the search engines, I can stop trying”

There are always X thousand (or even X million) other sites competing for the same key words as yours. Keeping a high listing position means constantly staying on top of things, adding content to your site, posting in places that will give good back links, updating, adding blogs, news, reviewing and tracking. Put simply, it’s not a one off job.

“Hiding extra content on web pages will fool the search engines”

It’s a very bad idea to try to fool the search engines by hiding extra keywords using invisible text or a tiny font. The search engines don’t like it, it’s classed as spamming, and you could end up being penalised with a lower listing, or even have your site banned so that it doesn’t appear in listings at all.

“If I buy lots of links, I can instantly boost my search ranking”

When deciding how ‘important’ a site is, one of the factors search engines take into consideration is the links that point to it from elsewhere on the web. However, Google et al’s algorithms have become much more intelligent, and they no longer just count links, they also assess each site’s authority. If this is low, it will have little or no effect on your listing position.

“A higher Page Rank means a better chance of being found”

Page Rank (PR) is a score of 1-10 that Google assigns to some URLs to indicate their relative importance in comparison to the rest of the internet. It sounds important but in fact what really matters is how your sites fares in Google’s listings compared to those with similar key search terms, and this could bear no relation to your PR.

“All traffic comes from search engines – everything else leads back to that “

There are hundreds of ways to get traffic to your site and they all complement each other. Posting in forums, on Twitter and Facebook, getting people talking about you on blogs and in the online media can all bring in traffic, while also producing good links back to your site, which can in turn help improve your search engine listing.

“I can use a Twitter profile / Facebook to drive masses of traffic to my site”

Just like any other form of web presence, social media profiles take time and effort to build, maintain and attract an audience – and in this case, interaction is more important than ever. Social media can be a great traffic driver, but if you’re only promoting to your own offering, or posting endless links with no engagement, you’re forgetting about the ‘social’ in social media.

“There is a definite formula that works for all internet marketing”

Internet marketing is never simply a matter of carrying out a series of set steps. As with any marketing, to be successful, you need to understand your target market and what interests them, where their conversations are happening, what they are searching for, and so on. This takes time, and for some, means a DIY job isn’t quite as cost effective as it first appears.

Need some help? Check out my Internet Marketing Mentoring service, starting from just £25 a month

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How else can you help your SEO / Google listings?

It’s easy to forget about search engine listings when the world and his dog are hyping social media marketing to the max, but it’s important that you don’t forget it.

While social media will obviously serve a purpose, a large proportion of people are still using Google and other search engines to find products and services.

How are you doing? Can you be found when people search for your products and services (NOT just your name!) online? Or are your potential clients finding your competitors?

If you think you’ve done all you can on your website, here are a few more ways you can enhance your SEO, followed by a couple of blog posts you might want to read, and of course the by now obligatory offer 🙂

3 Ways to Help your SEO

1) Get a Google Plus account. Like it or not, Google is giving preference to sites that have been ‘plus oned’ in Google+ and the more you take part, the more you can promote your sites and content. Share your site with your G+ contacts and encourage them to ‘plus 1’ you too.

2) Blog. I know, I know, you’re sick of hearing me saying it, but a regularly updated blog gives Google more content and makes your website seem more dynamic – both great for enhancing your SEO.

3) Guest blog or write articles. Incoming links do still count for something, and rather than buying a load of dodgy links and risking getting penalised, guest blogging on popular blogs or submitting articles to popular article sites will help you to get well thought of dofollow links that matter.

There are just 3 ways you can help your SEO with very little effort – have a think about it over the weekend and get started next week!

Of course, none of that is going to help much if you haven’t got your on page / site SEO sorted, so do have a look at our Super Silly Spring SEO Offer to get you on track there.

SEO Blog Posts You Should Read

  • They Know Your Name So What?
    It’s easy to become complacent when your analytics tell you that you’re getting lots of hits from Google and other search engines – but look at those stats a little more. If the only thing you’re being found for is your company name, you’re missing out on a whole load of potential customers who will never find you. And that means they’re going to your competitors.
  • Why Duplicate Content Doesn’t Matter
    This has been a hot topic of debate for some time now, but it became more widely discussed a couple ofyears ago when Google did their ‘Panda’ update. You’ll never get 5 SEO people in the same room to agree on this topic, but I’m of the view that it’s not as important as some people are making it, and this blog post explains why.
  • The one single way your content management system could be ruining your chances in Google
    Content Management Systems are great and allow you a massive degree of control over your website. But if your system isn’t set up properly, it could be ruining your chances of Google positions – read this to find out why and how.
Enjoy reading, and feel free to update me on how you’re doing with SEO (especially if you’re doing my 30 Day SEO Challenge) and of course, do have a look at our Super Silly Spring SEO Offer if you need any help.

Happy SEOing!


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 or then it’s hosted by either WordPress or Blogger / Blogspot.

If your blog has an address something like 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 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 or 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, 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!



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The many faces of the Internet User – which one are you?

The Internet is made up of a great many different types of people, and this infographic by Column Five Media covers a fair few… I think I can honestly say I’ve come across all of the ones mentioned!

Which one are you and which ones do you think are missing?


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 or email Nikki on

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