How does a blogger think? [infographic]

Ever wondered how a Blogger’s brain works?

Source: pic.tuoboo.com via Nikki on Pinterest

Stuck for blog post ideas? Write an FAQ!

Question mark

Image via Wikipedia

This post is extracted from the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, a £5 ebook or 30 Day email course aimed at kickstarting your blogging success

Today let’s set up a mini FAQ. We’ve already spoken about how people often search with questions, so let’s put 4 or 5 of the questions you get asked and drop them into a blog post.

For example, I could write ‘Top 5 Social Media Questions’

They could be:

  • Does Facebook really work for business (yes)
  • Is ghost blogging wrong? (no)
  • Isn’t Twitter all about what people had for lunch? (no)
  • Isn’t blogging a waste of time? (no)
  • How do I set up a WordPress blog?

The answers could be a few lines, or a few paragraphs, but they’ll make up the bulk of the post.

What are the questions your client and customers ask you the most? Answer them in today’s blog for a ready made mini FAQ.

Eager to see the rest of the challenges? Get the 30 Day Blogging Challenge ebook for just £5 now

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Research Keyphrases for Better Business Blogging

If your blog is a business blog then the chances are you’re hoping to promote your products or services, and get more sales, right?

Well the great thing about blogs is that they do well in Google, IF you think about how you’re blogging.

You may already know the keyphrases you’re aiming to get good results for on your website, so let’s translate that info into your blogs.

Today, instead of writing a blog, pop over to the Google Keyword Tool and type in your keyphrases to see what other variations come up.

Pick a few of these variations and start thinking how you can incorporate them into your blog titles and copy.

In the 30 Day Blogging Challenge Ebook I talk about the structure of a blog that is written to do well in the search engines, but for that you’ll need to buy the book 😉

Now, don’t just choose generic phrases that have lots of searches – think carefully about this – you want targeted relevant traffic to your blog, right? So think targeted and niche, not generic and widespread.

For example:

Generic phrases:

plumbers

accountants

tax returns

gifts

hotels

kids clothes

business advice

Targeted phrases:

plumbers in berkshire

advice from accountants

last minute tax returns

mothers’ day gifts 2011

low cost hotels in bristol

designer kids clothes

local business advice and help

You can get some great traffic and quick wins on search engines by using less generic phrases.

I cover this in depth in 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven.

Also consider downloading my free 67 Tips on Blogging for SEO.

Your challenge today is to find a handful of useful phrases you could use in your blogging.

This is an extract from the latest Nikki Pilkington ebook The 30 Day Blog Challenge – kickstarting your blogging in just 30 days – get it now while it’s still only a fiver!

Make blog posts look better with Zemanta

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

We’re all short on time, and one of the things that bugs me the most when I’m rushing to get a blog post out (and I blog for a fair few clients as well as myself!) is having to source images, put links in the post, and generally make it look spiffy.

So I was delighted to come across Zemanta a couple of months ago, and can honestly say it has saved me so much time it’s unreal.

As I type a blog, Zemanta suggests links for me, has a gallery of photos and pictures (along with copyright attributions) I can choose from, and even suggests tags for me! The list of ‘related articles’ at the end of this blog post was suggested by Zemanta too!

It’s free to use,  and comes as a plugin for your browser (Firefox only, it seems) – just plug and play! I use it on WordPress and Blogger blogs, but it also works on other platforms, including Ning (although it’s not fully supportind on Ning).

If you struggle to make your blogs look good, hate sourcing and attributing pictures, and need a bit of help, I’d highly recommend Zemanta – go check it out!

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Do you need content for your blog? Try a Guest Blog from a guest author!

InvitationIt's not always easy finding the time or the ideas for new blog posts, and that's where Guest Bloggers come in. A guest blogger will write a post for your blog that is of interest to your readers, but also promotes them or their services. Usually this means that your guest author would have services or products that are complementary to yours, rather than competitive – after all who wants to openly promote their competitors?

With this in mind, I have a number of guest authors available for blogging opportunities – please drop me a line to nikkipilk@gmail.com if you are interested in guest posts from any of the following:

Skin & Beauty Specialist

For blogs about:

  • skin care
  • skin problems
  • non invasive cosmetic solutions (Botox, Dermaroller etc)
  • beauty
  • aging

Children's Clothes Retailer

For blogs about:

  • children
  • celebrity kids
  • babies
  • children health protection (eyes, ears, from the sun etc)
  • organic clothing
  • niche kids' brands

Telemarketing Expert

For blogs about:

  • telemarketing
  • appointment making
  • lead generation
  • TPS (Telephone Preference Service)
  • data issues

Email Marketing Expert

For blogs about:

  • email marketing
  • follow up marketing
  • email newsletters

In addition, I'm occasionally available for the odd guest post about SEO or Social Media, and can usually fit in with most industries. If you'd like a "Top Ten Ways for [insert your industry here] to use Twitter / Facebook / Blogging (delete as appropriate)" then let me know 🙂

If you have a blog, and you'd like to talk to me about one of the guest bloggers above, please feel free to email me. If you're not sure that one of the above bloggers would fit into your niche, but would like to explore the possibility of guest bloggers, drop me a line, I may have other clients who are a better fit.

Remember, having someone guest post on your blog opens you up to a whole new audience, gives you extra content you don't have to produce yourself, and may even give you ideas of your own for blogging – so what are you waiting for?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Tracy Hunter

You're not blogging for YOU, you're blogging for THEM!

268/365 - Default StateIt's a common mistake, and a common question:

Nikki, I find it really hard to blog – I'm running out of things to say about my business!

When you start a blog you're usually all gung-ho – you'll blog every couple of days, there's loads to say about your accountancy services / nappy website / building company etc etc. And at first it's easy. You blog about your great products and services, new clients, special offers and more. But then it gets a little harder – every blog seems to be the same, the readership has trailed off, comments have come to a halt and you wonder why you bother.

One morning you sit down in front of your blog to update it and your mind is blank – you have nothing left to say! It's all been said, so what can you do now?

You've fallen into the classic trap of blogging for YOU, not THEM. THEM being your audience, your readers, your market.

See, blogging isn't JUST about promoting yourself and saying how great you are. Really it's not. It's about engaging your audience, it's about attracting your target market, it's about attracting the right kind of people. No-one wants to read about how great you are, day in, day out (except maybe your mum, and I'm pretty sure even she's bored with your blog by now if that's all you've been doing!)

Think about your target market – what interests them? What things are they reading about, looking for, talking about, asking questions about? THAT'S what you should be blogging about. If you start doing that, you'll be promoting ourself by default – the difference is you'll have an audience to promote yourself TO.

So let's take the 3 examples I used above – the Accountant, tyhe Nappy website and the Building company.

Here are 3 example blog headlines for each one:

Accountant

  • Can I claim entertainment expenses against my tax? Answer questions your clients are asking – give something away for nothing. These types of questions are always being asked, and the answers can be found on Google – make sure people are finding YOU, and the more good advice you give the more likely they are to come to you when they need an accountant.
  • Free Tax Year Calendar – again, give something that will help – brand it with your logo and contact details and offer it as a free download
  • The Budget in Plain English – use what's in the news to create blogs that people want to read. If the Budget is big news, write about it, if it's close to a tax deadline, write about that. Use what's going on around you to generate blog headlines.

Nappy Website

  • Congratulations to X, Y Z on their pregnancy / baby's birth – celebs are popping out babies all over the place – it's easy blog fodder and people like to read about it. (ahem.. apparently)
  • Our thoughts on … – read the online newspapers, there's always some 'expert' or another spouting off about the latest childcare fad / parenting skills / how it was different in the olden days – use it. Take an article that's in the news and write about it – give your thoughts and opinions, and publish them.
  • A review of … – review someone else's product – this obviously works better if it's either a glowingly fantastic review or a spectacularly negative review – find something that's related to your product and review it. In this case it could be baby clothes, a nappy sanitiser, baby bottles, whatever – review it and then let the product owner know you've reviewed it. If it's a good review they'll want to tell everyone!

Building Company

  • Be thankful your builders aren't like THIS – there are loads of cowboy builder stories and videos out ther e- use them
  • How to… (fix a wall that's falling down / plan an extension / etc) – free advice always goes down well. Turn it into a PDF, stick your branding on it and offer it as a download.
  • X Questions to ask your builder – again, free advice. Give people information and they'll love you for it – you could also take the opportunity to answer the questions, from your point of view, putting you ahead of anyone they're thinking of using. Take the work out of it for your potential customer and they just might use you.

So there you have it., Pretty generic, but I hope you've got the gist – stop blogging about you and for you, and start blogging about the things your audieence is interested in and looking for.

Let me know how you get on 🙂

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Creative Commons License photo credit: helgasms!

5 blog headlines from today's newspapers

News Paper Origami Dragon MonsterOne of the issues that a lot of people have when writing blogs is that they can't think of anything to write about. One way to stimulate the creative juices and come up with ideas is to scan through the news. Just reading a few news stories can give you something to write about, so let's see what headlines we can find for blog posts today, and what sort of blogs could be written:

 

  1. The Telegraph has: Gender disappointment – coping with the 'wrong' baby. If you run a children's type website, this would be great to write about and generate discussion. Similarly if you run a life coach or counselling blog, it's a controversial subject sure to get the comments flowing. Obviously it would be a good subject for a blog on a pregnancy website. Blog titles? How about: "Is there such a thing as the wrong baby?" Or "Did you wish your boy was a girl?" Or "How to cope with Gender Disappointment guilt'? Something about the biological reasons people want a certain sex child. Or maybe tie it into the Chinese situation where baby girls are often dumped because boys carry on the line.
     
  2. I'm too fat for fashion says size 8 Gemma Atherton is a headline on the Daily Mail website today. Again, a controversial subject that it's easy to write about. A women's site, food blog, weight loss site, life coach, and many more spring to mind when I think of this one. Blog titles such as "When the perfect 10 is weigh too big", "No wonder our kids are anorexic" or "Does size matter"? Something about how clothes sizes have changed in the last X years. How about something comparing men's sample sizes with women's sample sizes?
     
  3. The Sun and other papers are leading with the news that David Cameron has slashed Cabinet Ministers' pay by 5 percent. Again, great fodder for a number of blogs – recrutiment and jobs, accountancy, political, even just general business. How about "How cutting salaries can increase performance"? Or "Why 5% off your salary could mean X% more marketing"? Or "Why you don't have to be a government minister to make difficult financial decisions"? Maybe something about how to present a pay cut to your staff?
     
  4. The Guardian has an article about Wall Street banks being investigated over links to rating agencies. Perfect for a number of industries to write about – financial, property, investment, to name a few. Apart from writing about the story, think about other angles to it – how about a blog about whether the rating agencies are a good way to 'value' sub prime mortgages these days? Or an FAQ on sub prime mortgages? Or "What is a sub prime mortgage and what's all the fuss about ratings?" "Why you need a sub prime mortgage" I could go on forever on this one!
     
  5. For something a little different, the Times is reporting that lobsters should be worth more than £3. While this is obviously great blog fodder for a foodie or recipe site, it could lend itself to many other blogs too. Most bsuiness blogs could write about why spending a little more is often a good thing. "When the lowest price doesn't mean the best value". "You really do get what you pay for" "Don't be like the lobsters; cheap as chips' and many more headlines spring to mind. I write blogs for (among others) a building company, a telemarketing company, a kiddie's clothes company and a greetings card company – that one story allowed me to think of a blog for each of them – and many more!

So there you have it, off the top of my head, 5 stories that could lead to blog posts. So when you're short of ideas, grab a cup of coffee and trawl through the newspapers – you're sure to find soemthing that you can write about.

I can guarantee that whatever your industry, one of the papers has something in it today that you could turn into blog fodder. In fact, I'm so sure that if you post your blog address in the comments below, I'll find you a news story and give you a headline – how's that for being sure of myself?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: epSos.de

Recommended WordPress Plugin – Facebook 'Like' Button

Since Facebook announced that they were offering the functionality for website oweners to have 'Like' buttons on their non Facebook content, the race has been on to develop a plugin.

We've found two so far.

  • Facebook Like WordPress Plugin V1 (link goes directly to zip file) – this puts a Like button at the top or bottom of your posts (we've put it at the bottom( of ours as you can see). You can change the size and a few other options, which makes this one our favourite. You can find out more about this plugin on this blog post written by the creator.
  • Facebook Like Button Widget – this installs a widget that you can then place in your sidebars. It works well on some blogs but was too wide for our sidebars unfortunately and it can't be changed as far as I can tell.

So now Facebook members can 'Like' your content when they visit your website!

Let us know if you install either of these plugins so we can pop along and take a look!

Not sure how to install plugins? See our Guide to installing WordPress plugins.

Still unable to install? If you need help installing a WordPress plugin, please see our WordPress Plugin Installation Help service.


299 Steps to Blogging Heaven – pre order now!

We’re really excited here at NikkiPilkington.com because we’ve finally finalised (!) the content for our newest ebook, 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven.

299 Steps to Website Heaven was a great success, with over 11,000 downloads, and even though it’s now out of date, we still get asked for it every day, and we know it’s helping people promote their websites properly.

299 Steps to Blogging Heaven aims to be just as helpful, with step by step guides, hints and tips to make your blog the best it can be.

Find out:

  • Which blogging platforms work best in search engines
  • Plugins and additions to make life easier
  • Time saving hints and tips
  • The best way to write blogs
  • How to word titles to get more clicks
  • Ways of encouraging comments so your blog doesn’t look like the Marie Celeste
  • and more!
  • PLUS! Have email access to Nikki Pilkington to ask questions once you have the book!

This essential ebook aims to be the perfect guide to starting, running and promoting a blog – every step can be done by you, giving you complete control over your blog, and helping you to promote yourself and your business!

We launched the ebook on 1st August 2010 and the price will eventually be £30 – but order now and pay just £10!

To pre order right now, use the Paypal link below. Whether you decide to order now or not, don’t forget to sign up to the 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven mailing list to receive free tips, hints, and news of the book before anyone else!

How do I get more targeted traffic to my blog?

A question I’m asked a lot, and one of the things that may help is something I covered in my blog over on Birds on the Blog today – Make your blog posts answer questions for more targeted traffic.

Feel free to nip over there and add your blog to the comments so I can help you out too!

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