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!

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NikkiPilkington 12 Days of Christmas song

The Singing Christmas Tree, Werdmühleplatz in ...

Image via Wikipedia

All together now!

On the first day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

A first place on Google for me

On the second day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the third day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the fourth day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

4 Foursquare checkins,
3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the fifth day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

5 great reviews…
4 Foursquare checkins,
3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the sixth day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

6 tweets for Twitter,
5 great reviews…
4 Foursquare checkins,
3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the seventh day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

7 brand new meta tags,
6 tweets for Twitter,
5 great reviews…
4 Foursquare checkins,
3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the 8th day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

8 sales from Facebook,
7 brand new meta tags,
6 tweets for Twitter,
5 great reviews…
4 Foursquare checkins,
3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the 9th day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

9 SEO tips,
8 sales from Facebook,
7 brand new meta tags,
6 tweets for Twitter,
5 great reviews…
4 Foursquare checkins,
3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the 10th day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

10 brand new Challenges,
9 SEO tips,
8 sales from Facebook,
7 brand new meta tags,
6 tweets for Twitter,
5 great reviews…
4 Foursquare checkins,
3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the 11th day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

11 ways to get links,
10 brand new Challenges,
9 SEO tips,
8 sales from Facebook,
7 brand new meta tags,
6 tweets for Twitter,
5 great reviews…
4 Foursquare checkins,
3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

On the 12th day of Christmas, Nikki gave to me:

12 hours of mentoring,
11 ways to get links,
10 brand new Challenges,
9 SEO tips,
8 sales from Facebook,
7 brand new meta tags,
6 tweets for Twitter,
5 great reviews…
4 Foursquare checkins,
3 ideas for blog posts,
2 new subscribers, and
A first place on Google for me

Happy Christmas everyone and here’s to a fab 2012!

Thanks to Suze St Maur for the idea 🙂 )

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How to cook your Christmas turkey in the dishwasher and live to tell the tale

So, a week before Xmas my oven decides to stop working. All the local shops can’t deliver a new one for 6 weeks, and I have 7 for Christmas dinner… aarrrgghhh!

So what did I do? I turned to trusty Twitter and Facebook for an answer. After posting out my plea, I received back many ideas:

  • microwave it
  • BBQ it
  • deep fry it
  • cook it in the dishwasher

Yep, that’s right, cook it in the dishwasher.

Now, I admit that one of the other three options must be easier than the dishwasher suggestion, but come on – when have I backed down in the face of a challenge? The dishwasher it must be!

I told the family and they looked at me aghast. “Cook the turkey… in the dishwasher….?” All except Leigh, who said “What a great idea for a blog post!” (glad to see she inherited my nose for drama 😉 )

And so, on Xmas morning we duly got out the turkey:

1Well, to be honest it was a Chapon not a turkey as such, but it once had feathers and laid eggs so I’m not quibbling 🙂

The recipes I found online said to wrap it in stemaing bags – we didn’t have any so we extra quadruple wrapped it in thick turkey foil while we were running the dishwasher through on empty to make sure it was clean.

2Then into the dishwasher it went:

3Here’s the turkey in it’s home for the next few hours:

4It was a 3.5KG bird, so we put it through 4 cycles at the highest temperature (75 deg) – checking it after each cycle to see if it really was cooking. Leigh was on standby with chicken nuggets if it didn’t, and my partner mentioned many times how glad he was having fish that could be cooked in the microwave (wuss!)

After 4 cycles, we unwrapped it and took a look:

5It was cooked! OK, it was a bit pale and anaemic looking, but nothing a quick blast in the microwave grill and copious amounts of gravy couldn’t sort out.

Most importantly, it tasted yummy – moist, flavourful, and very definitely edible – with not a trace of detergent to be found 😉

The rest of the Christmas dinner was cooked in the halogen oven we borrowed, in pans and in the microwave, so it was a bit of a ‘take it as you find it’ affair, but all in all it worked well and everyone had a lovely Christmas dinner, as well as having created a bit of a talking point!

They tell me I’m brave to have tried it on such an important meal; there’s a thin line between bravery and stupidity; I’m not sure which side I’m on LOL!

So for those of you who thought it couldn’t be done – it can! For those of you who thought I wouldn’t do it – I did! And for those of you who want to try it – do it! It really didn’t take much longer than cooking the traditional way, and the end result was most pleasant.

What would you have done with your Christmas turkey if your oven broke a few days before Christmas?

Keeping in Touch with Customers Over the Holidays – Automating Blog & Social Media Posts

A guest post by Gina Smith

You have big plans to take some time off during the holiday season. One problem – you don’t want to lose the momentum of your blog and Social Media posts you’ve worked so hard throughout the year to build. No worries – you can still wake up Christmas morning without having to worry about posting to your blog or social accounts. Below are some helpful tips to consider:

Automate Blog Posts
First, if you aren’t already doing so, set your blog to replicate across your social networks. Each blog provider is a little different, so consult the help section or ask your webmaster how to integrate with your Social Media sites. While you are looking into this, check the steps of how to automate your blog posts. Most blogs, including WordPress and Blogger, include this capability. Once you integrate and automate, you can set up content to post automatically throughout the holidays.

Establish a Calendar
Pre-plan what and when you want to post. If you will be on vacation, consider posts which are less likely to generate comments you will need to immediately address. Also, perhaps think about including posts which are less “business” related. Do you have a favorite recipe to share? Or, how about a list of last minute gift ideas. And, of course, don’t forget a fun greeting Christmas morning and a Happy New Year at midnight on January 1st.

Become Familiar with Facebook Scheduling
Did you know Facebook offers a scheduling feature right in the application itself? Here’s how to use it. First, write your post and attach any tags, photos, videos, etc. Next, look to lower left corner of your post. You will see a clock symbol. Click this to set the year, month, day and time. You can schedule posts up to 6 months in advance, and even backdate posts in your timeline.

Explore Third-Party Providers
There are a number of third party providers which you can use to automate your Social Media posts. One of the most popular is HootSuite, which is used by a number of larger corporations. There are both free and paid versions. Both allow you to manage and automate posts for a number of Social Media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google+ Pages, and even WordPress, among others. The paid version includes analytics, additional social profiles, and other neat features. Buffer and TweetDeck are also popular third part providers to consider. Always be sure to thoroughly research the options, features, terms and conditions, etc., of any third party provider and choose one which best fits the needs of your business.

So, no need to fret about your blog and Social Media posts over the holidays. With a little pre-planning, you can easily sustain momentum with your customers all the way into the new year!

Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Global Response. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.

A very Merry Christmas to you all

I’d just like to wish all of my clients, friends, followers, likers, suppliers and everyone who has supported NikkiPilkington.com, a very Merry Christmas from me and my team.

Without you guys we wouldn’t have had such a phenomenal 2011 and be looking forward to an even better 2012.

Thank you so much, and I hope you have a lovely day!

How our children will think the Christmas story was played out through social media

Having a not quite yet 2 year old, who will never have to rewind a video tape, keep a Bic biro handy for the cassette in the boombox, has never seen a  telephone without buttons and won’t have to worry about leaving her records in the back of the car and warping them, this video made me smile.

Telling the story of the Nativity through Social Media, and incorporating Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Amazon, Gmail and Wikipedia, it’s pretty clever stuff.

I hope it makes you smile – thanks to all those who shared it on YouTube this year and last and made me giggle.

Happy Christmas everyone!

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Make Maximum use of the Christmas Break

Image representing KashFlow Software as depict...
Image via CrunchBase

Ahh, Christmas! That time of year when people with jobs get some time off and people with their own businesses get to focus on some of the important stuff. Usually because there are less demands from customers, staff and random callers trying to sell you a new mobile phone tariff that will save you a gazillion pounds a year.

It genuinely is a great time to reflect on what you’ve done this year and what you can do better next year. One of the areas that’s often neglected during busy times is the administrative and procedural side of things – there’s always something more pressing to do than get a system in place that lets you invoice quickly and gives you an insight into the numbers that sit behind your business.

A few years ago you’d have been forgiven for using the excuse that all of the software available to you is too clunky, confusing and designed for accountants instead of business owners. It was the excuse I used for a long time before I decided to do something about it and write my own accounting application. That grew into KashFlow which is now an award winning and very popular accounting system used by thousands of small businesses all over the UK.

Besides ease of use and free support, one of the other things that set KashFlow apart from the likes of Sage and Quickbooks is the fact that it’s web-based. This means you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection. You never need to worry about backups or installing upgrades and your colleagues (or accountant) can access it at the same time as you and see the same data.

Web-based software, (or “Software as a service” or “Cloud Computing” or “[insert latest buzz word]) has become hugely popular over the last couple of years and there is now a wide range of tools you can use to improve the efficiency of your business in 2011.

Perhaps over the Christmas period you can find some time to check out some of these great applications, many of which are free.

MailChimp – Email marketing
MailChimp is a great email marketing system that even a monkey can use. You can load it up with email addresses from a spreadsheet and/or put a sign-up form on your website. It also integrates with Facebook and Twitter. Even if yo’ve got no immediate plan to start sending out an email newsletter or similar, it’s worth getting something like this set up sooner rather than later so you can start building a list of email addresses for when you are ready.
For more information, see www.mailchimp.com

DropBox – File backup and remote access
When did you last back up your data? Ever needed to access a file but it couldn’t as it’s on a different computer? DropBox neatly solves all of these problems for free. It synchronises folders on your computer to the cloud and to other computers. There’s even an iPAd and iPhone app so you can access your files on the move.
See www.dropbox.com

To Do Lists
I used to keep my To Do lists on scraps of paper. That quickly got unwieldy. I now use ToodleDo, a free tool for managing To Do lists – and yet again, it has iPad and iPhone apps. There are a number of similar tools, many free. So have a look and see what one suits your needs best.
www.toodledo.com
www.tadalist.com
www.rememberthemilk.com

Paymo – Time Tracking
Don’t guess how much time you’ve spent on a project – know the exact answer to the second. Paymo is a popular free tool for tracking your time
For more info, visit www.paymo.biz

KashFlow – Accounting and Invoicing
I can’t write a list like this and not include KashFlow. You’ll be amazed at how easy this accounting software is to use and you don’t have to pay a penny to try it out. There’s a full two month trial available which includes full email support. Support will be available all over the Christmas period, including Christmas day itself (I’m doing it that day!). So go to www.kashflow.co.uk now and register for a trial.

Duane Jackson is MD and Founder of KashFlow Software Limited, a company he started after struggling to find accounting software designed for mere mortals.
The London-based company is chaired by Lord Young of Graffham, has 20 staff and close to 10,000 customers.
On the rare occasions that he’s not working, Duane is at home in Brighton with his wife and two young daughters.

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Our Christmas 2009 'opening' hours!

Although we are a virtual company, we’re real people with families and commitments, so we have to have time off occasionally!

Between Monday 21st December and Thursday 24th December we will be available by email only. Emails will be checked regularly, and you should expect a reply within a maximum of 12 hours.

We are closed on Friday 25th December until Monday 4th January, although email will still be being checked and dealt with during those times.

Nikki, Shaun, Leigh, Bob, Mark Rob and Helen wish you all a very Merry Christmas and here’s to a fantastic 2010!

Card company christmas card

Picture courtesy of The Card Company Ltd

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