Seven years ago, when I was doing loft development in Atlanta, I Googled my business name and what came up, number one, was my dog’s blog on Dogster.
My real estate website showed up on the fourth page, number 40 in the search results – where no one goes. I couldn’t figure how that was possible until someone told me the difference between a content management website like Dogster, which organizes fresh content in a way search engines prefer, and my bad old static website.
Hmmmm. It only took a minute for me to realize that soon everyone was going to want a content management system, and in the meantime, I was definitely going to have to have one. Thankfully I chose WordPress for my platform, as it was the new kid on the block at the time, and I set about teaching myself how to use it and made myself a new WordPress website for my business.
That was right before the economy hit the skids and not wanting to build anything else I had to sell, I had a lot of time on my hands so I hung out quite a bit at the local coffee shop where I was helping some of my friends with their business websites. A funny thing started to happen. People would over hear my conversations (I’ll admit that I can be a little loud) and come up to me and ask for my business card.
I would have to say, “I don’t have a card”, and explain that I didn’t have a marketing or web design business. This happened more than one or twice so eventually I caved and started to do work for other people. Falling into a new career that I loved.
Starting New Tricks
In February of 2009, I made it official. I named my business New Tricks, designed a logo, ordered business cards and made my New Tricks WordPress website.
I felt like an evangelist, spreading the word about all of the new tricks that gave small businesses an unprecedented ability to reach their potential customers and fans online. Small business owners who embraced the new technology could use these tools to connect with their customers in a way that had never been possible before.
New tricks such as blogging and social media, gave us the ability to expand the reach of my “coffee shop” conversations. Now, I can be heard by people all around the world, and if they like what I say and feel a connection, well then they may just ask to work with me. It was and still is rather unbelievable.
What Will You Write About?
Think about something for a minute. If you were sitting alone in a coffee shop, what kind of conversation by others would draw you in and make you feel connected? What would it take for you to ask that person for their contact info so you could stay in touch or maybe work with them?
Now think about your business and your website. What do people see and feel when they go to your website? Can they easily “get” you and your brand? Do you tell your story in a way that draws people in so that you readers will listen, learn, and feel like they know you and your company? Do you craft your message in a way so that people will line up to work with you?
If you were talking to a favorite client at a coffee shop what would you talk about?
How would you be talk? What style language would you use?
Certainly you would not talk like you did when writing your PhD dissertation or a grant proposal.
You would not talk like you were a old school marketing brochure.
And most likely, if you were having an excellent conversation, you would probably be real and animated and funny, rather than all stiff, proper and dare I say it, bland.
Hopefully, you would not spend all of your time talking about yourself and if you are telling a story it would be relevant, helpful or interesting to your client.
Your wouldn’t only talk about your latest discounts. Instead, you might tell your client about some interesting company news or I could see you sharing a recipe that you thought was terrific that could be made with your product.
If you really connected with this client you could probably sit there and talk for a couple of hours about all sorts of things.
So start there. Brain storm and then make an editorial calendar with potential topics and titles for the next year or at least the next quarter.
Now go write some blog posts.
Tips On How Will You Write Your Posts.
1. Use a title that is engaging and ideally contains one of your key word phrases.
2. Find a photo for the post. Do not snag one from Google images. There are other sources for free or low cost images and illustrations that won’t get you in trouble. Images have hidden meta data and can be tracked down. Try creative commons photos or some of the stock image sites. You can even use your own photos. Instagram your life and use those images.
3. Upload your image into the post first and choose to left justify the text around it. Remember to add the alt tag and have it not link to anything unless you want it to link to something particular. Choose a size that is one third of the size of your post content area. This will create a shorter string of text to the right of the image which is easier for people to read. Once they begin reading they are more likely to continue.
4. If you are copying text into your post from Word, use the little clipboard icon in your WordPress WYSIWYG editor and paste your content into that. This removes weird Microsoft hidden formatting that can create problems in the post. If you are copying from some website or document with a table, don’t do it. Instead, take the text out of the table and format it in your text editor unless it really is supposed t be a table.
5. When you are writing the post, find a nice place to break the text into an excerpt using the WYSIWYG “read more” tag. The short version of your post will show on your blog or category archive page and the complete post will show up all alone on the page when someone clicks the “read more” .
6. Use your headline tags in order of importance like an outline. It helps people to scan your copy and helps search engines determine the relevant topics. So use your keyword phrases in headline tags.
7. Break up your text into bite size pieces – forget the paragraph rules.
8. Add a couple of outbound links. Google likes that.
9. Use spell check.
10. Don’t use other people’s words unless you are quoting them and always credit your sources.
Sometimes we are just too close to our own brand and have been doing business the same way for so long that we are unable to judge how we are perceived. Just like it is hard to redecorate your house after you have been living in it a while, so it is with your brand and your website.
Often a set of new, professional, eyes on your site and content can help you create what will be perfectly you. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right at first. It’s always a work in progress.
The tips above will get you started but for further study, I recommend signing up at the Copyblogger website to receive their free content marketing information.
What do you think? What kind of blog posts do you like to read? What topics are you writing about? Leave your comments below.