Monthly Archives: January 2014

Getting Started With A Blog For Your Business

getting started with a blog for your businessGetting started with a blog for your business is a worthwhile use of your time and effort. Choosing a blogging platform is the first step in getting started. I highly recommend that you go with a ‘hosted’ site, rather than one that is on a free platform. The one used by the majority of people working online is WordPress.org.

The hosted option eliminates the hassle of finding a host for your blog as the company takes care of that for you.  This option would cost you a monthly or annual fee.  I’ve used both Blue Host and Host Gator to host my WordPress sites, but have now switched over to Liquid Web for all of my blog hosting because of recent changes in service and performance with those larger companies.

What you want to completely avoid is a free blogging platform, such as WordPress.com, Tumblr.com, or Blogger.com. I compare this to setting up a lemonade stand on the corner as opposed to leasing a space in the mall. You’re setting up a blog for your business, not for a hobby that may go by the wayside in the future.

WordPress.org is the other blog platform you should know, which is a standalone option.  If you are already hosting some of your websites with a web host, WordPress.org is ideal for you.  Not only is WordPress.org free for unlimited use, but it is the best-supported blog platform there is.  For ultimate control of your blog, this is as good as it gets.  It is the blog platform of choice of today’s savviest bloggers.

Visit the sites I’ve mentioned above and if you’re going for the hosted option, simply sign-up for an account and you’ll be ready to start blogging immediately. It’s truly a simple process to set up WordPress through your hosting account, and they will be happy to help you to do it quickly and easily.

Choosing a Name for Your Blog

If you already own a website, you understand the significance of choosing a good domain name.  A good domain name not only enhances the branding of your business and makes it easy for your readers to share with others.

If your blog is going to play a significant role in your business, then spend some time choosing the right domain name for it.  People tend to remember memorable domain names that end with a dot com to spread it around easier. I recommend using GoDaddy as the registrar for all of your domains. I currently own almost six hundred domains and appreciate how they are handled through this company.

Choosing a Template / Theme for Your Blog

With the free platforms like Blogger.com and WordPress.com, the need to hire a Web designer is eliminated.  These options already have blog templates (often called “themes”) ready for use.  Just pick a design that works well with the theme of your business and get ready to start blogging. The downside to this is that there is only so much you can do to alter its look and feel.  What you see is what you get.

With WordPress.org however, you’re free to hire a Web Designer to design the style of your blog from the ground up.  There are no limitations to what you can do with your design.  There are WordPress.org templates that are also freely given away by the WordPress community with no strings attached.  You have full rights to grab any of these templates and alter them to suit the theme of your business blog.  If you need a recommendation for someone to help you set up a WordPress blog that’s exactly what you are thinking of, contact me and I’ll give you some names of the people that have helped me with my sites.

You can search on Google “Wordpress themes” and you’ll get a variety of sites to choose from.  One of the more popular ones is found at http://themes.wordpress.net.  

 

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Driving Targeted Traffic To Your Blog

targeted traffic Driving Targeted Traffic To Your BlogYou may have seen the movie Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner builds a baseball field in the middle of the countryside and people come from far and near to visit. This concept of ‘if you build it they will come’ is a romantic one, but does not apply to your business. Probably the trickiest part for any online entrepreneur is getting targeted traffic to their sites.  This is more science than art and has spawned an industry all of its own.  Search engine optimization or SEO as it’s more affectionately referred to, is a major player in how you get targeted traffic to your sites or in this case, your blogs.

Driving Targeted Traffic To Your Blog

There are other promotional and marketing strategies that you can employ to get traffic, but it all starts with optimizing your blogs for SEO.  If you want your blog to be found, you have to optimize it for the search engines. Google and the other search engines will crawl you site to see what it’s about, and then send traffic (people) who are searching for those specific topics. It must be general enough to garner attention, yet specific enough to weed out those you are actually searching for very different information.

The level of optimization you can perform on your blog depends once again on whether you’re using a free platform or a hosted one.

A blogging platform like WordPress.org is the best way to go for SEO purposes.  There are no limits as to how you can customize your WordPress.org (hosted) blog.  But because most beginners tend to use the free blog platforms, we’ll explore SEO tactics that everyone can benefit from.

Split Your Blog’s Search Engine Optimization into Offsite And Onsite SEO

Offsite SEO can be summed up as just this – inbound links.  This means blogs other than your own, are linking to your blog and a wide variety of your content.  Inbound links are quite possibly the most important SEO tactic that could get your blogs highly ranked in the search engines.

So how do you get others to link to you?  Here are some ways to get you started:

Write Quality Content – Nothing gets you links faster than writing content that affects your readers.  If a little bit of controversy helps, throw that in.  As word gets around about your posts, bloggers will inevitably link to you.

Post Comments On Blogs You Read – Don’t hesitate to post worthwhile comments on other blogs, be it your competitors or not, but realize blog comments themselves don’t have impact on your SEO results. You may get a follow-up with a link pointing to your blog.  And if that happens to be from a competitor with a huge audience, you’ll be looking at some major traffic influx to your blog.

Submit Your Blog To Directories – You can submit your blogs to blog directories to generate more inbound links.  Apart from buying links, this is something many bloggers do to get more traffic.  Technorati.com and DayPop.com are amongst two of the more popular blog directories right now, but you can perform a Web search to find more.

Onsite SEO requires customization within your blog itself.  Here’s how to get started:

Optimize Your Content With Targeted Keywords  – This topic really requires intense study, as it is one of the more important subjects when discussing SEO.  But in a nutshell, your blog posts should contain the keywords or keyword phrases that your potential customers or readers would most likely type into the search engines to find what they are looking for.

This requires advanced research of keywords on your part so that you can place these targeted keywords within your blog content.  The result would be a highly optimized blog for the very information your potential customers are looking for.

Have each of your posts focused on one specific topic so that you can moderate the keywords going into your content.  Over-stuffing keywords can make for terrible reading which defeats the purpose of finding and keeping your customers.

Make your posts as original as possible and update your blog frequently, at least three times a week.

Place Your Keywords Here Too – Within the URL of the page, page and post titles, heading tags such as H1, image alt tags and meta tags.  Bold your keywords where you can too.

Create A Good Linking Structure Within Your Blog – Create links that link from a certain post in your blog to another relevant post which you had written previously.  This interlinking makes it very easy for search engines to re-index your blog, allowing for more of your pages to be indexed.  Categorize your information and place them on your blog’s sidebar.  Create a sitemap once your blog starts growing larger in size.

But one thing to remember is not to over-optimize your blog. Write naturally and don’t overdo it with keywords. Use descriptive wording and use synonyms rather than repeating the same keyword phrases over and over. Following these strategies will increase the amount of targeted traffic you receive to your blog, and will ultimately increase your bottom line as well.

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Is Blogging a Challenge for You?

blogging challengeIn 2009 I started the 30 Day Power Blogging Challenge. The idea caught on and I repeated it two more times before deciding that others should carry on their own version of the Blog Challenge. There are now so many blogging challenges I have lost count. There’s even one for therapists to get them started with blogging! Every time I see another one pop up I smile, knowing that my original idea was innovative and continues to help so many people.

So, What Is A Blog?

A blog, or web-log as it was originally called, is an online diary or collection of thoughts and ideas.  But actually it is much more sophisticated than that.  Your blog is a website that publishes your entries, known as posts in reverse chronological order, with the most recent post shown first, at the top of the page. Readers are also able to comment and share their own blog’s information so that the conversation around any topic becomes an interactive one.

But the true beauty of having a blog lies in its simplicity.  There is no need for you to learn HTML code or web design, otherwise needed to operate a traditional website.   You can also update your blog via any Internet connection, whether you are on another continent or even using your smart phone.

Setting up a blog can take as little as thirty minutes and then you’re ready to publish your content.  It’s honestly that easy.  This is definitely a skill worth having.

How Is Blogging Applicable To My Business?

The ease of publishing your content on a blog makes it a perfect marketing vehicle for any type of business, online or offline.  Whether you are working from home or are the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation, blogging on a regular basis will enhance your marketing strategy.

I’ve always said that your blog is your ‘Home on the Internet’. It becomes the ‘face’ of your business that prospects can identify with and become a part of through comments and the ability to join your list. These days we all like to be a part of the conversation and actively participate in the conversation. it is typical that a new reader will leave a comment on one of my posts and then join my list, prompting me to take a look at their site and reciprocate in some way. That’s the beginning of a relationship in my mind.

Huge corporations and entities like General Motors, IBM, Huffington Post, and Microsoft have set up blogs to effectively market their services or products as a cost-effective way of communicating quickly with their prospects and current customers.  By providing a venue for people to talk about their product, companies can easily find out what they really want and then tailor their products and services accordingly.  This ongoing virtual conversation between the company and the customer has dramatically cut costs and increased revenue because they receive first-hand research information at almost no cost to them. It’s the perfect way to get instant feedback.

If you are an online entrepreneur working from home, the same strategies apply.  Use your blog to:

  • Build relationships with people who are interested in what you do
  • Provide relevant content on your niche topic
  • Find new readers and prospects through your keywords
  • Establish trust with your prospects while gaining credibility
  • Create deeper awareness about what you have to offer
  • Test new ideas and research your market by encouraging your readers and to participate in discussions

Are you blogging regularly, or is it a challenge for you? I’d love to hear from you and take a look at your blog, so please leave a comment below.

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Become A Local Celebrity to Grow Your Business Exponentially

cadario sb 300x300 Become A Local Celebrity to Grow Your Business ExponentiallyWhen you become a local celebrity and the world can be your oyster. Recently I had a special dinner with a friend at an Italian place in Santa Barbara called Ca’Dario. The owner is an overnight sensation thirty years in the making, who followed his passion when he came to America to learn the restaurant business. I think many of us can relate to this in that everything we achieve during our lives is the result of many years of hard work and preparation. Knowing exactly what you want at a young age can certainly be helpful, but this does not ensure that it will take less time or effort.

When I met the restaurant’s owner I complimented him on the food and the restaurant and then asked how he had learned to market his business so well. His answer surprised me; he said that he told a few ‘key’ people what he was doing as he went along. He knew they would spread the word, helping to make his restaurant a success.

This is brilliant, and you can do this for your own business as well. It’s not the same as word-of-mouth advertising; it’s more of a focused way of letting people know who you

are and what you have to offer them. Especially in a small town like Santa Barbara, this type of face to face interaction can catapult you to the top of your field very quickly.

Have you identified some key people or groups in your city that would be interested in knowing more about what you are doing in your online business? Take the time to make a list, and then seek them out to share your thoughts and ideas. I’ve done this with some of the charities I am involved with and have found the people to be quite open to spreading the word about my business.

Some examples of this are that I now write a monthly column for a local print magazine that is owned by someone in my Rotary Club; I’ve been interviewed on the radio as a result of connecting with the owners of the station; and I was given an award by my city’s Arts Council when I connected with someone on the City Council.

Make the effort to become a local celebrity and your business may grow exponentially.

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The New Normal for Business: Having an Online Presence

Online-PresenceHaving An Online Presence

Once upon a time it was possible to start a business and become successful without the help of the Internet. Those days are long gone as we enter the age of online marketing, visibility and credibility as a way to build a prosperous business with a future. This is now the new ‘normal’ and those who understand the importance of having an online presence will be far more likely to prosper.

Crystal wrote to me to ask for help with her newly launched interior design business. She began offering her services to clients during the summer of 2013 and wants to know if she must spend money on a website and get involved with social media to grow her business as quickly as possible. The answer is yes, as an online presence is absolutely necessary if you are going to compete in your industry alongside people who ‘get it’ when it comes to online marketing and sales.

This doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as you know what to do and how to do it, which I will explain in detail here. And, coupled with more traditional marketing and offline methods can almost guarantee that you will have the very best chance of success.

First, have someone set up a WordPress site for you, using a domain for your business. This may be your actual business name, your name, or a name that includes your industry and location, such as interiordesignsantaclarita.com or santaclaritainteriordesign.com. Both of these domains were available as of this writing, which just goes to show that you will be ahead of much of your competition if you follow what I am sharing here.

Next, start creating content on your topic in the form of written materials, audio recordings, and short (under five minutes is optimal) videos that you can share with your prospects and current clients and customers, as well as with family and friends. Many businesses, such as Crystal’s interior design company lend themselves well to this, while others take a little more creativity to build interest.

Add your content to your new website as blog posts, to article directories such as http://SubmitMoreArticles.com, social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest), within your email newsletter, and in a short report you can make available on Amazon. Start an Internet radio show on Blog Talk Radio and add your ‘show’ (it can be five minute segments if you wish) to iTunes as a podcast. Start a channel on YouTube using your company’s name and upload your videos there on a regular basis.

Be sure to add an optin box to the upper right-hand corner of your website, using a service such as Aweber (http://ConnieLoves.me/Aweber gets you started for just one dollar) to stay in regular contact with your prospects and clients.

Now it’s time to tell the world what you are doing through press releases, live appearances, and traditional print advertising. I use a service called WebWire (http://WebWire.com) to send press releases inexpensively – about twenty-five dollars each as of this writing – and they will be distributed far and wide to help you get the word out about what you do and how you can help others by doing it.

Have fun with live appearances by offering to speak at local meetings such as Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, and any trade shows that are appropriate to your business. Have a one page flyer and a business card ready to give out, and be sure to collect the names and email addresses of those who show interest in your business.

And do not forget about traditional advertising and marketing. The publications you reguarly is the first place to start.  It is my belief that the people who are serious about doing business locally will always begin with a local publication to connect with people who can do what they need done.

Educate all of the members of your business team about the importance of having a website and creating relevant content. Work on increasing your online presence and your business will thrive and prosper in 2014 and beyond.

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