Blogging – Social media business strategies blog Tue, 24 Apr 2018 10:34:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Blogging – 32 32 What content to blog for search success Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:49:11 +0000 Continue reading ]]> typewriter Chris AbrahamAfter I wrote The More the Messier for Content Marketing SEO Success I received an email thanking me for the post, but also noting something else. While learning how to write content to best support your marketing goals, the golden ticket is what to write, week-after-week, that will drive people organically, over time, more and more, to your website.

What to Write?

It’s diabolically simple. I have at least a dozen topics that you can write immediately. And, even better, all of these posts will most certainly be as germane and bespoke to you and your business. What’s more, they will be just about as evergreen as you’re likely to ever get.  And it’s so simple you’re going to kick yourself.

Write At Least One Blog Post for Every Page of Your Website

You heard me. Very few websites allow for long-form journalism, the kind of in-depth expository that allows your visitors and your readers to really grok and unlock everything you do, including all the remedials, backstories, answers to frequently asked questions, individual insights, and even your personal interpretation, spin, english.  Expounding upon your products, services, and talent can both seriously woo Google (because Noogle AKA New Google loves long-form content these days) and also seduce your prospects into understanding that you’re not a bottom-feeder, that you’re not a commodity and that you and your products and services are worth way more than fairish market rate.  The long and short of it is, start with writing a blog post based on every single page of your current website. Go do it!

Examples Can Include Absolutely Anything

  • Expertise: a deeper dive into your expertise as a person or as a company is always the first thing anyone goes to when it comes to content marketing. Showing off one’s analysis of the current state of the art is the favorite go-to — but it’s really hard to keep up that sort of insightful brilliance day-after-day, week-after-week. That’s why people get some serious writer’s block when they’re tasked with populating an entire content-marketing blog that, like a bakery, starts going stale the moment you post your last article.
  • Staff/Team/Partners: one of the best sources of a rich biosphere of content and diverse keywords comes from your staff. Two of the easiest: employee interviews and guest posts by employees. Start there and other variations of including your team in your content strategy will open like a flower. Just be sure to not edit out who they are. If you are too harsh with your red pen, you’ll both dispirit your employee to ever blog again and you’ll also ruin the natural language of their particular writing site. Biodiversity is seriously essential. Monocultures are vulnerable and true polycultural environments are much more resistant to pathogens, where pathogens are represented by the fickle and volatile shifting sands of Google’s algorithm. Allow as many diverse voices and writing styles and names and authors to exist on your blog as possible, just be sure not to edit all the diversity out of them before you click publish.
  • Products & Services: I guarantee you that all the copy on your website is completely devoid of color, diversity, humor, and subjective tone. It sort of has to be because there’s a formula, an expected uniformity and professionalism that results in copy-by-committee, bureaucratic drivel that checks all the boxes but compels neither human nor machine (as in Google, Bing, and even Yahoo!).  What you can do, via a blog, is do what I do every week: noodle around, let the keyboard take me where it might. I yell out to my Amazon Echo, “Alexa, remind me to write about what to blog about.” And then on Tuesday morning I try not to think too much about it. The words just tumble out and the lovely Eileen and Madeline do just a little bit of reigning in.  In my agency, products and services are pretty much the same thing.
  • History: every single person in the world loves to hear origin stories. Become a superhero to your prospective clients!
  • Backstage: people really love process. When I was a professional stock photographer, people seemed to me to care more about my process, my origin story, my ASAs, film speed (yes, film, and Fuji 100 slide film was my go-to), camera body, lenses, and even the bag I used (Domke F-2) before they spent too much time looking at my images. Artists who have an interesting, tragic, spiritual, impoverished, or human-journey-inspired process almost always sell more art and for more money than often better artists who just sit in their studios, sober and sane, doing their taxes and books, raising a loving family.  Who wants to spend $1.2M on something their kindergartner could probably do if it’s not the direct result of Angel-inspired, drug-addled, genius. People don’t only want to know how the sausage is made, they demand it!
  • Clients: with the approval of your current and past clients, and with a sweet text link and a hearty thank you, you can probably write so much good stuff about work with your client that are a lot more free-verse than the almost unreadable clap-trap that ends up when you stuff all the months and years of collaboration and partnership into the terribly formulaic Case Study or Testimonial format.  Get personal.  Your clients really do want to become your work BFFs. The more work BFFs they have, the more they can play and recreate on the clock and the expense account. You dig?

I Am Assuming You Like Writing

So many people make excuses as to why they can’t, won’t, or don’t blog. First they start out with “why should I blog,” to “how do I blog?”  Then they move on to “what do I blog about.”  When you scratch past this, you’ll discover that, for whatever reason, they really don’t want to blog.  It could be that blogging is below their pay grade (only trolls, who live in their mother’s basement, blog), it could be that they really don’t know how or don’t like writing. Or, the longer-form stuff really makes them too self-conscious or open to ridicule, to judgement (“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” — Proverbs 17:28). Or, no matter how true this is, or how beneficial the time spent will reward them, there’s the “I’m too busy to blog” ploy. It’s all bullshit and always leads to something else. It means you need to find someone else who is passionate, excited, and enthusiastic about it. Either in your own organization or from somewhere else. A ghostwriter, if you will.

If you’re still lacking ideas or your confidence is still shot, I would be happy to help you out with ideas or even help you out putting together some blog posts to get you started.  Email me!

Via Biznology

Blog2Social: Reshare those evergreen posts Thu, 11 Aug 2016 08:28:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Blog2Social-spike

Target audience: Businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

Chris AbrahamYou know all the hell I go through every time I publish a blog post? The hell I will go through after I hit submit on this post? The process I go into in great depth on If you post it will they come (to read your blog)? Well, I have it all automated now, at least over on my blog (and this is a very low-traffic vanity blog that’s brand new, is not monetized, and I am no fitness star, so when you look at the traffic spikes, keep everything in perspective).

Blog2Social-logoFirst impression? Well, the proof is in the pudding. After installing Blog2Social onto my WordPress blog, I started resharing every single evergreen post I have ever posted through the plugin. Not just all at once but I also have at least ten queued up for the rest of August. As you’ll see below, reactivating old, previously shared, content through my networks immediately resulted in traffic–both volume and also unique visitors:



If I never did that, I would have been leaving all of that traffic and all those visitors on the table. And this is the day after I installed the plugin app, not down the road via SEO but the day after via social. Amazing!

published Posts Blog2SocialStefan Müller of Adenion GmbH reached out to me about his new WordPress plugin called Blog2Social and it seems to mostly solve four of my most pressing problems: Blog2Social automates the social sharing I do immediately after posting, Blog2Social also makes it easy to repurpose and reshare old blog posts that are still relevant and unworthy of becoming archived, Blog2Social allows me to schedule as many shares and reshares as far into the future as I like so I can keep a constant drip of content markeing-driven social shares going every day, and Blog2Social shares to a much wider selection of social platforms than do HootSuite,Sprout Social, and Buffer.

I am running a generous four-full-week, full-featured, trial of their Premium product. I have several days left to noodle around, plenty of room to explore and get a full-featured experience.

publishBlog2SocialAll I needed to do to make it all work is go to the Add New section of my Plugins section then type blog2social into the Search Plugins text box in the upper right. Or, you candownload it directly from the Blog2Social page and then install it using your Upload Plugin button on your Add Plugins page (if this is all Greek to you, you’re not geeky enough to do any of this, task it to someone else or you’ll become frustrated with the entire install process).

OK, so if you’re a geek or tech savvy at all, once you’re done, the process should be simple for you. Aside from bumping into a couple German-language or mistranslated dialogue boxes during the process of linking up Blog2Social to your social and sharing platforms, it all went smoothly — except I am still having a problem with Google+ and, both of which I am currently OK with until I have some time to do a deeper debug.

publishBlog2Social2And if “p.a.” means per-annum, then the prices are cheap for the plugin: most of us will only need the Smart Premium product, $49/year, offering everything, like Buffer, but with fewer users and profiles. Then there’s the Pro and Business versions of the Premium product, $99/year & $199/year. They do offer a free version but it sucks. You lose access to too many social platforms to make the free version worth it for me as I’d lose Google+, Facebook Pages, to LinkedIn — anything that’s business-related.

That said, if you’re just a singleton blogger and only want to share to all your profiles or have only one account-per-platform, the free version might be perfect for you. And, if you grow, you can always upgrade.  What’s more, as I have said before, I encourage you to take advantage of their full-featured month-long trial — it’ll just sit there waiting until you post your first post.  It won’t time out on you while you’re trying to find the time, after reading this article, to install and hook up all your accounts.

blog2socialScheduledPostsWhat I like the most about this app is that the processing part of the app happens over on the Blog2Social servers. It doesn’t bog down my own site and you don’t need to rely on Crontab to schedule your posts.

You’ll see all the posts I queued up yesterday that will be drip-dropped across social over the next couple of weeks.

Also, two more things: you need to post the article first, before you share. And Blog2Social reminds you about that on the writer’s dashboard, if you have admin access to the tool.

Also, there’s a useful step between when you click share and Blog2Social shares and this is good. It’s an intermediate page that allows me to edit every post to every platform.

authorisierungAbschliessenIt allows me to customize all my tweets, add or remove @mentions and #hashtags, and sort out what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it on Facebook and Google+, be it to my profiles or your Pages.

scheduleYourPostIt’s really beautifully thought through and integrated.

My next step is to convince my colleagues and friends that they should give Blog2Social a try on the their blogs and then pony up the $49-$199/year to free up some serious time for all of us, especially Madeline Moran’s.

Let me know what you think, especially after you’ve had a chance to try out Blog2Social.

Enlist the power of the crowd for your next live event Mon, 12 May 2014 12:02:07 +0000 Continue reading ]]> apps

How to leverage your audience’s Instagrams, tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, Tumbls & G+s

Target audience: Marketing professionals, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, SEO specialists, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.


Chris AbrahamIcan’t believe you’re still hiring professional photographers with expensive DSLRs who shoot your events live but time-delay the results by days and weeks. Yes, I am looking at you!

I am not saying you shouldn’t hire a professional team for posterity, the annual reports, and your organization’s archive. But why are you time-delaying your fundraisers, events, conferences, gatherings, jamborees, and rally by hours, days, and weeks when you have all the cheap-and-accessible tools all around you to take dozens of “good enough” images real-time, allowing hundreds, thousands, and millions of friends, family, fans, and potential donors, clients, customers, attendees, and members to get a selective and well-curated peek into all the cool stuff you do every day, as it happens, live, en masse, over the course of the entire event, instead of only the tightly-edited album you may only share with your current friends and family, all in one dump, at one moment, well after the event is far in the rear view mirror?

Yes, those professionally shot 16.2 megapixel photos may well be well-lit, hi-def, perfectly posed, and color-corrected, but they’re also planned, dull, and edited down to so few images that all you’re left with are some boring photos of some random “celebrity” at a dais, some sponsors, board members, and honored guests mugging in a huddle, some glad-handing photos, and maybe a snappy of plates of rubbery chicken on linen-festooned banquet tables.

Expand your reach beyond who’s in the room

Keep the pro shooters but look to others who might be willing to live tweet, Vine, Instagram, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumbl on your behalf, logging in to your Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts before the night begins.

Alternately you can follow my advice below and get the sort of impact you need from the events that you’ve spent a lot of money and energy on already — events that could really help your brand profile in the noisy, noisy, world — but at which there are only dozens to hundreds of attendees and not the thousands-upon-thousands you’ve acquired through social media marketing across all of your social networks and social sharing platforms. Plus, there’s the excitement of the check-in, be it checking in on Foursquare, Facebook, Google Plus (or even on Foursquare through Instagram, actually).

Live streaming, live-tweeting, Instagramming and Vine

2014-04-28 13.48.52When I know I need to capture an event via social media, I use two smart phones and several huge, portable, backup batteries. Strangely enough, too few people carry backup batteries for their smart phones.

My two smart phones are an Apple iPhone 5 and a Google Nexus 5. The 5 has passable battery life, the Nexus 5 dies within an hour the way I use it. As a result, I fill up two Radioshack Portable Power Banks, each with 6000mAhs, every night.

The best thing about porting around too many batteries and cables? Well, you can hook your staff and the folks who are attending up with batteries and charging cables and still have your battery needs covered as well. In fact, you might decide to buy a bunch of batteries and chargers and adapters and plugs and maybe even have a safe charging station where people can leave their poor depleted phones. If you play your cards right, half of the people in your banquet hall will be attending your event through the lens of the video display of their smart phone. No, not their camcorder, DSLR, or Canon snappy, but their smart phone, uploading their Vines, Instagrams, tweets, and Facebooks, blogs, Tumbls, and Plusses right then and there, an entire corps of paparazzi.

Make wi-fi an ally, and buy some wi-fi repeaters

Also, offer some really good Wi-Fi, try to not require a password, or make the password so easy and free that it’ll not be a trouble. I recommend buying a number of Wi-Fi repeaters, such as the NETGEAR WN3500RP Universal Dual Band WiFi Range Extender or the cheaper NETGEAR N300 WiFi Range Extender Wall Plug Version WN3000RP — they’ll allow you to fill your halls with sweet wi-fi, amplified from the distant, weak, signal that you’re all using at once. It won’t solve anything, but it’ll boost confidence and the number of bars people see on their phones. And, if I am really busy, I’ll just live in Instagram. I can take short videos on Instagram, a-la-Vine, and also some pretty neat filtered-and-edited images, be it #filter or #nofilter.

Train everyone how to promote your brand via social

2014-04-28 13.06.44If you’re Miriam’s Kitchen, you should bring me in! If you’re not, maybe you can pay me to come in to train up your staff on who, what, when, where, why, and how to properly and professionally document brand, organization, corporate, or foundation events, including location-awareness, checking-in, swarming. Make sure people understand constraint, what you’d like, filters, cropping, titling, descriptions, tagging, hashtagging, @-inclusions, profile-tagging, checking-in, and all the yummy stuff that make these things cool.

Spend some time sharing how Twitter is different than Vine is different than Facebook is different than Instagram is way different than Google+, a platform that makes it hard to ever even cross-post to it. You need to explain the difference between posting to Facebook and Google+ profiles versus Google+ and Facebook Page posting (it’s important). And then, be sure that people realize that every single person you photograph wants to look beautiful, skinny, happy, successful, fit, and kind, so don’t post any photos that show people with double-chins, belly rolls, closed eyes, or food and drinks up in their pie holes. Make sure every image you make and every post you commit to is flattering and lovely. Not because you’re trying to misrepresent the event but because if you post anything awkward, embarrassing, or unflattering, you’ll surely hear about it. Consider twice, post once.

Let your entire team post as your organization

2014-04-28 13.06.09This takes both training and trust, guys, but you’ll be well-rewarded for your trouble. Get together before the event and either pile all the smart phones on a table and let a couple geeks who know their way around Instagram, Vine, Twitter, etc, set everyone up on their own phone with direct access to the brand’s account. Alternately, maybe you can get a bunch of phones that are the property of the organization and hand them out for the night, already set up for the Wi-Fi and pre-logged in for all the sharing platforms you intend to you. Hopefully you’ve already trained everyone up and let them all know how to best fill out all the content you need before posting, including using filters and light photo editing skills.

You also need to inform people what to do if there’s a terrible auto-correct mistake, a miss-post, or a misspelling: delete it yourself? What if it’s been cross-posted via Instagram to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and the lot? Is there someone at a desktop who can be a live air-traffic-controller? Is there someone you can text or call? Is there someone who can monitor all the streams to quickly delete any and all posts that don’t make the mark (without hurting anyone’s feelings?)

Empower your attendees to live-tweet about you

2014-04-28 13.08.13I love to live tweet events for Vocus and Miriam’s Kitchen — for free. I love how lovely they are to me.

They invite me to things and spoil me and make me happy and amused — and when it comes to Miriam’s Kitchen, I am changing lives! I know there are loads of people who work with Miriam’s Kitchen who would love to be tapped as a either part of above-mentioned “Team Tweet” or as part of the friends and family Team Livetweet that the attendees are more than welcome to become. In the case of Miriam’s Kitchen “Mission Possible” fundraising gala, they’ll want to devise a hashtag that everyone can use for the event, maybe #missionpossible or #missposs14 or #missposs — who knows — as well as the proper mention in every post, including @miriamskitchen. Maybe the hashtag could even be #mp14 to make sure the hashtag is as easy and simple and short and east-to-include as possible — and is in every single social media post.

2014-04-29 09.37.13And, be really generous with the retweets, reblogs, reposts, starring, favoriting, hearting, and all that. I know I already said it but it demands repeating.This requires some training, of course, and something you’ve already offered to your team, but it also requires doting and appreciation, too. I always live tweet, Vine, Facebook, Tumbling and Instagram all of my volunteering at Miriam’s Kitchen. Every single time. Because I love them. However, I work twice as hard doing it whenever I get lots of love, appreciation, favoriting, liking, hearting, retweeting, and reposting. So, one of the mandatory jobs that the air-traffic-controller needs to do is engage all of the live-tweeting attendees! You need to. Maybe, you even need to set up a moderated and curated screen that features the social media conversation that’s happening, real-time. Hey, it works for professional sports teams with their fans, it works like catnip if you really want people to live tweet your event.

Keep it simple, keep it Instagram

Like I mentioned earlier, Instagram is easy. It’s all photo-based, it doesn’t really need too much writing when you’re in the lurch, and it does an amazing job of cross-posting across Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter, and Foursquare. Only thing is, you’ll need to make sure you connect your Facebook to the correct place: Pages and not personal timelines.

Post to brand pages and not personal timelines

Instead of your own personal Timeline, if you’re a Team Livetweeter, you should like to the Facebook Page you need to be associated with. There are two ways: Either log in as someone who already has permission to post to your brand’s Facebook Page; or, the FB Page administrator needs to make you an administrator of their Facebook Page. Alternately, if you’re the admin, you’re responsible to add everyone who needs to post to your brand’s Facebook Page access to that page, by adding them all as managers for the course of the event. Then, if it’s no longer useful or necessary, remember to remove their access as managers after the event is over.

You can always pare down the flood of posts later

2014-04-29 09.37.04There will be too many posts over the course of your event, especially if you give every team member who wants it, access to tweeting, etc, on your behalf as you, real time, but that’s OK. The next day (or that night) you can edit, edit, edit. It’s OK. Or just leave it. If you’ve done a good job promoting your event or your conference well in advance to your followers, members, and fans — and if you let them know you’ll be live-tweeting (and which hash tags you’ll be using) — then they’ll forgive the flood. Let it be, let it go — enjoy the rush. But, it is worthwhile going through everything with a fine-tooth comb, looking for unflattering images or adding tags to untagged photos if you recognize people and are connected to them via social media.

This is a great opportunity to follow people who love you already. It’s also an opportunity to thank people personally for their help. I might even collect all the people who live tweeted (and retweeted and favorited and so forth, even if they were not in attendance) and then include them in a #followfriday love pile. If someone’s willing to tweet you, they’re worthy of your like; if someone’s willing to live-tweet you (for free) then they’re worth of your love.

Post best-of photos in an album afterward

2014-04-29 09.37.00When you get your images from those fancy Canon, Sony, and Nikon DSLRs, upload them and post those guys to social media, of course, but also create “Best Of” albums as well, highlighting the best life-tweeted, live-Tumbl’d, live-Facebooked, and live Flickr’d photos and posts into one big pile of appreciation and love, including not only the life-tweeting teammates but also the best-of photos and tweets from the attendees as well — and include attribution and links and so forth. They’ll love being part of that end-of-party page-3 mention, especially of they’re tagged and thanked. How do I know? Well, because I really appreciate it. It’s some hard work, I warn you, but they work will only take you a couple-few hours on the Monday afterwards (or even the Sunday after, if you’re a workaholic) but you’ll really make people’s day! And, they’ll brag, share comment, and make a fuss again and again, well after the event’s been long forgotten.

Remind your team to log off from your brand’s social media accounts

Don’t forget to get all of your trained up team mates and staff to unlink their social media accounts to your profile. Maybe even check, There are so many stories of people forgetting to log off from their corporate profiles only to tweet and post totally inappropriate photos that night after a few too many Fireball Cinnamon Whisky shots at the after, after party. I know you can do it. It’s so worth it.

2014-04-28 13.09.19I think I have made it more complicated and complex than it is because I really would love people to do live-tweeting in a super-big way.

I want a hundred people to be making a noise on behalf of fundraising events, symposia, or conferences. Every conference should be its very own SXSX! You can always scale everything down to just a few people. Also, ask your lawyers. Maybe you’ll need to post a note at the entrance letting people know that the event will be live-tweeted to social media and that their likeness will probably end up somewhere on the Interwebs, “just in case you’ve invited your secret lover to this event and don’t want the entire world — and your spouse — to know.”

Go git ‘em! I know you be able to rock it, move the chain, and get yourself your very first Twitter trending topic!

Main photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc

How to use a blog to personalize your brand Mon, 07 Apr 2014 12:01:12 +0000 Continue reading ]]> blog

Or, how to make a large entity more relatable for the public

Target audience: Marketing professionals, business bloggers, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Post by Erin Steiner

Erin-SteinerIn the past decade, blogs have gone from personal diary sites to must-have social media tools for people of every professional stripe. They’re how big companies, celebrities and even political figures help make themselves relatable, share information and connect with their audiences and markets. Today, as you surf through the blogosphere, it often looks more like a billboard highway than authentic communication.

As a blogger myself (and one who started just before the “blog boom” of mid-2004), this makes me sad. I love blogging. I love the connections it can forge when it’s done right. I love the communities social marketing can build.

So it’s time to do a reality check about why your brand has a blog. Blogging is more about engaging with the reader than shoving marketing messages in their faces. Let’s take a look at a few examples of businesses that are getting it right.

The Whole Foods Blog

The Whole Foods Market blog.

The Whole Foods Market blog.

I love the Whole Foods Blog. Why? Because even though it’s filled with recipes and product placements, the blog is set up to feel like it is written by a single person. The style is conversational, and the posts are interesting and helpful. When I read it, I feel like someone is talking to me, not at me. That’s important.

The Google Blog

The Google Blog exists solely to keep readers updated about the goings on at Google. Far from a standard “press release a day” blog that so many other corporations blogs use, the bloggers at Google show readers the minutiae that might have gone into a decision to make something or explore something.

They also invite participation in their comments section and make a point to tell readers when their input has played a role in decision making within the company. The reader feels like his comment is read and taken to heart – something that a lot of other blogs neglect when it comes to this type of social marketing tool.

Yousef Al Otaiba

Yousef Al Otaiba, ambassador of United Arab Emirates to the United States, has been working to get a blog up and off the ground for a while. Obviously the blog is written about him by someone else, but that’s not what caught my attention when I checked it out. When you read through his entries, you can see that he’s finding his footing, and I appreciate that. It’s rare that someone in the public eye doesn’t try to pretend that they are perfect right out of the gate.

John Scazli

John Scalzi is an award-winning writer and his blog, Whatever, is a great example of a blog with a cult following. People (myself included) flock to Whatever every day to see Scalzi’s photos and to read his musings on…well, it’s named Whatever for a reason.

What you love reading on your favorite blogs is what you should be aiming for on your own company’s blog

What makes this blog great is its randomness. Instead of focusing on just one part of his image, or on social marketing at all, Scalzi – who has been blogging since long before it was cool or even called blogging – lets readers in on whatever he’s thinking about that day. His blog also has one of the more thoughtful and eloquent comments sections out there. This is thanks to Scalzi’s own rigorous moderation (he calls it his mallet of loving correction).

There are dozens of examples of corporations, public figures and celebrities getting the blogging thing right. But what you can take away from them is this:

What you love reading on your favorite blogs is what you should be aiming for on your own company’s blog. If you want people to relate to you, you have to make yourself available to them. This means that you have to let them see you find your voice. It means that you have to let them in on what you’re thinking and share your actual opinions with them. Your readers want to know what’s happening, sure, but they’re more interested in why it’s happening.

Basically, your readers don’t want The Great and Powerful Oz. They want the guy behind the curtain. Let that guy come out and show off a little bit!

Erin Steiner writes, blogs and vlogs from her home base in Portland, Oregon. Web-based communication is her favorite type of communication.
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Which blog platform is best for your business? Tue, 16 Jul 2013 12:00:24 +0000 Continue reading ]]> blogs

Choices include Tumblr, SquareSpace, Weebly, LiveJournal (oh, and WordPress)

Guest post by Andrew Lisa

Andrew-LisaThe question I probably get asked the most is, “If I’m already on Twitter and Facebook, do I still need to blog?” It’s a trick question.

If you’re using Twitter and Facebook — or Pinterest or whatever else — you are blogging. They can call it social media or microblogging or whatever they want, but if you’re updating a personal page with text, photos, videos, or some combination of all of them, you’re already blogging.

For those of us who want to break the mold, get out on our own, and leave the constraints and privacy concerns of social media behind, follow this guide for determining which of the seemingly endless blog sites is best for you or your business.


I’m not a tech guy. If something goes wrong on the back end of my blog, I want help. Make sure your blog host has 24/7 tech support, whether it’s through phone or tech chat, an FAQ section, and/or a member forum where you can bounce ideas off of people who may have had the same problem before you.

Cost: Not too much!

The truth is, you don’t have to pay much — or anything — at all to have an awesome blog. Most hosts offer a free package with elective add-on upgrades at a cost. Start with the basic package that comes for free. You’ll probably find you won’t need much more.

The big names: WordPress and Blogger

The two biggest, most well-known, most used, and longest running blog hosts — by far — are WordPress and Blogger. They’re the 800-pound gorillas on the block for a reason. They’re reliable, they’re easy, they’re free or low-cost, and they can be customized to your specific look and feel. Blogger has become the platform of choice for multitudes of spammers (in addition to all the good guys), so WordPress may be a smarter choice.

Note that WordPress comes in two flavors: is free, though you have to download the software to run on a Web server of your choice. Tens of millions of people have taken that route because is open source and it provides thousands of free plug-ins, or add-ons, that can spiff up your blog in a blg way. is the company’s hosted solution for a monthly fee — free and ad-supported for the basic plan, $99/year for the premium plan.


I like Tumblr because it’s intuitive to the Facebook and Twitter concepts with which we’re all so familiar. It centers around the concepts of “liking” and “reflagging” back to your Tumblr blog. If you have a visually oriented business or profession, this may be the choice for you.


Still wildly popular with the younger crowd, Xanga has credibility through its longevity. It’s been around since 1999, when it was founded as a site for book and music lovers to post reviews.


I find Weebly’s themes and overall ease in usability to be underrated. Weebly has sleek, modern themes that look and feel more like a polished website than a blog. It also offers apps that are compatible with Apple and Android.


LiveJournal also dates back to 1999 and is widely used by political pundits for commentary — especially overseas. It has the ability to link all posts to social media accounts and offers paid upgrades, but 95 percent of its users are on the free basic package.


SquareSpace is another good choice. It’s perhaps the most elegant of the lot — a great choice if you have a lot of strong visuals or designs you want to show off. And it offers a built-in store, so you can offer an ecommerce component (“Create your own store”), including shipping and inventory control. We like the customizable award-winning templates — check out the Momentum theme. It’s also adaptive, so it adjusts to small screens on handhelds or 30-inch monitors. Cost is $8/month for the standard plan to $24/month for the business plan, including unlimited pages and bandwidth. Use TWIT6 to get a 10 percent discount.


Powered by WordPress, you’ll have the security of the biggest name in blogging behind you. With Blogetery, you can choose from dozens of themes, embed widgets, upload podcasts, and try out plug-ins. It offers tutorials, support forums, video guides, and documentation.

This isn’t a comprehensive list — TypePad and MovableType are still around — but it should help you get started.

Blogging is awesome. It can be a creative outlet or a profitable venture. Start with this list, visit each site, do your homework, and see which one is right for you. When you finally find your match, get blogging!

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He covers the blogosphere and profiles business leaders such as Steve Wynn. Reach him on Twitter at @andrewscottlisa.
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The importance of ‘the ask’ in social marketing Wed, 05 Jun 2013 10:00:47 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

To achieve goals for your brand or yourself, build trust and intimacy through asking

Chris AbrahamIwas spending time with NPR over the weekend, as heard through WAMU 88.5FM here in DC, and TED Radio Hour came on with an episode titled, “Giving It Away.” What caught my attention was the last segment, “Amanda Palmer: How Do You Get People To Pay For Music?

Amanda Palmer discusses her past as a street performer and busker and discusses how she’s taken everything she learned from making her living from the kindness of strangers and passersby and brought it into the Internet age.

If you listen to the NPR segment or watch the video, you’ll hopefully get me.

How brands should approach accessibility and humanity

tumblr_mj59o16raI1rh349co2_1280The first, most important point I believe in Amanda Palmer’s TED talk has to do with asking for help — asking for what you want. And in that moment of vulnerability, you accomplish four things: you build trust, you build intimacy, you become more human, and you may very well get what you want.

And building trust, intimacy, and becoming more human — and more accessible — is always a challenge for brands. Keeping whatever trust, intimacy, human face, and accessibility as your brand scales can feel like an exercise in futility.

I have a feeling that the years of blog posts I have written have not remotely been able to convey the relationship we have with both our listeners, fans, customers, clients, prospects, and community — and it is intimate. And it is intimate even in situations you may not appreciate or even realize.

Years ago I attended a “church development” meeting in Rehoboth, Delaware, and our OD consultant told us that villagers feel way more attached to the local parish than their behavior suggests. Though there are the core members (clergy, choir, daily and weekly congregants, the Christmas and Easter visitors), the reach goes much further. Who gets to claim the parish as “my church” is not defined by the priest but by the villager: Even villagers who never attend — or have attended only once for a funeral, baptism, or confirmation, or wedding — often listen to the pealing of the morning bells and feel connected to it. That’s my church.

ted2013_0041083_d41_6467In my opinion, connecting intimately with your community online does not limit you to just the people who bring your band brownies (to show you their love), who get your music for free when they’re too poor or overpay when they’re passionate and flush, or even the people to whom pass out the extra brownies. They’re everyone else, too, even folks you may not appreciate or even realize.

Engagement resonates with supporters

But what’s important to understand is that the way you engage with your “apostolic core” — your sanctum sanctorum — ripples, echoes, and resonates outward. From the folks who take you into their very own home when you’re in town to the “never miss a show” crowd, to the folks who have never been to a show. From the folks who listen to you and you only (but have never seen your face on anything but an album cover), to the “I have all her albums” crowd.

You don’t need to convert all of your followers right away. Instead, you need to build as much connection as possible with the members you already have.

You don’t really need to become besties with all of your followers. You also don’t need to convert all of them to membership right away either. What you need to do is build as much connection as possible with the members you already have — those natural allies — and do it out in the open.

Personally, the level of devotion that Amanda Palmer’s fans have toward her makes me like her more — and I don’t even know her music! That her fans are willing to open up their homes to her, feed her, bring her brownies, and feel guilty about not being able to afford to pay for free music speaks volumes about her character and her willingness and ability to love.

It also says a lot about her. It makes me think about how trusting she is: that fearless person in the trust-building exercise who just closes her eyes and goes ahead and falls backward into the arms of her co-workers.

This is also a reminder that you can — and should — be able to maintain and grow your intimacy with your core group of followers while still being able to grow your general audience. And the better you nurture your social media family, the more that public display of affection will ripple all the way to the most casual audience member.

After a decade of blogging about just this issue, I must admit that Amanda Palmer has said it much better than I ever have.

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Seventeen inside tips for improving your blog Thu, 30 May 2013 11:24:41 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Can you still succeed at blogging? serves as our case study

Target audience: Bloggers, marketing and PR professionals, SEO specialists, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists. This article originally appeared at SEOmoz and is republished with permission.

By Dan Shure
Owner, EvolvingSEO

DanShureBlogging is tough these days. It’s a crowded realm with a staggering amount of people in the game. According to Pingdom, by the end of 2012 there were:

• 59 million WordPress blogs
• 88 million Tumblr blogs
• 634 million total websites

Fifty-nine million WordPress blogs. Impressive. If you haven’t started yours, don’t give up! Some writers among us has achieved that success – and you can, too. You just need to know how to go about blogging in today’s landscape.

You could be successful with blogging

You could be. But you’ve got to get it right. You’ve got to create the right mix of elements and put in the time, dedication, passion, and effort. But don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.

There are still bloggers, new bloggers, who start from scratch (in the past 12-24 months) and achieve success that looks like this:


Or this:


Yep – that’s 90 linking root domains to one single post and 14,900 Facebook shares.

In this post, we’re going to look at an exciting case study to show you how to improve your chances for success with blogging.

We’re going to break it into a few pieces:

  1. Meet the blogger
  2. Eight past ingredients of success
  3. Three SEO challenges and solutions
  4. Six recommendations to take it to the next level

8 + 3 + 6 = 17 ways :-)

Let’s go!

Meet the blogger behind

If you’ve ever popped over to the SEOmoz community, you may have noticed a cute little child commenting on posts or asking questions in Q&A:

screencap of noah's comment on moz blog

Smart kid! OK, actually, little Noah hasn’t learned to type. That’s Rick Smith, aka Noah’s Dad.

Although Rick is not a professional writer and has only been blogging on for about 15 months, he’s achieved a noteworthy degree of success. They’ve been featured or mentioned on, ABC News, The Huffington Post, Fox News, and more. Average monthly visits are now in the five digits.

And how would you like these kinds of metrics for a single post?

What has Rick done so far to achieve this success? What can you do and learn from and apply to your own personal blog?

Theme your blog with one concrete topic (have a purpose)

1I don’t think anyone would question what Rick’s blog is “about.” Its about Noah, Rick’s son, who has Down Syndrome. This is concrete. It anchors the purpose and meaning of the blog into something tangible.

I can think of a good example in the SEO world. Jon Cooper didn’t just make an SEO blog, he made a link building blog. Specifics matter.

Takeaway: How can you hone in on a more concrete topic for your blog? Or, if you’re thinking of starting a new blog, how can you focus your topic more?

Use random affinities

2I completely took that from Ian Laurie’s post (see here). However, Rick has basically nailed this instinctively. Just about every time he uses a random affinity in a post, it’s wildly successful.

For example, look at the post he wrote about a Target advertisement which discretely uses a child with Down Syndrome. According to Open Site Explorer, it received 90 LRDs and 14,900 Facebook shares. It got linked to by the Huffington Post, ABC News, and many more quality sites. Rick combined the topic of Down Syndrome with the department store Target and its advertising message.

By tying together the themes of Target, advertising, special needs, and Down Syndrome, Rick tapped into a much larger audience.

TakeawayRead Ian’s post.

Create content the media would be likely to cite

3Focus on creating a resource that does the job of a reporter to make their lives easier. Reporters are more likely to use your post to explain a facet of what they’re reporting on if they can simply point to your article.

That’s exactly what this reporter from the Huffington Post did when he linked to an article on

Takeaway: Find news articles in your niche. Study the types of resources they are linking to. Analyze what makes them linkable. Create your own content with the traits you find in mind.

Be consistent and post daily

4Since day one, Rick has been posting content on almost a daily basis. But honestly, the consistency part of this is most important.

If finding time to write on a regular basis is a challenge for you, make use of the scheduling feature in WordPress or your content management system.

Takeaway: Choose a publishing schedule that is realistic for your schedule and that fits your audience. It might be once a week, everyday, etc. Whatever you decide, make use of scheduling features in WordPress or your CMS and publish content consistently.

Drive traffic with social media

5It’s analytics time. Tell me Rick’s traffic is not tied to social… this is the all traffic segment and social media traffic segment (more on how I made that chart later).


You can see that social media is absolutely driving those peaks and valleys of traffic.

Takeaway: Social media can be overwhelming. I always recommend to choose one or two platforms and do those really well. Don’t try to be on all of the social media platforms, at least not right away. Choose the one or two where your audience is most likely to be and start engaging.

Use personal and intimate images that tell a story

6Maybe it’s because this piece takes an extra bit of effort, but so many bloggers don’t use images well or at all. Rick does, and he does it extremely well. A few examples:


Not only is Noah adorable – you see family. You get the “moment.” You feel like you know Rick and his wife. You make a connection.


This is Rick, with baby Noah, finding out about the hole in Noah’s heart. If that isn’t an intimate and touching photo, I’m not sure what is.

Rick uses these consistently on Images make a huge difference in audience interaction.

Takeaway: In a way, you always have to curate your own photos or graphics along the wayMake sure you have personal, engaging photos to go along with your posts.

Video! Video! Video!

7The guys from Distilled have been recommending video for a while now. Rick has been posting little short videos of Noah – “A Window Into Their Lives” – and he does them on a regular basis.


Just check out his YouTube page. More than 314,000 video views to date!

Takeaway: Similar to photos, you almost have to always be ready to capture something (if your blog is about events). Also, if you’re at a loss for something of higher quality than just your iPhone or smartphone – follow Mike King. He’s an SEO specialist but as been focusing more on video these days, and he shares good tips about equipment, lighting, etc.

Do #RWS – Real WORLD Sh*t

8What’s #RWS? A small takeoff on Wil Reynolds’ #RCS (or Real Company Sh*t). isn’t a company so I’ll call it “Real WORLD Sh*t” – #RWS.

Many of the topics Rick writes about, by nature, comes from real things that happen in the real world. Bring the offline online. Things that make a difference and matter will help your audience connect.

Like the post An Update And History On Noah’s Heart Conditions. Rick doesn’t just write an endless sea of prose after the fact. He brings you there with him. There are photos. There’s drawings of Noah’s heart. And there’s actual medical information.

Takeaway: Want to incorporate more #RCS or #RWS into your blog? Watch Wil’s session from Mozcon (which Moz released for free!)

Three SEO challenges and solutions

Rick and I had the chance to speak on the phone a few times, and I got to learn a little bit about some of the challenges he was facing. This case study is a perfect opportunity to share my recommendations with everyone.

Challenge one: How should I categorize the content on my blog?

1Even for a seemingly simple blog, site architecture, content categorization, and menu structure can be elusive. That’s often because there are different ways to bucket content, depending upon what point of view you’re looking from.

For WordPress-specific info on how to use categories vs. tags, check out my post on WordPress.

For simplicity’s sake, we’re simply going to focus on the menu. We’re going to assume the underlying architecture and URL structure makes sense.

Here’s the current structure of


It’s pretty good, but Rick asked for some suggestions to make it better. Rather than just show you what my suggestions are, I want to walk through the process.

Step one: List the types of people in priority order of who you most want to find your content.



You simply have to understand the different people who you are trying to attract to your blog.

Step two: Break the list down into its most simple elements. This gives you a basic map for the informational space you’re playing with.

These are the four most distinct and simple buckets of content I can think of surrounding a blog about a son who has Down Syndrome:



I advise all bloggers to do the same. How many categories can you elegantly break down your blog into?

Step three: Using steps one and two, create variations of this simple question: Who is looking for what and why?

A few examples;

  • parent of a child with Down Syndrome (who) is looking for a community (what) for emotional support (why).
  • An expectant parent just diagnosed (who) is looking for useful and compelling information (what) to help decide if they should keep the child (why).
  • medical student (who) is looking for medical facts and information (what) to use for a study in school (what).

We could come up with many more variations, but you see how aligning the people with the content and their reasons to search for it starts to give you a vivid picture of how to structure the categories.

This process helps me wrap my head around the topics and give them context. I am understanding the topic at hand as well as the people.

Step four: Structure the menu for people. In this particular instance, I want to help Rick set up his menus to anticipate the needs people will have when they arrive on the site. You can understand the needs by understanding what specific circumstance they’re in – which is where steps 1-3 got us.

Arrange the menu in a way that requires the least thinking possible, and makes people think, “Wow, Noah’s Dad read my mind and knows where I’m coming from!”


Although Rick might want to change around the particular wording a little or move a few things around, I think this is headed in the right direction. The menu is designed more user-centered rather than perhaps just topic-centered.

Tip: When structuring your content, don’t reinvent the wheel! This resource about Down Syndrome was very useful when coming up with the menu.

Challenge two: Should I rank for misspellings?

2This was another interesting challenge. Although the appropriate spelling of Down Syndrome is “Down” and not “Down’s” or “Downs,” many people still spell it and search for it improperly. The question then became: Should Rick try to rank for “Down’s Syndrome”? The problem is, anyone who knows what the proper spelling is, would possibly believe that Rick was wrong or being disrespectful.

The fact is, it’s not so easily to tell at face value if you should target a misspelling. So I made a little flowchart.

Flowchart – Is it worth targeting that misspelling?


Let’s walk through that process for the keyword “down’s syndrome.”

Does it get good search volume? I’d say arguably yes, although it gets less than the correct spelling, it still gets enough they are showing it in the AdWords KW Tool

down syndrome search volume

This was odd to me – being curious I wanted to know why. Wikipedia uses both versions.


OK, found it. Apparently the UK will still use Down’s


Second, are the search engine results pages much different for Down vs Down’s? As I found out, they are a little different, but Google still seems to treat down’s like down, as you can see with the bolding.


At this point, I’m thinking it probably doesn’t make sense to try and rank for “down’s” on its own. But what about something else?

Rick should create a little resource explaining why it’s Down instead of Down’s.

is it down or down's

Besides Wikipedia, the only other relevant results are out of date. Time to put something new up there, Rick!

So, in this case, we came to an alternative strategy. Don’t target just Down’s but create a resource explaining the difference between Down and Down’s.

Challenge three: What do I write about?

3Another challenge Rick brought up to me — which I think any blogger faces trying to create daily content — is how to continuously come up with ideas. Not just any idea. Topics that people will actually care about. How do you do it? Obviously, you’ve got tools. Here are some of them:

But you see that one mixed in … your brain? Often forgotten about, we look for tools to do this work for us. It’s amazing how can we apply some creative thinking to squeeze more out of the tools we have.

Start asking Ubersuggest and Soovle questions. Wil Reynolds has been talking about this. Like this formula:

[Question words] + keyword.

Question words – try:

  • can
  • does
  • will
  • would
  • how could
  • why does
  • when does
  • where does





Also, you should know how to use “vs” as in ecommerce posts – “nike vs …” Try “the difference between [keyword] and …. ”


And here’s what Soovle can bring to the party:


Pretty cool, eh?

By now, your brain is startin’ to fire up, I hope. Don’t just use the examples I gave. What creative ways of using Ubersuggest and Soovle can you come up with?

Let’s keep talking about your brain. Highly underrated in SEO.

Now, what I would do is this. Remember the hierarchy of potential visitors? You can call them personas or keyword level demographics. And we don’t have to get as intensely technical as Mike’s post. The point is to just put yourself in someone else’s shoes and brainstorm (keyword: brain) – what’s important to them?

Let’s cover the two top most potential visitors in our hierarchy: expectant parents or parents of a newly born child with Down Syndrome, and they just received the diagnosis. What would you be feeling, thinking, wondering, hoping?

I don’t have kids and I don’t know about you, but I’d want to know the following:

  • What is it like raising a child with down syndrome?
  • How does it differ from raising a “normal” child?
  • Do they face challenges in life?
  • Can it be “cured” or managed?
  • Do they go to school? Get married? Get jobs? Have kids of their own?

In a nutshell, I’d be wanting to know two things: what their quality of life going to be, and what’s my family’s quality of life going to be like.

Start searching Google as if you are that person who just received a diagnosis your child has Down Syndrome.

Don’t forget to go to the bottom…


Then, start bucketing your keywords into categories in a spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Just devise a way to remember your ideas but also start to organize them. This chart is far from complete, but you can see how I begin the process. I would continue to tag and categorize them, and then start running some metrics like search volume, rankings, impressions, traffic etc.


Keep a curation of keywords and ideas going like this for each persona and you’ll never run out of topics (and never forget them too, I hope).

The best part, of course, is that now you know these ideas are going to help people because they are actually searching for these things.

Six ideas and recommendations

OK, stick with me! Above there were eight things is doing well, three ways to overcome some challenges, and now we’ve got six recommendations for Rick to take his blog further.

And again, these are things that can help all bloggers.

Set blogging goals

1Rick’s site obviously doesn’t sell anything, and he’s not focused on selling advertising as a primary goal, either. But for every site (yes, even your blog about cooking or running or music production), you can still come up with something to measure.

Rick and I spoke about this, and came up with a few key goals he wanted to measure:

  • RSS sign-ups
  • RSS email sign-ups
  • Social sharing
  • Increase in social followers
  • Commenting / engagement
  • Traffic for specific keywords, especially related to new parents or expecting parents
  • Brand vs. non-brand traffic

Perfect, now we know what to measure, let’s get to the how!

Measuring goals

2In the scope of this case study, we can’t cover every detail of measuring these goals. But I will show you a few in particular which I set up for Rick, and you should do the same for your blog.

Events: Are there links on your site that send a person somewhere externally but also fulfill a goal? Like an RSS button or a link to your Twitter profile? You should track as many of those as you can with events.

Choose the link or button you want to track.

Add the event tracking code to the <a> tag:

analytics event tracking code in rss links

I can’t cover this in detail here, but the code I used was:

onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘RSS’,’Click’,’Feed’])

Just do this search and you’ll be set.

Add these to all links you feel it would be worthwhile to track – like an RSS email subscription at the top of the page:


Fortunately, the widget Rick is using has the analytics tracking option built in:


Goals: Then, turn your events into goals.

Here’s what I did for his social media profile clicks:


Again, more in this search if you need it.

Custom reports: Now that your events are being tracked as goals, you can create a super useful custom report.


Here’s what the final report will look like:


Brand vs non-brand search traffic: This is huge! If you guys aren’t doing this, you are really missing out. Brand traffic can often be a challenge to segment because of misspellings. But I’ve got a pretty good method for you.

This assumes you have a list of all the possible spelling/variations of your brand. But basically, it comes down to a simple RegEx:

brand search traffic segment


FYI – ^ means “begins with” and | means “or”

Remember to create a segment for non-brand search traffic (so you’re filtering out brand terms):


Social Media Advanced Segment: Google Analytics currently gives you a Social Media section, but I don’t find it all that useful. That’s why we’re going to create an advanced segment to measure social media traffic better.

Plus, analytics includes WordPress as social. Creating your own segment gives you absolute control over the sources you want to include.

In this case I’m choosing sources I know Rick is most actively promoting.


Yes, you can do that with RegEx as well. This post shows you how if you want to do that. Although a little outdated, Avinash has a superb post on advanced segments, including one for social media.

Building your community? Start a forum!

3When Rick and I spoke, he mentioned wanting to somehow connect his audience. In other words, he’s looking to grow a platform for his community.

Start a forum!

He might know something I don’t, but all the ones I could find were either outdated, low traffic, or poor quality.

There is definitely an opportunity in the space here. And he already has a crowd of followers to help seed content and get it going. Plus, long-tail traffic and building your domain authority by maintaining control of the content on

Just a fair warning though: Forums require close moderation. But I feel, in this case, a forum may provide more benefit than negatives.

You have some options for software:

  • vBulletin – The standard one everyone knows
  • Xenforo – A client of mine started trying this and it looks promising.
  • Mingle WordPress Plugin – this looks like a good plugin for WordPress. Haven’t tried it myself though.

How about anyone else? Does anyone have recommendations for forum software for Rick?

Host Google Hangouts

4Rick also mentioned wanting to bring more of his audience to Google Plus. The demographics of visitors to fit mommy bloggers more than anything else. And they are not on Google Plus.

So you need a unique selling proposition for why they should be on Google Plus.

What can Google Plus do no other network can? Hangouts. Try it! It may take a few tries, but I bet you’ll start pulling some momentum if that idea sounds exciting to you.

Schedule it. Send invitations. Bring your audience there and show them how fun it can be. Try it at least 4-5 times on a regular schedule and see if it can get you some traction in G+.

More stuff here.

Start a podcast

5OK. So this may take more time. And more resources. And just more work. But it could bring you to an entirely new level.

There’s one small catch. I was looking around for existing Down Syndrome podcasts.

Most of them were really old, like this:

Photo 1

This was the only current one I could find. Just got started not long ago. However, the audio quality is shaky, they seem to run long, and the engagement on their website is low.

Photo 5

In other words: I think Rick could do betterJust speaking with him on the phone and I think he would make a perfect host. He’s personable, speaks well, and is very engaging to interact with.

He might even know this person. Who knows?  So if he pursues it, he should obviously not “step on anyone’s toes” but I think there’s a fantastic opportunity here if done right.

I see some good resources on this search to start.

Create an app

6Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income created an app for his blog. It does nothing more than allow people to:

  • Read his latest posts
  • Listen to his latest podcasts
  • Read his latest tweets
  • Share his content
  • Find his Facebook page

That’s it! But he knows people are increasingly mobile. You can get all that stuff on your mobile device, but now with his app they’re all in one place. And he’s discoverable in the iTunes Store.

Here’s a sample of what it looks like:

Photo 3

Photo 6

There’s obviously more you can do with apps, but this shows you even a simple app could be worthwhile to get you in front of a new audience and allow people to consume and share your content more easily.

Where do we finish? Rick’s obviously doing a lot right on his blog – and I hope this gave him and you some ideas for taking your blogs further.

There may be 59 million WordPress blogs out there, but out of those 59 million, I’d like to know how many people keep going. I’d like to know how many of those use vivid and intimate images, how many use video, how many of them talk about something real? Real World Sh*t. #RWS!

There’s always going to be a high noise-to-signal ratio on the web, and it’s only going to increase. But Rick proves to us that if you’re passionate, dedicated, personal, take risks, and be real, you still can achieve success.

And time … time is the ultimate filter of signal vs. noise. Five years from now, I’ll remember Rick and Noah and their blog. What blogs or content will you remember 5, 10, 20 years from now?

Let’s help each other out

With all this blog talk, I’m up for a discussion. Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

  • Where are you at with your blog?
  • Is it a company blog?
  • A personal blog?
  • What tips in this post do you find challenging?
  • What do you struggle with? Coming up with content? Making it “quality”? Getting traffic? Getting comments?

Dan Shure is an associate at and is the CEO of EvolvingSEOSEOmoz is not affil­i­ated with SEO­moz pro­vides the Web’s best SEO tools and resources.

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Turn social into your own personal media empire Mon, 22 Apr 2013 12:02:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Newsroom

Your personal newsroom calls for authentic, purposeful engagement

Chris AbrahamIf you read your local newspaper or a typical magazine, you’ll realize that most journalism is specialized. You have your columns, reporting, reviews, editorials, letters to the editor, and ombudsman. However, most companies don’t have the volume or diversity of news required to need such staffing.

That said, enough does go on each and every day in your office, among your staff, in your business, in your industry, with you and your very own personal brand that you need to cover the entire newsroom on your own, including the advertising and publicity (because like the news, everything comes down to driving revenue, and if you can’t prove that all the time, energy, and resources you’re spending online aren’t feeding sales, your one-man-social-media-band is not long for this world.)

Let me break it down.

I would start by saying tone down the shameless self-promotion that you’re incessantly dropping into your streams and onto your walls, but I have a feeling you’re not being aggressive enough. Why? Because I don’t think that most social media experts, consultants, and gurus recommend being aggressive enough.

Become your own personal newsroom

Ultimately, you need to become a reporter of your own facts. You need to lead your followers deep into who you are, what you do, what products and services you can, have, and do offer. You need to make sure you use your platform — your own personal newsroom, your own personal media empire.

It’s OK because that’s part of what makes you interesting: what you do, what you can do, and who you are.

The content on your website — about your company or brand, who you are, what you do, products, services, case studies, client lists — can be woven into what you discuss on a daily basis, interspersed with other news and content that come from other departments of your newsroom.

How would I write that stuff up so I don’t sound like a self-promotional, self-loving jerk? Be objective. What I would say is that you should report the facts, ma’am, only the facts, even if the facts reflect the work, experience, products, services, staff, and culture of you and your company.

It’s amazing how much time and energy is spent developing witty commentary and narrative outside of what you, your brand, and your company actually do. Too much time is spent being cute, coy, playful, and timely; riding the meme-wave, if you will, instead of getting down to business and giving the people what they want.

Consumers are hungry for engagement

People are tired of just playing peekaboo. People are a lot more earnest and hungry for real news, worthwhile content, and a spirited conversation — not just the razzle dazzle or the dance of the seven veils that you may think. Bombast and titilation have their place, but people grow tired of the same old tricks and eventually want something more, especially if you’re not actually TMZ or Rush.

In addition to wanting to know more about what you do, who you are, what you know, and how you can help, people follow you on social media in order to engage with you. They have questions, concerns, problems. People also come to you to find out what you think. They come by to see if you have an opinion or analysis of what’s going on in your space.

And it is your opportunity, every day, to offer your unique insight into what’s going on in the news. Sadly, most people spend more time sharing other peoples’ news, analysis, critiques, and insights hoping that the quality of news that they curate from others into their own social media stream says a lot about them. Sometimes that’s indeed true; however, the real value-add in this scenario is when the reshare, reblog, and retweet isn’t just a carbon copy but offers additional commentary, analysis, or personal color-commentary.

Analyze, teach and share


People come to you not for your curation and aggregation skills but for your take on things. Many people criticize newspapers circa 2013 because they’ve become news aggregators for nationally syndicated content, AP wire news, and barely doctored press releases. Spending a little time taking the news that’s coming across your news desk and putting your own personal spin on it is essential to your success and the value of your voice in a very noisy social mediasphere.

Listen to your followers, who will give you opportunities to expand upon your ideas, to refine your insights, and to learn more about your clients and brand fans

This is indeed less possible on Twitter where we’re only offered a paltry 140 characters but blogs, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, and even Pinterest allow hundreds of characters, plenty of room to go into quite a sophisticated analysis.

And finally, there’s the role of editor, teacher and ombudsman. After you’ve spent some serious time out there producing opinionated, brave, smart, and insightful content, you’re likely to get questions, queries, concerns, misunderstandings, and request for more, specific, content.

It’s time to listen, now — and listen carefully. Your followers will not only tell you what they need, want, and dislike, but they’ll also give you many opportunities to expand upon your ideas, to refine your thoughts and insights, and to learn more about your current clients and brand fans but you’ll have an opportunity to listen to what your natural business prospects are interested in and be able to sell towards that.

No matter how much social media experts and gurus talk about the traditional media as being broadcast-only, newsrooms have always depended upon their community to provide them news, traffic reports, leads, human interest stories, letters to the editors, and local community news.

In many case, at a macro scale, you’re now a publisher. You are your own personal newsroom and while you might want to keep the reins in and keep your own media empire relatively modest for now, you still need to think more in terms of engaging with your community in a real way instead if just entertaining and amusing them.

And that’s the way it is.

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Images to make your small business blog pop Mon, 15 Apr 2013 12:02:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Stock images

10 stock photo sites with low-cost or free images

Guest post by Megan Totka
Chief Editor,

MeganTotkaThere’s something about a great image that draws attention and makes people want to find out more. Using stock photos for your small business blog will help you stand out and grab more eyeballs — not to mention keep your visitors coming back for more.

As a small business, you probably are already stretching every dollar you have. This means you don’t have hundreds of dollars a month to spend on blog photos. The good news is, you can still get great quality images, licensed for commercial use, for less than $5 each — or, in some cases, for free.

Here are the best sites for low-cost, high-quality images for your small business blog.



iStockphoto: Millions of royalty-free photos

1A stock image staple for more than 10 years, iStockphoto offers millions of royalty-free photos, illustrations, videos, and audio files. The site features easy browsing by category and a powerful search engine, and images are tagged with lots of keywords to help you find just what you’re looking for. There’s a wide range of pricing on iStockphoto, from 1 to 150 credits per image, with credits costing between 95 cents and $1.50.


Shutterstock: Discounts for bulk purchases

2 More than 20 million stock photos and illustrations can be found on Shutterstock, searchable by keyword or found by topic category like Beauty/Fashion, Food and Drink, or Healthcare/Medical. While the costs are a little on the high side, with individual images for $19 (less if you buy bulk), you can get a deal with a subscription if you use a lot of images.


Fotolia: Images as low as 19 cents

3Fotolia also features more than 20 million royalty-free images, and a better deal on price, although many aren’t quite as high quality in our view. With subscription plans and bulk discounts, images are priced as low as 19 cents each. You can get a daily or monthly subscription, or pay as you go with a credits system.


Bigstock: Highly effective search

4Photos, illustrations, backgrounds, patterns, and more are available on Bigstock. The libraries are sorted by collection and category, and there’s also a highly effective search engine. Like the other big stock image sites, you can buy either credits or subscriptions. Credits (it takes more credits to buy larger images) average out to 99 cents per image, while subscriptions drop the per-image price to 46 cents or less.


Depositphotos: Wide assortment, flexible plans

5With more than 11 million images and more added every day, Depositphotos is very likely to have just the image you’re looking for. The prices are great, too. Some of the bigger stock photo sites, like Dreamstime, Shutterstock, and iStockPhoto, advertise “pennies per image” but require expensive subscriptions to get those cheap bulk prices. With Depositphotos, you can buy as few or as many as you need, and still average from $1 to $5 per photo. Their lowest subscription plan, at $69 per month, gives you five images a day and comes out to about 49 cents per photo — more than enough for your blog. Fantastic selections, versatile system

6This site contains more than 5 million high-quality images with a simplified, reasonable pricing structure. At, you can buy single images, image packs, or a subscription. Subscriptions run for 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year, with the year subscription giving you 19-cent images. Single images and image packs start at $1.99 per image, and go down to 90 cents each when you buy 50 images for $45. It’s a much easier system than the credit-based purchasing used by most large stock image sites, and the selection is fantastic.


123RF: 20 million images at reasonable prices

7At 123RF, you’ll find almost 20 million images, including photos and vectors, with prices as low as 21 cents with subscription plans, and from around 68 cents to $2 for small or medium-size images that are suitable for blog posts. While this site does use a credit system, it’s more straightforward than most.


Stock.XCHNG: Combo image bank & social media site

8A combination image bank and social media site, Stock.XCHNG provides images completely free of charge for use on websites and blogs, in exchange for a linkback and credit to the photographer. The site features more than 350,000 high-quality photos to choose from. Just be sure to read their image license agreement before posting an image.


MorgueFile: Free use of high-res photos

9Another totally free site, MorgueFile is a photo sharing community that charges nothing to download and display high-resolution photos and images. Attribution is not required for nearly all images, but check out the uploader’s notes, because some request attribution or a link as a courtesy — and it always pays to be polite.


Wikimedia Commons: 17 million free images

10This wiki site has nearly 17 million media files, most of them images, which are free for use under the Creative Commons license. Wikimedia Commons lets you search by keyword and also has a category tree by topic on the main page for easy browsing. There are plenty of quality photos, images, and clip art to be found here.

Bonus sites

  • Flickr: Many of the images on this user-driven site are available free under a Creative Commons license. Search for free images for commercial use.
  • NASA Imagery: Yes, it’s that NASA. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has an archived library of almost 100,000 non-copyrighted images, free for personal, educational, and website use. Browse the image gallery.
  • CC Search: While this isn’t an actual stock image site, the CC Search portal makes finding just the right (free) image fast and convenient. You can use Creative Commons Search to find images that are available free for commercial purposes from 13 different sites. Be sure to check the “use for commercial purposes” under the search box at the top before running a search.

Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list, just a roundup of some of our favorites. If you’d like to explore more sites for your small business, head to rubberball, veer, Jupiterimages, or Fotosearch. And if you have a big budget, Getty Images and Corbis will almost always have something up your alley.

What about you? What are some of your favorite photo resources or catalogs?

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes in the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the Web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.


Free Photos Directory (Socialbrite)

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Blog like there’s nobody watching Wed, 10 Apr 2013 12:11:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> perezhilton
Photo courtesy of Dell (Creative Commons)

Vulnerability reigns supreme in the blogosphere

Chris AbrahamI have been thinking about the posts of the most successful bloggers and social media sharers and I believe one of the things they all have in common is that they reveal of themselves just a little more openly and intimately than anyone else with a marketing agenda and a lot to lose. There’s a fine line between taking your friends, followers, fans, and audience on a beautiful and compelling narrative ride and oversharing, but even over-sharing verging on TMI has been better for the most successful social media artists and content marketers.

Business is personal, work is personal, selling is personal, sales are personal. The most successful business people lead with relationships, friendships, and trust.

It makes me think of the poem by William W. Purkey:

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.

The most successful social media artists don’t hide their black eyes, they sing them.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re all very aware that they’re being scrutinized and that they must protect the privacy of their children, friends, family, businesses, employers, and brands, but they also know that business is personal, work is personal, selling is personal, sales are personal, and that the most successful business people lead with relationships, friendships, and trust well before anyone ever gets to CVs, resumes, case studies, or client lists.

Photo by

Let me just pull actress Jennifer Lawrence out of a hat as an example. She’s too beautiful, too perfect, on her own, on the red carpet. She’s unapproachable — so gorgeous that envy could quickly turn to resentment.

Falling on her way up the stairs to receive her first Oscar at the Academy Awards was the best thing to ever happen to her, whether or not it was staged by a very savvy publicist.

Her subsequent behavior during interviews, on Saturday Night Live, and in Silver Linings Playbook— the funny, goofy, flawed, self-effacing, girlish gamine — is who people love in spite of her Helen-of-Troy-class beauty.

Mind you, this may or may not be completely intentional, orchestrated, scripted. Whether it is or not, it is a strategy that requires that you become way less self-conscious, spending a lot less time in front of the mirror, and a lot more willing to show good humor and grace when you find yourself on all-fours with your bum in the air on your way up to receive an honor in front of a billion people.

And that’s what it’s about. Social media is a de facto stress test. It’s an opportunity to get a feeling for who you and your brand really are.

This is why, even though you may feel very exposed while under the spotlights of social media you’ve got to blog, tweet, Facebook, Tumbl, and Plus like there’s nobody watching. You should still understand that you shouldn’t share or do anything online that you wouldn’t do during a dinner party with your vicar, priest, rabbi, mum, dad, boss, clients, wife, and kids in attendance.

Share the real you with the world

Dance like there’s nobody watching; go ahead and perform to your full ability, out loud, and with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.

That’s what people want. They want you. They want to get to know you and your staff. They want to see your happy hours and when dogs come into the office.

I am really proud of being part of Unison Agency, as they’re doing such an amazing job of sharing of themselves, the fun they’re having, their creativity, and their creative process.

When I think about all of this, I think of my favorite book by Milan Kundera, Immortality. The book is about great men who are obsessed with their immortality and the absurd paradox that is the result of single-mindedly pursuing one’s own greatness and place in history.

Telling people how you want to be known, respected, feared, and loved is folly; history will make it’s own decisions about you and the best way to be known, respected and trusted is to be knowable, respectable, and trustworthy.

And for all that to happen, you’ve gotta share of yourself like there’s nobody watching!

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