Link to Open New Windows for Blog Readers

blogging

 

“Links – you need ‘em,” writes Amy Lupold Bair in Blogging for Dummies. On a blog, the author explains, links are part of the resource you are providing for readers.  Collecting links around a topic or theme helps to inform or entertain your blog’s readers. If you’re not only providing good content yourself, but also expanding on that content by using links, she adds, “you’re doing your readers a service they won’t forget.”

As I teach at Say It For You, one way to expand on your own blog content is collating.  That entails collecting information from different sources and then organizing that information in a different way. We then summarize those ideas and concepts we think our own readers would find useful.

Curation goes even further than collating. In fact, at Say It For You, we teach that effective blog posts must go from information-dispensing to offering the business owner’s (or the professional’s, or the organizational executive’s) unique perspective on issues related to the search topic. Pieces of information might have been taken from various sources, and might even represent different views. The information needs to be put into perspective so that two things occur:

  1. Readers relate to the “curator” – you, the author of the blog post – as an involved person who is personally engaged with the subject.
  2. Readers realize there’s something here that’s important and useful for them.

Now, with links, the piece of material you are curating does not itself appear in your blog, at least not in its entirety. Instead, you’re adding a hyperlink in your text, allowing the reader to click on that underlines text to go to the article, video, text, or webpage.to which you’re referring.

But here’s where Blogging for Dummies offers an important caution to blog writers: You don’t want to be sending your readers away from your site “into the Black Hole of the Internet”. Those readers might click and then forget where they originally found the link! Therefore, Lupold Bair cautions, change the setting to “open in a new window”.  That keeps your blog post open on the screen while they pull up the other site.

“Links are the currency of the blogosphere,” the author explains.  Adding links to your posts is a good thing, she adds, provided you take your responsibility as a publisher seriously and link only to credible resources. As blog content writers at Say It For You, we certainly agree.

Opening links in new windows literally opens new windows of learning for your blog readers!

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Blog to Position Yourself as an Expert

Although the article in Steve & Jack’s Home News (from my friend Steve Rupp, the Keller-Williams real positioning through blogsestate consultant) wasn’t about blogging, it might have been. “Position Yourself As An Expert Source”, the title read; the content consisted of tips on establishing one’s credentials.

People respond to authority.  You’ll be able to persuade them more
if you can position yourself as an expert in your field or industry.

Those four tips, I couldn’t help thinking, is good advice for blog content writers. (After all, isn’t that the very point of business blogging – to position the business owner or professional practitioner as an expert source?)

1. Cite the experts yourself (quote authoritative sources of information that they already trust). Curating in business blog posts is based on the same concept.  Using content from other people’s blogs, articles, and books, we bring value to our own readers, summarizing the main ideas we believe they will find useful.  But effective blog posts go beyond that, offering the business owner’s unique perspective on the subject.

2. Highlight your qualifications. Don’t beat people over the head with your degrees and accomplishments, but remind them of your expertise and knowledge. When I offer corporate blogging help to business owners and employees, I caution against crossing the fine line between exercising “bragging rights” and bragging. One beautiful aspect of frequent blogging is that you don’t need to “shout” – you can “whisper” your sharply defined differentiated message over time.

3. Get testimonials. Ask others to share their experience working with you. Stories about customer satisfaction and problems solved wield tremendously greater power than statistics in converting lookers to buyers.
4.   Dress appropriately. That’s exactly the point I try to make when it comes to creating marketing blog content. I know the online crowd likes to be informal, and yes, blogs are supposed to be less formal and more personal in tone than traditional websites. But when a sample of corporate blog writing is posted in the name of your business  the business brand is being “put out there” for all to see. Dress your blog in its ”best”. Prevent blog content writing “wardrobe malfunctions” such as grammar errors, run-on sentences, and spelling errors. Avoid redundancy. Tighten up those paragraphs.

Blog to position yourself as an expert!

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Good Luck/ Bad Luck Blog Comments

handling blog comments

Often, when we’re setting up a new blog for a business owner or professional practitioner, the topic of comments comes up.  Should readers be invited to post comments?  Initially at least, most Say It For You clients are afraid to allow for comments on their blog.  Why? They fear those comments might be negative or critical.

When, just the other day, I received my copy of Steve & Jack’s Home News (from my friend Steve Rupp, the Keller-Williams real estate consultant), I thought about this dilemma of whether it’s good to allow readers to comment on your business blog.  The newsletter started out with a story called “Good Luck, Bad Luck.” This farmer’s stallion runs off, and neighbors comment on what bad luck that was.  Farmer says, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?” A series of bad/good events follows: The stallion returns with a herd of wild mare; the farmer’s son, while training one of the mares, is thrown off the horse and breaks his leg.  Because of the broken leg, soldiers do not seize this son for military service. The moral of the story is that all luck, both good and bad is fleeting.

Same thing with blog comments:  Blogs need to be available not only for reading, but for acting and interacting. Just the way that even bad reviews help ticket sales for plays, even when a posts a negative or critical comment about your product or service, you’re still getting “bang for your blog” from the search engines.

The “bad luck” side of the coin, of course, is that spam comment attacks tend to plague newly created blog pages.  That spam typically shows itself in three forms:

  1. Total nonsense, with links to sites the writer is promoting
  2. Totally unrelated to the topic of the blog
  3. Blatant advertising for web services

There is no definitive way to stop SPAM comments as Jeremy Politt of the ITeam admits. There are a few steps business owners and practitioners can take when setting up the blog platform, including:

  • Don’t automatically accept comments – reserve the right to review them and decide whether to publish them. (This is how I handle comments on this Say It For You blog.)
  • Include a “Captcha” so that readers must prove they’re human, not a digital SPAM machine gun.

Like the stallion running off and the farmer’s son’s broken leg, negative comments on a business blog are “good luck, bad luck – who knows?

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Good Luck/ Bad Luck Blog Comments

handling blog comments

Often, when we’re setting up a new blog for a business owner or professional practitioner, the topic of comments comes up.  Should readers be invited to post comments?  Initially at least, most Say It For You clients are afraid to allow for comments on their blog.  Why? They fear those comments might be negative or critical.

When, just the other day, I received my copy of Steve & Jack’s Home News (from my friend Steve Rupp, the Keller-Williams real estate consultant), I thought about this dilemma of whether it’s good to allow readers to comment on your business blog.  The newsletter started out with a story called “Good Luck, Bad Luck.” This farmer’s stallion runs off, and neighbors comment on what bad luck that was.  Farmer says, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?” A series of bad/good events follows: The stallion returns with a herd of wild mare; the farmer’s son, while training one of the mares, is thrown off the horse and breaks his leg.  Because of the broken leg, soldiers do not seize this son for military service. The moral of the story is that all luck, both good and bad is fleeting.

Same thing with blog comments:  Blogs need to be available not only for reading, but for acting and interacting. Just the way that even bad reviews help ticket sales for plays, even when a posts a negative or critical comment about your product or service, you’re still getting “bang for your blog” from the search engines.

The “bad luck” side of the coin, of course, is that spam comment attacks tend to plague newly created blog pages.  That spam typically shows itself in three forms:

  1. Total nonsense, with links to sites the writer is promoting
  2. Totally unrelated to the topic of the blog
  3. Blatant advertising for web services

There is no definitive way to stop SPAM comments as Jeremy Politt of the ITeam admits. There are a few steps business owners and practitioners can take when setting up the blog platform, including:

  • Don’t automatically accept comments – reserve the right to review them and decide whether to publish them. (This is how I handle comments on this Say It For You blog.)
  • Include a “Captcha” so that readers must prove they’re human, not a digital SPAM machine gun.

Like the stallion running off and the farmer’s son’s broken leg, negative comments on a business blog are “good luck, bad luck – who knows?

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Template Your Blog for Variety and Timesaving

 

There are many different ways the same information can be presented in different business blog posts, and thank goodness for that, I say.

In fact, at Say It For You, I’m always on the lookout for different “templates”, not in the sense of platform graphics, but in terms of formats for presenting information about any business or professional practice. Here are just a few possible “templates”:

How-to Post
This type of post aims to teach the reader something, Ali Luke explains taking them through a step-by-step process. Variations include “How I _____and How You Can, Too.” And “Why ____ Matters and How To Do it”.

List Post
The list post offers readers a selection of ideas, tips, suggestions, or resources.

Review Post
Review posts offer an informed opinion about a particular product or service.

OpEd Opinion Post
This post states a point of view about a particular topic (the blog author can then add his or her own commentary.)

Interview Post

The author interviews a client, an employee, or an outside source.

In addition to varying the format or template, I teach, you can offer different kinds of information in different blog posts. In a way, each time you post you’re pulling out just one of those attachments on your “Swiss army knife” and offering some valuable information or advice relating to just one aspect of your business. Another day, your blog post can do the same with a different “attachment”.

According to The Book of Totally Useless Information, a rough estimate of the numbers of snowflakes that have fallen on earth is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,0000, yet each one is different from all the others.

What does this have to do with blog content writing? A snowflake needs a nucleus around which to form, usually a speck of dust, sea salt, or other particle. No two specks of dust are truly identical, and the conditions of temperature and moisture are different each time; those minor changes are enough to make all snowflakes different.

The “nucleus” around which business blog posts are formed is their topic, the expertise and products that business offers. The key words and phrases around that topic are what bring readers to the blog posts. But, even though the overall topic is the same, there is endless variety that can be used to make each blog post special, and one way to differentiate blog posts is by using different templates.

Template your blog for variety and timesaving!

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Business Blog Repurposing With a Purpose

re-purposing blog content

 

Finding ways to recycle existing content has a number of benefits, Megan Marris writes in Wordstream.com, including:

  • reaching a new audience
  • “dusting off forgotten tales”
  • making the most of your efforts

Your top notch content deserves repurposing, Marris states, but only the best will do.

  • Wordstream offers a rather impressive list of suggestions on alternative ways for using content from existing blog posts, turning them into:
  • webinars
  • podcasts
  • case studies
  • Power Point slide decks
  • Ebooks
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Twitter posts
  • online courses

Cornelia Cosmiuc of cognitiveseo.com adds to the list, suggesting that posts be turned into hands-on guidebooks, and that interview blogs be turned into expert advice e-handbooks.

I agree. At Say It For You I stress that it’s absolutely essential for blog marketers to learn to reuse content. Maintaining consistently high rankings on search engines depends on longevity. That means writers must maintain the discipline of regularly posting relevant, value-laden content over long periods of time.

But as a business blog writing trainer, I see repurposing as having a broader meaning than simply turning content from blogs into video scripts, social media posts, or email blasts. My idea of repurposing involves turning existing blog posts into new ones. The content in the new posts reinforces the content from the former posts. But the new version progresses to new information and perhaps a new slant on the subject.

“There are two things that make writing difficult to read. One is not giving enough detail and giving only a spotty coverage of an idea. The other is to try to give too much detail for the space allowed. Short articles should only provide a high-level discussion of your topic or in-depth coverage of one aspect of it,” advises quicksprout.com. One way to repurpose short blog content is to choose one small point and expand on it in a new post.

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers says it all: “You don’t have to create content day in and day out. You just have to work on getting the content you already have in the hands of more people.”  And that’s the main idea behind repurposing content, according to Hubspot.com: Take something you’ve created, put a new spin on it, and give it new life.

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Poor Grammar Spells SPAM in Business Blog Post Content

When scammers call, threatening you will be “taken under custody” because you owe back taxes to the IRS, that poor grammar alone is a giveaway,” business humorist Todd Hunt assures innocent victims. Of course, Hunt explains, “the real IRS never calls, never mails or texts, never asks for a credit card…and certainly never threatens to arrest you.”  The real clue, however, is that if ever custody were involved, you would be taken into it, not under it!

As a corporate blogging trainer, my favorite recommendation to both business owners and the freelance blog content writers they hire to bring their message to customers is this: Prevent blog content writing “wardrobe malfunctions”, including grammar errors, run-on sentences, and spelling errors.

What’s so important about grammar?  Aren’t blogs supposed to be conversational and informal in tone? In fact, I get a lot of pushback from business owners and professionals when I tell them their website is filled with grammar errors. Supposedly nobody “normal” pays attention to such language detail these days. That’s a dangerous attitude, because as Writer’s Digest Yearbook points out, unconventional or incorrect grammar may be seen as an indication of carelessness or ignorance, with the result that readers may take the content itself less seriously.” “If a visitor sees a spelling mistake on the site, he will naturally assume that the carelessness applies to the business as a whole,” warns conversionmedic.com.

Blogs (as I’ve often taught) are more personal and more informal than websites, but they shouldn’t be sloppy. There’s a difference between more formal business writing and blog writing, he says, but “that’s no excuse” (for typos, misspelled words, and poor grammar).  Unlike your sixth grade teacher, internet searchers won’t “correct your paper”– they’ll navigate away from your blog and find somewhere else to go!

A parallel aspect of “good taste” in presenting your brand in a blog is to be sure any claims about your company’s products and services come across as reasonable and provable. Observing “Nice Guy” rules along with those of ”nice” grammar and spelling will tell readers they can trust you to do the right thing in all your dealings..

You may never take those prospects “under custody” or even “into custody”, but you would like to do business with them!

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Is Your Blog Post Title Worth a “Watch”?

Since we’ve been focusing on effective titles in my last couple of Say It For You posts, I couldn’t help but notice a certain article in my August issue of Financial Planning. The title reads “A Sector to Watch” and the article by Craig Israelsen is about including commodities in a portfolio to provide diversification as inflation ticks up. I really liked the “soft-sell” quality of that title. The author wasn’t “hawking” commodity funds, or even recommending them. Instead, it felt as if he was simply alerting his financial advisor readers to something that might be worth their attention.

Ryan Scott of HubSpot would describe that Financial Planning title as an “If I Were You” headline.  “When someone tells us how we should do something, we balk,” Scott explains. But when someone offers to show us why we should do something, it appeals to us,” he adds.
The Israelsen article does, in fact, include facts on the performance of commodities in different markets, and does make an argument for handling inflation using that type of investment. It’s the title, though, that caught my blog content writer’s attention, because it pulls back a couple of steps from making any argument, offering the almost casual suggestion that commodities are worth a “watch”.

“The job of a headline is to get people sucked into your ad/article in the first place,” is the advice Kopywriting Kourse offers. “The most important rule of titles is to respect the reader experience.  If you set high expectations in your title that you can’t fulfill in the content, you’ll lose readers’ trust,” Corey Wainwriight writes in HubSpot.

That’s precisely what’s so refreshing about the Israelsen title – it takes a contrarian position, literally ignoring both these pieces of advice. (Reminds me of the Tom Sawyer story, where, rather than persuading his friends to help him whitewash the fence, Tom makes it look like the task is so much fun that they want to participate…).

“Captivating titles are the ones that stand apart from the rest. Great titles aren’t afraid to be a little weird,” observes Ryan VanDenabeele in Impulse Creative. Craig Israelsen’s A Sector to Watch” certainly caught my attention. Is your blog post title worth a “watch”?

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Give a Blog Post a Twist and It Superconducts

Meteorites sometimes contain naturally occurring superconductors, physicists are discovering. “Give a graphene layer cake a twist and it superconducts – electrons flow freely through it without resistance.” Superconductors, I learned, could potentially be used in new, energy-saving technologies, but today are impractical for most uses, requiring very cold temperatures to function. Still, my blog writing fancy was tickled by the image of those flowing electrons, freed with nothing more than “a twist”.

Putting a unique “twist” on a topic, I believe, is the very essence of blog content writing, enabling the flow of ideas via the internet to a business owners or a practitioner’s target audience.

Three toys can be used to illustrate the power of twist:

Hula Hoops:
When sales plummeted after an early rush of success, Hula Hoop manufacturer Wham-O, came up with a new twist, inserting ball bearings into the cylinders to make a “swoosh” sound, reviving consumer interest in the product; this year marks the company’s 71st anniversary.

Barbie Dolls
The newest “twist” on Barbie Dolls allows doll owners to change Barbie’s hair color and hair style with just a twist of her head.

Rubik’s Cube
The newest versions of the popular puzzler allows the shape to be twisted from a snake into a ball.

“You don’t necessarily need an original idea to craft unique content. You can always develop your own piece by adding the right dose of creativity into any topic your audience is interested in,” Julie Peterson writes in problogger.com. Take some good old ideas and make them different through your individual approach to the subject, she suggests..

The content in your blog posts, I explain to business owners, will be a way to continually think through and reinvent your business brand. The very personal twist that we work to create will mark your blog as uniquely yours.

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Business Blogs – the Importance of Being Real – and Specific

be specific in blog posts

 

Business blog content writers today can take the title (if not the content) of a satirical play written 125 years ago, The Importance of Being Earnest, well, seriously. Sincerity in social media and self-promotion matters, as Katherine Erllikh so eloquently points out in the redbubble blog. “Optimizing things, getting followers, getting subscribers, advertising…those things are just half the puzzle,” Erlikh states. “It’s about sincerity.” You should be as real as possible, is the advice.

Jayson DeMers, writing in Forbes, agrees. “Your blog posts give you a unique opportunity to share your voice and personality, building up trust and increasing your brand’s likeability quotient.”  “As you build up authority in your niche,” DeMers adds,  “this breeds trust and familiarity, keeping you top-of-mind when your prospects are ready to buy.”

One way content writers can “get real” is to post blogs with history-of-our-company background stories.  Those personal anecdotes can have a humanizing effect, engaging readers and creating feelings of empathy and admiration for the business owners or professional practitioners who overcame adversity. As a corporate blogging trainer, I remind newbie writers that there’s no lack of information sources available to our readers. In our blogs, therefore, we need to go beyond presenting facts, statistics, features and benefits.

In addition to being real – in fact, a way to be real – is to be specific. One concern business owners and practitioners express to me is that they don’t want to come across as boastful in their blog.  At the same time, they need to convey the reasons prospects ought to choose them over their competition. This is where being specific comes in – let the facts do the boasting, I explain.

As the first of “Seven Easy Ways to Write Better Titles for Your Blog Posts”, Ali Luke of problogger.com lists “Be Specific, Not General”. While some bloggers believe vague titles intrigue readers, who will click to find out what the title means, Luke says, the truth is readers have too many calls on their time and attention – they need to know what to expect.

“Details, specifics, and granularity can take otherwise generic writing and instantly make it shine,” asserts Hurley Write, Inc.  Imprecise business messages sound like double-talk. Good writers think hard about their goals and the direction they want to give others.”

Playwright Oscar Wilde knew “the importance of being earnest”, but business blog content writers need to understand the importance of being real – and specific!

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