On Friday, I announced the new Better Blogging Series and how we’re planning to work together to evaluate our blogging personalities and where to apply some simple sales strategies to grow our audience. Today, we kick off the first official challenge in the series by going all the way back to the beginning. No matter where you are in your blogging journey right now, I suspect you’ve been challenged to do more and be more than you ever imagined when you typed that first post. I know I have!
When you first decided to blog, there was a moment. A moment where you went “I think I should share this with someone else.” Why? What was the experience that sparked the idea for your blog and what passion continues to fuel that fire? To help, I’ll ask myself and “talk out loud” here.
My Moment: I was constantly being asked “How do you do it all?” by overwhelmed moms. These moms had one of three problems. They were either drained and deflated by the general busy and chaos of life, were struggling with their value as a woman and a mother, or were deep in the muck of small business ownership and felt the light fading fast as they tried to balance all of the work involved along with a decent family life. My “moment” was knowing that their perception that I had it all together was false and that I struggled with exactly the same struggles they faced. I felt motivated to be honest and transparent in a desire to uplift others by sharing that they weren’t the only ones with their heads spinning, trying to juggle too much with too little. I wanted to shout from the roof tops “I’m just like you!” and share some of the things that work for me in hopes maybe they’d work for them.
My Passion: I am fueled by a deep desire for a mother and a woman to feel valued, beautiful and strong. I love nothing more than empowering and encouraging others to excel and succeed in new environments. Seeing those “light bulb” moments of hope and the transfer of knowledge that sparks action and ambition in others…that’s my fire. If I have any tiny piece in me that I can share with someone else so that they feel better, stronger, more prepared, capable…I want to share that piece. That is the passion behind my blog. I want you, my readers, to be encouraged to keep on, keepin’ on and that you’re exactly who you are meant to be and where you are meant to be.
Now that I’ve identified the short term moment that sparked the blog’s beginning and the long term passion that continues to motivate my writing, it’s time to talk strategy. More importantly, it’s time to acknowledge that there is a wealth of “competition” out there, blogs in the bazillions, attracting each and every reader (and advertiser). What makes me different? Similar to a small business, the best starts come when you do your homework and understand the what, how and why of your intended market before you dig in. This discovery period and ultimate plan of action comes to fruition in three parts.
- Research: This is the “what?” behind your blog. It’s time to check out the blogosphere. You must know your market. Are there similar blogs out there? What makes your voice unique and do you see a need for the information that you have to share? Do you have something to say that hasn’t been said? If there are similar blogs out there, what sets you apart? Who is your reader? What about you will make them click on your blog instead of moving on to another? As a mommy blogger, it goes without saying that there are about a million of us. What makes me different? In my research, I found that my particular life experiences provided a neat little trifecta of sorts that I hadn’t seen elsewhere. As a working mother of multiples, daily organization and time management are a must, and I could offer simple tricks to managing time and a huge workload while still engaging with your family. As a small business owner and a long-standing salesperson, I could share marketing and strategy that could help others bring their dreams to life with passion and professionalism. Finally, as a photographer, I could offer multiple audiences basic education and guidance to achieve better results for their family pictures, blog posts and/or Etsy shops. Take that one step farther as a boudoir photographer, and my heart for affirming women and embracing our naturally unique beauties and strengths, especially as mothers, is a strong undercurrent that ties the rest of my personal and professional life together.
- Strategize: This is the “how” behind your blog. Now that you’ve identified your unique voice, how do you plan to project it? I’m a firm believer in defining your writing and design style. As your readers get to know you through your written voice, they develop a level of expectation when they come to visit your blog. Meeting that expectation is important, not only because it develops trust, but because that connection to your written voice that they made when they first clicked is what is driving them back for repeat visits. I know that my voice is confident, but humble. I have faith that I can achieve all things, not because I’m pure awesome, but because I believe in hard work, the power of the mind and heart, and that God paves the way to the best life for me. I toss in humor and can be counted on for lots of lists. Most importantly, I am extremely visual as a photographer, and I know my readers expect high quality imagery and graphics because of that skill set. The second piece to strategy is to analyze and assess how you will market your content and engage with your audience. I knew that other bloggers would be interested in my unique experiences, so I made a commitment to visit lots of link ups, comment on other’s blogs and work hard to find my tribe when I first got started. I engaged frequently with top social media experts and small biz whiz blogs to learn and develop trustworthiness as a small business owner. Long before my content caught up, I had developed a rock solid reputation that now carries my content through to various channels that were previously closed to me. Your readers will not come to you. You have to find them and draw them out. What’s the best way for you to do that?
- Deliver: This is the “why” behind your blog and brings us back to the introductory post. Why do you write your blog? Not because you want to draw advertisers (although that’s certainly a high priority). Fundamentally, you write your blog because you saw a need in your reader and you are seeking to meet that need. I ask myself constantly, “Are you delivering on the promise you’ve made to your readers?” With technology and Pinterest and all else social media, we are burdened by the pressure to compete and often struggle with feelings of inadequacy as we compare ourselves to others and fall short (at least in our own minds). Couple that with the pressure to monetize, and we often tweak our strategy and style in the name of posing for advertisers or becoming what we think our reader might like. This is a grave mistake and results in mediocrity, which is the first step in the downward spiral to failure. I keep reminding myself these days, that there is not a blog manual out there that says I must blog once daily, or at least three times weekly, and I must have 2 sponsored posts a month and I must tweet each post 15 times. These “best practices” are just that…practice. There is no manual for what we are doing here. There is only this: Your reader needs you and you need to deliver. I’m discovering that 1 great blog post a week is better than 7 lackluster blog posts. Each and every thing I do in relation to the blog comes with a question. Is this taking me one step closer to the dream I imagined for my readers or is it taking me one step away?
Remember your two audiences? Your readers and your advertisers. When you write for your readers, the advertisers will come. When you write for your advertisers, your readers will spot your “disloyalty” from a million miles away and will fall off. It’s just like the salesperson who walks in with the “I need one more sale to make budget this month” instead of “The product I’m about to share with you is going to help make your life so much better.” Your readers need to feel your passion and they need to know that you care about them more than you care about you. That’s the ultimate sale.
Social Media Scheduling 101: The Basics
Why is social media scheduling important?
Today’s culture, both personally and professionally, is driven by real time transparency. There are any of a million ways that we can interact with the world and share our life journeys, which has been the doorway to maintaining friendships, keeping family from afar close and celebrating life with like-minded individuals. But on the other hand, every time that phone blips that a new message has popped up, we’re driven by madness to look. It’s exhausting!!!! And ultimately incredibly time consuming. As a small business owner, the drive to build a following can be intoxicating and the pressure to be available to your clients 24/7 is crippling. How do you actually “do” your business if you’re always distracted by social media? Social media scheduling is the very best way to continue to curate and share content with your audience, while allowing yourself to focus on higher priorities in your personal and professional life.
If I schedule social media am I lying to my followers by “pretending” to be online when I’m not?
Any way that you can automate your workflow to save time and develop a routine, you are being true to yourself, your clients and most importantly, your family. The key is to appear to be accessible during high traffic times, but not actually be sitting there glued to your phone or computer hanging on every word uttered to the social media gods. Social media scheduling allows us to cater to multiple audiences at their individual peek times, gives us the opportunity to stay active and engaged while on the go and makes sure we have time to focus on what really counts.
Where do I start?
I have two go-to programs that can work for even the most basic new learners (and have lots of advanced features for those in the know). And bonus…they’re FREE! What we’re moving towards is organized strategy. Social media scheduling allows you to develop a marketing strategy for your business and then execute it. You simple couldn’t do that properly on the fly and would get lost in the weeds. These next two tools can help put you on the path to a social media presence that translates to growth and long-term sustainability.
If you’re just digging into the social media behemoth, let’s put a simple tool to work for you while you get your bearings. Similar to how Instagram can cross post to Twitter and Facebook, Friends + Me can take your Google Plus posts and push them to several other platforms. I personally post to Google + and it carries over to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. One action = 4 social media networks.
I’ll admit, this tool can be visually tricky and take a little getting used to if you’re heavy handed with links and tags. Once you get comfortable with how your posts will appear in the different feeds, you’ll tailor your original content to work across the board. It’s a fantastic way to save time by not having to manually cross-pollinate your content to each and every platform individually. It’s a great way for new learners to “phone it in” while you up your social media knowledge and a stellar way for a seasoned social media vet to knock out a task list for simple content shares.
Hootsuite is the other tool I rely heavily on. In short, it’s a one-stop shop for me to manage all of my profiles on the various platforms that I use. In its most basic form, I schedule all Twitter activity (content sharing) in here or via their Hootlet (content curating). I can tell you it’s really the Hootlet that is life changing. This little plugin is ridiculously awesome. It allows me to wrap up items of interest in a nice little box with a beautiful little bow instantly and schedule directly from my point of interest. I can open it up from any source and schedule a tweet/share from any of my accounts instantaneously without having to copy/paste links or images into Hootsuite itself. That save of a few clicks is amazing!!!
– Google Plus (2 business profiles)
So. How does this ultimately save time? Have I just traded time spent manually posting for time spent scheduling automation? The key here is to carve out time and stick to it. Don’t be scheduling all day! It defeats the purpose. Here are some quick rules to keep in mind:
- Set a specific day each week (or even an hour each morning/night if that’s better for you) that is devoted to scheduling the next weeks’/days’ tweets/posts/etc. Make that a calendar time in your routine. Stick to it! I do all of my scheduling first thing in the morning. That way my social media profiles are working in the background while I am completing my normal business day and any activity can just be responsive.
- Commit to a time each evening that the phone/computer gets put away. For example, clients at The Studio now know that our business booking hours are Monday – Friday from 8AM – 5PM. If they email us during that time, they expect a response. But if they email outside of that time, they know they’ll hear from us during the next business day. We’ve educated them and we’re training ourselves. Now, when that email dings with a new inquiry, I don’t look at it if it’s after hours. They know, and I know it will be there tomorrow.
- Give yourself a break! Cut yourself some slack! It’s ok to take a break from time to time on social media. It’s ok to not post every meal, every night out, every stylish outfit. Let go of the pressure to perform. Focus on enjoying the interactions with people and sharing your heart. You’ll find it not only comes more naturally, but more purposefully. Be IN your life.
Pin this to your Small Business Tips & Tricks Board or your Blogging Resources Board! Don’t have one? Follow me!
Did you like this post? Check out How to Create Hyper-Linked Email Signatures in Gmail!
IBA Blog Conference – October 12-17, 2015
Mark your calendars!!! I have some very exciting news to share!!! The International Bloggers Association is hosting their very first IBA blog conference! The IBA Network-a-thon will be hosted online October 12th – 15th. Yup, that’s right! A virtual conference! You don’t have to worry about travel expenses, child care, vacation time or anything! Just you, me, the IBA, our computers and some amazingly awesome Google Plus Hangouts.
Want to hear the very best news? The IBA blog conference is SUPER affordable. Only $10 for your ticket! Even more exciting? Use the code KATY to receive a special Chaos & Kiddos discount! You’ll get $5 off. 50% off! At that price, there’s no reason to miss out on what will be a fun week of networking, learning and blog sharing. The IBA blog conference will be a great opportunity to discover your tribe of blog supporters, learn new tips and tricks, and dig into blogging professionally. Don’t miss out! $5 is less than a cup of Starbucks coffee! Woot! Click on the big IBA right below or click on “Buy this on Selz” to grab your 50% off discount ticket now! Don’t forget to use the code KATY! See you in October!
Twitter Tools to Increase Your Sanity
When it comes to Twitter, automation equals sanity. Simple as that!
We all know that every business must have a solid social media presence. However, scheduling, monitoring and reporting on your feeds eats up crucial time that can be can better used running your business. Have no fear, there are an endless number of Twitter tools available to help you manage your profiles; saving you precious time and money by working behind the scenes while you stay front and center in your marketplace.
Here are the strategic areas you want to concentrate on when engaging the Twittersphere:
Keep those tweets coming without having to sit at your computer day and night. Tools such as HootSuite and Buffer are extremely popular. With multi-feed capacity, flexible layouts and a host of powerful features, these two behemoths will revolutionize how you approach social media across every platform, not just Twitter.
Keep it organized!
If you have multiple accounts, Twitter tools can help organize and implement your strategy.TweetDeck handles this perfectly. Get more involved with Sprout Social that includes CRM features, or SocialOomph to automate and keep corporate accounts clean and tidy. Nobody wants to click back and forth between a million tabs, or spend way too much time signing in and out of several profiles. Organize yourself with a “one-stop shop” approach!
Show off with pictures!
Grab them with graphics to go with your hot content. No time to source images or develop images of your own offline? Check out MavSocial to link to stock images and manage your digital assets as you compose your tweets.
What did they say?
In order to build engagement, you have to know what others are saying about you. Mentioncan monitor your Twitter mentions and even links through to other tools like Buffer. Twitter tools that are integration-friendly are always a win-win. Trends24 tracks the ever important hashtag and hot topics. Never miss an opportunity to keep an open dialogue with your customer base moving forward.
Remember that campaign from 2013? You need to be able to go back and search on what worked and what didn’t. Topsy lets you search all the way back to 2006 while TweetChat helps you keep up with your favorite hashtags and chat with others. Avoid making the same mistakes twice and repurpose successful campaigns for future growth.
Ready, Set, Grow!
Each time someone shares your content, your reach grows. Make it as easy for them as possible with links using Click to Tweet. Everybody loves the easy button!
Being able to determine what works and what isn’t provides critical insight that translates to real growth and sustainability. SumAll and Twitonomy help break it down into specific actionable data that you can use to improve your reach in future campaigns.
There are plenty of options out there to help you manage Twitter and other social media platforms. It’s just a matter of finding the right one that works for you and letting them work for you. Which Twitter tools have been pivotal to maintaining your sanity and growing your business?