What makes a good blog post? The key to better blogging is a simple checklist that holds you accountable to providing content to your audience that is both interesting and applicable. Here is my short list of blog post must-haves. I use this frequently to reflect on my blogging journey to be sure I’m traveling in the right direction and keeping you, my readers, in mind at all times.
1. Evergreen: The best blog posts have content that can always engage readers. Tips and tricks, recipes, craft projects…these are great examples of content that will always gain new audience over time. They’ll be just as valued 5 years from now as they were on the day that you published them.
2. Sincere and Genuine: Readers can spot a half-hearted effort a mile away. There’s no “phoning it in” in the blogging world. They need to hear your heart and feel your interest in every word. Blogging just to blog is lackluster and falls flat. And fast. Be sure to stay true to the passion that got you started.
3. Relatable and Personality-Driven: Readers are especially loyal to writers who are relatable and share their personality with honesty and integrity. When your readers relate to you and invest their interest in your lives, they are that much more likely to stay actively engaged on your blog. Your personality is your greatest asset! Let it shine!
4. Engaging Call to Action and Life Application: Each post should contain some sort of call to action or life application. You want your readers to walk away with something they didn’t have before they visited your site. Whether this is a new creative idea, a printable or new recipe, or even a renewed sense of self, your content must offer something they don’t have already and are seeking.
1. Paragraphs/Headings: Most people read their favorite blogs in between life in its daily routine. Skimming, especially on mobile devices, is the name of the game. Long, unbroken lengths of text are difficult to read, and drain interest quickly. Pepper your posts with headings, bullet points and most importantly, paragraphs. If they are going to skim, work on ways to identify the power points of your message so that they catch it on the go. Don’t let them get lost in a sea of letters and as a result, click away.
2. Proper Spelling: With today’s technology, there really is no reason for spelling and/or grammar mistakes. Yes, the occasional error is going to happen and nobody’s perfect. But please take a quick moment before hitting publish to check spelling. Take the time to review your blog as a whole to be sure your voice is coherent. Yes, we can write “as we speak,” but that comes with moderation. If readers are lost in poor grammar and spelling catastrophes, they will have a much harder time validating your content as something that adds to their personal knowledge bases.
3. Quality Images: While no one expects everyone to be a professional photographer, you do have to be mindful that the quality of your blog post images reflect the quality of your content. Readers inadvertently make judgements on whether your blog is of interest to them purely by the images. As with any “job interview,” your first impression is key. Blog posts should have images that compel readers to click to open, captivate them to continue reading and connect with them to stir engagement.
4. Pinnable Graphics: Take the time to create pinnable graphics. Pinterest is such a powerhouse these days, and for readers on the go, there is nothing worse than hitting the “pin it” button only to find that Pinterest couldn’t find any images to pin or worse yet, the available images have no lead to remind them later as to why they pinned that particular post. Do your research on best fonts, proper sizing and most successful images to develop simple pinnable graphics that will prompt more sharing, but more importantly, serve as resources for your readers when they are looking to revisit your content later.
If you think your blog posts could use a bit of work, remember that you can always go back and revise your posts, improving them for future visitors. As I continue to travel the path to better blogging, I am constantly tweaking old posts to improve content, presentation and SEO. We’re all a work in progress, and all have areas in which we could improve. There is an endless resource of information, tips and tricks and keys to better blogging, so I plan on making revisions a normal part of my workflow in the days and weeks to come. If I’m not seeking to learn and improve, than I’m not serving my readers. I’m always looking to raise the bar and welcome any tips you may have to better blogging.
What are your blog post must-haves?
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?