5 ways to attract followers to your blog

As writers start out developing their online presence I often get asked about how they will attract people to their website or blog. What you should understand from the start is to expect organic growth. Those blogs or websites you see with thousands plus followers weren’t always like that. They too started small. In the digital world there’s rarely overnight success, just a lot of hard graft.

Picking the right topic and having a great writing style all helps, as does sticking at it. Persistence, like so many other things in life, is crucial. And there are some elements that will aid you on your blogging journey.

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Schedule in your diary when you will write and publish your blogs for the next 3 months

5 ways to attract followers

1. Who are you writing for?

Do you know the audience you are writing for? Understanding this group of people is essential and honing it down to one individual is crucial. Each time you write you should be writing to that one person that you know inside and out. That way the person reading the blog feels it is written just for them, you are creating a one to one communication with them. It’s worth spending some time developing your avatar (the figure that represents your ideal customer), building an in-depth picture of them so you really know who you are talking to each time. More details on creating an avatar can be found in our blog post 5 steps to connecting to your ideal client

To do: If you haven’t already take the time to develop your avatar.

2. What do your readers want to know about?

Once you have identified who you readers are it will be easier to assess the type of information they need. Are there any particular problems or issues that need addressing that you can provide a solution to. The idea is to concentrate on demonstrating how you can help them rather than shoving your views down their throat. And while controversy has its place be careful when writing about controversial issues. Most blog writers set themselves up as the expert in a particular field and they show this by writing about topics their readers want more information on, such as subject matters that can help them in their business or personal life, for example.

To do: Having identified your avatar draw up a list of topics you can write about, offering solutions to their problems.

3. Focus on one topic at a time

The phrase ‘Keep it Simple’ has never been more pertinent than in blog writing. Each of your blogs should concentrate on one particular issue and your solution to that problem. In today’s crowded digital world it’s difficult to maintain readers if you go beyond that. This isn’t the place for complex theorising that involves an intricate web of different topics. Remember to incorporate key words or phrases that you know your readers will use when searching for answers on the internet. Don’t force the issue, otherwise the Google bots will pick this up and rank your blog lower, but include naturally within your sentences. You can see what words and phrases are popular within your sector by using Google’s Keyword Planner.

To do: Check to see which keywords to include in your writing to help people find your blog.

scrabble letters spell search

Find key words and phrases through Google search

4. Write regularly

Get in the habit from day one to provide readers with a regular output of information. Choose a frequency, weekly, fortnightly or monthly when you’re starting out and stick to that routine. Once your blog posts start attracting followers they will expect more information at the same time. If you don’t deliver they will soon find somewhere else to go. And regular updates also helps with your ranking in Google search, the algorithm noting how regularly new information is updated on your site.

To do: Check your schedule and diarise when you will be researching and writing you blogs for the next 3 months.

5. Promote on social media

Once your blog is up and running and you have a fair amount of published posts it’s time to tell the world. Choose the relevant social media site where your followers are hanging out, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram (going back to the work you carried out on developing your avatar) and set up your presence there. Don’t forget social media is all about engaging and interacting with people so find ways to share information and detail potential solutions to pertinent issues, including a link back to your blog posts when relevant.

To do: Pick the best social media channel for you and start engaging.

The digital world is a crowded place and you need to work hard to get heard and recognised as an expert. Build up a volume of posts, concentrating on quality, highly sought after information, that your readers want to learn more about. Start implementing these elements and monitor the impact. Assess what works and what doesn’t and refine accordingly. Over time you should notice the difference.

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5 elements to include when developing your promotional campaign

Any promotional campaign should be an integral part of planning the new products in the early stages of development. You’re going to have new products and services to launch and need to look at how you’re going to tell your customers about them.

But in today’s world where we are bombarded with message after message every minute of the day how do you draw attention to your products over everyone else’s?

Speaking at last week’s Bookseller Marketing and Publicity conference Anna Chapman, senior strategist at Contagious, an advisory service for the marketing industry, discussed a number of commandments to live by. The book The Contagious Commandments: 10 steps to brand bravery, is to be published in the autumn.

Anna shared five of the company’s commandments that any businesses can follow. Implementing these principles could aid the thinking process and creative development when devising promotional campaigns. And many just make good business sense.

5 elements to consider:

1. Be useful, relevant and entertaining

Is the information you provide to your customers useful to their business and will it help solve a problem they face? Your research should reinforce how you will be helping customers and the focus should always be on them, making any interaction relevant to their needs, not yours. It may not always be appropriate to execute a campaign in an entertaining way but adding a touch of humour in the right place can be beneficial.

2. Be generous

This goes back to the phrase ‘what’s in it for me?’, something that all people will be asking themselves as they start to interact with your business. By keeping the phrase ‘what’s in it for them?’ at the forefront of your campaign you should be able to demonstrate how you understand your clients and the issues they face.

3 people mobile phones

How do you ensure your message comes across when competing against everything else

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

3. Align with their behaviour

Do your customers behave in a specific way that you can mirror? An example given by Anna Chapman focused on Sleek Make-up as it realised not all potential customers used its products. The company created a manifesto targeting all those that were passionate about using make-up in their own way, called My Face, My Rules. The campaign film brought together a variety of different people who used make-up, demonstrating how wide their customer base was and showing how they represented all make-up junkies.

4. Weaponise your audience

Do you provide tools to help your followers spread the message about your business for you? Create succinct pieces of text or images that are easy to send to others or share within the social media platform. If you’ve built up sufficient engagement with your audience many will be more than willing to share the information if they find it relevant to them.

5. Have a purpose

For Anna Chapman this is where everything starts from at Contagious. Knowing why you exist and why you offer the services and products is integral to all business decisions. Check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on understanding how your why is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do.

 

Today it’s more important than ever to get your message heard above the noise and to get people to act upon what they receive. If you’re at the stage of starting to develop a promotional campaign consider implementing one of the five principles above. It would be great to hear how you get on.

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8 more tips on generating ideas for articles

Following on from last week’s post about finding ways to get inspiration when writing articles here are eight more, with thanks to Heidi Cohen from the Actionable Marketing Guide.

Remember the plan is to build up a pool of ideas to avoid facing that dreaded blank page when you start to write an article. Some of them require a bit of research, reading around topics to get more details, but to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader.

1. Other peoples’ ideas

See what your competitors, influencers or others in your industry have written and make them your own. You’re not directly copying what they’ve written but using their headlines or approach to see how you can make it relevant to your audience.

2. Look up popular posts

Check which posts generate a lot of engagement. Are there ways you can transform these types of posts into your ideas? How does the headline grab and what are the content hooks that keep you reading to the end. Check out your popular posts. Can you use the same theme to write further on the topic, or repeat it if there’s been sufficient time. Try and identify any gaps that you could fill with your posts.

3. Recurring columns

These are easy to develop – create a format that can be quickly replicated on a regular basis. Deliver to your audience what they want, such as an instructional video, handy hints and tips, an infographic. Once done regularly readers will expect it if it hits the mark. One to prepare in advance.

4. Acknowledge your audience

What questions are your customers asking in emails, when you meet them face to face or if you’re conducting a customer survey? Compile a list of recurring questions and provide the answer them in longer, individual posts.

two men and box of fruit

Writing posts that help customers with what they need can be beneficial

Photo by Quintin Gellar from Pexels

5. Educate you customers

In today’s selling environment customers are looking online to learn about products and services so produce ‘how to’ articles on what you offer.

6. Spotlight on customers

Writing case studies about clients you’ve worked with works well for both them and you. Pick a customer you’ve worked with identifying the problem they had, how you worked with them and the solution you provided. Get good quotes from your client too.

7. Research and analysis

Look at other peoples’ research and identify the angle you can write about. What is your viewpoint on the research? How do you think it will impact on your particular industry? If you can conduct your own research focusing on a particular topics. This could be part of testing ideas for products or services.

8. Attending events

Write up the pertinent facts from presentations, interview speakers or speak to delegates to see what they have learnt from the event. There should be plenty of people to chat to, some may even be willing to do a video interview too.

tablet with research analysis

See what articles you can write by reviewing other peoples’ research

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Don’t forget all these ideas for longer posts can be used for shorter communications on social media. Once you’ve written the longer article think of ways you can use it promote and spread the message further on your social media channels.

Why not give these ideas ago. Last week’s article focused on generating ideas on a daily basis. Even if you spend 15 minutes each day you’ll soon build up a large supply of potential blog posts.

 

I had a virtual ticket to this year’s Social Media Marketing Expo that takes place in San Diego each year. Over future weeks I’ll be providing information across a broad section of topics, looking at different social media channels as well as blogging, podcasting and content marketing.

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How to avoid blank page syndrome

I spent a great time last week with an associate making three short videos about creating quality content for posts on Facebook Pages.

Trudy Ritsema’s online course Get the most out of Facebook for your Business runs throughout June and in the videos I discuss the different approaches to creating engaging information. I featured some aspects in the post 5 ways to keep your blog posts and social media updates engaging and inspiring, providing useful tools to help generate ideas. Ideas are one thing but how do you create quality posts on a consistent basis?

Enter Heidi Cohen, from the Actionable Marketing Guide, who’s presentation at this year’s Social Media Marketing Expo focused on generating quality ideas to fuel consistent content creation. What can you do to avoid staring at a blank page particularly if you’re up against a deadline?

Like many things in life Heidi believes in the power of practice, training your muscles to do something every day so the work becomes easier and you become better at it. So, just like practicing scales to become a more proficient piano player or practicing penalty shoot outs so you can progress to the final stages of the World Cup (how about it England?), writing is just the same. When it comes to writing, whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, it’s about showing up to your computer or notebook day in, day out and getting down to it. Perseverance is the name of the game.

person playing piano

Getting into a new habit takes practice, just like learning scales on the piano

Heidi has a number of ideas to help on idea generation, using the anachronism BRAVO:

Brainstorm ideas on your own, best undertaken first thing in the morning, according to Heidi, aiming to build this into a daily habit. I’d suggest setting a timer for about 20 minutes, that provides enough thinking time but doesn’t eat too much into a busy work schedule. ‘If you can generate 10 new ideas every day, by the end of the week you can have 50 potential topics to write about,’ she says. Capture the ideas on a spreadsheet where you will be able to add ideas and notes to them later on.

Rest the ideas for about a week, meanwhile still generating new ideas every day.

Assess and select your best ideas. Of the 50 or so topics you’ve thought of most won’t be viable and some may be better to look at, at a later date or need further thought. I’d put these onto another spreadsheet so you are clear on the ideas you will work on first.

man looking at board of ideas

Take time every day to brainstorm ideas on your own

 Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Vet and qualify your ideas and link them to the different keywords you use. How do these ideas fit in with the rest of the content you are creating and the messages you are promoting? Test the ideas with colleagues or customers if you are in a position to do so. That way you know you will be addressing an issue that concerns them and providing a solution to one of their problems. You can also test the idea through social media channels through groups or identifying recurring topics of interest.

Outline the content. Once you have decided on the topic write some bullet points focusing on what to include in the article. Think about the potential headline to hook reader’s interest, the introductory paragraph, 3-10 points you’ll make within the post around the single subject matter, conclusion and the call to action. I’d check out some images or graphics too so when you sit down to write the article it should all come together with relative ease.

Creating a daily writing habit that incorporates the generation of ideas, testing them and outlining content should help towards never having to face that dreaded blank page. It also helps when developing your editorial content calendar and when you come to look at the next three-month’s worth of articles it won’t be an overwhelming job.

If it’s something you struggle with why not give it a go? I’m going to spend the next month generating ideas every day – why not join me on the journey?

 

I had a virtual ticket to this year’s Social Media Marketing Expo that takes place in San Diego each year. Over future weeks I’ll be providing information across a broad section of topics, looking at different social media channels as well as blogging, podcasting and content marketing.

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5 ways to keep your blog posts and social media updates engaging and inspiring

Putting together an editorial content calendar can seem a daunting task. This is when you combine your blog posts and social media updates on a monthly, ongoing basis, to ensure you interact with your customers on a regular basis. By following this simple framework you can keep in control and create content that engages and inspires.

While I suggest planning and thinking about your posts in three-month chunks, it’s best to complete these editorial calendars each month. Start filling in the following month’s after you’ve reviewed and assessed how well the current month has worked. By regularly measuring your output you can decide which articles attract more attention and understand where others may need tweaking.

Remember when writing blog articles or social media updates it’s not about continually promoting your products or services. It’s about demonstrating your knowledge and expertise in your field, building trust within your community that will lead to interaction and engagement. The following headings are all interchangeable between blog posts and social media updates, depending which ones you use. If you do use more than one social media channel, as many of us do, I suggest writing different words to get the same message across to appeal to all your readers.

5 ways to keep posts engaging and inspiring

1. Industry news

Despite the move into digital media every business sector continues to have some sort of publication or website to serve its community. Most offer a regular electronic newsletter of some variety, sharing the latest news and information which usually takes you back to their website. This provides an ideal opportunity to write brief details of the news (always crediting where the news story came from) and adding some analysis on the impact of the information or your viewpoint. News in the digital world comes thick and fast so these types of posts should be a regular feature within your content calendar.

2. Words of wisdom

Today there are plenty of quotes to choose from, whether it’s way back in history from famous people or in current times. Or if you see a prominent member of your industry speak at an event consider if it’s worth sharing their words. Alternatively think up your own. You can have great fun making up phrases that can reinforce your values and highlight your business’ message. With free software like Canva, it is easy to put together simple graphic images combining an inspirational quote.

graphic of beach and sea

Here’s one graphic I created in Canva using an inspirational quote that I made up

3. What I learnt this week

This is brilliant for demonstrating what you’ve been doing, whether it’s working with clients and helping to find solutions to their issues or building up your knowledge. Networking meetings, or events such as exhibitions or conferences, are ideal places to gather new information to share with your customers, always providing your take on the subject matter to give added value. As only a limited number of people will be at these events this gives you the opportunity to reach a wider audience and boost your expert status. And you never know how many words of wisdom you make pick up along the way.

4. Customer solution

This is where you identify an issue that a customer has and you show how you resolved it. For example, one question I’m often asked at the moment is about the ideal length a blog should be. I recently wrote a short post on Facebook with my answer. For the record I suggest mixing up the word count of articles, as most subjects will find their natural length. Think about what questions your customers have asked you recently and see how you can write a quick post. If one customer is having difficulty with an issue it’s likely others will be too.

pic of different spices

Use a post to answer a customer’s question as I did recently

5. What’s bugging you today?

Sometimes there are issues that bug us and we need to get to share our views on the subject. This is a bit of rant style but don’t go too over the top or too negative and be prepared to face the consequences if it is controversial. Balance the post or article by suggesting possible solutions and a way forward. No one loves a whinger.

Once you have thought of different topics to write under these headings you can start filling in your editorial calendar. I use an Excel spread sheet for each month, inputting the detail within each day so it’s easy to see and refer back to. I include my weekly blog update and fill in the shorter social media updates around this. I tend to schedule my updates on a weekly basis as it fits in with my work, using Hootesuite and scheduling buttons within the social media channels but there’s nothing to stop you using a different method.

Excel spreadsheet

I use an Excel spreadsheet to complete my monthly editorial content calendar

Don’t forget writing great posts is all about creativity, ensuring you are meeting your customers’ needs as well as providing super images or graphics. Once you’ve been doing this for a while completing the editorial calendar does become easier. Keep in mind the different headings when you’re with clients, networking or just out and about and you’ll often find different subjects that can be incorporated under them.

A few moments thinking every now and then makes all the difference and helps you keep on top of your updates.

 

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