Tag Archives: Blogging

Don’t Make This SEO Mistake!

I Broke My Website with This Simple SEO Mistake

As I was researching my website content and its ranking on Google today, I came across one seo mistake of the many I have made and am learning from in managing my own websites. 

If you’ve ever heard of the barber who never had a good haircut because the other barber had to cut it,  that’s me. I am that proverbial barber, not because I have the other barber cut my hair, but because I am a creative person who always experiments on my own product first.

If I break my own website, I am the one who suffers, not my client. At least that’s how my thinking goes, some of the time.

So, after perusing one of the plethora of articles on what to do, or not do, to improve SEO, I removed the dates from all my posts in WordPress. It might  also have been during a theme update. I don’t remember, but the end result was I changed the format of how every post on my site looks. Without thinking too much about it, I moved on to other content projects for other clients.

Fast forward to today, when I was researching my target market and realized that I had 59 404 errors listed in my Google webmaster tools. 59 broken links that were not getting search engines, or more importantly, human eyes, onto my content. Google 404 Errors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t think that 404 errors matter, just think about how many times you go to a website, get a “the page you are looking for is not here” and immediately x-out of that tab, never to return to the blog again?

I know I do it.

Simple SEO Principles

I wanted to take this time to point out to you the fact that you need to think about the consequences of your actions. The simple SEO mistake I made was to substantially change all the links on my site without setting up a redirect. Here is a blog on how to do that, if you didn’t know.

If you are going to change how your site is laid out, realize that it will break things like internal links, external links, and more, and you will need to plan on having Google crawl your site and giving you a list of pages to fix.

But the simple SEO mistake you should not do is to think that the search engines don’t matter. They do matter, they just don’t matter more than the people you want to read your website. But, if your website has poor SEO or other technical issues, at the end of the day, it is your users who suffer.

Think through the people who will be on your site and realize that good SEO practices make for a good experience for them, and also remember that your experiments on your website don’t just make you suffer, they make it difficult for anyone else to engage your website as well.

How Do You Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader Through Content Marketing?

Other than blogging, I can’t think of any other ways to establish myself as an [industry]thought leader through content marketing. If you could give me some ideas on ways that I can really brand myself through my content that would be great. I think my biggest issue is not knowing where to begin. I know how to blog already but would like some other ideas that could really get my name out there to my particular market.

I’d love to help!

Thought Leader Through Content

They say content is king, but that is such a vague statement, what does it really mean? How are you, as a business owner, going to use content to establish yourself as someone others should take seriously?

To keep this as simple as possible, great business-focused content addresses a pain point in your customer’s lives.

Types of Content

thought leadership through content marketing

Still following the simple rule, there are three basic types of content you can produce online: visual, audio, and audio/visual. Visual content includes blogs, white papers, infographics, pictures, and brochures. Audio includes podcasts, live audio streaming, and radio spots repurposed online. Audio/visual includes live videos, advertisements, longer documentary segments, how to videos and other vlog formats.

Which one of these content types will establish you as an industry leader? Eventually, all of them. If you are just starting out, then there are two questions to ask about the type of content you should use: what are you comfortable with? and what does your audience use?

The comfort question is easiest, but understanding your audience can be more difficult. It can help if you ask your customers where they find business related questions. If you currently do not have a large client list, ask yourself three questions:

  • When does my customer research their business? Some people may do podcasts in the car during a commute, other people watch videos in the evenings or on weekends, others read blogs during their workday. Do you know what your target market does?
  • Where does my target customer access information? For example, a small healthcare provider may be researching issues on the fly all day via their phone. For this type of researcher, short and focused written content may be all they have time to read before they have to move on to the next patient. On the other hand, a contractor may be busy with tools all day and take specific times during the week to do research and online networking. For these, video might be a good format as they have to set aside time to interact with content anyways.
  • How can I get that information in front of the target customers? While you need to have your own channel for information (website, social pages, etc), you also need to get your brand on industry leader’s channels as well.

Places to Post Your Content

There is a tremendous amount of platforms available for getting your content out there. The following is a very partial list of places you can work your content magic:

  • On-Site Blogging – Yes, you need a website to post your own slides, videos, blogs, articles, and more on. This gives you control over your lead funnels and eases the creation of evergreen content. See my slideshare, Why Aren’t Ya Blogging?, for more information on creating a blog.
  • Guest Blogging – A guest blog is where you find someone in your industry and pitch them a story that you can write (or have a ghostwriter like myself write for you). Jill Stanton of Screw the Nine to Five has a great blog on guest-posting and if you want a place to practice your pitches, head on over to MyBloggingCommunity.com, a free Facebook group and throw us a pitch. We’ll give you some pointers on how to improve it.
  • Answering Questions on Quora  – I have not used this one, yet. But, Torchlite (Yes, I did just link to a competitor) has a great blog on how to use Quora to establish thought leadership.
  • Guest Interviewing on Relevant Webinars – This follows much of the same principles behind guest blogging, but with a focus on audio content.
  • Podcasting – Rather than writing out your story or your how-to, you can tell it to your audience via a voice recorder and upload it to a variety of sites including ITunes, Spreaker, SoundCloud, or a platform of your choice.
  • Facebook Live – This one just started taking off, but it is currently all the rage in Facebook’s ever changing algorithm ( as of March 2017). If you want to get good engagement on Facebook and increase your organic reach, plan to spend some time in front of a video camera broadcasting live to Facebook. Informal totally goes here, so don’t worry too much about what it looks like as what you want to say to your target client.
  • YouTube Videos – You can create these as live shots, even go live, but YouTube is a great resource for creating a unique video that showcases who you are, and what your business is about.
  • Twitter Authority – Twitter favors fast-paced engagement with your audience. With integrated photo and video sharing, it is also a great place to engage with more artistic forms of communication.
  • LinkedIn Authority – For many B2B marketers, LinkedIn is a great tool for publishing your content. You can create the posts on LinkedIn’s platform and link out to your site or just share your posts with others.
  • Facebook Groups – Be very careful about how to share your content in Facebook Groups (My mentor Wendy Maynard has a great resource for finding groups that have share rules)

These are just some of the resources that a savvy business leader like yourself can use to establish industry leadership with your content.

Have you found any content marketing platforms that work better than others? Ones that don’t work?

The Art of Marketing: Long Form Content vs Short Form Content

Content Marketing is like Dance

I love being married to this beautiful dancer (Follow her choreography at FRAME). She inspires so much of my marketing and content writing; I am spoiled.

Also, she’s beautiful, but sorry, where was I?

Long-Form Content vs Short-Form Content

I know many people discuss how long-form content is better. Long blogs get shared more, more traction, do better on search engines, and what not. On the other hand, I read a blog by Niel Patel the other day that showed some of the first page ranked sites for “content marketing” had around 500 words. It goes to show, the length of your content does not matter as much as your quality (that could be said about other things, too. Annyywaaayy, where was I?)

Creating Content. You need to have quality content if you want people to engage with it, respond to it, and share it. But, as my talented other half reminded me yesterday, long-form content takes a different attitude to create than short-form content.

She was talking about the difference between creating location-specific improv pieces and filming them, but it applies equally to blogging.

Creating Short-Form Content

Creating a short piece is relatively easy: you get inspiration, you define what you want, and you sit down and write it.

I can write a short article in under 15 minutes if I am in the zone, have a well-defined subject, and limit my points to 3.

Creating Long-Form Content

On the other hand, long-form content takes development of a creative habit. You must set aside space to create, space to warm up, space to just think, and space to do all of those at the same time.

My wife was speaking about the fact that some longer pieces she was working on this semester made her feel like she wasn’t getting as much done as when she was able to create small, short pieces every few weeks. But, then she reasoned through the fact that creating a longer piece requires more time, energy, and creative effort.

  • Developing an idea – Longer content has to have themes and development. You may be able to get away with a 15 point or more listicle once or twice, but if you want to develop really engaging long content, you have to think through your target market’s pain points and really explore them.
  • Crafting Edits –  Editing a short piece is easy: you look over it once for its flow and then you read it out loud (or in my case, you subvocalize it quickly). A longer marketing piece requires looking at it multiple times: does it come to a point, is the point well supported, are there enough breaks in the text, do the pictures and infographics argue the point on their own merits, does your individual voice come through, etc. Each of these questions could require a full edit, making your editing time increase dramatically.
  • Researching your point – I usually write a short, high-level blog with limited research. If it is a topic I am well-versed in, I won’t research it at all. On the other hand, if a long blog or whitepaper is going to be worth someone’s time to write or read, it requires original research.
  • Understanding your audience – A short article that misses its audience is a minor nuisance. A longer webpage or marketing brochure that misses its audience is evil. Don’t be evil. If you are going to write longer articles, take the time to understand who you are writing to.

These are just some of the issues you will face in creating a great long-form article, webpage, or landing page. If you want to get a complete checklist of what you need to create a long-form blog or article, please sign up for my weekly email coaching tips below, and I will send one to you stat!

7 Tips on How to Regularly Finish Your Business Blog

During my workshop, “Why Aren’t Ya Blogging?” one of the more common issues that small business owners face in crafting a quality business blog is the fact that they are so dang hard to finish. We business owners are a flighty lot: we have to balance sales calls, serving our customers, crafting content on our site, strategic planning, accounting, technology sourcing, artistic creation and strategic direction. Among other things. That is why I am sharing these tips on how to finish your business blog, learned from finishing my over 700 published blogs.Finish Your Business Blog

Writing A Blog is Hard

I get it, but there are some great resources for figuring out how to effectively plan and write a blog so that it is finished and published.

  1. Use a Numbered List – Someone asked my about why I always talk about “7 reasons,” “4 tips,” and similar numbers of lists. There are two reasons: one is that your readers like knowing what they are getting beforehand. The second reason is that you only have to write a little bit on each point. Only have time for a short post? Give people 3 simple tips? Want to write a long-form article that people will bookmark and read later? Write a list of the 15 best apps for running a blog.
  2. Outline and Draft – If you have the number of points you want to make, outline the intro, points, and conclusion and then draft it.
  3. Don’t Push It – If you find yourself staring at a blogand quickly clicking away to Facebook or some other equally amazing procrastination tool, don’t keep pushing. Get up, go for a walk, shoot some hoops, or play some hockey. When you have had a moment to breathe, sit back down and use the next few tips and the checklist linked to below to hammer out your blog!
  4. Use Music or White Noise to Filter Out Distractions – I use the Spotify Web App, and when I really need to focus, I listen to one of the many Latino and Latina stations…. If you cannot listen to any forms of music, get a fan or a white noise app.
  5. Understand Your Learning Styles – People think and learn differently. If you have never taken some time to understand your learning styles, you might want to research that a little more if you struggle with writing a blog. Maybe you are a kinesthetic learner and you need to write your blogs from your phone while jogging down a road at sunset.
  6. You Talkin’ To Me? – Understand the buyer’s persona or avatar you are writing to and you will be able to plan your blog better. Know your audience is always a key part of any writing journey, and a blog is no different from every other form of content.
  7. Single Task – Once you know what you are writing about and have an outline in place, take some time where you will not read any other article or go to any other sites. If you need to, close all tabs and programs except for the one you have open.

Finally, I have prepared a checklist to help you finish your business blog every time!

Get “My Blogging Checklist”Now!

 

4 Things This Content Marketer Loves That Average People Do Not

Are you an average reader/writer? The following list are areas that I think only a true aficionado of the written word will understand and get joy from.

This is me when I got my polo shirt from Blogmutt after selling more than 100 blog posts on their platform:

 

Me Happy to Be Writing

Do you think you have what it takes to be a constant content creator cultivating common communication with curious consumers? Also, alliterations are actually an art all alone. Consonance too.

  1. I love reading script written nearly 400 years ago and translating it into modern English. Like seriously love it. My wife was working on research for a Master’s Degree writing project and I kept on getting distracted from playing with my new Samsung Galaxy J7 because trying to read that handwriting is that fun! My sims were dying, but there were funky s’s, dropped words, and archaic phrases to discover.

So if you will stay up till 1 AM when you know your children will get you up before 7 just because you love your spouse, you are slightly above average. If you and your spouse both are glued to a handwritten document requesting “the courte” rethink their sentence of the death penalty because you love the ancient turn of phrase and the fact that “y” can mean so many different things, then you are a true logophile.

2. I love writing/reading fast. When I am really into a series of blogs or a good book, I shut my mind off and stop thinking about anything but the words and the meaning behind them until I am done. Hours will pass by without looking up from what I am reading or writing and I find it highly therapeutic.

Another weirdo in reading is my sister Rachel McCarron (Yes, I married a Rachel and I have a sister named Rachel, OK?). The first all-nighter she pulled off was as a mom of several kids when the last Harry Potter book came out: because a Bachelor’s Degree is nice and all but the real test of a reader is clearing over 700 pages while taking care of multiple children: all nighters are a must for the avid reader if there is no time in the day.

If you love to read a good book a month or less, you are average. If you write blogs at the exclusion of all other activities or put down your favorite book and go through culture shock because you thought you were actually there, you are a nerd like me!

3. I don’t believe the hype about online videos will last. GASP! There, I said what I always think when I read articles and blogs about how video is the end of the written word online.

They may be right.

But, I don’t care, because I am an old-timer: I like my words written. I may go the way of the dinosaur, but, by George, I will not go gentle into that good night!

Seriously, if you click through to a site that has only video and no transcript and bounce away for greener reading pastures, you may be a cultured creator of confabulation, like me! (And no, I did not know what that word meant before I discovered it today)

4. I like researching something I know nothing about. Case-in-point: my favorite rejection from a client at Blogmutt was when I tried writing a post to women (I’m not one), about thigh-highs (wait, what?) in the book 50 Shades of Grey (I think I saw that in a bookstore once. The only reason I took the article was because I wanted the challenge of trying to research something I knew next to nothing about for a target market who I do not identify as.

Here it is in all its glory:

Let’s try again. Please consider doing some research on plot summary of the book (even wikipedia is a good start). I think there are some fundamental parallels that we can be made about a young woman (debutante, almost) who gains self-empowerment through eroticism. Lingerie/thigh highs were often mentioned in the book. Let’s take it from there.

Wikipedia was a good place to start, but apparently not a good place to end, because that was my only practical source on the book. Needless to say, I have never attempted a women’s lingerie post since this, but I still challenge myself to learn more about my clients and there industries.

I worked through textbooks on logistics, shipping and warehouse management so I could write better blogs on it.

I read blogs, join Facebook groups, and sign up for email newsletters regarding Drones so I can write better for Go Unmanned. And I love it!

Do you love research? You are above average. Will you try to learn something completely outside your skill set for no other reason than it will give you something to research? You are a nerd like me.

So, how do you stack up? Are you average, above average, or a logophile, cultured word-nerd?

Follow The Writers Cue on WordPress.com

15 Great Resources for Managing a Content Marketing Campaign

In honor of Day 13 in the 30 Day Blogging challenge, I am going to show you the tools I use to manage and research content marketing and increase quality for myself and my clients. Because I want to provide the highest value, I am not using any affiliate links on this post. These are sites, resources, and tools I use and would recommend to anyone, free of charge.

Outsource Sites

  • Blogmutt.com – I am not going to recommend any other sites to outsource your content here. In full disclosure, BlogMutt was the kickstart to my career as a content writer and I happen to own writer’s stock in the company. But, if you want somewhere to get lots of content affordably with no contract and limited hassle, go on over there and use their product.

Information Sites

  • Neil Patel – Neil Patel writes some of the longest and information filled blogs on content marketing on the internet, or at least the little bit of the internet I read on a daily basis. Always a good place to find out information about the technical side of content marketing. Also, he reminded me I need to smile in profile shots.
  • Sark eMedia – I always shout out to Sarah and Kevin Arrow in giving a list of resources. They have great resources on their site, their email list is phenomenal, and their Facebook group is tremendous. If you go over to the link I included, you can access all of their resources as well as read an amazing blog on all the tools for getting legal and high-quality pictures online.
  • Screw the Nine-to-Five – Josh and Jill Stanton are hilarious and Jill is one of the best copywriters I know for crafting content in her own voice. I have been reading their blogs and newsletter since 2013 and the copywriting has been consistently good and had a unique voice across all platforms (blog, newsletter, FB Live, podcasts).

Tools

  • Nathalie Lussier and Robin Li – I honestly never know whether to include the Ally brand of products and consulting in a tool list or information site list. Since I am going to move my pop-up management back to PopupAlly from SumoMe this week, I decided to include them in the tools list at this point in time. Their email list-building challenge is amazingly informative, their products are top of the line, and their philosophy is right up my alley.
  • Buffer – This is pure tool. If you want a platform to schedule Facebook posts on personal and business pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn and more, check it out! My first Buffer posts were on the free version to read books to my children while I was away at a conference. Loved it ever since.
  • BuzzSumo– This tool helps you find out how people are sharing your content, what content is trending in your industry, and keeping tabs on other content information.
  • Canva – This is a great tool for quick editing of photos and access to free or cheap graphics to include in your photos.
  • Pixabay – Great resource for downloading high quality, royalty free images. If you sign in and upload some of your own photos the site is completely free and free of advertisements.
  • Grammarly – This checker is great for grammar checking your work as you type. The browser extension  for Chrome is a gift to writers everywhere.
  • DropBox – I would not be anywhere without Drop Box. I use it to organize, backup files, and do collaborative projects with clients in North and South Carolina, Idaho, and Egypt. Dropbox is one type of cloud storage and file management software. For a more complete list, check out this comprehensive review from Cloudwards.net
  • Gmail and Associated Products – This is worth a post in and of itself. I will update that link when I have created the post on all the ways you can use Gmail and other Google tools to manage content online.

Offline Resources

  • Coworking Locations – Really, besides giving me a place to write away from the bustle and hustle of a seminary-student wife and two preschool age children, my coworking location was my best source for leads in 2016. Skip the coffee shops, get better chairs, and do better work. Just google “coworking spot near me” to find one for yourself.
  • Networking Events – I have gotten clients from a BNI event and from a Chamber of Commerce event, as well as connected with other marketers. Meetup is actually a great way to find networking events in your local community.
  • Community Colleges – These will change depending on your location, but I always find interesting resources from small, local colleges for business people.

I could keep writing all day, but have other work to do. What are some of your favorite resources for writing, marketing, or networking as a business person?

Leave a comment below, and as always, email me if you want some help with your content marketing.

7 Grammar Rules You Should Follow If You Are Going To Scam People

So, I got hit with a classic scam again today.

The I want to do business with you, here is a check for more than you asked, please forward the extra to my associate scam. I loved it, because it started with a text from a random number (my phone number is available online, see bottom of the page). Now, I do not start by assuming any request for my business is a scam. After all, that is why I have a website with my phone number on it, so people will call.

But, after reading “i have small scale business” and other generically poor English skills, I thought there was no way this could be true.

And sure enough, it was a classic scam.

But, for your reading enjoyment (and information on how to not sound like a scammer or do sound like one, whatever floats your boat), here are 7 rules you should follow:

  1. Consistency – One of my customers never capitalizes anything. Not I, not the beginning of the sentence, and not proper names. Guess what? I know there is a real business owner at the end of that email: he loves numbers and thinks proper grammar is not for emails. Consistency in grammar usage builds trust with people who are reading your writing. I try to use proper grammar as much as possible (but obviously I love to use parenthetical asides to the point they caused some lower grades in university, oh well).
  2. Understand Determiners – For a classical English lover, a determiner is a type of adjective, for an ESL teacher a determiner is one of the types of speech, it includes numbers, articles, and the ubiquitous null determiner. My scammer today used the wrong determiner several times including “i have small scale business” (missing a or this) and ” turn into large scale business” (missing a). While I commend the copywriter of this canned email for trying to use null determiners, I must give them a fail grade and require them to rewrite it.
  3. Use Punctuation – I don’t care whether you never write in complete sentences. Punctuate. You can overuse many forms of punctuation (parentheses are some of mine)… including the proverbial ellipses… used for any and all punctuation when  you want to show a pause in thought, but not necessarily in grammar. My beautifully crafted email has two periods in the body of the text. It is 12 sentences long.
  4. Cut, Cut, Cut – My spammer happened to say “the site I gave you to check out” four times in the original email. This was an email with less than 500 words, which means that nearly 10% of the words in the document were one phrase, repeated. Whether you are scamming, or just trying to sound somewhat professional, you need to cut the fluff, especially copy/pasted phrases.
  5. Communicate – You send me one email and ask for an estimate, I reply with one sentence: “I think I can do that site for $8,562.” This is a significant amount of money; no one should say yes, in writing, to an amount that large without asking some questions. Additionally, I made it oddly specific, no ball-park estimate or rounded figure. If you are going to communicate with someone, communicate. A single sentence will never be enough information to decide a business relationship on, especially when you are online. The only opportunity I have to connect with you online is the content I write. Yes, if we meet person-to-person, you may look at me, ask what I charge and then say, “I can do that,” but even then, we will have to follow up and iron out the details later.
  6. Don’t Bury The Lead – Scammers need to bury their lead, because they commonly use bait-and-switch to deliver a lead that you don’t want on top of one you do. In this case, the lead should have been: “I’ll give you money from a stolen card if you send me some back.” But, then who would do that? In good content writing, you need to make certain that the important information (the lead) is right up front.
  7. Check Your Information – A Google phone number from Michigan texted me and asked for my email. The email I received said he lived in Ohio, and was a generic address from Outlook.com. Needless to say, as soon as I realized the different states, I started to be suspicious. Now, I understand that sometimes this is unavoidable, I actually ran into this with the business name Paul Davis Solutions; the fact that I had multiple email addresses, websites, and addresses got my business Google + page unlisted. Now I have to find and cut information across the web and make certain that everything lines up. Whether you are legitimately confused (me) or illegitimately trying to scam someone, you need to have consistent information across all platforms.

How To Use Trello For Planning Blog Posts

Writing is difficult. Writing multiple posts a day is even more so. That is the primary reason I use Trello for planning my posts and organizing content, marketing plans, and more.

Whiteboard for Agile

Trello is an app made for Agile process management. In software development, there are two main philosophies of development: waterfall and Agile. Waterfall process management gives each person on the team one task to do and the development flows from one station to the next.

As each designer is done their section of the program, they send it on to engineers, engineers to coders, coder to testers, and so on. Once the entire software is developed, it is released to the world. Agile, on the other hand, has a team of people who are experts in various areas but work on an entire section of code together. This requires intense levels of communication and planning so that the software can be developed without hangups and so that team members know what they are doing each and every day.

This communication process requires whiteboarding of each day’s task, as well as weekly and monthly goals. When you are managing a team with remote workers, it can be very difficult to communicate who does what, when over long distances. That was why the Trello team built their app. Trello gives people the tools to manage tasks and planning as effective as a whiteboard, without having to physically be in one place.

Trello for Freelancers

While Trello is designed for teams, a single writer can use it incredibly well. I would guess that a solo writing act needs the organizational tools of Trello even more than a team does. With a team, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, which means that eventually the job will be done. When you are working alone, you can always find some new shiny thing that needs doing, and never get to the jobs that bring in an income.

A freelancer and solo writer has to always do two things, and do them well. We have to provide quality writing to our current customers, and we have to be working on marketing, networking and sales to be getting new customers. Even if you never plan on growing beyond your own writing abilities, you need to be marketing because current writing projects end.

That’s where Trello comes in. It gives me and you the tools necessary to plan our business activities. I use Trello for planning out my daily activities, my weekly and monthly writing schedules for various customers, as well as specific projects I am working on.

Using Trello to Plan a Post A Day

Trello uses “Lists” to organize a single task, time period, or other grouping of activities. For planning my monthly posts, I created 4 Boards – One for each week of the month. Their next level of organization are cards. These are the activity or task level organizing tools. I created one card for each post I was planning. Seven cards per list, 4 lists per Board, planning out one month of posts.

I also created one list for post topics that got bumped as I was planning and changing things day-to-day. Some days news, comments, requests, or other actions gave me ideas that needed to be written about that day. So I could keep ideas in the queue for later, even if I did not want to use them in my thirty days of posts.

That is how I use Trello to plan my blog posts. What organizational tools do you use to build your content writing schedule?