Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jenny Lawson,The Promotes Bestseller

Columnist Jenny Lawson at The shows us how to leverage blogs and online communities to promote a bestseller. On her profile page, Lawson proclaims no one is as surprised as she to see her book Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) succeed so overwhelmingly, but neither she nor anyone else should be surprised in the least.

Let's take a look at some of the tips we can take from Lawson's success:

  • Cats, cats, and more cats. Lawson never misses a chance to insert photos and stories about her feline friends (with adorable names like Ferris Mewler) as well as other information about her life into her blog. If you're not a cat person, that's OK. The important thing to remember is that writers from Michel de Montaigne to Hunter S. Thompson have provided glimpses into their personalities and passions in their work, a great way of establishing personal branding.
  • Be sure to keep things spicy. Lawson uses plenty language in her blog and proclaims the reason she launched it was the limits placed upon her in her column in the Houston Chronicle. Now, I'm not saying your posts need to be laced with profanity. What I am saying is that every blog needs a distinctive voice. Be sure to make your posts distinctive.
  • Use chat to grow your community. Jenny holds court regularly with her community via Livestream for the Bloggess Book Club, where she shares the drink of the day, her version of a Hawaiian Slush—chambord poured over a snow cone, dishes on her life, and reads passages from her book. Needless to say, the comment section of her blog is always overcrowded with feedback from her audience.

Remember, just like any blog, a bestseller needs an audience. Using one to promote the other is a great strategy to consider always.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Darren Rowse's Thoughts on Video

When it comes to creating content for your blog or other Website, few people can claim more authority than Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, whose online community reputedly numbers in the tens of thousands. Rowse has written a book on his experiences and shares his expertise, including the below video, on the front of his Website.

If you need to know more about why it's so important to get started with video on your Website just check out this post.

Meanwhile, to review, here are some of the suggestions Rowse shares:

  • It's very, very simple. Rowse admits its he's not a technical guy and tries to keep his setup simple.
  • Use a tripod. Any tripod will do, as long as it's sturdy. He likes to use a tripod that at least reaches eye level, since he feels shooting that way gives videos a more personal feel.
  • Keep things on the level. He also uses a tripod with a gauge to make sure the camera is level.
  • Lights, camera, action. Rowse uses a Panasonic Lumix GF1 to shoot his video, which he says is good in low light levels and has a fast lens that blurs the background a bit, creating a less distracting image.
  • And more lights. Even more important than the camera you use is the lighting in which you choose to shoot your video. He uses the office located in the front of his house where there are large windows with shutters, allowing him to adjust the lighting to make it bright but diffuse.
  • Some added notes. Other video production tips Rowse offers include using a reflector to spread light across your subject more evenly and using a plain bright background when shooting.
  • Cut! Rowse says he uses iMovie, a Mac product, to make final edits on his video but that a number of inexpensive and easy to use options are out there with which online video producers can experiment.
  • Final touches. As a last step, Rowse uses an animated graphic custom made for him at the beginning and end of each video to give the final product a distinct look.
  • So, do you use video for your blog or other Website? If so, what tools and techniques would you recommend? Please share them in the comment section below.

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Using Blogs to Market Your Band or Music

    A few months ago an old school friend of mine David Seyfried shared a link with me and some others to a new band he's involved in. The group goes by the intriguing name Puppet Hawk.

    A synth and electronic music duo inspired by such artists as The Smiths, Joy Division, and the Talking Heads, they produce an eccentric sound you can enjoy by having a look at one of their equally eccentric music videos below.

    Dave shared the group's Facebook fan page and Website with me because we played in a band together many years ago, and he shared these links with many other former musical collaborators too, I assume, in hope of drawing attention to his new project and probably with the expectation that we might share them with others.

    Dave isn't the first guy to have this bright idea, of course, in this age of social media, and he isn't likely be the last. Online music sensation Brad Turcotte, performing as the one man band Brad Sucks, has used such means to successfully promote two albums now and is still going strong. One of the most important starting points for musicians trying to promote themselves online should, of course, be to launch a blog. Blogs will help:

  • Increase online visibility. Because each post is a distinct page in the eyes of most search engines, it is practically like creating a new Website for your band every time you publish.
  • Help share regular news. There's no better place to announce news about your band's latest gig, latest album release, or latest video on YouTube, and updating regularly will give your fans one more reason to stop by your site to find out what's new.
  • Boost interaction with fans. Blogs give you another place to interact with fans in between live appearances and album releases and to get their feedback in the comments section. It's also a great opportunity for you to respond to questions and encourage your network to share your content with others through social media and links from fans' sites.
  • So tell me, does your band or other musical group have a blog of its own? Why or why not?

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    The Kim Dotcom Case and How to Create A Website

    For those of you living on another planet for the past few months, now infamous New Zealand-based Internet entrepreneur Kim Schmitz, alias Kim Dotcom, has been very much in the news of late.

    Kim Schmitz

    While some, including the great Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple computers, raise some legitimate questions about the charges against Mr. Dotcom, there is a very different lesson online entrepreneurs can learn from the case about how to create a Website successfully for your next business venture.

    On the Internet, content is still king! So when building your site, consider content first. Here are some things to think about:

  • Make it free. (at least to some extent) One of the real sources of trouble in the Kim Dotcom case is that huge legacy media content creators like Hollywood and the record industry still have no real means of monetizing the mammoth libraries of  material they possess beyond selling copies outright. Certainly, if your Website is a business, you will need to sell something, either someone else's products or services or your own, to make any money. But offering some free content must at least be part of your site development plan.
  • Make it good. Seriously! Again, if there's one thing the Kim Dotcom case has shown us, it's that people enjoy sharing the content they love, favorite songs, and favorite movies, not sales pitches and advertorial drivel. Now, I'm not telling you your content has to be a work of art...and I'm certainly not telling you to violate the rights of others by uploading stolen popular content just so that people will like your site. What I am telling you is to create content that matters to your audience, something they will want to share...without you asking. That's the key to creating a Website visitors will return to again and again.
  • Make it easy to share. Defenders of Dotcom insist he never encouraged others to share pirated content, but merely created a Website that made this sharing possible. What Dotcom did for all content through his controversial site, Megaupload, you must do for your own by making sure it is easy to share. Fortunately there is no need to create your own Website to accomplish this and there are many tools to help. Start a blog making your content easier to find on search engines and then to share with others through links and social media. Post your content on popular sites like Facebook and Twitter, giving others the opportunity to share it with their network of friends. You will most likely be surprised and inspired with the results.
  • Monday, July 9, 2012

    Make Your Online Business Message Irresistible

    Make the message for your online business irresistible! As in a cute kitty climbing "unexpectedly" up a newscaster's back during a live segment. This kind of blooper, whether real or staged, is guaranteed to gain at least some viral traction, spreading your message or brand faster than any straight forward announcement could.

    Here are some tips you might consider:
    • Concentrate on content. Focus not just on search engines but on the people who will be checking out your stuff. Creating content that people will share requires that the message grab them after they land on your site.
    • Cast your net wide. While you generally want to stick with your niche, irresistible content meant to spread your message to a new audience should be broad enough to appeal to people who aren't yet your fans.
    • Get tongues wagging. You've heard that the best marketing is word of mouth. It's the same with irresistible content. Your post should be the kind that makes people on Twitter and Facebook ask their friends and followers, have you seen this?
    • Tap your networks. My friend Hesham Zebida shared this post recently with his network, giving me a big bump in traffic my first week with a new blog. Don't underestimate how your connections can help.
    The video above was irresistible enough to make it onto a Yahoo! news page. What do you think? If you agree this content is viral enough to share, link to it or share it with your network and drop me a line here to tell me you've done so and why. I'm hoping to discuss the results in an upcoming post with a shout out to those who participated. Thanks!

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    10 Ways Blogging Helps Brand Your Business

    We all wear many hats when it comes to running our businesses, but perhaps the most important one for effective branding is that of blogger. Whether you plan to do your own blogging and social media or to outsource the task to a third party, make sure that articulating your brand is a chief consideration with every post you publish.

    There's another reason I mention hats when it comes to blogging for your business though.

    A few years ago, when I was still in the newspaper business full-time, I wore a trademark hat, usually an old fashioned stetson in gray, black or brown with thick band and even feathers, giving me the look of a real old-time reporter.

    Though I was known for my tenacity in investigative stories and, I like to think, for my balance and fairness too, the fact is that hat was a defining part of my persona, my personal brand, if you will.

    It opened doors for me by making me quickly recognizable, made it easier for sources and news makers to pick me out in a crowd, and gave me a real definable image in the community where people were used to seeing me regularly. As a result, people began to relate to me as the face of our local paper.

    As silly as it seems, blogs can have a similar impact on visitors who do not know you, have never met you before, and have no knowledge of your product or service.

    Here are 10 ways blogging will help brand your business in a way that helps you stand out and be noticed:
    1. Spreading the word. Possibly the best reason to have a blog, at least in the short-run, is that it allows you to spread the word about your business, sharing news and information about your products and services.
    2. Boosting visibility. Blogging can increase the visibility of your brand on the Internet, particularly through Search Engine Optimization, a way of making your Website more attractive to the major search engines like Google and Bing.
    3. Establishing authority. Using your blog to establish your expertise in your industry will further define your brand, raising you above competitors.
    4. Building reputation. Your blog will help you build a reputation as a thought leader, preventing you from being considered a mere commodity.
    5. Adding differentiation. Blogs can also help set you apart in your market, not only by helping you build reputation but by establishing a style or brand that makes you instantly recognizable.
    6. Defining mission. Blogs tell prospective customers or clients not only what you do, but why and how you do it, critical for decision makers when choosing with whom they want to do business.
    7. Shaping opinion. Your blog should tell others not only about the work you, do but why it is important and why they should care, showing your passion for your product or service and spreading that enthusiasm to others.
    8. Opening doors. Your blog will introduce you to those who share your interests and passions, either as future customers/clients or as possible referral generators.
    9. Attraction marketing. Blogs make it easier to teach customers about your product or service and how it will benefit them through free content and examples.
    10. Building following. Over time, blogs can help create a community of those who value both you and your product or service, and who will be more likely to buy from you, hire you, or recommend you to friends and business associates.
    Now that you've heard more about the benefits of having a blog, when are you planning to get started? The tools are freely available and the benefits are huge, so start thinking about creating a blog for your business today!

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Is Your Blog A Marble Mocha Macchiato?

    Does your blogging seem just like an average cup of joe, solid, dependable, but without the oomph you feel your readers demand?

    Well, you can turn that ordinary cup of coffee into a gourmet creation (uh, we're still talking about a blog here!) with just a few simple tricks from the blogging barista. Here goes!

    Two kinds of chocolate. Yes, count 'em--two! Two kinds of mocha syrup, dark and white, make this delightful drink special. Each of your blog posts needs something equally unique to appeal to readers. An interesting or provocative title, an original perspective, or an unusual way of telling your story--these are ways to give your posts that something special.

    Steamed Milk. This provides the real body of the drink, especially here in the US, where, despite the beverage's name meaning "marked" with milk, a generous amount is used. Your blog post needs the same full body of information and ideas to give readers value, not just sugary sweetness. Pour in a generous amount of insight and experience, then spoon on some bubbly foam—anecdotes and examples—to drive your point home.

    Espresso. With a sharp, bold, full-bodied flavor, a perfectly pulled shot of espresso produces the counter punch, the balance to the sugary sweetness of this delicious concoction. Your blog post needs that balance too. Give your writing a little edge. Attack sacred cows in your industry. Don't be afraid to say the emperor has no clothes! Have you figured out that a standard practice in your niche doesn't work? Don't be afraid to say so.

    So, how about you? Are you serving up the same ol' same ol' for visitors to your online café? Then try serving up a tempting new mixture more enticing then your ordinary cup of joe. Add a special touch to your blog posts that makes them unique and more valuable to your customers. Take a tip from the blogging barista and make your blog a marble mocha macchiato instead.

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    10 Attraction Marketing Tips When Blogging

    Wikipedia defines attraction marketing as "marketing techniques specifically designed to teach the customer what you are doing and how a service or product will benefit them well before they purchase it."

    But when blogging for your business, how can you make your product, service, or brand attractive to potential customers? And how can you create content that will generate referrals for your business and that will bring qualified leads to your site?

    Here are 10 tips you can use to incorporate attraction marketing into your business blogging efforts:

    1. Offer something free. This could be something as simple as the free and informative copy in your blog articles, or could include other free content like informative or entertaining videos, free apps, e-books, or other downloads. Your blog allows you to update constantly, so you'll want to keep the free offers coming, encouraging readers to always return for more.
    2. Define a problem and a solution. Most important in the concept of attraction marketing is showing customers the benefit of the product or service you offer. Blogs can be an excellent way to do this. What are some problems your product or service is designed to address? Publish a few posts about how your brand solves them.
    3. Talk about your product or service. Tell readers about your product, how it can help them solve a problem, and why you created it in the first place. While focusing on solving a need for your customer is always a great way to get their attention, rounding out your company by explaining your product or service and how your company works is a way to establish a brand they will remember.
    4. Create content for your customers. Yes, content is still king, but, of course, it must be the right content for the customers you are trying to win. You wouldn't put blog posts about vintage muscle cars on a blog for your motor cycle repair shop or articles about cat grooming on a site advertising custom dog toys. Be sure to stick to the subject and reach out to the audience interested in your products or services.
    5. Remember, you're in show business. Your posts must be entertaining and something that readers look forward to each day, not pages that drone on endlessly about you and your brand (and how great you both are.) Sure, you'll want to pay attention to point number 4 above. Be sure that your content attracts the right audience, people who are either potential customers for your product or service or those who will create referrals for you. But targeted content still doesn't give you a license to be boring.
    6. Help someone with something they need. One great way to get your audience's attention is to help out with something they need. Are you an accountant? Can you explain the new tax code in language anyone can understand? Do you sell electronics? Can you show someone how to use their new digital camera or give tips on the best video camera on the market?
    7. Find a niche/need no one else can fill. It will always be easier to show customers how your product or service can help them if you find a unique and elegant solution to a problem everyone has--like the need to market effectively online. Can you show people a unique solution to their problem, one no one else can easily provide? Great! Build this into your business blogging efforts.
    8. Explain things step by step. Don't just tell people what you are going to do. Tell them how you are going to do it. Don't be afraid they will steal your solution without hiring you. They are paying for your expertise, not just an idea about how to address their problem. Explaining how you will solve their problem or, in another case, how your newest product really works, will add to a customer's perception of the value you provide.
    9. Tell a compelling story. Back to the importance of entertainment in effective blogging, your blog posts should NOT be about a boring list of features or a complicated pricing breakdown (though certainly demonstrating the value of your product or service should be a part of the story you tell.) Instead, focus on the narrative of solving problems and providing solutions. Your posts should be about changing the lives of your customers, not about a dusty old list of benefits. Blogging is the perfect format for telling this story.
    10. Forge a connection with visitors. Your readers shouldn't be people who simply stop by and then move on to the next available page with content. They should be people you establish a relationship with and get to know personally. Knowing what they expect through comments and other interactions will help you understand what they want and need and allow you to tailor your products and services accordingly.

    How would you use blogging for effective attraction marketing? How can it help your customers get to know your product, service, or brand better? Leave your comments below. We'd love to hear from you.