Category: Blogging

Just Keep Writing

Just Write
One of the hard lessons I’m learning about blogging over the years is that you really need to just keep writing. I actually have a lot to say…blogger’s block isn’t something I suffer from. But I’m never quite sure if what I have to say is what my readers want to read. And so I haven’t written in a long, long time.

The possible result? I lost ALL of my PageRank. Just last month I had a PR4, but this month it’s dropped to PR0.  I’m not one to really watch my PR, and I don’t like allowing any one entity to, in effect, “own” the blogosphere. But I have to admit that I’m a little unthrilled at losing my PR.

I’ve heard all about Google dinging sites for having sponsored posts (I have several, but I thought my disclosure policy was pretty clear), and I’ve heard that it’s not a bad idea to keep adding fresh content.

So, here I go adding fresh content. And I’ve made all my comments no-follow. Maybe that’ll start to make a difference. Or maybe there’s a glitch in the matrix and I’ll get my PR back just because. Time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll take Dory’s advice and just keep writing.

Have you ever lost PageRank? What did you do to fix it?

Starting a business blog

Main Street Vs. Wall Street

As a writer and blogger, I’ve come to realize over the years that my passion is working with other small businesses. I enjoy helping them market their companies online, especially via blogging.

Blogging, to me, is as natural as speaking. And when small businesses speak to their potential and current customers, they build brand loyalty and increase sales.

Even if a business hasn’t made sales online in the past, marketing online makes a difference, even in the “face-to-face” world. Many customers research companies online before deciding to step into their store. I know I do.

Small businesses may not have huge marketing teams (obviously…they’re small businesses), but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to miss out on the online sales opportunities. If you have a small business, start a business blog. You’ll be amazed at the benefits it brings.

Crayon Writer Facebook fan page

According to Facebook’s press room, Facebook is a superpower. Well, I’m paraphrasing, but that just about sums it up. Active users number over 500 million, the average user has 130 “friends,” more than 700 billion minutes are spent on Facebook (each month!), and users share more than 30 billion pieces of content with their friends. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So it makes perfect sense for businesses, especially small businesses who have a tougher time reaching their markets, to get very involved with this online powerhouse. I started out with just a personal page. At first, I used it for keeping in touch with friends and family across the country (and the world). Later I expanded into connecting my blogs to my page, so my friends get instant updates whenever I post content on them.

Recently I took the plunge and started fan pages for this blog and my other blog, Marana Unwrapped.

What is the benefit of a fan page? There can be several, actually.

For one, you have a quicker way to interact with your fans. A blog post is usually a few paragraphs, and for me, it takes a bit of thought. Twitter is a useful mini-blogging platform, but there are so many tweets from others that your users have to read. I have a Twitter account, and I follow around 500 people, so I get multiple tweets in just a few minutes. There’s no way I can keep up unless I’m constantly looking at my Twitter stream.

But with a fan page, I can write shorter posts than on my blog, but longer than via Twitter. And unless your fan’s friends post constantly, your post will actually be noticed and read.

Exposure to new people is another benefit. When your fan first “like”s your page, it is announced to all of their friends on that user’s feed. You now have instant exposure to lots of new potential fans. And if your fan comments on your page or, even better, decides to share a post, you’ll get added exposure.

Facebook also has a built-in analytics feature, so you can find out how many impressions each post has received.

And your page doesn’t have to look just like everyone else’s. With Facebook Markup Language (fbml), you can personalize your page and make it stand out. If you’re so inclined. You can add applications and tabs, and even have new users land on the tab you want them to. Building lists can be done also, because you can request that users fill out contact forms when, say, joining a contest you’re running on your page.

The possibilities are almost endless. Harnessing the power of this social media giant is still in its infancy – Facebook has only been around since 2004.

Look to the sidebar on your right. You may have to scroll a bit. You’ll notice a nifty little rectangle right under the Donate box that mentions my Facebook fan page. Just click “like.” Or, if you’d prefer, head over to the Crayon Writer Facebook fan page directly. I haven’t done much with it yet, but like I said, the possibilities are endless (almost).

Do you have a Facebook fan page? How has it worked for your business or blog?

Can you restart an old blog?

Blogging can be a journey (like this one), a passion, a hobby, or a business. And everything in-between. But sometimes life happens and your blog can wind up the last thing on a long “to do” list. That’s what happened to me and one of my old blogs.

Marana Unwrapped was a blog about the town I lived in, just northwest of Tucson, Arizona. I started out pretty interested in it, some people subscribed to it, and I even got added to the town’s email group for the press. But then I moved out of the town of Marana, and somehow thought I should let the blog move into oblivion.

I let the domain name expire and that was that. But something kept nagging at me over the past couple of years. I knew that blog had potential, and it makes no sense to turn down the opportunity. After all, trying to restart an old blog may be worth it. I checked to see if the domain name was still available (it was), and I re-bought it.

It seemed reasonable to sit on my decision and think things through first. I decided a new WordPress theme was essential, and I got to work on that. I changed some categories, updated and added a few pages, and tried my hand at some CSS/PHP code tweaking. It’s still not perfect (I need to Photoshop some of the heading’s pictures), but it’s ready to reintroduce to the world.

With the restart of an old blog comes decisions about how to drive traffic to it. Word of mouth and Twitter may be the best way to jumpstart it. Local blogs have the advantage of being extremely targeted. Later I may go on to create a Facebook page and maybe even submit articles to submission sites. Getting traffic is always a fun adventure.

If you get a chance, take a look at the old content on Marana Unwrapped. Even better, if you’re a Tucson reader, feel free to send me story ideas and news. Let me know what you think (here or there). I’m all ears.

Have you ever made the decision to restart an old blog? What plan of action did you take?

Comment spam control

No spam

I love getting comments on my blog posts, so if you’re thinking something while reading my posts, please let me know. One thing I have noticed recently, though, is comments that make no sense. What’s funny is that they have some elements of the post in them, but overall they’re gibberish.

Part of being a “do follow” blog is dealing with comment spam. In case you don’t know, “do follow” means that when you comment here, my site provides a link to your website (assuming you put that information in the comment form). That’s great for building Google PageRank, so I guess a lot of sites comment here just for the links. It doesn’t hurt that my page has some PageRank juice to give out too.

For that reason, I have my comments on moderated status. If you see your comment hasn’t been approved in a couple of days, please feel free to email me. It’s possible I didn’t get to it yet, or it might have wound up in my spam folder. I generally don’t weed through the hundreds of spam messages I get for one or two real comments.

One type of comment spam that’s hard to catch is the “repeat everything” comment. This is where the comment is actually an exact duplicate of some snippet from my posts or from others’ comments. They sound real, and it requires my delving into my memory to realize that it’s something I’ve seen before.

Another common type of comment spam is the “great post” comment. Those are just annoying, but they’re fairly easy to spot. They might say, “Nice blog,” or, “I agree with you,” or other non-specific comments.

Luckily, the Akismet spam catcher thingee does a good job of keeping out most comment spam (like the ads for viagra).

What kinds of comment spam have you had to deal with?

What good are ideas?

Innovation

Are you the kind of person who’s always coming up with great ideas? The next “big thing”? I certainly do, and I really do have some off-the-chart, awesome ideas. But what good are they if I never do anything with them?

I got to thinking about this because of this really cool blog plug-in called Post Ideas. Whenever I think of a nice blog post to write, I add it to my Post Ideas. The problem is, I never get around to actually writing these posts.

So here’s the first of the post ideas that have been sitting around collecting dust. My library of ideas is full, and I have no excuse to keep you wondering when I’ll next write a post.

Also along the lines of big ideas, feel free to contact me if you need an idea for something. I have a million of them. Just the other day I thought of a really sweet music video. If you’re a friend of N.E.R.D or any other band, let me know. It’s a hit (I don’t have music or lyrics, just the concept for a video). I don’t mind sharing my brilliance if I wasn’t planning on using it myself anyway.

Do you have a storehouse of ideas? What are your plans for them?


A little bird told me…

coloured chick

I started Tweeting almost one year ago. And boy, has it been an interesting journey! Twitter is a fascinating tool, and I’ve met cool people and learned new things. One of the things I love most about it is connecting with people in my local area. It’s also great for marketing your blog and, by default, your business.

There’s a lot of power to harness with Twitter, so if you haven’t yet given it a try, you’ve simply got to start! Here’s what you do. After you sign up, start following a few interesting people you know (like me), and take a look at who they’re following. Follow a few of them, and also start looking at some local people (like a local radio or news station). You’ll start getting followers as you start following. And be sure you actually Tweet too.

For more ideas, check out my first post on the subject of Twitter.

If you’re not already following me on Twitter, go ahead and do so. There’s a link to my CrayonWriter account under my picture.

Do you use Twitter a lot? How do you use it?

Want to become a blogger or improve your current blog?

Movie Clapboard

Blogging hasn’t died, as many predicted it would have by now. People are still starting new blogs, and some of us maintain our old ones. Blogging still makes money for people and companies, and it’s still a fun way to self-publish.

I just received an email from a reader of mine who said she’s been sitting on the blogging fence for some time now. I asked her, “What are you waiting for?” I also recently setup a blog/website for a relative of mine who needed to have an online presence for an upcoming play.

So no, blogging is alive and well.

But what are you going to do about it?

If I had a little extra money, I’d sign up for a course on becoming a blogger. Why, when there’s tons of information online about how to start and run a blog already? Time is the simple answer. It takes time to research it all, and you’re bound to make some avoidable mistakes.

An online course can help you get your blog started physically, and then help you run and grow it successfully. The research will have already been done for you, so all you have to do is pay attention and follow through.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.  pacific I’ll be announcing a program that will help you start your own blog from scratch.


Waiting for blogging inspiration? 6 ways to write anyway!

An idea.... recycle!

Blogging often and well requires a bit of blogging inspiration. But is it wise to wait until that next “big idea” hits you? This has been my problem lately, so that even when I have time to blog, I just can’t think of what to write.

But there is help for blogger’s block! Here are 6 ways to getting something written on the page (in no particular order).

1. Open the posting page, or whatever program you use to write your blog.

2. Start writing something. Anything!

3. Look at some old posts from your stash of feeds (you do subscribe to others’ blogs, right?)

4. Go to your Twitter or Facebook pages and read what your followers/friends talked about recently.

5. Read your own past posts. You can recycle old posts, perhaps putting a new spin on them, or even re-analyzing what you thought in the past.

6. Open your favorite stock photo source and glance at a few pics. Sometimes a pic will give you an idea about what to write.

7. Now that you’ve written something, go back and check it over for errors. And make sure it actually makes sense.

And that’s it! Don’t spend too much time researching, thinking, or agonizing over what to write. That’s why it’s important to at least get that writing window open.

How do you find inspiration to write new blog posts?

Have you started Tweeting yet?

Colourful chicksPhoto by Elaine Tan

I joined Twitter a while back, but I didn’t really “get” it until recently. I just got a new job (the PERFECT job, I think), that will use my multi talents. I’ll be doing business writing, Tweets, Facebook, blogging, and more!

Being the diligent new employee, I quickly did a crash course on Twitter this weekend, and boy! There’s a lot to learn!

What’s amazing is how involved Twitter can get. I’ve subscribed to a great blog about it (ProBlogger’s TwiTips), and I’ve started following some of the top Twitterers.There’s so much to learn and read, and it’s all shared by fellow Twitterers.

So have you joined Twitter yet? Follow me @crayonwriter and be sure to let me know in the comments below that you’ve started following me. Twitter will be my microblog, so enjoy and join in the conversation(s)!