It’s in the back of your mind. It’s your next post. Actually, you’ve been thinking about several topics. You have a dozen half-finished posts and a notebook full of ideas.
You’re a blogger.
Ideas can pop up at any time, any place. So bloggers tend to work at different times and many places. But where and when, exactly?
We conducted a blogger survey and asked 1,000 professionals a few questions. How much time they spend writing? How long are their posts? How often do they check Analytics? But the first numbers to jump out were the where and then when of blogging…So here’s some blogger research.
Bloggers are “always on”
Most business people work during business hours. Bloggers …not so much. When asked, bloggers reported that it’s always blog o’clock.
30% of bloggers write before work.
Another 32% blog after work.
Almost half of us write at night.
And for 40% of respondents, the weekend isn’t a break. It’s a time to catch up or get ahead.
When do bloggers blog?
People are producing content at all times of day and night. In fact, only 22% of bloggers write during business hours and at no other time. Clearly, this isn’t a normal job.
Bloggers blog everywhere
Although a lot of writers have a favorite space, it’s clear that bloggers are working at home, at work and places in between. Here’s the data…
Where do bloggers blog?
A full 81% of us are writing from home. That’s more than twice as many as the bloggers who write from the office. The “other” responses show just how many places bloggers are willing to work:
…anywhere I have my laptop: in bed, in my mechanic’s lobby, etc.
…pretty much anywhere I can write – I will write
…I’ll write drafts on my phone while on the bus, then edit on a computer later
…on the [train], in the office, at lunch, in the kitchen, everywhere
…at the bar with a pint
…yesterday? My son’s basketball practice
…igloo in winter
Bloggers seem to be saying, “this looks like a good place to blog…” and getting out their laptops. Think of it this way, the mobile-megatrend isn’t just about consuming content, it’s about creating it.
So people are working at all times from any place? What kind of a job is this?
It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.
That’s not an overstatement. Look at the definition of the word.
life·style (noun) 1. “the way in which a person or group lives”.
If it’s done in all places and at all time, then it truly is the way you live. Let’s call it what it is: a way of life.
This doesn’t mean that bloggers are obsessed, although it looks like some are. A tiny percentage (1.4%) are publishing more than once a day. Most bloggers are spending 2.5 hours, writing 800 word posts and publishing weekly. That’s not crazy, right?
We think about it a little bit at random times. We write when we can, where we can. And we have a growing “Lifetime Body of Work” (LBOW) to show for it. And for many of us, that work is part of a vision for fortune and glory.
3 tips to get more from your blogging lifestyle
Let’s take one last look at the data and see how we can set ourselves apart from other bloggers.
If you’re spending all the time, spend some of it with an editor. Only 15% of bloggers work with an editor.
Pay attention to blog optimization, making sure you’re maximizing both traffic and conversions. Only half of bloggers are optimizing their content for SEO.
Watch your analytics carefully consistently. You’ll learn more making future efforts more effective. 49% of bloggers don’t check their Analytics regularly
If we’re going to live this way, let’s at least get the most out of it!
Double your blogging email list for free with Facebook
If you’re looking to double your email list for free using social media marketing, you won’t want to miss this free webinar on July 22nd at 7pm NSW with Heyo CEO, Nathan Latka. Click here to register for FREE.”
With social media being such a big part of everyday life, it likewise plays a large role in marketing. There are many different social platforms a business can use to reach out to audiences. Some are free, others are not.
Facebook is one social medium which has recently begun to shift all of its marketing and advertising features to a paid-only format. Whilst, some may argue, that adopting a “pay-to-play” marketing strategy may have driven some users away, Facebook is in many ways still a valid and valuable marketing tool.
Why use Facebook advertising?
Simply put: its custom audience targeting features. Businesses pay not only for prioritisation of their brand content, but for Facebook’s marketing tools, too. The extent of this usefulness can of course be variable, depending on a number of factors.
For example, Facebook would be an ideal marketing platform for a garden centre looking to target middle-aged women who enjoy gardening, but possibly less fitting for a business telecommunications company targeting tech start-ups. Different types of businesses may find different social media more, or less, relevant to their business’s marketing strategies.
As a generalisation, you could say that Facebook is particularly useful for B2C companies, but less so for B2B companies.
Facebook utilises a number of worthwhile audience targeting methods. “But – Twitter, Google and a thousand other sites use audience targeting, too!” I hear you say. And yes, of course, they do. But the information that Facebook uses for its targeting makes it rather unique.
Facebook users build a fairly comprehensive profile about themselves when using the platform, and this can all be used to fine tune your target market.
Some of the data Facebook uses for targeted marketing includes:
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list; just a few examples. It is the combination and cross-referencing of this spread of data that gives Facebook’s marketing its value. Arguably, no other social platform uses as unique a combination of information to target its users. This is what makes Facebook particularly useful for businesses in specific industries to reach out to audiences, with relatively small amounts of time and effort.
For example, a travel company could use social media and online marketing to target audiences of certain ages and locations with relevant holidays and packages. But using Facebook, the company could further specify by targeting cruise deals at an audience who are known to have gone on cruises in the past, couples’ getaways to users who have recently married, or luxury vacations to users known to have a high income.
As well as traditional demographics such as age and gender, Facebook’s marketing utilises comprehensive information about lifestyle, interests and activities for a better-tailored target marketing technique.
1. Custom audience
Facebook’s Custom Audience features are virtually unrivalled by any other social medium. A Custom Audience is one a company can create on Facebook, by picking and choosing which targets to include. Custom Audiences comprise clients that a business already has a relationship with elsewhere. For example, a company could use the e-mail addresses of their loyalty-club members to create a Custom Audience on Facebook, or they could transfer a circle from Google+, through Google contacts, to a Custom Audience on Facebook.
The audience is compiled of people a brand already has a relationship with elsewhere, as they will need access to the following details to create the Custom Audience:
UIDS (Facebook user ID)
App user IDs.
Users compile and upload this information, then Facebook matches it to the information its own users have input on their profiles. Successful matches are compiled into a list, and thus, a Custom Audience is created.
2. Lookalike audience
Lookalike Audiences are another unique feature to Facebook’s marketing tools. A Lookalike Audience allows users to target a new audience that has similar characteristics to an already-known audience.
There are many ways in which companies can create lookalike audiences, and many audiences they can be based on, including:
Lookalikes for websites – targets users who are similar to those visiting a company’s website. This can be fine-tuned to specific pages or sections within the site.
Lookalikes for pages – targets users similar to those of a certain page. Companies can only use this for Facebook pages under their control, and not those of others.
Lookalikes for mobile app users – targets users who use a company’s mobile apps. Useful for retargeting those who are already interested in the brand.
By using Lookalike Audiences, a company’s net of target customers can rapidly expand. The added benefit is that users targeted through a lookalike audience have a greater likelihood of interest in the brand, than those who may be targeted through other marketing techniques and tools.
There are a huge range of online marketing opportunities available to businesses and organisations of all types, but Facebook should not be forgotten about. Facebook may have pigeon-holed their marketing options somewhat by adopting a paid-for format, but arguably, they can afford to do so. The unique features and tools that Facebook offers are invaluable for targeted marketing, promoting brand awareness, and connecting with customers. For these reasons Facebook could definitely be worth incorporating in a business’s marketing strategies.
Guest author: Hannah Corbett is an online marketing enthusiast, and content writer for Make It Cheaper. Follow her on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news in the world of social media and online marketing.
Listen to this post as a podcast
Double your email list for free with Facebook
If you’re looking to double your email list for free using social media marketing, you won’t want to miss this free webinar on July 22nd at 7pm NSW with Heyo CEO, Nathan Latka. Click here to register for FREE.”
When I started as a blogger I had no spare cash to buy advertising or even for investing in a professional web design for my blog. In fact the credit card company had my number on speed dial!
All I had was passion, a hunger for learning and a domain name. The cost $10…. that was it! Oh yes..I also had time. I was unemployed but my laptop hadn’t been repossessed.
There was another advantage. I was prepared to make mistakes. Sitting at the back of my mind was also a lurking and fearful anxiety that those potential stuff ups would be fatal and make me look like a complete idiot.
Not only that, my domain name was my personal name. Ever heard of the naked blogger…that is how I felt to the world. Nowhere to hide.
But I started, wrote my first blog and hit the publish button.
Is there an easy fix?
We are wired as humans to seek a quick fix to our problems and challenges. It is often around pain points of wealth, fitness or looking attractive to the opposite sex. It is often about achieving goals that relieve pain or provide pleasure.
Finding that easy way to fame, fortune or fitness is very tempting. But there is always a price to pay.
You’ve seen the headlines screaming for that quick fix.
Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Days
Get Rich in Real Estate in 12 Months
12 Tips to Finding the Job You Want in Just 3 Weeks
We all often wish it was just that simple. But the truth is we have to earn or pay our way. I couldn’t pay so I had to go out and earn my way.
What is earned media?
So how do you earn your way online and muscle yourself to the front of the awareness and the blogging traffic queue?
You need to do the work. It means investing in building an online presence that creates trust, drives traffic and builds brand awareness.
This can be broken into three media categories:
Owned: This includes website, blog, media channels and content that you have control over.
Paid: This is the marketing tactics of buying advertising on Google, Facebook or any online channels that require you getting your credit card or cheque book out. Start paying and you receive varying degrees of traffic and attention. Stop the advertising and the music stops.
Earned: Earned media cannot be bought or owned, it can only be gained organically, hence the term ‘earned’. This applies to “word of mouth” offline and online, building followers, connections and fans on social networks, building an email list and ranking high in Google organic search for the key words and phrases in your business niche.
The 2013 Nielsen “Trust in Advertising” report surveyed the consumers in 58 countries and discovered some interesting and insightful data about earning trust offline and online.
Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, often referred to as earned advertising, are still the most influential, as 84 percent of global respondents across 58 countries to the Nielsen online survey said this source was the most trustworthy. This “world of mouth” can also be online.
Trust in advertising on branded websites increased 9 percentage points to 69 percent in 2013 as the second most trusted format, a jump from fourth-place ranking in 2007.
Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents indicated that they trust consumer opinions posted online, which ranked third in 2013, up 7 percentage points from 2007.
This report highlights the power of earning trust that can be amplified online.
What is the foundation for “earned” blog traffic?
Earned media’s core element that underpins the building of earned trust and media in an online digital world is for the most part built on quality content.
A few months into my blogging journey I became convinced and committed to creating and sharing the best quality content I could muster. I curated content that I found compelling. There was the wrangling and wrestling of headlines and blog posts into tempting readable morsels. Content was my secret sauce.
Content that resonates with your target audience is the start of building earned online trust. It is the beginning of the customer engagement and content is how you achieve that online. It can start with an image that attracts the online consumer. It can also extend to a free or even paid ebook that displays your knowledge and depth of expertise.
Content is working on your behalf as a brand while you sleep. It is the beginning of the customer engagement cycle.
The tactics to earned media marketing success
Let’s take a look at some tactics to start “earning” online attention and trust that doesn’t require paid advertising. Many bloggers started this way with only a good idea and a willingness to “have a go”
Keep in mind that a parallel strategy of both “paid” and “earned can accelerate the marketing process. But for many small businesses there is no spare cash for advertising. What they do have is the the knowledge, experience and expertise that just needs to be created, packaged and published as content. That’s your real asset. You just need to make it visible online.
Here is the marketing strategy for bloggers that have time but maybe not much to spend on paid advertising.
Social networks are where content is both published and distributed. The more followers you have the greater the chance you have to amplify trust. Social media marketing power is “earned” as you attract fans and build an online tribe.
Facebook and Twitter are just one of two social networks where you can build a tribe of loyal fans and advocates.
People follow you on Twitter through social proof (the number of followers you have which creates online credibility) and the quality of your content.
People “like” your Facebook pages because you have earned the right to be followed from content and adding value to their lives.
This is one of the core components for”world of mouth”.
Here are some tips for building followers on social media
Make it easy to follow your brand on social media with “follow us” social buttons or “like” social plugins provided in obvious locations
Make it easy for users to generate content. User generated content (or UGC)
Organic search is earned.
A new website has no online authority and will receive little or no traffic naturally from search engines on day one, week two or even month six. But you need to start building search engine authority. Make it a priority.
The better your content, including long form blog articles and guides with 1,000 plus words, the more attractive you are as an industry resource. Your aim?… is to become a reference and “go to” portal for your industry or niche.
As other websites link to your content, over time you earn your page rank. Google measures this through many measurements (called algorithms). But the main way search engines start giving you some online authority is the quantity and quality of the websites linking to your owned online assets such as website, blogs and online stores.
Here is a tool I use to check how many domains and referring (inbound) back links are pointing to my site using the Ahrefs.com tool.
7,000 referring domains
This is a continuous, patient and persistent task that takes years. Sometimes you will feel that nothing is happening. You need to press on and keep producing content and growing your own distribution networks of email and social. That is how people discover and link to you. It’s called organic link building.
Some tips to earn organic search engine results.
Build your website and blog with search engines in mind. This means key phrases are written in the code and headings of your blog. WordPress does this for you embedded in its design with a little help from plugins
Word of mouth lives offline and online. A good review that is passed on by friends and family only occurs if you have provided a service or a product that is overwhelmingly positive. Being rated as 5 stars with a glowing recommendation is one of the most powerful earned marketing assets you can have.
There are some design and technology tactics that can help build up those online reviews
Design and build your ecommerce website on a platform that makes it easy for customers to leave a review.
Content marketing isn’t rocket science, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy either. Like anything, it takes continuous trial and error and making a fair number of mistakes along the way before you start getting things right. The good news is that there’s value in analyzing those missteps — regardless of whether they’re your own or someone else’s — because it can help you avoid them yourself.
What follows is a collection of content marketing lessons that I’ve either learned the hard way through the mistakes I’ve made, or lessons I’ve gleaned from others after hearing about the challenges they’ve faced. Hopefully reiterating those lessons here, along with some sound advice, helps to save you some time and frustration.
Lesson #1: You need at least one dedicated resource.
A lot of companies, particularly small ones, think that they can tack content marketing on to their existing marketing team’s responsibilities without adding any headcount. In theory it’s a good idea, but in practice it just doesn’t work. That’s because not only does the approach have the potential to distract your existing team from its other responsibilities, it also makes it virtually impossible to give your content program the attention it needs to drive meaningful results.
So, if you are serious about content marketing, invest in the right people to build your program. A good place to start might be a managing editor, who can help set your strategy and then manage the internal and external resources necessary to execute it. Here are some of the qualities he or she should have:
Lesson #2: You need a strategy.
It’s easy enough to do a bunch of activities — write a few blog posts, send out a couple of tweets — and call it content marketing. You might even get some results doing so. But to get the most out of your content marketing program and actually build your brand, engage your prospects and customers, and drive sales, you need more than activity. You need a strategy.
That means taking the time to:
Understand your audience, what they care about, what their pain points are, what motivates them to make a purchase, and what the buyer journey they’re on looks like. Compiling your findings into buyer personas will help crystalize your understanding of your audience and make it much easier to tailor your content to them.
Develop clear conversion goals so that you know exactly what actions you want people to take as a result of consuming your content. Remember, there always needs to be a next step for your audience. Maybe it’s visiting a particular page on your website, downloading a white paper, or contacting a salesperson. Think about what conversion goals are appropriate given where your audience is in the buyer journey.
Decide what types of content to create, what that content should be about, and how to deliver it at each stage of your buyer’s journey.
Once you’ve done all of this, map the information into a content matrix like the one below, which should serve as the backbone of your content strategy.
Lesson # 3: Content marketing is about more than just content creation.
It may sound like a rookie mistake, but who among us hasn’t devoted time and energy to creating a great piece of content only to realize after it was done that we didn’t have a solid plan for what to do with it? That’s why it’s a good idea to start thinking about how you are going to use your content while you’re still in the process of producing it. One idea that I’ve found works well is to come up with a matrix of all of the possible content distribution tactics you can use, and to then tier those tactics based on the type of content.
For example, you might publish a simple piece of content like a blog post to your website, share it socially, and include it in your weekly newsletter. You might do all of those things for a bigger piece of content like an eBook too, but also host a webinar about it, post a corresponding presentation to SlideShare, or try to engage with particular industry influencers.
By documenting what your options are and what your typical content distribution strategy would look like for different types of content, you can always ensure that you’ve got a good plan in place to amplify your content.
Lesson #4: Rely on data, not your gut, to make decisions.
For some reason, metrics seem to be the bane of many content marketers’ existence. Perhaps that’s because we naturally tend to be more creative than analytic. But here’s the thing: Unlike your gut, metrics generally don’t steer you in the wrong direction and they certainly don’t lie. Instead, they give you a clear indication of how your content marketing program is performing.
Personally, on more than occasion I’ve created a piece of content and felt confident it would be a hit, only to see it flop. Conversely, I’ve written things that I felt weren’t as strong as they could be that actually performed quite well. Rather than assume what your audience is going to like, it’s much better to know what they like based on data. By analyzing what performs well and what doesn’t, and trying to figure out why based on the data, you can glean important insights that will help you to adjust both your content and your strategy going forward.
Lesson #5: The best way to learn is to do.
It’s easy to get so caught up in planning, formulating processes, developing a strategy, and trying to get everything just right, that months go by without creating and distributing any actual content. Since most of us don’t have the luxury of time, that can be problematic. Yes, all of those things are important and are worth your time and energy, but they can’t be created based on theory. They need to be developed based on actual practice.
Don’t fall into the analysis paralysis trap. Instead, start creating some content straight away and testing it in the market. Learn from that experience and evolve your strategy and processes as you do. Not only will you have something tangible to point to when you talk about your content marketing program, you will also have some opportunities to gain actual insights about what you’ve done and to adjust accordingly.
What about you?
I hope these lessons are helpful. But there are of course many more that are worth sharing. What content marketing lessons did you learn the hard way and what advice can you give so others don’t make the same mistakes?
Guest author: Kevin Cain is a freelance content marketing and communications strategist with more than a decade of experience in the financial services and consulting industries. Follow him on Twitter (@kevinrcain) or check out his blog on content strategy.
If Twitter to you is all about retweeting celebrities, uploading photos of tasty meals to Twitpic, and devising hilariously embarrassing TBT tweets, then you might be interested in these statistics: 77% of employers use social media to find candidates, and 20% of them use these platforms to screen out employees, too.
Which is to say, Twitter is bound to affect your career prospects, whether you’re explicitly using it for your career not. As such, it’s important to consider how both current and potential employers might view the content that you post — even more so to stop doing these 7 major faux pas.
1. Tweeting about controversial issues
Would you walk into a job interview, hold out your hand to the person behind the desk, and say, “Hi, I’m [your name], and I’d like to talk to you about this nation’s gun laws.” Um, no, of course you wouldn’t. And yet if you’re posting about incredibly polarizing topics on the public sphere of Twitter, this is essentially what you’re doing.
Unless you plan to go into advocacy, do yourself a favor and save it for private discussions with family and friends — not a platform where an employer who feels differently from you can become instantly biased against your entire person.
2. Forgetting that your audience is everyone
The controversial issue thing may be obvious, but oftentimes it can be difficult to even predict when what you’re posting is going to cause offense and pretty much ruin your career or even your business brand image.
Brands run into this all the time. In trying to make a quick joke, they forget who their core audience is, as well as the fact that everyone can see what they’re posting — and everyone is a big audience to please, with many people who might not feel that joke is very funny.
This may have been a fun, throwaway joke for whoever was at the keyboard, but it wasn’t for the millions of Americans who struggle with poverty, and who turn to FAFSA for the aid that will hopefully help them climb higher up on the economic ladder.
Individual Tweeters make similar mistakes all the time with dire consequences for their careers, so just remember to take the time to stop before you Tweet, examine your privilege, think about who might find what you’re saying dismissive and offensive, and rewrite if necessary.
3. Not having a focus
“Hey everybody! Here’s what I ate for breakfast!”
“OMG can’t stop playing the new Beyoncé song.”
“For serial, June/July is the best time to be a law-nerd. #majorjudicialdecisions #supremecourtnerd #precedentftw.”
While it’s fine to cultivate a well-rounded Twitter personality, not having any focus can just make you seem, well, unfocused. It also means you’re squandering an opportunity to brand yourself as an expert in your field, which in turn can impress employers and help you land a job.
Lastly, an unfocused Twitter stream also makes growing a following more difficult, as you’ll turn away potential followers who might have been interested in one of your topics, but consider the 95 other topics you Tweet about to be spam.
4. Engaging in negative conversations
Again, Twitter is about as public as it can get, so complaining about your co-workers, boss, company, and potential or current clients is a major no. In fact, if you’re a medical professional, therapist, lawyer, or anyone who is bound to a non-disclosure agreement, your Tweets could not only get you fired, but they could also get your license revoked and a major lawsuit dropped in your lap. Fun times!
Just as bad can be engaging in negative exchanges with other people on Twitter. All of the risks states above remain, and there’s the added risk that employers will interpret your mudslinging as a lack of empathy and interpersonal skills — two traits that are kind of essential to thriving in the workplace. So keep it nice, no matter how much the siren songs of trolldom beckon.
5. Tweeting way too much
Not only is Tweeting all the time annoying to just about everyone who follows you, but it also makes it look like you don’t have much of a life — not exactly the best way to build your reputation as an in-demand professional. If you’re Tweeting during work hours, your current employer will feel like you’re off task, while any potential employers will doubt your ability to stay on-task.
Instead, try to limit your Tweets and conversations to certain times of the day, so you can concentrate on your to-do list.
6. Focusing only on yourself
Honestly, truly, not even lying here, it’s really wonderful that you wrote a new blogpost and we all hope to read it soon — really. Twitter is a great platform for driving traffic to your expert content. It’s also a great place to share news about developments in your career, and even to let everyone know about your latest vacation.
But Twitter, used correctly, is a form of networking and goodwill building, and you can’t do either of those two things when you focus exclusively on yourself. In fact, you’ll find that many more job opportunities fall into your lap when you engage in constant conversation with people in your industry, whether in response to the things they post or as you discuss important industry topics. Combine that with sharing articles you find interesting and stimulating, and you’ll also be working to establish your taste and your expertise — all by looking outside of yourself.
A strategically placed hashtag is a great way to get your Tweets and content found on Twitter, especially for a trending topic. But too many of them, and you start to, well, look like a complete idiot. It’s impossible to discern what you’re actually trying to say, and half the time, that hashtag isn’t even a term anyone is searching.
Unless that hashtag really is as funny and ironic as you think it is, neither of those things will scream “intelligent person!” to a potential employer. So choose a hashtag or two, and call it quits — for the sake of your career, and perhaps for all humanity.
Used the right way, Twitter can actually be a great way to grow your career. But, given the public nature of the platform, it can also ruin what you worked so hard to build in a single Tweet. So use it strategically, and please, please, think before you Tweet!
Guest author: Beverley Reinemann is a freelance writer and blogger who spent three years travelling and working in Australia and New Zealand. Now back in London she splits her time between travelling, running her blog; Pack Your Passport, and her job in online marketing at Distilled.