I’m sure this has happened to everyone (except, perhaps, the most focused of us). You sit down to write — you’re determined to knock out some great content. It’s been percolating in your brain for days now and it’s time. Time to get it out onto paper/blog post/Word document. Continue reading “Ah! I Want to Write but I Can’t Stop Browsing Blogs. How to Make it Productive Time.”
As many of you may know, it’s been a while since I have consistently written on my blog. Not because I don’t enjoy it — rather, because the rest of my business has been so — wonderfully — busy. I write for clients all the time but when it came to sitting down and consistently adding to my blog, well, it has been a little challenging.
The challenge, I must admit, comes in the discipline of sitting down each morning and starting the process. Now that I’m two paragraphs into this post, for example, I’m flying along. Sometimes clients tell me that finding topics can be difficult; that is not my issue, however, as I have several months of jotted blog topics around here somewhere. Oh, ya — there they are.
I do have a few tricks that work for me. I share them now in hopes that they help you.
- Give yourself a deadline: I don’t work well with time blocking but I can come up against any deadline and win. So, I tell myself that I will have a blog posted by noon each day. That gives me several hours to fit it in and my client “fires” can still be taken care of first.
- Shut off your social media: I think in the olden days this one was “shut off your phone,” but now we have even more to distract us! So, give yourself a break from texts, emails with juicy subject lines, “likes”, and anything resembling a tweet or notification. Writing is best when you get lost in it; being constantly pulled back to the busyness of life is not helpful.
- Put on the tunes: I readily admit that this one may not work for everyone, but I use music to set the mood. Often, it can give me energy when I just want a nap or settle my head when I want to do anything besides sitting still.
- Go for a walk first: I like to read all my background material — especially if I’m writing simple instructions on how to do something technical — and then get out of the office for a bit. I find that it gives my brain some time to process the information and, once I return, the writing is much easier.
- Have fun: I write a lot of marketing or business-oriented articles and sometimes I need to write a breezier article or something more picture oriented, like the recent Clever Ad post. Not every day has to result in a serious description of the latest business process (although, I prefer that none of my articles be overly serious!)
I have several clients who spent their spare time (haha — like any of us have that!) combing over their social media stats. Their business confidence lives and dies on how many people they’ve attracted to their Facebook page, how many “likes” they have, and how many new Twitter followers they’ve accumulated that week.
The problem? These numbers don’t really matter. They’re just “vanity statistics.”
Vanity statistics are the numbers that make us feel the love. If 300 Twitter followers are good, 3000 must be better, right? Not necessarily. Yes, the more followers you have, the more people you can theoretically dash messages off to — sales offers, information, branding messages, etc. However, like all marketing, if you’re sending messages out to people who don’t really care, that message isn’t going to be very effective.
There are some statistics that are crucial to measuring your social media effectiveness. If you must hang your hat on stats — and who doesn’t love stats? — these are the ones (and, yes, they can be just as loving as the vanity stats.)
Google Analytics — Referrals
Okay, take a look in your Google Analytics for me. I know they just changed the interface and that it can be a bit scary in there, but never fear. This will be quick and painless. On the left, click into “Traffic Sources” and then into “Sources.” From that list, choose “Referrals.”
This is where the big money is.
Okay, let’s look at the centre table for the Facebook referrals — these are all the people that came to your website from Facebook. Look for both facebook.com and m.facebook.com (their mobile site.) Remember, that the default in Google Analytics is to show stats for the previous month (look at the top, right-hand corner of the page to see what date range your stats are for — change this range if you’s like.)
Are you happy with these Facebook numbers? They probably feel less loving than the vanity stats, don’t they? But these are the people who are actually interested in you and your product or service. This is the statistic worth striving to increase.
Just as an aside, Twitter shows its referrals as both twitter.com and t.co in Analytics. As far as I’ve seen, LinkedIn shows as linkedin.com.
Why Are Referrals Important?
Well, unless you are selling product directly off your Facebook page or Twitter account, your website is where the sales take place. Whether your potential client is gathering information about you and your business or entering in a credit card and choosing their shipping option, your website is where the money changes hands. You should almost always be driving traffic to your website.
How Do I Drive Traffic to My Website?
Make your website exciting to visit through blog posts, contests, value added products, and other dynamic content. Then? Talk about these exciting things on social media. Encourage people to visit your content. Use snappy wordsmithing and tease about what they’ll find if they click through. Make sure that once they’re at your site, you have something for them to do — sign up for a newsletter or give up their email to download a white paper or coupon. Make it fun! Even industries that are traditionally thought of as less fun can kick it up a little. Be creative.
Have you ever left a comment on a blog only to realize your “photo” was a weird symbol or, worse yet, a picture of some random robo-thing? Ick.
You can have your social media photo follow you wherever you comment from now on by simply adding your photo at www.gravatar.com. It’s easy. You just sign up for your free account and upload your photo. Make sure you use the email address you use when you comment and voila! Your photo will pop up whenever you comment.
Small print — okay, it takes a day or two for your photo to find your comments. Be patient.
For anyone new to to the experience, blogging can be quite overwhelming. Oh, sure, it’s cool for the first few days until you realize you’ve already run out of topics (a very nerve-wracking moment). Then what? How many times do your patient clients want to hear about the dog’s weekend antics? (In case you’re confused: zero.)
No fear. I’ve come across help for all of us: ProBlogger is offering an on-going, online course, 31 Days to Building a Better Blog. I took the course, as did a blog-seasoned colleague of mine, and found it extremely helpful. Written by professional blogger Darren Rowse, the course touches on writing different types of posts, planning a posting schedule, SEO auditing, and digging into your site’s statistics, among other things.
Take the course day-by-day, as it was intended, or sit down for a blog-a-thon of all 31 posts. But — if you’re intending on adding blogging to your marketing program — be sure to take a look.