Archive for Blogs and Blogging

Blogging With An Editorial Calendar

One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of WordPress (it’s one of the main tools we use in delivering our Managed Marketing Services) is because there are so many great tools that and plugins that are developed and shared by members of the WordPress community. Today I want to tell you a little bit about one of those tools – the Editorial Calendar plugin.

Regular readers here know that we Duct Tape Marketing consultants believe in using a calendar to keep your marketing system on track. Mapping out your topics, events, announcements, etc., on a calendar is a great way to make sure you create blog content on a regular and consistent basis. The Editorial Calendar plugin gives you a nice, visual way to do just that right inside your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress already has a handy feature that allows you to write posts today and schedule them to appear on your blog in the future. This is great for people who like to bang out several posts in one sitting and then release them throughout the week (or month). The Editorial Calendar makes this a little bit easier by providing a visual calendar, which makes it more intuitive for those who want to publish a post every Monday and Wednesday for example.

Personally, I like like the drag and drop calendar interface because it allows me to plan my schedule, but then easily rearrange it as needed. For example, I may make a plan to write about certain topics as part of improving my search engine rankings for a particular set of search terms. I can map out my post topics for the coming month that will focus on those terms. Let’s pretend I publish new posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday night, the news is all-a-buzz of a new mega merger that results in the new TwiGoogleBookLink+ social network. Of course, I have to write about that and publish it on Wednesday. I have two posts (the mega merger news + my original post) or I can quickly drag my original Wednesday post to a different day.

If you combine the Editorial Calendar plugin with the ability to leave a post in Draft mode (so the public never sees it) you can come up with creative uses for the calendar beyond just scheduling blog posts.

Here is a short video from the plugin’s author demonstrating the features of the editorial calendar plugin:

The WordPress Editorial Calendar Screen Cast from Zack Grossbart on Vimeo.

Top 50 Blogs By Accounting Professors, Students and Professionals

The Biz-learner blog has compiled an interesting list of Top 50 Blogs By Accounting Professors, Students and Professionals. The list is a compilation of blogs authored by academia as well as other professional blogs that may appeal to accounting students.

The list is broken into 4 main categories:

  1. Accounting Professors
  2. Forensic Accounting and Tax Professors
  3. Accounting Students
  4. Professional Accounting Blogs

Several blogs on the list are old favorites that have been in my news reader for quite a while – here are a few:

Last, but not least, I was happy to see that a professor from my alma mater has a blog that made the list – Robert A. Weigand’s Financial Market Commentary. Robert is professor of finance and holder of the Brenneman Professorship in Business Strategy at Washburn University.

You can view the entire list here

Finding Top B2B Blogs

Last night in our Social Media Pro class, one of the topics we discussed was finding blogs in your specific area of expertise to follow and contributing to the conversation. In addition to using search engines like Google Blog Search, AllTop and Technorati to find blogs, we also discussed the fact that many sites and magazines often put together lists of popular blogs. One such list is the Proteus’ Top B2B Marketing and Sales Blogs (at the bottom of the linked page). If you are a B2B business getting started in blogging, give this list a look to see what others are doing.

What is your favorite source to find new blogs to read?

The Blogger’s Voice – a content creation service

One of my fellow Duct Tape Marketing Coaches is part of a new company that provides content for blog owners – The Blogger’s Voice. Here is how it works – a journalist from The Blogger’s Voice will research your website to discover which keywords are good for your content to target and optimize for. Then they will call and interview you – that’s what journalists do, right? Two days later, they will add the post to your blog. They will even update your social media statuses to let your online communities know you have a new post.

I recently went through this process and the blog post I received is below. What do you think?

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Does it make sense for an accountant to maintain a blog? If the operative term is maintain, the answer is definitely “yes.” Consistently updating a blog with new information is an excellent way to draw in new visitors, and get the old ones to come back. Focused blog posts are faster to write and easier to read, making it easier to post to the blog consistently.

Google and Bing love new material – maintaining a blog tells search engines that there's new and interesting things going on, and as a result the web site gets more visits from the “bots” that index the internet. More bot visits mean that the site is showing up in more relevant searches – searches made by people looking for the specific accounting services covered in those blog posts.

The way to help the search engine bots is by focusing each post on a single idea, and talk about it in plain language. Accountants and attorneys alike can write at length about a very technical topic like 1031 exchanges, but that sort of comprehensive writing is better suited for professional journals. Complex topics should be broken down into installments for a few reasons:

  • Lengthier posts may get bookmarked for later reading (and forgetting), rather than being read and acted upon now.
  • Each blog post will be indexed by search engines separately, giving the site more exposure.
  • Breaking down a big concept into several posts can prevent the blogger from running out of ideas, or getting burned out on blogging in general.

Writing a plain language blog doesn't mean avoiding complicated topics, but it does mean taking the time to explain any acronyms, jargon, shorthand, or tax terms being used. The more clearly an accountant defines his or her ideal client, the easier it becomes to blog in language appropriate to that reader. Accountants who are targeting CFOs of mid-sized manufacturing companies won't want to write the same way as they would if they were looking for Etsy shop owners.

Writing more focused posts also makes it easier to be consistent. If an accountant writes a short, focused blog post one a week, a year later there are 52 more pages of quality content on his or her site – which translates into 52 more ways to be found online.

This blog post was prepared from an interview with Bill Brelsford of Rebar Business Builders by Terence P Ward of The Blogger's Voice.

Keep Tweeps On Your Site With @Anywhere

Twitter recently announced their @Anywhere platform that allows you to integrate Twitter into your blog or web site with just a few lines of java script. We already had lots of tools to allow people to interact with Twitter from our sites, so what's the big deal? The reason you want this is because with @Anywhere, users don't leave your site to go to twitter (like they used to) to send their tweet. They stay right on your site where the can continue exploring and learning more about you and the problems you solve.

If you have a WordPress blog – here is a nice step-by-step guide to adding @Anywhere to your blog.

80 Blogs for Modern Day Marketing Students

The folks at Online Colleges have put together their list of 80 Essential Blogs for the Modern-Day Marketing Students. They were kind enough to include this blog on their list which I really appreciate. They also included several blogs from my fellow Duct Tape Marketing coaches.

The list is organized by the following categories:

  1. General
  2. Branding
  3. Customers
  4. Business Building
  5. Advertising
  6. Online Marketing
  7. B2B
  8. Innovation & Automation
  9. Product Development
  10. Career and Human Resources
  11. Sales

Do you have a favorite marketing blog that didn't make the list? Leave a comment and tell me about it.

What should I write about on my blog?

One of the challenges professional service firms face when starting a blog is consistently coming up with topics to write about.  Back in September of 2008, I offered 5 tips to find topics to blog about. Here are three more tips for finding topics to blog about:

  1. Guest blogging – Most of us have other professionals in our network who do similar work, but have a slightly different view point or way of expressing themselves. Ask them to contribute posts to your blog. Volunteer to contribute posts to other blogs – it can be a great way to be found by a whole new audience.
  2. Create a series of posts. Since many professionals are accustomed to writing articles and white papers, it is common to carry that writing style over to blogging. In addition to writing in a more conversational style, trying limiting your posts to one or two main points. Save the other points for future posts, creating a series of posts rather than one long article.
  3. Revisit your old writings- Things change. People change. Your experiences shape the way you look at things. Don’t be afraid to revisit your old writings and expand upon your thinking, admit you were wrong, or share the “exception to the rule” you have recently discovered.

Leave a comment and share your favorite source of inspiration for blog topics.

Comment Spam – You’re wasting your time

I’ve started and thought better about publishing this post several times because I didn’t want to sound snarky during the holidays. I finally decided to push the button on it because I think that some small business owners may be receiving some bad advice related to leaving comments on blogs in order to improve SEO. Worse yet, some may be paying people to do this for them. So, I’m not ranting, I post because I care ; )

Recently I’ve noticed, both on my blog and some of my customers blogs, a rise in the number of comments left on posts that appear to be made solely for the purpose of providing a link back to the commenter's web site. Of course, I can only assume the intent, but since these comments tend to be very generic, unrelated to the topic of the post, and do nothing to add to the conversation, I think it’s a pretty good guess.

When talking to folks about what makes sense in social media (I include blogging in social media) I always go back to the idea that what we are talking about is conversations. Conversations that take place online. In this context, I think of the type of comments described above as “look at me” comments. It’s as if you are talking to a group of people at your local chamber event and I walked up and interrupted by yelling “hey, look at me'”. People may remember from the event, but I wasn’t networking, was I?

But it’s not only that this is bad form, it’s worse. If this is the only reason that you are leaving comments is to get a link back to your site, then you are wasting your time. If you are paying someone to do this for you, send me the money and I will see that it is properly shredded.

Here’s why. I don’t know what the market share numbers are, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say a majority of today’s blogs are built using either WordPress, Typepad, or Blogger. WordPress and Blogger automatically flag the URL in your comment as nofollow. Nofollow tells the search engine spider not to follow the link, so it might as well not be there.

Typepad uses javascript to display your comments and thereby hides them from the search engines. If you view the source of a page where you have left a comment on a Typepad blog, you won’t find your comment or your url in the page html. So again, no Google juice for you.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people should stop leaving comments on blogs. What I am saying is if you are leaving comments for the sole purpose of creating a link back to your web site, then you are wasting your time.

Being part of the conversation and contributing in a meaningful will get you noticed. Think back again to the local chamber event example. Let’s pretend I was a CPA and I walked up on your group while you were discussing a tax issue. If I listened, asked questions, and pointed out issues that you need to be aware of, you would probably think I “knew my stuff” and may seek me out to help you with future needs. The same is true with online conversations. If I see you contributing to the conversation in a meaningful way, I am likely to want to learn more about you.

So, please, add to the conversation. But don’t leave links just for the sake of leaving links.

Blogging and Social Media For Business – What’s Your Strategy?

Yesterday, I was involved in a great discussion about how small business owners can take advantage of social media tools (blogs, LinkedIn, etc.) to grow their businesses while still balancing all of the other hats we have to wear.

My answer to this question is social media tools are just that, tools. In order to use them efficiently and effectively to grow our business, we have to connect them to our strategy – in this case, our marketing strategy.

In very basic terms, you marketing strategy answers these two questions – 1) Who do you want to talk to and 2) what will you say to show you are different from everyone who claims they do what you do?

Two common questions that I hear when talking to small business owners who are thinking about jumping in to social networking are – 1) Where should I start? (which tool) and 2) what will I say?

When you know the answers the the first two questions, it is much easier to answer the second set of questions. If your ideal prospects are doctors who are 5 or fewer years away from retirement, MySpace may not be where you want to spend your time.

Tim Berry has a nice post discussing the importance of having a strategy for blogging and other social media. As Tim states, having a business strategy for your blog doesn't mean you have to  sell something on your blog – but you do need to have a business purpose.

So, why do you blog? How do you determine that your blog is "good business" for you?

Demystifying Facebook for Business

This week, Bethany Spilde and I will be conducting the third workshop in the  Growing Your Small Business – The Social Media Series. This session will focus on using Facebook to grow your business. Here is the workshop description:

April 22 Demystifying Facebook for Business
With over 150 million users, the ability to find and interact with current and potential customers, and Facebook’s highly targeted advertising and social interaction, Facebook has become a powerful business tool for creating and maintaining relationships, as well as promoting a business. Learn how you can make Facebook work for you!

For more information and to register for this workshop, visit the K-State Research and Extension web site.