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Believe It Or Not Blogging Might Not Be Your Best Option

Shock! Gasp! The horror! What did I just say?

That's right my friend – blogging might not be your best option. In fact for some businesses, it may be a complete waste of time.

How do you know if blogging is for you, and what are the alternatives? Let's take a look.

When Blogging Is Bad

Personally I'm a huge fan of blogging. It has been proven as one of the best ways to attract your ideal customers to your website. However having a blog that's never updated, frankly, looks horrible. It's like those dead corporate Facebook pages I read about. [Read more…]

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The Who, What, When, Where, Why And How Of Business Blog Design

Today's entrepreneur has a lot of choices when it comes to creating a new website for their business. One of the fastest is to customize one of the thousands of premium WordPress themes available. Another choice is to create a fully custom site. A third choice is to use a combination of both.

That's the tip of the consideration iceberg.

As more and more people use their mobile devices – phones and tablets – we also need to consider how our clients and customers will be finding us and consuming the information we provide. That means creating a website that works on desktops and laptops, mobile phones and tablet computers.

I've been driving myself nuts with this stuff lately as I redesign my site and blog. Reading about design, responsiveness, usability, web typography, how people use the web, looking at web stats, and developing ChecklistApp haven't helped much. [Read more…]

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New In The Dempsey Marketing Store: Content Creation 101

UPDATE: download the Content Creation 101 book now without signing up. Click here to download it now.

When I had my first business providing IT services I was driving all over D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Being busy was great however frankly I suck at directions. My wife Kookkai reminds me of this quite often so I know it's true 🙂

This is before Google Maps and iPhones came out, so before I would head to see my clients I would chart my course for the day and print out maps from MapQuest. This worked well unless there was construction or their map lead me nowhere, which happened too often back in the day. I still got lost.

My wife took pity on me and purchased a book of maps for me. I still got lost.

Then I invested in a Garmin GPS that would beep at me when I had an impending turn. I stopped getting lost.

Creating content for the web is a bit like traveling from place to place. There are many ways to get to where you want to go but you aren't sure which is the best way. And with so many options what's a blogger to do?

Well today I'm happy to announce that we've created a content GPS for you in the form of the Content Marketing 101 ebook. Weighing in at 1200 points it's 23 pages are packed with a metric ton of actionable advice and how-to on:

  1. 9 methods of creating endless content ideas
  2. 7 steps for creating a content strategy
  3. 9 formats for your content
  4. 8 steps for creating unforgettable content
  5. 15 different ways to share content with your community

Oh yeah it's juicy!

It's now available to Dempsey Marketing Community members so grab your copy of Content Marketing 101 right now!

And if you're not a member of our community yet, join now and get access to our growing list of ebooks, videos and other resources to help you attract and convert more of your ideal customers online!

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A Smarter Twitter Blog Widget

Typically having a Twitter feed on your blog takes up valuable website real estate and could even be seen as fairly self-centered. However there are exceptions to every rule and this is one of those times!

When A Twitter Feed On Your Blog Doesn't Make Sense

A very common mistake I see people making is that they only show their own tweets. That's kind of the point of Twitter – to show your tweets. There is no valid reason for doing this though I'm open to discuss it in the comments. Instead, add a Twitter follow button to your blog so people can “opt-in” to your tweets.

Other than that there are many times you can one. Let's see what they are.

When A Twitter Feed On Your Blog Makes Sense

After the Internet became aware that GoDaddy helped draft a horrible bill that would cripple free speech on the Internet – SOPA – the backlash erupted. First the marketards at GoDaddy decided to post that there were some unhappy customers but there was “no impact to their business.” I'm not sure how you could say FU any better, hence marketards.

That really got people's blood boiling and a boycott was formed against GoDaddy and other companies that support SOPA (many of which have since withdrawn their support). Well GoDaddy waffled like a politician but it didn't stop the mass exodus. This is where one of my clients comes into play and I get to my point.

Anthony Eden and his brother Darrin launched DNSimple over a year ago to simplify hosted DNS. As you can imagine they were in a fantastic position when the GoDaddy backlash hit. Here's why:

  1. They are software developers that created a service for software developers, that's also good for marketers
  2. They provide excellent, highly personalized customer service on their support site and via Twitter
  3. Their site, as the name implies, is super easy to use – no upsells and very user-centric
  4. People talk about how great their service is on social media

All planets aligned.

I added a Twitter widget to the DNSimple blog that shows what other people are saying about them. That's the key right there – the mentions of other people without anything from the company itself.

Here's a screenshot:

DNSimple Twitter Widget

Ah the Twitter goodness!

Why This One Works

This Twitter blog widget works for a few reasons:

  1. People are speaking very well of the company. When people visit the DNSimple blog they see a business that people are so happy with they mention them publicly.
  2. Many people are recommending DNSimple to their friends, recommendations that blog visitors will see.
  3. As with anything social media the pictures put faces to names and make what is effectively a live testimonial that much stronger.

Often times the first impression someone gets of your and your company is a visit to your blog. If they see you speaking of nothing but yourself that impression won't be a good one. However if they see people recommending your service and speaking highly about you that impression will be very powerful.

Three (Possible) Exceptions To The Rule

These are borderline as they violate what I said in the beginning of this post about not being an egomaniac and only showing your own tweets. But let's see them anyhow.

Exception #1: You have a business with multiple employees and want to show the personal tweets of all your employees.

Exception #2: You have a network of blogs and want to bring together all the tweets from all the blogs in one place.

Exception #3: You're an enormous company with many blogs and many employees and want to show all the tweets from all blogs and employees in one place.

The third exception applies to a little (as in world famous) company named Saatchi & Saatchi. Here's a screenshot of their SaatchiNow site:

SaatchiNow

Click the image if you think you can handle the full version

This one page contains the latest updates from:

  1. All of the blogs in their network, in two formats
  2. Tweets from their blogs and employees in their global offices
  3. Facebook updates
  4. Flickr photos
  5. Foursquare checkins

Information overload? Never heard of it.

Adding The Smarter Twitter Blog Widget

The WordPress plugin I'm using on DNSimple is the aptly named Twitter Feed for WordPress plugin from Pleer. Here's how to get it up and running:

  1. Log into WordPress and go to Plugins -> Add New
  2. Search for “Twitter Feed for WordPress”
  3. There are two plugins with the same name to be sure to install the latest version of the plugin by author Alex Moss
  4. Activate!
  5. Next go to Appearance -> Widgets
  6. Add a text widget to your sidebar and use one of the provided shortcodes provided on the Pleer site

Not sure what a shortcode is? Here's the one I'm using on the DNSimple blog:

[twitter-feed username=”dnsimple” mode=”mentions” tweetintent=”no”]

Something awesome about this plugin is that it automatically includes the Twitter follow button along with the tweets.

Final Thoughts

This is one of those cases where an exception to a “rule” can make a lot of sense. Also, because we're working with a blog here – something completely digital – we can add and remove these widgets at will. If you find that the Twitter mentions aren't getting the results you want simply remove the widget.

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30 Days Of Blogging BETA – Your Blueprint For Blogging

With the metric ton of advice continuously coming out about how to write blog posts and headlines and get traffic and all the other topics, it's no wonder so many people feel far behind before they even get started.

That's about to end.

Today I'm happy to announce the beta for our 30 Days of Blogging program. Watch the video for all the details, and then join the Dempsey Marketing Community to get points and qualify for the private beta!

How To Join The Elite

As I mentioned in the video, starting tomorrow we'll be looking for the top 20 most active community members to be invited to the private beta. We'l be keeping track until we launch the site, which will be between 3-4 weeks from today.

As an elite beta member of 30 Days Of Blogging you'll get:

  1. Access to the 30 Days of Blogging bootcamp at 1/2 price – save $24.50
  2. Continuous access to me throughout the 30 day program
  3. 5 members will get free Blog Engage accounts – $29.99 value
  4. 1 member will get one free year of a Gold Blog Engage Membership – $59.98 value
  5. NOT MENTIONED BUT AWESOME – I'll be recording 10-minute member spotlight videos and posting them here on the blog as well as on the site

The point tallying begins tomorrow so be sure to join the Dempsey Marketing Community and start getting points for each comment you write, YouTube video you watch, and guest post you have published.

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New In The Dempsey Marketing Store: Blog Critique

Let's take a serious look at that blog

New in the Dempsey Marketing store and available for 2,000 points is the blog critique. If you want actionable advice that turns your blog into a serious business tool then get another set of eyes on your blog with the blog critique.

The report we deliver to you covers three major areas of your site and provides specific ways to improve each:

  1. Visitor Attraction: attracting your ideal customers using SEO and social media
  2. Visitor Engagement: how well you keep the attention of your visitors
  3. Lead Generation: how well you can convert your visitors to leads when they are ready

Join the Dempsey Marketing Community and start earning points good toward ebooks, webinars, other marketing and business resources and now the blog critique.

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5 Steps To Knowing Exactly What To Blog About

Here's a quick tip for finding out exactly what to blog about. This will take no more than 15 or 20 minutes of your time on a single day and will give you a ton of blog post ideas.

Before we get into it though there are some assumptions with this tip:

  1. You have been blogging for a few months at least 2 times per week (not a solid requirement but it helps)
  2. You have people coming to your blog and reading your posts
  3. You are using Google Analytics

If you meet those three criteria let's get to the tip.

Step 1: Open Up Google Analytics

Open up Google Analytics and go to Content -> Site Content -> Pages

Google Analytics Content Area

Step 2: Select A Month Of Data

Using the date filter select the past 30 days for your date range.

Google Analytics Date Filter

Step 3: View The Top 25 Pages

By default Google Analytics gives you the top 10 pages. Select the top 25. Take note of these pages as they are the most viewed on your site.

Specifically, take note of the “Avg. Time On Page” column. Typically your homepage and about page will get a lot of views but won't have the highest “Avg. Time On Page” number. Depending on the content of those pages I'd say that's fine.

Google Analytics Top Pages

Step 4: Create A Topic Mindmap

If you're a regular here then you know I love mindmapping. It's definitely one of my top productivity tips for getting over writer's block. This is another time to use a mindmap.

Fire up your favorite mindmapping software and create a new one.

Add a central topic of “blog topics” or whatever. Then as your branches add the top 25 blog posts.

On each of the posts add one or two ideas for additional things you can say on the topic. Ultimately you'll have a larger version of this:

Blog Topics Mindmap

Step 5: Start Writing More Posts And Be Amazed That You Know What To Blog About!

If you've made it to this step then you have a lot of things to blog about. And what's even better is that you know that people are interested in those topics as you've created your blog topic list based on actual data.

Much easier than guessing.

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Silly Blogger Klout Doesn’t Care About You

This morning I saw one of the best commentaries on Klout that I've seen in a while. It's a comment by Bernadette Jiwa on a post from the {grow} blog:

Bernadette Jiwa Klout Comment

Click to be able to actually read the comment

By the way Bernadette, I really like the look of your website. Slick.

You Are Not The Customer Of Any Social Network

Let's look at how these places make money shall we?

How Twitter Makes Money

I am tempted to say that your guess is as good as mine and for a long time it would have been. But today we know that Twitter is making money from:

  • Promoted tweets
  • Promoted trends
  • Promoted accounts
  • Analytics
  • Access to their firehose stream (all the tweets your servers and bandwidth can handle)

GOSSIP ALERT!!! A little birdy told me they are starting to monetize hashtags and that it's possible in the future if you tweet with a “monetized” hashtag your tweet will simply disappear. But don't take that as fact, just yet. If they're going to do it you can't buy it just yet.

What do we give Twitter? Links to our sites, part of our social graph, information on what we like, and a bit more.

How Facebook Makes Money

Facebook has been raking it in with advertising for a long time. How long? Longer than I can remember. Aside from advertising Facebook also makes money from sponsored stories. Can't seem to get your Facebook page updates into someones stream because you just don't have that much interaction? That's where sponsored stories come in.

There's also the Facebook virtual currently – Facebook credits. You can sell virtual goods (think “in games”) for credits and then redeem them for actual cash. I haven't used them so check out the Facebook Credits page for all the details on those.

What do we give them? A metric ton of personal data.

How Google+ Makes Money

Google's standard business model has been to give us all access to their apps for free and put highly targeted ads in front of us. That made them quite a large sum of money.

So wek now they sell multiple formats of advertising including AdWords and DoubleClick. In addition they also sell:

  • Search solutions
  • Enterprise-class online applications (email, docs, etc.)
  • Email security (Postini)
  • Premium Google Maps and Google Earth products

What do we give them? Depending on what product of theirs we're using we could tell them where we spend our online, what sites we like, where our websites are, and much more. But don't worry – you've already been assimilated.

Is it only a matter of time before ads show up in Google+? We'll see.

How LinkedIn Makes Money

LinkedIn has advertising too along with selling information to recruiting solutions (which makes sense as it was started by recruiters). But in addition they also have some premium offerings for your account ranging from US$24.95/month to US$99.95/month which includes:

  • See more profiles in search
  • Save important profiles and notes
  • Access to premium & talent search filters
  • More introduction requests
  • See full names of 3rd degree connections and groups
  • See all the connections you have in common with someone (for reference checks)

If you're a recruiter, job seeker or looking for more clients LinkedIn premium options seen like they are worth the money. If you've used them let us know in the comments below how well they've helped you.

How Klout Makes Money

So how does Klout make money? Klout Perks.

What are Klout Perks? Well… as you go about interacting and influencing people on the social medias you unlock different perks. Perks can be all sorts of things, but it comes down to a type of “gift” you get from a company.

Here's an example of one I've recently unlocked:

Free Moo Cards Klout Perk

Moo cards are the bomb though so +1 on this perk.

By the way Moo cards are awesome so to me this one is a winner.

But Klout is tricksy. Not only do they  NOT notify you when you've opened up a perk (meaning you have to go to their site on a regular basis and keep checking) but they tell you that you don't get stuff but your friends do. Nanny nanny boo boo. But I bet it works really well 🙂 Yay psychology and gamification!

LeftLane Klout Perk

Perhaps Klout knows I don't get outside much and when I do it isn't for sporty-type activities…

How Just About Every Social Network Makes Money

The standard business model for any social network is to collect our data – demographics, likes/dislikes, location – and package it up nicely for sale to advertisers in some form or fashion. This business model apparently works pretty well as it continues to be used.

It seems that we all know how dead privacy is and many have just given in.

And This Is Why Bernadette Is Sooo Right

Nowhere in there do I see we, the users, being part of the target markets of these social networks. Why? Because with the exception of LinkedIn (and only if you so choose to pay) we aren't paying to use them. That's how their business models work. We get free access, they get a crap ton of our information, and they provide that to advertisers who pay to get their stuff in front of us.

Now as an advertiser on these social networks I urge you to please continue to enter in as much information as you want. The more I know about you the better I can put my ads and those of my clients in front of you at the right time.

And I thank you for it.

The point here though is that ultimately if you get enough people complaining about a feature update or feature removal the company might change it back. But if they don't, we have to make a decision: it is worth leaving these networks?

But Should This Nice Message From Klout Worry Me?

Klout Score Notification
Oh noes my Klout score dropped?! Oh well back to business.

It doesn't worry me in the least. Also I'm not that active on Facebook outside of advertising. So perhaps I should disconnect my Facebook profile from my Klout profile? I'll do that and see what happens. Regardless…

I still believe that being on a list isn't the best way to get clients. The best way to get clients is to excel in asskickery and deliver big time for your clients so that you get outstanding testimonials you can put on your landing pages.

Testimonials are the most powerful form of social proof there is. I know for a fact that the testimonials I have on my landing page have been highly influential in getting a number of my clients.

This also stresses the need for every service provider to build a referral partner network where you can both refer and be referred.

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Writers Block: Kick It In The Bum Bum And Get More Writing Done Done

Is writer's block really the problem here?

When asked “What do you want from me?” Ed Tancig responded:

Do you ever suffer from writers block? How do you deal with it? Like you, my problem often is choosing something to write about. I’m going to ask my friends and customers the same question. I would like to see more information on how to keep track of the ideas for future blogs.

Thanks for the question Ed, I've got an answer for you today!

Let's dig in.

Is It Really Writers Block?

There are three potential reasons I've run into for not knowing what to write about:

  1. I read too many other marketing blogs and don't want to simply repeat or rehash what others have said. Sometimes I look at my mindmap of topics and don't see anything truly new or novel I can add to what's already been said.
  2. Sometimes I just don't feel like writing anything, especially after a week or two of writing 1500+ word blog posts

Before offering advice on handling both of these issues (problems?) let me tell  you about a technique I use to generate a metric ton of ideas.

Behold The Mighty Mindmap!

Woman creating a mindmap

Mindmapping is a technique for free association. So rather than creating a formal outline you start with a central idea and then create branches from there.

The mindmapping tool I use is XMind, which is a free tool available for both Mac and PC. An example of a mindmap is available for download on the 2011 Best Practices For A Successful Small Business Blog post. Use that example to guide you in your brainstorming blog posts.

So now that you see how to use mindmapping to generate a lot of ideas let's look at addressing the two issues I mentioned above.

How To Be Different Than Everyone Else

During one of the worst job interviews of my life I was asked by a company VP what made me unique. I'm really sad to say that I couldn't come up with a good answer because I was so focused on what I did (in my job) rather than how I did it and what I brought to it.

Given knowledge and training people can do just about anything. So what makes you unique?

Your life. Your life makes you unique.

There is literally no one in the world that has gone through the exact same things you have. And while that may sound contrived rest assured it's far from it. Only you are you just as only I am me. That is what you bring to your writing.

So how to do this?

  • Use examples along with your how-to information.
  • Bring your perspective and point of view to the subject.
  • Talk about a conversation you had with someone about the topic on which you're writing.
  • Talk about an experience you had in your life that relates to the subject.

What do you do if you don't have any experience on the subject? Don't wait for it to come to you. Try things out. Sure not everything will work out 100% but who cares? The cost of trying is much less than the cost of not.

Don't Be Afraid To Ask

Never be afraid to ask your readers what they want to know about. These are the people you serve with your content.

It's not bad to not have all the answers. And just because you ask you aren't saying “I have no idea what I'm doing.” And if someone jumps to that conclusion you don't want them on your blog. That's, in the immortal words of Lisa Gerber on the Spin Sucks blog, douchebaggery. And we don't handle that very well around here, and neither should you.

What To Do When You Don't Feel Like Writing

Embrace the day

Don't. I give you permission right now to not write if you don't really want to. BUT, do something else instead. Never do nothing.

There are only two directions you can move in – forward or backwards. You're either moving ahead or being left behind. As a reader of this blog I believe you are a forward mover. But at times keeping that direction can be hard.

So what else can you do instead of writing?

Of course you can also step away from the Internet and:

  • Read a book on a related topic or one that's completely unrelated to your field
  • Spend time with your friends
  • Spend time with your family
  • Take your dog for a long walk. Dogs love walking and it's good for you too. Win/win.
  • Take a day off
  • Take a bunch of days off
  • Play some video games
  • Buy a camera and go out and take some pictures
  • Take your Kindle to a park and read a book there
  • Hop in your car or on your motorcycle and just drive somewhere else

Basically go experience something new and different. I can guarantee that if you get out of your own head the inspiration will come. And when it does, run with it until you hit the wall.

How Do You Get Over Writers Block?

Do you get writers block or is it more along the lines of what I've described here – a desire to stand out and be different than everyone and everything else out there? How do you overcome it?

Let's talk about it in the comments below.

I'll see you there…

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What Do You Want From Me?

Because chocolate cake is awesomeHave you ever had this problem?

I've been sitting here racking my brain about what to write about today. Perhaps it's because I was up at 3 AM this morning for the first NISM Industry Advisory Committee meeting, where I was elected Chairperson and I need more coffee…

Perhaps it's because there are so many possibilities of what to write about. At the higher topic level I cover 12 categories:

That's the high level. Then we have the types of posts that can be written. ProBlogger gives us a list of 52 types of posts that we can write. Here's the first 20:

  • How-to / Tutorial posts
  • News posts
  • Definition posts
  • Standard list posts
  • Resource/link list posts
  • Profile posts
  • Case studies
  • Problems-and-solution posts
  • Comparison posts
  • Stories
  • Controversial posts
  • Inspiring posts
  • Research posts
  • “What others are saying” posts
  • “What if” posts
  • Parody posts
  • FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) posts
  • SAQ (Should Ask Questions) posts
  • Reviews
  • Interviews
  • 32 other types (seriously it's nuts check out the full list)

That covers high-level topics and the post formats that can be applied to each. If we do the math (which I'm bad at) we have a potential of a metric ton of posts that could be written. Something like 12 to the power of 52, which is a hell of a lot according to my iPhone calculator. And that doesn't include the spreadsheet I have with 152 keywords around my services that I can write about.

I realize that I've been a jerk and making a number of assumptions about who you are and what you want to read about here. The indications I have to go on when it comes to the “popularity” of my content with you my highly valued reader are:

  1. Comments you make on the posts
  2. The amount of sharing you do of my content with your social media communities
  3. The metrics that HitSniffer gives me in real time
  4. The ClickTale heatmaps which help me measure interaction

But seriously data only tells part of the story. And you have so many options of where to go to get your information. I don't want to have yet another “how-to” blog with posts around 500 words that only provide a nugget or two of information. I want to help you perfect the art of asskickery for your business!

So today I ask you to…

Please Do Leave A Comment And Tell Me What You Want

I know not everyone wants to leave a comment on a post. I don't always either. However this time I'm asking that you do.

If you're a regular reader of this blog please leave a comment telling me what you would like from me. I can write about all sorts of things:

  • Being an entrepreneur living overseas building a marketing firm using online networking
  • Being a husband and father working 18 hours a day building his third company
  • Attracting and converting ideal customers for my clients
  • The tools I use
  • The books I read and how I apply them to business and life
  • Summaries of the blogs I read and how I apply that knowledge
  • All sorts of other stuff

So what questions do you have that I can help answer?

The only things off limits for me are deeply personal stuff, though I've shared the fact that I'm a recovered alcoholic with you, so I'm not too sure what could be more personal than that. Oh wait I can, but I'll keep some things to myself which you wouldn't want to know anyhow 😉

Please leave a comment below and let me know. I do truly appreciate it and your time.