Tag: blogging

Interesting shit – Leveraging news for quality content

| September 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

a smiling baby's faceI spend a lot of time blogging for businesses, large and small. And I’ve talked before about why it’s a great idea to turn breaking news into relevant, interesting blog posts.

Here are some actual examples to inspire you to create better-than-ever quality content and keep people coming back for more.

How to make breaking news work for your brand

4K TV ‘pseudoscience’ unmasked

I love the latest revelations about new generation 4K TVs, whose benefits are only discernible to the human eye when the image on the screen stays still. Otherwise the picture is no clearer than an ordinary HDTV which, as a different scientific experiment proved a couple of years ago, is in turn no better than an ordinary telly.

As the scientists said, “Using 4K resolution when we only see 50 or 60 pictures per second is daft.” 

That’s what I call the perfect news item to report on for my money saving blog clients. Why spend £££ on a 4K TV, or even HDTV technology, when human senses are not acute enough to notice the difference?

Kill the mini-beasts in your home at your peril…

Here’s another story that’d be perfect for the same client. It appears using pesticides, herbicides, antibacterials and other chemicals that kill the mini-beasts we live with has serious effects on human health… and things are set to get a lot worse.

When we use pesticides in the home, we speed up the evolution of the mostly-harmless creatures we’re trying to kill. As a result they’re evolving in sinister ways. As the article says:

“If we continue to try and eradicate organisms from our homes in this way, we will end up with ever more species adapted to cope with our chemical warfare. Much as we may want to, we will never create a sterile and barren environment – besides, it’s an ill-conceived objective since a home devoid of non-human organisms is one in which we cannot survive.”

The research contains plenty of detail. And the argument is controversial, flying in the face of big brand TV ads for products that kill hapless, harmless beasts like bacteria and archaea, many of which have lived cheek by jowl with humans for at least 8 million years. In short, it’s perfect blog post fodder.

The findings mean you’ll do much more than save cash by rejecting modern home cleaning products in favour of soapy water, elbow grease and a more forgiving attitude to dirt. It might save your health, or even your life.

Now that’s what I call a compelling story.

What’s it like being a baby? It’s like being on acid… all the time!

Making unusual and unexpected connections is something I do a lot in my work. Right now I wish I had a drug rehab client so I could write a post about the latest research on the brains of babies. And I’d make an interesting connection: it might help explain why so many humans enjoy altered states of mind, whether it’s through tobacco, booze, caffeine, acid, ecstasy or magic mushrooms.

What’s the story? Alison Gopnik from the University of California, Berkeley, has a suggestion. If you want to know what it’s like being a baby, you could, “go to Paris, fall in love, smoke four packs of Gauloise a day and down four double espressos.” 

Apparently a baby’s world is “vivid beyond adult imagination”, and the experience is very like taking drugs. As the article says, “the psychedelic state offers a window into what infant consciousness is like”.

Every human was once a baby. Ergo could our species’ love of mind-altering substances so deep-seated because it takes us back to those halcyon, thrilling, hyper-vivid times? Is it why so many grown-ups like to change the way they experience the world through coffee, fags, weed, E, cocaine and chocolate? If so, the findings could help identify cures for those who habitually take things too far and end up hooked.

Voila, the bare bones of another fascinating, unique and relevant post.

The very act of smiling makes us happy

The research above also includes the throwaway statement that, “The very act of smiling is thought to induce happiness”. Now that must be worth researching in itself, with the aim of writing a blog post for an NLP therapist or an organisation working with depressed people. If I had such a client, which I currently don’t, I’d be on it like a shot.

Quality content means sideways thinking

Can you see how a spot of creative thinking and dot-joining can reveal brilliant blog post ideas nobody else has thought of? Weave a few judicious keywords into each post and you’ll create even more of a digital marketing winner.

If you don’t have the right skills, why not get me on the case and I’ll do it on your behalf?

Blog writing service Q&A

| November 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

'Blog' post--it reminderBlogging is one of my most popular services. People are either too busy to keep their blog up to date, are less than confident in their writing abilities or don’t understand the SEO side of blogging and need support.

If you’re about to start your search for a freelance blog content writer, here’s my blog writing service Q&A.

About my blog writing service – Q&A

Q: What kind of brief do you need?

A: Some people give me a list of subjects, others prefer me to decide what to write about. You can be as prescriptive as you want, setting in stone information like post titles, the tone of voice you’d like me to use, your target audience, layout and so on. Otherwise I’ll just do a really good job according to today’s online marketing best practice.

Q: What about key terms and blog post optimisation?

A: You can give me your key term research and I’ll write about relevant subjects, including your key terms directly in line with the current SEO landscape. I don’t carry out key term research for my clients but if you need someone reliable to do it for you, I know a man who can! Alternatively you can use Google’s tools to do it yourself. There’s plenty of advice online. If you haven’t done any keyword research I’ll write relevant, interesting posts designed to inspire your audience without taking SEO into account.

Q: How long is a blog post?

A: You can ask me to stick within a specified number of words, for example 350, 500 or 1,000. But it’s worth thinking about asking me to write as much as needs to be written to do a good job, no more and no less. It’s not such a good idea to make an incomplete argument through lack of space and it’s equally silly to pad posts with unnecessary guff just to achieve an arbitrary word count.

Q: How many posts do you write per month for your customers?  

A: My blogging service involves writing a post every working day, one a week, two a month, monthly posts, whatever you need. In digital marketing terms the more often you update your blog, the better. But it’s entirely up to you.

Q: What does your blog content writer service cost?

A: I’m happy to do special deals on regular work and big projects. Otherwise I charge £60 an hour. Which means one-off, short term and infrequent blogging services work out roughly like this:

  • short blog post – up to 400 words – £25 each
  • medium post – up to 600 words – £35 each
  • longer post – up to 1000 words – £45 each
  • long posts – over 1000 words – £30 per 500 words

Q: Can you write direct into my blog? 

A: Some people prefer me to email over a Word doc so they can upload posts themselves. But it doesn’t take any longer or cost any more to write posts direct into your blog. It’s your choice.

Q: Will you write blog post meta data?

A: Just let me know if you’d also like me to create meta data. I can bring your key terms into play to make sure search engines know exactly how to classify the information, for £3 extra per post.

Q: When do you invoice?

A: I invoice at the end of every month. I never ask for a deposit or money up front.

Q: Do I need to sign an agreement?

A: No. I prefer to keep things simple. I trust you, you trust me, everybody’s happy, no messing about.

Interested in my blogging services?

Cool. Use my contact form to get in touch or give me a call and we’ll take things from there.

(Thanks to http://www.sxc.hu/profile/jaylopez for the free image)

Front page billing on the discountcoder blog

| May 28, 2012

At last, my fifteen minutes of fame. I’m delighted to present the re-designed discountcoder.com blog, where I’m happy to be playing a starring role in creating a money saving resource to be proud of. Here’s a link:

Money Saving Superstars – with Katie and Jenny.

I’ve been writing for Daisy and Jenny for more than two years and they’re amongst my favourite clients. Thank you both so much for the opportunity. Let’s take the world by storm!

Update Sept 2014: After four great years working with the team, writing a post every weekday, the discountcoder site finally fell out of favour with Google so they’ve shelved it for now.

25 ways to attract more blog visitors

| February 2, 2012

Setting up a blog is one thing. Making it work as hard as possible for your business is another. Here are twenty five ways to attract more people to your blog and keep search engines happy.

25 tips for getting more blog visitors

  1. Use key words and phrases within your posts and post titles to make your blog search engine friendly. When search engines ‘know’ what your blog is about they can classify it accurately and make sure it pops up in front of people who search on your key terms. Need advice? WordPress and the other major blog platforms all provide blog SEO tutorials and guides. And Google’s keyword research tool is as good as any
  2. Take advantage of SEO-related plug-ins that do a lot of the hard work for you. I use an all-in-one SEO pack plug-in for WordPress
  3. Include images. They make such a difference to the way blog posts look, and people are more likely to read illustrated posts
  4. Vary the length of your posts to keep human visitors interested. Some short, some medium, some long
  5. Tweet your posts on Twitter and promote them on Facebook, LinkedIn etcetera for an integrated approach and extra traffic
  6. Make sure your blog post urls are simple and readable, not great long strings of letters, symbols and numbers. You can get information about how to create user friendly URLs via most popular blog platforms, and with some you can get it sorted in one click
  7. Put your blog on the same url as your business so all that lovely SEO juice benefits your site
  8. Check Google Analytics regularly to spot trends, peaks or troughs. You might find some subjects attract more interest than others, acting as valuable link bait
  9. Download a good spam filter so your blog doesn’t fill up with crappy spam comments
  10. Make sure your blog ‘pings’ out to the world every time you create a new post. Check out your back-end blog CMS to find out how to make it happen
  11. Include links to useful, entertaining, interesting, relevant and exciting places
  12. Make your blog look as good as possible, while keeping it simple. Eye candy helps pull in readers!
  13. Be consistent. If you’re the only contributor, make sure you use the same tone of voice throughout your posts
  14. Add your blog address to your email communications, as part of your contact details
  15. Invite comments by actually asking people to interact, posing questions like, “What do you think?”and “What are your experiences?”
  16. Create blog titles that knock people’s socks off, make them want to read on and give you back-links
  17. Vary the subject matter to keep things interesting: Q&As, special offers, useful links, surveys, news and views, thought pieces, funny stuff, controversial stuff, product launches…
  18. Keep it soft sell. There’s nothing more boring than reading a hard sell blog full of excessive trumpet blowing
  19. Keep your eye on trending topics and react to breaking news as it breaks
  20. Allow guest blog posts from reliable sources
  21. Ask for contributions from people in your field you admire and respect
  22. Write about customers or business partners, encouraging them to link from their site to your blog for extra link oomph
  23. Blog regularly to keep search engine bots and spiders on their toes and get your blog re-indexed frequently
  24. Write in plain language and don’t be scared to express your personality. The theory of Likeonomics is huge these days and marketers everywhere are discovering the value of being human in a business context!
  25. Allow comments, but learn what’s spam and what isn’t. Once you get the hang of it it’s easy to distinguish genuine feedback from comment spam, which can devalue your blog in savvy readers’ eyes. Your blog’s spam filter plug-in will catch some of it, but not necessarily all of it

What about your own tips to attract more blog visitors? Feel free to leave a comment.

(Thanks to http://www.sxc.hu/profile/jaylopezs for the royalty-free image)

Blogging: Avoid hard selling, enjoy better blog performance

| November 2, 2010

Overtly sales-focused blog content doesn’t put search engines off. But it can alienate human visitors. So you might as well please both parties and get the maximum marketing value out of blogging.

Human visitors come back time and time again if they like what you’re saying, and some will convert to customers.

But most people don’t respond well to a full-on 100% hard sell. We prefer to be informed, entertained, stimulated, inspired, amused… even angered! The occasional post selling your services – or reaffirming their value – is fine. But keep it low key.

If you’re not sure if your blog’s focus is right, ask yourself how you’d feel if you’d just come across it for the first time. Or ask a friend for an objective opinion.