If you’re a keen WordPress blogger, as I am, you’re looking forward to the next release of WordPress, version 3.8. This version is due on December 12.
I’m excited about the new default theme, Twenty Fourteen, which you can see in the image above:
Twenty Fourteen is intended to be a magazine style default theme, so having an easy way to promote featured content is important. The theme was originally intended to work hand-in-hand with the “Featured Content” plugin that is being developed for 3.8. As it is yet unclear if that plugin will be ready, the team opted to implement a “featured content” tag instead, which can now be found in the Customizer.
Some of my clients want magazine-style themes, so this will be perfect for them.
I’m looking forward to creating a new blog for self-publishers, and Twenty Fourteen will be excellent for that, too.
Unfortunately, Twenty Fourteen might not make it in 3.8; we might need to wait a bit longer. As Sarah says: “The theme’s inclusion in 3.8 is dependent upon how many things can be accomplished during the crunch time before the merge window closes tomorrow.”
Whenever it arrives, it’s a brilliant inclusion into WordPress.
BTW, I’m now doing blogging consults. They’re at an introductory price for a short time. So do get in touch if you’d like some help with your blogging.
Blogging Consult: Fast and Easy, with Powerful Results
If you’re thinking “my blog’s driving me crazy!” Here’s the solution, a blogging consult. Tell me what the challenge is, and we’ll fix it. You may have challenges with: creating your first blog, developing content, using social media, getting traffic… it doesn’t matter. This is your one-stop solution for RESULTS.
Consults via emails, phone and Skype: guaranteed solutions. (Introductory offer for a limited time.)
You’re a blogger. You create content. Every day. Although you enjoy it, you feel as if your inspiration’s squeezing out of you, like the juice from an orange. What happens when there’s no juice left?
Let’s get juiced up, with inspiration infusions, so that you can keep blogging, and creating valuable content for your audience.
1. Mine your depths: stir your subconscious with free writing
When you’re writing, your subconscious mind is much more powerful than your conscious mind. “Ray Bradbury often said that conscious thought is poisonous to the creative process”: when you think too much, you’re juicing the orange down to the pith.
Over-thinking is dangerous. Take five minutes to free write. In free writing, you simply write, without taking your fingers from the keyboard until a timer sounds. Free writing gets rid of surface thoughts, and stirs your subconscious.
Bloggers give up on free writing because they expect publishable content from it. That’s unlikely. While free writing usually produces junk, it stirs your subconscious in the process. Then, inspiration bubbles up, and you’ll soon be creating valuable content.
2. Know your readers: get inspiration from demographics
Your blog’s audience knows what it wants, so it’s your best source of blog content. Create a poll. Ask your blog’s readers about their challenges. Then think about what their intentions are.
While this is useful, you can go beyond this. Demographics can help. What magazines does your audience read? You may have a self-help blog. Your audience reads Oprah.com. Go to Quantcast, and enter “oprah.com” into the search query field.
Check the Demographics in the right sidebar: the audience is 88% female. Then check Lifestyle at the bottom of the sidebar, and you’ll get an overview of what the audience also likes.
Are you inspired by what you just learned? I’ll bet you are – go and create some valuable content.
3. Know your industry: follow the news (and have an opinion)
You’re a blogger. You need to know what’s happening in the industry you’re covering, and beyond. If you’re a self-help blogger, you might check Google News for inspiration.
Today Google News linked to a Guardian article on Malala Yousafzai, who might win the Nobel Peace Prize:
When a Taliban gunman boarded a school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley last year, he shouted out one question. “Who is Malala?”
Google News can provide great hooks for valuable content.
4. Know your values: trust yourself
Sometime, somewhere someone will hate what you created on your blog, and that’s OK. You’re a blogger: a publisher. People will misunderstand what you write, and may even deliberately twist your words to suit an agenda.
Your values are your shield. Think about your values. Write them down.
Buffer has a wonderful slide deck on their culture. Slide 5 reveals 8 Buffer Values, which include: “always choose positivity and happiness” – great values for any blogger.
When you know your values, you can trust yourself to create valuable content for your audience no matter what.
5. Ensure that every day in every way you’re learning (and getting better)
What will you learn today? Blogs are voracious. You need to keep learning. Commit to learning something new. I spent a couple of years learning PR. These days, I take online courses regularly. While some are directly helpful in blogging, many are not.
You can learn just for the joy of learning. That joy translates into inspiration… and that inspiration creates valuable content.
Inspiration’s essential for bloggers. Use these five secret strategies to get inspired, and your blog’s readers will benefit from your content. Join Angela on Google+, and on Twitter: @angee
No time to blog? I feel your pain. You know that your blog is a prime marketing tool, but blogging takes too much time. You’re too busy to bother. Your blog’s neglected, and guilt weighs you down.
Relax. You can have all the benefits of blogging, without the hassles.
If you’ve got five minutes you can blog. Blogging’s much easier than it used to be. These days, you blog by: writing your blog posts as simple notes in Evernote, or by creating a paragraph or two right in your browser, or even by sending a quick email message.
I blog for a stable of clients. And I often do it on my iPad or phone when I’m out of the office. You’ll love these three solutions I’ve discovered. They’re perfect when you’re frazzled. (Or even if you’re not. :-))
1. Postach.io: super-fast blogging in Evernote – just write a note
If you use Evernote, you’ll love Postach.io. You can blog right within Evernote: it’s easy. Just tag an Evernote note as “published”, and you’re done – the note is instantly published to your Postach.io blog.
You can create notes on just about any device with Evernote, so you can blog anywhere. Last week, I wrote three blog posts while waiting in a queue at the bank.
I’ve been using Evernote since 2009, and with each month that passes, my stash of notes becomes more valuable to me. I flick through some notes, come up with an idea, and blog the idea, right in Evernote.
The Canadian team of Shawn Adrian and Gavin Vickery was working on documentation for a product they had built, Quote Robot, when, Adrian says, they became frustrated with the existing tools for publishing.
So they decided to write their own.
Since they were doing their documentation in Evernote, as so many people do, they thought the best thing they could have was a tool that took that writing and quickly and easily published it, with zero intermediate steps between Evernote and the Web.
Postach.io is huge fun to use, and FAST.
2. Try Barley if WordPress is frustrating – you can blog in your Web browser
I adore WordPress. I’ve been using it since 2004, when a WordPress blog was far from easy for non-techy people, and it’s worth it.
BUT… sometimes WordPress can be frustrating.
Recently, I’ve encouraged clients who’re frazzled by blogging to investigate Barley, because the kind Barley people will import your WordPress content into Barley for you.
Barley creates beautiful websites and blogs, right in your Web browser. It has a mile of keyboard shortcuts, so you can blog as quickly as you can think. Clients love it, because just as with Postach.io, Barley lets them blog anytime, anywhere.
3. Typepad: speedy and reliable – blog via email
One of my oldest blogs is on Typepad. I bless it when other blogs are giving me trouble, because Typepad handles EVERYTHING. I just focus on the content.
The defunct blogging service Posterous had a simple system of blogging via email. Write a blog post in your email client, hit Send, and your post was published. With categories, and tags. Typepad does the same thing: write an email message, and you’ve blogged.
After nine years of Typepad blogging, I can confidently say that if you’re a frazzled blogger, Typepad will un-frazzle you.
In conclusion, if you’re a frazzled blogger, try one of these blogging services – you can blog, even if you’re convinced that you don’t have time. Join Angela on Google+, and on Twitter: @angee
“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
No one outside Google knows just how Google+ affects SEO, but you can assume that it does.
Look on your interaction on Google+ as an investment in your future. Google and the other search engines are important to anyone who does business online. You may not want to join yet another social network. However, once you see that your engagement on Google+ has positive effects, you’ll want to continue.
In a nutshell Search+ transforms your search results based on the connections, interactions and activity you have on Google+. It is the largest search personalization effort ever attempted by Google.
Let’s look at five smart ways you can ace Google+ today.
1. Use it like a blog: attract a new audience
Mike Elgan’s a Google+ enthusiast who blogs on Google+. A Google+ post is like a blog post. It has its own URL, and you’ll often see articles from Google+ in the search engine results.
While using Google+ as your business’s blog is an option, it has significant drawbacks. When you’re using to blogging with WordPress or on some other service, you’ve developed the environment you want, to attract the audience you want.
Look at blogging short posts on Google+ as a way to attract a new audience, and funnel them where you’d like them to go.
2. Win attention with images: prettiness gets pluses
When you look at your stream in Google+, you’ll see that images get attention. We’ve talked about image marketing on Google+, and said:
Take your own photos. These photos don’t have to be taken with a super-duper digital camera, you can take them with your cell phone. I’ve just taken a couple of snaps with my cell phone which I’ll be using in an image marketing campaign for client.
Carry your phone around with you, and snap away.
Google+ is almost as image-focused as Tumblr. Build an inventory of images for Google+. If you’re using Pinterest, you can repurpose some of those images.
3. Write now, post later with the Chrome Do Share extension
When you use the Do Share Extension for Chrome, you can create your Google+ posts whenever you like. Do Share will schedule your posts for you, so that they’re published at times they’ll get the most attention.
If you’re running a promotions campaign, you can set up Do Share with posts at the start of the campaign. You’ll be notified of comments to your published posts in your Inbox, so that you can respond to them.
4. Create and join Communities: meet friends and engage them
Create and join Google+ Communities: your Community posts appear in the search results. Use Google Ripples to see how your content is shared.
5. You’re a curator on Google+: share with commentary
When you create a Google+ post, you can choose a type: text, photos, links, videos and events. However, be wary of posting posting naked links. Add commentary so that you get more pluses and shares.
Look on yourself as a content curator. When you’re posting material other than text, adding commentary helps SEO – you can even use hashtags. Google+ will add a primary hashtag for you. When you add commentary, it means that there’s more text for Google to index.
I’ve received several email messages about my “write a book” blog post. I’m glad you like the tips. :-) If you want more tips on writing and selling books, check out my Just Write a Book Blog.
Over the years, I’ve written many books for major publishers, both fiction and nonfiction, and of course, I ghost books. While ghostwriting is lucrative, it does shorten the time I have to write my own books, so I’ll be cutting down on that this year.
If you’re looking for something specific on the above blog, use the Search function in the top of the sidebar on the right. I tend to write about whatever people have been asking me, or whatever catches my attention.
There’s a free report you might find useful in the sidebar too.
Questions? Just ask. Either Julia or I will respond.
Just a quickie post today. Clients often ask me “where can I get ideas for content?”
One word: Pinterest. Specifically, the “Popular” category. Alternatively, use the Search box. I defy anyone to browse Pinterest for five minutes, without coming up with a dozen ideas.
Of course, you’ll need to guard against aimless browsing… :-)
If you’re a WordPress user, here’s my secret weapon for content – the Post Ideas plugin. It lives in your Dashboard. You can jot down ideas there, as you come across them. You’ll find that just browsing these ideas, after you’ve created your own little collection, will prevent blogger’s block.
This question’s come up several times in my clients’ coaching sessions: write book, or write a blog?
If your primary aim is branding yourself, a blog’s better. Your blog will grow with you. Once you’ve written a book, it’s frozen in time, so if your aim is thought leadership, you’re better off blogging.
“Of course, it’s no secret that the number of blogs has shot up in recent years; at the end of 2011, there were 181 million, compared to only 36 million in 2006. It’s harder to get noticed as the noise level increases. But there’s reason to believe that serious (high-quality, idea-focused) competition in the blogging world is likely to wane in the future, further increasing your impact.”
You’re writing for a specific audience, so the total number of blogs doesn’t matter. You just have to find a way of getting your blog in front of your audience.
Look at it this way: when you write a blog, you’re writing your book as you publish. It’s simple to create a book once you’ve written your blog posts. And it’s fun, too.
Everyone’s a writer these days. You need content for social media, for marketing, for presentations… My clients tell me it’s all too much.
I’m a writer, so they expect me to make writing easier for them. One of the strategies I teach is “make writing part of your life”. Basically, it involves collecting content ideas as you go through your day.
The key however, is USING those ideas once you’ve collected them.
“Instead of coming back and expounding on those great ideas, most of the time I sit down and try and drum up new ones, starting the cycle all over again. I end up with tons of unfinished, half written articles and sticky notes with titles and bullet points floating around my desk, email inbox and my computers’ hard drive.”
Collecting, outlining, and drafting
In my own workflow, I use Evernote to collect content ideas, and Marked to outline them. Once they’re outlined, I create draft posts in my blogs, draft emails, or I dump the outlines into Scrivener, if the ideas are for a book.
If you put your ideas to use immediately by outlining them, you’ve not only got a head start on a piece of content, but you’re never left wondering “what will I write?” You’ve got plenty of material lined up, which you can use.
Once you get into the swing of doing something with your ideas immediately, you’ll find that you’re much more relaxed, and productive.
A business blog is a wonderful marketing tool, but when you’ve got a blog, you need content; on-going content.
Here’s a tip: PLAN your content. No matter whether you have an in-house blogger, or whether you hire a blogger, you need a plan to create your content. Without a plan, you won’t achieve your business’ goals via your blog.
Sunday Blog Planning — plan your content
I like to spend Sunday planning for the week ahead, and that means planning content, both for my own, and for others’ blogs.
Here’s an outline of my process, it may be useful to you.
1. Review the goals for the blog;
2. Check the blog’s traffic. What were the site’s visitors looking for?
In a nutshell: these days, you can’t rely on Google to send you “traffic” because you have content. You need content, yes, but for your customers and business goals, NOT for the search engines. So, create goals before you create content, and then track your content, both so that you know what you have, and so that you can make it work for you.
Never forget your goals while blogging: it’s all too easy to do.
If you have a WordPress blog, and aren’t using WordPress Editorial Calendar, you’ll find this video helpful in planning your blog’s content…
“Instant: When Google started indexing content for Google Search in real-time, it transformed how information is found. For example, this blog post was indexed by Google the second I posted it.”
Think about that for a moment.
You can publish something right now on social media, and get a response. Of course, it’s a double-edged sword. You need to be careful about what you say, do, and share. Most importantly, you need to be aware of what’s being said about your business.
There’s immense power freely available to you NOW, and few businesses are taking as much advantage of it as they could.