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I must admit I was a reluctant blogger. I knew if I started a blog I would have to publish on it regularly, and being already busy with publishing my award-winning ezine and working with clients, I thought I’d never be able to keep up.
Good thing I found the time!
Now I not only love it, but I recommend it to all my business contacts and especially my clients. As an Email Marketing Coach I love email marketing, which still delivers a great rate of return on investment, but I’m the first to say: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! If you’re a solo professional, or small business owner, you must publish an email newsletter, have an auto-responder, write on your blog, have a Facebook profile, do live business networking, etc.
Here are just three reasons why I love blogging:
1. It allows me to reach a much wider audience than by just publishing an email newsletter. Blogs have built-in features that basically “push” my content to search engines and blog directories. This would be hard, if not impossible, to accomplish by a “web 1.0″ web site. My blog site now allows me to reach out to my audience in 3 different ways: using RSS, RSS feed delivered by email, and via ezine subscription. This enables my audience to get my articles the way they prefer.
2. Deciding to build my new web site using WordPress, enabled me to create what I call a blog site: a combination of a static, web 1.0 web site, with the power and versatility of the Web 2.0 blog. My blog site is now search engine optimized, and every time I hit “Publish”, soon after, Google, Yahoo! and dozens of other services get “pinged” and my content gets indexed immediately.
3. Having a blog has also enabled me to attract the right type of prospects. Before starting a blog, my whole web presence was a 1-page “squeeze page.” It served its purpose well — it created a lot of subscribers to my e-newsletter — but after a while I realized that I wanted to attract a different type of prospect, one who’d like to get to know me a little bit before considering hiring me. A visitor to my blog site can now read my articles which build my credibility, so I don’t have to “sell” my self, my content does it for me.
Finally, blogging makes it really easy and fun to connect with other great professionals in the wider blogosphere.
Here are five people I’d like to see write a quick blog post on this topic:
I invite YOU, the reader, too, to share here by commenting or on your own blog! Please send me the link if you post on your own blog. BTW, this whole thing started on TypePad.com – get the “official” guidelines.
Thank you Patsi Krakoff, for inspiring me to write this entry.
There are a number of these services available on the net, the one I recommend is New-List.com (free). These directories will show your ezine description or ad to anyone looking for information on a given subject.
Another good spot to look is DirectoryOfEzines.com (fee-based).
For one thing, submitting your ezine to ezine directories will create links back to your web site or blog. It will also generate traffic of highly qualified prospects who are very likely to be interested in what you have to offer. At the very least they will sign up to receive your e-newsletter, and from there it’s up to you to convert them to paying customers or clients.
If you are already publishing your newsletter or ezine, you have articles. You can write them yourself, or have them written by a freelance copywriter (see elance.com and similar sites). Distribute your articles to article directories. These are mostly free web sites that accept articles on many different topics.
Here’s a short list of highly-ranked article directories. My in-depth article on article writing is still on my web site.
How does article writing benefit you? In your article you are allowed to place links to your web site. All article directories allow so-called resource boxes, but some also allow links within the body of the article. A resource box is usually placed at the end of your article, and you can include your name, business name and any offer to entice readers to sign up to your list.
Find ezines whose target market matches yours, but whose publishers are not direct competitors. Try to find ezines that are complimentary to yours, e.g. a winemaker might want to place an ad with an event organizer, or a chef.
Contact them to see if they accept classified ads, or ad swaps, where they would place an ad in your ezine in return for running your ad in theirs. Use an ad-tracking program to see how many clicks you receive, and how many subscribers and sales result from those ads. I use my shopping cart’s built-in ad-tracker module.
A few tips on how you can get visitors on a shoestring.
It will take some time to generate results, but you’ll be smiling knowing you’re not spending a dime on these techniques. Of course, if you need immediate results – say you’re having a promotion or sale – your must use other tactics, such as pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
The great thing about them is that you can target a certain demographic that you are looking for. You can discuss about lots of things about your niche. With on-line communities and forums you can build a reputation for your company. By sharing your knowledge, you will establish yourself as an expert in your field, and people will start to trust you.
Write articles to share your expertise with your target audience. Make sure at least 50% of the content in your ezine is useful information, not devoted to promoting your services or products. If you make it really interesting, more people will sign up for your newsletter and recommend it to other people. The more people who sign up for your newsletter, the more people there will be that will go to your site. A simple 300-word article once a month will do wonders!
You will need to sign up with an Email Service Provider, such as Constant Contact, GetResponse, 1ShoppingCart and AWeber. Service costs range from about $10 per month, which could bring thousands in new revenue. Actually, you can host a web site and an ezine for $15 a month – peanuts compared to what it can bring to your business!
You don’t have to spend a cent. All you have to do is reach an agreement with another business owner. With exchanging links, the efforts both sites do will benefit both sites. Best policy here is to trade links with sites that are somehow related to yours, e.g. a photographer might share links with a graphic designer and a copywriter.
If you publish an ezine (but even if you don’t) reuse the articles and submit them to article directories. They will be found by people that have an interest in your product/service. Writing articles that provide good service and knowledge will position you as an expert.
There are many article directories where you can post your articles. When people find interest in your articles they are very likely to visit your web site as well. Make sure you include a link to you site and a brief description of your company at the end of the article (this is called a resource box). Here’s a list of highly-ranked article directories.
Most search engines look for the keywords and keyword phrases you use on your site. You can hire a professional copy-writer, or you could also write your own copy, but you have to write content for your site that is highly informational and relevant to your field of expertise.
Generally, internet users use search engines to find what they are looking for. Nadica, my ‘trouble-and-strife’, as my Cockney friends would put it, looks up recipes, finds a B&B that accepts both dogs and kids, which would be close to impossible without a search engine.
With the right keywords used throughout your site, you could get high rankings in search engine results without the costs of pay-per-click.
All of these methods will drive highly targeted visitors to your site. All it takes is a bit of effort on your part, and patience – so build it and they will come.
Do you write articles? Do you post them to your own web sites AND to article directories? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, all I can say is Do it now!
Nowadays, the importance of having your own articles is huge. As a small business owner or solopreneur, to publish your own articles is going to be one of a handful of sure-fire ways to promote your business, today, tomorrow and for years to come – on auto-pilot.
Your own articles will create links to your web site, lift your search engine ranking higher, which in turn builds traffic of highly-targeted visitors to your site, who sign up for your ezine, and then, down the road, when they get to know, like and trust you, become your clients or customers. Do you see where I am going with this?
Although the main reason you would write an article is to give away useful information to your audience, your own primary interest is to use articles as a vehicle to promote yourself. Therefore, ezine articles have a somewhat different structure and requirements than articles written for magazines or other printed media.
Ideally you will write the articles yourself, so that each article will have your authentic voice; or you can have them written by a hired copywriter – either way, there are certain elements that must be present in the articles to make them successful marketing vehicles.
Millions use the internet daily to find information. They will find your article if you use relevant keywords in your copy. For example, if you are a wine maker, write articles about wine: how to select wine, how to make it yourself, or how to pick a good winemaker, how to store it, etc. If you are a computer safety expert, you will write about protecting your PC, how to pick the right tools, how to practice safe web surfing, etc.
Once you find the right keywords and keyword phrases, use them throughout the article, and also use related keywords and phrases. This will give the article sufficient keyword density. Please note that search engines, as well as people, may ignore your article if its keyword density is too high, in other words, if you keep repeating a keyword just for the sake of building density (this is called keyword spamming). A balance is what’s needed here, and with some practice you’ll get it right.
There are many on line tools that can help in finding the right keywords and phrases related to your area of expertise. Find the right keywords and half of your work will be done.
Always keep in mind that you’re writing for the human audience first, robot audience second. Don’t just throw a bunch of keywords plus some filler copy together and call it an article! You need to write in such a way that your audience will be educated, and hopefully entertained. Write in a conversational manner, but be professional – think “business casual” in written form.
Your written piece is not a thesis, so don’t write long sentences and paragraphs. Convoluted sentence structure or obscure words don’t make for a good read. You don’t write to impress your peers (or competition), but to provide information to your target audience.
Do I need to say you must use correct spelling and good grammar? If you want people to regard you as an authority in your field, your writing style should reflect that authority.
A quality article will boost your expert status. With expert status comes trust, and the more people trust you, the more likely they will be to hire you or buy your products.
Finally, one last crucial component of your article are links. As part of your general SEO strategy, you can create links to your own web site, especially if you’re posting to article directories. These incoming links contribute to your site’s page ranking with search engines.
Depending on where you post your article – on your site only, or to article directories – your latitude in creating links will vary. Let me explain.
Some article directories limit the number and/or type of links you can use. For example, you may not be permitted to link to other web sites using your affiliate link, but it may be OK to link to the same site, indirectly, via your own custom domain name.
Let’s say you are an e-commerce consultant and you offer shopping cart solutions. You could sign up with 1ShoppingCart.com as an affiliate, and then register a domain such as EzineCart.com, and set up a one-page web site that redirects to 1ShoppingCart.com using your affiliate link.
At the very least, article directories will allow you to place links in your “resource box,” which is usually a single paragraph that goes at the end of your article, where you can freely advertise your business. A good example of a resource box comes from a client of mine:
Urszula Szychowska publishes the free Health in Layman’s Terms monthly ezine to help you stay youthful, healthy, vibrant and active for the rest of your life – naturally. Sign up today and receive a free special report “Glutathione – Essential Antioxidant, Immune Booster and Detoxifier.” More info at ImmuneSource.ca
If you are posting the article to your own site, or broadcasting it via your ezine, you have complete freedom in hyper-linking.
A very important note: search engines prefer links that contain keywords (I think people do, too). For example, this link to a versatile shopping cart solution is better than saying: If you need a versatile shopping cart solution, click here. BTW, this technique applies to any web page, not just your articles.
We are all hungry for information, and the Internet is where we find it. You are there to provide it in the form of articles. Start your own article collection today.