Blogging Tips for Blog and Online Marketing Success

A blog is an essential online marketing tool these days. However, if you handle it poorly, it can backfire and damage your reputation. Here are some social media marketing tips to ensure your blogging is effective.

Blog Writing Tips for Blogging Success

  1. Write original content. Copy and pasting someone else’s content is a huge no-no. Not only is it illegal and unethical under copyright law and plagiarism rules, but the search engines are very adept at recognizing duplicate content and will penalize your site for it.
  2. Use quality, optimized images. Make sure they’re royalty free if you haven’t made them yourself or paid for them. Canva and PicMonkey are two popular image tools. Your images should have some visual appeal, something that catches the eye and draws a viewer’s attention to it. All images need to have alt tags and meta descriptions that contain the proper keywords. They also need to be sized properly for the target platform. For example, Pinterest favors taller images, while other sites favor wider images. You can use a plugin like WP Smush.It to reduce the load time of your images.
  3. Keep your content fresh. Posting only one a month or less won’t be often enough to get you the results you want. Google will rank your site lower if it sees the same stale content on there.
  4. Keep your target audience in mind. For example, a legal blog shouldn’t use lots of obscure Latin terms and legalese if it’s aimed at clients in the general public. Figure out how to match your tone to the style best suited to the readers you want to reach.
  5. Proofread. Use of proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation is important for a professional image. Especially if you’re trying to market writing services, a missing comma an cost you a potential customer. However, even if you’re selling widgets, sloppy writing may convey an unprofessional, sloppy impression of your business to your audience.
  6. Provide interaction. Your posts should give the reader an opportunity to provide feedback. Popular plugins for reader interaction are comment boxes and social share buttons, but there are also other options. If you use a comment plugin, be aware that spammers can target these, so you should protect your site with an anti-spam plugin like Akismet or Captcha. You may be very surprised, and not in a good way, by the number of spam comments you’ll receive without a safeguard in place. Deleting hundreds or thousands of spam comments definitely isn’t one of the joys of blogging.

These are some basic content writing tips that are essential for bloggers on all topics. Of course, there’s more to optimizing your blog and engaging with readers, so stay tuned for my follow up posts on blogging. Do you have a favorite blog? One you want to pick on-even mine?

Social Media Engagement – How Much Time is Needed?

There are differing opinions about how often you should post on social media sires like Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn when you want to promote your business. Advice can range from once a week to multiple times a day. What’s the right amount? What about personal profile posts?

Posting on Social Media Business Pages

Based upon various studies and articles on the subject, Twitter seems to be the platform that requires the most engagement, with multiple tweets daily being suggested. Regardless of how often you believe you need to be posting to your business pages, even if it’s just once a week, one thing that’s agreed upon is that your posts need to be informative and add value. Even if you’re spinning an article or curating existing content, rather than writing totally original content, this takes more time that just posting a link to another page. Your comment on the post often needs to be formatted and have hash tags. The are tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, but you’ll still to come up with content, add imagery, which needs to be optimized with an alt tag and description, etc. I’m not even factoring in the time it takes to create original images, slides, and video. How do you find the time?

Just like anything else that needs to get done, you need to make time for your priorities. There’s only so much time in the day, and sometimes proper time management calls for delegation. A top executive may need to devote more time on other business matters and find it cost-efficient to delegate social media engagement to others. That’s not a problem, but what about the small business owner without the funds to hire social media help?

Social media content writing requires proper time management, discipline, and organizational skills. I find it best to schedule my blogging on a certain day of the week. Occasionally I don’t always meet this goal because I’m putting work for others ahead of my own, but I do my best to make the time and stick to the schedule. When I can, I write an extra article to have in reserve for the weeks when I’m really crunched for time.

Posting on Social Media Personal Profile Pages

I spend all day in front of my computer, and much of it working on social media tasks. I don’t really have any time left over these days to post on my personal pages. I make time to stay in touch on Facebook with one of my long-distance friends who’s ill, that’s about it. While I’m on there, I’ll spend a few minutes reading my timeline and may comment on some posts, but I notice some of my friends are avid users and post regularly. I have to wonder where they find the time. Many have jobs and a social life. It’s true that these types of posts don’t require lots of effort, compared to writing an article or blog post. However, there are some people that post constantly enough that it’s equivalent to writing a novel, plus they leave numerous lengthy comments on others’ posts. That’s when I begin to wonder if they have a life in the real world, have social media addiction, or are just needy for attention.

Are you finding it a breeze to manage your business’ social media? Do you have time-management tricks to share? Do you think there should be a limit to how much time one spends on social media for personal pages? Please share any advice or thoughts…if you can find the time.

Business Success – You Have No Excuses

Business success and personal successThere are millions of pages written about how to succeed. Giving personal or business success tips and advice is profitable business for many consultants, coaches, trainers, and the like. I’m going to give you a very simple key to success for free – YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES. That’s it. Sure, I may not have what it takes to be a champion sumo wrestler or top male model (especially being a petite female). However, I believe we all have SOMETHING we’re good at. The problem is, some people haven’t figured out what it is, are pursuing the wrong thing, or just don’t have enough faith, patience, and dedication to be true to themselves and pursue it. Here are my suggestions on how to live a more fulfilled life.

Keys to Success and Happiness

Self-awareness – To find your true calling, you need to be in touch with yourself and what brings you a sense of fulfillment. It may involve helping others, creating something useful or appealing to the senses, fixing/improving things, or expressing creativity. Whatever it is, it’s usually something that puts you in a natural flow with the universe, in which you lose a sense of time and the stresses and cares that plague your mind. I’m not talking about tuning out in front of the tv, but actively doing something you enjoy. If you’re stuck, think back on what you did or hated to do as a small child. That may give you clues about what you are good at, or what you aren’t.

  1. Quit making money the primary objective. If money is the means AND the end, you won’t be truly happy. Having money is great, but there are plenty of miserable rich people trying to acquire happiness through “things”, only to find them a temporary pleasure that lose their sparkle after a while. Then they’re constantly pursuing the next thing in an attempt to fill the unhappy void that can never truly be filled with things. Happiness is a state of mind, and if you make up your mind to be happy, being broke won’t stop you. Believing “I’ll be happy when (fill in the blank)” sets yourself up to be unhappy. When you’re doing what you’re meant to do, you can find a way to make money doing it.
  1. Believe in yourself – Lots of now famous people were rejected countless times before becoming successful. Don’t let others define you. You need confidence in yourself, along with the passion and faith, to stay patient and driven toward getting your goals met. I can think of some people that really aren’t “all that” in my opinion, but have been wildly successful at convincing others they are, simply based on how they present themselves.

All of the above relates to my basic advice about the need to stop making excuses. “I don’t have the money to (blank)”, “I’m not (blank) enough”, “I’m not good at (blank)”. These are all excuses. If you think I’m full of crap and need some examples, think about the people with severe physical handicaps who’ve achieve great feats and live happy lives. Watch this video if you need a reminder about the power of a “can do” attitude:

If you still think you have an excuse for not achieving your dreams, please share. I’m good at debating. I’ll be happy to succeed in winning our argument.;-)

Social Media Sites – More Than Popularity Contests?

Social media - popularity contests?Social media channels have become a part of daily life for many. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google Plus users are posting on these sites for various reasons. Are some reasons more legitimate than others?

Reasons for Social Media Engagement

1. Business Networking

Many have a Facebook or Google Plus page to promote their businesses. Obviously, their motives to increase profits are justifiable. However, the nature of their posts may not be in line with their goals. Especially when they’re ineffective because they lack SEO optimization, or other characteristics that get the attention of their target audience.

2. Social Networking

Staying in touch with distant friends is a popular and valid reason for using social media channels. Expanding the number of connections you have to others isn’t a problem, depending on the motives involved. As long as stalkiness isn’t involved, and you still interact socially with others in real life, it’s generally a good thing. Of course there are some gray areas. For example, flirting online can be harmless or not, depending on your relationship status.

3. Loneliness and Boredom

These can be problem reasons for engaging in social media platforms. Some people get too sucked into these sites, at the cost of developing a real life and real friendships. Like most forms of escapism, it needs to be used in a limited and balanced way. Those using social sites for these reasons tend to run into more problems. Especially if their posts often take on a negative tone, and they display whining, complaining, and similar traits that reflect the person’s unhappy state of mind. If you’re out to win a popularity contest, people tend to be more attracted to others that are happy and uplifting to be around. Those who are downers may find themselves rather isolated, or surrounded by others who are equally miserable.

There are also those who just seem needy for attention. For some reason, they seem to think we need to be constantly updated on their daily activities. Frankly, most people don’t care what you just ate or where you just went. If you just took a vacation to an interesting locale, sure I’d like to see some scenic pictures, even if I’m pea green with envy. On the other hand, your trip to the local gym or pub….not that interesting to me, sorry. There needs to be a distinction between a profile page and a diary. Social media sites aren’t meant to be used for journaling, and diaries come with locks for privacy reasons.

4. Altruism

Some are trying to promote a worthy cause, such as drawing attention to the plight of abused animals. Of course, one can’t find fault with such motives. However, one needs to be careful to discern whether their motives are pure or if there’s some type of hidden agenda at work. Sorry, but I’m cynical based on past experiences.

Have I left something out-are there other motives at play I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear your thoughts and why you’re engaging with social media sites.

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Facebook and the Defriending Dilemma

Facebook defriending

Facebook can sometimes make or break a friendship. There are various reasons that prompt users to defriend someone on their friends list. Are some more valid than others?

Reasons for Defriending

I’m going to list a few reasons that have tempted me to delete someone from my friends list. I have very rarely done this, but I don’t know whether that means I’m more loyal or more tolerant than others are. Hopefully, it’s a good indicator of the high caliber nature of my friends, and my good judgment in selecting whom I choose to call a friend. However, I have seen sides of people come out online that were kept well-hidden for many years. Yes, it can be scary.

1 Rudeness – I can be rather blunt, even obnoxious at times, so it takes a particularly insulting type of rudeness to cross a line with me.

2. Negativity – I like to be surrounded by others who are positive and uplifting. While I have compassion for others, constant whining and complaining is a turnoff. However, those types of posts can be ignored. It’s when I see mean-spirited posts that my dislike buttons get pushed pretty hard.

3. Political differences– I once had a friend post a link to an article about holocaust denial. I was close to defriending him because I found it offensive. Luckily, he explained the post was motivated by a desire to heighten awareness, rather than his own support of such denial. As far as political differences go, that was the closest I’ve come to defriending someone. Some other friends post about many political issues, but I don’t have a problem ignoring those that I simply disagree with.

4. The “ex” – Over the years, I’ve had boyfriends on my Facebook friends list. When we broke up, I thought it was best to sever ties completely, both in real life and the virtual world. In some cases, I was hurt and trying to spare the pain of reading about how they survived happily without me, or even worse, found someone else. In general though, I find it easier to make a clean break, so I can move on.

I’ve only rarely felt it necessary to defriend someone. Perhaps this is due to being selective about my friends. It may also be partly due to being more patient and tolerant as I’ve gotten older. I know there are many other reasons for defriending someone, so feel free to share your defriending experiences. Regardless of whether you were the defriender or defriendee, others may learn something about social media etiquette or friendships in general from your story.

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Why Facebook Needs a Dislike Button

Facebook dislike stamp

Facebook can be a great place to reconnect with friends, classmates, and distant relatives, and make new friends. However, this social media platform can turn some people off, causing them to delete people off their friends list or not log in altogether.

Reasons Facebook Makes People Want to Hit a Dislike Button

Facebook has changed over the years. Some people are happy with some of the new features. Many other reasons people object to posts haven’t changed.

Too Much Attention Seeking

Some people are just plain drama queens. They may tend to post updates that beg for people to ask what’s wrong and pry for more details about their latest crisis du jour. For example, posts full of intrigue, like “It’s sooo unfair,” “Need prayers,” or “I just can’t take it anymore,” beg for an inquiring response. Such cries for help/support without letting others know what’s really going on can seem pathetic after a while. These types of posts may be viewed as narcissistic, and can create a “boy crying wolf” situation when posted continually. One has to wonder whether the people who ask what’s wrong really care or are just being nosy and looking for gossip.

Too Many Ads in the Newsfeed

No, it’s not a coincidence that you suddenly see ads in your newsfeed related to products or services you’ve been looking at online. Facebook makes big money from companies that pay for advertisements on the site. Technology makes it possible for Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, and other social media channels to track your online activity and turn this data mining into advertising revenue. There are things you can do to minimize the data collected and protect your privacy, such as blocking and deleting cookies, adjusting browser settings, and add-ons that block scripts running on web pages. However, it’s very difficult to be completely anonymous on the Internet.

Too Much PDA

You’re in love? That’s great. Just remember that certain things are best expressed privately. All the lovey-dovey, gushing love notes some couples put on display can be nauseating. Also, it may tend to make your friends who are single and lonely feel jealous and worse about their own unattached status. Even when I speak to my single girlfriends on the phone or in person, I refrain from rubbing my romantic bliss and my boyfriend’s wonderful traits in their face

Too Much Information

People just aren’t as interested in your daily activities as you might hope they are. Some people feel a need to use Facebook like a journal, chronicling their daily activities and moods. When Facebook asks how you’re feeling or what’s up, you should keep in mind that people don’t really care about what you just ate for dinner, or that it’s a rainy day and you feel blah.

Do you have a Facebook pet peeve? Feel free to vent, many others can probably relate to it.

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Tips for Freelancer Success and How to Not Get Ripped Off

freelancer success tips

Freelancing is challenging and it’s easy to make mistakes in getting hired. These mistakes can harm not only your income, but freelancer reputation as well. I hope the following advice will help you avoid some of the bumps along your road to success.

Freelancing Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way

Research Your Client – Many sites that post freelance jobs, like Elance and Freelancer, will display information about the employer, such as feedback from other freelancers, number of paid jobs, total amount paid, etc. This can provide valuable clues about their integrity and potential for future work with this client. It can also raise red flags, such as when they have no payment history, the payment method isn’t verified, or they have a number of unpaid jobs.

Don’t Communicate Off-Site About Freelancer Terms – If the site has a method for describing job terms, make sure to include all the details regarding the tasks involved, deadlines, and payment terms in the form provided on the site. Even if you’ve discussed terms through messages on the site, repeat them in the main page that evidences acceptance of the job proposal.

Always Nail Down the Price – Some job postings are vague about payment terms. Always get a written agreement that defines precisely how you will be paid, including:

  • Amount – This might be fixed price or hourly. If it’s hourly, make sure to agree on the number of hours authorized. If it’s an incremental or piecework rate, define the rate and amount of work to be performed. For example, a blog post assignment might be paid on a per word basis, so define the amount per word and the number or range of words to be written.
  • Payment method – Specify whether a credit card, Paypal, etc. will be used if the payment method isn’t already defined. If there are associated fees, be clear about who will be responsible to incur the fees or additional charges.
  • Time of payment – Will you be paid in a lump sum, incremental amounts as milestones are achieved, and on what exact date(s)?
  • Never work on spec – The client should have an opportunity to see your work portfolio prior to hiring you for the job. If they’re satisfied with the examples, they shouldn’t have a problem with paying you to get a job done. Escrow arrangements can resolve any doubts about delivery, and Paypal protection may also apply.
  • Don’t Give Your Work Away – Some employers will try to get you to submit an initial project at a greatly reduced rate or even free, with the promise of future work. This is usually a scam, and simply a bad business practice that you shouldn’t agree to. It may be tempting when you’re having dry spell, but don’t set yourself up to get used by an unscrupulous employer this way. Look for employers who have integrity and the financial backing to pay a fair price.

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Is Social Media Killing Friendships?

Before social media, the Internet

Perhaps social media has always been part of your life. However, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the rest didn’t even exist when I was born. I’m not THAT old, but reminiscing about life before the Internet can make me feel old as dirt. I’m going to give a few examples of the way life has changed. You can probably relate if you are old enough to remember having to get up to change the t.v. channel. For the younger set, it may read more like a chapter in a history lesson.

Friends Before Facebook

Most of my Facebook friends list consists of people I met before Facebook existed. We’ve met in person and share a history together. We’ve done the following:

  1. Hung out in person together.
  2. Talked on the phone.
  3. Sent Christmas and birthday cards.

I can even remember life before caller i.d. and answering machines. For those of you who can’t, yes, there was once a time when people didn’t screen calls. I suppose we had the benefit of getting more exercise by having to get off the couch to answer the phone and using our fingers to dial rotary phones. While the innovations in technology have added the benefit of convenience to our lives, at what cost has it been to our friendships?

Friends after Facebook

Over the years, all of the above three activities with friends have become diminished or stopped altogether. I’m sure that some of it has to do with being more involved in married and family life as we get older, and the price of postage. However, I think social media’s instant communication methods have made people less willing to invest time in friendships through phone calls and get-togethers. It seems that all the modern conveniences somehow haven’t freed up much of our time, people seem more rushed than ever. How did this happen? Is it a figment of my imagination that life used to move at a slower pace, or is time just accelerating as I age?

Even when I get together with others, checking their phones for messages often distracts them. Of course, other forms of e-communication contribute to this, such as texting and email. Google+, Facebook, etc. have recognized this by delivering email notifications.

I have friends who get upset that I don’t text. My attitude is that you aren’t really a friend if it’s such a hardship to actually call and talk to me. If people are so investing in checking their Facebook notifications but can’t invest time in seeing or talking to me, how much are they really interested in my friendship? Are they just checking up on me out of boredom or curiosity?

I’ve added people to my friends list whom I haven’t met in person, but share common interests with. Some I seem to know more about than my “in real life” (IRL) friends, simply because they post more often or share more information when they do. Are they truly friends or should they be considered acquaintances until we’ve met in real life? How is the classification made? Some thoughts I’ve had include:

  1. If an IRL friend never likes or comments on my posts but a friend I’ve never met always does, is one more my friend than the other?
  2. If an IRL friend has stopped calling and sending cards, and now only sends me an annual birthday greeting on Facebook, are they now demoted to being an acquaintance?

Have you noticed a change in the nature of your interactions with friends since the birth of social media networking sites? Has it changed the way you define friendship? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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Copywriting Tips to Drive Traffic and Sales

Copywrting tips

A copywriter must to use the most effective strategies to get viewers to click and continue reading. With so many sites competing for the limited attention of online viewers, you need a way to grab a reader’s attention and avoid having them click away before reading your message. Some essential copywriting guidelines to follow are listed below.

Copywriting that Gets Results

  • Write an effective headline. – The headline is key for grabbing a viewer’s attention. It needs to be compelling and intriguing, your viewers need to want to click and find out more. Spend time putting thought into your headline. This is the most important part of your copywriting. If your headline doesn’t motivate the viewer to click on the link and read on, the rest of what you say won’t really matter.
  • Use visual, rich media and alternative content display to grab users’ attention. – Using videos has been shown to be an effective communication tool, but images and graphs are also useful. The key is to present information in a novel, unexpected, and visually appealing way. Be careful not to use media that takes too long to load on the page. Studies have shown that even one second can make the difference between a viewer clicking away from the page or not. It’s been estimated that a third of viewers will abandon the page between one and five seconds if it has a slow load time.
  • Be informative. – Your content should offer something of value to the reader. With so many sites begging for online attention, your content needs to reward your viewers’ attention with something of benefit to them.
  • Be relatable. – This goes beyond just writing in a way that’s easy to read. While it’s important to use the right tone in speaking to the audience you’re targeting, you also want to make it easy for them to identify with what you’re saying. The use of personal narrative is an effective way of allowing the audience connect with your message.
  • Use keywords effectively. – Don’t overstuff your content with keywords. Use them in a logical way that flows naturally with the delivery of the information being presented.

Online consumers are bombarded with messages trying to grab their attention. You need to keep their limited attention span in mind. Getting viewers to click is the initial hurdle. After that, your words are the magic glue that keeps them from bouncing off of the page. With properly crafted content, your words will convert your viewers into customers.

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Can Social Media be Blamed for Munchausen Deaths?

Social media attention seeking

Can we really point the finger of blame at social media when mothers seek attention by deliberately inflicting injuries on their children? Munchausen by proxy syndrome is the name given to behavior of caregivers who purposely exaggerate, lie about, and/or induce physical, mental, and/or behavioral health problems in those under their care. It may be used to label a mother’s actions when she manufactures a child’s medical crises as a way to gain attention and sympathy. Researchers claim there’s a connection between a rise of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome and social media’s impact on modern life. Munchausen syndrome is named after Barin von Munchausen, and 18th century German officer who was notorious for telling embellished tales of his past experiences.

Social Media and Attention-Seeking

Those who have an extreme need for attention-seeking can find ample opportunity to satisfy their needs through sites like Facebook, Google+, etc. Recently, the case of a New York woman accused of poisoning her child with salt came under scrutiny. Investigators found out Lacey Spears, frequently posted updates about her son’s frequent hospitalizations on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and a blog.

Many of us have seen more benign attention-seeking efforts on our social media networks. Facebook and Twitter are full of those mining for approval from others or fishing for sympathy. From posting selfies to status updates about friends and family members who are ill, social media provides endless opportunities for people to seek approval and support from others. Even posting messages seeking to raise awareness about important social, environmental, and political issues is typically motivated by a need to be acknowledged as the messenger of useful information.

The question then becomes what forms of attention-seeking should be rewarded? Most people I know want to avoid having drama queens in their life, due to how energy draining it can be to deal with them. The severity and frequency of the drama may be taken into consideration. Do you continuously reply with encouragement to a friend who has a new crisis to report every other day?

To call people who exhibit Munchausen’s syndrome drama queens is an understatement. Such people have a severe mental issue and need psychiatric intervention. Rewarding such twisted attention-seeking with sympathy and compassion exacerbates the problem and can contribute to further deadly behaviors. If you suspect someone you know has a mental illness that is driving extreme attention-seeking behaviors, what is the best way to handle it? Experts advise against rewarding such behavior with the attention and sympathy being sought. However, can withholding attention lead unstable people to inflict even worse harm on a child to get the attention they crave? I’d like to hear your suggestions for the best way to respond to extreme cases of online attention-seeking.

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