The Simple Truth About Blogging to Grow Your Business Online

blogging-for-business

Let me guess..

You’re completely confused.

Flummoxed.

You’ve read the hype about online marketing, especially social media marketing.

Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube.

The whole world and his mother has heard about “having a conversation with a brand”.

You’re probably frustrated too.

Because it seems you can’t get any traction.

Social media is noisy, and your voice is drowned out and ignored.

Does it ever feel that you have walked into a big rowdy party, stone cold sober, and know nobody?

Imagine having a plan to grow your business online, a systematic plan that you know works. With simple, easy to do steps, which only requires some smart focus and consistent effort.

By the time you get to the end of this piece, that’s exactly what you’ll have.

The problem with relying solely on social media marketing

The big problem with social media marketing is the sheer volume of noise. Just take a look at your Twitter stream and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s practically impossible to get noticed.

And there’s another big problem.

Social media properties are not your properties-you’re a cybersquatter.

Staking a claim on somebody else’s property. If you’re Irish, you will know all about being a tenant.

And you are completely at the mercy of the whims of Facebook, Twitter, and the other powerhouses of social media who, understandably, have to satisfy their shareholders on Wall Street.

What happens is that the rules change, completely out of the blue most times, and there’s not a single thing you can do about it.

Just take a look at Facebook now and you’ll see that since they changed the rules about who sees what you share in January, 2015 about 10% of your fans see your stuff.

If you want the other 90% to see, you have to pay.

Imagine spending all that time building up fans on Facebook, year after year, and now you can only reach between 10-15% of them, unless you break out the credit card.

Twitter is heading the same way, and if you think about it, it makes sense. These platforms are not charities, and they have to make a profit.

Why blogging works

Blogging works because to grow your business online, you need to become an authority in your field. A blog with good content allows you to demonstrate that authority.

To sell online, you also need to build a “know, like, and trust factor” with your potential clients/customers.

And to do that you need to start a conversation with them.

Makes sense, right?

A blog is a great conversation starter and allows you to develop a relationship with your readers.

And this relationship can be further developed through email marketing.

Building your list, a list of subscribers to your blog, is probably the best reason of all for starting and running your own web property.

Your blog, of course, can, and should, be your own property too-you decide on the content you create and you make the rules.

No more worrying about Facebook changing the rules again.

What you can learn from the world’s leading social media gurus about blogging

The leading social media experts in the world-Chris Brogan, Mari Smith, Michael Hyatt, Michael Stelzner, Ann Handley, Peg Fitzpatrick, Jay Baer, Laura Fitton- are all agreed on one thing.

The best asset you can build online is an email list-a list of subscribers.

And the best way to build this list is on your own blog.

So, these social media “gurus” have, as their primary goal, getting you onto their email list.

Ignore the irony here for a minute.

They know this gives them the opportunity to build a real relationship with you, and not have to worry about trying to communicate with you in a noisy environment like a Twitter stream of Facebook feed.

This is the power of email marketing-your subscriber has opted in to receiving your messages into their email inbox. Then you don’t have to compete with all the other distractions in people’s Twitter or Facebook feeds.

How to get started

You can actually start a blog for free. WordPress.com, Typepad.com, and Blogger.com all offer free blogging platforms.

But they are probably not the best option for you, because you may still have the problem of building your web property on someone else’s platform.

The sharecropper syndrome.

The best option is to get your own hosting account and set up your own blog on this account. LetsHost.ie is who I use and can recommend them highly. A hosting plan starts at 7.95 euros per months so there is no excuse for not taking and maintaining control of your own web property-your blog.

What to write about

What questions are your potential clients asking? How can you serve your market? How can you provide value and demonstrate your expertise and authority?

What frequently asked questions arise repeatedly in your market?

What can you or your business do to make life easier for your potential clients?

What have you done in the past for your clients?

Have you case studies you can share?

What new developments have occurred in your market in the last 12 months? What’s expected to occur in the future?

There are 3 types of posts which people love and which are incredibly, consistently popular:

  • short list type posts
  • long list type posts
  • how to type posts.

So, let’s assume you are an accountant or tax advisor. You could write

  • 3 Costly Mistakes All Small Businesses Make in their Tax Returns
  • 21 Critical Considerations When Choosing an Accountant
  • How to Register a New Employee With the Revenue Commissioners

The art of blogging

I’ve written before about how blogging has been a monumental part of my growing my solicitor’s practice.

Quite frankly, it couldn’t have happened without blogging. And, funnily enough, it all started by accident.

I actually only started my first blog to have an easy to reference place to store my Law Society lecture notes, and as a study aid.

But the traffic that naturally began to come to the blog soon startled me awake to the potential if I really dug into it, studied what other leading bloggers were doing, and leveraged it.

You can too.

It’s not too late.

Not by a long shot.

Arguably, as social media channels become busier, more crowded, and noisy as a Moroccan street market, there is an even stronger argument for using blogging at the centre of your online activity.

So, what’s holding you back?

Write your first blog.

And most of all? Have fun.

 

I’d love to hear why you haven’t started, or if you have, what problems you’re having.

The Biggest Obstacle to Selling Anything Online

selling-online-trust

The biggest obstacle to selling your goods or services online is not price, not technology, not lack of traffic, not paucity of Facebook fans or Twitter followers.

There is one fundamental element necessary to persuade your visitors, followers, fans, random surfers to reach for their credit card and buy what you are selling.

And that one element is trust..or lack of it.

Trust can be defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

On the internet especially this vital element is the one big barrier between your business and a sale or new client/customer or even a new subscriber to your website content.

Overcoming a lack of trust

Trust online, just like in the real world, must be earned. In the context of marketing your business online gaining your visitors trust must be one of your principle goals for your website.

Gaining your visitors trust firstly involves demonstrating your expertise or authority in your marketplace.

This is not a short term thing though-it involves a commitment to providing great value content on a consistent basis for your website visitors-publishing really useful information or tips addressing the very real problems that your visitors are seeking to solve or ameliorate.

It involves building a relationship with your visitors through various incredibly effective and ethical means. The two most important and effective methods of building trust and demonstrating authority are:-

1. Publishing great content consistently on your site
2. Email marketing-building and maintaining a relationship with your subscribers by firstly giving them something of value for free for becoming subscribers and just when you think you have done enough..give even more value.

You will know that you have succeeded when someone emails or calls you and asks you this question:

“what would you recommend?”

Aside: a number of years ago in the United States a tv company carried out an experiment outside a small town bank. They, with the consent of the bank, put a sign in the window saying “Bank closed for training- please give your deposits to the security guard”.

Outside the bank the security guard, resplendent in a new security guard’s uniform, accepted deposits for the duration of the experiment. This “security guard” was an employee of the tv company..

Over 90% of bank customers willingly gave their hard earned cash to the security guard. When asked afterwards why they, to a man and woman, pointed to the uniform and the sign.

“He looked official”.

This experiment demonstrates the power of trust and being the authority and is why police, army, judges, barristers and so many other figures of authority wear a uniform of sorts.

Fortunately you don’t/can’t wear a uniform online..

..but you can become the authority and overcome the single biggest impediment to sales online-trust.

The Zen of Blogging for Business

business-blogging

Do you have a blog for your business?

Have you wondered about the most effective way of generating new clients?

Are you confused about the best platform for you and your business?

Nowadays there are many different places you could build a platform online, especially on a social media site. But, almost certainly, the best way-by a country mile- is by blogging.

That’s been my experience. Let me explain…

Digital sharecropping

Building your platform on someone else’s website-be it Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest-carries enormous risks-risks of these big companies changing their rules, their terms and conditions, and wiping out your hard work spent building an audience.

Starting a blog on your own self-hosted web hosting account is your insurance against this. All your hard work benefits you.

A blog allows you to position you and your business as an authority in your area of expertise.

Ultimately it will allow you to build a relationship with your readers, one which will ensure that they come to know, like, and trust you.

The biggest barrier to selling anything online is trust, or the absence of it. And the reality is that almost nobody will buy from you or your business the first time they encounter you online.

No, that will take multiple interactions over a period of time which allows you to demonstrate your authority and build the necessary trust.

That’s why blogging, combined with email marketing, is a lethally effective online marketing strategy.

 Content marketing

Don’t confuse “blogging”, though, with the early days of blogging when bloggers tended to use the “web blog” as a personal journal. Many people continue to do this and this personal blogging is not unlike keeping a diary, except it’s online.

Business blogging is slightly different and could also be described as “content marketing”.

This involves publishing good quality, informative, unique content on your blog which educates, informs, and helps your target market. The goal, and outcome if done correctly, is that you will position yourself as an authority and thought leader in your particular industry.

The cumulative effect over time is that people will come to know, like, and trust you-and most importantly recognise that you are actually an authority in your field of endeavour.

Content marketing is not restricted to writing text on a blog; you could also produce great, helpful, unique content with video, audio, powerpoint, interviewing leaders in your industry, podcasting, etc.

 Conversation starter

So, if you accept that your visitor will not buy from you on their first encounter with you what should be your strategy for your blog?

Your blog is a conversation starter. You provide a unique voice, one which resonates with your potential new clients, and which demonstrates that you know your stuff and are a worthy mentor to help them solve their problem.

Your client then becomes the hero of their own story, with you acting as trusted mentor.

Starting your blog-2 routes

Once you decide to start a blog you are faced with where to locate your blog:

  1. On your own hosting account or
  2. On one of the big blogging platforms such as Typepad.com, Wordprss.com, Blogger.com, Tumblr.com.

Hosting your blog on your own hosting account is almost certainly the best route to go, but these other blogging platforms offer some great benefits too. These include the simplicity of setting up your blog and the security you will enjoy against viruses, bugs, malware, and so on, thanks to the resources of the owners of these blogging platforms.

The blogging platform is not critical

The blogging platform you choose is not critical.

You can use any of the options referred to above.

What is vitally important is that your “blogs” or “posts” are ultra useful for your target market.

That you are genuinely helpful, informative, and sometimes even inspirational. And that you write in a way that is easily understood by the greatest number of people who might become a client of yours.

You don’t need to show how clever you are, or how deep your vocabulary is. You need to show you care and can help, and you have genuine expertise.

Showing passion and commitment can work spectacularly well too.

So, why not start now? Start simply by mapping out the most pressing questions and problems your target market face on a daily basis.

Continue by thinking about the external and internal pressures they face, and picturing in your mind your typical client.

Write for him or her.

You’ve got to get started first, though.

Get blogging, be consistent, and you will find that your blog will become one of the best, if not the best, marketing tools in your business.

6 Common Reasons Why Many Small Business Blogs and Websites Fail to Deliver Results

business-blog-mistakes

Is your business blog or website failing to deliver any concrete results?

Do you struggle to attract visitors and traffic?

Are your conversion rates poor?

There are a multitude of reasons why many websites and blogs of small businesses fail to deliver any effective results.

Here are 6 common ones that I encounter regularly:

1.     Poor or inadequate content

There are two aspects to this cause of poor blog performance-one is insufficient content or information on the site. You simply cannot rank well for search phrases or topics that do not appear in your website’s content.

And if you don’t rank well you won’t attract visitors because searchers generally only visit the results on the 1st page of Google; they are very unlikely to go deeper into the results and are more likely to carry out another search rather than visit page 2 or 3.

So you need to rank well for a wide variety of search phrases that your ideal reader is using to find information and a solution for her problem.

The second element is a failure to optimise what content is there for the search engines to ensure the best chance of ranking well.

This is called “on page search engine optimisation” and is a fancy way of describing some basic rules for presenting your content well for the search engines to help your blogs rank well in search engine results.

 2. Poor or nonexistent call to action

Lots of sites make it hard for visitors to make contact or make an enquiry-the contact details are only available on one page and you have to search around to find them.

Make it incredibly easy for your visitors to contract you, and give them a range of options such as phone, email, contact form, Skype, Google Hangouts, or walk into your office.

Some people are happier emailing for more information, some like to pick up the telephone, some may even want to text you to make initial contact; regardless, you need to make it incredibly easy for your visitors to contact you in whatever form they like and respond promptly to their query.

3. Failure to promote your site effectively

Unfortunately the notion of “build it and they will come” will not work-you do need to promote your content and your site.

And promoting it does not amount to asking people to “check out my latest blog”-you need a little more imagination than that. You also need a systematic approach to using social media to get your message and content out there.

Which platforms are best for your business will depend very much on your ideal reader and client-for example, professional service providers such as accountants, consultants, and solicitors may find an interested audience on LinkedIn while a hair and beauty therapist may find a more receptive audience on Facebook or Twitter.

You need to give people a reason to read what you have written and answer the question of “what’s in it for me”, which the reader is asking.

There are far too many competing distractions on the internet for a boring, bland request to “check out my latest blog” to have any real effectiveness.

4. Cluttered and busy site design

Many sites are simply too crowded and cluttered to ensure effective outcomes from visitors-you should have one or two preferred actions that you want your website traffic to take.

And you then need to make it incredibly simple and glaringly obvious to the visitor as to what they need to do next.

Leonardo Da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

5. Content-failing to cater for what people are actually searching for

Yes, back to content again-because website content is the single biggest problem for most small business blogs and websites.

This aspect of the problem is the failure to target the specific words and phrases that people in your market are actually searching for, and failing to understand what motivates your ideal reader, what worries her at night, what common problems he faces on a daily/weekly basis.

This failure is a serious one because if you do not know what worries your ideal reader and what motivates her, you are unlikely to provide content that interests and inspires her; and your visitors are unlikely to view you as the person who can help them.

If you are not addressing your readers’ worries and concerns, if you cannot demonstrate that you are a person they can trust and who knows their stuff, and if you cannot persuade them you are a person or business they can feel comfortable working with,  you can be sure that your competitors are working hard on this.

Catering for your ideal reader is something that I have written about before: How to Generate an Endless Supply of Business Blogs that Will Grow Your Client List and Your Readers Will Love and addresses the critical importance of writing to help your reader.

6. Font size too small

Many websites use a font size that is too small and virtually unreadable for older readers. They forget that when you use a 12 point font in a letter the recipient can hold it up as close to their eyes as they wish; they can’t do this with a computer screen.

Here’s an example of an excellent piece of content with a pathetically small font. Compare the size of the font on that page with this page or this one or this one.

Most people, when faced with such a tiny font size, will simply click away back to the search results. (I myself actually copy and paste it into a Word document and set the font size to 16 or higher, but most people won’t do this).

The good news?

The good news is that all of these mistakes are easily avoidable and can be prevented with

  1. Simple, uncluttered design
  2. Content that speaks to your ideal reader
  3. Smart, cost effective promotion of your blog content on the social media channels that are right for your business.

How to Generate an Endless Supply of Business Blogs that Will Grow Your Client List and Your Readers Will Love

blogging-for-business

It happens the best of us, you know.

You’ve no idea what to write about on your blog.

You’ve completely run out of ideas for your blog posts.

Has your well of inspiration run completely dry?

This has happened the very best of writers too, from time to time.

It’s happened me too but what worked for me will almost certainly work for you too; the good news is that by the end of this post you will never run out of ideas again.

Business blogging

The starting point for your blogging with the purpose of generating new business and growing your client base should be your ideal reader. She, after all, should be your sole concern when you are blogging because ultimately you blog to help her and be seen as a genuine, trusted authority.

The best way to do this is by becoming a mentor for her.

Your business blog is not a journal or diary. Your reader doesn’t really care about you or your business-she has enough worries of her own.

Therefore, new members or staff or company news or takeovers you are planning are not what you should blog about.

Start with your ideal reader, who will, hopefully, become your ideal client.

What keeps him awake at night?

What are her worries and concerns?

What mistakes is he making that you can help him with?

What questions has she?

What internal pressures has he?

What external pressures and circumstances can you help him alleviate or eradicate entirely?

What really bothers him?

What you need to do is to educate, teach, and inspire your reader.

Once you become a trusted mentor selling is easy, and natural.

Types of blog posts

There are two types of blog posts that will provide you with an endless stream of content; it’s arguable that you could rely completely on these two types for your entire blogging career.

And in doing so, provided your content was good, you would not be short changing your reader in the least.

1.      “How to” type posts

How to posts are simply helpful posts which tell your ideal reader how to solve a particular problem. These types of posts never go out of fashion-they are evergreen.

Let’s face it: if you have a problem that really bothers you and is, perhaps, costing you money or preventing you from reaching your goal, and some blogger shows you clearly and concisely how to solve that problem, you are going to be delighted.

You are going to look more closely at what that blogger is offering and you will be more than willing to sign up for his free offering to get on his email subscriber list.

2.      “List” type posts

List type posts are immensely popular the world over. People like lists as they seem to promise a discrete, efficient way of communicating important information about a particular topic.

Here are 3 examples from this blog:

Analogies, similes, and metaphors

Analogies, similes, and metaphors allow you to approach a subject matter which you may have covered extensively in the past in a new, fresh way. It can be fun for you and your reader.

A simile is a figure of speech which compares two things using words such as like and as e.g. blogging can generate new business for you as fast as lightning or a good business blog is like a good salesperson for your business.

Metaphors are similar but don’t use the words which compare two things; a metaphor actually states that one thing is another, unrelated thing e.g. All the world’s a stage (As You Like It, W. Shakespeare).

An analogy is a comparison made to show a similarity e.g. Life’s like a box of chocolates. (Note that this analogy is also a simile, which is a common occurrence).

Examples, case studies, and images

Case studies, images, and examples of other people, similar to your ideal reader, finding solutions to their problems implementing the types of solutions you offer also give concrete evidence to support what you blog about and teach.

What now?

Start with your ideal reader, study closely what problems they face, offer them solutions and examples of your solution in action, and demonstrate why you are a natural choice as mentor and trusted advisor.

Don’t talk down to them, share your story-warts, failures and all-be authentic, and watch your readership and client list grow.


What You Can Learn from Ernest Hemingway to Tell Your (Business) Story

storytelling-for-business

It happens to the best of us, you know.

Not too long ago I came across a group discussion on Linkedin in one of the groups of which I am a member-it’s for lawyers/solicitors.

In his reply to the discussion, one of the members told a joke.

It was about a lady who goes to the doctor for something or other and the punch line of the joke was delivered by the doctor.

It was along the lines that the lady was “incorrigibly mendacious”.

Now, I love words as well as the next man or woman-I always have.

But I had to think twice to understand exactly what this doctor was saying about the woman who went to see him.

It was, of course, that she was a frequent liar. Someone well known for telling porkies with enthusiasm.

So, why not say that?

Communications in your business

Ernest Hemingway is one of the finest writers in the English language. He was renowned for his sparse, simple, active language using simple, plain words that virtually everyone understood.

However he was once asked about this in an interview he gave the New Yorker magazine; he was effectively being accused of not knowing any big words, the “$10” words.

Here’s what Hemingway said:

“When I’m writing it, I’m just as proud as a goddam lion. I use the oldest words in the English language. People think I’m an ignorant bastard who doesn’t know the ten-dollar words. I know the ten-dollar words. There are older and better words which if you arrange them in the proper combination you make it stick. Remember, anybody who pulls his erudition or education on you hasn’t any.”

What you as a small business owner or sole trader or even someone who just wants to communicate effectively can learn is that you don’t need to use big words; you don’t need to flaunt your intellect, education or vocabulary like a sword.

Use plain words, simple words that the greatest number of people can understand. You’re not trying, presumably, to show how clever you are-you want to tell your story to as many people as you can.

Don’t patronise the reader and don’t talk down to them.

But in all your written communications-on your website, in your brochure, in your leaflets, advertisements, etc-use plain words.

And on your website where there is no restriction on space and you are not paying by the inch, use short sentences.

And short paragraphs.

And plenty of white space.

Because it is far less intimidating and people are more inclined to read what you write.

You want your story to be heard, don’t you?

By the greatest number of people?

Then communicate like Hemingway.

Not too heavy with the$10 words.

A Simple Blog is Probably All You Need to Promote Your Business Online

blogging-for-business-1

It’s hard to believe.

But it’s true.

Despite all the advances in technology, despite the growth in social media sites, despite the growth in the “guru” industry, all you need to promote your business online is a simple blog or website.

It can difficult to persuade other small business owners of the veracity of this statement.

Many assume that it can’t be this simple. They think that they must spend a huge amount of time maintaining and managing social media accounts on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.

There’s no need at all.

A simple website or blog with useful, comprehensive information about the issues of concern to your target market will work wonders to generate leads and enquiries.

If you combine this with email marketing, you can build trust, position yourself as an authority in your market, and create the opportunity to market to your subscribers again and again by building a relationship with them.

Blog Design

The most important issue with the design of your blog or website is its ease of use and ease of navigation for visitors. You simply want to ensure that your visitors can quickly and easily find what they are looking for.

A free blogging software such as WordPress allows you to choose from a wide range of themes which dictate the look and feel of your site.

Get your own web hosting account too and choose a domain name. This means that you will have complete control of your site and will have a professional looking domain name such as HighClassWidgets.com.

If you choose to host your site on a free hosting acocunt such as at WordPress.com you will only have a domain name like HighClassWidgets.Wordpress.com. This doesn’t look nearly as professional as having your own domain name and hosting account.

It is also less memorable for people to remember.

Good Quality Content

Once you have your website or blog set up you will need to populate it with high quality content.

There are many different types of posts you can use but the most popular and effective types fall into 2 categories:

1. A “How to” type post and
2. A List type post.

Examples of these types of posts include “How to Minimize Your Income Tax by the End of the Year” and “13 Surprising Ways to Make Money from Home”.

People love these types of posts and provided they are genuinely informative and authoritative you could easily use these formats alone on your site/blog.

But there really is no limit to the types of posts and topics you can cover, provided you do them well and genuinely help your readers with highly informative content.

An excellent starting point is to answer the most common and troublesome questions that customers/clients in your industry ask again and again.

If you commit to publishing good quality blog posts on your blog/website over a sustained period of time you will see your website traffic take off.

And then you truly will see that a simple blog or website is all you need to grow your business online.

I’ve done business in the last 12 months with a significant number of solicitors who don’t have a website or blog. This surprised me greatly and is a massive missed opportunity for the solicitors in question.

If any profession is ideally placed to extract the maximum value of using words to explain intimidating and sometimes complex topics to worried readers, it is the legal profession.

After all, the stock in trade of the legal world is words, whether they are used in legislation, contracts, litigation, correspondence etc.

Have you a blog or website? Are you maximizing your time and effort?

Or are you using the same old “we are passionate about nuts and bolts (substitute widget of your choice)” guff which is neither persuasive nor credible?

How to Market Your Small Business Online with No Budget and No Technical Skills

small-business-marketing

Would you like to know how to market your business online with virtually no budget?

It’s possible, you know.

And this piece will tell you how.

Digital marketing for small businesses can seem intimidating, complex, and expensive.

It doesn’t have to be that way at all.

Set out below is a simple but effective method of promoting your business on the internet without spending more than €20 (this is a conservative figure-you can actually do it at no cost but the €20 will allow you to buy your own domain name).

For the sake of this example I am going to assume that you are a painter/decorator in Mullingar, County Westmeath.

Get a Free Blog

Firstly go to WordPress.com or Blogger.com or Typepad.com-all of them will allow you to start a free blog/website. Choose a blog name relevant to your business or use your business name/personal name.

Write a page/post about you and your business with your essential details in it.

Make sure to include your address, business name, opening hours (if relevant) and your contact details. If you use a “post” rather than a “page” in your blog for this information make sure to make your post “sticky”-this means it will always be on your home page.

Once a week or fortnight do a new blog or post about the services you provide and give useful, expert tips for painting and decorating.

You can also let people know about any special deals or offers you might have on the go.

Publish Useful Content Regularly

Commit to creating one new post each week or fortnight and try to provide some useful information eg tips for painting/decorating or how to strip wallpaper or how to paint externally or the different types of paint that should be used.

Open a Google account (if you don’t already have one). This will allow you to open a YouTube account and a Google+ account.

Make a video and upload it to YouTube. This video can easily be made with any modern phone such as an android phone or iphone.

You may even have a video camera at home.

Most good modern phones will allow you to upload your video directly to YouTube. You can also upload it to other video sharing sites like “Vimeo”.

When you upload your video to YouTube put your business name or the phrase “painter Mullingar” in the title and in the description.

Put a link in the description back to your new blog and ensure that you tag the video properly with keywords relating to your business. Make sure that your description also includes keywords such as “painter Mullingar, Mullingar painter” and so on.

Under your YouTube video (see “sharing”) you will see that you can embed this video in a website or blog. Grab the code and paste it into a new post in your blog.

Make a slideshow with Microsoft Powerpoint which comes preloaded in most home computers. Upload your slideshow to Slideshare.net.

Just like you did with YouTube, put in some relevant keywords/phrases in your description and title.

And put a backlink back to your blog. (The backlinks for these 2 sites and YouTube need to start with http:// and then the url of your blog. For example if your site is mullingarpainter.wordpress.com your backlink should be like this: http://mullingarpainter.wordpress.com)

Regularly add useful content to your blog.

This won’t go unnoticed by Google and will allow you to rank high in the search results when a searcher puts in “Mullingar painter” in their web browser search box.

Before long, when somebody is looking for a painter in Mullingar you will have a great chance of being found by the searcher either through your blog, your YouTube video, or one of your Powerpoint presentations.

You are unlikely to face too much competition either because most painters’ websites will simply give the name of the painter and contact details.

Not many will be providing useful tips for painting and decorating.

None of the above will cost you a cent.

You can buy your own domain name for WordPress.com or Blogger.com for less than €20.

But this may not even be necessary if you continue to add tips and guidance about painting and decorating on your blog.

Because you will naturally rank well in the search engine results pages.

Social Media Marketing

There are other cheap or free ways of promoting your business online.

Social media marketing is one of the most powerful but you need to be careful not to put all your eggs in someone else’s basket and ending up being a digital sharecropper.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, and other sides can be stunningly effective weapons in marketing your own business online.

But don’t rely on them entirely.

Why?

Because they change the rules regularly in order to keep their shareholders and the stock markets happy.

You need your own web property-your own blog or website.

Use social media to drive traffic back to your web property.

Conclusion

Marketing your business online is not about bells and whistles and gadgets-it’s about communicating your value to the audience who will most likely be interested, and who can afford to pay you.

It’s really that simple, and all the tools are at your fingertips nowadays.

 

“Headless Body in Topless Bar”-The Critical Importance of Persuasive Writing in Marketing Your Business

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Attention.

It’s a scarce (and valuable) commodity.

Especially for small businesses with limited budgets.

The tabloid newspapers fight for attention every single day in an ultra-competitive market.

The “Headless Body in Topless Bar” headline is one of the more lurid and attention grabbing newspaper headlines employed by a tabloid newspaper in New York, the “New York Post”.

As a small business owner you face the same challenge of getting the attention of your potential customer.

She’s busy. She has 1001 things going on and competing for her attention.

You throw away scarce resources if you don’t use the tried and tested principles of smart, persuasive writing in your marketing materials.

Are you buying ads in local newspapers, parish newsletters, magazines, national papers?

Or you may be utilizing social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to get your message out.

Regardless of where or how you choose to spread your message, boring simply won’t cut it.

You won’t be heard and your efforts will be swallowed up in a sea of noise and competing distractions like Jonah being swallowed up by the whale.

To have any chance of growing your business, you simply must win the attention of your ideal customer.

Once you do you need to deliver value on behalf of your business.

But you do need to gain that attention first.

Letting the reader or internet surfer know what is in it for him/her is vital. And you must do it quickly-at a glance, in fact.

Because you have a very limited time within which to do it, especially on the internet.

The best way to get your reader’s attention is to offer her a benefit for reading.

Stimulating her interest and curiosity works too.

When you combine curiosity and a benefit for the reader you will be on a winner in terms of getting her attention.

copywriter-ireland

“Man’s Head Explodes in Barber’s Chair” or “Read My Latest Blog Post” or “New Content”

80% of people who land on your website will glance at the titles of your content. Only 20% will then go ahead and actually begin to read the full article or post.

And if you don’t maintain their interest too, the number of people who read all you have to say can be tiny.

The benefit of good titles is that what you have to say gets read.

Drab, uninteresting, boring titles will see your content being swamped and ignored in a sea of noise on the internet.

The internet can be a distracting cacophony of noise.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube are all competing for the attention of your reader or potential client.

Telling people on a social media site to “Read my latest blog” or “New Content” will not cut it.

Not unless you are a top celebrity.

Nobody cares. (Sorry, but that’s the reality).

Sources of Great Titles

If you are wondering where to get ideas or examples of great attention grabbing titles look no further than

  • Tabloid newspapers generally
  • The National Enquirer
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Men’s Health
  • Sunday World

The Purpose of your Title

The objective of your title is to do only one thing-to get the reader to read the first sentence.

The objective of your first sentence is to get the second sentence read.

And so on.

You won’t do this by being boring.

You really do need to gain and hold the attention of your reader, no matter what location of your message.

(If you need persuasive writing for your business, whether online or offline, or online marketing to grow your business, you may be interested in this).

What Aristotle Can Teach Small Business Owners About the Art of Persuasion

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Aristotle.

What could you, as a small business owner, learn from a dead Greek philosopher?

Lots actually.

Let me explain.

Firstly, it’s critical to know what copywriting is.

Copywriting is simply the writing of materials designed to persuade and sell. In short, it’s persuasive writing.

It could be on your website or blog; it could be for an advertisement you are going to place in your local newspaper; it could be for a radio ad you are going to run on your local radio station; it could be for a flyer or postcard you are going to hand out in local housing estates or industrial estates; it could be a “help wanted” notice for your business.

It’s self evident that the more effective and persuasive your words are, the more cost effective your advertising will be.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric-use logic and emotion

One of the earliest, and most successful, proponents of the art of persuasion was the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Aristotle literally wrote the book on the art of persuasion-variously called “Rhetoric”, “the Art of Rhetoric”, or “Treatise on Rhetoric”. Rhetoricians regard Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” as the “most important single work on persuasion ever written.”

Much of what Aristotle had to say about persuasion is still evident and hard at work in good persuasive writing today-ethos (character, honesty, authority), logos (a plea or reason, logic, knowledge), and pathos (suffering, empathy, experience, an appeal to the emotions).

Powerfully persuasive writers understand that people buy on emotion and justify their purchase with logic.

Effective marketing material, blog posts, ads, flyers, brochures contain all of these elements, and more. This isn’t surprising because human motivations and dreams and desires haven’t changed all that much down through the centuries.

We all come into contact with copywriting every single day of our lives, whether we actually notice it or not.

And the best persuasive writing, also called “copy”, is not really noticeable.

He should have gone to Specsavers”, “Just Do It”, and “Probably the best beer in the world” are three instantly recognisable phrases that have entered into everyday speech in many parts of the world.

All of these phrases were lovingly crafted by superb copywriters who may have spent days and weeks just crafting the headline or punch line for advertising/promotional campaigns which cost millions.

But which have reaped vastly rich rewards for the companies involved.

So at its essence, writing copy is the skill and art of writing words that move people to believe what it is the copywriter has to say, and moving them to the point of taking action.

And the copywriter will be seeking to persuade the reader that their life will be more complete or they will make more money or gain more prestige or cure a particular problem or avoid a particular fear or be loved or gain recognition/status or secure inner peace or better health or obtain more free time…or whatever.

The vast majority of purchasers make their decision based on emotion, not logic, and then rationalize or justify their decision by logic.

So the initial appeal of the copywriter will be to one or more of the reader’s basic human emotions.

The Benefit of A Good Copywriter

A good copywriter will utilize all the principles of persuasion firstly identified by Aristotle, exploited by giants of advertising like Claude Hopkins, Eugene Schwartz, David Oglivy, and elaborated upon more recently by academic Dr. Robert Cialdini in his seminal work, “Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion”.

He will also use attention grabbing headlines which will have you saying: “hey, he is talking to me”.

He will use desires, emotions, benefits, features, calls to action, guarantees, urgency, scarcity and various other tools of the persuasive trade.

If you are a small business owner, or you intend starting a small business you are in danger of making a huge mistake if you do not use the benefits of persuasive writing in your marketing/advertising materials and/or on your website.

To get started, take a look at the “About” page on your website.

Does this page make the most common mistake you will encounter with “About” pages all over the internet-a page focused not on the reader but on the writer and her achievements?

Does your “About” page answer the readers’ question: “what’s in it for me?”

Does it persuade the reader that you can help him?

Does your home page convince the reader that that she has landed in the right place in their online search?

Does it let your reader know that you are an authority in your area of expertise?

Does it give him a reason to contact you to make an enquiry or request a quotation or place an order?

Take a leaf from Aristotle’s book and employ the powerful weapons of emotion and logic.