FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

    Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

    Full Name

    Email

    Referred by


    FULL COURSE DETAILS HERE

  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

    Join me on Twitter at @BlogCoach




    Blog Broadcast from AweberThe RSS Feed is one of those key underlying technologies in a blog that can do a huge number of things for us and yet most of us, myself included, are still only scratching the surface with it.

    Its main use is of course to give your readers a secure and immediate way of receiving your latest posts by subscribing to your RSS feed through an RSS Reader. Nevertheless, with so many internet users still unfamiliar with RSS in spite of its many benefits, I always recommend also offering the option of subscribing to the RSS feed via email as well.

    The easiest way to offer this is by using a third party supplier. Feedburner, for example, provides you with the code to create a basic sign up form on your blog and then visitors can use to subscribe to receiving your blog updates automatically via email. A similar service is provided by Feedblitz and Zookoda.

    Normally, you receive these on a daily basis as posts are published. However, there is another provider, Aweber, which gives you the option to take that one step further and effectively create a newsletter with your posts.

    Aweber is probably best known as an autoresponder and email service provider along the lines of Constant Contact and Vertical Response. However, last year, they also launched a service called Blog Broadcast which essentially delivers your blog posts via email but also offers other features in as well. As you would expect from a company which specialises in email and newsletter delivery, this is includes a range of templates to control the look of the emails sent out, personalisation of aspects of the message and title, and tracking of links or ads.

    In addition, as of this week, they have added a scheduling feature to the service. This means that you can now use the service to send out your posts on a schedule which suits you and your readers rather than one decided by the software. For example, you can now automatically send your readers a newsletter every week or every month by email with all of your posts. A great way to use emails to help support your blog.

    Granted this is not a free service but the additional benefits that this gives you are certainly worthwhile and particularly if you also use the other services it offers. For example, I use the autoresponder to deliver my Business Blogging eCourse and you can also use the email broadcast system to send other ezines or general communication to your readers.

    So, if you want to do more than simply send out each post as you make it or you’re looking for an automated way to publish a newsletter to your list of readers, then this might well be worth looking at.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    4 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blogs and Newsletters: complementary marketing tools
    2. 14 ways to help increase your RSS subscribers
    3. Blogs and Newsletters: reprise
    4. Feedburner: using your RSS Feed more effectively
    5. RSS Benefits for Businesses, Bloggers and Publishers

    Business blog designWhen I consider Business Blog Design, Im not just thinking about the graphics side of blog design, but rather all of the elements that go together to make a successful business blog. For me, the key aspect to the design is that it should enable your business blog to support the business goals that you are looking to achieve with it.

    Use your blog’s “prime real estate”
    To make this happen, you need to ensure that you place the elements which are most important in achieving these goals in the most prominent places. These are areas which are going to be viewed most often by your readers and so, in property terminology, would be your blogs prime real estate. Generally, these will the areas in the header and at the top of the columns and, to a lesser degree, all of the area above the fold (ie. what you can see on screen without scrolling). Use these areas carefully when designing your blog.

    What should be the focus?
    There is no single answer as to what should be there, simply that it should support the business objectives of your blog. So if you are looking to increase subscriptions to a free download, course or newsletter, then make sure that the sign-up box sits prominently at the top of your page. Likewise if you have a special promotion or service to push or perhaps a book that you want to publicise, then make sure that there is a clear link there through to a page where you can talk more about it.

    In addition to this, there are certain other key factors that you really need to be focusing on when it comes to the design of a business blog. To help on this, I’ll be doing a series of posts here which will cover these points in more depth starting next week – check it out, I think it’ll be useful! ;)

    Some key elements to consider
    However, in the meantime, these are the areas of blog design that I believe should carefully be looked at, with a brief overview of why that’s the case:

    • Profile and contact details
      At the end of the day, the goal of 95% of Business Blogs is to encourage people to engage in dialogue with you so make it easy for them to do so. And while you are at it, take the opportunity to let them know a bit more about you oh, and dont forget the information you need to provide by law now!

    • Navigation and usability
      While you want to use the key areas for the elements that you particularly want to promote, you still need to make it easy to find all the information that it contains. As a basic, use categories and archives sensibly and let the blog software do the work for you there are some other tips on that which I’ll expand on in the Blog Coach post.

    • Blogging software generic templates
      The templates supplied with blogging software are the basic building blocks for a blog – in most cases, a common denominator which, by its very nature, needs to be all things to all people. It supplies a good basic format but can never give you the real benefits which will truly differentiate you from others and allow you to promote your key business elements properly. If you use a template, take the best from it but then make it your own.

    • RSS Subscriptions / Signups
      Just like an ezine subscription box on a normal website (in fact, make sure you have one on your blog – they work well together), RSS subscribers are important or even key to developing your business blog. So make it easy to subscribe and give them options such as specific chicklets or subscribing by email – incentives such as a free ebook to RSS subscribers are an added bonus.

    • Onpage advertising
      Its so offputting having to wade through adverts to get at the posts and its the posts that are going to do the real work for you – if you have to include ads then keep them clearly differentiated. Ideally, unless you really need to directly monetise your blog, dont include them. Youll get all the benefits you need from the extra business your blog generates.

    • Make it easy to leave comments

      You want to encourage dialogue, so dont make it difficult for your readers to leave comments – having to log-in or fill in a CAPTCHA (one way to protect against comment spam) just puts up additional barriers. However, make sure that you dont allow rubbish comments either which could damage your blog. Ah, so much to think about!!

    • Search Box

      It’s important to include a Search facility on your site by its very nature, a blog focuses on your most recent posts but is meticulous about storing everything that you write. Its the cumulative information that is the real value both to your business and to your readers. So its important that you give readers every opportunity to access it and the Search function is of course at the centre of that.

    • Categories and Archives
      Keep the names relatively short and where possible have them contain some of your keyword phrases. Like the Search function, these are key ways for readers to explore what you have written in more depth.

    At the end of the day, making sure that you have the basics in place is key after all, you are spending a lot of time on your blog and you want it to be successful for you and fulfil your business objectives. So get the design right and make sure that it helps and not hinders what you want you blog to achieve.

    A blog is wonderfully flexible, despite first appearances, so incorporate different side bars on different pages where necessary and ensure that they help re-inforce your business objectives. After all, a business blog is a tool (albeit a very powerful one) so make the best use of it you can and make sure that the blog design supports the business goals … and not vice versa.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    8 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blog Design Series – a Business perspective
    2. Business Blog Design: Generic Blog Templates
    3. Business Blog Design: Categories, Archives and Search
    4. Business Blog Design: Comments
    5. Business Blog Design: Navigation and using your Content

    As a follow up to my post Blogs and Newsletters: Complementary Tools, it was excellent to see a post selected by Ted Demopolous in his book winners list, which reflected my sentiments entirely and was called Blogs, Newsletters & more:The King of Platform Agnostics.

    The article was originally written by Marcus Grimm, of NXTBlog and focused on encouraging authors to distribute their content as widely as possible and via as many different media as is appropriate. Like Marcus, I also very much feel that the same core information can be used in both Blogs and Newsletters as well as elsewhere, but should ideally be modified slightly on each occasion rather than just copied verbatim.

    However, I find that it is useful to stagger the release of the information and make it work for you. When looking at who to release the information to, I consider the “effort” taken by people who want to receive it and try to gauge the release of the content accordingly. So, someone who had signed up to a members area on my website would therefore receive it before someone who had simply arrived stumbled across the site and so on.

    For example, suppose that you had an excellent new article in a number of different formats, you might use the following approach to release the information:

    • firstly, include your article in the members only area on your website, giving your key susbcribers access to the article first – they did actively register to receive it so this should be your first stop;

    • next, send the article out as part of your Newsletter to those who had subscribed to receive the information via this method;

    • then highlight the article in the RSS feeds of your Business Blog: this may well be a cutdown version sent out to all which will ensure additional distribution;

    • add the article and information to the main general information areas on your website;

    • finally, submit the article to the main Article banks which will promote both the article and your website for you, as well as create backlinks to your site through the article signature box.

    As you can see, you can use the same base information to appeal to a number of different audiences, though it does help to modify it a little to suit the individual medium being used. If done correctly, then the same information should be able to be used many times over, adding value to the recipients at each phase in the process.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    1 Comment 
    Tags: , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blogs and Newsletters: complementary marketing tools
    2. RSS, Blogs and Newsletters
    3. Promoting and Marketing your Business Blog (Intro)
    4. Internal Blogs: Benefits and Uses of Team Blogs
    5. The 5′R’s of Better Business Blogging – RSS

    On the face of it, blogs and newsletters (here, Im thinking of online newsletters or ezines) seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to communicating with customers. The type of information they provide and the way they deliver it seem to be very different, but they can work well together and really complement each other.

    If we strip away everything else, newsletters and blogs both have the same aim. They are there to communicate information from the author to the reader. However, the type of information that they contain and the way in which they distribute that content varies considerably.

    So what are the main differences?

    • newsletters are generally created and distributed at regular intervals monthly or weekly newsletters are the most common – while blogs have content added on an ongoing basis;

    • normally, newsletters will be more crafted and formatted, while blogs will tend to be less formal in style and generally more chatty;

    • blogs are ideal for announcing up to the minute information (immediate publishing), while newsletters will tend to feature less time sensitive articles;

    • blogs continually grow to contain any number of posts while individual newsletters will tend to have a small number of longer articles;
    • Newsletters have tended to be considered as primarily “push” marketing (you send it out via email) while blogs were “pull” marketing (encouraging visitors to come to the blog).

    However, this last point has been changing of late and there has been a gradual blurring of the previously well defined lines of how we get the content and information to our readers.

    Traditionally, a blog uses RSS as its method of distributing its information while newsletters are sent out via email. This no longer has to be the case though email and RSS are in fact simply distribution methods which can be used for either. So, as Ive outlined below, I believe that content (with certain modifications) and these two methods of distribution can be for both and should be.

    For example, using a service such as FeedBlitz, readers of this blog have the opotion to receive updates on new posts by email – ideal if they are still unfamiliar with RSS readers. Likewise, rather than just send your newsletter out via email and have spam filters do their worst to it, you can add a copy of it to your website or blog, and then ask people to subscribe to a dedicated newsletter RSS feed. You publish a new newsletter and automatically all your readers are informed that it is ready and available.

    You are simply offering your readers the choice of how they want to receive the information!

    So, if there are are a number of elements which are interchangeable, how can newsletters and blogs benefit from each other. Well, some of the key ways are:

    • a newsletter offers an additional incentive to visit your blog in the same way that a “Series” of posts on a certain subject will encourage people back to the blog to read the next instalment, so newsletters can achieve the same effect;

    • you can highlight particular posts from your blog in the newsletter which acts as an additional avenue to promote the information these key posts contain and your blog as a whole;

    • newsletters can help to add a sense of community to the blog while commenting is the best way to get involved, subscribing to a newsletter seems to help people feel part of it as well;

    • you can publicise your Newsletter on your Blog and host an electronic copy of it there, as well as include a sign up form to subscribe to it;

    • you can set up an RSS feed for your Newsletter on your blog so that people know when your latest issue has been published;

    • despite spam, email remains the medium that most people are comfortable with, whereas blogs still feel foreign to some. Make sure your readers feel at ease and mix the two media.

    In conclusion, try to use your Blog and newsletter in conjunction with each other. They are both excellent ways of communicating with your readers and each is ideal for delivering differing information and initiating interaction in different ways. At the end of the day, using both will allow them to complement each other and will provide your readers with the choice of what information they receive and how they want to receive it.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    4 Comments 
    Tags: , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blogs and Newsletters: reprise
    2. RSS, Blogs and Newsletters
    3. Promoting and Marketing your Business Blog (Intro)
    4. 12 Tools I use for Blogging (and for business)
    5. The 5′R’s of Better Business Blogging – RSS