Five Ways To Get Your Blog Up And Running!

blogging-tipsIf you are like me, writing may not be your first love. I am a storyteller, but I’m much more comfortable with the spoken word than the written. Like me, you may have a lot to say but organizing your thoughts and putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards may not come naturally. You may be worried that no one will be interested in your point of view. I’m here to tell you, nothing could be further from the truth. We all have a voice and a story to tell. It’s not always easy to make time to blog, but the effort pays by growing your online community, setting yourself up as an expert in your field and sharing your vision and brand in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and can take clients or customers from prospects to actual business revenue generators.

I blogged for twenty-one days straight as part of my 21 Day Dream Big Challenge. I started blogging on April 4 and posted every single day, without missing a beat for twenty-one days. The goal of the challenge was to encourage readers to dream BIG and to get into the habit of focusing on their greatest desires and aspirations. Scientists say it takes twenty-one days to build a habit. We were on a journey to build a habit of dreaming big and living out loud. Little did I know that not only was I building a habit of dreaming big, I was also building a habit of blogging. After blogging every day for twenty-one days, I discovered a few things.

Here are five tips that will take the fear and anxiety out of blogging to get you on your way to telling your story and sharing your point of view.

  1. Blog Post Platforms: I use WordPress as my blogging platform of choice. I think WP is easy to use and very intuitive. For many people, WP is a bit intimidating. If you’re not worried about analytics or SEO (if you have to ask what SEO is then you probably aren’t worried one bit) there are plenty of user-friendly blogging platforms from Tumblr to Blogger that are an easy 1-2 process. If you are worried about analytics and SEO, I suggest you blog from your website and push the content out from there to your other social networking sites. This will help drive traffic to your website and, in addition, your blog will help establish you as an authority in your industry. It can also help you build your network with potential clients. Plus, I think it is a good idea to curate your content in a hub that you own. I have two blogs. One blog that lives on my website that is strictly business related and one blog that caters to my geeky, techie, lifestyle connoisseur interests. I often cross promote posts across both blog platforms when appropriate.
  2. Blog Post Length: People often think they have to write the next great American novel when they are blogging. Some people may tell you this is necessary. I would beg to differ. When you are doing a blog post, you don’t have to write a long novel. You have to write an interesting post. In fact, if the information resonates with the reader, shorter is often better. Regardless of the length, I alway cross promote my blog post across my various social networking sites. I may also share a blog several times throughout the month or share an archived article when I haven’t had time to write an original post. When I do this, I change-up the title in an effort to attract new interest. Speaking of blog titles…
  3. What To Name Your Post: The catcher the blog title, the more likely someone will click on your post. But, be mindful of how that title will translate if you have your blog set up to post to across multiple platforms. “Get Your Sexy On In Five Easy Steps” may work for Facebook or Twitter. You’ve told the reader what the subject is and what they will be learning. However, that may not be what you want to post to LinkedIn or Google Plus. A title on those sites may read, “From The Office To Evening in Five Easy Steps.” Get it?
  4. Double-check Spelling: If you are like me, grammar isn’t your strongest attribute. Look, I do many things well. I cook, I teach aerobics, I cycle all over the city and I’m one heck of a producer and storyteller. But spelling and grammar? Yeah, I think I was absent the entire time they taught that in elementary school. If you can’t afford an editor (I use one for professional documents and presentations) then use a service like Grammarly to help you edit your copy. I’m using it now. That said, don’t send me your editorial notes on all the things that need correction in this blog post. Send your notes directly to Grammarly. They are the ones acting as my editor at the moment. On a serious note, remember, these sites that have been set up to help us write mistake-free will check for grammar and misspellings. They often cannot determine context.
  5. Writers Block – Write about what you love and you’ll never get stuck on what to write about. OK, that’s not entirely true. But, as a rule, if you are blogging about things that interest you, what you are writing about should come naturally.

Once the twenty-one-day challenge ended, I was both relieved and saddened. The pressure was off to not have to write every day. But, I soon missed my morning blogging ritual. Currently, I have committed myself to blogging at least once a week or twice when I have time. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.

Need help getting started with your blog? I can help you develop a strategic content management strategy that will be the most effective way to use your blog to generate leads that turn into revenue. Together we can start telling your story in a way that will elevate your brand and generate revenue. Fill out the contact form below and let’s get started.

Stories Making Headlines in Digital and Social Media News This week

3I pulled the social and digital media headlines from across the interwebs so you wouldn’t have to. Here’s what you need to know to get up to date this week..

Fast Company: How Periscope, Meerkat, and Snapchat Will Change How TV Covers News, Sports, and Weather – The $70-billion-a-year television business (in the U.S.) has been under attack from all sides—Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, and other services are all stealing attention (and revenue). But amid the shift to on-demand entertainment, traditional TV has doubled down on what only it can offer: live events, particularly news, sports, and weather. Easy-to-use, mobile live-streaming services could upend what has been the last sacrosanct aspect of the TV industry. This doesn’t necessarily mean doom and gloom for TV networks; in fact, it creates a universe of fascinating possibilities for them to reimagine their businesses. [ED NOTE: Just last week my media partner and I did a Periscope, Meerkat and LiveStream event for a Baltimore Reporters Roundtable. These easy to use platforms made the programming accessible and allowed my Digital Media Mavens partners and I to share our content across platforms in ways that would have been impossible just a few short months ago. You can watch an archive of the live stream here.

CopyBlogger: The Disgustingly Simple Rule for Web Writing That’s Often Hard to Swallow – Web users are mission-minded. Cramped for attention. Bent on standards. And uninterested in learning new navigation methods. What you have to remember is that people don’t go to the web to window shop. They go there to drive 60 miles per hour — and look at billboards. Thus, there’s only one good reason why you should learn how to write clear, concise and compelling copy for the web… [ED NOTE: If you need some tips who writing for your blog, you can check out my blog post, I BLOGGED FOR 21 DAYS STRAIGHT. HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED]

Mashable: Facebook Messenger now gives context about the people contacting you. – To make new connections less jarring, Facebook Messenger is introducing a new feature on Thursday that gives you bits of information about someone messaging you for the first time, whether the person is one of your Facebook friends or not. The Messenger team is rolling it out to iOS and Android users in the U.S., UK, France and India over the next few weeks. [ED NOTE: That’s not creepy. Not creepy at all. You know I’m kidding… right]

More of Facebook, because, well, it’s FACEBOOK!

Re/code: Microsoft, Facebook, Google And The Future Of Voice Communications – All of a sudden, it seems like Facebook, Google and Apple are climbing all over each other to own the voice interaction, and specifically, the phone conversation. They’re in a race to compete in the most valuable part of “social” — as if they’ve forgotten, until now, just how much humans ultimately value one-on-one conversation.

Know The Length of Everything Online

Have you ever wondered how long your blog posts should be? That email you just sent, was it too wordy? What about your Facebook update? Did it go on forever? Maybe you’ve agonized over the proper word count for a blog title. Oh, come on, don’t act like it’s just me.

How long should your email be? How many characters should you use in your Facebook post? What is the proper count for use as your titles, tags, and other descriptions?

A lot of time has been put into calculating the exact length of titles, tags, posts and everything in between. The crazy good people at The Next Web have found out the best length for everything on the Internet. In fact, I may be typing too much right now! Take a look.

The-Length-of-Everything-online infographi

Editors Note: I took their advice. The title of this blog is only six characters, as they indicated it should be. Interestingly enough, the title of their blog was eight words. Things that make you go, hmmm.

Why You Should Have A Social Media Plan AND Ten Ways To Get Started

4You know you should be active in social media. It’s good for your personal brand and your business. But you just don’t have time to do all those posts. One way to help you get organized is having a social media plan. A social media plan or mapping out what your posts will be on a weekly and even monthly basis helps you think strategically about what you should share with your audience. The social media plan includes a daily breakdown of what you should post most days of the week.

Yes, I said most day so of the week.

Consistency is the key in social media. Don’t ride the social media wave unless you can commit to a consistent schedule that your followers can depend on.

I tend to use themes to map out the days of the week on my social media plans. I am also a big fan of iteration. Below is an example of a Monday through Friday Twitter and Facebook social media plan. I developed this weekly plan for my client, AmeriCorps VISTA. It helped guide my posts throughout the week. You’ll see the days of the week divided up into five categories:

  • Mission Monday
  • Tip Tuesday
  • Webinar Wednesday
  • Throwback Thursday
  • Follow Friday

SMM Plan Image

SMM Plan Twitter JPEG

To get started on your plan, think about the content you have to share. If you are new to the social space, focus on one social media site at a time. I would recommend you consider getting starting with Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

Twitter – Without a doubt, Twitter is the best way to share and discover what is happening in the moment. To grow your audience, think about following and sharing popular hashtags and TweetChats.

Facebook – Most of your friends and colleagues are on Facebook. So are your clients and customers. Why not join Facebook Groups that support your mission and vision? Better yet start a group of your own. It’s a great way to connect and engage with the people that mean the most to you or the people you are trying to reach.

YouTube – Everyone has a story to tell. YouTube provides a forum to allow people to connect, inspire, entertain and inform. If you are comfortable in front of the camera or have a lot of video content, YouTube is a great place to start. Consider producing a web series of your most popular content. 

Here are ten tips to keep in mind once you are ready to start your social media plan:

  1. Determine which platforms you will use – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or all four
  2. Devise a daily, weekly and monthly social media schedule that incorporates each platform
  3. Monthly posts should reflect recurring dates such as holidays, celebrations or conference dates
  4. Determine who will manage your accounts and how often they will post
  5. Build upon the content you already have (photos, video, press releases)
  6. Come up with a regular posting schedule and stick to it
  7. Use a social media management tool such as Hootsuite to schedule your posts
  8. If you are cross posting from one site to another, factor in a few organic, original posts for each site
  9. Remember that it is a plan, a guide, so leave room for unexpected breaking news stories or changes
  10. Engage, engage, engage and then engage some more

 If you need help developing your social media plan, I’m here to help!

Content Marketing: The Art of Communication

Great content is a powerful marketing tool .  Why is it so powerful?  With the use of your content, you can build communities and tell a story about your organization, your company’s mission or your personal brand. 

Social media, mobile technology, and word-of-mouth marketing have been serious game changers. People today are getting their news online, watching TV from their mobile devices and subscribing to magazines via tablets.  This lends itself to three points:

  • Traditional advertising is dead
  • Content marketing is the new traditional advertising
  • Content is King

According to Entrepreneur.com, a survey by HiveFire, discovered that traditional marketing, such as print, TV and radio advertising is being replaced with more non-traditional means of content marketing.  What is content marketing?  The Content Marketing Institute reports:

“Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty”

This includes blog posts, social media sites, videos and photos used for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand’s visibility, and putting the company’s ability on display.  But your blog, Facebook page and Tweets are just the means to get the message out.  The real value is in the content that you share.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

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Blogging has come a long way, hasn’t it?  I had to pinch myself when I was given a White House press credential to blog about President Obama’s address to the National Urban League.  More and more we are being taken seriously as journalist and just about every brand recognizes that you want bloggers in your corner.  But when I started my first blog I really just wanted a place to express myself.  Because I’m so expressive (read slightly schizophrenic), here I am years later with several blogs I manage (no, I am NOT going to tell you how many) that cover everything from spirituality, women’s issues, and social media trends to technology and dating.  I’ve never started blogging to make money, although I’ve been hired to cover some really cool gigs and somehow landed myself as a lifestyle blogger.  The question I get asked most often from people who want to start blogging is “what should I write about?” Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Blogging Tips:

  • Write about what makes your heart sing 
  • Write about something that you are passionate about
  • Be your most authentic self
  • Find a voice you haven’t heard and express your point of view
  • Promote your blog across multiple social media network
  • Let your personality shine
  • Benchmark blogs you like

Don’t have a lot of time to Blog?

  • Use mixed media in your blogs so you don’t have to write as much
  • Phone it in, audio blogging is a great way to get a quick post up
  • Blog from your smartphone or tablet
  • Keep it simple – each post doesn’t have to be the next great America novel

Once you get your blog off the ground do the things that truth be told, I need to do more of:

  • Post basis
  • Partner with guest bloggers who can keep your blog fresh and up to date
  • Update your blog’s theme when necessary
  • Blog on the go
  • Comment on blogs you like and you will slowly build a community
  • Find someone to proof your blog before posting (FYI, I need this BADLY… any volunteers… please… anyone?)

Need more inspiration?  Join me at BLOGALICIOUS 2011 October 21-23, 2011. As an official blogging ambassador for BLOGALICIOUS 2011 I will be joining some of the most influential and talented female bloggers and social media savvy women from all across the country.  If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog, making a career out of blogging or wondered how to get more traffic to your blog, this is the conference for you!  If you’re a well established blogger, come out and meet your fellow colleagues IRL to network, support each other, share best practices, uplift each other and just have a good time having fun.  Be sure to register today, tickets are going fast.  

Founded in 2009, the Blogalicious Weekend conferences are aimed at celebrating the diversity of women of all ethnicities in social media. Over the course of 3 event-filled days, savvy, influential and talented women bloggers will ignite a sense of unity within the multicultural blogging community as well as educate marketers on the importance of our demographic in today’s marketplace, all while networking, building relationships, and promoting inspiration and success for each other.

 

A Conversation with Tyrese and His Mission to Save Our Youth

Intervieing_tyson

Just before Tyrese Darnell Gibson, also known simply as Tyrese, hit the red carpet for the Kennedy Center Honors, I caught up with him at a Georgetown Hoyas game to discuss a venture near and dear to his heart, “Community in Schools.”   

Photoopwithtyson

Tyrese, an R&B singer, songwriter, rapper, actor, model and former MTV VJ first came to my attention when he did his very first TV interview on BET’s Video Soul.  I was a young Senior Producer and he was a model looking to crossover into the music business.  Fast forward several years and we found ourselves in a sky box at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC reminiscing about old times and talking about the dire state our youth find themselves in. 

While the official announcement won’t be made until next month, Tyrese spoke to a few select DC bloggers and I about his upcoming appointment as the spokesperson for “Community In Schools” and his role as the voice of the youth and the mission of the program.

You may think of him as only a pretty face and a talent singer/actor, but to his friends and the children he represents, Tyrese is a beacon of hope.


At a time when dropout rates are an issue in all communities, The Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., estimates that dropouts each year cost the nation more than $300 billion in lost income.  Community In Schools is making it their mission to beat those odds.  Tameka Green, CEO of Community In Schools in the Nation’s Capitol shared with me the program’s mission to combate the dropout rates in Washington, DC.

Championing the connection of needed community resources with schools to help young people learn, Community In Schools goal is to help students stay in school, and prepare for life.

 

 

Congratulations and many thanks to Tyrese and Community In Schools for taking on the challenge of decreasing school dropout rates and for their continued dedication to our youth.  To learn more about Community In Schools go to their website at http://www.communitiesinschools.org/ and look for the announcement of Tyrese as their new spokesperson coming in February.