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About Peter Becci

About Peter Becci

Peter Becci is the Digital Marketing Manager for Colloquy Inc. a subsidiary of Kaplan Inc. where he helps universities marketing online educational degrees. He has been in the internet space since 1996 and specializes in strategic marketing, SEM, SEO, link building and Social Media. Peter contributes to the Inbound Effect marketing blog on all Digital Marketing topics.

Five Pieces of Bad Blogging Advice

Blogging Content

467477733You have a blog, and whether you’re new at this or you’re just hoping to boost your readership (or perhaps find some ideas to come up with fresh content), chances are good that you’ve been looking around the Internet for advice. The thing about blogging advice is that anyone can give it, whether they have a successful blog or not! I went searching for blogging advice, and here’s some of the worst that I ran into:

  1. Follow the Rules: There are certain rules to blogging. You must set up your posts to go up at the same time on the days that you post. Every piece of content should be about 300 (or 500 or 1,000) words long. You must decide ahead of time on your editorial schedule, and you must stick to it. All of these are examples of rigid rules that should usually be broken. If you’ve committed to writing 300 words every odd-numbered day, eventually you’re probably going to burn out. And what if something really interesting comes up that needs double (or triple!) that length, and it happens on an even-numbered day? Be flexible and break the rules.

  2. Use Lots of Links: Link to your own pages, and link to other pages. Aim for three (or five or ten) links per blog post. This is silly advice. First of all, your readers are not going to want to click on all of those links. Secondly, you will probably get dinged by Google if you are linking to random sites, particularly if they have little to do with your post and are affiliate links. If you want to link to something that you have written or to a great deal that you’ve run across, then by all means, do so! (Note that there is a page linked in the first paragraph.) Just don’t turn this into a bad habit.

  3. Use Spinning Software: You can plug an article that you’ve read into free spinning software that you find online, then you can use it for your own blog. You’ll get unique content with no real work at all. As an experiment, I tried spinning this last italicized piece of advice, and here’s what one particular software program came up with: You can connect an item that you’ve read in the freedom spinning software that you locate online, then you can use it for your own blog. Here you find unique content to get no actual labor anyway. Is this what you want to have on your blog?

  4. Be a Constant Commenter: You follow other blogs, right? Great! Make sure to comment plenty on those blogs, as well as others in your industry or field of interest. Of course, reading blogs takes time that you don’t have, so don’t feel like your comments have to be relevant; just write, “Great article! Thanks for sharing!” and be sure to leave a link to your last blog post. Don’t do this; blog owners can see through it, and very few readers will follow a link to read more from a blogger who leaves a generic comment.

  5. Learn How to Keyword-Stuff: If you want to get more readers, you need to use lots of keywords. For example, if your topic is about hotels in San Diego, your keyword could be “hotels San Diego.” Fit that phrase several times into every paragraph if possible. That keyword is not natural at all, and while a skilled writer could get it in a couple of times without making the entire blog entry look like it was written by a non-native speaker, it’s not a good plan. Use each keyword once or twice in the entire article. That’s plenty.

As you blog, you’ll need to keep an eye on which posts bring you the most traffic, and you’ll begin to see what works. Of course, nothing is set in stone, because Google changes its algorithms very frequently, and what worked in the winter might not work in the spring. If you’re following advice that seems unnatural or exceedingly difficult, then chances are good that it’s probably not the best advice, or at the very least, that you’re making your job harder than you have to. If you’re just starting out, feel free to check out others’ advice on how to create a blog that will attract readers, but be aware that much of blogging success is trial and error.

 

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Reach Over 100,000 People for Only $1 Per Day

If you have a small business, chances are that your advertising budget is not enormous. Those without a marketing department (and that’s most of us!) might be at a loss for how to properly get the word out about their businesses when word-of-mouth isn’t keeping the appointment book filled to capacity. Newspaper ads can be pricey, and, let’s face it, with smartphones, tablets and laptops, how many people read the classified section of the newspaper, anyway? Trade magazines offer good advertising potential, but again, they tend to be expensive. Radio and television ads can be effective, along with being high in price. What’s a small business owner to do?

 

Did you know that for only a dollar, you can reach as many as 4,000 Facebook users? That means that over a month’s time, you have the possibility of showing over 100,000 people your ad, all for a mere $30. According to Brian Carter on The Moz Blog, if your company can’t justify spending $30 per month on advertising, knowing that you’ll reach a quarter-million readers in two months’ time, then you probably shouldn’t be in business.

 

So, what are some of the benefits of advertising on Facebook, in addition to the enormous potential you’ll have for reaching thousands of people for each dollar you spend? Here are some of them:

 

**You’ll be able to target your clients.** If you put a billboard on the side of the highway, you’ll be in prime view of lots of people. They’ll be old and young, male and female, working all types of jobs and on their way to all sorts of endeavors. Chances are, you’ll attract some of them, but the majority of the passersby will glance at your billboard and put their eyes back on the road. When you use Facebook ads, however, your ad will be in front of the type of people who are likely to use your service or buy your product. Do you tend to cater to men, women, teens, young adults, middle-agers, people in the Northeast or those on the west coast? Let Facebook know who you’re looking to target, and those are the very people who will see your ads.

 

**You’ll be in front of your fans’ friends.** Have you ever noticed those “sponsored stories” on the right side of your Facebook feed? It might say that your friend, Jane Smith, “liked” Target or Nikes or Mom and Pop’s Fish Fry. If you value Jane’s opinion, you might be likely to check out whatever it was that she liked. When you put up a Facebook ad, people who are in your target demographic will be looking at your page. If they like it, and indicate their pleasure by clicking the thumbs-up icon, suddenly those people’s friends will begin to read about it on their feeds. And on and on the cycle goes.

 

**It’s a small investment.** Spending $30 per month is a reasonable investment to make. If a few months go by and you’re not getting the results you want, then you’ve only spent a hundred bucks. If you’ve gotten some “likes” and can interact with your new fans, then the organic part of this particular marketing strategy will still be in effect, even after you stop paying for the paid ads. For just a dollar per day, it makes sense to give it a try for two, three or four months.

 

Marketing and making the best use of every advertising dollar is something that every business owner has to figure out, no matter what the size of the company. If you take advantage of the low rates and high visibility of a Facebook campaign, you may be well on your way to making your brand more well-known.

 

Do you use Facebook ads? If you have any hints or tips for our readers, please share them in the comments section below!

 

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Blogging Strategies: Getting People to Show You the Love

So, you have a blog. You post on it regularly, and you give some thought to what you want to say. You proofread your posts and choose interesting images to go with your text. A peek at your analytics shows that you’re getting views, and you seem to be slowly picking up a good readership. But… when it comes to the comments section, there’s nothing but crickets. People are reading, but not saying anything back. What are you doing wrong?

You’ve heard of the Pareto Principle, which states that about 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. If you applied this to your blog, then you might figure that 80% of your comments and interaction come from 20% of your readership. Not bad, right? Unfortunately, the Pareto Principle doesn’t really apply when it comes to most blogs. Instead, you have to apply the 1% rule, which is pretty well recognized among Internet communities: Only one out of one hundred readers are actually going to become active users. The rest will just read along silently, or, in ‘Net-speak, “lurk.”

While you might think that this doesn’t bode well for the echo chamber that you call your comments section, there are actually some things that you can do to boost your reader interaction. Reader comments tend to snowball; if you get one, you’re likely to get a few more, and if you can get a dozen, then you just might have a conversation (or even a debate!) going, which can lead to even more comments. Try some of these strategies to see if you can get the ball rolling:

  • Be open-ended. It’s great to end your post with a question; this might inspire readers to type in an answer! Another good suggestion is to leave some of your topic unsaid. If you leave out a couple of well-known points, a helpful reader just might decide to contribute his or her own take on things. In other words, don’t be a know-it-all; let your readers add in their two cents in order to complete your blog post.

  • Make it easy on them. One frustrating trend that I’ve seen is the necessity to register for an account, sign up for an email newsletter or pick out an avatar before leaving a comment. Unless I’m really committed to sharing something, I just won’t bother most of the time. Who has time for that? A name and email address (which doesn’t get posted) should be all that’s required to comment on the vast majority of blogs.

  • Push a few buttons. This suggestion could go either way, so do this cautiously. If a current event is related to your industry or business, then you could give your opinion on it. If it’s a bit controversial, then you might wrangle up some conversation. Of course, in an effort to stay professional, you will need to be diplomatic and perhaps closer to neutral than to either end of the “extreme” spectrum. And remember that if you’re posting controversial topics often, then people might be turned off, particularly if that’s not the point of your blog. Once in a while, though, this could be an effective strategy.

  • Don’t be desperate. Adding fake comments, allowing spam or letting abusive responses sit in your comments section are all bad ideas. Let your comments section evolve organically, and remove spam and other inappropriate posts as soon as you see them.

  • Interact back! When you do get comments, make it worth your reader’s while to comment again. Respond with a well-thought-out answer. If someone asks a question, answer it, either right then and there, or in another blog post. You can even respond via email if it’s something you’d rather not have published publicly on your blog.

The goal of getting some interaction on your blog is a good one, and should be thought about after you have some content that is attracting readers. Just don’t get discouraged, and remember that it usually takes time to build up a good core group of interactive users.

What about you? Have you found the holy grail of reader involvement and interaction? You know what to do.

 

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Getting Organized in 2015: Your To-Do List

We recently talked about choosing a calendar in order to help you get organized in 2014. Did you pick one out yet? It’s already February, so if you don’t yet have a calendar, it’s time to put that at the top of your to-do list. You do have a to-do list, don’t you? I know I do… and it’s never-ending. Does your list make you feel accomplished, overwhelmed, in control, or maybe some combination of all three?

Some people like to make lists. Most people would probably benefit from making lists, whether they like to or not. A to-do list can take many forms, but the most important thing is that it puts down, in black and white (or in whatever color you like to write – or type – in), everything that you need to accomplish in a day, a week, a month or whatever timeframe you choose. If your to-do list is either non-existent or not functioning as you’d like it to, here are some tips on how to make your to-do list work for you:

  • Make and look at your list before the morning. If you have no list when you arrive at work (or when you turn on your computer, if you’re working from home), then you need to waste valuable time thinking about what you did yesterday and the day before, going through your calendar to find out where you are in relation to upcoming deadlines, and deciding on a course of action. It’s better if you can do this the day before. Try to complete your next day’s to-do list before the end of your workday and, if it helps, double check it in the evening so that you can go to bed psyching yourself up for what you want to get started on first thing.

  • Decide on three non-negotiable items that absolutely must get done first thing. I know, I know, you probably have six or twelve or three dozen items that absolutely must get done. Choose three of them. Make sure at least one is something that you actually like doing. Write them down at the top of your list. These are the items that you are going to start with. Once you get into a groove and you’re able to cross a few important things off of your list, you will feel better than if you haphazardly pick and choose random items that aren’t quite as important.

  • Write down “check email” closer to lunchtime, then again at the end of the day. Most of us check our email first thing in the morning. The problem with this is that it’s very easy to get sidetracked! A client needs something, and you decide that it’s an emergency, whether it is or not. At the very least, do your three items before you log onto your email platform. It’s even better if you schedule yourself twenty minutes to deal with email right before lunch. If it makes you feel better, set up an automated email to go out explaining that you check emails twice daily, and that you’ll get back to the person as soon as possible. If it’s that important, they’ll call. Speaking of which…

  • Schedule yourself some time for returning phone calls. Most phone calls are not an emergency! Allow calls to go to voice mail, and check it every hour if you’re worried that you’ll miss something vital. Then return calls at a specific time. A good time for me to do this is usually in the mid-afternoon, when I’m in a bit of a slump anyway. Your mileage may vary; choose a half hour or an hour that works for you. Don’t get sucked into lengthy conversations, either; these will get you off-track as far as following your to-do list. Ask clients or your boss what they need, then get off of the phone. If necessary, tell them that you are leaving for a meeting.
  • Be realistic. This is probably the most important tip. If you work eight hours per day, don’t schedule yourself ten hours’ worth of projects. You’re not going to be able to get it done, and then you’ll start off behind tomorrow. Be realistic about what you can accomplish. If the worst happens and you complete everything on your list by 3:00, then you can decide if you’d rather take the rest of the afternoon off or start something else, but this is infinitely better than still having two major projects to work on when it’s time to go home.

Your to-do list will likely consist of a lot of trial and error, particularly if you don’t regularly follow one. Once you get into a good groove, though, you’ll find that you’re more organized than ever. The main rules are to be realistic and to not let yourself get distracted during the course of the day. It’s good to maintain some flexibility, but not so much that you aren’t getting accomplished what you need to do.

Do you have a great formula for making a to-do list that works? Share your tips with our readers!

 

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Defeating Procrastination: Stop Putting Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Right Now

Are you a procrastinator? If you tend to put things off until they can’t possibly be put off a moment longer, then the label might fit. If your motto is, “I work best under pressure,” then yes, you probably have a bit of a procrastination problem. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are particularly prone to putting things off, because there are just so many things to do, many of the equally important. When piles of paperwork or deadlines are staring you in the face, it’s very tempting to tune them out by trying to beat your best score on Bejeweled Blitz or stalking your old high school sweetheart on Facebook. Unfortunately, these activities, as you know, are not going to take the pressure off for more than the time you devote to them.

The good news is that the tendency to procrastinate can be overcome, and it doesn’t even have to be all that painful. Here are some tips on taking control of your time, knocking out whatever it is you have to do, and being able to relax without guilt:

  • Just pick something and do it. You have a to-do list a mile long and you haven’t started anything yet. Choose the one thing that looks the most appealing and promise yourself that you’ll work on it diligently for 15 minutes. By then, you’ll have made at least a little bit of headway and the momentum should help you continue, either until it’s done or until you reach a natural stopping point. Being able to cross one thing off of your list just might give you the perspective to keep working, preferably on something important.

  • Split big projects into smaller pieces. If you have a big deadline looming, you might want to shut down and not think about it. You already know that this is going to lead to major panic the day before it’s due. Instead of trying to eat an elephant in one gulp, follow the advice in the old saying and take one bite at a time. Divide your elephant into as many smaller parts as seems reasonable, then vow to finish one or two per day until your project is done.

  • Use the pomodoro technique. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, and this technique is so named because the kitchen timer used by the developer of the technique, Francesco Cirillo, was shaped like a tomato. The basic premise is this: Set a timer for 25 minutes. Work with intense focus until the timer dings. Set it for five minutes and take a break during this time. Get a drink, stretch your legs, play a round of Papa Pear Saga, or whatever. Once that timer dings again, though, get back to work for another 25 minutes. After four “pomodori,” or cycles of work and play, you get to take a half hour break. Do one two-hour cycle in the morning and one in the afternoon, and see how much headway you can make!

  • Wake up again in the mid-afternoon. Many of us hit a slump an hour or two after lunch. The end of the day is so close, you can taste it, and yet it’s so far away. Instead of frittering away your last couple of hours at work, refresh yourself. Get a soda, coffee or whatever beverage you choose, stretch, and consider this your second wake-up. You have two or three hours left of your day, so make the most of them! Assess what you’ve done so far and figure out what you should do in order to feel good about what you will accomplish by the end of the day.

  • Disable your distractions. Some distractions, like a sick child home from school and spending the day with you, can’t really be avoided. Others, however, like a steady stream of emails or Instagram notifications, can be. Disable notifications on your phone. If you’re really hard-core into social media, you might need to temporarily block the sites that draw you in. There are plenty of free productivity apps and websites, such as Cold Turkey or Focal Filter. With today’s unlimited access to hundreds or thousands of things more interesting than whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing, don’t feel bad about having to use technology to keep you in check.

Procrastination is something that all of us have to deal with occasionally, and that some of us have to deal with on a regular basis. Are you a procrastinator? What are some of your best tips for breaking out of the cycle of putting things off until tomorrow?

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Getting Organized in 2014: Your Calendar

Did you know that most people who make new year’s resolutions end up breaking them by February? You know who you are: Did you resolve to lose weight, quit smoking or stop procrastinating in 2014? How are you doing?

Many business owners resolve to finally get themselves organized. It might be that you are having trouble keeping up with your daily, weekly or monthly tasks and have to play catch-up as deadlines loom. Or maybe you’re thinking ahead to tax time, which will be here before any of us know it, and are kicking yourself for not keeping up with your organization last year. This, you tell yourself, is the year that will be different.

Well, it just may be! One thing that you need to do, if you haven’t already, is find some way to document what you want to do, what you are doing, and what you did do. Most of us choose to use some type of calendar for this. Many of us then fret over whether the type of calendar or planner that we’ve chosen is the right one for the job. What is it about a new year that brings out these insecurities? If you haven’t found a calendar that you love, first determine whether you want to go with a paper or digital version. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Do you like the physical action of writing things down? For some people, the act of using a pen to write things down helps to cement ideas and actions in their minds. If that last statement resonates with you, you may want to consider sticking with a paper calendar or planner.

  • Are you more of a creative or logical thinker? Creative types may be better off with a paper planner, while those who are more logical and methodical may prefer a digital calendar. Ask yourself if you like making lists and doodling on your calendar, or if you are more likely to keep all of your appointments on your calendar, but nothing else? That might be all of the answer that you need.

  • How likely are you to lose a paper calendar? Let’s face it: Some of us could lose our heads if they weren’t attached! It’s not a character flaw, just the way we’re wired. If you hesitate to keep a paper calendar because you’re terrified that you’ll lose it, then a digital version, which can be backed up, might be the way to go.

  • Do you have a good memory? The question might really be: How likely are you to remember to check your calendar? If the answer is, “not very,” then a digital calendar, which can beep and alert you to upcoming appointments, can help you keep track of whatever you have going on.

  • Are you technologically savvy? If the thought of a digital calendar makes you fear that you’ll never figure out all of the ins and outs of it, then a paper planner might make more sense.

Of course, you’ll have to weigh everything, and some of these hints might seem contradictory. Creative, doodly types may also be the type more likely to lose a paper planner, so just make the best choice that you can. Once you decide which format would work best for you, it’s time to find the specific product that you’ll buy. You can ask for recommendations, but be forewarned that what works for someone else might not work for you. A good strategy is to go to an office supply store and actually handle the planners available. (The great news is that at the moment, planners may be on sale… after all, most people buy them at the end of December or the beginning of January, so they’re not really a hot commodity right now.) For a digital version, try downloading free trial versions until you find the one that you like best… but don’t spend too much time on this. Perhaps choose three to try for a few days each, then just pick one.

Once you make a decision, resolve to stick with it. Having several different calendars over the course of a year will make you (and next year, your accountant) crazy! Unless there are some extenuating circumstances, just try to make it work for you.

Making a calendar work for you means actually using it. Instead of making a broad resolution to get organized, just make yourself a promise to update your calendar each day. Check it at the beginning and end of each day, marking appointments and goals as they come up. It takes 30 days to form a habit, so do whatever it takes to ensure that you’re using your calendar every day. By this time next month, it should be second nature!

Do you have a calendar or planner, digital or paper, that you love? Share it with our readers in the comments section below!

 

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