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Discussing Creating Content in Your Client’s Voice at WordCamp Austin

Just as HOPE Outdoor Gallery Gives Voice, We Help Find Our Client's Voice

Two weeks ago a client called me and said, “Jen, I just read through one of our blog posts and it sounds like something I wrote. Where did you find it?” I explained that we didn’t find it anywhere and that it was written just for HIS blog, in HIS voice. “That’s what we do,” I explained. “We write in our client’s voice.” He was impressed. He’d hired bloggers to blog on his website before but felt like all he’d gotten were canned posts.

Canned posts are not the way to tell your client’s story. They do not work for showcasing a product. And they definitely are not the answer when you want to capture your client’s voice and vision.

You may be asking how a voice and vision relate to blogging. A vision is a grand dream or plan for the person or company that breaks their story into the essential components. A voice is the mechanism by which that story is told. It can be written. It can be performed in dance, music or on stage. A voice in this context can even be art.

Just as HOPE Outdoor Gallery Gives Voice, We Help Find Our Client's VoiceLet’s talk for a minute about something unique to Austin. How many of you have been to the HOPE Outdoor art exhibit? It’s also called the Grafitti Wall. I see it as a place where people make their mark – similar to finding their voice. HOPE stands for Helping Other People Everywhere. People travel to the wall from all over to paint their names or contribute temporary art to the terraced walls. How many voices and messages do you think that wall has represented over the years?

Those messages of art are constantly painted over and replaced. Sometimes the art is modified so it becomes unrecognizable to the original artist. Someone who doesn’t understand the concept may view the entire project as a waste and leave before grabbing a can of spray paint and contributing a tiny bit of themselves to the project. They give up their opportunity to voice.

Content that has been outsourced overseas often has similar drawbacks. The subject isn’t understood and meaning is lost. Because the writer can’t connect to the topic, it can’t be adequately described. For instance let’s talk on BBQ for just a second. I arrived in Texas on Thursday and since then I’ve had three distinctly different BBQ experiences.

Exploring Texas BBQ Helped Me to Understand the Limits of BloggingFirst I was recommended to go to Vic’s, clearly a more homestyle, family owned storefront. The brisket was moist and delicious and nothing like the BBQ we have in California. The following day I ventured to Cooper’s in Llano. I tasted everything and was amazed at the flavor, I thought I’d discovered the best BBQ in the world. Last night. I was able to sample brisket and ribs from a food truck called Kerlin and was blown away. I’d understood that Austin had good BBQ and was told it was better than California BBQ, but honestly I had NO idea. After my small sampling, I’d have to say we don’t have real BBQ in California and we definitely shouldn’t be trying to describe it as bloggers!

Context is lost when someone doesn’t understand the area and topic.

For instance is most places an armadillo would be considered a nuisance for all the digging they do and near accidents they cause, but in Texas, that’s not the case. Here the armadillo actually became the official state mascot in 1980 and the official state small mammal in 1995, as it’s roughly the size of a cat.

Speaking of cats, let me paint a picture for you of one scenario I came across while working for a client that had tried outsourcing his blogging overseas. He was trying to save money and scrutiny was very low as the posts were not valued by the writer or this client. I was told he had hired a blogger from another country and my job was to review the posts and make content corrections as needed.

I took a look at the first post and was confused at the topic. It took place in the Colorado mountains. Apparently the community was very excited because kittens were coming up the mountain to clean themselves. The post talked of the pristine snow and cats frolicking in the bright sun. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent time in the snow and I don’t recall ever seeing a cat or kitten play in it. I read the post trying to understand the article’s intent and suddenly I saw it.

It wasn’t about kittens at all! The post was about C.A.T.s, tractor like vehicles used to prep the snow or groom it for the coming ski season. That’s why everyone was so excited. Opening Day for skiing was just around the corner!

Had the blogger noticed the capitalized word C.A.T. in the original documentation or visited a ski slope, they would have realized something was wrong. However, the blogger didn’t and hadn’t because he or she didn’t have knowledge of the area. A quick Google search of C.A.T.s (all caps), snow and Colorado Springs would have pulled up many articles that would have quickly shown the error. If the writer had chosen to spend two minutes researching, the issue would have been avoided, as you’re unlikely to get that depth of life experience or understanding overseas.

Your clients deserve better. Better content. Better topics. And a better voice.

But how do you develop that content and voice? By LISTENING to your client.

Think about it. Could you tell the difference between a guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen and Stevie Ray Vaughan? Are you able to recognize the difference between the sound of a Ford and a Toyota? Can you tell the difference between the voices of family and friends without seeing them? Our voices are very important, aren’t they?

Listening helps you to sense the uniqueness of the voice.

At my company we start the voicing process by interviewing the client. We listen for unique phrases and make small talk to hear more. We ask about recent books and magazines our clients have read – and why they liked them. We ask them about their favorite places to visit locally and have them describe their community as a physical place. This will you give you insight into the type of content that resonates with them. Ask about competition and what makes them different. Ask about other ways they would like to stand out as a brand. Ask them to of think of 5 adjectives that describe their brand. Ask them to describe a person who is a current client. Ask them to describe a potential client.

Set the Tone Through Creating Your Client’s Voice

  • Professional Voice – To write on more corporate sounding blogs, it may be necessary to adopt a formal and authoritative style. This doesn’t mean personality is eliminated, however. The key to keeping this style engaging is to provide details and interesting facts and figures without seeming superior or stilted. Discussing case studies works well.
    Neighborly Voice This style employs a more casual tone. The goal is to create an emotional connection through relatable events and stories as if you were talking with a friend.
  • Humorous Voice – Some blogs are known for humor. If your client is a jokester, that needs to show through on the blog. It might be helpful to have mini-interviews before each post in this case where you gather an opinion (and catch a few jokes) that can be sprinkled into the post. While clients don’t have the time to write, they typically love to have input and contribute to their blog posts.
  • Newsroom Voice – I don’t prefer this style, but we see it all the time on the internet. Similar to the professional voice, it can easily come across as stuffy or arrogant and when done wrong can be off-putting rather than engaging. It’s important to write confidently, using information based on relatable facts and figures rather than scare tactics. The key to writing in this style well is remembering the end goal and referring to it with each piece of information shared. Add stories to build community while developing authority and speak directly to the target audience. You’ll see this approach sometimes in product reviews or sales oriented sites. It may be accompanied by videos as well.
  • Curious, Tentative Voice – You may at first find this to be a weak way to blog. Afterall blogging is about sharing what we know and having a strong opinion… or IS IT? Asking questions can be a great way to create community. And with so many other types of voices on blog posts, it can be comforting to come across a post that soothes the soul by asking questions in a conversational and respectful way. The author has to take a risk when writing this way, as you have to be vulnerable and not necessarily have all the answers.

These voices sum of the bulk of what we use for client work, however you can probably think of more. As professional bloggers, we use these as guides and may move between voices for different posts. The desired result connects our clients with their audience, building community and credibility. Some bloggers do so by asking a question at the beginning of a post. Others ask a question at the end. How you engage is up to you and the voice you’ve chosen to use.

For example, do your clients repeat sentences using the same word and/or ask a lot of questions? Does your client regularly reference a specific genre as in when I was a kid or back in the 80s? Do they write in 3rd person or 1st person?

Two years ago I went on an extended European vacation and worried that my email would go unanswered. I spent several months training my assistant on typical responses, created a few templates and spent the next months drafting responses with her and reviewing what was sent to clients and making adjustments. Two weeks before I was due to leave I noticed something. I felt every email reflected me except for one sentence. The phrase” I appreciate you” kept coming up in everything, from emails to my kids to emails to clients I hadn’t spoken with in 4 months. I found it odd and pondered it. That is when I realized I was over using that phrase! It was my secondary phrase when I’d already thanked someone and my assistant had noticed it. I was shocked to realize that even MY voice can be learned.

Review your client’s past writing, everything from blog posts to emails and watch for word patterns and buzz words that seem unique. Notice length of sentences and specific style. Punctuation has trends as well. Often in social media I use 2 exclamation points when excited. I have a client who always seems to tweet with 4-6 words and one hashtag. Though I would recommend a different style, I use his because his content needs to showcase his style.

My goal is that when a post either on the blog or in social media is seen it will “feel” true to the author, not the author’s ghost blogger. If you notice the posts starting to sound like you, you’re doing it wrong and it’s time to reboot and refresh the style.

To make the content even more local you need to involve your client and make them aware of the goals and steps they can take to achieve them. Four years ago I had a client who desperately wanted to rank #1 for a specific search term. We strategized on how to make that happen and because her location is a celebrity hot spot, I suggested she look for opportunities to meet or photograph famous people.

One Saturday she called me excitedly. “Jen,” she said, “George Clooney is here at a movie preview. I got a picture. What do we do now?” I told her to text me the photo and even though the quality was not particularly good, we ran with it. Within a couple of days her site was getting a tremendous amount of traffic as she was first to report the event and she moved to the top of the search results. Continually blogging has allowed her to maintain those results.

Like a guitar solo in a band you need to showcase special events in your client’s voice and use it to help your readers engage. Speak with authority because you know the topic and don’t fear intensity. People love to read op-eds even when they don’t agree with what’s being said.

When blogging it’s important to be consistent. We recommend twice weekly posting and following up with social media. Try to paint a picture with your words, the use of “a cyclist whizzing past” evokes a very different feeling than simply stating “a bike rode by.” Read through each post outlook before publishing and be honest and rewrite if it doesn’t capture the voice as hoped.

How Do You Maintain Your Client’s Voice?

At Need Someone To Blog we use Google Drive to set up client folders but I know others who have found Trello or even old fashioned paper files to be a good option. Once you have captured the voice, keep posts where the voice was captured in the folder so you can reference them when not feeling particularly inspired. They will help you get back into the voice.

Because there will be times when it can be hard to turn on the voice, I suggest a technique similar to method acting when starting out. I advise our writers to pretend they are an accountant or real estate agent or community leader when they write for those types of clients. It helps in capturing the right voice.

Learn to think and blog as your clients would, if they only had the time. Your job is to create the blog posts as an extension of your client so that when they come across the content they even question whether or not they wrote it, as my client did.

Slides:

Posted in Blog, From the Stage

Local SEO without Community Is Just Keywords | WCLAX

Local SEO without Community is Just KeywordsLocal SEO without community is just keywords. Keywords by themselves do not deliver results. They are simply a vehicle or tool that directs search engines to a website. In some ways keywords are like these bikes found at Venice Beach. When parked without intention, they can’t deliver great results. However, when paired with intent (and a person), those bikes, like keywords, take you where you want to go.

Keywords must be woven into a message that speaks to the reader on a local level and connects them to the desired result. Keywords and the way they are used set the tone and topic of your website to search engines, which is essential in Local SEO or search engine optimization. Remember that when I say Local SEO I am referring to more than a specific zip code. Locality can be defined by a specific place but it also can be defined by an industry segment or a specialized product.

Don't be afraid to dream.Don’t be afraid to dream when strategizing. I often have clients come to me with comments of, “I know I’ll never rank for… you name it… but maybe we could try this.” And in some cases they may be accurate, but in most I suggest we try a holistic approach of using varied keywords and topic driven content beyond their website. I suggest they view the website as a community resource. This changes client results. In large part because it changes their perspective. They start to realize they have a community and that there is a need for them to speak.

Conversion-oriented copy only works when you understand the needs of your community. Local SEO without community risks falling flat.

So, where do you find your community?

Where Do You Find Your Community?Sometimes your community is your home base. I, for instance, am a 4th generation Los Angelean. This is my home, no matter where I live. My life memories are tied to this community. My family has roots here. I chose to have my first child born in Long Beach, rather than a the swanky hospital in Newport Beach, because I wanted to continue that heritage and the ties to community. When I blog I reach out to my community – I don’t focus on unnamed personas, I think about the individuals I hope will read the post. When we as a team blog for our clients, we try to think as them and consider the end reader of each piece. We think about how the content will be shared with their community.

Discovering My Community as a Child

When I was seven or eight years old, my stepdad Gene took me on a very special trip into the heart of Los Angeles. I think I even got to miss school. We took a bus and rode the train into Union Station, an iconic transportation hub of LA. We walked for what seemed like miles to my tiny legs. Finally we arrived – to a crowd – of what I’m sure was millions of people. They were all around us. We moved around until we found a place where we could see the stage.

Respect Your Voice and CommunityGene was involved in his community. He wanted me to be too. He wanted me to learn of it and love it and respect the people it included. All of them. That day as we waited for the speaker to come on stage, he actually bought me a souvenir. It was light blue, plastic and about 18 inches long, 4 inches wide and 6 inches tall. It looked similar to a lunchbox, but was shaped like a peanut. I laughed and loved it. Then the speaker came out. We were there to listen to the then President of the United States, Jimmy Carter.

I don’t really remember anything that was said but I remember the feelings of community, inspiration and love. And I remember that people listened. As President Carter spoke, the world stood still and silent. His voice was heard and felt. You may not be President of the United States, but you, like I, have a voice. And, like I, have a community. If you feel that you don’t, look around. Meet the people at WordCamp Los Angeles. We are ALL here to support you.

If You Do Everything Like Everyone Else, You Can Expect the Same Results

Try Something Unusual When Building Community.This is a photo of Angels Flight, a funicular or incline railway that was built in 1901. It is operating today. In fact, you can ride up or down for $1 each way. It is said to be the most used railway in the United States, having transported more than a hundred million passengers. It was devised as a shortcut to deliver groups up the steep hill to Bunker Hill way back when and only covers 298 feet of track, yet it helped build a community because it removed a barrier. Looking at this track and the trains, it’s amazing that it only took 120 days to build. Could that even be done nowadays? I’m guessing many of you would take longer to build out a website! Sometimes an unusual approach is what builds your community.

For instance, I had a client, on her own, share a post in 14 targeted Facebook Groups last week. This was not done at my recommendation. She did it completely naturally. If she had asked me first, I would have suggested against it thinking it was spammy. However, it worked! She brought in so much traffic to the post I thought something was wrong with the analytics! That’s what I mean about being unusual. Have any of you had that type of event or created something that stood out so much it became an asset in your community building?

What Makes Your Community Memorable?We’re in LA. I can’t think of LA without remembering my many summers spent at the beach in Santa Monica. My grandmother lives in Pacific Palisades so my summers were often beachside. This pier, with the ferris wheel and roller coaster is a cherished part of my childhood. It makes the location memorable for me. But it’s also a place that others cherish. I found this quote by Neil G. on Yelp, “The priceless ocean view, the crashing of the waves, the restaurants, the amusement park, the old carousel, the surfers, beach goers, tourist, artists and spectators – I believe it is and they are what makes this place feel so alive and special.”

What he said is 100% true and is what needs to be remembered.

When a Yelp review is authentic it draws an audience. When a Yelp review seems planted as a tool for Local SEO – without community, most readers see between the lines.

If someone had to write a review on your website, what would they remember?

  • Would it remind them of community?
  • Cause them to remember your service or product?
  • Perhaps it would remind them of you?

Where are you leading traffic?I have my photo on my website so people remember who I am and recognize me at events because I want to be memorable. I want my business to be memorable.  My team prefers my website to be memorable. We’ve created a ton of content on my website at NeedSomeoneToBlog.com. I have several posts that get a lot of traffic because they are memorable to my readers and are often shared. I use the color green on my website because it’s a color that people remember. Think about it, what makes your website memorable?

On your website, do you have contact and signup or registration forms? Do you invite readers to a targeted Facebook Group? Are you directing them to follow you elsewhere, like on videos or podcasts? Are you including internal links in all your content so that your readers can find related posts? Quality writing, consistency, social promotion, relevancy and area-sensitive keywords are essential when creating community. Everyone has somewhere to be and your traffic needs to go somewhere. Give them more places to connect with you! As your website connects with other portals such as YouTube, iTunes, Yelp, and industry-related platforms, your community shares more.

Town Hall Does Not Happen When You Buy Local SEO without Community

Like a Town Hall, You Can't Build Local SEO without CommunityThink of your website as your town hall, because it is! Your website is the hub for ALL your advertising, emailing and discussion efforts and is critical to reaching your community with success. It’s your town hall as sure as this is the Pasadena City Hall. This is the place where your readers will learn to deeply value the discussion and contribute back. So create it. Let’s go through the Steps to Creating a Town Hall.

First, you need to define your meeting place. We’ve decided to meet at your website. Next, you create great content that stirs emotion. Then you “Stack the Deck” by inviting your trusted friends and family to support your efforts. As you build community, remember to “Play Nice.” Don’t trick your audience – provide relevant content on the desired topics. Finally, listen to feedback carefully. Evaluate feedback and respond with gratitude.

I have a client who has implemented this strategy and seen the results virtually with increased rankings in search engines and also in real life with increased interaction in her community. Her website or meeting place does well and gets traffic, beyond what we would expect from organic local SEO. Her content is updated regularly and promoted well. The writing is good and engages her readers. Email campaigns refer traffic to the website. She has stacked the deck by making friends, asking if she can send them a newsletter and follows up by doing it, every month. When they have questions, she pays attention and responds — consistently. She KNOWS her community has created a town hall.

Lift, Inspire & Showcase Your Community.Ok, now it’s all YOU. Take what you’ve learned and go build community. Lift, inspire and showcase those around you. You’ll love the results.

And your community will love you. Emphasis on your community will connect you with other influencers. Share their messages too. Those in your community will begin to share and reshare your content and you will see measurable results affecting your Local SEO.

Remember Local SEO without community will not get you the results you want and need. It’s your job to create your own legacy and you can only do that by building those around you. You took a step towards community by being here today at WordCamp Los Angeles – so congratulations and keep on moving forward. You can do this!
Show Gratitude for Your Community.

Thank you.

Posted in Blog, Community, From the Stage

WordCamp Los Angeles Grows WordPress Community

WordCamp Los Angeles Grows WordPress with Organizing TeamAs I reflect on WordCamp Los Angeles, I admire the individuals in the WordPress community that came together to create an excellent conference. I was part of the organizing team, working with lead Adam Silver, Renee Johnson, Stephen Harvey, Amber Hewitt, Thomas Patrick Levy, Bridget Willard, Rachel Cherry and Roy Sivan. As we worked together we drew upon one another’s strengths to develop a team and create an event. I don’t think any of us realized how many lives would be changed. I know I didn’t consciously consider how a WordCamp weekend grows WordPress until now.

First I want to talk about Beginner Day. We had a pre-camp workshop where more than 50 new WordPress users were given a website install and taught the basics. The day started with instruction on working locally and moved on to choosing and using a theme, modifying the theme, creating a child theme, adding content to the site in blogs and pages, building a contact form and attracting an audience using social media.

It was a lot to cover in 4 hours, but the session definitely opened eyes. We didn’t turn beginning users into experts by the end, but we definitely removed the fear and encouraged exploration and confidence. Many more people can now be influenced by those who learned on Friday. The learning will multiply as each website and each person grows WordPress in their own way.

I presented on the topic, Your First Piece of Content and Beyond at Beginner Day. I shared the key to optimizing blog posts using the Yoast SEO plugin in a four part series. You can visit my content development site to see how the copy was changed from the initial 3 minute speed write to an optimized post. I also quickly explained how to set up pages from different page templates to achieve different looks for content pages, as illustrated in the about and services page. Watching people’s surprise as they witnessed the plugin’s “light” change colors was rewarding. One person remarked that it turned “on the light of understanding” for them, which I considered a big win!

That afternoon and evening I had the opportunity to spend some time with many focused leaders in the WordPress community, local and nationwide. We talked on a variety of topics. WordPress related conversation focused on recognizing and serving community needs, exploring new areas of learning and of course, Gutenberg. An open source community takes stock of each person’s concerns and comments. That, in and of itself, grows WordPress as a community. It’s amazing to witness.

Jam-packed, content driven sessions continued on Saturday and included an Advanced Development Track. Lessons were learned and friendships made. I had the opportunity to speak on Saturday afternoon on the tie-in between community and SEO. As someone who grew up in Los Angeles, it was particularly fun for me to present on the value community brings to websites. You can see my slides here and I will post the video when it becomes available.

After Party Discussion Grows WordPress at WordCamp Los Angeles

After the sessions had wrapped up, everyone headed downstairs to the courtyard, referred to by the camp as the Winner’s Circle, for socializing, networking and refreshments at the After Party. Complete with a photo booth, ambient music, sitting areas and plenty of food and drinks, it was the perfect place to converse. I found myself making new friends and connecting easily over conversation. The event contributed to a sense of growing community.

Raquel Landefeld Sharing Her Story and How She Grows WordPressQuality speakers and large attendance continued on Sunday. You can catch a glimpse of all who spoke and some of what they said on Twitter at #WCLAX. The highlight for many was hearing Jansen Henschel teach on creating portfolio sites using WordPress. Jansen is an eleven year old who came to WordCamp Los Angeles Beginner Day four years ago, he has continued to learn and now was able to share.

I sat in on many fantastic talks, enjoyed heartfelt conversations, and came away with a deeper understanding.

The BlueHost television raffle concluded the conference with cheers. There wasn’t a feeling of competition with the contest, only happiness for the winner.

The message from WordCamp Los Angeles was clear.

Everything and everyone working together grows WordPress.

In the end, we’re all winners as community prevails.

Posted in Blog, Community

Talking Local SEO at WordCamp Europe

Local SEO _ Creating Website Content That Matters Regionally by Jen Miller

Jen Miller Travels to Paris to Speak on Local SEO at WordCamp EuropeThis summer I had the opportunity to travel to Paris to speak at WordCamp Europe on Local SEO. I met WordPress users from all over the world in every capacity, and it was a fabulous experience. Due to the community nature of WordPress events, this tech conference with thousands of attendees, felt comfortable even though I was far from California. New friends were made as easily as if I’d been at home in Orange County. Long-time friends were easy to find, as well.

My natural inclination is to study those around me and I quickly noted cultural differences and made generalizations when assessing my surroundings. Parisians do not take photos of their meals or sit and scroll through social feeds in public. Parisians are efficient and confident. As a people, they are quick to assist and slow to smile, testing the waters before sharing themselves openly. Parisians value effort and honor historical significance. Even if your waiter does not personally eat escargot, he will appreciate you when you order it, urging you to welcome an edible adventure into Parisian culture.

Fun with Friends at WordCamp Europe - Jen Miller Talks Local SEORecognizing these differences helped me to understand the complexities Parisian businesses encounter in their marketing efforts. I spoke with a restauranteur who explained that while a good portion of her business came from word of mouth, a travel review site was really the answer behind every table being filled. I talked with busy private chauffeur drivers who had continual ride requests because they signed up for every transportation app and company possible. I discussed the importance of maintaining loyal clientele with a restaurant owner who delivered excellent service and was a favorite local hotspot. I learned that marketing and Local SEO was as much of an art in Paris as it is in Tampa, Florida.

If you’d like to read or listen to the transcript of my talk, you can do so below. Would love to know your thoughts!

Transcript from WordCamp Europe on Local SEO

Bonjour.

Talk on WordCamp Europe on Local SEO by Jen MillerI’m Jen Miller and I own a content marketing and web development agency in the United States. You may know us as NeedSomeoneToBlog. I wrote my first website in 1996 and I’ve watched SEO take on many forms since then. Today I will explain the uniqueness of Local SEO, and how simple changes in the way you think about content can make all the difference.

I hear way too often from future clients and people I meet for the first time, “My website does not do anything. It looks great but nobody comes to it.”

This has got to change.

As the people who create in WordPress, we need to deliver websites that not only look great but perform as well. Many of us in this room can create an aesthetically pleasing, well-functioning website, however launching with Lorem Ipsum text is never the key to an optimal result.

Why is the question of content often reserved until the final stage of website development?

Is it because you create content to fit the design? I think that’s what many of us tell ourselves. But it’s simply not true. Copy can be edited or augmented to fit the desired container but it should be well developed as its own entity.

Is it due to a perceived lack of importance? Often in discussions of copy, design and code, copy or content is the most undervalued. And yet, website content is driver of website performance.

Is it because it’s the “client’s responsibility”? This mindset is very limiting. When you accept the role of providing your client with a website, the end result (which includes copy) is YOUR responsibility. Website developers must adjust their workflow to assist clients in creating local, relevant content.

I am not suggesting that developers create or write the website’s content.

Not at all.. Those who write code and those write copy utilize two very different talents.

By a raise of hands, how many bloggers and writers do we have in the room? Perfect, use them.

Content development is not about lining up strings and hooks.

It’s about utilizing hooks and stringing together phrases that engage your reader. The goal is to transport them to the scent of the cafe 4 blocks away or remind them that white sand beaches are only a day’s journey away. Content helps the reader to visualize the dream that propels them to click on the Call to Action which sets the appointment with the hairdresser, air conditioning salesman or mechanic. Localized website content focused on the user pulls them in and transforms a “user” into a person with specific needs and desires that can be solved by that business. That is the goal and that is why we need Local SEO.

Local SEO isn’t a foreign language – you can learn it without Duolingo.

Jen Miller Speaks at WordCamp Europe on Local SEO SEO is acronym that stands for search engine optimization. It is a universal term that transcends language barriers. SEO can used as a noun, a verb, an adverb and an adjective. SEO really is a transformative phrase. It is a method of evaluating websites, causing scrutiny of code,design, and ultimately each word used on every page and post.

SEO causes us to look at words as unique identifiers, similar to puzzle pieces. In many ways, Local SEO places the puzzle in your home. Once you arrange the puzzle pieces correctly, images begin to appear. As more puzzle pieces connect, the more the end result takes shape. The more concentrated time and effort applied, the more quickly a masterpiece is achieved. The same can be said of Local SEO. The key to creating relatable localized content is crossing over subject barriers to where topics intersect and ideas match up, returning a broader vision of the website in search.

This is not about inserting or stuffing keywords. It’s about consensus and community. It’s about bring validity to that website’s particular content by giving it relevance in the community.

Local SEO without community is just keywords.

Learn About Local SEO From Jen Miller at WordCamp Europe TalkKeywords by themselves do not deliver results. They must be woven into a message that speaks to the reader on a local level. Locality does not have to be geographical. It can be defined as an industry segment. You have the power to change client results by viewing their website as a community resource. Explore with them how their website topics relates to their audience. Then connect your clients to the people who can write that conversion-oriented copy in-house or nearby. Teach your clients that their website is the hub for all their advertising, emailing and discussion efforts and is critical to their success. Your clients can train their customers to deeply value their website when it contains quality material, causing them to want to share it. Encourage your clients to become active in targeted Facebook Groups. Suggest they produce videos or podcasts as a way to showcase their talent and websites. Quality writing, consistency, social promotion, relevancy and area-sensitive keywords are essential to converting generalized text into content that matters. You’ll discover that the content will elevate their website as it connects with other portals such as YouTube, iTunes and Yelp.

It’s important to understand that in your client’s mind Local SEO may refer to both paid and organic search results. The quickest way to be seen (literally overnight) is through paid advertising (whether in search engines or social media) while typically organic SEO takes several weeks or months to really shine. It’s important to remember and teach that Organic SEO is a process; not a get rich quick scheme. Organic SEO is about creating a system for getting found in search engines, allowing your website to rank higher for certain terms.

WordCamp Europe - Local SEO Tips from Jen MillerWhen businesses use advertising and organic search as companion pieces in audience targeting, they discover their ads deliver more closely-matched real audiences and real revenue increases. Increases that are sustainable, not ad dependent, as customers who are local tend to refer more often and become repeat buyers. Local viewers return to local websites, feel more connected and are more likely to share by word of mouth or through direct url with a large regional audience.

To keep the connection with a local audience, one must consider several aspects.

Layer one is speed. Reducing image size, resisting the urge to call on too many external resources, utilizing a cache system and keeping SPAM comments under control are some ways to enhance speed.

Layer two is the technical details of the code. What platform is the website on? Where is it hosted? Does it have a security certificate? Are there redundancies in plugins or the theme code that may be limiting?

Layer three is the website design. Does it lead the viewer to conversion, meaning do the colors, structure and forms make it simple for a user to take action? Is the website attractive, responsive and easy to follow? Does the design inspire?

Layer four is the website copy or words and images. These must be fine-tuned so that the topic is readily understood from both a technical and creative standpoint. When the text and images on a website clearly identify subject matter and keywords, each page and post can be indexed in search engines. This means adding the right header titles, applying attachment details – such as alt text and a description, including internal and/or external links and creating custom copy that engages readers. If the content is interesting and meaningful, it leaves a longer impression.

Lastly, layer five relates to the domain – does it have a history of integrity? If a domain is established, meaning not new, it performs better. On the other hand, if that same domain was used questionably at some point in its past, the opposite could be true. Evaluating and knowing the history of your domain can help you to avoid issues post launch.

The website design must be evaluated from a technical and creative standpoint.

New leads come to the site for 3 main reasons.

  1. Action – They want to complete something now.
  2. Knowledge – They want to learn.
  3. Direct – They are looking for a specific page (these leads typically are return visitors though they could come through direct mail attempts, such as a postcard campaign).

Local SEO allows leads to narrow all three of these and search on a location-based level which leads to the most relevant results. These results are evolving as voice search becomes more popular. When I mention voice search, I’m referring to virtual assistants on devices, more commonly known as Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Now. How many of you have used these as search tool in the last 2 weeks?

Jen Miller Shares on Local SEO Tips at WordCamp Europe You may find it interesting to see that Cortana has actually been shown to have the highest accuracy rating. I’m not here to talk about voice search, but I bring it up, because it is quickly becoming an essential tool for neighborhood businesses in local SEO.

A February study of voice search users conducted by HigherVisibility.com showed that after other phone functionality the highest number of voice searches related to business addresses, followed by the second highest which was the search for local business information. After that sport score requests and movie times were next in line for search results. It’s time to make sure your website is accessible via voice search.

Voice search goes hand in hand with semantic search as it relates to local results.

Location is essential in semantic search because the search looks beyond the words said or typed and considers the intent of the user and their location. Rather than focusing on typical SEO based on keywords, semantic search takes a holistic approach, broadening the search and even offering search suggestions to help the user. This opens the playing field even more, in terms of keywords and related terms. In many cases people use different words when speaking than when writing. For instance if I were writing that sentence I would likely have used the term language instead of words… see what I mean?

Localized Content steeps you in your community – in intent and in environment. You create this by tying geographic references to your industry keywords.

  • Montmartre + Dry Cleaning
  • Emergency Spot Removal + 75007
  • Laundry Service + 4th arr.

Localized Content creates you as an expert in your community. Blog posts focused on current events, neighborhood hot spots and favorites and nearby locations show that you know the area while at the same time tying geographic references to your industry keywords.

  • “The spring hunt takes place near Vannes homes on…”
  • “Pick up treasures to decorate your Lorient real estate.”
  • Or my favorite… “Tonton Maboule is one of the summer secrets to La Rochelle living.”

Combining local events and places with industry keywords creates a blog worth reading (that is also seen in search engines).

Be aware that Meta Matters

Local SEO Yoast Plugin Developer Joost de Valk Visits with Jen Miller, Bridget Willard and Autry JohnsonWhen you take the time to create a localized blog post, you must pay attention to the details beyond the actual content. Use your chosen localized keyword phrase in your metadescription, title, headings and alt descriptions. There are SEO plugins that will assist you in adding these elements. One of them actually helps you to “show” your client that your work is optimized! This can be key in distinguishing yourself as a content provider.

Once the content is created, correlate them to your social posts if possible and keep it interesting.

Earlier I mentioned intent. If your post seems boring, it likely is. People and search engines recognize this – don’t lose views due to a lack of enthusiasm (aka passive voice). Link up. Writing on City Hall? Incorporate a link to the city’s page. This adds value for your readers and may help your link ratio. Also, if you’ve written on another topic in that city in another post, mention it and build an internal link. Build yourself up to be THE local resource. Link to other valued resources

Consider what words your customers and competitors use to describe you. Think on the fastest and most technical way to describe your service or product. I will tweet out some tools and resources for you to explore after this talk that you can use to evaluate competitor search results on your topic, check that your search terms are the best to use, explore and discover alternate phrases. Ask Consumers, Friends, Experts, Thesaurus, Search Tools for help.

Remember a web property requires attention, like any other valued property. Once LIVE, the property must be maintained. New friends can be welcomed in and older relationships nurtured. Changes and updates will need to be made. Stories and history of the property will be told. The property will influence those who enter in and change lives. The web property should be a place where answers are shared and safety is felt. Think of Local SEO as the welcome map to your web property. It should attract an audience and keep them coming back.

Please – Share what you know and do on social media and email (use all your website urls).

I’m Jen Miller and I’ll be local until the end of June or find me on Twitter and LinkedIn at jenblogs4u.

Merci Beaucoup.


Posted in Blog, Community, From the Stage

How to Hire a Blogger – Ask the Right Questions

When you hire a blogger do you look for someone with other content skills?Jen Miller explains How to Hire a Blogger, in her recent podcast on Be Seen Blogging. Today we’re going to talk about something a little different. Every day I get calls from clients interested in starting up blogging service. Many of them don’t understand how to make the transition to hiring a blogger. Realizing you may be in the same boat, I decided we needed to discuss questions you should ask when hiring a writer for your blog.

First and foremost, you have to find someone who is the right fit and understands your tone and style. What voice will they use to engage your readers? Next, you need to explore whether the writer is informed on your topic. If all of this seems to mesh with your company and goals, then you’ll need to get into more serious questions.

Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Blogger

  • How were you trained to write and why are you interested in writing my blog posts? How do you do your research? Will you conduct interviews?

This question is easily answered by someone who has experience. Prior to blogging I was a journalist, so this is one of my favorite questions to answer. I love conducting interviews and researching new topics to find the untold story or take a topic deeper and have put together a team of writers who feel the same.

  • Do you write other types of content?

This question can be a double-edged sword. On one hand hiring a writer who is spreading themselves too thin with varied projects can be a real issue. However, a white-paper writer who can utilize graphs and statistics in a post or someone who has the vision to see how your posts could eventually create book material is invaluable.

  • Do you blog or write elsewhere and can you send published samples?

Post samples should always be requested and it’s best to see them when published so you have an idea of the finished product vs. stand-alone text. Our posts, for instance include stock images, headers and other formatting such as bullets or sections to break up the text. Plus, with published work, you’ll be able to see any engagement tools, from sign up forms to links, also known as calls to action.

  • Do you have an error-free guarantee or process for eliminating grammar issues and avoiding mistakes in spelling?

This is key to presenting a professional image on your blog and is especially important to watch for when you hire a blogger. We have a 3-part edit system in place that goes way beyond spell check to ensure that our blogs posts are error-free.

  • What blogging platforms do you use and will you upload the posts directly for me?

Do you consider copyright when you hire a blogger?It’s always helpful when you can find a blogger that will post directly on your platform and alert you when a draft is ready for review. Otherwise your time savings is drastically reduced as you still need to login to the site and format each post yourself.

  • Do you have copyright protections in place to protect yourself and your clients? What are they?

The answer to this should be yes and a specific strategy should be outlined. Options can include use of stock imagery and plagiarism scanners as well as professional liability insurance.

  • Do you use search engine optimization best practices in your writing?

Any experienced blogger has learned how to optimize posts for search and even beginners have tools that can teach them the necessities. If your blogger doesn’t answer this question well, it’s time to look elsewhere.

  • Will you promote the posts after writing and if so, where?

Some bloggers use their own byline and will promote your posts on their social media. We prefer to think of the content as yours, so write under your byline and share it under your social media. The most important thing, however, is that the promotion of each post occurs and is shared repeatedly over time, regardless of which accounts shares.

  • Will you post to my blog consistently? What are the emergency plans you have in place should become ill, vacation or lose power?

Consistent blogging is the reason why you hire someone. If your blogger doesn’t have a plan in place, such as scheduling, backup posts or a plan to get online when times are unique, you may want to reconsider.

  • What is the biggest improvement I will see in my blog by hiring you?

This answers depends on the blogger, but consistency, engagement, and website traffic should all be on the list.

Thank you for tuning in to Be Seen Blogging today. If you have more questions on how to hire a blogger or other website content topics, please reach out to me, Jen Miller, on Twitter @jenblogs4u or through my website at NeedSomeoneToBlog.com.

Posted in Blog, Podcast Business

Adding Local Romance and Gift Ideas to Blog Posts Episode 21

Hi everyone – this is Jen Miller and I am so excited to be talking to you on Be Seen Blogging once again after the holiday break. I hope you, like me, enjoyed time with loved ones and had a chance to recharge and prepare for the new year! Thanks you for taking the time to tune in to learn ways to ramp up your blog and website content, all in under 10 minutes.

I know we  talked about featuring lists as blog posts in episode 12 but since a major gift holiday is on the horizon, I figured it was an ideal topic to revisit, with a twist. Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it and NOW is the time to gather the ideas for your Top Ten Gifts posts — for him, for her, for kids, for pets, you name it! You can position your list by topic or budget, for example shoestring ideas to warm the heart or glamorous gifts to take her breath away and really have fun as you consider the possibilities in your post. Since location is a priority in most of the content we write, a series featuring local getaways, treats or boutique finds makes for perfect posts!

If you own a business that offers products or services that could be included in the gift list, consider adding a gift certificate option to your post.

interview-shop-ownerCatchy headlines and beautiful photos are needed to create content that will be shared and your featured items should not be run of the mill, either. Seek out the unique. Ask shop owners about their gifting favorites and best and worst sellers. Have some fun with it. An interview or two with local shop owners of someone who runs a favorite restaurant or bed and breakfast in your area can add life and length to your post! Plus you may find that as you reach you develop more fans who will link to your site and send you customers. Make friends as you research!

If you don’t have time to shop local and have a feeling your readers might be pressed for time, you could create posts featuring ideas from online and quick shipping options, such as online florists, fruit bouquets and chocolate shops (my favorite is Dan’s Chocolates, by the way) to Amazon’s Prime NOW service which I can attest delivers in under and hour. A few minutes making phone calls may also help you to discover nearby pizza places that specializes in saving the day with heart shaped pizza delivery. I know there’s one in my town!

Anyway, regardless of what you choose to feature, this is the type of post you’ll want to publish on your social media profiles. With the right featured image, these posts pull in clicks as sponsored ads, too, since good ideas beg to be shared. You’ll definitely want to feature your post in your newsletter and ask friends and family to share it. Afterall, who doesn’t like great gift ideas?

Sharing a story of young love, seasoned romance or love that has been tested is always a great addition to any gift post, as well. Here are some ways to weave that into your copy.

  • In real estate? Write about a client who fell in love with a home and/or each other through the home buying experience.
  • Are you an insurance salesman? Explain how your policies protect and provide security to couples through generations and share how you’ve witnessed this comfort clients and their families.
  • If you’re an artist or developer, share what inspires you to create objects and websites that change lives. Share the vision beyond the creation, looking past the details and headaches, to the idea that made you excited about the project in the first place.

element-of-passionEvery profession has an element of passion — a love that can be explored — and in most cases sharing that story can be very powerful. When attached to an actionable gift list, even one that only includes tech tools, you produce a post that has the ability to go viral. So go and do and send me a link. I’d love to feature your lists (and links to your blogs) when I write my post on gift giving later this month. Email your links to jenmiller@needsomeonetoblog.com to be included in the list. You can also find me on Twitter @jenblogs4u or through my NeedSomeoneToBlog website. I look forward to hearing from you. Talk to you next week!

Posted in Blog, Podcast Business

Good Content Can Rank Your Website Faster

Understand how good content sets the ground work for allowing your website to rank faster. Take the time to think about and research your keywords before you write.

graphics_three_1_thumbTranscript: Today in episode #19, we’re going to be discussing, “How Good Content Can Rank Your Website Faster.” I’m going to share a little more of what Joost de Valk said at WordCamp US last week because his topic is applicable to all platforms and touched on key points that when implemented will help your website rank better and faster.

Even before discussing keywords and content, Joost stressed two things. “You need to have a website that is mobile friendly,” and “You’ll always need some form of cache,” he said. Without these two essentials you will lose your ability to rank well as search engines value mobile functionality and speed. You can test your website to learn how it performs (and get other insights) at https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly

Once you’ve completed that step, you should move on to analyzing your content and you can find a lot of the information you need using Google’s search console. Study the search analytics so you can see what search terms are bringing readers to your site, as well as your internal and external links. You can see which of your pages have been indexed and if your site has errors. Joost urged that everyone who cares about their website become familiar with the search console.

Good content can turn your website into a masterpiece.Next he brought up a topic that I get a lot of questions on… which keywords should I use. Most businesses want to be found for their company name, however as Joost explained, “You need to do keyword search and 9 times out of ten, that’s not the name that you gave your company.”

We’ve talked before on this podcast about the importance of thinking like your reader when choosing keywords you use in your posts and pages. Joost stressed the importance of thinking about keywords BEFORE you start writing. “You simply cannot be found for new words that you never use. This is the most important truth in SEO,” he shared. So when you create a list of words you want to be found for, you need to find a way to work each into your posts and pages.

Joost went on to define that each topic needs a post or a page, saying, “Don’t try to cram 50 different things on each page.” What he meant is that each page can only have one targeted keyword or keyword phrase – and you should only try to rank for that keyword or phrase on that one page, not all pages, in your site.

I often say that keyword strategy and website creation is like a puzzle. You have to figure out your cornerstone pieces and place them within your site. After that, you build good content from there until you’ve created a masterpiece.

Joost suggested that all bloggers review their current websites for older content that performs well. Once found, that content can be updated with a new publish date. He also advised that webmasters view their websites as a library, with organized categories and tags.

Many of you will find solace in the frequency of posting recommended by Joost. Rather than trying to blog daily, Joost advised, “I really, really, really would prefer any of you to write good content once every week or every two weeks and have one good post. It’s so much more preferable.” He continued to emphasize, “Good content takes a lot of time to create. Don’t look at the time spent, look at what it will get you.”

If you need help figuring out how to make your content work better in the new year, reach out to me @jenblogs4u on Twitter or through NeedSomeoneToBlog.com. Thanks for listening to episode #19 of Be Seen Blogging. Look forward to talking with you next week!

Posted in Blog, Podcast Business

Building Links For Website Ranking

Building Links Means Making Friends

Jen Miller answers a client question on whether building links or buying links is best for SEO and website ranking. Jen recaps what Joost de Valk recently had to say on the subject at an international WordPress conference, WordCamp US, in December 2016.

Building links is about having the conversationTranscription: Hi, it’s Jen Miller and this Be Seen Blogging show, episode #18, is a little different than usual. You see, I just returned from a conference in Philadelphia called WordCamp US where I attended a talk entitled “SEO in 2016” by Joost de Valk. If you use WordPress you likely know Joost as the developer behind the Yoast plugin, an amazing SEO and content marketing tool. Otherwise you’ll just have to believe me when I say he’s an authority on content marketing and deserves your respect. I’ll be sharing with you some of his comments today as we talk about today’s episode, “Building Links For Website Ranking.”

Just last week I had a client ask if we were building links on his site or if he should buy them elsewhere. I immediately explained that link building happened over time as his website content earned merit and that buying links would be a mistake.

Ways to Go About Building Links

Typically we include external links in blog posts and community type pages if an authoritative link is available as the content is written.The hope is that the authoritative website will link back. We create internal linking as well, connecting related pages and posts in a website, because it makes it easy for readers to go deeper into the website and can reduce the bounce rate or how quickly a viewers leaves the site.

Depending on the desired goal, we may also use other methods to encourage link building, such as guest blogging on high ranking sites, establishing individual and company profiles or writing wiki-type articles that link back into your content to achieve this goal.

When it comes to ranking in search engines, interesting and carefully crafted website content is critically important. Links are important as well. You really need to do everything you can to build authority in your site and spot on content combined with credible links accomplishes this!

Many years ago I started adding the Yoast SEO plugin to our blogging sites and recommending it to people learning to blog. Once added to a site, I believe Yoast SEO is the ultimate security blanket for bloggers. It assists by pointing out possible post failings AND suggests methods of resolution. Once the post is optimized for search engines, a green light appears, telling the writer that it’s time to publish. A brilliant and well-executed plugin developed initially by Joost so he could resolve his own content issues and “scratch an itch,” Yoast SEO has enhanced millions of websites.

Conversation Is a Great Way to Start Building Links

Joost de Valk, explained that getting a website to rank takes work. “The thing that people seem to think is that Google will find everything by itself. It will not. You need to link. If you don’t link to content, no matter how good it is, you will never rank,” he said. “You still need links to rank.”

Joost de Valk Explains that conversation helps in building links.Joost encouraged conversation as a way to build connections with other websites, “So work on that,” he suggested. “That in itself is also hard work. Link building is not easy. It’s something that comes from a lot of talking to other people, saying, “Hey I wrote this piece, do you like it and would you want to link to that?”

If you are new to blogging you probably haven’t done that before. You might not realize how connected your website – your virtual world – and your real life interactions are, until you seek out links. As you make friends or partner with others to add links to your website, you’ll realize that you can create more traffic by helping one another.

As Joost said, “You have to do the work. The problem with most of us human beings is that you don’t really get into real conversations.”

Speaking of himself and his company, Joost explained, “We don’t link to many people, but we link to people that we know and love and trust. So the chance of you getting a link from me is sometimes a lot higher if you talk to any of us here and we see and we talk to you for awhile. Then we’ll link to you. We’re not unique in that. Everybody wants linkbacks.”

Building Links That Relate To Your Topic.jpg“Do that. Go out. Talk to people,” Joost encouraged. “Figure out who’s writing about your topic and go to where all these people are.”

And finally Joost said what I was desperately hoping he’d say. “Don’t buy links. Don’t do any of the things that feel fishy. If it feels fishy to you, you’re probably right and it’s harder to get sites to  rank well after you’ve done stupid stuff.”`

So, there you have it. Don’t do stupid stuff. Buying links fits into that category. So to answer my client’s question, build links, don’t buy them. Thank you for tuning in to Be Seen Blogging. Have questions about your website content? Reach out to me on Twitter at jenblogs4u or through my NeedSomeoneToBlog.com website.

Posted in Blog, Podcast Business

Using Yoast SEO as a Guide Not as Law

Using Yoast SEO as a Content Guide

Jen Miller explains the importance of using Yoast SEO as a guide rather than a content dictator. Blogging allows freedom of expression and the words used need to fit your audience. Readability scores, while valuable in many industries, have less value when your readers expect the use of industry terms and advanced verbiage.

Hello, I’m Jen Miller and you are listening to another episode of Be Seen Blogging, the podcast that shares tips and tricks of how to create winning website content, all in under 10 minutes. On today’s show, #17, we’ll be discussing one of my favorite plugins, Yoast SEO. I began using Yoast SEO while it was in beta. While I agree it earns the title of “Definitive Guide” on website SEO, I also understand that the term guide is not law…. and you should too!

You see the plugin is useful because it reminds bloggers, new and seasoned, of the important elements to include in each post. From title and chosen keyword placement, to permalink, text length and meta description, using Yoast SEO results in more powerful blog posts. These suggestions increase performance. Readership grows as your post reaches more readers. Users refrain from using stop words. The plugin encourages that posts be written for a common audience, generally accepted as a 4th-5th grade reading level. And, it absolutely works.

If however you are in a technical or medical industry or happen to be a lawyer or astrophysicist, the Yoast SEO plugin may give you trouble. It encourages the use of familiar phrases and words, steering the writer from using too advanced of a tone. In some professions this can be rather limiting. In fact, business bloggers may find this to be the case often as case studies make reference to less common words and industry terms. This explains why Yoast SEO is used as a guide, not law.

The Yoast SEO plugin provides two indicators on post quality – the SEO factor and the readability factor.

Give your blog post the highest chance of success. Follow all SEO dictates outlined by the plugin (unless you are an advanced user with a specific purpose in mind). Use the recommendations I’ve outlined in past Need Someone To Blog posts, such as Go GREEN with Intentional Blogging to turn the Yoast SEO light from red to green.

Readability, however, is completely dependent on your audience. Review the suggestions given by the plugin and make an educated decision as to whether or not they apply to your post. In most cases, energizing a passive voice phrase  makes sense. In some cases, such as an interview situation, it does not. Removing industry terms or “dumbing down” a post for academics would be a travesty. Yet, shortening a sentence to give it more punch is an excellent suggestion.

I’m a believer in using what works for you.

Follow every SEO recommendation and judge the readability after evaluating your goals for the blog post. Does your mandatory keyword phrase include a stop word? Use it. If you can only describe your product with industry jargon, then do so… but consider that you may need to break down the words to a level your customer’s understand. Should you find that longer sentence convey the feeling you want for a post, don’t shorten them and change meaning due to a low readability score.

Your website and your blog posts need to be in your recognizable voice, even if that means it may not be 100% correct in form.

Trust the plugin, but trust yourself more.

Thanks for listening to Be Seen Blogging! I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring the Yoast SEO plugin with me – it really is my favorite WordPress toy. Talk to you next week!

Posted in Blog, Podcast Business

Gratitude Posts and Why They Work

Express Gratitude Through Gratitude Posts When Blogging

Learn the what and why of gratitude posts. Discover how expressing thanks in a blog post can encourage reader engagement and increase product sales in business, all in under ten minutes on the Be Seen Blogging podcast.

Transcript:

Hello, it’s Jen Miller and you are listening to Be Seen Blogging, the podcast where you learn tips and trick for improving your website content, all in under 10 minutes. Today we are going to be discussing Gratitude Posts and Why They Work.

At the year closes in, each of us experiences moments of reflection on the highs and lows of the year. We think about the surprises, the people, the milestones and the experiences for which we are most grateful. For this reason (and many others) gratitude posts resonate with readers. Based on expressing personal feelings, gratitude posts are a key way to connect and mirror life experiences, because even though details may be widely different, we all can relate to stories of triumph, challenge and vulnerability.

Expressing gratitude makes the world a little smaller and each of our relationships more significant. Showing you are thankful for your clients, co-workers or the impact a speaker or friend has had on your life makes you more approachable. Maybe there are a hundred and one little things you’d list that make you grateful. If so, write them up in a blog post. You’ll find that the more of those you share, the more others will want to bring you into their lives.

You may be thinking that gratitude has nothing to do with your business, that it won’t help you in search results and that it has no place on your blog. And if you do, I’d say you are out of touch. Everyone likes to be thanked. Every reader likes to know that you know they follow you. When you reach out through a blog post and acknowledge others it shows you care. If you take it a step further and email the post with a special note to your key contributors – whether they are clients or collaborators – you become more memorable. Be authentic and show some heart – these people will champion you!

Explain the milestones you’ve seen or share a story of how you’ve helped someone as it relates to your industry. Mention names and places, numbers and goals. Write about how you are going to do better in the new year and explain where you thought things went right in the last. Share photos and letters of appreciation you’ve received and how those made you feel. You’ll find that once you start, the words will flow. I’ve had some clients use this type of post as the groundwork script for creating a video, too. You’ll find that your audience will appreciate every word and that it will change you, too.

I love when my clients come back to me with stories of how they met someone new because of a blog post. I especially love when clients share a gratitude post and call me explaining that it helped them connect with someone who they hadn’t spoken with in years. I’ve had this experience myself, so I know it works.

Last year a friend of mine suggested I write up a post on gratitude and it prompted my post, Finding Gratitude in Simplicity. I found myself flooded with phone calls and emails – from new, current and past clients and friends. I’m telling you these posts really work! An added bonus is that they will make you reflect on the goodness in your life.

Gratitude plays a big role in my life. As a business owner I am responsible for the livelihood of our staff. Need Someone To Blog has grown at an incredible rate in the last 3 years and as we’ve grown our staff has increased and flourished, in more than business.

Lives have been changed.

Some team members have gotten married. Others have announced babies and advanced degrees on the way. Others have found writing as a tool for focusing as they’ve gone through hard personal times. One of our writers took a leave of absence to serve in the Peace Corps in Africa and has experienced life in a way that few can understand. Reading Chris’ posts has given me a greater appreciation for sacrifice and for my own freedoms.

Life isn’t easy but as a team we have been blessed. It has been an amazing year for all of us and I am grateful to have witnessed it.

I started this podcast not knowing what it would bring and have been shocked by the opportunities it has given me. I am grateful to my business coach, Darin, who encouraged and pushed me to launch Be Seen Blogging even when I didn’t feel “ready.” I am grateful to you, my listeners, for downloading episodes and sharing them with your friends. Because of you, my podcast has reached far beyond what I could have imagined. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve connected with many new clients due to the podcast launch and I thank you for that!

I’m grateful to live in a country where I have a voice that can expressed and that I have opportunity to live the values that I choose. My family and friends bring me joy. Life is good most days. Now it’s your turn, what are you grateful for? Who can you thank? Start writing it down and I’ll catch up with you next week (unless I hear from you before)! You can reach me on Twitter at jenblogs4u or on through NeedSomeonetoBlog.com Talk to you next week!

Posted in Blog, Podcast Business
Ideas to Make Your Blog Work!