Saturday, May 01, 2010

Be creative when it comes to your blog

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Friday, April 30, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Metro section

This is the second in a two-part series on blogging. Last week, I discussed the following topics: 1) What's a blog?; 2) How do I get a blog?; 3) How do I get people to read my blog?; 4) Making money on your blog; and 5) Keep it professional! If you missed last week's column, check the Times & Transcript's online archives or my blog.

To post photos or not?

The short answer is yes, definitely. Photos are also searchable in Google and show up in search results. It's just another way for you to get noticed when people are looking for content that will send them to your website. The vast majority of people use Google for searches. From January 1 to March 31 of this year, 39 per cent of my traffic came directly from Google searches, while another nine per cent came from referrals from Google Images - so that's 48 per cent just from Google.

There are various sources for photos, including Google Images and free stock photo websites. Just remember that it's very important to source your photos if at all possible. Try not to just save them on your computer and then post them as your own. I realize it's difficult sometimes to source a generic graphic or photo, but by all means provide a photo credit if at all possible and provide a link to the source's website. Courtesy and honesty should guide you here. If you use paid stock photography that you legally have access to, then there should be no need to source it.

Photos and graphics also make your blog more visually appealing. It's just human nature to be attracted to colour and design. If your blog is just page upon page of words, it's not as interesting to look at and may unfairly get ignored because it isn't attractive. With that said, however, content is king on blogs. Spend more time on content.

Use video whenever you feel it's appropriate: A blog doesn't have to just be written. You can use a vlog (video blog) post that you've saved to YouTube or another video sharing site. If you don't feel like writing, why not use video as a substitute? Most computers now come with decent built-in easy-to-use video editing software that at least will get you started. For fancier videos, you can purchase something off the shelf or online.

I post several videos to my blog every week. Because my blog (at least for now) is a general interest blog based on my own thoughts and writings, I can post whatever I want. I choose to post stuff that is normally considered family-friendly, but what you post is up to you.

There are several entertaining YouTubers out there who post videos all the time. I post videos by Fred, Charlieissocoollike, Barats and Bareta, Kevjumba and many other content creators. You don't have to do it all yourself.

Even if it's not for entertainment - but for business - there are lots of other people who are creating perfectly good videos that you can use on your blog. If you're a real estate agent, for example, there are tons of videos out there regarding staging your home, etc. These can only garner you more credibility with your clients and help them as they try to sell or buy a home - hopefully through you! What I'm saying is that you don't have to create all your content yourself. Post content created by others! That's what it's there for! Just remember to give credit where credit is due.

Enabling comments on your blog

Readers who want to post legitimate, responsible comments on your blog should be able to. If you enabled commenting, however - which I believe you should - I'm also a huge advocate for ensuring that you moderate these comments before they're posted. This means that you will get a notice with a copy of the comment and you'll either have to accept or reject it.

You'll likely accept most of the comments and may one day wonder why you're bothering to do so. Trust me, you'll thank yourself because the spam and nasty haters and trolls will come calling at some point. Actually, moderation tends to keep these negative commentators away because their "thrill" comes in the form placing a comment quickly and then leaving. If you enable moderation in your comments, you'll be able to delete any spam or hateful messages before they go online. This is a good thing because you don't want your readers thinking this stuff is condoned by you.

Figuring out your traffic

By all means, enable the amazing and free Google Analytics website traffic management tool for your blog. This will tell you how many people have visited your site in the last year, month, day€¦ and even how many in the last hour. It will also tell you from where in the world your traffic is originating and what content is the most popular.

There are a host of other things that Google Analytics will tell you, including how long people spend on your website and your bounce rate. According to Wikipedia, the bounce rate is described as, "a term used in website traffic analysis. It essentially represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who 'bounce' away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site." So, the lower the bounce rate, the better.

Don't bother paying for a website traffic analysis tool unless you are highly specialized. If you're running a blog, Google Analytics should be more than sufficient.

Treat your blog like a business! That doesn't mean that it should bog you down, but it means that you have to commit. If you don't show up for work, you'll get fired, right? Well, if you don't blog regularly, you'll lose readers and credibility. Commit!

Have fun blogging! I'll continue to write about blogging from time to time, of course. If you have any questions or comments, send them my way!

8 comments:

Charles LeBlanc said...

What????

No mention of moi moi moi???

:P

Brian Cormier said...

Maybe next time, Charles. LOL :P

Ray Hiltz said...

Enjoyed "blogging part deux" - very clear and even though you brought up the "analytics" word, did so in a very user friendly way. This is why I find your posts so appealing.
I immerse myself all day with social marketing gurus and marketing jargon to get a sense of the possibilities this medium has. However, I find that sometimes I get lost in the babble and just want to screen out the noise and focus on the what I believe is the value of social media: to engage.

Question for you - you mentioned that you were checking out Wordpress. I've also checking it out for my business blog. Have you seen any advantages to moving to Wordpress or is this more about status than function?

Have a great weekend.

Brian Cormier said...

Hi Ray - Thanks for the kind comments. I really appreciate the RTs and forwards, too. :)

Basically, I'm starting WordPress blog because they're more professional, more versatile, and can look more like a real website rather than a free Blogspot blog. Also, because you host the site somewhere yourself and pay for it, it can't be removed willy-nilly by Blogger (unless it has illegal content).

Also, credibility-wise, you just don't see many really influential income-generating blogs on Blogger (blogspot).

Hope this helps!

Ray Hiltz said...

These are exactly the same reasons that I am looking into it.

I'm just a bit intimidated about the installation process as I have no background in web construction; but I guess that's what "Dummy' books are for LOL.

Thanks for the feedback.

Brian Cormier said...

I think if you Google it, you'll find some help pretty quickly. There are lots of FAQs out there. Check out these free videos from Yaro Starak and Gideon Shalwick:

http://www.becomeablogger.com/

Ray Hiltz said...

Thanks Brian, I'll keep you posted on how I do.

Paul Melanson said...

Good information in both columns about blogging Brian.

I started a general purpose blog and have been lax about adding content and have actually started another one on a specific area of interest and will prepare several posts before scheduling them to appear on a daily basis.

I use Blogger and have looked at WordPress in the past but gave up on it for a specific reason. Its been a while so I'll go and look back to figure out what the problem was. But I'm not particularly interested in gaining the types of advantages that you mention that WordPress offers so I don't know if I'll want to give up the ease of use of Blogger.

Once the blogs are "Ready for Prime Time" I'll let you know where you can find it! :-)