The dilemma of the starving artist is nothing new. For as long as anybody can remember, it’s gone something like this: You’re an artist rolling in the dough because you were lucky enough to make it big or have connections that got you behind the right closed doors with the right people. Or, you’re practically on the streets, desperate to sell your art, and there is nothing else you can do because you were made to create and not doing so would kill you inside. [Read more…]
Editor’s note: This post was written by Aby League, a qualitative researcher and a passionate writer. She is an innovator and technology enthusiast. She has been writing about health, psychology, home improvement and technology. You can see more of her articles on Elite Daily. To know her more, follow @abyleague on Twitter.
Today, blogs and social media platforms are doing wonders for the business community. They allow businesses to promote their brands across large audiences, as well as help them build brand identity and trust among customers. However, for this approach to be successful, business owners and/or freelance writers like you must learn to use these two tools in a way that they’ll effectively complement each other.
Image courtesy of Christian Schnettelker via Flickr, Creative Commons
Social media holds great potential in driving readers to your blog.
Consequently, a blog can support your social media account by leveraging credibility and substance. However, you must be careful to strike a balance between the two. If you’re just starting to build your business’s web presence, you must first learn the basics of blogging and social media: what they do, what they’re used for, and how they can help move your business forward.
See, blogging and social media work differently.
A blog is ideally used to share a business’s expertise and knowledge on industry-relevant matters. It provides a conversational approach in discussing various topics that do not just promote the your brand, but also genuinely provide interesting information that readers will truly benefit from. On the other hand, social media platforms allow you to reach a larger community—since everyone these days are either logged in on Facebook, scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, or looking for creative ideas on Pinterest.
Blogs and social media serve two different purposes—but when used together, they provide a great chance of building a powerful and influential web presence for virtually any type of business. Whether you want to drive a steady stream of readers to your blog, or make people want to share your blog content on Facebook and Twitter, here is how you can use blogging and social media to your business advantage:
- Use social media to grow your blog’s traffic. A blog entry will not be able to promote itself unless it is shared across multiple social media platforms. However, building blog audience through social media can be quite tricky. Keep in mind that the key to grabbing attention on social media is to create short but interesting content. When sharing a certain blog entry on social media, put effort in making fun and creative captions or visuals that would entice social media users to click the link to your blog. How a social snippet looks on social media is almost as important as what it says.
- Make your blog entries “shareable” across all social media platforms. It’s one thing to share your own content on social media, but it’s another to be able to make it easy for readers to share your content on their social media accounts. It’s the online equivalent of advertising through word of mouth. Include share buttons on your blog so that readers can easily share or recommend your brand through your interesting blog post. Also, make sure that your buttons are up-to-date, as social media icons tend to change really fast.
- Take advantage of Analytics. If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics, you are probably missing out. This tool allows you to monitor the activity on your website or blog by counting how many people are actually clicking your outbound social media links. If the numbers are low, you can re-examine if your social media buttons are in a strategic position on the page, or if you’re writing about the wrong things on your blog. Either way, let the numbers help you improve what needs to be improved. You can also use Avinash Kaushik’s social media metrics as a guide to gauge your social media performance.
- Write about things that matter to your readers. You can share your blog posts on social media all you want—you can even put social media buttons all over your page, but readers won’t share your content if it gives them nothing worth sharing. As such, write about topics that are socially relevant. Blogging must be creative and informative, and not aggressive, hard sell writing. Remember that you want to educate and empower your readers so that they keep coming back for more.
Image courtesy of Robb Sutton via Flickr, Creative Commons
- Showcase your social media content on your blog. While blogs do allow more depth than social media channels, social media can still showcase unique content that doesn’t need a blog entry of its own. If people engage with such posts on social media, consider featuring these posts on your blog. For instance, if your Tweets get a lot of Retweets and replies, it would be a great idea to integrate your Twitter feed directly on your site.
Writer’s block is that thing we all dread, yet happens now and then. We have a very useful resource on the topic of writer’s block and how to move past it, but if you’re looking for a quick fix, here’s a short list of go-to ideas that can help you come up with a blog post without having to go through the sometimes excruciating process of smashing that block to pieces.
These blog post topics are rather general in nature, and you can tweak them and play around with them as much as you want to when you find yourself wondering what to write about. [Read more…]
You may be able to sling words skillfully like a crusty old wizard casts spells, but without developing a solid online foundation to augment it, you’re likely to find yourself bereft of work; in other words, a wizard without a willing (or unwilling) experiment to transmute, burn, poison, or curse.
Like it or not, online writing is one part penmanship prowess, one part online marketing. The sooner you accept those two seemingly disparate activities as halves of one complete entity called the online freelance writer, the better off you’ll be — and the sooner you’ll be landing more gigs that require a dash of both.
Here then are five steps you should take immediately to build your online presence.
1. Start (and maintain) a personal blog
The key word here is “maintain.” Starting a blog is easy enough. There are any number of free blogging platforms such as WordPress you can get started with, and finding a personal or professional area of interest to focus on shouldn’t be difficult.
Maintaining it and posting to it consistently is not as easy, however; yet it’s something employers will be watching for when they pop on by for a look-see.
Writers have a reputation for unreliability, so exhibiting such signs on your own blog such as disappearing for days on end will trigger warning signs in a prospective employer’s eyes … even when your words managed to compel such eyes to stay riveted to the screen.
2. Guest blog for prominent websites in areas of interest
Personal blogging is a great start, but to increase exposure for your name and drive traffic to your blog and/or website, you should also consider guest blogging.
Many blogs allow guest bloggers who have something valuable to contribute. While you won’t be paid for your efforts, you’ll earn the weight of your words in gold; or at least in golden exposure.
3. Engage with other professionals on social networks
LinkedIn and Google+ are tremendous networks where you can connect with other people, show off your skills and portfolio, and make new friends. Don’t neglect other networks, however — including this very site.
Whenever you can leave an intelligent or thoughtful comment that can be tracked back to your blog or website, that’s one more indelible impression you’ve left on the Internet.
4. Build followings on social media
You may find social media shallow and a dreadful timesink, but many employers do not. Increasingly, more and more blogging sites and other writing gigs are seeking writers who already have a following on social media.
Your contacts and resources in this regard are as valuable as your writing in getting the word out there on a new blog, website, or product.
No one is expecting you to have thousands of Twitter followers; though it can’t hurt to actively try to build your following. Being active and having a moderately sized network that can spread your word around is enough for most employers.
To do that, try to build a content theme around your Twitter handle, and follow like-minded people and groups. They’ll often follow you back and create further opportunities for still other folks with similar interests to find and follow you. Then just upload a post here or there so your followers don’t desert you in a great migration to more fertile Tweeting lands, and you’re good to go.
5. Create a professional website
While a blog is nice, a branded website should be the ultimate goal of any professional writer. Here you can describe your services and showcase past work in a personalized and elegant way.
A professional site also enables prospective clients to reach out to you; it will bring work to your virtual doorstep, and allow you to eliminate some of the need to engage in the constant rat race of searching out more work.
Many quality web hosting services are available for a small fee to provide you with everything you need to get your own website up and running and furnish a focal point where all your other online threads converge.
Starting a blog is a lot like enrolling in college. Similar to how new students can be distracted by extracurricular activities, new bloggers can easily get so caught up in the excitement of designing a blog that they overlook one crucial detail: defining their niche.
Without a mission statement to give your writing purpose and establish your content as worthwhile to readers, your site could end up dropping out of the blogosphere.
If you’re a freshman blogger, consider these tips for finding your niche:
Beginning a blog is a commitment, so remember that Keeping It Simple is Smart. No, you don’t have to introduce your work to your folks or put a ring on it, but your blog is an investment that demands nurturing and attention. Don’t overcomplicate the process by cluttering your blog with a smorgasbord of tabs and categories that you don’t have the time or energy to update. Once you are comfortable with the blogging process and become an upperclassman then you can choose a minor.
Tout Your Talents
Utilize your blog as a virtual resume. Occupying blogspace to showcase your industry expertise could lead to additional career opportunities including new consulting gigs or a better job offer from an employer intrigued by your writing. Keep in mind that venturing down the path of a career-focused blog is not only about posting information concerning your skills and past career achievements, but also about providing relevant content. Operate your blog as a vehicle to express research findings, weigh in on industry trends and news, and unveil your innovative ideas.
Explore an Escape
Instead of adding another layer to your professional persona, let your blog function as a diversion from the daily grind. If you need a break from the 9 to 5, use your blog to write about anything but work.
The focus of your blog is only limited by your imagination. Consider The Ramen Rater, a blog that reviews various flavors and preparations of (you guessed it) instant ramen noodles. Or how about The Kitten Covers, a photo parody blog that puts kittens on the covers of well-known music albums. Where there’s an interest, there’s an audience.
Don’t be afraid to tackle an overly saturated niche like pregnancy, fashion, or digital marketing if it’s one that grabs your attention. Make the topic your own by developing an original viewpoint.
Although there are more than 3.9 million mommy blogs in North America, aspiring mom bloggers can still garner a following by sharing their own unique experiences and insight.
Personal content wins over generic information every day. Are you a mom raising a house full of boys? Do you have a unique philosophy on childrearing or discipline? Have you experienced a personal tragedy in your family that you’re ready to share so you can connect to others with similar stories? That’s what readers want to know; that’s your niche.
Go with Your Gut
Call it cliché, but trust your gut. Think back to the first time that you felt a push to start a blog. What inspired you?
• Did you disagree with a fourth quarter call during the playoffs and feel the urge to share your opinion?
• Were you researching SEO optimization on a high-traffic blog only to find your personal knowledge was more valuable?
• Did your sister’s suggestion to share your recipes online finally validate your unspoken aspirations to be the next Pioneer Woman?
Listen to that initial instinct. Odds are it’s your Muse at work.
Are you a blogging alum with sage advice on finding a niche? Please share your feedback with the incoming class in a comment below.
image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It’s often said that starting is the hardest part of any journey. While that’s true of many an endeavor, that’s not the case when it comes to blogging.
Starting is a relatively painless affair, and every corner of the Internet is stuffed with niche blogs authored by aspiring writers, aficionados of a subject, or simply people with an opinion they want to get out there … and the majority of those blogs have lifespans not much longer than that of the average housefly.
No, starting is not the hardest part when it comes to blogging. Scratching, clawing, and writing your way to a loyal and devoted fanbase is, and that can only be accomplished through persistence, self-promotion, a little bit of luck, and most of all, quality content.
While just about any blog could enjoy some flash-in-the-pan success with a little luck or the right marketing, only quality content will ensure that flash in the pan simmers into a long-term triumph and a steady or growing readership.
You might be wondering why on earth we’re writing about WordPress on FWJ, but if you run your own blog and you use the platform, then you have to be aware of the WordPress global attack that has been the talk of that scene in recent days. We’re not all techie, and you may even rely on other people to deal with the technical aspects of your site. If you do some tech tinkering yourself, though, it’s best to be aware of events such as this ongoing WordPress global attack. I don’t want to go too much into the details, but HostGator revealed some information about the issue earlier this month.
What is this WordPress global attack all about?
Here’s a brief and simple description of the issue.
The short and simple explanation of what is happening is that one or more illegal botnets (a network of hundreds, thousands, or millions of compromised computers that are being exploited to perform attacks, send spam, etc) are being used to brute-force attack WordPress sites. The goal of a brute force attack is to try as many username and password combinations as possible in order to find valid login credentials. It’s as if someone was trying to guess the combination on a combination lock, but rather than being limited to a single guess every few seconds, they could make hundreds or thousands of guesses a second while never getting tired. (Source)
Why should you be worried?
Obviously, you should only be concerned if you use WordPress. If this is the case, and you get hacked, then a number of things can happen. Your site can be shut down. Your site can be used to send spam, commit fraud, and all sorts of other illegal (or distasteful at best) activities. Illegal activities aside, having no access to your content can totally throw you off balance, especially if you use your blog or web site as a portfolio.
What should you do?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, my grandmother used to say, so the simplest thing you can do is change your password and use a very strong one. Use a password generator if you have to. Additionally, if you use “admin” as username, remove that immediately and change it. According to security experts, this is the most common username that is guessed, granting the hackers access to countless WordPress sites.
If you want to go the extra mile, take a look at services that can detect and repel such attacks.
What if it’s too late?
If you’ve been victimized by the issue, then you might think it’s too late. It’s not the end of the world, though. There are also services which can help you recover your site in case it gets hacked. HackedRecovery is one such service, and it also gives you support to bolster your site’s security.
Has anyone been at the receiving end of these attacks?
[Image via Hardware Zone]
Do you have “professional blogger” on your business card? Whether your card is real or imagined, if you consider yourself to be a blogger, then we at Splashpress Media have something for you. We are relaunching Performancing, a service which aims to provide a home for people like you. Whether it’s SEO, premium link building , or social media you are interested in, Performancing can help you with that.
Performancing has been around for a while now, but we are taking things to a whole new level with this relaunch. In line with the relaunch, we are giving you a chance to showcase your writing skills on our sites. If you do not know it already, Splashpress Media has a host of web sites covering various niches. One thing that they have in common: a wide reach that will certainly give any guest blogger exposure!
For this guest posting opportunity, we are opening up the following sites.
- Blogging Pro
- EatonWeb Blog Directory
- eXtra for Every Publisher (XFEP)
- Froodee – a lifestyle channel
- Freelance Writing Jobs!
Interested in having your work discovered by our wide audience? Here’s how you can win this contest.
Step 1: “Like” the Performancing page on Facebook.
Step 2: Copy & paste the following, and then tweet it:
I want to write a guest post for @splashpress! Enter here to get the chance: #contests
Step 3: Leave us a comment on this page to let us know you tweeted and liked the Performancing Facebook page, and paste the link to your tweet in your comment. (Note that our comments are moderated, so your comment may not show up immediately after you click the “Post Comment” button.)
A winner will be selected at random on Wednesday, February 29, around 10 PM EST.
Important: You can enter the contest once per day between now and the 29th. Also, please be aware that the winner will have to write content related to the site and follow guest posting guidelines that Splashpress has in place: FWJ guest posting guidelines.
Do you have a blog? Who doesn’t these days? One of the things about blogging is that you really have to work on keeping your blog alive. You have to bring value to your readers, and more than that, make sure the word gets out about your blog.
While you can rest on your laurels and be content with the readership you already have, why do that when you can continuously get more exposure and attract new followers? This is the idea behind Blog Search Engine, a blog directory under the wings of Splashpress Media, the same group running our beloved Freelance Writing Jobs. Blog Search Engine is a PR6 blog directory which can help bloggers of all kinds to gain more exposure for their pride and joy.
The blog directory is being relaunched, complete with a new design and new packages – from Basic to Platinum. In line with this relaunch, Blog Search Engine is running a contest wherein the winner will get a Platinum Package worth $99.99!
This package gives you a full description of your blog and a backlink, which every other package offers. On top of these, you also get the following perks:
- Bloggy Award Review (PR5)
- Link on http://xfep.com/uber-blogs/ for 3 Months
- Featured link on Eatonweb blog portal (PR6)
- Featured Blog display banner for 15 days (BlogSearchEngine.com)
Doesn’t that just make you excited about what such a package can do for your blog? Sure, $99.99 is not to be taken lightly, but with the contest, you can get everything for free! Here’s how to win.
- Tweet about this contest and include a link back to the following URL: http://bit.ly/rqPTDL
- Copy and paste the full tweet you sent into the comments section on this page.
The contest will run until end of day 11/11/11 and the winner will be announced no later than 11/14/2011.
What are you waiting for? Hit that Tweet button now!
Writing is a hobby that many enjoy. It allows us to contribute information through our words, touch people’s emotions and even vent our own. We can stir up passion for causes, help others improve their lives, or just pass on a story that has been simmering in our own minds that can be shared with others for their entertainment.
For others it becomes more than a hobby and instead moves into a chosen career. Blogs and websites have made it easier than ever to get that writing out there and make money, where once few opportunities resided. But when it comes to being paid for your work, especially as a freelancer, it can be difficult to find that delicate balance between what you want to write and what you have to.
Creativity can be overshadowed by information, and suddenly, practical work becomes the main focus, where once you had the freedom to explore. This is a difficult time that comes and goes for every writer. It can make it hard to find a flow between paid and personal work. Even more difficult is using both for the same project.
You can get past this block, however. Just try these simple tips to get you back into your flow, so you can find your creative voice no matter what you are working on: [Read more…]