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Free Blog Content: 15 Places to Find Free Blog Posts

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free As a small business owner, keeping a blog going can be extremely difficult. Blogs are only useful if they are updated regularly, but devoting time to a blog isn’t always possible, especially if you don’t have the resources to hire a blogger. But what if I told you there were some places to find free blog content? If you could find free blog posts, would you update more regularly?

The reality is that a blog can’t run on just the blog content ideas listed below. However, these free blog content ideas can help you keep things going, supplementing your editorial calendar so your blog is always updated and fresh. Check out these 15 placed to find free blog posts the next time you’re scrambling to come up with content:

1. Text interviews with experts

Who knows a lot about your industry? Contact that person and ask for an interview. People love to be interviewed, and this is one of my favorite sources of free blog content. It strokes the ego when someone thinks you know enough about a topic to be interviewed. Personally, I always jump at the chance to be interviewed!

Text interviews require the least amount of time because you just send off a handful of questions and the person answer them. Think about who in your industry could be really beneficial to your potential customers. For example, if you own a lawn care business, is there a florist in your community who could talk about the best flowers for different soil types? Or if you run a bakery is there a dietician in your area who could talk about how to add desserts into a healthy diet?

2. Audio/video interviews with experts

If you’re willing to put in a little more time, audio or video interviews with experts can also be extremely effective for the same reasons. People love to hear from experts.

Audio or video interviews can also be cut so you’re presenting little snippets over time, which allows you to stretch the free blog content even farther. With a text interview, a single paragraph answering a question probably doesn’t warrant a stand-alone blog post. But if someone talks for a minute about a specific topic, that can be a very effective stand-alone video. In fact, some data suggests that shorter videos perform better.

So, don’t feel like you have to produce an hour-long video to be effective. Record that long interview, then cut it up to use it for several blog posts (and at the end, share the entire thing uncut as well).

3. YouTube, Vimeo, and other video sites

If you don’t have the time, talent, or interest in recording videos, either with experts or on your own, no problem. YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing sites are filled with interested videos to use on your blog – and most people want you to take this content for your blog posts. That’s why they make embedding the videos an option.

Simply look for interesting content related to your niche, write a quick intro, and post it. Be careful, however, that you aren’t posting videos from your competitors. If you’re a mechanic and you post a video about changing your oil that then promotes a different shop in your community, you’re not doing yourself any favors, even if the content is interesting.

4. Flickr, Instagram, and other image sites

Just like video sharing sites, image sharing sites can be a great source for free blog content if you work in a very visual industry. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, you could find images on Flickr of cool bridal hair and post “100 unique ideas for wedding hair styles” or if you’re a travel agent, you could post “10 beautiful beaches you have to see to believe.” These posts require very little writing on your part.

Note: ALWAYS use images that are uploaded with a license that allows you to share and credit the work as the owner specifies. If you want to use an image from the general pool, get permission in writing first.

5. Comments

The comments section of my blog is one of my favorite places to find free blog posts. Often, members of my community will ask great questions that I can flip around so they become their own blog posts.

And if your blog isn’t getting a lot of comments? Ask for questions! Sometimes, readers just need a little prompting to actually leave a comment. Ask your readers what their biggest challenges are (relating to your industry) and answer each question you receive with a separate blog post.

6. Statements and questions on social media

Along the same lines, you can also find questions and statements from people via social media sites. You can even embed Tweets and Facebook statuses directly into your blog posts.

The bonus here is that not only are you finding free blog content, but you’re also interacting with potential customers. Make sure to share with these people the blog post you’ve written, and often they will promote your link, so you gain even more exposure.

7. Quotes from other bloggers

While content scrapers are the scum of the earth (in my humble opinion), it is perfectly okay to quote other bloggers. As you read interesting posts from others in your industry, think about how they can become blog posts of their own. You can take a single quote and run with it, voicing your own opinions about the topic, or you can create a post that’s filled with quotes from others, like I did with “25 Posts About Blogging that Will Change Your Life.”

Remember, always give credit to the person who originally said whatever you are quoting by linking back to their blog.

8. Links from other bloggers

Link resource pages are awesome for your readers and require little writing work on your end. You do have to spend the time to gather the links, but if you’re reading a lot about your industry anyway, this isn’t difficult. Our Brilliant Bloggers series is a great example of how a list of links can be inspiring and educational for your readers.

9. Infographic sharing sites

Visual information, especially in infographic form, is always extremely sharable. However, you don’t have to have graphic design skills to post this kind of blog content (though there are several sites to help you do this if you have the time and inclination). Often, if you see an infographic online it will be accompanied by embed code so you can share it on your own site.

You can also find free infographics to use by visiting sites like Visual.ly.

10. Guest bloggers

Guest blogging (i.e. writing blog posts on other people’s blogs) is a great way to get exposure for your own blog. So, others in your industry might be interested in providing some free blog content in exchange for a link.

Don’t just wait for people to come to you. Extend the invitation. Guest blogging is different compared to the past, so often people wait to be invited instead of reaching out. Not everyone will say yes to you, but by having even a few guest bloggers a month can help you keep your blog fresh.

11. Guest contributors

When someone writes a great guest blog post for you, turn them into a regular contributor. All you have to do is ask. Not everyone will be interested, but some of your guest bloggers will happily provide high-quality, free content for you once or twice per month in exchange for a link.

Just be wary of guest posts and contributors who are in competition with you. If your blog links back to your competitors, you’re not drumming up business for yourself–you’re just sending them to someone else. Choose your guest contributors wisely.

12. Sponsors/Customers

Depending on your industry, sponsors might be a great source of free content for your blog. For example, let’s say you run a radio station. Maybe one of your restaurant advertisers could write about their top favorite songs to play during a romantic dinner.

Along the same lines, customers can also write content for you. Testimonials are always great, but they can also write education or entertaining content. For example, if you run a daycare, one of the parents could write “10 Things to Never Send to Daycare with Your Kids” or if you run a pet grooming service, one of your customers could write “How I Trained My Dog to Sit for the Groomer.”

13. Partners

Who works in an industry related to your own? If you have partnerships with other local businesses, these people make great guest contributors, even if they don’t have blogs of their own. For example, if you’re a hair salon owner, maybe the spa owner down the street will write something for you. By partnering with like businesses, everybody wins.

Like with guest posters and contributors, usually all you have to do is ask.

14. Affiliate programs

Are you an affiliate for any products or services? Ask if they have content you can post. Often, affiliate programs give you access to free blog content that you can simply tweak a bit and post on your own blog. As a bonus, this content is typically crafted to sell as much as possible, so you’ll make some extra money as well.

15. Other members of your team

Lastly, don’t rely on just YOU. If you’re having trouble blogging, ask your team for help. Not everyone will be a great writer, but some people will rise to the occasion. If you have four other people on your staff and they each write just once a month, that’s a post per week!

And don’t believe them when they say they have nothing to write about. What questions do they get asked most often from customer? What do they wish people knew? What’s the hardest part about their job? Help them come up with content ideas and before long, you’ll have a stable of writers working for you.

Image credit: Bigstock

15 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Writing Persuasive Content

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Writing Persuasive Content

I have a confession to make: I hate trying to convince people to do something.

I understand that this is an important part of marketing, but writing persuasive content has never been my strong suit. That is, if I’m persuading someone to do something that will benefit me. I think I can argue my own point well to persuade you that I’m right about something, but persuading you to buy something, download something, etc. has never come naturally to me.

Luckily, there are people out there who are insanely good at it, and they’ve shared what they know in blog posts. I hope this week’s edition of Brilliant Bloggers is as helpful to you as it has been to me!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

henneke 58 Ways to Create Persuasive Content Your Audience Will Love by Henneke Duistermaat

I love this post on Copyblogger because it gives you a roadmap to making sure that your content is as persuasive as possible without crossing any lines. Internet marketers get a bad name because there are so many people using slimy, gray-area techniques to convince others to spend money. Henneke’s post, however, doesn’t encourage you to do any of that. Her tips simply help you take your content and make it more persuasive.

After you read the post, which includes all you need to know from writing the headline to editing before you publish, check out Henneke on Twitter at @HennekeD and visit her blog, Enchanting Marketing. (Psst…she also has a great guest post on Kissmetrics about this topic called “7 Lessons Apple Can Teach Us About Persuasive Web Content“)

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 11 Ways to Write Persuasive Content by Thomas Timely
  2. 48 Elements of Persuasive Written Content by Uttoran Sen (@uttoransen)
  3. How Do I Write Persuasive Content? by Jeff Hahn (@HahnPublic)
  4. How To Create A Persuasive Message To Motivate Your Audience by Aura Dozescu (@AuraDozescu)
  5. How to Write Persuasive Content? by Jeevan Jacob John (@JeevanMe)
  6. The Psychology Behind Persuasive Writing by Jani Seneviratne (@janiopt7)
  7. The Secret To Being Memorable And Persuasive by Joe Romm
  8. Ten Recipes for Persuasive Content by Colleen Jones
  9. Ten Timeless Persuasive Writing Techniques by Brian Clark (@copyblogger)
  10. What is Persuasive Content? by Ian Truscott (@IanTruscott)
  11. What’s more persuasive? “I think…” or “I feel…”? by Derek Halpern (@DerekHalpern)
  12. Writing a Persuasive Blog—The Key to Content Marketing Success by John McTigue (@jmctigue)
  13. Writing Persuasive Headlines with the FAB Formula by Julia McCoy (@expwriters)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about writing persuasive content? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Social Monitoring Tools

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Are You Setting Yourself Up for Online Business Success? All You Have to Do is SMILE.

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smile Here at NMX, we have an all-staff meeting the day before the show to make sure everyone is on the same page and the event can run as smoothly as possible. Since I’ve been a part of NMX (and I’m assuming even before), one of the points our CEO Rick Calvert always makes is that we set the tone for the conference (find out more about the show here). Even when there are problems or we’re frustrated and tired, you’ll see us smiling in the halls, in sessions, and on the show floor. If the entire staff walks around grumpy, it won’t be long before everyone at the show is grumpy too!

It’s advice that has stuck with me and overflowed to my personal life as well. If you just smile, even when things are going wrong, y set yourself up for success. For me, however, smiling is about more than just putting on a happy face. That’s only step one. For true success, you can’t just smile…you have to SMILE: Share, Mingle, Initiate, Learn, and Empathize!

Share:

Whenever I am at NMX or even just “meeting” people online, I also try to share in whatever success I have. Even if I don’t overtly ask it, the question on my mind is always, “How can I help you?” Too many people in the business world are only concerned with, “How can you help me?” But if you share opportunities and help people as much as possible, others helping you takes care of itself. When you need a favor, people will jump to help you because of all the help you’ve given them in the past. Send people links (without being spammy), answer their questions via social media, and connect people via email. Share as much knowledge as possible in your industry so that people see you as the go-to person.

Mingle:

In every industry, there are cliques. It can feel comfortable and safe to only mingle with people you already know, especially if you are an introvert like I am. But if you truly mingle and get to know other people, your network will grow exponentially, which means more opportunities for you over time. Yes, it is important to strengthen the relationships you already have, but be aware that others might perceive you as being in this elite clique that isn’t interested in getting to know other people. Even online, you should spend time looking for new people to bring into your flock, rather than just following the same list of profiles forever. Check out these tips for finding new blogs to read.

Initiate:

A lot of people are shy. Really shy. Not only do you have to initiate the mingling, but you also have to initiate follow-up contact afterward. Even people who aren’t shy tend to be extremely busy. Be the person who sends holiday cards, emails just to say hello, and randomly promotes someone else via social media. Be the person who keeps relationships alive instead of relying on others to do so.

Learn:

The “L” in SMILE stands for “learn,” which means that I take the time to learn about other people. With the Internet, it’s not hard to do! When meeting someone new or even talking to old friends and colleagues, especially when uncomfortable with social situations, we have a tendency to talk a lot about ourselves. Flip this on its head. Ask questions and learn as much as you can about the other person. Then, make a note of what you’ve learned and learn more afterward by looking them up online. When you meet the person again, you want to be able to say, “Yes, I looked up your blog, and here’s what I think…” or “I signed up for the mailing list you were telling me about…” or whatever the case may be.

Empathize:

Lastly, an important part of the SMILE concept is learning when not to smile. Sometimes, people have problems and are upset at you, the situation, or the entire world. Learn to empathize, not just put on a happy face and placate people. Most people understand when you are insincere versus when you are actually trying to help them. So, when problems arise in your company or personally, really listen to people and come up with a solution as quickly as possible. It’s easy to feel defensive (guilty!), but most times it just makes more business sense to swallow your pride. Even when people are being mean, kill them with kindness.

Do you SMILE online? How can these concepts help your business?

5 Mistakes Your Small Business is Making on Twitter

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business on twitter

As a small business owner, it can be challenge to keep up with best social practices. One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “What am I doing wrong?” If you’re not seeing the results you think you should from Twitter, here are a few mistakes you might be making:

Mistake #1: Broadcasting Without Interacting

The entire point of social media is to promote your business, right? Well, yes…but in a social way. It’s about more than just broadcasting. Sure, you can send out tweets that include links to your website or blog, but you also want to interact with your followers. Jump into relevant conversations. Be helpful when someone asks a question. Follow others in your industry and those who are potential customers. If you aren’t using the “@” reply function often, that’s something that needs to change. Southwest Airlines is a great example of a company doing this right. They are constantly retweeting and replying to their customers.

Mistake #2: Blurring the Lines Between Personality and Personal

When using social, I think it’s great for the personality of your company to shine through. You aren’t just a giant logo. There are real people behind your social account. But there’s a difference between showing your personality and getting personal. If you’re a business or brand on Twitter, you don’t need to tweet out pictures of your meal or rants about your flight being delayed. Save that for your personal account. Keep your Twitter interactions relevant to your business. Bill Gerth (and Frank Eliason before him) for Comcast does a great job at this at @comcastcares. Talenti Gelato (who we profiled here) and GrubHub are also awesome at letting their personality shine through while still making it about their respective businesses.

Mistake #3: Going on Hiatus

If you can’t commit to tweeting daily, get off of Twitter. No, really. It looks bad if someone asks a question on Twitter and you don’t reply quickly. An abandoned Twitter account is worse than having no Twitter account at all.

Mistake #4: Promotional Updates

Promotional updates are okay. After all, you’re using social media to promote your business. However, if you’re only promoting yourself, your tweets can get old quickly. A really great option is to start a blog and also promote your links to education or entertaining topics. If you run a lawn care company, don’t tweet yet again that you’re available for landscaping. Tweet a link to your post on the “10 Best Celebrity Yards” or “How to Get Rid of Summer Garden Pests.” Get people reading on your site through content marketing and then sell them on your products or services once they’re a fan.

Mistake #5: Not Following Relevant Hashtags

Lastly, are you following hashtags in your industry? Hashtags (using the # symbol before a word or phrase) allow you to see what people are saying about a specific topic. Following these hashtags allows you to identify problems, jump into conversations, and find new followers (and potential customers). Always be listening to what your target market is saying.

What’s the biggest mistake you see businesses making on Twitter? Leave a comment!

Financial Terms Every Serious Blogger Should Know

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Who knew that blogging would someday become a legitimate career choice? And that a blog could be classified as a real business? Ten years ago, blogging was considered something cat lovers did in their spare time, and now it’s a bonafide business venture.

As a small business accountant during those ten years, I’ve seen it all. But the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the upswing in the amount of online ventures, such as blogging.

Blogging It’s not just a hobby that makes a little money, it’s a main source of income for many entrepreneurs — myself included. Unfortunately, there not a lot of expert advice available for organizing the financial part of running an online business.

Becoming Your Own Expert

We all know if you want any type of business to succeed, you’ve got to treat it like one! But with the lack of expertise available, we’re left to be our own financial experts — or at least have enough knowledge to stand behind our business.

It’s hard enough to tell friends and family that you’re a blogger, much less to find an accountant or financial advisor who can understand what your business does.

Even the IRS is so outdated they don’t have proper schedules and forms for income received through online ventures. So it’s up to us to research the right financial terms — and decisions — for our unconventional businesses.

  • Quarterly Estimated Taxes (QET’s)

The IRS requires that taxes be paid on income as it’s earned, which is why a traditional employer withholds taxes from earnings each paycheck.

But when you have your own business, you’re responsible to pay your own taxes on a quarterly basis. Otherwise you’ll get slapped with fees, if you expect to owe more than $1,000 in taxes at the end of the year. And let’s face it, no one likes to pay extra fees to the IRS.

Whether you run an LLC business of one, are a sole-proprietor, have an ecommerce business or sell digital products, it’s all the same to the IRS. But it’s important that you file QET’s on time, in order to minimize your audit risk.

  • Self-Employment Tax

As a business owner, you may not fully realize that on top of paying the normal Federal Income tax rate, you’re also responsible for your own Medicare and Social Security tax. When you work for an employer, they pay ½ of this tax, leaving you to pay the other half.

But with the privileges of being your own boss also comes the tax burden of having to pay the entire 15.3% of Self-Employment tax (SE tax). Add that to your effective tax rate and you could end up owing a lot of tax at the end of the year.

As a small business, you’re working with a tight budget, so start putting a simple plan in place now, so you don’t to get slammed with a large tax bill. For instance, I set up a separate savings account labeled “taxes”, where I set aside 30% of each month’s earnings, to be paid out each quarter.

This not only makes it easier to pay taxes once the time comes, but helps, your often irregular budget, prepare for the QET’s that need to be paid each quarter.

  • Ordinary Income Versus Capital Gains

Income earned from a blog or website is often confused as investment income or even passive income. However, as any blogger will tell you, it’s far from a passive source of income, as we put in enormous amounts of time and energy into making it successful.

It’s also not considered investment income — which is generated from buying and selling other investments or assets, and is taxed in a different way than ordinary income.

There are many different types of investments that produce investment income, like stock market investing, savings accounts, and purchasing other tangible assets like art or collectibles. None of which can be used to categorize income from monetizing your blog.

However, you can get a bit of a tax break if prove that your blog is a business asset. Then it could be classified as a capital gain, versus just ordinary income.

On the other hand, if you’re in the business of buying, restoring and flipping websites, then the profits are considered ordinary income. It’s really all about intent, how long you’ve owned the website and the amount of investment you’ve poured into it that determines what kind of taxes you’ll pay once it’s sold.

Classifying Blogging Income

Classifying your blogging income correctly and keeping good records is vital for any solopreneur. Until the IRS and accounting methods catch up to the ever-changing pace of the online world, it’s your job to educate yourself on the right methods for organizing your business finances.

We all aim to pay our fair share of taxes (and no more) while making a decent income for ourselves and our families. The good news however, is that this industry is still relatively new, which means we can forge our own financial path and make our own rules — within reason of course!

With all the time, effort and money you put into your blog, you need to understand these financial terms, so you can make your business a success and pay the least amount of taxes.

Do you treat your blog like a business? How do you handle the financial part of it?

Class in Session: Social Media Lessons from the Nation’s Best Schools

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Many of the nation’s best universities have discovered that social media is an excellent way to reach, impress and attract top-notch students. Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania are among the most active schools in this arena, turning to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs and message boards to inform, entertain and recruit.

Can business owners, Internet entrepreneurs and job seekers learn from the example being set by these and other prestigious institutions of higher education? There’s little doubt that methods similar to those being used to attract the world’s best students can also work to get the attention of potential customers, employees and employers.

Stars, Presidents, and International Projects: Showing Off Your Assets

So what is Harvard doing to enhance its online presence? A recent visit to the school’s Facebook page provided a look at two diverse but equally interesting subjects: a relatively nearby system that is turning out new stars at a staggering rate and the 16th president of the United States.

If you spend a little time on the Harvard Facebook page, you’ll find out that the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is a joint collaboration of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. This information might not mean much to you if you plan to study Economics or Marketing, but, if you think your future will have something to do with what’s out there beyond planet Earth, glancing at the school’s Facebook page might convince you to take a closer look at Harvard.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 2.46.01 PM

Along the same lines, you might be impressed to know that in the school’s Houghton Library collection, you’ll find a piece of the earliest surviving work by Abraham Lincoln: math exercises he wrote in 1825, at the age of 16.

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If you are considering a future in engineering, you may want to visit the University of Pennsylvania Facebook page. There you’ll find information about the Penn Engineers Without Borders program, complete with a photo of two Penn students working on a project in Cameroon.

Bottom line? Use social media to highlight your assets. Share information that your business has, even if it doesn’t directly rate to making a sale. Use your online presence to make your company a trusted authority.

Sharing Information

Here are some other ways universities across the country are tapping into the social media gold mine:

  • The job market – Using LinkedIn and other options, universities are putting their students in touch with employers and recruiters.
  • Sharing knowledge – Colleges and universities are sharing knowledge, experience and information online.
  • Seeking the best students – Many potential students use social media to connect with one another and learn about the world around them – and find out what specific universities have to offer.
  • Online learning – Online education gives students the option to learn on their own schedule.

These outreach efforts and opportunities make universities more valuable to students (their “customers”) and more visible to potential students.

Get Their Attention

Whether you are seeking a job or, as an entrepreneur, you’re looking for new business, it’s important to remember that you first must get the attention of your potential customers. Once you do that, here are a few tips to help you use social to keep them interested in the service or product you are offering.

  • Connect with your customers by posting on your Facebook page once a day, tweeting a few times daily and writing a regular post on LinkedIn.
  • Don’t use lingo or language that your customers might not understand. You should show them that you are interested in helping them, and you should try to develop a bond between you and the people who will be buying your products and services.
  • Offer special prices or services that are available only to the people you reach through social media to give your customers and potential customers a reason to follow you regularly on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Blogging will enhance your presence in the world of social media. You can establish a blog on your website and use it for Facebook and Twitter posts.
  • Join conversations on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. This will help you establish yourself as an expert in your field.
  • Don’t ignore your competition. You might be able to copy some of the things they are doing in the world of social media. There’s nothing wrong with investigating what others in your industry have done, and it’s okay to copy* the things they have done right.

If your business depends on your ability to use social media to attract and retain customers, take the time to learn from some of the most prestigious schools in the United States.

(*Editor’s note: we’re talking about “copying” ideas here to make them work for your business, not plagiarism, which is NEVER okay. Be ethical in your business practices when reviewing your competitors.)

Small Business Blog Tune Up: Turbo Charge with SEO

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SEO turbo charge for your blog

Let’s face it: small businesses blog for one reason: to get noticed and eventually lead to some sort of sale. Whether demonstrating expertise on a topic, promoting your services or brand, or interviewing someone in the industry, you are encouraging people to come to your site, share your content, and ultimately do business with you. Paying attention to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can fuel your blog with more horsepower for relatively low effort.

Surprisingly, many small businesses have never heard of SEO or are intimidated by the acronym and what it means. But in reality, basic SEO takes little time and budget–you just need a little extra TLC every time you publish a post. I’m a big believer in the oft-repeated mantra, “The best SEO is good writing,” but imagine if you enlist the powerful combo of great content and some SEO tricks? Unstoppable.

Start Your Engines (Search Optimization that is)

Getting your site to rank high and often on search engines like Google and Bing is considered both an art and science, but still remains a mostly mysterious formula that mere mortals like us don’t control or understand (unlike Google). To make matters more confusing, search engines change and update their algorithms often, like the much-talked about Google Panda. But there are regular, basic steps you can take to increase the chances of your blog getting noticed early and often on search engines.

Get into Gear

If you have a WordPress.org site (that you pay to host the content), there are all-in-one SEO Plugins that will help guide and do the work for you out of the box. (Important and sometimes confusing distinction: Many small businesses use the free version of WordPress.com, which does not offer SEO plugins).

For the many small businesses on WordPress.com, the company stands behind its SEO in that “80 to 90%” of SEO mechanics is done automatically, which builds confidence, but we can can top 100% with just a little extra work.

Blogger.com is generally not considered particularly SEO-friendly (and ironically owned by Google) but has a page devoted to the practice. You can also find some tips here and other resources on the web about SEO on Blogger.

Move into the Fast Lane

For the majority of bloggers that are on WordPress.com, take these easy steps before publishing each post. The order you do them is a matter of personal preference: planning up-front versus optimizing at the end, just so long as you do it.

  • Use keywords for turn signals.

Once you have your topic and content nailed, think about potential keywords for your  post. For instance, if you’re writing about mortgage trends in your local real estate market, include all associated words at least once and think about other ways to say them sprinkled in your blog, typically this will happen organically anyway. The Google keyword search tool offers a comprehensive view of how your chosen keywords will fare. Be aware that there are different schools of thought on keyword density and “formulas” for the best results,but I advocate authenticity above all, meaning your post should sound natural, like a human communicating, not  a word-repeating robot. In fact, search engines have sophisticated tools that route out black hat seo practices like keyword stuffing and mark as spam.

  • Move the headline to front seat.

Sometimes in our quest to be clever or get attention (myself included) blog post titles can be obtuse for search. As with keywords, take the time to make  your headline  searchable. For instance I recently did a post on outdoor billboards and the headline was “Sex, Religion, Politics (and a Hitler teapot): Controversial Billboards Revisited”. Not exactly SEO-friendly. So I at least changed the “slug”, after the date, to “controversial-billboards-2012”. That earns me a more regular hits and I can still maintain my self-proclaimed witty headline.

  • Images ride shotgun.

As bloggers, we know the value of adding images and graphics to tell our story and it’s also a proven fact that content with images get more hits that those without. In a few easy steps, graphics can be a powerful SEO tool by reducing the file size (search engines dislike slow loading sites), renaming the file name to something specific and meaningful, and adding a title. There are other steps you can take.

  • Make Pit Stops for Categories and Tags.

Even if you’re pressed for time, “Categories” and “Tags” is worth the effort to do some of the SEO work for you, especially knowing the difference between the two:  Think of “Categories” as the bucket of content type versus “Tags”, which are more detailed words and phrases about the post. For the outdoor billboard piece, the Categories might be “outdoor billboards” and “advertising.” Tags would be more specific, like “Hitler teapot” or “J.C. Penney”.

  • Create your own traffic.

As a standard practice, linking to your own related posts, other blogs, or external content add value and insight, and also work to boost your SEO. As with keywords, link strategically and where it makes sense. No stuffing allowed!

  • Honk Your Own Horn

Most bloggers use their social network to get the word out for each new post. This is just good old self-promotion, but a reminder you can also increase your SEO with every share and reaching your extended network. A quick way to do this each time is by using the WordPress publishing feature that automatically sends to all social media outlets, or you can manage this process yourself. I opt to share manually to target different messages to my audiences, but nice to know I can use publishing in a hurry.

… Never Hit the Cruise Button

Once you’ve taken these primary steps to SEO-ize your blog, keep the wheels in motion for long-term good habits and practice. And remember, it’s not just good content that helps build organic SEO, but posting on a regular basis is just as important. Last but not least, pay attention to your stats: what are people searching on to find your blog? Use that data to fine tune your content continually.

What SEO practices work best for your blog?

How Does Blogging Help You Boost Traffic and Generate Leads? [Infographic]

Author:

Whether your company blogs or not, it’s important to not disregard its significance. Blogging has three proven ways to help boost your brand and market your business. They are proven to generate traffic, leads and help spearhead your social media marketing efforts. Blogging takes effort, but as this infographic shows, time spent implementing a blog strategy can pay dividends. They key is to remain consistent and blog often!

Blogging-IG-Blogworld

17 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Hosting Webinars

Author:

Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Hosting Webinars

When people talk about content marketing, they typically mean blogging, podcasting, video, ebook publication, and social curation. However, content marketing is really any kind of free informational or entertaining resource you give away in order to highlight your own skills and products/services. It’s selling without really selling.

One often-overlooked form of content marketing is the free webinar. Webinars can be recorded or live, but in both cases, they are an online presentation or class given at a specific time, usually in order to capture leads (i.e. people have to give you their email address and other information to attend).

This week’s Brilliant Bloggers is all about the art of hosting a great webinar. They can be a lot of work if you do them well, but the reward is great, since they can attract thousands of attendees without you having to plan a live event. And lest you think webinars are only for business, you can also consider hosting one if your a blogger or podcaster, as they can drive traffic and help you become known as an expert in your field. You can even sell access to a webinar as a way of monetizing.

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

aliza sherman by Aliza Sherman

Some webinars I attend are great, but I identify with this post by Aliza Sherman because most of the webinars I’ve attended are pretty horrible. What separates the good from the bad?

Aliza outlines several tips in this post that can help you ensure your posts are beneficial, not a chore for people to attend. If your webinars are good, they can solidify you as an expert, promote your products/services, and help you capture leads, so definitely check out her tips before you host your next webinar! (And don’t forget to follow Aliza on Twitter at @alizasherman.)

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 6 Tips for Hosting a Successful Webinar by Sharon Dunigan
  2. 8 Ways To Boost Your Business With Webinars by Lewis Howes (@LewisHowes)
  3. 10 Steps for Planning a Successful Webinar by Chris Peters and Kami Griffiths (@TechSoup)
  4. 18 Tips on How To Conduct an Engaging Webinar by Olivia Mitchell (@OliviaMitchell)
  5. A Five-Step Process for Hosting a Webinar That Generates Sales by Greg Digneo (@GregDigneo)
  6. Be the Webinar Host with the Most – 4 Tips! by Jill Bastian (@jillieb3)
  7. Hosting A Webinar – Equipment You’ll Need by David Crawford
  8. How to Host a Great Webinar in 6 Easy Steps by Dan Taylor (@mountaindan)
  9. How to Host a Successful Webinar by Kelly Noble (@Stellar247) and Paul Serwin (@LeverageSuccess)
  10. How to Host a Webinar by Marketing Zone (@marketingzone_)
  11. How to Setup and Promote Your First Webinar by Ellie Mirman (@ellieeille)
  12. Public Speaking Tips for Webinars by Patricia Fripp (@pfripp)
  13. Running a Successful Webinar: 10 Presentation Commandments by Deborah Sweeney (@deborahsweeney)
  14. Seven Tips for Hosting Webinars that Rock by Carol Tice (@TiceWrites)
  15. The Advantages of Hosting a Webinar by Marissa Buie (@marBuie)
  16. Which is the One ‘Free Meeting Webinar Service’ to Rule Them All by Natalie Sisson (@suitcasepreneur)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about hosting webinars? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Video Podcasting

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

How Social Media is Changing the Face of Hiring

Author:

Social media has made a huge impact on recruitment and the recruitment process. Companies, head hunters, and recruitment agencies are turning to social media sites to promote available positions, research potential applicants, and make a decision on whether the applicant they have chosen is the best match for their business. On average, recruitment statistics show that around 89% will use social media at some point during the recruitment process to make a decision, with 80% of recruitment agencies using LinkedIn in particular to find potential applicants for positions they are working on.

Why Social Media?

Social media will simply tell you a lot about a person that might not be apparent on a CV or resume. A basic Facebook page can tell companies how the person conducts themselves and how they interact with other people online. It also tells recruiters about the person’s communication skills, whether they were truthful on their application, and whether there is any reason they shouldn’t be accepted for the position.

In fact, a large number of companies will now turn to social media before they even contact the applicant for the first time. This saves them time and energy and ensures that anyone they interview is the right fit for the company. Many times when I have been approached for a job myself, it is because I have been headhunted by a recruiter who has found me through Twitter, Facebook, or even Google+.

One Step Further in Recruitment

Interestingly, recruiters are taking social media one step further when hiring. For example, the Omnicom Group used Twitter to find five interns for summer work without every seeing their CV or resume.

The company took note how each applicant responded to five tweets which were posted over five days, and from this information they were able to make a decision on the best five interns for the job.

Other companies have also turned to new media instead of relying traditional hiring processes. Skype, for example, is used for interviewing potential candidates, allowing recruiters to cast a broader net instead of just looking at the local pool of candidates.

What Recruiters Look For

The majority of companies using social media for their recruitment process use this valuable social media tool to ensure that the applicant has been honest about who they say they are. Companies can match this against the CV they received. Photographs on Instagram, for example, can show talent, but poor language on tweets and bad communication skills on Facebook can reflect badly on how a future employee conducts themselves on the social media sites.

Social media pages are brimming with information on schools attended, places worked, communication skills, photographs, and so much more. Often, it’s not just about a person’s skills, but also about whether or not they will fit with the team. Social media can help companies determine this. It’s easier for recruiters to make a decision between two very qualified applicants once they have read through their social media profiles.

Digital, design, and web have also combined to bring innovation to recruiters and simple innovation like these when applying for a job speaks more to businesses these days. Infographic CVs and resumes, for example, demonstrates skills without much explanation needed.

Exactly what a company looks for when it comes to social media will vary, but one this is for sure: the social media world is forever expanding and will not be stopping in the new face of hiring.

Do you use social media to hire new employees? Or have you been hired based on your social skills, even for a non-social job?

Image Credits: mkhmarketing, spencereholtaway, qubodup

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