You might think that the hardest part of blogging for your small business is finding the inspiration. That may be so, but when your muse finally pays a visit, do you just type in the content, press ‘publish’, throw a couple of links out on Twitter, wipe your hands and be done with it? Well you could, but there are a few other things you could do to make the most of those words that often elude us.
- Oh look a pretty picture! – When you’re publishing a blog post, always include an image if possible. Stock photos are okay, but they can be even better if you jazz them up using photo editing software like Picmonkey. Have some fun with it!
- Make it easy for sharing – If you’ve got tidbits of tweetable information within your content why not make it easy for people to tweet your stuff with Click to Tweet?
- Ask a question – At the end of your blog post, ask a question to encourage your readers to comment. This is one I have often used in personal blogging and it really does give people a reason to engage.
- Tweetdeck for uploading images – When you’re promoting a new blog post on Twitter, don’t just send a link out, upload your blog post image using Tweetdeck. I say Tweetdeck because it uploads images directly to pic.twitter.com. That way, your image is immediately visible in your followers’ feeds and makes your tweet stand out in the crowd. Other programs show uploaded images simply as links. Also, if you’re planning ahead, you can schedule your tweet in Tweetdeck.
- Hashtags get you noticed – Don’t forget to use one or two hashtags when tweeting about your blog post. Choose something that is relevant to the post and to your audience such as, for this post: #bloggingtips #smallbusiness.
- Pin that tweet – Once you’ve tweeted a link to your blog post, with an uploaded image of course, pin that tweet to your Twitter profile, so that it’s the first thing that people see when they’re checking you out on Twitter.
- Promote on many different platforms – Twitter isn’t the only platform to promote your blog post obviously; you can share your link on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and a myriad of others. Why not pin that lovely image you created in Tip #1 on Pinterest?
- Promote your post two or three times in the first day – You can tweet your blog post link a few times in the first day, but not excessively and pepper your blog post tweets amongst other tweets so that you don’t seem repetitive if someone is viewing your Twitter profile. For other platforms, such as Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, I wouldn’t promote my blog more than the once as the streams don’t move as quickly on those platforms.
- Re-visit old blog posts – After some time has passed, like a few weeks or months, and if it is evergreen content, you can always promote your blog posts again on social media. Post something like “From the Archive: 10 Tips for Publishing and Promoting Your Blog Post…” or because my business name and tagline are about magic, I like to use: “Retro Magic: 10 Tips for…”
- Make use of that space after your name – Why not include a link to your latest blog post in your email signature?
Do you have anything to add to this list? If you found this list helpful, please pay it forward and share it around!
There are some tools that you have in your toolbox that you wonder how you would ever get along without them. For me, I can think of 11 off the top of my head:
Toggl – Because I need to track my time, I use the desktop version of this simple software. I can toggle on and off of tasks and at the end of the month when it comes time for invoicing, it spits out all my data in a CSV file that I can easily manipulate into reports for my clients.
PicMonkey – This website is one of the few where I’ve taken up the paid service, even though I could just use the free version, because I want to have all of the fonts and effects it has to offer. I use it every single day both personally and professionally. For my nature photography, it’s wonderful for magically adjusting an underexposed shot, and for my work, if I’m working with a stock photo that I want to add some text or change to suit the topic of my blog post, then it is easy and intuitive to do so.
RescueTime – Having to be connected to social media for my own business marketing means there is a possibility of getting caught in the time-suck that is Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest. RescueTime allows me to set goals for productivity and limits for distracting time. It tracks all the activities I perform on my computer, including email, software programs and internet usage, then it gives me a report at the end of the week letting me know how I did. I can choose which times of the day I wish to track, and with the paid version, you can block out certain websites during specified periods of time.
Dropbox – Gone are the days where it was necessary to send a file back and forth to a client and regularly use file sending services for larger files. Now I have file folders set up to share with my clients and I wonder how I ever got by without this service.
Dreamweaver – I do a lot of editing of web pages and when preparing HTML broadcasts for 1ShoppingCart, I find it much easier to whack the code into Dreamweaver and edit it from there. I pay a monthly subscription for this and consider it worth every penny.
FileZilla – When you edit web pages, you need a good FTP client to transfer the files across, and having recently changed from Core FTP to Filezilla when I bought a new laptop, so far I’m happy with Filezilla. I like that even though it disconnects you from the server after a period of inactivity, it is almost seamless to reinstate the connection.
LastPass – I’ve blogged about this software before, but it is still the bee’s knees in my eyes. It’s a great way to keep track of all your passwords in the one place while still using hard to crack passwords on all the websites you access.
Notepad – Often when dealing with text brought in from word and other sources, there is rich text formatting that is attached to it that makes it look inconsistent or might mess up the HTML code on a broadcast, so I often will copy and paste the text into Notepad to remove any formatting before copying the text into a blog post or email broadcast.
TweetDeck – When I do need to get on social media, specifically Twitter, I like to use Tweetdeck, because I can manage multiple accounts and see everything in columns down the page. I can follow hashtags, search on keywords and I can schedule tweets, and because Tweetdeck uploads images to pic.twitter.com, it means when I include a photo with my tweet, it shows immediately in my followers’ feeds instead of showing as a link that people have to click before being able to view.
Multiple browsers – I have a couple of Google accounts: one for my personal blog and one for my VA business. There are also other websites where I have two profiles and I can manage this easily by using more than one browser. For instance, if I want to access my Google+ account, I use Google Chrome and if I want to access my professional one, I use Mozilla Firefox. I don’t have to log in and out and I just make sure that my default browser is for the profile I use most. It is also great to test how an HTML page is looking in more than just one browser.
Excel – I have a confession to make: when it comes to keeping track of my to-do list, after having tried many project management/to-do list type software programs, I find that you can’t go wrong with a simple Excel spreadsheet. I have tasks that rollover each day/month/week and a prioritisation and sort pull them up for me every morning, where I write the most important tasks on *gasp* a paper notebook that sits on my desk – it works for me!
There’s my list. What’s on your list of workplace tools that you wouldn’t want to live without?
I think that perhaps my husband was tired of hearing me whinge about my computer.
“Aargh! I just got the blue screen of death – again!”
“This rickin’ frickin’ thing just crashed and made me lose what I was working on today!”
“Sorry can’t look that up for you just yet, I’ve just switched on, and it takes 30 minutes to boot up.”
It got to a point where he got into nag mode, which is usually my modus operandi.
“You need to get a new computer, when are you going to order one?”
“Have you ordered that new computer yet?”
“Do you want ME to order it for you?”
“When’s the new computer arriving?”
My New Toy
So, I finally bit the bullet and ordered myself a new laptop – something not top of the line, but more powerful than most.
It arrived a few weeks later, and I took it out of its cardboard box. I fired it up and prepared to start and finish War and Peace while I waited for it to boot. I was pleasantly surprised when 1 1/2 minutes later, the PC was waiting for my next command.
However, I was puzzled by the new start-up screen which faced me. My new toy has a touchscreen and is running Windows 8.1. My old laptop was on Vista, and the only touchscreen I’m used to using is the one on my smartphone.
A Learning Curve
I spied the stock market app, which I immediately opened up so that I could change the settings and make it go away – I don’t have much need for stock updates. The only problem was that I didn’t know how to move around in the app, and more importantly I didn’t know how to close it! You would think that with a technology degree, I would be able to figure this out. It was time to get the kids from school anyway, so when we returned home, I got them to show me what to do – kids have an innate ability to figure out anything to do with technology. Turns out Windows 8.1 has lots of hidden functions, and you need to know where to hover your mouse in order to make them appear for you.
After a bit of a learning curve, I’ve mastered the operating system and now I’m flying! The processor on my new computer is exponentially faster than the last one, and I’ve invested in a huge monitor. Now my eyes are no longer sore from looking at a small screen all day.
It’s Just As Well
I’ve taken the old laptop to our local computer nerds to wipe the operating system and install it again from scratch so that my children can use it to play Minecraft. The computer guys told me that they ran some diagnostics on it, and the hard drive was failing. If I had continued to use it, I would surely have lost a lot of data. I always back up my data, but it would have been inconvenient to be without a laptop while I waited for the new one to arrive.
The morals of this story? Always back up your data. Sometimes your spouse is right – but I don’t suggest letting him/her know that. Keep your tools up-to-date, because you don’t realise how much it could be affecting your productivity and/or marriage.
All colours that you see on the internet are represented by a six-digit/letter code called a hex code (e.g. white is #FFFFFF, red is #FF0000 and black is #000000) This code is how the browser knows what colour to render your web elements.
Have you ever come across a colour on another site that you really liked and would like to replicate on your own web page? Or perhaps you’re wanting to add some text to your blog post that is the same colour as other elements on your web page? What about in adding colourful text to photos?
You can capture the code of any colour that you see on your web browser using a free add-on called Colorzilla. Colorzilla is available for both Mozilla Firefox and Chrome browsers.
It is easy to install and to use. The following instructions will help you install it on your Firefox browser.
- In your browser window, choose Tools->Add-ons from the top menu. This will open up the Add-ons Manager.
- In the search window at the top right of the page, search for ‘Colorzilla’.
- Find Colorzilla in the search results and click on Install.
- The add-on will install and prompt you to restart your browser.
Restart the browser and voilà, the add-on is now installed.
- To use the tool, open up a web page where you would like to capture a specific colour.
- Click on the dropper tool to the right of the browser toolbar.
- Hover your mouse pointer over the element on the page where you’d like to capture the colour and left-click.
The hexcode has now been copied to your clipboard and you can paste the code wherever you like. You can provide the hex code to your Virtual Assistant for use in email broadcasts or web pages, or if you are doing it yourself, you can use it in WordPress and most content management systems to colour your text with your chosen hue.
Colorzilla isn’t just for hex codes. In Microsoft Office software, if you want to use a specific colour for text you need to use RGB codes (e.g. White is R=255, G=255, B=255). Colorzilla captures RGB codes too.
If you’d rather not worry about hex codes and need someone to help you publish your blog posts, newsletters and email broadcasts, contact me to discuss your business needs.
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