Blogger's Quick Guide to Writing Rituals and Routines

Blogger’s Quick Guide to Writing Rituals and Routines

How to use writing rituals and routines to be a more productive and successful blogger

Let’s face it; blogging is hard work, and finding the motivation to blog consistently can be hard to come by, but without consistency, no blogger succeeds.

Think about it! One thing that all successful bloggers have in common is consistency, and for many of them, writing rituals and routines are what keep them motivated and on track with their blogging.

The great news is, anyone — even people with very limited time to blog — can publish blog content consistently.

The key isn’t great writing skills, fancy degrees, or buckets of free time. The key is developing a custom-designed blogging routine that works for you.

In the Blogger’s Quick Guide to Writing Rituals and Routines, you’ll discover a step-by-step plan to creating your personal blogging routine, which will result in:

The Power of Blogging Rituals

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What do you think of when you hear the word, “blogging ritual?” Perhaps you think of some type of spiritual experience, with lit candles, burning incense, or Gregorian chants playing in the background. While all of those things can be part of a blogging ritual, your blogging ritual certainly doesn’t need to include anything esoteric. In fact, even no frills rituals can be effective.

The Power of Blogging Rituals

Here’s the deal: “ritual” is to some extent just another word for “routine.” And while routines may not be exciting, they can be a key element of blogging productivity.

Here are some of the benefits of blogging rituals:

1. They make it easier to get into your writing groove. For instance, if you start every blog writing session by brewing a certain type of tea, as soon as you begin to prepare the tea, your mind will transition into writing mode before you ever sit down at the computer.

2. They provide a sense of being in control. When you participate in writing rituals, you are putting aside randomness and instability, and in a very real sense, taking control of your environment. Instead of allowing your day to control you, you are taking control of your day and strongly declaring that it is time to blog.

3. They reduce anxiety. This point is built on the two previous points, because when you’re able to quickly get into the writing grove, and have a sense of being in control, you naturally feel less stressed.

4. They free your mind. Mental clutter is one of the biggest hindrances to getting things done, and it most certainly impacts blogging productivity. When you establish blogging rituals, your mind shifts into a different mode, where the focus moves away from all of the other cares of life and business. This cleared mind helps you to write more freely, with fewer hindrances.

5. They expedite your entire writing process. As I wrote earlier, blogging rituals make it easier to get into the writing grove. In addition to that, they tend to set off an entire process of routines, that last beyond the actual ritual. For instance, not only will you start the writing process faster, with less procrastination, the sense of order present in the ritual will often spill over into the rest of the writing process.

When you consistently use the same routines, your entire writing process becomes more automatic. This order and automation reduces the amount of time you might waste with a more haphazard approach to your blogging

Your Turn

Do you have any writing rituals?

Any time of year is a great time to plan your blogging content, but particularly this time of year we tend to be focused on planning all aspects of our lives and business and planning for your blog should certainly be a part of that.

That’s why I’m excited to share with you this video by Darren Rowse. In it he talks about how his team planned out their content for the year ahead.
Darren got this team together in a rented conference room with whiteboards, and started off by critiquing how the blog and business did in the following four areas.

PCC 010: How to Build a Platform from Scratch with Michael Hyatt

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The Professional Content Creation Podcast

In this episode of the Professional Content Creation Podcast I interview Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. His blog, MichaelHyatt.com is ranked by Google in the top one-half percent of all blogs with more than 300,000 unique visitors each month.

His Podcast, This is Your Life is downloaded by more than 100,000 people per month. Michael obviously knows his stuff when it comes to content marketing and I’m thrilled to have him on the show today.  

In this episode we talked about:

  • The part that content has played in building Michael’s platform
  • How content can be used to build any type of business
  • What Michael says to people who say that content marketing won’t work for them
  • The slow growth of his own blog and what caused it to finally reach an inflection point
  • What to pay attention to in Google Analytics and how often to check it
  • How to become known as an expert by the influencers in your industry
  • What aspects of content creation to outsource and what to do yourself
  • Michael’s initial resistance to starting a podcast, what changed his mind, and the impact a podcast has made on his business
  • How to balance perfectionism with getting your content out there
  • Michael’s latest venture, Platform University
  • And a whole lot more. . .

 Items mentioned in this episode include:

Click here to download the transcript. 

A special thank you to Michael for such an awesome interview! If you’d like to connect with Michael, visit his blog or follow him on Twitter.

Would you like to start a podcast?

If you’re a “do-it-yourself” kind of person and want to start a podcast, I’d strongly recommend Cliff Ravenscraft’s Podcasting A to Z course. If interested in the training and in getting the $100 discount, go to http://PodcastingAtoZ.com and use the discount code PCC in the shopping cart.

If you’d like to start a podcast but would prefer to have someone else handle many of the aspects of your podcast for you, check out my Podcast Production Services page for details of how I can help.

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The Professional Content Creation Podcast: Content Creation | Blogging | Content Marketing

Question: Where are you at when it comes to building a platform? Have you just gotten started, is it well established, or somewhere in between?

Google Analytics for Regional and Local Businesses

 

Google Analytics for regional and local businesses

You can use Google Analytics to help you determine if you’re accomplishing your goals for reaching an audience in certain geographic regions.

If you’re using content to market your business and your business is focused on a specific geographic region, it’s important to look closely at where your site visitors are coming from and what they do once they get on your site.

This is especially true for local businesses, but can also be true for businesses that may serve a larger area, but perhaps want to focus on their own nation or on just a couple of countries. As an example, my goal is to serve clients who are located primarily in the U.S. and Canada, so when it comes to gaining clients from the content I create, it’s not as helpful for me to have readers in a lot of other countries.

Let’s take a look at how to determine where your blog readers are coming from.

The first thing you need to do is log into your Google Analytics account. Once you there there, you’ll notice various options on the left hand side. You’ll click on audience, demographics, then location.

how to find where your visitors are coming from using Google Analytics

Once you do that, you’ll see a map like the one below. All of the countries that have sent visitors to your site will be in green, with the darker the green, the more visitors.

google analytics map showing visitors

On the overlay map in Google Analytics, the countries where your visitors come from are highlighted in green; the more visitors, the darker the shade of green. The good news for me is that most of my visitors are from the U.S., which is exactly what I want.

Beneath the map is a list of the countries, with the country with the most visitors being at the top. You’ll note in the image below that the number one country to send me visitors is the U.S. which is great news for me, since that is where my primary target market is located.

list of countries in Google Analytics

It’s also important to pay attention to not just the countries and the number of people visiting my site from the various countries, but what they do after they arrive on my site.

I found the following stats in my Google Analytics account  to be especially encouraging:

  • The visitors from my two primary target countries (the U.S. and Canada) spend an average of 2:17 minutes (Canada) and 3:02 minutes (U.S.) on my site.
  • Visitors from Canada view, on average, 3.57 pages and visitors from the U.S. view, on average, 3.5 pages.
  • I have a low bounce rate for both of those countries as well (5.21% for Canada and 7.48% for the U.S.), but I have a low bounce rate for my site overall, so that may not be all that significant. Even so, it’s good to note that the people I’m targeting are going beyond a single page on my site.

Getting Closer to Home with Google Analytics

While I haven’t yet chosen to focus on providing services within my own city or even within my own state for that matter, there are some advantages to providing services to those who are close to home. Because of that, from time to time I find it helpful to take a look at where in the United States my readers are located.

To find this information, I first clicked on the “United States” link, which then brought up a list of my visitors coming from the various states.

Note in the image below that my current state, Colorado, is second on the list, with just slightly more visitors coming from California. Since I haven’t specifically targeted Colorado with my content, this could be an indication that some of my offline networking may be paying off, since the largest number of people I meet in person are located in Colorado.

As you have probably guessed by now, I can dig even deeper by clicking on the “Colorado” link to see where the specific cities where my visitors in Colorado are coming from. As you can see from the image below, my number one city is Littleton, which is the city where I live.

The high concentration of visitors from my hometown is a good indication that people I rub shoulders with in real life are interested in what I do. While I’m not yet super focused on finding clients in my hometown, the high number of visitors from my own city indicates that the people I am meeting in person are likely coming to my site to learn more about me and the services I offer.

It’s also interesting to note that people in my own town are spending a longer than average amount of time on my site. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that I have some crazy stalker person living near me! While that’s unlikely, there may be a “curiosity factor” at play when it comes who people who know me checking out my site. However, if I were a truly local business, this would be a very healthy sign, and even though I haven’t  specifically used content to target my local city, it could very well be an indication that people I meet at local networking events are spending a good amount of time on my site.

Different Ways of Looking at Things

different ways to view info in Google Analytics

The above image shows 3 different ways to view information in Google Analytics. You can further tweak this by selecting different options from a dropdown menu which is located above the graphics.

Before I wrap up this post, I want to show you just one final thing in Google Analytics. On the right hand side of the page, you’ll see little icons you can click on that will provide the same information various ways. For instance, it will show you the information in pie charts, graphs, etc. That’s great if you’re more visually oriented, or if you want to add some visuals to a presentation or report.

More to Come

What I didn’t deal with in this post is how to target your content to a specific geographic region. I will do so in a future post, so stay tuned.

Your Turn

Do you use Google Analytics? If so, I’d love to hear about how you use it and the information you find within Google Analytics that is most helpful to you. If you don’t yet use Google Analytics, I’d love to hear about what’s holding you back from getting started.


How to Blog Consistently When You Don’t Have Time

I know how this poor woman feels. This is what I look like when I’m too tired to write blog posts!

Small business owners like you – and like me – never seem to have enough time. This is especially true for solopreneurs, and those with very small teams, since if you don’t do whatever needs to be done, it likely won’t happen.

Here are a few tips for blogging consistently, even when you don’t feel you have the time.

1.  Redefine what it means to blog consistently.

Perhaps you are trying to blog more frequently than you can realistically do consistently. While I think you should blog at least one day a week, trying to do more than that consistently may or may not be possible for you. Before you beat yourself up, make sure that your blogging goals are realistic.

2.  Have a blogging schedule.

I’ve determined that Monday and Thursday are the days that I’ll publish blog posts. Right now, it is 4:14 PM on a Monday. While writing this late in the day on Monday is not ideal, the fact that it’s Monday and I haven’t yet published a blog post today caused me to stop what I’m doing and write. Having set days to write blog posts sets an alarm that goes off in my mind on those days until I get the blog post written.

3.  Try to work ahead on your blog posts.

Working ahead is something I do sometimes, but obviously not always. It helps a lot, though, to write at least a couple of blog posts when I’m “in the zone” so that I don’t have to muscle my way through them when I’m not in the mood to write, or when things are overly busy (as they have been for me lately).

4.  Hire a content creator.

I’m a firm believer in being involved in your own content creation. But it can really help to have someone else do at least some of your content creation for you.

If you do hire someone to help, it’s best to still be involved in the process as is done with my Blogging Your Voice service. That way, the work still has your fingerprints, and your unique personality stamped all over it.

One of the best ways to handle content creation overwhelm is to create some of your own content, and pay someone else to create some of your content. For instance, I have some clients who have me write blog posts for them, but they produce their own videos. This can be the best of both worlds, because you can double the amount of content you publish consistently without taking a crazy amount of time or spending too much money. 

Your Turn

What about you? What ways have you found to blog consistently even when you feel like you don’t have time?

5 Things to Consider When Setting Your Content Marketing Goals for the New Year

Content marketing goals

New Years is known for parties, but it’s also known as a time to set goals. Have you set any content marketing goals for the next year?

Are you a small business owner who is trying to figure out your content marketing goals for the new year? If so, considering these five things will help you make the best decisions.

1. What are you trying to accomplish through content marketing?

Are you hoping to drive more traffic to your site through the content you create? Do you want to establish yourself as an authority in your niche? Perhaps you want to have an easy way to answer the questions that people ask over and over again about your company or products or services. (It’s a lot easier to send someone a link to a blog post than to continually answer the same questions via email, as an example.)
There aren’t necessarily right or wrong goals for your content marketing, but it’s important to at least know what your goals are, so that you can plan and execute your content marketing efforts more strategically.

2. What type of content do you want to create, or have created for you?

There are many factors to consider here. If you’re going to create your own content, you need to consider what you enjoy, are and are not good at or are interested in learning. For instance, if you hate to write, and don’t want to hire someone else to do the writing, video content may be a better option for you than heavy written content.

3. What kind of budget do you have for content marketing?

Content marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will cost you, either in terms of time or money, or possibly both, depending on which options you choose.

If you opt to do it all yourself, you need to determine where you’re going to find the time to do it. Unless you budget time for it, it likely won’t happen. If you’re going to hire someone else to do it, you need to do a bit of number crunching to figure out how much you can afford.

hire blog writers

Do you want to hire someone to create content for you, do you want to create it yourself, or do you want to use a hybrid approach?

4. What can you do yourself, and what will you need to hire others to do?

This takes things in number three above, a step deeper. A great thing to consider is that you can use a hybrid approach to content creation. Some of my clients hire me to write their content, but create their own videos. This saves them both time (due to the content I create for them) and money (due to the content they create for themselves). This also allows business owners to focus on areas of strength and passion in their content marketing efforts, while handing off what is for them less desirable, but effective forms of content marketing.

5. How frequently will you post content?

There is a wide range of opinions out there when it comes to how frequently you should update your blog, and where else you should have content. For example, some people feel you should update your blog every day, and others say once a week or even more sporadically than that is fine. Others state you should have content as many places as possible, such as on your blog, on various social media platforms, on YouTube, iTunes, etc.

My personal stance on this is that at a bare minimum, you should update your blog once per week, more if you can. But the bottom line goes back to how much time and money you have to devote to content marketing. More may be better, but it’s only better if you can do it consistently. So be realistic when it comes to determining how frequently you can create content or how much content you can afford to have created for you.

The answers to the above questions will be different for every business owner, so don’t worry about how you “should” answer them. The main thing is to think about them as you plan out your content marketing goals for the coming weeks and months in order to have the best possible results.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear your answer to at least one of the above questions, or alternatively, hear about your content marketing goals and how you came up with them. Leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

The Perfect Gift for Content Marketers to Give to Their Readers

 

Blog posts as gifts for effective content marketing

If you take the same care when selecting the topics of your blog posts as you do when trying to choose the perfect gift for someone you cherish, your content marketing efforts will be much more effective.

I have a question that I want you to ponder, especially as you plan your content marketing goals for the coming year. The question is, why are you blogging for your business?

I hope that you’re blogging because you understand the power of content marketing, and want to grow your business in part through the content you create.

That’s a great reason. It is, in fact, an excellent reason. But there’s got to be more to it than that.

As a business owner, the content marketing, including blogging, that you do, will be much more effective if you blog as a way of giving a gift to your readers.

Considering the following elements of a perfect gift and think about how you can apply them to your content marketing goals for next year:

1.  Perfect gifts are given from the heart, with pure motives. If your only motive is to “sell more,” people will sense that as they read your content. And because they sense that you are just out to make money off of them, they will walk away from the “gift” you are offering them.

2.  The perfect gift fits well. This means that it’s the right size and level for your readers.  If your blog posts have a lot of technical jargon that people outside of your industry won’t understand, your blog posts will be “ill fitting” and people will look for content that does fit.

3.  It needs to be something people asked for. Now by this, I don’t mean that you need to run a poll and have your readers tell you what they want you to write about, though that would not be a bad idea!

What I mean by that is that the blog posts you write need to answer not just the questions, but the concerns that your customers and potential customers might have.  Addressing concerns, and even fears, is a scary thing to do as a business owner because we don’t really want people to focus on negative things. But guess what? People do think about those negative things, so you may as well address them!

A Personal Example of How Content Marketing Would be an Excellent Gift

Let me share with you a personal example. I’m currently undergoing treatment for TMJ disorder, an issue with my jaw. Treatment is quite costly, and it may or may not work. A PERFECT question for the dentist treating me to address on his blog would be, “What are the odds of TMJ treatment eliminating my pain?” Here’s another one: “If I get treated for TMJ and it doesn’t work, are there any lasting repercussions?”

The deal is, the answers to these could be what some would consider negative. For instance, the blog post about the odds of the treatment working would have to deal with the fact that it doesn’t always work. This could turn off some potential patients. But you know what else it would do? It would help those who do start treatment understand what they’re signing up for, and help them to better deal with any setbacks.  It would also develop a deep level of trust, when these fears are dealt with.

Can you imagine what a gift it would be if the dentist addressed my fears in this way, even if that meant I decided not to pursue TMJ treatment at this time? You see, a real gift has the best interest of the recipient in mind, rather than how giving the gift will benefit the giver.

We all want to benefit from our content marketing efforts. But if you want your content to shine above all others, as you plan out your content marketing goals for next year, keep in mind the elements that make a perfect gift, and apply those same principals to the content you create.

 Your Turn:

Have you ever thought about the content you writing being a gift to the readers? How can such a mindset shape your blogging goals for the New Year?

 

What Should I Do if I Hate to Write Blog Posts?

Content marketing for people who hate to write.

If attempting to write blog posts result in tons of crumpled paper on the floor and your hands throw up in frustration, perhaps you consider some of these alternatives.

A lot of business owners have started blogs, for good reason: content, particularly blog posts, are a great way to market a business. But what if you’re a business owner who hates to write?

That is a predicament, for sure, but it’s not insurmountable.

Here are some ways that people who hate to write can create content for their business blogs.

1. Create videos.

Maybe you hate to write, but love to get in front of a camera. Or maybe you don’t even like to get in front of a camera, but like the thought of producing screencast videos to share your insight and expertise with your customers or potential customers.

The great news is that videos make great blog posts, particularly if they are transcribed. Transcripts are an easy way to add words to a video post without doing the actual writing. Since written content is the best way to show up in Google searches, video transcripts are a no brainer for those who want to do content marketing but hate to write.

2. Start a podcast.

Okay, maybe you’re intimidated by the thought of getting in front of a camera, and screencasts aren’t your thing. If that describes you, audio podcasts may be the way to go.

There are many advantages to podcasts, with a primary one being that you can talk instead of write. As is the case with videos, if you opt for podcasts as your primary type of content, be sure to include a written element to them. You can have the podcast episodes transcribed, or hire a writer to listen to your audio recording and write up show notes for you. You can even hire people to handle the technical aspects of podcasting if the idea of figuring all that out overwhelms you.

3. Hire blog writers.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to hiring people to write your blog posts for you. The biggest disadvantage is that it can be hard, if not impossible, to find a blog writer who really understands your business in the way that you do. It’s even harder to find one that cares about your business in the way that you do. Because of that, the only way that I recommend hiring a blog writer is if you hire one that can take your other content, such as your webinar transcripts and from there, write your blog posts for you. You can also record short audios that can be used by writers such as is done with our Blogging Your Voice service.

The bottom line is that there are ways you can still do content marketing even if you hate to write. The main thing to keep in mind is that it’s important for you to stay involved in the process rather than outsourcing your blog post writing completely. Produce what content you can and then hire transcribers and writers to help with the written piece of your content.

Your Turn

What about you? Do you love or hate to write? If you’re not crazy about writing, have you tried creating other types of content to market your business?

Blogging Tips for Coaches and Mentors

Business blogging for coaches and mentors

Blogging is a great way for coaches and mentors to grow and enhance their business by sharing their expertise with those who need their insight.

Coaching, mentoring, or whatever you want to call it has been around for a long time. My hunch is that it’s been in existence as long as people have had relationships with other people, though the way it’s done has changed over time.

As an example, mentoring used to most often be done when literally walking along side another person who was younger, or at least less experienced. There’s still a lot to be said for coaching someone by simply living life and doing business or whatever your area of expertise is together with someone else, and while I still believe that face time with your coaching clients is ideal, it is no longer essential.

Some of the people I’ve learned the most from are people I’ve never met, and in fact some of them are people who don’t even know I exist. This is possible as they have mentored me through the wise words written on their blogs.

Here are some ways to use blogging to coach others.

1.  Blog about the things that really matter.

One of the great things about the Internet is that it provides some level of privacy, and people often go to Google when they have a question they are embarrassed to ask someone face-to-face. Take advantage of the fact that people can read what you write without anyone even knowing they have done so, and don’t shy away from writing openly about those touchy subjects.

To be fair, you will be putting yourself out there and making yourself vulnerable by tackling touchy subjects, and some people may strongly disagree with what you write, but if you’re willing to do so, your blog will likely be read by many, since you may be one of the few willing to take that risk.

2.  Answer people’s questions.

Have a brainstorming session and jot down every question you can think of that coaching clients or potential clients have about your area of expertise.

If you come up with 50 good, solid questions, you have a list of your next 50 blog posts. Simply use the questions as the titles of your blog posts, and answer the question in your post – either in text, video, audio, or any combination of these various types of media.

3.  Direct real life clients to specific posts.

While you have the potential to touch lives through your blog and in a sense coach people you will never meet in real life, or even have any direct conversations with, you can also use your blog posts with people you are coaching in person or via phone or online.

This will save you time, as you simply direct people to blog posts that are relevant to their needs. This doesn’t mean that you should just dump a bunch of links on someone, but if you have written posts that address their issues and questions using them as assigned reading is a great and time efficient way to share your knowledge and expertise.

Pointing potential coaching clients to your blog posts, and seeing if they bother consuming the content on them is also a good way to weed out those who are unwilling to make any effort when it comes to their own growth and development.

In fact, you can assign some blog reading to potential clients and ask them to give you feedback on the assigned posts before meeting with them for the first time. If they are unwilling to make the effort to read and respond to a few posts, that may indicate they are not quite ready to enter into a profitable coaching relationship; figuring that out sooner rather than later may save both of you some grief.

Your Turn

What about you? Have you ever used your blog to “coach” someone? Do you have any other ideas for how coaches and mentors can use blogging  to assist them in their coaching practice?