PCC 009: Fast, Easy Blogging with Tom Treanor

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The Professional Content Creation Podcast

In this episode of The Professional Content Creation Podcast, I interviewed Tom Treanor of Right Mix Marketing, a company that is focused on helping businesses of all sizes succeed through the effective use of Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Business Blogging and Social Media. Tom teaches a course  on social media tools at San Francisco State University. He speaks at live and virtual events on blogging and all things social media.

This interview is packed with tons of great information that will help any business owner using content to market their business and is focused on three primary areas: SEO, webinars, and blogging.

In this episode we talked about: 

  • What SEO is and how small business owners can benefit from it.
  • What business owners will often find when they do an SEO audit of their sites.
  • The biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to SEO.
  • What businesses should track in order to know whether or not their SEO efforts are working.
  • The main things to pay attention to in Google Analytics.
  • The best way to use webinars for list building and content creation.
  • The basic elements that should be included in a webinar.
  • Reasons why blogging may not go well for a business.
  • What can be the missing link with social media.
  • How two complementary businesses can work together in a way that benefits everyone involved.

Items mentioned in this episode include:

Transcript

Rebecca Livermore: Tom, thanks so much for joining us today.

Tom Treanor: Glad to be here, Rebecca. Thanks for having me.

Rebecca Livermore: I really appreciate you taking your time and I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while. One thing that I’m really looking forward to with this particular podcast episode is the fact that you have a lot of experience in a few different areas and I’m going to touch on three areas in this interview; the first one SEO, the second one webinars and the third one blogging. So that’s kind of the direction that I’m taking.

Tom Treanor: OK, sounds good.

Rebecca Livermore: All right. So first of all, with SEO, that might be something that some people have heard of but don’t really understand what it is. Can you explain what SEO is and how small business owners can benefit from it?

Tom Treanor: Sure. In the simplest form, SEO is merely making the content that you’ve already produced for your website and/or blog more search-friendly and that can include the types of terms that you use as well as where you specifically put that on the website and then it also blends a little bit with social media because Google and Bing and the other search engines are also looking at how often your content is shared in social media as one of the ranking factors.

But at the end of the day for a small business, the most basic level is to have the right keywords that tell Google what your company is about, where it’s located, what kind of customers you serve and what kind of products you have. If people do an audit of their site, I think a lot of times they will find that they’re not being explicit enough. They need to explain it to Google like Google is a five-year-old child which means that they actually say the words versus imply things.

Rebecca Livermore: OK. So how would somebody explain it to Google? When you say that, what does that mean? What’s a practical application of that?

Tom Treanor: So if let’s say a lawyer had a website and they said we’re a legal professional and we serve clients in – some sort of business advisory and we serve clients from Santa Cruz all the way to San Francisco. That may not be enough for Google. They may need to know that you’re an attorney, that you’re a lawyer, your exact specialty, exactly which cities and towns you will practice in. What are some of your main services that you offer?

So really having enough meat in there and enough content to explain the details of your business so that when people search for one specific type of service, Google can pick that up and find your company because it will not understand that between Santa Cruz and San Francisco includes Palo Alto or San Mateo or all these other big towns that you might have some clients in.

Rebecca Livermore: OK, that makes a lot of sense. What are some of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to SEO?

Tom Treanor

Tom Treanor

Click here to download the complete transcript. 

A special thanks to Tom for such an awesome interview! If you’d like to connect with Tom, you can follow him on Twitter, become his fan on Facebook, or read his blog

 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

 

How to Use Google Drive for Content Marketing for Your Business (An Introduction)

 

Google Presentation as alternative to PowerPoint

This is an example of a slideshow I made using Google Presentation, which I then uploaded to SlideShare.

I just recently bought a Chromebook, and it came with 100 GB of free storage on Google Drive. That, coupled with how much I use Google (gmail, Google calendar, etc.) has put me on a quest to maximize all that Chrome and Google has to offer me as a small business owner, particularly as it relates to the content marketing I do for my business.

I’m sure that I’ll come up with more ways to use Google Drive in the future, but here are some ways that I’ve already started using it for content for my business. You can use these ideas whether or not you have a Chromebook, but you will need a free Google account.

1. Share files.

Okay, so it’s no big surprise that you can share files that you’ve uploaded to Google Drive, but now that I have as much storage as I do, I’m uploading ALL of the files that I need to share with others. For instance, I uploaded the latest podcast episode .mp3 and share the link with my transcriber. I have nothing against Dropbox, and in fact have used it quite a bit and still will when people share files with me. But since I’m generally logged in to Gmail pretty much all day, it’s great to be able to upload and share files without logging into to another account.

2. A place for everything and everything in its place.

I’ve had a particular problem not just with content marketing, but with. . . life. If you’re like me, you have documents, images, to-do lists, links to helpful information, journal entries, and who knows what else stored online everywhere from Evernote to Pinterest to Wunderlist. I’ve ended up with material of various types so many different places that I don’t even know where all of it is. That’s a bit disconcerting when you consider that I generally store things so that I can find them when I need them.

Google Drive has solved that problem for me. Or perhaps I should say, “is solving” that problem for me since I still have a lot of content all over the place.

Google Drive uses the familiar folder system, probably much like what you use on your PC or Mac already;I’ve found it best to use a similar (if not identical) system for organizing my documents on Google Drive.

If you keep everything that you need related to content marketing on Google Drive, instead of having things stored all over the Internet, you’ll be more likely to be able to find it when you need it.

3. Create presentations from within Google Drive.

I’m not currently doing any speaking, but that doesn’t mean that PowerPoint presentations don’t have a place in my content marketing mix. The difference is that I now use PowerPoint to create slideshows that I upload to places like SlideShare, so that I can then embed them on my blog posts and pages on my site.
The great news is that there is a free PowerPoint knock off in Google Drive. It has a very limited number of templates, but the good news is that I can upload PowerPoint templates and then create the slideshows within Google. In order to do this, just be sure to have “conversion” turned on when you upload the template. What that does is convert it to the Google Drive version, so you can edit it.

What I’m liking about using this on Google is what I like about using Google Drive in general — I can work on and access the presentation from any computer with an Internet connection.

4. Gather feedback from your customers.

There are a lot of great ways to get feedback from your customers or potential customers, some paid, some free.

A great free option that comes built in to Google Drive is Google forms. You can set up any questions you want, complete with various ways that people can respond (e.g. dropdown menus, multiple choice, short answer, long answer, etc. You can make some fields required, and some optional.

When people fill out the form, their responses will go right into Google Drive, so no need to log in someplace else to retrieve them.

You can link directly to the form or embed the form on your website. The only downside that I’ve discovered so far is that at least in my experience, I haven’t received any type of notification when someone fills out the form, so I have to check periodically to make sure I don’t miss anything.

Your Turn:

Do you use Google Drive? If so, how? How would you use it if you had 100 GB memory available to you?

How to Give Credit Where Credit is Due on Your Blog

Shine light on others on your blog by giving them credit for their own material and ideas and by linking to them.

Your blog is a great way to increase the trust of your potential customers or clients, but your blog can also tarnish your reputation if you fail to provide proper acknowledgements on your blog.

Here are some tips for giving credit where credit is due on your business blog:

1.  Cite your sources.

It’s important for your readers to know how you came up with your information. This is particularly true when it comes to any statistics you share. If something is your own opinion, then state that it’s your own opinion, or write it in such a way that it’s clear you’re simply sharing your thoughts on the matter.

For instance, if I was going to write something like, “Blogging increases traffic to websites more than any other source,” I would write it one of these two ways, “In my opinion, blogging is the best way to increase traffic to your website.” Or, I would write something like, “According to the xyz report, businesses that blog regularly, see a “x%” increase in traffic to their websites. This is 5 times the amount of traffic that comes from x, y and z combined.”

2.  Link to your sources.

It’s a great idea to link to your sources on your blog. When you do so, this accomplishes the following:

  • It verifies that you didn’t just pull the information out of thin air
  • It provides an opportunity for people to look at the information in more detail than you perhaps provided in your blog post
  • It helps to drive traffic to the source of the information

In my opinion, one of the best ways business bloggers can service their customers and potential customers is through educating them, and a great way to do that is through linking to sites where they can learn more.

3.  Acknowledge the source of your ideas.

Your blog is a great way to showcase those who have contributed good ideas that you’re now implementing in your business. For instance, perhaps you have a new and innovative product or service. If the new product or service was indeed your idea, you don’t necessarily need to blab about how you came up with the idea (unless there is an interesting story behind it), but if someone else came up with the idea and you took it and ran with it, shine the spotlight on that person or organization to let others know of their contribution.

For instance, perhaps Matt in the mailroom saw a way to improve your services; why not let people know that Matt was the one with the great idea?

Doing this accomplishes a couple of things, the primary one being respect. The person you acknowledge will respect you more, and likely enjoy his moment in the spotlight, but the respect won’t stop with that person. The trust that others have in you will increase when they see that you’re not just out there trying to promote yourself; acknowledging the contribution of others on your blog shows that you’re a business owner who looks out for the interests of others. (Who doesn’t want to do business with someone who watches out for others?)

The bottom line is that using your blog to give credit where credit is due is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to increase trust both for your business and for yourself personally.

Your Turn:

Share some ways about how you give credit where credit is due on your blog.

How to Write a Blog Post Every Day

daily blogging, write blog post every day

Okay, maybe it is hard, but there are things you can do to help you blog consistently.

True confessions. Writing a blog post every day IS hard. But writing blog posts consistently isn’t as hard as we often make it out to be.

Though I created the infographic above in jest, there is a lot of truth to it. The fact of the matter is, in the simplest form, getting out of bed, sitting at the computer, turning it on, avoiding distractions on the Internet, typing like mad, and publishing what you write will go a long way toward helping you blog consistently.

In this blog post, I’d like to do a post roundup on the topic of how to blog consistently. I’ll share links to posts of mine as well as some blog posts by others that you may find helpful.

Here are some tips for improving your blogging consistency:

 

1.  Determine the focus of your blog.

 

When I first started my blog, I knew the focus was to be on content creation, but the picture in my mind wasn’t really any clearer than that. I still have a ways to go when it comes to sharpening the focus of my blog, but the tips in these articles will help you tighten the focus of your blog:

2.  Gather blog post ideas.

 

One of the things that shuts people down when it’s time to sit down and write is that they may not know what to write about.

Here are a few blog posts that will help you know how to come up with and keep track of blog post ideas:

 3.  Make a commitment to blog regularly.

 

True commitment is often an underrated virtue, but it truly is a key to doing anything consistently. In the audio post below I share the importance of making up your mind to blog consistently, and the post after that covers the importance of finding your own blogging rhythm:

 4.  Avoid Blogging Burnout.

 

Unfortunately, blogging consistently, particularly if it is overdone, can lead to burn out. Here are some tips for avoiding burn out as you work toward blogging consistently.

Your Turn

 

Those are some of my tips for blogging consistently. Please leave a comment to let me know what you’ve done to get on track with blogging consistently or any struggles you’ve had with getting into a good routine with blogging.

How to Find Your Blogging Rhythm

Not everyone has the same blogging rhythm Have you found your blogging rhythm? Once you do, you’ll find that blogging becomes more natural and with a good blogging rhythm in place, you’ll also feel more motivated to blog consistently.

Let’s look at how rhythm applies to blogging, and how you can benefit from finding your own unique blogging rhythm

To Develop a Blogging Rhythm, You Have to Move

 

Rhythm doesn’t occur without movement. This is true whether talking about the rhythm of the tides, rhythm in music, or blogging rhythm.

One of the biggest hindrances to finding your blogging rhythm is lack of activity. It can be hard to discover your own blogging rhythm if you don’t get up and blog. Yes, that’s right. . . you’ll never discover your blogging rhythm if you only think about blogging, or blog sporadically. Discovering your blogging rhythm will only happen as you get a move on and start blogging.

When you first start blogging, your blogging efforts may be off beat, uncertain, and awkward.

Keep blogging, keep moving, and as you do, you’ll begin to discover your blogging rhythm.

Important Components of Blogging Rhythm

 

To give you a little guidance as you begin, so that you don’t “dance” your way through your blog in a way that is passionate but totally uncoordinated, consider the following aspects of how to apply the concept of rhythm to your blogging efforts.

Consider Your Own Body Rhythm and How it Impacts Your Blogging Rhythm

 

A lot of my blogging friends are night owls, and really get in gear with their blogging late at night, long after the kids have gone to bed, when everyone else is sleeping.

In contrast, I’m totally useless later at night and in fact, I find that I am less productive as the day goes on. Because of that, if I’m going to err on the side of extremity when it comes to the time of day that I blog, early in the morning is when it happens to be best for me.

You may find that neither late at night or early in the morning works best for you. The main thing is to pay attention to when your blogging efforts are most effective and choose that time of day to schedule your blogging time.

Consider Your Own Capacity to Create Content When Determining Your Blogging Rhythm

 

There are many different opinions out there when it comes to how frequently you should blog. Some people blog daily or even two or three times per day, some blog a couple of times per week, and some blog weekly or perhaps even less often.

One aspect of rhythm is that it is a pattern that occurs consistently. You’ll never develop a blogging rhythm by blogging sporadically, so as you consider what blogging rhythm will work best for you, be sure to be realistic.

When it comes to any new discipline, it is better to start slow and build, rather than start off with a crazy goal such as blogging three times a day. At some point, blogging three times per day may work well for you, and if that’s the case, you’ll certainly discover that as you begin to blog consistently. But most people who start off with a goal like that burn out quickly and in many cases give up because they simply can’t keep up the pace long term.

As you work on establishing your blogging rhythm, don’t worry too much about what other people are doing, and instead focus on what works best for you.

Make Blogging a Priority

 

One of my biggest hindrances to finding my own blogging rhythm was that I made everything else in my life a priority.

I’m a virtual assistant and in addition to my own blog, I write for other clients. When I first left my day job to work as a VA, I made a point of starting on work for my clients first, with the plan to get to my own writing at some point later in the day.

The problem with this approach, at least for me, was that once I got started on work for other people, sitting down to write blog posts for my own blog just never happened. By the time I took care of everyone else’s needs, I had nothing left in terms of energy to write blog posts.

To remedy that, first thing in the morning I now do a very quick check of all of my client emails, but unless there is some type of urgent task that simply can’t wait, I don’t do any VA work or other types of client work until after I’ve first spent some time on my own blog.

Since taking care of the needs of others is a normal part of my personality, I never have to worry about my clients not getting the care they need, so devoting time to my own blog first thing in the morning is an approach that works best for me.

In order to find your own blogging rhythm, be sure to make blogging a priority, in a way that makes sense to you.

 When you dance with a partner whose rhythm is different from yours, you’re bound to get your toes stepped on. Trying to blog to someone else’s rhythm is bound to be just as painful and awkward. Find your own blogging rhythm and see what a difference it makes in your own blog.

Your Turn

 

What about you? Have you found your own blogging rhythm, or are you still trying to figure that out? Leave a comment below to let me know what has worked best for you when it comes to getting into a good blogging routine.

How to Increase Blogging Productivity Using the Pomodoro Technique

blogging productivityBlogging productivity eludes a lot of people, and it has eluded me in the past. Fortunately, in one of my writer’s groups, I learned about a great technique that helps increase blogging productivity, the Pomodoro Technique.

Before I get into how to use the Pomodoro Technique to increase blogging productivity, I first want to give you a brief overview of how the Pomodoro Technique works in general terms in case you may find it helpful to apply to other aspects of your life. I personally use it for any type of focused work that I do while sitting at my desk.

The basic routine for time management using the Pomodoro Technique includes the following:

 

  1. At the beginning of the week write down all activities that need to be accomplished during the week.
  2. Each day add items from the activity sheet to a to-do list.
  3. Select the most important task from the to-do list.
  4. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work like mad on the selected item.
  5. When the timer goes off, put a check mark by the item to indicate that a “Pomodoro” was completed, whether or not the task itself was completed.
  6. Take a three to five minute break before picking up where you left off with another 25 minute work session. The break should be a mindless activity and can be anything from taking a bathroom break, having something to eat or drink or simply stretching.
  7. If a task is completed before the timer goes off, spend the remaining time “over learning.” Go over the work in finer detail, making minor improvements.
  8. Once the task is complete, draw a line through it.
  9. After completing four 25 minute “Pomodoros,” take a 15-30 minute break.

How I Use the Pomodoro Technique to Increase Blogging Productivity

  • At the beginning of the week, I make a list of all blog posts and articles I need to write for the week. If I haven’t already figured that out, I actually use the process listed above, starting with step 4 to come up with a list of writing projects for the week. (Consider this step to be Pomodoro #1 for the first day of the week.)
  • After taking a 3-5 minute break, I set the timer for another 25 minutes, to begin Pomodoro #2.
  • During Pomodoro #2, I select the most pressing blog post or writing assignment facing me at the moment. It may be that I don’t yet have the blog post for the day written or I may be coming down on time with other article assignments. Once I’ve selected the blog post I’m going to work on, I write like mad, as fast as I can, for 25 minutes, until the timer goes off. Regardless of where I’m at with the blog post, I stop writing as soon as the timer goes off. Pomodoro #2 is now complete. Depending on the complexity of the blog post, I may have a solid rough draft of the blog post completed after this Pomodoro.
  • I take another 3-5 minute break where I get up and walk away from the computer. It’s super important that I have a timer going for the break so that the break I take isn’t too long.
  • I’m now ready to start Pomodoro #3, so again, I set the timer for 25 minutes and pick up where I left off. This generally means finishing the first draft and going back through to edit it. If I finish editing it, I go ahead and upload my blog post to WordPress. I work as fast and as focused as I can during this time, until the timer goes off, and I’ve completed Pomodoro #3.
  • I again take a 3-5 minute break. By now, I’m starting to feel a little bit of mental fatigue, but I know that I’m heading into the final stretch, which gives me the motivation to keep going.
  • After my short break, it is time to start on Pomodoro #4. Most likely by this time I’ve completed the blog post and uploaded it to WordPress. If I haven’t already done so, I find a photo to use, crop it if needed, and upload it. I also put in any keywords, check the post for SEO, put in tags, and so on.
  • Once I’ve completed 4 Pomodoros, it is time for a 15- 30 minute break. This is when I generally take a shower, eat breakfast or exercise.

Note: if at any time in the process I complete a blog post, I simply start with the next blog post or article on my list and get as far with it as I can before I complete my writing time for the day.

The next day, I start the process over again, but since I already listed my blog posts and articles that I need to work on for the week on the first day of the week, my first Pomodoro on day #2 is spent reviewing the blog posts or articles I worked on the day before, editing and polishing them, and submitting them or scheduling them. I personally find it helpful not to post them until the day after they are written so that I can look at them with fresh eyes before publishing them.

Using the Pomodoro Technique is a great way to increase blogging productivity. Some days I may complete two blog posts or articles, and other times it may take me a couple of days to complete an article or blog post, depending on the level of complexity, whether or not research is required, and so on.

Devoting 4 Pomodoros a day to writing helps keep me on track with my writing goals for the week.

Your Turn:

What tips do you have for increasing blogging productivity? Leave me a comment to let me know what works best for you, and be sure to tell me if you think you might give the Pomodoro Technique a try to see if it will help increase your blogging productivity.