Necessary evil

January 24, 2013 at 6:19 am | Posted in social media | 1 Comment
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Google Evil

Google’s informal (infernal?) motto is ‘Don’t be evil’. Opinions vary as to how well they’re doing.

Though this benevolent dictator has deemed me terminally evil for one purpose (AdSense), I’ve lately found I’m not too evil for another (AdWords).

Like Dante, therefore, I’m qualified to give some morality tips.

Google AdSense comprises ads you permit on your blog or website. When a visitor clicks one, you get a tiny commission. LOTS of clicking makes you modest money.

I was so entranced by this passive income concept, I exhorted friends and family to click themselves numb on the ads assigned to my Surreal Short Stories blog.

This was unwise. It was also prohibited by the Google rules I didn’t read in my excitement.

Revenge was swift and total.

Just as I reached Google’s US$50 revenue payment threshold, my account was cancelled.

For life.

My subsequent confession, apology, blog rework and entreaties for Google mercy came to naught. I was officially evil.

No more would my three years of blog content generate AdSense loot.

Fair enough too! Each time someone from my mob had clicked an ad to glean me a cent or two, some poor AdWords punter had to pay up to several hundred times that amount for the faux visit.

I was most surprised, therefore, when Google approved my AdWords account (and stopped addressing me as Paul ‘Significant Risk’ Hassing in their emails).

AdWords are phrases you ‘bid’ for to make your ad/URL appear prominently in Google searches.

Keen to galvanise sales of my job ad writing ebook, I set bids of up to $1.24 for ‘job ad’, ‘perfect job ad’, ‘can’t find good people’, ‘attract and retain staff’ and many more.

Within an hour, my Google account was reeling from deductions that would take decades of AdSense action to recover.

I paused the campaign to learn that my words were too generic and my bids too high.

I’m now working my way very carefully though the help system and running a very very timid campaign.

I’ve had clicks, but no sales.

I plan to report further findings in a later post.

For now, if you plan to sortie in Google Land, ALWAYS read the instructions.

And if you’ve already been deemed evil, don’t despair.

With Google, it’s better the devil you know!

😐

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

20 Blog tips

November 13, 2012 at 7:19 am | Posted in social media | 3 Comments
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Collect the whole set!

Each day I give a blog tip on Twitter.

These have been very well received, as evidenced by many kind comments and retweets.

Now, in true blogging style, I’m folding my first 20 tips into this post.

Repurposing content is smart and fun.

It’s also dead easy.

I haven’t even had breakfast!

Readers who’ve seen a few of my tweets can now view Volume One of the boxed set:

  1. Answer EVERY polite comment swiftly, personally, comprehensively & gratefully.
  2. Collectively, readers know infinitely more than you. Be humble & learn from them.
  3. Most readers prefer external links in separate screens. Don’t ‘boot’ people from the post they’re reading.
  4. External links to further reading show you value readers’ brains, not eyeballs. They’ll reward you by returning.
  5. A post without a pic is like a day without sunshine. Add a caption to tempt weary readers into your tale.
  6. As people are online at different times & days, it’s OK to tweet a post several times. Just don’t do it verbatim.
  7. The more you woo search engines, the less human your words become. Put readers FIRST.
  8. Tired eyes & tiny attention spans demand pithy content. Keep your words, sentences & paragraphs SHORT.
  9. If a sentence is too complicated or long, riddle it with bullets.
  10. My recipe. Topic. True story. Broader context. Further reading. Conclusions. Questions. Comments. Debate. Fun!
  11. A commenter debate can expand your post 5-50 times. More important than the words is the wisdom they contain.
  12. The more of yourself you put in your posts, the more your readers reward you in kind.
  13. If you know your topic, your post will sing. If not, ask your readers, & your debate will sing.
  14. One of the best compliments a reader can give is: ‘You made me laugh out loud!’
  15. If your story is long, do a trilogy of posts over several days. Many readers enjoy serialisation & suspense.
  16. If your loved ones don’t mind featuring, they can become popular characters in your long-term narrative.
  17. Posting at the same time/s each week helps readers find you, get to know you & stick with you.
  18. In the long run, posts ranging from 300 to 600 words are more interesting than 450 words every single time.
  19. For every 100 readers, only 1 will comment. Entice just 1 more person to play & you double your debates.
  20. If you link your post topics to current affairs, more readers will feel confident to comment.

Even better, I have another 20 tips ready to roll.

So next time I’m tired or uninspired, I’ve got a simple path to a high-value blog post.

This is much better than bashing your brain or publishing crud.

I hope you like these blog tips and would LOVE to add yours.

🙂

Blog visitor traffic report

December 19, 2010 at 11:02 am | Posted in social media | 4 Comments
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blog visitor traffic spike

Last week we smashed our visitor record by 240%!

A colleague wrote to me today. She’s been blogging her heart out, but not getting many comments. So I offered some advice:

‘You certainly have been faithful with your blogging.

It’s such a slow burn.

But the search engines are going to love you for it in the end.

The number and scope of your posts is amazing.

You deserve a lot more comments.

I can’t find you on Twitter.

I promote each of my posts several times on Twitter.

This has been key to building visitor traffic.

It has also helped to be mentioned in several blog lists:

http://bit.ly/eG9tOh

http://globalcopywriting.com/my-favourite-blogs

We’ve also had some comments from Seth Godin and Penelope Trunk.

These blogging heavyweights add massive cred; just check the traffic spike from Penelope’s last visit! (See above.)

Another way to galvanise your readers is to guest on other blogs.

If you can think of a topic or three that would appeal to our readers:

http://mybrc.myobnet.com/

I could ask MYOB if they’d like to have you as a guest poster.

You’d look jolly good in our Hall of Fame:

http://mybrc.myobnet.com/about/

With best regards and many thanks for your update. P. :)’

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

The better you write, the more you save.

February 16, 2010 at 7:08 am | Posted in social media | Leave a comment
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Use a specialist. But only for the bits you can’t do.

I strive to improve my clients’ writing skills by imparting my expertise where possible.

One client has followed my advice and assembled a team of friends to vet his draft blog posts.

If his posts do start coming to me error free, their upload, tagging, hyperlinking and image sourcing should only take me 15-20 mins per post.

That’s around $30-40 per post.

And if it takes me less time, I’ll pass on the savings (as I only charge for time I actually work).

With this method, everyone’s a winner:

  1. My client improves his writing and saves money.
  2. His friends feel useful.
  3. His readers benefit from regular posts.
  4. His blog moves up Google’s food chain thanks to fresh content updates.
  5. I get regular small fees, instead of just a few (or even no) big ones.

So you see, there’s more than one way to flesh a blog! 🙂

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

What does it cost to set up a blog?

January 30, 2010 at 10:47 am | Posted in social media | 6 Comments
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You need to know what you’re doing.

A client asked what I’d charge to set up a blog.

By the time I laid it all out in my email, I realised I had another post that might interest you.

Here’s what I wrote (with confidential details suppressed).

‘A blog for your firm and sector would be fabulous.

The topics would never end.

You could cover design, products, materials, trends, pitfalls, overseas directions, govt initiatives, case studies, happy campers – the works.

And every time there’s a media item about your sector, you’ll have another  blog post topic.

The way to go is to just make a start.

It takes me around 13 hours to set up a blog. This comprises:

  1. Naming.
  2. Registration.
  3. Template selection and configuration.
  4. Banner design.
  5. Welcome content.
  6. Tags.
  7. Avatar (profile pic) optimisation.
  8. Links.
  9. Amazon shop (optional – for passive income).
  10. Online ranking.

Each draft post you send me will take about an hour to optimise, illustrate and load on the blog.

So, you’d be up for around $1,560 + GST for setup.

Plus $120 + GST for each post (assuming you give me a reasonable bit of content to work up).

If you wish to proceed, we just move carefully through the ten-step setup process described above, ensuring you’re happy with each step and paying as you go.

If you have the time and inclination, I can train you or your representative to take over and run the blog at any time.

There are no software or hosting costs (unless you want to get fancy).

Even the pics are free, as I’ve started using Flickr. And I know you’ve got some killer photos in your kit bag.’

I hope you found that helpful or at least interesting.

Let me know!

🙂


If you found this content useful or entertaining, you may wish to:

Even a buck or three will keep me in the hunt. With many thanks, Paul.


 

14 MORE blog improvement ideas!

January 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Posted in social media | 8 Comments
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Pic by ME! 🙂

By Jove, I just did another blog analysis! (Earlier analysis here.)

Once again, many of my ideas were client specific (and of course confidential).

The rest are yours.

  1. ALL CAPITAL LETTERS in the banner is harder to read than Title Case and looks like ‘SHOUTING’ to some readers.
  2. The pic of the tree is pretty, but it doesn’t suggest a benefit for clients or a link to you. How about a pic of your products in action, in situ?
  3. The headers for the articles have varying capitalisation (Title Case and Sentence case). While this is a minor point, highly educated clients may find it distracting.
  4. Australians may prefer a Day/Month/Year format to the current American one.
  5. ‘Comment’ is simpler and shorter than ‘Add Your Comments Here’. The fewer words we use, the more info we impart.
  6. A relevant image at the top of each article would showcase your gear and make the blog much more interesting to readers.
  7. I had trouble understanding your company’s structure due to the varying names. It’d be good to have one long version and one short version and to use them consistently. Failing that, spell out what’s what at the start, so readers like me don’t feel stupid or waste time trying to figure it out instead of reading your content.
  8. Body copy capitalisation is also highly irregular. Unless corrected, this will erode your brand in the minds of some readers.
  9. Clichés kill interest faster than a road train wipes wabbits. Therefore, use your ‘natural voice’ to replace phrases like ‘110% effort’, ‘our dynamic team’ and ‘all this and much much more’. Doing so will make you appear human (and therefore, by implication, reasonable and trustworthy). And if your competitors don’t follow suit, you’ll open up an important point of difference in a homogenous market.
  10. I can’t see any tags, categories or keywords. You said your main site SEO gives you Google Page 1. What about this blog?
  11. A Bolded Subtitle doesn’t need a colon too.
  12. ‘Single quotes’ do the same thing (in less space) as “double quotes”.
  13. The wind energy article is great. This is another point-of-difference opportunity. Especially these days.
  14. YouTube is now massive. Some embedded videos of your products in action would be great. Especially for Gen Y and younger audience members.

Hope you dig. Let me know! 🙂

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

Business Blogs

17 Blog improvement ideas

January 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Posted in social media | Leave a comment
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Small changes can make a BIG difference. Photo by rwpeary.

A while ago I was asked to critique a blog. While many of my suggestions were client specific, there were some I thought you might find useful.

This list shows the sort of feedback I can give on your blog.

  1. Changing/rotating banner pics are a nice touch. A small explanatory caption for each would be even better. Especially for first-time visitors.
  2. Once you delve into older posts, it can take time to get back to the start. It’d be nice if clicking the banner pic returned readers to the home page.
  3. Captions on post images would satisfy scanning readers, intrigue deeper readers and generally draw more people into each post.
  4. An avatar (profile) pic of unusual dimensions makes it hard to use in other social media applications (which will crop it).
  5. Clicking your avatar should lead to your bio.
  6. Inconsistent capitalisation may distract some readers from your message.
  7. Responding swiftly to comments can elicit others and build readership and community.
  8. Clicking the post photos makes them much bigger than expected (or needed). This could disadvantage readers with slower internet connections.
  9. Given this blog’s many components, a three-column design like this could work better than a two-column design.
  10. ‘Rollover’ comments (which appear when you put your cursor over a link – see my blogroll on the right of this page) let you know what you’re getting into before clicking through. Some people prefer this.
  11. Are you on Twitter? I couldn’t find a way to follow you. How do you announce new posts to the world?
  12. One post had two hyperlinks. One was embedded, the other wasn’t. The former is neater and should be used consistently.
  13. One photo acknowledgement took two lines, where one would suffice.
  14. Abbreviations (it’s, we’re, don’t) would make the tone friendlier (and the writing shorter and easier to read).
  15. Many of the photos are so beautiful, it’s a shame to have them so small. Putting them above the text would solve this problem.
  16. Some posts contain many passive constructions. The active voice is shorter and more ‘up’.
  17. Bullets are great. If you can left align them, they’ll remain distinct without looking cramped or consuming too much white space.

Was any of that useful? You can probably see I’m bringing my copywriting expertise to bear on the content.

And why not? Blogs are just another vehicle for interesting, relevant messages expressed in perfect English.

Did you want anything explained more fully? Just leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Talk the walk

January 5, 2010 at 11:14 am | Posted in social media | 4 Comments
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Walk and chew blog at the same time! Photo by James Cridland.

Does your whizz-bang new mobile (cell) phone have a built-in or downloadable dictaphone?

If it does, you may be able to blog without blogging.

Simply dictate short posts when you’re doing anything that may interest your staff, clients, suppliers or other ‘watchers’.

Then, get a keen youngster to transcribe them verbatim for a few coppers.

You can then whack these blog posts into shape yourself, or send them to me for optimisation.

Dictating on the run means you don’t have to find time to sit down and write from scratch.

It also adds an immediacy to content that readers find attractive and refreshing.

Imagine you run a foundry. One day, your metallurgist reports that a batch of casts is failing quality checks.

You hurry into the hot, dusty space, cursing into your dictaphone. Within minutes, your expert eye tells you the resin isn’t binding the sand cores as it should.

You press ‘record’ and rattle off your diagnosis and plan of action.

Then you email the sound file to your scribe.

Before day’s end, you have a blog post that:

  1. Alerts management and staff across your organisation so they can swing into action.
  2. Makes your resin supplier leap out of their skin to rectify the problem in record time.
  3. Explains to customers that a batch may be delayed (because you refuse to send imperfect products). 
  4. Enthralls and educates students (i.e. future staff) and other parties interested in the cut and thrust of your products, processes and industry.

That’s what I call multi-tasking.

If your phone can’t do this, you may wish to invest in a dictaphone.

Let us know how you get on!

Business Blogs

Your emails are blog posts!

January 4, 2010 at 9:28 am | Posted in social media | 6 Comments
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A trove of blog posts may already be yours!

Many of my clients understand that they need to blog. Yet they’re thwarted by two mind blocks:

  1. What will I write about?
  2. How will I find the time?

What they don’t realise is that their blog posts may already be written – in their emails!

Let’s say you make uber-hi-tech vacuum cleaners.

One day, a frantic customer asks how to extract a hamster from the hypohepozappofilter without damaging either.

As a caring, conscientious manufacturer, you (or your tech person) take the time to write and send clear instructions to resolve this problem.

Six months later, you’re about to clean out your email Sent Folder.

DON’T TOUCH THAT FILE!

Your hamster extraction email needs only a brief ‘top and tail’ edit to become a blog post.

And while this problem may not be common, anyone who does suffer it in future will be mighty grateful the answer is already online.

They can search your blog and fix their issue, without the hassle and embarrassment of contacting you.

And you don’t have to waste time considering the situation and writing the solution all over again.

If you don’t keep an email Sent Folder, start today.

If you do, cast your eye over it.

I’ll bet London to a brick you and your staff have written heaps of content that’s begging to be posted on your blog.

I’m not fond of the word ‘leverage’.

But when it means wringing the last atom of utility from a piece of work you’ve already done by reusing it in elegant new ways, I’m a fan!

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by Meanest Indian.


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