Spreading yourself too thin

January 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Blue Balloon

How to make social media ‘pop’.

It’s hard to pop a balloon with open hands; the force dissipates over too great an area. A pin in two fingers gives a dramatically superior result.

When you focus all your energies on one point, you all but guarantee success.

This post shows me using both methods. As we go, you’ll see some Web 2.0 jargon – all of which I’ll explain in detail down the track.

For now, just watch this crazy, new-fangled social media stuff in action.

Wrong way

Here’s me spreading myself too thin (i.e. using the open-hands balloon-popping method):

My Squidoo lenses are here.

When I started Twitter, I sent my followers to this lens in particular.

This was to create custom for my REMO T-shirt site (now defunct).

I got some sign-ups and sales and was particularly happy to connect with a clairvoyant in Washington (I’m in Melbourne, Australia). She was attracted to my palmistry T-shirt. We’d never have ‘intermet’ otherwise.

Then, the founder of REMO joined Twitter. I gave him some tips. I followed him, he followed me.

He found my Squidoo lens, liked it, retweeted it, then made me Featured Customer in his weekly newsletter to 38,500 people in 125 countries!

I got traffic spikes galore.

I was so elated with all this action, I blogged about Twitter here.

Big smiles! Fantastic fun! Wall-to-wall warm fuzzies!

Alas, despite having spent hundreds of hours on these exciting, new activities, I didn’t make enough actual cash to buy one soy Frappuccino (even if I’d wanted to).

It was at this point that I began to wonder – to my wife’s profound relief – whether I should focus on my ‘real’ job of writer, editor and proofreader.

Harnessing the web’s fickle and elusive power to this specific activity (the ‘pin’) is the subject of the next section.

Right way

So there I was, simultaneously promoting free T-shirts and $120/hr copywriting on the same Web 2.0 channels.

Visitors to my websites must have felt like they’d entered a dentist’s surgery, only to find themselves in a jumping castle.

I ignored all I knew about conveying a constant, relevant and significant message to a target audience.

I vainly chased the holy grail of passive income (which has been beautifully defined as ‘working 18 hours a day to make money while you sleep’).

Finally, I woke up and went back to my main game. The game I’d spent 22 years and two degrees honing. I started writing about copywriting, and sending people to my copywriting site.

I soon caught the eye of Anthony, a web template designer who was rebuilding his own website.

When he questioned me about copywriting (and I didn’t try to flog him a T-shirt) he asked me to quote on optimising his words.

Anthony liked my proposal and gave me a trial job. Though it took several hours to get a grip on the open source world of Joomla and its bewildering jargon, I did the job to his satisfaction.

Anthony told me to bill him. He paid the next day. $363 cash.

That’s a lot of T-shirts.

A few days later, Anthony asked if I’d like to do an interview for his onsite blog. No payment, just my logo and URL prominently displayed.

Free from my monetarised mentality, I said yes.

The result is now seen by many daily visitors to Joomla Bamboo (prospects I’d not have encountered otherwise).

Twitterers from Anthony’s world are now following me, and vice versa.

When Anthony asked for a second article, I put everything I had into it. The result was so pleasing, I asked if I could leverage it with MYOB. He said yes.

I was back on song. Instead of spreading myself thin, I was making the same call on every channel. The web had ballooned, but I had my pin.

My visitor statistics jumped so much, I realised it was time to upgrade my own website (stay tuned for that one).

Each day now connects me with more of the people I want to learn from and do business with. It’s only a matter of time until I gain my next paying client from Twitter.

I’ve even been approached to tell my story in a significant print publication (stay tuned for THAT one).

If the open-handed approach isn’t popping your balloon, focus your energies on one point:

the pin is indeed mightier than the broad!

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

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Social media ain’t for the faint hearted

March 7, 2011 at 7:30 am | Posted in social media | 12 Comments
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social media

It takes wisdom to conquer social media.

Recently I was asked to meet an entrepreneur who wanted to ‘do’ social media.

On the phone, it soon became obvious he had BIG expectations of the outcomes, but no understanding of the process.

This was fine: I don’t know how to run multi-million dollar factories. It was wise for him to seek advice.

However, as we’re both very busy people, I didn’t want to waste our time. So I composed the frank (nay, brutal) email below.

To his credit, this man is now working through my documents and preparing the answers I seek.

When I do meet him, I expect we’ll proceed in leaps and bounds.

‘Dear Fred,

Betty tells me you wish to harness the power of social media to promote your new products.

This is doable, but not easy.

In two years of studying social media daily, I’ve learned that it’s a demanding, fickle, content-hungry, slow-burning beast of a strategy.

When it works, it really works.

But you have to put in.

To this end, I must see if you can give me what I need to help you.

If you can deliver, we can do business.

If not, it’s best we don’t waste our precious time.

Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it:

  1. Cast your eye over the following blogs and tell me which one/s (if any) you like and why:
  2. Complete the attached blog post questionnaire.
  3. Read the other attachments and tell me what you think of how I operate.

Being a writer, I need your responses in writing.

I can then review them carefully to ask you intelligent, relevant questions when we meet.

Naturally, refusal won’t offend.

Better a clear NO now than a fuzzy future MAYBE.

I look forward to your frank response.

Best regards,

P.’

Watch this space!

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

How to find and follow relevant people on Twitter.

April 24, 2010 at 9:28 am | Posted in social media | 4 Comments
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Mark my words: relevant Twitter followers are GOLD.

This week I offered advice to a client who’s making a splash in national media:

I’d like to see you get more Twitter followers.

The easiest way is to follow others who are relevant to your cause.

Most will follow you back

Just a dozen or so each week will soon add up.

You can’t afford to wait for cats to find you.

My client asked me how to find and follow. So I said:

In Twitter, click on Find People.

Type in a keyword, like wine*.

Click Search.

Anyone with wine in their name will come up.

Follow the ones that look interesting.

Repeat with a new keyword, like grapes.

Repeat.

My client got the message and is now happily building a relevant following.

As social media continues to shape the way we do business, this will become a priceless resource over time.

Try it! 🙂

* I changed these keywords to conceal my client’s industry and identity. But the principles are the same.

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.


 

The ‘other’ avatar

January 18, 2010 at 10:46 am | Posted in social media | 2 Comments
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Professional, but not stuffy. This avatar suits my diverse client portfolio.

When setting up a blog for a client, I ask them for a headshot to use as an ‘avatar’ on all their social media stuff.

It’s important to have a consistent image, so people start to recognise you around the internet.

As you post  and comment on your blog and others, adding your face each time builds your personal brand.

If you don’t have an avatar, go through your photos. See if you have something clean and clear (and appropriate!) that you’d be happy to use for the next 3-5 years.

If you’re unsure, follow the rules for passport photos and you can’t go wrong.

Once you have the file, it’s a simple matter to bung it on your blog.

If you don’t have a good head shot, you might think about getting some nice, professional photos done.

Humans are highly visual creatures. We judge each other in milliseconds. And we only get one chance to make a good first impression.

A shabby avatar can kill your power to turn strangers into prospects and prospects into clients. So it makes very good business sense to do it right.

If you have a team, you can save money by having them photographed at the same time.

Say cheese! 🙂

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

Blame the bogeyman!

January 13, 2010 at 10:10 am | Posted in social media | 8 Comments
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This is how some marketing managers see me. Photo by bbaltimore.

I’ve long found that when it comes to (internal and external) communications, fortune truly favours the brave.

Most clients take my advice to do bold and exciting new things. Yet some worry about their team’s reaction.

The most common backlash sources are:

  1. Fear of the new (by inflexible or incorrectly skilled staff).
  2. Loss of power or prestige (by letting a freelancer do the work of permanent IT, OD, QC, HR, PR, admin or marketing professionals).

To counter these anxieties, I tell my clients to blame the ‘copywriter bogeyman’. Something like:

‘If you think these ideas will meet resistance, put my name at the bottom of the page. That way, staff won’t resent you and I can duke it out with the naysayers for the entertainment of the go-getters.’

Some clients prefer to blame the bogeyman when change is needed.

Others involve their workforce from the outset.

Though I realise not every team is full of bright sparks, I naturally prefer the second approach. Especially if the client wants to get into something as people-centric as social media.

Consultation and collaboration also mean you get more brains working on this pivotal area.

And grass-roots movements have much greater force than top-down directives.

The bottom line is, I can work any way you want.

BOO!

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

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

Celebrity treatment

January 11, 2010 at 7:26 am | Posted in social media | Leave a comment
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Photo by Dave B

A client asked me to ‘search the blogosphere’ to see what people were saying about Product X.

My first search turned up a YouTube video showing a very famous actor on a very successful talk show saying very nice things about Product X.

I then found that several popular bloggers had referenced these positive comments, compounding the good vibe.

I next did an image search and found beautiful, high-resolution photographs of Product X in the actor’s home!

Delighted with my early success, I brought all this good news to my client’s attention – just in time for her to add it to her company newsletter.

The story was a great morale booster for staff (most of whom had no idea their products were beloved by Hollywood royalty).

I then suggested that my client send the actor a ‘show bag’ of Products Y, Z (and anything else to hand) in case he loved that stuff too (and perchance said so in public).

For all we know, the actor may become a spokesperson for the brand. Or at least consent to his comments appearing on product packaging and marketing materials.

When it comes to social media, it really is a case of ‘from little things, big things grow’!

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! 🙂

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