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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Twitter truths

November 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Posted in social media | 6 Comments
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Truth is best.

Having just clocked 30,000 followers on Twitter, I felt I should report my learnings.

At first I thought I’d just cover basic stuff (e.g. who to follow, how to list, behaviours to avoid).

Then I realised Twitter ‘truths’ were far more important than Twitter ‘tips’.

It seems impossible such a simple (and apparently frivolous) application could impart wisdom, but there it is.

So here I go.

1.   Be yourself.

Genuine humans thrive in Twitter. Fakers, flooders and floggers (though infuriating) do get smacked down in due course.

This isn’t obvious to the casual observer, who understandably concludes Twitter is crap.

Yet when you open yourself to a community and reveal true elements of your life and loves, everyone enjoys the exchange.

Being yourself is also easier than maintaining a fake persona. As Mark Twain said: ‘When you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything’.

2.   Be open.

I began Twitter to get more copywriting clients. I achieved that and gained a suite of handy contacts, fascinating colleagues and loyal friends from sectors, countries and professions I never thought I’d encounter.

Because I was open to these people, they named me in magazines, featured me on blogs, recommended me to others and sent me a truckload of free ideas and information.

This rich, unexpected education has been amazing. I’ve seen and done things way beyond my expertise and comfort zone.

I feel stronger, safer and more mature as a result.

3.  Choose quality.

A thousand nameless fans aren’t as fun, useful or interesting as one genuine contact. Yes, I have 30,000 followers. No, I can’t interact meaningfully with them all.

I can, however, pick the gems from the dross and build real relationships with a few dozen kind, clever cats.

4.   Be generous.

I’ve long been a fan of the saying ‘you can’t give good away’. Twitter has shown me time and again this is true.

Online, the Law of Mutual Reciprocity is SO powerful, it needs BIG metaphor:

It’s like spitting out the window of a 300 km/h bullet train. Before you can blink, it comes back at you in a thousand irresistible fragments. Try it! (Online, I mean.)

5.   Focus.

If you straddle several chairs you’ll probably fall between them. It’s the same with social media.

You can’t possibly be good at LinkedIn and Facebook and blogging and YouTube and Flickr and Pinterest and Twitter … and all the others.

You’ll never see the sun!

Instead, check them all out, choose the one or two that feel right for you (and your clients) and spend time being open, genuine and generous there.

Twitter and blogging are my faves. The concerted effort I invest in these is well worth it.

Now it’s your turn …

Good luck!

🙂

Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire

 

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20 MORE blog tips!

November 14, 2012 at 8:31 am | Posted in social media | Leave a comment
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Enjoy another two-bob’s worth!

Yesterday’s blog tip post went down so well, I’m immediately tabling my next volume of blogging tips.

Not because I’m tired or uninspired, but because I used to be a DJ.

I learnt the hard way that if a dance floor’s jumping, it’s unwise to make sudden moves.

Monitor your audience carefully and give them what they want.

Only when their attention looks like waning should you change the groove.

So here’s today’s Top 20!

  1. A photo & caption which alone mean nothing, but combined mean everything, form a powerful post opening.
  2. If you know & love your topic, it’s almost impossible to get writer’s block.
  3. Stuck for a topic? Ask your audience what THEY want to read. They know better than you could ever guess.
  4. Use italics for emphasis. If you underline words (like I used to) readers may think they’re clickable links.
  5. Have some spare posts for emergencies. But don’t store too many, lest they go stale.
  6. If you’re truly stumped for a topic, as readers what they’ve been up to. It may trigger one of your best debates.
  7. Using your own pics is best. If you can’t photograph, partner with a pro who needs some words.
  8. When you have enough posts, add modest, relevant cross links to take readers on a fun voyage of discovery.
  9. In years of blogging, the most powerful word I’ve found is ‘you’. Better yet, it doesn’t wear out with use!
  10. When readers meet in your forum & start working together beyond it, you know you’re on the right tram.
  11. When readers use words YOU have to look up, you know it’s right to NEVER underestimate them.
  12. To holiday without losing momentum, ask a suitable forum member to write & moderate a guest post.
  13. To encourage shy readers & kill trolls, insist that ALL comments are POLITE. Clever & relevant are optional.
  14. If a reader writes a comment that’s longer & more authoritative than your post, rejoice in the honour.
  15. After writing a post, send it to relevant print media for broader reach. You may be surprised how well it fares.
  16. Keep a post fresh & connected by adding links to topical articles as you find them over time.
  17. If you connect genuinely with readers, many will also contribute to entirely different blogs you create.
  18. If you’re truly facing writer’s block, summon the worst moment of your life to date. Dark power = strong posts.
  19. Asking a photographer if you can use their Flickr pic is a fun way to cross-promote both your efforts.
  20. Readers go where readers are. If you can beat inertia, momentum is sublime.

[Rock out!]

🙂

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.

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.

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! 🙂

On a roll

January 1, 2010 at 7:30 am | Posted in social media | 6 Comments
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The nice lady who blogrolled me. I’m on the right, third from the bottom. The listing is alphabetical.

I keep a series of ‘Google Alerts’ (which I’ll describe fully in another post).

One of these alerts lets me know if the phrase The Feisty Empire appears anywhere on the internet.

Last night, in the dying hours of 2009, this alert emailed me.

It said The Feisty Empire been ‘blogrolled’ on the MarketCopywriter Blog.

I clicked the link and there it was: my company name – right next to Seth Godin’s blog!

This was an amazing coincidence, as I’d only recently learned of my inclusion in Seth’s book Purple Cow.

MarketCopywriter Blog’s author, Lorraine Thompson, is a New York Hudson Valley freelance copywriter who writes print and digital copy for corporate, small business and non-profit clients.

I’d ‘known’ her for a few months via Twitter as a smart, kind, switched-on lady who wrote excellent copy and was generous in retweeting my content.

I never suspected she’d put a link to my site on her blog. Especially as we’re technically competitors!

Perhaps Lorraine, like me, believes in making the work ‘pie’ bigger, rather than fighting for pieces.

Apart from the social validation, I knew from reading ProBlogger and Copyblogger that being blogrolled would trigger a fresh stream of visitors to my website.

It’d also improve my online search ranking.

So, with half of Melbourne pouring into town for the fireworks, I dived into WordPress to learn how to blogroll.

I got a bit confused by the blogroll jargon before realising that Links, Add New was where I needed to be. Once I knew what I was doing, it was easy.

I sent Lorraine a direct message (DM) via Twitter, thanking her and letting her know I’d returned the favour.

Then, still possessed by the positive vibe, I set about blogrolling the blogs and websites of my other online ‘friends’ (see below).

I enjoyed blogrolling those I admire and respect. See them at bottom right.

It gave me real pleasure to inform each person – especially when one replied with the same surprise and delight I’d felt.

I’d heard about the Law of Mutual Reciprocity – where you have the urge to help someone who’s helped you. But I’ve seldom felt it so strongly.

Anyway, that’s how I ended 2009. Not a bad note to finish on at all! 🙂

It’ll be fascinating to see what benefits flow to everyone involved in this blogrolling process.

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.


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