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How to Create Influence with Your Writing

Jon Morrow via Twitter

Jon Morrow via Twitter

Marketing Podcast with Jon Morrow

The bar for content that gets shared, clicked and moved on is much higher today than it used to be.

In order to stand out, you must move beyond simple blog posts to content that includes severe depth, original data, stunning design or moving drama.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jon Morrow, one of the original CoppyBlogger writers, former associate editor of CopyBlogger and founder of Smart Blogger. We’ll discuss content marketing, writing, and discovering creative voice through thought.

The four D’s are part of what Jon shares as his secret to creating great contend and the most important of these is drama.

If you want to influence someone make them feel something.

My favorite tip from the interview is how Jon gets himself in the exact state that he wants the reader to feel – the target emotion – before he sits down to write a dramatic post.

Questions I ask Jon:

  • How does someone go from Real Estate to blogging?
  • What are the 4 Ds you much use to make your content superior?
  • How do you get a blog up and running?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How a disability has helped focus Jon’s life on what matters
  • Why you should focus on an emotion you want your customers to feel rather than a topic when starting a blog post
  • What you should focus on more than traffic stats.

Visit Jon’s site at

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by FreshBooks, small business accounting software for non-accountants. Freshbooks is offering a free month of unrestricted access just for Duct Tape Marketing podcast listeners. You don’t even need a credit card to register. To get your free month, go to and enter DuctTape in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section.

2 5 Easy-To-Use Blog Post Formats

If you’re starting a new blog for your business, you probably have done a lot of research on how to write blog posts. You’ve probably come across all different kinds of posts, everything from other businesses like yours to Buzzfeed’s top 10 cat gifs of the week. It can be a bit overwhelming. Every blog post is different, and you may not know which styles and formats to emulate.

The truth is, there are countless ways to write blog posts, and many different formats you can use. In my last post, I even suggested you use multiple different formats every week or month to help you write more efficiently. Here are several different, easy to use blog post formats and how to use them.

Countdown / List

Countdown or list posts are some of the most highly shared posts on the Internet, and they are easy to read and create. Made popular by sites like Buzzfeed, the countdown post is a list of headers, broken apart by small bits of content under each header. You see this all the time: “5 tips to make you a better blogger,” “The top 10 teams in Major League Baseball,” even posts like this would fall under that format.

These sorts of posts are frequently shared because the headers make it easier for speed readers to comprehend the content of the post. They also make it and for those who may not want to read the entire post to pick and choose the content they want to read. It is easy to write because the list format allows you to gather and organize your thoughts without having to worry about those pesky and sometimes difficult-to-write transitions.

To write a countdown or list post, begin with a topic. Next think of a handful of examples. Aim for a nice round number like 5 or 10, but don’t sweat it if you can only think of 4 or 7. Next, write a little bit about each example and why it pertains to the topic. Finally, write a short intro and conclusion about the subject and why it matters to your audience. It’s as simple as that!


How-to blog posts are exactly what they sound like, a post with a step-by-step outline of how to complete a task. Here on the Duct Tape Marketing blog, Sara writes great how-to posts. These are often easy to write because you’re outlining something you already know how to do, and really helpful to your audience.

To write a how-to blog post, begin with a task and list out the steps one by one. Next, spend a bit of time explaining each step, maybe even including photos or examples of each step. Make sure these steps and explanations are broken down so your blog’s audience can understand, and avoid any industry-specific jargon. Finally, write an introduction explaining to your audience why they should learn this new skill, and maybe a conclusion encouraging your audience to practice and use the new skill.


News posts are editorial posts that analyze a newsworthy event and apply it to your industry. News posts get shared because there is a good chance your audience is already talking about the news story.

To write a news blog post, start by creating a listening post to keep an eye (or ear) out for news that applies to your business. This can be done by following journalists and news outlets on social media, or just checking your favorite news outlets daily. Next, find a news story that may have an impact on your industry or business in the future. Begin by writing a little bit of background on the news story, and then spend time talking about how it impacts you, your industry or your customers.


Sharing posts are some of the easiest to write, and are a valuable tool to leverage for growing your strategic partner base. These are posts where you can share other posts or products to your audience. For example, every weekend John shares his “Weekend Favs,” three new tools that can help make running a business easier.

To write a sharing post, collect blog posts or products to share throughout the week leading to the post. Be sure to keep your strategic partners in mind, and work their products and posts in often. List each item and hyperlink each one. Next, write a little about each post or product you are sharing, specifically why your audience should click the link. That’s it!


Finally, the mailbag post is a great way to get your audience to write your posts for you. The only catch is that you have to build up an active audience for this to work. These posts simply consist of you answering questions directly from your audience.

To write a mailbag post, call for questions from your audience either in a post on your blog or social media. Then copy/paste the questions and write your answers. If you don’t have much of an active audience, you can always think of commonly asked questions to answer, but this can be difficult.

Blog posts shouldn’t be difficult to write. These five easy blog post formats should help you get your blog rolling with great, consistent content.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

14 How to Blog and Why Every Salesperson Should

I believe that art of selling has turned from outbound to inbound, just as surely as the art of marketing has.

Sales blogging

photo credit: laverrue via photopin cc

With that in mind, I believe that every marketing department and every sales manager should be teaching, encouraging and facilitating active blogging from every member of the sales team.

This idea is certainly best employed with full support and orchestration from marketing, but lacking that, the smart sales professionals needs to figure out how to get in the game on their own.

A blog is pretty much the starting place for online content these days and content is the name of the game when it comes to inbound selling. Don’t worry that nobody wants to read your great ramblings – that’s not really the point at first. The purpose of creating a consistent blogging habit is that this is how you get found by search engines, have something worth sharing in social media and begin to build a body of work to draw from in many ways.

Initially you may have very few readers, okay, maybe no readers, but the act of blogging is about producing assets, not about being a blogger. Take that mindset into this work and you won’t worry so much about why you’re putting in the time.

What’s it about?

The first thing you need to decide is an overall theme for your blog. Obviously it should relate to your industry and what you sell, but if you sell truck parts you probably don’t want to write the world’s greatest truck part blog.

You’ll want to think in terms of a narrower focus – Something that can encompass a narrow but important content theme. If you want blogging to pay off over the long haul (and that’s why we’re doing this) then you must resist the urge to view your blog as a place to journal and veer off topic like you might see many bloggers.

This is a sales tool pure and simple, this is how people are going to start to differentiate you from the pack – treat it as such.

But I’m not a writer

I can hear the gears in your head turning with this idea, but here’s the deal, it doesn’t matter. You’re not writing the next great novel, you’re explaining stuff, you’re taking questions that prospects ask and putting the answers in plain English for anyone to understand. (More on the benefits of writing and how to be a more productive writer)

Sure, you need it to be clear, easy to understand and free of obvious grammar disasters, but write like you teach and sell and it’s going to be just fine.

Think in terms of 300-500 word posts at the most, unless you have something highly technical that needs much greater explanation. As you get in the habit of posting to your blog you’ll probably find that this gets easier over time and the occasional 1000 word or more post actually gets the most traffic.

At first, aim for at least three blog posts a week. You’re not a news media site so you don’t need more than that, but you do need total volume, so three a week over a year will give you the pages to compete in search over time.

The easiest way to think about these shorter blog posts is to think about a benefit laden headline such as – 7 Ridiculously Practical Ways to Use Social Media in Your Sales Job.

From there you simply need an opening that sums up why this post is important, your seven points make up the outline of the post and then wrap it up by restating why this is important. It’s not much more complicated than that. Start with your main point, add four or five subheading that act as the outline and fill in the blanks.

Get the tech part done

The first order of business after giving some thought to the primary focus of your blog is to get the thing set-up so you can start using it.

As I tell everyone that will listen, my blogging tool of choice is the self hosted WordPress. You can find it for free at

Other options include the hosted version at and micro blog tools like Tumblr.

A self-hosted site using’s version gives you the most flexibility and control as you simply get web hosting, install the software and blog away on any domain that you personally own.

The trade-off is that there is a little more to do from a technical standpoint. The good news is that there is plenty of information available that will walk even the most tech nervous creature on the planet through the process. I suggest you start by visiting

Owning your own domain name (perhaps your full and the content you produce is the ultimate option when it comes to your own reputation and platform building so I urge you to consider this option first.

Many hosting companies such as HostGator and BlueHost have one button WordPress install so the technical aspect isn’t really that big of a hurdle.

Theme of a different kind

So far we’ve been talking a lot about themes in terms of content, but WordPress uses the term theme to describe the template for the look and feel of the blog.

Once you have the blog installed you’ll want to own the look and feel. You can go out and hire a WordPress designer to create or customize one, but chances are you can find a nice fit from one of the premium theme sites like StudioPress or WooThemes.

When you purchase a theme from a theme designer you simply upload the files to your domain and in most cases edit for things like color, font and header graphics. Every theme is a little different, but theme sites like StudioPress generally provide instruction for how to customize your templates. Again, wpbeginner has some great information on this topic as well.

Add more content themes

Okay, now that we covered the look and feel theme, let’s go back to your content themes. In previous post I outlined what I call the Total Content System. In it I suggest that you come up with a topic or theme for each month based on the important keyword phrases for your industry. I call these your foundational content themes and them basically act as you your editorial calendar.

That’s right, in a way your entire year of blogging is mapped out. Now that’s not to say that you’ll take it month by month in the beginning. After all you need to get round one of your content created before you can slip into an annual plan.

But, for your first twelve posts you should cover something specifically related to your twelve themes so that you have something to lean on as you then come back and revisit each theme moving forward.

Now for some extensions

One of the reasons so many people use WordPress run their entire site, myself included, is that the platform is open in such a way that anyone with some coding skills can create what are called plugins that extend the functionality of the core WordPress platform.

Initially this won’t be overly important, but there are three plugins that I recommend for every business blog. Don’t worry adding plugins is very simple and sites like wpbeginner as well as the plugin creators offer advice on how to add and configure plugins.

The three I recommend are: WordPress SEO by Yoast, Contextually Related Posts and Sociable.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast gives you to the ability to make each and every post a little more optimized for the keywords you are trying to show up in search for. (More on using WordPress SEO here)

2. Contextually Related Posts takes your current post and automatically adds five posts that are related. Obviously this gets better as you add more posts, but this can really help people go deeper into your content.

3. Sociable allows you to add sharing buttons for most of the major social and content networks so that people can easily Tweet, Like and +1 your content to their networks.

That’s it, simple huh? Well, easy, maybe, simple, not so much, but get started today and in few months you’ll begin to enjoy some of the benefits of building your authority and expertise as a sales professional.

15 7 Things I Did Not Know About Writing Before I Started

I remember thinking I wanted to be a writer as far back as high school. Only thing is I didn’t really know how to become one.


photo credit: geoftheref via photopin cc

Then one day I decided that writing articles would be a good way to build my business, so I just started writing and a funny thing happened.

The practice of writing daily turned me into a writer.

But, the habit of writing also shaped far more than my ability to create meaningful sentences and that’s the reason I believe that everyone in business must write.

Writing to express my thoughts transformed everything about how I approached business and trained me to view the world and my place in it in a completely different way.

Below are seven benefits I attribute to the fact that I write on a daily basis.

Writing makes me a better thinker – (understand that better is relative!) In an effort to create content that is succinct, reveals new ways to look at common things, or apply simple solutions to seemingly complex problems, I believe I now think about business much differently.

Writing makes me a better listener – When I engage in conversations or listen to radio interviews, I listen with a writer’s ear and often find my head filling up with ideas for blog posts by simply listening to others discuss sometimes unrelated subjects.

Writing makes me a better salesperson – I write like I speak and often I write to sell an idea or even a very specific tactic. It’s amazing, but I find that clearly stating idea pitches in writing has improved my ability to quickly articulate them in a selling or interview setting. It’s like you build up this reserve bank of pretested discussion points.

Writing makes me a better speaker
– This one falls nicely from the previous point, but I’ll also add that working through blog posts on meatier topics, those that readers weigh in on, has produced some of my best presentation material to date.

Writing keeps me focused on learning – The discipline required to create even somewhat interesting content in the manner I’ve chosen requires that I study lots of what’s hot, what’s new, what’s being said and what’s not being said in order to find ways to apply it to the world of small business.

Writing allows me to create bigger ideas – The habit of producing content over time affords you the opportunity to create larger editorial ideas that can be reshaped and repurposed for other settings. I’ve taken a collection of blog posts on a specific topic and turned them into an ebook more than once.

So, think you don’t have the time or the reason to write? – I hope you think again.

Tomorrow I plan to share a little bit about my writing process and how I choose what to write about. In addition I’ll features the thoughts of Mark Schaefer, Seth Godin, Mitch Joel, Ann Handley, CC Chapman, Ian Cleary and Brian Solis.

14 Building a Consistent Blog Readership

Many bloggers dream of writing that epic blog post. One that drives so much traffic, links and shares that the front page of Reddit is a foregone conclusion.

blog readers

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

Common wisdom suggests that to write anything even kind of like that you must plan and toil and slave over the writing until you’ve packed so much in there people must flock to it.

Well, the reality is most people don’t need to blog to create uber-popular blog posts or become popular bloggers.

The utility in blogging for the majority of businesses is the eventual creation of a body of work that covers the chapters or keyword themes that attract readers, prospects and customers.

In that regard, consistency, usefulness, value, education and sturdiness all trump epic.

I recently revealed what I call a Total Content System that addresses a “themed” approach to mapping out monthly content, but today I want to talk about another element that can help establish a daily and weekly rhythm for your blogging.

One of the ways to develop a loyal following is a consistent pattern of content features that can help your readers know what to expect when they subscribe, share and look for your new posts.

An easy way to do this is to break your week down into standard features. You can go as far as describing or even naming your features or you can just use this idea as a loose framework for yourself.

Here’s an example of how I do this:

  • Monday – Usually reserved for something bigger picture, theme related post – usually something that people need to digest and adapt to use.
  • Tuesday – This is when I do my “5 Ways to Do X kind of post” or “How to use X kind of tool” – lots of links and teaching and usually pretty prescriptive. I publish an email newsletters on Wednesdays and I often use one of these first two posts as my featured article.
  • Wednesday – This is podcast day. I publish a new episode and write some commentary related to the subject.
  • Thursday – This is guest post day. I run a post written by someone I’ve invited to add a new perspective to the monthly theme
  • Friday – I usually do something on the lighter side or at least not straight up marketing
  • Saturday – I run a feature I call Weekend Favs. It’s just a quick highlight of three new tools I’ve discovered during the week. Funny, but I sometimes get more feedback on this than anything else I do
  • Sunday – No post on this day, but truth be known I often work on Monday and Tuesday’s posts

One of my readers shared a routine he is planning for new site recently and I think it helps shed some light on how flexible this approach is.

Here’s how Bruno Coelho plans to break his daily posts down.

  • A question worth answering
  • An action worth doing
  • A lesson worth learning
  • An Online Dreampreneur worth following
  • A week worth remembering

This aspect of a Total Content System further allows you to plan and build your content knowing that you need four lessons, questions, interviews, etc., each month.

But, perhaps the most important aspect is that it also allows your readers to get a feel for what to expect day in and day out.

Ask your readers or customers what they want, use tools like Survey Monkey, Wufoo or Qualaroo to gain insights into what people are looking for and then experiment until you get the mixture that feels right.

48 Not Having a Blog Is Not An Option

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Joel Libava – otherwise known as The Franchise King – Enjoy!

If your business doesn’t have a website, it doesn’t have a chance. And, I’m not even talking about a professionally designed and optimized one. If you don’t have even a basic website up and running these days, your prospective customers and clients are going to have a hard time seeing you as being relevant.

And, if you don’t have a blog attached to your website, those same prospective customers and clients aren’t going to have a chance to learn about your expertise, and about the human side of your business.


That’s how many blogs there are (in the world) at the time of this writing.

And, those are only WordPress blogs. There are millions of other blogs that are on other blogging platforms like Typepad, Drupal and Tumblr.

Now, you can let that number motivate you, or you can let it freak you out-it’s your choice. (Personally, I hope that it gets you motivated to get a blog up and running right now.)

Blog Benefits

  1. Visibility
  2. Your visibility-especially online, will increase with a blog. The more you write, the better the chances are that you’ll get noticed. And, not just by your potential customers/clients. Reporters, writers, and PR people read blogs too.

  3. SEO
  4. Search engines love fresh, new content. Search-engine spiders-those little robots that are scouring the web, 24/7, get energized when they locate something new…especially if it’s closely related to the words that are being searched by your customers/clients.

    Active blogs…ones that have at least 1-2 original posts published weekly, provide that fresh, new content that search engines crave, which in turn, can increase your company’s chances of being found online by your target audience.

  5. Cred
  6. You need some. If you don’t come across as being a credible source of information, your customers are going to have a difficult time opening their wallets up to you…your business.

    A great way to show just how much you know is to write about it. These days, there’s no better way to do it, then on a blog. (It doesn’t even have to be done on your own blog. See #4.)

  7. New opportunities
  8. Once you’ve been writing posts-articles of your own on your own blog for a while, you can start approaching others in your industry, or even a related one, and write a blog post for them. (A guest post)

    Writing an article on someone else’s blog can provide you an opportunity to showcase your knowledge to an entirely new reader base. (And, possible new business opportunities and/or strategic partnerships.)

    Just make sure that your post is informational and helpful in nature-not promotional. (You’ll get an opportunity to promote yourself-your company at the end of your post, along with a link to your website or blog*.)

  9. Keeps your head in the game

There’s something to be said for writing your thoughts down, as opposed to verbalizing them or keeping them in your head.

You know things that others don’t. Why would you want to keep those things inside of you?

Do you have an idea that potential customers/clients can put to good use right away? Share it through a blog post. Do you have some opinions about your industry…and what needs to be changed to make it even better? Consider sharing those opinions on your blog. (Only if you’re comfortable doing so.)

Having an active blog keeps your head in the game-your game…your industry.

You want some more? Check out these 9 hidden benefits of blogging.

Thousands of articles…blog posts…have been written over the years on the importance of having a blog. If you don’t have one yet, what are you waiting for?

No more excuses

If you don’t consider yourself to be tech-savvy, have no fear. There are literally thousands of talented designers and programmers that can help you set-up your blog. It’s not expensive either, so scratch that one off your list of excuses of why you can’t do this right now.

If you haven’t written anything of substance for a while, don’t sweat it-I have a solution. Start a blog, and start writing. You’ll get better. Just keep writing.

And, if you think that no one will read it, you’re just plain wrong. Do you have any friends? Ask them to read your blog. Do you have employees? Do the same with them, and ask others in your industry to read it, too. Add a link to your blog on your main website. Do you have a LinkedIn account? Add a link there, too. Think of some other places that you can include a link to your new blog. And, before you know it, you’ll have a handful of readers.

That’s all you need at the beginning.

The more you write the more interest you’ll garner. Your early readers will start to share your posts with others. They may start reading your blog…they may even subscribe for free to receive your newest blog posts.

Have I succeeded in convincing you to start a blog?

The Franchise King®, Joel Libava, is the author of Become A Franchise Owner! He’s on a mission to create a new generation of super-successful franchise owners. He provides much-needed advice to individuals interested in franchise ownership with his top-notch advisory services and to the masses via his award-winning franchise blog. He’s on Twitter constantly @FranchiseKing.

582 How I Blog

Recently I wrote a post that described why blogging is even more important in the age of social. The post outlined the increasing benefits of using this powerful tool as a key driver of marketing related content.

A few readers chimed in and asked me to detail the mechanics of my blog set up so today I’ll go over the specific set-up, plugins and techniques I use in my blogging routine.

I’ve used a blog in my marketing for ten years now, written 2500 blog posts and consider my blog my most valuable business asset and yet, I’ve never considered myself a blogger – it’s just always seemed like the easiest way to spread my message and grow my community and that’s how I’ve positioned it over the years as I’ve pushed every business owner I’ve spoken with to employ this tool.

Content approach

I don’t plan what I am going to write too far in advance. I have a pretty rough idea of what an upcoming week is going to entail, but I leave room to stumble on an emerging idea, change in some social network or the occasional rant as I consume content.

I have a set of topics, a lot like chapters in a book, that I return to time and again as them make up the core “point of view” that I build both my ongoing themes and SEO around.

I digest over 100 blog feeds, dozens of email newsletters and a handful of print publications in an effort to draw inspiration and information to use in my blogging.

duct tape marketing blog circa 2004

Snap shot of 2004 version 1 of the Duct Tape Marketing Weblog

Blogging platform

I started this blog in 2003 using an oddly named software called pMachine. pMachine later morphed into a tool that’s still available called Expression Engine.

As you can see in the image above I referred to it as a weblog – this was actually what the tool was called in the earliest days.

It’s  reference to the fact that the software was created as a tool for developers to log what they done while working on a project and easily share that over the web with other developers – thus a weblog. It was later shortened to blog, which really has no meaning, but sounded less techie I guess.

In 2005 I met that folks at Automatic at SXSW and they offered to migrate me to a somewhat newish platform called WordPress and that’s where I’ve remained and what I recommend. In 2008 I got the wild idea to run my entire site, not just my blog, using WordPress and with each passing upgrade it seems to me that this is how every website should be set up.


I’m on my 5th theme currently. I’ve used a mixture of custom themes and my current theme is a custom configuration of iBuilder from iThemes.

Themes have evolved as much as any aspect of the WordPress ecosystem and most fully support my contention that WordPress should be used to run your entire site. The most advanced premium themes today are built on a framework that allows you or a designer to easily create fully custom looks and set-ups using what are referred to as child themes.

Today’s themes are lightweight and flexible and are starting to really take into account the growing need for responsiveness – another way of saying they look good on big and little screens alike.

Early next month I’ll push a site redesign live that is built on what is quickly becoming one of the most popular frameworks – Genesis from Studio Press.


Plugins are a great way to extend the functionality of WordPress, but they’re also one of the biggest sources of trouble. I used to add any cool plugin that I came across that looked valuable, but now I’m pretty picky and stick with a core set choosing simplicity and page load speed over features.

My current set up includes:

  • AddToAny – Makes it easier for people to subscribe to your blog feed using any tool they choose
  • Contextual Related Posts – Adds related posts at the end of each blog posts and really encourages additional pages views and reading
  • Disqus Commenting System – full featured commenting system that cuts the spam and adds more interaction
  • Google XML Sitemaps – helps push content to search engines
  • Premise – Landing page creation tool from Copyblogger that makes it very easy to create pages outside your theme
  • Sociable – adds social media icons to post so reader can easily share content
  • W3Total Cache – dramatically improves speed and user experience in an under the hood kind of way
  • WordPress SEO – great tool for quickly adding important SEO elements like title attributes that are different than title of posts
  • WPTouch Pro – Simple mobile theme tool for browsers coming to my blog on mobile device


This is an element of blogging that gets downplayed in the hyper commoditized world of web hosting, but in my experience it’s a biggie. I jumped around a few times as my site grew and increased traffic (a good thing) slowed my page loads (a really bad thing)

Recently I’ve switched to Synthesis, a new class of managed hosting designed specifically to host WordPress sites. The speed of my site increased dramatically and will increase again once I’m using the Synthesis framework.

It’s really the only hosting I recommend these days as the service is very good, security is ridiculously strong and my entire site, including database is backed up automatically every day.


I wrote a post recently on the precise way I push out my new content each day and nothing has really changed from that post so I’ll link to it here.

This is a topic that many people underestimate. If you want to build a readership, attract links and maybe even draw in a customer, you’ve got to commit to a systematic approach to sharing as well as writing.

93 Why Blogging Is Even More Critical In the Age of Social

Every so often I get asked if blogging still matters now that we have Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. That question used to frustrate me greatly until I started making this distinction.


photo credit: Mexicanwave via photo pin cc

No, the act of blogging itself does not matter any more, but the act of consistently creating education based content that is easy for search engines to find and index, easy to share, attracts links, creates a searchable and archivable body of work on a subject and will never be seen as inorganic by Google has never, ever been more important.

It just so happens that what I’ve described is easily accomplished through the use of blogging software that runs your entire site. Every aspect of this site is built on WordPress – landing pages, contact pages, about us pages and this page. It puzzles me why people still fight this notion or why they would ever consider entrusting their content assets to Facebook or some other social network flavor of the month.

Using blogging software is not a trend or tool or even a behavior, it’s the single most important marketing element of your Total Online Presence and attempting to build a business today without using blogging software as your foundation is simply indefensible.

No matter what the excuse – we don’t have the time, we don’t know what to write, we tried it once, our customers don’t read blogs, our dog ate it – the cost of not actively creating and housing valuable content online is too high and you are absolutely kidding yourself if you think engaging prospects on Google+ with the occasional profound bit of banter is enough.

Blogging is stablest form of SEO

Google likes to keep the SEO community on its toes and every so often adjusts how it ranks sites often penalizing some practice it sees as an unnatural attempt to gain an advantage.

To my knowledge, high quality, keyword rich, education based, properly formatted, highly linked to and consistently updated original content has never been penalized.

Blogging creates a hub for social

Creating awareness for blog content that addresses challenges and provides useful information is the best way to build relationships through social media and one of the best ways to then attract links and traffic.

Quite often social networks are the greatest source of daily traffic to my blog.

Blogging builds your email list

A key action in your Total Online Presence is the capture of leads. One of the greatest forms of currency in this game is valuable content. People willingly exchange their email address in order to receive email they want to open. This can be in the form a subscription to your blog posts or for an eBook compilation of posts related to a specific topic.

Blogging drives point of view

One of the greatest differentiators in business is a consistent and valuable point of view that attracts followers over the long haul. When you approach your blogging content creation as a publisher might with a total body of themed work in mind, you stand a much greater chance of building the credibility and expert status that comes from holding a firm point of view.

By focusing on writing about key concepts through a singular voice you can build an attractive brand message through blogging.

Blogging creates other options

Forcing yourself to create content every day or every other day enables you to think about all the ways you might use your total body of work. Three blog posts can become the makings of a feature article. Ten blog posts on a related topic might make a great eBook. A comprehensive point of view expressed in a blog post might make a tremendous presentation or video. The need to create a workshop might produce five solid blog posts. Answering the most consistently asked questions your firm receives by way of blog posts creates useful content and automatically builds an FAQ section.

So, if you’re tired of hearing about blogging, think it’s a dying fad or that it’s not for you, that’s totally fine. Just make sure you are consistently producing and sharing high quality content that is searchable, subscribable and indexable and house it all on your company’s domain.

And come back tomorrow when I tell you how I do all of that using blog software.

9 5 Non Spammy Ways To Get a Blogger’s Attention

Everyone, from PR firms to individuals with a product to sell, pitches bloggers these days. Getting coverage or exposure for your business by way of a number of highly read blogs should be a foundational element of your PR approach.

So, I thought I would share of few of my thoughts on the most effective ways to get a blogger’s attention and stand out in a way that gives your pitch a far better chance of garnering coverage.

Sadly, it would much easier to write a post on what not to do, but I like to stay on the positive side here.

Whether your goal is to land a guest post, get a review of your product or just advance an idea you’ve got to put in the work to personalize your pitch and build relationships by demonstrating you’re a resource and not a pest.

Make non-spammy comments

One of the best ways to get on the radar of a blogger is to join their community by making relevant comments. Don’t drop in just to add a comment about your business or point to your recent blog post about some unrelated idea. Add to the conversation like someone who actually cares about the conversation and you’ll start to build a relationship based on trust.

Find regular features

Take some time to dig around in the archives of a blog and you’re likely to find some regular features just like you might in a magazine. Then, when it comes time to pitch your idea, you can suggest that it would be a good fit for a certain feature. This will always give your pitch more relevance and offer proof that you know a bit about the blog and that yours is not simply a bulk pitch.

I’ve run a Saturday post for several years now where I feature three services or apps that I call my weekly favs. Smart marketers have picked up on that and often pitch their product for a feature in that post. It’s a little thing, but it suggests a lot.

Look beyond the blog

If you buy that this is a relationship building game, then why not employ a few tools outside the blog to help. Build a Twitter list of your targeted bloggers and pay attention to what they tweet and what the retweet. Look at what they favorite on Twitter for some real meaty clues about what they like,

By monitoring what they do beyond their blog and in social networks you can often find angles that won’t be apparent on a simple media list.

Connect with guests and get referred

Many blogs run guest posts these days and one of the best ways to get your content on the list of potential guest posters is to study and connect with those that are already posting. In fact, you might go as far as to target these folks as suggested above and reach out to a few and ask for introductions.

A guest post on a highly read blog may be one of the most effective marketing tools you can employ so don’t just blast guest post requests, build a case for your post by becoming a part of the community and creating a network within.

Ask for an interview

Many bloggers, even well known bloggers, still work on building their awareness and will jump at almost any opportunity to spread the word about things they are working on. Many bloggers have business interests beyond their blog that need exposure. Many bloggers are also authors and have books to sell.

Consider interviewing some of your targeted bloggers for your own blog or podcast or connect them with other journalist or even customers of yours that might have a reason to want to interview them. An interview might consist of a twenty minute phone conversation or it might just be one well thought out question that you send via email, either way, this a great approach for building both content and relationships.

It warrants repeating, if a mention or link or review in your favorite blog is a worthwhile objective for your business, then put in the work required to get it done right.

6 The Greatest Hits of the Entire Year

For this year end post I thought I would rummage through the entire stock of  posts from the year and pick 11 for 2011. I picked the top 11 that you the readers reacted to most through your tweets, likes, comments and shares.

Lists and how to info are still very popular, social media topics still draw lots of links and this year you responded to some of my more personal musings about purpose and meaning in business.

I love what I do and particularly love the interaction I have with you my readers.

Keep letting me know both when I lift you up and let you down and we’ll all try to figure this thing out together.

Peace! – John

Top 11 Posts of 2011

1) – Work as Craft
Owning a business is a beautiful thing; a thing done quite often, not for riches, but to fulfill a dream or carry out a passion for doing something. Read More Here

2) – The Complete Small Business Marketer’s SEO Toolkit
Business owners and marketers don’t necessarily need to become SEO experts, but they do need to equip themselves with enough knowledge, data and access to simple SEO tools to allow them to understand how and why one site ranks higher over another, what’s holding a site back and the most important ways to quickly analyze any page they land on. Read More Here

3) – 5 Practical Tips for Getting More from Facebook
As the importance of Facebook as small business marketing tool continues to grow it’s important to adapt your marketing behavior in ways that allow you to gain practical benefits from the way people are choosing to use social media. Read More Here

4) – The Single Most Powerful Use of Social Media for Small Business
I get asked all of the time for tips on simple ways to use social media in a small business that don’t require vast amounts of time. Read More Here

5) – 7 Characteristics of a Real Life Marketing Strategy
In my opinion, developing and executing an effective marketing strategy is the most important job of any marketer and failure to do so is the single greatest threat to creating anything that looks and feels like business building momentum.Read More Here

6) – 5 Types of Content That Every Business Must Employ
The creation and distribution of content has become such a significant aspect of effective marketing that it requires a high place in the strategy conversation in most every business. Read More Here

7) – Begin With the Customer Experience in Mind
When most businesses create a new product or service offering they initially develop the attributes of the product or service. Makes sense, you don’t have anything to sell unless you create something people want to buy. Read More Here

8 – 7 Reasons Why Your Business Is Stuck
Ever feel like you’re in a rut. Or worse, that you keep pushing that boulder up the hill, all Sisyphus like, only to watch it roll back down, feeling that you are destined to repeat this throughout eternity. Read More Here

9) – The 4Ps of a Fully Alive Business
Back in the early 1960’s the American Marketing Association coined the term the “Four ‘P’s” as a way to describe the essential elements of the marketing mix. >Read More Here

10) – 5 Things You Must Do To Sell To a Small Business Owner
Small business owners are an odd lot. I can say this without judgment because I am one. >Read More Here

11) – 5 Ways To Make An Email Newsletter Your Best Sales Tool
No matter how enamored you may be with social media, email still outpunches just about every tool out there when it comes to cost effective lead conversion. Read More Here