Adrienne Erin, Author at Pink Studios

Benefits of Blogging for Your Business

In today’s digital age, getting your business to stand out among a seemingly never-ending pool of competitors is not an easy task. After all, those competitors are doing all that is within their power to ensure that their businesses have a more prominent digital profile than yours. With this in

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mind, trying to position your company in such a way as to drive more traffic to your website — and maybe even diverting it away from your competitors’ sites — is a continual process.

Luckily for business owners seeking to fortify their online presence, there are a few easy tricks that can be leveraged to accomplish that goal in earnest. One such trick is establishing and maintaining a regularly updated blog.

Why Your Business Needs to Blog

For those decision makers who are intent on increasing sales, gaining more exposure and boosting brand awareness, blogging is important for your business website, whether you sell Etsy graphics or s-type load cells. No matter what your business’s specialty is, it’s virtually guaranteed that there will be companies doing almost exactly the same thing you are doing. And, financially speaking, those competitors are trying to get as big of a slice as possible from the same pie you’re trying to eat.

With that in mind, you’ve got to do all that is within your power to differentiate yourself from your competitors. That’s where blogging comes into play. By launching and maintaining a blog, your company will benefit from:

Increased traffic: Blogging organically increases your company’s placement in search engine results, which are determined by complex algorithms. Generally speaking, search engine spiders like content that is relevant, has the name of the author attached to it and is current. The more often you blog, the more often your company’s blog will turn up in search results. And the numbers support that claim, with businesses maintaining blogs saying that they’ve seen their web traffic increase 55 percent thanks to that particular platform.

New customers: With increased traffic comes new eyeballs to the content you’ve created and the products you’re selling. With that in mind, it’s very likely that some of those new visitors will be converted into customers at some point down the line. And research supports that claim, with 57 percent of businesses indicating that they’ve grown their customer base thanks to their blog.

Thought leadership: If you’re in the market for buying a car, for example, it’s likely that you’d rather buy it from someone who is knowledgeable than someone who knows nothing about automobiles. That concept can be applied over a variety of products and industries. Blogging about industry-specific news, developments and ideas proves to your customers that you have your fingers on the pulse of what’s happening. In turn, this helps you become a thought leader in your respective space.

A fortified business: When you hear the word “blog,” you might not think much of it. But the fact of the matter is that in actuality, well-crafted and pertinent blog posts become assets

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to your company. With those assets simply living on your website, traffic will be directed in that direction continually over the years. Put another way, spending 20 minutes today crafting a clever and informative blog post could pay dividends for quite some time. In addition to landing a new customer tomorrow, you could also land a new customer four years from now through the same post. What’s more, according to HubSpot, 70 percent of the traffic that that company receives on a monthly basis is due to posts that were published in previous months.

Starting Your Blog

Are you ready to start writing? It’s important to remember that while starting your own blog is great, you’ve got to maintain it as well. If you’ve crafted the perfect blog post and subsequently welcome a host of new visitors to your website, it’s almost guaranteed that some of those visitors will be curious to read additional content that they

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expect you to produce. In other words, once you’ve attracted them to your website, it’s important that you give them a reason to keep coming back.

Many businesses that launch blogs don’t spend the time necessary to maintain them and likely lose customers along the way because of it. Have you ever visited a company’s website and clicked on its blog only to find out that it hasn’t been updated in a few years? What does that make you think about that particular company?

In order to differentiate yourself from your competitors — something which is essential for businesses wishing to navigate today’s difficult economic climate — you’ve got to provide something that other businesses simply do not. By creating and dispersing informative, entertaining and unique blog posts on your website, you’re able to attract the attention of potential new customers while proving to your existing customers that they’re making the right decision to support your business.

So what are you waiting for? Better get blogging!

Need help setting it up, shoot us an email! We can surely help!

7 Essential Pages Every Blog Should Have

7 Essential Pages Every Blog Should Have

There’s a lot more to a blog than just posting your company’s Christmas party photo. In fact, it’s more than even posting interesting, relevant and engaging content. The truth is, blogs are just as much about not turning people off as they are about selling your content.

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There’s absolutely nothing worse than a disorganized blog where you can’t find any relevant information about the blog’s writer, the company, or its sitemap. Even if the blog is organized, where do you start? Most blogs have some better posts that would make obvious starting points for a new reader – but how do you guide your readers there? Luckily it’s not too hard (and never too late) to get your blog organized. It reflects well on you and your business to offer a place where people can find all the answers to their questions.

Here are seven must-publish pages that will make your blog a breeze for visitors to navigate.

  1. An About Page This is the first page you should craft for your blog. It should inform people why you started the blog, what your aim is and how it relates to your business. People always enjoy seeing a bit of personality on the About page, so include pictures as well as some personal biographical information, such as your love for “Star Wars” movies or passion for running.
  2. A Contact Page You need a contact page because it’s extremely frustrating to be unable to track down the author of a blog when you have a question about the information they post. Offer every conceivable way you can think of to contact you, going well beyond email. Your instant messaging ID, Twitter handle and LinkedIn account should all be included, as well as your work phone number and fax (yes, some people still use them!).
  3. A Sitemap Page Sitemaps are exactly what they sound like: a map of what’s on your site that helps people navigate to the correct page. This should include links to all the other pages mentioned here and should be easily accessible from every other page, too.
  4. A Greatest Hits Page It stands to reason that if a lot of people like a certain post, it should be easy to find. Many bloggers devote a separate page to their most popular posts, which can be a huge help to anyone who may have missed the post the first time around. Even if you don’t actually create a separate page to highlight your most successful posts, you can add them as a widget in your sidebar. WebpageFX has a great example of this on their blog. They employ a “Most Popular Posts” widget that updates automatically according to what’s getting the most hits.
  5. An Archives Page Of course, not every post is going to pop up on your greatest hits page. To allow people to look through your older articles, it’s a good idea to establish an archives page as well. Here people can sift through all the posts you’ve written over the years and search them out by keyword, a great resource that can cut loads of time off of searches.
  6. A FAQ Page Ninety percent of the questions you receive through your blog can be answered definitively on a Frequently Asked Questions page, which will save you the time of having to type the same reply over and over. Keep track of what queries you get most often and add to your page when you notice you’re getting the same question time and again.
  7. Keystone Content Page The Keystone Content Page is a great catchall resource that can be customized to the theme of your blog. It’s essentially evergreen content tailored to whatever industry or theme you write about. For example, say you write a business-oriented blog on selling heavy construction equipment. Your keystone content page could have reviews of all the different types of equipment you’ve written about or include individual compilations for different brands you’ve covered.

Those are my top seven, but do you agree? Are there pages you think are necessary that I didn’t list here? Share them in the comments below! And remember, if you ever need any assistance with the design or content of your blog, drop us a line – we’d love to help! Check out Pink Studios’ portfolio here.

How to Build a Reliable Editorial Calendar

If you’re a committed blogger, it’s important to create and abide by an editorial calendar. Not only will it help you get into the habit of posting content regularly, but also it makes it easier to unveil posts at particular times, such as to coincide with the launch of a new product or promote an upcoming fundraiser. Keep reading to discover some techniques and tools that can make this task much more manageable.

Arrange Your Ideas

If you’ve got plenty of possibilities in mind for how to keep blog readers interested but are having trouble figuring out when each one is ready for the public, that’s a common struggle. A service called Divvy HQ could help keep the creativity flowing without making you get overwhelmed.

Whether you’re involved in writing content, marketing through social media channels or both, this solution lets you see all ideas and objectives at a glance, categorized by phases of readiness, from the review stage through to when something gets published. The lowest pricing tier is $60 per month, which allows you to have three calendars and as many as six people accessing them.

Running a personal blog or just don’t have that kind of money? Use Google Calendar to map out your posts, social media promotions, and other editorial pursuits. Google Calendar is not the absolute ideal platform for planning out your editorial pursuits, but it does a pretty good job on its own, and if you set it up properly, can give paid services a run for their money.

First, have a massive brainstorming session. What are all the topics you would like to cover on your blog? Obviously, this is not the be-all, end-all list, but doing a massive brain dump is a great

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place to start. Next, create a calendar just for your blog, in order to keep it separate from your other responsibilities. Start arranging topics on the blog around a regular posting schedule as entries on the calendar. You can set reminders to make sure you write the post on time, or you can just be diligent about checking frequently to see what you need to work on.

Automating Your Efforts

Once content is ready to go live, spreading it across your social media networks can be a full-time job in itself. A freemium (free for basic service, or paid if you need more power and features) platform called HootSuite makes the responsibility much easier. Besides allowing you to see which posts are receiving the most traffic, it lets you schedule posts to appear on social media websites at desired times.

Then, whether you’ve just composed a press release for Bortek Industries or a Tumblr entry that shows teaser snapshots of an office space you’ll be transferring to in the next few months, promotional content can go up on schedule, without a lot of legwork.

Facebook also has the ability to preschedule posts – just select the clock icon when you are typing the post to choose another date and time.

Also, keep in mind that popular blogging platforms like WordPress can be set to publish posts on specified dates. That can be helpful if one of your regular writers is going out of town and you don’t want to make readers wait for new content during the absence.

Get All Team Members on Board

The tools above could be extremely helpful in keeping track of content and promoting it well. However, even with help from robust tools, it’s important to make sure all the people who are responsible for blogging and marketing are aware of how to follow an existing editorial calendar and suggest changes when necessary.

Try using free products like Google Drive and Google Calendar to clarify details and deadlines. Share schedules and documents with everyone or just a few relevant people by quickly changing access settings.

By spreading awareness about your editorial

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calendar, being open to feedback from team members and also taking advantage of some of the tools mentioned above or others like them, you can get on a consistent schedule and create an editorial calendar that works for your staff and readers. Soon, your blog may enjoy higher amounts of traffic, especially when people start realizing you have compelling things to say and will provide relevant content on a regular basis.

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer who covers trends in social media and social marketing. She has written for Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, and Search Engine People, and is always looking for new opportunities. To see more of her work, follow her on Twitter or check out her blog, Pongra.

Stop stealing stuff

Places to Find Legal Images on the Web

It’s a common occurrence: You’re looking for a cool photo for your blog, and within seconds, a Google search brings you a ton of images to choose from. You drag it, download, and most likely forget about the photo’s origins. Happens every day, but unfortunately, you probably just stole an image without knowing it.

Don’t just rely on Google’s image search engine to take you there. That could become costly. Sometimes, a company such as Getty Images might contact you demanding payment for usage of their image. So, make it simple; avoid the impulse. Why risk it when you can find a variety of sites that give you free access without legal issues?

Free Image Sources

With a little patience and endurance, you’ll find exactly what you are looking for. Here are five popular choices.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that encourages creative people to share across the Internet by using free copyright licenses. It’s also a place to find some of the best images for your projects. Creative Commons has thousands of images to sift through. Simply type in what you’re looking for and wait for the results. As with most searches you have to do the grunt work to get the job done. Creative Commons images usually require a link back to the original source, so read the licensing information carefully.

MorgueFile

Part of a group of free sites devoted to giving creative people a voice across the Web, MorgueFile has the distinction of being not just completely free, but a throwback to times past. MorgueFile takes it name from the old newspaper days of a file that holds “past issues flats,” according to the site. Of course, you’ll have to wade through some things that won’t quite fit your expectations, but that’s always the challenge. In pretty much all cases you’ll be required to credit the photographer or artist when using the image.

stock.xchng

Stock.xchng works best when you know exactly what you want. The website will work to narrow down the best choices. The images are typically very high quality, and if you’re an artist, it actually works as a great site for

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exposure. The browse categories cover abstract, nature, people, streets and cityscapes and more.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a product of the Wikimedia Foundation (the folks responsible for Wikipedia), so you’ll find a wealth of information on their site. The site makes it easy to find license-free material, including not just photography, but drawings as well. Use it to deepen your search.

Advanced Google search

While it’s not ok to simply use whatever image Google discovers from your search you can certainly use Advanced Google Search. By going under the “advanced search” drop-down menu, you can find copyright-free images. Although Advanced Google Search is a reliable source, you might want to try using TinEye, a website that uses reverse image search to find any copyright issues before they spring up.

Step It Up: Paid Services Worth the Price<

Once your website or blog takes off, you’re going to want to stand out – and that means not using the same, average-quality free images everyone else is using. After all, how many times have you seen this free image of social media icons on an iPhone? You may not realize it, but it’s probably more times than you can count.

The solution are royalty-free photography sites where you pay a modest fee in order to license an image that will ultimately be far more unique and most likely higher-quality. Here are five options:

iStock Photo

iStock is a royalty free photography and illustration collection by Getty Images. Start looking for the perfect image using the category collections on their homepage, or using their great advanced search. Pay as you go if you just need a single image, or buy credit packs starting at 30 credits for $49.99.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock’s massive collection features over 30 million royalty-free photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos, with over 10,000 new items added daily. Choose to pay as you go or get a subscription in order to download 25 images per day for $199 per month.

Thinkstock

Thinkstock may not have the biggest collection out there, but it pulls some of the best images from Getty Images and iStock into its catalog. It’s cheaper than many services, with a 5-image pack for $50 or a monthly subscription at $139 per month to get 25 images per day.

Fotolia

Fotolia is a great choice if you regularly need images for projects. Pay as you go for as little as 74 cents an image, or choose from one of the subscription options to get between 2 and 1000 full-size images per month.

PhotoXpress

PhotoXpress is a great paid stock image site to use if you need a small number of unique images for your projects. Their credits don’t expire as long as you continue subscribing, allowing for a design schedule that may be busy at times and slower at others. Single images start at $1 and subscriptions start at $9.99 per month for five images.

Whatever your needs, taking the time to find copyright-free images will potentially save you money, and allow you to focus on what matters most: having a powerful and unique website that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

 

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer who covers trends in social media and social marketing. She has written for Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, and Search Engine People, and is always looking for new opportunities. To see more of her work, follow her on Twitter or check out her blog, Pongra.

Tweet to the Future!

Twitter unrolled a huge update recently, enabling users to schedule tweets up to one year in advance. This is a long-awaited feature that will be widely used by all types of users, with brands and business owners potentially benefitting the most. Any Twitter account can also schedule picture tweets using Twitter’s pic.twitter.com service. While social media management tools like HootSuite have enabled scheduled tweets for users in the past, this is the first time that users can schedule a picture tweet.

How do I schedule a tweet?

Twitter has made the process of scheduling tweets fairly simple. You can schedule a tweet in only six steps:

  1. Go to ads.twitter.com and log in with your Twitter account.

  2. Navigate to Creatives -> Tweets -> Compose Tweet.

  3. Click Scheduling.

  4. On the next screen, Twitter will suggest a time for your tweet to be published, but you can modify this to any date and time you desire.

  5. Write your tweet.

  6. Click Schedule Tweet.

Scheduling your tweet is as simple as that.

Who benefits most from scheduled tweets?

Brands with active social media campaigns benefit the most from scheduled tweets. Ideally, brand marketing managers can input an entire week’s worth of tweets in the span of several minutes, making the manual process of precisely planned tweets a thing of the past. Marketing experts familiar with HootSuite may find scheduling tweets especially easier when it comes to photo tweets, as pictures hosted on pic.twitter.com appear automatically embedded in a tweet. This results in higher engagement levels, which is precisely what brands are seeking on Twitter. For example, a company that creates contractor software can now conveniently provide different selling points throughout the week, inputted all in one place.

Of course, you don’t have to manage a brand to benefit from scheduled posts. Any normal user can increase their prominence on Twitter as well. Witty tweets within a few minutes of one another may not receive much attention, as they appear clustered together on other users’ feed. Scheduling tweets allows all users to separate their witty 140-character banter throughout the day, likely resulting in more users viewing their tweets, since the content is spread out rather than jumbled together.

What’s the outlook of HootSuite after this update?

HootSuite has been acclaimed since forming in 2008. It currently has over seven million users. However, Twitter’s unveiling of scheduled tweets may be a detriment for HootSuite, as scheduling tweets was a feature that attracted many to HootSuite, since it was not possible to do directly through Twitter until now. While this may negatively impact HootSuite slightly, it is unlikely that the software will dwindle significantly in popularity.

HootSuite is also used by many social media experts who manage numerous pages throughout social media networks. As of now, Twitter does not allow the ability to manage multiple Twitter accounts simultaneously, which means HootSuite should remain a popular tool for now. While Twitter may seek to eradicate third-party management options like HootSuite in the future, Twitter does not have enough options or management functionality to knock them off the block just yet.

Are you excited about the new scheduling feature? How are you going to use it?

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer who covers trends in social media and social marketing. She has written for Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, and Search Engine People, and is always looking for new opportunities. To see more of her work, follow her on Twitter or check out her blog, Pongra.