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Wrap Up – Blogging Resources

In our kickoff week of Blogging Everyday (Almost) for a Month we’ve been talking about blogging and in particular, as it relates to your business. Hopefully you’ve been motivated to pick up the virtual pen and try out blogging for your business. For today’s post, we’ll list a few resources to help you on your way.

Places to Start Blogging

  • WordPress – We use a self hosted version of WordPress for a lot of our clients who want to incorporate a blog into their website. But if you want to just start out and test the waters, you can register a http://whateveryouchoose.wordpress.com address and start blogging right away. WordPress is what we recommend you start with as it’s very easy to transition from their hosted version to a version that’s hosted on your own website (i.e. blog.mybusiness.com) if you want to get more serious.
  • Blogger – The original blogging site that started it all (later bought by Google, and whose co-creators went on to form a little website called Twitter). Integrates well if you use a Google/Gmail account with their other services.
  • Tumblr – Tumblr is great for quick posting, and for a blog that incorporates a lot of media (video, photos). It’s got a great community, both business and non-business related.
  • Posterous – Posterous is similar to Tumblr. Quick and easy blogging.

Ultimately it is best for your business and brand to incorporate your blog more directly in your website, as we have done, by locating it at your website address (whether it’s blog.businessname.com or businessname.com/blog doesn’t matter too much). If you’re interested in adding a blog to your website, we can certainly help you get it setup.

If you’re just wanting to try it out and not worried about the look of the blog initially we can have you up and going fairly quickly. Later on, if you want help with the design/look of your blog (for example, if you want it to more closely match your website), we can help you with that as well.

If you’ve got any questions or comments about blogging, leave a comment or send us an email and we’ll do our best to answer it in a blog post in the future.

Next week we’ll be focusing on social media (Facebook, Twitter and various other services) and going over some of the common questions and concerns people have about bringing their business over to these websites.

Be sure to send us an email if you’ve got questions you’d like answered!

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Can You Trust Your Employees to Blog for Your Business?

This one’s going to be short. I’m not sure if I had more in mind when I picked the topic, but upon seeing the question as I write this the answer should be obvious.

Yes.

If you can’t trust them to write a blog/article for your business, then why did you hire them?

Now I’m not talking about whether you can trust them to spell correctly or use proper grammar. Obviously it’s a good idea to have someone else check over the post for those kinds of mistakes before publishing the article for the world to see.

What I’m talking about is the idea that you don’t trust your employee(s) to be able to write about what you do, why you do them or what sets you apart from the competition. If you don’t trust that they can do that in a meaningful way, then you’ve got other issues on your hand.

Once you’ve figured out the reasons why your company is going to have a blog, and you’ve brainstormed a list of topics, find the people in your business who want to write about that and you know are passionate about what you’re trying to do and set them loose. Certainly, be involved in the first few articles to make sure things are on the right track. But once you know they’re not going to encourage the killing of baby seals for sport, you can relax and encourage them to write their thoughts on your industry.

Who knows, you might even find out something interesting about your own company in the process.

Friday, Friday

Come back tomorrow for the final post in this week long series on blogging. We’ll do a bit of wrap up and preview next week’s topics. If you’ve got any questions or comments about blogging, leave a comment or send us an email and we’ll do our best to answer it in a blog post in the future.

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Tips to Help Your Company Maintain Your Blog

In yesterday’s post, we went over the reasons why your business might want to have a blog and today we’ll talk about ways to help you keep going with your blog and avoid the fate of many who’ve started a blog but stopped within a few days or weeks when the initial ‘fun’ is over.

I Haven’t Updated in Awhile

A search for the phrase i haven’t updated in awhile turns up 468 million results (14 million in the last month alone) so don’t feel too bad if you’ve tried and haven’t updated in awhile once or twice before – you’re certainly not alone. It’s easy to start something, it’s hard to keep doing it consistently.

Schedule It In

If it’s not on your calendar, then it won’t happen. There will always be something else to do. This can be your actual day planner or just mentally in your head. For these blog posts I know that first thing in the morning at work, after I have some coffee, I am going to spend 30 – 60 minutes writing out an article for our blog. If I just left it to “whenever I have time”, it would never happen because there’s always going to be things that come up and are more pressing. If you have an assistant, tell them what you’re doing. Have someone hold you accountable. Decide how often you want to post a new article and then put that in every day/week on your schedule. Before you know it, it’ll be such a part of your regular routine that you won’t even have to think about it.

Remove Distractions

Here’s a few quick suggestions for removing distractions. This could be a whole blog post on it’s own:

  • Turn off your email client. Or at least change the default “Check for New Mail” setting to longer than the default every 2 minutes. Try 30 minutes and you’ll be amazed by how much more work you get done by not seeing that little number pop up on your inbox icon.
  • Log off Twitter & Facebook. Or whatever social network is pulling your time away from other things. You say you have the self control to stop checking it, but we both know you just checked Facebook while reading this sentence.
  • Turn off the ringer on your phone and put it facedown on your desk. If you turn the ringer off and then you still see the notification pop up that someone called or sent you a text, you’ve lost focus whether you actually check it or not.
  • Don’t fiddle with fonts. I’m guilty of this one. Whether it’s the fonts, or figuring out which application I’m going to use to write with, or what music I’m going to listen to while I’m writing – basically doing anything but actually writing. More on this in a future article.

This isn’t just for writing an article for your blog, it likely should be something you’re doing for most tasks that require more than 10 minutes of your time. But like I said, more in a future blog article.

Spend 30 Minutes Brainstorming Topics

I’m sure somedays you’ll sit down to write and be inspired by something you read or heard the day before – but generally, it’s much easier to write if the topic is already defined. Before I started this process, I came up with a list of 8 or 9 topics to get me started. That way I knew the first week I’d have at least a topic to write about. Between Michael and myself, we shouldn’t have much trouble coming up with the rest of the month’s topics now that we’re going.

But if I sat down each morning and had to try and come up with a topic, I’d waste a good 15-25 minutes thinking of something to write about – never mind the time I’d then spend on the fonts and colours!

Write in Advance

There’s nothing wrong with writing a bunch of articles ahead of time and then scheduling them out over the next weeks/months. There’s no reason that this article couldn’t have been written a week ago and then posted today. If you’re the type of person who, once you get going on something you can just keep going – why not set aside a morning or a day to write a bunch of articles all at once?

Collaborate

If there’s more than one of you, divide and conquer. If you’re posting once a week, take alternate weeks to post. Not only will it help with having time to write, it will also give your blog a more interesting voice. Don’t just assign one person to be “the blogger” and leave them high and dry. Unless they have a passion for writing and the topic they’re writing about, they’ll lose enthusiasm pretty quickly.

Calling in Sick

Try as hard as possible to be consistent in when and how often you post. But if you miss a week due to being busy, sickness, staff shortage, etc. just get back on the bike and try again. Be honest about what happened and acknowledge that a week was missed, but then move on to the topic at hand. Unless you’re running a membership site where people have paid to get articles on a specific basis, it’s fine to miss the occasional post. Just don’t let it slip more than once, otherwise you’ll be adding to the 468 million i haven’t updated in awhile posts on the internet.

And I think we have enough of those already.

Tomorrow

For the next couple of posts, I want to cover a few of these points a bit more in depth as I know there’s a lot of questions about some of them we get from clients. Tomorrow we’ll touch on something related to collaborating on posting – can you trust your employee’s to blog for your business?

If you’ve got questions or comments about what I’ve posted about today, leave a comment or send us an email and we’d be happy to discuss it further!

MarketingWriting

Why Should You Have a Blog?

So in our post yesterday, we outlined the reasons why we’re going to be blogging (almost) everyday for the month of April. For today’s post, we’re going to cover a few reasons why your business might want a blog. A lot of the reasons for you to have a blog will be similar to the reasons we discussed for ourselves, but we’ll cover a few other reasons that you might want to blog for your business.

Create Content for Your Website

A blog is a great way to create and develop content for your website. There’s only so many pages you can have the go over your products, services and contact info. A blog allows you to talk more about your business in a less marketing-speak way that humans can understand. And you can update it daily if you want and keep putting out new content for people and search engines like Google.

Fresh, new content on a regular basis is also a great way to keep customers coming back. If they know that every Wednesday you’re going to post a new article explaining a different area of your business, they’ll come back to read which helps to keep your business and brand at the top of your customer’s mind.

Think About Your Business in a New Way

If you’re going to write a blog for your business, you’re going to have to think about your business in a different way than you typically do. You’ll have to sort out some of the reasons why you offer the products you offer, why your services set you apart from your competition, how your team works together to help your customers. You’ll need these reasons if you’re going to blog about your business – and you can’t just rely on marketing speak to get you through because your customers (and potential customers) won’t stick around if you just quote marketing jargon on your blog. They’re coming to your blog to find out more about you and your business and why they should hire/buy from you.

Reach an Audience That You Might Not Otherwise Reach

Perhaps your business is plumbing. If you do a Google search for “Saskatoon Plumbers”, you’ll get a list of plumbers along with a map. Hopefully you’re somewhere on the list. But what if a potential customer isn’t searching for “Saskatoon plumbers”, but is instead searching Google for “How do I clean a blocked drain?” – if you’ve got an article on your blog about how your installers cleaned out a block drain for customers last week, you could be listed somewhere in the search results when you wouldn’t have otherwise even been an option.

In our case, since we’re writing a bunch of articles related to creating, updating and maintaining a website – that gives us a lot of content for Google to search through and present as an option to people searching for someone to help with their website. Who knows, maybe you’re reading this right now because you found us through a Google search and landed on our blog. Get in touch with us and be sure to let us know if you have questions about blogging or updating your website content.

But It’s Hard Work and I Don’t Have Time and I’m So Busy and I Hate to Write!

All true. And so maybe having a blog isn’t a great fit for your business. But before you give up completely, come back tomorrow when we’ll talk about ways to help make blogging for your business a part of what you do, as well as tips to help keep doing it consistently.

MarketingSocial Media

We’re Blogging Everyday (Almost) for a Month

It’s April, spring is (almost?) here and so we’ve decided to challenge ourselves to update our blog everyday (almost) for the month of April. Astute observers of the date will notice that we’re starting this challenge on the 4th day of April – hence the almost in our challenge. We also won’t be blogging on weekends – our blogging brains need time to rest!

Why Are We Doing It?

For our first post, I’m going to go through a few reasons why we are doing this. Our reasons might inspire you to do something similar for your business. If you do decide to play along, be sure to tag your post with #bea4april (Blog Everday Almost 4 April).

Reason #1: Practicing What We Preach

We, and many other social media/website building companies, often tell our customers that they should be blogging in order to generate interest in their companies and help Google find them. We can’t really advocate that for others if we’re not doing it ourselves, can we?

Reason #2: Exercise Our Creative Muscles

It’s not that we don’t talk about updating our blog. We talk about it a lot. Almost weekly. But if you just talk about it, it’s not really going to ever happen, right? Giving ourselves a challenge forces us to be accountable to the challenge – especially by telling the public about our challenge to ourselves.

Reason #3: We Have Something to Say

We consider ourselves to be knowledgeable in the area of creating, updating and maintaing a website as well as a social media presence. We’d like to offer our services to others – what better way for potential clients to find out if we would make for a good fit than reading about our ideas, thoughts and processes as it relates to marketing a business online.

Reason #4: Create Content for Our Website

The selfish reason we’re doing this is the same reason we advocate our clients setup a blog and maintain it regularly – to have fresh, new content for people to find via Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. If your website was updated last in 2006, Google has ways of finding that out and will eventually go somewhere else for the information your site used to provide.

Wrap Up

So that’s a few reasons for initiating this challenge to ourselves. We’ll flesh out some others over the course of the month. A few of the topics we’ll cover include:

  • Tips to Help Your Company Maintain Your Blog
  • Why Should Your Business Have a Blog?
  • Can You Trust Your Employee’s to Blog For Your Business?

We’d welcome your feedback in the comments section or contact us if you have any questions about what we’ve blogged about.

See you tomorrow!

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