The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Fundamental Keys to Expand Your Readership October 11, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Marketing Ideas,marketing with blogs,SEO — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:39 am
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This week is all about SEO and Keywords. First up, a guest post from Alex Papa on how to get eyeballs to your blog or website.

Enter the ‘Blogosphere’: a world where corporate minds and marketers of all kinds congregate with a common goal. A goal to have their distinctive voices heard, to build a level of trust, and to present their services. Businesses have scanned the blogging scene, and recognized that the blogging platform presents a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Marketing strategies and blogging are now intertwined as a form of brand building and promotion.  Irrespective of prior knowledge, geographical positioning, or intellect, the blogging realm offers significant potential for reward.

Blogs and Business: Where is the Benefit?

Unlike a commercial website, a blog presents a lax setting. Viewers are not barraged with “Buy Now” buttons and other conspicuous sales pitches. This lowers the guard of the reader, and opens the door for a relationship to be built. A relationship initiates a level of trust, which correlates to a potential client and friend. The key determinants to solidify a level of trust is to offer your reader unique value-adding content. The content you provide illuminates your voice, exposes your character, and establishes your credibility. Contributing value-adding content on a consistent basis will ensure your readers return to your blog.

An expansive reader-base equates to a sizable market for your service. But with millions of blogs in existence, obtaining significant traffic can become an arduous assignment.

Social Media Traffic

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can yield significant traffic for your blog. Facebook is the second most traffic intensive platform on the web, with Google firmly on top. Creating targeted “groups and pages” on Facebook can drive a substantial amount of traffic directly to your blog. Joining and participating in communities such as forums have proven to be another free source of direct traffic.

Organic Traffic

Another supply of sizeable traffic will be derived from the search engines like Google or Yahoo. This form of traffic which is commonly known as “organic” traffic will be the prominent source of traffic your blog receives. Traffic generated from search engines will always be laser targeted because users key in search terms that are specific to their needs.

Quality blog authors commit a fatal error by producing blog posts that are eloquent and of superior class, but lack search engine friendliness. Search engines are not professors evaluating the quality of your writing. They are programmed to decipher the relevance of your content according to the search term utilized by the user. If for instance a user keys in the term “Increase Blog Traffic” and this term is not incorporated in your content, then the search engine will deem your content irrelevant. Search engines don’t care if you are a best selling author.

There should be a dual focus when writing a blog post. Firstly, one should write for one’s user, and secondly, one should write content that is optimized for the search engines.

Keys to Writing Search Engine Optimized Content

When a search engine evaluates the content on your blog, it links the content of a post to “keywords” that are commonly used by everyday search engine users. If your blog post does not contain any of these keywords, your post is of no value to the search engine. The elements required for you to optimize your content for the search engines are:

•    Engage in keyword research. Know what people are searching for in relation to your service offering.
•    Structure advertorial posts by integrating a primary product keyword into your content.
•    Ensure your keyword appears in the title, introduction, body, and conclusion of each post.

Traffic is the lifeblood of your blog, and your readers will sustain your blog and business, if you offer them long-term value through your content. Subtlety is essential when promoting your service to your readers. Assaulting you readers with consistent sales pitches will destroy your relationship and reduce business profits. Approach each post that promotes your service with tact, and use persuasive language rather than heavy-handed sales pitches.

Alex Papa is the editor of Norton Antivirus Codes blog. He also manages several online marketing companies such as Business Opportunities Expo.

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Blogging to Drive Business October 4, 2010

I first met Rebecca Bolwitt in November of 2008. We sat on a panel at the GVPTA’s Making a Scene Conference with Simon called Marketing Using Web 2.0.

I guess one of the things that really struck me about her was how business-like she was for someone so young. You certainly don’t get to be the Vancouver’s #1 blogger by accident, but she has also taken that fame, and spun it out into a successful business: she live-blogs events, and is a WordPress expert.

Now, she’s written a book. Blogging is one of the more challenging social mediums. First of all, it’s likely the one that you’re going to spend the most time on, if you are really dedicated to it. Secondly, getting your blog set up correctly (I’m going through this process right now!) can be quite technically challenging, and third, finding your voice as a blogger can take some time.

Creating a blog for your business adds another layer: now you have to think about what message it is that you want your readers to get about your blog, and therefore, your company.

For me, the most compelling argument for getting a blog for your company is to allow them to see behind the corporation, and get to know the real people that run the organization. It is also and amazing tool for educating your clientele.

There are 9 chapters in this book:

  1. Why are Blogs so Important?
  2. Leveraging your Blog with Marketing tools
  3. Creating a Blogging Strategy
  4. Blogging Responsibly
  5. Finding Topics to Write About
  6. Who Will Write the Blog?
  7. Getting Eyeballs To Your Blog
  8. Getting Interactive with Multimedia Blogging
  9. Taking Advantage of Web 3.0 Blogs

If you are just starting out on your blogging journey, I highly recommend this book. It’s accessibly written, contains lots of case studies, examples and screenshots, and the resource URLs are very helpful.

I’ve been blogging for two years, and I found some stuff in here that was really helpful, and which I can’t wait to implement into the redesign of my blog.

Blogging to Drive Business: Create and Maintain Valuable Customer Connections by Eric Butow and Rebecca Bolwitt is available at London Drugs and through Amazon.ca for $25.99.

 

WP Finally Adds A “Tweet This” Button August 18, 2010

Filed under: marketing with blogs,Marketing with Twitter,social media,Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:34 am
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For those of you, who, like me (although not for very much longer) have a WordPress-hosted blog, you will be very happy to know that WordPress has FINALLY added a “Tweet This” Widget.

I love WP. I’m their greatest fan. But it’s frustrating, because you certainly are limited by what you can do with a WP-hosted blog. For example, I can’t post Amazon Affiliate links. And this Tweet button has been a a long, long time coming.

Here’s how to install it:

  1. Log into your dashboard
  2. Scroll down the left-hand side menu board until you get to “Appearance.” If it’s not already expanded, click the arrow to expand.
  3. Now click on “Extras.”
  4. A window comes up that looks like this:
  5. Check the “Show a Twitter Tweet Button on my posts.”
  6. Hit “update” and you’re done!

This makes it a lot easier for folks to read your post and tweet it with one button, as opposed to having to copy the URL and past it into their Twitter client, shorten it, etc.

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State of the Fringe: Jeremy Banks August 6, 2010

Welcome to the final installment on my series on the State of the Fringe. This week, I’ve talked to Ian Case and David Jordan, who run the Victoria and Vancouver Fringes.

Today, I interview Jeremy Banks, who has acquired the title this summer of “UberFringer.” I met Jeremy in the spring, and he told me he had this crazy idea: he had just bought a Flip cam, and wanted to travel across Canada, visiting all the Fringe festivals, working where he could and blogging and shooting video. You can follow along with his travels at Fringetastic!

I caught up with Jeremy via Skype in a coffee shop in Calgary.

RC: How many Fringes have you been to so far?

JC: I piloted the idea at Uno Fest in Victoria, but my Fringe journey started June 10 Montreal. Since Montreal, I’ve been to Magnetic North, the Toronto Fringe, Winnipeg, and Calgary. I will check into the Edmonton Fringe, will perform at the Victoria Fringe, and will do some videography at the Vancouver Fringe.

RC: Who is Jeremy Banks? How did you come up with this crazy idea?

JB: I went back to school and finished my theatre program recently. I graduated from Malispina University in Nanaimo, a town that is better known for  a dessert bar than theatre. With that in mind, I thought I’d try to get a sense of the bigger world–to contextualize what I had learned in school. I contacted Fringe festivals, and was able to get some work with my theatre skills.

I’ve been interviewing lots of people: Executive Directors, actors, technicians, to get an overview of what the Fringe is about.

RC: What’s the state of the Fringe in Canada right now?

JB: It’s hard to describe. It’s an artistic expression of an entire culture. And it’s not just about theatre. It’s theatre people, but it’s not just for theatre people. It’s an entire cultural celebration. Because you get people from every arts discipline coming out to participate in the Fringe. Some Fringes have that as a bigger component than others–here in Calgary, for example, there are multi-disciplinary performances on stage, in Winnepeg and Edmonton, there’s a huge outdoor aspect, which makes it great for families. It needs to be valued and realized as a cultural capital in Canada. Each Fringe is so organic. Each Fringe is unique and they are all connected, and there is definitely a through-line going through all of them. But because each one is connected to their community, it makes each one different and growing.

RC: What’s been your favorite moment so far?

JB: I don’t know yet. My journey is not yet over. Right now, it’s really hard to have perspective on what I’m doing while I’m still in the process. Sometimes you go and get this material, but you don’t know what it’s going to be until you’re finished. I might not exactly know what it is I’m trying to accomplish, but that’s okay. I have faith in the process.

RC: What are your plans for your home Fringe?

JB: I’ll be performing in Victoria, Big Smoke by Ron Fromstein, which won the 2006 National Playwrighting award for Theatre BC. I’ve never performed in a Fringe before, so this is a new experience for me, but I also have this background knowledge of “Fringeness.” After Victoria, it’ll be time for me to look back and start to try to put the pieces together. This has been a great adventure, but in order for me to finish, I need to find the thruline. I also need to find a niche where I can continue working on the project in a a sustainable way: a concrete goal, financial support. I love the idea of creating a fringe show about the fringe.

Everywhere I go, everyone has a different story, not just about fringe, but about life. The gbiggest thing I’ve learned is that fringe and theatre are about connecting and sharing stories. Fringe creates an avenue for you to express yoruself however you want to, under the excuse of theatre. And that’s what makes it valuable.

RC: Thanks, Jer. I look forward to catching up with you again when you’re home, and seeing what you come up with!

Click here to listen to our conversation in its entirety.

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Fringe Marketing for Dummies Pt 2 July 26, 2010

Today, we continue our series on how to market your Fringe show! As ever, feel free to share your best Fringe marketing tips in the comments below!

Publicity and PR: Deb Pickman recently offered a workshop on this topic here in Vancouver, and it was well attended. If you couldn’t make it, you can download her notes. The Fringe supplies participants with a media list. Again, the number one thing to keep in mind while crafting your pitch or your media release is to think about what your USP is.

Event Listings: Create a short PSA and send it to the local papers for their event listings, and find event listing websites to upload your listing to. The Fringe does this for “The Fringe,” so it’s possible that event listings editors will see that you are part of the fringe and not print your listing, but it’s worth a shot.

Here’s an example of a listing:

SENSATION OF MAGIC: Vitaly Beckman performs seventy minutes of jaw-dropping, mind-bending magic and illusions. August 17-21, 8 pm. Havana Theatre on 1212 Commercial Drive. $15 (advance) $20 (door), Tix at Highlife Records, 1317 Commercial Dr, Vancouver. Info/Tix: 778.228.5291, http://www.SensationOfMagic.com

Websites and Social Media:

You need to have a website. If you can afford it, get one professionally done, but if you can’t, I offer some tips on how to build a website in Word Press here. Deb put it so well in her notes that I’m going to quote her on this one, because I couldn’t possibly say it better: Your front-page right hand side should contain buttons for all online social media streams: FaceBook, Twitter, Blog, YouTube, Flicker. A journalist should get everything they need to tell your story without picking up the phone, by reading your website because it includes everything that’s in your press kit.

Social Media: This method of marketing is exploding–fully 500 Million people are on Facebook, and YouTube gets one million hits a day. Here are the top 5 Social Media sites, and how to use them:

Email: If you don’t already have this, get started now building an email list of people that are interested in your work. You can either use an e-newsletter program, or your own, html-formatted email. Send three emails: one about a month before the show, one a week before the show, and one after the show is opened, but before it closes (which incorporates your positive reviews). Include photos and links to make it interesting.

Facebook: if you haven’t already, create a fan page for your company. Then work your butt off to get as many fans as possible. Create an event page off of your fan page for your Fringe Show. Now, populate the page with updates every couple of days: how things are going in rehearsals, media coverage, photos, etc. Connect your page to the Fringe’s page.

Blog: Blogs are all about what goes on behind the scenes, so write about your rehearsal process, your tour, that crazy conversation you had with an audience member after the show. don’t feel like you have to depend upon writing–photos, video or audio are also fun and acceptable. A great example is Jeremy Bank’s Fringetastic blog. I’ll be doing an interview with him in a future post.

YouTube: create videos of yourself in rehearsal, of you talking about your show, etc. Post them on YouTube, then cross-post them on FB, Twitter, your blog, and email. Post them on the Fringe’s YouTube Channel.

Flickr: Get a Flickr account to post photos: not just production photos (ie: your professional ones) but also casual photos from rehearsals. Also connect your account to the Fringe Flickr account.

Twitter: If you are not yet on Twitter, quite honestly now may not be the best time to jump in. Learning how to Twitter is easy, but mastering it takes time. It is, however, a very powerful tool. The Fringe, by the way, is @VancouverFringe, and the hashtag, if you are Twittering, is #VanFringe. Anything that you twitter with that hashtag will likely be ReTweeted by the Fringe Social Media dude, Earl.

The Fringe, by the way, will also have an IPhone app this year.

Guerrilla Marketing/PR Stunts: There are great opportunities for guerrilla marketing at the Fringe. Granville Island is pretty densely populated all the time, so walking around in costume, handing out flyers, or flyering lines is pretty successful. After all, if people are there to see the Fringe, they are your target market, you’re doing them a service by telling them about your show. You can also draw/make signs on the sidewalk and road with chalk, or talk to the Fringe about doing a mini-performance in the bar.

Using other Fringes for marketing collateral: If you have been to other fringes, and have gotten star-ratings or good reviews, it’s important to use that info as much as possible on all of your marketing materials. Here in Vancouver, the way to get a much-coveted preview is to have someone from The Straight see your show in Victoria (which is right before ours) and highlight it in a Fringe preview.

Good luck! Have fun! Share any additional comments or tips below.

 

In search of inspiration July 7, 2010

I think any blogger will agree with me on this one: finding inspiration to write is certainly the most difficult part of blogging.

Having to come up with fresh content all the time is a big challenge.

So, I’m going to share with you some ways that I have found to cope, and I’d love to hear some from you, as well.

Link: Thomas Cott

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Becoming a better blogger June 25, 2010

Things have been a bit nutty in my life, lately. I like to get up on the weekends, Saturday or Sunday morning, and bang out 2-3 blog posts for the week over my morning coffee. It’s a method that’s worked well for me over the past few months.

Lately, I’ve gotten off track, mostly because my life was quite disrupted by moving house. But the pile of boxes in my living room is shrinking, and I am starting to feel like I have a handle on it, so it’s back to my blogging schedule.

Recently, to get me “back into the swing,” I read a book called Blog Blazers. It’s written by a blogger, Stephane Grenier, and it is, essentially, a book of interviews with top bloggers like Seth Godin and Penelope Trunk. Stephane asked each of the bloggers the same set of questions, and you would be shocked how many of them had exactly the same answers.

I wanted to share some of the commonalities  and tips that I picked up with you.

What makes a successful blog?

For some people, it’s straight-up stats: how many hits you get per day, how many people subscribe to your RSS feed. For some people it’s money, and for others, it’s influence. Truth is, no one can tell you you are a successful blogger. If you set goals for yourself at the beginning, before you start, and you reach those goals, whatever they are, you are a success. For me, success is a slippery critter. Once I reach one goal, I set a new one. And given that most blogs are abandoned within a few months, just keeping it up could be considered to be success.

What should I write about?

Penelope Trunk said it best: “Find a very popular topic and then write at the very edge of that topic. If you write in the centre, that’s where everyone else is and it will be hard to present something that is unique. If you write at the edge and throw in stuff not totally related to your topic area, then both you and your readers will find surprises in that intersection of the new stuff and your topic.”

In addition, make sure you pick a topic that you are, at the very least, passionate about. And that you have some knowledge of. I don’t consider myself to be a social media expert, but I like to do research, and try to stay one step ahead. Also, write for the reader, not for yourself.

This great article on 25 Styles of Blogging is a great place to start if you are stuck.

Make sure you take lots of time to read other blogs in your niche before you begin, and also spend time going through the archives of some of the great blogs for beginners I’ll list below.

How often do I post?

While everyone agrees that, to build an audience, the more posts, the quicker you go up in Google Search rankings, you have to be realistic. Some bloggers said five times a day (!), and others only post once or twice a week. Post at whatever frequency you feel like you can keep up.

How do I make money from my blog?

A lot of the people in this book make a living from blogging, some into 6 figures. But they all agreed that getting into blogging thinking that you are going to become an instant millionaire is a mistake. I have a big problem with blogs that have pop-ups and lots of flashy ads. Many of the bloggers recommended reading John Chow’s blog. But, honestly, it’s such a turn-off to me that I can’t get past the front page. Whether or not you monetize your blog is up to you–there are certainly pros and cons to both sides. For me, I’d rather have my blog be what it is, and if I can sell a couple of e-books, or book a workshop or a publicity gig from it, it’s fully worth it.

The importance of a good headline

Headlines are incredibly important: in our fast-paced world, a catchy headline could draw someone in over all the others. So, think about keywords when writing your headlines, and you might want to wait to write it until you are done writing the post, so that it better reflects the post.

Top blogs to read for beginning bloggers

Resolutions:

All right, you’re all witnesses. I’ve been blogging now at Art of the Biz since October of 2008, and for a year before that as a guest on The Next Stage Magazine. Reading this book gave me lots of great ideas that I need to implement to improve my blog. So here are my goals:

  • to migrate my blog from WordPress-hosted to self-hosted (I have a meeting with my webdesigner set up!)
  • to integrate more images, and to chunk my posts more. I realize that I have been lazy in that respect, and it sometimes makes my blog hard to read.
  • to integrate more mixed media (vlogs, podcasts) into my blog, so that it’s not all straight text.
  • to implement more strategies to grow my readership (after I’ve moved to self-hosted)
  • More value-added stuff: contests and giveaways.

What’s your best blogging tip?

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