How To Take The Blogosphere By Storm – and Generate World Headlines

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, the idea of getting my blog in front of as many eyes as possible is exciting! And of course, it takes a little effort. But what’s the point of putting all the effort into the words, if no-one’s going to actually read it!

For many of us, regardless of how tech savvy we are, the process of blogging takes a serious chunk out our lives. It’s one thing to come up with something fabulous and write it – in a short, snappy and compelling way – but then we’ve got to tell the world about it!

And frankly, unless you are communicating with your Facebook followers, titillating fellow Tweeters, increasing your You Tube profile and building your Linked In network every day– then you’re only doing half the job.

The way to do it effectively is by focusing your social media efforts. Keep your eye on the big prize and remember the final goal – global coverage and readers from every corner of the world!

Start by thinking about your blog in 2 stages.

Stage 1. Content

Make your blog relevant, newsworthy and topical. Give your title some oomph and pizzazz by using words that link it with whatever hot topics are trending in the world. Don’t be afraid to use buzzwords to improve your Google ranking, and make your blog more visible – that is what you are after visibility, which in turn will build your blog’s audience and allow it to develop wider attention.

Call to Action

It’s all very well to have followers, but you need to get them interacting. To do that, they need to be motivated and encouraged. It’s your role to get them fired up. Give them a reason to jump online to have their say, or contribute to a forum which will in turn, generate momentum. Create a ‘call to action’ element, use questions, provocative ideas, suggestions, hypotheticals and case studies. Incentify your followers by building in a competition element, or a ‘freebie’ component: offer a prize for the best comment, suggestion or idea.

Most importantly, ensure that the comment and forum facilities are user-friendly

Stage 2. Broadcast it

Now that you’ve written your fantastic blog, the challenge is to get the word out there, that means using every source at your fingertips:  Twitter, Facebook and Linked In and of course, word of mouth email.

Add News to Your Blog

Once you’ve posted to it, keep your blog fresh by refreshing the content. Read up on relevant updates, and re-tweet to your followers, adding the latest headlines and linking it with current news, tweets, or other content with an embedded news widget or a small news ticker. For example, did you know that with a news, blog, or Twitter feed, you can make a news widget or news ticker?

RSS Feeds

Gain traffic to your blog with by your own RSS feeds, allowing others to use your feeds as content for their websites or to make widgets to allow easy distribution. You can source various apps that let you write posts, upload photos, edit pages and manage comment on your blog from your iPhone, iPad or iPod.

Finally, by implementing the above, what you are doing is simply drawing as many eyes to your blog as possible. If by some miracle you manage the Holy Grail – to ‘trend’ on Twitter – you are likely to capture the attention of the world media. If you can do that, the rest is easy.

And don’t worry if you’re the world’s most tech savvy person, once you get into the swing of it, the art of social media is a blogger’s dream.

Anything I’ve left out? If so, you know where to leave your comment…

Social Media is fun. But an International Tour is more fun!

If you have been wooing your business contacts across a host of hard-hitting social media platforms and established an infallible following, it could be time to maximise all your hard work with a complete schmooze-fest, and all the trimmings.

Here’s the scenario: You’ve worked hard to woo your business contacts, both here and abroad, intriguing potential pundits across the Blogsphere. Check! You’ve established an infallible following on the Twitterati and other social media platforms. Check! You’ve successfully built a rock solid community thanks to your social profile and lively bloggerisationisms. Check!  Well done. Give yourself a gold-star!

But whatever it is you’re selling, the social media aspect is only going to take you so far. You need some face-time!

What is the best way to get in front of your pundits and dazzle them, thereby setting yourself apart from a zillion other faceless cyber-voices?

At this point a business trip seems like the most sensible move. Right?

Absolutely!

During which time, you may think it is most effective to see all your prospects individually. That’s usually the best way to do it, right?

Wrong!

A diary crammed with dinners, drinks, lunches and brunches is fraught with problems, not the least of which you’ll run yourself into the ground trying to get from one appointment to the next, or end up with alcohol poisoning!  Even worse, you may in your haste become tardy, turning up to appointments late, or even worse, without your most important materials and tools – and who hasn’t been guilty of that?

At a pinch you will be too strung out to be the all singing, all dancing, little ray of sunshine you had hoped to be; especially when you find yourself hosting the most important pitch of your life at a completely unsuitable venue.  And I’m sure we’ve all been there, hearing those unspeakable words:   ‘Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realise you needed a power point!’

Far better to come up with a How-To-Wow plan and gather your most important and illustrious prospects. Because whatever brand you’re selling, you will do it far more effectively when you’re calling the shots. And you’re calling the shots when your clients come to you.

Just look at the advantages

You’re in control of your environment. You’ve decorated the venue with as much heart and soul as if it was your own wedding day, using the swishest venue and most spectacular backdrop. You’re in control of the mood, the music, the drinks, the lighting (always useful to have a lovely glow during your presentation). You’ve put yourself in the perfect position to showcase your brand as effectively as possible. Nothing is left to chance and more importantly, you’re not frazzled.

Your guests will see that you have made a capital E for Effort and attendance levels will be high, especially if you’ve hired a lovely room at the Wardorf with champagne and canapés!

Read about how to plan your live tour in part 2.

Connecting Globally with a Live Tour

In taking this collaborative approach to wow your followers, fans and prospective clients, you are straying from the typical path, that means, you will need to plan your assault with meticulous care.

To demonstrate, I’ve re-adapted the live music business model used by Madonna (figuring that if it’s good enough for her…) It works on this premise. 

Step 1. Build a Strong Online Following

Work long and hard to build and gather a devoted online following.  Once you’ve got them, the challenge is to keep them! Be generous and distribute samples and snippets of your best work. Keep the content coming in a bid to keep your audience interested and hungry, and coming back for more!

 Step 2. Break It Down            

Break your followers down geographically: country by country, city by city.

 Step 3. Tour Announcement

Set the tour date, write the press release and contact each of the groups, giving them as much notice as possible. Let them know the proposed dates the ‘National Tour’ will be coming to town. (If you are going to London during the Olympics, make sure you check prospectives * before * booking your trip. Many locals are planning to use the Games as an excuse to get out of town and they have their southward sights set firmly on, amongst other places, our dazzling shores. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by planning a ‘surprise’ visit when you get to town only to find that they have high-tailed it out of town – right to the city that you just left!)

 Step 4. The Venue

Any International Hotel worth its salt will be glad to offer the use of the Business Centre and associated function rooms in exchange for the cost of refreshments. Then just go town, wow your audience by showcasing your brand in the most imaginative and memorable way possible. And very important, build in some post-presentation one-to-one time for the priority prospects. This can be tricky, but it’s doable so long as you make a plan and stick to it.

Step 5. Online Follow Up

Once you return back to base, resume your robust online presence with all the usual suspects; the goal to push those orders through on the back of tour. Then sit back and watch as the sales come roaring in. 

Bottom line, do whatever it takes to get that face time; get in front of your prospects and make a killer impression.

Beefing Up Your GSP: Global Social Profile

In part 1 of this series we talked about content and how to broadcast globally to the best effect. Here we focus on format and how to develop your social profile using the most complimentary medium.

Your international profile starts evolving the minute you build a social profile. That’s why social presence is your number one social media asset. It is your calling card; the sum of all your profiles and connections, and the launch pad for global communication.

The question is this – which social media best showcases your offer, your talents and your brand? Because with so much choice, it’s easy to get carried away, and bombard followers with a little something from every medium hmmm– a tweet here, a text there, a picture app everywhere – the mistake is in thinking that sheer relentless volume equals impact. It doesn’t. It equals air pollution. Better to practice discretion. The way to do that is by streamlining your approach.

So whatever your poison – whether you own the Twittisphere-airwaves with your mastery of the 140 character tweet, or pride yourself on blogtastic posts that leave followers crying out for more – stick to what you do best and keep your message carrier simple and streamlined. Be selective about your mode of communication. And don’t text and tweet in tandem for the sake of it. Only do it when absolutely necessary.

Tweeting

If you plan on becoming the classic Alice in Tweetland you need to wow your tweeples every time you log on. That means entering the realm of ‘what’s trending’ by having something witty, useful or interesting to say, otherwise, stay off the air!

Dangers: don’t ever kid yourself that your ‘tweet nothings’ part of a ‘private’ conversation because, they never are!

Texting

Texting may be a great way to get app-happy and share and care and stay in touch, BUT digi-etiquette rules it out as a suitable channel for multiple message despatches i.e. spam! Don’t even think about it!

Blogging Thanks to blogalisation, anyone can be a blogging authority so long as they can string together a few (hundred) words. And yes, it’s OK to use your blogesaurus. The main thing is to keep it short, snappy and coherent, and don’t let it get blogged down in blogotony – if you get my drift. But, do it right and your blog will be the most immediate and effective way to broadcast information, experiences and articles across the airwaves.

Plogging

Adding loads of pretty pictures to your picture-blog will ramp it up to the next level, giving your audience a birds-eye view into the world you are representing. It doesn’t cost anything except a few minutes of your time and a decent digital camera. If you’re a photographer extraordinaire, there’s no other way for you. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. (I don’t believe them, but that’s a debate for another day…)

Vlogging

Whatever your vlogosophy, if you are producing regular video content in short captivating bursts, you are hands down delivering the most powerful show and tell experience possible, while putting your audience right in the bat-zone. But, this awesome marketing tool will only be effective if the quality is spot on. So, *stern voice* you must only do it if you are confident of delivering a super slick product.

Do not subject your audience to a sloppy, fuzzy production, they don’t have time; but do vlog like your life depends on it. And, should you be so lucky to absolutely nail it, and create a mad online frenzy, do not, whatever you do stop. Vlog with reckless abandon, vlog for your life, vlog while you eat, sleep, pray and love; just make a vow to vlog and keep vlogging! And then, sit back and watch the hits come in thick and fast.

Dealing With Internet Addiction: Or, A Bad Case Of Wiggly Thumbs!

Image

With a whopping 70% of all professional Australians reported to travel aboard during 2012, exploiting the hustle and bustle of social media and building a vibrant online buzz, you’re probably one of them…

And certainly, communication is king when you’re away from home. Personal relationships depend on it, business colleagues expect it, and company protocol demands it. Equally importantly to wiggle those thumbs and build social profiles and brand equity on the hop. Nothing like lying back on your cyber-lounge, Blackberry in one hand, Blueberry Mojito in the other!

All well and good if you’re a natural communicator with a tech savvy, text happy app-titude for keeping in touch, AND the ability to know when to put the brakes on – a modern day globetwotter, a real Cool Hand Luke. If not, you may need to rebalance your assault.

I’m talking about the question of online content. What are you posting and why? If you’re a regular little jetsetter, I’ll be you stream across the digital stratosphere wiggling those thumbs like your life depends on it. BUT, are you thinking before you wiggle? Are you focused on the big picture? If not, beware side-effects when it comes to digital overload.

Wiggly Thumb Disorder is a pesky nervous reaction that kicks into gear where the brain temporarily leaves the physical body, leaving you unable to control your wiggly thumb, which is trained and works at using its sense to detect the nearest keyboard.

Show me the Keyboard!

This leads to knee-****-reaction-syndrome which can lead to…

The churn and burn. This is where YOU LOSE those loyal followers you worked so hard to get. Maybe it was the jetlag, maybe it was the hormones, or maybe it was the vodka soaked tweet that did it.  Whatever it was, you feel very regretful the second your wiggly thumb leaves the keyboard, and the only thing left to do is hurl your iPhone out the window.

Secondly, your wiggly thumb may have led to a life imprisoned by your social media habits which have blended insidiously into the slipstream of your day-to-day, compelling you to jump impulsively online every time you fancy a brain-dump. If that is the case you are literally losing hours, days and weeks as great, massive chunks of YOUR LIFE are sucked into a virtual black-hole never to be seen again. Whooosh!

And that’s not very good. So WHAT is the solution?

`Work smarter not harder’ cry the technerati. Substitute eight hours of hard-thumb labour for brain-work. Use strategy and deploy tactics. Subscribe to the theory that less is more. When in doubt, leave it out! THINK first. ACT second and STOP before you let that text, tweet, app or email fly.

Ask yourself, what is the purpose of the message, and does it have any real relevance? Or are we so carried away with being intergalactic super-heroes that we’ve forgotten what we came to say?

And then, use the spare time you’ve created to consolidate and build a cohesive brand message. And reinforce it. What is the message? Are you getting it across? Is it consistent? Who are your audience? Are they tuned in? And, do they even care, or have you worn them out with your exhausting cyber cry for attention? Don’t become the girl who cried wolf – lonely Thumbelina, floating around in her little social media stratosphere – just think about how to get your message across with the most impact, and from there, figure out the best medium to use.

Once you are confident that your message is consistent across all formats and it does have a purpose, then you can go hell for leather with all the usual suspects — blog, vlog, tweet, text and podcast to your heart’s content. 

And finally, once you’ve gone to all this effort to establish a smart, relevant message for your merry band of global followers, you can’t ignore them. Not if you want them to be tuned into your bat channel 24/7. That wiggling thumb has to jump into action the second you make the decision to expand your profile globally. And from there, it will work towards escalating and building your brand internationally as you connect with your audience in a meaningful way. This is the reward for having clarity and confidence. Wiggle those thumbs loud and proud! Just remember, smarter not harder.

How To Be A Writing Ninja

As I sit here at my keyboard, pondering what today’s juicy blog-topic will be, I get thinking about us self-employed types and how we manage to keep ourselves on track. Especially if we have a background in the conventional day-job where we’re used to someone, you know, cracking the whip! And then one day, it’s all up to us.

Yikes!

Which leads to my question: what is the most effective way of getting your work done, sticking to deadlines AND enjoying the flexibility that comes with working freelance? In other words, how do you get the most out of what really should be a lovely and indulgent approach to work? And get accountability? Where you can look back at the end of the day and clearly see your progress.

Having written five books with number six on the way, and countless blogs and articles to boot, I feel as though I’ve gradually got it down to a fine art. I’ve outlined my approach to deadlines below. It might not suit you, but if you’re prepared to turn your email function OFF, and even better, source a fresh work environment outside your typical home/office space – you might find your increase in productivity startling.

I know I did.

Of course it depends on the nature of the work, but if I’m on a mission to meet a writing deadline, the quickest and most efficient way to get it done is by implementing two rules.

Rule No 1.

The first is to find a location outside my normal working space, and put aside a day or two where I will concentrate only on the task at hand with long, intense bursts of writing.

Rule No. 2

The second is logging OFF! It’s a firm `No Internet’ rule. That allows me to create boundaries between the allocated writing time and web related tasks (which I think you’ll agree, have the most insidious way of eating into all your work time.)

When it comes to finding the best work spaces, do your homework because unless you feel warm and welcome, your productivity will suffer. It’s not good enough for a Hot Desk or public workspace to supply just a chair and table, we Writer Ninjas expect more bang for our buck. I’m talking power supplies, privacy, jugs of water and a hub – a bench or dedicated work space and of course, a free WiFi connection (for when you’re ready to log back on, not before – discipline people!). Many colleagues of mine have gone down the Hot Desk road only to find it noisy and filled with disruptions – that’s where my favourite place comes into it – the quite room at the library. Ahh…

 And then it’s just a matter of getting of with it.

Set a word per hour quota and stick to it. These days if I’m given 24 hours to churn out 10,000 – 12,000 words from scratch it’s no problem – provided I adhere to the following:

  1. Write a Things To Do tomorrow list last thing at night, include the word quota you’re aiming for
  2. Get up half an hour earlier and take a walk or exercise
  3. Enjoy breakfast – it really is the most important meal of the day
  4. Check emails and do any internet research – work within a timeframe and keep it to the absolute minimum
  5. Pack up and relocate to your new work destination and work solidly for min 3 – 4 hours without any internet interruptions
  6. Use the lunch break to log on and check/answer emails
  7. Resume afternoon’s work min 3 – 4 hours internet free
  8. Use the dinner break to log on check/answer emails
  9. After dinner make tomorrow’s list and do any further reading/research
  10. Aaaand relaxxx

An uninterrupted 8 hour writing stint can accomplish a heck of a lot, not the least of which you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Once you sign off you’ll be able to account for how you spent your day, 5,000 words. Check! that’s when you’ll really start to feel the benefits of this tough, but rewarding strategy.

All Singing, All Dancing Self-Marketer and P.R

There are many things I’ve learnt from my mistakes throughout my business experiences but we’ll be here for the next nine hundred years if I go through them all, so I’m going to narrow it down to just one…

You absolutely cannot be shy about asking for support. If there’s one mistake I’ve made, it’s that I thought my work was strong enough to speak for itself, but I was one hundred percent wrong. I learnt the hard way that you have to be out there waving the flag and making an almighty song and dance about it.

I’m not the only one guilty of this.

On defending herself recently during a tumultuous time, P.M Julie Gillard, said that while she felt the strength of her policies spoke for themselves, if there was one thing she had neglected to do, it was too be very vocal about it. And while it may have been a thinly disguised back-handed compliment aimed squarely at herself, I get where she’s coming from.

I found myself in a similar situation not so long ago. I kidded myself that my work was strong enough to stand alone, I have 5 books behind me for god’s sake! I didn’t realise I had to get out there and schmooze and schlep and market myself. Someone else did though, and my nemesis was happy to do enough for both of us. Well done him!

I see this as an unfortunate side effect of being trapped within the isolation booth that comes from working solo. There is that tendency to go into hermit mode when the nature of one’s work is at home where you are chained to your PC. Oh sure you can shoot out all manner of emails by the dozen, day and night, but the thought of picking up the phone, or gasp, doing the face-to-face, let alone cold calling can seem light years away.

I should have known better, especially since I had witnessed the power of the face-to-face firsthand. And not just from doing it myself, but from seeing the results of others who tried it. Especially when they tried it with me…

I am thinking of my good friend and colleague Lisa Dee who made a cold-call visit to me in my first ever role as magazine editor some years ago. The receptionist, disdainful of the beautiful girl in the red dress who deigned to turn up without an interview – how DARE she – was not even going to tell me there was someone to see me; it was only when Lisa persisted with terrier like insistence that the watch-dog let her through.

I was completely charmed by Lisa’s rubenesque looks and Raphaelite dress sense which stood her apart from the pack. Along with her tenacity and passion which were out in full force. She was a breath of fresh air. She was also a photographer, which unfortunately at that time, we had no budget for. But Lisa made such a terrific impression on me, that it wasn’t long before I found a budget, albeit a small one.

It was enough to give her the break she needed though.

Today some two decades later, with many cities and countries between us, with Lisa gone on to number 1 in her field, we remain the very best of friends. And every-time we get together for those champagne fuelled knees ups, Lisa loves nothing more than to remind me of this story which I can’t hear enough. ‘Just tell me one more time.’ Swoon.

If that’s not a good enough kick up the behind to get out there and shake, shimmy and schmooze and blow your trumpet about whatever it is you’ve got to offer, then I don’t know what is!!

“The only rule is don’t be boring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in.” – Paris Hilton